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Historical and Traditional Sketches of Highland Families and of the Highlands
MacIntoshes of Borlum, &c. Part I


The Mackintoshes of Borlum were a sept or branch of the Clan Chattan, who had, many centuries ago, as the members of the clan increased, and its power and territory extended, became settled at some distance beyond the immediate neighbourhood of the family possessions of the chief and the country (properly so called,) of the Clan Mackintosh. Like most of the junior branches of the families of Highland chiefs, they had little to depend upon, except what might be acquired by craft in Council or success in arms; and the Borlum estate became the property of the Mackintoshes, without the intervention of a loquacious auctioneer, or the officious pedantry of a formal lawyer. Acting on what was the universal maxim of the age, that "might made right," the Mackintoshes effected the sale by the claymore, took infeftment and sasine of the lands and tenements by the same instrument, without the aid of a notary public, and held possession by wielding, as frequently as occasion required, and with as much power as they could muster, the weapon by the use of which they came into possession.

Situated, as they were, at some distance from the main body of the clan, they formed a sort of picquet or outpost, whose duty it was to watch the movements of the neighbouring clans in the districts of Stratherrick, Urquhart, the Aird, and Ross-shire, and to give intimation to the general body of any intended or attempted encroachment or invasion. It followed from their outward and insulated position, with reference to the main body of the clan, that they had to sustain the first shock of any hostile movement directed against the clan from the west and north, and had to discharge the last or parting blow on the retreat of the enemy; and thus, as with the Borderers in the south, but within a narrower sphere of operation, they were almost unceasingly engaged, either in predatory excursions, or in more regular and formidable attacks. The consequence of occupying so precarious a position, and of the frequent and dangerous conflicts to which it continually exposed them, was, that the Mackintoshes of Borlum became formidable and ferocious, the scourge of the district,—a terror to their foes, and dangerous even to their friends,—a necessary and useful adjunct of the clan, and yet wholly or almost independent of it—certainly beyond the immediate sphere of its control.

The precise period at which the Mackintoshes became possessed of Borlum, is, like most events of the time, involved in considerable uncertainty; but they certainly became the proprietors of that estate upwards of four centuries ago, and continued in possession of it beyond the middle of the last century. From circumstances hereafter detailed, their power, however, declined, becoming

"Small by degrees, and beautifully less."

until at last it altogether ceased, and the estate was transferred to other hands. In 1766 it was purchased by Mr Fraser, a Director of the East India Company, a descendant of the ancient family of Foyers, and father of the present amiable proprietrix, Lady Saltoun.

Throughout the whole of the period during which it was in the possession of the Mackintoshes, it was less or more the resort of the most unprincipled and desperate characters in the country, who found a welcome asylum to protect them from consequences of former misdeeds, and ready employment for future mischief. With few exceptions, the Lairds had acquired a fearful notoriety in the Highlands for the perpetration of every species of crime, in an age, and at a time when people were not over scrupulous as to the means by which they acquired property, or the manner in which a real or supposed wrong or affront was avenged.

The Mackintoshes of Borlum are now laid in the dust, and the land which once knew them, knows them no more; but the remembrance of their iniquities is still associated with the scenes of their former crimes. It is, indeed, difficult to believe, when we look with feelings of pleasure and admiration on the beautiful estate of Lady Saltoun, which is so fertile in cultivation—so tastefully laid out—the home and the hope of so many happy and contented beings; that there, at one time ruled with a rod of iron the Mackintoshes of Borlum, as distinguished for their strength and extent of daring, as most of them were pre-eminent for cruelty and crime. Reared up from infancy amidst scenes of blood and danger, they reckoned time by the number and atrocity of their deeds of spoliation and murder, and closed their career in the pursuit of plunder and revenge.

Instead of fruitful fields, yielding laborious but comfortable sustenance to cheerful hundreds, the estate was, when the Mackintoshes possessed it, barren and naked, except where it was covered with whins and broom; and where extensive plantations judiciously laid out, intermixed with shrubbery and evergreens, now rise with their variegated foliage enlivening and diversifying the landscape, nothing then met the eye but the sterile monotony of heath and stone, with here and there a miserable hut—the temporary residence of daring and restless robbers, the terror of the adjacent country, and the congenial friends and allies of the Lairds of Borlum Castle. "I well remember," adds old John, "the black castle of Borlum, being several times in it on visits to an honest man, whose character was the extreme to that of its occupiers for centuries before." This building was extremely strong—almost impregnable, and was situated on an eminence within a few yards of that on which the present Ness Castle stands, now the residence of Alexander Mactavish, Esq., banker, Inverness.

But what will not time and the industry of man produce? For barren moors and sterile plains, we now see plenty issuing from the pregnant bosom of the earth, and instead of the appalling gloom of Borlum’s proud and frowning castle, we behold not a great way off the elegant and hospitable mansion of Lady Saltoun—surrounded by its smooth lawn, its serpentine walks, and shady bowers. Nor is hers the only mansion, for there are many others besides bearing witness to the progress of civilisation, and the beneficial changes effected generally on the extensive estate of Borlum. But could the castle ruins, (traces of which are still visible.) the green knolls and running brooks, or the Ness’s clear and silvery stream, which winds its way immediately behind, speak the tales of other times, they

— Could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would barrow up the soul,"

but these witnesses are dumb, and dumb they were doomed to be—yet other witnesses looked on, and thus some account of the foul deeds done have been "handed down from sire to son," for,

"Murder, tho’ it hath no tongue,
Will speak with most miraculous organ."

Of all those who figure in the list of Borlum’s Lairds, the one who lived about the time of James V. and in the minority of Queen Mary, surpassed them all for fiendish ferocity. Like Rob Roy (but without any mitigating circumstances to palliate or excuse his conduct,) he levied black mail on the neighbouring Lairds, and unfortunately the favour and protection of the Earl of Huntly, then Governor of the Castle of Inverness, (and who invariably lived with Borlum, when he came to visit his hunting grounds of Druimashie and other places in the neighbourhood,) emboldened him to levy the imposition, and effectually secured him from the consequences. Whoever refused the compulsory payment to Borlum or paid the tribute grudgingly, might look with certainty for a speedy and fearful revenge. Nor was his Lady a whit better than her Lord. Strong and masculine in person, she was at least as unfortunate as he was in temper, and if possible more savage in revenge. Never did a greater fiend in female form appear upon the earth, nor was her determination and courage unequal to the execution of her worst purposes; and of her, in the words of Lady Macbeth, it might be truly said—

"— I have given to suck; and know
How tender ‘tis to love the babe that milks me;
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck’d my nipple from its boneless gum,
And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn, as you
Have done to this."

The stories which have been handed down of this fierce couple, are as numerous as they are frightful. Of these, the murder of the venerable Provost Junor of Inverness was one, and in some degree illustrates their characters. Mrs Mackintosh, (or, as the Laird’s wife is called in Gaelic, bean an tighearn, or the Laird’s lady,) on one occasion went to Inverness, where her visits would be most agreeably dispensed with; or, in other words, "her absence would be considered good company" by the terrified inhabitants. She was followed by two mischievous imps, as train bearers, or lady’s henchmen. In the course of her perambulations through the town, she was seen by the worthy Provost in a position

"That mantled to his cheek
The blush of shame,"

and he was so shocked at her rude and indelicate demeanour, that he took courage to reprove her, exclaiming—"O, fie, fie, Lady Borlum." On hearing this, he fled her kindling eye, glaring with the fiery fierceness of the crouching tiger ere he leaps. More than once she made an effort to speak, but she was choked with passion—her heart was too full "of pride, of rage and malice"—all her faculties were wound up, and her tongue refused its office—she stood immoveable, as a marble. At length, making a desperate effort, and raising herself to her full height, she said, as she slowly turned away her flaming eye, "You shall dearly pay for this," and passed on. Her determined but subdued tone, her flashing eye, that plainly indicated

"— The coming events
That cast their shadows before,"

impressed the decent, sober, but in this case indiscreet magistrate, with a presentiment of future revenge.

Lady Borlum having inwardly, sworn (and she seldom swore an oath that it might be broken,) that the Provost’s death alone should satisfy her revenge, proceeded homewards, ruminating over her wrong, and concocting schemes for the execution of her diabolical purpose. Borlum was not at home on her return, and did not arrive for sometime thereafter; but, in the interval, the violence of her fury had rather increased than diminished, and she hailed her lord’s return as the speedy harbinger of death; and when she beheld, as she did at the first glance—by his dark and stern look, lowering brow, and compressed lips, that he too was in no very amiable humour, she welcomed him with more than ordinary joy, and he was scarcely seated when she poured her tale, with such exaggerations as her malice suggested, into an ear as greedy to hear as she to tell; and when she had finished, she said that nothing could or would satisfy her but the old man’s death. To this Borlum, without reflecting on the matter—for in his estimation it would have been beneath him to trouble himself a moment in reflecting on such a trifling affair as the death of a burgher—at once assented. The Provost’s death being thus agreed upon, the how, by whom, and where, were the next questions to be settled.

Having obtained, rather than won the Laird’s assent, which she had asked more as a matter of course than as a thing essential, the gloomy pair sat down to supper. Both intent on separate purposes, they partook of the evening meal in silence. The moor, the valley, and the stream supplied the supper. The moors of Stratherrick furnished the game; the rich flavoured and sweet tasted mutton was taken in foray from some of the estates in the neighbourhood; and the prolific Ness yielded the salmon. The strong pot ale that overtopped the rich gilt flaggons that lined the board, was home brewed; the genuine mountain dew that filled the capacious vessel that occupied the centre of the table, was distilled in Abriachan’s most secret shade; and the generous and exhilarating products of the vine, which, in long necked bottles, adorned with silver tops, graced the table, were a present from an offshot of the family, who had been forced to fly to foreign climes, but who, amidst the excitement of foreign wars, the charms of France and Italy, and the fascinating influence of more civilised and more enchanting manners, never forgot the land of his birth,

"The birth place of valour,
The country of worth."

The silent gloomy supper over, and the dishes removed, the congenial pair moved towards the fire. Long and silently they sat. Both were wrapt up in alternate musings of past mischief and future revenge. In the bosoms of both, the compunctions of conscience for past misdeeds, for a moment pricked the soul, and in the next, from an innate love of mischief and a fiendish self-condemnation for having even for a moment listened to the still small voice of reason, their hearts were kindled into revenge—their souls were dark—their purposes Satanic; and these two, whom no magic chord of love did bind, who felt not the uniting bond of man and wife, nor the indescribable co-union and co-existence which parents feel when children bless the marriage knot—these two, who had never known the secret mystery by which in friendship, love and affection, soul communicates with soul, were linked and bound in inseparable and constant union in the dark impulses of mischief, and the self-consuming gratification of revenge.

For hours they sat, wrapt in black thought and desperate purpose, until the flickering light of the dying fire, shedding an uncertain and party coloured glare on their recumbent forms, and unmoved but fearful countenances, aroused them from contemplation to talk as well as think of bloody purposes. Lady Borlum retold her story and urged her lord to revenge the insult which had been offered to her. The Laird listened with attention, and signified his wish to hear how she proposed to gratify her desire. Various were the schemes proposed, and long the consultation continued; at length it was determined—for nothing else would satisfy the lady—that as the Provost would be taking his customary walk the following evening, he should be despatched by their two sons. Unless his life was taken away by the hand of one of her own flesh and blood, her vengeance, she said, would not be half satisfied; and her husband, although he had urged a bolder course, at last consented, and they retired to bed—to bed, but not to sleep—for what sleep can ever reach the tortuous restlessness of a foul mind, or silence the damning testimony of a guilty conscience.

On the following morning, Provost Junor rose as hearty and unconcerned as if the incident of the preceding day had not occurred,—his heart was at ease, no tremulous yearnings of conscience obtruded themselves to disturb his mind; or did one passing thought of the previous day’s encounter with Lady Borlum arise to disturb his serenity and self-complacency. That encounter, terrible certainly at the time, (and especially so to a man of his quiet habits and peaceable disposition,) had ruffled his temper and very much frightened him, but it soon passed away, and in an hour afterwards, the happy, good natured official might be seen receiving and retailing the gossip of the town, with his usual cheerfulness and good humour— his fright had entirely melted away, and like last year’s snow, left no trace of its temporary existence behind. On the succeeding day he got up at his usual hour, and paid his accustomed formal attention to the cleanliness and neatness of his magisterial person; his square hat was carefully brushed, his wig was made trim and neat, his broad flapped coat was well dusted, his knee breeches, with fringes above the knee, as was the fashion of the time, were stainless; nor were his "brocan dhu" forgotten, although Day and Martin were yet unborn. Thus attired, and ample justice done to a good breakfast, he took his gold mounted official staff and went forth to attend to his private business (that of skin merchant,) and his magisterial functions. Having paid the requisite attention to his "ain" private affairs, which, as a prudent and well doing citizen, it behoved him to do, as he was wont to say, he applied himself to the discharge of his public duties with well meaning zeal; and with a pomposity which was somewhat foreign to his nature, and which therefore became him with at least questionable grace, but which bethought the dignity of the office made it necessary for him to assume. His business being over, he returned to his house about mid-day—partook of the plain and substantial dinner which was set before him, with a hearty appetite and a contented mind. After dinner he enjoyed his nap and relished his chat as usual—no cloud crossed his brow, no apprehensions of coming evil agitated his mind, nor was his heart touched by any unpleasant forebodings. Time passed on; morning, noon, and evening came and went, and the shades of night began to fall gradually around,—nature seemed as if drawing together the curtains of repose,—the world was calm and still, not the profound silence of the midnight hour, but that soothing quietness which imparts a tender melancholy to the mind, making it serious without austerity, and contemplative without effort, and which touches and expands the better promptings of the heart. It was somewhat later than eight o’clock, as the guileless Provost left the town, and directed his steps towards the Gaic of Drumden, now called, from the circumstance of the Black Watch having been embodied and encamped there, Campfield. At this period there was no regular road between Inverness and Campfield, nor did the face of the hill westward of the town bear any traces of cultivation. It was then bare and sterile, although it is now adorned with elegant patches of garden, shrubbery, and plantation; and beautified by handsome villas. The irregular broken footway wound its course along the margin of the river, until near the present water house, when it diverged a little towards the base of the hill, and proceeded up the hollow between Drummond and Campfield. Along this path the Provost was in the habit of taking his walk in the summer and autumn evenings, and being a regular and exact man, he almost invariably went and returned at the same hour. On the particular evening to which allusion has been made, he proceeded on his walk with slow and steady pace, enjoying the solemn but not oppressive stillness which reigned around, now gazing in devout contemplation on the moveless sky, anon following with his eye the homeward flight of some wearied traveller of the feathered tribe; and when the eye could no longer trace his form on the darkening horizon, and attracted by the rippling of the stream as it broke over the stones and pebbles which obstructed its progress, he looked in silent admiration on the ceaseless flow of the waters of his own bright river, now tinged with the darkening hues of the clouds above, as it swept on in its course to join the ocean.

But to return to Borlum Castle. As the soft golden light of the setting sun was taking a parting kiss of the western mountain tops, and the black clouds, which began gradually descending, as if to relieve the rays of the setting sun, announced the approach of the crime begetting night, the sons of Borlum were called to their mother’s presence. Though bred in a school where scruples formed no part of the discipline, yet the young men were somewhat staggered when informed by their loving mother of the business they were to perform. Although sufficiently inured to crime, to blunt, if not entirely to eradicate any compunctious yearnings of humanity, they still retained something of the buoyancy and chivalry of youth not to feel some repugnance to commit a deed so foul and so unmanly; and, accordingly, took the liberty of telling her that they felt great reluctance to obey her commands, and that it would oblige them if she appointed some other instruments of vengeance. Curbing her wrath against such disobedience, and the better to accomplish her purpose, she disclosed to them the provocation which she had received. But instead of the recital producing the anticipated effect, the sons could scarce refrain from indulging in open laughter. The mother’s quick and eager eyes saw this irreverence, and her wrath was rising into fury—a fury which the sons, bold and desperate as they were, could not face without fear, and which they no sooner perceived than they yielded an ungracious acquiescence, and with little loss of time departed on their mission. As they reached the verge of the eminence which overlooks the pathway, they beheld the Provost at some distance advancing with easy step towards them. They remained concealed until he had gained the summit of the hill, and when but a few yards from them, he paused to take breath after the ascent, and survey the familiar scene before him. The assassins sprung from their lurking place with the agility and ferocity of their race, and even the worthy magistrate could recognise his murderers, he breathed his last, pierced in several places by their daggers.

Thus foully fell, by the hands of Borlum’s ruthless sons, and at the instigation of their more bloody mother, between his sixtieth and seventieth year, Provost Junor of Inverness—a skin merchant by trade—a wealthy and respectable citizen—an able magistrate, and a kind, inoffensive man. After the accomplishment of this horrid and unprovoked tragedy, the brothers removed the body farther down the hill, and hid it in whin bushes. Having thus performed their mother’s stern command, they returned with all possible haste to tell the pleasing tale. During their absence, Lady Borlum was unusually restless and uneasy—they had now been absent two hours, which seemed to her as so many days—she looked out with eager and watchful eyes, until the thickening darkness made farther watching unavailing, and at length, her patience was exhausted, and misgivings thick and strong came crowding upon her mind, that the resolutions of her sons had failed, or that some unlucky accident had interposed between her purpose and its accomplishment—that the attempt had been made and the deed not done, or that unlooked for aid came to the old man’s rescue, and murdered those who were to be his murderers. These, and a thousand other conjectures, came rushing upon her with the rapidity of thought, and made her almost mad. At length, however, she heard a knocking at the outer iron gate of the Castle, when her heart beat with increased velocity and violence; her breathing became quick and difficult, her eyes burned and her head swam—bound up in the feverishness of anxiety and the intensity of suspense, she stood motionless, and when her two sons entered the room, and pointed to their unsheathed daggers covered with blood as the most eloquent and impressive description of the work they had done—she turned her burning and glazing eyes upon the daggers, and giving a scream of fiendish joy, fell upon the floor.

Here, for the present, we must leave this crime begetting haunt and return to the house of mourning and of woe. The Lady of Borlum was not the only one who on this fatal night felt anxiety and alarm. Ten o’clock came, a more than usually late hour for the Provost to be out, and yet he returned not, but his wife, though somewhat alarmed at his absence, was still confident he might have met some neighbour and gone home with him to crack over a "cogie" or two of ale; or he might be engaged on some council business; but when eleven o’clock came and the Provost not returning, she became restless, and some shadows of alarm began to cross her mind; still she sat without communicating her uneasiness to any one. Midnight brought not back Provost Junor, and the dark forebodings which the hushed silence of the midnight hour is apt to bring to more easy minds than Mrs Provost Junor’s, then began to settle into alarm and terror. Morning arrived and yet no traces of her loving and affectionate husband. The tidings of the sudden disappearance of the worthy Provost excited the greatest sensation and alarm for his safety, and numerous were the conjectures whispered about him in the town and neighbourhood, but none which could afford any consolation to his anxious wife. The Council now assembled and dark hints were freely exchanged as to his mysterious fate. After many fruitless inquiries, it was at length resolved to search along the line of his usual evening walk—as more than one had seen him going in that direction, but none saw him return. This search was prosecuted with great diligence and minuteness, and at length the mutilated body of the murdered magistrate was found huddled together under a whin bush—his hat and stick at some distance off. The towns-people crowded around the body, and there was not a dry eye present, nor a silent tongue. Every one remembered something to his credit, and as the body was carefully and solemnly carried to the town, the praises of the departed magistrate, were feelingly sung, amidst tears and lamentations by his sorrowing fellow-citizens.

An investigation was immediately entered into, for the purpose of discovering, and punishing the perpetrators of this foul deed. Various circumstances were discovered calculated to bring strong suspicions on the Borlum family, and in a day or two after the murder, there remained no room to doubt, what all from the very first suspected, that the assassins were the sons of Borlum. Meetings after meetings were held to bring them to punishment; but the town council, although eager enough to avenge the death of their chief magistrate, dreaded the ferocity and power of Borlum (who was himself a member of council,) the more particularly as he was backed by the friendship and power of the Earl of Huntly, at that time exercising almost regal authority in the north, and by whom, as has already been noticed, black Mackintosh of Borlum was always protected from the consequences of his evil deeds. The council, therefore, however reluctantly, were obliged to abandon the idea of punishing the assassins, and all they could do to show their respect for the deceased provost, and their detestation and horror of his murderers, was to pass a resolution that no member of the Borlum family should ever be eligible to a seat in the town council of Inverness—a resolution which was ever after during their occupancy of Borlum and Raitles most strictly adhered to. [Subsequently to that period, however, more than one descendant of this ill-fated family sat in the council, and also held the office of provost with credit and honour—gentlemen who excelled in humanity, and who delighted in doing good to their fellow-creatures; but this was after Borlum and Raitles had passed into more honest hands, and after the last laird of Borlum had fled the country.]

Not long after the tragedy of Provost Junor’s death, another victim fell a sacrifice to the bloodthirsty vengeance of the Lady of Borlum. As was usual in every Laird’s family at this time, there lived in that of Borlum a female servant, whose principal business was to bake the family bread, and who from this circumstance, and her shortness of stature, obtained the soubriquet of "Ipac Bheag na Breacaig," or little Isabel of the bannocks. On the evening on which Provost Junor was murdered, Ipac Bheag had been sent on some errand to Inverness, and as she was returning, became an unwilling and accidental witness of the murderous deed done by her master’s sons, and partaking of the weakness which has at all times characterized her sex, she could neither get rest, or peace of mind, until she found some one in whom she could confide, and unburthen her mind of the dangerous and fearful load with which it was charged. Relying on the fidelity and integrity of a fellow servant, Ipac, still with great reluctance, unbosomed herself to this person, and revealed to her all she had seen—the revelation at the same time lightening herself of the burden which agonised her whole frame. In a few days thereafter this confidante made it no point of conscience to betray poor Ipac to her ruthless master and mistress. From that moment her fate was sealed. Neither the laird, his lady, or their sons, cared much about the fact of a witness having been present to bear testimony to their villany. The Provost’s murder, they knew, had been clearly traced to them, and could not be denied. It was, therefore, a matter of perfect indifference to them, whether or not there were any witnesses who could give direct and positive evidence as to their guilt. They depended not on their power to hide the truth, but on their power to shield themselves from its consequences. But indifferent, as they consequently were, as to who saw or did not see the act committed, it was another, and a very different affair, that one of their servants, eating their own bread, having many opportunities of observing their every act, should publish so important a secret, and blab their guilt to the world. For this imprudence, in the estimation of the Borlum family one of the most heinous of crimes, Ipac’s death was resolved on. On the day after it came to the knowledge of the family that she had acted an unguarded part, she was sent on a pretended message to Bona Ferry, a distance of about two miles westward from the castle, and when returning late in the evening, she was waylaid, and most barbarously murdered. To conceal murder, fresh murder must be committed; thus it ever is. The mind once habituated to crime, all the restraints of morality, religion, and of conscience, are overthrown—guilt becomes familiar, and conscience callous.

"I am so steeped in guilt, that
I may as well go through as turn back."

For many, many years afterwards, Ipac’s ghost was seen to "haunt the lone vale," wandering up and down the banks of the river, and its doleful lamentations were heard within the walls of Borlum Castle. The very herds who were wont to tend their sheep and cattle along the banks of the Ness, were so familiar with Ipac Bheag’s wraith, that its mournful cries latterly became a signal to them to return home with their charge.

We have already mentioned that the Borlum family were the terror and scourge of the neighbouring lairds. However, Maclean of Dochgarroch, who had experienced much annoyance and oppression, made a bold attempt to resist Borlum’s overbearing power, and set his threats at defiance, which so maddened him, that to be revenged he directed his son, and about thirty of his vassals and dependants, to proceed to Dochgarroch house, erase it to the ground, and destroy everything belonging to his now mortal enemy. The good and worthy proprietor of Dochgarroch, being apprised of this force having marched, and, the object in view, but ignorant of their number, sent twelve brave and faithful clansmen to watch young Borlum and his desperate companions in arms. On the north bank of the river, a little to the west of the ancient Castle of Spiritual, the little band of the Maclean’s met the more numerous one of Borlum advancing at a rapid pace; no words were exchanged, no explanation demanded; both parties knew each other too well to require information as to either’s mission. Undismayed by the disparity in numbers, the Macleans with their claymores and Lochaber axes, rushed upon their opponents. The Macleans maintained their ground most gallantly, diminishing their foes at every blow, and ultimately forced them into the river, where, up to their middle in the water, the battle was fought with unabated fury, and deadly animosity, for a considerable time. The clear stream was reddened with the blood of the slain and wounded, for some distance from the spot of combat. So brave and determined were the Macleans, with the recollections of the wrongs and oppressions of their foes fresh in their memory, and the desperate enterprise upon which they then were, that every blow inflicted added fresh vigour to the resolute arm dealing it, and they firmly resolved, that before yielding to the Laird of Borlum’s son, every one should be "with his back to the field, and his feet to the foe." Such was the undaunted courage and deadly determination evinced by both parties, that the combatants did not separate until almost annihilated. Of the gallant little handful of Macleans, three only survived to tell the result of this bloody fray; and among the eight of the Mackintoshes who escaped, was Borlum’s wounded son.

Tidings of this affair spread like wildfire through the country; and the neighbouring lairds were secretly rejoiced at the repulse the Mackintoshes thus received; and the undaunted bravery displayed by the few sons of Clan Gillean was the theme of their praise. This brought some discredit on the Mackintoshes. Nevertheless for a time they continued to advance in importance, not only from the number of their vassals, and the daring and desperate character of the Laird and his followers, but also from the favour and countenance extended to the Laird of that day, by the Earl of Huntly, whose power and authority in the north, as already stated, was of itself a sufficient shield. But soon afterwards they gradually declined; their followers became few--they were less fortunate in their adventures—and their power and importance became more limited; it was getting "short by degrees and beautifully less."


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