« ZurückWeiter »
After much eloquence exerted on both sides, much preparation, and doubtless much prayer, the two friends set out about 11 o'clock in a very clear moonlight night, about the latter days of June 1776. No person acquainted with the scene and circumstances could reflect without an emotion of horror, on the state of mind in which this expedition was undertaken. The whole parish being at that season in the Glens, 12 miles distant, except, perhaps an individual left in each hamlet to tend the poultry; the solitude and stillness were awful.
They set out from the centre of the parish to the appointed place, which was at the time a profound secret betwixt them. The impression seems yet fresh on my.. mind, as it was, when I heard it from the voluntary visitor of this formidable apparition.
They proceeded northward three miles, to where the valley becomes narrow. They then arrived at a place called Shirramore, where, passing a little dreary lake, they turned westward to a very narrow and rocky pass, which serves courageous foot passengers, as an entrance towards Loch Laggan. This is a place of such utter and dreary desolation, that I should not risk the credit of my veracity in describing it, were it not like the bricks in Jack Cade's chimney, “ alive at this day to testify.” It is blocked up with great stones that have fallen from the naked and chearless rocks that overhang this gloomy and almost impervious pass. If ever there was vegetation there, the mountain torrents have long since washed it away. It is a place where one would be glad to meet a frog, or see the commonest insect. Birds and insects are there quite out of the question. There is not a leaf to attract them. The rocks, too, close out even the reinote view of life and vegetation. Twice when I passed
this sanctuary of utter desolation. I thought of nothing but the blasted district around the Upas tree, as we bear
it described. He must, indeed, have a “lieart with · strings of steel,” who does not feel it sink, in some meas.
ure, in this total abstraction from all that belongs to life.
THE CENTRE OF THIS PASS WAS THE FLACE APPOINTED * FOR MEETING THE SPIRIT, AND THE HOUR TWELVE. T'he friends walked slowly on, discoursing of the nature and extent of permitted evil; and Angus did not fail to warn his master of the alarm which he was to look for on ap. proach of this terrible visitant, which, he said, was often preceded by noises such as he could not describe, and as no earthly creature could produce. His friend assured him that his faith or courage would not fail'; and that no power of darkness could successively assail any one whose trust was unshaken.
When they advanced to the destined spot in profound silence, the shadow of the rocks seemed overwhelming; the sound of their steps was reverberated from every side. All at once a noise was heard from the rocky recesses on the west, of a most unusual kind, neither like thunder, drums, or carriages, but a compound of all three, which rapidly approached, and still the nearer it came was less intelligible, “ Alas! Alas! there it comes,” said Angus; “ Does it always come thus ?” “ Very often, but not invariably.” “Stay Angus, your spirits are worn out with these encounters ; your life has been often risked for me, I determine to meet and challenge this fiend, and prefer going alone.” Angus' required no persuasion; he was, in fact, in a cold sweat, and trembling so, that he could scarce stand. His heroic master proceeded forward into the recess beyond the opening, but, as he owned, with very unequal steps. In his hand he held
a bible, and on his lips, the accents of solemn adjuration, almost died away, when numberless quick steps drew near, and he beheld a pretty large flock of sheep, driven hastily by two great coarse looking fellows, as little Arcadian as might be.
This phenomenon, for such it was, in that detached corner, was soon explained. One would as little have expected a sheep as a spirit at that hour and place. This very unusual occurrence, however, had been occasioned by the extreme heat of the preceding day. These appar. itions were Lochaber sheep drovers. They had been driving a large flock of those animals, through the steep and difficult passages which separate Lochaber from Badenoch. They found the meridian hour so excessively hot among the encircling rocks, where the sun beams are concentrated as in a burning glass, that they thought it safest to conceal them in a deep hollow, between two rocks, where they might escape the notice of the proprietors of the ground. They honestly confest their dishonest intention of driving them down into the open country at ' midnight, while the people absent in the Glens could not detect the encroachment.
Upon enquiry into the feelings of our friend on this issue of the adventure, he confessed with his usual candour, that he had worked himself up to such a pitch of pious resolution that though his nerves were not proof against all the terrors awaiting him, he was rather disappointed when he found he had no imp of darkness to encounter. · The approaching sound seemed to be quite familiar to him, and he appeared immediately to recognize it; yet, certain it was, that no other flock had been driven that season in the same direction ; and that the driving those that night through the pass aforesaid, was an occurrence singular and unpremeditated,"
Although from this singular and unexpected circumstance the result of this adventure did not turn out so satisfactory as could have been wished, it fully evinced that our spiritual wrestler had no great relish for nuch company, and chose rather to be alone with his trembling opponent, than to have his pranks laid open before witnesses, or he would not, for this once, have broke his assignation merely on account of these unwelcome intruders.
The noises which preceded the appearance of the spirit, may easily be accounted for, by the reverberation of the footsteps of the visionary as he entered the dreary solitude, magnified, no doubt, by the horrified state of his mind, into the most uncommon and supernatural sounds; and the echoes of his own voice amongst the rocks, when he challenged the fiend to the combat might give some colour to the conversation, in which he suppose ed himself engaged, while the distempered state of his imagination, wrought up to the highest pitch by such powerful auxiliaries, could be at no loss to conjure op some formida able and frightful form, from among the huge unshapen masses that every where surrounded him, and who, although acting purely on the defensive, must have made him leave the conflict every time he advanced to the attack, full of wounds and bruises, and exhausted by his exertions,
It was truly a pity but the business bad been left te be decided by the supernatural wrestler and Angne's master alone; but as it was, enough was developed by circumstances to enable us to resolve all into natural appearances, especially when assisted by the fantastical colouring of a distempered mind; that such was the case with Angus at the time, there can be no doubt, and it is our painful task to add, that this poor man afterwards died of melancholy.
In BRUCE's Travels, we have the following humorous account of a Ghost of a different description, being rather of a thievish nature than given to wrestling, but who seemed in common with other Ghosts, not overfond of being seen by too many people at once. “An Abyssinian, who had died on board, and who had been buried upon the coming out from Loheia bay, had been seen upon our bowsprit for two nights, and had terrified the sailors very much; even the Rais had been not a little alarmed ; and, though he could not directly say that he had seen bim, yet, after I was in bed on the 7th, he complained seriously to me of the bad consequences it would produce if a gale of wind was to rise, and the ghost was to keep his place there, and desired me to come forward and speak to him. “My good Rais,' said I, “I am exceedingly tired, and my head aches much with the sun, which hath been violent to-day. You know the A. byssinian paid for his passage, and, if he does not overload the ship, and I apprehend should be lighter than when we took him on board) I do not think that in justice or equity, either you or I can hinder the ghost from continuing his voyage to Abyssinia, as we cannot judge what serious business he may have there. The Rais began to bless himself that he did not know any thing of his affairs.— Then,' said I, if you do not find he makes the vessel too heavy before, do not molest, him ; because, certainly, if he was to come into any other part of the ship, or if he was to insist to sit in the middle of you (in the disposition that you all are) he would be a greater inconvenience to you than in his present post. Now if he does ns no harm, you will let him ride upon the bowsprit till he is tired, or till he comes to Masuah,