But turn to yonder cloister’d gloom,
Where pallid Sorrow leads the way,
To muse upon some hallow’d tomb,
Where Friendship’s dearest relics lie."
SHORT and unstable are the joys of man!— How often does
it happen, that such ardent scenes of pleasure as we have been just
endeavouring to describe, are but like the gleam which precedes the
storm—a prelude to direful woe! Oft has the tender parent, or loving
child, who but yesterday animated such a scene of festivity, to-day
exhibited the most desponding spectacle which human nature can witness.
Those eyes, which then sparkled at the
pibroch’s harmonious sounds, are now sealed for
ever; and his relations and friends are involved in grief more vehement
than their former joys.
Prone to partake in his neighbour’s joys, the
Highlander, on such occasions as this, is equally ready to share in his
sorrows; and will not grudge to contribute his exertions, by night as well
as by day, to add to his comfort or consolation. On the last offices of
friendship being performed, the body is laid on a bed in that apartment of
the house most commodious and suitable, for the company; and the
neighbours immediately collect in bands, to watch over the remains of
departed friendship. During the silent hours of midnight, the solemnity of
the occasion is heightened by the sound of sacred praise, and reading of
the blessed Gospel. Such are now the laudable employments which have
assumed the place of that revelry which formerly disgraced the Highland
wakes—when immoderate thinking, dancing, wanton levity, and profane
amusements, were the prominent features of such an assembly. It is true,
the moderate use of liquor, and singing of songs, are still tolerated; but
excess on these occasions is now unknown. On the departure of every group,
one of the friends in attendance conducts them to the melancholy bier,
when each generally testifies the ardour of his friendship by shaking the
hand, which now cannot feel his proffered kindness, and retires full of
those solemn reflections which the scene is calculated to produce.