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Jan. 2.—I this day received the very highest compliment that ever was paid me as a minstrel This was in the shape of a visit from a young lad, who came several miles through the snow to see me and solicit a lock ot my hair; bringing with him as an offering a copy of the "Lay of the Last Minstrel." He came three several days upon the same errand; but having no one to introduce him, he went home twice without having seen me. On the third occasion of his coming his courage was equal to a selfintroduction. I am more proud of the artless homage of this poor, enthusiastic child of nature than I would be of an eulogium from the pen of Jeffrey or even Wilson himself. Poor though my admirsr is, there is scarcely a poem in the English language that he has not contrived to read, and to a very great degree committed to memory.* Having quickly undeceived him as to the awful dignity with which his imagination had invested me, we soon learned to enjoy each other's company immensely.
Jan. 3.—Dined and spent the night with the Kev. Mr Stewart of Abernethy, a most kind-hearted fellow, and author of two or three capital bits of English poetry, A splendid group of hills, amid which Cairngorm rises conspicuous, seen from the manse. A stupid-looking old ruin of a castle crowns a hillock at no great distance, and the stream of Nethy hastens by the skirts of the glebe to pay tribute to the Spey. The Nethy flows (if I mistake not) from Locli Avon, at the i'oot of Cairngorm— the scene of one of Hogg's wildest poems in the "Queen's Waka"
Jan. 4.—Proceeded up Speyside to Kothiemurchus. The scenery hero charming, beyond description, its beauties being entirely of an Alpine character—forests of pine and birch spread in the most splendid profusion far over hill and dell. Nature herself is the only planter, and nobly does she accomplish her task! Betwixt the river and the hills that rise sublimely beautiful to the south and south-east Loch-an-Eilean sleeps in its mountain cradle. Beautiful it is with its little castellated islet, and its banks thickly studded with pine trees of gigantic stature gazing upon their own dark forms in its ever-placid bosom. A fearful snowstorm alone prevents me from making a pilgrimage to a spot, a view of which, from what I see in the distance, would be sure to fill me with rapture.
Jan. 6.—Left Kothiemurchus, the snow filling fearfully heavy. Visited the Bev. Mr Macdonald, of the Parish of Alvie, on the way further west. Mr Macdonald has written some little poetry in his younger days. His manse and church are most picturesquely situated on the banks of a little lake whose name I forget, and close by Kinrara, long a summer residence of the late Duchess of Gordon. Seven miles further west is Belleville, the romantic birthplace of Macpherson, the celebrated translator of Ossian's poems. A monument on the north side of the road reminds the traveller that he is on classic ground, and base is he, indeed, who can pass by it and bless not the memory of the man who had done so much to rescue from oblivion these glorious productions. Two miles further on is Kingussie, where I now write, and from the window of my room can gaze on the Castle of Ruthven, a very picturesque ruin, on the opposite side of the river. It was here that the little hurricane cloud, which in the 'Forty-five gathered in Glenfinnan and carried distractions and dismay in its course over half the empire, melted at last into "thin air."
* My very dear friend and correspondent of after years, John Grant Mackintosh, wa« the lad here alluded to.
After the battle of Culloden the muster of scattered eluiis at the Castle of Euthven might amount to about 8000. Although in this gathering there was found many a chief whose voice was '' still lor war," it was ultimately agreed upon that any further attempt on their part to prolong hostilities would be altogether in vain.
Jan. 8.—Proceeded to Laggan. Snow very deep. A lake on the left hand side; its scenery altogether about the most romantically beautiful I have ever gazed upon. It was night, but the waste of snow around, with a star here and there peeping through the skirts of the snow-clouds hanging overhead, made it appear less like night than a "day in absence of the sun." It required no small effort to tear myself away from a spot so very bewitching, notwithstanding all that Mrs Grant has told us of its haunted character. About two miles farther on on the right is the seat of Cluny Macpherson, the Chief of that Clan. Two miles still farther on stands the manse and church of Laggan, which I passed, and arrived late and "weary and worn" at the little inn near to them, on the south side of the river (Spey), where I took up my quarters for the night.
Jan. 9.—Visited the parish minister, the Rev. Mr Cameron, by whom I was hospitably received, and much blamed for daring to pass his manse on the preceding night, to take up my abode in less comfortable quarters. But a promise to pass a whole week of next summer with him made matters all right. After sufficiently admiring this region of grace and grandeur both, and amid which the gifted Mrs Grant lived so long and sung so beautiful, I bade farewell to Badenoch; and after breasting the hill of J)rumuachdraeh, passed the night at Dalwhinnie, on the road to Perth. Capital inn. Very kind landlord. Scenery around wild and dreary beyond description. Close by is the eastern termination of the far-famed Loch-Errochd, which, before the arrival of the mail of to-morrow morning for the south, I am determined to visit. In the meantime, however, I shall go and dream of its beauties in bed.
Jan. 10.—It was scarcely dawn this morning when the mail arrived, and I was forced to leave Loch-Errochd unseen. Why should I, or how can I describe my journey to the "Fair City 1" It was done in too much hurry, and the snow all along lay far too deep to admit ot my "tukin' notes " with any degree of comfort or correctness. Suffice it in the meantime to say that our road lay through scenes of such wonderful beauty as I can scarcely ever expect to see elsewhere. Beached Perth late at night, minus my portmanteau, which I find to have been taken off the coach during our halt at Dunkeld, likely through a mistake on the part of somebody.
Jan. 11.—Traversed the city. Think it hardly worthy of its flattering title. Its suburbs, however, are sufficiently fair and romantic. The Tay glides, or rather rushes, by it—a majestic flood which, taken all in all, has not its match in Scotland. Waited the airival of the evening mail, and traced my portmanteau to safe hands. Started about 11 o'clock at night with the mail for Glasgow, where I arrived safely this morning (Jan. 12) at 10 o'clock.
TRADITIONS OF STE ATHGLASS.
There is a tradition current in Strathglass that a man named Ualan or Valentine, was falconer or "uchdadar" for the Earl of Moray, and used to hunt for his master on the hills of Strathglass. How he acquired the Gaelic name of " uchdadar" is not related, and it is said that he was the first man who called Cruinnis and the surroundings of Techuig—" An Croma-glileann," or Curved Glen. I have heard it stated that he gave it this apt designation when he for the first time looked westwards from Erchless. The uchdadar soon made his way far past the Croma-ghleann, and found Gleann-nam-fiadh and Coileach far better calculated to satisfy his sporting proclivities. It is alleged that he was in the habit of posting himself at a large stone on the north side of Gleann-nam-fiadh, and to get another man to drive the deer past him. In this favourite sport he used to make great havoc with his bow and arrow among the antlered tribe. This stone is about as large as a small house, and has the appearance of having fallen at some remote period from Creag-na-h-inighinn, a large rock directly above it. Ualan, the uchdadar, was famous in his time, and made the stone also fampus, as it has been known ever since by the name of Clach-an-uchdadar. H tradition can be relied on the uchdadar was a man of herculean strength and endurance. In proof of which the following verse used to be recited:—
Am fiadh a mharbhadh e
The stag he would kill in Braidh-mhion-luich, he would carry without opening it to Cawdor. The whole distance being over sixty miles, the falconer must have been a powerful man indeed.
There is a "Precept under the Great Seal for infefting Ualan Chisholm of Comar in the lands of Knockfin, Comer-mor, Inver-channaichs, and Breakachies, dated 9th of April 1513." If this Ualan or Wiland was the hero of the above tradition—who carried the stag from Strathglass to Cawdor Castle, he was not, in other respects, any better than his neighhours, inasmuch as we find, about the year of his infeftment in the lands described, that an Ualan Chisholm of Comar, Sir Donald of Lochalsh, ami Macdonell of Glengarry, stormed the Castle of Urquhart, expelling the garrison, and wasting the surrounding country. Whether this act was considered meritorioui or the reverse, it is certain that twenty-five years after the storming of Urquhart Castle, Ualan's eldest son, John, had received a charter under the Great Seal of his father's lands, dated 13th March 1538. I have heard it stated that at a meeting in Strathglass the Chisholm who was Chief of the Clan about the year 1725, related some extraordinary feats performed by Ualan the uchdadar. All the men pre* sent were so much pleased with the glowing description their Chief gave of Ualan that they expressed their determination to make his name a household word. By the end of the year there was a son born to each of nine married men who were present at the meeting, and each of the nine hoys was christened Ualan. The late Mr Valentine Chisholm (Inchully), who died fifty-nine years ago, at the age of ninety-six, was the last liver of the nine. I well remember the time when this Ualan of Inchully attended the wedding of John Forbes—Ian-Ban-Foirbeis—who married Mary, daughter of Allan Chisholm, Kerrow. Mary, the bride, was a granddaughter of Ualan. Nothing would please the young people at the wedding better than to see the venerable patriarch, Ualan, on the floor. The old gentleman was at the time over ninety years of age, but to please his young friends he acceded to their wish, and stepped on the floor with a firm gait, offering his arm to the bride. ".Now, young people," said he, "let another couple of you come forward to dance this reel with the bride and myself." "Too glad of the chance," responded Ian Mor Mac Alastair 'ic Euari, at the same moment giving his arm to his own grand-aunt, the bride's mother. This John Mor Chisholm was great grandson of Ualan's. We have now four generations on the floor, but a fifth came on in the person of Alexander, one of John's sons, a great-great-grandson of Ualan, so that there were actually five generations of the same family of the name Chisholm dancing the reel together. The aged Ualan was the seventh son of Colin of Knockfin, the senior cadet of Chisholm and of his spouse Helen, daughter of Patrick Grant, fourth laird of Glenmoriston. The fourth Laird of Glenmoriston was married to Janet, the fourth daughter of Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel. This lady was grandmother to Ualan of Inchully, so that he was at the same time a grandson of the Laird of Glenmoriston and a great-grandson of Lochiel on the mother's side. On the father's side he was a grandson of the first Chisholm of Knockfin and great grandson of the Chisholm of Strathglass. The venera"ble Valentine Chisholm of Inchully was the father of Bishops John and iHneas Chisholm who died in Lismore and were buried in Cillchiaran in that Island—the former of whom died in 1814 and the latter in 1818. According to an old tradition in the Highlands the seventh son in a family was generally supposed to be intended for the medical profession. Consequently his countrymen credited Ualan, he being the seventh son, with the power of healing the King's Evil. People were in the habit of coming from a distance to consult him in such cases, and the old gentleman was always very obliging, never refusing to administer so far as he could to the wants of rich or poor. When offered a fee he invariably accepted the sum of sixpence only, and that merely to comply with an old belief that a cure was more likely to be effected after a piece of silver had been paid for it. The name of Ualan became very common in the district in my own time.
The old people in Strathglass state that a battle was fought above Fasanacoil on a field called Glasbuidh or Aridhuian. The tradition is, that Claun 'ic Gille-onaicb and the Macmillans of Lochaber formed an idea that they could, by uniting their forces, take possession of Strathglass. The Chisholms who were for a long period, prior to this, sole proprietors of the district, failed to see any justice in the demands of the intruders from the south-west, It was very galling to them to hear of such an intention at any time, hut especially at a time when their chief was a minor; so they decided on the most determined resistance. Their reply was an immediate declaration of war, expressing their readiness to abide by the arbitration of the sword, and to decide the merits or demerits of their contention on the Blackmoor of Baile-na-bruthach, between Clachan and Baile-na-haun. The would-be conquerors of Strathglass objected to the large level blackmoor to light a battle on. They alleged—very properly in my opinion— that it was too much surrounded by club-farms, and that women and children from these farms might be killed unintentionally. Unfortunately for the enemy it was ultimately decided by the leaders of both parties to fight the battle on the fields of Aridhuian, where, no doubt, it was an advantage for the Chisholms to fight, on ground they must have known much better than their opponents, especially as there are several little hillocks on Aridhuian and a burn running through it. This enabled Chisholm of Knockfin—the leader of the Strathglass men—to place all the forces under his command in a favourable position.
It is stated in the traditions of the district that the Macmillans and their friends were dreadfully shattered by the first fire. Whether this was the result of the absence of proper discipline among the Lochaber men, or want of ability on the part of their leader, I know not, nor have I ever heard any cause assigned for it But I have always heard that Knockfin disposed his men in such a masterly manner as to enable them to pour their bullets simultaneously into the front and Hank of the enemy. Terrible as this volley was it does not appear to have satisfied the pugnacious proclivities of the intruders. Decimated as their ranks were, the brave Lochaber men rallied and returned again and again to the charge with little or no success. In the afternoon two of them came forward under some sort of flag of truce and arranged to bury their dead, and carry their wounded away. The following day no less than sixteen of the latter were removed on improvised ambulances. This mode of conveying sick, wounded, or dead bodies, was called in Gaelic "cradhleabaidh," a term, literally translated into English, meaning anguish or agony bed. The defeated Lochaber men did not consider it safe to pass through Strathglass by the ordinary road They decided to cross the river Aifaiic with their melancholy procession, at the rough fords east of Achagiat, called Na Damhanan.
When a mere boy I was passing through the field of Aridhuian with an old man who lived during his youth in Easanacoil, and who was tacksman for a portion of his life in the farm of that name. He had ample opportunities of knowing the traditions current in his time about the battle of Aridhuain. He pointed out to me where the battle commenced and where the enemy buried their dead.
I heard a number of curious incidents about this battle. One of them is to the following effect:—In their flight two or three of the Lochaber men saw an old woman trying to conceal a little boy from their view. One of them got hold of the boy. The simple old nurse implored him not to hurt the child, as he was the son of Mr Chisholm of Knockfin. "No fear of him," said the refugee. "Keep quiet; I will take care of the child, and he will probably take care of me, till I get out of the Strathglass woods." So saying he took the child up on his shoulders, re