Robert MacDonald - Extract from The MacDonald Bards from Medieval Times by Rev. MacDonald.

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Extract from "The MacDonald Bards from Medieval Times" by Rev. MacDonald. Pages 107-109

ROBERT MACDONALD, TEACHER,
DINGWALL.
(Motto, "Per mare per terrās.")

On the 18th of October, 1818, at Strathgarve, Contin, Ross-shire, Mr Robert MacDonald published the following "family record":- "This record is to certify to all whom it may concern that I, the writer hereof, Robert MacDonald, was born of respectable parents at the west-end of Auldinie Bridge, near Loth, in the parish of Loth, Sutherlandshire, at three o'clock in the morning of Monday, the 22nd day of June, A.D. 1795, and was baptised by the Rev. George MacCulloch, minister of Loth. That my father is John MacDonald, farmer and cattle dealer, eldest son of Alex. MacDonald and Janet MacPherson, there. And my mother, Catherine MacDonald, eldest daughter of Robert MacDonald, weaver, and Christina Sutherland, Kintradewell, parish of Loth. My eldest brother, George, was a soldier in the 42nd Regiment, and was wounded, and died thereby, at Bayonne, shortly before the battle of Waterloo. I have living a sister named Isabella, and a brother named Alexander, both younger than myself. I had an uncle and three aunts on my father's side, namely, George, Betty, Isabella, and Elizabeth, and three uncles and one aunt on my mother's side, namely, Donald, John, William, Helen."

Dingwall, December 4th, 1821.
"I was united in marriage to Margaret MacKenzie, eldest daughter of Kenneth MacKenzie, smith, Dingwall, by the Rev. John MacDonald, of Ferintosh. My brother, Alexander, was first a merchant, and after losing all his effects by fire in America, became a schoolmaster in Nova Scotia. My ancestors and that of my wife were of the farming line. My grandfathers descended from two MacDonalds who had to flee (one to Sutherland the other to Caithness)  from the Western Isles at the time that MacDonald, Lord of the Isles was overpowered, and, I believe, were natives of Islay."

The issue of the marriage, namely, Georgina, Elizabeth, John, Margaret, Robert, Kenneth, Alexander, Roderick, Katherine, Henry Ebenezer, are all on the same page, with dates of birth, and certified as being a "true copy" by Roderick MacDonald, London.

His granddaughter, Mrs Margaret MacLeod, Glasgow, From whom the above information was obtained, says that he taught at Inverness, Keils, and Dingwall. His last teaching was in Gaelic, in his old age, to the late MacIntosh of MacIntosh at Moy Hall. She never saw any of his work except a small book of poetry in English and Gaelic, and a small pamphlet on "A Sermon to Asses," which is in the possession of her uncle at Partick, The date of his death I have been unable to ascertain. Robert MacDonald's poetic gift must, therefore, be judged by the following elegy on the death of Lady MacKenzie of Gairloch, who died suddenly in 1834 :-

I sing not this for ostentation;
But only as a commem'ration,
Of the lamented worth departed:
Of Kythe Caroline of Gairloch.

This Noble Plant of great renown,
By death was suddenly cut down;
Whereby many, in this nation,
ere stricken with consternation.

Mourn, Ross-shire, mourn, you have great cause,
For her who'n orn'ment to you was -
For her, whose heart with mercy glow'd,
Whose lips with kindness overflow'd.

How sad a stroke Sir Francis got!
His infants too - how sad their lot!
Methinks I see him sadly weep
For her who was his own help-meet.

Oh! how, suddenly she was torn
From him and them, whom she adorn'd.
Alas! alas! how he is now
Bereft - bereav'd of his dear love!

He's bereaved of his treasure -
Of his darling - of his pleasure -
Of his delight - and of his choice,
With whom he often did rejoice.

It is no wonder for to hear
Him weeping - mourning for his dear:
And his children, too, lamenting
That she so sudd'nly was sent for.

To him this world is now dreary,
Lonely, desolate, uncheery:
But he must bear it - 'tis his lot;
The Lord may bless it. May he not?

Of the inhabitants of Gairloch,
Of Connon-side, and Dingwall also,
Would well perceive this visitation,
They would lament their situation.

How appalling this visitation
Is to them and to the nation:
Seeing the Lord, in haste remov'd
Their Patroness who useful prov'd.

This Patroness of Infant Schools,
Who countenanced Moral Rules -
Promoted ev'ry institution,
Within her reach for education.

Weep, infants, weep, she lowly lies,
Who wished to see you happy - wise;
With ardent love her heart was fraught,
She lov'd to see you early taught.

Ye sons and daughters, low and high,
May breathe a mournful feeling sigh;
The heart that now has ceased to beat
Was feeling's own pure - peaceful seat.

But mourn not friends, as those who have
No hope to meet beyond the grave.
Her good example always take,
In doing good for Jesus's sake.

According to the light she got,
She did endeavour to promote
The Gospel cause, both far and near,
In foreign lands as well as here.

She liv'd an honour to her sex,
And churls and misers she did vex;
By her kind acts to the oppressed;
And also to the poor distressed

She used to breathe a sweet perfume
In ev'ry place where she had room;
She lov'd to aid and patronise
The diligent, the good, and wise.

How sweet, and amiable, and kind,
She show'd the workings of her mind.
In schemes, and plans, and such essays
As might be useful many ways.

If she had liv'd for many years,
What good she'd do, from what appear'd
Her busy mind could find no rest -
How she performed is now a test.

On what she did, now many look,
Wondering at the pains she took,
Especially to teach the young
and rising generation.

A solemn warning this to all -
By it the Lord does loudly call
To high and low - to rich and poor,
To make their own salvation sure.

For none shall get eternal rest,
Nor e'er in happiness be blest;
But only such as live to Him
Who died to save them from their sins.

By saving grace we must be sav'd -
The way to rest, with love is pav'd -
Love both to God and all mankind
Rules in the soul who rest will find.

 

Besides the above he wrote an elegy on the death of his daughter, Elizabeth, who died in childbirth, March 9th, 1866, aged 41.

When she rose at early morning
Full of health, all blythe and gay,
She never thought it was the dawning
Of her last - her dying day.

Will ye trifle any longer,
Will ye not regard the call,
Ye who think yourselves much stronger,
Ye may be the next to fall.

Farewell, dear children, my life is past,
Your love for me so long did last,
Grieve not for me, nor sorrow take,
But love each other for my sake.

He also published a small collection of religious poems as an affectionate warning, to which is added an appendix which is very severe on Christian women who ponder over amorous books, ballads, and romances, and all vain dressing of the body and hair, quoting Tertulian on the women of his time, "What doth this cumbersome dressing of the head contribute to your health? Why will you not suffer your hair to be at rest and lie quiet? which is sometimes tied up, sometimes relayed and made to hang down, sometimes frizzled and curled, sometimes put under the strict restraint of plaits, knots, and combs, and otherwise, and sometimes suffered to flutter and fly at random." It is equally severe on men for "drinking healths, tippling, carding, dicing, dancing, theatre-going, &c., &c., all the work of the Devil! and the houses for such are called "by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church" the Devil's temples, chapels, shops, and schools, the plays are called by them the Devil's spectacles, and the players the Devil's chiefest factors, evidently culled from the works of divines by a very religious man.