The Pirate

Editor’s Notes

Walter Scott


(a)    “There came a ghost to Margaret’s door.” In some versions of “Clerk Saunders” the lady’s troth is “streeked” on a rod of glass, and so she and the ghost are freed from their plighted love.    Back

(b)    “Scat, wattle, hawkhen, hagalef.” Different kinds of duties exacted in Zetland.    Back

(c)    “Berserkars.” Apparently there was a time when these formidable persons were merely champion warriors, a kind of professional soldiery. In the “Raven Song,” an old Norse lay, the Valkyrie asks the Raven about Harold Fair Hair’s Bearsarks. “Wolfcoats they call them, that bear bloody targets in battle, that redden their spear heads when they come into fight, when they are at work together. The wise king, I trow, will only reward men of high renown among them that smite on the shield.” Later, perhaps, the Bearsarks won their evil reputation, as ravening maniacs of battle, given to biting their shields and behaving in an hysterical manner. In such sagas as that of Grettir they are violent bullies, sometimes selling their services. (See Powell and Vigfussen’s “Corpus Boreale,” i. 257.)    Back

(d)    Motto. The second verse is not part of the original ballad, which was altered by Allan Ramsay.    Back

(e)    “Bolts and bars in Scotland.” There are still places so innocent—in Galloway, at least—that doors and windows may be, and are, left open all night.    Back

(f)    “Deilbelicket.” This is the name of an old Scotch dish, of which goose and gooseberries are component parts. The recipe occurs in Galt’s “Ayrshire Legatees.”    Back

(g)    “James Guthrie.” An account of this martyr of the Covenant will be found in the Editor’s Notes to “Old Mortality.”    Back

(h)    “Lucas Jacobson Debes.” “Fœroae et Fœroa Reserata. A description of the Isles and inhabitants of Faeroe, Englished by John Sterpin,” 12mo, London 1676, Abbotsford Library.    Back

(i)    “Multures—lock, gowpen, and knaveship.” Feudal and other dues on corn ground at the laird’s mill.    Back

(k)    “The wilds of Strathnavern.” Montrose met his final defeat at Strathoykel, at a steep rounded hill, still called the Rock of Lament. His men were driven into the Kyle, which there is deep and wide. Montrose fled up the Oykel, into Assynt. The Naver flows due north, the Oykel from west to east.    Back

(l)    Sword Dance. Scott can hardly have escaped being familiar with the degradation of this dance as played at Christmas by the Guizards. They are lads who go round acting and dancing in kitchens. Their songs may be found in Chambers’s “Popular Rhymes of Scotland.” Guizards performed at the Folk-Lore Congress in London 1891.    Back

(m)    “The battue in Ettrick Forest, for the destruction of the foxes.” This ceased when the Duke of Buccleugh hunted the district, but foxes are still shot in the inaccessible heights of Meggat Water.    Back

(n)    Sharing the whale. An account of a battle for a stranded whale may be read in the Saga of Grettir, translated by Mr. Morris and Mr. Magnussen.    Back

(o)    For Νεφεληγερέτα Ζευς read Νεφεληγερέτα Ζεύς.    Back

(p)    “That wonderful carbuncle.” This must be the origin of Hawthorne’s tale “The Great Carbuncle.”    Back

(q)    Norna’s soothsaying. The passage quoted by Scott from the Saga of Eric the Red may be read in its context in “Vinland the Good,” edited by Mr. Reeves, and published by the Clarendon Press. Eric was the discoverer of Greenland, and father of Leif the Lucky, who found Vinland (New England, or Nova Scotia?) about the year 1002. Leif has a statue in Boston, Massachusetts.”    Back

(r)    Islands “supposed to be haunted.” In De Quincey’s autobiographical essay his sailor brother, Pink, describes the terrors of those isles. One of them, the noise of a Midnight Axe, is also found in Ceylon, in Mexico, and elsewhere. The Editor may be permitted to refer to the legends collected in his “Custom and Myth.”    Back

(s)    Cleveland’s song. Lockhart says that Scott, in his later years, heard this song sung, and said, “‘Capital words! Whose are they? Byron’s, I suppose, but I don’t remember them.’ He was astonished when I told him that they were his own in ‘The Pirate.’ He seemed pleased at the moment, but said next minute, ‘You have distressed me—if memory goes all is up with me, for that was always my strong point.’” This was in 1828. Mrs. Arkwright was the daughter of Stephen Kemble. She set “Hohenlinden.”    Back

(t)     “Auld Robin Gray.” In the Abbotsford MSS. is a long correspondence between Lady Ann Lindsay and Scott. She had known him as a child. There was a project of editing all her poems, but perhaps her own modesty, perhaps the quality of the work, caused this to be dropped, and Scott only edited the ballad, with a letter of the lady’s. This small quarto sells for some £5 when it comes into the market. It has a frontispiece by Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, and is apparently the only book of Scott’s which is valued as a rarity by bibliomaniacs.    Back

(e)    “John was a Jacobite.” In the library of a country house in the south of England is a copy of Dryden’s Miscellany Poems, with a laudatory autograph envoy to Judge Jeffreys, a sufficiently thoroughgoing King’s man.    Back

Andrew Lang.

August 1893.


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