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Sports and Pastimes of Scotland
Chapter III. The Deer Forest and the Grouse Moor


My heart's in the highlands, my heart is not here
My heart's in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer
Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe
My heart's in the highlands wherever I go. [Old Song.]

Now westlin' winds and slaughtering guns
Bring autumn's pleasant weather
The muircock springs, on whirring wings,
Amang the blooming heather. [Burns.]

WAR and the chase, that "image of war, without its guilt," followed by the feast of shells and the harmonious strife of bards, filled UI) the chief routine of life enjoyed by the ancient tribes of Caledonia. The chase was their pastime, whence, moreover, they derived a large share of their subsistence, although they also kept domestic herds and flocks and cultivated a sprinkling of corn. From choice, as much as from necessity, the Celtic races were enthusiastic followers of Nimrod. "The desert," said Fingal, "is enough for me, with all its woods and deer!" The fame of a mighty hunter was a precious possession; and the hunter's training inured the youth to vicissitude and peril, and moulded the future warrior. In his mythological creed, the Gael believed that the spirits of the dead found delight in pursuing erial deer over the mountains of the silent land, and often on those of earth. The departed "children of youth," said Ossian, " pursue deer formed of clouds, and bend their airy bow. They still love the sport of their youth ; and mount the wind with joy."

The chase of the deer can never be robbed of its romance. But when we speak of stalking, we must bear in mind that the fashion of "killing at the stalk," which requires the most patient endurance and consummate skill on the part of the hunter, is only one of several methods of slaying the deer. Stalking, coursing, driving, and baiting, are the four modes of hunting. The stalker creeps, steadily and unseen, to within rifle-range of his quarry. But "hound and horn" were employed at that great hunt on Erin's green hills, when Fingal had conquered in battle, and was about to set his sails for Morven:-

"Call," said Fingal, "call my dogs, the long-bounding Sons of the chase. Call whitc'breasted Bran, and the surly strength of Luath Fillan, and Ryno but he is not here My son rests on the bed of death. Fillan and Fergus ! blow the horn, that the joy of the chase may arise that the deer of Cromla may hear, and start at the lake of roes."

The shrill sound spreads along the wood. The sons of heath)' Croinla arise. A thousand dogs fly off at once, gray-bounding through the heath. A deer fell by every dog three by the white-breasted Bran, lie brought them, in their flight, to Fingal, that the joy of the king might be great One deer fell at the tomb of Ryno. The grief of Fingal returned, lie saw how peaceful lay the stone of hint who was the first at the chase "No more shall thou rise, O my son to partake of the feast of Cromla. Soon will thy tomb be hid, and the grass grow rank on thy grave. The sons of the mettle shall pass along. They shall not know where the mighty tie."

With what a depth of pathos has the voice of Cona recounted those sylvan triumphs But we have later pictures of Highland sport which we shall pass before our readers in a succession of dissolving views. Now-a-days, much of the slaughter in our forests is effected by the system of driving, the deer being forced to run the gaunt- let of a narrow pass, where the sportsmen, well and securely posted, fire away as fast as their gillies can supply them with loaded rifles. It was thus, though on a far grander scale, that the Taincizel, or greater driving, of old was conducted. The chieftains summoned their vassals and a wide compass of hill and wood and glen was beaten up by a taincliel or cordon of men, who slowly drove the deer toward the Spot where the hunters lay concealed.

In the summer of 1528, King James V. made a hurried expedition to the Borders, on the pretence of hunting, but really and truly to vindicate law and justice in those turbulent regions, and 'make the rush-bush keep the cow." The moss-troopers were taken by surprise, their leaders seized, and the most obnoxious consigned to the hangman. Next year the king betook himself to the Perthshire highlands, on a peaceful excursion, accompanied by the Queen-mother and the Papal ambassador and the magnificent reception which the royal party experienced in Athole has been detailed with great minuteness in the pages of Pitscottie :-

Upon the next summer thereafter, the King, together with his mother, and an ambassador of the Pope's, who was in Scotland for the time, went all together to Athole to the hunts. The Earl of Athole hearing of his coming, made great and gorgeous provision for him in all things pertaining to a prince, that he was as well cared for in all things as if he had been in one of his own palaces. For this unite Earl of Athole caused make ane curious palace to the King his mother, and the ambassador, whereby they were as well eased as if they had been in any palace either of Scotland or England, an(l equivalent for the time of their hunting; which was biggit in the middle of a green meadow, and the walls thereof was of green timber, woven with birks, and biggit in four quarters, as if it had been a palace, and in every quarter a round like a block-house, which were lofted and joisted three house height; the floor was laid with green earth, and strewed with such flowers as grow in the meadow, that no man knew whereon he gade, but as he had been in a green garden. Farther, there was two great rounds on every side of the yctt, and a great portcullis of tree falling down as it had been a barrace yctt, with a great drawbridge, and a foussic of sixteen feet deep and thirty fret broad of water. This palace was hung with fine tapestry within, and well lighted in all necessary parts with glass windows.

The King was very well entertained in this wilderness the space of three days, with all such delicious and sumptuous meats as was to be had in Scotland, for fleshes, fishes, and all kinds of fine wine, and spices, requisite for a prince. Farther, there was no fishes that could live in fresh waters, but were there swimming in the foussie about the palace.

[That is to say all kind of drink, as ale, beer, wine, both white and claret, Malvoisic, Muscadel, elegant Hippocras, and aquavit-,Q. Farther, there was of meats—wheat-bread, main-bread, and gingerbread, with fleshes beef and mutton, lamb, veal, and venison, goose, gryce (pigs), capon. cunning (rabbits), crane, swan, partridge, plover, cluck, drake, brissel-cock (turkey-cock) and paunies (peacocks), hlackcock and moorfowl, capercalizics. And also the stanks (fosses or ditches full of water) that were round about the palace, were full of all delicate fishes, as salmon, trouts, perches, pikes, eels, and all other kind of delicate fishes that could be gotten in fresh water, and were all ready for the banquet. Sync were there proper stewards, cunning bakers, excellent cooks, and potingars (apothecaries) with confections and drugs for their desserts.

It is said, by the space of thir three days that his grace was there, the Earl of Athole was every day one thousand pounds of expenses. This Pope's Ambassador, seeing so great a triumph in a wilderness, where there was no town near by twenty miles, he thought it a great marvel that such a thing should be in Scotland : that is, so court-like and delicious entertainment in the Highlands of Scotland, where he saw noticing but woods and wilderness. But most of all, this Ambassador, when the King was coming back from the hunts, marvelled to see the Highlanders set all this palace on fire, that the King and the Ambassador might see it. Then the Ambassador said to the King, I marvel, sir, you let burn yon palace wherein you were so well eased." The King answered, "it is the use of our Highlandmen that, be they never so well lodged all the night, they will burn the same on the morn." This being clone, the King returned to Dunkeld that night, and on the morn to St. Johnstoun (Perth). It is said, at this Since, in Atholc and Stratharcile hounds, there was slain thirty score of hart and hind, with other small beasts, such as roe and roebuck, wolf, fox, soil wild cats, etc. [The Cronicles of Scotland. By Robert Lindsay of Pitseottie. Edited by J. Graham Dalyell. Vol. ii., P. 343. The passage within brackets is from a later MS. than that adopted by Mr. Dalyehl, and bears, in his opinion, strong evidence of interpolation.]

Probably the fame of this right royal hunting induced the fair and unfortunate daughter of King James to honour Athole with her presence in 1564, when she made a progress of two months through her northern dominions. It has been said by one of Mary's biographers (Sheriff Glassford Bell) that the years 1563 and 1564 were "the quietest and the happiest she spent in Scotland," for all political troubles were dispelled, and she was looking forward to a happy union and a peaceful and gracious reign. " Love was young, and Darnley kind." She was at Perth in May, 1564, and about the beginning of August she reached Athole, and witnessed the glories of the tai;zclzc/ in the wilds of Glen Tilt. The exciting scene has been described, in stately Latin, by a gentleman of her train—William Barclay, the scion of a good family in Aberdeenshire. He was then three and twenty, and a Roman Catholic. He continued attached to the Court till the Queen's captivity in England, when he crossed to France, and applied himself to the study of civil law. lie subsequently married a French lady, and lived till 1605, when he died Professor of Civil Law in the University of Angers. lie was the father of the erratic author of Argenis, which Cowper, the poet, declared to be "the most amusing romance that ever was written." The account of the Athole hunting is contained in one of the Civilian's Latin works—De Regno et Regali Potcstate advcrsus llfonarclzo;nacleos—(a treatise against Buchanan and his Republican school) and has been translated by Mr. Pennant :-

"I had a sight of a very extraordinary sport. In the year 1563 [a mistake for 15641. the Earl of Athol, a prince of the blood roya], had, with much trouble, and vast expense, provided a hunting-match for the entertainment of our illustrious and most gracious Queen. Our people call this a royal hunting. I was then a young man and was present on that occasion. Two thousand Highlanders were employed to drive to the hunting-ground all the Jeer from the woods and hills of Athol, Badenoch, Marr, Murray, and the countries about. As these Highlanders use a light dress, and are very swift of foot, they went up and down so nimbly, that, in less than two months' time, they brought together two thousand red deer, besides roes and fallow deer. The Queen, the great men, and a number of others were in a glen, or narrow valley, where all these deer were brought before them believe me, the whole body moved forward in something like battle order. This body still strikes me, and ever will strike me ; for they had a leader whom they followed close wherever he moved. This leader was a very fine stag, with a very high head. The sight delighted the Queen very much, but she soon had cause for fear, upon the Earl (who had been from his earliest years accustomed to such sights) addressing her thus: Do you observe that stag who is foremost of the herd? There is danger from that stag; for if either fear or rage should force him from the ridge of that hill, let every one look to himself, for none of us will be out of the way of harm, as the rest will all follow this one; and having thrown us under foot, they will open a passage to the hill behind us.' What happened a moment after confirmed this opinion; for the Queen ordered one of the best dogs to be let loose upon a wolf; this the dog pursues—the leading stag was frightened—he flies by the same way he had come there—the rest rush after him where the thickest body of the Highlanders was. They had nothing for it but to throw themselves flat on the heath, and to allow the deer to pass over them. It was told the Queen that several of the Highlanders had been wounded, and that two or three had been killed outright; and the whole body of deer had got off, had not the Highlanders, by their skill in hunting, fallen upon a stratagem to cut off the rear from the main body. It was of those that had been separated, that the Queen's dogs, and those of the nobility, made slaughter. There was killed that day three hundred and sixty deer, with five wolves, and some roes."

After the hunt, the Queen is said to have presided over a competition of highland harpers, when she awarded the prize to the Lady Beatrix Gardyn, of Banchory, Aberdeenshire. A descendant of this fair minstrel married into the Robertson family of Lude, and brought with her the harp gifted on the above occasion.

There were spacious hunting-grounds on the Scottish Border, to which our kings frequently resorted "to chase the deer with hound and horn ;" but as might be expected, the laws against poaching wcrc ill-observed in that turbulent region. Two years after the Queen's hunt in Atholc, there was found a great scarcity of deer on the Border for the royal sport ; and the Scottish Privy Council, sitting at Rodono, on the 16th August, 1566, passed an ordinance setting forth that despite the Acts of Parliament against the unlawful shooting of deer, the latter were so "halelie (wholly) destroyed, that our sovereigns (Mary and her consort, Darnley) can get no pastime of hunting now when their highnesses is purposely repaired in this country (the Border land) to that effect and therefore commanding all and sundry, the lieges, to abstain from breach of the laws in future. Again, the Council, on 27th March, 1576, understanding that, "as the deer within the bounds of Meggatland, Eskdale-muir, and other bounds west the borders of this realm, where our Sovereign Lord's progenitors "—for the hapless Mary was now dethroned and a captive—" had wont to have their chief pastime of hunting, are not only slain by guns with Scotsmen, but also by the hunting of Englishmen, brought and conveyed in to the said parts in arms by Scotsmen inhabiting the Borders, without conduct or licence of our Sovereign Lord or his Wardens, and hunting by Scotsmen themselves in forbidden time—a strict prohibition of such practices was issued, and it was ordained that none such hunt at any time between Fastren's Even (Shrovetide) and Midsummer. Such fulminations evidently were spent in air and we may only further notice that on 6th March, 1600, the King and Council denounced deer- poaching in the Highlands and on the Borders, and enacted that all defaulters should be "held to make payment of the sum of three hundred merks for every deer so to be shot and slain, the one half to his Majesty, and the other half to the dilater and avower."

Half-a-century after Queen Mary's visit to Athole, a votary of literature, better known than the learned Civilian, journeyed from England to the north, and joined in the Highland sport of hunting the deer. Who has not heard of the TVater-Poet—John Taylor, the poetic Waterman of the Thames?

And did you ne'er hear of a jolly young waterman,
Who at Blackfriars' Bridge used for to ply?
Ile feather'd his oars with such skill and dexterity,
Winning each heart, and delighting each eye.

In 1618—the year when Ben Jonson came down to meet his friend Drummond, amid the classic shades of Hawthornden—our Water Poet conceived the project of travelling to Scotland on foot, and viewing the country, without taking a penny in his purse (though he was by no means scant of cash), and trusting to the kindness of friends by the way It looked prima facie a foolhardy enterprise enough—an open-eyed, deliberate tempting of Providence, inasmuch as the poverty of Scotland was proverbial, and the south was overrun with needy Scots in quest of fortune which their own country had denied them. Nevertheless, John was not reckoning without his host. His fame was widely known : he had influential patrons in Scotland—notably Sir William Murray of Abercairney, for one, on whose hospitality he could rely.

Then, farewell, my trim-built wherry,
Oars, and coat, and badge, farewell.

John left London on the 14tb of July, making his way out of the city by easy stages from tavern to tavern, where "good fellows trooping" insisted on drinking with him the parting bowl. At the Bell Inn, beyond Alders- gate he procured a stout nag to carry his "provant" or provisions, and then, "well rigged and ballasted, both with beer and wine," set forth oil "jaunt." In all the English towns and villages through which he passed he was received with open doors and open arms and plenty of good cheer. Crossing the Border, he still met the best of treatment, though "not carrying any money," and neither begging, borrowing, or asking meate, drinke, or lodging." In due time he arrived at Perth where, says he, "mine host told me that the Earl of Mar, and Sir William Murray of Abercairney were gone to the great hunting to the Brae of Mar; but if I made haste I might perhaps find them at a town called Brekin or Brechin, two and thirty miles from Saint Johnstone, whereupon I took a guide to b'reclün the next day, but before I came, my lord was gone from thence four days."

Although thus baulked, and with the Grampians frowning before him, our undaunted poet determined to cross the mountains to Braemar. The difficulties and dangers of the journey might have appalled a less adventurous Southron; but John girded up his loins, and trudged on undismayed. Safely he reached Braemar Castle, where he was warmly welcomed by the Earl of Mar, and Abetcairney, and the other noblemen and gentlemen, with their ladies, who were there assembled. The account of his tour, which he afterwards wrote and published under the title of The Pennyles Pilgrimage, or, The Money-less perambulation, is a quaint melange of rough spun verse and sturdy prose, depicting with much fidelity the Highland gathering and sport. Of the Highlanders, he says:

Their habit is shoes with but one sole apiece, stockings (which they call short hose) made of a warm stuff of divers colours, which they call tartan: as for breeches, many of them, nor their forefathers, never wore any, but a jerkin of the same stuff that their hose is of, their garters being hands or wreaths of hay or straw, with a plain about their shoulders, which is a mantle of divers colours, of much liner and lighter stuff than their hose, with blue flat caps on their heads, a handkerchief knit with two knots about their neck ; and thus are they attired. Now their weapons are long bows and forked arrows, swords and targets, harquebusses, muskets, dirks, and Lochaber axes. With these arms I found many of them armed for the hunting. As for their attire, any man of what degree soever that comes amongst them, must not disdain to wear it; for if they do, then they will disdain to hunt, or willingly to bring in their dogs; but if men be kind unto them, and he in their habit ; then are they conquered with kindness, and the sport will be plentiful. This was the reason that I found so many noblemen and gentlemen in those shapes.

Having been "put into that shape" himself—that is, having donned the garb of old Gaul, John accompanied the party to the hunting-ground, which is thought to have been the district around the skirts of Ben Muicdhui.

I was the space of twelve days after, before I saw either house, corn-field, or habitation for any creature, but deer, wild horses, wolves, and such like creatures, which made me doubt that I should never have seen a house again.

Thus the first day we travelled eight miles, where were small cottages built on purpose to lodge in, which they call Lonchards, I thank my good Lord Erskine, he commanded that I should always be lodged in his lodging, the kitchen being always on the side of a bank, man)' kettles and pots boiling, and many spits turning and winding, with grunt variety of cheer as venison baked, sodden, roast, and stewed beef, mutton, goats, kid, hares, fresh salmon, pigeons, lien, capons, chickens, partridge, moor-coots, heath- cocks, capercailzies, and termagants [ptarmigans]; good ale, sack, white, and claret, tent [or Alicante] with most potent aquiviti.

All these, and more than these we had continually, in superfluous abundance, caught by Falconers, Fowlers, Fishers, and brought by my Lord's tenants and purveyors to victual our camp, which consisted of fourteen or fifteen hundred men and horses; the manner of the hunting is this live or six hundred men do rise early in the morning, and they do disperse themselves divers ways, and seven, eight, or ten miles compass, they do bring or chase in the deer in many herds (two, three, or four hundred in a herd) to such or such a place, as the Nobleman shall appoint them; then when day is come, the Lords and gentlemen of their companies do ride or go to the said places, sometimes wading up to their middles through bournes and rivers: and then: they being come to the place, do lie down on the ground, till those foresaid scouts, which are called the Tinchel, do bring down the deer : but as the proverb says of a bad cook, so these Tinchel men do lick their own fingers ; for besides their bows and arrows, which they carry with them, we can hear now and then a harquebuss or a musket go off, which they do seldom discharge in vain. Then after we had stayed there three hours or thereabouts, we might perceive the deer appear on she hills round about ,ts, (their heads making a show like a wood) which being followed close by the Tinchel are chased down into the valley where we lay; then all the valley on each side being waylaid with a hundred couple of strong Irish grey-hounds, they are let loose as the occasion serves upon the herd of deer, so that with dogs, guns, arrows, dirks, and staggers, its the space of two hours, fourscore fat steer were slain, which after are disposed of some one way, and some another, twenty and thirty miles, and more than enough left for us to make merry withal at our rendesvous.

He "liked the sport so well" that he composed a couple of sonnets in its praise, one of which we shall quote :-

If sport like this can on the mountains be,
Where Phbeous flames can never melt the snow,
Then let who list delight in vales below,
Sky-kissing mountains pleasure are for me
What braver objects can man's eyesight see,
Than noble, worshipful, and worthy wights,
As if they were prepared for sundry fights,
Yet all in sweet society agree?
Through heather, moss, 'mongst frogs, and bogs, and fogs,
'Mongst craggy cliffs, and thunder-battered hills,
Hares, hinds, bucks, roes, are chased by men and dogs,
Where two hours hunting fourscore fat deer kills.
Lowland, your sports are low as is your seat,
The Highland games and minds are high and great.

When the hunters returned nightly to their lodgings,  there was much baking, boiling, roasting, and stewing, as if Cook Ruffian had been there to have scalded the devil in his feathers; and after supper a fire of firewood as high as an indifferent Maypole." Our traveller then relates that having spent certain days at this "unmatchable hunting," he accompanied the party "to the next county, called T3adenoch, belonging to the Earl of Euzie, where, having much sport and entertainment as we formerly had after four or five days' pastime, we took leave of hunting for that year." lie was afterwards taken to Ballocli Castle (Castle Grant) and Tarnaway, and thence returned by Elgin to the Lowlands. At Leith he found his "long approved and assured good friend, Master Benjamin Jonson," who gave him "a piece of gold or two, and twenty shillings to drink his health in England and on Thursday morning, the fifteenth of October, the poetic waterman reached his own house in London. Next year he issued A Kicksey Winsey: or, A Lerry come Twang, wherein he "satyrically suited 800 of his bad debtors," or subscribers, "that would not pay him for his return of his journey from Scotland;" but whether this effusion produced a satisfactory result we cannot tell.

During the time of the Commonwealth, a grand stag- hunting took place in the forest of Monar, in Glen Strathfarar, Inverness-shire, conducted by the Earl of Seaforth and the Master and Tutor of Lovat. This was in 1655. The party, says a manuscript of the period, "got sight of six or seven hundred deers, and sport of hunting" for four days, "fitter for kings than country gentlemen" and two Englishmen who were in company, declared that in all their travels they never had such brave divertisemnent and if they should relate it in England it would be concluded mere rant and incredible."

Another great hunting was held at lBraemar, in August 1715. It was attended by the leaders of the Jacobite party in Scotland, with more than a thousand followers and there the Earl of Mar arranged his insurrection in favour of the Chevalier de St. George.

Captain Burt, the English Officer of Engineers, who was in the Highlands, under General Wade, about 1730, is believed to have written the Letters from a Gentleman in the North of Scotland, which contain so lively a delineation of highland life and manners and the Tainchiel- hunting (from personal experience or otherwise) comes under his pen. But he makes no mention of dogs being employed, conceiving, in fact, that if they were kept, their cry in those open hills would soon fright all the deer out of that part of the country; for the barking of an English hound, at night, in one of the military barracks, "was loudly complained of by some of the lairds, as being prejudicial to their estates." He thus speaks of the sport:-

When a solemn hunting is resolved on, for the entertainment of relations and friends, the haunt of the deer being known, a number of the vassals are summoned, who readily obey by inclination; and are, besides, obliged by the tenure of their lands, of whicts one article is, that they shall attend the master at his huntings. This, I think, was part of the ancient vassalage in England.

The chief convenes what numbers he thinks fit, according to the strength of his clan, perhaps three or four hundred. With these he surrounds the hill, and as they advance upwards, the deer flies at the sight of the first on one side, then of another and they still, as they mount, get into closer order, till, in the end, he is enclosed by then) its a small circle, and there they hack him down with their broad-swords. And they generally do it so dexterously, as to preserve the hide entire.

If the chase be in a wood, which is mostly upon the declivity of a rocky bill, the tenants spread themselves as much as they can, in a rank extending upwards ; and march, or, rather, crawl forward with a hideous yell. Thus they drive everything before them, while the laird and his friends are waiting at the farther end with their guns to shoot the deer, But it is difficult to force the roes out of their cover; insomuch that when they come into the light, they sometimes turn back upon the huntsmen, and are taken alive.

Barclay's (the Civilian) account of Queen Mary's hunting mentions fallow-deer; but this must be an anachronism, because it seems clearly established that that species was not known in Scotland till the time of James VI., who, indeed, is said to have brought the first specimens with him when he returned home from Denmark along with his consort Anne, the Danish Princess ; and the breed was subsequently carried into England. The famous ancestor of the Breadalbane family, Black Duncan of the Cowl, who built his castle of Balloch where Taymouth Castle now stands, was a great rural improver, and eagerly assisted in the introduction of fallow-deer into Scotland. This was in the beginning of the seventeenth century. In 1614 he leased the Isle of Inchesaile from the Earl of Argyll, and next year "put fallow deir and cunnyngis" therein. Here a fact worth noting suggests itself. About the year 1850 a number of fallow-deer broke out of the parks at Taymouth Castle, and spread themselves over all the neighbourhood. Some descended to the hills around Dunkeld and Birnam, where they grew quite wild, and became the pest of the country by ravaging kitchen-gardens, potato-pits, and the like. They were systematically shot down as opportunities offered, until their extermination was supposed to be complete. But this was not so; for, in the summer of 1870, a solitary survivor—a last year's fawn of the fallow breed—appeared in a grass park, within a mile of Birnam, where it was seen grazing along with a flock of sheep and lambs! The peculiarity of its companionship ensured this last of its race against powder and shot during the time it herded with the fleecy denizens of the fold ; but it ultimately disappeared, and its fate is unknown.

It has been supposed, though on slender grounds, that the ancient Scots domesticated a species of deer, just as the Laplanders domesticated the reindeer. A large stag's horn, found in Blairdrummond Moss, shewed a circular perforation, into which was fitted a piece of wood —but for what purpose?

Sir Robert Gordon, the Sutherland genealogist, asserts that in the mountain of Arkel, in the forest of Dirimore, Sutherlandshire, there was a peculiar sort of deer, which had forked tails, three inches long, whereby they were easily known from any others.

In the year 1622 there was a 1I'Jiite Hind about Corrichiba, in the country of Breadalbane, which King James VI. heard of and was exceedingly anxious to secure for the sake of its curiosity. He was at the pains to send down from England one of his foresters named Scandoner, and some others, with the following letter to Black Duncan of the Cowl:-

"To our trusty and well-beloved Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenurchy, Knight.

JAMES R.—Trusty and well-beloved, We greet you well. Having understood that there is in your bounds a white hind, we have sent this bearer, one of our servants, to take and transport her hither Unto US ; and because that country is altogether unknown to him, we have thought good hereby to recommend hint to you most earnestly, requiring you to assist him and cause him to to he furnished with all things necessary, as well for taking of the said hind as for his own entertainment; and nothing doubting of your best endeavour for accomplishing of this our pleasure, we bid Yost farewell. Given at our manor of Theobalds, the 13th day of January, 1622."

It is recorded that "the said Englishmen saw the hind in Corrichiba on 22nd February, 1622," but they did not succeed in taking it, and so had to return empty-handed. The King was so anxious about this lusus na/zure, that on learning his servants' ill-luck, he directed Sir Patrick Murray to write another letter to Black Duncan:-

"To my honourable Chief, the Laird of Glenorchey, these.

"NOBLE CHIEF.—I have received from the Earl of Mar a packet of letters concerning the taking of this troublesome white hind of yours, and has delivered and read theni to his Majesty, he being not well of a pain in his legs, I dare not say the gout. His Majesty is well pleased with you for the care you have had to further his Majesty's desire in all things con ccrning this business of taking this deer, and seeing his Majesty finds by Scandoncr's own letters and all yours that it is a hard matter either to take her or carry her to the sea, by reason of the difficulty and hardness of the place and hard time of the year and finding also by his Majesty's own experience that if she cannot be taken before May or June, being so late in the year, that if she prove with calf may endanger her own life and her calf also, his Majesty's pleasure is that she shall not be stirred this year, and that his Majesty will think of some other course before the next year for the better effecting of his desires ; and his Majesty has commanded me to write unto the Earl of Mar to send unto all those that borders or starches with Corrichiba that none presume to stir her under his Majesty's highest displeasure. And because his Majesty will try what Scandoser can do by his art, he has written his letters to the Earl of Perth, that he may make trial in Glenartney for taking of some (leer and roes now presently, that he may, by his trial there, judge what he can lo hereafter in Corrichiba. I have done you the best offices that lies in my power to his Majesty, both in this and in all other things that shall either touch or concern you, as I am bound in duty of blood to do. Thus, with the remembrance of my true love to yourself and all yours, I rest your very assured friend and kinsman to serve you.

P. MURRAY.

"Theobalds Park, the 9 of March, 1622."

The King himself wrote Black Duncan a special lcttcr of thanks in the following July." So far as appears, however, the white hind never fell into the toils of the hunters, but wandered her time among the solitudes of her native wilds—a creature of marvel and superstitious mystery, and beautiful in her snowy purity as the white doe of Rylstone.

A sad misfortune which befel Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury, while following the chase in Lord Zouch's park at Harringworth, in Hampshire, shows that deer-hunters were late in abandoning the bow. It was the 24th of July, 1622. The prelate was on horseback, and armed with the cross-bow. As the deer darted past him, he discharged a barbed arrow, but (like the bolt that slew the Red King), it flew wide, and lodged in the left arm of one of the park-keepers named Peter Hawkins, and the man died in less than an hour. The event has no parallel in the ecclesiastical annals of England. The Archbishop was deeply grieved and it is said that, throughout the remainder of his life, he observed a monthly fast on the day of the week on which his hand had been thus stained with blood. He also settled a pension of twenty pounds on the keeper's widow. In Scotland, after the middle of last century, a Highland poacher committed great depredations in the forests with his bow and arrows, and was probably the last who so used such weapons. He was seized red-hand, and brought before the Duke of Athole, who, hearing him vaunt of his skill in archery, pointed to a stag, and desired him to shoot it through the off eye. The Highlander giving a particular whistle, the animal looked round, and immediately received an arrow in the intended spot.

The extreme longevity of the deer was once popularly credited. " Thrice the age of a man is that of a deer," said the Gaelic adage. But it is now ascertained that twenty years comprise the utmost term of life enjoyed by the species. That deer are keenly susceptible of the charms of music has also been asserted. Waller, the poet, alludes to this notion in his Farewell Verses to Dorothy -"At Penshurst"

WhiIe in this park I sing, the list'ning deer
Attend my passion, and forget to fear."

And again in his lines "Of my Lady Isabella," as she played on a lute—

"Here Love takes stand, and while she charms the car,
Empties his quiver on the listening deer."

Playford relates, in his Introduction to Music, that once he "met on the road near Royston, a herd of about twenty stags, following a bagpipe and violin, which, while the music played, went forward, when it ceased they all stood still, and in this manner they were brought out of York- shire to Hampton Court!" Ought not the Highland deer to be slaves of the bagpipe music—unless, in their case, familiarity begets contempt?

We will not enter upon the tedious subject of the old laws concerning foresting, or turn up the antiquated pages of the Scottish Leges Forestarum, a disputable compilation. Enough here to say, with the Duke of Argyll—

It is a great blunder to suppose that deer forests are a modern invention in the Highlands. The high money value of these forests is new, but nothing else. The truth is that an area enormously larger than now was formerly occupied by nothing but deer." ' In 1584, James VI. appointed a keeper of the royal forests of Braemar, Cromar, and Strathdee, who was empowered "to cause train (preserve) the said woods, forests, and muirs, and to search and seek, take and apprehend all and whatsoever persons hunting or repairing therein, with bows, culvcrir.s (guns) or nets, or any other instrument meet and convenient for the destruction of the deer and the muirfowls  . . and to present these persons to the justice, sheriff, or any other ordinary judge, to be punished conform to the laws of this realm." t A century afterwards - in 1687—the Earl of Breadalbane appointed a forester for the south side of Corrichiba (once the haunt of the white li/nd), who was bound 'to stop all passengers travelling through it with guns ; to free himself, his family, and any who lodged with him, of eating venison, except the urnbles and entrails of such as shall be killed for the Earl's use ; to kill in seasonable time of the year, that is, from Midsummer to Hallowmas, the number of sixteen deer, to be sent to the officer of Finlarg, the chamberlain of Glenurchy detaining from him a boll of meal for every deer he is short of the number."

From the deer forests we now pass to the moors. During the last half century or more the annual rents of the moors have risen so much as to form a most important element in the value of highland estates. High as arc the rents, it is not impossible in good seasons, since the extension of railways has afforded facilities for the speedy conveyance of game to the southern markets, that moor lessees may manage to reimburse themselves. The recurrence of bad seasons is now more than ever to be dreaded; for, of recent times, the moors have been frequently devastated by what is called the "Grouse disease," the cause of which seems as yet to have eluded discovery. Early in the present century, we find the distemper attracting attention. The Sportin Magazine for October, 1817, says :-

An extraordinary disease has lately spread more havoc among the grouse in the North of Scotland, than the double-barrelled guns of the numerous sportsmen. The birds are found dead on the hills in great numbers, and in a stale of extenuation, as if they had perished from hunger.

In the same magazine for August, 1819, appeared a notice from an Edinburgh paper A correspondent in the highlands observes, that this season some unaccountable pestilential disease has attacked the moor game in some of the northern counties, and which has destroyed a very great number of them their smell is so loathsome and offensive that their common enemies, viz., the wild birds and collie dogs, will not approach them.

The disease broke out in 1828, when the Greenock Advertiser had the following remarks:-

Having heard a great deal about a destructive disease spreading devastation among the moor game of this district, we have taken some trouble to inquire into the truth of the report, and having ascertained it to be correct, we afterwards caused some inquiries to be made into the nature of the malady. From Mr. Wallace, of Kelly, a well-known adept in sporting matters in this immediate neighbourhood, several grouse, in state of complete emaciation, were sent to town. These were carefully dissected by one of our medical friends, and the disease found in all of them to be tape-worm. It is quite astonishing to observe the extent to which this disease can exist in the feathered tribe before causing death.

Mr. Wallace attributes this dreadful malady, and the occasional scarcity or plentifulness of game generally, to one and the same cause, viz., a continuance of stamp and wet weather, with little sunshine, during the spring and summer months ; or, as his own words gave it—"Game, like wheat, will abound in proportion to the heal of the season, and the continued brilliancy of the sun." Mr. Wallace is aware that this opinion is at variance with the generally received one of the older sportsmen; but a laborious series of observations made by himself have confirmed him in the accuracy of the remark. The sporting men of other days affirmed that dry summers cause death to game for want of water : Mr. Wallace thinks that with warm nights there cannot be too much sun or too little rain, and this for any species of game in the west of Scotland, for in such weather heavy dews never fail to supply their wants.

To suggest a cure for this evil (when we have to do with the untamed and uncontrolled tenants of the moors) is obviously next to impossible. The disease can be cured in domesticated animals, it is true and in small preserves, perhaps some means might be taken to induce the birds to eat of food imbued with so much turpentine, or other substance known to be destructive to the worms, as to effect their removal.

As to the origin of the disease, and also whether there are not two of distinct types, opinions are still at variance. The whole question is beset with difficulties; but probably the disease may be traced to atmospheric influences, or, in other words, exceptional and protracted disturbances of the due temperature of seasons acting prejudicially on the natural food of the grouse. This theory obtains respectable support. Dr. Thomas Cobbold, of London, attributes the distemper to intestinal irritation caused by the presence of parasites—tape-worms and thread-worms. Writers of some experience lay much to account of the heather-blight; but hold that "the crying evil" is the overstocking of moors with sheep, which deprive the grouse to an increasing extent of their natural food, the heather. For ourselves, we cannot venture to speak authoritatively on the subject : but, doubtless with farther painstaking observation, conducted irrespective of all pre- conceived notions, the real root of the evil will be reached, and a remedy found.


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