Precious Few Heroes

I was listening to the news the other day
I heard a fat politician who had the nerve to say
He was proud to be Scottish, by the way
With the the glories of our past to remember
“Here’s tae us, wha’s like us?” Listen to the cry
No surrender to the truth and here’s the reason why
The power and the glory’s just another bloody lie
They use to keep us all in line

Chorus:
For there’s no gods and there’s precious few heroes
But there’s plenty on the dole in the Land o’ the Leal
And it’s time now to sweep the future clear
Of the lies of a past that we know was never real

Sae farewell to the heather in the glen
They cleared us off once and they’d do it all again
For they still prefer sheep to thinking men
Ah but men who think like sheep are even better
There’s nothing much to choose between the old laird and the new
They still don’t give a damn for the likes of me and you
Just mind ye pay your rent to the factor when it’s due
And mind your bloody manners when ye pay!

(Chorus)

And tell me, will we never hear the end
Of puir bluidy Charlie at Culloden yet again?
Though he ran like a rabbit down the glen
Leaving better folk than him to be butchered
Or are you sittin in your Council house dreaming o’ your clan?
Waitin’ for the Jacobites tae come and free the land?
Try goin doon the broo with your claymore in your hand
And count a’ the Princes in the queueI

(Chorus)

So don’t talk to me of Scotland the brave
For if we don’t fight soon there’ll be nothing left to save
Or would you rather stand and watch them dig your grave
While ye wait for the Tartan messiah?
He’ll lead us tae the promised land wi laughter in his eye
We’ll all live on the oil and the whisky by and by
Free heavy beer, pie suppers in the sky
Will we never have the sense to learn?

That there’s no gods and there’s precious few heroes
But there’s plenty on the dole in the Land o’ the Leal
And I’m damn sure that there’s plenty live in fear
Of the day we stand together with our shoulders at the wheel
Aye there’s no gods

No Gods and Precious Few Heroes,  Brian McNeill.

R. R. McIan’s Lord of the Isles

The Lord of the Isles portrayed in his ceremonial costume in a XIX century engraving by McIan, from James Logan’s “The Clans of the Scottish Highlands”, 1845.

Robert Ronald McIan (1803 – 13 Dec 1856), also Robert Ranald McIan, was an actor and painter of Scottish descent. He is best known for romanticised depictions of Scottish clansmen, their battles, and domestic life.

On Wi’ the Braid Claymore

Prince Charles Edward Stuart; portrait by Louis-Gabriel Blanchet.

Cam’ ye by Atholl, lad wi’ the philabeg,
Down by the Tummel, or banks of the Garry?
Saw ye the lads, wi’ their bonnets an’ white cockades,
Leaving their mountains to follow Prince Charlie.

Chorus
Follow thee, follow thee, wha wadna follow thee?
Long has thou lov’d an’ trusted us fairly!
Charlie, Charlie, wha wadna follow thee?
King o’ the Highland hearts, bonnie Charlie.

I hae but ae son, my gallant young Donald;
But if I had ten, they should follow Glengarry;
Health to MacDonald and gallant Clan Ronald,
For these are the men that will die for their Charlie.

Chorus

I’ll go to Lochiel, and Appin, and kneel to them;
Down by Lord Murray and Roy of Kildarlie;
Brave Mackintosh, he shall fly to the field wi’ them;
These are the lads I can trust wi’ my Charlie.

Chorus

Down by thro’ the Lowlands, down wi’ the whigamore,
Loyal true Highlanders, down wi’ them rarely;
Ronald and Donald drive on wi’ the braid claymore,
Over the necks o’ the foes o’ Prince Charlie.

Lachlan McPherson & Ewan McPherson

Lachlan McPherson & Ewan McPherson.

Lachlan McPherson and Ewan McPherson as depicted in watercolour by Kenneth MacLeay RSA and published in the work, The Highlanders of Scotland.

The Gleam of Steel Flashing in Their Faces

The Battle of Culloden (1746) by David Morier, oil on canvas.

Their arms were anciently the Glaymore, or great two-handed sword, and afterwards the two-edged sword and target, or buckler, which was sustained on the left arm. In the midst of the target, which was made of wood, covered with leather, and studded with nails, a slender lance, about two feet long, was sometimes fixed; it was heavy and cumberous, and accordingly has for some time past been gradually laid aside. Very few targets were at Culloden. The dirk, or broad dagger, I am afraid, was of more use in private quarrels than in battles. The Lochaber-ax is only a slight alteration of the old English bill.

After all that has been said of the force and terrour of the Highland sword, I could not find that the art of defence was any part of common education. The gentlemen were perhaps sometimes skilful gladiators, but the common men had no other powers than those of violence and courage. Yet it is well known, that the onset of the Highlanders was very formidable. As an army cannot consist of philosophers, a panick is easily excited by any unwonted mode of annoyance. New dangers are naturally magnified; and men accustomed only to exchange bullets at a distance, and rather to hear their enemies than see them, are discouraged and amazed when they find themselves encountered hand to hand, and catch the gleam of steel flashing in their faces.

The Highland weapons gave opportunity for many exertions of personal courage, and sometimes for single combats in the field; like those which occur so frequently in fabulous wars. At Falkirk, a gentleman now living, was, I suppose after the retreat of the King’s troops, engaged at a distance from the rest with an Irish dragoon. They were both skilful swordsmen, and the contest was not easily decided: the dragoon at last had the advantage, and the Highlander called for quarter; but quarter was refused him, and the fight continued till he was reduced to defend himself upon his knee. At that instant one of the Macleods came to his rescue; who, as it is said, offered quarter to the dragoon, but he thought himself obliged to reject what he had before refused, and, as battle gives little time to deliberate, was immediately killed.

– Samuel Johnson, A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland (1775).