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Sketches of The Character, Manners, and Present State of the Highlanders of Scotland


Part I

A Sketch of the Moral and Physical Character, and of the Institutions and Customs of the Inhabitants of the Highlands of Scotland

Sketches of the Highlanders

Section III

Devoted obedience of the Clans—Spirit of Independence—Fidelity.

The chief generally resided among his retainers. His castle was the court where rewards were distributed, and the most enviable distinctions conferred. All disputes were settled by his decision; [During fifty-five years, in which the late Mr Campbell of Achallader had the charge of Lord Breadalbane's estate, no instance occurred of tenants going to law. Their disputes were referred to the amicable decision of the noble proprietor and his deputy; and as the confidence of the people in the honour and probity of both was unlimited, no man ever dreamed of an appeal from their decision. Admitting even that their judgment might occasionally be erroneous, the advantages of these prompt and final decisions, to a very numerous tenantry, among whom many causes of difference naturally arose from their mixed and minute possessions, were incalculable.] and the prosperity or poverty of his tenants depended on his proper or improper treatment of them. These tenants followed his standard in war, attended him in his hunting excursions, supplied his table with the produce of their farms, and assembled to reap his corn, and to prepare and bring home his fuel. They looked up to him as their adviser and their protector. The cadets of his family, respected in proportion to the proximity of the relation in which they stood to him, became a species of sub-chiefs, scattered over different parts of his domains, holding their lands and properties of him, with a sort of subordinate jurisdiction over a portion of his people ; and were ever ready to afford him their counsel and assistance in all emergencies.

Great part of the rent of land was paid in kind, and generally consumed where it was produced. One chief was distinguished from another, not by any additional splendour of dress or equipage, but by having a greater number of followers, [Macdonell of Keppoch being questioned as to the amount of his income, "I can call out and command 500 men," was the answer.] by entertaining a greater number of guests, and by the exercise of general hospitality, kindness, and condescension. What his retainers gave from their individual property was spent amongst them in the kindest and most liberal manner. At the castle every individual was made welcome, and was treated according to his station, with a degree of courtesy and regard to his feelings unknown in many other countries. [Dr Johnson, noticing this interchange of kindness and affectionate familiarity between the people and their landlords, thus describes a meeting between the young Laird of Coll, (elder brother of the present,) and some of his attached and dutiful retainers:—"Wherever we moved," says the Doctor, "we were pleased to see the reverence with which his subjects regarded him. He did not endeavour to dazzle them by any magnificence of dress: his only distinction was a feather in his bonnet; but as soon as he appeared, they forsook their work and clustered round him ; he took them by the hand, and they were mutually delighted. He has the proper disposition of a chieftain, and seems desirous to continue the custom of his house. The bagpiper played regularly when dinner was served, whose person and address made a good appearance, and brought no disgrace on the family of Rankin, which has long supplied the Lairds of Coll with hereditary music."—Doctor Johnson's Tour.] This condescension, whilst it raised the clansman in his own estimation, and drew closer the ties between him and his superior, seldom tempted him to use any improper familiarities. He believed himself well born, [This pride of ancestry, when directed as it was among this people, produced very beneficial effects on their character and conduct. It formed strong attachment, led to the performance of laudable and heroic actions, and enabled the poorest Highlander begging his bread to support his hardships without a murmur. Alexander Stewart claimed a descent from one of the first families in the kingdom, and through them from the Kings of Scotland; hut being poor and destitute, he went about the country as a privileged beggar. He took no money, nor any thing but a dinner, supper, or night's accommodation, such as a man of his descent might expect on the principles of hospitality. He never complained of bad fare, lodging, or any other privation. Seeing (he said) that one king of his family and name had been assassinated, another had died in a wretched cottage or mill, a queen and a king of the same blood had lost their heads upon the scaffold, and the descendants of these kings, exiles from the country of their fathers, had been supported by the benevolence of strangers; and seeing that eminent men of his Wood had endured misfortunes and want with firmness and resignation,—ought not he to do the same ? and would he discredit his honourable descent by unavailing complaints against that Providence which suffered the high as well as the low to be visited by misfortune?

These may be called prejudices, but it were well if all prejudices had a similar effect in making men contented under poverty and destitution and when such are their effects, perhaps the term prejudice, as usually understood, does not apply.

Alexander Macleod, from the Isle of Skye, was some years ago seized with a fatal illness in Glenorchy, where he died. When he found his end approaching, he earnestly requested that he might be buried in the burying-ground of the principal family of the district, as he was descended from one as ancient, warlike, and honourable; and stated that he could not die in peace if he thought his family would be dishonoured in his person, by his being buried in a mean and improper manner. Although his request could not be complied with, he was buried in a corner of the churchyard, where his grave is preserved in its original state by Dr Macintyre, the venerable pastor of Glenorchy.]

and was taught to respect himself in the respect which he showed to his chief; and thus, instead of complaining of the difference of station and fortune, or considering a ready obedience to his chieftain's call as a slavish oppression, he felt convinced that he was supporting his own honour in showing his gratitude and duty to the generous head of his family. "Hence, the Highlanders, whom more savage nations called savage, carried in the outward expression of their manners the politeness of courts without their vices, and in their bosoms the high point of honour without its follies." [Dalrymple's Memoirs.]

"Nothing," says Mrs Grant, "can be more erroneous than the prevalent idea that a Highland chief was an ignorant and unprincipled tyrant, who rewarded the abject submission of his followers with relentless cruelty and rigorous oppression. If ferocious in disposition, or weak in understanding, he was curbed and directed by the elders of his tribe, who, by inviolable custom, were his standing counsellors, without whose advice no measure of any kind was decided." [Mrs Grant's Superstitions of the Highlanders.]

But though the sway of the chief was thus mild in practtice, it was in its nature arbitrary, and, on proper occasions, was exercised with full severity. There is still to be seen among the papers of the family of Perth, an application from the town of Perth to Lord Drummond, dated in 1707, requesting an occasional use of his Lordship's executioner, who was considered an expert operator. The request was granted, his Lordship reserving to himself the power of recalling him whenever he had occasion for his services. Some time before the year 1745, the Lord President Forbes, travelling from Edinburgh to his seat at Culloden, dined on his way at the Castle of Blair Athole, with the Duke of Atholl. In the course of the evening a petition was delivered to his Grace, which having read, he turned round to the President, and said, "My Lord, here is a petition from a poor man, whom Commissary Bisset, my baron bailie, [A civil officer, to whom the Chief's authority was occasionally delegated.] has condemned to be hanged; and as he is a clever fellow, and is strongly recommended to mercy, I am much inclined to pardon him." "But your Grace knows," said the President, "that, after condemnation, no man can pardon but his Majesty." "As to that," replied the Duke, "since I have the power of punishing, it is but right that I should have the power to pardon;" and calling upon a servant who was in waiting, "Go," said he, "send an express to Logierait, and order Donald Stewart, presently under sentence, to be instantly set at liberty." [The family of Atholl possessed many superiorities in Perthshire; and when they held their courts of regality at Logierait, their followers, to the number of nearly a hundred gentlemen, many of them of great landed property, assembled to assist in council, or as jurymen on such trials as it was necessary to conduct on this principle; and, as these gentlemen were accompanied by many of their own followers and dependants, this great chief appeared like a sovereign, with his parliament and army. Indeed, the whole was no bad emblem of a king and parliament, only substituting a chief and his clan for a king with his peers and commoners. The hall in which the feudal parliament assembled (a noble chamber of better proportions than the British House of Commons), has lately been pulled down; and thus one of the most conspicuous vestiges of the almost regal influence of this powerful family has been destroyed, and many recollections of the power and dignity to which it owed its foundation obliterated.]

Independently of that authority which the chiefs acquired by ancient usage and the weakness of the general government, the lords of regality, and great barons and chiefs, possessed the rights of jurisdiction, both in civil and criminal matters, and either sat in judgment themselves, or appointed judges of their own choice, and dependant upon their authority. Freemen could be tried by none but their peers. The vassals were bound to attend the courts of their chiefs, and, among other things, to assist as jurymen in the trials of delinquents. When they assembled on these occasions, they established among themselves such regulations as, in their opinion, tended to the welfare of the community ; and, whenever it became necessary, they voluntarily granted such supplies as they thought the necessity of their superiors required. Their generosity was particularly shown on the marriage of the chief, and in the portioning of his daughters and younger sons. These last, when they settled in life, frequently found themselves supplied with the essential necessaries of a family, and particularly with a stock of cattle, which, in those patriarchal days, constituted the principal riches of the country. [The above information I received from several old gentlemen who remembered the practice. These were intelligent persons, much habituated to conversation, faithful in recollection, and clear in the communication of their knowledge, from having been chroniclers of what to them was of the greatest importance,—the history, the policy, the biography, and the character of their ancestors and contemporaries. To a common observer, no part of their communication would have appeared more extraordinary than the control exercised by the Elders or Seniors of the clan or district, the ready obedience yielded to their judgment and remonstrance, and the firmness and independence of sagacious peasants, in setting effective limits to arbitrary power.]

The laws which the chief had to administer were extremely simple. Indeed, his sway was chiefly paternal. Reverence for his authority, and gratitude for his protection, which was generally extended to shield the rights of his clansmen against the aggression of strangers, were the natural result of his patriarchal rule. This constituted an efficient control, without many examples of severity. At the same time, the mutual dependence of the clansmen on one another, and their frequent meetings for consulting on their common interests, or for repelling common danger, tended to produce and cherish the social and domestic virtues, together with that ease and familiarity which, when well regulated, prove a source of much endearment, and render it necessary for every individual to cultivate a corresponding spirit of civility and complaisance. These manners and dispositions, both of the people and their superiors, furnish a ready explanation of the zeal with which the former followed their chiefs, protected their persons, and supported the honour of their country and name. In the battle of Inverkeithing, between the Royalists and Oliver Cromwell's troops, five hundred of the followers of the Laird of M'Lean were left dead on the field. In the heat of the conflict, seven brothers of the clan sacrificed their lives in defence of their leader, Sir Hector Maclean. Being hard pressed by the enemy, he was supported and covered from their attacks by these intrepid men; and as one brother fell, another came up in succession to cover him, crying "Another for Hector." This phrase has continued ever since as a proverb or watch-word when a man encounters any sudden danger that requires instant succour.

The late James Menzies of Culdares, having engaged in the rebellion of 1715, and been taken at Preston in Lancashire, was carried to London, where he was tried and condemned, but afterwards reprived. [Two brothers of Culdares were taken prisoners at the same time, and sent to Carlisle Castle. After a confinement of some months they were released, in consideration of their youth and inexperience; and immediately set off to London to visit their brother, then under sentence of death. Being handsome young men, with fresh complexions, they disguised themselves in women's clothes, and pretending to be Mr Menzies's sisters, were admitted to visit him in prison. They then proposed that one of them should exchange clothes with their brother, and that he should escape in this disguise. But this he peremptorily refused, on the ground that, after the lenity shown them, it would be most ungrateful to engage in such an affair; which, besides, might be productive of unpleasant consequences to the young man who proposed to remain in prison, particularly as he was so lately under a charge of treason and rebellion. They were obliged to take, what they believed to be, their last farewell of their brother, whose firmness of mind, and sense of honour, the immediate prospect of death could not shake. However, he soon met with his reward: he received an unconditional pardon, returned to Scotland along with his brothers, and lived sixty years afterwards in his native glen,—an honourable specimen of an old Highland Patriarch, beloved by his own people, and respected by all within the range of his acquaintance. He died in 1776.] Grateful for this clemency, he remained at home in 1745, but, retaining a predilection for the old cause, he sent a handsome charger as a present to Prince Charles when advancing through Eng-land. The servant who led and delivered the horse was taken prisoner, and carried to Carlisle, where he was tried and condemned. To extort a discovery of the person who sent the horse, threats of immediate execution in case of refusal, and offers of pardon on his giving information, were held out ineffectually to the faithful messenger. He knew, he said, what the consequence of a disclosure would be to his master, and his own life was nothing in the comparison. When brought out for execution, he was again pressed to inform on his master. He asked if they were serious in supposing him such a villain. If he did what they desired, and forgot his master and his trust, he could not return to his native country, for Glenlyon would be no home or country for him, as he would be despised and hunted out of the Glen. Accordingly, he kept steady to his trust, and was executed. This trusty servant's name was John Mac-naughton, from Glenlyon in Perthshire; he deserves to be mentioned, both on account of his incorruptible fidelity, and of his testimony to the honourable principles of the people, and to their detestation of a breach of trust to a kind and honourable master, however great might be the risk, or however fatal the consequences to the individual himself.

[A picture of Prince Charles, mounted on this horse, is in my possession, being a legacy from the daughter of Mr Menzies. A brother of Macnaughton lived for many years on the estate of Garth, and died in 1790. He always went about armed, at least so far armed, that when debarred wearing a sword or dirk, he slung a large knife in his belt. He was one of the last I recollect of the ancient race, and gave a very favourable Impression of their general manner and appearance. By trade he was a smith ; and although of the lowest order of the people, he walked about with an air and manner that might have become a Field-Marshal. He spoke with great force and fluency of language, and, although most respectful to those to whom he thought respect due, he had an appearance of independence and ease, that strangers, ignorant of the language and character of the people, might have supposed to proceed from impudence. As he always carried arms when legally permitted, so he showed on one occasion that he knew how to handle them. When the Black Watch was quartered on the banks of the rivers Tay and Lyon in 1741, an affray arose between a few of the soldiers and some of the people at a fair at Kenmore. Some of the Breadalbane men took the part of the soldiers, and, as many were armed, swords were quickly drawn, and one of the former killed; when their opponents, with whom was Macnaughton, and a smith, (to whom he was then an apprentice,) retreated and fled to the ferry-boat across the Tay. There was no bridge, and the ferryman seeing the fray, chained his boat. Macnaughton was the first at the river side, and leaping into the boat, followed by his master the smith, with a single stroke of his broadsword he cut the chain, and crossing the river, fixed the boat on the opposite side,—and thus prevented an immediate pursuit. Indeed, no further steps were taken. The Earl of Breadalbane, who was then at Taymouth, was immediately sent for. On inquiry, he found that the whole had originated from an accidental reflection thrown out by a soldier of one of the Argyle companies against the Atholemen, then supposed to be Jacobites, and that it was difficult to ascertain who gave the fatal blow. The man who was killed was an old warrior of nearly eighty years of age. He had been with Lord Breadalbane's men, under Campbell of Glenlyon, at the battle of Sheriffmuir; and, as his side lost their cause, he swore never to shave again. He kept his word, and as his beard grew till it reached his girdle, he got the name of Padric na Phaisaig, "Peter with the Beard." Lachlan Maclean, presently living near Tay bridge, in his ninety-fifth year, and in perfect possession of all his faculties, was present at this affray.

This intelligent old man died since the publication of the former editions, in his ninety-seventh year, and, as is very common with men of his strength of constitution, preserved his faculties to his last hour. I happened to call upon him a week previous to his death. He was then in perfect health, and, besides repeating the above story and some others with his usual accuracy, he recited several portions of Ossian's poems with remarkable spirit and animation, warming as he proceeded in his recitation.]

For the further exemplification of this attachment of Highlanders to their superiors, I may refer to the celerity with which regiments were raised by them, even in more peaceable times, when the spirit of clanship had been considerably broken, and the feudal tenures in a great measure dissolved. Of this some remarkable instances will be found in the history of the Highland regiments. We have innumerable examples, too, of the force of that disinterested fidelity which, till a very recent period, spurred on the Highlanders to follow their chieftains to the cannon's mouth, and produced displays of national feeling and intrepidity, which have procured for them a name and character not to be soon forgotten. The promptitude and zeal with which they formerly adopted the quarrels of their chiefs, and obeyed the slightest signal for action, are described in the following verses with an ardour and rapidity which present as lively and graphical a picture as words can convey.

"He whistled shrill,
And he was answered from the hill;
Wild as the scream of the curlew
From crag to crag the signal flew;
Instant thro' copse and heath arose
Bonnets and spears and bended bows,
On right, on left, above, below,
Sprung up at once the lurking foe;
From shingles green the lances start,
The bracken bush sends forth the dart,
The rushes and the willow wand
Are bristling into axe and brand,
And every tuft of broom gives life
To plaided warriors, armed for strife.
That whistle garrisoned the glen
With full four hundred fighting men,
As if the yawning hill to heaven
A subterranean host had given.
Watching their leaders' beck and will,
All silent then they stood, and still,
Like the loose crags, whose threatening mass,
Long tottering o'er the hollow pass,
As if an infant's touch could urge
Their headlong passage down the verge;
With step and weapon forward flung,
Upon the mountains' sides they hung. "

[Lady of the Lake.

It may be thought absurd to quote a poetical description to authenticate a well-known fact. That, however, being established, the poetical description is merely introduced, because the delineation is perfect, and the ardour and rapidity of the diction present a livelier picture of what actually existed, than any other words can convey. The poet displays consummate judgment in seizing, for the purpose of description, a circumstance in the highest degree picturesque and poetical.]

Yet the strength of this attachment and zeal did not extinguish the proper sense of independence. In some instances they even proceeded so far as to depose such chiefs as had degraded their name and family, or were unfit for their situations, transferring their allegiance to the next in succession, if more deserving. This happened in the case of the families of Macdonald of Clanranald and Macdonell of Keppoch. Two chiefs were deposed and set aside. The rejected chief of the former clan was killed, without issue, in an attempt to preserve his estate and authority; [The rejected chief of Clanranald was supported by his friend and brother chief Lord Lovat, and the clan Fraser. As was usual in those times, the question was decided by the sword. The strength of both sides being mustered, a desperate conflict ensued, and the Macdonalds confirmed their independence by victory. The hereditary chief was killed, together with his friend Lord Lovat, and a great number of followers of each party. The next in succession considered as more deserving, was appointed to head the clan. In this battle, which took place in July 1544, the combatants threw off their jackets and vests, and fought in their shirts. From this circumstance it has been called Blar na Lein, the "Battle of the Shirts."] the descendants of the latter are still in existence. But, even when they did not resort to such severe measures, their chiefs were often successfully opposed.

[A son of a former Laird of Grant, known in tradition by the name of Laird Humphry, presented, in his conduct and fate, a striking illustration of the power occasionally exerted by the Elders of a clan. He was, in some respects, what the Highlanders admire,—handsome, courageous, open-hearted, and open-handed. But, by the indulgence of a weak and fond father, and the influence of violent and unrestrained passions, he became licentious and depraved, lost all respect for his father, and used to go about with a number of idle young men trained up to unbounded licentiousness. These dissolute youths visited in families, remained until every thing was consumed, and after every kind of riotous insult, removed to treat another in the same manner, till they became the pest and annoyance of the whole country. Laird Humphry had, in the meantime, incurred many heavy debts. The Elders of the clan bought up these debts, which gave them full power over him ; they then put him in prison in Elgin, where they kept him during the remainder of his life, leaving the management of the estate in the hands of his younger brother. The debts were made a pretext for confining him, the Elders not choosing to accuse him of various crimes of which he had been guilty, and the consciousness of which made him submit more quietly to the restraint.]

About the year 1460, the head of the family of Stewart of Garth was not only deprived of his authority by his friends and kindred, but confined for life on account of his ungovernable passions and ferocious disposition. The cell in the Castle of Garth in which he was imprisoned, was till lately regarded by the people with a kind of superstitious terror. This petty tyrant was nicknamed the "Fierce Wolf " perhaps from his being a character similar to that of his immediate predecessor Alaster Mor Mac in Rhi, the "Wolf of Badenoch," noticed in page 25; and if the traditionary stories related of him have any claim to belief, the appellation was both deserved and characteristic.

The clan M'Kenzie possessed such influence over their chief, the Earl of Seaforth, that they prevented him from demolishing Brahan Castle, the principal seat of the family. Some time previous to the year 1570 the Laird of Glenorchy, ancestor of the Earl of Breadalbane, resolved to build a castle on a small knoll, high upon the side of Lochtay, and accordingly laid the foundation, which is still to be seen. [At a short distance from the present hermitage at Taymouth.] This situation was not agreeable to his advisers, who interfered, and induced him to change his plan, and build the Castle of Balloch, or Taymouth. It must be confessed that the clan showed more taste than the Laird in fixing on a situation for the family mansion.

[This fact vindicates the taste of the chief from the reflections thrown out against it by all tourists, pretending to that faculty, who have uniformly blamed his choice of so low a situation. His memory would have escaped these reflections, had it been known that the choice was made in due respect to the will of the "Sovereign people," who said, that if he built his castle on the edge of his estate, which was the site they proposed, his successors must of necessity exert themselves to extend their property eastward among the Menzies's and Stewarts of Athole. This extension, however, was slow, for it was not till one hundred and seventy years afterwards, that the late Lord Breadalbane got possession of the lands close to Taymouth. But the present Earl has fulfilled the expectations of his ancient clan, by extending his estate eight miles to the eastward. Previous to this extension, so circumscribed was Lord Breadalbane, that the pleasure-grounds on the north bank of the Tay, as well as those to the eastward of the castle, were the property of gentlemen of the name of Menzies.

The son of Sir Colin Campbell, who built the Castle of Taymouth, pos-sessed seven castles, viz. Balloch or Taymouth, Finlarig, Edinample, Lochdochart, Culchurn, Achallader, and Barcaldine. Except Lochdochart, these were handsome edifices, and gave the name of Donach na Castail, or "Duncan of the Castles," to Sir Duncan Campbell, the Laird of Glenorchy and first Baronet of the family. He was also distinguished by the name of Duncan Dhu na curic, from his dark complexion, and the cap or cowl he constantly wore, instead of the bonnet, to which only the eyes of the people were in those days ac-customed. His picture, now in Taymouth, painted by Jamieson, the Scottish Vandyke, represents him in this black cap. He was a liberal patron of this artist, the most eminent of his day in Scotland. There are several specimens of his art in Taymouth. Sir Duncan Campbell also planted and laid out several of these noble avenues at Taymouth and Finlarig, which are now so ornamental, and show to how great a size trees grow even in those elevated glens.]

In this manner it required much kindness and condescension on the part of the chief to maintain his influence with his clan, who all expected to be treated with the affability and courtesy due to gentlemen. "And as the meanest among them," says the author of the Letters before mentioned, "pretended to be his relations by consanguinity, they insisted on the privilege of taking him by the hand wherever they met him. Concerning this last (he adds) I once saw a number of very discontented countenances, when a certain Lord, one of the chiefs, endeavoured to evade this ceremony. It was in the presence of an English gentleman, of high station, from whom he would willingly have concealed the knowledge of such seeming familiarity with slaves of wretched appearance; and thinking it, I suppose a kind of contradiction to what he had often boasted at other times, viz. his despotic power in his clan."

This condescension on the part of the chiefs gave a feeling of self-respect to the people, and contributed to produce that honourable principle of fidelity to superiors and to their trust which I have already noticed, and which was so generally and so forcibly imbibed, that the man who betrayed his trust was considered unworthy of the name which he bore, or of the kindred to which he belonged. This interesting feature in the character of the Scotch Mountaineers is well known; but it may be gratifying to notice a few more examples of the exercise of such an honourable principle amongst a race which has often been considered as ferocious and uncivilized.

Honour and firmness sufficient to withstand temptation may in general be expected in the higher classes of society; but the voluntary sacrifice of life and fortune is a species of self-devotion and heroism not often displayed even in the best societies. All who are acquainted with the events of the unhappy insurrection of 1745, must have heard of a young gentleman of the name of M'Kenzie, who had so remarkable a resemblance to Prince Charles Stuart, as to give rise to the mistake to which he cheerfully sacrificed his life, continuing the heroic deception to the last, and exclaiming, with his expiring breath, "Villains, you have killed your Prince!" Such an instance of heroic devotion would perhaps appear extravagant even in poetry or romance.

[The similarity of personal appearance was said to be quite remarkable. The young gentleman was sensible of this, and at different times endeavoured to divert the attention of the troops in pursuit of the fugitive prince to an opposite quarter of the mountains to that in which he knew Charles Edward was concealed after the battle of Culloden. This he effected by showing his person in such a way as that he could be seen, and then escaping by the passes or woods, through which he could not be quickly followed. On one occasion, he unexpectedly met with a party of troops, and immediately retired, intimating by his manner as he fled, that he was the object of their search; but his usual good fortune forsook him. The soldiers pursued with eagerness, anxious to secure the promised reward of L.30,000. Mackenzie was overtaken and shot, exclaiming, as he fell, in the words noticed above ; and it was not till the head was produced at the next garrison, for the purpose of claiming the reward, that the mistake was discovered.]

The late Macpherson of Cluny, father of Colonel Mac-pherson, chief of that clan, was engaged in the rebellion of 1745.* His life was, of course, forfeited to the laws, and much diligence was exerted to bring him to justice. But neither the hope of reward, nor the fear of danger, could induce any one of his people to betray him, or to remit their faithful services. He lived for nine years chiefly in a cave, at a short distance from his house, which was burnt to the ground by the king's troops. This cave was in the front of a woody precipice, the trees and shelving rocks completely concealing the entrance. It was dug out by his own people, who worked by night, and conveyed the stones and rubbish into a lake in the neighbourhood, in order that no vestige of their labour might betray the retreat of their master. In this sanctuary he lived secure, occasionally visiting his friends by night, or when time had slackened the rigour of the search. Upwards of one hundred persons knew where he was concealed, and a reward of L.1000 was offered to any one who should give information against him; and, as it was known that he was concealed on his estate, eighty men were constantly stationed there, besides the parties occasionally marching into the country, to intimidate his tenantry, and induce them to disclose the place of his concealment.

[It is honourable to the memory of a respectable lady to record the circumstances of Cluny's defection, which exaggerated his faults in the eyes of government, and furnished a motive for pursuing him with more determined hostility. He was, in that year, appointed to a company in Lord Loudon's Highlanders, and had taken the oaths to government. His clan were, however, impatient to join the adventurous descendant of their ancient sovereigns, when he came to claim what they supposed his right. While he hesitated between duty and inclination, his wife, a daughter of Lord Lovat, and a staunch Jacobite, earnestly dissuaded him from breaking his oath, assuring him that nothing could end well that began with perjury. His friends reproached her with interfering, and hurried on the husband to his ruin.]

But though the soldiers were animated with the hope of the reward, and though a step of promotion to the officer who should apprehend him was superadded, yet so true were his people, so strict to their promise of secrecy, [In a character of the Highlanders, drawn near 300 years ago, the author says, "As to their faith and promise, they hold it with great constancie."] and so dexterous in conveying to him the necessaries he required in his long confinement, that not a trace of him could be discovered, nor an individual found base enough to give a hint to his detriment.

[The late Sir Hector Munro, then a lieutenant in the 34th regiment, and, from his zeal, and knowledge of the country and the people, intrusted with the command of a large party, continued two whole years in Badenoch, for the purpose of discovering the chief's retreat. The unwearied vigilance of the clan could alone have saved him from the diligence of this party. At night Cluny came from his retreat to vary the monotony of his existence, by spending a few of the dark hours convivially with his friends. On one occasion, he had been suspected, and got out by a back window just as the military were breaking open the door. At another time, seeing the windows of a house kept close, and several persons going to visit the family after dark, the commander broke in at the window of the suspected chamber, with two loaded pistols, and thus endangered the life of a lady newly delivered of a child, on account of whose confinement these suspicious circumstances had taken place. This shows that there was no want of diligence on the part of the pursuers. Cluny himself became so cautious, while living the life of an outlaw, that, on parting with his wife, or his most attached friends, he never told them to which of his concealments he was going, or suffered any one to accompany him;—thus enabling them, when questioned, to answer, that they knew not where he was.]

At length, wearied out with this dreary and hopeless state of existence, and taught to despair of pardon, he escaped to France in 1755, and died there the following year.

It would be endless to adduce particular examples of fidelity often tried and never found to fail, in periods of the greatest civil commotion, when the interests and feelings of men were so often opposed to their duties, and when the whole frame of society was shattered by the contending factions. After the troubles of 1715 and 1745, although many thousands were forced to flee from their houses, and conceal themselves from the vengeance of government, very few instances of treachery occurred. The only persons who, on these occasions, sacrificed their honour to their interests, were some renegade Highlanders, who, having abjured their country, had lost along with it all its characteristic principles. This general feeling of honour, and standard of public virtue in the country, formed the surest pledge of the conduct of individuals. Of the many who knew of Prince Charles's places of concealment, was one poor man, who being asked why he did not give information, and enrich himself by the reward of L.30,000, answered, "Of what use would the money be to me? A gentleman might take it, and go to London or Edinburgh, where he would find plenty of people to eat the dinners, and drink the wine which it would purchase; but, as for me, if I were such a villain as to commit a crime like this, I could not remain in my own country, where nobody would speak to me, but to curse me as I passed along the road." No prohibitory law, no penal enactment, or abstract rule of morality, could have operated so powerfully on the mind, as a feeling of this sort.

[In those times of strife and trouble, instances that would fill a volume might be given of fidelity and unbroken faith. The following will show that this honourable feeling was common amongst the lowest and most ignorant. In the years 1746 and 1747, some of the gentlemen "who had been out" in the rebellion, were occasionally concealed in a deep woody den near my grandfather's house. A poor half-witted creature, brought up about the house, was, along with many others, intrusted with the secret of their concealment, and employed in supplying them with necessaries. It was supposed that when the troops came round on their usual searches, they would not imagine that he could be intrusted with so important a secret, and, consequently, no questions would be asked. One day two ladies, friends of the gentlemen, wished to visit them in their cave, and asked Jamie Forbes to show them the way. Seeing that they came from the house, and judging from their manner that they were friends, he did not object to their request, and walked away before them. When they had proceeded a short way, one of the ladies offered him five shillings. The instant he saw the money, he put his hands behind his back, and seemed to lose all recollection. "He did not know what they wanted;—he never saw the gentlemen, and knew nothing of them," and turning away, walked in a quite contrary direction. When questioned afterwards why he ran away from the ladies, he answered, that when they had offered him such a sum (five shillings were of some value eighty years ago, and would have purchased two sheep in the Highlands), he suspected they had no good intention, and that their fine clothes and fair words were meant to entrap him into a disclosure of the gentlemens' retreat.]

This sensibility to dishonour among their kindred and neighbours, guided and controlled the conduct of many, whose principles in other respects were not unimpeachable. In September 1746, Prince Charles Edward lay two days without food in the mountains of Lochaber. The inhabited parts of the country were full of troops, and Charles having moved to some distance from the place he had agreed on with his friends, they knew not where to send him supplies. In this extremity, he proposed to ask assistance from some men whom they had observed in the morning going into a hut or cave a short way from the place where he then was. He had only two attendants, Macdonell of Lochgarry, and an Irishman. The latter urged him not to trust men of their suspicious appearance; but he answered, that he had often reposed confidence in similar circumstances, and never had cause to repent it, and that he would now put these men to the proof. He then proceeded to the hut, and, on entering, found six men sitting round a stone, on which was placed a wooden plate with a piece of beef for their dinner.

The men, struck by his tall figure and appearance, with an old bonnet and a plaid flung across his shoulders, started up at his entrance, when one of them, who at once recognised him, cried out, "Oh Dougal Mahony," (pretending he knew him as one of the Prince's Irish followers,) "I am happy you are come so opportunely; sit down and take a share of our beef; I wish your master Prince Charles had as good." After they had dined, the Highlander led the Prince out of sight of his companions, and, throwing himself on his knees, begged pardon in the humblest manner for the freedom he had taken in addressing him as an Irishman; which, he stated, he did, because he knew not whether the Prince might desire to trust his companions. Charles answered, that he had no desire to conceal himself from them; however, the Highlander, more cautious, went and spoke to each of the men separately, informing them who their guest was, and that he expected they would be faithful to him. The instant every man was informed, he flew with eagerness to the Prince, and assured him that no reward, not all the kingdom of Scotland could give, would induce them to betray him,—a crime which would render them infamous, banish them for ever from their native country, and cause them to be disowned by their kindred and friends.

[He remained some time with these men, who supplied him with all the comforts they could command, and, among other things, plundered an officer's baggage to procure him a change of linen,—a luxury to which he had for some time been a stranger. This robbery made a noise at the time, and was frequently mentioned as an instance of the thievish disposition of the Highlanders.]

The implied punishment of treachery was a kind of outlawry or banishment from the beloved society, in which affection and good opinion were of such vital importance. Whilst the love of country and kindred, and dread of the infamy which inevitably followed treachery, acted thus powerfully, the superstitions of the people confirmed the one and strengthened the other. A noted freebooter, John Du Cameron, [See Appendix, H.] or the Sergeant Mor, as he was called, was apprehended by a party of Lieutenant Hector Monro's detachment, which had been removed from Badenoch to Rannoch in the year 1753. It was generally believed in the country, that this man was betrayed by a false friend, to whose house be had resorted for shelter in severe weather. The truth of this allegation, however, was never fully established. But the supposed treacherous friend was heartily despised; and having lost all his property by various misfortune.", he left the country in extreme poverty, although he rented from government a farm on advantageous terms, on the forfeited estate of Strowan. The favour shown him by government gave a degree of confirmation to the suspicions raised against him; and the firm belief of the people to this day is, that his misfortunes were a just judgment upon him for his breach of trust towards a person who had, without suspicion, reposed confidence in him.

Such were the principles which, without the restraints of law, gave a kind of chivalrous tone to the feelings of the people, and combined cordial affection and obedience to superiors, with that spirit of independence which disdained to yield submission to the unworthy. I have already noticed instances of the deposition of worthless chiefs:—the. following is a remarkable one of the desertion of a chief by his people. Powerful in point of influence and property, neither the one nor the other was able to act on his followers in opposition to what they considered their loyalty and duty to an unfortunate monarch. In the reign of King William, immediately after the Revolution, Lord Tullibardine, eldest son of the Marquis of Atholl, collected a numerous body of Athole Highlanders, together with three hundred Frasers, under the command of Hugh Lord Lovat, who had married a daughter of the Marquis. These men believed that they were destined to support the abdicated king, but were, in reality, assembled to serve the government of William. When in front of Blair Castle, their real destination was disclosed to them by Lord Tullibardine. Instantly they rushed from their ranks, ran to the adjoining stream of Banovy, and, filling their bonnets with water, drank to the health of King James; and then, with colours flying, and pipes playing, "fifteen hundred of the men of Athole, as reputable for arms as any in the kingdom," [General Mackay's Memoirs.] put themselves under the command of the Laird of Ballechin, and marched off to join Lord Dundee, whose chivalrous bravery, and heroic and daring exploits, had excited their admiration more than those of any other warrior since the days of Montrose. [In this instance, the paramount principle of loyalty triumphed over feudal influence.] They knew him not as the "Bloody Clavers" of the southern and western districts; on the contrary, to the Highlanders, he was always kind and condescending. Soon after this defection, the battle of Killicrankie, or of Renro-rie, (as the Highlanders call it), was fought, when one of those incidents occurred which were too frequent in turbulent times. Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel, with his clan, had joined Lord Dundee in the service of the abdicated king, while his second son, a captain in the Scotch Fusi-leers, was under General Mackay on the side of government. As the General was reconnoitring the Highland army drawn up on the face of a hill, a little above the house of Urrard, and to the westward of the great Pass, he turned round to young Cameron, who stood next to him, and, pointing to the Camerons, "There," said he, "is your father with his wild savages; how would you like to be with him?" "It signifies little," replied the other, "what I would like; but I recommend it to you to be prepared, or perhaps my father and his wild savages may be nearer to you before night than you would like." And so it happened. Dundee delayed his attack "till," according to an eyewitness, "the sun's going down, when the Highlandmen advanced on us like madmen, without shoes or stockings, covering themselves from our fire with their targets. At last they cast away their muskets, drew their broadswords, and advanced furiously upon us, broke us, and obliged us to retreat; some fled to the water, some another way."

[The author of the Memoirs of Lord Dundee, speaking of this battle, says, " Then the Highlanders fired, threw down their fusils, rushed in with sword, target, and pistol, upon the enemy, who did not maintain their ground two minutes after the Highlanders were amongst them; and I dare be bold to say, there were scarce ever such strokes given in Europe, as were given that day by the Highlanders. Many of General Mackay's officers and soldiers were cut down through the skull and neck to the very breast; others had skulls cut off above their ears, like night-caps; some soldiers had both their bodies and cross-belts cut through at one blow; pikes and small swords were cut like willows; and whoever doubts of this, may consult the witnesses of the tragedy."]

In short, the charge was like a torrent, and the route complete; but Dundee fell early in the attack.

[It has generally been believed that Lord Dundee was killed at the close of the action; but the following extract of a letter from James VII. to Stewart of Ballechin, who commanded the Atholemen after their desertion from Lord Tullibardine, shows that he fell early.

"From our Court at Dublin Castle, the last day of'
"James R. November 1689, and the fifth year of our reign.

"The news we have received of the brave Viscount Dundee's death has most sincerely affected us. But we are resolved, by extraordinary marks of favour, to make his family conspicuous, when the world may see lasting honours and happiness are to be acquired by the brave and loyal. What he has so happily begun, and you so successfully maintained, by a thorough defeat of your enemies, we shall not doubt a generous prosecution of, when we consider that the Highland loyalty is inseparably annexed to the persons of their kings: Nor no ways fear the event, whilst the justice of our cause shall be seconded by so many bold and daring assertors of our royal right. If their courage and yours, and the rest of the commanders under you, were not steady, the loss you had in a General you loved and confided in, at your entrance into action, with so great inequality of numbers, were enough to baffle you; but you have showed yourselves above surprise, and given us proof that we are, in a great measure, like to owe the re-establishment of our monarchy to your valour. We are therefore resolved to send immediately our Right Trusty the Earl of Seaforth, to head his friends and followers; and as soon as the season will permit the shipping of horse, our beloved natural son, the Duke of Berwick, with considerable succours, will be sent to your assistance." * * *

Addressed "To our Trusty and well beloved
Cousin, Stewart of Ballechan,']

The consternation occasioned by the death of the General prevented an immediate pursuit through the great Pass. Had they been closely followed, and had a few men been placed at the southern entrance, not a man of the king's troops would have escaped. This uninterrupted retreat caused General Mackay to conclude, that some misfortune had befallen Lord Dundee. "Certainly," said he, "Dundee has been killed, or I should not thus be permitted to retreat."

The 21st, or Scotch Fusileers, was on the left of General Mackay's front line, Hastings' and Leslie's (now the 13th and 15th) regiments in the centre, and Lord Leven's (now the 25th) on the right; the whole consisting of two regiments of cavalry, and nine battalions or detachments of infantry, the strength of which is not particularly specified. After the right of the line had given way, the regiments on the centre and left (the left being covered by the river Garry, and the right by a woody precipice below the House of Urrard) stood their ground, and for a short time withstood the shock of the Highlanders' charge with the broadsword; but at length they gave way on all sides. Hastings' fled through the pass on the north side. The Fusileers, dashing across the river, were followed by the Highlanders, one party of whom pressed on their rear, while the others climbed up the hills on the side of the pass, and, having expended their ammunition, rolled down stones, and killed several of the soldiers before they recrossed the river at Invergarry. This was the only attempt to pursue.

[In this battle Lochiel was attended by the son of his foster-brother. This faithful adherent followed him like his shadow, ready to assist him with his sword, or cover him from the shot of the enemy. Soon after the battle began, the chief missed his friend from his side, and, turning round to look what had become of him, saw him lying on his back, with his breast pierced by an arrow He had hardly breath before he expired to tell Lochiel, that seeing an enemy, a Highlander in General Mackay's army, aiming at him with a bow and arrow from the rear, he sprung behind him, and thus sheltered him from instant death. This is a species of duty perhaps not often practised by aid-de-camps.]


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