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Loch Etive and The Sons of Uisnach
Chapter X - Queen Hynde


Sheena.--I have heard all your opinions, and now I must give you mine. I have been reading " Queen Hynde," and I find that she was a great and beautiful Christian Scottish Queen, and that she lived at Selma in the time of Saint Columba. The Norsemen came down the sound of Mull, and King Eric intended to seize Queen Hynde and her kingdom, but she sought St. Columba's advice, and he knew that the only person that could save the throne was in Ireland. This man, so predestined, had been put as a child under the care of King Colmar, his grandfather, who lived at Temora in Ireland. Columba went to entreat him to come, but Colmar refused permission, and laughed at all the Christian ways, so that Columba was obliged to leave deeply depressed, and, as he sought shelter from a storm in the north of Ireland, a wonderfully rough, uncouth wild creature came down to the shore, and took charge of the boat, and steered it in all the commotion and storm across to and past the Mull of Cantyre, and laughed and sang and commanded sternly all the time. Some of the men thought it was a fiend, and wondered at his song about the sun. He said he worshipped it, and then he told the rowers that if they did not work, he would drown them or strike them with a great oaken club that he had. They sailed up Loch Fyne, and then walked over to Loch Awe and on to Connel, where they crossed and passed on to Selma. The two armies of Eric and Queen Hynde were trying their strength in games, and the great savage came and beat them all, even the king. Every one thought he must be Lok, a kind of evil spirit of Scandinavia. He said his name was MacUiston.

Columba managed to appease the king so far that it was to be settled by a combat between three of each side, who should marry Hynde and have the kingdom. Eric was killed by a most royal-looking, handsome man in gilded armour, and this was the hero chosen to be the king; but the Norsemen wished revenge, and they took Selma, this very hill you speak of, whilst Hynde and the Scottish party kept the next hill, Dun Valanree, above the present Ledaig post-office. The nobles did not wish to obey MacUiston, but King Colmar came reconciled from Ireland, and proved that the wild-looking savage who worshipped the sun and sang among the waves was the same as the handsome prince who was victor in the combat, and that he was really Prince Eiden, and that he was the true heir to the Scottish throne.

However, notwithstanding all attempts, assisted by Colmar, they could not drive away the Norsemen, who were coarse and cruel, and determined to have a wild feast, and to sacrifice three times three virgins by burning them in a pile to ensure further aid from their gods. When the pile was lighted, heaven was enraged, and a storm of lightning came and burnt up the whole army and city, so that nothing was left but ashes, and this is the cause of its being vitrified.

"All glittered with a glowing gleam,
Then passed as they had never been;
Walls, towers, and sinners in one sweep
Were solder'd to a formless heal),
To stand until that final day,
When this fair world shall melt away,
As beacons sacred and sublime,
As judgment sent for human crime."

"Queen Hynde," by James Hogg.

That is a romantic end, and I prefer that story to your tamer ones.

Loudoun.—Certainly it is romantic, and part of the poem is well written. MacUiston's sail from Ireland is really fine, but as to truth it is marvellous how void it is of all foundation. It is not known to us that the kings of Ireland worshipped the sun in the sixth century, the time of Columba, nor is it known to us that the Scots in Dalriada were Christians before the Irish. It is not known to history that the Norsemen came to Scotland in the time of Columba, and it is not known that there was an Earl of Mar there, or earls anywhere in this country, besides other characters mentioned. We know nothing in history of a Selma, and we do not know where Beregon ["Beregon" is used in Hogg's poem more frequently than "Selma."] was, if it was anywhere. In short, the amount of confusion is inconceivable. MacUiston seems some corruption of D'IacUisnach, and shows that the pronunciation was so far preserved that the iii was pronounced and not left out by people so much as now. The whole of Hogg's account is fanciful; as to towers they are poetical, and as to palaces you may see the chief rooms; they are small and not burnt—only the outer walls are vitrified.

However there is no use in proving the whole to be an invention. Had any similitude to truth been kept, the poem might have been worth reading, as a whole. Still, thanks for the tale, even if it is not that of our fort.


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