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Parish Life in the North of Scotland
Chapter X - Home and College Life


1804-1805.

MY brother and I left Dornoch to return to our paternal home in the spring of 1803; it was in autumn of the year 1804 that he left to go to sea. My worthy stepmother never could agree with any of my father's children but myself. My sisters and she had many painful rencontres, and Eneas, being of a bold, determined disposition, became as impatient and restive as they were. An open rupture had occurred about a month previous to his going to sea, and this was the circumstance which principally led to his departure. The matter was communicated to Capt. Baigrie, who made all the necessary arrangements. So widely acquainted was he with ship-captains and employers that he got my brother appointed as a seaman, at the age of sixteen, on board a West-India-man, in the employment of Messrs Forbes & Co., Aberdeen. The hour of his departure at last came. Capt. Baigrie had sent a bearer express to the manse to say that he must leave Kildonan next day, and be at Helmisdale about 2 o'clock in the afternoon to go aboard and sail to Aberdeen by a fishing smack, the master of which was Capt. Coy, in the employ of Mr. William Forbes of Echt. From Aberdeen he was immediately to proceed by the same conveyance to London, there to go on board the West-India-man on a voyage to the West Indies. The sudden message was as suddenly obeyed. My brother did not hesitate for a moment. His trunk was packed up on that same evening, and with scarcely three pounds in his pocket, and with hardly a tear in his eye, did he next day at 10 o'clock bid a last adieu to his father, stepmother and sisters. I accompanied him to Helmisdale, but could scarcely speak to him on the road; for I felt, every step as we proceeded, as if my very life was gradually deserting me. At Helmisdale Capt. Coy was waiting for us—a gruff, harsh fellow, who said with an oath that we had been too long. The smack's yawl lay close to the shingly shore, bouncing up and down upon the waves which came in upon it one after another in rapid succession. My brother's trunk was hoisted into the yawl, the small anchor which bound it to the shore was unloosed and thrown with a crash into the boat. Coy sang out, "Step in, and all hands to the oars;" my brother grasped my hand, almost stupified with grief. "Farewell, Donald," were his last words, when, instantly obeying the summons, he placed himself by the side of  Capt. Cod, the seamen stretched to their oars, and I parted with him for ever? I had not a tear to shed when he grasped my hand, not a word to say to him when he bade me farewell; but, as the yawl scudded through the waves and began to lessen in the distance, my heart sank within me, and it is likely I would myself have sunk also to the ground had not the flood-gates of sorrow been unclosed, and tears come to my relief. My eyes filled so fast with tears that the yawl and the loved being which it contained became quite invisible to me, and I saw not his arrival at the smack. When I recovered a little, I borrowed from Johnson, the salmon-boiler, a small telescope to take my last look. The sails were all set, the smack had veered round to proceed on her voyage, and I got the last glimpse of him as he stood on the deck.

My brother's arrival in London lie intimated to us by letter. He particularly made mention of the kindness of Mr. William Forbes of Echt on his arrival at Aberdeen, iii whose employ, as a seaman on board the West-India trader, lie went out. Mr. Forbes gave him a strong recommendatory letter to the master of the trader, and, at parting, a pound-note. With this money be purchased a few prints of ships in gilt frames, which he sent as a peace-offering to his stepmother. [The next and last letter received from Eneas was dated from Philadelphia, U.S. In it he mentioned his having served for a short time on board a British man-of-war. What became of him afterwards was never known.—Ed.]

I may here refer to my father's tenants and others who, at this time, lived in Kildonan. The first I notice is James Gordon or Gow, a blacksmith, who occupied the peudicle of Ach-nan-nighean. He could do everything to meet the demands and wants of the parishioners but one, and that was to shoe horses. He was not up to this, merely because the hoofs of the Highland garrons were so hard, and the greater part of the sort of roads so soft, that the inhabitants never thought of getting the feet of their horses cased in iron. When my father was settled at Kildonan, however, he got horses of a large size, which were accustomed to that safeguard, and, in fact, could not do without it; so that while all the smith-work of his kitchen, glebe, and farm was executed by the said James Gordon, lie was under the necessity of sending his horses to be shod to the neighbouring parish of Loth. My first introduction to James Gordon was in the preparations made for him by my father's servant. These consisted in making fuel for the smithy. Peat, or moss, was the materiel. It was subjected to a certain process by which it was converted into charcoal. Coals were not used by any blacksmith in the county, and the process by which the smithy fuel was prepared was simple enough. A large pit was dug in soft, friable ground; dry peats were placed in it, tier above tier, so as to burn when ignited, the whole being then kindled and allowed to burn almost to a cinder, when it was covered up with earth until the fire went out. The smith was a tall, slender man, with a countenance full of solemnity. He had a theory of his own upon almost every subject that came within his ken, and he was of the opinion that nothing ever could or should be done, within the four corners of the parish, without a previous consultation with him. He was always complaining of the state of his health, and these complaints were usually uttered when a more than ordinary arrear of parish work, in the way of his calling, lay unperformed on his hands. It came, therefore, to be a sort of a proverb among the people, if any one complained of the state of his health without any good grounds for it, that "he was a delicate person like James Gordon.' (Tha'e na dhuin' anmhuinn, mar tha Seumas Gordon." Poor James Gow, however, was upon the whole a kind and benevolent man, and of his hospitality my brother and I had often a bountiful experience.

George Dalangall lived on the farm of Kildonan. His house and garden originally stood close upon the bank of the mill-stream, and hence be was usually called "Seoras na h'ellich," or George of the mill-lade. His surname was Gunn, and as he was of the family of the Gunns of Dalangall, he was more frequently called "Scoras Dalaugall." I recollect but little of him, as he died soon after our return from Dornoch. His widow long occupied the pendicle of her husband after his decease, and every one spoke of her under the designation of "Banntrach na h'ellich," or the widow of the mill-lade. Her son William and her daughter Kate were our constant play-fellows at the burn-side. William, who enlisted in the army, was in the Peninsular War, and returned scathless to his native country.

John Sutherland was a popular edition of "Isaac Walton," and to deer-hunting a perfect "Nimrod." Whilst returning home about mid. night from an angling expedition on the river Helmisdale, his way lay through the churchyard. On entering it his attention was instantly arrested, and his rather hasty pace interrupted by two eyes like flames of fire which glared at him out of a new-made grave. Old "Ian Afbr" was not to be "dantorud" however. He walked up to the grave, planted his grip on some hairy, living thing which was in it, and which, in his grasp, jumped up and down with great activity. He succeeded at last in hauling it out, when it turned out to be a black ram belonging to one of his neighbours. Ian Meadhonach was his eldest son. He was surnamed "the middling" during his father's life-time because his younger brother was also called John, a rather unusual occurrence. Thus the father and two sons in the family were distinguished from each other by being called "Ian" for, Ian Meadhonach, and Ian Bean," or "John the big, the middling, and the little." John Meadhonach retained the appellative after his father's death among the parishioners, but in his own family he became Ian Mr. He inherited his father's passion for angling and deer-hunting, and was also in his own way a bit of an antiquary. He could repeat almost all Ossian's poems, and, what I never saw in print, Ossian's tales. [According to Mr. Skene (see his introduction to the "Book of the Dean of Lismore," edited by Dr. Thomas Macbauchlan), the Ossianic poems, in their transmission, passed through three different stages. In the first and oldest form they were pure poems, of more or legs excellence, narrating the adventures of those warrior hands whose memory still lingered in the country. Each poem was complete in itself, and was attributed to one mythic poet of the race which was celebrated. But as the language of these poems became altered, and the reciters less able to retain the whole, they would narrate, in ordinary prose, the events of the parts they bad forgotten;. thus the poems would pass into the second stage of prose tales, interspersed with fragments of verse. Bards of later times became imitators of the older Ossianic poetry, and made the tales, or intermediate prose narratives, the basis of their poems. This was the third stage, in which the names and incidents of the older poems were embedded in the new.—Ed.] I have still a faint recollection of hearing John Meadhonach at our kitchen fireside, during the time that a log of wood of considerable length was consuming in the fire—about three or four hours—entertain his interested audience with long oral extracts from our Celtic Homer. illy father not only held the township of Kildonan in lease, but had the right of fishing in the river, and John, as well as his two brothers, were some of the crew of fishers with the net on the glebe-pools whom my father employed. They were also poachers and smugglers. They and their next neighbour, Donald Gunn, were constantly in the habit of killing salmon, not only with the rod, but with clips and spears, at that particular part of it already described as the "Slagaig." They were so assiduous and successful that they kept their families, almost throughout the whole year, abundantly furnished with that savoury accompaniment to their vegetable diet. They were perfectly aware that in doing so they infringed on my father's fishing rights, and therefore, when they were thus employed, they set a regular watch to give due warning of the approach of the minister or either of his sons. At the first note of alarm they instantly threw down their fishing implements, and laid themselves prostrate under a huge rock above the Slagaig, where they remained perfectly secure from further observation. John was also a smuggler and a first-rate brewer of malt whisky. My step-mother often employed him in making our annual brewst for family use. We built a cow-house of stone and turf near the burn, at the east dyke of the corn-yard. The hovel was also employed for various other purposes, more especially for washing and brewing. 'There often, during the process of our whisky brewst, have I sat with John, watching the process and hearing his tales. He had five of a family, three daughters, Betty, Kate, and Jean, and two sons, John and Donald. They were all remarkably handsome, particularly the eldest daughter and youngest son. Betty "Mheadhonaich" married a Robert Bruce; Kate, an Alexander Fraser Beag; and Jane one Angus Mackay, son of Donald Mackay, the catechist. On his marriage with Jane, Mackay immediately emigrated to America, where he soon attained affluence; he left this country soon after our return from Dornoch. John himself, with his wife and two sons, long afterwards emigrated to the Red River, in Canada, under the direction of Lord Selkirk, but he died during the passage. Poor John had a strong attachment to my father, and a most profound veneration for him; and though his wife and sons came to bid us farewell, lie himself, after making four different attempts to come and take his last look of his minister, finally gave it up. His two brothers Donald and John had lived with him for a considerable time. Donald Mor, as he was called, or "Muckle Donald," had, previous to our going to Dornoch school, enlisted with General Wemyss, and with his regiment had been in Ireland and England. But sometime before our return from school lie had left the army, and come home, when he was soon engaged by my father as his principal farm-servant, at the rate of £6 per annum as wages. He afterwards settled in Kildonan, marrying Rose Gordon, where they both lived to an advanced age. his younger brother, John Beag, anxious after a while to do something for himself, became principal farm-servant of a well-doing sonsy widow in Glutt of Rraemore, Caithness. He }pleased her so well in this capacity that, in a very short time, she offered to promote him to the rank of a husband--an offer with which John instantly closed, and found himself very comfortable. These men had a sister of the name of Chirsty, better known among us as "Cairstean." She was unmarried, and was employed as a post-runner from Brora to KiIdonan, is distance of about fifteen miles. This distance, twice told, Cairstean accomplished with much apparent ease, on foot, in the course of a day, once a week throughout the year, she being at the time about sixty years of age. She was for her years the most unwearied pedestrian I ever knew. On one pressing occasion she went and came from Kildonan to Dornoch, a distance little less than fifty miles, in a day. She long suffered from a malignant tumour in her arm, but finally repaired to the mineral well at Achnamoine, where, after using the waters freely, both externally and internally, at the end of two months she made a complete recovery.

Close by John Meadhonaeh's house stood that of Donald Gnnn, one of the tightest and most active of Highlanders. Indeed, every possible element which entered into the structure of this man's mind, as well as into the size and make of his body, combined to constitute him the very model of a Highland peasant. He was exactly of the middle size, and well made, with just as much flesh on his bones as simply served to cover them, and no more. He had a face full of expression, which conveyed most unequivocally the shrewdness, cunning, acuteness, and caustic humour so strongly characteristic of his race. Donald Gunn surpassed his whole neighbourhood and, perhaps, the whole parish, in all rustic and athletic exercises. At a brawl, in which, however, he but seldom engaged, none could exceed him in the dexterity and rapidity with which he brandished his cudgel; and though many might exceed him in physical strength, his address and alert activity often proved him more than a match for an assailant of much greater weight and size. Then in dancing he was without a rival. With inimitable ease and natural grace he kept time, with eye and foot and fingers, to all the minute modulations of a Highland reel or Strathspey. He was also a good shot, a successful deer stalker, angler, smuggler, and poacher. Donald, however, with all these secular and peculiarly Highland recommendations was little better than a heathen. He was always under suspicion, and latterly made some hair-breadth escapes from the gallows, for he was, by habit and repute, a most notorious thief. His wife, Esther Sutherland, was a native of Caithness, and a very handsome woman. His daughter Janet married a man Bruce from Loist, and Jane married a Malcolm Fraser, who was afterwards drowned at Helmisdale. His son Robert went to America with Lord Selkirk's colony, and in an affray between these settlers and those of the North-West Company poor Robert Gunn was killed.

Mr. Donald MacLeod, parochial schoolmaster, was also one of my father's tenants. I have already mentioned him. At the fellowship meetings, both in the church where my father presided, and privately in the neighbourhood, Mr. MacLeod shone brightly in communicating his views and experience of the power of Divine truth on the heart. He had also the gift and the grace of prayer; even the most careless and thoughtless could not but be affected even to tears by the fervency, the solemnity, and appropriateness of his prayers. Donald MacLeod had, however, as who has not, his failings and even peccadillos. He and my father were warmly attached to one another, and he and his family were invariably our guests on such holidays as Christmas and \ew-Year's day. On such occasions poor Donald used to indulge in rather deep potations of strong ale and toddy, much to the damage of his senses. On one of these festive occasions, as he was returning home, exceedingly unsteady in his movements, hobbling first to one side of the road and then to the other, he was noticed and pursued by a pugnacious old gander which we had at the time. The creature having made up to him, fastened upon his coat-tails, and kept dangling back and fore behind him, exactly in accord with his own movements, the poor schoolmaster himself being all the while quite unconscious of his follower. He was very useful in the parish, for he could let blood, and was a daily reader of "Buchan's Domestic Medicine," all whose instructions lie rigidly, and often successfully, practised. He also, every Sabbath evening, kept what was called "a reading," the substitute in those days for Sabbath schools. Towards the close of his life, the contention between grace and corruption within him appeared to wax hotter and hotter, till at last, on his death-bed, he exhibited most clearly the magnificent moral spectacle of a great sinner, washed "white in the blood of the Lamb," entering upon the world unseen, triumphing through faith in the acceptance and hope of a free and eternal salvation. His wife was the daughter of "Ian Thappaidh," the target at which Rob Donn shot off his most envenomed shafts of satire. Widow of John Gunn, schoolmaster of Kildonan, the immediate predecessor of MacLeod, she had two children by her former husband, namely, Isobel and and Walter. Isobel married worthy Evan Macpherson. Walter, her brother, was the acquaintance of my earliest years, and the object of nearly my- first recollections. I now remember many things illustrative of Walter's personal kindness to us, as well as of his own private history. Walter Gunn was a mechanic, something also of a naturalist, a gardener and a musician. He cultivated many varieties of seeds and flowers. His currants—red, black and white—were the best in the county. But his step-father and his brother by the second marriage and he did not very well agree. He took his resolution, therefore, and at last went to America. Donald MacLeod had four children—John, George, Margaret, and Christina. John, his eldest son, enlisted in the army, and his enlistment created, when known (for it was done secretly), a terrible sensation in his father's family. George remained at home, and became his father's successor. He married a daughter of Adam Gordon of Rhenivy, half-sister of the late Mr. George Gordon, minister of Loth. His brother, John, returned from the army, after many years' service, and lived at Tain. Margaret married one Fraser, or Grant, who lived at Fethnafall, in the heights of the parish. Chirsty married a Joseph Sutherland, from the parish of Loth. Mrs. MacLeod long survived her second husband; she died at the very advanced age of ninety-eight.

Thomas Gordon of Achnamoine held office as a justice of the peace, and was, moreover, a perfect enthusiast as a magistrate. He imagined that the cause of justice depended on his personal exertions. If the people of Kildonan did not furnish him with weekly opportunities of deciding in his worshipful capacity their various cases of dispute, Thomas Gordon put them in mind that justice was to be had for the asking. Quartering himself at the manse, he directed all disputants to repair to Donald Gunn's house, to have their disputes finally settled by his arbitration. I recollect, on one of these occasions, having had the special honour conferred upon me of being chosen clerk to his worship, and of having received his fee, the sum of one shilling! Of the farm of Achnamoine Gordon was tacksman, holding it in lease from the family of Sutherland. To his wife he was devotedly attached, and he never wearied of talking about her. She was a pious, amiable person, but she was always in had health, and died many years before her husband. They had a large family of sons and daughters. Robert, the eldest, emigrated to America. Charles, their second son, held the farm after his father's death, but previous to that held a commission in the army; and, while on military duty at Portsmouth, got acquainted with the family of a gentleman named Russel, one of whose daughters he married. Having retired on half-pay, lie came home with his wife, after his father's death, to reside at Achnamoine. On their way thither they spent two days at Kildonan manse. The wife accompanied her lord to a country, the localities, accommodations, and privations of which she had not thought or dreamed of. On the morning previous to their departure from my father's house to Achnamoine, she asked my step-mother what sort of a domicile might be found at Achnamoine, and whether it was like the manse. My step-mother led her to the gable window of the upper cast room, and pointing very emphatically to John Meadhonach's long, straggling, turf hovel, which might be seen from the window, said, "it is, like that, but scarcely so good." The poor Anglo-Saxon burst into tears, and exclaimed, "Mercy on me," but, checking herself, added, " Well, domestic happiness is as sweet even in a cot as in a palace." And it was as she said. She lived with her husband many years in the turf-house at Achnamoine very happily. When Charles Gordon took possession of the farm, after his father's death, and his brother's departure to America, a better house was built by him; and I have been many a comfortable night there, as their guest, when at Achness. He retained the farm until after my father's death, when, on the expiry of his lease, he first resided at Avoch, in Ross-shire, and afterwards with his wife's relatives in Portsmouth. Hugh, the third son, also got a commission in the army, and retired on half-pay. Of him and his sisters more hereafter. Their mother was a sister of Mr. Gordon of Loth.

Alexander Gordon at Dalehairn I have already named. My acquaintance with him commenced at an early period. He was a wealthy and substantial tenant, as well as a most hospitable man. During any vacancy in the mission of Achuess, in which the upper part of the parish of Kildonan was comprehended, my father preached at Ach-uah'uaighe, and quartered himself at Dalchairn. Alastair Gordon and his wife, as well as the members of his family, were often Saturday and Sabbath evening guests at Kildonan. Presents too of mutton, butter and cheese were frequently sent to the manse, and good old Alastair and his kind and hearty wife would not be content with an interchange of hospitality and friendship to this amount only; they insisted upon it that my brother and I should spend the Christmas holidays with them. 1 distinctly remember these festive occasions. To give us a more than ordinary treat tea was prepared for breakfast, a luxury almost unknown in these hyperborean regions. Gordon's second daughter Anne, who then had the management of her father's house, would insist on preparing it. She put about a pound of tea into a tolerably large-sized pot, with nearly a gallon of "burn" water, and seasoned the whole as she would any other stew, with a reasonable proportion of butter, pepper, and salt! When served up at the breakfast table, however, the sauce only was administered, the leaves being reserved for future decoctions. The old man had an unceasing cough, very sharp and loud, which was not a little helped by his incessant use of snuff. His wife was a lineal descendant of the Strath Uilligh Sutherlands. She had a brother, a kind, hospitable man, usually called Rob Muiller, with whom we often lunched on our way down the Strath. Alastair Gordon himself was a cadet of the Gordons of Embo. They had a numerous family. Gilbert, their second son, was a non-commissioned officer in the 93rd regiment, but afterwards went to Berbice, where he realised a few thousand pounds as a planter, came home, married a daughter of Captain John Sutherland of Brora, lost all his money by mismanagement, and ultimately emigrated to America. John, the eldest son, went to America about thirty years ago. He died leaving his family in easy circumstances. Robert also followed him three or four years after. William got a commission in the army, went to Jamaica, returned on half-pay, and lived in poverty at Rosemarkie. He was always a strange mixture of the shrewd wording and the born fool. Another of Dalchairn's sons went to Jamaica, and died soon after his arrival. Their daughter Anne married one John Gordon of Solus-chraiggie; she lived with her husband at Dalchairn after her father's death, and afterwards took a lot of land in the village of Helmisdale, and a sheep farm in Caithness. Her husband (lied a few years ago, in consequence of cold caught in his winter journeys from his house at Helmisdale to his Caithness sheep-farm. When they lived at Dalchairn, both before and after the old man's death, I was frequently their guest during my incumbency at Achness. Alastair Gordon's eldest daughter married John Macdonald, tacksman of AchScarclet in Strathmore, Caithness, a noted Highland drover. After his death his widow and family emigrated to America.

George Mackay of Araidh-Chlinni. in the heights of the parish, was another of my acquaintances, and a frequent visitor at the manse. He was chieftain of a sept of the Clan Mackay which was coeval with, if not prior to, that of the chiefs themselves. George was it man of piety, wit, and natural shrewdness. For piety he had universal credit in the parish. On sacramental occasions he was one of the most pointed and lucid speakers to the question at the Friday fellowship meetings. His wit was almost overflowing, and his sayings and doings are still remembered by his surviving friends. "A dry, ripe potato, well-boiled," he would remark, " was the only friend whom he would wish to see in a ragged coat." His Highland farm he rented from the family of Sutherland. He made an annual pilgrimage to Golspie to pay his rent to the factor, who resided at Rhives, a place in the immediate vicinity. On one occasion, going thither in company of a more than usual number of tacksmen on the same errand as himself, they were at night-fall rather hardup for want of lodgings. George, who was himself a man of unbounded and unceasing hospitality, applied to the keeper of a small inn, at the village of Golspie, for a bed and supper. His request was refused; he could neither get the one nor the other for love or money. Reduced to this extremity, Araidh-chlinni asked the innkeeper to allow him to sit by his kitchen fire during the night. This also was refused, so that he was under the necessity of mounting his nag and riding home on a cold frosty night. At parting he told his surly host that it was not altogether improbable that they two might meet again, and that the rude and inhospitable innkeeper might very possibly beg a night's lodgings from the man he had used so harshly. The landlord told him in reply that, if ever such a thing happened, he would give him full liberty to hang him up at his door. But, in thoughtlessly reckoning for the future, men not unfrequently become their own judges, and pronounce their own doom; so at least it happened with the Golspie innkeeper. He had a few stots grazing on the heights of Kildonan, and going about a year thereafter in quest of them, he was benighted at the foot of Beinn 'Ghriam-mhor. Struggling hard for life through a swamp, long and large and deep enough to have summarily disposed of all the "men in the Mearns," he perceived a light glimmering through the gloom, for which he made straightway. On his arrival at the spot he found it proceeded from the window of a long straggling cottage, and, tremblingly alive to the value of food and shelter, he knocked at the door. His summons was instantly responded to; the door opened, and in a few minutes he found himself seated beside a huge peat fire, and a table in readiness for the evening meal. The landlord eyed his shivering guest with a smile of recognition, but the Golspie roan did not recognise him in return. A blessing was asked on the bountiful meal, and the guest was cheerily invited to partake, which he proceeded to do. But, just as he was making himself comfortable, and vastly agreeable with his jokes and news and small chat, he was suddenly interrupted by his landlord calling out in a stentorian voice, " Get the halters; get the halters; this is my very civil Golspie landlord who wouldn't allow inc even sit supperless by his fireside, but thrust me out at his door; and who told me that, when he ever came to ask such a favour of me, he would give me full liberty to bang him up." Completely prostrated, the innkeeper had not a word to say in arrest of judgment. After enjoying his triumph, however, and his guest `a confusion, for a short time, during which some of the domestics became clamorous that the fellow should be hanged forthwith, Araidh-chlinni told him to make himself quite easy; that the rights of hospitality ought to be exercised, not on the selfish principles of corrupt nature, but according to the law of Christ—to do to others as we would that others should do to us. Araidh-chlinni had a family of sons and daughters; I remember three of them. Robert, his eldest son, was when a young man on marriage terms with one Chirsty Gunli, our dry-nurse during my mother's life-time, and a woman of eminent piety. She died, however, just when they were to be proclaimed in church. He afterwards got a commission in the army, and rose to the rank of captain. He married a Miss Medley Climes, niece of Col. Clones of Cracaig, parish of Loth, by whom he had one daughter. He retired on half-pay, and established his residence in the neighbourhood of Inverness. His daughter married Col. Mackay. She is a woman of piety and talent. Araidh-clllinni's second son George emigrated to America. His eldest daughter Catherine, well known to us when children as " Katie na h'aridh," married a George Mackay, or MacHastain, a native of Strath Halladale, and a wrathful man who, when he came to reside at his father-in-law's house during his declining years,uarrelled with all his neighbours, and then with his own wife, who endured his rough treatment with much forbearance. He had four sons. The eldest, George, was a grocer in Inverness, and very much like his father in character. He succeeded well in his trade, and dabbled not a little in politics and religion; in the former being a rabid Whig and making a great show of the latter. The second brother, John, was also a grocer at Inverness, and married a daughter of Mackay of Carnachadh, Stratlmaver. The other two brothers went abroad and died, while their only sister married an Andrew Mackay, a grocer at Helmisdale.

Robert Gunn of Achaneccan was another of the old men of my youthful remembrance. He was the acknowledged lineal descendant and representative of the chiefs of Clan Gunn in the parish; although that landless and fallen honour was some years afterwards claimed by Hector Gunn of Thurso, whose only son became factor to the Duke of Sutherland. Robert of Achaneccan was, however, unquestionably nearer of kin. His farm, on which he had a number of sub-tenants, was scarcely two miles distant from Kinbrace, the seat of his renowned ancestor. He was a gentleman-like old man, who had been much in good society, and had received a somewhat liberal education. His descendants are still to be found here and there in the county of Caithness.

John Grant of Dioball, to whom I have already referred in connection with my father's settlement at Kildonan, was a truly pious man. 10 two things in one soul, however, could be placed in more direct, or even outrageous contrast with each other than all that there was of grace and all that remained of corrupt nature, in the soul of John Grant. As a vital Christian he was, for the depth and the extent of his knowledge of the truth, quite remarkable. His views were vivid, original, solid, and scriptural, and the language in which he expressed them was calculated, by its terseness, accuracy, and point, to do all justice in conveying them to the mind and comprehension of his fellow-Christians. He was also, although an illiterate man, yet unquestionably one of very considerable native talent. His life corresponded with his views and profession as a Christian in one respect, namely, in abstractedness from the every-day business and bustle of the world. But it was more the abstractedness of a hermit or ascetic, or of a naturally eccentric character, than that of a plain and practical Christian. His natural disposition, too, was not only hot and impetuous, but often ferocious. To indulge it he did not care whom he assailed, whether friend or foe. The one went down just as surely as the other before the explosions of his temper, and the merciless sarcasms which he launched forth against all, be they whom they might, who ventured to set themselves in opposition to his views or prejudices. I knew John Grant from my very earliest years. My brother and I, on our way down the Strath to meet our father on his way home, were very kindly entertained by him in his house at Dioball. Although he never attended church, he was a frequent visitor at the manse. He had a wide circle of admirers in Sutherlandshire and elsewhere, who liberally supplied him with everything that he needed. He left Kildonan, and lived afterwards at Strathy, then at Thurso, and lastly at Reay, where he died in 1828.

The other respectable tenantry in the parish I shall have an opportunity of describing when I come to record the particulars of my ministry at Achness.

It was intended that I should go to college, but as my father's stipend was small, and his circumstances consequently limited, all was to depend on my obtaining a bursary at either King's or Marischal College, Aberdeen. Mr. Ross of Clyne had gone to Aberdeen with his son, to attend the Greek class at Marischal College; and, as he was a warm friend of my father, he sought to be serviceable to me. No sooner, therefore, did he arrive in Aberdeen than he set himself to procure a presentation bursary for me at Marischal College. Through his address he got himself introduced to the Town Council, who had in their gift a presentation bursary (for one year) of £9 stg. His introduction to the Council was through the Lord Provost, Mr. Leys, a wealthy wine-merchant. With the Provost Mr. Ross had been acquainted many years before, and his acquaintanceship with him he renewed so much to my advantage, that the bursary was, by a majority of the Council, carried over the heads of twenty candidates, natives of the city, and granted to myself. This intelligence Mr. Ross immediately communicated to my father. The letter was received on a Friday; and, on Monday morning early, my father, Muckle Donald, and I set out for Aberdeen. My father accompanied me as far as Tain, where we arrived on Tuesday morning. The night previous we spent at Dornoch. At Tain we breakfasted at Turnbull's Inn, where we received great kindness and good cheer from Mrs Turnbull, a stout, jolly old lady, who, having buried her husband, an Englishman of the name of Combe, had solaced herself for her loss by taking his ostler of the name of Turnbull, in his place. After breakfast she stuffed my pockets with fine large apples; and my father parted with me to return home. Muckle Donald and I then tramped it on foot, from thence all the way to Aberdeen. The day we left Tain, crossing the Ivergordon ferry, we slept and supped at the lnn of Balblair in this parish, of which now I am minister. 1 was just fifteen, and the length of the journey proved too much for me. Within two miles of Inverury, 1 fairly broke down, and fell prostrate upon the roadside. There was a small farm-house, with a steading, hard by. By Diuckle Donald I was borne into the house. The family received us with hearty and unsophisticated kindness. My whole story was soon told, and it was not told in vain. Some milk warmed and mixed with pepper was given me to drink, which at once revived me; and a fellow-traveller who had cone in along with us partook of the same wholesome beverage, deriving from it also the same benefit. I was after all, however, too weak to walk; and this being understood, the good man of the house, with all the warm-heartedness of a Scotch peasant, went to his stable, saddled his horse, mounted me upon him, and brought me most safely and comfortably to the "Head Inn" at Inverury. My heart overflowed with gratitude to him. On our arrival I offered him a dram and he took it; I offered him money and a feed for his horse, but lie refused it. He bade me adieu, mounted his horse, disappeared in the dark, and I never again met him.

I arrived in Aberdeen next day, and went at once to the house of my friend Mrs. Gordon, who received me with all the affection of a mother. Since her husband's death she had chiefly resided here, on her limited income. Her house was at the head of the Upper Kirkgate. I remained there until I got lodgings in Blackfriars Street Green, in the house of a man named Fleming. 1 met with Mr. Ross of Clyne, his son William, and William Houston, son of Major Hugh Houston of Clynleish. Both young men came to college under the care of Mr Ross, and they were all three lodged at the house of a Mr. Cantley, one of the town's officers, also in the Upper Kirkgate. I called upon Mr. Ross immediately after my arrival to thank him for his active friendship, and was received by him and by the two young men with much kindness. I also called upon and drank tea with Mrs. Sutherland, my stepmother's sister, who then lived in Aberdeen. Miss Jane Baigrie, eldest daughter and only child of Captain Baigrie of Midgarty by his first marriage, lived as a boarder with Mrs. Sutherland. I. was much struck with her appearance. She was rather a pretty girl; but some years before, and just on the eve of her marriage, she, in running across a street in London, unfortunately came in contact with a window-shutter, and the violence of the blow broke the bridge of her nose. The consequence was that her betrothed ran off and left her. I shall mention her afterwards,

In the house in the Green I found before me a fellow-lodger and class-fellow named Gourlay. His father, an old man, was assistant minister of Arbuthnot, in the Presbytery of Fordoun, with a large family and an allowance of £bO per annum. Fleming, my landlord, let an upper storey to lodgers in order to better his condition. He was an industrious creature, and did all lie could to procure a livelihood. His wife was the very model of an Aberdeenshire woman in three particulars—she spoke to perfection the vile lingo of her county, she was an inveterate smoker, and her loquacity was interminable. 'Their only son William, who was clerk in one of the banking offices of the city, was a warm-hearted, generous fellow. Our landlady boarded us for the very reasonable sum of eight shillings each per week, but our fare corresponded with the rate. We were often dined upon what our hostess called "milk-pothage." She was a shrewd, sensible woman, and having a high sense of decorum, she made it a point to read every night a chapter in the Bible. To this devotional act she attributed her success in life. She would often take up the old quarto Bible from which she read, and, wiping the dust from it with great reverence, would say—"It's grid my part to tak' care o' that buik, for it has aye keeppit me richt in the warld until noo."

Of my amiable friend Mrs. Gordon my recollections are vivid and interesting. My personal attachment to her, and, I must add, my short commons at Flemiug's, made me a frequent visitor at her house. After dining at my lodgings at 2 o'clock, I was often privileged to partake with her at 4.30 r.mt. Her servant-maid was a Christy Grant, a native of Loth. Mrs. Gordon attended the West Church, but Christy went regularly to the Gaelic Chapel, then under the pastoral care of Mr. Neil Kennedy, of whom I was a frequent hearer. To accustom me to the manners of good society, Mrs. Gordon introduced me to many of her acquaintances, particularly to Dr. MacPherson of King's College.

I remember my first session at Marischal College more distinctly than the succeeding ones. The college buildings which then existed were in a state of rapid decay. They had been erected by George, fifth Earl Marischal, in 1593; and the lapse of two centuries had reduced them to what was little better than a habitable ruin. The fabric consisted of a long, lofty, central building of four storeys, with a wing of the same height at one end, and a huge, clumsy tower, intended for an observatory, at the other. In the front of the central building, at the spring of the roof, was a clock; the windows were small, and the mason-work was of the coarsest kind. On the wing were two inscriptions, the one in Greek, namely: "Arete ant' arkes," or "virtue is its own reward;" the other was in broad Scotch: "They'll say; quilk will they say, let them say." I have been told that the latter inscription had a pointed allusion to the plainness of the structure, and to the religion of its founder. King's College in Old Aberdeen far excelled it in antiquity and splendour, and in the extent of its revenue. Besides all this, King's College, which was founded by Bishop Elphinstou, was dignified on its first establishment, in 1494, by a papal bull. Marischal College was built during the progress of the Reformation, and was set up as a Protestant institution. The internal accommodation consisted of a large hall on the ground floor of the central building, called "the public school," where all the students, at 8 A.M., met for prayer. Nothing could be more mean or wretched than this hall. It was a long, wide place, perhaps 100 feet by 20; the windows, which were three in number, were short and narrow, and were fitted with glass in the upper sash, and boards in the lower. The floor was paved with stone, and along the walls ran a wooden bench on which the students sat while the roll was called, and during prayers. There were two raised desks in the centre of the hall, the one for the principal and professors on Fridays, the other, right opposite, for any student who had it Latin oration to deliver. In short, the whole gave one an idea of a hastily-built granary. Above the public school was the college hall; it was handsome, and worthy of a literary institution. The walls were hung with fine old prints, as well as full-length and three-quarter-length portraits of eminent men, more particularly of benefactors to the College. Among others was that of Field-Marshal Keith. In this hall the students met for the annual public examination. Above the hall, and in the upper Hat, were the library, containing a very mediocre collection of books, and the museum, not remarkable either, The north wing, constituting the observatory tower, contained on the ground floor the Greek class-room, and above it was the divinity hall. In the third flat were apartments for one of the professors. On top of all was the observatory, or astronomical-room, reached by a winding stair. On the roof of the tower were placed philosophical instruments, rain-gauges, etc., and over this department presided the professor of Natural Philosophy, whose family lived in the apartments below. The south wing contained the Natural History, Natural Philosophy, and Mathematical class-rooms, and the apartments of the professor of Mathematics and Greek. Behind the college, to the east. was a garden, rendered interesting in connection with the early youth of James Hay Beattie, son of the eminent Dr. Beattie of Marischal College. It was here that young Beattie, then almost in infancy, feeling his ardent and precocious powers of observation directed to the sudden growth of some tresses which he had seen sown there a few days previously, asked his father what made them grow so soon, or grow at all. In reply to this simple question the moralist took that early opportunity of initiating in his son's mind the notion and belief in a God supreme and omnipotent. [Dr. James Beattie was born at Laurencekirk, in 1735, and graduated at Dlarischal College in 1753. In 1760 he Issued a volume of "Original Poems and Translations." He was shortly afterwards appointed Professor of Moral Philosophy in Marischal College. He published in 1770 his celebrated "Essay on Trutb," in 1774 "The Minstrel," and in 1793 the second volume of "Moral Science." The University of Oxford conferred upon him the degree of LL.D. On his retirement from the professorial chair he was succeeded by his son James Hay, who died in 1790. Dr. Beattie died in 184)3. He had sown some tresses in the garden to form the initials of his son's name. From this ho taught him the argument for the existence of God, drawn from the evidences of design in nature.—Ed.] The College Close, as it was called, was an open space, about an acre and a-half in extent, in front bf the buildings and surrounded with houses. Tn the south-west corner of it stood Greyfriars Church, usually styled the College Church, not only from its immediate vicinity to that building, but because a gallery in the eastern wing was appropriated for the accommodation of the professors and students. Grey-friars Church was then only on the footing of a Chapel of Ease, its minister not having a seat in the Presbytery. Close by stood a low, mean-looking building, with a tiled roof, intended for the chemical class then taught by Dr. French.

The course pursued at Marischal College consisted in giving regular attendance at the University for four years, the first year at Greek; the second, at the Humanity, General and Natural History, and first Mathematical classes; the third, at the Natural Philosophy and second Mathematical classes; and, in the fourth year, at the Moral Philosophy and Logic classes. Graduation for the degree of Master of Arts, at the close of the fourth session, was a mere matter of ordinary routine—a sort of literary masquerade for the pecuniary benefit of the College officials.
The Professor of Greek at Mariscbal College, in 1804, was John Stewart of Inchbreck, in the county of Kincardine. lie was a frank and friendly man, and of his friendship I had a large experience during my attendance at College. Recommended to him as I was by Mr. Ross of Clyne, he took charge of my pecuniary affairs, and so managed them that I actually had more money on returning than I had on coming to College. It was chiefly by his means and influence that I enjoyed a bursary every year of my philosophical course. He married Miss Mowat of Ardo, in Kincardine, the last of an ancient line, which, by her death in 1823, became extinct. Her sister was the wife of Rev. Dr. Peters of Dundee. Prof. Stewart had •five of a family, three sons, Andrew, Alexander, and Charles; also two daughters. Andrew studied medicine and went abroad. Alexander studied law in Edinburgh, where I met him during my attendance at the Divinity Hall. Of Charles and of the elder daughter I know nothing; but the second, some years after her parents' death, became the second wife of Mr. Glennie of Maybank, near Aberdeen.

To the method of teaching adopted by Prof. Stewart I may now refer. The books were Dunlop's Greek Grammar, written in Latin, also a small selection from the Greek writers, entitled a `'Delectus." This compilation was edited by Prof. Stewart, and contained excerpts from Æsop's Fables, Lucian's Dialogues, Æian, Isocrates, Demosthenes, with Libanius' argument; also from Anacreon, Sappho, Aristotle, TheoCritus, and Bion, the whole comprehended in a small, thin volume of about 108 pages. Ile also used the Greek Testament and Homer's Iliad. His method of instruction was rather stiff and superficial. After mastering the Grammar, we proceeded to read, translate, and analyse the Greek Testament; then we got the Delectus to read, and, lastly, towards the close of the session, we studied a part of Homer's Iliad, Book xxiv. I may here observe that the particular book of the Iliad which we read marked the number of the years of our Professor's incumbency. He made it a part of his system to read with his class, every year, a book of the Iliad, commencing with the first, and going on to the next in order next session; so that the first session of my attendance at College was the twenty - fourth of Mr. Stewart's professorship.

Of my fellow-students, Peter Blackie attained some distinction. He was one of the many sons of a plumber, in Little John Street, His disposition was close, dogged, and sullen, and his countenance was a true expression of it. He studied medicine, went abroad as surgeon of a man-of-war, came into converse with Bonaparte, and, on his return, set up as a surgeon and lecturer in Aberdeen. He married a Miss Levingston, the daughter of a Col. Levingston, and one of the handsomest woman in Aberdeen. He died a few years ago. His brother, an Aberdeen advocate, was Provost of Aberdeen, and a man of weight and influence. His sister, a very beautiful girl, married Dr. Keith, of St. Cyrus, who has attained to such eminence as a writer on prophecy. Another of my fellow-students, Robert J. Brown, was third son of the Principal of the College, the Very Rev. William Laurence Brown, D.D., one of the most accomplished classical scholars in Europe. Robert made a respectable appearance in the classes. Soon after being licensed to preach, he was presented to the parish of Clatt, in the Presbytery of Alford, and on the demise of Prof. Stewart was appointed his successor in the Greek Class, in which he and I had been class-fellows. Another fellow-student, Thomas Fordyce, was the youngest son of Arthur Dingwall Fordyce of Culsh, Commissary of Aberdeen. His eldest sister was married to Professor Bentley of the Hebrew Class, in King's College, by whom she had two daughters, with whom I was well acquainted when residing there during my incumbency as minister of the Gaelic Chapel.

I returned home, at the close of the session, by sea. I took any passage for I-Ielmisdale, on a salmon-fishing smack, which was in the service of Forbes and Hogarth, who then held the Sutherland rivers in lease from the Marchioness of Stafford. My friend Capt. Baigrie had given me a letter of introduction to Mr. William Forbes of Echt, who was so friendly to Eneas; and during my first session at college, I frequently called upon him at the quay-side. He was a kind, fatherly man, and received me with much urbanity. Mr. Forbes' eldest son James, the present proprietor, was in partnership with his father. Mr. James Forbes was then married, and had several children. His wife was a Miss Niven of Thornton, the sister of Sir Harry Niven Lumsden of Achindoir. I frequently met Mr. James Forbes in his father's office, and afterwards saw him at Midgarty.

The smack which bore me homewards was the identical one by which my brother sailed to London, but had a different master; Coy had been replaced by a rough fellow of the name of Colstone. I went on board about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and dined before we set sail. Feeling hungry I partook largely of a coarse, greasy dinner at the skipper's table. It consisted of very fat broth and still fatter meat. Colstone, not content with swallowing the most enormous quantities of clear fat I had ever seen attempted even by a famished mastiff, after all was overreased his face with it, to keep out the cold as I supposed. This sappy dinner, as well as the remembrance of the skipper's face, served me for a strong emetic during the voyage homewards, which was both tedious and tempestuous. On going out at the pier-head the billows rose " mountains high," and as they rose, both my spirits and my stomach fell. The dinner with its associations presented themselves before me every half-hour, until I became grievously sick, and my very ribs ached again with the pressure of vomiting. The wind blew a hurricane from the west, and in the course of twelve hours we were close on the Sutherland coast, opposite Helmisdale, the place of our destination. But here again the wind chopped round in our very teeth, and we were for three days tossed back and fore on the Moray Firth in view of the harbour, without Leing able to enter it. The storm was so violent that even the skipper himself became sick. I was a Sabbath at sea; and although the wind blew contrary, the day was fine. The sailors observed the day with great decorum. There was nothing like social or public worship, but when any one of them got a spare hour, he laid himself face downwards on the floor of the cabin and conned over the New Testament. We left Aberdeen on a Friday, and landed at the mouth of the Helmisdale River on the Tuesday morning thereafter. I shall never forget the strong and penetrating feeling of joyous safety with which I leaped out of the ship's boat on the pebbly shore of the river near the Corf-house. Mr. Thomas Houston, now of Kintradwell, met me on the beach, and with him I went to the house of Mrs. Houston, his mother. After a cordial welcome and a hasty breakfast I walked up the Strath to Kildonan, where I found my worthy father engaged in the annual examination of the Parish School. He received me with a father's kindness, took me into his large embrace, and kissed me before the whole assemblage.

But it is high time to hasten to the close of this chapter. At the very time I am recording these reminiscences of early youth (January, 1843), the sky of Providence is darkening down with more than ordinary gloom on the Church of my Fathers. I do think that it has pleased God, in His inscrutable wisdom, to appoint my lot in life at the beginning of "troublous times," and times such as neither I hitherto, nor my fathers before me, have experienced. I shall, therefore, endeavour to hurry over the various incidents of my life till the period when these troubles began, so that while they are in progress I may, whether as a spectator or a sufferer, in any case as an eye-witness, record them.


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