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thus kept encamped at such respectful distances, the war between them was, for a long time, little more than an affair of outposts, a picking out of pickets, and serving them out, as we say, or driving them in, as men-military express it. The neutral ground was rocky and mountainous, and pretty well covered with forests of pine and ash and larch, and such like woods, and was in the joint occupation of eagles of large growth, and daring, audaciously daring characters,—now lifting a lamb, and, when lamb was out of season, a young shepherd in his swaddling clouts ; and of a pack of wolves, gaunt, bony, and grim, whose reputations were just as bad as the eagles', and both would hang them in any court in Christendom. A nice neutral country this for strong-headed, wrong-headed, and stupid sheep to straggle through, when their bloods were up, to have a brush with the enemy; and a nice set of neutral, indifferent spectators these wolves and eagles were truly, to stand by, and see fair play when Greek met Greek, and came the tug of war !
The cause of quarrel was about as good as these causes are even among wiser creatures. Born and bred in one common country, it was a war of castes, or clans : a feud-a difference about blood, which was the purest ; and an intolerance to hatred of each other's religion, though their faith was in essentials the same, and their modes of worship not greatly at variance. Blood
-bad blood—ill blood—and that that thought itself the purest, really the foulest and blackestwas at the bottom and top of this desire to destroy each other. The IIighland sheep despised the Lowland sheep as an inferior race—as sleck, well-fed, fine-woolled, slavish, cowardly, and shut up in folds and pastures fat and warm ; and not wiry, sinewy, shaggy, courageous, strong, free, and wanclering at their own wild will over mountains and exposed moors and rock-strewn valleys, as hardy as the heather they roved among. Their animosity originated partly in a religious prejudice. In the car of a Highlander it was horrible, and like blasphemy, to mark the drawling nasal Būā (long) of these Lowlanders, which they pronounced Båă (short and crisp as their scant herbage), and believed to be orthodoxical, and the other accent to be irreverent, indecent, heterodoxical, and a scandalous departure from the simplicity of the natural piety of sheep. They would not have minded it so much if they had kept their heterodoxy to themselves; but when they forwarded a set of sleek, mcek fellows, in wool as white as snow, and combed very straight, as missionaries
NO. XXIII.VOL. IV.
to the heathens in the Ilighlands, who dared to call their hills, which get the first and last of the sun when the mists will allow them, a dark and benighted neighbourhood, and presumed to preach against idolatrous bending of the knee to stock and stone, -flesh and blood—at any rate, IIighland flesh and blood-could not bear it, would not bear it. Besides, though fewer in number, they were their masters for strength and courage, and they knew it ; and so did the Lowlanders, who avoided them as much as they could, as soon as they saw their missionaries sent back with broken heads and horns,
“ und kept the even tenour of their way ” to themselves. But sometimes the young bloods of the respective races, in their border wanderings, fell in with one another, and fell out as soon as they met, Bří (short) and Būā (long), the old sign and countersign, soon setting them by the cars.
It was early in the day after one of these foolish encounters, when
many a gallant gentleman
Lay gasping on the ground," the IIighlanders having the best of the battle as usual, while the Wolves stood looking on, and not interfering, that the mountaineers were astonished to see three venerable Wolves, silvery white with age, emerge from the forest, and wend their way very deliberately, and somewhat infirmly, into their camp among the hills. They could hardly believe their eyes that they were Wolves, and thought they must be the ghosts of old shepherds' dogs, who could not rest in their graves
for 66 The foul deeds done in their days of nature,” the sins they had committed in their liot youth in sheep-biting. But then again they loomed too large for the ghosts of departed tykes. This, however, might be an exaggeration of the morning mist, made to frighten them, as superstitiously inclined. But as these venerable strangers came nearer and nearer, they saw they were no ghosts of dogs, but veritable Wolves in the flesh. They did not fear them much, for they looked too old for mischief ; but safe bind safe find : it was as well to have a care of them : for it is
your old grinders that love to indulge in your young meats, as tenderest and most toothsome. The pack of which they were the reverend representatives was now so few in number, and had
met with such rough receptions from rams, shepherds, and dogs, that they had learned to keep themselves a good deal to themselves, much more than they had been wont to do ; but experience does make a few fools, here and there, the wiser for their education. As soon as it was seen that these Nestors of Nomansland were very wolves, there was a mustering and marshalling of the Highlanders, and every care taken to keep the weak to the wall ; and while the sturdy fathers of the flock—six in number, but twelve in prowess—and their sons-nine fine young fellows, in the flush of their second summer -advanced to the front, the ewes formed a hollow triangle in the rear, with their little ones in the midst.This admirable mancuvre was made so rapidly, and with such precision, that Field-marshal the Duke of Limbs, (as the shepherds called him, he looked so like a ram on stilts,) who directed it, expressed his approbation afterwards in a short general order. Where, in what school, do birds and beasts learn their tactics of flight and self-defence, and who is their teacher ? –His name is Wonderful !
As the ancient enemies to their race came nearer and nearer, and stood at last face to face-silly Sheep to wily Wolf-not farther apart than a wolf might leap easily, and a lamb get over at two bounds, there was a dead, dread silence, (like the hush of the English line of battle in the presence of the French, which is so shocking to that susceptible people,) unbroken even by the pretty bleating of a yeanling lamb in its playfulness. If a drop of dew had fallen it would have been heard, the silence was so intense. The Highland lads were cool enough to observe that, though old, these venerable visitors had lost none of their teeth, and but little of that gloating glare of the eyes which makes their gaze so terrible to the timid. Though modest, moderate, and amiable—for wolves —there was a certain something now not prepossessing in their looks. The opening lines of the poem led you to think you should not like the rest. Sheep are not great Lavaters in their way,
but they were wise enough to know that these Wolves looked bland, but not benign-shy, but not sheepishly shy-calm, but not easyfriendly, but not to be trusted farther than a strong man can move a hill at once. They hung their heads a little down—a sign of slyness, though it might be a sign only of old age, a weakening spine, and musing habits of mind. They glanced, too, not boldly, but furtively, at the front rank of rams, steady in their strength. In short, to any other than these simpler savages, without guile them
selves, and nut suspecting it therefore where it is, they looked the very picture of three sad old scoundrels with wicked designs in their heads; and too well-spoken and civil by half-for Wolves !
The most dignified of the three, as a sign of amity, and to show that he contemplated no violence, none of the old leaping and tearing in the fold, laid himself down on the grass, quite at his case, his companions doing likewise, and preserving this attitude of graceful ropose, when their superior, slowly rising, advanced a little in front of the line of rams, as if to address them ; upon which there was a movement among them of one step to the rear, and then a halt, um eyes right as before.
And now, after a little polithisical coughing, the venerable stranger saiel, not in the sweetest tones certainly, shepherds’ dogs would havr been shocked to hear such barking—“ Be under no apprehension, my good friends. You have nothing to fear from us!” Ile was assured by acclamation that lIighlanders knew not fear, so lie proceeiled: - I come an ambassador from my tribeof peace to you, of war only to the Lowlanders.” There was immediately vociferous bleating, which did not subside till he cried, llear me, for I will speak !” There was then a general call for silence, those who most demanded it and commanded it making the most noise, when he proceeded : “ Vy people—I shall not be believed, it may be, when I say it---my people, of gentler natures than shepherds say they are, and more benevolent-my people have seen with sorrow, shaking their heads at it as sad to see, the perpetual petty war waging between the lIighland and the Lowland races of sheep-a wasting war—a useless war—a ar
i without the honours, though it has all the horrors of war—a war without cnd or aim, still beginning, and never ending. As a neutral nation between the high and low contending parties, it is a cause of continual disquiet to us, who love to live at peace.—Ay, I see how incredulously you hear me talk of peace ; but Wolves are not what they were: we are a changed people—and, let me say it, changed for the better—since a patriarch among our tribes, dying, prophesied that, if we quitted not our predatory habits, lived harmless lives, left
Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,' and took to salad-eating, as of old, every man's hand would ultimately be against us, and our ancient race be utterly extinct and
extirpated from the face of the earth. It was time to look about
We attended to his warning voice--for what the dying say is true-counselled together conservatively, eschewed venison, and took to a vegetable diet and temperate water from the brook, in. lieu of heating, fever-breeding meats and drinks ; and behold how well this abstinence agrees with us !”
And here there was a buzz of something not unlike satisfaction: it might be to hear that wolves had eschewed meats, which included mutton, of course ; but there were no congratulations on this change—no one was glad to see them looking so well—not one among all his auditors cried,
Long live King Richard !” The bad odour of Wolves was not to be so soon forgotten and forgiven, even by simple Sheep.
He missed those encouraging signs that he was making an impression, for he had set this clap-trap for them : but no matter, a wolf can get on without them. IIe began again lamenting this little warfare, which resulted in nothing but the loss of a horn or two, and sometimes a hot-headed partizan or so, on either side. “ It was only two days since,” he said, when he was set right by one of his companions—it was only yesterday: he said it made no difference, but it did, all the difference —& glorious good dinner yesterday, if they had had nothing worth mentioning to-day. “It was only yesterday,” he resumed, “that our troop were out early in the grey of the morning, foraging for a favourite food with us since we have taken to a vegetable diet solely—a sort of rock moss or lichen, which is very fattening and strengthening, and conducive to longevity—when we were, if not horror-struck, sorrow-struck, to see two fine, full-grown rams of the rival races locked horn and horn together, and dead, in a gap into which they had rolled over the rock in the death-struggle. The IIighlanders looked sadly in each other's faces, and hung their heads in sorrow. This accounted for the loss of one of their comrades—the bravest of the brave--who had died ungazetted ; but he had fallen gloriously in a good cause, and had dealt destruction to one of the enemy, and therefore not long they mourned him. The Wolf waited awhile, and then continued : “ The Lowlander was fat and fleshy : the Highlander in good condition—a nobler fellow never wore horns !
Both were tender ”—here there was a starting and a startling movement among his auditory, which he saw, and said quickly, “ —in years, I meant to say—too tender, too young to die !” He paused, and, casting his eyes upwards in good canting style, looked as much