22 AUGUST 1885, Page 25

RECORDS OF ARGYLL.* Tats is a magnificent volume of its

kind, which kind we may describe as the delightfully amorphous. Now that the accom- plished and versatile J. F. (we should, perhaps, rather say Ian) Campbell of Islay is no longer with us, no one is better fitted to do justice to the traditions and history of the great sept of Argyll than Lord Archibald Campbell, who is an enthu- siast in regard to these matters, and who took a very active part in a recent controversy regarding the antiquity of the Highland dress, and the distinctive character of the clan tartans. We have said this book is delightfully amorphous, because in making a collection of this sort, it is undesirable to lay down too precise a method, even if it were possible to adhere to it. A book of such a kind ought to be a thesaurus or reference- volume, to any page of which one ought to be able to go at any moment. The bulk of it, however, consists, as Lord Archibald Campbell tells us in his modest preface, of "tales written down for the most part from recitation, and rendered as closely to the original Gaelic as the difference of the two languages permitted. Many of these appear for the first time in an English form ; others are presented as offering a different version of tales which have already been translated; while a few, which have already appeared elsewhere, have been included to give completeness to a",work designed to illustrate the charac- teristics of Argyllshire legend." These legends, it is perhaps needless to say, are fall of adventure, bloodshed, and Celtic superstition. Here is a fair specimen of Highland ferocity, little more than two hundred years ago :—

" Lord Niel Campbell sent John Grant to Isla to collect rents. MacLean of Duart happening to be in Isla at the time, he seized Grant and his rents and carried them with him to Dead Castle. When Lord Niel discovered where his factor was he went to Dunollie and said to MacDougall, a Will you go to Duart for my factor, for it is useless for me to go, on account of the unpleasant terms on which I am with MacLean 2' MacDougall answered that he would. When he reached Duart, MacLean met him on the shore, and saluted him courteously. MacDougall informed him that he came for Lord Niel's factor. Let us dine, first,' said MacLean ; 'we can talk of that business afterwards.' After dinner, MacDougall said to MacLean, Where is Grant, for it is time for me to set off homewards ?' Upon this, MacLean moved to the other side of the room, and said, coolly, His head is here, but his body is out there, and you can take it with you if you choose.' MacDougall answered, I will take with me -what there is of him, since I have come for him.' Grant's body is buried in the churchyard of Kilbrandon, but his head is in Mall. John Grant met his fate in 1681, according to his gravestone."

Here, however, is a more agreeable story of a worthy Highland clergyman, the Rev. Mr. Cunieson, who seems to have been a muscular Christian long before the time of Canon Kingsley :—

" Upon one occasion, when Mr. Cnnieson was preaching in the church of Kilchenzie—which is now a ruin left in solitude and silence, but which retains in its dismantled state the appearance of • Records of Argyll: Legends, Traditions, and Recollections of Argyllshire Highlanders, collected chiefly from the Gaelic. By Lord Archibald Campbell. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons. 1885. having been a chapel of the faith which prevailed before the Reformation—and earnestly exhorting his people against the crime of theft, which, however, seemed to be a very venial fault in these days, and while elucidating his subject, he happened to say in the course of his observations, Let all thieves oast from them stolen goods.' A certain person was in the church who seemed to relish his neighbour's mutton more than his own, and who had con- cealed ander his plaid a shoulder of fat wedder, whioh he intended to dress for his dinner after his return home. This man thought the minister's sermon so personal as to be aimed at himself, and before the whole congregation be took out the piece from below his plaid, and solemnly declared that he never took anything from a poor man, but a wealthy neighbour who could well afford it."

There appear in Lord Archibald Campbell's Records of Argyll portraits (in two senses) of eminent members of the Campbell family. One of the moat remarkable of these is Sir Duncan Camp- bell, better known as " Black Duncan of the Cowl," who played an important part in furthering the fortunes of the Breadalbane section of the Campbells. To judge from portraits given of him in middle and old age, he must have been a singularly stern and even forbidding-looking personage, and we are not sur- prised to learn that he "was engaged constantly in bloody dis- putes with the MacGregor clan." Yet Black Duncan, who died in 1631, at the age of eighty-five, found time to throw himself into sufficiently pacific works. He planted an avenue of limes at Taymouth Castle, which is still kept up ; he built and repaired towers, castles, and churches, bridged rivers, and made embank- ments against their encroachments. One would have liked, too, to have heard a little more of Colin Iongatach, i.e., Wonderful or Singular Colin, who was the twenty-eighth ancestor of the present Duke of Argyll. According to a MS. in the Dunstaff- nage family papers,— " He was called Wonderful, because he was singular and odd in his conceits. To describe them all would be a history and take up much time ; for instance, his throwing all his treasure into Loch Fyne a little before his death, lest his sons shoald quarrel and fight for it ; his sudden burning of all his houses when some noblemen of the O'Neils came to visit him from Ireland, that, as he had a fine field equipage, he might have the opportunity to regale them in tents, for he did not think his house magnificent enough for the entertainment of such quality ; and how, in a beggar's habit, he went through all the army of the Lord of the Isles to spy his forces ; his narrow escape from the fury of the MoCallums, who designed to burn him alive in a house where he lay at night that they might have the estate for Duncan Skeod na Seich, their foster-brother or cou/t. They set the house on ' fire, and he was obliged to fly in his coat of mail made of steel, which became so hot in the flames that he was forced to run into a pool of water under the town of Kilmartine, which pool to this day is called Linne-na-lairioh, that is, the Pool of the Coat of Mail."

He would be a bold man who should intermeddle in the great tartan controversy. Still, in concluding our notice, we may mention that this volume seems to dispose of a rather obstinate heresy, which was encouraged by no less an authority than Macaulay. It is to the effect that this supposed characteristic of the Highlander was really an invention of an English trooper in Marshal Wade's army, and, in consequence, only an eighteenth-century affair. In this volume, however, there

appears a genealogical tree of the House of Glenurchy, painted in 1635 by George Jamesone, an Aberdeen artist, described by his admirers as "The Scotch Vandyck." In this picture there is a Highland figure in an undoubted kilt. Lord Archibald Campbell says :—

" This painting is undoubtedly of great interest to all Highlanders, as it proves that the dress as now worn, is worn, so to say, with no change of fashion. The kilt terminates above the knee exactly as now worn. The hose are worn exactly as they are now worn also.

The ignorant cry of the kilt being a modern arrangement is for ever hushed by each testimony, or, rather, had this painting been generally known, could never have arisen."