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This extraordinary young man, whom I had the pleasure of knowing intimately, having been deeply regretted by his country, the most minute particulars concerning him must be interesting to many. I shall therefore insert his two last letters to his mother, Lady Margaret Macdonald, which her ladyship has been pleased to communicate to me.
Sir James Macdonald to Lady Margaret.
"Rome, 9th July, 1766. "MY DEAR MOTHER, Yesterday's post brought me your answer to the first letter in which I acquainted you of my illness. Your tenderness and concern upon that account are the same I have always experienced, and to which I have often owed my life. Indeed it never was in so great danger as it has been lately; and though it would have been a very great comfort to me to have had you near me, yet perhaps I ought to rejoice, on your account, that you had not the pain of such a spectacle. I have been now a week in Rome, and wish I could continue to give you the same good accounts of my recovery as I did in my last; but I must own that, for three days past, I have been in a very weak and miserable state, which however seems to give no uneasiness to my physician. My stomach has been greatly out of order, without any visible cause; and the palpitation does not decrease. I am told that my stomach will soon recover its tone, and that the palpitation must cease in time. So I am willing to believe; and with this hope support the little remains of spirits which I can be supposed to have, on the forty-seventh day of such an illness. Do not imagine I have relapsed; I only recover slower than I expected. If my letter is shorter than usual, the cause of it is a dose of physic, which has weakened me so much to-day, that I am not able to write a long letter. I will make up for it next post, and remain always your most sincerely affectionate J. MACDONALD.”
He grew, however, gradually worse; and on the night before his death he wrote as follows from Frescati:
"MY DEAR MOTHER, — Though I did not mean to deceive you in my last letter from Rome, yet certainly you would have very little reason to conclude of the very great and constant danger I have gone through ever since that time. My life, which is still almost entirely desperate, did not at that time appear to me so, otherwise I should have represented, in its true colours, a fact which acquires very little horror by that means, and comes with redoubled force by deception. There is no circumstance of danger and pain of which I have not had the experience, for a continued series of above a fortnight; during which time I have settled my affairs, after my death, with as much distinctness as the hurry and the nature of the thing could admit of. In case of the worst, the Abbé Grant will be my executor in this part of the world, and Mr. Mackenzie in Scotland, where my object has been to make you and my younger brother as independent of the eldest as possible."
MEMOIRS OF HIS OWN LIFE, BY THE LATE
(Referred to in p. 193, and several subsequent notes.)
« HAVING often been highly entertained and instructed by the perusal of memoirs of men who have lived in an interesting period, and who have borne some part in the transactions of their time, a thought has for some time possessed me of leaving to my family and friends an account of myself, and of those affairs in which I have been, or may hereafter be, engaged. My chief design, if I shall live to execute it, is to make my son acquainted with his father, to inform him of the rank and situation in which I found the family, which he should think *himself born to raise and advance, and to encourage him, by my example, to persevere in the design of acquiring that
station in the state to which our blood entitles him; but to which the local position of our ancestors has yet hindered us from attaining.
"Mv family is derived from the ancient royal stock of Denmark. In those unhappy times, when heroism was little better than piracy, and when the Danes first infested and then subdued England, my ancestor was invested with the tributary sovereignty of the Isle of Man. His history, the succession, or the share these princes of Man had in the predatory wars of that rude age, are lost in dark and vague tradition. The first fact, which seems clearly ascertained, is, that Leod, the son of the King of Man, on the conquest of that island by the English, in under the Earl of Derby, fled with his followers to the Hebrides.
He probably found his countrymen there; and either by conquest, agreement, or alliance, possessed himself of that part of these isles now called Lewes and Harries.
"Leod had two sons, Tormod and Torquil. The first married the daughter of a powerful chief in the Isle of Skye, he was a warrior, and of great prowess; his father gave or le to him Harries; and, by dint of his valour and marriage, he possessed himself of a large domain in Skye; which, together with Harries, I, his lineal successor, inherited: Torquil and his posterity possessed Lewes; which, with other acquisitions, they have since lost, and that family is now represented by Macleod of Rasay. From Leod, whose name is held in high traditional veneration, all his descendants, and many of his followers, have taken the patronymic of Macleod. My ancestors, whose family-seat has always been at Dunvegan, seem to have lived, for some centuries, as might be expected from men who had gained their lands by their swords, and who were placed in islands of no easy access. They had frequent wars and alliances with their neighbours in Skye, by which it appears they neither gained nor lost; they frequently attacked or assisted the petty kings in Ireland, or the chiefs on the coast of Scotland, but they neither increased nor diminished their own possessions. In the reign of King David of Scotland, they at
last took a charter for their lands, from which time they seem long to have practised the patriarchal life, beloved by their people, unconnected with the goverment of Scotland, and undisturbed by it. When James the Sixth was about to take possession of the throne of England, Macleod, exiled Roderick More, from his great size and strength (1), went to Edinburgh to pay his homage. It is remarkable, that this chieftain was an adept in Latin, had travelled on the Continent, and spoke French with fluency, but could neither utter nor understand the Scottish or English dialect. Two younger sons of Roderick led a body of Macleods to the assistance of Charles the Second, who knighted them; and they, like their unfortunate sovereign, escaped, with the loss of their followers, from the fatal field of Worcester. From John, their elder brother, I am descended, his son being an orphan minor, when his uncles led the clan to battle. It is singular, that my great grandfather, by his marriage with descended from the family of Athol, has mixed with the blood of Leod and that of the Earl of Derby, who drove him from Man; and that I am thus, probably, the descendant of the invading earl and the expelled prince.
"My grandfather, Norman, was an only and posthumous son; by the frugality of his ancestors, and the savings of his minority, he found our ancient inheritance in the most prosperous condition. I knew him in his advanced age; and from himself, and many other friends, have heard much of the transactions of his life. With a body singularly well made and active, he possessed very lively parts. The circumstances of the times introduced him to the public with great advantage; and, till the unfortunate 1745, he was much considered. An attachment to the race of Stuart then prevailed in Scotland; and many of the leading men in England still favoured it. His independent fortune and promising character early obtained him the representation in parliament of Inverness-shire, his native county. The numbers and fidelity of his clan, and his
(1) Mr. Boswell states, antè, p. 218., that he was so called, not from his size, but his spirit.-C.
influence with his neighbours, were known; and I have reason
"It would be neither pleasing nor useful to inquire how deeply he was concerned in the preludes to the rebellion; nor, indeed, have I been able to learn. It is certain that, in the year 1746, he raised a company of his vassals to serve under my father, his only son, in Lord Loudon's regiment, and afterwards appeared, with six hundred of his clan, in defence of the present royal family. From this period he was unfortunate; the Jacobites treated him as an apostate, and the successful party did not reward his loyalty. The former course of his life had been expensive; his temper was convivial and hospitable; and he continued to impair his fortune till his death, in 1772. He was the first of our family who was led, by the change of manners, to leave the patriarchal government of his clan, and to mix in the pursuits and ambition of the world. It was not then common to see the representatives of the High land tribes endeavouring to raise themselves to eminence in the nation by the arts of eloquence, or regular military gradation; they were contented with their private opulence and local dignity, or trusted their rank in the state to the antiquity of their families, or their provincial influence. Had Norman felt in his youth the necessity of professional or parliamentary exertions, and had he received a suitable education, he would not have left his family in distress; but the excellence of his parts and the vigour of his mind would have attained a station more advantageous for the flight of his successors.
"I was born on the 4th day of March, 1754, at Brodie House, the seat of my maternal grandfather, Brodie of Brodie, Lyon King at Arms. When I attained the age of eleven, my father, with his family, went to réside at Beverley in Yorkshire, where, in the year following, he died, and was buried in the minster. I was placed under the care of Mr. George Stuart, one of the professors in the College of Edinburgh; and the abilities, care, and maternal love of my surviving parent Y 2