Friday, January 21, 2011

Colin Mackenzie

Janaury 21 [1826] '...Colin Mackenzie entered, and with his usual kindness engages to use his influence to recommend some moderate proceeding to Constable's creditors, such as may permit him to go on and turn that species of property to account, which no man alive can manage so well as he...'

From Scott's Journal, on January 21, 1826, while Walter Scott, is ruminating on his financial condition, his friend Colin Mackenzie of Portmore.  MacKenzie served as a Principal Clerk of Session, at Edinburgh.  He also contributed to Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, including a tale on Ellandonan Castle.

Ellandonan Castle,


A Highland Tale.

O Wot ye, ye men of the island of Skye.
That your Lord lies a corpse on Ardelve's rocky shore?
The Lord of the Isles, once so proud and so high,
His lands and his vassals shall never see more.

None else but the Lord of Kintail was so great;
To that Lord the green banks of Loch Duich belong,
Ellandonan's fair castle and noble estate,
And the hills of Glensheal and the costs of Loch Loung.

His vassals are many, and trusty, and brave,
Descended from heroes, and worthy their sires;
His castle is wash'd by the salt-water wave,
And his bosom the ardour of valour inspires.

M'Donald, by restless ambition impell'd
To extend to the shores of Loch Duich his sway,
With awe Ellandonan's strong turrets beheld.
And waited occasion to make them his prey.

And the moment was come; for M'Kenneth afar.
To the Saxon opposed his victorious arm;
Few and old were the vassals, but dauntless in war,
Whose courage and skill freed his towers from alarm.

M'Donald has chosen the best of his power;
On the green plains of Slate were his warriors array'd;
Every islander came before midnight an hour,
With the sword in his hand, and the belt on hit plaid.

The boats they are ready, in number a score;
In each boat twenty men, for the war of Kintail;
Iron hooks they all carry, to grapple the shore.
And ladders, the walls of the fortress to scale.

They have pass'd the strait kyle, through whose billowy flood,
From the arms of Kintail-men, fled Haco of yore,
Whose waves were dyed deep with Norwegian blood,
Which was shed by M'Kenneth's resistless claymore.

They have entcr'd Loch Duich—all silent their course,
Save the splash of the oar on the dark bosom'd wave,
Which mingled with murmurs, low, hollow, and hoarse,
That issued from many a coralline cave.

Either coast they avoid, and right eastward they steer;
Nor star, nor the moon, on their passage hat shone;
Unexpecting assault, and unconscious of fear,
All Kintail was asleep, save the watchman alone.

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