He was to repay it with his pencil, and the chief sat to him for his portrait.
Lord Seaforth also commissioned from West one of those immense sheets of canvas on which the old Academician delighted to work in his latter years. The subject of the picture was the traditionary story of the Royal hunt, in which Alexander the Third was saved from the assault of a fierce stag by Colin Fitzgerald, a wandering knight unknown to authentic history.
West considered it one of his best productions, charged ?00 for it, and was willing some years afterwards, with a view to the exhibition of his works, to purchase back the picture at its original cost. In one instance Lord Seaforth did not evince artistic taste. He dismantled Brahan Castle removing its castellated features and completely modernising its general appearance. The house, with its large modern additions, is a tall, massive pile of building, the older portion covered to the roof with ivy. It occupies a commanding site on a bank midway between the river Conon and a range of picturesque rocks. This bank extends for miles, sloping in successive terraces, all richly wooded or cultivated, and commanding a magnificent view that terminates with the Moray Firth." [The Seaforth Papers, in the North British Review, 1863, by Robert Carruthers, LL.D.]
The remarkable prediction of the extinction of this highly distinguished and ancient family is so well known that it need not be recapitulated here, and its literal fulfilment is one of the most curious instances of the kind on record. There is no doubt that the "prophecy" was widely known throughout the Highlands generations before it was fulfilled. Lockhart, in his Life of Sir Walter Scott, says that "it connected the fall of the house of 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 fur 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.]