Photographer: Ogle, Thomas
Medium: Photographic print
This view of Glen Finglas in Scotland is one of 13 evocative landscape photographs by Thomas Ogle illustrating an 1863 edition of Sir Walter Scott’s long narrative poem ‘The Lady of the Lake’. It accompanies a passage spoken by the poem’s tragic hero, the rebel Highland chief Sir Roderick Dhu. He addresses his audience, Ellen Douglas (the ‘Lady of the Lake’), her father, the outlawed clan chief James Douglas, Earl of Bothwell, and Malcolm Graeme, Ellen’s paramour. He tells them awful news of the treachery of the ‘vindictive’ King of Scotland, James V, who has launched an assault on Border chiefs under the pretext of inviting them to hunt, and warns that Douglas, also out hunting, was seen in Glen Finglas, and that the king is in pursuit:
“‘This tyrant of the Scottish throne,
So faithless and so ruthless known,
Now hither comes; his end the same,
The same pretext of sylvan game.
What grace for Highland Chiefs, judge ye
By fate of Border Chivalry.
Yet more; amid Glenfinlas’ green,
Douglas, thy stately form was seen.
This by espial sure I know:
Your counsel in the streight I show.’”
Scott (1771-1832) was the author of immensely popular historical novels and poetry. Their combination of history, chivalry and romance was especially beloved by readers of the Victorian era. ‘The Lady of the Lake’ (1810) was the third of his epic narrative poems inspired by the landscape and legends of Scotland, and is set in and around the beautiful mountains, glens, lakes and forests of Perthshire and Stirling in central Scotland. The great success of the poem made Loch Katrine and the Trossachs a fashionable destination for 19th-century sightseers.