Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border (2 of 3) by Walter Scott

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  • 1802-1812
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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 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
Young Benjie
Lady Anne
Lord William
The Broomfield-Hill
Proud Lady Margaret
The Original Ballad of the Broom of Cowdenknows Lord Randal
Sir Hugh Le Blond
Graeme and Bewick
The Duel of Wharton and Stuart, Part I. Part II.
The Lament of the Border Widow
Fair Helen of Kirkonnel, Part I.
Part II.
Hughie the Graeme
Johnie of Breadislee
Katherine Janfarie
The Laird o’ Logie
A Lyke-wake Dirge
The Dowie Dens of Yarrow
The Gay Goss Hawk
Brown Adam
Jellon Grame
Willie’s Ladye
Clerk Saunders
Earl Richard
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 Charles I.]

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 presbyterian congregations.

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.


March! march!
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!
_Da Capo._


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 Clair._]

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 description.]

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 same day.”–_Ibid._]

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.]


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.”]


_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 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 a parliament.

“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.


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.]


_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 Falkirk.

_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 Gordon Family._

_Two thousand of our Danish men._–P. 41. v. 5.

Montrose’s foreign auxiliaries, who, by the way, did not exceed 600 in all.

_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.


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 horse.


_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 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 could embark.]

[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 Drumclog:–

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.


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.


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 Bridge.

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

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