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Balquhidder by James MacGregor

The following account of Balquhidder by the Rev. James MacGregor on his visit from New Zealand in 1876 has been taken from the The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 46. Grateful thanks to Hilton MacLaurin for bringing it to my attention.

James MacGregor was born on 6 January 1829 in Callander, in the Gaelic-speaking area of Perthshire, Scotland. He and his twin brother were the last of 10 children born to Duncan MacGregor, a builder, and his wife, Helen Macpherson. After attending the parish school, he was educated at the University of Edinburgh, completing an MA in 1851 and his theological course at New College, Edinburgh, in 1855. He then became assistant minister at Uddingston, near Glasgow. On 7 July 1857, at Callander, he married Grace Campbell Maclean. The same year he was called to the Free Church in Barry, Forfarshire, where, about 1861, he wrote Christian doctrine, a skilful popularisation of Calvinist theology.

In 1861 MacGregor became minister of the Free High Church, Paisley, where he was involved in controversy over sabbath observance with Dr Norman Macleod of Glasgow; he demonstrated theological abilities of a high order in his defence of classical Calvinism. In 1868 he was inducted to a theological chair at New College in Edinburgh, and in 1871 was awarded a DD by the university. His teaching was influential and between 1877 and 1881 he played an important part in defending Professor William Robertson Smith of Aberdeen, whose article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica on the Bible had drawn on recent continental scholarship.

The ill health of their children persuaded the MacGregors to emigrate to New Zealand, and they arrived on the Jessie Readman in 1881. James MacGregor became the first minister of Columba Presbyterian Church, Oamaru, on 23 March 1882. He made a lasting impression throughout Otago because of his remarkable gifts. He had a rugged strength of personality and could be a formidable controversialist. Corresponding widely with overseas theologians, he played an important part in debates in internationally read journals, as well as writing frequently for local newspapers and religious periodicals. In addition to polemical tracts, he wrote a commentary on Exodus and a notable apologetical trilogy which enhanced his reputation internationally. For his family, he wrote poetry and droll letters.

MacGregor fought for a variety of conservative causes in the Synod of the Presbyterian Church of Otago and Southland and in the columns of the New Zealand Presbyterian: he opposed union with the northern Presbyterian church, deplored attempts to weaken the authority of the Westminster Confession of Faith, and in his 1888 pamphlet, The day of salvation, led the attack on Professor William Salmond's The reign of grace. He was deeply interested in land reform and was very active in educational issues, wanting New Zealand's youth to have the same opportunities for education as he had had.

However, James MacGregor was not concerned exclusively with church affairs. The opening of Waitaki High School for boys in 1883 led the Otago Education Board to decide that the existing Oamaru District High School would lose its secondary element. Access to secondary education for girls would thus be restricted; MacGregor campaigned against the new school for this reason, and because of its exclusive nature. In 1884 he was elected to the Otago Education Board which, in 1886, appointed him to the board of governors of Waitaki High School. He successfully petitioned Parliament for a commission of inquiry into secondary education in North Otago; the commission found in favour of the high school and MacGregor's campaign ended. Waitaki Girls' High School was established in 1887, and two of his daughters were later dux. MacGregor was also very active in the campaign for the introduction of the Bible into schools, for he believed that faith was the foundation for rationality.

MacGregor's work as a minister was hampered by the debt on the fine new Columba Presbyterian Church which was opened on 15 June 1883; it was to seat 800 but only 189 sittings were let. Oamaru did not grow as expected, economic depression hit and in 1888 MacGregor's stipend was cut from £300 to £250. Nevertheless, he gathered a fiercely loyal congregation whose members were very active in the town's life. He could play very effectively on Scottish patriotism and was an active member of the Gaelic Society in Dunedin, yet was deeply committed to the British Empire as a divinely appointed agent for Christian civilisation. Like many Presbyterian ministers he combined conscientious commitment to Scripture with a willingness to support many liberal reforms, although he stopped short of socialism.

James MacGregor was, in his time, the best-known Presbyterian theologian in Australasia. After a stroke, he died in Oamaru on 8 October 1894 and was buried there at a large funeral. He was survived by his wife, six daughters and a son.

Balquhidder, Rob Roy,
Sketch suggested by a recent visit by the Rev. James MacGregor, D.D., Oamaru.

This paper was prepared as a stop-gap, in place of an address about Perthshire by Dr Stuart. I have thought it best to send it to the Press without material alteration. Hence I retain the form of (colloquial) address to the Gaelic Society of Dunedin:—

I must begin with answering the question, everywhere meeting me, How do you like this Colony?—Immensely. All that I see strikes me at once with wonder and with delight. I am especially struck, so that I can hardly believe my eyes, by the maturity and completeness of things here, in town and country. But I am more deeply impressed by the conditions affecting the permanent prosperity of a community. Yours is truly "a good land," in the sense in which that description was applied to Palestine of old. The Bible text in which the phrase occurs is a singularly appropriate description of the Middle Island. You have the vast advantage of having had a very high class of original settlers here. The public institutions have at the foundation of them a large amount of generous wisdom. A Scotchman of the old school sees with delight, here realised for the first time in history, John Knox's idea of national education. The face of Nature hereabouts is enchantingly beautiful and picturesque. Your New Edinburgh is no unworthy name-daughter of the old Scottish Dunedin. If only the people of the land be good, and this be in a real sense a holy land, it is well fitted to be a happy land—a new land of song.

In this "basket of silver" a Gaelic society is an "apple of gold." It not only encourages to the study of Celtic language and literature: it provides for a craving of the heart for sym-pathetic flow and reflow of natural affection among kindred Celts—whether Lowland Scots or Highland, whether Gaelic-speaking or not. On a mountain between Lochalsh and Lochcarron I have seen a monument, set up by some young men where they parted from a friend going away to India, with this inscription: "An là 'chi 's nach fhaic" ("the day of seeing and of not seeing"). "In sight and out of sight" was the promise of their faithful affection. And "out of sight," if the affection be faithful, it has most of delight in [unclear: occasions] thinks that she will wear her plaid, because the Duke of Argyle's heart, when he sees it, will "warm to the tartan." "You are right there, Jeannie," says "his Lordship's Grace;" "my heart will be cold in death before it cease to warm to the tartan."* Here at the Antipodes a man must be invincibly cold and hard if his heart do not warm and melt when he finds himself among his own kindred, as if he had been at home again, in the old "land of bens and glens and heroes" tir nam beann, 's nan gleann, 's nan gaisgeach.

I had known Balquhidder when I was a very young boy, [James MacGregor born on 6 January 1829] now more than 30 years ago; and having occasion to revisit it in 1876, at a time when I had much need of "the healing powers of nature" in her solitudes, I found what I had not sought—a lecture to be delivered to Celts in New Zealand.

Balquhidder, in the northern part of the basin of the Forth, lies west by north of Stirling, about 30 miles away. Though thus near the border of the Lowlands, it is at this hour a quiet Highland parish. Callander, its next neighbour to the south and east, no longer answers to that description. In my boyhood there it was a quiet Highland village: everybody spoke Gaelic, and we boys all wore the kilt. But now it is a noisy, fashionable little Lowland town. The Gaelic is no longer the language of the place. The kilt is seen only on imitation or artificial Celts—from London or elsewhere. All seems changed. [1] When I recently sat down in the Church there, I did not recognise the face of the congregation in which I was born and bred. So great has been the the change within one portion of one short life.

But Balquhidder, beginning within some six miles of Callander village, was unchanged from what I had found it long ago. Some circumstances were changed for the better: the land seemed better cultivated, and the houses more neat and comfortable, with corresponding improvements of the Clachan or Kirkton, including a very pretty new church, with handsome new school premises, and the old church made into an ornamental ruin, really prettier than the new one. But in substance the place was unchanged. Of course there was no change on the everlasting hills around. The Gaelic language was, as of old, in use, with the simple and cordial, though slightly ceremonious, Highland manner. The very individuals seemed unchanged. The minister at the manse was the same fine and true gentleman who had shown me much kindness nearly a generation before. At Auchtoo Beg Donald ("blue-eyed") M'Laren was recognised by me half a mile away, just the same man, apparently of the same age, as when in that past age he had flourished as ploughman to Peter Stuart at Auchtoomore. There, too, was his brother Duncan ("brownhead"), sauntering, as of old, on the way to his sister's, the minister's widow farmeress of Beannoch Aonghais ("Angus' blessing"). All over there was the sweet pervading sense of quiet. It was not the quiet in view of Lord Cockburn when he said, "As quiet as the grave—or Peebles." It was the quiet, not of death, but of life; like that of their own Balvaig ("dumb stream"), slowly and silently gliding through the valley. The very sounds were somehow all but silent. The voices of men, and the bleating of lambs by the wayside, or the more distant wail of the curlew, did not disturb, but intensified, the sense of soothing stillness, so sweet to a dweller in cities who had need of repose. Even the railway train, embodiment and symbol of noise, resistless, seemed to be not noisy as it skirted round by King's House from Strathire to Lochearn-head. Men called it "the innocent." It went almost as slowly as Balvaig. And sometimes it did not go at all; but quietly stopped for a talk with some farmer, or gamekeeper, or shepherd by the way. Any noise it made became a harmonious part of the eloquent stillness—a stillness like that musical effect promised by an enterprising advertiser in Salma-gundi—"the indescribable silence that follows a fall of snow." It is said in the district that no armed foe of Albion has ever succeeded in entering the Highlands through the Leny Pass. The last and sorest material foe of our Home Country—noise, with its distracting tear and wear—appears not to have entered Balquhidder, excepting like Bottom, the stage lion, who would roar you as gently as a sucking dove."

You can perceive that I was prepared to take things on their sunny side. At the Clachan we had the great good fortune to find the minister of the parish, the Rev. Alexander MacGregor, now deceased. He received our party with true Highland hospitality, and laid himself out for the day to be our guide, philosopher and friend. In especial he led us over the churchyard, with its precincts in the Kirkton, giving a running antiquarian commentary, the fruit of a life's labour of loving study, on the various things he showed us. For instance, near the eastern door of the now ruinous old church, he stood with us at the foot of a lair, or burying-plot, over which there extended, between us and the door, three horizontal tombstones. And there and then he gave us a full, true, and particular account of the family to which that lair belonged, namely, the family of Rob Roy MacGregor; whose own tombstone is the central one of the three, having carved on it a broadsword, the clan-emblem of the fir-tree, and the proud clan motto, `S rioghaill mo dhream Ard-Choille — "My tribe is royal, Ard-choil"—a motto peculiarly appropriate in Rob's case, because his father had been the proprietor of Ard-choil. Again, a MacLaren tombstone inscription occasioned an account of that famous clan battle, between the MacLarens and the Lenies, which was the great central event in the civil history of Balquhidder before the MacGregors were installed there on an equal footing with the MacLarens. And, again, on the same little platform on which now stand the new and old churches and the churchyard, there has stood every edifice for public worship ever erected in Balquhidder proper. Close to the churchyard, though not within the precincts, there is even the conical mound which is known to have been the centre of Druidical worship for the district, which is appropriately bounded on the south by Benledi ("Hill of God")—a sacred name whose origin goes back to pre-Christian times. Thus, as he went on speaking we went on gaining, not only many interesting details of information, but a sort of panoramic view of the whole civil and religious history of Balquhidder from the point of the Churchyard and Clachan, which, historically as well as topographically, has always been the head and heart of the district. Of the things thus set forth by him I swiftly took elliptical notes, which I read to him before we parted, and which he kindly corrected and supplemented to completeness on the spot, afterwards sending me a MS account of a leading event which he had prepared for publication some years before, with free permission to make whatever use of the whole I should think proper. I ought to mention that, in addition to what can be learned from books, and through reasonable divination of the significance of monuments like those in the Kirkton, Mr MacGregor, near the beginning of his ministry, had received the then living tradition of the people from its latest living depository, an aged woman of the clan Gregor in Rusgachan, of Strathire. And now therefore I, having received the tradition from him, and being, I suppose, its only depository now alive, feel entitled to address you, not with the flattering humilities of a descriptive tourist, but with the authority of a qualified seannachie, who has brought his story to you from the sources, through a voyage of "semi-circum-plus-a-bit-of-demi-semi-circum-navigation of the earth." [2]

Further, Mrs Findlater, of the Free Church manse of Lochearnhead in Balquhidder improper, sent me a pretty sketch of the old church with its precincts, done by her own skilled hand. For she knew that I had written out my notes of the visit to Balquhidder into a sort of gossiping lecture or article, such as one may prepare for the home circle after a journey which has interested him. Further still, about some antiquarian questions that had risen in the churchyard, I afterwards had the benefit of conversations with Mr Joseph Anderson of the Antiquarian Museum in Edinburgh, the greatest living master of really scientific Scottish archæology, and whose recent Rhind lectures have almost made a new era in real study of Scoto-Celtic antiquities. To these things I now refer, partly in order to apologise beforehand for a certain gossipy quality of this communication, which has survived from the original cast; and partly also in order that you may be assured I do not speak without book. Literally, indeed, I do in a sense speak without book. My book, the original paper, was lost on my way from old Dunedin to new Edinburgh. It had been carefully placed by me, along with other keimelia, in a box which, I suppose, is somewhere; but where precisely, or whether "in earth or ocean's cave," perhaps no creature knows. Still, even the circumstance of my having written it, and the circumstances which occasioned the writing, have made the whole matter clear and distinct in a memory remarkably tenacious of some things.

This introductory part of my lecture I will close with some notes on the literary history of the district. It has a life of literary production at this hour. After going West from Callander through the Pass of Leny, and turning northward alongside of gracefully majestic Benledi, you come upon the foot of Loch Lubnaig, deep and calm. The farm steading of Anie is on your right. The farmer, Robert MacLaren, is a living son of song. He not only sings and beautifully plays on the violin what others have composed, but writes and publishes original verse. His publications are in English. But a genuine Gaelic poet is found at the furthest extremity of Balquhidder improper, in Glenbeich, on the north side of Lochearn, in the person of another MacLaren farmer. [Peter or Duncan MacLaren, gaelic Subscribers in Alexander McLaurins folder] Let me now speak of those who live only in their works. You have perhaps heard the song of "Allandu"; or, "Row weel, my boatie, row weel." It seems to me perfect as a sample of true song—melodious eloquence, "music wedded to immortal verse." Well, in a singularly fresh living book about Perthshire, recently published by Mr Drummond, of Perth city, it is stated that, while the music of "Allandu" is by the famous R. A. Smith, of Kilmarnock (or Paisley?), the words are by one Campbell, of whom it is known that he resided somewhere on the side of Loch Lubnaig. After passing Anie, on the east side of the loch, you reach about the middle of it, Ardchullery, at an angle (Lubnaig means "Bender"), where the loch bends to the west and north. Opposite Ardchullery Benledi sends out into the west side of the loch the tremendous promontory of Craig-na-Cohilig, whose rugged grandeur impresses the beholder with an awe that represses his natural feeling of delight in the sublime. Ardchullery was at one time the summer retreat of the famous traveller James Bruce of Kinnaird; and from that he would sometimes cross the loch to Craig-na-Cohilig for the purpose of undisturbed prosecution in its wild solitude of studies connected with his world-renowned travels in Egypt and Abyssinia towards the sources of the Nile. But Bruce was an exotic; and Campbell may have been. Let us look for flowers of literature native to the district.

I have not the heart to pass without a word my old acquaintance Alasdair a Bhaile ("Alexander of the city" or "town"—perhaps he had at some time been in Glasgow or Edinburgh). When I was a young boy he was an aged man, venerable in character as well as in years. I see him now, with his fine white head and spacious tartan waistcoat, and radiant spherical-silver buttons, coming down like a gracious and spacious Michaelmas moon to kirk or market in Callander from his hamlet of Kilmahog ("fane of St. Hogg"). This is beside the Balquhidder branch of the Teith, almost at the mouth of Leny Pass, where rushing through and from the wildly beautiful pass, the stream is known, not as Balvaig ("dumb stream"), but as Garvald ("rough water"). And this geography brings me round to my literary history. It is reckoned that perhaps the best Gaelic prose in print is that of the Teachdaire Gaidhealach ("Gaelic Messenger"), edited by the elder Dr Norman Macleod, of Campsie and afterwards of Glasgow. In that periodical (or was it in its successor, Cuairteir Nan Gleann, "Circular of the Glens"?) there are communications from a correspondent who signs himself "An gaidheal liath ri taobh a gharbh-uillt" ("the hoary Celt beside the rough water"). At first reading I did not know, nor think of inquiring, who might be this writer; but I afterwards, with pleasure came to know that it was my old acquaintance Alasdair a Bhaile.

Let us now go back a hundred years to a native of this district who once conversed in Edinburgh with David Hume—a profoundly-believing Christian with the greatest of sceptics. About a mile west of Callander, on the left hand of your way to Leny Pass, there is the small churchyard of Little Leny, a burying place of the Buchanans, in a lovely angle formed by the junction of two streams, whose united waters there form the Teith. So that Balquhidder is in the "Menteith" district of Perthshire; for one of the two streams, which below Loch Lubnaig is our Garvald, above Loch Lubnaig is the Balvaig of Balquhidder. In that Little Leny there lies the dust of Dugald Buchanan, the sublimest of Gaelic poets after Ossian, and far the greatest master of spiritual song in Gaelic. He, now laid in that burying-place of Buchanans, and having spent his life's prime as a fervent and powerful evangelist in Balquhidder, was born and bred in Laggan, a farm at the head, of Loch Lubnaig, on the west or Benledi side of Balvaig, opposite the village of Strathire in Balquhidder proper. [3]

The anecdote of his conversation with Hume bears that the sceptic challenged him to produce from the Bible a passage as sublime as Shakespeare's about "the cloud-capt towers," &c., and that Dugald produced from the Book of Revelation that about the great white throne. The anecdote shows at least that in his lifetime he had come to be highly esteemed for literary qualifications. His autobiography, written in excellent Gaelic, gives a deeply moving account of his early soul's exercise about spiritual things, in the manor of John Bunyan's "Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners." But on the natural human life of the time it sheds little or no light; and in relation to spiritual life his hymns, or spiritual songs, few in number, are what has preserved his name as truly venerable and great. [4] Of the deep, enduring impression they have made on kindred Celts, I am able to give, from the life, an interesting illustration. The great Dr Duff, in his lifetime canonised by Christendom as "the prince of missionaries," in his old age came home from his glorious career in India, and for some years was a professor in the New College of Edinburgh. At the students' dinner-table there one day, when I showed him a cony of Buchanan's poems in Gaelic, he said that he still remembered passages of "The Day of Judgment"—instancing the famous apostrophe to Pilate—from having heard it cantilated in his boyhood at Pitlochrie. And this leads to a closing note on cantilation as a feature of Celtic home culture.

Cantilation—melodious eloquence—appears to be the appropriate form, if not the essence, of true minstrelsy or song. It is fitted to reach the very springs of the life, and hold abiding-place of influence there. More than 30 years ago, one Sabbath afternoon, on a sunny slope of Auchtoomore, beyond Strathire, some three miles to the north of Buchanan's native Laggan, I listened to a cantilation, half-speaking, half-singing, in a rich, kind womanly voice, by Mary Stuart, sister-in-law of the farmer, and cousin of the Rev. Mr Stuart, now minister of the Free Church in Killin. The mere hearing made on my mind an impression that always remained unefaced. After the friction of life had obliterated all the details, I still remembered, wistfully, the pathetic beauty of the whole, which in form was an address, by a child in heaven, to his bereaved parents on earth, for their consolation by the view of his happiness. Often had I wished to hear it again, or at least to see it in print. And deep was my pleasure when, last winter at Home, I found it printed full-length among the spiritual songs of the excellent Peter Grant, of Grantown in Strathspey. His songs are sweeter than Buchanan's; but not nearly equal to them in respect of the highest lyric quality—true fervid Pindaric sublimity,

[When this lecture was first delivered, Dr Stuart of Dunedin recalled to mind that he had heard his mother cantilate that hymn of Peter Grant's. Some time after, I happened to refer to it in connection with the baptism of an infant in Christchurch. The infant, quite well on that Sabbath day, was buried on the following Tuesday; and its mother, who had heard me speak, was, I afterwards found, from Grantown, in Strathspey, and I think, a cousin of Mr P. Grant's children!] One other note on the literary history of the district will bring us back to the churchyard and parish. A horizontal tombstone covers the mortal part of the Rev. Mr Kirke, who flourished in the latter part of the seventeenth century and towards the beginning of the eighteenth, so that he was for some time contemporary with Rob Roy. On the stone, almost illegible, there are some singularly beautiful verses—

'Stones weep, though eyes be dry, Fairest flowers soonest die,'

of which Mr M'Gregor had not been able to trace the authorship, though he said the style reminded him of 'Holy George Herbert.' Perhaps the author was Mr Kirke himself. For his wife, who died before him, was buried in that same grave; and the words may have been his elegy or dirge over her. In any case, he, in that lone spot, far away from ordinary aids and stimulants to literary labour, was a laborious student and author he prepared in Gaelic a metrical version of the Psalms, and a translation of the whole Bible, which—I have not seen it—appears to have been simply Bishop Bidell's Irish version turned from the Irish Celtic into the Scottish. These fruits of Kirke's labours are not widely known, having been made to give place to similar works of an 'authorised' committee, with whom the Balquhidder minister is said to have run a long race for priority in finishing the work, a race in which he must have been heavily handicapped, as one translator against several or many. It is interesting to think of the quiet scholar, amid scenes suggestive of violence and terror, indulging in the pleasing pain of scattering flowers of poetry on the grave of his wife, and making his widowed solitude respectable and honourable by the long laborious endeavour to place within reach of his countrymen the means of reading in their own tongue the wonderful works of God. Quiet work like his may have had much to do with bringing, in place of that violence and terror, the happy quiet of the district in our day. Deus nobis huec otia fecit, may thus be the true inward history of the process which, in the desolate mountain side over against you, has brought into being, and kept in being and freshness unfading, yon beautiful stripe of green,—the sight of which fills your eye and gladdens your heart, though you should not perceive the living water that trickles down beneath the green, nor even the white stone with which some grateful shepherd has marked the spring from which the living water flows perennial.

The spiritual movement, which makes life below the surface, need not delay us long. There has not, so far as I know, been in the history of religion in the district much of those notable events, rising above the plane of ordinary experience, which claim a place in history, the memory of the race. Earliest of all, as represented monumentally, Druidism has its monuments, at the extreme south of the district in sacred Benledi, and at the kirk town in the conical mound. In connection with this mound there are two or three expressions, regarding a torch procession with white wands, regarding Samhainn or Hogmanay, regarding Bealtainn or Whitsuntide, which—in the absence of my notes made on the spot—I now do not venture to expound or reproduce. But I can here give an anecdote which illustrates more matters than one. In the vestry of the new church there is a large oblong box, very strongly made of black oak, and clasped with iron, and having iron rings on the lid, as if for convenience in lowering it into a vault, and raising it thence when wanted. That formidable-looking article is now employed for the innocent purpose of keeping the communion plate of the congregation. It was purchased by an elder at a sale in Edinample House, near the head of Lochearn, where it was accidentally put up to auction among some furniture, which the Campbell family there were selling off by way of clearance. In this way they lost a valuable relic. For it proves to have been the charter-chest of a famous Breadalbane family of Campbells—the family of Donncha Dubh a churraichd ("Black Duncan of the cowl"). This Duncan made, especially on neighbouring clans, in his own and following generations, a deep and enduring impression of successful, grasping, cunning rapacity; to which might well apply the proverbial description of a Campbell, 'fair and false.' But in connection with the Balquhidder Druidical mound, he presents a more pleasing face, though not one of perfect ingenuous simplicity. The cattle on a certain farm had somehow become bewitched or diseased. For the purpose of healing, or of exorcism, a woman—I suppose the farmer's wife, or the farmeress—went from Glendochart across the watershed of Larickeelie, and down the gloomy Glenogle into Balquhidder, and brought home a bag full of the soil or the sand of that mound at the Clachan. On this account she was brought before the ecclesiastical authorities on the criminal charge of having dabbled in the 'black arts.' If you wonder at this, Dr Kennedy of Dingwall will show you, in his book on "The Days of the Fathers of Ross-shire," that, as still appears on the certified records of the Court, the Protestant Presbytery of Lochcarron once had certain of the people of Lochcarron and Lochalsh under discipline for a practice of sacrificing bulls to the Virgin Mary on an island in Inch Maree (Mary's Loch). A singular mixture of Paganism and Romanism in a Protestant community! Yes; but what do you think of this? About ten years ago, in Walls, of Shetland, I was told by the Free Church Minister that in a little island under his charge the people there were then in the habit of going to a witch for paid advice or assistance about the weather, as seriously as they would go for groceries to the merchant's store; and that a neighbour of his had come to him—the minister!—for the loan of a pony to carry him to a wizard, whose advice and assistance he desired to have on account of a running sore in his leg! On that occasion the pony showed himself a sounder divine than the minister: after the minister had granted the man's request, the pony threw him over his head, so that the nefarious journey did not come off. The woman's case, then, was not altogether singular. Black Duncan got her off by some specious if not gracious sophistry—'fair and false;' and he dismissed her with the admonition, 'Do not bring home any more bags of sand across Larickeelie';—'not guilty; but she must not doit any more.'

The recent religious history, judging from the present ecclesiastical temper of the people, has probably been what is suggested by the spiritual songs of Dugald Buchanan and the cantilation of Mary Stuart; that is, of the ordinary type of Evangelical Protestantism, or Protestant Evangelism. Of Popish controversy there I, do not know any incident, unless it be the flowing, in which Rob Roy took a leading part, and that not discreditable. Rob himself was In later life a Romanist. From Speymouth, on the north-east coast, to Barra, remotest of the outer Hebrides, there stretches across Scotland a belt of native Romanism, which appears not to have been at any time reached and overflowed by the advancing tides of reformation, either from the north or from the south. The Romanists are on good terms with their Protestant neighbours, and are regarded and treated by these simply as neighbours and friends, of the Romish communion. Such, apparently, was the case with Rob Roy. The minister of the parish had, it was alleged, been too heavy and harsh upon the parishioners with his teinds. So Rob caught hold of him, took him to a public-house or country inn, constrained him to eat and drink at least as much as was good for him, and extracted from him a promise to be thenceforward more easy upon the people about the tiends; Rob graciously promising that he would every year send to the manse a pair of good cows—a promise which, I understand, he faithfully fulfilled, though I have not heard where the cows came from before he sent them.

Now let us go back far beyond good Mr Kirke, and the Reformation, and the very name of Pope and Rome, to the first introduction of Christianity into the district. The old church, now a ruin, was built somewhere in the seventeenth century, on the site of what had been a Romish church before the Reformation. The lair of Rob Roy's family is manifestly in what had been the foundation of the chancel. But on the same site there had previously been the chapel, or wood or turf meeting-house, of the Culdees. And here comes in my story. When, not many days ago, I first came in sight of New Zealand, I found myself saying to myself Beannach Aonghais. And the reason or cause of that mental ejaculation is in my present story. I have spoken of the farm of Beannach Aonghais ('Angus' Blessing'). It is on the way from King's house, within less than a mile of the clachan, and is known to geographers and other clever blockheads as Middle Auchleiskin. But Donald MacLaren and other Balquhidder 'old identities' will know it only as Beannach Aonghais. Moreover, in a field there there is a stone called Clach Aonghais ('Angus' Stone'), in whose form they see a resemblance to the bust of a man with arms raised up, in the attitude of blessing. And, as we shall find, the great annual fair was called Feill-Aonghais ('Angus' Festival'); as Fèil-mo-chessag ('Kessog's Festival') is at this hour the name of a corresponding fair in Callander, where there is also a Tom-mo-chessog ('Kessog's Mound'). The exposition of all that Angus geography is this. Angus, the Culdee Evangelist, was the first man who came to Balquhidder with the Gospel. On his way westward from King's house he could not see the whole district, up to the furthest 'Braes' of Balquhidder, until he had reached the spot now doubly called by his name. Then and there he saw the whole scene of his intended labours lying full in his view. And then and there he lifted up his hands, and blessed the land to which he had devoted his life. Angus the Culdee, I learned from Dr Maclauchlan of Edinburgh, is an authentic historical personage, whose name occurs in some of the old Irish hagiographies of Culdeeism—'The Book,' I think, 'of Bangor,' (or 'Derry?'). Of his having really been the Evangelist of Balquhidder there can, I suppose, be no reasonable doubt. And every one will admit that the manner of his introduction to the district, as indicated by the local tradition, was fine, with a certain heroic simplicity of longing affection. I am not sorry to remember that when I first saw this land of yours my first spontaneous impulse was to say in my heart, Beannach-Aonghais,

Of the character of the civil history, even in post-Reformation times, a significant indication is found in a row of remarkably fine plain trees. They are alone in Balquhidder, in the sense that there is no other such plantation of nearly their age. They are known to have been planted in the reign of James VI. of Scotland, before he went (in 1603) to be James I. of England. And their solitariness, in the sense explained, is a monument of the troubles of the generations following, in which men had little opportunity or heart for ornamental or useful plantation of trees. On this side of that date I will refer only to one historical anecdote, and beyond only to one other, before I go on to the grand event of the battle between the MacLarens and the Lenies.

[STUARTS GLENBUCKIE] My modern anecdote has reference to the royal name of Stuart; and on this account ought to come foremost. Up the southern branch of the Teith—the branch which comes down from Glengyle through Lochs Caterin, Achray, and Vennacher to Little Leny—at the Brig of Turk, there is the mouth of Glen-Finglas, which from that strikes north-westward, having Benledi and her spurs between it and the Balquhidder district on the east and north. In that glen there is a race of Stuarts claiming to be royal, as having sprung, no matter now, from the good Regent Murray. Some of them had at some time crossed the watershed, between the head-waters of the two branches of the Teith river, and settled in Glenbuckie, from which a mountain stream goes leaping and brawling down into quiet, slow Balvaig, just opposite the Kirkton, beside beautiful Sròn-var. Mr Macgregor, when arranging the old church into an ornamental ruin, and digging into a family lair of the Glenbuckie Stuarts, inside the church, at the foot of the north wall,—east end—found a human skull, which had a hole in the solid bone, and a pistol bullet within. And thereby hangs a tale, which I will now unfold. In 1745, Stuart of Glenbuckie went away to join the rebel army of Prince Charles Stuart, then, I think, camped in and round the Castle of Doune. On his way through Menteith he went to spend the night with his friend Buchanan of Auchmar, who was confederate in the plot of rebellion. He did not leave that house alive. Next morning he was found dead in bed, with a hole in his skull, and an empty pistol on his pillow. On behalf of Buchanan it was suggested that the two friends had been comparing notes about the prospects of the rebellion, that Stuart had become persuaded there was no hope of success, and that his despair had driven him to suicide. But in Balquhidder the more popular theory was, that the friends had quarrelled over their cups, that Buchanan had shown some symptoms of a disposition to shrink back from the enterprise when the testing time came, that Stuart had reproached him for treacherous cowardice, perhaps threatened to inform upon him to the prince at Doune, and that therefore Buchanan had murdered his sleeping guest through revengeful terror. Buchanan aid from that time shrink back. But he did not escape the consequences of his previous complicity with treason. Though there was against him no conclusive evidence of overt rebellion, yet the complicity was proved by means of private papers of his own, which had somehow reached the King's advocate, or public prosecutor, at Carlisle; and he was executed as a traitor. The vivid recent resurrection of that old tragedy, of which the memory had far lapsed into oblivion, is not unimpressive.

[MACNABS] My ancient anecdote concerns the MacNabs. Their part in the history of Balquhidder was only circumstantial. On a horizontal tombstone in the churchyard a family have put on record the boast, that they are noble in lineage, being sprung from a certain Abbot of Paisley who was a son of the Earl of Glasgow. In that case they must have been illegitimate originally, as an Abbot of Paisley could not have legitimate offspring. And so the base boast is galling to us of the clan Gregor; because those Balquhidder MacNabs were probably of that clan, who adopted such names of neighbouring clans as MacNab, Dochart, and Drummond, when their own proper name was proscribed under penalty of death. After consulting the Rev. Dr Maclauchlan of Edinburgh, I am established in the opinion that the paltry boast is really a mistaken one. The MacNabs, or children of the Abbot, really derived their name and lineage, not from a Romish abbot but from a Culdee abbot, who not only could have legitimate offspring, but was under a sort of obligation to marry and have children; because the Culdee Celtic church offices, like the Levitical and priestly orders of Israel, ran in the line of blood. Hence many Celtic names which really are only by-names, e. g., MacTaggart (priestson), and MacGregor (shepherdson), the proper name of the clan being Sliochd Albainn, 'race of Alpine.') But I must not tell only that story about the Abbotsons; for Of all the Highland clans, MacNabs the maist faroshious, Except the MacIntyres, MacCraws, and MacIntoshes.

Here, then, is a story that will please them, or appease them. When leaving Callander westward you pass the Dreadnought Hotel, which at one time was known as the Head Inn, and still is literally a 'head' inn, in this sense, that over the front door there is carved a detruncated human head, under which is inscribed 'Dreadnought,' a motto of the MacNabs. Now come with me north to King's house, and thence eastward to Lochearn. Your way north to King's house through Strathire is like a street that leads perpendicularly on to the middle of the main street of a city. At King's house you are almost exactly at the middle of the main valley of Balquhidder. Between two lines of mountains, like the houses on the two sides of a street, that valley stretches across the Strathire one, at right angles, about sixteen miles, eight westward to the 'Braes' of Balquhidder proper, and eight westward to beautiful St. Fillans, at the furthest extremity of Loch Earn, in what I will call Balquhidder improper. I may mention that, corresponding to Loch Earn on the east, which begins at Lochearnhead, about two miles from King's house, there is on the west, beginning at the Kirkton, about equally far from King's house, a series of smaller lochs, Con, Voil, and some other whose name I have forgotten. And the eastern part of the long central valley deserves to be called improper Balquhidder; for it is not in the basin of the Balvaig, Leith, Forth, but in the basin of the Earn and the Tay. Although the watershed near King's house is nearly imperceptible in elevation, yet there it is; so that, while at King's house all running water is on its way to Stirling and Edinburgh, a mile eastward of it all running water is on its way to Perth and Dundee. Now go with me for once—in a boat—so far through that improper Balquhidder as to reach a little island near St. Fillans. There sleeps a memory whose awakening will please and appease the 'faroshious' sons of the Abbot, Romish or Culdee.

There there dwelt a robber, much at his ease; because he had with him the only boat on the Loch; so that when he had robbed a passing traveller or party he had only to slide away in his boat to his island, where he could enjoy the spoil at his leisure, though an army should be raging for his apprehension on the shore. But we all know what became of the man who was too clever: he perished of spontaneous combustion, consumed by his own excessive cleverality. Away in the north, on Loch Tay side, near the delicious Innis Bhuidh (or 'Yellow Island') of Killin, a chief of MacNab's dwelt with his seven sons. When the festive Christmas season drew near, he and they were all in 'doleful dumps,' because the means of festivity, which they had sent for to the Lowlands, had been appropriated from its convoy by that robber on Lochearn. The old man gave some expression of bitter scorn about the sad lot of him, who had seven stalwart sons loafing and sulking at the fireside, pusillanimously enduring insult as well as injury from a scoundrel like that. They said nothing—like King Saul—but they did a thing which pleased him and appeased him. They went to the Loch (Tay) side, found a boat there, laid it on their shoulders, carried it over the mountain and down Glentarbin (or Glenbeich?) to Loch Earn; and in this way were enabled to reach the robber, and cut off his head, which they carried home to their father, who thereupon said to his children, 'Dread Nought.'

[BUCHANAN / LENYS] Now for the great battle between the MacLarens and Lenys. This we shall place vaguely in the Middle Ages. It must have been very early in the clan history of those ages. For, as we shall see, it was only on the day of battle that the Macgregors were instated in Balquhidder on an equal footing with the MacLarens; and it was only after that day that the Buchanans came in place of the Lenys in what previously had been the country of the Lenys—that is, down about the Pass of Leny, and between that and Callander. We have seen that the Buchanan burying-place is called Little Leny. I may add that the mansion of the head Buchanan family there is called Leny', or Leny House; and also that, up in the heart of Balquhidder, beyond Balvaig westward from King's house, at the corner where Strathire loses itself in the main valley, there is a Sròn-Lànaidh ('Leny Promontory'), not unconnected with our story;—all which goes to show that in what is now a Buchanan country, towards Callander on the south, at the time of our story there was a race of Lenys in full commanding force. Well,—

One St. Kenock's fair or festival-day in Callander, a Balquhidder MacLaren, supposed to be half-witted, was grossly insulted by a Leny, then and there 'crouse like a cock on his ain midden-head,' who struck the solitary stranger on the face with a switch, which he had clipped in the foul mud of the road or street. The outraged MacLaren said that no Leny would have dared to do that on Fèill-Aonghais' day in the clachan of Balquhidder. And so there came to be a wager of battle between the two clans, to be fought at that place and time.

The field of battle was between the elevation on which the church stands and Balvaig on the plain. The plain is here the narrow upper end of a meadowy bog which stretches the whole way from King's house to the Kirkton; perhaps two miles in length and one mile across at the broadest, and so flat that the river flowing through is dumb by nature and by name, and the two southern boundaries of Sròn-Lànaidh, opposite King's house, and Sròn-vàr, opposite the Kirkton, may have got their name of Sròn ('promontory': nose, or ness, or nish) from a fancied resemblance of the plain on which they abut to a little island sea. At the upper end it becomes narrowed to perhaps from 500 yards to nothing, by a bending of the church ground down upon the river, which at that point is no longer a Balvaig, but comes down a rapid stream, partly from Glenbuckie on the south, and partly from an opposite glen on the north, as well as from Lochs Con and Voil on the west. And at the very corner, at the upper end of this narrow, there is a deep, dark pool, now called the 'Pool of Corpses' (I have forgotten the Gaelic name), from the tragic event of that day of battle.

The battle was lost and won before it was fought or begun. The Lenys, fatally bad tacticians that day, ranged themselves on the narrow plain with their backs to the river. The MacLarens thus had doubly the advantage of the ground; not only in the downward slope for a rush of assault upon the foe, but also because, if only they could outflank them a little on their (the foe's) right, furthest down stream, and should have strength enough to push them back and roll them up into the corner with its deep, dark pool, then they (the foe) would be caught in the river as in a deadly not. The MacLarens saw the advantage, but were not able to make it available through lack of sufficient force. And so they sought the assistance of the MacGregors, who had gathered to the festival, and were watching the battle as interested but unconcerned spectators. They gave their assistance, on this condition, that thenceforward the MacGregors should have right to enter the church and take their places there at the same time as the MacLarens—not. as hitherto, after them as their betters—a curious vindication or achievement of social equality. [5] The result was that the Lenys were outflanked, overmastered, pushed back upon the river, rolled up into the corner, and hurled into 'the pool of death' (so called from that hour). There they all perished excepting two. One of the two, who escaped across the stream, was pursued by a tall and swift Macgregor, of the subname of Ciar ('mouse brown'), who slew him on a spot, still pointed out, near Sròn-Lanaidh (which perhaps received its name from this event). The other, who somehow broke or slipped through the array of his enemies, ran what must to him have been a terrible race for life eastward along the north side of the river, through the long meadowy bog of the plain; but he, too, was overtaken and slain, a little beyond King's house, as you turn down into Strathire.

The tradition that the Lenys were in effect annihilated as a clan is completed by the representation that the Buchanans came into their place, through marriage of a Buchanan with an orphan heiress of the chief of the Lenys, slain in the great clan-fight with the MacLarens. And it is corroborated by the fact, that in what is shown by names of places to have at one time been a Leny country, while Buchanans have abounded for generations back, through these generations the Leny name of persons has been utterly unknown. But probably the 'annihilation' was only like the 'annihilation' of the Picts by the Scots under Kenneth MacAlpine, a destruction of the corporate power and existence of the tribe, with a consequent disappearance of its name—the individual survivors assuming the name of those who came next into power in the country of the 'broken' clan.

[DONALD MacLaren POSTMAN] In the ballad of Sir Patrick Spens, we read about "the auld moon wi' the new moon in its airms." My notes on the Clan Gregor and Rob Roy may appear to be really another lecture within my lecture on Balquhidder; and thus I may be blamed for giving too much of a good thing. Donald MacLaren, postman in Balquhidder, who wanted to be made an elder of the Church, sat down to watch a dead body through the night, along with Donald Ciar, who did not want to be an elder. After refreshments, MacLaren proposed that they should sing the 119th Psalm until they were weary. Ciar objected, "We are not commanded to go beyond our ability." Trusting that I am not transgressing this maxin, I go on to complete my picture of "the auld moon wi' the new moon in its arms."

The MacGregor country of Rob Roy's time was in the Trossachs district of Perthshire, about the head waters of the southern branches of the Forth, and towards Loch Lomond, whose waters go down Strathleven into Clyde. Thus Rob himself, in his early prime, was of Craigrayston and Inversnaid; and his elder brother was of Glengyle. But you can hardly approach Balquhidder without becoming aware that that is a MacGregor country at this hour. In my young days there were six James MacGregors in the little cross-street of Callander in which I was born. In Auchtoo hamlet, over against King's House of Balquhidder, I suppose that a majority of the crofters and cottars were MacGregors, mostly of the subnames of Ciar [KERR] and MacAlpine. Between the two sections of that hamlet, westward, there is the burying-place or "chapel," and a little eastward of King's House, at Edinchip, there is the mansion of that family which now claims the hereditary chieftainship of the clan—a family whose ancestor, Sir John Murray MacGregor, Bart., at the beginning of this century gave (A.D. 1818), gratuitously, to Highlanders the excellent edition of Ossian's poems in Gaelic by Hugh MacLaughlan of Aberdeen.

Rob's father had been proprietor of Ardchoill. We are thus carried northward beyond even Balquhidder, in which Rob and his family settled in the later period of his life. One of his ancestors was a Dugald Ciar Mòr ("Big"), who is remembered as the perpetrator of a foul murder of students, whom fatal curiosity had drawn to look on a battle (A.D. 1603) in Glenfruin, in which a section of the clan Gregor signally defeated a far larger force of Lochlomondside Macfarlanes. The chief in command on that occasion was Alexander MacGregor of Glenstrae. And this Glenstrae, at that time,—with their most beautiful castle of Kilchurn of Lochawe—the central site of the clan, is the northernmost site affecting our present story. An enthusiastic clansman in Edinburgh—Mr Donald MacGregor, of the Royal Hotel—has a day-dream about gathering the clan back into Glenstrae. He will have to go far in search of some of them. And I have told him that none but the pauper lunatics will go back. For the "Gregaloch" is no longer "landless, landless, landless," and Glenstrae is singularly bleak and ungenial. It is situated far up in the central high land from which flow the head waters of the Awe, and Forth, and Tay. And it is over the watershed between Awe and Forth, at the head of the uppermost "braes," where Rob Roy had his farm in later life, that the MacGregors appear to have first come into Balquhidder.

Another enthusiastic clansman, a MacLaren in London [DANIEL MCLAURIN] , has placed on a horizontal tombstone in the churchyard a sort of vengeful "testimony" against the MacGregors, on account of their having set fire to some 16 or 18 houses of the MacLarens', of Invernertie, in the "Braes," and burned the inmates along with their homes. That must have been very early, before the clan had got instated in the district, and when they needed to clear a place for themselves. Their warmest friend must own that the manner of effecting a clearance, by burning MacLarens with their homes, was at best peculiar and informal. It took place so long ago that one may hope it never happened. In any case the sore must have been healed before the great clan-fight between the MacLarens and the Lenies, when the aid of the Macgregors enabled the former to "annihilate" their foes. Our fire and sword MacLaren in London is thus far behind the age, in respect of knowledge as well as of charity.

Still the clan in those early times was restless, because it had become unfortunately landless. For its own original lands, centring in Fortingall, it had neglected to obtain parchment titles such as came into use under the feudal system, and held only by the old Celtic tenure of the sword. Hence neighbouring clans, the Campbells especially, were able to apply the letter of the law to dispossess them of lands which had been theirs from time immemorial. Consequently, they had to move from district to district; they got into strife with clans jealous of their approaches or encroachments; and at last they came into a position of outlawry, extending over the centuries from Ciar Mòr to Rob Roy, which has made their history quite unique among the clan histories of Scotland. During that long period they were proscribed as a clan, were given over to fire and sword of enemies with sanction of royal authority, and their very name prohibited upon pain of death,—so that Rob Roy, e. g., had (in the Lowlands) to call himself Robert Campbell. Their long, successful resistance to every attempt to suppress them may have tended to form in them elements of character truly valuable, as Scotland was hammered into a character of stubborn unconquerable tenacity by the 1314 pitched battles of the wars of independence. But the attempts to repress them at the same time occasioned a restlessness on their part, with occasional acts of ferocity, which to others may have seemed to justify a series of acts of proscription, now read as curiosites of legislative barbarism.

An illustrative sample of that history is given by Sir Walter Scott, in his "Legend of Montrose," especially the Introduction and Notes. Drummond of Drummond-Earnach, king's forester, was murdered by a roving band of MacGregors, in revenge for a supposed injury to their clan. Then they drove his sister, the lady of Stewart of Ardvoirlich, into insanity, by showing her, on her own table, her brother's detruncated head, with bread and cheese between its teeth, in mockery of what they deemed the shabbiness of her (enforced) hospitality, and then the Balquhidder MacGregors, in the church, solemnly "homologated" (as the Scotch say) the murderous deed, laying their hands upon the gory head. If such wild work was the result of proscriptions, it was the cause of further proscriptions. From that wild work we gladly turn to the comparatively quieter times of Rob Roy. Let me first introduce my old acquaintance Iain Dubh na Cùile (Black John of the Nook). When I knew him in early boyhood he must have been over 80 years of age. The Cùil was a little farm he had got free of rent from Sir John Murray MacGregor, whom he had accompanied to Ireland for the repression of the rebellion in 1792: where he may have foregathered with my grandfather, who also had volunteered for that little war and came home disgusted with the Irish because they would not fight, but at Vinegar Hill threw down their arms and ran away, shouting "More pikes to the front, or ould Ireland is gone." Black John must have been a favourite with the baronet, and presumed on his favour. Thus, when, one bad year, Sir John was making a reduction of rents to his tenantry, Cùil—who paid no rent—said that he would not press for reduction, but would be satisfied if another field were added to his farm! Yet his cleverness appears not to have brought him prosperity. It is said that at one time his stock was reduced to one swift and powerful wether, which he stalked like a deer, and shot with the rifle he had brought home from the wars. Copious in pawky and witty speech, he was said to have brought home, not only a rifle, but a long bow—in his mouth. But, as an Irishman said of "Gulliver's Travels," that there were some things in the Dean's book he really could not believe, so Black John of the Nook may sometimes have lighted upon a truth. Thus, as to the great steep wall of mountain that stretches east and west along the north side of the valley as approached at King's House, he told me that twice within his memory that green mountain face had all been dark with heather—heather so tall that a man could wade in it over his thighs. He also told me as to population, that in his youth there would come down from the "Braes" with a funeral as many young men as could now fling the whole population of Balquhidder into Balvaig. I have lingered to speak about him for this purpose among others, that I wish to give full effect to the fact that he, the man who was so familiarly known to him who now addresses you in middle life, must, by my reckoning, have for about 20 years lived in Balquhidder along with Ronald, the youngest son of Rob Roy, who, if my memory serve me right, died about 1780, in the ninety-sixth year of his age. But what follows may bring the matter still further home to our feeling of nearness in time.

Ronald, greatly esteemed for his Christian character, had a son who practised as a physician in Greenock. Some of his sons, who repaired and completed the family lair in Balquhidder, were general officers in India. Not of their stock is the Mr MacGregor, of the "Rob Roy" canoe, who is so well-known for his exploits as a solitary navigator, and is distinguished as a Christian philanthrophist in London. He is a son of that Colonel MacGregor, of whom you may have read in the thrilling narrative of the burning of the Kent East Indiaman. He, in fact, is the then infant boy who was saved from the flames. But among Rob Roy's great grandchildren are the world-renowned shipbuilding Lairds of Birkenhead; one of whom, Mr MacGregor Laird, died in Africa in an enterprise like that of David Livingstone, intended to spread by means of commerce through that benighted continent the blessed light of Christian civilisation. [6]

You thus can understand that in my time the Balquhidder tradition of Rob Roy was quite living and fresh. And the hero of that tradition was a wholly different being, not only from the desperate "Highland Rogue" of ancient hue and cry, but even from the "noble savage" warrior of recent romance and song, such as Wordsworth's tall talk about, "The eagle he was lord above, but Rob," &c. You can hardly believe that the real hero of tradition was in temper not a man of war, but emphatically a man of peace. Thirty years ago Donncha Ciar ("Duncan the Mouse-brown), of Auchtoo, gave me many a "yarn" about Rob Roy. This seannachie, who delighted in narratives of Rob's prowess with hand and foot, yet in spite of himself always brought into view a character which was essentially that of quiet, neighbourly goodness and kindness. So the Rev. Mr MacGregor told me that Rob was remarkable for kindness to the poor, and was universally esteemed for his good qualities by gentle and simple — a thing which was strikingly shown at his funeral (A.D. 1734). He is supposed to have been born about 1660. His funeral was the last in Balquhidder conducted with the old Celtic ceremonial of bagpipe music, and solemn public procession. And it was attended not only by the neighbours in the district, but by the whole gentry of the region around, excepting the Duke of Montrose—an exception which may have been regarded as discrediting, not the dead lion, but the living dog.

I have said that on his tombstone there is a sword. It is, Mr J. Anderson told me, in form the true old Scottish broadsword, differing in form from the full-dress "broadsword" of imitation or artificial Celts in recent times. Mr MacGregor thought that it may or must have come down to Rob from a time before Bannockburn. But Mr Anderson assured me that Rob's sword must have been made in the 15th century, not in the beginning of the 14th; a thing about which he was certain, because of old times the gows ("Smiths") of successive ages had so many successive manners or fashions of workmanship, so that now a skilled archæologist can confidently assign its proper age to any such piece of their work. Another tombstone occasioned another such inquiry and result. It now is placed inside of the old church, immediately in front of the site of the pulpit, where I heard Mr MacGregor preaching some 30 years ago. There it had been placed at an earlier date; but had become displaced at the instance of one of my friend's predecessors in office, because women standing on that stone when their children were being baptised had some superstitious expectation of benefit from it in resect of fertility. It thus came to be flung away, and had disappeared underground among a heap of accumulating debris, until it was excavated and replaced in course of Mr MacGregor's labours of restoring into ruin picturesquely trim. On the slab there is an image of a minister of religion, which, from the dress, he took to represent a Culdee abbot—perhaps the protevangelist Angus himself. And in this opinion he felt fortified by the shape of a cross engraved on the slab—a shape distinctively Greek or Oriental, not Latin or Occidental. It will be remembered that to all appearance it is from the East that the primitive Culdee Christianity went to Scotland and Ireland. But that argument likewise the terrible Mr Anderson showed to be lame. In church architecture, he said, the various forms of the cross are no conclusive evidences of respectively Greek and Latin authorship; and in proof of this, instancing the Maltese cross, which is a variety of the species Greek, he laid before me, in the great work of the late Dr Stewart, more than one Maltese cross on the Norman cathedral of Elgin

Now, coming back to the sword of Rob Roy. It shows that he was in some sense a professed man of the sword. For the sword was placed over him by his own choice, or by that of his friends, although it had been carved on the slab as early as the fifteenth century. The stone of which the slabs are made, though found in the district abundantly—the primitive gneiss—is extremely hard, and thus difficult to work. Therefore it was convenient to find one ready made. And that was easily found; because, when one family had died out of the district, the family lair, with the old memorial slab, could without difficulty be appropriated by survivors or successors. But a family of standing so good as Rob's would not accept a present of a stone that was not in its character fitted for a monument of him. [7] We therefore may rest assured that the sword was fitted and intended as an appropriate emblem of one leading aspect of his character and life. Thus on other slabs in the churchyard we find other characters or pursuits represented by their appropriate symbols: e. g. the Gow, ("smith"), by his bellows and anvil: and the tailor, perhaps, by his sheers and his goose ("clothes-smith," from the German Schmieden, "forge," "fabricate," giving the name to all skilled handicraftsmen—whence the countless multitudinousness of the clan Smith). But the fact of Rob's having thus been a man of the sword by no means shows that he was at all a swashbuckling sworder, or in any way characteristically a man of strife. A sword occurs often on other monuments, ordinarily along with the symbol of some special profession, such as that of the blacksmith or the arrow-maker (Macalisteir, Fletcher, Flechier, Fr.) Its prevalence only reminds us how stirring and perilous were the old times in that district, where now so peaceful, in God's acre, "the rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep." In those times every capable man had to be a man of the sword, and to be known to be able as well as willing to use it trenchantly; as the nation which will be at peace must hold itself manifestly prepared for war. And one good effect of the habit thus occasioned is shown by the singular fact that Rob Roy, through his long life in a stormy period, is not known to have once in anger shed a drop of human blood. For, with many occasions for strife, he had in him the qualifications of a most formidable fighter. Calm, keen, swift, resolute, skilful, he was at the same time "light footed and heavy-handed," of extraordinary strength and agility, proverbial through following generations for manly powers as an athlete. And with the broad-sword he was confessedly without a rival; so that, even in sport, he himself was never touched with antagonistic sword but ones; and on that occasion he is supposed, out of State policy connected with the Jacobite cause, to have allowed his peaceful adversary an advantage which he could easily have withheld from him. If such a man, in such times as his were, and in a career so agitated and often stormy as his, never once shed human blood in anger, he surely must have been at heart a man of peace, while all the more able to play the man of peace because he notoriously was a most capable man of war. In truth, he appears to have been far too warlike to be quarrelsome: as he will be slow to strike who knows that his hand is a "dead hand."

Though Rob's disposition was peaceful, his character as a capable warrior has naturally left the most vivid impression. The traditional impression is illustrated by the following story—which I have read in a book on Rob Roy—of a tour of Rob and a select party of friends far into the North-west Highlands, to the region— Where the hunter of deer and the warrior strode To their mountains surrounding the sea,—

That is, to the Sound of Skye; or, more precisely, to the Loch Duich branch of Lochalsh, known as the country of 'the wild MacRaes.' At Sheriff-Muir one of these MacRaes met Rob Roy in command of five hundred MacGregors. Here, you may remember, Rob played the politician when pressed to play the warrior. He and his men calmly looked on the battle now at its crisis. While strong considerations weighed in favour of the Argyll side, old political feelings drew him and his men towards Marr's. And at bottom they seriously hated the Campbells from of old. For that race, to them and other clans in the South-west Highlands—a race powerful, politic, ever grasping—had long been the bête noir of existence; as Sir Walter's 'innocent,' speaking of a life otherwise completely happy, confessed that he was 'sair forfauchten wi' the bubbly-jock' (male turkey). And so, when at the crisis of the battle urgently entreated to go and help the bubbly-jock, Rob would not move, but simply said, 'If they canna' do it without us they canna' do it with us.' One fiery Celt imputed this to pusillanimous weakness on Rob's part. That 'wild MacRae,' whom he has recognised and 'interviewed' this day, knows better, and will deem Rob's inaction a probably 'masterly inactvity.'

They had met thirty years before. And this MacRae, then a tough and fell fighter, apparently with as many lives as a cat, had left the meeting with a rifle-bullet through his body—shot, however, not by Rob, but by one of his party of tourists. The occasion of the tour and meeting was this. From far Loch Duich the 'wild MacRaes' had come down, A band of fierce barbarians from the hills, Sweeping the flocks and herds

Of quiet people in Perthshire, peacefully reposing under the guarantee of Rob's contract of blackmail—or cattle insurance, 'unlimited.' This would never do. So he invited the select party aforesaid to accompany him on that walking excursion to the North-west Highlands—armed for possible battle. On their way they had one skirmish with the marauders, in which the Sheriff-Muir redivivus got his quietus for a time. But they did not overtake the main body and the missing cattle until they had reached the Saddle, where you enter the head of Loch Duich from the head, of Glenshiel. There they found the missing cattle, all but two that had unfortunately been eaten—the thieves, poor fellows, had perhaps been very hungry. They went away home with them to Perthshire; no doubt, like John Knox after visiting Queen Mary, 'with a reasonable merry countenance,'—having previously, and decisively, so to speak, punched the heads of 'the wild MacRaes.' [8]

His practice of black-mail has occasioned the mistaken view that Rob was something like a commonplace lawless robber in his life. It must be remembered that he was by birth and up-bringing a gentleman of good standing. The fir-tree on his tombstone, the emblem of the clan, still bears traces of being of much more recent execution than the sword; as if it had been placed there when the old stone with the sword was appropriated by Rob or his family. The motto accompanying is not that which I have cited, 'S Rioghall mo dhream - Ardchoille, speaking of descent from Gregory the son of Alpine, king of the Scots; but another one, referring to some king's deliverance from a wild boar that had turned upon him in hunting. A young chief of the clan Gregor, seeing the king's deadly peril, sprang to the rescue, with a fir-tree which he had torn up for a weapon. Politely asking leave to strike the 'redding stroke' [9] in the fray, he was graciously permitted, in a phrase which thenceforward was a motto of the clan—'E'en do, and spare nocht.' It bears, you perceive, a certain character of trenchancy,—more so than the considerate response of a Highlander at Waterloo, to a Frenchman who cried for 'quarter':—'I hae na time ta quarter ye tha noo; a'll jeest cut ye in twa.' But though Rob had the trenchancy, he personally had a more direct special interest in the old Gaelic motto, with its reference to 'Ardchoille'; for Ardchoil, as I have said, had once belonged to his father. Further, his elder brother was head of the family of Glengyle, one of the claimants to the hereditary chieftainship of the clan. After that brother's death he was tutor, or plenipotentiary guardian, of Glengyle during his nephew's minority. His occupation as a cattle drover was then familiar in the practice of men of gentle blood. His long series of annexations, of money and cattle from the Duke of Montrose, was by himself and others regarded as justifiable reprisals, under a clan system which permitted private war, on account of a ducal injustice which had ruined Rob in his business, so that, as Bailie Nicol Jarvie says, he was driven to the hillside, 'a broken man.' [10] I have never heard of any one action of his which by Highland gentlemen of his time would be regarded as we regard an act of robbery or theft, making due allowance for the custom of private war—a custom inseparable from the Celtic clan system. His spoliations, though technically unlawful under the Lowland constitution, and though on this or that occasion they should have been intrinsically unjust, fall, in an estimate of his character and conduct, to be regarded simply as forcible acts of what he and others regarded as justice, in a form sanctioned by the use and wont constitution of the community as it existed then and there. The notion of a Balquhidder harum-scarum Robin Hood, underlying the representations of prose and poetic fiction, is really no better than a romancing popular hallucination.

Then and there the custom of black-mail was warranted by a system of public policy, whose abstract legitimacy no one called in question. It was in effect cattle insurance against robbery or theft. And in order to this effect it was necessary that the insurer should be able, with an armed force, to keep watch and ward over the land and cattle insured, to pursue and punish robbers, and in this way to act as if he had been regularly commissioned by the National Government to act as the captain of an armed police. [11] He might abuse this position, for purposes of extortion or concealment of crime; as also may a regularly commissioned officer of Government. Or he might push his business by force, as an insurance manager now may push his business by fraud. But the possibility of abuse adheres to many an innocent usage. The ostensibly serious flaw was, that that manner of insurance was not authorised by law, and that the individual or community undertaking it in that maimer had no regular commission from the nation. And that flaw was not really serious, at least in relation to the question of personal character. For under the clan system, then still in operation, the national Government stood in a loose and ill-defined relation to the clans and their chiefs. Rob, you will remember, died before the abolition of heritable jurisdictions (1747), when the chiefs became lairds, owners of the soil which had belonged to the clan, and the clan was placed under the direct and sole authority of sheriffs, or others commissioned by the nation. And before that time every clan was a sort of little nation by itself, owning no magistracy but that of its own chiefs, asserting a right to make war or peace with other clans or districts, and acknowledging in the national Government only a vague suzerainty which, according to varying circumstances, might practically amount to either everything or nothing. (Out-side of every clan association there would always be a number of individuals without a chief, or other close connection. And in such circumstances, the action of a capable captain like Rob Roy in forming a band of associates, and acting as their military head for civil purposes, was no more an offence against ordinary morality, or even against consuetudinary Celtic law, than the similar action of such a chief as Hyder Ali before Britain had established a really effective government of India. .

The soundness of this reasoning appears to be evinced by Rob's own career, through a life in which he was really respected and trusted by his well-conducted neighbours, to an honoured old age, and a memory of affectionate respect in the tradition and in the heart of the people of his own country. [12] But how was it with his children?

Sir Walter brings this matter into view in a manner at once amusing and affecting. Thus, when honest Baillie Jarvie presses upon his cousin the offer to give his sons an apprenticeship to weaving, the haughty Celtic gentleman breaks out into scornful rage. But on reflection, he confesses that his heart is sometimes sore when he thinks of the future of his boys. It is said that some such interchange of sentiment actually took place between Rob and a real cousin—Doctor Gregory, of Aberdeen, head of a long illustrious line in the intellectual aristocracy of Britain. [13] And reflection on that future of his children must, to a man of his forecasting sagacity, have been bitterly depressing. Such reflections are expressed in Göthe's fine tragedy, by Götz of the Iron Hand, who, just when chivalry was passing over into discredited outlawry, himself could go on in the old way while maintaining the respect of himself and others, but had dark forebodings of the fate in store for his son. And Rob was pre-precisely in such a position. He was on the safe side of a dividing line between one state of society and another. His sons were, after his death, on the unsafe side. Not only so far as they imitated his irregular practices, they were against the law, now precisely defined and made applicable to all. They were in a position which, more and more, was reckoned dishonourable by ordinarily decent neighbours and friends. They were thus on a steep and slippery incline—from what was deemed compatible with the character of an honourable gentleman, to what, in the common estimation of themselves and others, was tainted with the vulgarity as well as immorality of the common robber or swindler. In their history, too, we have a commentary on our abstract moralising.

Ronald, as we have seen, lived his long life as a Christian citizen of the new time; and his example has been followed with beneficent distinction by at least four generations of his posterity. But that may have been by the extraordinary grace of God, perhaps operating on the youngest son through a salutary terror occasioned by the sad fate of all his brothers. One of these, Coll, is happily not known to fame beyond this, that when quite a youth he was shot to death by a King's party, or soldier, in Dunkeld. Two others, Duncan and Robert (Robin Oig, 'Young Rob,' a mispronunciation by the Lennox and Menteith Lowlanders), as is still seen at full in the Justiciary Records of Scotland, were tried for an infamous crime, and Robert was hanged in the Grassmarket of Edinburgh. Not so sad inexpressibly, but yet very very sad, is the story of Seumas Mòr ('Big James.') he alone appears to have inherited the trenchant ability, as well as valour, of his father. At the battle of Preston pans, he and MacDonald of Keppoch were foremost on Charles Edward's side in the resistless and shattering rush of the Highlanders' army on the King's; and he continued to direct, and even threaten, his men after he was laid low on the field with five wounds, including two shots through the body. After the collapse of the rebellion, he appears to have been employed in some subtle (and 'shady') negotiations between State parties. But he is last found at Paris, among other broken-hearted followers of Prince Charles, writing a miserable begging letter to some who had neglected him,—avowedly in a state of utter destitution And there is no apparent reason to doubt that Seumas Mòr, the hero of Prestonpans, the son of Rob Roy, then and there, in a Parisian garret, died in extremity of want, if not literally of starvation!

That woeful family history was really an evolution out of Rob Roy's own career. If his children reaped the whirlwind, he had sown the wind. The conventional Rob Roy, of Sir Walter Scott and others, may be parted from with a smile, and shake of the head—'a mad wag, my masters!'—in the spirit of Bailie Jarvie's memorable description of a sadly mixed character, 'he was ower guid to ban, and ower bad to bless, like Rob Roy.' But that implies a very great underestimate, not only of the awful calamities in which his example involved his children, but also and especially of his own masculine ability and natural worth. A man so clear and far-seeing cannot be excused from forecasting the natural consequences of his conduct. A man so resolute and strong, with somuch of good, both by nature and by habit, is deeply guilty, no matter what are the circumstances which warrant his detailed actions, if he persevere in a course whose native results to his children are so dismally tragic. Our interest in that celebrated person is partly caused by those circumstances. Sir Walter is fond of quoting the dictum of Mrs Montague, that the most interesting natural scenery is found where the mountains pass into the plains. He applies this to illustrate the peculiar interest, represented by his Waverley, of the transition stage in human manners and customs from two types so strongly contrasted as the ancient Highland and the modern Lowland or English. And that peculiar interest is deepened in Rob Roy's case by the peculiarities in his case,—of a high-born Highland gentleman, beggared and broken through treacherous injustice, driven beyond the pale of public law, and yet maintaining throughout a character of recognised distinction, in respect not only of sheer force but of amiability and worth. But to make him on this account a mere stage hero of romance, to be excused because his character and career have been romantic, is to degrade him. He is appreciated only when he is condemned severely. For no one failing to condemn him as deeply faulty, in relation to great fundamental duties of man to man can be in the right mental attitude towards him, of regarding him as a real man, of great and varied powers, rarely gifted with 'the kingly governing faculty.' When such a man leaves a heritage of inevitable woe to his children, no sentimental emotion heals our bitter grief, even, when poets sing his praises, and tradition loves his memory, after his contemporaries have laid him in a singularly honoured grave.

[1] * On my way to the lecture-room in Dunedin, I heard one gentleman say to two others Tha breacan aige codhiubh—"He has a plaid whatever." "Whatever" (witness, "a princess of Thule") is a great word in Lewis; and a greater word there is "moreover" (powerfully pronounce mirrofir). Hence the fallowing vision in the experience of one who sailed from styorneway to Skye along with an excursion party of Lewis people (who had eyes deep and blue as the sea, and copious Gaelic). Falling half asleep on a holiday he saw the steamer swarming with "whatevers," like multitudinous bees, and here and there a mighty "mirrofir," about as large as a blackcock The same whimsical person asked some shepherds at Anchnasheen whether it is true that in that region the midges are hunted with dogs and silted as a "winter mart." They only laughed, thinking he was not serious. .

[2] Part of the title of an unpublished poem on the voyage of the Jessie Readman in 1881. .

[3] * A suitable monument to Buchanan has been erected in Rannoch, and steps are being taken to preserve his cottage there from decay. An attempt made some years ago to provide a similar monument in Strathire proved abortive through some mismanagement. .

[4] His autobiography with the hymns, or the hymns by themselves (or an English translation by the Rev. Mr Sinclair, of Kinmore), can easily be got at a small price. Publishers, M'Lauchlan and Stewart, Edinburgh. .

[5] N B.—The genteel thing is, not to be late in entering church, and taking one's seat, but to be early. .

[6] My informant (the Rev. Mr MacGregor) named several other families known to be great grand children of Ronald—though one of them, a solicitor, bears the name of Gregory. They all are of the 'upper-middle' class, and well-esteemed for their personal character. .

[7] The fir-tree on the tombstone, probably added when the stone was appropriated by Rob's family, is manifestly of more recent workmanship than the sword. .

[8] * The above story I cannot trace to any authentic source. It may be a pure fiction of romance. The MacRaes I have known in their own country are the grandest samples of manhood I have anywhere seen. .

[9] † The 'redding stroke' is proverbially dangerous. MacNab of MacNab was once appealed to for help by a tinker's wife under discipline by her husband. He therefore set himself to fight the husband. But, when he was getting the upper hand, the wife sprang upon him in defence of her lord, and tore off his bag-wig, along with the hair it inclosed. .

[10] ‡ He had gone into some sort of cattle-droving partnership with the Duke. A fraud by an agent in this business ruined him he always held that the Duke ought to have borne a proportion of the loss, and he therefore paid himself back out of the Duke's rents and other goods. Hence the Duke of Argyle said to Montrose, 'It I countenance Rob Roy, you maintain him.' .

[11] * Hence in certain public proclamations Rob was designated 'Captain Robert Campbell or MacGregor.' .

[12] † Sir W. Scott's estimate of Rob, apart from romance, is as follows:—'The character of Rob Roy is, of course, a mixed one. His sagacity, boldness, and prudence, qualities so highly necessary to success in war, became in some degree vices, from the manner in which they were employed. The circumstances of his education, however, must be admitted as some extenuation of his habitual transgressions against the law; and for his political tergiversations, he might plead the example of men far more powerful, and less excusable in becoming the sport of circumstances, than the poor and desperate outlaw. On the other hand, he was in the constant exercise of virtues, the more meritorious as they seem inconsistent, with his general character. Pursuing the occupation of a predatory chieftain,—in modern phrase, a captain of banditti,-Rob Roy was moderate in his revenge, and humane in his successes. No charge of cruelty or bloodshed, unless in battle, is brought against his memory. In like manner, the formidable outlaw was the friend of the poor, and, to the utmost of his ability, the support of the widow and the orphan—kept his word when pledged—and died lamented in his own wild country, where there were hearts grateful for his beneficence, though their minds were not sufficiently instructed to appreciate his errors.' Good Sir Walter here appears, in his kind wishfulness to apologise for Rob, to minimise him too much into something of a picturesque cateran like the Bean Lean of Waverley Rut his estimate of the man, his career, and its finale, is on the whole a fair one. .

[13] ‡ The story, however, is, that it is Rob who proposed by a High and training in warlike and other exercises, to make a man of a son of Dr Gregory, who afterwards became a famous professor. .