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NOTES TO CANTO FIRST.
Note I. Thy rugged halls, Artornish, rung.–St. I. p. 6. THE ruins of the castle of Artornish are situated upon a promontory, on the Morven, or mainland side of the Sound of Mull, a name given to the deep arm of the sea, which divides that island from the continent. The situation is wild and romantic in the highest degree, having on the one hand a high and precipitous chain of rocks overhanging the sea, and on the other the narrow entrance to the beautiful salt-water lake, called Loch-Alline, which is in many places finely fringed with copse-wood. The ruins of Astornish are not now very considerable, and consist chiefly of the remains of an old keep, or tower, with fragments of outward defences. But, in former days, it was a place of great consequence, being one of the principal strong.holds which the Lords of the Isles, during the period of their stormy independence, possessed upon the mainland of Argyleshire. Here they assembled what popular tradition calls their parliaments, meaning, I suppose, their cour pleniere, or assembly of feudal and patriarchal vassals and dependants. From this castle of Astornish, upon the 19th day of October, 1461, John de Yle, designing himself Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles, granted, in the style of an independent sovereign, a commission to his trusty and well-beloved cousins, Ronald of the Isles, and Duncan, Arch-Dean of the Isles, for empowering them to enter into a treaty with the most excellent Prince Edward, by the grace of God, King of France and England, and Lord of Ireland. Edward IV., on his part, named Laurence Bishop of Durham, the Earl of Worcestor, the Prior of St John's, Lord Wenlock, and Mr Robert Stillington, keeper of the privy seal, his deputies and commissioners, to confer with those named by the Lord of the Isles. The conference terminated in a treaty, by which the Lord of the Isles agreed to become a vassal to the crown of England, and to assist Edward IV. and James Earl of Douglas, then in banishment, in subduing the realm of Scotland. londe, as weel the seid Erle of Douglas, as his heires and successours, by homage and feaute to be done therefore.”Rymer's Foedera Conventiones Literæ et cujuscunque generis Acta Publica, Fol. dol. V., 1741.
The first article provides, that John de Isle, Earl of Ross, with his son Donald Balloch, and his grandson John de Isle, with all their subjects, men, people, and inhabitants, become vassals and liegemen to Edward IV. of England, and assist him in his wars in Scotland or Ireland; and then follow the allowances to be made to the Lord of the Isles, in recompense of his military service, and the provisions for dividing such conquests as their united arms should make upon the mainland of Scotland among the confederates. These appear
such curious illustrations of the period, that they are here subjoined:
“ Item, The seid John Erle of Rosse shall, from the seid fest of Whittesontyde next comyng, yerely, durying his lyf, have and take, for fees and wages in tyme of peas, of the seid most high and Christien prince c. marc sterlyng of Englysh money; and in tyme of werre, as long as he shall entende with his myght and power in the said werres, in manner and
fourme abovesaid, he shall have wages of cc. lb. sterlyng of . English money yearly; and after the rate of the tyme that he shall be occupied in the seid werres.
“ Item, The seid Donald shall, from the seid feste of Whittesontide, have and take, during his lyf, yerly, in tyme of peas, for his fees and wages, xxl, sterlyng of Englysh money; and, when he shall be occupied and intend to the werre, with his myght and power, and in manner and fourme aboveseid, he shall have and take, for his wages yearly, xl l. sterlynge of Englysh money; or for the rate of the tyme of werre
“ Item, The seid John, sonn and heire apparant of the said Donald, shall have and take, yerely, from the seid fest, for his fees and wages, in the tyme of peas, xl. sterlynges of Englysh money; and for tyme of werre, and his intendyng thereto, in manner and fourme aboveseid, he shall have, for his fees and wages, yearly xx l. sterlynges of Englysh money; or after the rate of the tyme that he shall be occupied in the werre: And the seid John, th' Erle Donald and John, and
eche of them, shall have good and sufficiaunt paiment of the seid fees and wages, as wel for tyme of peas as of werre, accordyng to thees articules and appoyntements. Item, it is appointed, accorded, concluded, and finally determined, that, if it so be that hereafter the seid reaume of Scotlande, or the more part thereof, be conquered, subdued, and brought to the obeissance of the seid most high and Christien prince, and his heires, or successoures, of the seid Lionell, in fourme aboveseid descendyng, be the assistance, helpe, and aide of the seid John Erle of Rosse, and Donald, and of James Erle of Douglas, then, the seid fees and wages for the tyme of peas cessying, the same erles and Donald shall have, by the graunte of the same most Christien prince, all the possessions of the seid reaume beyonde Scottishe see, they to be departed equally betwix them: eche of them, his heires and successours, to holde his parte of the seid most Christien prince, his heires, and successours, for evermore, in right of his croune of Eng. land, by homage and feaute to be done therefore.
“ Item, If so be that, by th' aide and assistence of the seid James Erle of Douglas, the seid reaume of Scotlande be conquered and subdued as above, then he shall have, enjnie, and inherite all his own possessions, landes, and inheritaunce, on this syde the said Scottish see; that is to saye, betwixt the seid Scottishe see and Englande, such he hath rejoiced and be possessed of before this; there to holde them of the seid most high and Christien prince, his heires, and successours, as is abovesaid, for evermore, in right of the coroune of Eng.
Such was the treaty of Artornish ; but it does not appear that the allies ever made any very active effort to realize their ambitious designs. It will serve to show both the power of these reguli, and their independence upon the crown of Scotland.
It is only farther necessary to say of the castle of Artornish, that it is almost opposite to the bay of Aros, in the island of Mull, where there was another castle, the occasional residence of the Lord of the Isles.
The seal displays a taste for music, which could scarcely be expected from his habits and local predilections. They will long follow a boat in which any musical instrument is played, and even a tune simply whistled has attractions for them. The Dean of the Isles says of Heiskar, a small uninhabited rock, about twelve (Scottish) miles from the isle of Uist, that an in. finite slaughter of seals takes place therc.