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- History Of The Mackenzies - 60/115 -
Seaforth not only with the appearance of a deaf 'Cabarfeidh,' but with the contemporaneous appearance of various different physical misfortunes in several of the other Highland chiefs, all of which are said to have actually occurred within the memory of the generation that has not yet passed away. Mr Morrit can testify thus far, that he heard the prophecy quoted in the Highlands at a time when Lord Seaforth had two sons alive, and in good health, and that it certainly was not made after the event," and then he proceeds to say that Scott and Sir Humphrey Davy were most certainly convinced of its truth, as also many others who had watched the latter days of Seaforth in the light of those wonderful predictions. [Every Highland family has its store of traditionary and romantic beliefs. Centuries ago a seer of the Clan Mackenzie, known as Kenneth Oag (Odhar), predicted that when there should be a deaf Caberfae the gift land of the estate would be sold, and the male line become extinct. The prophecy was well known in the North, and it was not, like many similar vaticinations, made after the event. At least three unimpeachable Sassenach writers, Sir Humphrey Davy, Sir Walter Scott, and Mr Morritt of Rokeby, had all heard the prediction when Lord Seaforth had two sons alive, both in good health. The tenantry were, of course, strongly impressed with the truth of the prophecy, and when their Chief proposed to sell part of Kintail, they offered to buy in the land for him, that it might not pass from the family. One son was then living, and there was no immediate prospect of the succession expiring; but, in deference to their clannish prejudice or affection, the sale of any portion of the estate was deferred for about two years. The blow came at last. Lord Seaforth was involved in West India plantations, which were mismanaged, and he was forced to dispose of part of the "gift land." About the same time the last of his four sons, a young man of talent and eloquence, and then representing his native county in Parliament, died suddenly, and thus the prophecy of Kenneth Oag was fulfilled. -
"Of the name of Fitzgerald remained not a male To bear the proud name of the Chief of Kintail."
--Robert Carruthers, LL.D., in the "North British Review."]
His Lordship outlived all his four sons, as predicted by the Brahan Seer. His name became extinct, and his vast possessions were inherited by a stranger, James Alexander Stewart, who married his eldest daughter, Lady Hood. The sign by which it would be known that the prediction was about to be fulfilled was also foretold in the same remarkable manner, namely, that in the day's of the last Seaforth there should be four great contemporary lairds, distinguished by certain physical defects described by the Seer. Sir Hector Mackenzie, Bart. of Gairloch, was buck-toothed, and is to this day spoken of among the Gairloch tenantry as "An Tighearna storach," or the buck-toothed laird. Chisholm of Chisholm was hair-lipped, Grant of Grant half-witted, and Macleod of Raasay a stammerer. [For full details of this remarkable instance of family fate, see "The Prophecies of the Brahan Seer." - A. & W. Mackenzie, Inverness.]
To the testimony of those whose names have been already given we shall add the evidence of a living witness when the first edition of this work was in preparation. Duncan Davidson of Tulloch, Lord-Lieutenant of the county of Ross, in a letter addressed to the author, dated May 21, 1878, says - "Many of these prophecies I heard of upwards of 70 years ago, and when many of them were not fulfilled, such as the late Lord Seaforth surviving his sons, and Mrs Stewart Mackenzie's accident, near Brahan, by which Miss Caroline Mackenzie was killed."
It is impossible not to sympathise with the magnificent old Chief as he mourned over the premature death of his four promising sons, and saw the honours of his house for ever extinguished in his own person.
Many instances are related of his magnificent extravagance at home, while sailing round the West Coast, visiting the great principality of the Lewis, and calling on his way hither and thither on the other great chiefs of the West and Western Islands. Sir Walter Scott, in his "Lament for the Last of the Seaforths," adds his tribute -
In vain the bright course of thy talents to wrong. Fate deadened thine ear and imprisoned thy tongue, For brighter o'er all her obstructions arose The glow of thy genius they could not oppose; And who, in the land of the Saxon or Gael Could match with Mackenzie, High Chief of Kintail?
Thy sons rose around thee in light and in love, All a father could hope, all a friend cou'd approve; What `vails it the tale of thy sorrows to tell? In the spring time of youth and of promise they fell! Of the line of MacKenneth remains not a male, To bear the proud name of the Chief of Kintail.
This sketch of the great chief cannot better be closed than in the words of one already repeatedly quoted: "It was said of him by an acute observer and a leading wit of the age, the late Honourable Henry Erskine, the Scotch Dean of Faculty, that 'Lord Seaforth's deafness was a merciful interposition to lower him to the ordinary rate of capacity in society,' insinuating that otherwise his perception and intelligence would have been oppressive. And the aptness of the remark was duly appreciated by all those who had the good fortune to be able to form an estimate from personal observation, while, as a man of the world, none was more capable of generalizing. Yet, as a countryman, he never affected to disregard those local predilections which identified him with the County of Ross, as the genuine representative of Kintail, possessing an influence which, being freely ceded and supported, became paramount and permanent in the county which he represented in the Commons House of Parliament, till he was called to the peerage on the 26th October, 1797, by the title of Lord Seaforth and Baron of Kintail, with limitation to heirs male of his body, and which he presided over as his Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant. He was commissioned, in 1793, to reorganise the 78th or Ross-shire Regiment of Highlanders, which, for so many years, continued to be almost exclusively composed of his countrymen. Nor did his extraordinary qualifications and varied exertions escape the wide ranging eye of the master genius of the age, who has also contributed, by a tributary effusion, to transmit the unqualified veneration of our age to many that are to follow. He has been duly recognised by Sir Walter Scott, nor was he passed over in the earlier buddings of Mr Colin Mackenzie; but while the annalist is indebted to their just encomiums, he may be allowed to respond to praise worthy of enthusiasm by a splendid fact which at once exhibits a specimen of reckless imprudence joined to those qualities which, by their popularity, attest their genuineness. Lord Seaforth for a time became emulous of the society of the most accomplished Prince of his age. The recreation of the Court was play; the springs of this indulgence then were not of the most delicate texture; his faculties, penetrating as they were, had not the facility of detection which qualified him for cautious circumspection; he heedlessly ventured and lost. It was then to cover his delinquencies elsewhere, he exposed to sale the estate of Lochalsh; and it was then he was bitterly taught to feel, when his people, without an exception, addressed his Lordship this pithy remonstrance - 'Reside amongst us and we shall pay your debts.' A variety of feelings and facts, unconnected with a difference, might have interposed to counteract this display of devotedness besides ingratitude, but these habits, or his Lordship's reluctance, rendered this expedient so hopeless that certain of the descendants of the original proprietors of that valuable locality were combining their respective finances to buy it in, when a sudden announcement that it was sold under value, smothered their amiable endeavours. Kintail followed, with the fairest portion of Glenshiel, and the Barony of Callan Fitzgerald ceased to exist, to the mortification, though not to the unpopularity of this still patriarchal nobleman among his faithful tenantry and the old friends of his family." [Bennetsfield MS.]
He married on the 22d of April, 1782, Mary, daughter of the Rev. Baptist Proby, D.D., Dean of Lichfield, and brother of John, first Lord Carysfort, by whom he had issue -
I. William Frederick, who died young, at Killearnan.
II. George Leveson Boucherat, who died young at Urquhart.
III. William Frederick, who represented the County of Ross in Parliament, in 1812, and died unmarried at Warriston, near Edinburgh, in 1814.
IV. Francis John, a midshipman in the Royal Navy, who died unmarried at Brahan, in 1813.
V. Mary Frederica Elizabeth, who succeeded her father and of whom presently.
VI. Frances Catherine, who died without issue.
VII. Caroline, who was accidentally killed at Brahan, unmarried.
VIII. Charlotte Elizabeth, who died unmarried.
IX. Augusta Anne, who died unmarried.
X. Helen Ann, who married the Right Hon. Joshua Henry Mackenzie of the Inverlael family, anciently descended from the Barons of Kintail, a Lord of Session and Justiciary by the title of Lord Mackenzie, with issue - two daughters, Frances Mary and Penuel Augusta.
Lord Seaforth, having survived all his male issue, died on the 11th of January, 1815, at Warriston, near Edinburgh, the last male representative of his race. His lady outlived him, and died at Edinburgh on the 27th of February, 1829. The estates, in virtue of an entail executed by Lord Seaforth, with all their honours, duties, and embarrassments, devolved upon his eldest daughter, then a young widowed lady,
XXII. MARY ELIZABETH FREDERICA MACKENZIE, LADY HOOD,
Whom Scott commemorated in the well-known lines -
And thou, gentle dame, who must bear to thy grief, For thy clan and thy country the cares of a Chief, Whom brief rolling moons in six changes have left Of thy husband, and father, and brethren bereft; To thine ear of affection how sad is the hail That salutes thee the heir of the line of Kintail.
She was born at Tarradale, Ross-shire, on the 27th of March, 1783, and married, first, at Barbadoes on the 6th of November, 1804, Sir Samuel Hood, K.B., Vice-Admiral of the White, and afterwards, in 1806, M.P. for Westminster. Sir Samuel died at Madras, on the 24th of December, 1814, without issue. Lady Hood then returned
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