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His parish being a very wide one, cut up hero and there by long arms of the sea, he is a perfect sailor, and au equally good horseman. He is passionately fond of animals, kind and considerate to the poor, tolerant of others, and possessing a keen and generous sympathy with all around him from the meanest to the highest.
Mr Stewart was born in the Island of Benbecula, Outer Hebrides, in 1829, where his father hold an appointment in the Inlaud Revenue Department of the Civil Service. The family soon after removed to Oban. Before entering the University of St Andrews, Mr Stewart attended the School of Kirkmichael, in the Highlands of Perthshire. Entering the University in 1843, he made rapid progress and highly distinguished himself, especially in literature and Belles Lettres. "Nothing in this," a recent writer says, "to point to him as a future Edwards, dragging hidden secrets from Nature with the passionate eagerness of a Suker. No! there are woers of Nature of various kinds, and 'NetherLochaber' is a Literary Naturalist. His the great merit of placing before an extended constituency, in the most pleasing forms, garnered fruits from various gardens, and teaching them to take an interest in the world around them, to look beyond the coarse working apron of Nature and see the elegant texture of her garment, to dig gems from the common speech of his fellows—dirt-begrimed perhaps—and set them in silver sentences before their astonished owners."
He traces high descent from the Stewarts of Invernahyle and Glenbuckie. In 1852 he married Miss Morrison, Sallachan House, Ardgour, eldest daughter of Captain Morrison, RN., by whom he has a family ol one son and two daughters, A M.
ON SEEING A LARK'S NEST ON A GRAVE.
Songster of Heaven! Oh! bo not thus distrest;
Scndebiand. WM. ALLAN.
LAGAN A' BHAINNE; OR THE MILKY DELL.
"winding through the valleys, ascending the hills, scaling height after height, like a huge snake creeping its sinuous way along, appears the old military road made by the celebrated General Wade. Once, the highway from the south to the wild regions of Badenoch, but now seldom used, except by drovers or an occasional tourist, whose curiosity has induced him to explore tho old road and the varied scenery it passes through. It is in some places little better than a narrow track, and as it crawls up the side of Corryarrick it gets rougher and more broken. The traveller finds the air get colder and colder as he advances higher up the mountain. Probably snow lies in tho sheltered hollows of the rocks. Here and there he may notice rude cairns of stones hurriedly thrown together to mark the last resting place of poor unfortunate wanderers who have from time to time been overcome by fatigue and the severity of the weather, and have sunk down in that fatal sleep from which there is no awakening.
Just as the road reaches the last long ascent, it sweeps round a green hill and enters Lagan a' Bhainne, when there bursts on the vision of the delighted tourist a scene of fertility and beauty he little expected to meet with. This lovely glen is sheltered from the rude north wind, while it lies open to the rays of the sun. A clear stream meanders through the bottom of the valley. The mountain ash, the trembling aspen, and the beautiful birch adorn this favoured spot; under foot is a soft carpet of blooming purple heather; around the air is laden with the sweet scent of wild flowers; and above, melodious with the songs of birds, who feed on the cranberries growing so plentifully on every hand, while the musical humming of bees falls pleasantly on the ear. Though this beautiful glen is now desolate, and all its loveliness and fertility monopolised by grouse and wild animals, yet there was a time when it presented a very different appearance. When the road-making General first saw Lagan a' Bhainne it was thickly populated by a kindly, industrious people. The strath yielded excellent corn, and the higher ground produced the rich pasture on which the cows throve, whose wonderful milk-giving qualities gave the place the name of the Milky Dell. This was the great cause of the prosperity of the inhabitants. In other districts the people might bo equally industrious, the spinning wheel might revolve as quickly, the clacking noise of tho shuttle might be as often heard, tho churn might bo as often used, and the quern might be as dexterously handled, yet still in no other part of the Highlands was there such plenty. Nowhere else was there such delicious milk, such thick cream, such sweet butter, such rich cheese. There seemed to be a charm about tho place; none of the milky mothers eveT fell sick, and no matter how poor or out of condition a cow may bo when bought, as soon as she arrived in Lagan a' Bhainne she began to grow sleek, fat, and productive.
All these manifold advantages were scenred to this favoured spot by the convagB and presence <>f mind of one <>f the natives, ('untunes ago, about the lime when the brave Sir William Wallace was fighting for his country's freedom, there came, all at once, a great scarcity of milk, and, as a necessary consequence, of butter and clieese, all over the districts of Glengarry and Badenoch. And the strangest thing was that this dearth could not be accounted for on any known principle. The pasturage was as green and plentiful, and the cows in as good condition as usual, yet still they did not give milk. Evidently the witches were at work, but it altogether baffled the wise folks of the day to discover the authors of the mischief. Charm after charm, and spell after spell were used in vain by the distressed people. Prayers were said and penances done, pilgrimages were made to holy shrines, and the help of the good Bishop at Elgin Cathedral was implored. He sent a monk, who tried his best with bell, book, and candle to remove the spell, and curse the culprit whether fairy or warlock, witch or kelpie. Whatever it was, it resisted all their efforts, and for a whole year the milk famine continued. The people grew careworn and desponding; the poor children, who were the greatest sufferers, instead of being plump, rosy-cheeked and hearty, became thin, listless, and hollow-eyed.
This total stoppage of the milk supply was a far more serious calamity to the primitive people of Badenoch than it would be at the present day; for the variety of food within their reach was infinitely more limited than it is even with people of the same class in the Highlands now. They had no tea, coffee, nor sugar, no potatoes, and very few other vegetables; and now they had no milk to moisten and sweeten their porridge, and no butter or cheese to accompany the dry oatcake or barley scones. Among the sufferers was a worthy man of the name of Alastair Ban. He had a large family, and it went to his heart to see his little ones daily losing flesh and pining away for want of proper nourishment. Late one summer evening he left his humble cot to escape from hearing their complaining cries, and wandered, in a contemplative mood, a good distance. When he at last roused himself from his sorrowful reverie, he found he had nearly reached the top of the hill which overlooked his native dell. As he stood looking down on the peaceful glen, ho was astonished to see a figure coming up the hill towards him. He wondered who, beside himself, was out so late, and coming from home too. There was something strange about the figure which he could not understand. As it drew nearer Alastair saw that it was a stranger, a little, old man, who walked slowly and laboriously up the hill, as though carrying a hoavy weight. As he a[>proached closer, Alastair was more puzzled than ever to make out who or what he was. He certaiidy seemed a very odd, little lodach, whose bent back, slow gait, and wrinkled faco exhibited signs of old age which were strangely belied by his plentiful light brown hair and bright blue eyes. 1 lis dress was as strange as his looks; neither kilt, bonnet, nor plaid had In;, but a long loose green coat, silk stockings, and curious looking shoes with long pointed toes. A tall peaked hat was on his head, and over his shoulder he carried a long slender hawthorn switch, which bent as though a great weight was suspended to the end of it, like a fishing-rod with a heavy fish attached. Yet Alastair could see nothing, and his curiosity began to turn to a feeling very near akin to fear as the uncanny figure drew nearer and nearer. The little old boda.'h took no notice of anything or anybody, but went straight on, bending under the weight of his invisible burden,
Just as the figure got abreast ot the ■wondering man, a sudden impulse moved Alastair to draw his dirk, and with one swift, well-delivered blow he severed the long switch in twain. The Bodach did not seem conscious of what had happened, and continued toiling on his way until he was lost to sight over the brow of the hill Then all at once there was a rushing, bubbling sound, and to Alastair's intense astonishment he saw pouring from the severed wand, a copious stream of rich, new milk. He rubbed his eyes and looked again; yes, there was no mistake. Faster and faster the milk was coming, still gathering force, until it rolled down the hillside like a mountain torrent after rain. He stayed no longer, but flow rather than ran down to the valley to toll the wonderful news; yet fast as he went the milk was there before him. It spread out over the whole district, and swelled the modest burn until it became a rapid river. Thus it continued for hours, until every drop of milk that had been stolen from Badenoch and Glengarry was restored by the courageous action of Alastair Ban, and now became concentrated in his native valley, which was ever after noted for its fertility. The cows again gave their milk to the rightful owners, but nowhere, throughout the wide district affected, to the same extent or in the same quality as in the Milky Hollow. Nowhere was the grass so nourishing, the kino so yielding, the inhabitants so happy and prosperous; and though, alas! in latter times the people have been driven away, and the beautiful glen made a breeding ground for game, it still keeps its old descriptive name of Lagan a' Bhainne, or the Milky DelL
M. A. ROSE.
A GAELIC COURT.—On a recent occasion—Dean of Guild Mackenzie (editor of the Celtic Magazine) on the bench—a case in the Inverness Police Court was conducted entirely in Gaelic. The principal witness having objected to be sworn in English, and the Magistrate finding that the accused, the other witnesses, the public prosecutor, and all concerned understood Gaelic, swore the witnesses, had them examined, and conducted the whole case in that language. We understand this is the first case of the kind heard in Gaelic, within living memory, in the same court, without an interpreter, if not indeed for a very much longer period. Eeferring to this case the Aberdeen Free Press of 3d September says :—
The charge has frequently been made, and probably not always without cause, that Gaelic speaking witnesses!, in despite of their remonstrances, are sometimes practically compelled to give evidence in courts of law in English. But whatever may be said on the general question as to the justification of such a proceeding, a case was tried before the Police Court of Inverness on Saturday, when the vulvar tongue was entirely set aside, and the proceedings were conducted in the classic language of Ossian. The case was a trifling one. A sprightly damsel of twenty Rummers or so, was charged with assaulting a girl with an umbrella, and also kicking her. A material witness refused to give evidence in English, and the Dean of Guild, who heard the case, and who loves the Gaelic, said he would conduct the case in his native tongue. The Superintendent of Police (who prosecuted) asked his questions in Gaelic; the "lady" at the bar was no less glib in her use of the mountain tongue, and the venerable assessor revived his acquaintance with the speech of his boyhood by directing her in that language to avoid making speeches at that stage, hut to ask questions. In this way, judge, assessor, fiscal, accused, and witness took their part of the case without the aid of an interpreter.
EVICTIONS AND THE HIGHLAND CROFTERS.
Much interested by your "Highland Clearances," and by Skaebost's thoughts on the crofter system in the Celtic Magazine for August, permit me, as a Highlander, in close contact, since 1803, with crofters and others who depend chiefly on land for their daily bread in the north of Scotland, to offer some thoughts on a matter of such vital importance to Great Britain.
During most of my life I was factor on several large Highland estates, in charge of some thousand families, chiefly cottars and crofters, some entirely terrestial, and others partly amphibious; and having studied farming practically, and also crofting in England, Ireland, and Belgium, I believe I understand the subject sufficiently.
Newspaper commissioners and their pupils tell us our Highland soil and climate are so bad that those who hope to exist on crofts in the north are to be pitied for their ignorance, and should be driven into towns, or to those happy regions abroad, where all that man requires is to be had for the taking, without either anxiety or the sweat of his brow. But I am surprised to see, at page 43 of your own "Clearances," even you taking the newspaper view of the subject, as to "the impossibility, in the North-west, of bringing up a family, in anything like decent comfort, &c, on one to four acres of arable land."
Now, I assert, that neither our Highland climate, nor our average soil, nor its being divided into four acre lots, can justly be blamed for the apparent poverty of our crofters; but that the "discomfort and chronic starvation " which you say is their lot lies chiefly at their landlords' doors; as they, forgetting they are their brother's keeper, have allowed them to grow up untaught; and, for want of instruction, they do not even properly try to support themselves in comfort where God has cast their lot, subject of course to the occasional trials of bad seasons and sickness, to be found in all countries, so ordered, surely, lest we forget that "here is not our home," and that, without protection and a blessing from above, nothing can prosper.
Indeed, our Highland crofts, which for generations have produced millions of men and women second to none in the world for morality or vigouv of mind and body, cannot be such miserable homes as you describe then:. Our crofters, of course, have a hard fight for their bread, but I am not aware of any people whose sole capital at first, like our crofters, consists of mere health and strength, who have not to work long and hard ere they can hire servants to work for them.
Now, as to the unwise evictions of our cottars and crofters, I venture to offer some excuses for this sad, national crime. The chief one is landlords disliking their troublesome duty towards those over whom God has placed them. Hence, although quite able to carry it out, they delegate the powers they themselves should exercise to trustees or to a factor; and these sometimes act as if they had merely to arrange_leases (where such