A HIGHLANDER’S glory and
felicity consisted in the extent of his fold, and the number of his
He could never have too many
children, or too many cows; however great the difficulty might be of
rearing the first to maturity, or providing winter fodder for the last.
But to parade either one’s cows, or one’s children, in any unnecessary
display, or for a stranger to make any remark on the abundance of them, is
by no means safe.
Of this superstition
numberless instances might be given. Of these, the most signalised which I
recollect derives interest from the royal and beautiful personage
concerned in it; it is said to have happened when Queen Mary made that
memorable excursion to the North, which proved so fatal to the Gordons.
She stayed for some days at
Inverness, in the castle (so well known as the scene of King Duncan’s
murder), and received there the homage of all the neighbouring gentry and
There lived at that time in
Ross-shire a wealthy and powerful family of the name of Monro, whose title
I do not remember.
The laird had been attending
his sovereign with all due loyalty on her expedition. The lady had twelve
sons, and twelve daughters, many
of whom were married, or otherwise detached from the family.
She was at much pains, however, in collecting them,
wherever they were dispersed, to adorn her train, in the presence of
The sons were all dressed in "Lincoln green," the
wonted costume of knights and hunters, and led the procession in gallant
array, mounted upon sable steeds. Next, their mother, decked no doubt in
her best array, followed attended by her daughters, attired in white, and
mounted on horses of the same colour. This goodly train was ushered into
the royal presence, after being duly announced. The matron, dropping on
one knee, made obeisance, and told her sovereign she had here brought
twelve squires and twelve damsels, ready to devote themselves to her
service. The queen started from her seat, overwhelmed with astonishment
and admiration, and cried, "Madam, ye sud tak this chair, ye best deserve
it." After this exclamation, the ceremonial was properly adjusted, and the
family returned home, enchanted with the grace and loveliness of their
accomplished sovereign. It was, however, remarked, that from that day they
were never again seen together, and that this imprudent mother was the sad
survivor of the far greater number of the children thus rashly exhibited.