O Gleyd Argyll

Archibald Campbell, 8th Earl of Argyll.
Archibald Campbell, 8th Earl of Argyll.

“THE BONNIE HOUSE O’ AIRLIE.”

The father of the late Earl of Airlie, for several years acted as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Among his retainers were two pipers; and at a levee at Holyrood Palace, the Moderator of the Assembly requested that the pipers should play “The Bonnie House o’ Airlie.” His Lordship replied that he was not certain whether they would, as one of the pipers was an Ogilvie, and the other a Campbell, but promised to try, and instructed his butler to give the order to the pipers to play the tune. In a little while one of them, the Ogilvie, marched into the room playing with much spirit. Summoning the butler again, the Earl asked why Campbell had not also come in. “I gave him the message, my Lord.” “Well, what did he say?” The man hesitated. “What did Campbell say?” again demanded the Earl. “He said—eh!—eh!—” still hesitating—”he said he would see your Lordship—” the rest of the sentence was lost in a cough and the skirl of Ogilvie’s pipes!

D. MacDougall.

The Celtic Monthly, February 1905.

* * *

It fell on a day, a bonny summer day,
When the corn was ripe and yellow,
That there fell oot a great dispute
Between Argyle aye and Airlie.

Lady Margaret looked o’er yon high castle wall,
And O but she sighed sairly.
She saw Argyle and a’ his men
Come to plunder the bonny hoose o’ Airlie.

“Come doun, come doun Lady Margaret,” he said.
“Come doun and kiss me fairly
Or gin the morning’s clear daylight
I willna leave a standing stane in Airlie.”

“I’ll no come doun, ye false Argyle,
Nor will I kiss thee fairly.
I wouldnae kiss the false Argyle
Though you wouldna leave a standin’ stane in Airlie.”

“For if my gude lord had been at hame,
As he’s awa’ wi’ Chairlie,
There wouldnae come a Campbell frae Argyle
Dare trod upon the bonny green o’ Airlie.”

“For I hae bore him seven bonny sons,
The eighth yin has never seen his daddy
But if I had as mony ower again
They would all be men for Chairlie.”

But poor Lady Margaret was forced to come doun
And O but she sighed sairly
For their in front o’ all his men
She was ravished on the bowlin’ green o’ Airlie.

“Draw your dirks, draw your dirks,” cried the brave Locheil.
“Unsheath your sword,” cried Chairlie,
“We’ll kindle sic a lowe roond the false Argyle,
And licht it wi’ a spark oot o’ Airlie.”

— Version collected by Hamish Henderson and Peter Kennedy at Fetterangus, 27 June 1955.

* * *

O GLEYD Argyll has written to Montrose
To see gin the fields they were fairly,
And to see whether he should stay at hame,
Or come to plunder bonnie Airly.

Then great Montrose has written to Argyll
And that the fields they were fairly,
And not to keep his men at hame,
But to come and plunder bonnie Airly.

The lady was looking oer her castle-wa,
She was carrying her courage sae rarely,
And there she spied him gleyd Argyll,
Was coming for to plunder bonnie Airly.

‘Wae be to ye, gleyd Argyll!
And are ye there sae rarely?
Ye might hae kept your men at hame,
And not come to plunder bonnie Airly.’

‘And wae be to ye, Lady Ogilvie!
And are ye there sae rarely?
Gin ye had bowed when first I bade,
I never wad hae plunderd bonnie Airly.’

‘But gin my guid lord had been at hame,
As he is wi Prince Charlie,
There durst not a rebel on a’ Scotch ground
Set a foot on the bonnie green of Airly.

‘But ye’ll tak me by the milk-white hand,
And ye’ll lift me up sae rarely,
And ye’ll throw me outoure my [ain] castle-wa,
Let me neuer see the plundering of Airly.’

He’s taen her by the milk-white hand,
And he’s lifted her up sae rarely,
And he’s thrown her outoure her ain castle-wa,
And she neuer saw the plundering of Airly.

Now gleyd Argyll he has gane hame,
Awa frae the plundering of Airly,
And there he has met him Captain Ogilvie,
Coming over the mountains sae rarely.

‘O wae be to ye, gleyd Argyll!
And are you there sae rarely?
Ye might hae kept your men at hame,
And no gane to plunder bonnie Airly.’

‘O wae be to ye, Captain Ogilvie!
And are you there sae rarely?
Gin ye wad hae bowed when first I bade,
I neer wad hae plunderd bonnie Airly.’

‘But gin I had my lady gay,
Bot and my sister Mary,
One fig I wad na gie for ye a’,
Nor yet for the plundering of Airly.’

— No. 199D in Francis Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, 1882.

Author: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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