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Biographical Sketches Of Eminent Highlanders.—Our next subject will be Evan MacColl, the "Bard of Loch-fine," author of "The Mountain Minstrel," and of " Clars-ach nam Beano."
SIR KENNETH S. MACKENZIE OF GAIELOCH, BART.
"we expressed an intention some time ago to give a series of biographical portraits of our most distinguished living Highlanders, but as yet we have made little progress in that direction. "We have already published a sketch of Cluny Macpherson of Cluny, a Conservative in politics, and one of the very best landlords and most enthusiastic and patriotic Highlanders in the country. We shall now proceed to say a little regarding the Gairloch Baronet, as good a Liberal as Cluny is a Conservative, and, in other respects, in the words of a leading Ross-shire gentleman and a true-blue Tory, who recently described Sir Kenneth to us as "as good a Highlander as ever stood in tartan," The Celtic Magazine takes no side in party politics, and never refers to them except in so far as they have a bearing on the position and necessities of our Highland countrymen; and any reference made here to the politics of Sir Kenneth Mackenzie and the contest in which he has so recently distinguished himself, must be held as applying only to the latter aspect of the question. For though those most intimately acquainted with him knew perfectly well that he possessed abilities above the average, as well as the other good qualities of a true Highland gentleman even in a higher degree, it was only during, and in consequence of, his late contest with Lochiel in the county of Inverness—with a gentleman in respect of lineage, high character, and almost in ability, well worthy ot his lance—that these qualities became widely known to the outside world.
The reader need not at this date be informed of the high lineage of the Baronet of Gairloch, nor of the scions of the family who have distinguished themselves in their respective spheres in the various walks of life. The blood of the Bruce, of the old Earls of Ross, of the ancient Kings of Man, and of almost all the most ancient and distinguished of our Highland families, circulate in his veins. We know that some people consider good blood and lineage of little importance or value, though the very same people, regardless of consistency, will give fabulous prices for the lower animals, just in proportion to the length and purity of their pedigree. We do not by any means consider blue blood and high lineage all that can be desired, but when, as in the case of our present subject, these are combined with the nobler and best qualities of the heart and head, we are old-fashioned and sentimental enough to value them in a high degree.
The first of the family of Gairloch was Hector Roy, second son of Alexander Mackenzie, sixth Baron of Kintail, and a celebrated warrior in his day. He took a distinguished part on the fatal field ot Flodden, but escaped with his life; and he is celebrated iu local history, song, and story, for his achievements in the many clan battles of his day, as leader of the whole clan in the capacity of Tutor or guardian to his nephew, John Mackenzie of Kintail.
William Ross, the Gaelic bard, in his "Moladh a Bhaird air a Thir Fein," speaks of Gairloch, and Hector Roy's prowess at Flodden as follows :—
Beir mo Bhoraidh 'thir a' mhonaidh,
'S nam beann corrach arda,
Fridh nan Gaiageach 'a nan sonn gasda,
Tir Chlann-Eachuinn Ghearrloch,
Gur uallacb eangach, an damn breangach,
8uaa tro' ghleannan faaaich;
Bi'dh chuach 'a a' bhadan, 'aeinn a leadainn,
Mocb 'a a' mhaduinn Mbai?
Gum b'e Gearrloch an tir bhaigheil,
'8 an tir phairteach, bbiadhar,
Tir a phailtew, tir gun ghainne,
Tir is glaine fialachd,
An tir bhainneach, uachdrach, mhealacb,
Chaomhach, channach, tbioral—
Tir an arain, tir an tachdair,
Sithne, a'a pailteaa iaagaich,
Tir an aigh i, tir nan armunn,
Tir nan aar-fhear gleuada;
Tir an t-suairceia, tir gun ghruaimean,
Tir a'a uaiale feile.
An tir bhbrcach, nam fridh ro-mhor,
Tir gun lt-on, gun gheibhinn;
An tir bhraonach, mhachracb, raonach,
Mhartach, laogbach, fbeuracb.
Cho fad 'aa db' imich cliu na h-Alba,
Fhuaradb ainm na dutch' ud,
An am a h-uaialean dhol ri cruadal,
'S Eachainn Kuadh aia thus diubh,
Bho la Baon Flodden nam beum trom,
A Bbocruich bonn na fiudbaidh,
Gu b-uallacb, doaracb, »ua» gun doegainn,
Uasal o'n atoc mhuimeach.
The present Baronet of Gairloch was not the first of his family whose destiny it was to represent his native county in Parliament, which, we have no doubt whatever, he is certain at no distant date to do. His ancestor, the first baronet, also Sir Kenneth, was one of the representatives for the county of Boss in the Scottish Parliament—1700-3—when he strongly opposed the Union between England and Scotland, as a measure which he considered would be "the funeral of his country." He received valuable favours from Queen Anne after her accession to the throne, and was highly respected and beloved by his people. The famous blind piper and poet, John Mackay, spoke of him in a "Marbh-ranm " or elegy as follows:—
Seabbag nach clothadh ri comhraig,
Cba robh aca na thug barr ort,
The same bard composed a song of welcome to his successor, Sir Alexander, on his return to "Tigh Dije nan Gorm-Ghlac " in 1720, in which he exhorts him to be kind and gentle to his people, and not on any account to remove any of his tenants :—
Hi do chinnieh bi suairc,
Ann am furan 's an stnaim,
Na bi 'g iomairt air tuath,
Neo cha do thuaths i, 's uat siubhlaidh
Tlachd, ceatharnachd, 'us uaisl', &c., &c.
If we are to believe the bards and tradition Sir Alexander was in every respect a very worthy man. He was undoubtedly an excellent landlord and a good man of business. Though left with a heavily burdened property, he added greatly to its extent and value, and paid off heavy debts. In 1729 he purchased Cruive House and the Ferry of Scuidale; in 1735 Bishop Kinkell; in 1742 Logie Riach, now known as Conan; and, in 1742, the lands of Kenlochewe. He also redeemed the properties of Davochcairn and Ardnagrask, which were then held by the widow of his uncle William; and in 1752 he executed an entail of all his estates, an act of forethought without which the present popular proprietor would, more than likely, be to-day without an inch of the family estates. In 1738 Sir Alexander built the present family residence in Gairloch, known as Flowerdale House, one of the most beautifully situated in the Highlands, and where the present Baronet spends the summer months. Sir Alexander, unlike most of the Highland chiefs, declined to follow Prince Charles Edward Stuart in 1745, and appears to have had little sympathy with those who took part in that unfortunate but chivalrous adventure.
The readers of the Celtic Magazine are already acquainted with the antiquated conditions on which this excellent landlord hired out his lands to his tenants, who were bound to sell him all their marketable cattle "at reasonable rates," and to deliver to him, at current prices, all the cod and ling caught by them, and how they were obliged to keep boats and men to prosecute these fishings. They were also bound to pay him, in addition to their ordinary rent, a certain sum for the privilege of being allowed to cut peats, and other sums for cruives, and for minister's stipend, while they had to supply him with carts and horses "for mucking," with "custom wedders," fed kids, hens, with men to shear corn and hay, and to plough, make roads, and various other conditions, which, in the present day, would be considered harsh and tyrannical; but, notwithstanding all this, Sir Alexander was almost as popular and as much beloved as his great-great-grandson, the present Baronet of Gairloch, is at the present day.
Sir Hector Mackenzie, who ruled in Gairloch for nearly sixty years, was one of the most popular and best landlords of his time; was LordLieutenant of the county of Ross for many years, and was repeatedly invited to enter Parliament for his native county; but he always refused, asking what would become of his people, among whom he resided, if he were to leave them. He was their judge, counsel, and adviser in all questions of difference, and his decisions were accepted without a mariner. He patronised and encouraged the local bards, and gave a i,'reat impetus to the Gairloch cod and ling fishing. He was indeed considered the