The Earl of Breadalbane, a man of great power in the Highlands, and head of a numerous clan of the Campbells, was intrusted with a sum of money, which some authors call 20, and some 12,000 pounds, to be distributed among the chieftains, on the condition of their submission to the existing government, and keeping on foot, each chief in proportion to his means, a military force to act on behalf of government, at home or abroad, as they should be called on. This scheme would probably have rendered the Highland clans a resource, instead of a terror, to the government of King William; while their love of war, and their want of money, would by degrees have weaned them from their attachment to the exiled King, which would gradually have been transferred to a prince who led them to battle, and paid them for following him.
But many of the chiefs were jealous of the conduct of the Earl of Breadalbane in distributing the funds intrusted to his care. Part of this treasure the wily Earl bestowed among the most leading men; when these were bought off, he intimidated those of less power into submission, by threatening them with military execution; and it has always been said, that he retained a considerable portion of the gratuity in his own hands. The Highland chiefs complained to Government of Breadalbane’s conduct, who, they alleged, had advised them only to submit to King William for the present, until an opportunity should occur of doing King James effectual service. They also charged him with retaining, for his own purposes, a considerable part of the money deposited in his hands, as the price of peace.
My dear Lord, The money you mention, was given to purchase the peace of the Highlands. The money is spent—the Highlands are quiet, and this is the only way of accompting among friends.
Government, it is said, attended to this information, so far as to demand, through the Secretary of State, a regular account of the manner in which the sum of money placed in his hands had been distributed. But Breadalbane, too powerful to be called in question, and too audacious to care for suspicion of what he judged Government dared not resent, is traditionally said to have answered the demand in the following cavalier manner:— “My dear Lord, The money you mention, was given to purchase the peace of the Highlands. The money is spent—the Highlands are quiet, and this is the only way of accompting among friends.”
— Sir Walter Scott, Tales of a Grandfather, Second Series, Vol. I, 1842.
[W]hen an estate is so heavily burdened by an accumulation of debts inherited by its present possessor from the unwisdom of their forefathers. A point is ever reached … when the interest on money borrowed can no longer be paid and the lands themselves have to be sold. This in brief is what had happened not only with the lands we speak to you of, but of nearly all the lands which march with Ardkinglass. You will all of you recollect that it was but some 10 years ago that the neighbouring estate of Strachur which (with that of Ardgarten) was held for at least 9 centuries by a branch of our race passed into other hands. Drimsynie, Carrick, Ardentinny and Kilmun and even Dunoon all once part of the vast Barony of Ardkinglass and all held by younger sons of the parent stock have long since passed away, with the single exception of Dunoon which is still held by one of the old race. And though it seem but a span in the lifetime of a planet, and though the hills that keep watch, in their own unchanging silence, over the changing ownership of the glens, shall smile at the thought it seems a long time in the history of the race when we look back at the far off day when Cailein Oig first Laird of Ardkinglass with his three tall sons settled, in the place where in obedience to a predicted omen his hamper strings should snap.
Letter of Niall Diarmid Campbell, 10th Duke of Argyll, to the tenantry of Ardkinglas upon deciding to sell the estate (h/t Ardkinglas Estate).
Joannes Argatheliæ et Greenovici Dux, Marchio de Kintyre et Lorn, Comes de Campbell, Cowall et Greenwich, Vicecomes de Lochow et Glenyla, Dominus de Inveraray, Mull, Morvern et Tirij, Baro de Chatham, Hæreditarius Justiciarius Generalis, Vicecomitatus Argatheliæ, Insularum aliorumque ejusdem Vicecomitatus Locumtenens et Præfectus Juridicus Hæreditarius, Magnus apud Scotos Hospitii Magister ibidem Haereditarius, copiarum Britanicarum Mariscallus, tormentorum bellicorum Magnæ Britaniæ Praefectus, inter fines Commitatus Argatheliæ Insularumque Scotiæ occidentalium Admiralis, S. D. N. Regis a Sanctiaribus Concilijs ac nobilissimi ordinis auratæ periscelidis Eques.
Latin style of John Campbell, Duke of Argyll, c. 1740.
In Lustre of Race equal to the first Subjects; In Talents and Accomplishments superior to most: Distinguish’d from his Youth with the highest publickTrusts; All discharged with signal Honour: An upright Statesman, a human Hero: His Address, like his Person pleasing: A steady Friend; too sincere to feign Affection: A fair Enemy; too brave to dissemble Resentment: Never making small Foes, never courting great ones: A powerful Orator, Persuasive, by being himself persuaded; Of wonderful Ability to shake or calm the human Soul: In Office, the Man of Dignity; out of it, the easy Companion; Always the Great Man: For the rest I refer to Records, in the Annals of Europe, Concerning the illustrious JOHN, Duke of ARGYLE and GREENWICH.
— Inscription by —— Gordon, Esq, intended for the monument to John Campbell, Duke of Argyll, in Westminster Abbey, by Mr. Roubillac, of St. Martin’s Lane, from The Scots Magazine, February, 1749.
CAMPBELTOWN is built on what was originally the seat of the Dalriadan monarchy. About the middle of the third century Cormac, King of Ireland, quelled a dispute which had arisen between two tribes, and during this civil war Cormac’s cousin, Cairbre-Riada, conquered a district in the north-east of Ireland, which he called Dalriada, or the portion of Riada. About 503 A.D. the three sons of Erc, the then King of Dalriada, named respectively Loarn, Fergus, and Angus, settled a colony on the promontory of Cantyre, which was effected by peaceful means. These three chiefs then each took possession of a separate territory. Fergus took Cantyre, Loarn took what is now known as the district of Lorne, and Angus is said to have taken possession of Isla. When Campbeltown was the seat of the Dalriadan monarchy it bore the name of Dalruadhain. In the sixth century St. Ciarnan landed here, and lived in a cave known as Cove-a-Chiarnan. He became the patron saint of all Cantyre or Kintyre, and having founded a church at Dalruadhain, the place became known as Chille-a-Chiarnan, which has been modernised to Kilkerran. After this the Macdonalds of the Isles took Kilkerran for a capital, built a castle, and rebuilt the town, calling it Kinlochkerran, which means the head of Ciarnan’s Loch. It is said that King James IV. built the castle, and called it his “new castle of Kilkerane in Kintyre.” He seemed to have resided here in 1498. King James V. had many conflicts with the Macdonalds, and as he was unable to subdue them, he granted the place to the Campbells of Argyle, and they, after many fierce struggles, almost depopulated it. On account of this grant the place once more changed its name, and has since been known as Campbeltown.
The town was erected into a Royal Burgh in 1700, and the charter states that this was done at the desire of Archibald, the tenth Earl of Argyll, who was made Duke of Argyll in the following year. Previous to this it had been a Burgh of Barony, and the charter quotes a charter of King James VI., which ordained that “for the better entertaining and continuing of civility and policy within the Hielandes and lies,” . . . “that there be erected and builded within the bounds thereof, three burghes and burrowetowns, in the maist conuenient and commodious partes meet for the samen; to wit, ane in Kintyre, another in Lochaber, and the third in the Lewis.”
The Seal of the Burgh of Campbeltown is as follows: A shield divided into four. In the first quarter a castle; the second quarter gyronny of eight; the third quarter a lymphad, with sail furled and oars in action; and in the fourth quarter a fret. Beneath is the motto, “Ignavis precibus fortuna repugnat,” meaning “Fate is deaf to idle prayers.”
The castle represents the old castle of Campbeltown, the site of which is now occupied by the parish church, which was built in 1780.
The gyronny of eight is the armorial bearings of the Clan Campbell. Nisbet speaks of the gyronny as follows: “The giron is a French word which signifies the lap—one sitting with knees apart if line drawn from one knee to the other the space within makes a giron with the point in gremio. So all girons are of a triangular or conal form, broad at one end and sharp at the other. The first is at the sides of the shield, and the other ends at the naval, or centre point of the shield. They are said to represent triangular pieces of stuff, commonly called gussets, placed in garments and women’s smokes, to make them wide below and narrow above. . . . This armorial figure is frequent in armorial bearings in Europe, and . . . has its rise in armouries from the robes, gowns, and coats of armour used by the ancients.”
The lymphad, an old-fashioned ship with one mast and oars, is the armorial bearings of the ancient House of Lorne, because in ancient times the Island chiefs held their lands under the tenure of providing one or more ships for the use of the sovereign.
The fret sable is the armorial bearings of Baron Tollemache. At the time of the erection of the Burgh, Lady Elizabeth Tollemache was the wife of the then Earl of Argyll, and the device was adopted by the Burgh in compliment to her. The fret is a figure composed of a narrow saltire or cross and a mascle, which are interlaced. Nisbet says that the mascle “is a lozenge voided of the field—i.e., with the centre cut out. Heralds make it represent different things—the eye or ring to fasten a coat of mail. Others the mesh of a net; others mirrors.” And regarding the fret, he says: “Mr Thomas Crawford, in the fragments of his ‘Manuscript of Heraldry,’ . . . says the fret is . . . a badge of fastness and fidelity, like a knot or tie of ribbons . . . is called by some English heralds the herald’s love-knot, because it is devised by them as an armorial bearing.” In Seton’s “Heraldry” it is said that the origin of the lozenge has been variously accounted for, and Sylvanus Morgan says that while the form of the shield was taken from Adam’s spade, that of the lozenge was derived from Eve’s spindle.
THE earliest notice of Inverary is in a charter dated 8th May 1472 granted to Colin, first Earl of Argyll, erecting Inverary, or “Inoureyra” as it is there spelt, into a Burgh of Barony. It takes its name from being situated “on the Aray,” and Queen Mary in 1554 “for policie to be hade within this realme, and increasing of vertue within the samyn, created the burgh of the Innerrara a free royal burgh forever—appointed Archibald, Earl of Ergile, customer of the burgh for life, and gave power to the Provost, Baillies, Councillors, community and inhabitants to build a pretorium for the administration of justice.” This “pretorium” was used till about 1754, and was the first of the kind in Argyleshire. Then another court house and prison were built, which is now used by the Chamberlain of Argyll as an office. The town obtained another charter from King Charles I. in 1648.
The Seal bears in the centre a shield, with horizontal wavy lines representing the sea, and with five herrings swimming into a net which is shown suspended at one side. Above the shield is the name Inverary, and surrounding the lower part, the motto “Semper tibi pendeat halec” which may be freely translated “May the fish sauce always be ready for you.”
As the principal industry of the Burgh is the herring fishing in Lochfyne, the design speaks for itself, and is intended to represent a net set in the loch with herrings entering it.
The motto, however, requires a word of explanation, as it seems to refer to the fishing industry being the most important of all industries, and the Lochfyne herrings being the finest of all fish. The Latin word halec or alec is translated in dictionaries as “the sediment of a costly fish sauce called garum; and the meaning of garum is given as “a thick sauce-fish sauce.” This garum was much used by the Romans in almost all their dishes, and seems to have been very expensive. It is said that the most esteemed was that which came from Antipolis and Dalmatia, but Horace praises that made at Byzance, and says that it was considered the best as well as the most expensive. Pliny says that garum is a liquid of a very exquisite nature made from the intestines of fish, and several parts which would otherwise be discarded. These are macerated in salt, and, he says, garum is, in fact, the result of their putrefaction. He also remarks that it was originally prepared from a fish called “garos” by the Greeks. He then proceeds to speak of “alec” which, he says, is the refuse of garum, or its dregs when imperfectly strained. He also tells us that in course of time this alec became a great object of luxury, and that an infinite number of different kinds of it were made, and he adds that garum also became much improved, and was made to resemble the colour of old honied wine, and that it was so pleasantly flavoured as to admit of being drunk as a beverage. Possibly the Romans knew the delicacy of the Lochfyne herrings, and from their indulgence in them, or the alec made from them, the motto may have originated.
From time immemorial this part of Lochfyne has been celebrated for its herrings, and the “Old Statistical Account” says that the harbour of Inverary was anciently called Slochk Ichopper, meaning a Gullet where vessels bought or bartered for fish, and it goes on to say that “anciently the French merchants used to come and barter their wines for herrings, as there is a point of land, about 3 miles south of Inverary, still called the Frenchman’s point; and the tradition of the country is that it was to that particular spot the herrings were in use to be brought, in order to be cured and sold.”
LOCHGILPHEAD came under the provisions of the various previous Police Acts in 1858, and under the Burgh Police Act of 1892 adopted as the Common Seal a design illustrative of the fishing industries of the place. The Seal is—On a shield an anchor with a cable, and across the anchor and in front is a herring. The whole is encircled by a cable. Beneath, as the motto, is the Gaelic word “Dochas” meaning “Hope.”
Loch Gilp, at the “head” of which the town is situated, is said to take its name from the Gaelic Gilb meaning a chisel, from the shape of the loch bearing a fancied resemblance to that tool.
THE “Old Statistical Account” tells us that about 1714 the first house of any consequence was erected in Oban by a trading company of Renfrew, which used it as a storeroom. In 1736 a custom-house was erected “Oban being reckoned a proper place for clearing out vessels for the herring fishery.” About 1774 “there were from 20 to 30 vessels registered at Oban which were chiefly employed in the fisheries; but from the decrease of that trade on the N.-W. coast the number of vessels is now much smaller.” In 1811 it was erected into a Burgh of Barony in favour of the Duke of Argyll. But the Court of Session afterwards set this charter aside, and another charter was granted in 1820 in favour of the Duke of Argyll and Mr Campbell of Combie. The town was made a Parliamentary Burgh in 1833.
The Seal of the Burgh is a shield in the base of which is a representation of the galley of Lorn with oars in action, and beneath, in the sea, a fish swimming. In the left hand chief is a lion rampant, the Scottish Arms; and in the right hand chief the Campbell Gyronny. The motto beneath “Air aghart” is in old Celtic characters, and is the Gaelic for “Forward.” The fish refers to the nature of the industry long carried on by the inhabitants of the town before it became famous as a watering-place.
DUNOON adopted the Lindsay Act of 1862 in that year, and, under the provisions of the Burgh Police Act of 1892, took the following device as the Common Seal of the Burgh.
The lower division of the shield on the Seal bears a representation of the ancient Castle of Dunoon, beneath the shadow of which the town of Old Dunoon arose. The old castle, which crowned a rocky headland between the east and west bays, takes one back into the dark mists of antiquity. Some antiquarians think it was founded by remote Dalriadic chieftains in the early years of the sixth century, and, later on, to have been a stronghold of Scandinavian rovers. Some allege that it was at one time a nunnery, and that the name of the town comes from the Gaelic Dun-no-oigh, meaning “the house of the virgins.” But the origin of the name is uncertain, though Buchanan derives it from the Gaelic dun, a castle, and nuadh, new, and calls it Novio-dunum.
From the reign of Malcolm Canmore the castle was the seat of the Lord High Stewards of Scotland, and when King Robert II., son of Walter Stewart, and grandson of King Robert Bruce, came to the throne, it became a Royal palace, and was placed under the hereditary keepership of the Campbells of Lochow, the ancestors of the Dukes of Argyll. As they lived in it, their vassals and attendants had houses built in the neighbourhood for them to reside in, which houses were the origin of the town, and the ferry between this place and Greenock gave an additional importance to it. Part of the feudal tenure by which one of the proprietors in the vicinity holds his lands is that of maintaining this ferry across the Clyde.
The castle seemed to have covered an acre of ground, and to have had three towers. By Royal charter of 1472, Colin, Earl of Argyll, Lorne, and Campbell, obtained certain lands round the Castle of Dunoon. These lands he held of the crown for a white rose, shown at the bottom of the Seal. In 1544 the castle was besieged and taken by the Earl of Lennox, who had desired to be Regent during the infancy of Mary Queen of Scots, and on 26th July 1563 Queen Mary herself visited it. In 1646 it was the scene of a cruel atrocity perpetrated by the Campbells on the Lamonts of Cowal and Bute. Thirty-six of these were conveyed from the houses of Escog and Castle-Toward to the village of Dunoon and hanged on an ash tree at the kirkyard. “Insomuch that the Lord from heaven did declare His wrath and displeasure by striking the said tree immediately thereafter, so that the whole leaves fell from it, and the tree withered, which, being cut down, there sprang out of the very heart of the root thereof a spring like unto blood purpling up, and that for several years till the said murderers or their favourers did cause howk out the root.” After this the castle was utterly neglected and fell to ruin. Its stones were taken to build neighbouring cottages, and now its outline can hardly be traced, but it is believed there are a vast number of vaults underground.
The upper division of the shield bears a steamboat, indicating that the town received a new lease of life by the introduction of steamers on the Clyde. The shield is surrounded by Scotch thistles, and the recently added motto, “Forward,” shows that continuous prosperity is looked for.
TOBERMORY, in the island of Mull, was founded in 1788 by “The British Society for extending the Fisheries and improving the Sea coasts of the Kingdom.” In 1875 it adopted the Lindsay Act, and under the Burgh Police Act of 1892 designed a Common Seal as follows:—
On a background of thistles a shield divided into four. The first quarter bears a representation of the Virgin and Child, the Virgin being the patron saint of the Burgh, hence the origin of the name from the Gaelic Tobar Moire, the Well of the Virgin Mary. This was originally a fountain which, in the days of popery, was dedicated to the Virgin. In the second quarter is a dolphin spouting water; in the third, an ancient galley with flags on the mast and at the stern; and in the fourth, a fish, probably a herring. These three latter devices are emblematic of the scheme for the foundation of the town, and its subsequent development as a fishing centre.
Regarding the dolphin, we are told by Nisbet: “The dolphin is taken for the King of Fishes . . . for his strength and swiftness in the pursuit of other fishes his prey, and is said to be an admirer of men, so as to be humane, and a lover of music, for which he is often used in arms and devices. Ulysses is said by Aldrovandus to have carried the dolphin on his shield. . . . Hopingius says, that Ulysses carried the dolphin on his shield and signet-ring, upon the account of that creature’s humanity for saving his son Telemachus when he fell into the sea.”
The motto “Ceartas” is a Gaelic word, meaning justice or equity.
— Porteous, Alexander, The Town Council Seals of Scotland; Historical, Legendary and Heraldic, Edinburgh: W. & A. K. Johnson, 1906.
Charter under the Great Seal by King James III. to Colin Earl of Argyll, of the keeping of the Castle of Dunoon in Cowall.—18 Jan. 1472.
Jacobus Dei gratia Rex Scotorum Omnibus probis hominibus tocius terre sue clericis et laicis salutem. Sciatis quod commisimus, et tenore presentium committimus dilecto consanguineo nostro Colino Comiti de Ergile, Domino Lorn et Cambell, Magistro hospicii nostri, custodiam castri nostri de Dunvne, cum potestate constabularios, janitores, carcerum custodes, vigiles, ac ceteros Officiarios ad dicti Castri custodiam necessarios, constituendi, ac eosdem de suis officiis quotiens opus fuerit remouendi, et alios eorum loco imponendi; ac omnia alia et singula faciendi et perimplendi que ad dicti castri nostri custodiam necessaria fuerunt seu etiam oportuna. Pro cuiusquidem castri nostri custodia concessimus, et per presentes concedimus, et donamus, et pro perpetuo confirmamus eidem Colino, terras nostras de Bordlande cum pertinen, extenden, annuatim ad viginti septem marcas vsualis monete Regni nostri, jacen. in balliatu de Cowale, cum ceteris feodis ad custodiam dicti castri spectan. Tenend. et habend, custodiam dicti castri nostri de Dunvne, vnacum terris de Bordlande pro custodia eiusdem, dicto Colino et heredibus suis, de nobis heredibus et successoribus nostris in feodo et hereditate imperpetuum, cum omnibus et singulis libertatibus, commoditatibus, et asiamentis, ac justis suis pertinentiis quibuscunque, tam non nominatis quam nominatis, ad dictum officium custodie castri, et ad prefatas terras cum pertinen, spectan, seu quouismodo juste spectare valen. in futurum, adeo libere, quiete, plenarie, integre, honorifice, bene et in pace, sine reucatione aut retinemento nostri vel successorum nostrorum quorumcunque. Reddendo inde annuatim dictus Colinus et heredes sui nobis, heredibus, et successoribus nostris, vnam rosam rubeam, apud dictum castrum, pro dictis terris et officio, in festo natiuitatis beati Johannis Baptiste, nomine albe firme, si petatur. In cuius Rei testimonium presenti carte nostre magnum Sigillum nostrum apponi precipimus. Testibus reuerendis in Christo patribus Thoma Episcopo Aberdonensi, &c. Apud Edinburgh, decimo octauo die mensis Januarii Anno Domini millesimo quadringentesimo septuagesimo secundo, et Regni nostri Decimo tertio.—[Reg. Mag. Sig. VII. 189.]
Item, the said Sir Coline Campbell of Glenurchay Knycht barronett of gude memorie depairt this lyfe in Balloch the sext day of September the yeir of God 1640 yeiris, being laird of Glenurchay nyne yeiris, and thriescore thrie yeiris of age.
And wes honourablie buried in the chappell of Finlarg be his nixt brother Sir Robert Campbell nynt laird of Glenurchay, being accompanyit with diveris of his honourabill freinds and neighbouris, his brethreen, and the rest of his freendis of the name Campbell come of his hous.
On the dark nights of winter, when folks circle round the cheery fire, and by turns amuse or frighten each other with legendary lore and ghost stories, there is one name which hardly ever fails to make the listener’s blood creep, even if it does not cause his hair to to stand on end—and that name is bogie. When in the Western Highlands, I was told a story which curiously exemplified the popular belief in the power of the Duke of Argyll. A Highlander was benighted on the moors, when suddenly he saw a light, which at first he imagined to be one of those two stars called by the Argyllshire men ton-theine, “fiery-tail,” and iùl-oidhche, “guide of night.” But he soon found that he was mistaken, for the light began to dance before him, being nothing more than the ignis fatuus, will-o’-the-wisp. The Highlander, however, concluded it to be a bogle, and, falling upon his knees, he prayed to Peter and Paul and the Virgin that it might disappear. But, instead of doing so, it danced before him in a more lively style than ever. Driven to an extremity, the Highlander then used to it the strongest form of adjuration of which he could think, and bade it get out of his path in the name of the Duke of Argyll. The charm was sufficient, the bogle instantly disappeared, and the Highlander got safely home.
EPITAPH WRITTEN BY ARCHIBALD, 9th EARL OF ARGYLE, UPON HIMSELF.
Thou Passenger, that shalt have so much time
To view my grave, and ask what was my crime,—
No stain of error, no black vice’s brand,
Was that which chas’d me from my native land.
Love to my country,—twice sentenced to die,—
Constrained my hands forgotten arms to try.
More by friends’ fraud my fall proceeded hath
Than foes, tho’ now they thrice decreed my death.
On my attempt, tho’ providence did frown,
His oppress’d people God at length shall own.
Another hand, by more successful speed,
Shall raise the remnant, bruise the serpent’s head.
Tho‘ my head fall, that is no tragick story,
Since going hence, I enter endless glory.
When the mole shall reach the Mull: when the thorn tree near Inveraray shall be destroyed; when a road shall be made throughout the country; when bells shall ring from a rock in Loch Fyne; when Strone Point, near Inveraray, shall be covered with wood, high enough to conceal an invading army: and when the Atlantic shall flow into Loch Fyne, then shall the Argyll Campbells be driven from Cantire, excepting so many of them as shall escape on a crooked and lame white horse.
Prophecy of Niven MacVicar, first Reformed minister of Inveraray and reputed seer, regarding the extermination of the Campbell power from Kintyre, as quoted in Bede Cuthbert, Argyll’s Highlands, Glasgow, 1902.
Argyll, I am informed that one Lietennant Colonell Stewart imployed heere (as it is sayd) by the Earle of Montrose, hes deponed something of his dealing with Traquaire, and that by him I should haue giuen asseurance of disposing of some vacant Places, to such persones as was joined in a laite Band with the E. of Montrose, thereby insinuating that my jurnie to Scotland was onlie desyred and procured by Montrose and Traquaire, and lykewais that my intent there in is rather to make and forder parties, then to receaue from, and giue contentment to my Subjects: Now since that (by the grace of God) I haue resolued of my jurnie to Scotland it makes me the more curius, that my actions and intentions, be not misconceaued by my subjects there: Therefore in the first place, I thinke fitt to tell you that I intend my jurnie to Scotland for the satling of the affaires of that Kingdome, according to the Articles of the Treatie, and in such a way as may establish the affections of my People fully to me; and I am so far from intending diuision, by my jurnie, that I meane, so to establishe Peace in State, and Religion in the Churche, that there may be a happie harmonie amongst my Subjects there: Secondlie I neuer made anie particular promis, for the disposing of anie places in that Kingdome, but meanes to dispose them, for the best aduantadge of my seruice, and therein I hope to giue satisfaction to my Subjects: And as for my Letter to Muntrose, I doe auow it, as fitt for me to wryte, bothe for the matter and the person to whome it is written, who for anie thing I yet know, is no wais unworthie of such a fauor: Thus hauing cleered my intentions to you as my particular seruant, I expect, that as occasion may serue, you may helpe to cleere those mistakes of me which upon this occasion may aryse: Lastlie, for the preparations for my cuming home I doe rather mention it, to show the constant resolution of my jurnie, then in anie dout of your diligence therein: and so I rest
Your asseured frend
WHYTHALL THE 12 OF JUNE 1641.
— Letters to the Argyll Family, Edinburgh: T. Constable, 1839.
Monday, 25th October .—My acquaintance, the Rev. Mr. John M’Aulay, one of the ministers of Inverary, and brother to our good friend at Calder, came to us this morning, and accompanied us to the castle, where I presented Dr. Johnson to the Duke of Argyle. We were shown through the house; and I never shall forget the impression made upon my fancy by some of the ladies’ maids tripping about in neat morning dresses. After seeing for a long time little but rusticity, their lively manner, and gay inviting appearance, pleased me so much, that I thought, for the moment, I could have been a knight-errant for them.
We then got into a low one-horse chair, ordered for us by the duke, in which we drove about the place. Dr. Johnson was much struck by the grandeur and elegance of this princely seat. He thought, however, the castle too low, and wished it had been a story higher. He said, “What I admire here, is the total defiance of expense.” I had a particular pride in showing him a great number of fine old trees, to compensate for the nakedness which had made such an impression on him on the eastern coast of Scotland.
When we came in, before dinner, we found the duke and some gentlemen in the hall. Dr. Johnson took much notice of the large collection of arms, which are excellently disposed there. I told what he had said to Sir Alexander M’Donald, of his ancestors not suffering their arms to rust. “Well,” said the doctor, “but let us be glad we live in times when arms may rust. We can sit to-day at his grace’s table, without any risk of being attacked, and perhaps sitting down again wounded or maimed.” The duke placed Dr. Johnson next himself at table. I was in fine spirits; and though sensible that I had the misfortune of not being in favour with the duchess, I was not in the least disconcerted, and offered her grace some of the dish that was before me. It must be owned that I was in the right to be quite unconcerned, if I could. I was the Duke of Argyle’s guest; and I had no reason to suppose that he adopted the prejudices and resentments of the Duchess of Hamilton.
I knew it was the rule of modern high life not to drink to any body; but, that I might have the satisfaction for once to look the duchess in the face, with a glass in my hand, I with a respectful air addressed her, “My Lady Duchess, I have the honour to drink your grace’s good health.” I repeated the words audibly, and with a steady countenance. This was, perhaps, rather too much; but some allowance must be made for human feelings.
The duchess was very attentive to Dr. Johnson.
I know not how a middle state came to be mentioned. Her grace wished to hear him on that point. “Madam,” said he, “your own relation, Mr. Archibald Campbell, can tell you better about it than I can. He was a bishop of the nonjuring communion, and wrote a book upon the subject’.” He engaged to get it for her grace. He afterwards gave a full history of Mr. Archibald Campbell, which I am sorry I do not recollect particularly. He said, Mr. Campbell had been bred a violent whig, but afterwards “kept better company, and became a tory.” He said this with a smile, in pleasant allusion, as I thought, to the opposition between his own political principles and those of the duke’s clan. He added that Mr. Campbell, after the revolution, was thrown into gaol on account of his tenets; but, on application by letter to the old Lord Townshend, was released: that he always spoke of his lordship with great gratitude, saying, “though a whig, he had humanity.”
Dr. Johnson and I passed some time together, in June, 1784, at Pembroke college, Oxford, with the Rev. Dr. Adams, the master; and I having expressed a regret that my note relative to Mr. Archibald Campbell was imperfect, he was then so good as to write with his own hand, on the blank page of my journal, opposite to that which contains what I have now mentioned, the following paragraph; which, however, is not quite so full as the narrative he gave at Inverary:
“The Honourable Archibald Campbell was, I believe, the nephew of the Marquis of Argyle. He began life by engaging in Monmouth’s rebellion, and, to escape the law, lived some time in Surinam. When he returned, he became zealous for episcopacy and monarchy; and at the revolution adhered not only to the nonjurors, but to those who refused to communicate with the church of England, or to be present at any worship where the usurper was mentioned as king. He was, I believe, more than once apprehended in the reign of King William, and once at the accession of George. He was the familiar friend of Hicks and Nelson; a man of letters, but injudicious; and very curious and inquisitive, but credulous. He lived in 1743, or 44, about seventy-five years old.”
The subject of luxury having been introduced, Dr. Johnson defended it. “We have now,” said he, “a splendid dinner before us; which of all these dishes is unwholesome?” The duke asserted, that he had observed the grandees of Spain diminished in their size by luxury. Dr. Johnson politely refrained from opposing directly an observation which the duke himself had made; but said, “Man must be very different from other animals, if he is diminished by good living; for the size of all other animals is increased by it.” I made some remark that seemed to imply a belief in second-sight. The duchess said, “I fancy you will be a methodist.” This was the only sentence her grace deigned to utter to me; and I take it for granted, she thought it a good hit on my credulity in the Douglas cause.
A gentleman in company, after dinner, was desired by the duke to go to another room, for a specimen of curious marble, which his grace wished to show us. He brought a wrong piece, upon which the duke sent him back again. He could not refuse; but, to avoid any appearance of servility, he whistled as he walked out of the room, to show his independency. On my mentioning this afterwards to Dr. Johnson, he said, it was a nice trait of character.
Dr. Johnson talked a great deal, and was so entertaining, that Lady Betty Hamilton, after dinner, went and placed her chair close to his, leaned upon the back of it, and listened eagerly. It would have made a fine picture to have drawn the sage and her at this time in their several attitudes. He did not know, all the while, how much he was honoured. I told him afterwards, I never saw him so gentle and complaisant as this day.
We went to tea. The duke and I walked up and down the drawing-room, conversing. The duchess still continued to show the same marked coldness for me; for which, though I suffered from it, I made every allowance, considering the very warm part that I had taken for Douglas, in the cause in which she thought her son deeply interested. Had not her grace discovered some displeasure towards me, I should have suspected her of insensibility or dissimulation.
Her grace made Dr. Johnson come and sit by her, and asked him why he made his journey so late in the year. “Why, madam,” said he, “you know Mr. Boswell must attend the court of session, and it does not rise till the twelfth of August.” She said, with some sharpness, “I know nothing of Mr. Boswell.” Poor Lady Lucy Douglas to whom I mentioned this, observed, “She knew too much of Mr. Boswell.” I shall make no remark on her grace’s speech. I indeed felt it as rather too severe; but when I recollected that my punishment was inflicted by so dignified a beauty, I had that kind of consolation which a man would feel who is strangled by a silken cord. Dr. Johnson was all attention to her grace. He used afterwards a droll expression, upon her enjoying the three titles of Hamilton, Brandon, and Argyle. Borrowing an image from the Turkish empire, he called her a duchess with three tails.
He was much pleased with our visit at the castle of Inverary. The Duke of Argyle was exceedingly polite to him, and, upon his complaining of the shelties which he had hitherto ridden being too small for him, his grace told him he should be provided with a good horse to carry him next day.
— James Boswell, The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson.