Explanatory Notes

The primary purpose of these Explanatory Notes is twofold: to explain or identify words and phrases that might be obscure to modern readers of The Emigrant; and to call attention to words, phrases, and passages that allude to or, as the case may be, derive from the works of other writers. In the latter category, the notes are intended to complement the Introduction, where the emphasis is placed less on local verbal and phrasal echoes than on the large patterns, attitudes, and assumptions that link The Emigrant not only with other works in the Canadian continuity, but also with the writers and ideas of McLachlan's time and earlier. Quotations from Burns, Moore, and Scott—the poets most frequently echoed in the diction, tone, and poetic texture of The Emigrant—are from the Aldine edition of The Poetical Works of Robert Burns, with a Memoir of Burns by Sir Harris Nicolas (London: Bell and Daldy, 1839); the Albion editon of The Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (London: Griffith, Farren, Okeden and Welsh, 1882); and the Globe Library edition of The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott, with a Biographical and Critical Memoir by Francis Turner Palgrave (1866, rpt. London: Macmillan, 1907). Quotations from Galt, Traill, and Weld—the prose writers upon whom McLachlan makes the heaviest levies—are from the following editions: John Galt, Lawrie Todd. or, the Settlers in the Woods (London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, 1830) and Bogle Corbett; or, the Emigrants (London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, 1831); Catharine Parr Traill, The Backwoods of Canada: Being Letters from the Wife of an Emigrant Officer, Illustrative of the Domestic Economy of British America, The Library of Entertaining Knowledge (1836, rpt. Toronto: Coles, 1971); and Isaac Weld, Travels through the States of North America and the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, During the Years 1795, 1796, and 1797, 4th Edition, Introduction by Martin Roth, Series in American Studies (1807, rpt. New York and London: Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1968). The edition of Donald [Page 69] McLeod's History of the Destitution of Sutherlandshire from which quotations have been taken is the enlarged and retitled version published by Thompson and Co. in Toronto in 1857: Gloomy Memories in the Highlands of Scotland: Versus Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe's Sunny Memories in (England) a Foreign Land: or a Faithful Picture of the Extirpation of the Celtic Race from the Highlands of Scotland. Unless otherwise noted, quotations from “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” and other early poems and ballads are from Thomas Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, 4th Edition (1794, rpt. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1847). Other quotations in the notes are taken from first, standard, or definitive editions.
    In compiling these notes, extensive use has been made of the Oxford English Dictionary, The Concise Scots Dictionary, Webster's Geographical Dictionary, The Canadian Encyclopedia, and J.B. Reid's Complete Concordance to the Poems and Songs of Robert Burns (Glasgow: Kerr and Richardson, 1889). The Glossary of Scots Words in the last work has also been useful, as have the similar glossaries in the Aldine edition of Burn's Poetical Works and The Poetical Works of Alexander McLachlan, edited and with an introduction by Edward Hartley Dewart (Toronto: William Briggs, 1900; hereafter cited as PW). Details of the life of James George (see the note to the Dedication) are taken from the entry by H.P. Gundy in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, IX, 306-307.


McLachlan was anticipated in his choice of title by several writers on both sides of the Atlantic, including Standish O'Grady, who published the first canto of The Emigrant, a Poem, in Four Cantos in Montreal in 1842 (see Brian Trehearne's edition of the poem in the Canadian Poetry Press Series). As already recorded, Galt's Bogle Corbet is subtitled the Emigrants.


The epigraph to The Emigrant, and Other Poems is taken from Epistle, I, xi, 27 by the Roman poet and essayist Horace. It is translated in The Works of Q. Horatius Flaccus. The Original Text Being Reduced to the Natural Order and Construction, with Stirling's Translation Interlinearly Arranged (1856; rev. ed. 1872), p. 351 as “they change their climate, not their disposition, who run beyond the sea.” For another translation, see the [Page 70] Introduction to the present edition, p. xlviii. See also O'Grady's The Emigrant, which contains the same epigraph, followed by a stanzaic translation of it.


TO THE REVEREND PROFESSOR GEORGE. . . . James George was born in 1800 at Muckhart, Perthshire, Scotland. In 1833 he came to Upper Canada after spending four years in the United States, an experience which apparently cured him of the radical political ideas that he had held in Scotland. He was a minister at Scarborough for most of the seventeen years after his arrival in Canada and played an active part in suppressing the rebellion led by William Lyon Mackenzie in 1837. In 1853 he was made professor of mental and moral philosophy at Queen's College in Kingston and, a short time later, acting head of the College with the title of Vice-Principal. In 1856 he became embroiled in a controversy that brought him into conflict with George Weir, a classics professor whom he had been partly responsible for bringing to Queen's from Scotland. The feud between George and Weir was dormant between 1859 and the fall of 1861 when Weir asserted that his sister had borne an illegitimate child by George. At first, George denied the charge and demanded an investigation, but he soon changed his mind and resigned from the College for reasons of ill health. His resignation became effective in the spring of 1862 and thereafter he was a successful minister in Stratford until his death there in 1870. His writings include Sabbath School of the Fireside (1859) and Thoughts on High Themes (1874), a collection of his sermons. Some laudatory comments by George on McLachlan's Lyrics (1858) are included at the end of The Emigrant, and Other Poems and reprinted in the entry on the poet in Henry J. Moragan's Bibliotheca Canadensis: a Manual of Canadian Literature (1867).


3 the history of a backwoods settlement In his Preface to Lawrie Todd, Galt describes the novel as “[a] description . . . of the rise and progress of a successful American settlement . . . (pp. iv-v). A term for the largely unsettled or “uncultivated” (Introduction 13) hinterlands, “backwoods” appears in the titles of several works of the early [Page 71] nineteenth century, including that of one of McLachlan's principal sources, Traill's The Backwoods of Canada.
4-5 manners and customs of the old pioneers Cf. Percy, Preface, Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, p. x: “. . . such specimens of ancient poetry have been selected, as . . . display the peculiar manners and customs of former ages. . . .”

Erin Village Between 1850 and 1877, McLachlan lived on a one acre property in Erin Township, Wellington County, northwest of Toronto, Ontario.

The Poem


1 Land of mighty lake and forest! Cf. Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, VI, ii, 1-4: “O Caledonia! . . . Land of brown heath and shaggy wood, / Land of the mountain and the flood . . .” and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Introduction, The Song of Hiawatha, 11-12: “‘From the forest and the prairies, / From the great lakes of the Northland. . . .’”
2 locks are hoarest Hair is greyest, frostiest.
4 Keenest Sharpest; most piercing. Cf. William Cowper, Table-Talk, 294: “Place me where Winter breathes his keenest air. . . .”
5 searest Serest: most dry, withered.
11 cataract stupendous Amazingly large waterfall.
14-16 pines of giant stature; / . . . jagged hemlocks . . . / Thick as bristles on the boar Cf. Traill, The Backwoods of Canada, p. 16: “. . . the further he went the thicker the hemlocks and cedars became . . . [until], to use the expression of our driver, the cedars grew as thick as hairs on a cat's back. . . .”
19 crane McLachlan is probably using the word crane to refer to the Great Blue Heron (ardea herodias), which was and is common in Ontario.
25f. See Traill, The Backwoods of Canada, pp. 153-154: “Here there are no historical associations, no legendary tales of those that came before us. Fancy would starve for lack of marvellous food to keep her alive in the backwoods. . . . I heard a friend exclaim . . . ‘It is the most unpoetical of all lands. There is no scope for imagination; here all is new—the very soil seems newly formed; there is no hoary ancient grandeur in [Page 72] these woods; no recollections of former deeds connected with the country. The only beings in which I take any interest are the Indians, and they want the warlike character and intelligence that I had pictured to myself they would possess.’” Also cf. Longfellow, Introduction, The Song of Hiawatha, passim for an enthusiastic celebration of the “stories,” “legends and traditions” of the Indians of the Great Lakes Region. In his much-reprinted History of the Discovery and Settlement of America (1777), the Scottish historian and churchman William Robertson asserted that the Indians of North America had no “annals or traditions” (9th edition, 1800, II, 28). That McLachlan was thinking, not of Amerindian culture, but of the absence in Canada of the kind of history and poetry celebrated by Scott in such works as The Lay of the Last Minstrel only serves to emphasize the Eurocentric vision of the passage.
29 bards and sages Poets and wise-men.
32 war-like panoply A soldier's complete suit of armour. The context suggests that McLachlan had in mind the colourful armour associated with medieval knights by Scott and other chivalric writers.
34 Where no battle's lost and won Cf. William Shakespeare, Macbeth, I, i, 4: “When the battle's lost and won.”
35f. In the cottage in the woods See Moore, “Ballad Stanzas” in Poems Relating to America for a “cottage” among the “sumach” and “green elms” of a “‘lone little wood’” in the American or Canadian hinterland as a spot where an ideal love might be found.
39f. See Traill, The Backwoods of Canada, p. 155: “For myself, though I can easily enter into the feelings of the . . . enthusiastic lover of the wild and the wonderful of historic lore, I can yet make myself very happy and contented in this country. If its volume of history is yet blank, that of Nature is open, and eloquently marked by the finger of God; and from its pages I can extract a thousand sources of amusement and interest whenever I take my walks in the forest or by the borders of the lakes.” See also Horace, Epistle I, xi, 29: “quod petis hic est” (‘what you are seeking is here . . .’). And cf. Longfellow, Introduction, The Song of Hiawatha 77f.:

Ye who love the haunts of Nature,
Love the sunshine in the meadow [Page 73]
Love the shadow of the forest . . .
                    .     .     .

    Ye who love a nations legends,
Love the ballads of a people
                    .     .     .

    Ye whose hearts are fresh and simple,
Who have faith in God and Nature,
Who believe, that in all ages
Every human heart is human . . .
                    .     .     .

Listen to the simple story,
To the Song of Hiawatha.

48 hyssop See 1 Kings 4.33: “And he [Solomon] spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall. . . .” On the basis of the passage, the hyssop, a small aromatic herb native to Southern Europe, stands as the type of the lowly plant. Cf. Cowper, Hope, 287-288: “Say, botanist, within whose province fall / The cedar and the hyssop on the wall . . . ?”

Chapter I. Leaving Home.

I, 1-2 stone / With . . . gray moss overgrown Longfellow concludes the Introduction to The Song of Hiawatha by recommending his poem to readers who have sometimes paused

Over stone walls grey with mosses,
. . . by some neglected graveyard,
                . . . [to] ponder
On a half-effaced inscription,
Written with little skill of song-craft,
Homely phrases, but each letter
Full of hope and yet of heart-break,
Full of all the tender pathos
Of the Here and the Hereafter. . . .
[Page 74]

Cf. Traill, The Backwoods of Canada, p. 118: “. . . I sat on the cold mossy stone in the profound stillness of that vast leafy wilderness, thousands of miles from all those holy ties of kindred and early associations that make home in all countries a hallowed spot. . . . My reverie was broken. . . .”

I, 8-10 Cf. Cf. William Cowper, “Verses Supposed to be Written by Alexander Selkirk,” 29-33: “But the sound of the church-going bell / These valleys and rocks never heard, / Never sighed at the sound of a knell, / Or smiled when a sabbath appeared.”
I, 8 Sabbath Christian Sunday, especially as a day of worship and abstinence from work and play in Presbyterian and other “low” and non-conformist protestant religions.
I, 9 desolation's brood The inhabitants of the wilderness.
I, 10 trackless Pathless; untrodden.
I, 12 manifold Many and various.
I, 15 fortune Often, as here (and I, 31), personified as a goddess, fortune (chance, luck, destiny) is regarded as the cause of changes and events in people's lives.
I, 25 Transcendental Transcendent: supreme, extraordinary, high-flying.
I, 25 meteor Any effect in the sky or, specifically, a shooting star.
I, 27-28 See 1 Corinthians 7.31: “. . . the fashion of this world passeth away.”
I, 37 circumstance Detail, particular.
I, 41 dell Small hollow or valley, usually with tree-covered sides.
I, 45 bells in clusters blue The blue bell of Scotland: a species of flower (campanula rotundifolia) that has blue, bell-shaped flowers in the summer and autumn. In conjunction with the next line, see Burns, “Song” (“Their groves o' sweet myrtles let foreign lands reckon”), 5-6: “Far dearer to me are yon humble broom bowers, / Where the blue-bell and gowan lurk lowly unseen. . . .”
I, 46 The gowan wi' its drap o' dew See Burns, “Song. My Nanie, O.? (“Behind yon hills where Lugar flows”), 15-16: “The op'ning gowan, wat wi' dew, / Nae purer is than Nanie, O.” gowan: “the flower of the daisy, dandelion, hawk-weed, etc.” (The Poetical Works of Robert Burns). drap: drop.
I, 47 The cowslip and the primrose pale The cowslip and the primrose— both wild plants that are found in Scotland and bear yellow flowers in [Page 75] the spring— appear several times in Burns' poems, for example in “Song. The Bonie Blink o' Mary's EE!” (“Now bank an' brae are claith'd in green, / An' scatter'd cowslips sweetly spring . . .”) and “Song. Afton Water” (“Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes . . . Where wild in the woodlands the primroses blow . . .”).
I, 48 Cartha's lovely vale “The Cart (poetic Cartha) is a stream in Renfrewshire falling into the Clyde” (PW, p. 408). McLachlan spent his childhood in the valley (“vale”) of the Clyde.
I, 52 adieu Good-bye. See Burns, “Song. The Farewell” (“It was a' for our rightfu' King, / We left fair Scotland's strand”), 16-18: “With adieu for evermore, / My dear; / With adieu for evermore”; and the quotation from McLeod's Gloomy Memories in the Highlands of Scotland at II, 81-96, below.
I, 59-64 This passage recalls many celebrations in Romantic and Victorian poetry of local attachment and a supposed spiritual component of Nature. Behind it may lie Scott's excursus on the “secret power” exerted by native landscapes on peoples' affections in the Introduction to Marmion, III and the same poet's paean to Scotland—“Breathes there a man, with soul so dead, / Who never to himself hath said, This is my own, my native land!” and so on—in The Lay of the Last Minstrel, VI, i-ii. In spirit and tone the passage also recalls William Wordsworth's sense of “A motion and a spirit, that impels / All thinking things, all objects of all thought, / And rolls through all things” in “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey,” 100-103. Moreover, McLachlan's “unseen power” (63) may echo the “unseen Power” that “Floats though unseen among us . . . As summer winds that creep from flower to flower” in the opening stanza of Percy Bysshe Shelley's “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty” and his “close communion” with this “power” may echo the “Communion” between Nature and those who love her in William Cullen Bryant's “Thanatopsis,?XXX See also the opening stanza of Eliza Cook's “The Land of My Birth”: “There's a magical tie to the land of our home, / Which the heart cannot break, though the footsteps may roam.” No doubt McLachlan's lines draw also on numerous passages of prose by Thomas Carlyle, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and others which express similarly transcendental or hermetic notions.
I, 65-67 Broom is a yellow-flowered shrub that grows on sandy banks in Britain and blossoms in the spring. Cf. Burns, “Song” (“Their groves [Page 76] o' sweet myrtles let foreign lands reckon”), 4-5: “. . . the burn stealing under the lang yellow broom. / Far dearer to me are yon humble broom bowers. . . .”
I, 69-84 “Looming up on the northern horizon, as one looked across that noted stream [The Clyde] from the garden of the . . . house [in which McLachlan spent his childhood], could be seen the peak of Benlomond, often mentioned or implied in his verse” (Biographical Sketch, PW, p. 20).
I, 72 The furrows of six thousand years In McLachlan's day, many Christians still believed that the earth was created by God in a single week approximately four thousand years before the birth of Christ.
I, 74 See the note to I, 27-28, above.
I, 86 bid me all adieu See the note to I, 52, above and Galt, Bogle Corbet, I, 182: “. . . an intention to emigrate for ever is, as far as worldly feelings are concerned, more analogous to quitting life than those imagine to whom we must bid adieu.”
I, 87-89 Cf. Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, IV, ii: “Low as that tide [of human time] has ebb'd with me, / It still reflects to Memory's eye / The hour. . . .”
I, 90 cot Cottage.
I, 91 grandsire Grandfather.
I, 95-198 See the Introduction, pp. xx-xxii for a discussion of the grandfather's advice to the departing emigrant and its various precedents and sources.
I, 101 injunctions Directions; authoritative advice.
I, 103 three score years and ten Seventy: the length of a human life according to Psalm 90.10: “The days of our years are three score years and ten. . . .” See also, in conjunction with I, 91, Galt, Lawrie Todd, 203-210 where a mysterious “old man”“aged three-score at least, for his hair was quite white” tells the story of his life, but on this side of the Atlantic.
I, 104 mutation Change, alteration.
I, 114 reverses Reversals of fortune; changes for the worse.
I, 124 deem Consider, believe, count, judge.
I, 139 aye Always.
I, 148 upbraid Criticize, reproach. [Page 77]

Chapter II. The Journey

  Cf. Galt, Bogle Corbet, I, 273-281: “Chapter XXXIV. The Passage.”
II, 1 In the good ship “Edward Thorn” See the Introduction, pp. XX-XX for a discussion of the autobiographical dimension to McLachlan's account of the emigrants' journey to Canada. According to Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping (1840, and other volumes), the Edward Thorn was a “Ship” (a vessel with a bowsprit and three masts, each having three sails) built in Nova Scotia in 1835 and owned (until sometime between July 1, 1841 and June 30, 1842) by A.B. Thorn of Halifax. In Bogle Corbet, I, 251, Galt describes the emigrant vessel Mirimachi sarcastically as a “‘good ship’.”
II, 2 billows Large swelling waves or merely waves; poetically, the sea.
II, 3 motley Diverse; varied in character.
II, 4 weary sea A phrase evocative of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” with its “weary . . . weary time” and “wide wide sea” (145, 233). In Bogle Corbet, I, 285, Galt quotes from Coleridge's poem in an account of a ship becalmed in the Caribbean Sea.
II, 6 they had denied them bread In the first half of the nineteenth century and earlier, there was rapid industrial growth and urbanization in Great Britain, and poverty on a massive scale. Food was distributed by private charities in many areas, but, on the whole, relief for the poor was unorganized and inadequate. The wide gap between the less and more fortunate beneficiaries of industrialism which McLachlan knew at first hand produced what Benjamin Disraeli in Sybil (1845) called “The Two Nations . . ., the Rich and the Poor”—the ‘them’ and ‘us’ situation implied by McLachlan's statement.
II, 8 restlessness See Galt, Bogle Corbet, III, 43 (the first paragraph of the chapter entitled “Emigrants”): “A constant yearning for something new in scene or occupation is peculiar to emigrants, whether industrious or dilatory. The same spur in the side which impels them from their native land, goads them wherever they go, and is the main cause of that restless irritation characteristic more or less of them all.” Later (III, 144), Galt writes of “the restlessness inherent in the emigrant's mind. . . .”
II, 12 The promised land of liberty The promised land of the Old Testament is, of course, Canaan (see Genesis 17.8, for example, and Exodus 6.4); for McLachlan's emigrants, the journey from oppression to “liberty” is the voyage from Britain to North America. [Page 78]
II, 15 mechanician Someone who practices or is skilled in an art or craft involving machines or tools.
II, 16 lean lank Thin tall.
II, 16 politician Someone engaged or interested in politics.
II, 18 jocund Merry; sprightly; pleasant.
II, 19 divine Someone (usually a cleric) who is skilled in theology.
II, 21 Kent A county in the southeast of England;
II, 30 deep Ocean.
II, 31 Not a breath the sails to fill Coleridgean: cf. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” 107 (“Down dropped the breeze, the sails dropped down . . .”), 169 (“Without a breeze, without a tide . . .”), 336 (“Yet never a breeze up-blew . . .”), and, in conjunction with the two ensuing lines, 115-118 (“Day after day, day after day, / We stuck, nor breath nor motion / As idle as a painted ship / Upon a painted ocean”).
II, 34 “As a sea god fast asleep,” The source of this quotation has yet to be identified.
II, 35-46 Galt, Bogle Corbet, I, 283-286 records the various reactions of the crew and passengers on a becalmed vessel: “The sailors . . . spoke superstitiously to each other . . .”; “The captain spoke to the major, who had made several voyages, as if the phenomenon was ominous of wind; but it was not hurricane season . . .”; and a deeply disturbed boy “told us that he had been all day thinking of home. . . .”
II, 42 To seek a home beyond the wave See, in conjunction with the preceding lines, Oliver Goldsmith, The Traveller, 409-410: “Forc'd from their homes, a melancholy train, / To traverse climes beyond the western main”; and The Deserted Village, 367-368: “And took a long farewell, and wished in vain / For seats like these beyond the western main.”
II, 45 boisterous Rough; noisily cheerful.
II, 47 knaves Unprincipled people given to dishonest practices; rogues.
II, 49 mother of slaves Cf. “Rule, Britannia! / Britannia rules the waves! / Britons never shall be slaves” (lines from James Thomson's Alfred, II, v, which quickly transcended their vehicle into the balmy air of patriotic sentiment).
II, 54 broth Thin soup.
II, 55 squire Country gentleman, especially the chief land-owner in a district. [Page 79]
II, 55 preserving his game Carlyle's work is peppered with satirical attacks on the game-preserving Aristocracy; see, for example, Sartor Resartus, II, ii (the “double-barrelled Game-preserver” whose spiritual self has been “crushed-down perhaps by vigour of animal digestion”) and II, iii (where the “English Game-Preserver” is lumped together with the “Pope” and the “Russian Autocrat”). See also Past and Present, passim.
II, 59 Justice Judge; magistrate.
II, 71-88 Cf. Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, IV (Coda):

His legendary song . . .
Of ancient deeds, so long forgot;
Of feuds, whose memory was not;
Of forests, now laid waste and bare;
Of towers, which harbour now the hare;
Of manners, long since changed and gone;
Of chiefs, who under their grey stone
So long had slept . . .

In sooth, 'twas strange, this old man's verse
Could call them from their marble hearse.

II, 71 lays Songs, poems.
II, 72 Scotia Latin, and a poeticism: Scotland.
II, 72-76 braes . . . glens . . . knowes . . . dens Respectively, hill-sides, narrow valleys, knolls (small hills), dingles (deep hollows between hills). All four words have Scottish associations, and are repeatedly used by Burns, especially in his songs. See, for example, I, 47, above and, also “Song. Afton Water”: “Ye wild whistling blackbirds in yon thorny den” (6).
II, 76 hawthorn A thorny shrub (see previous note) with white, red, or pink flowers and dark red berries that is, of course, common in Scotland.
II, 77 burnside Stream-side, river-side.
II, 77 linnet Small brown or gray song-bird mentioned several times by Burns, for instance in “Song. The Lover's Morning Salute to his Mistress” (“Sleep'st thou, or wak'st thou, fairest creature?”) 8-9: “In twining hazel bowers / His lay the linnet pours. . . .”
II, 78 lee lang Livelong (poeticism): whole length of, with implications of delight or satiety. Again, a term used several times by Burns, as in [Page 80] “Song. O, Were I on Parnassus' Hill,” 9-11: “Then come, sweet Muse, inspire my lay! / For a' the lee-lang simmer's day, / I could na sing. . . .”
II, 79 simple Another word used frequently by Burns to describe his poems, his poetic persona, and the subjects of his poems, an example being “The Cotter's Saturday Night,” 5: “To you I sing, in simple Scottish lays, / The lowly train. . . .”
II, 80 airy throng Immaterial, because imaginary, crowd of people.
II, 81-96 Cf. McLeod, Gloomy Memories in the Highlands of Scotland, p. 128: “Hear the sobbing, sighing, and throbbings of their guileless, warm Highland hearts, taking their last look, and bidding a final adieu to their romantic mountains and valleys, the fertile straths, dales, and glens, which their forefathers for time immemorial inhabited, and where they are now lying in undisturbed and everlasting repose, in spots endeared and sacred to the memory of their unfortunate offspring, who must now bid a mourneful farewell to their early associations, which were as dear and as sacred to them as their very existence. . . .”
II, 82 strath and vale Strath: “level land between hills, through which a stream flows” (Reid, Complete Concordance); vale: valley. Cf. the passage from Burns quoted at 89f., below.
II, 83 swells of love, and gusts of woe These are somewhat unusual expressions, perhaps because they are generated by metaphors of the ocean and weather that are appropriate to the context of the voyage to Canada. A heart that “swells” is one that feels like bursting with emotion; “gusts of woe” are sighs.
II, 89f. Farewell Caledonia . . . Adieu every scarred cliff . . . Farewell lovely Leven . . . Cf. Burns, “Song. My Heart is in the Highlands,“ 5, 9-12:

Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the
North. . . .

Farewell to the mountains high cover'd with snow;
Farewell the the straths and green valleys below;
Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods.
Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.

See also Scott, “Mackrimmon's Lament” (a “piece . . . but too well known, from its being the strain with which the emigrants from the West Highlands and Isles usually take leave of their native shore” [Poetical Works, p. 490]), 4-10, 12: [Page 81]

“Farewell to Dunvegan for ever!
Farewell to each cliff, on which breakers are
Farewell, each dark glen, in which red-deer are
Farewell, lonely Skye, to lake, mountain, and river
Macleod may return, but Macrimmon shall never!

“Farewell the bright clouds . . .
Farewell the bright eyes . . .

Mackrimmon departs, to return to you never!”

The pertinent lines of another Scottish parting-song are quoted at VII, 144, below.

II, 89 Caledonia Latin, and often used by Burns: Scotland.
II, 92 fell Hill.
II, 98 main Ocean.
II, 101 Leven The Leven River flows out of the south end of Loch Lomond and empties into the Clyde River at Dumbarton.
II, 102 frae the hame From the home.
II, 107 gambolled Played.
II, 115 laverock Lark, especially the skylark. Burns several times uses the word laverock and its cognates; see, for example, “Song. To Mr. Cunningham” (“Now Spring has clad the groves in green”), 25-28: “The waken'd lav'rock warbling springs, / And climbs the early sky, / Winnowing blithe her dewy wings / In morning's rosy eye . . . ,” and the quotation at II, 119, below.
II, 117 blithe as the lintie Happy as a linnet (see the note to II, 77, above).
II, 119 licht as the goudspink Light as a goldfinch (a brightly-coloured European songbird with a patch of gold on its wings). Cf. Burns, “The Humble Petition of Bruar Water,” 41-44: “The sober laverock, warbling wild, / Shall to the skies aspire; / The gowspink, Music's gayest child, / Shall sweetly join the choir. . . .”
II, 120 lilts on the lee Sings “sweetly” (PW, p. 420) or rhythmically in a sheltered place.
II, 126 cam awa' Came away.
II, 127-128 frae / My e'en that did fa From my eyes that did fall.
II, 130 wae Woeful, sad. [Page 82]
II, 133 haffets “Side[s] of the face, cheek[s]” (PW, p. 419).
II, 135 thocht Thought.
II, 137 Awa' frae Away from.
II, 138 friens Friends.
II, 141 Towser Like Fido, Spot, and, in recent years, Blue, a common name for a dog. Towsy: “rough, unkempt” (PW, p. 421), or shaggy.
II, 142 auld Old.
II, 145 spak Spoke.
II, 156 'mang Among.

Chapter III. The Arrival.

III, 1 weary world of waters See the note to II, 4, above.
III, 5-6 Cf. Weld, Travels, II, 311 (under the heading “Journey through the Woods”): “. . . we penetrated into the woods, along a narrow path scarcely discernible, owing to the quantities of withered leaves with which it was strewed.” This is at the start of a journey on foot from Buffalo Creek to the Genesee River (both in the Northeastern United States) that took Weld and his party (which included Indian guides) three days in the fall of 1797.
III, 8 interminable Boundless, endless. Cf. Traill, The Backwoods of Canada, p. 135: “. . . the mazes of interminable forests. . . .”
III, 11-14 Cf. Weld, Travels, I, 198-199: “. . . as very commonly happens with travellers in this part of the world [Virginia], I soon lost my way. . . . After wandering about . . . [I got] fresh information respecting the road. . . . With some difficulty I at last found the way, and arrived . . . about midnight.”
III, 15 swale A sunken or marshy place, especially in the midst of a prairie; “a springy piece of ground” (Glossary, Galt, Lawrie Todd, III, 323). The passage in the novel in which the word occurs may lie behind III, 5-6 and III, 11-14, as well as III, 79-88: “The road from Olympus to Babelmandel [fictional settlements in the United States], after quitting the cleared land, was desperate bad. It was then the mere blazed line of what was to be a road; stumps and cradleheaps, mud-holes and miry swails, succeeded one another, like . . . beads. . . . But the fatigue and toil of travelling it was as nothing, compared with the disheartening [Page 83] task as it then seemed of finding the land-marks” (I, 186). See also the quotation from Lawrie Todd at III, 78-88, below.
III, 16-18 Cf. Weld, Travels, 311: “After proceeding a few miles, we stopped by the side of a little stream of clear water to breakfast; on the banks of another stream we eat our dinner; and at a third we stopped for the night. . . . [T]he Indians immediately began to erect poles, and cover them with pieces of bark . . . but we put a stop to their work, by shaking out . . . our travelling tent.”
III, 21 Underneath a birchen tree Cf. Burns,“Song. Banks of Cree.” (. . . Here is the glen, and here the bower?), 2: “All underneath the birchen shade. . . .” birchen: poeticism: birch.
III, 27 And the woods with echoes rung Cf., in conjunction with the “greenwood shade” of III, 29, Burns, “Song. The Lass o' Ballochmyle” (. . . Twas even—the dewy fields were green”), 7: “. . . where green-wood echoes rang. . . .”
III, 28 in concert As a group; in harmony.
III, 33 Where Commerce spreads her fleets Where the ships engaged in large scale trade between countries (mercantilism) are found.
III, 35 bloated luxury Cf., in conjunction with the remainder of the stanza, Burns, “A Winter Night,” 50-52: “‘. . . pamper'd luxury, flatt'ry by her side . . . Looks o'er proud property. . . .’”
III, 38 many coloured code A somewhat obscure phrase: complex and deceptive rules and regulations, with an allusion to Joseph's “coat of many colours” in Genesis 37.23?
III, 39 palaces raised to gin Gaudily decorated taverns.
III, 41 dank Unpleasantly or unhealthily damp.
III, 43 lean and lank See the note to II, 16, above and Galt, Bogle Corbet, I, 37: “. . . men with pale lank faces [in the weavers' shops of Glasgow]. . . .”
III, 45 festering Rotting; repulsive.
III, 46 teeming Overflowing.
III, 49-51 Cf. Wordsworth, “The World is Too Much with Us,” 9-12: “Great God! I'd rather be / A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; / So might I . . . / Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn. . . .”
III, 72 spectral hue Ghostly colour.
III, 73 quaint Unusual, uncommon, strange. [Page 84]
III, 74 Salvator “Salvator Rosa, a celebrated Italian landscape painter, of the Neopolitan School, lived 1615-1673” (PW, p. 224). Rosa's paintings often contain groups of bandits or scenes of violence which, together with the landscapes themselves, created for eighteenth- and nineteenth-century viewers the feeling of pleasurable terror associated with the sublime. McLachlan may have been prompted to mention Rosa by Weld's reference to William Gilpin, the influential writer on the picturesque, during his “Journey through the Woods” (Travels, II, 313). Weld comments that “were a painter to attempt to colour a picture from . . . [the American woods in the fall], it would be condemned in Europe as totally different from any thing that ever existed in nature.”
III, 75 oppressed Weighed down; overcome.
III, 76 we laid us down to rest Cf. the first line of the famous bed-time prayer in The New England Primer (1784 edition, and following): “Now I lay me down to sleep. . . .”
III, 78-88 See Traill, The Backwoods of Canada, pp. 77-78 (“Difficulties of the Way”) (“At the distance of every few yards our path was obstructed by fallen trees. . . . Sometines I was ready to sink down from very weariness. . . . Just as we were emerging from . . . the wood we found our progress impeded by a creek . . . over which we . . . pass[ed] by a log-bridge. . . . Now, the log-bridge was composed of one log, or rather a fallen tree . . .”); p. 107 (“There was no palpable road, only a blaze on the other side, encumbered by fallen trees, and interrupted by a great cedar swamp, into which one might sink up to one's knees unless we took the precaution to step along the trunks of the mossy, decaying timbers . . .”); p. 111 (“Our progress was but slow on account of the roughness of the road, which is beset with numerous obstacles in the shape of loose blocks of granite and limestone . . .; to say nothing of fallen trees, big roots, mud-holes, and corduroy bridges . . .”); and pp. 115-119 (“. . . he had missed the track. . . . We began now to apprehend we had really lost the way. To attempt returning . . . was quite out of the question, the road being so ill defined that we should soon have been lost in the mazes of the woods. . . . We soon forgot our weary wanderings beside the bright fire . . .”). See also Weld, Travels, II, 320 (“we recommenced our journey with crossing the river . . . up to our waists in water, no very pleasing task. Both on this and the subsequent day we had to wade through several other considerable streams”) and Galt, Lawrie Todd, I, 238-240 (“. . . after several ineffectual endeavours [Page 85] to cross a small cedar swamp, I found myself completely at fault; by perseverence, however, I escaped from the swamp, but in what direction then to choose my path was the question. The interwoven boughs overhead, though leafless, excluded the view of the skies; even could they have been penetrated, every star was so shut up in thick darkness, that the heavens afforded no guide. A strange confusion of mind and terror fell upon me, my right-hand became as it were my left; I was lost—I ran wildly forward till a prostrate tree or cradle heap [the remains of a decayed trunk of a tree] threw me down; soon after I plunged up to the middle in a marsh, then I came to the bank of a stream which I had not passed: its width and depth were unknown. . . . I sat down on a rock, and for some time abandoned myself to fear. . . . Judge my dismay, when on hastening on, I came to what I thought an opening in the wood, and found myself on the verge of a dreadful chasm, into which a great river was tumbling with a noise like the voice of the distant sea. I stood aghast at the danger into which I had run. . . . I was beyond all the landmarks that would have guided me by day”).
III, 88 Stout hearts Cf. Galt, Lawrie Todd, I, 187: “Of all the sights in the world the most likely to daunt a stout heart, and to infect a resolute spirit with despondency, that of a newly-chopped tract of the forest certainly bears away the bell.” Todd goes on to record his feelings of elation as “a sudden turn of the road brought . . . in sight . . . the village, where the settlers in all directions were busy logging and burning” (I, 188).
III, 89-92 See the passage from Lawrie Todd in the preceding note and Weld, Travels, II, 313 (“Nothing . . . could exceed the beauty of the scenery that we met with during our second day's journey. . . . The trees on the borders of the . . . [plains] having ample room to spread, were luxuriant beyond description, and shot forth their branches with all the grandeur and variety which characterizes . . . English timber, particularly the oak”) and I, 194 (“the air in the woods [in Virginia] was perfumed with the fragrant smell of numberless flowers and flowering shrubs, which sprang up on all sides”).
III, 93-110 See Weld, Travels, I, 195: “the birds in America are much inferior to those in Europe in the melody of their notes but . . . they are superior in point of plumage. I know of no American bird that has the rich mellow note of our [British] black-bird, the sprightly note of the sky-lark, or the sweet and plaintive one of the nightingale. . . . The most [Page 86] remarkable for their plumage of those commonly met with, are, the blue bird and the red bird. The first is larger than a sky lark, though smaller than a thrush. . . .” Cf. Traill, The Backwoods of Canada, p. 173: “I am aware it is the fashion for travellers to assert that our feathered tribes are either mute or give utterance to discordant cries. . . . It would be untrue were I to assert that our singing birds were as numerous or as melodious on the whole as those of Europe; but I must not suffer prejudice to rob my adopted country of her rights without one word being spoken in behalf of her feathered vocalists.” Earlier, Traill sets herself the task of redeeming“this country from the censure cast on it by a . . . gentleman . . . who said, ‘the flowers were without perfume, and the birds without song’. . .” (p. 91). Later, she mentions the “red bird” and the “blue-bird” (pp. 221-222). And see the quotations from Burns at II, 77, above and Burns' “The Brigs of Ayr,” 3-5: “The chanting linnet, or the mellow thrush; / Hailing the setting sun, sweet, in the green thorn bush; / The soaring lark. . . .” See also Galt, Lawrie Todd, III, 54-55: “The lark . . . was singing her sweet ditties at Heaven's gate. . . . Sometimes in America I have seen mornings almost as beautiful; but the air was not so lively, nor the birds so melodious. . . .” According to PW, p. 414, “[i]t was a frequent subject of remark with McLachlan that the birds of America are songless.”
III, 93 dye Colour.
III, 105-107 McLachlan may have had in mind the Baltimore Oriole (which does not, however, have “golden rings” around its neck), the Purple Martin, and the Eastern Bluebird.
III, 111-112 See Weld, Travels, II, 42-44: “As we passed along, we had excellent diversion in shooting pigeons, several large flights of which we met in the woods. The wild pigeons of Canada [Ectopistes migratorius: the passenger pigeon, which became extinct in 1914] . . . come down from the northern regions in flights that it is marvellous to tell of. . . . It is not oftener than once in seven or eight years, perhaps, that . . . large flocks of these birds are seen in the country.”
III, 113-116 See Weld, Travels, I, 196-197: “There is only one bird more which I shall mention, the whipperwill, or whip-poor-will, as it is sometimes called, from the plaintive noise that it makes; to my ear it sounded wyp-o-íl. It begins to make this noise, which is heard a great way off, about dusk. . . .” There are varieties of cuckoos in Canada, but [Page 87] the bird recalled by the emigrants is obviously the species found in the British Isles whose call is synonymous with the arrival of spring.
III, 113 anon Soon; in due course.
III, 117 Cf. Traill, The Backwoods of Canada, p. 116: “. . . we suddenly emerged from the depth of the gloomy forest to the shores of a beautiful little lake. . . .”
III, 119 hind Female deer.
III, 131-132 See Weld, Travels, I, 196: “Doves and quails, or partridges as they are sometimes called, afford good diversion for the sportsman [in North America].”
III, 134 a deeper solitude A less-populated place. Cf. Traill, The Backwoods of Canada, p. 111: “We . . . struck into the deep solitude of the forest, where not a sound disturbed the almost awful stillness that reigned around us.”
III, 138 reeking gore Streaming blood. See Burns, “The Vision,” 158: “reeking gore. . . .”
III, 143-150 Weld, Travels, I, 74 gives the following account of Lake Ontario, “the most easterly” of the Great Lakes, after leaving Kingston for Niagara: “on weathering a point . . . an extensive view of the lake suddenly opens, which on a still clear evening, when the sun is sinking behind the lofty woods that adorn the shores, is extremely grand and beautiful.”
III, 150 Where man's foot had never been Cf. Moore “A Ballad. The Lake of the Dismal Swamp,” 13-14: “. . . where . . . / . . . man never trod before.”
III, 151 mart Market-place; trade-centre. [Page 88]

Chapter IV. Cutting the First Tree.

  Galt's two novels about emigration to North America both contain accounts of the felling of the first tree to begin a settlement; see Lawrie Todd, II, 56-62 (“The day being fixed for the ceremony of cutting down the first tree in the market-place-to-be of Judiville . . . we were summoned to the ceremony at sunrise,” and so on) and Bogle Corbet, III, 37 (“Chapter VI. The Founding of Stockwell”: “After we had felled the first tree, I proceeded pretty much according to the plan in which Mr. Lawrie Todd . . . did with Judeville [sic]. . .”). [Page 88]
IV, 1 blithely Joyfully.
IV, 2 tent Here and in IV, 9-14, McLachlan appears to be confusing or conflating the kind of “tent” described by Weld in the quotation at III, 16-18, above and used by travellers and nomadic peoples with a shanty, a construction described in the Glossary to Lawrie Todd, III, 322 as “a hut made of bark.” Galt's description of a shanty early in the novel as “a hut or wigwam, made of bark laid upon the skeleton of a rude roof, and . . . open commonly on . . . one side” (I, 188) may explain McLachlan's choice of the word “tent” and his comparison with the structures of “wandering Arabs.”“Notwithstanding the rough appearance of the shanty,? continues Galt, “it yet affords a shelter with which weary axemen are well content,” a “temporary shelter” before the building of a “log-house” (I, 188-190). See also Galt, Bogle Corbet, III, 39-41 for the construction of a “shanty” or “temporary house, in which all the emigrants could be accommodated, until proper dwellings were erected. . . .”
IV, 8 cloud-built coast Since the coast cannot be built of clouds, McLachlan presumably means ‘cloud-hidden coast.’
IV, 19 crane See the note to Introduction,19, above.
IV, 29 the trees were stubborn facts A play on the proverbial expression, “facts are stubborn things.”
IV, 31 trow Believe.
IV, 44 doleful accents Gloomy or sorrowful tones.
IV, 51-54 Each of these lines is a variation on a proverbial expression involving the passage or end of time.
IV, 55-59 Whigs . . . Tories . . . Radicals By McLachlan's day, the terms Whig and Tory had come to have roughly the same meaning of Liberal and Conservative that we have today. A radical was an advocate of radical reform along democratic lines.
IV, 57 to rule the roast To be master; to exercise full authority.
IV, 56 out of place Out of political power.
IV, 61 Yankees Americans generally; specifically, the inhabitants of the northeastern states who, as exemplified by Thomas Chandler Haliburton's Sam Slick (The Clockmaker), had for some time enjoyed a reputation for boastfulness.
IV, 79 Down he came as loud as thunder Cf. Galt, Lawrie Todd, II, 59: “the tree fell with a sound like thunder. . . .” [Page 89]
IV, 90 primeval Ancient; of the first stage of the world. Cf. Traill, The Backwoods of Canada, pp. 112-113: “I was disappointed with the forest trees, having pictured to myself hoary giants almost primeval with the country itself. . . . There is no appearance of venerable antiquity in the Canadian woods. There are no ancient spreading oaks. . . .”
IV, 97-106 Cf. Sir Walter Raleigh, “The Nymph's Reply,” 1-4 (and the tone of the poem as a whole):

If that the World and Love were young,
And truth in every shepherd's toung,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee, and be thy love.

IV, 109-127 Like Bill at IV, 51-54, John plays variations on several proverbial expressions in these lines, his all pointing towards work as the proper use of time. Behind John's sentiments may be Carlyle's Gospel of Work, as expounded, for instance, in “The Everlasting No“ and “The Everlasting Yea” chapters of Sartor Resartus.
IV, 113 He who would in aught be great Cf. John Bunyan's hymn “Who would true valour see . . .“ (which also contains such lines as “No lion can him fright, / He'll with a giant fight . . .“ and “labour night and day / To be a pilgrim.“ aught Anything; anything at all.
IV, 131-140 The Cæsar of these lines is, of course, Gaius Julius Cæsar (100-44 B.C.), the Roman dictator who was assassinated in the name of the Roman republic by a group of conspiritors led—as any student of Shakespeare's Julius Cæsar knows—by the Roman general Gaius Cassius Longinus (d. 42 B.C.) and the Roman senator Marius Junius Brutus (88-42 B.C.). Cassius and Brutus were subsequently defeated by Cæsar's supporters at the battle of Philippi in 42 B.C., after which Brutus committed suicide.
IV, 140 E'en Even.
IV, 148 industry Diligence; continual employment in useful work.
IV, 148 temperance The Presbyterian and nineteenth-century contexts of the poem suggest that the word carries, not its traditional meaning of moderation in all things, but the narrower meaning of moderation or total abstinence from alcoholic drinks.
IV, 150 o't Of it.
IV, 160 Ere Before. [Page 90]
IV, 170 pelf Money; wealth (pejorative).
IV, 175 ere Ever.
IV, 197 scrupulous Conscientious even in tiny matters; careful not to give offence; attentive even to small issues of conscience.
IV, 197 nice Refined; hard to please; scrupulous (see previous note).
IV, 198 skinflint Miser: a mean or avaricious person.
IV, 201 A’ All.
IV, 201 bleathers “[N]onsense, idle talk” (PW, p. 418).
IV, 203 Nae No.
IV, 204 rax “[R]each” (PW, p. 421).
IV, 204 aye Always.
IV, 206 A' fair as lang's ye dinna steal All's well as long as you don't steal.
IV, 208 richt Right.
IV, 212 proper Correct; right.
IV, 219 Each for all, and all for each Cf. Shakespeare, The Rape of Lucrece, 141-147:

The aim of all is but to nurse the life
With honour, wealth, and ease, in waning age;
And in this aim there is such thwarting strife,
That one for all, or all for one we gage;
As life for honour in fell battles rage;
   Honour for wealth; and oft that wealth doth cost
   The death of all, and all together lost.

The “device” of the three musketeers in Alexander Dumas' novel of that name is“‘All for one, one for all . . .’” (Chapter IX). See also Karl Marx, The German Ideology, trans. Max Eastman: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”

IV, 221-224 the fable of the wands Galt, Bogle Corbet, III, 33-34 has his protagonist speak as follows to a group of disgruntled Scottish emigrants assembled in a clearing still “deformed” by “a few . . . roots and stumps”: “‘Many of you . . . must have heard the story of the old man and his sons with the bundle of sticks—apply it to your own case. If you separate in the wilderness, you will soon find yourselves as weak as each of the several sticks when the bundle was loosened—but if you adhere to each other, your united strength will effect far more with less [Page 91] effort than your utmost separate endeavours. In sickness, and in accident, you will have friends and helpmates at hand. . . . I beseech you to think well of this—a single family, the most numerous and strongest among you, will be several days in constructing a permanent habitation. . . . [I]f you continue together, your united exertions will serve in a short time for the construction of an asylum for all, and your toil will be enlivened by society.’” Corbet goes on to speak of the “‘common good’” and of “the wisdom of keeping together. . . .” The “story” to which he refers is Aesop’s fable of “The Bundle of Sticks,” which contains the moral “Union gives strength.” McLachlan's John may also be echoing the “United we stand, divided we fall” of Aesop's fable of “The Four Oxen and the Lion.”

Chapter V. The Log Cabin.

V, 4 wayfarer Traveller.
V, 4-5 deer . . . wolf . . . bear See Weld, Travels, I, 180: “Bears, wolves, deer, and other wild indigenous animals, are also met with there [the Dismal Swamp in Virginia].”
V, 5 crawls on the surly bear An unusual use of crawls: stalks (or moves stealthily towards) the ill-tempered bear.
V, 8 the dismal swamp Weld devotes several paragraphs (Travels, I, 178-182) to describing the Dismal Swamp area of southeast Virginia, and, of course, Moore's “Ballad” entitled “The Lake of the Dismal Swamp” has the same setting.
V, 8 dreary Dismal, gloomy; dull, uninteresting.
V, 10-18 Cf. Traill, The Backwoods of Canada, pp. 217-219 (“Story of an Indian”): “some twenty years ago . . . a poor woman . . . in one of the then thinly-settled townships back of the Ontario, was alarmed by the sudden appearance of an Indian within the walls of her log-hut. . . . [H]er little ones . . . retreated, trembling with ill-concealed terror to the furthest corner of the room. . . . By dawn of the day [after revealing himself to be non-violent, partaking of a meal, and sleeping in the log-hut], the Indian . . . departed; but whenever he came on the hunting-grounds in the neighbourhood of the widow, she was sure to see him. The children, no longer terrified at his swarthy countenance and warlike weapons, would gather round his knees . . . whilst he would pat their heads, and bestow upon them an equal share of caresses with [Page 92] his deer-hounds. Such was the story related to me by a young missionary.”
V, 10 roving son of the wilderness Cf. Thomas Campbell, Gertrude of Wyoming, III, xxv: “the roving Indian power.”
V, 16 wolf dog A kind of dog used to guard sheep from wolves. McLachlan may have been thinking of the wolf-hound, a large dog similar to a deer-hound (see note to V, 10-18, above) that can be used for chasing deer and other wild animals.
V, 20 rude Primitive; roughly made.
V, 23 rapt Enraptured; intent.
V, 24 eglantine Sweet-briar (or sweet-briar Rose) a European plant with pretty flowers, sweet-smelling leaves, and strong pastoral associations (see, for example, Milton, “L'Allegro,” 48-49: “Through the sweetbriar or the vine / Or the twisted eglantine . . .”).
V, 25 corn with its silver tassel “In America, corn means maize, or ‘Indian corn.’ Our author refers to the long brilliant silk fringe or tassel at the top of the growing cob” (PW, p. 414).
V, 27 the creeping weed with its long fringing vine Possibly the convolvulus, the Virginia creeper, Canadian ivy, the North American Honeysuckle or, perhaps most likely, the hop-plant, a climbing plant from Europe with drooping flowers and catkins. Cf. Traill, The Backwoods of Canada, pp. 142 (“Removal to Log-House”): “The pillars [of the stoup or verandah of the log-house] look extremely pretty, wreathed with the luxuriant hop-vine, mixed with the scarlet creeper [Canadian ivy] and ‘morning glory,’ the American name for the most splendid of major convolvuluses.”
V, 31 crane See the note at Introduction, 19, above.
V, 31 mew Gull.
V, 32 light canoe See Moore “To the Lady Charlotte Rawdon / From the Banks of the St. Lawrence,” 65-68: “. . . my flight I take / Over Huron's lucid lake, / Where the wave, as clear as dew, / Sleeps beneath the light canoe. . . .” Weld, Travels, II, 18, gives details of the construction of a birchbark canoe, the type to which Moore and McLachlan probably refer.
V, 33 noisome Unpleasant; offensive.
V, 36 echoes the greenwoods among See the quotation from Burns at III, 27, above. [Page 93]
V, 41-45 See Galt, Bogle Corbet, III, 45-49 (“The first undertaking, after having provided shelter [in the form of a communal shanty], was the opening of . . . roads, and the construction of separate houses for the emigrants themselves”) and Traill, The Backwoods of Canada, pp. 113-114 (“Travelling in the Woods”) “The swamps and little forest streams . . . are rendered passable by logs placed side by side. From the ridgy and striped appearance of these bridges they are aptly termed corduroy”) and p. 196 (“A space . . . in the midst of the dense forest imparts a cheerfulness to the mind. . . . The bright sunbeams and the blue and cloudless sky breaking in upon you, rejoices the eye and cheers the heart . . .”).
V, 46-50 Galt, Bogle Corbet, III, 44ff. describes various difficulties faced by his emigrants during their first “summer,” observing that arguments among them were “vexatiously frequent.”
V, 51 doffed Took off.
V, 55 bereft Desolate; deprived of a loved one; in mourning.
V, 58 brake A place overgrown with ferns, shrubs, vines, and broom.
V, 59-61 Weld, Travels, I, 196, mentions “humming birds,” “jays, [and] robins,” noting of the last two that they “were called by the English settlers after the birds of the same name in England, because they bore some resemblance to them, though in fact they are materially different.” Humming-birds, North American robins (a species of thrush), Blue Jays, and blue birds (V, 56) do indeed migrate south from Ontario for the winter.
V, 64-66 the heavens were swathed in smoke; / The sun a hazy circle drew, / And his bloody eye looked through See Traill, The Backwoods of Canada, pp. 128-131 and 127 (“Indian Summer”): “I think the notion entertained by some travellers, that the Indian summer is caused by the annual conflagration of the forests by those Indians inhabiting the unexplored regions beyond the larger lakes is absurd. . . . I should rather attribute the peculiar warmth and hazy appearance of the air that marks this season, to the fermentation going on of so great a mass of vegetable matter that is undergoing a state of decomposition during the latter part of October and beginning of November”; and “Just at the commencement of this month (November) we experienced three or four warm hazy days. . . . The sun looked red through the misty atmosphere, tinging the fantastic clouds that hung in smoky volumes, with saffron and pale crimson light. . . .” [Page 94]
V, 67 Indian summer A season of pleasant, warm weather occurring in the fall after the first frost and before the onset of winter.
V, 68-74 See Traill, The Backwoods of Canada, pp. 127-131 (“Indian Summer” and “Advances of Winter”): “Th[e] perfect stagnation of the air [on the November day described in the quotation at V, 64-66, above] was suddenly changed by a hurricane of wind and snow that come on without any previous warning. . . . The scattered boughs of the pines darkened the air as they whirled above me; then came the blinding snow-storm. . . . Not a leaf remained on the trees when the hurricane was over; they were bare and desolate. Thus ended the short reign of Indian Summer. . . . We already see the stern advances of winter. It commenced very decidedly from the breaking up of Indian summmer. . . . The early part [of November] was soft and warm, the latter cold, with keen frosts and occasional falls of snow. . . .”
V, 75-102 See Galt, Lawrie Todd, I, 226-227: “We had not been . . . [in the shanty] more than ten minutes, when one [of the wolves] looked at us from the other side of the rivulet; we saw him plainly in the moonshine, and scarcely had we frightened him off, when we heard another howling from the opposite bank of the river.”
V, 99 boreas In Greek mythology, Boreas is the personification of the north wind.
V, 103-122 See Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha, XX, 1: “O the long and dreary Winter!”; and Traill, The Backwoods of Canada, p. 152 (“Canadian Winter”): “Though the Canadian winter has its disadvantages, it also has its charms” (Traill proceeds to describe the beauties of nature, a walk in the woods, and so on.); Weld, Travels, II, 391-394 (“Winter Amusements”) “Winter in [Lower] Canada is the season of general amusement. . . . The inhabitants meet in convivial parties at each other's houses, and pass the day with music, dancing, card-playing, and every social entertainment that can beguile the time. . . . Besides . . . stoves, they . . . frequently have open fires . . . more . . . on account of the cheerful appearance they give to the room, than for the sake of the warmth they communicate . . .”; and Galt, Lawrie Todd, I, 202: “But the rainy, do-nothing days . . . were holidays to the settlers. On those occasions, they were wont to assemble in the large shed to tell stories and sing songs for a pastime. . . . It was to me they were indebted for the suggeston, that every one should tell a story either of [Page 95] himself or some adventure that had taken place within his own knowledge. . . .”
V, 133 ’coon racoon.
V, 118 natch Notch; cut; hack.
V, 125-128 See the note to Introduction, 35, above.
V, 135 alms Donation; charitable help.
V, 138 Bonaparte There were three French rulers named Bonaparte: Napoleon I (Napoleon Bonaparte, 1769-1821, who was emperor 1804-1814), Napoleon II (titular emperor 1814f.), and Napoleon III (1808-1873, emperor 1852-70).
V, 147-173 Cf. Christopher Marlowe, “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love,” 1-4, 9-18:

Come live with me, and be my love,
And we wil all the pleasures prove
That hils and vallies, dale and field,
And all the craggy mountains yield.

     .     .     .

There will I make thee beds of roses
With a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Imbrodered all with leaves of mirtle;

A gown made of the finest wool,
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Slippers lin'd choicely for the cold;
With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw, and ivie buds,
With coral clasps, and amber studs. . . .

It is possible that McLachlan's “Indian Maid” is a poetic descendant of the “Sweet Indian”“maiden” who is wooed by Endymion in John Keats, Endymion, IV.

V, 154 evening star The planet Venus (named for the goddess of love) when seen in the western sky after sunset. [Page 96]
V, 155 clime . . . creed Country . . . beliefs.
V, 159-166 Cf. the catalogue of the beloved's physical attractions in The Song of Solomon 4.1-5 (“. . . thou hast doves eyes within thy locks; thy hair is as . . . Thy teeth are . . . ,” and so on) and The Song of Songs 1.10-11 (“Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold. We will make thee borders of gold, with studs of silver”). In the Song of Songs 2.9 the beloved likens her lover to a“roe or a young hart.” In the so-called “Lucy” poems, “She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways” and “Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower,” Wordsworth compares his reclusive “Maid” both to a “flower” and to a “sportive . . . fawn.”
V, 159 vault Poeticism: the apparently concave surface formed by the sky.
V, 169 bark Boat.
V, 172 flow'ret Floweret (poeticism): small flower
V, 175-184 See the quotations from The Lay of the Last Minstrel at II, 71-88 and the Reliques of Ancient English Poetry at Preface, 4-5, above.
V, 176 befel Happened.
V, 181 ballad rhymes In his Preface to Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, Percy describes the “Poems, Songs, and Metrical Romances” that he represents as “ballads” and “popular rhimes” (pp. x-xi).
V, 185-186 Gil Morice, the Earl's son. / Chevy-Chase, the so dearly won Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry contains versions of both “Gil Morrice” (first line: “Gil Morrice was an erlès son”) and “Chevy-Chase” (which recounts a bloody battle over the right to hunt in the “Cheviat,” or Chevy, “Chace”); see pp. 1-5, 66-70, and 218-220. The former is subtitled “A Scottish Ballad” and the latter is set in the area of the border between England and Scotland. Both ballads were widely known and frequently reprinted in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
V, 191 strains so void of art Uncontrived songs or poems. Ballads are short narrative poems about an actual or imaginary event that are suitable for singing to a simple melody. Percy, Preface, Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, p. x describes as “artless” the “productions” of the “strolling Minstrels, who composed their rimes to be sung to their harps.”
V, 200-260 “The Ballad of the Gypsy King” appears to be a composite of traditional ballad motifs drawn primarily from two ballads, “The Gypsy Laddie? and “Little Musgrave.” In the former, a lady deserts her husband for a gypsy (not specifically a king) and, in most versions, her [Page 97] husband takes her back by force and kills her lover. In the latter, a lady is killed in her lover's arms (though not by her husband) and there is a treacherous page. Both ballads were widely known and frequently reprinted. “Little Musgrave and Lady Bernard” appears in Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, pp. 212-213 and “The Gypsie Laddie” in John Gilchrist's Collection of Scottish Ballads, Tales, and Songs, Ancient and Modern (1814), pp. 195-198; its opening line—“The gypsies came to our good lord's gate”—is echoed by McLachlan's “The Gypsy steals to the wicket gate . . .” (V, 203).
    The Sempill family to which “The Ballad of the Gypsy King” apparently refers are the hereditary Sherrifs of Renfrew, the county in which McLachlan was born. The history of the Sempills would have been available to McLachlan in a number of places, such as William Playfair's British Family Antiquity; Illustrative of the Origin and Progress of the Rank, Honours, and Personal Merit, of the Nobility of the United Kingdom (London: Thomas Reynolds, 1809), III, 569-577. The first Lord Sempill was Sir John Sempill, who was made a Lord of Parliament by King James IV of Scotland in c. 1488 and killed at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. He was succeeded by William, the second Lord Sempill (d. 1552), Robert, the third (d. 1575-76), Robert, the fourth (d. 1611), and so on to Selkirk, the fifteenth, who died in 1835, taking the title of Lord Sempill with him. According to Dewart (PW, pp. 408-415), the third Lord was known as “The Great Lord Sempill” for, among other things, his part in defeating Mary, Queen of Scots, at Langside, near Glasgow, in 1568. In a note to the phrase “these lordly halls” (cf. “Thy father's halls” in V, 209) in another of McLachlan's poems, “The Sempill Lords” (PW, p. 346), Dewart writes that “The Peil, once a fortress of great strength, built by Lord Sempill in 1560, is now a ruin” (PW, p. 415). In other notes, he observes that “Eliotstoun, the most ancient residence of the Sempills, built in 1280 . . . is rapidly falling to decay” and that “Castleton, one of the ancient castles of the Sempills,” was demolished in 1727 to make way for a “modern residence” (PW, p. 415).
V, 202 gane Gone.
V, 203 wicket gate A small gate made in or placed beside a large one, for use when the large one is closed; any small gate for walkers, as at the entrance to a field.
V, 206 lay Song. Her mind is on another sort of lay. [Page 98]
V, 213 crawflower Crow-flower. Both the Bluebell and the Crow's-foot trefoil are called crawtaes—i.e., crow-toes—in Scotland, but the reference may be to the blossom of the cranberry (crawberry) or the crab apple (craws apple).
V, 213-220 The Cartha (Cart; see the note to I, 48, above), Clyde, Dee, Gryffe, and Weir are all rivers in Scotland. Dewart notes that the Gryffe is a “tributary to the Cart” and that “Elderslie [was] the seat of Scotland's hero leader, Sir William Wallace . . .”(PW, p. 21).
V, 217 bower Arbour; shady recess; shelter made with branches or vines.
V, 218 hinny pear Honey pear: sweet pear.
V, 229 Lomond Ben Lomond is a mountain on the eastern side of Loch Lomond in Scotland.
V, 230 gloamin's hour is long “[D]arkening, evening twilight” (PW, p. 419). Dewart notes that “The scene is in latitude 56. The higher the latitude the longer are summer days, and the longer is twilight” (PW, p. 414).
V, 231 lights Descends from his horse; dismounts.
V, 235 saddle bow The arched front part of a saddle. See Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, I, v: “Thirty steeds . . . saddled . . . with Jedwood-axe at saddle-bow. . . .”
V, 255 cairn Heap of stones.
V, 257 hamlet Village.
V, 259 And the Place of Grief is the name it bears Cf. the headnote to “The Gypsie Laddie” in Gilchrist's Collection of Scottish Ballads, Tales, and Songs, Ancient and Modern, p. 196: “It remains to be mentioned, that the ford, by which the lady and her lover crossed the river Doon . . . is still denominated the Gypsies Steps” (quoted from Finlay's Scottish Historical and Romantic Ballads [1808]).

Chapter VI. The Indian Battle.

VI, 3 All upon a summer day Cf., in conjunction with the title of this chapter, Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha, IX (“Hiawatha and the Pearl-Feather”), 182-185: “Then began the greatest battle / That the sun had ever looked on . . . All a Summer's day it lasted. . . .”
VI, 9 blast Wind.
VI, 14 vitals Vital organs. [Page 99]
VI, 17 Mohawks See Weld, Travels, II, 279: “When the war [the American War of Independence] broke out, the Mohawks [the most eastern members of the Iroquois Confederacy] resided in the Mohawk River, in the state of New York, but on peace being made, they emigrated into Upper Canada, and their principal village is . . . situated on the Grand River, which falls into Lake Erie on the north side, about sixty miles from the town of . . . Niagara; there [Joseph] Brandt [who gave his name to Brantford, Ontario] at present resides.” Under Brandt the Mohawks fought on the side of the British during the American Revolution and, as a result, their homes in the United States were confiscated.
VI, 33 imploring Earnestly begging; tearful. See Traill, The Backwoods of Canada, p. 218 (“Story of an Indian”): “With streaming eyes she was about to throw herself at . . . [the] feet [of the Indian], as he advanced towards her with the dreaded weapons in his hands and implore his mercy for herself and her babes. . . .”
VI, 53 dirk Dagger.
VI, 64 On we marched to do or die See Burns, “Song. Bannockburn” (“Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled”), 24 (last line): “Forward! let us do, or die!”; and Campbell, Gertrude of Wyoming, III, xxxvii: “‘To-morrow let us do or die!’”
VI, 65 yon Yonder.
VI, 73 Pikemen Soldiers armed with a pike (a weapon consisting of a long wooden shaft with a pointed metal head).
VI, 78 Presently Soon.
VI, 87 scout Man sent out from the main military force to gain information.
VI, 101 windfall A heap or tract of fallen trees blown down by a heavy wind such as a tornado.
VI, 107-108 Hate, the horrid heritage / Handed down from age to age See Weld, Travels, II, 265, 276, 279 for the supposed predisposition of North American Indians towards revenge (“. . . a word in the slightest degree insulting will kindle a flame in their breasts, that can only be extinguished by the blood of the offending party; and they will traverse forests for hundreds of miles . . . to gratify their revenge . . .”).
VI, 109 swarthy Dark-complexioned.
VI, 111-134 VI, 111-134 See Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha, IX (“Hiawatha and the Pearl-Feather”), 157-165: [Page 100]

   Straightway from the Shining Wigwam
Came the mighty Megissogwon,
Tall of stature, broad of shoulder,
Dark and terrible in aspect,
Clad from head to foot in wampum,
Armed with all his warlike weapons,
Painted like the sky of morning,
Streaked with great eagle feathers. . . .

See also Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, V, xix-xx for descriptions of an English and a Scottish Knight of “noble strain” before their joust to the death. In Campbell's Gertrude of Wyoming, one of the Indians is described as “the eagle of . . . [his] tribe,” with the following explanation: “the eagle [is among them . . . an emblem] of a bold, noble, and liberal mind. When the Indians speak of a warrior who soars above the multitude in person, and endowments, they say, ‘he is like the eagle, who destroys his enemies, and gives protection and abundance to the weak of his tribe.’—The Indians are distinguished, both personally and by tribes, by the name of particular animals whose qualities they affect to resemble, either for cunning, strength, swiftness, or other qualities; as the eagle, the serpent, the fox, or bear” (I, xx and n.). In a note to The Huron Chief, Adam Kidd, probably drawing upon John Buchanan's Sketches of the History, Manners, and Customs of the North American Indians, p. 178, glosses a remark of his Huron “Chieftain? with a famous statement by the Oneida Chief Skenandow: “‘I am an aged hemlock. . . . the winds of one hundred and twenty years have whistled through my branches’” (141-142 and n.).

VI, 123 herculean strength The Greek hero Herakles (Hercules) was renowned for his great physical strength.
VI, 131 model Exemplary; ideally perfect.
VI, 145-146 a stream of red, / From a deep gash in his head Cf. Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, V, xxi: “. . . blood pour'd down from many a wound; / For desperate was the strife, and long / And either warrior fierce and strong.”
VI, 163-164 Ere the blow could fall amain, / He is rolling on the plain Cf., in conjunction with the “fatal throw” of VI, 136, Scott, The Lay of the [Page 101] Last Minstrel, V, xxii: “. . . that fatal blow / Has stretch's him on the bloody plain. . . .”
VI, 165 panther Cf. Campbell, Gertrude of Wyoming, I, xvii: “the desolated panther flies. . . .” In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the word panther was used to describe the cougar.
VI, 169 dart Stroke; blow.
VI, 173-175 before his kindred's eyes / There he scalps him ere he dies Cf. Alexander Henry, Travels and Adventures in Canada and the Indian Territories, Between the Years 1760 and 1776 (1809), p. xx: “. . . I saw several of my countrymen fall, and more than one struggling between the knees of an Indian, who, holding him in this manner, scalped him, while yet living.”
VI, 178-190 Hurons . . . The Huron Confederacy of five Iroquoian-speaking tribes occupied part of what is now Simcoe County, Ontario until the middle of the seventeenth century. At that time their numbers were drastically reduced by disease and starvation, and in 1649 they were defeated and dispersed by their long-standing enemies, the Iroquois. (See the note to VI, 17, above for the Mohawks as part of the Iroquois Confederacy.) Some of the surviving Hurons joined the Iroquois, while others fled to the west (their descendants now live on the Wyandot Reservation in Oklahoma) and still others—the largest number—settled in Quebec (where their descendants at Ancien Lorette, near Quebec City, are mentioned in Weld, Travels, II, 26).

Chapter VII. Donald Ban.

VII, 7 Highland bards The poets or minstrels of the mountainous district of the north and west of Scotland; the area formerly occupied by the Celtic clans.
VII, 8 and n. Donald Ban Donald the Fair-haired. Anglice (Latin): in English this means; Ban (Gælic): fair. The name Donald Ban will remind many readers of the Donalbain of Shakespeare's Macbeth, but a more likely source for the name is “The Highland Watch,” “Written . . . on the Highlanders return from Waterloo” by James Hogg (the so-called “Ettrick Shepherd”) and set to music by Beethoven. Each of the song's three choruses is addressed to “Donald Bane,” none so repetitively as the first: [Page 102]

Then raise the pilbroch, Donald Bane,
   We're all in key to cheer it;
And then raise the pilbroch, Donald Bane,
   We're all in key to cheer it. . . .

For McLachlan's admiration of Hogg, see the “Biographical Sketch” in PW, pp. 26-27.

VII, 12 John o'Groat's to Clyde John o'Groat's is a point on the northern coast of Scotland that is popularly considered the most northerly point of Scotland. The Clyde River in southern Scotland is one of the southerly limits of the Highlands. In the Introduction to Gloomy Memories in the Highlands of Scotland, p. iv McLeod asserts the right of the Celtic race to ownership of the Highlands from “John o'Groat to Maiden Kirk.”
VII, 16 fallow deer A species of deer, pale brown or reddish-yellow in colour, that is smaller than the red deer.
VII, 20 balladic Of or pertaining to ballads.
VII, 29 strath See the note to II, 82, above.
VII, 31 shade and seer Ghost and prophet (or person gifted with “second sight,” i.e., the ability to see otherwise invisible objects). In a note to his poem “Lochiel's Warning,” 59-60, Campbell quotes a lengthy account of “seers” and the “faculty of second sight” from M. Martin's Description of the Western Isles of Scotland, 2nd ed. (1716).
VII, 40 The gloomy and the grand Scenery likely to produce the emotions (awe, astonishment, pleasurable fear, and the like) associated with the sublime.
VII, 44 cloud-built Constructed, as it were, of clouds; cf. the note to IV, 8, above.
VII, 52 “Corrybrechtan, or Gulf of Brechan,” is a whirlpool or dangerous passage a mile broad on the west coast of Argyleshire, in the strait between Scarba and Jura Isles. It is caused by the tides (often running twelve or fourteen miles an hour) meeting from north and west in the narrow passage into the sound of Jura, round a pyramidal rock, which rises from a considerable depth to some fathoms from the surface. This rock forces the water in various directions. In stormy weather, at flow-tide, vast openings form in the water, immense bodies of which tumble headlong as over a precipice, then, rebounding from the abyss, dash together and rise in spray to a great height. The noise is heard over [Page 103] the isles around. The water is smooth for half hour in slack water” (PW, p. 407). See Campbell, Gertrude of Wyoming, I, v: “Green Albin [Scotland]! what though he no more survey / Thy . . . distant isles that hear the loud Corybrechtan roar?”
VII, 54-82 During the century and more following the defeat of Charles Edward (Bonnie Prince Charlie; the Young Pretender) at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, large areas of Scotland, especially in the Highlands, were depopulated. In what came to be known as the Highland clearances, crofters (tenants) were driven out of their homes by landowners seeking to improve their properties—that is, make them more profitable—by substituting herds of sheep for communities of people. Assisted when necessary by soldiers and police, the factors (estate managers) of these landowners, set fire to many a “humble dwelling” and drove their inhabitants off their farms to the coastal areas and large cities of Scotland (especially Glasgow) and to Britain's overseas colonies. In The Highland Clearances, John Prebble calls 1814 “The Year of the Burnings” and designates 1782-1820 and 1840-1854 as the two periods of “major clearances.” Prebble (pp. 87-88) quotes some of the “extreme cases” of house burnings described by McLeod in Gloomy Memories in the Highlands of Scotland, p. 8: “Donald Macbeath, an infirm and bed-ridden old man, had the house unroofed over him, and was, in that state, exposed to wind and rain till death put period to his sufferings. I was present at the pulling down and burning of the house of William Chisholm . . . in which was lying his wife's mother, an old bed-ridden woman of nearly 100 years of age. . . . On . . . [Mr. Sellar's] arrival I told him of the poor old woman. . . . He replied, ‘Damn her, the old witch, she has lived too long; let her burn.’ Fire was immediately set to the house, and the blankets in which she was carried were in flames before she could be got out. . . . She died within five days.” See also Introduction, pp. xlvi, for a discussion of the importance of the destruction of roof-beams by the burning parties.
VII, 55 oppression's iron hand Cf. Burns, “A Winter Night,” 44: ?‘. . . stern oppression's iron grip. . . .’”
VII, 57 fell Hill or hillside; a tract of moorland in the hills.
VII, 60-61 Ben Lomond and Ben Nevis are mountains in, respectively, south- and west-central Scotland; both dominate the regions surrounding them, and the latter is the highest peak in Britain.
VII, 63 roof-tree The main beam or ridge-pole of a roof. [Page 104]
VII, 77 imprecations Curses.
VII, 85 pipes Bagpipes.
VII, 96-100 Cairngorm, Ben Ledi, Ben Awe, Ben Venue, Ben Nevis, Ben Avin, and Ben More are all mountains in Scotland. Ben Ledi and Ben Venue are mentioned in the opening stanzas of Scott's The Lady of the Lake, which is set in the western Highlands of Perthshire.
VII, 103-106 Each cairn has its story, each river its sang . . . Cf. the quotation from Traill, The Backwoods of Canada at Introduction, 25f., above. “No naiad haunts the rushy margin of our lakes [in Canada], or hallows with her presence our forest-rills,” observes Traill in the same place (p. 153); “[n]o Druid claims our oaks; and instead of poring with mysterious awe among our curious limestone rocks, that are often singularly grouped together [like cairns], we refer them to the geologist . . . ; instead of investing them with the solemn characters of ancient temples or heathen alters, we look upon them with the curious eye of natural philosophy alone.” sang: song; rills: streams.
VII, 104 the burnies are wimplin' to music alang Cf. Burns, “Elegy on Capt. Matthew Henderson,” 21: “Ye burnies, wimplin down your glens. . . .” burnies: small streams; wimplin': meandering.
VII, 105 nae auld No old.
VII, 111 blue bonnet A soft cap of blue woollen material formerly worn by men and boys in Scotland (and several times mentioned by Burns—for example, in his “Song. Highland Laddie,” 4: “On his head a bonnet blue . . .”).
VII, 115 desolate Uninhabited; barren, dreary.
VII, 120 Point St. Charles Now a suburb of Montreal, Pointe Saint-Charles was in McLachlan's day a small village between Mount Royal (then, as now, the home of the wealthier inhabitants of the city) and the St. Lawrence river.
VII, 126 stag hound A large dog used for hunting deer.
VII, 131-136 Cf. Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, VI, xxxi (“Hymn for the Dead”):

Hush'd is the harp—the Minstrel gone
And did he wander forth alone?
Alone, in indigence and age,
To linger out his pilgrimage?
No! close beneath proud Newark's tower, [Page 105]
Arose the Minstrel's lowly bower;
A simple hut. . . .

VII, 142 endless night Cf. Thomas Gray, “The Progress of Poesy,” 101-102: “. . . excess of light, / Closed his [Milton's] eyes in endless night.”
VII, 144 “Lochaber more.” An allusion to “Farewell to Lochaber” by the Scottish poet Allan Ramsay. The first stanza of this famous song runs

Farewell to Lochaber, and farewell, my Jean,
Where heartsome with thee I have mony days been;
For Lochaber no more, Lochaber no more,
We'll may be return to Lochaber no more.
These tears that I shed, they are a' for my dear,
And no for the dangers attending on weir;
Tho' bore on rough seas to a far bloody shore,
May be to return to Lochaber no more.

Lochaber is the mountainous district in the northwestern part of Scotland in which Ben Nevis is located.

VII, 149-150 In the Highland garb arrayed / On the Highland pipe he played Dressed in the kilt and the accompanying costume of a Highland clansman or soldier, and playing bagpipes.
VII, 150-162 Cf. Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, VI, xxxi (“Hymn for the Dead”): “Then would he sing achievements high . . . Till the rapt traveller would stay . . . And noble youths the strain to hear, / Forsook the hunting of the deer. . . .”
VII, 157 might and main Strength and force; with all his power.
VII, 159 strathspeys Dances involving two persons or the music for such dances. See Burns, “Tam O' Shanter,” 116-118: “Nae cotillon brent new frae France, / But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels, / Put life and mettle in their heels.”
VII, 168 sleety showers Cf. Burns, “To a Mouse, on Turning Her up in Her Nest, with the Plough, November, 1785,” 35: “. . . winter's sleety dribble. . . .”
VII, 184-190 See the quotation from The Lay of the Last Minstrel, at II, 71-88, above.
VII, 191-214 See the note to VII, 144, above.
VII, 194 The Tay is the largest river in Scotland. [Page 106]
VII, 197 Jura is an island in the Inner Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland; the “peaks” on the southern part of the island are the Paps of Jura.
VII, 201 tongue of the sassenach English. A sassenach is a non-Gaelic speaker, a category which included for the Highlanders both the Lowland Scots and the English.
VII, 202 Argyll is a county in the west of Scotland.
VII, 207 Glen Avon The Avon River is in central Scotland.
VII, 208 Colonsay is an island in the Inner Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland.
VII, 212 of yore In old times.
VII, 219 maim Maimed: disabled.
VII, 225 mind of Remember.
VII, 282 “native Highland home.” The source of this quotation has yet to be identified. Could McLachlan have been remembering the “rock-bound Highland Home” of the opening line of the “West Point [Military Academy] Song” by Lucius O'Brien?
VII, 287 cumber Cummer (Scots): trouble, distress, difficulties.
VII, 295-306 Cf. Scott, Marmion, III (Introduction):

It [the Highlands] was a barren scene, and wild,
Where naked cliffs were rudely piled;
But ever and anon between
Lay velvet tufts of loftiest green;
And well the lonely infant knew
Recesses where the wild-flower grew,
And honey suckle loved to crawl
Up the low crag and ruin'd wall.
I deem’d such nooks the sweetest shade
The sun in all its round survey'd. . . .

VII, 311 quacks Charlatans; people who pretend to knowledge or skill in any subject, especially medicine.
VII, 314 Speculators and land jobbers See Weld, Travels, I, 403 (and elsewhere) for “speculation and land-jobbing” in Canada and the United States and the “nefarious practices” connected with these activities [Page 107]. Like speculators, land-jobbers are people who make a business of buying and selling land for financial profit.
VII, 315 sorry set of teachers See Galt, Lawrie Todd, II, 314-315 for a bad teacher in a backwoods settlement.
VII, 316 bogus tribe of preachers In Bogle Corbet, III, 259-262, Galt describes what he calls the “religious a[i]lment” of the settlement of Stockwell, warning that the “emigrant must prepare himself not always to meet with reverential pastors. . . .” After asserting that Methodists are motivated by both “the impulse of the spirit, [and]. . . ordinary sordid motives of human industry . . . ,” he adds that not all “Methodist preachers” are reprehensible. bogus: sham, phoney; the word is of American origin.
VII, 317 herb physicians Herbalists: people who sell, or prepare and administer, herbal remedies. McLachlan is using the term pejoratively.
VII, 324 humble One of Burns' favourite words; see, for example, “Song. Yon Wild Mossy Mountains,” 15: “Her parantage humble as humble can be. . . .” [Page 108]