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all respects, as if this present decreet had never heen made nor given."* Though the Macdonalds of Sleat seem to have been constantly engaged in local broils with the neighbouring families during the reign of this chief, they do not appear to have got into any serious trouble with the Government.
Referring to the latter part of Donald Gormeson's rule—the period between the return of Queen Mary from France and the actual assumption of the government by her son, James VI., in the nineteenth year of his age, in 1585—the same year in which this Chief of Sleat died, Gregory says that "the general history of the Highlands and Isles possesses little interest. Eepeated failures seem to have made the Western clans sensible of the impossibility of re-establishing, in any shape, the old Lordship of the Isles; and they gradually learned to prefer holding their lands under the sovereign directly, to being vassals of any subject, however powerful. Having now no longer a common object, they became, by degrees, more estranged from each other, whilst each chief laboured either to extend his own possessions, or to defend himself from the aggressions of his more powerful neighbours. It thus happened that, without any insurrection of a general nature, there wore yet, during the interval of which we speak, many serious disturbances in the Highlands and Isles, which called for the interference of the Government." Such was the state of the country during the latter part of Donald Gormeson's chequered career.
He married Mary, daughter of Hector Maclean of Duart, and by her had issue—
1. Donald, his heir.
2. Archibald, who married Margaret, daughter of Angus Macdonald of Isla and the Glynns, ancestor of the family of Antrim, and by her had a son, Donald, who succeeded his uncle, as head of the family of Sleat.
He died in 1585, and was succeeded by his eldest son.
* Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis, pp. 92-94.
The History Op The Macdonalds And Lords Of The Isles, now passing through the Celtic Magazine, is to be published in a complete form, in a handsome volume of about 500 pages, as soon as a sufficient number of Subscribers has been received to cover the cost. The work will be printed on toned paper, demy 8vo, in clear bold type, in all respects uniform with "The History and Genealogies of the Mackenzies," published last year by A. & W. Mackenzie, the publishers of this Magazine, to whom intending Subscribers, whose names will be printed in the work, are respectfully requested to forward their names. Price, One Guinea. A few copies will be printed on large paper, demy quarto, for Subscribers only, price a Guinea and a-half. The whole edition will be limited. Any information, suggestions, or corrections, while the History is passing through the Magazine, will be gratefully received by the author, so as to enable him to make the permanent work as complete and perfect as it is possible to make it.
THE LATE JOHN CAMERON MACPHEE, PRESIDENT OF THE GAELIC SOCIETY OF LONDON.
Last month we were not able to say more than mention the death of our late friend, John Cameron Macphee, President of the Gaelic Society of London, at the early age of sixty-five. For nearly twenty years we had the pleasure of his acquaintance, and we can truly testify from personal experience that no better, warmer-hearted, larger-souled Highlander ever existed. In this respect, as well as in his manly and gentlemanly bearing, he inherited some of the best traits of his distinguished and gallant granduncle, General Sir Allan Cameron of Erracht, who originally raised the 79th Cameron Highlanders, and who so often, during the Peninsular War, led the famous corps to victory and glory in the field.
John Cameron Macphee, though so well connected, was born in 1815 at Fort-William, in comparatively humble circumstances. As soon as he arrived at a suitable age he entered the local school, where he very soon gave evidence of more than average ability. He used to tell a story about this period of his life which will bear repeating. A body of Irish students, under charge of one of their professors, took their holiday trip to Scotland, first calling at Glasgow, and afterwards working their way round by Fort-William, where their craft cast anchor. They came ashore, and meeting with the local scholars during the play hour, the Irish professor began to test their proficiency by asking them several questions. He soon discovered that John Cameron Macphee was the smartest amongst them, and having examined them in Latin, Macphee answered smartly and to the Professor's entire satisfaction. The latter complimented him by saying that "he must surely be the King of the School." "The King" stuck to John, and he was ever after called "An Righ" in the vernacular by his Fort-William school-fellows.
Some time after this a south country gentleman, who came to the district to fish the river Lochy, one day while thus engaged, went out of his depth, and would have been drowned had not Macphee, then in the neighbourhood, noticed him, immediately plunged into the stream after him, and, after a considerable struggle, managed to bring him ashore. For this act of heroism the gentleman showed his gratitude by sending Macphee to the Inverness Iioyal Academy, where he remained for some time, after which ho entered the service of Donald Macdougall of the Royal Tartan Warehouse, in the Highland capital .
Shortly after this Mrs Macphee, General Sir Allan Cameron's niece, removed from Fort-William to Glasgow, whither her son followed her. There he entered the University and began to study for the medical profession. His University career, however, was very soon brought to a close through the daring impetuosity of his nature and his youthful sympathies for the oppressed. A well-informed writer in the Free Press describes the incident which put such an abrupt termination to Macphee's medical studies as follows :—On receipt of the news of the rising of the Circassians against Russia in 1838, young Macphee, then 23 years of age, and half-a-dozen of his fellow students, conceived the wild project of volunteering their services in the cause. How the ardent adventurers were going to carry out their impracticable scheme does not appear. Anyhow, the little band got as far as London, when the Russian Ambassador, having been apprised of the matter, applied to the Bow Street magistrate, and the result was that Macphee and his companions were arrested on the very night of their arrival in the Metropolis. However, on their giving a solemn prouiis9 to abandon their intention, they were at once set at liberty. The head officer at Bow Street at that time was a Glen-TJrquhart man, and a member of the Gaelic Society of London. He gave his young countrymen some salutary advice, and Macphee was induced through the officer's influence to become a member of the Society.
"While looking about for some more worthy and profitable occupation than that of lighting for a cause in which he had no concern, Macphee chanced to meet a friend who gave him a letter of introduction to Mr (afterwards Sir) Rowland Hill, who was then busy working out his great postal reform in the seclusion of his own home in Burton Crescent. Hill employed him as an assistant for some timo. Another introduction procured him an appointment as reporter on the Sun newspaper, then edited by his countryman, Mr Murdo Young. Macphee used to show his friends a copy of that journal, printed in gold, containing an account of the coronation of Queen Victoria, and ho pointed out with a natural feeling of pride the portion of the grand ceremonial written by himself. Only a very few copies of the paper were got up in this style of magnificence, one, of course, being dispatched to Buckingham Palace for her Majesty's special perusal. He afterwards transferred his services to the Morning Chronicle. That journal was then in its palmiest days, for on its staff were Charles Dickens, Charles Mackay, Shirley Brooks, Angus B. Reach, and James Black. Of that brilliant band thero now only remains Mackay, the venerable author of "Cheer, boys, cheer." While engaged on the Chronicle, Macphee had again the misfortune to be arrested under somewhat amusing circumstances. The editor of the paper had received special information of the death of the President of the United States, and being anxious that the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, should be in possession of so important a piece of news without delay, Macphee was sent off in hot haste to the House of Commons, which was then sitting. On reaching the House, and finding no one guarding the members' entrance, Macphee, thinking of nothing but the paramount importance of his errand, walked into the House, passed the Speaker, and went straight up to the Prime Minister, and placed the editorial communication in Sir Robert's hand. So unusual a proceeding, needless to say, created a little sensation among the members, and the innocent journalist quickly found himself confronted by the Sergeant-at-Arms, in whose custody he remained until the matter was satisfactorily explained, which, however, was not until the House rose, some hours after the incident.
In those days of journalism reporters had often to have recourse to ingenious scheming in order to obtain information for their journals. An instance of this is told of Macphee. There was to bo a grand military banquet at Apsley House, the residence of the Duke of Wellington, to which representatives of the press were not invited. It was very desirable, however, that a report of the proceedings should be obtained if possible: While approaching the mansion of the Iron Duke in Piccadilly, Maephee observed that the hind seat of one of the carriages in the line of the vehicles drawn up to the entrance was minus a footman. Watching his opportunity, he mounted up behind, and occupied the footman's place unobserved. The carriage passed through the gates into the court-yard, when Maephee dismounted and followed the occupants of the carriage into the house. Of course, he could not sit down with the guests, but he managed to place himself in a convenient position to take a note of the proceedings. Nobody took the slightest notice of him. Probably he was regarded as one of the servants; at all events, he accomplished his object quite satisfactorily.
While on the staff of the Sun and the Morning Chronicle Maephee used to keep his relative, the late General Cameron of Ceann-a-Chreagain, Moidart, and an old Peninsular officer under Erracht, posted up in all military news, and to send him copies, as soon as published, of all the military publications. The General naturally felt an interest in his young relative who continued to show such constant mindfulness of him in his out-of-the-way Highland home, and, through his influence with the Duke of Wellington, and with Mr Baillie, late M.P. for the county of Inverness, Maephee obtained an appointment in Her Majesty's Customs, as Landing Waiter for the Port of Glasgow. Before, however, taking up his commission for Glasgow, he had to go through the usual three months probation in London. This done, on the eve of his departure for Glasgow, his fellow members of the Gaelic Society of London and a few literary and other friends entertained him to a parting dinner, on which occasion he was presented with a valuable gold watch and appendages, in token of the esteem in which he was even then held by his countrymen in London.
Having a few days to spare before proceeding to take up his position in Glasgow Maephee spent this interval with his old and respected employer, Murdo Youug, a native of the Highland capital. Just at this time a most important piece of intelligence reached the proprietor of the Sun from abroad, and Maephee, to the great gratification of his friend, at once volunteered to take one more of his accustomed rapid journeys to the provinces, with the paper containing the important intelligence, and before his other friends of the press had time to look about them Maephee delivered the paper to Young's agents in Manchester, Birmingham, and the other leading provincial towns, after which he made all haste back to London to prepare for his journey to Scotland. Young was highly pleased with his success, congratulated him and informed him that during his absence he had interested himself in his behalf, and was in a position to inform him that he had managed to arrange a transfer of his appointment from Glasgow to London, so that ho would not have to break asunder the many ties of friendship which had already made the metropolis so attractive to him. Maephee was highly gratified at this agreeable change in his prospects. He immediately entered on his new appointment as Landing Walter at the Port of London, beginning with a salary of about .£1G0 a year, and, afterwards passing through all the intermediate classes of that department, arrived a few years ago at the highest grade of Landing Surveyor, a position worth about £500 a year. Had his health continued robust he was in a fair way of being in a very few years a SurveyorGeneral j one of the highest offices under Her Majesty's Commissioners of Customs; for all these higher officials are chosen from the class of surveyors in which Macphee at his death held a leading position.
For a considerable time he was Landing Waiter at the steam wharf at St Catherine's Dock, where a vast quantity of perishable and other goods are constantly landed from the Continent. Macpheo was so civil, so anxious by every legitimate means in his power to facilitate the early and rapid delivery of these goods to the merchants, and always showed such business ability and tact that the merchants and brokers determined to show their appreciation of these qualities and his invariable courtesy by presenting him with a service of plate. The carrying out of such a proposal was against the rules of the service, and of course Macphee respectfully but firmly declined to receive any acknowledgment of what he considered only the strict performance of his duty. The parties, however, approached the Board of Customs, who, at first, declined to give their permission to have the presentation made, but after repeated applications they finally consented in the special circumstances, and Macphee was prevailed upon to accept this very special testimony to his excellent qualities as an officer and a gentleman.
So long as his old relative and patron, General Cameron of Ceann-aChreagain, survived, he regularly attended the Waterloo commemoration dinner in London, and on all these occasions he paid a visit to Macphee, to his mother, who had meanwhile removed to London, and to every member of his family.
These incidents in the life of this fine specimen of the Lochaber Celt are interesting to us mainly in so far as they illustrate the life of a truly patriotic and noble Highlander, who during the last forty-five years took a leading part in London in every movement calculated to benefit his countrymen.
The Gaelic Society of London presented a petition to Parliament in 1839 praying that a professorship of the Celtic languages should be established in one of the Scottish Universities, and John Cameron Macphee was appointed one of a deputation of three gentlemen who in that year waited on Mr Spring Rice, Chancellor of the Exchequer, to impress upon him the desirability of making provision in one of our Universities for teaching "a language which was used in religious and social life by nearly a fourth part of the whole population of Scotland." During the potato famine in 1846 and 1847 Macphee took a leading part in collecting funds for the relief of his famished countrymen in the Highlands, and was honorary secretary in carrying to a successful issue a grand ball held at Willis' Eooms in the latter year for the same purpose, on which occasion a sum of £500 was cleared, after paying all expenses. It was mainly through his exertions and influence that the Grand Scottish Petes were got up and successfully carried through at Holland House in 1848, when the Queen, the Prince Consort, and the leading members of the aristocracy attended and patronised them every day. Mr Macphee was one of the two representatives of the Gaelic Society on the committee of management, and was appointed one of the Judges of the competitions. On his proposal and through his influence the chamber music of Scotland was represented by ten violinists, and, to secure their attendance, he prevailed upon the committee to allow the competitors from his native land £5 each for travelling expenses. In short there were hardly any Scottish