« PreviousContinue »
and forty youthful nobles like himself, among whom were eighteen noble ladies of the highest rank. All this gay company, with their servants and the fifty sailors, made three hundred souls.
“Give three casks of wine, Fitz-Stephen,” said the prince, “to the fifty sailors of renown. My father, the King, has sailed out of the harbour. What time is there to make merry here, and yet reach England with the rest ?”
"Prince," said Fitz-Stephen, "before morning my fifty and the White Ship shall overtake the swiftest vessel in attendance on your father, the King, if we sail at midnight.”
Then the prince commanded to make merry; and the sailors drank out the three casks of wine; and the prince and all the noble company danced in the moonlight on the deck of the White Ship.
When, at last, she got out of the harbour of Barfleur, there was not a sober seaman on board. But the sails were all set and the oars all going merrily, Fitz-Stephen at the helm.
The gay young nobles, and the beautiful ladies wrapped up in mantles of various bright colors, to protect thenı from the cold, talked, laughed, and sang. The prince encouraged the fifty sailors to row harder yet, for the honor of the White Ship.
Crash! a terrific cry broke from three hundred hearts. It was the cry the people in the distant vessels of the King heard faintly on the water. The White Ship had struck upon a rock, and was going down!
Fitz-Stephen hurried the prince into a boat with some few nobles. “Push off," he whispered, "and row to the land. It is not far, and the sea is smooth. The rest of us must die.”
But as they rowed away fast from the sinking ship, the prince heard the voice of his sister Marie, the Countess of Perche, calling for help. He never in his life had been so good as he was then. He cried in an agony, “Row back at any risk! I cannot bear to leave her!”
They rowed back. As the prince held out his arms to catch his sister, such numbers leaped in that the boat was overset; and in the same instant the White Ship went down.
Only two men floated. They had both clung to the main-yard of the ship, which had broken from the mast, and now supported them. One asked the other who he was. He said, “I am a
nobleman, Godfrey by name, the son of Gilbert de l'Aigle; and you ? " said he. “I am Berold, a poor butcher of Rouen," was the answer. Then they said together, "Lord be merciful to us both!” and tried to encourage one another, as they drifted in the cold benumbing sea on that unfortunate November night.
By-and-by another man came swimming toward them, whom they knew, when he pushed aside bis long wet hair, to be FitzStephen. “ Where is the Prince ? ” said he. the two cried together. “Neither he nor his brother, nor his sister, nor the King's niece, nor her brother, nor any one of the brave three hundred, noble or commoner, except we three, has risen above the water !" Fitz-Stephen, with a ghastly face, cried, “ Woe, woe to me!” and sank to the bottom.
The other two clung to the yard for some hours. At length the young noble said faintly, “I am exhausted, and chilled with the cold, and can hold no longer. Farewell, good friend! God preserve you!” So he dropped and sank, and of all the brilliant crowd, the poor butcher of Rouen alone was saved. In the morning some fishermen saw biun floating in his sheepskin coat, and got him into their boat, the sole relator of the disınal tale.
For three days no one dared to carry the intelligence to the king; at length they sent into his presence a little boy, who, weeping bitterly, and kneeling at his feet, told him that the White Ship was lost, with all on board.
The king fell to the ground like a dead man, and never afterwards was seen to smile.
C. Dickens' Child's Hist. of England.
MASSACRE OF GLENCOE (1691). The authorities at Edinburgh put forth a proclamation, exhorting the Highland clans to submit to King William and Queen Mary, and offering pardon to every rebel who, on or before the thirty-first of December, 1691, should swear to live peaceably under the new government. It was announced that those who should hold out after that day would be treated as enemies and traitors.
The thirty-first of December arrived ; and still the Macdonalds of Glencoe had not come in. The punctilious pride of Mac Ian was doubtless gratified by the thought that he had continued to defy the government after the boastful Glengarry, the ferocious Keppoch, the magnanimous Lochiel had yielded; but he bought his gratification dear.
The news that Mac Ian had not submitted within the prescribed time was received with cruel joy by three powerful Scotchmen, who were then at the English court. To Argyle, as to his cousin Breadalbane, the intelligence that the tribe of Glencoe was out of the protection of the law was most gratify. ing; and the Secretary, the Master of Stair, more than sympathised with them both. The feeling of Argyle and Breadalbane is perfectly intelligible. They were the heads of a great clan; and they had an opportunity of destroying a neighbouring clan with which they were at deadly feud. Breadalbane had received peculiar provocation. His estate had been repeatedly devastated; and he had just been thwarted in a negotiation of high amount. The Earl of Stair hated the Highlanders, not as enemies of this or that dynasty, but as enemies of law, of industry, and of trade. To the last moment he continued to flatter himself that the rebels would be obstinate, and would thus furnish him with a plea for accomplishing that great social revolution on which his heart was set. One clan was now at the mercy of the government, and that clan the most lawless of all. One great act of justice, nay of charity, might be performed. One terrible and memorable example might be given. “Better,” he wrote, “not meddle with them, than meddle to no purpose. When the thing is resolved, let it be secret and sudden.” He was obeyed; and it was determined that the Glencoe men should perish, not by military execution, but by the most dastardly and perfidious form of assassination.
On the first of February, a hundred and twenty soldiers of Argyle's regiment, commanded by a captain named Campbell, and a lieutenant named Lindsay, marched to Glencoe. Captain Campbell was commonly called in Scotland, Glenlyon, from the pass in which his property lay. He had every qualification for the service on which he was employed,-an unblushing forehead, a smooth lying tongue, and a heart of adamant. He was also one of the few Campbells who were likely to be trusted and welcomed by the Macdonalds : for his niece was married to Alexander, the second son of Mac Ian.
The sight of the red-coats approaching caused some anxiety among the population of the valley. John, the eldest son of the chief, came, accompanied by twenty clansmen, to meet the strangers, and asked what this visit meant. Lientenant Lindsay answered that the soldiers came as friends, and wanted nothing but quarters. They were kindly received, and were lodged under the thatched roofs of the little community. Provisions were liberally supplied. There was no want of beef, which had probably fattened in distant pastures ; nor was any payment demanded, for in hospitality, as in thievery, the Gaelic marauders rivalled the Bedouins. During twelve days the soldiers lived familiarly with the people of the glen.
Meanwhile Glenlyon observed with minute attention all the avenues by which, when the signal for the slaughter should be given, the Macdonalds might attempt to escape to the hills; and he reported the result of his observations to his superior, Hamilton. Hamilton fixed five o'clock in the morning of the thirteenth of February for the deed. He hoped that before that time he should reach Glencoe with four hundred men, and should have stopped all the earths in which the old fox and his two cubs, so Mac Ian and his sons were nicknamed by the murderers, could take refuge. But at five precisely, whether Hamilton liad arrived or not, Glenlyou was to fall on, and to slay every Macdonald under seventy.
The night was rough. Hamilton and his troops made slow progress, and were long after their time. While they were contending with the wind and snow, Glenlyon was supping and playing at cards with those whom he meant to butcher before daybreak. He and Lieutenant Lindsay had engaged themselves to dine with the old chief on the morrow.
Late in the evening a vague suspicion that some evil was intended crossed the mind of the chief's eldest son. The soldiers were evidently in a restless state, and some of them uttered strange cries. Two men, it is said, were overheard whispering. “I do not like this job,” one of them muttered; “ I should be glad to fight the Macdonalds. But to kill men in their beds- “We must do as we are bid," answered another
voice. “If there is anything wrong, our officers must answer for it.” John Macdonald was so uneasy, that, soon after midnight, he went to Glenlyon's quarters. Glenlyon and his men were all up, and seemed to be getting their armis ready for action. John, much alarmed, asked what these preparations meant. Glenlyon was profuse of friendly assurances. “ Some of Glengarry's people have been harrying the country. We are getting ready to march against them. You are quite safe. think that, if you were in any danger, I should not have given a hint to your brother Sandy and his wife ?” John's suspicions, were quieted. He returned to his house, and lay down to rest.
It was five in the morning. Hamilton and his men were still some miles off, and the avenues which they were to have secured were open. But the orders which Glenlyon had received were precise; and he began to execute them at the little village where he was himself quartered. His host Inverrigen and nine other Macdonalds were dragged out of their beds, bound hand and foot, and murdered. A boy, twelve years old, clung round the captain's legs, and begged hard for life. He would do any. thing; he would go anywhere; he would follow Glenlyon round the world. Even Glenlyon, it is said, showed signs of relenting; but a ruffian, named Drummond, shot the child dead.
Meanwhile Lindsay had knocked at the door of the old chief, and had asked for admission in friendly language. The door was opened. Mac Ian, while putting on his clothes, and calling to his servants to bring some refreshment for his visitors, was shot through the head. His wife was already up, and dressed in such finery as the princesses of the rude Highland glens were accustomed to wear. The assassins pulled off her clothes and trinkets. The rings were not easily taken from her fingers, but a soldier tore them away with his teeth. She died on the following day.
The peal and flash of gun after gun gave notice, from three different parts of the valley at once, that murder was doing. From fifty cottages the half-naked peasantry fled, under cover of the night, to the recesses of their pathless glen. Even the sons of Mac Ian, who had been especially marked out for destruction, contrived to escape. They were roused from sleep by faithful servants. John, who, by the death of his father, had become the