NOTES TO ROB ROY.
Note A.--The Grey Stone of MacGregor.
I have been informed that, at no very remote period, it was proposed to
take this large stone, which marks the grave of Dugald Ciar Mhor, and
convert it to the purpose of the lintel of a window, the threshold of a
door, or some such mean use. A man of the clan MacGregor, who was
somewhat deranged, took fire at this insult; and when the workmen came to
remove the stone, planted himself upon it, with a broad axe in his hand,
swearing he would dash out the brains of any one who should disturb the
monument. Athletic in person, and insane enough to be totally regardless
of consequences, it was thought best to give way to his humour; and the
poor madman kept sentinel on the stone day and night, till the proposal
of removing it was entirely dropped.
Note B.--Dugald Ciar Mhor.
The above is the account which I find in a manuscript history of the clan
MacGregor, of which I was indulged with a perusal by Donald MacGregor,
Esq., late Major of the 33d regiment, where great pains have been taken
to collect traditions and written documents concerning the family. But an
ancient and constant tradition, preserved among the inhabitants of the
country, and particularly those of the clan MacFarlane, relieves Dugald
Ciar Mhor of the guilt of murdering the youths, and lays the blame on a
certain Donald or Duncan Lean, who performed the act of cruelty, with the
assistance of a gillie who attended him, named Charlioch, or Charlie.
They say that the homicides dared not again join their clan, but that
they resided in a wild and solitary state as outlaws, in an unfrequented
part of the MacFarlanes' territory. Here they lived for some time
undisturbed, till they committed an act of brutal violence on two
defenceless women, a mother and daughter of the MacFarlane clan. In
revenge of this atrocity, the MacFarlanes hunted them down, and shot
them. It is said that the younger ruffian, Charlioch, might have escaped,
being remarkably swift of foot. But his crime became his punishment, for
the female whom he had outraged had defended herself desperately, and had
stabbed him with his own dirk in the thigh. He was lame from the wound,
and was the more easily overtaken and killed.
I always inclined to think this last the true edition of the story, and
that the guilt was transferred to Dugald Ciar Mhor, as a man of higher
name, but I have learned that Dugald was in truth dead several years
before the battle--my authority being his representative, Mr. Gregorson
of Ardtornish. [See also note to introduction, "Legend of Montrose," vol.
Note C.--The Loch Lomond Expedition.
The Loch Lomond expedition was judged worthy to form a separate pamphlet,
which I have not seen; but, as quoted by the historian Rae, it must be
"On the morrow, being Thursday the 13th, they went on their expedition,
and about noon came to Inversnaid, the place of danger, where the Paisley
men and those of Dumbarton, and several of the other companies, to the
number of an hundred men, with the greatest intrepidity leapt on shore,
got up to the top of the mountains, and stood a considerable time,
beating their drums all the while; but no enemy appearing, they went in
quest of their boats, which the rebels had seized, and having casually
lighted on some ropes and oars hid among the shrubs, at length they found
the boats drawn up a good way on the land, which they hurled down to the
loch. Such of them as were not damaged they carried off with them, and
such as were, they sank and hewed to pieces. That same night they
returned to Luss, and thence next day to Dumbarton, from whence they had
at first set out, bringing along with them the whole boats they found in
their way on either side of the loch, and in the creeks of the isles, and
mooring them under the cannon of the castle. During this expedition, the
pinnaces discharging their patararoes, and the men their small-arms, made
such a thundering noise, through the multiplied rebounding echoes of the
vast mountains on both sides of the loch, that the MacGregors were cowed
and frighted away to the rest of the rebels who were encamped at Strath
Fillan."--_Rae's History of the Rebellion,_ 4to, p. 287.
Note D.--Author's Expedition against the MacLarens.
The Author is uncertain whether it is worth while to mention, that he had
a personal opportunity of observing, even in his own time, that the
king's writ did not pass quite current in the Brass of Balquhidder. There
were very considerable debts due by Stewart of Appin (chiefly to the
author's family), which were likely to be lost to the creditors, if they
could not be made available out of this same farm of Invernenty, the
scene of the murder done upon MacLaren.
His family, consisting of several strapping deer-stalkers, still
possessed the farm, by virtue of a long lease, for a trifling rent. There
was no chance of any one buying it with such an encumbrance, and a
transaction was entered into by the MacLarens, who, being desirous to
emigrate to America, agreed to sell their lease to the creditors for
L500, and to remove at the next term of Whitsunday. But whether they
repented their bargain, or desired to make a better, or whether from a
mere point of honour, the MacLarens declared they would not permit a
summons of removal to be executed against them, which was necessary for
the legal completion of the bargain. And such was the general impression
that they were men capable of resisting the legal execution of warning by
very effectual means, no king's messenger would execute the summons
without the support of a military force. An escort of a sergeant and six
men was obtained from a Highland regiment lying in Stirling; and the
Author, then a writer's apprentice, equivalent to the honourable
situation of an attorney's clerk, was invested with the superintendence
of the expedition, with directions to see that the messenger discharged
his duty fully, and that the gallant sergeant did not exceed his part by
committing violence or plunder. And thus it happened, oddly enough, that
the Author first entered the romantic scenery of Loch Katrine, of which
he may perhaps say he has somewhat extended the reputation, riding in all
the dignity of danger, with a front and rear guard, and loaded arms. The
sergeant was absolutely a Highland Sergeant Kite, full of stories of Rob
Roy and of himself, and a very good companion. We experienced no
interruption whatever, and when we came to Invernenty, found the house
deserted. We took up our quarters for the night, and used some of the
victuals which we found there. On the morning we returned as unmolested
as we came.
The MacLarens, who probably never thought of any serious opposition,
received their money and went to America, where, having had some slight
share in removing them from their _paupera regna,_ I sincerely hope they
The rent of Invernenty instantly rose from L10 to L70 or L80; and when
sold, the farm was purchased (I think by the late Laird of MacNab) at a
price higher in proportion than what even the modern rent authorised the
parties interested to hope for.
Note E.--Allan Breck Stewart.
Allan Breck Stewart was a man likely in such a matter to keep his word.
James Drummond MacGregor and he, like Katherine and Petruchio, were well
matched "for a couple of quiet ones." Allan Breck lived till the
beginning of the French Revolution. About 1789, a friend of mine, then
residing at Paris, was invited to see some procession which was supposed
likely to interest him, from the windows of an apartment occupied by a
Scottish Benedictine priest. He found, sitting by the fire, a tall, thin,
raw-boned, grim-looking, old man, with the petit croix of St. Louis. His
visage was strongly marked by the irregular projections of the
cheek-bones and chin. His eyes were grey. His grizzled hair exhibited
marks of having been red, and his complexion was weather-beaten, and
remarkably freckled. Some civilities in French passed between the old man
and my friend, in the course of which they talked of the streets and
squares of Paris, till at length the old soldier, for such he seemed, and
such he was, said with a sigh, in a sharp Highland accent, "Deil ane o'
them a' is worth the Hie Street of Edinburgh!" On inquiry, this admirer
of Auld Reekie, which he was never to see again, proved to be Allan Breck
Stewart. He lived decently on his little pension, and had, in no
subsequent period of his life, shown anything of the savage mood in which
he is generally believed to have assassinated the enemy and oppressor, as
he supposed him, of his family and clan.
Note F.--The Abbess of Wilton.
The nunnery of Wilton was granted to the Earl of Pembroke upon its
dissolution, by the magisterial authority of Henry VIII., or his son
Edward VI. On the accession of Queen Mary, of Catholic memory, the Earl
found it necessary to reinstate the Abbess and her fair recluses, which
he did with many expressions of his remorse, kneeling humbly to the
vestals, and inducting them into the convent and possessions from which
he had expelled them. With the accession of Elizabeth, the accommodating
Earl again resumed his Protestant faith, and a second time drove the nuns
from their sanctuary. The remonstrances of the Abbess, who reminded him
of his penitent expressions on the former occasion, could wring from him
no other answer than that in the text--"Go spin, you jade!--Go spin!"
Note G.--Mons Meg.
Mons Meg was a large old-fashioned piece of ordnance, a great favourite
with the Scottish common people; she was fabricated at Mons, in Flanders,
in the reign of James IV. or V. of Scotland. This gun figures frequently
in the public accounts of the time, where we find charges for grease, to
grease Meg's mouth withal (to increase, as every schoolboy knows, the
loudness of the report), ribands to deck her carriage, and pipes to play
before her when she was brought from the Castle to accompany the Scottish
army on any distant expedition. After the Union, there was much popular
apprehension that the Regalia of Scotland, and the subordinate Palladium,
Mons Meg, would be carried to England to complete the odious surrender of
national independence. The Regalia, sequestered from the sight of the
public, were generally supposed to have been abstracted in this manner.
As for Mons Meg, she remained in the Castle of Edinburgh, till, by order
of the Board of Ordnance, she was actually removed to Woolwich about
1757. The Regalia, by his Majesty's special command, have been brought
forth from their place of concealment in 1818, and exposed to the view of
the people, by whom they must be looked upon with deep associations; and,
in this very winter of 1828-9, Mons Meg has been restored to the country,
where that, which in every other place or situation was a mere mass of
rusty iron, becomes once more a curious monument of antiquity.
Note H.---Fairy Superstition.
The lakes and precipices amidst which the Avon-Dhu, or River Forth, has
its birth, are still, according to popular tradition, haunted by the
Elfin people, the most peculiar, but most pleasing, of the creations of
Celtic superstitions. The opinions entertained about these beings are
much the same with those of the Irish, so exquisitely well narrated by
Mr. Crofton Croker. An eminently beautiful little conical hill, near the
eastern extremity of the valley of Aberfoil, is supposed to be one of
their peculiar haunts, and is the scene which awakens, in Andrew
Fairservice, the terror of their power. It is remarkable, that two
successive clergymen of this parish of Aberfoil have employed themselves
in writing about this fairy superstition. The eldest of these was Robert
Kirke, a man of some talents, who translated the Psalms into Gaelic
verse. He had formerly been minister at the neighbouring parish of
Balquhidder, and died at Aberfoil in 1688, at the early age of forty-two.
He was author of the Secret Commonwealth, which was printed after his
death in 1691--(an edition which I have never seen)--and was reprinted in
Edinburgh, 1815. This is a work concerning the fairy people, in whose
existence Mr. Kirke appears to have been a devout believer. He describes
them with the usual powers and qualities ascribed to such beings in
But what is sufficiently singular, the Rev. Robert Kirke, author of the
said treatise, is believed himself to have been taken away by the
fairies,--in revenge, perhaps, for having let in too much light upon the
secrets of their commonwealth. We learn this catastrophe from the
information of his successor, the late amiable and learned Dr. Patrick
Grahame, also minister at Aberfoil, who, in his Sketches of Perthshire,
has not forgotten to touch upon the _Daoine Schie,_ or men of peace.
The Rev. Robert Kirke was, it seems, walking upon a little eminence to
the west of the present manse, which is still held a _Dun Shie,_ or fairy
mound, when he sunk down, in what seemed to mortals a fit, and was
supposed to be dead. This, however, was not his real fate.
"Mr. Kirke was the near relation of Graham of Duchray, the ancestor of
the present General Graham Stirling. Shortly after his funeral, he
appeared, in the dress in which he had sunk down, to a medical relation
of his own, and of Duchray. 'Go,' said he to him, 'to my cousin Duchray,
and tell him that I am not dead. I fell down in a swoon, and was carried
into Fairyland, where I now am. Tell him, that when he and my friends are
assembled at the baptism of my child (for he had left his wife pregnant),
I will appear in the room, and that if he throws the knife which he holds
in his hand over my head, I will be released and restored to human
society.' The man, it seems, neglected, for some time, to deliver the
message. Mr. Kirke appeared to him a second time, threatening to haunt
him night and day till he executed his commission, which at length he
did. The time of the baptism arrived. They were seated at table; the
figure of Mr. Kirke entered, but the Laird of Duchray, by some
unaccountable fatality, neglected to perform the prescribed ceremony. Mr.
Kirke retired by another door, and was seen no wore. It is firmly
believed that he is, at this day, in Fairyland."--(_Sketches of
Perthshire,_ p. 254.)
[The treatise by Robert Kirke, here mentioned, was written in the year
1691, but not printed till 1815.]
Note I.--Clachan of Aberfoil.
I do not know how this might stand in Mr. Osbaldistone's day, but I can
assure the reader, whose curiosity may lead him to visit the scenes of
these romantic adventures, that the Clachan of Aberfoil now affords a
very comfortable little inn. If he chances to be a Scottish antiquary, it
will be an additional recommendation to him, that he will find himself in
the vicinity of the Rev. Dr. Patrick Grahame, minister of the gospel at
Aberfoil, whose urbanity in communicating information on the subject of
national antiquities, is scarce exceeded even by the stores of legendary
lore which he has accumulated.--_Original Note._ The respectable
clergyman alluded to has been dead for some years. [See note H.]
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