Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

put

breathed with hope and expectation; but in a few minutes all was lulled into certainty by the appearance of Jack himself, who, without allowing me time to speak a word, which I much wished, to the old woman, hurried me to the boat, and jumping in after me, pulled away with all his strength, seconded by the other man, as if life depended on it. In about two hours or more we arrived on board a small sloop, which had lain-to for us; and the skipper, a Dutchman, who spoke good French, l'eceived me with much civility, bidding me, however, be quick. Jack accompanied me into the cabin, and in a few words--for no time was to be lost-acquainted me the vessel was one in which he was concerned, and had run a valuable cargo not far off; that the skipper readily consented to receive me on board, and had watched a favourable moment~communicated by signals from the shore to run in and take me off. The master of the vessel having several times called to us to make haste, I satisfied the faithful fellow for his services to the utmost of his wishes, to which I added a guinea for the old woman, and another for his son; and going upon deck, shook him heartily by the hand, and badé him farewell--he and his boy waving their caps several times to me as they pulled away to the shore. We immediately

the vessel about; and having the advantage of a favourable breeze, we soon lost sight of the cliffs and coast of Norfolk-the last object in England which struck my sight being the fluttering and revolving blaze of Cromer lighthouse; and this, too, having faded in the distance, I retired to the cabin, where the skipper was sitting with his mate over a good and capacious can of grog, of which they invited me to partake. At their request. I related the heads of my escape, and they flattered me with the hopes of soon being at home. "Notwithstanding the perilous voyage of a smuggling .cutter, we met with nothing worth narrating, except being several times chased by English vessels, and having once narrowly escaped running aground by keeping too close inshore, to avoid the smaller cruisers of the enemy. On the evening of the second day we arrived in safety in the Texel, when I paid my friend the skipper ten louis-d'ors for my passage, and gave five more to be divided amongst the crew.

Little more now remains for me to say. Immediately on landing I wrote home the news of my escape; and the next morning started for Paris, where I was detained a day by the commands of the minister of the marine, to whom I rendered all the information in my, power; and without losing another moment, took my place in the diligence for Marseilles, where I arrived in safety, and the next minute was in the embraces of my dear and beloved parents.*

* The above narrative, which is a transiation from the French, appeared a number of years ago, and has been obligingly placed at our disposal by the proprietor. We believe we are warranted in saying that it is in every particular true.

ROB ROY AND THE CLAN MACGREGOR.

HE Highlands of

Scotland, as is geSa large mountainous

nerally known, form territory in the northwestern division of the kingdom, and have from time immemorial been inhabited by a Celtic people, differing in manners, dress, and language from their Lowland or Anglo-Saxon neighbours. A very remarkable peculiarity among the Highlanders was their system of clanship. The country was parcelled out into a number of little territories, each inhabited by a clan; that is, by a few

hundreds, or a few thousands of persons, all bearing the same name, and all believed to be sprung from the same stock; and each territory was governed by the chief of the clan, under the guidance of certain established customs and traditional maxims. The government was one of pure affection. The meanest clansman, while he venerated his chief, believed at the same time that the blood which flowed in his chief's veins was the same as that which flowed in his own; and the chief, on the other hand, while his power was all but absolute, was expected to clasp the hand of the poorest man in the clan when he met him, and at all times to treat him with dignity and respect, as a scion of the same race as himself.

At the middle of the eighteenth century there were about forty distinct clans in the Highlands, some of them numerous and powerful, others small and weak. In general, each clan occupied a defined tract of country: thus the west of Sutherlandshire was the country” of the Mackays; the west of Ross and the island of Lewis the "country" of the Mackenzies; Argyleshire the “country” of the Campbells; and so on. In the districts adjoining the Lowlands, the territories of the respective clans appear to have latterly been less precisely marked, as if the various tribes, by their mutual collisions, had been partially

No. 117.

[graphic]

1

broken up and intermingled with each other. Thus, beginning at the Firth of Clyde, and proceeding along the line dividing the Highlands from the Lowlands, we find Colquhouns, Buchanans, Macfarlanes, Macgregors, Maclarens, Maclachlans, Grahams, Stewarts, Drummonds, Murrays, Menzieses, Roberto sons, Ogilvies, Farquharsons, either occupying small patches of territory, or so mixed together that they cannot be separated. Besides being split up by collisions, the clans in this quarter suffered unquestionably from the pressure of the Lowland settlers, and the grants made of their lands to favourite retainers of the Scottish monarchs. The Macgregors, whose settlement was the district north of Loch Lomond, were one of these maltreated frontier clans.

ORIGIN AND EARLY HISTORY OF THE MACGREGORS-THEIR

SUFFERINGS AS A CLAN.

Chroniclers tell us that in the year 831, at the time when the Picts and Scots were contending for the mastery of the northern part of the island, there was a king of the latter people called Alpin. His son was Kenneth II., or Kenneth Macalpine, who, after conquering the Picts, reigned over the joint races of the Scots and Picts. He had a son Gregor or Gregory, who, in the Gaelic fashion, would be called Gregor Mackenneth Macalpine; and it is from this person that the Macgregors claim their descent. This claim of the Macgregors to an ancient and royal descent, forms the burden of two Gaelic rhymes referring to the clan; one of which runs thus—“ Hills, waters, and Macalpines, are the three oldest things in Albion;" and the other asserts the hereditary claim of the Macgregors to the Scottish throne. Being of so illustrious a lineage, the Macgregors, although excluded by circumstances from the throne on which their progenitors had sat, were naturally in early times one of the most considerable families in the kingdom. They had originally very extensive estates in Argyleshire and Perthshire, measuring in one direction from Loch Rannoch to Loch Lomond, and in another from Loch Etive to Taymouth. The seat of the principal branch of the family was Glenurchy, in the district of Lorn.

One of the first authentic notices of the Macgregors of Glenurchy is during the period of the struggle for independence against Edward I. of England. In 1296, John Macgregor of Glenurchy was made prisoner by Edward at the battle of Dunbar, where the fortunes of Baliol and the Scottish nation were shattered; and in the list of the prisoners, this Macgregor is styled one of the Magnates of Scotland. His lands and his liberty were afterwards restored to him by the conqueror, on condition of his going over to France to assist in the war which the English were then carrying on with that kingdom. It is probable that he returned to Scotland towards the close of the stormy period, 1297–1306, and lived on his property of Glenurchy. In this last-mentioned year, 1306, Robert Bruce, after killing his rival John Cumin, assumed the Scottish crown; but not being able to cope with the English forces then in Scotland, and disowned by a large faction of the Scottish nobles, he had to quit his kingdom, and seek refuge in Ireland. Passing through the Highlands, the fugitive king was attacked and pursued by the Lord of Lorn, who had married Cumin's sister; and as the king in his flight passed through the territory of the Macgregors, it is probable that they assisted Lorn on this occasion. When, therefore, King Robert had seated himself firmly on the throne, he remembered the injury he had suffered at the hands of the Macgregors, and inflicted a severe punishment for it, by depriving the clan of a great part of its ancient possessions.

The commencement of a long series of misfortunes and persecutions dates from the time of Robert Bruce. Rendered weak, and at the same time fierce and disaffected, by the loss of so large a portion of their possessions in this king's reign, they resented, but could not resist the encroachments which, in these lawless times, their neighbours tried to make on the portion which still remained. While other more loyal clans secured their possessions by written charters from the king, the Macgregors scorned to retain theirs by any other right than the right of the sword; and hence, year after year, they found their territory diminishing, eaten into, as it were, on all sides by the cupidity of their neighbours. The “greedy." Campbells, as the enemies of this powerful and distinguished clan used spitefully to nickname it, were the neighbours from whose aggressions on their property the Macgregors suffered most; and early in the fifteenth century, Glenurchy passed finally out of the possession of the Macgregors into that of the Campbells. Accordingly, in a charter of the date 1442, we find the title of “Glenurchy” applied to Sir Colin Campbell, a younger son of Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochawe.

The Macgregors were now a landless clan. But although deprived of all legal right to their ancient possessions, they were too numerous and powerful to be actually driven off the face of the lands in Perthshire and Argyleshire which they occupied. They accordingly continued to reside on them nominally in the capacity of tenants either of the crown or of some neighbouring clan chief, such as Campbell of Glenurchy, but really as independently as if they still were their own landlords. The legal title, however, having once been alienated from the Macgregors, they became a doomed race, subject to annoyances and persecutions at the hands of every one.

Of so little consideration were they, along with other broken clans, that it was customary for the Scottish government, in the fifteenth century, to reward

3

noblemen of tried loyalty by bestowing on them portions of the unreclaimed crown lands in the Highlands, with all the uncivilised natives upon them, whether Macdonalds, or Macnabs, or Macgregors. As the fortunate nobleman who obtained such a grant required to subdue or extirpate the natives before he could take possession of their lands, such a measure in these rude times was shrewd and politic; it was employing the griping spirit and fierce passions of the nobility to extend civilisation and preserve order in the kingdom. The task, however, of subduing or extirpating the native Highlanders was long, tedious, and occasionally impossible. The Macgregors, especially, seem to have been inextinguishable. Remaining doggedly and resolutely in their native glens, they cared little who was called their landlord, whether he were the king, or only a Campbell; and every attempt to exercise a landlord's rights met with a stern resistance. Sometimes acting on the defensive, and attacking any party which might enter into their territories for a hostile purpose-sometimes acting on the offensive, invading the territories of their foes in turn, burning their houses, and carrying off their cattle, the Macgregors soon acquired the reputation of being one of the most intractable and unruly clans in the Highlands. Hence it became a standing question with the Scottish government-How shall we clear the country of these Macgregors ?

Probably, if the seat of the clan had been farther north, their wild and lawless conduct would have attracted less notice. But that such a clan should continue to exist, and to commit its outrages on the very borders of the Lowlands, within a few miles of royal residences and courts of justice, seemed to be a disgrace to any set of men intrusted with the government of a country. So at least thought the Scottish authorities of the fifteenth century; for in the rudest times the ideas of justice, order, and good government are always familiar to public functionaries. The whole resources of the police of that period were therefore employed against the Macgregors. We have already shown in what these consisted-in stirring up clan against clan, in making. the passions and the interests of one clan, pledged to the cause of order, clash with those of another reputedly disloyal.

The Campbells were the great enemies of the Macgregors during the fifteenth century. Favoured by grants from the kings, and by their own strong “ acquisitiveness,” they pushed themselves not only into Glenurchy, but farther east still-through Breadalbane as far as the banks of Loch Tay-ploughing their way, as it were, through the Macgregors, and casting the remnant of that doomed clan up on both sides, like the ridges of earth made by a plough. The Macgregors now, instead of being a whole and unbroken population, were divided into two separate tribes or masses, the one inhabiting the banks of Loch Rannoch and the north of Glenurchy, the other living in the immediate neighbourhood of Loch Lomond, in the districts of Glenfalloch and

4

« AnteriorContinuar »