« AnteriorContinuar »
a feature of his character which would perhaps not be quite satisfactory to his minister, an old Presbyterian divine, who is in a subsequent canto described as—
Wrapt in cold Orthodoxy's vestiture,
He preached flame-terrors as Bin's only cure,
And sought by fear-creating tales to shape
For every soul a simple fire-escape—
Bound in his blind belief that God was one
Who cursed all those that worshipped not his son
By Presbyterian version of his creed.
Mor's first teacher was Eppie Tamson, who is thus happily and doubtless truthfully described, although in a very short time the changes in our educational system will perhaps make the description appear grotesquely untrue:—
High seated towered the dame, while on her head
A lofty cap, its snowy folds outspread,
With hair becurled and ribbon round her brows,
And brass-bound spectacles upon her nose.
Full of old maidish shrill voiced consequence,
She taught by fear the little that she knew,
In a note Mr Allan says that objections may be urged against the unreality of the cantos describing his dream and its immediate issues, but we are satisfied that no reader would wish them out of the book, for these cantos contain some of Mr Allan's finest Hues. It is winter, and Mor, unemployed and despairing, returns to his cold home in that mood when
Thoughts of death arise, that tempt the unhinged soul
And he and his surroundings are thus described :—
Mor, workless and purseless, friendless and crushed,
Sleep comes and enshrouds the outer senses of the dispirited worker, but the spirit is awake and receives its comfort in the vision which follows, aud when the sleeper awakes it is with new strength and courage, and to make new and successful efforts.
The cantos devoted to the blockade-running portion of Mor's life are perhaps the most spirited in the book The arrival of the blockaderunner at Porto Eico leads up to a splendidly written canto on the cruelties of the Spaniards in Mexico, where—
Beneath the ruthless Spaniards' blighting breatli,
and in Peru, where—
O'er the peaceful country swiftly rolled
deeds followed slowly but surely by the inevitable retribution—
Where now thy glory, miserable Spain?
The chase of the blockade runner, her escape from under the muzzles of
At times it would appear that Mr Allan forgot he was himself the hero of his poem; but this is well on in the book, wheu he had written so much about "Mor the Scot," that he may well be excused for occasionally investing him with a separate personality and heroic attributes. The lines whore this peculiarity crops out would never have been spoken or written by Mr Allan of himself, although they are well deserved; but of this separate person, "Mor the Scot," ho has no such delicacy. Speaking of Mor, he says :—
Each foul attack with lofty acorn he foiled.
He moved alone to golden poison proof,
Uncheered, unaided, self-reliant, itrong,
So Mor, with throbbing heart and frenzied eye,
Nobody who knows the author will think any of these lines undeserved
Around its up-drawn visor gleaming bright,
In his right hand he had a sword, whose scabbard bore the word "Justice,"
With tender grasp, on Mor's uncovered head,
"Wear thou this blow-defying helmet ever,
Be proudly poor with this than rich,"
and so on. Then the stranger takes his sword and shield and arms Mor with them, and during the process gives him abundance of advice, warning him especially against dishonesty, untruth, and injustice. At the end of this exhortation we arc told that—
Thus armed, o'er Mor a new sensation stole,
This is a splendid burst, and after reading it one is not surprised to learn that honesty, truth, and justice became from that time forth the guiding principle of Mor's life. Some seventy pages lurther on, however, we come upon lines which seem to indicate that even when a declaration of principles is made in high-sounding verse, emergencies may arise when these principles have to be laid aside for the moment, and much abused expediency made the rule of action. Such, at least, would seem to have been Mor's experience.
He finds himself in prison in Washington. Each day he appeals to the British Ambassador, but without effect, for his letters elicit no response. How he at last gained his liberty is told in two lines—
Till tact beguiled a sentry's soldier pride,
And as this gain was liberty, it would be hard to say that cunning or beguiling tact sparingly used, and only on emergencies, is not sometimes a valuable addition to make to one's acquirements, or to the great guiding principles of honesty, truth, and justice.
Beyond the slight blemishes we have narrated, there is little to find fault with. A few bad rhymes, such as "evil" with "devil," and "slow" with "prow," and a few traces of hasty composition, are defects which a careful revisal will remove. For aught we know, Mr Allan's nationality may so extend his poetic license as to entitle him to pronounce "devil" "deevil," in which case the lines will probably be left as they are.
The work has throughout the ring of genuine poetry, and we offer Mr Allan our hearty congratulations on the appearance of this, the beat book yet produced by his pen.
The get-up of the volume is as creditable to the publishers as its contents are to the author. It is beautifully printed on hand-made paper ami strongly bound in vellum, and we are by no moans surprised to leiim that it is already out of print.
Conducted by ALEXANDER MACKENZIE, F.S.A.Scot
HISTORY OF THE MiCDONALDS.
XXIII. THE FAMILY OF CLANRANALD. XVII. John Macdonald, tenth of Clanranald, in 1622-23, entered into a contract of fidelity with Donald MacAngus of Glengarry, in which he is described as "John Moydart, captain of Clanranald," and by which they mutually bind and oblige each other, their servants, and tenants, to assist and concur with one another against all mortal enemies. In 1625 he entered into an agreement with Sir Donald Mackay of Strathnaver, by which he resigned in favour of Mackay the superiority of the lands of Arasaig and Moydart, obtaining a feu-charter of them on the 7th of April, in the same year, in his own favour. This charter was confirmed by the Crown on the 22d of February 1627. On the 1st of August in the latter year, Sir Donald Macdonald of Sleat granted him a precept of dare constat of the lands of Skirrough, Benbecula, and Gartgimines, of which Sir Donald, by charter from the Crown, obtained the superiority in 1614, while Sir Donald of Clanranald was under attainder, as already stated. On the precept of 1614 infeftment followed on the 1st and 2d of March 1629, On the 18th of September 1627, he was served heir in special to his father in the 21 merk lands of Eigg, which are "ex antiquo quondam Joanni M'Allistor avo diet, quondam Domini Donaldi M'Allane, ha;rcdibus suis et assignatis haareditarie datas concessas et dopositas;" and the other lands which had been erected into the Barony of Castletirrim by charter in favour of his father in 1610. On this retour a precept from Chancery was obtained; and infeftment followed on the 3d of March 1629. On the 13th of May 1630 he was served heir in general to Allan, his grandfather, and to his great-grandfather, John Moydartach. Having made up titles, he made an assedation of the lands of Dalilea, Langal, and others, to John Ranaldson, parson of Mandfinnan, in life-rent, after whof-e death to Allan M'Ranaldson, his brother's son, also in life-rent, and r,n the death of Allan to his son for a term of nineteen yrars. Infeftment duly followed. In 1629 John "resinned the lands of Moydart and Arisaig into the hands of Sir Donald McDonald of Sleat, who had acquired rights from Sir Donald McKay to the direct superiority, and theyiafterwards granted a charter of them to Lord Lorn, in whose person a second intermediate superiority vested; and in this way the family of Argyll were, till lately, in possession of the superiority of a considerable part of the Clanranald estate."* This charter is dated 18th December 1633, and 1st of April 1634. On the same date Sir Donald Macdonald of Sleat, with Clanranald's consent, executed a charter of the lands of Skirrough in favour of Lord Lorn, to be held of Sir Donald. About this period the Mackenzies of Kintail appear to have obtained possession of the superiority; for we find that "in 1633 George Mackenzie was served heir to his brother Colin Earl of Seafort, Lord Mackenzie of Kintail, in the 27 mark lands of Moydart and the 24 mark lands of Arrasack."*
John took a prominent part in the wars of Montrose already described under the Families of Sleat and Glengarry. Clanranald joined the famous Montrose and General Alexander Macdonald, son of Colla Ciotac-h, at Inverlochy, in 1645, and took a distinguished part in all the victories of the campaign. Clanranald soon after, his number of troops being small, returned to his own country to raise his followers, when he found the garrison of Mingarry had been attacked by the Karl of Argyll. Ho immediately went to its relief, defeated the Earl, rem forced the garrison, laid waste the whole of Suinart and Ardnamurchan, and returned to Castletirrim, where he found General Alexander Macdonald, who had in the meantime heard of the distress of his friends at Mingarry, and hastened to their relief. Finding his services unnecessary in consequence of Clanranald's action, he halted at Castletirrim, where he was introduced to Donald, Clanranald's eldest son, "a young man of great resolution and bravery," to whom he gave a command in his army. From thence they proceeded to Arasaig and Moydart, where they were joined by Donald Gorm, first of Scotus, and uncle of Glengarry, and raised all the men of Moydart and Glengarry. Proceeding to Lochaber, they were there joined by Donald Glas of Keppoch, with the men of the Braes of Lochabe»-, the Stewarts of Appin, the Lairds of Glencoe and Glen Nevis, and a considerable body of the Camerons. This body, soon after, met Montrose at Biair-Athol, whither they had marched.
Here a council of war was held, immediately on the arrival of the Highlanders, to fix upon their winter quarters, as the severe weather was fast approaching. Montrose recommended a descent on the Lowlands, but the Highlanders preferred a raid to Argyleshire, to revenge themselves on their enemy, "Gillespie Gruarnach." Montrose expressed doubt at their being a sufficient supply of food for such an army to pass them over the winter procurable in the county, when Angus MacAlein Duibh, a distinguished soldier and marksman from Glencoe, replied, "There is not a farm, or half a farm, under MacCailein, but what I know every foot of it; and if good water, tight houses, and fat cows will do for you, there is plenty to bo had." They immediately marched, the various chiefs acting independently of Montrose, to a considerable extent, in their cattlelilting excursions, on their way to Argyle. "John of Moidart and the Clanranald, with some of the Keppoch men, were the most active on those detours from the line of march; and upon one occasion they returned to the camp with 1000 head of cattla" They were soon marching
* History of the Family, 1819, p. 119.
f Origines Parochiales Scotte, vol. ii., p. 203.