Search just our sites by using our customised site search engine

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Click here to learn more about MyHeritage and get free genealogy resources

The Scot in British North America
Chapter V – The Highlanders and Jacobitism

Hail to the chief who in triumph advances!
Honour’d and bless’d be the evergreen Pine!
Long may the tree in his banner that glances
Flourish, the shelter and grace of our line!
Heaven send it happy dew,
Earth lend it sap anew,
Gaily to burgeon, and broadly to grow,
While every Highland glen,
Sends our shout back agen
Roderigh Vich Alpine dhu! ho! ieroe.

When hath the tartan plaid manteld a coward?
When did the blue bonnet crest the disloyal?
Up, then, and crowd to the standard of Stuart,
Follow your leader – the rightful – the royal!
Chief of Clanronald,
Donald Macdonald!
Lovat! Lochiel! With the Grant and the Gordon,
Rouse every kilted clan,
Rouse every royal man,
Gun on the shoulder, and thigh the good sword on.

I was the happiest of a’ the clan,
Sair, sair may I repine;
For Donald was the brawest lad,
And Donald he was mine,
Till Charlie Stewart came at last,
Sae far to set us free;
My Donald’s arm was wanted then,
For Scotland and for me,
Their waefu’ fate what need I tell? –
Right to the wrong did yield;
My Donald and his country fell
Upon Culloden’s field.

No attempt to sketch the characteristics of the Scottish people can be satisfactory, even in outline, which fails to make mention of the vigorous Celtic stock of the Highlands. In Canada, above all—including under that name the whole of Her Majesty’s possessions in North America—it is essential to take this element into deliberate account. Whether the British North America colonist be a farmer, a mechanic, an artisan, a manufacturer, a merchant, a ship-owner, a professional man, a statesman or otherwise, he is associated in private and public intercourse with members or descendants of almost all the clans. Everybody here rubs elbows with fellow toilers in the hive, or knows public men of distinction, who trace their descent to the land of mountain and flood, glen and tarn, moor and heather. The names of Maclean, Macleod, Mackenzie, Macpherson, Macfarlane, Mackinnon, Macdonald, Macdougall, Mackintosh, MacNab, Mackay, MacLachlan, MacGregor, MacNeill, MacIntyre, Campbell, Fraser, Robertson, Cameron, Sutherland, Chisholm, Stewart, Munro, Ross, Grant, Farquharson, Gunn, Forbes, Menzies, and many others are as familiar to all Canadians, as if they were indigenous to the soil in this new land of ours. Unfortunately it would be obviously impossible within the limits of a brief chapter to do more than attempt to seize the salient points in Highland character, leaving an examination of its actual value, in this country, to the fuller survey of the Scot’s work which is to follow.

It has been already remarked that a considerable ethnical element from the Norse kingdoms was, from time to time, absorbed in the north-western portion of the Highlands—including certainly the shires of Caithness, Sutherland, Ross and Inverness. Still the entire country must be viewed as pertaining to the dominant Celtic race, and in the main, exhibiting its idiosyncrasies. To define the Highlands of Scotland geographically is not an easy task since its boundary is not physical, but social, lingual and what is usually called political. An elaborate work on "The Highlands of Scotland" to which the writer is considerably indebted, traces the Highland limits thus: — "This definition assigns to the Highlands all the continental territory north of the Moray Firth, and all the territory both insular and continental, westward of an easily traceable line from that firth to the Firth of Clyde." * This line begins at the mouth of the Nairn and proceeds irregularly, forming in its progress a rudely-convex series of bends, impinging upon Aberdeen, Perth, Forfar and Stirling, thence due south-west to the Firth of Clyde in the parish of Cardross.

The influence of Scotland upon progress and civilization is altogether a marvel, considering the odds against her, when she entered the contest. Taken altogether the country is barren in soil; it is small, and its population has always been sparse, scarcely able to keep pace with the great Babylon on the Thames. And when the fearful succession of ordeals under which Scotland has passed are taken into the reckoning, one almost wonders that, in all quarters of the globe, they are foremost in adventure, enterprise, industry and staunch adherance to duty. The Highlander differs from the Lowlander in several important points. His life is more rugged, and his notions of man and nature seem simply the result of conditions forced upon him by that life. Locked up amid the wild scenery of those romantic shires, and especially upon the Isles of which Thomas Campbell wrote in Mull:

"Far different are the scenes allure my wandering eye
The white wave foaming to the distant sky;
The cloudy heaven, unblest by summer’s smile;
The sounding storm that sweeps the rugged isle,
The chill, bleak summit of eternal snow,
The wide, wild glen, the pathless plains below,
The dark, blue rocks, in barren grandeur piled,
The cuckoo sighing to the pensive wild."

—the Highlander became a philosopher and a poet, as some one has said of Scotsmen generally, "cultivating all the virtues upon a little oatmeal." The ordinary notion of the Highlander which comes down, in bogie form, partly the result of ludicrous terror, and partly of mental confusion, takes the corporeal form of a dapper bandit, with round bonnet, belt, kilt and buckled shoes. Pinkerton describes some weird practices which may, or may not, have existed as relics of Paganism, mingled with medieval Catholicism, and now and again turning up in strange contiguity with Presbyterianism. Mr. Lecky has summed up some of these survivals of the unfittest, one of the latest being the summoning of the clans "to war by the fiery cross dipped in blood with those mystic rites which the great Scotch poet has made familiar. As late as 1745 it was sent round Loch Tay by Lord Breadalbane to summon his clansmen to support the Government" **

It is not by romance or poetry, however, though these have been the fruit, in abundance, of Highland life and adventure, that one may gauge fairly the latent power which was pent up in those glens. The Celt is always a being of the brooding and reflective sort, as the Chaldeans, the Arabians, and all pastoral nations have been since recorded history committed its first syllable to the keeping of wood, clay, stone or metal. Unfortunate as it is in one regard, the imaginative and thoughtful side of the Scottish Celt have lost their philosophic aspect in the picturesque scenery upon which he played his miniature drama, and the bold, brave, reckless daring which broke its bounds and poured down upon the fertile South in raid and romantic adventure. Border history seems to have been forgotten in the modern conception of the Highlander. Men have lost sight, except in ballad, of Robin Hood or of Jack Cade, not to speak of even ignoble heroes like Dick Turpin, Cartouche, or Robert Macaire. The Highlander was never an outlaw in his own country; on the contrary, he was a law unto himself, and his code, on the whole, considering the times, seems to have been a strict one. He has been accused of "reiving," of stealing black cattle, and so on; and yet no man was ever more strongly imbued with the spirit of integrity than he was in the conventional code of his age. No man ever surpassed him in honour, bravery, and fidelity, because to no man would he yield in battle, and never did his fealty or loyalty fail. There may be differences of opinion concerning the clan system which was not confined to the Scottish Highlands. It was prevalent in Ireland under the name of septs, and in the Lowlands it was fully established in the great ballad era of the Border.*** The clan system was in fact an extension of the family, and those who rejoice in its practical disappearance under the Act for the abolition of hereditary jurisdictions by the Pelham Government in 1746, ought to pause before condemning it, during the centuries when it was the only possible bond of cohesion between men, in a society like the Highlands, competent to secure even a measure of order and authority.

The two prime virtues attributed, and justly attributed, to the Highland clans are fidelity and courage. Now conscious dishonesty is incompatible with honour or fealty in any shape, whatever the somewhat hackneyed saw about thieves may say. The Celtic Highlanders in their hereditary divisions, formed so many petty nationalities, which were in continual warfare either in leagues, or separate tribes. They had no king but the chief; and, in the wild country they inhabited, there was no law but the strong arm. Modern statesmen seize territories, appropriate revenues, and parcel out empires under the ostensible pretext of preserving their integrity and independence. In old times the chiefs simply ordered the lifting of black cattle, an indiscriminate slaughter where it was necessary, and that was the end of it. It was thus with most of the Highland raids in early times; and in the beginning of last century, Rob Roy was always under the protection of a chief of his own or another clan.+ The Highland robbery, so-called, was in the first instance simply a belligerent operation—one with which all great conquerors have been familiar. In fact it was a sort of via media between robbing a hen-roost, and ravaging a kingdom. The evidence that the Highland raid was regarded, not merely as not a crime, but even as praiseworthy and laudable, is clear both from history and from romance, which is occasionally quite as trustworthy. There was a distinction between the "lifting" of sheep and cattle, which was not without its meaning; there was a feeling of utter abhorrence for robbery, pure and simple. Captain Burt, who travelled from England with only one servant, was well-known to have a very large sum in gold about him, and yet had perfect confidence in Celtic integrity. Finally the Highlander never took anything, on pain of death, from a friendly clan, and never made a business of cattle-raiding save upon the Lowlands against which it would have been easy for him to frame an hereditary bill of complaint. When he engaged in a descent upon the Lowlands, he was able to pray for success in good round pious phrases, compared with which Plantagenet, Hapsburg, Napoleonic, Hohenzollern or Romanoff’s canting invocations appear like the mincing petitions of a May-fair vicar on behalf of a rose-water bridal party. Although the Celt was clearly culpable, according to our conceptions of morality, he was conscious of no wrong; and in his backward state of culture and the poverty and hardness of his life might have pleaded, had he known it, the example of the ancient Spartans and of all the vigorous races of Europe at a similar stage of development. Had it not been for their free mountains, their barren moors and their inaccessible glens and caves, they would have been crushed or exterminated like their Celtic brethren in England, or across the Irish Sea. If they were guilty of barbarous excesses in the Stuart persecutions, more atrocious, perhaps, than those connived at, and rewarded, by a European power in Bulgaria, the sin must not be laid to their charge, but at the door of those who let them loose upon a peaceful people, with deliberate instructions to torture and to slay.

Let us look at their fidelity. In James the Fifth’s reign when Murray suppressed an insurrection of the Clan Chattan, two hundred of the rebels were sentenced to death. Each one as he was led to the gallows was offered a pardon if he would reveal the hiding-place of his chief; but they all answered, that were they acquainted with it, no sort of punishment could induce them to be guilty of treachery to their leader. Innumerable cases of this unwavering steadfastness of faith occurred during and after the ‘15 and ‘45, amongst the Frasers, the Macleans, the Macdonalds and the Macphersons. One must suffice. In 1745, the home of Macpherson, of Cluny, was burnt to the ground by Royal troops, and a reward of £1,000 offered for his arrest. The country was scoured by soldiers; and "yet for nine years the chief was able to live concealed on his property in a cave which his clansmen dug for him during the night, and, though upwards of one hundred persons knew of his place of retreat no bribe or menace could extort the secret; till, at last wearied of the long and dreary solitude, and despairing of pardon, he took refuge in France."++ It is hardly necessary to refer to the wanderings of Charles Edward through the Highlands and Islands for five months with a reward of £30,000 upon his head, known, as in South Uist, by hundreds at a time, helpless and at the mercy of any one whom lucre could tempt; and yet far safer than some of his ancestors had been at Holyrood or St. James’s. The names of Malcolm Macleod, Macdonald of Kingsburgh, and the heroic Flora Macdonald who "built herself an everlasting name" wherever the romantic story of the ‘45 is told.+++ James Hogg the Ettrick shepherd, embalmed her memory in "Flora Macdonald’s Lament," from which the temptation is strong to quote one verse:

The target is torn from the arm of the just,
The helmet is cleft on the brow of the brave,
The claymore for ever in darkness must rust,
But red is the sword of the stranger and slave;
The hoof of the horse, and the foot of the proud,
Have trod o’er the plumes on the bonnet of blue;
Why slept the red bolt in the breast of the cloud,
When tyranny revell’d in blood of the true?
Farewell, my young hero, the gallant and good,
The crown of thy fathers is torn from thy brow " *+

Of Highland bravery, what need to expatiate when addressing an English-speaking race? What part of the world does not bear testimony to Celtic valour on a hundred battle-fields? The hardy life of the Highlander, the free bracing air of mountain and loch had marked him out as a soldier, reared, though not disciplined, by Nature herself. The people of the Lowlands, from their peculiar history and surroundings no doubt, as Mr. Lecky says, shared their high military qualities to the full extent. "Great courage, great power of enduring both privation and pain, great fire and impetuosity in attack, were abundantly shown; but the discipline of a regular army was required to add to these, that more than English tenacity which has placed the Scotchman in the first rank of European soldiers."*++ The clan system had of course inured the Highlanders to the toils of war, and in the seventeenth century, the great leaders could bring large numbers into the field. Thus we find that some of the chiefs could muster men by thousands. In 1764, a muster was made of about 10,000, and General Wade states the rebel Highlanders at 14,000, and the loyal at 8,000 in 1745. A song called "The Chevalier’s Muster Roll," enumerates the chiefs and their clans; these lines may serve as a sample: --

"The Laird o’ MacIntosh is comin’,
MacGregor and Macdonald’s comin’,
The MacKenzies an’ MacPherson’s comin’,
A’ the wild McRaes are comin’,
Little wat ye fa’s comin’,
Donald Gunn an’ a’s comin’," &c. *+++

The Union, under Anne, in 1707, was at the time exceedingly unpopular in Scotland for many reasons. There was the absorption of that dearly-prized nationality for which the Scots had fought so hard, and besides differences in religion and laws between the two countries, the superior wealth and also the heavy national debt of England, made the people of the north strongly averse to the measure. And even long after it had been consummated, and the benefits flowing from it had discredited the augury of ill, there was a strong undercurrent of dissatisfaction which even influenced Smollett and Scott. It cannot be doubted that the anti-Union feeling all over Scotland imparted some of that galvanic energy which temporarily gave vitality to the dying cause of the Stuarts. This broke out, as everyone knows, at the death of Anne, the last monarch of that arbitrary, faithless, and ill-fated house. The rising in 1715, and its collapse at Sheriffmuir, and the more formidable outbreak under Charles Edward, the march to Derby and the final defeat by "the butcher Cumberland" at Culloden, are events which need not be rehearsed here.+* Were all the histories swept out of existence the story of "The Forty-Five" could never die, while the songs of the Jacobites and the poems of many a Scottish bard linger in the memories of the people. One of the satirical pieces, "Cumberland’s and Murray’s descent into Hell," is not so generally read, and it certainly exhibits wealth of diabolical fancy, hate and humour combined, which make it irresistible. These are the concluding verses: --

"Ae deevil sat splitting brumstane matches,
Ane roasting the Whigs like baker’s batches;
Ane wi’ fat a Whig was basting,
Spent ‘wi frequent prayer and fasting,
A’ ceased when thae twin butchers roar’d,
And hell’s grim hangman stop’d and glowr’d.

‘Fy, gar take a pie in haste,
Knead it of infernal paste,’
Quo’ Satan; and in his mitten’d hand,
He hyert up bluidy Cumberland,
And whittled him down like tow-kail castock,
And in his hettest furnace roasted.

Now hell’s black table-claith was spread,
Th’ infernal grace was reverend said;
Yap stood the hungry fiends a’ owre it,
Their grim jaws gaping to devour it,
When Satan cried out, ‘fit to scunner,
Owre rank a judgment’s sic a dinner!"

The brutality of a royal general whose deeds could call forth so terrible a stroke of concentrated detestation, must have itself been fearful, and such it certainly was. Maddened by the defeat of Hawley at Falkirk, in January, 1746, the Duke of Cumberland, who might have been content with an inglorious victory, in which he fought a starving and dispirited enemy with more than twice its numbers, began a course of vindictive reprisals which have earned for him the name of "the Butcher," All that Lauderdale and his crew had wrought, on behalf of the Stuarts, was now perpetrated upon the romantic spirits who championed the lost cause, and the courageous men who desired in their own way to answer the question "Wha’ll be king but Charlie?" Thus Scotland suffered at Glencoe under William III., as well as at and after Culloden, on behalf of the Stuarts.

With 1746 the agony was over, and, although there were riots occasionally over unpopular imposts, there has been no warfare in Scotland since. The intrepid Celt has fought the battles of Britain in every clime wherever the Union Jack has been unfurled; and the courage of the Highlander, was, by a happy inspiration, turned into a noble channel. Those gallant regiments, whose numbers of themselves arouse the British heart with memories of distinguished prowess, were formed only a year or two after the Rebellion. Culloden was fought on April 16th, 1746, and only twelve years after the 79th Highlanders took part in the siege of Louisbourg, and on the 12th of September in the following year, the Fraser Highlanders mounted the heights of Abraham and played the foremost part in the taking of Quebec.+** The merit of forming the Highland regiments is usually given to the elder Pitt; but he can only be credited with realizing a splendid idea. It was Duncan Forbes, of Culloden, a man of splendid powers, unfortunate in not being favoured with a wider stage upon which to display and develop them, who first proposed to Robert Walpole the scheme which Pitt afterwards carried out in practice with such glorious results. It is impossible here to summarize the gallant achievements of the Highland regiments in the British army or the famous names associated with them. The 42nd or "Black Watch" arose apparently out of a tentative effort of the Government in 1729; their first action was fought at Fontenoy, 1745, and their latest combat in Ashantee, 1873. As the original Highland regiment, the words of the "Garb of Old Gaul" have an appropriate connection with the subject of this volume, a few verses therefore are selected: --

"In the garb of old Gaul, with the fire of old Rome,
From the heath-covered mountains of Scotia we come;
Where the Romans endeavoured our country to gain,
But our ancestors fought and they fought not in vain.

"Quebec and Cape Breton, the pride of old France,
In their troops fondly boasted till we did advance,
But when our claymores they saw us produce,
Their courage did fail, and they sued for a truce.

"Then we’ll defend our liberty, our country and our laws,
And teach our late posterity to fight in freedom’s cause,
That they like our ancestors bold, for honour and applause,
May defy the French, with all their arts, to alter our laws.’

It was in the 42nd that Sir Colin Campbell, Lord Clyde, was Colonel. The London Highlanders were another old Highland Regiment, but they were reduced after the loss of Bergen op Zoom and the peace of 1748. The Montgomery Highlanders, the Frasers, who were prominent at Quebec, forming the old 78th and 71st, the Keith and Campbells or old 87th and 88th, Johnstons, Keiths and a number of others have passed across the stage and played their gallant parts, only to disappear by reduction or amalgamation. Of the existing regiments best known to fame are the 71st, formerly the 73rd or Macleod’s Highlanders, the 72nd or Duke of Albany’s, the 78th or Ross-shire Buffs, the 79th or Cameron Highlanders, the 91st now called the Princess Louise Argyleshire Highlanders, the 92nd Gordons and the 93rd Sutherlands. Burn’s "son of Mars," rather a roystering specimen, however, like most of the first Scottish soldiers in the British army began their service in America in the life and death struggle with France. +***

From the Seven Years’ War until now, the Scots, and largely the Highlanders, have constituted the flower of the British fighting stock. Their valour has been displayed alike in Egypt, the Crimea, India, the Peninsula, Canada or America, Abysinnia, Ashantee or wherever else the voice of duty called them.

Much of the poetry and chivalry of Highland History is bound up with the Stuart cause, and gathers about such distinguished names as those of Dundee and Montrose. But it may be well to remind the reader here that the cause of the Whig and the Covenanter was by no means a dull and unheroic one. The illustrious house which has stood forages at the head of the clan Campbell should be held in everlasting esteem and remembrance for its unfaltering and steadfast adherance to the sacred cause of liberty, civil and religious. There are weak and dark spots in the history of all noble families, and yet, taken altogether, there is none which will bear closer scrutiny, than the house of Campbell of Argyll, "The MacCallum More," Lord of Lorne, Lochow, and Inverary. Now that our gracious Sovereign is represented in her fairest colony by the heir of this ancient and noble family, who brings with him, as an additional claim upon Canadian loyalty, a Princess, in whose veins flows the blood of Scotland’s royal race, it may not be amiss to glance episodically at a few members of the line from which His Excellency sprang. With genealogical or heraldic considerations it is unnecessary to meddle here, and, therefore, the first name of note to be mentioned is that of Sir Neil Campbell, son of Colin-More, who fought by the side of Robert the Bruce, and obtained the hand of his sister Mary. Sir Colin Campbell, a name since illustrious, in our day, in far distant fields, was his son, brave and impetuous to rashness. In 1445 the head of the family became a Scottish peer, and sat as Lord Campbell, and in 1457, Colin Campbell became Earl of Argyll. The Argylls always figured conspicuously upon the stage of public affairs in Scotland, and invariably on what posterity has adjudged to be the right, if not the picturesque side. Three who bore the Gaelic title of MacCallum More obtained special distinction, Archibald, eighth Earl, and first Marquis of Argyll, the rival of Montrose, stands out in bold relief, both for his firm adherence to principle, and his tragic death, as a French writer has observed, like one of "the heroes of Plutarch." He was as chivalrous as his great opponent; and, although no bigot, he opposed the Episcopal system and the liturgy, and adhered to the Covenant. He was no foe to the monarchy, however, and his most strenuous efforts were put forth to keep the wayward Stuarts in the right path. Against Montrose, aided by a savage band of Irish raiders, he fought and lost the battle of Inverlochy in, 1645, which was followed by the complete rout of the Covenanters near Kilsyth. At Philiphaugh, in the same year, the gallant Leslie defeated Montrose, but Argyll, who deserved some amends from fortune, had no share in the victory. The Marquis did all that was possible, even up to the time of the King’s surrender, to save the Royal fortunes, and he had nothing to do with the surrender of Charles to the English Parliament. It was he who crowned Charles II at Scone, and no one could have been more lavish in his promises to him than the merry, unstable and faithless King. "Whenever," said he, "it shall please God to restore me to my just rights, I shall see him paid £40,000 sterling, which is due to him." This, and all other scores, were wiped out when Charles caused the great noble’s head to be struck off on a false charge of treason, in May, 1661, at the cross of Edinburgh. According to Wodrow, Argyle’s piety set Charles against him as far back as the coronation at Scone. On one occasion he kept the young King till two or three in the morning in religious conversation and prayer. "The Marchioness said plainly that that night would cost him his head—words which, as has been shown, proved too true."**+ It is hardly necessary to remind the reader of Scott that this is the Argyll who figures in the early chapters of The Legend of Montrose.

Archibald, his son, was destined to prove a victim to that bloodthirstier of the last two Stuart kings, the second James. In Charles’ reign, James went down to gloat over the "boots" and "thumbikins;" and, of course the head of the Campbells was too conspicuous a Whig to be allowed to escape. In 1681 he was prosecuted in the Justiciary Court by the Royal advocate vulgarly known as "Bluidy Mackenzie." In spite of Court pressure, however, the judges were so closely divided, that Lord Nairn, who had been superannuated, was brought in to turn the scale. By the affectionate ingenuity of his daughter-in-law, Lady Sophia Lindsay, he escaped, after his conviction, disguised as her page. From Holland, Argyll made the fatal movement at Charles’ death, which was unhappily premature. In the epitaph which he wrote on the eve of his execution, there is if not poetry, at least prescience and "an heroic satisfaction of conscience, expressed in them, worthy of the cause in which he fell." The lines are these: —

"On my attempt though Providence did frown,
His oppressed people God at length shall own;
Another hand, with more successful speed,
Shall raise the remnant, bruise the serpent’s head.
Though my head fall, that is no tragic story,
Since, going hence, I enter endless glory."

So perished the most illustrious of the noble army of Covenanting martyrs. **++

The great John Campbell, Duke of Argyll and Greenwich, who appears to such advantage as the patron of Jeanie Deans in The Heart of Mid-Lothian (chaps. 35-38 and chap. 48), has left perhaps the strongest impression upon the popular Highland mind of all his line. He was supreme in Scotland; as the strongest bulwark of the House of Hanover; in England his claim upon Government was, of course, indisputable from the first. He was a soldier, moreover, and had distinguished himself in Flanders under Marlborough. In the first Rebellion of 1715, Argyll fought Mar at Sheriffmuir, with rather questionable success. When all was over, however, he immediately took up his natural position as intercessor for his misguided countrymen; and it has been well-observed that if the counsels of Ian Roy— John the Red, as he was called by his clan—had been followed, the ‘45 would never have sent England into a cowardly panic. At the Porteous Riots he had some difficulty in managing matters in London; and the speech which Sir Walter Scott has merely transcribed, best describes the man as he appeared to himself and those who knew him: "I am no minister, I never was a minister, and I never will be one. I thank God I had always too great a value for those few abilities which nature has given to me to employ them in doing any drudgery or any job of any kind whatever."**+++ The Duke’s well-known retort to the able, and almost great, Queen Caroline, then Regent during one of the second George’s absences on the Continent, shows clearly the commanding attitude Argyll felt himself entitled to hold as the representative of the Scottish people. When the Queen, in a moment of not unnatural indignation, after the Riots, declared that "she would turn Scotland into a hunting-seat," the Duke coolly replied, "if that be the case, madam, I must go down and prepare my hounds." In his later years, the Duke broke with Sir Robert Walpole and formed a member of the coalition which caused the downfall of "The Great Commoner" in 1742. In the October of the following year John, Duke of Argyll and Greenwich died and was interred in Westminster Abbey. That he must have been a great, as well as a good man, we have the testimony of those who were of his friends as well as ours—Pope and Thomson; we know him best through Scott but his real character is more indubitably fixed by the place he holds in the affectionate traditions of the Highland people on both sides of the Atlantic. Of the other branches of the Campbells, it is not necessary to write at length. All of them from the Breadalbanes down have distinguished themselves in war and peace. Amongst those who bore the name, the Campbells of Inverawe were one of the most ancient collateral branches and one connected in later days with Canada. The Inverawe branch came of the old Neil Campbell stock which fought with Bruce, fought with Argyll against Montrose, and poured forth its energy into the British service when the national troubles were at their height. It was Duncan Campbell of Inverawe who raised "The Black Watch," and he with his only son perished at Ticonderoga, fighting the French in the war of the Conquest. The Major’s great nephew, another Major Campbell, seignior of St. Hilaire, in the Province of Quebec, was also a gallant soldier, and for some years M. P. for the County of Rouville.

The Highland aptitude for peaceful and industrious labours was not discovered until long after the Union. But so soon as tranquillity was definitively assured, hereditary jurisdictions were abolished, education disseminated, roads constructed, and new avenues for the restrained energies of the Celts opened up; then a new era dawned upon them. They had always possessed many kindly traits of character, love of kindred, hospitality, tenderness to the helpless and unfortunate; but their real power as honest toilers was never fully proved until they went forth, some of them driven out that a lord might make a sheep-walk or a game preserve, to the Dominion in which, still cherishing the Gaelic of their fathers, they have made a name for themselves and their race, far from the hoary mountain, the rushing torrent, and the awesome moor.

The literature of the Highland people is far too extensive a subject to be touched on here. The pensive imagination which breathes through the poems handed down in the Celtic tongue is the outcome of nature attuned to loneliness, upon dark mountains, under a chilly star-lit heaven. "The seat of the Celtic Muse," says Sir Walter Scott, in Waverley (ch. xxii.), "is in the mist of the secret and solitary hill, and her voice in the murmur of the mountain stream. He that woos her must love the barren rock more than the fertile valley, and the solitude of the desert better than the festivity of the hall." The music of the Highlands has, in its brightest moods, an undertone of sadness; even the pibroch has borrowed some of its basic power from the wail of the coronach. It is this imaginative and meditative spirit which has passed over the philosophy of all Scotland, percolating through the husk of all the creeds, and saturating the national mind with a seriousness which evolves energy, not despair, and a dignity of self-respect and a stern feeling of responsibility which makes men at once devout, affectionate, thoughtful, loyal and true in whatever station, or in the discharge of whatsoever duty Providence may assign them. Mr. Lecky, in the work often quoted, has pointed out the essentially beneficial contribution made by the Highlanders to the national character in a few sentences with which this chapter may not unfitly conclude: -- "The distinctive beauty and the great philosophic interest of that (the Scottish) character, spring from the very singular combination it displays of a romantic and chivalrous with a practical and industrial spirit. In no other nation do we find the enthusiasm of loyalty blending so happily with the enthusiasm for liberty, and so strong a vein of poetic sensibility and romantic feeling qualifying a type that is essentially industrial. It is not difficult to trace the Highland source of this spirit. The habits of the clan life, the romantic loyalty of the clansman to his chief, the almost legendary charm that has grown up around Mary Queen of Scots, and round the Pretender, have all had their deep and lasting influence on the character of the people. Slowly, through the course of years, a mass of traditional feeling was formed, clustering around, but usually transfiguring facts.

The clan legends, and a very idealized conception of clan virtue survived the destruction of feudal power; and the pathos and the fire of the Jacobite ballads were felt by multitudes long after the star of the Stuarts had sunk forever at Culloden. Traditions and sentiments that were once the badges of a party, became the romance of a nation; and a great writer arose who clothes them with the hues of a transcendent genius, and made them the eternal heritage of his country and of the world." (History ii., p. 99).

* A History of the Scottish Highlands, Highland Clans and Highland Regiments, &c. edited by John S. Keltie, F. S. A. Sec., in two vols. Edinburgh and London; 1875.

** Lecky: England in the Eighteenth Century, Vol. ii. p. 301. It may be remarked that the whole of Mr. Lecky’s chapter v., in so far as it relates to Scotland, and especially the Highlands is valuable for the amount of research displayed by the author, as well as for the generally impartial deductions from the facts at his command.

*** See Keltie: History of the Scottish Highlands, Vol ii p. 1l6. Also Scott and Veitch in their works on the Border and Border Minstrelsy.

+ "Of the extraordinary impotence of the law in the early years of the eighteenth century, even in the southern extremity of the Highlands, we have a striking instance in the career of Robert Macgregor, the well-known Rob Roy. For more than twenty years he carried on a private war with the Duke of Montrose, driving away his cattle, intercepting his rents, levying contributions on his tenants, and sometimes, in broad daylight, carrying away his servants. He did this—often under the protection of the Duke of Argyll—in a country that was within thirty miles of the garrison towns of Stirling and Dumbarton, and of the important city of Glasgow, and this although a small garrison had been planted at Inversnaid for the express purpose of checking his depredations. He at last died peacefully on his bed in 1738 at the patriarchal age of eighty." Lecky: History, Vol. ii, p. 28.

++ Lecky: History of the Eighteenth Century, vol. ii. pp. 32, 33.

+++ Keltie: History of the Scottish Highlands, vol i. chaps. 36 and 37, where a very full and interesting account of Culloden and subsequent events will be found.

*+ Flora Macdonald was the daughter of Ronald Macdonald, of Miltown, in South Uist one of the most distant of the Western Isles. She was born about 1722, and died in Skye in 1790, being buried with the sheet used by Prince Charlie, as her shroud. See a very interesting biography of her by a granddaughter published at Edinburgh (new edition), l875. From the earliest period she was a Jacobite, and remained so to the last. Her earliest recollections were songs breathing hatred to the Sassenach. Two lines are preserved:

"Geordie sits in Charlie’s chair;
The de’il tak him for sitting there."

Years after, when "the lost cause" was beyond recovery, she would never so much as name George III., and when her son spoke of him as His Majesty, she slapped him soundly, saying she would hear nothing of "soft Geordie" (p. 355). As Dr. Johnson said, she left "a name that will be mentioned in history, and if courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with honour." In the work referred to, there is an admirable portrait of the Highland heroine; and, as Johnson describes her, we can readily believe that she had "soft features, gentle manners and elegant presence."

*++ Lecky, Vol. ii. p. 34. Mr. Lecky has heard one of the most eminent English surgeons state as the result of his experience, that he found a wide difference in the poster of enduring pain shown by patients from different parts of the British Empire, and that he has usually found his Scotch patients, in this respect, greatly superior to his English and to his Irish ones. Ibid. note.

*+++ James Logan: The Scottish Gael; or Celtic Manners, pp. 77-78.

+* The battle of Sherriffmuir was not a victory either for Mar or Argyll, yet its effect was to extinguish the Chevalier’s hopes. The following verse from Hogg’s "Jacobite Relics "is quoted in The Scottish Highlanders, vol. 1. p. 464 : —

"There’s some say that we wan, and some say that they wan,
And some say that nane wan at a’, man;
But one thing I’m sure, that at Sherriffmuir,
A battle there was that I saw, wan;
And we ran, and they ran, and they ran, and we ran,
But Florence ran fastest of a’, man."

By "Florence" is meant the Marquis of Huntly’s steed.

Amongst the individual heroes on the Highland side, Golice or Gillies Macbane is conspicuous. He was six feet four inches and a quarter in height, and of prodigious strength. At Culloden, being beset by a party of dragoons, he placed his back against a wall, and though covered with wounds, defended himself with targe and claymore. Thirteen of the foe were struck dead at his feet before he succumbed. The Scottish Highlanders, Vol. 1. p. 506. In The Scottish Gael, p. 96, his memory is preserved in a poem attributed to Lord Byron, and as it is not often met with, the reader will be pleased to see it here.

"The clouds may pour down on Culloden’s red plain,
But the waters shall flow o’er its crimson in vain;
For their drops shall seem few to the tears for the slain,
But mine are for thee, my brave Gillies Macbane.

"Though thy cause was the cause of the injured and brave,
Though thy death was the hero’s, and glorious thy grave;
With thy dead foes around thee, piled high on the plain,
My sad heart bleeds o’er thee, my Gillies Macbane!

"How the horse and the horseman thy single hand slew.
But what could the mightiest single arm do?
A hundred like thee might the battle regain;
But cold are thy hand and thy heart, Gillies Macbane

"With thy back to the wall and thy breast to the targe,
Full flashed thy claymore in the face of their charge;
The blood of their tallest that barren turf stain;
But alas! thine is reddest there, Gillies Macbane

"Hewn down, but still battling, thou sunk’st to the ground,
The plaid was one gore, and thy breast was one wound;
Thirteen of thy foes by thy right hand lay slain;
Oh! would they were thousands for Gillies Macbane!

"Oh! loud, and long heard shall thy coronach be,
And high o’er the heather thy cairn we shall see,
And deep in all bosoms thy name shall remain,
But deepest in mine, dearest Gillies Macbane!

"And daily the eyes of thy brave boy before,
Shall thy plaid be unfolded, unsheathed thy claymore
And the white rose shall bloom on his bonnet, aga’n
Shall he prove the true son of my Gillies Macbane."

+** The heights themselves took their name from Abraham Martin, dit l’Ecossaie (surnamed the Scot), a pilot on the St. Lawrence in the time of Champlain, a century and a quarter before the conquest of Quebec. See Lemoine: Quebec, Past and Present. Note p. 21; also Murdoch’s Nova Scotia, vol. i. p. 95.

+*** In the same singular medley the reader of Burns is also treated to a view of the Highlander of the old time in the song of the "raucle carlia": --

"A Highland lad my love was born,
The Lowlan’ laws he held in scorn;
But he still was faithful to his clan,
My gallant brew John Highlandman.
With his philibeg an’ tartan plaid,
And gude claymore down by his side,
The ladies’ hearts he did trepan,
My gallant braw John Highlandman.
Sing hey, say braw John Highlandman_&c."

**+ See an interesting brochure published by Hogg, of London, at the time of the marriage of His Excellency, the Marquis of Lorne and the Princess Louise.

**++ See McCrie, Wodrow, and Howie’s Scots Worthies, also Anderson’s Ladies of the Covenant, and Dodds’ Fifty Years’ Struggle of the Scots Covenanters, 1638-88.

**+++ Heart of Midlothian, ch. xxiv.

Previous Page | Return to Index Page | Next Page

This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.