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Beneath the castle stands the present mansion of the family, having on the one hand Loch Etive, with its islands and moun. tains, on the other two romantic eminences tufted with copsewood. There are other accompaniments suited to the scene ; in particular a huge upright pillar, or detached fragment of that sort of rock called plum-pudding stone, upon the shore, about a quarter of a mile from the castle. It is called clachna-cau, or the Dog's Pillar, because Fingal is said to have used it as a stake to which he bound his celebrated dog Bran. Others say, that when the Lord of the Isles came upon a visit to the Lord of Lorn, the dogs brought for his sport were kept beside this pillar. Upon the whole, a more delightful and romantic spot can scarce be conceived ; and it receives a moral interest from the considerations attached to the residence of a family once powerful enough to confront and defeat Robert Bruce, and now sunk into the shade of private life. It is at present possessed by Patrick Mac-Dougal, Esq. the lineal and undisputed representative of the ancient Lords of Lorn. The heir of Dunolly fell lately in Spain, fighting under the Duke of Wellington,-a death well becoming his ancestry.
Note IX. Those lightnings of the wave.-St. XXI. p. 28. The phenomenon called by sailors Sea-fire, is one of the most beautiful and interesting which is witnessed in the Hebrides: at times the ocean appears entirely illuminated around
the vessel, and a long train of lambent coruscations are perpetually bursting upon the sides of the vessel, or pursuing her wake through the darkness. These phosphoric appearances, concerning the origin of which naturalists are not agreed in opinion, seem to be called into action by the rapid motion of the ship through the water, and are probably owing to the water being saturated with fish-spawn, or other animal substances. They remind one strongly of the description of the sea snakes in Mr Coleridge's wild, but highly poetical ballad of the Ancient Mariner :
“ Beyond the shadow of the ship
I watched the water-snakes,
Fell off in boary flakes."
Șo strait, so high, so steep,
And plunged them in the deep.–St. XXIV. p. 31. The fortress of Hebridean chief was almost always on the sea-shore, for the facility of communication which the ocean afforded. Nothing can be more wild than the situations which they chose, and the devices by which the architects endeavoured to defend them. Narrow stairs and archied vaults were the usual mode of accéss; and the draw-bridge appears at Dunstaffnage, and elsewhere, to have fallen from the gate of the building to the top of such a stair-case ; so that any one advancing with hostile purpose, found himself in a state of exposed and précarious elevation, with a gulph betwcen him and the object of his attack.
These fortresses were guarded with equal care. The duty of the watch devolved chiefly upon an officer called the Cockman, who had the charge of challenging all who approached the castle. The very ancient family of Mac-Niel of Barra kept this attendant at their castle about an hundred years ago. Martin gives the following account of the difficulty which attended his procuring entrance there :
“ The little island Kismul lies about a quarter of a mile from the south of this isle, (Barra ;) it is the seat of Mackneil of Barra ; there is a stone-wall round it two stories Irigh, reaching the sea; and within the wall there is an old tower and an hall, with other houses about it. There is a little magazine in the tower, to which no stranger has access. I saw the officer called the Cockman, and an old cock he is : when I bid him ferry me over the water to the island, he told me that he was but an inferior officer, his business being to attend in the tower; but if (says he) the constable, who then stood on the wall, will give you access, l’li ferry you over. I desired him to procure me the constable's permission, and I
would reward him; but having waited some hours for the constable's answer, and not receiving any, I was obliged to return without seeing this famous fort. Mackneil and his lady being absent, was the cause of this difficulty, and of my not seeing the place. I was told some weeks after, that the constable was very apprehensive of some design I might have in viewing the fort, and thereby to expose it to the conquest of a foreign power; of which I supposed there was no great cause of fear.”