The Heather in Lore, Lyric and Lay Heather, the
In a dream of the night I was wafted away To the moorland of mist where the martyrs lay;
Where Cameron's sword and his Bible are seen, Engraved on the stone
where the heather grows green.
'Twas a dream of those ages of darkness and blood,
When the minister's home was the mountain and wood; When in Wellwood's dark moorlands the standard of
Zion, All bloody and torn 'mang the heather was lying.
It was morning and summer's young sun from the
east Lay in loving repose on the green mountain's breast, On
Wardlaw and Cairn-Table, the clear shining dew, Glistened sheen 'mang
the heather-bells and mountain flowers blue.
—From "The Cameronian's Dream," by James Hidop.
IN the troubled times when Scotsmen sought the
seclusion of their country's mountains to worship God in their own way;
when the sword held in place the leaves of the Bible against the rushing
of the mountain wind; when the evening prayer was followed by the crash
of battle, and the moans of the wounded and dying mingled in the glen
with the fading echo of the melody of the last psalm, the Heather often
proved of greatest service, as furnishing a hiding place for the hunted
worshippers. Such a one, "The Cave of Garrick Fell," is thus described
in "The Traditions of the Covenanters "This cave, the roof of which was
the superincumbent mass of the mighty mountain, was capable of
accommodating several persons at once. Its entrance, which was narrow,
was concealed by a special provision of nature—a large bush of Heather
growing from the turf on the upper part of the aperture, spreading
downward like a thick veil, covered the upper half of the opening; and
the lower part was screened by a green bracken bush, which, springing
from the bottom, spread itself like a feathery fan till it met the
pendent Heather, and then the two, like the folding doors of an inner
chamber, closed the entrance in such a way that no individual in passing
could possibly recognize the existence of any such place, however near
he might approach it. What a slender barrier sometimes serves as a
complete protection to those whom Providence would shield from harm."
Says Barbour, in his "Unique Traditions of
Scotland," describing the persecutions and romantic refuge of these
hunted Covenanters: "Often, in summer, on the edge of a lake, or by the
banks of a beautiful stream, hath the Lord's Supper been dispensed in
romantic Caledonia. But seldom has the Communion been dispensed under
such peculiar circumstances as we now proceed to describe.
"There runs a small stream in the Parish of
Kirkpatrick-Irongray, yet named the Auld Water. * * * Near one of the
branches of this mossy stream, and on the side of a heathy hill, may yet
be marked a large broad stone, with smaller ones set regularly, as
diverging from it.
"And what was the use of this broad flat stone?
And what were the uses of the smaller ones around it? When Grierson of
Lag was hunting the Presbyterians from hill to hill this large stone
served as a communion table, and the lesser ones around it served as
seats for the communicants! * * *
"And often has the Communion been partaken of
here. And sometimes, in summer, had the small birds joined the
sacramental melody; and the lapwing, as if enamoured, had wheeled
soothly around it; and the red-brown heath had smelled sweet beneath the
communicants' feet. But in February, 1685, no birds were to sing around
them, and the yet wintry heath was to be dyed with communicants' blood.
* * *
"And shall not the sainted shades of these
persecuted communicants—even the disembodied spirits of the
martyrs—revisit, at times, this table in the wilderness?' And shall not
they hover around these heaths. where their martyred dust reposes?"
The Covenanter's Tomb
Far inland, where the mountain's crest
O'erlooks the waters of the west, And 'midst the moorland wilderness, Dark moss-cleughs
form a drear recess,
Curtain'd with ceaseless mists, which feed The sources of the Clyde
and Tweed; There injured Scotland's patriot band, For faith and freedom made their stand. Their
name shall nerve the patriot's hand. Upraised to save a sinking
land; And piety shall learn to burn With holiest transports o'er
their urn! Sequestered haunts !so still—so fair, That holy faith
might worship there— The shaggy gorse and brown heath wave O'er
many a nameless warrior's grave. —James Hogg.
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