Part 1 out of 6
Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Shawn Cruze and PG Distributed Proofreaders
HISTORICAL AND ROMANTIC BALLADS,
IN THE SOUTHERN COUNTIES OF SCOTLAND; WITH A FEW
OF MODERN DATE, FOUNDED UPON
IN THREE VOLUMES.
The songs, to savage virtue dear.
That won of yore the public ear,
Ere Polity, sedate and sage,
Had quench'd the fires of feudal rage.--WARTON.
THE SECOND VOLUME.
The Battle of Philiphaugh
The Gallant Grahams
The Battle of Pentland Hills
The Battle of Loudonhill
The Battle of Bothwell-bridge
Scottish Music, an Ode
Introduction to the Tale of Tamlane
The Young Tamlane
The Twa Corbies
The Douglas Tragedy
Proud Lady Margaret
The Original Ballad of the Broom of Cowdenknows
Sir Hugh Le Blond
Graeme and Bewick
The Duel of Wharton and Stuart, Part I.
The Lament of the Border Widow
Fair Helen of Kirkonnel, Part I.
Hughie the Graeme
Johnie of Breadislee
The Laird o' Logie
A Lyke-wake Dirge
The Dowie Dens of Yarrow
The Gay Goss Hawk
The Lass of Lochroyan
Rose the Red and White Lilly
"But, O my country! how shall memory trace
"Thy glories, lost in either Charles's days,
"When through thy fields destructive rapine spread,
"Nor sparing infants' tears, nor hoary head!
"In those dread days, the unprotected swain
"Mourn'd, in the mountains, o'er his wasted plain;
"Nor longer vocal, with the shepherd's lay,
"Were Yarrow's banks, or groves of Endermay."
LANGHORN--_Genius and Valour_.
Such are the verses, in which a modern bard has painted the desolate
state of Scotland, during a period highly unfavourable to poetical
composition. Yet the civil and religious wars of the seventeenth century
have afforded some subjects for traditionary poetry, and the reader is
here presented with the ballads of that disastrous aera. Some prefatory
history may not be unacceptable.
That the Reformation was a good and a glorious work, few will be such
slavish bigots as to deny. But the enemy came, by night, and sowed tares
among the wheat; or rather; the foul and rank soil, upon which the seed
was thrown, pushed forth, together with the rising crop, a plentiful
proportion of pestilential weeds. The morals of the reformed clergy were
severe; their learning was usually respectable, sometimes profound;
and their eloquence, though often coarse, was vehement, animated, and
popular. But they never could forget, that their rise had been achieved
by the degradation, if not the fall, of the crown; and hence, a body of
men, who, in most countries, have been attached to monarchy, were in
Scotland, for nearly two centuries, sometimes the avowed enemies, always
the ambitious rivals, of their prince. The disciples of Calvin could
scarcely avoid a tendency to democracy, and the republican form of
church government was sometimes hinted at, as no unfit model for the
state; at least, the kirkmen laboured to impress, upon their followers
and hearers, the fundamental principle, that the church should be solely
governed by those, unto whom God had given the spiritual sceptre. The
elder Melvine, in a conference with James VI., seized the monarch by the
sleeve, and, addressing him as _God's sillie vassal_, told him, "There
are two kings, and two kingdomes. There is Christ, and his kingdome, the
kirke; whose subject King James the sixth is, and of whose kingdome he
is not a king, nor a head, nor a lord, but a member; and they, whom
Christ hath called and commanded to watch ower his kirke, and govern his
spiritual kingdome, have sufficient authorise and power from him so to
do; which no christian king, no prince, should controul or discharge,
but fortifie and assist: otherwise they are not faithful subjects to
Christ."--_Calderwood_, p. 329. The delegated theocracy, thus sternly
claimed, was exercised with equal rigour. The offences in the king's
household fell under their unceremonious jurisdiction, and he was
formally reminded of his occasional neglect to say grace before and
after meat--his repairing to hear the word more rarely than was
fitting--his profane banning and swearing, and keeping of evil
company--and finally, of his queen's carding, dancing, night-walking,
and such like profane pastimes.--_Calderwood_, p. 313. A curse, direct
or implied, was formally denounced against every man, horse, and spear,
who should assist the king in his quarrel with the Earl of Gowrie; and
from the pulpit, the favourites of the listening sovereign were likened
to Haman, his wife to Herodias, and he himself to Ahab, to Herod, and
to Jeroboam. These effusions of zeal could not be very agreeable to the
temper of James: and accordingly, by a course of slow, and often crooked
and cunning policy, he laboured to arrange the church-government upon
a less turbulent and menacing footing. His eyes were naturally turned
towards the English hierarchy, which had been modelled, by the despotic
Henry VIII., into such a form, as to connect indissolubly the interest
of the church with that of the regal power.[A] The Reformation, in
England, had originated in the arbitrary will of the prince; in
Scotland, and in all other countries of Europe, it had commenced among
insurgents of the lower ranks. Hence, the deep and essential
difference which separated the Huguenots, the Lutherans, the Scottish
presbyterians, and, in fine, all the other reformed churches, from that
of England. But James, with a timidity which sometimes supplies the
place of prudence, contented himself with gradually imposing upon the
Scottish nation a limited and moderate system of episcopacy, which,
while it gave to a proportion of the churchmen a seat in the council of
the nation, induced them to look up to the sovereign, as the power to
whose influence they owed their elevation. But, in other respects, James
spared the prejudices of his subjects; no ceremonial ritual was imposed
upon their consciences; the pastors were reconciled by the prospect of
preferment,[B] the dress and train of the bishops were plain and decent;
the system of tythes was placed upon a moderate and unoppressive
footing;[C] and, perhaps, on the whole, the Scottish hierarchy contained
as few objectionable points as any system of church-government in
Europe. Had it subsisted to the present day, although its doctrines
could not have been more pure, nor its morals more exemplary, than those
of the present kirk of Scotland, yet its degrees of promotion might have
afforded greater encouragement to learning, and objects of laudable
ambition to those, who might dedicate themselves to its service. But
the precipitate bigotry of the unfortunate Charles I. was a blow to
episcopacy in Scotland, from which it never perfectly recovered.
[Footnote A: Of this the Covenanters were so sensible, as to trace
(what they called) the Antichristian hierarchy, with its idolatry,
superstition, and human inventions, "to the prelacy of England, the
fountain whence all these Babylonish streams issue unto us."--See their
manifesto on entering England, in 1640.]
[Footnote B: Many of the preachers, who had been loudest in the cause of
presbytery, were induced to accept of bishoprics. Such was, for example,
William Cooper, who was created bishop of Galloway. This recreant Mass
John was a hypochondriac, and conceived his lower extremities to be
composed of glass; hence, on his court advancement, the following
epigram was composed:
_"Aureus heu! frugilem confregit malleus urnam."_]
[Footnote C: This part of the system was perfected in the reign of
It has frequently happened, that the virtues of the individual, at least
their excess (if, indeed, there can be an excess in virtue), have been
fatal to the prince. Never was this more fully exemplified than in the
history of Charles I. His zeal for religion, his family affection, the
spirit with which he defended his supposed rights, while they do honour
to the man, were the fatal shelves upon which the monarchy was wrecked.
Impatient to accomplish the total revolution, which his father's
cautious timidity had left incomplete, Charles endeavoured at once to
introduce into Scotland the church-government, and to renew, in England,
the temporal domination, of his predecessor, Henry VIII. The furious
temper of the Scottish nation first took fire; and the brandished
footstool of a prostitute[A] gave the signal for civil dissension,
which ceased not till the church was buried under the ruins of the
constitution; till the nation had stooped to a military despotism; and
the monarch to the block of the executioner.
[Footnote A: "_Out, false loon! wilt thou say the mass at my lug
(ear)_," was the well known exclamation of Margaret Geddes, as she
discharged her missile tripod against the bishop of Edinburgh, who,
in obedience to the orders of the privy-council, was endeavouring to
rehearse the common prayer. Upon a seat more elevated, the said Margaret
had shortly before done penance, before the congregation, for the sin of
fornication: such, at least, is the tory tradition.]
The consequence of Charles' hasty and arbitrary measures were soon
evident. The united nobility, gentry, and clergy of Scotland, entered
into the SOLEMN LEAGUE AND COVENANT, by which memorable deed, they
subscribed and swore a national renunciation of the hierarchy. The walls
of the prelatic Jericho (to use the language of the times) were thus
levelled with the ground, and the curse of Hiel, the Bethelite,
denounced against those who should rebuild them. While the clergy
thundered, from the pulpits, against the prelatists and malignants (by
which names were distinguished the scattered and heartless adherents of
Charles), the nobility and gentry, in arms, hurried to oppose the march
of the English army, which now advanced towards their borders. At the
head of their defensive forces they placed Alexander Lesley, who, with
many of his best officers, had been trained to war under the great
Gustavus Adolphus. They soon assembled an army of 26,000 men, whose
camp, upon Dunse-law, is thus described by an eye-witness.
"Mr Baillie acknowledges, that it was an agreeable feast to his eyes,
to survey the place: it is a round hill, about a Scots mile in circle,
rising, with very little declivity, to the height of a bow-shot, and the
head somewhat plain, and near a quarter of a mile in length and breadth;
on the top it was garnished with near forty field pieces, pointed
towards the east and south. The colonels, who were mostly noblemen, as
Rothes, Cassilis, Eglinton, Dalhousie, Lindsay, Lowdon, Boyd, Sinclair,
Balcarras, Flemyng, Kirkcudbright, Erskine, Montgomery, Yester, &c.
lay in large tents at the head of their respective regiments; their
captains, who generally were barons, or chief gentlemen, lay around
them: next to these were the lieutenants, who were generally old
veterans, and had served in that, or a higher station, over sea; and the
common soldiers lay outmost, all in huts of timber, covered with divot,
or straw. Every company, which, according to the first plan, did consist
of two hundred men, had their colours flying at the captain's tent door,
with the Scots arms upon them, and this motto, in golden letters, "FOR
CHRIST'S CROWN AND COVENANT." Against this army, so well arrayed and
disciplined, and whose natural hardihood was edged and exalted by a high
opinion of their sacred cause, Charles marched at the head of a large
force, but divided, by the emulation of the commanders, and enervated,
by disuse of arms. A faintness of spirit pervaded the royal army, and
the king stooped to a treaty with his Scottish subjects. The treaty was
soon broken; and, in the following year, Dunse-law again presented the
same edifying spectacle of a presbyterian army. But the Scots were not
contented with remaining there. They passed the Tweed; and the English
troops, in a skirmish at Newburn, shewed either more disaffection,
or cowardice, than had at any former period disgraced their national
character. This war was concluded by the treaty of Rippon; in
consequence of which, and of Charles's concessions, made during his
subsequent visit to his native country, the Scottish parliament
congratulated him on departing "a contented king, from a contented
people." If such content ever existed, it was of short duration.
The storm, which had been soothed to temporary rest in Scotland, burst
forth in England with treble violence. The popular clamour accused
Charles, or his ministers, of fetching into Britain the religion of
Rome, and the policy of Constantinople. The Scots felt most keenly the
first, and the English the second, of these aggressions. Accordingly,
when the civil war of England broke forth, the Scots nation, for a time,
regarded it in neutrality, though not with indifference. But, when the
successes of a prelatic monarch, against a presbyterian parliament, were
paving the way for rebuilding the system of hierarchy, they could no
longer remain inactive. Bribed by the delusive promise of Sir Henry
Vane, and Marshall, the parliamentary commissioners, that the church of
England should be reformed, _according to the word of God_, which, they
fondly believed, amounted to an adoption of presbytery, they agreed to
send succours to their brethren of England. Alexander Lesly, who ought
to have ranked among the _contented_ subjects, having been raised by the
king to the honours of Earl of Leven, was, nevertheless, readily induced
to accept the command of this second army. Doubtless, where insurrection
is not only pardoned, but rewarded, a monarch has little right to expect
gratitude for benefits, which all the world, as well as the receiver,
must attribute to fear. Yet something is due to decency; and the best
apology for Lesly, is his zeal for propagating presbyterianism in
England, the bait which had caught the whole parliament of Scotland.
But, although the Earl of Leven was commander in chief, David Lesly, a
yet more renowned and active soldier than himself, was major-general of
the cavalry, and, in truth, bore away the laurels of the expedition.
The words of the following march, which was played in the van of this
presbyterian crusade, were first published by Allan Ramsay, in his
_Evergreen_; and they breathe the very spirit we might expect. Mr
Ritson, in his collection of Scottish songs, has favoured the public
with the music, which seems to have been adapted to the bagpipes.
The hatred of the old presbyterians to the organ was, apparently,
invincible. It is here vilified with the name of a "_chest-full of
whistles_," as the episcopal chapel at Glasgow was, by the vulgar,
opprobriously termed the _Whistling Kirk_. Yet, such is the revolution
of sentiment upon this, as upon more important points, that reports have
lately been current, of a plan to introduce this noble instrument into
The share, which Lesly's army bore in the action of Marston Moor, has
been exalted, or depressed, as writers were attached to the English or
Scottish nations, to the presbyterian or independent factions. Mr Laing
concludes, with laudable impartiality, that the victory was equally due
to "Cromwell's iron brigade of disciplined independents, and to three
regiments of Lesly's horse."--Vol I. p. 244.
Why the devil do ye na march?
Stand to your arms, my lads,
Fight in good order;
Front about, ye musketeers all,
Till ye come to the English border:
Stand til't, and fight like men,
True gospel to maintain.
The parliament's blythe to see us a' coming.
When to the kirk we come,
We'll purge it ilka room,
Frae popish reliques, and a' sic innovation,
That a' the warld may see,
There's nane in the right but we,
Of the auld Scottish nation.
_Jenny_ shall wear the hood,
_Jocky_ the sark of God;
And the kist-fou of whistles,
That mak sic a cleiro,
Our piper's braw
Shall hae them a',
Whate'er come on it:
Busk up your plaids, my lads!
Cock up your bonnets!
THE BATTLE OF PHILIPHAUGH.
This ballad is so immediately connected with the former, that the editor
is enabled to continue his sketch of historical transactions, from the
march of Lesly.
In the insurrection of 1680, all Scotland, south from the Grampians, was
actively and zealously engaged. But, after the treaty of Rippon, the
first fury of the revolutionary torrent may be said to have foamed off
its force, and many of the nobility began to look round, with horror,
upon the rocks and shelves amongst which it had hurried them. Numbers
regarded the defence of Scotland as a just and necessary warfare, who
did not see the same reason for interfering in the affairs of England.
The visit of King Charles to the metropolis of his fathers, in all
probability, produced its effect on his nobles. Some were allied to
the house of Stuart by blood; all regarded it as the source of their
honours, and venerated the ancient in obtaining the private objects of
ambition, or selfish policy which had induced them to rise up against
the crown. Amongst these late penitents, the well known marquis of
Montrose was distinguished, as the first who endeavoured to recede from
the paths of rude rebellion. Moved by the enthusiasm of patriotism, or
perhaps of religion, but yet more by ambition, the sin of noble
minds, Montrose had engaged, eagerly and deeply, upon the side of the
covenanters He had been active in pressing the town of Aberdeen to take
the covenant, and his success against the Gordons, at the bridge of Dee,
left that royal burgh no other means of safety from pillage. At the head
of his own battalion, he waded through the Tweed, in 1640, and totally
routed the vanguard of the king's cavalry. But, in 1643, moved with
resentment against the covenanters who preferred, to his prompt and
ardent character, the caution of the wily and politic earl of Argyle, or
seeing, perhaps, that the final views of that party were inconsistent
with the interests of monarchy, and of the constitution, Montrose
espoused the falling cause of royalty and raised the Highland clans,
whom he united to a small body of Irish, commanded by Alexander
Macdonald, still renowned in the north, under the title of Colkitto.
With these tumultuary and uncertain forces, he rushed forth, like a
torrent from the mountains, and commenced a rapid and brilliant career
of victory. At Tippermoor, where he first met the covenanters, their
defeat was so effectual, as to appal the presbyterian courage, even
after the lapse of eighty years.[A] A second army was defeated under the
walls of Aberdeen; and the pillage of the ill-fated town was doomed to
expiate the principles, which Montrose himself had formerly imposed upon
them. Argyleshire next experienced his arms; the domains of his rival
were treated with more than military severity; and Argyle himself,
advancing to Inverlochy for the defence of his country, was totally
and disgracefully routed by Montrose. Pressed betwixt two armies,
well appointed, and commanded by the most experienced generals of the
Covenant, Mozitrose displayed more military skill in the astonishingly
rapid marches, by which he avoided fighting to disadvantage, than even
in the field of victory. By one of those hurried marches, from the banks
of Loch Katrine to the heart of Inverness-shire, he was enabled to
attack, and totally to defeat, the Covenanters, at Aulderne though he
brought into the field hardly one half of their forces. Baillie, a
veteran officer, was next routed by him, at the village of Alford,
in Strathbogie. Encouraged by these repeated and splendid successes,
Montrose now descended into the heart of Scotland, and fought a bloody
and decisive battle, near Kilsyth, where four thousand covenanters fell
under the Highland claymore.
[Footnote A: Upon the breaking out of the insurrection, in the year
1715, the earl of Rothes, sheriff and lord-lieutenant of the county of
Fife, issued out an order for "all the fencible men of the countie to
meet him, at a place called Cashmoor. The gentlemen took no notice of
his orders, nor did the commons, except those whom the ministers forced
to goe to the place of rendezvouse, to the number of fifteen hundred
men, being all that their utmost diligence could perform. But those of
that countie, having been taught by their experience, that it is not
good meddling with edge tools, especiallie in the hands of Highlandmen,
were very averse from taking armes. No sooner they reflected on the name
of the place of rendezvouse, Cashmoor, than Tippermoor was called to
mind; a place not far from thence, where Montrose had routed them, when
under the command of my great-grand-uncle the earl of Wemyss, then
generall of God's armie. In a word, the unlucky choice of a place,
called _Moo_, appeared ominous; and that, with the flying report of the
Highlandmen having made themselves masters of Perth, made them throw
down their armes, and run, notwithstanding the trouble that Rothes and
the ministers gave themselves to stop them."--M.S. _Memoirs of Lord St
This victory opened the whole of Scotland to Montrose He occupied the
capital, and marched forward to the border; not merely to complete the
subjection of the southern provinces, but with the flattering hope of
pouring his victorious army into England, and bringing to the support of
Charles the sword of his paternal tribes.
Half a century before Montrose's career, the state of the borders was
such as might have enabled him easily to have accomplished his daring
plan. The marquis of Douglas, the earls of Hume, Roxburgh, Traquair, and
Annandale, were all descended of mighty border chiefs, whose ancestors
could, each of them, have led into the field a body of their own
vassals, equal in numbers, and superior in discipline, to the army of
Montrose. But the military spirit of the borderers, and their attachment
to their chiefs, had been much broken since the union of the crowns. The
disarming acts of James had been carried rigorously into execution, and
the smaller proprietors, no longer feeling the necessity of protection
from their chiefs in war, had aspired to independence, and embraced
the tenets of the covenant. Without imputing, with Wishart, absolute
treachery to the border nobles, it may be allowed, that they looked with
envy upon Montrose, and with dread and aversion upon his rapacious and
disorderly forces. Hence, had it been in their power, it might not have
altogether suited their inclinations, to have brought the strength
of the border lances to the support of the northern clans. The once
formidable name of Douglas still sufficed to raise some bands, by
whom Montrose was joined, in his march down the Gala. With these
reinforcements, and with the remnant of his Highlanders (for a great
number had returned home with Colkitto, to deposit their plunder, and
provide for their families), Montrose after traversing the border,
finally encamped upon the field of Philiphaugh.
The river Ettrick, immediately after its junction with the Yarrow, and
previous to its falling into the Tweed, makes a large sweep to the
southward, and winds almost beneath the lofty bank, on which the town
of Selkirk stands; leaving, upon the northern side, a large and level
plain, extending in an easterly direction, from a hill, covered with
natural copse-wood, called the Harehead-wood, to the high ground which
forms the banks of the Tweed, near Sunderland-hall. This plain is called
Philliphaugh:[A] it is about a mile and a half in length, and a quarter
of a mile broad; and, being defended, to the northward, by the high
hills which separate Tweed from Yarrow, by the river in front, and by
the high grounds, already mentioned on each flank, it forms, at once,
a convenient and a secure field of encampment. On each flank Montrose
threw up some trenches, which are still visible; and here he posted his
infantry, amounting to about twelve or fifteen hundred men. He himself
took up his quarters in the burgh of Selkirk, and, with him, the
cavalry, in number hardly one thousand, but respectable, as being
chiefly composed of gentlemen, and their immediate retainers. In this
manner, by a fatal and unaccountable error, the river Ettrick was thrown
betwixt the cavalry and infantry, which were to depend upon each other
for intelligence and mutual support. But this might be overlooked by
Montrose, in the conviction, that there was no armed enemy of Charles
in the realm of Scotland; for he is said to have employed the night in
writing and dispatching this agreeable intelligence to the king. Such an
enemy was already within four miles of his camp.
[Footnote A: The Scottish language is rich in words, expressive of local
situation The single word _haugh_, conveys, to a Scotsman, almost all
that I have endeavoured to explain in the text, by circumlocutory
Recalled by the danger of the cause of the Covenant, General David Lesly
came down from England, at the head of those iron squadrons, whose force
had been proved in the fatal battle of Long Marston Moor. His array
consisted of from five to six thousand men, chiefly cavalry. Lesly's
first plan seems to have been, to occupy the mid-land counties, so as to
intercept the return of Montrose's Highlanders, and to force him to an
unequal combat Accordingly, he marched along the eastern coast, from
Berwick to Tranent; but there he suddenly altered his direction, and,
crossing through Mid-Lothian, turned again to the southward, and,
following the course of Gala water, arrived at Melrose, the evening
before the engagement How it is possible that Montrose should have
received no notice whatever of the march of so considerable an army,
seems almost inconceivable, and proves, that the country was strongly
disaffected to his cause, or person. Still more extraordinary does it
appear, that, even with the advantage of a thick mist, Lesly should
have, the next morning, advanced towards Montrose's encampment without
being descried by a single scout. Such, however, was the case, and it
was attended with all the consequences of the most complete surprisal.
The first intimation that Montrose received of the march of Lesly,
was the noise of the conflict, or, rather, that which attended the
unresisted slaughter of his infantry, who never formed a line of battle:
the right wing alone, supported by the thickets of Harehead-wood, and
by the entrenchments which are there still visible, stood firm for some
time. But Lesly had detached two thousand men, who, crossing the Ettrick
still higher up than his main body, assaulted the rear of Montrose's
right wing. At this moment, the marquis himself arrived, and beheld
his army dispersed, for the first time, in irretrievable route. He
had thrown himself upon a horse the instant he heard the firing, and,
followed by such of his disorderly cavalry as had gathered upon the
alarm, he galloped from Selkirk, crossed the Ettrick, and made a bold
and desperate attempt to retrieve the fortune of the day. But all was
in vain; and, after cutting his way, almost singly, through a body of
Lesly's troopers, the gallant Montrose graced by his example the
retreat of the fugitives. That retreat he continued up Yarrow, and over
Minch-moor; nor did he stop till he arrived at Traquair, sixteen miles
from the field of battle. Upon Philiphaugh he lost, in one defeat, the
fruit of six splendid victories: nor was he again able effectually to
make head, in Scotland, against the covenanted cause. The number slain
in the field did not exceed three or four hundred; for the fugitives
found refuge in the mountains, which had often been the retreat of
vanquished armies, and were impervious to the pursuer's cavalry. Lesly
abused his victory, and dishonoured his arms, by slaughtering, in cold
blood, many of the prisoners whom he had taken; and the court-yard of
Newark castle is said to have been the spot, upon which they were
shot by his command. Many others are said, by Wishart, to have been
precipitated from a high bridge over the Tweed. This, as Mr Laing
remarks, is impossible; because there was not a bridge over the Tweed
betwixt Peebles and Berwick. But there is an old bridge, over the
Ettrick, only four miles from Philiphaugh, and another over the Yarrow,
both of which lay in the very line of flight and pursuit; and either
might have been the scene of the massacre. But if this is doubtful,
it is too certain, that several of the royalists were executed by the
Covenanters, as traitors to the king and parliament.[A]
[Footnote A: A covenanted minister, present at the execution of these
gentlemen observed, "This wark gaes bonnilie on!" an amiable
exclamation equivalent to the modern _ca ira_, so often used on similar
occasions.--_Wishart's Memoirs of Montrose._]
I have reviewed, at some length, the details of this memorable
engagement, which, at the same time, terminated the career of a hero,
likened, by no mean judge of mankind[A] to those of antiquity, and
decided the fate of his country. It is further remarkable, as the last
field which was fought in Ettrick forest, the scene of so many bloody
actions. The unaccountable neglect of patroles, and the imprudent
separation betwixt the horse and foot, seem to have been the immediate
causes of Montrose's defeat. But the ardent and impetuous character
of this great warrior, corresponding with that of the troops which he
commanded was better calculated for attack than defence; for surprising
others, rather than for providing against surprise himself. Thus, he
suffered loss by a sudden attack upon part of his forces, stationed at
Aberdeen;[B] and, had he not extricated himself with the most singular
ability, he must have lost his whole army, when surprised by Baillie,
during the plunder of Dundee. Nor has it escaped an ingenious modern
historian, that his final defeat at Dunbeath, so nearly resembles in its
circumstances the surprise at Philiphaugh, as to throw some shade on his
military talents.--LAING'S _History_.
[Footnote A: Cardinal du Retz.]
[Footnote B: Colonel Hurry, with a party of horse, surprised the town,
while Montrose's Highlanders and cavaliers were "dispersed through the
town, drinking carelessly in their lodgings; and, hearing the horse's
feet, and great noise, were astonished, never dreaming of their enemy.
However, Donald Farquharson happened to come to the causey, where he was
cruelly slain, anent the Court de Guard; a brave gentleman, and one of
the noblest captains amongst all the Highlanders of Scotland. Two or
three others were killed, and some (taken prisoners) had to Edinburgh,
and cast into irons in the tolbooth. Great lamentation was made for this
gallant, being still the king's man for life and death."--SPALDING
Vol. II. p. 281. The journalist, to whom all matters were of equal
importance, proceeds to inform us, that Hurry took the marquis of
Huntly's best horse, and, in his retreat through Montrose seized upon
the marquis's second son. He also expresses his regret, that "the said
Donald Farquharson's body was found in the street, stripped naked: for
they tirr'd from off his body a rich stand of apparel, but put on the
The following ballad, which is preserved by tradition in Selkirkshire,
coincides accurately with historical fact. This, indeed, constitutes its
sole merit. The Covenanters were not, I dare say, addicted, more
than their successors "to the profane and unprofitable art of
poem-making."[A] Still, however, they could not refrain from some
strains of exultation, over the defeat of the _truculent tyrant_, James
Grahame. For, gentle reader, Montrose, who, with resources which seemed
as none, gained six victories, and reconquered a kingdom; who, a poet, a
scholar, a cavalier, and a general, could have graced alike a court,
and governed a camp; this Montrose was numbered, by his covenanted
countrymen, among "the troublers of Israel, the fire-brands of hell, the
Corahs, the Balaams, the Doegs, the Rabshakahs, the Hamans, the Tobiahs,
and Sanballats of the time."
[Footnote A: So little was the spirit of illiberal fanaticism decayed
in some parts of Scotland, that only thirty years ago, when Wilson,
the ingenious author of a poem, called "_Clyde_," now republished, was
inducted into the office of schoolmaster at Greenock, he was obliged
formally, and in writing, to abjure _"the profane and unprofitable art
of poem-making."_ It is proper to add, that such an incident is _now_ as
unlikely to happen in Greenock as in London.]
THE BATTLE OF PHILIPHAUGH.
On Philiphaugh a fray began,
At Hairhead wood it ended;
The Scots out o'er the Graemes they ran,
Sae merrily they bended.
Sir David frae the border came,
Wi' heart an' hand came he;
Wi' him three thousand bonny Scotts,
To bear him company.
Wi' him three thousand valiant men,
A noble sight to see!
A cloud o' mist them weel concealed,
As close as e'er might be.
When they came to the Shaw burn,
Said he, "Sae weel we frame,
"I think it is convenient,
"That we should sing a psalm."[A]
When they came to the Lingly burn,
As day-light did appear,
They spy'd an aged father,
And he did draw them near.
"Come hither, aged father!"
Sir David he did cry,
"And tell me where Montrose lies,
"With all his great army."
"But, first, you must come tell to me,
"If friends or foes you be;
"I fear you are Montrose's men,
"Come frae the north country."
"No, we are nane o' Montrose's men,
"Nor e'er intend to be;
"I am sir David Lesly,
"That's speaking unto thee."
"If you're sir David Lesly,
"As I think weel ye be,
"I'm sorry ye hae brought so few
"Into your company.
"There's fifteen thousand armed men,
"Encamped on yon lee;
"Ye'll never be a bite to them,
"For aught that I can see.
"But, halve your men in equal parts,
"Your purpose to fulfil;
"Let ae half keep the water side,
"The rest gae round the hill.
"Your nether party fire must,
"Then beat a flying drum;
"And then they'll think the day's their ain,
"And frae the trench they'll come.
"Then, those that are behind them maun
"Gie shot, baith grit and sma';
"And so, between your armies twa,
"Ye may make them to fa'."
"O were ye ever a soldier?"
Sir David Lesly said;
"O yes; I was at Solway flow,
"Where we were all betray'd.
"Again I was at curst Dunbar,
"And was a pris'ner ta'en;
"And many weary night and day,
"In prison I hae lien."
"If ye will lead these men aright,
"Rewarded shall ye be;
"But, if that ye a traitor prove,
"I'll hang thee on a tree."
"Sir, I will not a traitor prove;
"Montrose has plundered me;
"I'll do my best to banish him
"Away frae this country."
He halv'd his men in equal parts,
His purpose to fulfill;
The one part kept the water side,
The other gaed round the hill.
The nether party fired brisk,
Then turn'd and seem'd to rin;
And then they a' came frae the trench,
And cry'd, "the day's our ain!"
The rest then ran into the trench,
And loos'd their cannons a':
And thus, between his armies twa,
He made them fast to fa'.
Now, let us a' for Lesly pray,
And his brave company!
For they hae vanquish'd great Montrose,
Our cruel enemy.
[Footnote A: Various reading; "That we should take a dram."]
NOTES ON THE BATTLE OF PHILIPHAUGH.
_When they came to the Shaw burn._--P. 27. v. 1. A small stream, that
joins the Ettrick, near Selkirk, on the south side of the river.
_When they came to the Lingly burn._--P. 27. v. 2. A brook, which falls
into the Ettrick, from the north, a little above the Shaw burn.
_They spy'd an aged father._--P. 27. v. 2. The traditional commentary
upon the ballad states this man's name to have been Brydone, ancestor to
several families in the parish of Ettrick, particularly those occupying
the farms of Midgehope and Redford Green. It is a strange anachronism,
to make this aged father state himself at the battle of _Solway flow,_
which was fought a hundred years before Philiphaugh; and a still
stranger, to mention that of Dunbar, which did not take place till five
years after Montrose's defeat.
A tradition, annexed to a copy of this ballad, transmitted to me by Mr
James Hogg, bears, that the earl of Traquair, on the day of the battle,
was advancing with a large sum of money, for the payment of Montrose's
forces, attended by a blacksmith, one of his retainers. As they crossed
Minch-moor, they were alarmed by firing, which the earl conceived to
be Montrose exercising his forces, but which his attendant, from the
constancy and irregularity of the noise, affirmed to be the tumult of an
engagement. As they came below Broadmeadows, upon Yarrow, they met their
fugitive friends, hotly pursued by the parliamentary troopers. The earl,
of course, turned, and fled also: but his horse, jaded with the weight
of dollars which he carried, refused to take the hill; so that the earl
was fain to exchange with his attendant, leaving him with the breathless
horse, and bag of silver, to shift for himself; which he is supposed
to have done very effectually. Some of the dragoons, attracted by the
appearance of the horse and trappings, gave chase to the smith, who
fled up the Yarrow; but finding himself as he said, encumbered with the
treasure, and unwilling that it should be taken, he flung it into a
well, or pond, near the Tinnies, above Hangingshaw. Many wells were
afterwards searched in vain; but it is the general belief, that the
smith, if he ever hid the money, knew too well how to anticipate the
scrutiny. There is, however, a pond, which some peasants began to drain,
not long ago, in hopes of finding the golden prize, but were prevented,
as they pretended, by supernatural interference.
THE GALLANT GRAHAMS.
The preceding ballad was a song of triumph over the defeat of Montrose
at Philiphaugh; the verses, which follow are a lamentation for his final
discomfiture and cruel death. The present edition of _"The Gallant
Grahams"_ is given from tradition, enlarged and corrected by an ancient
printed edition, entitled, _"The Gallant Grahams of Scotland"_ to the
tune of _"I will away, and I will not tarry,"_ of which Mr Ritson
favoured the editor with an accurate copy.
The conclusion of Montrose's melancholy history is too well known. The
Scottish army, which sold king Charles I. to his parliament, had, we may
charitably hope, no idea that they were bartering his blood; although
they must have been aware, that they were consigning him to perpetual
bondage.[A] At least the sentiments of the kingdom at large differed
widely from those of the military merchants, and the danger of king
Charles drew into England a well appointed Scottish army, under the
command of the duke of Hamilton. But he met with Cromwell, and to meet
with Cromwell was inevitable defeat. The death of Charles, and the
triumph of the independents, excited still more highly the hatred and
the fears of the Scottish nation. The outwitted presbyterians, who saw,
too late, that their own hands had been employed in the hateful task
of erecting the power of a sect, yet more fierce and fanatical than
themselves, deputed a commission to the Hague, to treat with Charles
II., whom, upon certain conditions they now wished to restore to the
throne of his fathers. At the court of the exiled monarch, Montrose also
offered to his acceptance a splendid plan of victory and conquest, and
pressed for his permission to enter Scotland; and there, collecting the
remains of the royalists to claim the crown for his master, with the
sword in his hand. An able statesman might perhaps have reconciled these
jarring projects; a good man would certainly have made a decided choice
betwixt them. Charles was neither the one not the other; and, while he
treated with the presbyterians, with a view of accepting the crown from
their hands, he scrupled not to authorise Montrose, the mortal enemy of
the sect, to pursue his separate and inconsistent plan of conquest.
[Footnote A: As Salmasius quaintly, but truly, expresses it,
_Presbyterian iligaverunt independantes trucidaverunt_.]
Montrose arrived in the Orkneys with six hundred Germans, was furnished
with some recruits from those islands, and was joined by several
royalists, as he traversed the wilds of Caithness and Sutherland: but,
advancing into Ross-shire, he was surprised, and totally defeated,
by colonel Strachan, an officer of the Scottish parliament, who had
distinguished himself in the civil wars, and who afterwards became a
decided Cromwellian. Montrose, after a fruitless resistance, at length
fled from the field of defeat, and concealed himself in the grounds of
Macleod of Assint to whose fidelity he entrusted his life, and by whom
he was delivered up to Lesly, his most bitter enemy.
He was tried for what was termed treason against the estates of the
kingdom; and, despite the commission of Charles for his proceedings, he
was condemned to die by a parliament, who acknowledged Charles to be
their king, and whom, on that account only, Montrose acknowledged to be
"The clergy," says a late animated historian, "whose vocation it was to
persecute the repose of his last moments, sought, by the terrors of his
sentence, to extort repentance; but his behaviour, firm and dignified to
the end, repelled their insulting advances with scorn and disdain. He
was prouder, he replied, to have his head affixed to the prison-walls,
than to have his picture placed in the king's bed-chamber: 'and, far
from being troubled that my limbs are to be sent to your principal
cities, I wish I had flesh enough to be dispersed through Christendom,
to attest my dying attachment to my king.' It was the calm employment of
his mind, that night, to reduce this extravagant sentiment to verse.
He appeared next day, on the scaffold, in a rich habit, with the same
serene and undaunted countenance, and addressed the people, to vindicate
his dying unabsolved by the church, rather than to justify an invasion
of the kingdom, during a treaty with the estates. The insults of his
enemies were not yet exhausted. The history of his exploits was attached
to his neck by the public executioner: but he smiled at their inventive
malice; declared, that he wore it with more pride than he had done the
garter; and, when his devotions were finished, demanding if any more
indignities remained to be practised, submitted calmly to an unmerited
fate."--_Laing's History of Scotland,_ Vol. I. p. 404.
Such was the death of James Graham, the great marquis of Montrose, over
whom some lowly bard has poured forth the following elegiac verses. To
say, that they are far unworthy of the subject, is no great reproach;
for a nobler poet might have failed in the attempt. Indifferent as the
ballad is, we may regret its being still more degraded by many apparent
corruptions. There seems an attempt to trace Montrose's career, from his
first raising the royal standard, to his second expedition and death;
but it is interrupted and imperfect. From the concluding stanza, I
presume the song was composed upon the arrival of Charles in Scotland,
which so speedily followed the execution of Montrose, that the king
entered the city while the head of his most faithful and most successful
adherent was still blackening in the sun.
THE GALLANT GRAHAMS.
Now, fare thee weel, sweet Ennerdale!
Baith kith and countrie I bid adieu;
For I maun away, and I may not stay,
To some uncouth land which I never knew.
To wear the blue I think it best,
Of all the colours that I see;
And I'll wear it for the gallant Grahams,
That are banished from their countrie.
I have no gold, I have no land,
I have no pearl, nor precious stane;
But I wald sell my silken snood,
To see the gallant Grahams come hame.
In Wallace days when they began,
Sir John the Graham did bear the gree,
Through all the lands of Scotland wide;
He was a lord of the south countrie.
And so was seen full many a time;
For the summer flowers did never spring,
But every Graham, in armour bright,
Would then appear before the king.
They all were dressed in armour sheen,
Upon the pleasant banks of Tay;
Before a king they might be seen,
These gallant Grahams in their array.
At the Goukhead our camp we set,
Our leaguer down there for to lay;
And, in the bonnie summer light,
We rode our white horse and our gray.
Our false commander sold our king
Unto his deadly enemie,
Who was the traitor Cromwell, then;
So I care not what they do with me.
They have betrayed our noble prince,
And banish'd him from his royal crown;
But the gallant Grahams have ta'en in hand,
For to command those traitors down.
In Glen-Prosen[A] we rendezvoused,
March'd to Glenshie by night and day,
And took the town of Aberdeen,
And met the Campbells in their array.
Five thousand men, in armour strong.
Did meet the gallant Grahams that day
At Inverlochie, where war began,
And scarce two thousand men were they.
Gallant Montrose, that chieftain bold,
Courageous in the best degree,
Did for the king fight well that day;
The lord preserve his majestie!
Nathaniel Gordon, stout and bold,
Did for king Charles wear the blue;
But the cavaliers they all were sold,
And brave Harthill, a cavalier too.
And Newton Gordon, burd-alone
And Dalgatie, both stout and keen,
And gallant Veitch upon the field,
A braver face was never seen.
Now, fare ye weel, sweet Ennerdale!
Countrie and kin I quit ye free;
Chear up your hearts, brave cavaliers,
For the Grahams are gone to high Germany.
Now brave Montrose he went to France,
And to Germany, to gather fame;
And bold Aboyne is to the sea,
Young Huntly is his noble name.
Montrose again, that chieftain bold,
Back unto Scotland fair he came,
For to redeem fair Scotland's land,
The pleasant, gallant, worthy Graham!
At the water of Carron he did begin,
And fought the battle to the end;
Where there were killed, for our noble king,
Two thousand of our Danish men.
Gilbert Menzies, of high degree,
By whom the king's banner was borne;
For a brave cavalier was he,
But now to glory he is gone.
Then woe to Strachan, and Hacket baith!
And, Lesly, ill death may thou die!
For ye have betrayed the gallant Grahams,
Who aye were true to majestic.
And the laird of Assint has seized Montrose,
And had him into Edinburgh town;
And frae his body taken the head,
And quartered him upon a trone.
And Huntly's gone the selfsame way,
And our noble king is also gone;
He suffered death for our nation,
Our mourning tears can ne'er be done.
But our brave young king is now come home,
King Charles the second in degree;
The Lord send peace into his time,
And God preserve his majestie!
[Footnote A: Glen-Prosen, in Angus-shire.]
NOTES ON THE GALLANT GRAHAMS.
_Now, fare thee weel, sweet Ennerdale._--P. 38. v. 1. A corruption of
Endrickdale. The principal, and most ancient possessions of the Montrose
family lie along the water of Endrick, in Dumbartonshire.
_Sir John the Graham did bear the gree._--P. 39. v. 1. The faithful
friend and adherent of the immortal Wallace, slain at the battle of
_Who was the traitor Cromwell, then._--P. 39. v. 5. This extraordinary
character, to whom, in crimes and in success our days only have produced
a parallel, was no favourite in Scotland. There occurs the following
invective against him, in a MS. in the Advocates' Library. The humour
consists in the dialect of a Highlander, speaking English, and confusing
_Cromwell_ with _Gramach,_ ugly:
Te commonwelt, tat Gramagh ting.
Gar brek hem's word, gar do hem's king;
Gar pay hem's sesse, or take hem's (geers)
We'l no de at, del come de leers;
We'l bide a file amang te crowes, (_i.e._ in the woods)
We'l scor te sword, and wiske to bowes;
And fen her nen-sel se te re, (the king)
Te del my care for _Gromaghee_.
The following tradition, concerning Cromwell, is preserved by an
uncommonly direct line of traditional evidence; being narrated (as I am
informed) by the grandson of an eye-witness. When Cromwell, in 1650,
entered Glasgow, he attended divine service in the High Church; but the
presbyterian divine, who officiated, poured forth, with more zeal than
prudence, the vial of his indignation upon the person, principles, and
cause, of the independent general. One of Cromwell's officers rose,
and whispered his commander; who seemed to give him a short and stern
answer, and the sermon was concluded without interruption Among the
crowd, who were assembled to gaze at the general, as he came out of the
church, was a shoemaker, the son of one of James the sixth's Scottish
footmen. This man had been born and bred in England, but, after his
father's death, had settled in Glasgow. Cromwell eyed him among the
crowd, and immediately called him by his name--the man fled; but, at
Cromwell's command, one of his retinue followed him, and brought him
to the general's lodgings. A number of the inhabitants remained at the
door, waiting the end of this extraordinary scene. The shoemaker soon
came out, in high spirits, and, shewing some gold, declared, he was
going to drink Cromwell's health. Many attended him to hear the
particulars of his interview; among others, the grandfather of the
narrator. The shoemaker said, that he had been a playfellow of Cromwell
when they were both boys, their parents residing in the same street;
that he had fled, when the general first called to him, thinking he
might owe him some ill-will, on account of his father being in the
service of the royal family. He added, that Cromwell had been so very
kind and familiar with him, that he ventured to ask him, what the
officer had said to him in the church. "He proposed," said Cromwell, "to
pull forth the "minister by the ears; and I answered, that the preacher
was "one fool, and he another." In the course of the day, Cromwell held
an interview with the minister, and contrived to satisfy his scruples so
effectually, that the evening discourse, by the same man, was tuned to
the praise and glory of the victor of Naseby.
_Nathaniel Gordon, stout and bold,
Did for King Charles wear the, blue._--P. 40. v. 5.
This gentleman was of the ancient family of Gordon of Gight. He had
served, as a soldier, upon the continent, and acquired great military
skill. When his chief, the marquis of Huntly, took up arms in 1640,
Nathaniel Gordon, then called Major Gordon, joined him, and was of
essential service during that short insurrection. But, being checked
for making prize of a Danish fishing buss, he left the service of the
marquis, in some disgust. In 1644, he assisted at a sharp and dexterous
_camisade_ (as it was then called), when the barons of Haddo, of Gight,
of Drum, and other gentlemen, with only sixty men under their standard,
galloped through the old town of Aberdeen, and, entering the burgh
itself, about seven in the morning, made prisoners, and carried off,
four of the covenanting magistrates and effected a safe retreat, though
the town was then under the domination of the opposite party. After the
death of the baron of Haddo, and the severe treatment of Sir George
Gordon of Gight, his cousin-german, Major Nathaniel Gordon seems to have
taken arms, in despair of finding mercy at the covenanters' hands. On
the 24th of July, 1645, he came down, with a band of horsemen, upon the
town of Elgin, while St James' fair was held, and pillaged the merchants
of 14,000 merks of money and merchandize.[A] He seems to have joined
Montrose, as soon as he raised the royal standard; and, as a bold and
active partizan, rendered him great service. But, in November 1644,
Gordon, now a colonel, suddenly deserted Montrose, aided the escape of
Forbes of Craigievar, one of his prisoners, and reconciled himself to
the kirk, by doing penance for adultery, and for the almost equally
heinous crime of having scared Mr Andrew Cant,[B] the famous apostle of
the covenant. This, however, seems to have been an artifice, to arrange
a correspondence betwixt Montrose and Lord Gordon, a gallant young
nobleman, representative of the Huntley family, and inheriting their
loyal spirit, though hitherto engaged in the service of the covenant.
Colonel Gordon was successful, and returned to the royal camp with his
converted chief. Both followed zealously the fortunes of Montrose, until
Lord Gordon fell in the battle of Alford, and Nathaniel Gordon was taken
at Philiphaugh. He was one of ten loyalists, devoted upon that occasion,
by the parliament, to expiate, with their blood, the crime of fidelity
to their king. Nevertheless, the covenanted nobles would have probably
been satisfied with the death of the gallant Rollock, sharer of
Montrose's dangers and glory, of Ogilvy, a youth of eighteen, whose
crime was the hereditary feud betwixt his family and Argyle, and of Sir
Philip Nisbet, a cavalier of the ancient stamp, had not the pulpits
resounded with the cry, that God required the blood of the malignants,
to expiate the sins of the people. "What meaneth," exclaimed the
ministers, in the perverted language of scripture--"What meaneth, then,
this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen?" The
appeal to the judgment of Samuel was decisive, and the shambles were
instantly opened. Nathaniel Gordon was brought first to execution. He
lamented the sins of his youth, once more (and probably with greater
sincerity) requested absolution from the sentence of excommunication
pronounced on account of adultery, and was beheaded 6th January 1646.
[Footnote A: Spalding, Vol. II. pp. 151, 154, 169, 181, 221. _History of
the Family of Gordon,_ Edin. 1727, Vol. II. p. 299.]
[Footnote B: He had sent him a letter, which nigh frightened him out of
his wits.--SPALDING, Vol. II. p. 231.]
_And brave Harthill, a cavalier too._--P. 40, v. 5.
Leith, of Harthill, was a determined loyalist, and hated the
covenanters, not without reason. His father, a haughty high-spirited
baron, and chief of a clan, happened, in 1639, to sit down in the desk
of provost Lesly, in the high kirk of Aberdeen He was disgracefully
thrust out by the officers, and, using some threatening language to the
provost, was imprisoned, like a felon, for many months, till he became
furious, and nearly mad. Having got free of the shackles, with which he
was loaded, he used his liberty by coming to the tolbooth window where
he uttered the most violent and horrible threats against Provost Lesly,
and the other covenanting magistrates, by whom he had been so severely
treated. Under pretence of this new offence, he was sent to Edinburgh,
and lay long in prison there; for, so fierce was his temper, that no one
would give surety for his keeping the peace with his enemies, if set at
liberty. At length he was delivered by Montrose, when he made himself
master of Edinburgh.--SPALDING, Vol. I. pp. 201; 266. His house of
Harthill was dismantled, and miserably pillaged by Forbes of
Craigievar, who expelled his wife and children with the most relentless
inhumanity.--_Ibid._ Vol. II. p. 225. Meanwhile, young Harthill was the
companion and associate of Nathaniel Gordon, whom he accompanied at
plundering the fair of Elgin, and at most of Montrose's engagements. He
retaliated severely on the covenanters, by ravaging and burning their
lands. _Ibid._ Vol. II. p. 301. His fate has escaped my notice.
_And Dalgatie, both stout and keen._--P. 41. v. 1.
Sir Francis Hay, of Dalgatie, a steady cavalier, and a gentleman of
great gallantry and accomplishment. He was a faithful follower of
Montrose, and was taken prisoner with him at his last fatal battle. He
was condemned to death, with his illustrious general. Being a Roman
catholic, he refused the assistance of the presbyterian clergy, and was
not permitted, even on the scaffold, to receive ghostly comfort, in the
only form in which his religion taught him to consider it as effectual.
He kissed the axe, avowed his fidelity to his sovereign, and died like a
soldier.--_Montrose's Memoirs,_ p. 322.
_And Newton Gordon, burd-alone._--P. 41. v. 1.
Newton, for obvious reasons, was a common appellation of an estate, or
barony, where a new edifice had been erected. Hence, for distinction's
sake, it was anciently compounded with the name of the proprietor;
as, Newtown-Edmonstone, Newtown-Don, Newtown-Gordon, &c. Of Gordon
of Newtown, I only observe, that he was, like all his clan, a steady
loyalist, and a follower of Montrose.
_And gallant Veitch, upon the field._--P. 41. v. 1.
I presume this gentleman to have been David Veitch, brother to Veitch of
Dawick, who, with many other of the Peebles-shire gentry, was taken
at Philiphaugh. The following curious accident took place, some years
afterwards, in consequence of his loyal zeal.
"In the year 1653, when the loyal party did arise in arms against the
English, in the North and West Highlands, some noblemen and loyal
gentlemen, with others, were forward to repair to them, with such forces
as they could make; which the English, with marvelouse diligence, night
and day, did bestir themselves to impede; making their troops of horse
and dragoons to pursue the loyal party in all places, that they might
not come to such a considerable number as was designed. It happened, one
night, that one Captain Masoun, commander of a troop of dragoons, that
came from Carlisle, in England, marching through the town of Sanquhar,
in the night, was encountered by one captain Palmer, commanding a troop
of horse, that came from Ayr, marching eastward; and, meeting at the
tollhouse, or tolbooth, one David Veitch, brother to the laird of
Dawick, in Tweeddale, and one of the loyal party, being prisoner in
irons by the English, did arise, and came to the window at their
meeting, and cryed out, that they should _fight valiantly for King
Charles_, Where-through, they, taking each other for the loyal party,
did begin a brisk fight, which continued for a while, til the dragoons,
having spent their shot, and finding the horsemen to be too strong for
them, did give ground; but yet retired, in some order, towards the
castle of Sanquhar, being hotly pursued by the troop, through the whole
town, above a quarter of a mile, till they came to the castle; where
both parties did, to their mutual grief, become sensible of their
mistake. In this skirmish there were several killed on both sides, and
Captain Palmer himself dangerously wounded, with many mo wounded in each
troop, who did peaceably dwell together afterward for a time, untill
their wounds were cured, in Sanquhar castle."--_Account of Presbytery of
Penpont, in Macfarlane's MSS._
_And bold Aboyne is to the sea,
Young Huntly is his noble name._--P. 41. v. 3.
James, earl of Aboyne, who fled to France, and there died heart-broken.
It is said, his death was accelerated by the news of King Charles'
execution. He became representative of the Gordon family, or _Young
Huntly_, as the ballad expresses it, in consequence of the death of his
elder brother, George, who fell in the battle of Alford.--_History of
_Two thousand of our Danish men._--P. 41. v. 5.
Montrose's foreign auxiliaries, who, by the way, did not exceed 600 in
_Gilbert Menzies, of high degree,
By whom the king's banner was borne._--P. 42. v. 1.
Gilbert Menzies, younger of Pitfoddells, carried the royal banner in
Montrose's last battle. It bore the headless corpse of Charles I., with
this motto, _"Judge and revenge my cause, O Lord!"_ Menzies proved
himself worthy of this noble trust, and, obstinately refusing quarter,
died in defence of his charge. _Montrose's Memoirs_.
_Then woe to Strachan, and Hacket baith._--P. 42. v. 2.
Sir Charles Hacket, an officer in the service of the estates.
_And Huntly's gone, the self-same way._--P. 42. v. 4.
George Gordon, second marquis of Huntley, one of the very few nobles in
Scotland, who had uniformly adhered to the king from the very beginning
of the troubles, was beheaded by the sentence of the parliament of
Scotland (so calling themselves), upon the 22d March, 1649, one month
and twenty-two days after the martyrdom of his master. He has been much
blamed for not cordially co-operating with Montrose; and Bishop Wishart,
in the zeal of partiality for his hero, accuses Huntley of direct
treachery. But he is a true believer, who seals, with his blood, his
creed, religious or political; and there are many reasons, short of this
foul charge, which may have dictated the backward conduct of Huntley
towards Montrose. He could not forget, that, when he first stood out for
the king, Montrose, then the soldier of the covenant, had actually made
him prisoner: and we cannot suppose Huntley to have been so sensible of
Montrose's superior military talents, as not to think himself, as equal
in rank, superior in power, and more uniform in loyalty entitled to
equally high marks of royal trust and favour. This much is certain, that
the gallant clan of Gordon contributed greatly to Montrose's success;
for the gentlemen of that name, with the brave and loyal Ogilvies,
composed the principal part of his cavalry.
THE BATTLE OF PENTLAND HILLS.
We have observed the early antipathy, mutually entertained by the
Scottish presbyterians and the house of Stuart It seems to have glowed
in the breast even of the good-natured Charles II. He might have
remembered, that, in 1551, the presbyterians had fought, bled, and
ruined themselves in his cause. But he rather recollected their early
faults than their late repentance; and even their services were combined
with the recollection of the absurd and humiliating circumstances of
personal degradation,[A] to which their pride and folly had subjected
him, while they professed to espouse his cause. As a man of pleasure, he
hated their stern and inflexible rigour, which stigmatised follies
even more deeply than crimes; and he whispered to his confidents, that
"presbytery was no religion for a gentleman." It is not, therefore,
wonderful, that, in the first year of his restoration, he formally
reestablished prelacy in Scotland; but it is surprising, that, with his
father's example before his eyes, he should not have been satisfied
to leave at freedom the consciences of those who could not reconcile
themselves to the new system. The religious opinions of sectaries have a
tendency like the water of some springs, to become soft and mild, when
freely exposed to the open day. Who can recognise in the decent and
industrious quakers, and ana-baptists the wild and ferocious tenets
which distinguished their sects, while they were yet honoured with the
distinction of the scourge and the pillory? Had the system of coercion
against the presbyterians been continued until our day, Blair and
Robertson would have preached in the wilderness, and only discovered
their powers of eloquence and composition, by rolling along a deeper
torrent of gloomy fanaticism.
[Footnote A: Among other ridiculous occurrences, it is said, that some
of Charles's gallantries were discovered by a prying neighbour. A wily
old minister was deputed, by his brethren, to rebuke the king for this
heinous scandal. Being introduced into the royal presence he limited
his commission to a serious admonition, that, upon such occasions,
his majesty should always shut the windows.--The king is said to have
recompensed this unexpected lenity after the Restoration. He probably
remembered the joke, though he might have forgotten the service.]
The western counties distinguished themselves by their opposition to the
prelatic system. Three hundred and fifty ministers, ejected from their
churches and livings, wandered through the mountains, sowing the seeds
of covenanted doctrine, while multitudes of fanatical followers pursued
them, to reap the forbidden crop. These conventicles as they were
called, were denounced by the law, and their frequenters dispersed by
military force. The genius of the persecuted became stubborn, obstinate,
and ferocious; and, although indulgencies were tardily granted to some
presbyterian ministers, few of the true covenanters or whigs, as they
were called, would condescend to compound with a prelatic government, or
to listen even to their own favourite doctrine under the auspices of the
king. From Richard Cameron, their apostle, this rigid sect acquired the
name of Cameronians. They preached and prayed against the indulgence,
and against the presbyterians who availed themselves of it, because
their accepting this royal boon was a tacit acknowledgment of the king's
supremacy in ecclesiastical matters. Upon these bigotted and persecuted
fanatics, and by no means upon the presbyterians at large, are to
be charged the wild anarchical principles of anti-monarchy and
assassination which polluted the period when they flourished.
The insurrection, commemorated and magnified in the following ballad, as
indeed it has been in some histories, was, in itself, no very important
affair. It began in Dumfries-shire where Sir James Turner, a soldier
of fortune, was employed to levy the arbitrary fines imposed for not
attending the episcopal churches. The people rose, seized his person,
disarmed his soldiers, and having continued together, resolved to march
towards Edinburgh, expecting to be joined by their friends in that
quarter. In this they were disappointed; and, being now diminished to
half their numbers, they drew up on the Pentland Hills, at a place
called Rullien Green. They were commanded by one Wallace; and here they
awaited the approach of General Dalziel, of Binns; who, having marched
to Calder, to meet them on the Lanark road, and finding, that, by
passing through Collington, they had got to the other side of the hills,
cut through the mountains, and approached them. Wallace shewed both
spirit and judgment: he drew his men up in a very strong situation, and
withstood two charges of Dalziel's cavalry; but, upon the third shock,
the insurgents were broken, and utterly dispersed. There was very little
slaughter, as the cavalry of Dalziel were chiefly gentlemen, who pitied
their oppressed and misguided countrymen. There were about fifty killed,
and as many made prisoners. The battle was fought on the 28th November,
1666; a day still observed by the scattered remnant of the Cameronian
sect, who regularly hear a field-preaching upon the field of battle.
I am obliged for a copy of the ballad to Mr Livingston of Airds, who
took it down from the recitation of an old woman residing on his estate.
The gallant Grahams, mentioned in the text, are Graham of Claverhouse's
THE BATTLE OF PENTLAND HILLS.
_This Ballad is copied verbatim from the Old Woman's recitation._
The gallant Grahams cum from the west,
Wi' their horses black as ony craw;
The Lothian lads they marched fast,
To be at the Rhyns o' Gallowa.
Betwixt Dumfries town and Argyle,
The lads they marched mony a mile;
Souters and taylors unto them drew,
Their covenants for to renew.
The whigs, they, wi' their merry cracks,
Gard the poor pedlars lay down their packs;
But aye sinsyne they do repent
The renewing o' their covenant.
A the Mauchline muir, where they were reviewed,
Ten thousand men in armour shewed;
But, ere they cam to the Brockie's burn,
The half o' them did back return.
General Dalyell, as I hear tell,
Was our lieutenant general;
And captain Welsh, wi' his wit and skill,
Was to guide them on to the Pentland hill.
General Dalyell held to the hill,
Asking at them what was their will;
And who gave them this protestation,
To rise in arms against the nation?
"Although we all in armour be,
It's not against his majesty;
Nor yet to spill our neighbour's bluid,
But wi' the country we'll conclude."
"Lay down your arms, in the king's name,
And ye shall all gae safely hame;"
But they a' cried out, wi' ae consent,
"We'll fight a broken covenant."
"O well," says he, "since it is so,
A willfu' man never wanted woe;"
He then gave a sign unto his lads,
And they drew up in their brigades.
The trumpets blew, and the colours flew,
And every man to his armour drew;
The whigs were never so much aghast,
As to see their saddles toom sae fast.
The cleverest men stood in the van,
The whigs they took their heels and ran;
But such a raking was never seen,
As the raking o' the Rullien Green.
THE BATTLE OF LOUDONHILL.
The whigs, now become desperate, adopted the most desperate principles;
and retaliating, as far as they could, the intolerating persecution
which they endured, they openly disclaimed allegiance to any monarch
who should not profess presbytery, and subscribe the covenant.--These
principles were not likely to conciliate the favour of government; and
as we wade onward in the history of the times, the scenes become yet
darker. At length, one would imagine the parties had agreed to divide
the kingdom of vice betwixt them; the hunters assuming to themselves
open profligacy and legalized oppression; and the hunted, the opposite
attributes of hypocrisy, fanaticism, disloyalty, and midnight
assassination. The troopers and cavaliers became enthusiasts in the
pursuit of the covenanters If Messrs Kid, King, Cameron, Peden, &c.
boasted of prophetic powers, and were often warned of the approach of
the soldiers, by supernatural impulse,[A] captain John Creichton, on
the other side, dreamed dreams, and saw visions (chiefly, indeed, after
having drunk hard), in which the lurking holes of the rebels were
discovered to his imagination.[B] Our ears are scarcely more shocked
with the profane execrations of the persecutors,[C] than with the
strange and insolent familiarity used towards the Deity by the
persecuted fanatics. Their indecent modes of prayer, their extravagant
expectations of miraculous assistance, and their supposed inspirations,
might easily furnish out a tale, at which the good would sigh, and the
gay would laugh.
[Footnote A: In the year 1684, Peden, one of the Cameronian preachers,
about ten o'clock at night, sitting at the fire-side, started up to his
feet, and said, "Flee, auld Sandie (thus he designed himself), and hide
yourself! for colonel----is coming to this house to apprehend you; and
I advise you all to do the like, for he will be here within an hour;"
which came to pass: and when they had made a very narrow search, within
and without the house, and went round the thorn-bush, under which he was
lying praying, they went off without their prey. He came in, and said,
"And has this gentleman (designed by his name) given poor Sandie, and
thir poor things, such a fright? For this night's work, God shall give
him such a blow, within a few days, that all the physicians on earth
shall not be able to cure;" which came to pass, for he died in great
misery.--_Life of Alexander Peden._]
[Footnote B: See the life of this booted apostle of prelacy, written by
Swift, who had collected all his anecdotes of persecution, and appears
to have enjoyed them accordingly.]
[Footnote C: "They raved," says Peden's historian, "like fleshly devils,
when the mist shrouded from their pursuit the wandering whigs." One
gentleman closed a declaration of vengeance against the conventiclers
with this strange imprecation, "Or may the devil make my ribs a gridiron
to my soul!"--MS. _Account of the Presbytery of Penpont._ Our armies
swore terribly in Flanders, but nothing to this!]
In truth, extremes always approach each other; and the superstition of
the Roman catholics was, in some degree, revived, even by their most
deadly enemies. They are ridiculed by the cavaliers, as wearing the
relics of their saints by way of amulet:--
"She shewed to me a box, wherein lay hid
The pictures of Cargil and Mr Kid;
A splinter of the tree, on which they were slain;
A double inch of Major Weir's best cane;
Rathillet's sword, beat down to table-knife,
Which took at Magus' Muir a bishop's life;
The worthy Welch's spectacles, who saw,
That windle-straws would fight against the law;
They, windle-straws, were stoutest of the two,
They kept their ground, away the prophet flew;
And lists of all the prophets' names were seen
At Pentland Hills, Aird-Moss, and Rullen Green.
"Don't think," she says, "these holy things are foppery;
They're precious antidotes against the power of popery."
_The Cameronian Tooth.--Pennycuick's Poems,_ p. 110.
The militia and standing army soon became unequal to the task of
enforcing conformity, and suppressing conventicles In, their aid, and to
force compliance with a test proposed by government, the Highland
clans were raised, and poured down into Ayrshire.[A] An armed host
of undisciplined mountaineers, speaking a different language, and
professing, many of them, another religion, were let loose, to ravage
and plunder this unfortunate country; and it is truly astonishing to
find how few acts of cruelty they perpetrated, and how seldom they added
murder to pillage[B] Additional levies of horse were also raised, under
the name of Independent Troops, and great part of them placed under the
command of James Grahame of Claverhouse a man well known to fame, by
his subsequent title of viscount Dundee, but better remembered, in the
western shires, under the designation of the bloody Clavers. In truth,
he appears to have combined the virtues and vices of a savage chief.
Fierce, unbending, and rigorous, no emotion of compassion prevented his
commanding, and witnessing, every detail of military execution against
the non-conformists. Undauntedly brave, and steadily faithful to his
prince, he sacrificed himself in the cause of James, when he was
deserted by all the world. If we add, to these attributes, a goodly
person, complete skill in martial exercises, and that ready and decisive
character, so essential to a commander, we may form some idea of this
extraordinary character. The whigs, whom he persecuted daunted by his
ferocity and courage, conceived him to be impassive to their bullets,[C]
and that he had sold himself, for temporal greatness, to the
seducer of mankind. It is still believed, that a cup of wine,
presented to him by his butler, changed into clotted blood; and
that, when he plunged his feet into cold water, their touch
caused it to boil. The steed, which bore him, was supposed
to be the gift of Satan; and precipices are shewn, where a fox could
hardly keep his feet, down which the infernal charger conveyed him
safely, in pursuit of the wanderers. It is remembered, with terror, that
Claverhouse was successful in every engagement with the whigs, except
that at Drumclog, or Loudon-hill, which is the subject of the following
ballad. The history of Burly, the hero of the piece, will bring us
immediately to the causes and circumstances of that event.
[Footnote A: Peden complained heavily, that, after a heavy struggle with
the devil, he had got above him, _spur-galled_ him hard, and obtained a
wind to carry him from Ireland to Scotland, when, behold! another person
had set sail, and reaped the advantage of his _prayer-wind,_ before he
[Footnote B: Cleland thus describes this extraordinary army:
--Those, who were their chief commanders,
As sach who bore the pirnie standarts.
Who led the van, and drove the rear,
Were right well mounted of their gear;
With brogues, and trews, and pirnie plaids,
With good blue bonnets on their heads,
Which, oil the one side, had a flipe,
Adorn'd with a tobacco pipe,
With durk, and snap-work, and snuff-mill,
A bag which they with onions fill;
And, as their strict observers say,
A tup-born filled with usquebay;
A slasht out coat beneath her plaides,
A targe of timber, nails, and hides;
With a long two-handed sword,
As good's the country can afford.
Had they not need of bulk-and bones.
Who fought with all these arms at once?
* * * *
Of moral honestie they're clean,
Nought like religion they retain;
In nothing they're accounted sharp,
Except in bag-pipe, and in harp;
For a misobliging word,
She'll durk her neighbour o'er the boord,
And then she'll flee like fire from flint,
She'll scarcely ward the second dint;
If any ask her of her thrift.
Forsooth her nainsell lives by thift.
_Cleland's Poems,_ Edin. 1697, p. 12.
[Footnote C: It was, and is believed, that the devil furnished his
favourites, among the persecutors, with what is called _proof_
against leaden bullets, but against those only. During the battle of
Pentland-hills Paton of Meadowhead conceived he saw the balls hop
harmlessly down from General Dalziel's boots, and, to counteract the
spell, loaded his pistol with a piece of silver coin. But Dalziel,
having his eye on him, drew back behind his servant, who was shot
dead.--_Paton's Life._ At a skirmish, in Ayrshire, some of the wanderers
defended themselves in a sequestered house, by the side of a lake. They
aimed repeatedly, but in vain, at the commander of the assailants, an
English officer, until, their ammunition running short, one of them
loaded his piece with the ball at the head of the tongs, and succeeded
in shooting the hitherto impenetrable captain. To accommodate Dundee's
fate to their own hypothesis, the Cameronian tradition runs, that, in
the battle of Killicrankie, he fell, not by the enemy's fire, but by the
pistol of one of his own servants, who, to avoid the spell, had loaded
it with a silver button from his coat. One of their writers argues thus:
"Perhaps, some may think this, anent proof-shot, a paradox, and be ready
to object here, as formerly concerning Bishop Sharpe and Dalziel--How
can the devil have, or give, power to save life? Without entering upon
the thing in its reality, I shall only observe, 1. That it is neither
in his power, or of his nature, to be a saviour of men's lives; he is
called Apollyon, the destroyer. 2. That, even in this case, he is said
only to give enchantment against one kind of metal, and this does not
save life: for, though lead could not take Sharpe and Claverhouse's
lives, yet steel and silver could do it; and, for Dalziel, though
he died not on the field, yet he did not escape the arrows of the
Almighty."--_God's Judgement against Persecutors._ If the reader be not
now convinced of _the thing in its reality_, I have nothing to add to
such exquisite reasoning.]
John Balfour of Kinloch, commonly called Burly, was one of the fiercest
of the proscribed sect. A gentleman by birth, he was, says his
biographer, "zealous and honest-hearted, courageous in every enterprise,
and a brave soldier, seldom any escaping that came in his hands." _Life
of John Balfour._ Creichton says, that he was once chamberlain to
Archbishop Sharpe, and, by negligence, or dishonesty, had incurred
a large arrear, which occasioned his being active in his master's
assassination. But of this I know no other evidence than Creichton's
assertion, and a hint in Wodrow. Burly, for that is his most common
designation, was brother-in-law to Hackston of Rathillet a wild
enthusiastic character, who joined daring courage, and skill in the
sword, to the fiery zeal of his sect. Burly, himself, was less eminent
for religious fervour than for the active and violent share which he had
in the most desperate enterprises of his party. His name does not appear
among the covenanters, who were denounced for the affair of Pentland.
But, in 1677, Robert Hamilton, afterwards commander of the insurgents at
Loudon Hill, and Bothwell Bridge, with several other non-conformists,
were assembled at this Burly's house, in Fife. There they were attacked
by a party of soldiers, commanded by Captain Carstairs, whom they beat
off, wounding desperately one of his party. For this resistance to
authority, they were declared rebels. The next exploit, in which Burly
was engaged, was of a bloodier complexion, and more dreadful celebrity.
It is well known, that James Sharpe, archbishop of St Andrews, was
regarded, by the rigid presbyterians, not only as a renegade, who had
turned back from the spiritual plough, but as the principal author of
the rigours exercised against their sect. He employed, as an agent of
his oppression, one Carmichael, a decayed gentleman. The industry
of this man, in procuring information, and in enforcing the severe
penalties against conventiclers, having excited the resentment of
the Cameronians, nine of their number, of whom Burly, and his
brother-in-law, Hackston, were the leaders, assembled, with the purpose
of way-laying and murdering Carmichael; but, while they searched for him
in vain, they received tidings that the archbishop himself was at hand.
The party resorted to prayer; after which, they agreed, unanimously,
that the Lord had delivered the wicked Haman into their hand. In the
execution of the supposed will of heaven, they agreed to put themselves
under the command of a leader; and they requested Hackston of Rathillet
to accept the office, which he declined alleging, that, should he comply
with their request, the slaughter might be imputed to a private quarrel,
which existed betwixt him and the archbishop. The command was then
offered to Burly, who accepted it without scruple; and they galloped off
in pursuit of the archbishop's carriage, which contained himself and
his daughter. Being well mounted, they easily overtook and disarmed the
prelate's attendants. Burly, crying out, "Judas, be taken!" rode up to
the carriage, wounded the postillion and ham-strung one of the horses.
He then fired into the coach a piece, charged with several bullets, so
near, that the archbishop's gown was set on fire. The rest, coming up,
dismounted, and dragged him out of the carriage, when, frightened and
wounded, he crawled towards Hackston, who still remained on horseback,
and begged for mercy. The stern enthusiast contented himself with
answering, that he would not himself _lay a hand on him_. Burly and his
men again fired a volley upon the kneeling old man; and were in the act
of riding off, when one, who remained to girth his horse, unfortunately
heard the daughter of their victim call to the servant for help,
exclaiming, that his master was still alive. Burly then again
dismounted, struck off the prelate's hat with his foot, and split his
skull with his shable (broad sword), although one of the party (probably
Rathillet) exclaimed, "_Spare these grey hairs_!"[A] The rest pierced
him with repeated wounds. They plundered the carriage, and rode off,
leaving, beside the mangled corpse, the daughter, who was herself
wounded, in her pious endeavour to interpose betwixt her father and his
murderers. The murder is accurately represented, in bas-relief, upon a
beautiful monument erected to the memory of Archbishop Sharpe, in the
metropolitan church of St Andrews. This memorable example of fanatic
revenge was acted upon Magus Muir, near St Andrews, 3d May, 1679.[B]
[Footnote A: They believed Sharpe to be proof against shot; for one of
the murderers told Wodrow, that, at the sight of cold iron, his courage
fell. They no longer doubted this, when they found in his pocket a small
clue of silk, rolled round a bit of parchment, marked with two long
words, in Hebrew or Chaldaic characters. Accordingly, it is still
averred, that the balls only left blue marks on the prelate's neck and
breast, although the discharge was so near as to burn his clothes.]
[Footnote B: The question, whether the bishop of St Andrews' death was
murder was a shibboleth, or _experimentum crucis_, frequently put to the
apprehended conventiclers. Isabel Alison, executed at Edinburgh, 26th
January, 1681, was interrogated, before the privy council, if she
conversed with David Hackston? "I answered, I did converse with him, and
I bless the Lord that ever I saw him; for I never saw ought in him but
a godly pious youth. They asked, if the killing of the bishop of St
Andrews was a pious act? I answered, I never heard him say he killed
him; but, if God moved any, and put it upon them, to execute his
righteous judgment upon him, I have nothing to say to that. They asked
me, when saw ye John Balfour (Burly), that pious youth? I answered,
I have seen him. They asked, when? I answered, these are frivolous
questions; I am not bound to answer them." _Cloud of Witnesses_, p. 85.]
Burly was, of course, obliged to leave Fife; and, upon the 25th of the
same month, he arrived in Evandale, in Lanarkshire, along with Hackston,
and a fellow, called Dingwall, or Daniel, one of the same bloody band.
Here he joined his old friend Hamilton, already mentioned; and, as they
resolved to take up arms, they were soon at the head of such a body of
the "chased and tossed western men," as they thought equal to keep the
field. They resolved to commence their exploits upon the 29th of May,
1679, being the anniversary of the Restoration, appointed to be kept as
a holiday, by act of parliament; an institution which they esteemed a
presumptuous and unholy solemnity. Accordingly, at the head of eighty
horse, tolerably appointed, Hamilton, Burly, and Hackston, entered the
royal burgh of Rutherglen, extinguished the bonfires, made in honour
of the day; burned at the cross the acts of parliament in favour of
prelacy, and for suppression of conventicles, as well as those acts
of council, which regulated the indulgence granted to presbyterians.
Against all these acts they entered their solemn protest, or testimony,
as they called it; and, having affixed it to the cross, concluded with
prayer and psalms. Being now joined by a large body of foot, so that
their strength seems to have amounted to five or six hundred men, though
very indifferently armed, they encamped upon Loudoun Hill. Claverhouse,
who was in garrison at Glasgow, instantly marched against the
insurgents, at the head of his own troop of cavalry and others,
amounting to about one hundred and fifty men. He arrived at Hamilton,
on the 1st of June, so unexpectedly, as to make prisoner John King, a
famous preacher among the wanderers; and rapidly continued his march,
carrying his captive along with him, till he came to the village of
Drumclog, about a mile east of Loudoun Hill, and twelve miles south-west
of Hamilton. At some distance from this place, the insurgents were
skilfully posted in a boggy strait, almost inaccessible to cavalry,
having a broad ditch in their front. Claverhouse's dragoons discharged
their carabines, and made an attempt to charge; but the nature of the
ground threw them into total disorder. Burly, who commanded the handful
of horse belonging to the whigs, instantly led them down on the
disordered squadrons of Claverhouse, who were, at the same time,
vigorously assaulted by the foot, headed by the gallant Cleland,[A] and
the enthusiastic Hackston. Claverhouse himself was forced to fly, and
was in the utmost danger of being taken; his horse's belly being cut
open by the stroke of a scythe, so that the poor animal trailed his
bowels for more than a mile. In his flight, he passed King, the
minister, lately his prisoner, but now deserted by his guard, in the
general confusion. The preacher hollowed to the flying commander, "to
halt, and take his prisoner with him;" or, as others say, "to stay,
and take the afternoon's preaching." Claverhouse, at length remounted,
continued his retreat to Glasgow. He lost, in the skirmish, about twenty
of his troopers, and his own cornet and kinsman, Robert Graham, whose
fate is alluded to in the ballad. Only four of the other side were
killed, among whom was Dingwall, or Daniel, an associate of Burly in
Sharpe's murder. "The rebels," says Creichton, "finding the cornet's
body, and supposing it to be that of Clavers, because the name of Graham
was wrought in the shirt-neck, treated it with the utmost inhumanity;
cutting off the nose, picking out the eyes, and stabbing it through in
a hundred places." The same charge is brought by Guild, in his _Bellum
Bothuellianum_, in which occurs the following account of the skirmish at
Mons est occiduus surgit qui celsus in oris
(Nomine Loudunum) fossis puteisque profundis
Quot scatet hic tellus et aprico gramine tectus:
Huc collecta (ait) numeroso milite cincta;
Turba ferox, matres, pueri, innuptaeque puellae;
Quam parat egregia Graemus dispersere turma.
Venit, et primo campo discedere cogit;
Post hos et alios, caeno provolvit inerti;
At numerosa cohors, campum dispersa per omnem,
Circumfusa, ruit; turmasque indagine captas,
Aggreditur; virtus non hic, nec profuit ensis;
Corripuere fugam, viridi sed gramine tectis,
Precipitata perit, fossis, pars plurima, quorum
Cornipedes haesere luto, sessore rejecto:
Tum rabiosa cohors, misereri nescia, stratos
Invadit laceratque viros: hic signifer eheu!
Trajectus globulo, Graemus quo fortior alter,
Inter Scotigenas fuerat, nec justior ullus:
Hunc manibus rapuere feris, faciemque virilem
Faedarunt, lingua, auriculus, manibusque resectis,
Aspera, diffuso, spargentes saxa, cerebro:
Vix dux ipse fuga salvus, namque exta trahebat
Vulnere tardatus, sonipes generosus hiante:
Insequitur clamore, cohors fanatica, namque
Crudelis semper timidus si vicerit unquam.
_MS. Bellum Bothuellianum._
[Footnote A: William Cleland, a man of considerable genius, was author
of several poems, published in 1697. His Hudibrastic verses are poor
scurrilous trash, as the reader may judge from the description of the
Highlanders, already quoted. But, in a wild rhapsody, entitled, "Hollo,
my Fancy," he displays some imagination. His anti-monarchical principles
seem to break out in the following lines:--
Fain would I know (if beasts have any reason)
_If falcons killing eagles do commit a treason?_
He was a strict non-conformist, and, after the Revolution, became
lieutenant colonel of the earl of Angus's regiment, called the
Cameronian regiment. He was killed 21st August, 1689, in the churchyard
of Dunkeld, which his corps manfully and successfully defended against
a superior body of Highlanders. His son was the author of the letter
prefixed to the Dunciad, and is said to have been the notorious Cleland,
who, in circumstances of pecuniary embarrassment, prostituted his
talents to the composition of indecent and infamous works; but this
seems inconsistent with dates, and the latter personage was probably the
grandson of Colonel Cleland.]
Although Burly was among the most active leaders in the action, he was
not the commander in chief, as one would conceive from the ballad. That
honour belonged to Robert Hamilton, brother to Sir William Hamilton of
Preston, a gentleman, who, like most of those at Drumclog, had imbibed
the very wildest principles of fanaticism. The Cameronian account of
the insurrection states, that "Mr Hamilton discovered a great deal of
bravery and valour, both in the conflict with, and pursuit of the enemy;
but when he and some others were pursuing the enemy, others flew too
greedily upon the spoil, small as it was, instead of pursuing the
victory: and some, without Mr Hamilton's knowledge, and against his
strict command, gave five of these bloody enemies quarters, and then let
them go: this greatly grieved Mr Hamilton, when he saw some of Babel's
brats spared, after the Lord had delivered them to their hands, that
they might dash them against the stones." _Psalm_ cxxxvii. 9. In his own
account of this, "he reckons the sparing of these enemies, and letting
them go, to be among their first stepping aside; for which, he feared
that the Lord would not honour them to do much more for him; and says,
that he was neither for taking favours from, nor giving favours to the
Lord's enemies." Burly was not a likely man to fall into this sort of
backsliding. He disarmed one of the duke of Hamilton's servants, who had
been in the action, and desired him to tell his master, he would keep,
till meeting, the pistols he had taken from him. The man described Burly
to the duke as a little stout man, squint-eyed, and of a most ferocious
aspect; from which it appears, that Burly's figure corresponded to his
manners, and perhaps gave rise to his nickname, _Burly_ signifying
_strong_. He was with the insurgents till the battle of Bothwell Bridge,
and afterwards fled to Holland. He joined the prince of Orange, but died
at sea, during the expedition. The Cameronians still believe, he
had obtained liberty from the prince to be avenged of those who had
persecuted the Lord's people; but through his death, the laudable design
of purging the land with their blood, is supposed to have fallen to the
ground.--_Life of Balfour of Kinloch._
The consequences of the battle of Loudon Hill will be detailed in the
introduction to the next ballad.
THE BATTLE OF LOUDONHILL.
You'l marvel when I tell ye o'
Our noble Burly, and his train;
When last he march'd up thro' the land,
Wi' sax and twenty westland men.
Than they I ne'er o' braver heard,
For they had a' baith wit and skill
They proved right well, as I heard tell,
As they cam up o'er Loudoun Hill.
Weel prosper a' the gospel lads,
That are into the west countrie;
Ay wicked Claver'se to demean,
And ay an ill dead may he die!
For he's drawn up i' battle rank,
An' that baith soon an' hastilie;
But they wha live till simmer come,
Some bludie days for this will see.
But up spak cruel Claver'se then,
Wi' hastie wit, an' wicked skill;
"Gie fire on yon westlan' men;
"I think it is my sov'reign's will."
But up bespake his cornet, then,
"It's be wi' nae consent o' me!
"I ken I'll ne'er come back again,
"An' mony mae as weel as me.
"There is not ane of a' yon men,
"But wha is worthy other three;
"There is na ane amang them a',
"That in his cause will stap to die.
"An' as for Burly, him I knaw;
"He's a man of honour, birth, an' fame;
"Gie him a sword into his hand,
"He'll fight thysel an' other ten."
But up spake wicked Claver'se then,
I wat his heart it raise fu' hie!
And he has cry'd that a' might hear,
"Man, ye hae sair deceived me.
"I never ken'd the like afore,
"Na, never since I came frae hame,
"That you sae cowardly here suld prove,
"An' yet come of a noble Graeme."
But up bespake his cornet, then,
"Since that it is your honour's will,
"Mysel shall be the foremost man,
"That shall gie fire on Loudoun Hill.
"At your command I'll lead them on,
"But yet wi' nae consent o' me;
"For weel I ken I'll ne'er return,
"And mony mae as weel as me."
Then up he drew in battle rank;
I wat he had a bonny train!
But the first time that bullets flew,
Ay he lost twenty o' his men.
Then back he came the way he gael,
I wat right soon an' suddenly!
He gave command amang his men,
And sent them back, and bade them flee.
Then up came Burly, bauld an' stout,
Wi's little train o' westland men;
Wha mair than either aince or twice
In Edinburgh confined had been.
They hae been up to London sent,
An' yet they're a' come safely down;
Sax troop o' horsemen they hae beat,
And chased them into Glasgow town.
THE BATTLE OF BOTHWELL-BRIDGE.
It has been often remarked, that the Scottish, notwithstanding their
national courage, were always unsuccessful, when fighting for their
religion. The cause lay, not in the principle, but in the mode of its
application. A leader like Mahomet, who is, at the same time, the
prophet of his tribe, may avail himself of religious enthusiasm, because
it comes to the aid of discipline, and is a powerful means of attaining
the despotic command, essential to the success of a general. But,
among the insurgents, in the reigns of the last Stuarts, were mingled
preachers, who taught different shades of the presbyterian doctrine;
and, minute as these shades sometimes were, neither the several
shepherds, nor their flocks, could cheerfully unite in a common cause.
This will appear from the transactions leading to the battle of Bothwell
We have seen, that the party, which defeated Claverhouse at Loudoun
Hill, were Cameronians, whose principles consisted in disowning all
temporal authority, which did not flow from and through the Solemn
League and Covenant. This doctrine, which is still retained by a
scattered remnant of the sect in Scotland, is in theory, and would be in
practice, inconsistent with the safety of any well regulated government,
because the Covenanters deny to their governors that toleration, which
was iniquitously refused to themselves. In many respects, therefore, we
cannot be surprised at the anxiety and rigour with which the Cameronians
were persecuted, although we may be of opinion, that milder means would
have induced a melioration of their principles. These men, as already
noticed, excepted against such presbyterians, as were contented to
exercise their worship under the indulgence granted by government,
or, in other words, who would have been satisfied with toleration for
themselves, without insisting upon a revolution in the state, or even in
the church government.
When, however, the success at Loudoun Hill was spread abroad, a number
of preachers, gentlemen, and common people, who had embraced the more
moderate doctrine, joined the army of Hamilton, thinking, that the
difference in their opinions ought not to prevent their acting in the
common cause. The insurgents were repulsed in an attack upon the town
of Glasgow, which, however, Claverhouse, shortly afterwards, thought it
necessary to evacuate. They were now nearly in full possession of the
west of Scotland, and pitched their camp at Hamilton, where, instead of
modelling and disciplining their army, the Cameronians and Erastians
(for so the violent insurgents chose to call the more moderate
presbyterians) only debated, in council of war, the real cause of their
being in arms. Hamilton, their general, was the leader of the first
party; Mr John Walsh, a minister, headed the Erastians. The latter so
far prevailed, as to get a declaration drawn up, in which they owned the
king's government; but the publication of it gave rise to new quarrels.
Each faction had its own set of leaders, all of whom aspired to be
officers; and there were actually two councils of war issuing contrary
orders and declarations at the same time; the one owning the king, and
the other designing him a malignant, bloody, and perjured tyrant.
Meanwhile, their numbers and zeal were magnified at Edinburgh, and great
alarm excited lest they should march eastward. Not only was the foot
militia instantly called out, but proclamations were issued, directing
all the heritors, in the eastern, southern, and northern shires, to
repair to the king's host, with their best horses, arms, and retainers.
In Fife, and other countries, where the presbyterian doctrines
prevailed, many gentlemen disobeyed this order, and were afterwards
severely fined. Most of them alleged, in excuse, the apprehension of
disquiet from their wives.[A] A respectable force was soon assembled;
and James, duke of Buccleuch and Monmouth, was sent down, by Charles,
to take the command, furnished with instructions, not unfavourable
to presbyterians. The royal army now moved slowly forwards towards
Hamilton, and reached Bothwell-moor on the 22d of June, 1679. The
insurgents were encamped chiefly in the duke of Hamilton's park, along
the Clyde, which separated the two armies. Bothwell-bridge, which is
long and narrow, had then a portal in the middle, with gates, which the
Covenanters shut, and barricadoed with stones and logs of timber. This
important post was defended by three hundred of their best men, under
Hackston of Rathillet, and Hall of Haughhead. Early in the morning, this
party crossed the bridge, and skirmished with the royal van-guard,
now advanced as far as the village of Bothwell. But Hackston speedily
retired to his post, at the western end of Bothwell-bridge.
[Footnote A: "Balcanquhall of that ilk alledged, that his horses were
robbed, but shunned to take the declaration, for fear of disquiet from
his wife. Young of Kirkton--his ladyes dangerous sickness, and bitter
curses if he should leave her, and the appearance of abortion on his
offering to go from her. And many others pled, in general terms, that
their wives opposed or contradicted their going. But the justiciary
court found this defence totally irrelevant."--Fountainhall's
_Decisions_, Vol. I. p. 88.]
While the dispositions, made by the duke of Monmouth, announced his
purpose of assailing the pass, the more moderate of the insurgents
resolved to offer terms. Ferguson of Kaithloch, a gentleman of landed
fortune, and David Hume, a clergyman, carried to the duke of Monmouth
a supplication, demanding free exercise of their religion, a free
parliament, and a free general assembly of the church. The duke heard
their demands with his natural mildness, and assured them, he would
interpose with his majesty in their behalf, on condition of their
immediately dispersing themselves, and yielding up their arms. Had the
insurgents been all of the moderate opinion, this proposal would have