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TRADITIONS OF STEATHGLASS.
It is said that the Chisholm, good old Rory, " Ruari-an-aidh," as he used to be familiarly called, was in treaty with the Laird of Gairloch for the purchase of Glasletter in Glen Cannich. The then Laird of Gairloch, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, ninth laird and second baronet, was locally known as " An Tighearna Breac.1' About 1720 he purchased some land in the low country of Koss, and continued for a few years afterwards to add to his estates. This rendered it necessary for him to think of selling the most distant portion of the Barony of Gairloch iu Glasletter. The good old Chisholm made up his mind, if possible, to buy it. With this object the two lairds met, and went to see the Glasletter. On their way passing through the west end of Gloncannich, they called on a very eccentric character, " Fearachar na Cosaig," who resided in Cosaig. He conveyed the two chiefs for about twro miles up the glen. "When about to leave them Sir Alexander asked him the following questions:— "Ciod i do bharail ormsa Fhearachair? tha mi dol a chreic na Glasleitreach!" "Ma ta," arsa Fearacliair, "Alastair cha 'n eil ach barail a bhruin de ladhran, barail bhog, Ach ciod a tha thu faighinu air a son? Am bheil thu faighinn uiread ri Beiim-i'hionnla air a son?" "Cha 'n eil idir," arse Tighearna Ghoarrloch, "cha 'n eil mi faighinn uiread na cloicho sin air a son," 's o bualadh a bhrog air sconn cloiche. "Tha thu faoin Alastair," thuirt Fearacliair, " Ged thoisicheadh tu an diugh aig bun Bemn-fliionnla, agus a bin gabhail di fad laithean do bheatha, cha chaith thu i, ach faodaidh tu uiread na cloiche sin, a chaitheamh an uin ghoirid agus bithidh a Ghlasleitir a dhith ort." "Tha thu ceart, ro cheart Fhearachair," arsa Tighearna Ghearrloch, "agus bithidh 'bhuil." Thug an Siosalueh suil air Fearaehair mar gun abradh e "Rijiu thu 'n tubaist." Thuig Fearacliair mar bha, agus thuirt e, "Ach co ris a ghaolaich, iVlastair, tha thu dol a reie na Glasleitreach?" "Ri do charaide f hein, an Siosalach," arsa Tighearna Ghearrloch. "Puthu 1 mas ami mar sin a tha," arsa Fearacliair, "'s beag eadar ribhfein i; 's cloinn chairdean sibh fein. Turas math dhuibh a dhaoino uaisle," arsa Fearachair 's o cur cul a chinn ri na tighearnan. For the benefit of the unlearned I shall give the meaning in English of this familiar dialogue as follows :—" What do you think of me," said the Laird of Gairloch addressing Farquhar, "now that I am going to sell the Glasletter?" "My opinion of you is the same as the badger's opinion of his hoofs, a soft opinion; but how much arc you getting for it, are you getting the size of Beu-Finlay of gold tor it" (one of the highest mountains in the district)? "Uh! no, Farquhar, not oven the size of this stono," striking his foot against a stone that lay near them. "AVell, then, I beg to tell you that you are very foolish, for if you were to begin this day at tho foot of BenFLnlay and work at it for tho remainder, of your life, you could not spend it, but you oould 6oon spend the size of this stonu in gold, and then Glasletter would be gone from you for ever." "You are right, quite right, Farquhar," replied Gairloch. The Chisholm looked askance at Farquhar, as much as to say, "you have spoiled my bargain." Farquhar, discovering that he had committed a mistake, then said, " But, my dear Alexander, who are you going to sell the Glasletter to V "To yonr friend, the Chisholm," replied Gairloch. "Oh then," answered Farquhar, "if that is the case, it's a very small matter between yourselves, children of relations as you are. A good journey to you, gentlemen;" and Farquhar turned on his heels and left them.
The Laird of Gairloch, it will be seen, was not above consulting a poor mountain herdsman, whose familiarity with the two lairds will make the reader smile. The result was that Gairloch did not offer the Chisholm the Glasletter again for several years. Some five or six years after, however, the good old Chisholm bought Glasletter from Sir Alexander. I am not surprised at Gairloch having a great reluctance in parting with, the Glasletter, considering that his family had it under a charter for about 220 years. How long they may have had it before is not clear, but it is historically true that they had a charter under the great seal of Gairloch, Glasletter and Coirre-nan-Cuilean, dated as early as the 8th April 1513.*
Further on in this paper I shall relate a few more of Farquhar's eccentricities, but meanwhile let me state what good Rory intended to do with his newly acquired possessions. Soon after the purchase he entered into an agreement with a contractor to drain Loch Mulardich, a fresh water lake in Glencannich, which measures from east to west about five miles, and in some parts about a mile in breadth. It is bounded at the east end by a rocky barrier, which divides it from another lake called Loch-aBhana. This ridge between the two lakes extends to about 100 yards. It was calculated that by the draining of the loch some valuable grarings would be reclaimed and added to the already fine pastures about its upper end. The immense depth of the lake at the face of the intercepting rock was an encouragement to proceed with the proposed operations, especially as the bottom of Loch Mulardich was on a level with the surface of Loch-a-Bhana below. Consequently the contractor found no engineering difficulty in the work. He began with great vigour by blasting the intercepting rock, and removed piece after piece, leaving only a thin breast of rock at either end to keep back the water. Many a time have I measured with the end of my fishing-rod, the depth of the holes made and left in the rock by the borers, into which the intended charge of powder was never inserted; and part of the smithy wall which the men erected for sharpening their tools still remains. Everything was going on so successfully that the draining of Loch Mulardich was considered almost an accomplished fact, when the contractor accidentally lost his life. On a certain occasion good old Rory was on a visit to his father-in-law, Macdonell of Glengarry, when a party went on a shooting expedition to Cuileachaidh, where a man resided named Alastair Mor, who considered himself no mean poet, and in greeting the Chisholm he addressed him—
Mo ghaol an Siosalach Glaiseach,
* See Maokenzie'i History of the Maokenzies, p. 805<
Cha 'n eil agad ach aon nighean,
John Tulloch, the contractor, was a native of Eedcastle, a man of great energy and reputation in his business. A number of gentlemen were in the habit of spearing salmon at this time, and it was considered very good sport. John Tulloch, who joined a party at the Falls of Kilinoraek, accidently overbalanced himself while aiming his spear at a salmon, and fell into the caldron below, and thus ended, unfortunately, the scheme for draining Loch Mulardich.
Fearachar-na-Co8aig, already mentioned, was a descendant of Aonghas Odhar, a Glengarry Macdonell, and somewhat eccentric. On one occasion, in the depth of winter, he went down to the Strath for a bag of barley to have it ground at home on the quern. Eeturning home with his load, at a place called Carn-an-doire-dhuinn, and within two miles of his own house, Farquhar was crossing a hollow where he noticed a great number of birds taking shelter during a snow-storm. Farquhar, evidently a man of generous disposition, took the bag of barley from off the horse, and strewed the whole contents on the snow to feed the birds. On his arrival at home, in answer to his wife's enquiries and remonstrances for his foolish proceedings, he said that he could not see the Chisholm's birds starving without succouring thom, and that he had given them all the barley. The story soon reached the ears of the Chisholm. Farquhar was sent for to Erchless; a good supply of barley was presented to him; and the same quantity ordered to him annually during his life. From that day till now the hollow in which Farquhar strewed the barley for "eoin bheaga 'n t-Siosalaich," is known by the name of "Glaic an eorna," the hollow of the barley. So far as I am aware, no man has pitched his residence in Cosag since Farquhar left it, until Sir Joseph Radcliffe built a shooting box there some fifty years ago. After Sir Joseph left the lodge was rebuilt, and has since been the shooting residence of Sir Greville Smith and others, and it is now in the possession of Mr Winans. Considering that Cosag has been selected as the residence of men of wealth and taste, we must allow that old Farquhar was not a bad judge of locality when he originally built his mud hut.
There is a very old story current in Strathglass to the effect that one of the Lairds of Gairloch was accidentally killed in Lietry, in Glencannich, by a man who was watching the cattle pinfold. At the time this accident happened it was customary for farmers and owners of cattle to pinfold and watch them at night in a square or circular enclosure called " Buailemhart." This system was considered beneficial in more respects than one. First, the knowledge that the fold was sedulously watched was a terror to those inclined to try their hand at the old-fashioned game of cattle lifting; second, it was well known that the fold, when properly attended to by shifting, replacing, and rebuilding alternately on different parts of the field, was one of the best possible means of fertilising tho ground. For these reasons and others it may be taken for granted that the "Buailerohart'' was pretty common to all parts of the Highlands. The watchers, however, used to find occupation irksome during the dreary long nights in the fall of the'year, and many and many a song was composed and sung to while away the time on these occasions.
Thug an oidheho noehd gu gaillionn,
Lietry, as I said, was the scene of the accident which terminated fatally to the Laird of Gairloch. A farmer in Lietry, named Macdonald, long, long ago, was watching the cattle fold, when about dusk one evening two gentlemen, Gairloch and his companion, came up and leant against the top lath in one of the hurdles composing the fenco of the fold. Macdonald, observing them from a distance, instantly challenged them in the following terms :—" Co tha'n sud 's an uchd air a bhuaile?" (Who is there leaning on the fold ?) Gairloch, knowing Macdonald's voice, with whom he was intimately acquainted, and in whose house ho intended to pass that night, requested his companion not to answer that they might have some quiet fun with the watcher. Macdonald, however, became peremptory, and repeated his previous question, adding the rather significant threat—" Mar freagar sibh mise bithidh m' inthaidh aig an fhear as gile broilleach agaibh." (Unless you answer me my arrow shall be at him whose breast is the whitest), who turned out to be Gairloch, he having had on a light vest A short pause ensued, but no answer came ; and Macdonald raised his bow and shot the fatal arrow, which embedded itself in the neck of the Laird of Gairloch, who instantly fell to rise no more. The part of the neck which the arrow pierced is called in Gaelic "an Slugan ;" and from that day to this the field on which the sad accident occurred is called " Raon an t-Slugain." Mackenzie lingered for about a week in Macdonald's house before death had put an end to his sufferings, and it is related that he fully exonerated Macdonald from blame, and begged, as his dying request, that no one would ever cast it up to him. But Macdonald himself was so much dejected in consequence of what happened, that he scarcely ever entered any society during the rest of his life.
(To be Continued.)
THE HISTORY OF THE MACDONALDS AXD LORDS OP THE ISLES.—A "First List of Subscribers" will be found in our advertising pages. It is naturally gratifying to receive the patronage of so many of the better classes, socially and intellectually, for a work on the merits of which they have been already able to form an opinion to some extent in these pages. Those wishing to secure copies of the History should lose no time in sending in their names, as the issue is to be strictly limited. It will soon be sent to press.
HOOKS RECEIVED and to be noticed in an early issue :—From David Douglas, Edinburgh, "Scotland in Early Christian Times," by Joseph Anderson; from "Fionn," "The Celtic Garland."
CELTIC SCOTLAND—LAND AND PEOPLE *
"we have now had hefore us for some months the third and final volume of Mr Skene's History of Ancient Alban. According to the plan which the author has adopted, this volume, like its predecessors, is a separate work in itself, and the subject with which it professes to deal is " tho early land tenures and social condition of the Celtic inhabitants of Scotland." Our readers will readily appreciate the interest with which we approach this subject treated by the greatest of Celtic scholars. Here we may expect to find all that great ability and a long life of diligent and patient research and study have been able to discover about our ancestors, and a patient and careful study of tho book has not disappointed our expectations.
The volume commences with an account of Scotland as it was at the close of the reign of Alexander the Third—the lust of the monarchs in the direct Celtic line. At that time the kingdom had attained the dimensions which it has since retained, and had been consolidated into a feudal monarchy. The eastern district south of the Forth was, as it had long been, inhabited by a Saxon people. The south-western district was inhabited by the remains of the Strathclyde Britons, with a considerable mixture of the Saxon element, and by a Gaelic people in Galloway and Ayrshire. Over the eastern district north of the Forth and outside the Highland line, where tho Saxon wife of Malcolm Canmore required an interpreter to enable her to communicate with tho Gaelic people, the English language and Saxon and Norman laws and customs held complete sway, and any remnants of the Celtic race which remained appear, alas! only as " Native" or " Bondi" serfs bound to the soil. But within the Highland line the Celtic race had taken its stand, and held its own, as it continues to do, and Celtic customs, laws, and tenures still prevailed, although veiled and hidden to a great extent by the feudal system which was the law of the land, and which was gradually but surely eating into and connpting them. To trace out sucli remains of these laws, customs, and tenures as survived iu historic times, and from them, and from what can be gathered from the laws and history of the kindred branches of the race in Wales and Ireland, to enable us to see what tho ancient organisation of tho kingdom was, is the object which the author has set before him, and has diligently pursued through careful and exhaustive examinations of the seven provinces into which ancient Alban was divided, the legendary origins of its inhabitants, the tribe and sept as they existed in Ireland and Wales, the clan as it arose and existed in Scotland, the thanaces and their extinction, and tho genealogies of the clans. To a great extent it will be seen that this is what may be called writing history backwards. The ordinary process is to trace peoples and their institutions from a rude beginning, through a natural course of development, to what they now are. Ancient Alban, however, had hardly become consolidated into a compact state when alien intluences began to aflect it, and to its
* By William F. Skene, LL.D.; Edinburgh, David Douglas.