Anne Lister diary transcriptions Anne Lister's diary 1828 Anne Lister's diary August 1828

Saturday 2 August 1828


Hurried up to the vessel and on board at 2½ & off in 5 minutes. Misty & rather too early for the Loch (Fine), the herring fishing boats returning home. At the Kyles of Bute at 6¼. Very fine. Pass the bay of Rothesay at 7¾. The white town looks neat & large but the hills around the bay too bare, and the bay therefore does not strike me as so pretty as when we entered it in going to Rothesay. The newer Tow’d (Toward) Castle (left) looks well (Wyatville the architect) & the old ruined castle more considerable, perfect & picturesque than I thought before.1The original Toward castle was built in the 15 century and abandoned in 1646 after Clan Campbell attacked Clan Lamont, who owned the castle. The land was bought by Glasgow merchant, Lord Provost and MP, Kirkman Finlay in 1818 and the ‘newer’ Castle Toward built in 1820. The architect was in fact David Hamilton, and not Wyatville, as recorded by Anne.
Very fine sunny morning. Not wind but cool air. Loch Long, in passing, looks tamer than I before fancied. Even the beautiful banks of the Clyde almost seem to want boldness. Off Gourock speak of the loss of the Comet. People always drowned when many are in the water together. Catch at one another & thus sink 1 another. But the Ayr passed fair over the place where many were struggling & the paddles killed many. It was the 1st trip she had made & all the men were drunk. Perhaps therefore the captain could not do better than he did. McAlister was an excellent swimmer & was seen on deck but was wrapped up in greatcoat & cloak & at any rate could not thus have swum.2The original paddle steamer Comet was launched in 1812, taking passengers between Glasgow, Greenock and Helensborough. As it was the first commercially successful steamboat service in Europe its owner, Henry Bell, is credited with bringing steam navigation into practice in Europe. Anne therefore had Bell to thank for making possible her tour of Scotland with Sibella Maclean. Unfortunately the first Comet was wrecked in 1820, but luckily there were no casualties. Henry Bell, had a new vessel, the Comet II, built. Sadly, on 21 October 1825, the Comet II collided with another steamer, The Ayr, and sank off Kempock Point, Gourock, Scotland. Sixty two of the estimated 80 passengers were killed, including Mr Charles McAllister, a solicitor and proprietor of an estate in Argylshire, and his nephew. Mr McAllister’s dog is credited with assisting 16 year old Jane Munro to swim to safety.’allister&f=false
At Gourock at 10. On inquiry found we should get into Glasgow a couple of hours earlier by getting into another boat. At 10 40/60 get on board the Helensburgh, a fine large vessel, & off immediately. (Burn of Edinburgh architect of the Gourock custom house. The harbour & [offing] full of shipping. Very pretty.) Nothing but the stables of Roseneath seen. The house not finished & the duke laid out £60,000. This said to give the deadly blow to the Argyl property. In the wood beyond it, towards Glasgow, Ardincaple, Lord John Campbell. Dunbarton Castle always fine.

The Comet II
From Cheap Tracts No. 4: Loss of the Comet steam-boat on her passage from Inverness to Glasgow, on Friday the 21st October, 1825, printed and sold by John Miller, 1826, Dunfermline.

Borera must have been amused. He actually never left me & we talked all the way. From a few slight hints it might be guessed the involvement of the McLean property was known & Albine’s great correspondence with Mrs Sherwood &c quizzed & not universally admired. Young Coll not a thorough Highlander, wishes the Gaelic language abolished & to send off the Highlanders & get lowland farmers.3During the approximate period 1750 to 1860 a large number of tenants in the Scottish highlands and islands were evicted from their land by clan chiefs (known as the Highland clearances). Initially tenants were relocated to smaller plots of land (crofts), where they were expected to earn their living by working in trades such as harvesting kelp, fishing and quarrying stone. This was so that their former tenancies could be combined to make large scale sheep farms, which were more profitable for the landlords. Later, when crofters became unable to support themselves due to population growth, famine and the collapse of the industries they were employed in, landlords outright evicted them from their land, often paying for them to emigrate to North America and Australia.
Here Anne writes about Mr Maclean of Borera telling her that Sibella’s brother, Hugh Maclean, wanted to ‘send off the Highlanders & get lowland farmers.’ I don’t know much about Sibella’s family’s involvement in the clearances, but I did find this reference in Wikipedia to Sibella’s father evicting his tenants in the isle of Muck to make way for sheep farms:,_Scotland#Prosperity_and_poverty
Borera used sometimes to wonder at his giving these opinions too freely before old Coll, who was annoyed. In fact the old man perhaps more liked in his day than the young man is. Will not go anywhere and therefore many will not go to see him. A little jealousy between the Loch Buys and Colls for precedence, each claiming it.4Loch Buy (Lochbuie) and Coll were two of the branches of Clan Maclean, of which Sir Fitzroy Maclean was the overall chief. Here Anne recounts a conversation with Borera about the rivalry between these two branches of the clan.
I think Borera leans to the former. Says they are more connected in the county, the Colls have no connections there. The present old Coll the first who took the supporters. Loch Buy bears supporters also. Doubts the right of both parties since Sir Fitzroy is the acknowledged chief and only the chiefs have a right. Borera does not take them but his right as good as Loch Buy’s or Coll’s. The former ministerial and against Argyll interest, the Coll “violent Whigs and Argylist and of course can get anything and thus they and Loch Buy often clash.5Argyll was the dukedom within which clan Maclean lived. The Duke of Argyll in 1828 was George Campbell, was a nobleman and Whig politician. At the time there were only two political parties in the UK, the right wing Tory party (in power in 1828) and the more liberal Whig party.,_6th_Duke_of_Argyll
I said I had thought Loch Buy a bear to Miss MacLean when we met.6See journal entry for 22 July 1828, starting ‘The Loch Buy party come up.’
Thinks Miss MacLean must feel her being no longer mistress of her father’s house. All seem to like her best. Borera much recommends Arnoth’s Elements of Natural Philosophy. Quite new yet in the 3rd edition. The science simplified & shorn of all hard words. Gentlemanly enough but would far rather be with out him but must play the lady and be waited on &c for Miss MacLean’s sake.

The Broomielaw, Glasgow, circa 1870
Photo by Thomas Annan

Land at the Broomielaw at 2 10/60. Land our baggage before us & walk to the Bull Inn & get there at 2 35/60. Who should be there but Mrs Elphinstone & her friend. Going off per coach for Sterling at 3. The former calls for a moment. Bids me inquire for her in Edinburgh should I be there next winter. Gives her card. “Mrs D. Horne Elphinstone.” Everybody will know her & where she is. Only one Mrs Horne Elphinstone. Shake hands & wish good bye to Borera who is off for Edinburgh at 4. So feverish & set wrong go out for an ounce Epsom salts & take 2/3 of it at 3¾, then come up to be bedroom for the rest of the day and at 4 sit down to write, & now at 9¾ have written out Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, yesterday & today, having had tea at near 8. From six to tea time the salts worked me every minute. Have parted with some hardish bits and saw distinctly the oatmeal husks I took in the oatbread at Coll House. Have eaten none since Monday morning. Wrote 1 2/3 pages to Miss McLean till 10¾. Very fine day.

Left margin: Recommend (to Borera) Hallam on the middle ages. Give him information as to his traveling on the continent.

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