James Grant.

The romance of war, or, The Highlanders in Spain online

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{Late G2ind JRegiment),


In the garb of old Gaul, with the fire of old Rome,
From the heath-covered inountams of Scotia we come;
Our lovid-sounding pipe breathes the true martial strain,
And our hearts still the old Scottish valour retain.

Lieut.-Gen. Erskine.

^ i^t&j ^Dition.





NoTAYiTHSTANDTNG SO many able military narratives have of late
years issued from the press relative to the glorious operations of the
British Army, for rescuing Portugal and Spain from the grasp of the
invader, the Author believes that the present work is the first which
has been almost exclusively dedicated to the Adventures of a High-
land Eegiment, during the last War ; and he flatters himself that it
will not be found deficient in novelty and interest. He acknow-
ledges that, according to precedent, scenes and incidents have been
introduced into it which are purely imaginary, and whether he ought
to apologize for these, or to make a merit of them, he must leave hi^
readers to decide, according to their individual tastes and pre-

It will need no great sagacity to discriminate between this portion
and the veritable historical and military details, the result of the
experience of one who had the honour of serving in that gallant
corps to which these volumes more especially relate, during the
whole of its brilliant course of service in the Peninsula, and who
participated in all the proud feelings which arose when contem-
plating the triumphant career of an army, whose deeds ana victories
are unsurpassed in the annals of war.

Most of the military operations, and many of- the characters, 'vvill
be familiar to the survivors of the second division, and brother-offi-
cers Avill recognise many old associates in the convivialities of the
mess-table, and in the perils of the battle-field. The names of others
belong to history, and -.vith them tue political or military leader will
be already acquainted.

Few— few indeed of the old corps are now alive ; yet these all
^emember, with equal ])ride and sorrow,

" How, upon bloody Quatre Bras,
Brave Camkron' neard the wild hurra
Of conquest as he fell ; "

and, lest any reader may suppose that in these volumes the national
enthusiasm of the Highlanders has been over-drawn, I shall state
one striking incident which occurred at Waterloo.



On the advance of a heavy column of French infantry to attack
La Haye Saintc, a number of the Highlanders sang the stirriujj
verses of " Bruce's Address to his Army," >vhich, at such a time, had
a most powerful effect on their comrades; and lonj; may such senti-
ments animate their representatives, as they are the best incentives
to heroism and to honest emulation !

It is impossible for a ^^TitGr to speak of his own production, with-
out exposing himself to imputations of either egotism or affected
modesty ; the Author therefore will merely add, that he trusts that
most readers may dii;cover something to attract in these volumes,
which depict from the life the stirring events and all the romance of
warfare, with the various lights and shades of military service, the
principal characters being members of one of those brave regiments,
which, from their striking garb, national feelings, romantic senti-
ments, and esprit de corps are essentially different from the gene-
rality of our troops of the line.




liT the Highlands of Perthshire, a deadly feud had existed from
time immemorial, between the Lisles of Inchavon and the Stuarts
of Lochisla. In the days when the arm of the law was weak, the
proprietors had often headed their kinsmen and followers in en-
counters with the sword, and for the last time during the memorable
civil war of 1745-6. But between the heads of the families, towards
the latter end of the last century (the period when our tale com-
mences), although the era of feudal ideas and outrages had passed
away, the spirit of transmitted hatred, proud rivalry, and revenge,
lurked behind, and a feeUng of most cordial enmity existed between
Stuart and Lisle, who were ever engaged in vexatious lawsuits on
the most frivolous pretences, and constantly endeavouring to cross
each other's interests and intentions — quarrelling at public meetings —
voting on opposite sides — prosecuting for trespasses— and opposing
each other everywhere, " as if the world was not wide enough for
them both ;" and on one occasion a duel would have ensued but for
the timely interference of the sheriff.

Sir Allan Lisle of Inchavon, a man of a quiet and most benevolent
disposition, was heartily tired of the trouble given him by the petty
jealousy of his neighbour Stuart, a proud and irritable Highlander,
who would never stoop to reconciliation with a family whom his
father (a grim duinlie-ioassal of the old school) had ever declared to
him were the hereditary foes of his race. The reader may consider
it singular that such antiquated prejudices should exist so lately as
the end of the last century ; but it must be remembered that the
march of intellect has not made such strides in the north country as
it has done in the Lowlands, and many of the inhabitants of Perth-
shire will recognise a character well known to them, under the namo
of Mr. Stuart.

It must also be remembered, that he was the son of a man who
had beheld the standard of the Stuarts unfurled in Glenfinan, and
had exercised despotic power over his own vassals when the feudal
system existed in its full force, before the act of the British Parlia^
ment abolished the feudal jurisdictions throughout Scotland, and
absolved the unwilling Highlanders from allegiance to their chiefs.

Sir Allan Lisle (who was M.P. for a neighbouring county) was in
every respect a man of superior attainments to Stuart, — being a

I. B


eholar, the master of many modern accomplishments, and having
made the grand tour. To save himself further annoyance, he would
gladly have extended the right hand of fellowship to his stubhoru
neighbour, but pride forbade him to make the first advances.

The residence of this intractable Gael was a square tower, over-
gro\ATi with massesof ivy, and bearing outwardly,and almost inwardly,
the same appearance as when James the Fifth visited it once when
on a hunting excursion. The walls were enormously thick ; the
grated windows were small and irregular ; a corbelled battlement sur-
mounted the top, from the stone bartizan of which the standard of
the OMTier was, on great days, hoisted with much formality by Donald
Iverach, the old piper, or Evan his son, two important personages in
the household of the little tower.

This primitive fortalice was perched upon a projecting craig, which
overhung the loch of Isla, a small but beautiful sheet of water,
having in its centre an islet ^vith the ruins of a chapel. The light-
green birch and black sepulchral pine, flourishing wild and thickly,
grew close to the edge of the loch, and cast their dark shadows upon
its generally unruffled surface. Around, the hills rose lofty, pre-
cipitous, and abrupt from the margin of the lake ; some were covered
with foliage to the summit, and others, bare and bleak, covered only
with the whin-bush or purple heather, where the red roe and the
black cock roved wild and free ; while, dimly seen in the distance,
rose the misty crest of Benmore (nearly four thousand feet above the
level of the sea), the highest mountain, save one, in Perthshire.

A little clachan, or hamlet, consisting of about twenty green,
thatched cottages clustered together, with kail-yards behind, occupied
the foot of the ascent leading to the tower ; these were inhabited by
the tenants, farm-servants, and herdsmen of Stuart. The graceful
garb of the Grael was almost uniformly worn by the men ; and the
old wives, who in fine weather sat spinning on the tui'f-seats at the
doors, wore the simple mutch and the varied tartan of their name.
The "wife of this Highland castellan had long been dead, as were their
children excepting one son, who was almost the only near kinsman
that Stuart had left.

^ Eonald was a handsome youth, with a proud dark eye, a haughty
lip, and a bold and fearless heart, — ^possessing all those feelings which
render the Scottish Highlander a being of a more elevated and
romantic cast than his Lowland neighbours. He was Avell aware of
the groundless animosity which his father nourished against Sir Allan
Lisle ; but as in the course of his lonely rambles, fishing, shooting,
or hunting, he often when a boy encountered the younger members
of the Inchavon family, and as he found them agreeable companions
and plajnnates, he was far from sharing in the feelings of his
prejudiced father. He found Sir Allan's son, Lewis Lisle, an obliging
and active youth, a perfect sportsman, who could -ning a bird with a
single ball, and who knew every corrie and chasm through which the
wandering Isla flowed, and the deep pools where the best trout were
always to be found.

In Ahce Lisle, Ronald found a pretty and agreeable playmate in
youth, but a still more agreeable companion for a solitary ramble as
they advanced in years ; and he discovered in her splendid dark eyes
and glossy black hair charms which he beheld not at home in his
father's mountain tower.

During childhood, when the days passed swiftly and happily, the


brother and sister, of a milder mood than Eonald Stuart, admired the
activity with which ho Avas wont to chmb the highest craigs and
trees, swinging himself, with tne dexterity of a squirrel, from branch
to branch, or rock to rock, seeking the nests of the eagle or raven, or
floAvers that grew in the clefts of Craigonan, to deck the dark ourls
of Alice. Still more were they charmed with the peculiarity of his
disposition, which v/as deeply tinged with the gloomy and romantic, —
a sentiment which exists in the bosom of every Highlander, imparted
by the scenery amidst which he dwells, the lonely hills and silent
shores of his lochs, pathless and solitary heaths, where cairns and
moss-covered stones mark the tombs of departed warriors, pine-
covered hills, frowning rocks, and solitary defiles, — all fraught with
traditions of the past, or tales of mysterious beings who abide m them.
These cause the Gaelic mountaineer to be a sadder and more thought-
ful man than the dwellers in the low country, who inhabit scenes less
grand and majestic.

In the merry laugh and the gentle voice of Alice, Eonald found a
charm to wean him from the tower of Lochisla, and the hours
which he spent in her society, or in watching the windows of her
fathei^'s house, were supposed to be spent in search of the black-cock
and the fleet roes of Benmore ; and many a satirical observation he
endured, in consequence of bringing home an empty game-bag, after
a whole day's absence with his gun.

Eonald enjoyed but little society at the tower. His father, in con-
sequence of the death of his wife and younger children, and owing to
many severe losses which he had sustained in the course of his long
series of litigations, had become a moody and silent man, spending
his days either in reading, or in solitary rides and rambles. His
voice, vv'hich, when he did speak, was authoritative enough and loud,
was seldom heard in the old tower, where the predominant sounds
were the grunting tones of Janet, the aged housekeeper, who quar-
relled continually Avith Donald Iverach, the piper, whenever the
latter could find time, from his almost constant occupations of pipin©
and drinking, to enjoy a skirmish with her.

As years crept on, the friendship between the young people
strengthened, and in the breasts of Alice and Eonald Stuart became
a deeper and a more absorbing feeling, binding them " heart to heart,
and mind to mind," and each became all the world unto the other.
To them there was something pleasing and even romantic in the
strange secrecy they were necessitated to use ; believing that, should
their intercourse ever come to the ears of their parents, effectual
means would be taken to put a stop to it.



"Alice ! my own fair Alice ! my hard destiny ordains that I must
leave you," was the sorrowful exclamation of Eonald one evening, as
he joined Ahce at their usual place of meeting, a sohtary spot on the
banks of the Isla, where the willow and alder-bush, overhanging the
eteep rocks, swept the dark surface of the stream.

"I^eave nie ! Eonald, what can you mean ? " was the trembling



reply of the fair girl, as she put her arm through his, and gazed
anxiously on the troubled countenance of her lover,

" That 1 must go — far from you and the bonnie banks of the Isla.
Yes, Alice ; but it is only for a short time, I trust. Of the embar-
rassed state of my father's affairs, by liis long lawsuits and other
matters, I have acquainted you already, and it has now become
necessary for me to choose some profession. My choice has been the
nrmy : what other could one, possessing the true spirit of a Highland .
gentleman, follow ? "

" O Ronald ! I ever feared our happiness was too great to last
long. Ah ! you must not leave me."

"Alice," replied the young Highlander, his cheek flushing while
he spoke, " our best and bravest men are going forth in thousands
to meet the enemies of our country, drenching in their blood the
fatal peninsula ; and can I remain behind, \viien so many of my
name and kindred have fallen in the service of the king ? Never
has the honour of Scotland been tarnished by the few who have
returned^ nor lost by those who have fallen, in every clime where
the British standard has been unfurled against an enemy. An
ensigncy has been promised me ; and in a Highland regiment, wear-
ing the garb, inheriting the spirit of the Gael, and commanded by a
grandson of the great Lochiel ; and I cannot shrink when my father
bids me go, although my heart should almost burst at leaving you
behind, my own — own Alice ! " and he pressed to his bosom the
agitated girl, who seemed startled at the vehemence v,it]i which he
had spoken.

" But hold, Alice," he added, on perceiving tears trembling on her
dark eyelashes ; " you must not give way thus. I will return, and
all will yet be well. Only imagine what happiness will then be ours,
should the famihes be on good terms, and I, perhaps, Sir Eonald
Stuart, and knight of I know not how many orders ?"

" Ah, Eonald ! but think of how many have left their happy
homes with hearts beating high with hope and pride, and left them
never to return. Did not the three sons of your cousin of Strathonan
leave their bones on the red sands of Egji)t ? and many more can I
name. Ah ! how I tremble to think of the scenes that poor soldiers
must behold — scenes of which I cannot form even the slightest

" These are sad forebodings," replied the young man, smiling ten-
derly, " and from the hps of one less young and less beautiful than
yourself, might have been considered as omens of mischance. I
trust, however, that I, who have so often shot the s'oiftest red roes in
Strathisla, slept whole nights on the frozen heather, and know so
well the use of the target and claymore (thanks to old Iverach), shall
make no bad soldier or campaigner, and endure the hardships in-
cident to a military hfe infinitely better than the fine gentleman of
the Lowland cities. The proud Cameron who is to command me
will, I am sure, be my friend ; he will not forget that his grandsire's
hfe was saved by mine at CuUoden, and he will regard me with the
love of the olden time, for the sake of those that are dead and gone.
Oh, AUce ! I could view the bright prospect which is before me with
tumultuous joy, but for the sorrow of leaving you, my white-haired
father, and the bonnie braes and deep corries of Isla. But if ^nth
Heaven's aid I escape, promise, Alice, that when I return you


will be mine, — mine by a dearer title than ever I could call you

" Eonald— dearest Eonald ; I will love you as I have ever done,'*
she said in a soft yet energetic tone; "and I feel a secret voice
within me which tells that the happy anticipations of the past will —
Avill yet be accomphshed." The girl laid her blushing cheek on the
shoulder of the young man, and her dark thick curls, becoming free
from the little cap or bonnet which had confined them, fell over his
breast in disorder.

At that exciting moment of passion and mental tumult, Eonald's
eye met a human countenance observing them sternly from among
the leaves of the trees that flourished near them. The foliage was
suddenly pushed aside, and Sir Allan Lisle appeared, scanning the
young offenders with a stern glance of displeasure and surprise. He
was a tall thin man, in the prime of life, mth a fine countenance
expressive of mildness and benevolence. He wore his hair thickly
powdered, and tied in a queue behind. He carried a heavy hunting-
whip in his hand, which he grasped ominously as he turned his keen
eye alternately from the young man to his trembling daughter, who,
leaning against a tree, covered her face with her handkerchief ani
sobbed hysterically. Eonald Stuart stood erect, and returned Sir
Allan's glance as firmly and as proudly as he could, but he felt some
trouble in maintaining his self-possession. His smart blue bonnet
had fallen off*, fully reveahng his strongly-marked and handsome
features, where Sir Allan read at once that he was a bold youth, with
whom proud looks and hard words would little avail.

" How now, sir ! " said he at length. " What am I to understand
by all this ? Speak, young gentleman," he added, perceiving that
Eonald was puzzled, answer me truly. As the father of this im-
prudent girl, I am entitled to a reply."

Eonald was about to stammer forth something.

" You are, I believe, the son of Stuart of Lochisla?" mterrupted
Sir Allan, sternly, "who is far from being a friend to me or mine.
How long is it since you have kno^Ti my daughter ? and what am I
to understand from the scene you have acted here ?"
■^k" That 1 love Miss Lisle with the utmost tenderness that one
being is capable of entertaining for another," replied Eonald, his
face suffusing with a crimson glow at the earnest confession. " Sir
Allan, if you have seen what passed just now, you will perceive that
I treat her with that respect and dehcacy which the beauties of her
mind and person deserve."

"' This is indeed all very fine , sir ! and very romantic too ; but
rather unexpected, — upon my honour, rather so," replied the baronet
sarcastically, as he drew the arm of the weeping Alice through his.
" But pray. Master Stuart, how long has this clandestine matter been
carried on ? how long have you been acquainted ? "

" Prom our earliest childhood, sir — indeed I tell you truly — from
the days in whicli we used to gather wild flowers and berries
together as little children. We have been ever together ; a day has
scarcely elapsed without our seeing each other ; and there is not a
dingle of the woods, a dark corrie of the Isla, or a spot on the braes
of Strathouan, where we have not wandered hand in hand, since the
days when Alice was a laughing little girl with flaxen curls until
BOW, when she is become tall, beautiful, and almost a woman with


rinclets as black as the wing of the muircock. But your son Lewis
will tell all these things better than I can, as I am rather confused
just now, Sir Allan."

" 'Tis veiy odd this matter has been concealed from me so lone,"
said the other, softened by the earnest tone of the young man, who
felt how much depended upon the issue of the present unlooked-for
interview ; " and if my ears have not deceived me, I think I heard
you otler marriage to my foolish daughter on your return from
somewhere ? "

" It is very true, sir," replied the young man modestly.

" And pray, young sir, what are your pretensions to the hand of
Miss Lisle?"

" Sir !" ejaculated Ronald, his cheek flushing and his eye sparkling
at the angry inquiry of the other.

" I ask you, ^Mr. Stuart, what are they ? Your father I know to
be an almost ruined man, whose estates are deeply dipped and over-
whelmed by bonds, mortgages, and what not. He has, moreover, been
a deadly enemy to me, and has most unwarrantably "

" Oh, pray, papa ! dear papa !" urged the young lady imploringly.

" Sir Allan Lisle," cried Eonald with, a stern tone, while his heart
beat tumultuously, '"' Lowland lawyers and unlooked-for misfortunes
ai'e, I know, completing our ruin, and the pen and parchment have
made more inroads upon us than ever your ancestors could have
done Avith all Perthshire at their back ; but, truly, it ill becomes a
gentleman of birth and breeding to speak thus slightingly of au
old and honourable Highland family. If my father, inheriting as
he does ancient prejudices, has been hostile to your interests, I, Sir
Allan, never have been so ; and the time was once, when a Lisle
dared not have spoken thus tauntingly to a Stuart of the house of

Sir Allan admired the proud and indignant air with which th&
youth spoke ; but he wished to humble him if possible, and deemed
that irony was a better weapon than anger to meet the fiery young
Highlander mth. He gave a sort of tragi-comic start, and was
about to make some sarcastic reply, when his foot caught the root of
a tree ; he reeled backward, and fell over the rocky bank into the
Isla, which formed a deep, dark, and noiseless pool below.

A loud and startling cry burst from Ahce as her father suddenly-
disappeared from her side.

" Save him, save him, Eonald ! Oh, Honald ! if you love me, save
my father !" she cried in accents at once soul-stirring and imploring,
while she threw herself upon her knees, and, not daring to look upon
the stream, covered her eyes with her hands, calling alternately upon.
Heaven and her lover in tones which defy the power of language to
describe, to save her father.

" Dearest Ahce, calm yourself; be pacified,— he shall not perish,"
cried Eonald, whose presence of mind had never once forsaken him,
as he cast aside his bonnet and short sporting-coat, and gazed over
the bank upon the rapid river running l3etween two abrupt walls of
rock, against the dark sides of which the spray and foam raised by
Sir Allan's struggles was dashed. The latter was beating the water
friu.iessly in the centre of the pool, where it vras deep and the
current strong ; yet he made no outcry, as if unwilling to add to the
distress which he knew his daughter already experienced.

He bestowed one look of terror and agony on Eonald, who instantly


sprang off the precipitous rock, and swimming round him, strongly and
vigorously in wide circles, caught him warily by the hair, and holding
his head above the surface of the stream, swam down the current to
a spot where the bank was less steep, and -vnth some exertion landed
Idm safely on the green turf, where he lay long speechless ; while
Ahce wrung her hands, and wept in an ecstasy of terror, embracing
her father and his preserver by turns. The latter, who was nothing
the worse for his ducking, put on his bonnet and upper garment with
perfect sang froid ; but it was some time before Sir Allan recovered
himself so far as to be able to thank his preserver, who poured down
his throat as he lay prostrate the contents of a metal hunting-flask,
which he generally carried about with him filled with the best
brandy, procured, by means unknown, duty free at Lochisla,

Shoi-tly and emphatically did Sir Allan thank Eonald for the aid
he had rendered, as he must inevitably have perished, being unable
to swmi, and having to contend with a strong current, which would
soon have carried him over the high cascade of Corrie-avon. Eonald
inwardly blessed the accident which had rendered Sir Allan so much
"his debtor, and wrought such a happy change of sentiment in his
favoui'. lie accompanied Alice and her father to one of _ the gate-
lodges of Inchavon, and there resisting an earnest invitation to the
house, he returned with all speed home, not ill -pleased with the issue
of the day's advent lu'es, .



One fine forenoon, a few days after the occurrences related in the
last chapter, a horseman appeared riding along the nan'ow uneven

Online LibraryJames GrantThe romance of war, or, The Highlanders in Spain → online text (page 1 of 71)