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felix both bella gerere et nubere. * John Breck Macleod, † the grandfather of the late laird, began to repair the castle, or rather, to complete it: but he did not live to finish his undertaking. Not doubting, however, that he should do it, he, like those who have had their epitaphs written before they died, ordered the following inscription, composed by the minister of the parish, to be cut upon a broad stone above one of the lower windows, where it still remains to celebrate what was not done, and to serve as a' momento of the uncertainty of life, and the presumption of man:
" Joannes Macleod, Beganoduni Dominus, gentis suæ Philarchus, Durinesiæ Haraiæ Vaternesiæ, &c. ; Baro D. Floræ Macdonald matrimoniali vinculo conjugatus turrem hanc Beganodunensem proavorum habitaculum longe vetustissimum diu penitus labefectatam, anno æræ vulgaris MDCLXXXVI instruavit.
"Quem stabilire juvat proavorum tecta vetusta,
Inque casas humiles tecta superba nefas." * Fortunate, both in war and marriage. The allusion is to the well-known epigram on the policy of Austria in obtaining by marriage what other kingdoms could only gain by war:
Bella gerant alii: tu, felix Austria, nube :
Nam quæ Mars aliis, dat tibi regna Venus." Austria became possessed of two kingdoms, besides archduchies, principalities, countships, and lordships, all by these fortunate marriages.-ED.
+ John Breachd Macleod, spotted or speckled; thus breachdan is the Gaelic name for a plaid. Another of the Macleods, as we have seen, was called Alastair Crotach Macleod; or Alexander the Hump-backed. Such appellations are common in the history of Highland families, as Donald Dhu, Black Donald; Rob Roy, Red Rob, &c. One of the Campbells, Sir Duncan Campbell, of Lochow, is known as Donacha Dhu nan Charraichd, or Black Duncan with the Cowl. A character well known in Highland story, Allan Breck Stewart, the assassin of Campbell of Glenure, factor for Government on the forfeited estates of Stewart of Ardshiel, received his appellation of Breck in consequence of his complexion being remarkably freckled.—ED.
* Mr. Macaulay remarks (“Essays," p. 161) that Philarchus, in the above inscription, is obviously a false spelling for Phylarchus, the chief of a tribe. The inscription may be rendered,“ John Macleod, lord of Dunvegan, Harris, and Vaternish, &c., united in marriage to Flora Macdonald, restored, in the year of the vulgar era, 1686, his Tower of Dunvegan, long the very ancient abode of his ancestors, which had fallen utterly into decay.
He who his old ancestral ruined halls
Delights to renovate and build secure,
And shun each glittering snare, each faithless lure.
And impious Vice the loftiest towers debase." Johnson does not notice the pompous heraldic inscription, but remarks that the grandfather of the young chief began to repair the old tower, but soon desisted, and applied his money to worse uses. The young chief himself inflicted as severe a blow on the family by the sale of the estate of Harris, five years after the period of Johnson's visit. The renovation of the Castle of Dunvegan has been accomplished, as we have stated, by the late and present Macleod, and the woods, gardens, and shrubberies continue to flourish in defiance of the sea-breezes.-ED.
Macleod and Talisker accompanied us. We passed by the parish church of Durinish. The church-yard is not inclosed, but a pretty, murmuring brook runs along one side of it. In it is a pyramid, erected to the memory of Thomas Lord Lovat, by his son Lord Simon, who suffered. on Tower-hill. It is of freestone, and, I suppose, about thirty feet high. There is an inscription on a piece of white marble inserted in it, which I suspect to have been the composition of Lord Lovat himself, being much in his pompous style :-
“ This pyramid was erected by Simon Lord Fraser, of Lovat, in honour of Lord Thomas, his father, a peer of Scotland, and chief of the great and ancient clan of the Frasers. Being attacked for his birth-right by the family of Atholl, then in power and favour with King William, yet, by the valour and fidelity of his clan, and the assistance of the Campbells, the old friends and allies of his family, he defended his birth-right with such greatness and fermety (Fr. fermeté] of soul, and such valour and activity, that he was an honour to his name, and a good pattern to all brave chiefs of clans. He died in the month of May, 1699, in the 63rd year of his age, in Dunvegan, the house of the Laird of Macleod, whose sister he had married : by whom he had the above Simon Lord Fraser, and several other children. And, for the great love he bore to the family of Macleod, he desired to be buried near his wife's relations, in the place where two of her uncles lay. And his son, Lord Simon, to show to posterity his great affection for his mother's kindred, the brave Macleods, chooses rather to leave his father's bones with them, than carry them to his own burial-place, near Lovat.”
I have preserved this inscription, though of no great value, thinking it characteristical of a man who has made some noise in the world. Dr. Johnson said it was poor stuff, such as Lord Lovat's butler might have written.*
I observed, in this church-yard, a parcel of people assembled at a funeral, before the grave was dug. The coffin, with the corpse in it, was placed on the ground, while the people alternately assisted in making a grave. One man, at a little distance, was busy cutting a long turf for it, with the crooked spade which is used in Sky; a very awkward instrument. The iron part of it is like a ploughcoulter; it has a rude tree for a handle, in which a wooden pin is placed for the foot to press upon. A traveller might, without further inquiry, have set this down as the mode of burying in Sky.
* It no longer remains to amuse or offend the traveller. The obelisk is in a very dilapidated state, and the marble tablet containing the inscription fell down some time ago. The fragments were removed to the grounds near Dunvegan Castle.-ED.
I was told, however, that the usual way is to have a grave previously dug.
I observed to-day, that the common way of carrying home their grain here is in loads, on horse-back. They have also a few sleds, or cars, as we call them in Ayrshire, clumsily made, and rarely used.
We got to Ulinish about six o'clock, and found a very good farmhouse, of two stories. Mr. Macleod of Ulinish, the sheriff-substitute of the island, was a plain, honest gentleman, a good deal like an English justice of peace; not much given to talk, but sufficiently sagacious, and somewhat droll. His daughter, though she was never out of Sky, was a very well-bred woman. Our reverend friend, Mr. Donald Macqueen, kept his appointment, and met us here.
Talking of Phipps's voyage to the North Pole, Dr. Johnson observed, that it was conjectured that our former navigators have kept too near land, and so have found the sea frozen far north, because the land hinders the free motion of the tide ; but, in the wide ocean, where the waves tumble at their full convenience, it is imagined that the frost does not take effect.”
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22. In the morning I walked out, and saw a ship, the Margaret of Clyde, pass by with a number of emigrants on board. It was a melancholy sight.--After breakfast, we went to see what was called a subterraneous house, about a mile off. It was upon the side of a rising ground. It was discovered by a fox's having taken up his abode in it, and in chasing him they dug into it. It was very narrow and low, and seemed about forty feet in length. Near it, we found the foundations of several small huts, built of stone.—Mr. Macqueen, who is always for making everything as ancient as possible, boasted that it was the dwelling of some of the first inhabitants of the island, and observed, what a curiosity it was to find here a specimen of the houses of the aborigines, which, he believed, could be found no where else ; and it was plain that they lived without fire.--Dr. Johnson remarked that they who made this were not in the rudest state; for that it was more difficult to make it, than to build a house; therefore, certainly those who made it were in possession of houses, and had this only as a hiding-place. It appeared to me, that the vestiges of houses, just by it, confirmed Dr. Johnson's opinion.
From an old tower, near this place, is an extensive view of Loch Bracadale, and, at a distance, of the isles of Barra and South Uist; and on the land side, the Cuillin, a prodigious range of mountains, capped with rocky pinnacles, in a strange variety of shapes. They resemble the mountains near Corté, in Corsica, of which there is a very good
print. They make part of a great range for deer, which, though entirely devoid of trees, is, in these countries, called a forest. *
In the afternoon, Ulinish carried us in his boat to an island possessed by him, where we saw an immense cave, much more deserving the title of antrum immane than that of the Sybil, described by Virgil, which I likewise have visited. It is 180 feet long, about 30 feet broad, and at least 30 feet high. This cave, we were told, had a remarkable echo, but we found none. They said it was owing to the great rains having made it damp. Such are the excuses by which the exaggeration of Highland narratives is palliated. There is a plentiful garden at Ulinish (a great rarity in Sky), and several trees;
and near the house is a hill, which has an Erse name, signifying " the hill of strife," where, Mr. Macqueen informed us, justice was of old administered. It is like the mons placiti of Scone, or those hills which are called laws; such as Kelly law, North Berwick kaw, and several others. It is singular that this spot should happen row to be the sheriff's residence.
We had a very cheerful evening, and Dr. Johnson talked a good deal on the subject of literature.—Speaking of the noble family of Boyle, he said, that all the Lords Orrery, till the present, had been writers. The first wrote several plays; the second was Bentley's antagonist; the third wrote the “ Life of Swift," and several other things; his son Hamilton wrote some papers in the “Adventurer” and World.” He told us he was well acquainted with Swift's “ Lord Orrery.” He said he was a feeble-minded man ; that, on the publication of Dr. Delany's “Remarks” on his book, he was so much alarmed that he was afraid to read them. Dr. Johnson comforted him, by telling him they were both in the right; that Delany had seen most of the good side of Swift, Lord Orrery most of the bad.—Macleod asked if it was not wrong in Orrery to expose the defects of a man with whom he lived in intimacy.JOHNSON. Why no, sir, after the man is dead; for then it is done historically."* He added, “ If Lord Orrery had been rich, he would have been a very liberal patron. His conversation was like his writing, neat and elegant, but without strength. He grasped at more than his abilities could reach: tried to pass for a better talker, a better writer, and a better thinker than he was.. There was a quarrel between him and his father, in which his father was to blame; because it arose from the son’s not allowing his wife to keep company with his father's mistress. The old lord showed his resentment in his will; leaving his library from his son, and assigning, as his reason, that he could not make use of it.”
* Thus Ettrick Forest retains the name, though only a range of mountainous sheepwalks. They had all been partially wooded at some former period. “A deer forest,'' Bays Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, in his Notes to Gilpin," is a very different thiøg from a forest of trees. The term implies no more than a very large tract of wild country, set apart for red deer, and where the princely sport of hunting, or rather of stalking, that noble animal may be enjoyed in perfection." A passion for this sport has of late sprung up among our noblemen and gentry. Deer forests in the Highlands are let for large sums; moors for grouse-shooting are also let during the season; and from these sources some proprietors now derive a greater income than the whole estates brought a hundred years since. Nor is it likely that any alteration, or even the aboZition of the game-laws, will affect the Northern proprietors. Deer do pot come within the statute; grouse are not to be found in corn-fields; and ptarmigan do not frequent baronial woods. No one but the rural improver and drainer will drive the deer and grouse away, and their operations are very slow when thus counteracted by another interest.-ED.
I mentioned the affectation of Orrery, in ending all his letters on the Life of Swift in studied varieties of phrase, and never in the common mode of, “ I am,” &c.; an observation, which I remember to have been made several years ago by old Mr. Sheridan. This species of affectation in writing, as a foreign lady of distinguished talents once remarked to me, is almost peculiar to the English. I took up a volume of Dryden, containing the “ Conquest of Granada," and several other plays, of which all the dedications had such studied conclusions. Dr. Johnson said such conclusions were more elegant, and, in addressing persons of high rank (as when Dryden dedicated to the Duke of York), they were likewise more respectful. I agreed that there it was much better; it was making his escape from the royal presence with a genteel sudden timidity, in place of having the resolution to stand still, and make a formal bow.t
* Orrery stands in a worse position than most biographers of this class; for he had paid servile court to Swift while alive, and vilified his memory after death, not only by exposing his personal defects, but by unfounded assertions respecting his birth, parentage, &c. Swift's opinion of his noble biographer is sufficiently indicated by the fact that he left among his papers a letter from Lord Orrery unopened, and endorsed, “This will keep cool.” It is not improbable, as conjectured by Scott, that this touch of caustic humour may have been the cause of Lord Orrery's ungenerous and unfair treatment of Swift. -ED.
+ Dryden's “Epistles Dedicatory” are models of the adulatory style. He invests his patrons indiscriminately with every virtue under heaven; and in lauguage that for ease, spirit, and variety, has never yet been excelled. The character of the Duke of York (James II.) is familiar to most readers since Mr. Macaulay published his history;. yet Dryden addresses him in the following strain :
“I make my last appeal to your Royal Highness as to a sovereign tribunal. Heroes should only be judged by heroes, because they only are capable of measuring great and heroic actions by the rule and standard of their own. If Almanzor has failed in any point of honour, I must therein acknowledge that he deviates from your Royal Highness, who are the pattern of it. But if at any time he fulfils the parts of personal valour, and of conduct of a soldier, and of a general; or, if I could yet give him a. character more advantageous than what he has of the most unshaken friend, the greatest of subjects, and the best of masters, I should draw all the world a true resemblance of your worth and virtues ; at least, as far as they are capable of being copied by the mean abilities of, Sir, your Royal Highness's most humble and most obedient Servant, Johx DRYDEN."