WHERE are the days that we have seen,
When Phœbus shone fu’ bright, man,
Days when fu’ merry we have been,
When every one had right man;
Now gloomy clouds do overshade,
And spread wide over a’, man,
Ill boding comets blaze o’er head, O whirry whigs awa’, man.
Now ill appears with face fu’ bare,
‘Mong high and low degree, man,
And great confusion every where,
Which every day we see, man;
A blind man’s chosen for a guide,
If they get not a fa’ man,
There’s none needs wonder if they slide, O whirry whigs awa’, man.
We are divided as you see,
A sad and dreadful thing, man,
‘Twixt malice, pride, and presbytery,
And Satan leads the ring, man:
Our nation’s under misery,
And slavery with a’ man,
Yet deaf’d with din of liberty, O whirry whigs awa’, man.
Our decent gowns are all put down,
Dare scarcely now be seen, man,
Geneva frocks take up their room,
Entitled to the tiends, man;
Who cant and speak the most discreet,
And say they love the law, man,
Yet are a pack of hypocrites, O whirry whigs awa’, man.
Of primitive simplicity,
Which in our church was left, man,
Of truth and peace with prelacy,
Alas! we are bereft, man;
Instead of true humility,
And unity with a’ man,
Confusion’s mither presbytery,
Now spawns her brats thro’ a’ man.
The Lord’s prayer and the creed,
With glore to trinity, man,
New start-ups all these things exclude
And call them popery, man,
Rebellion’s horn they loudly tout,
With whinning tone and bla, man,
And leave the means of grace without; O whirry whigs awa’, man.
Yet creed and Lord’s prayer too,
The true blue folks of old, man,
Ye know believed to be true,
And promised to hold, man.
But having proved false to God,
Traitors to kings with a’, man,
They never by their word abode; O whirry whigs awa’, man.
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.
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!
— 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.
In that case, my Lord, if these be your principles, I shall not make it my principle to pay the interest, nor my interest to pay the principal; so if your Grace do not stand your share of the loss, you shall have no money from me.
Robert Roy MacGregor to James Graham, Duke of Montrose.
Reasons against the Restoration of Argyll Confiscated Property.1
Some reasons why Archibald Campbell, sometime Lord Lorn, ought not to be restored to the honour or estate of his late father, Archibald, sometime Marquess of Argyle (“Argyll”):—
BECAUSE it hath been alwaies held very dangerous, both for the interest of the Prince and peace of the people, to restore the children of powerful traitors to their fathers’ honours or estates, which experience demonstrated to be too true in the Gowries.
The restoring of this family is in a special manner most dangerous, by reason of the scituation and vast bounds of the estate of Argyle (“Argyll”) in the Highlands, the great claim, many vassals and tenants that depend on it, all, or for the much greater part, ill principled, and inured to rebellion these last 20 years, who blindly follow their master’s commands, without any regard to their duty to God or the King, so that it is a most ﬁt place to be the nest and seminary of rebellion, as it proved in the late Argyle’s time, to the great prejudice of his Majestie’s service, and mine of many loyal subjects. And this same very reason was brought by the late Argyle against the Marquis of Antrum, to dispossesse him of the lordship of Kentyre (Cinntìre), which he had purchased with the consent of his late Majesty. For he pretended that it was dangerous to suffer the said Marquis of Antrum to enjoy these lands, by reason of the great power of the family of the MacDonalds, and of the bad consequences that usually follow the restoring of persons to an estate which they had formerly lost by forfeiture. But it’s evident to all men that this reason is much more forcible against Argyle himself and his posterity.
It’s directly against the council and advice of the modern Solomon K. James, his Majestie’s grandfather, of blessed memory, who, in his ‘Basilicondoron,’ speaks thus to his son: “As for the matter of forfeitures, which are also done in Parliaments, my advice is, you forfeit none but for such odious crimes as may make them unworthy ever to be restored again.” And in the same book, speaking of the High-landers and their oppressions, he subjoyns this good council to his son: “Put in execution the laws made against the over-lords and chieffs of their clans, and it will be no difficulty to daunton them.”
The restoring of this family would prove a dangerous president to encourage rebellious and traiterous spirits to perpetuate such horrid crimes as the late Argyle did, upon hopes, that whatsoever treasons they commit, their families and posterity may still stand: whereas, upon the contrary, the exemplary punishment and eradicating of this family (especially at this ﬁrst happy appearance of his Majestie’s justice) will be a scar-crow to all others, and serve as a beacon to make them shun the rocks of rebellion, which they know will undoubtedly shipwreck not only themselves, but also their posterity. In conﬁrmation whereof, it was observed that the late Argyle, when he received sentence, was more moved at that part which touched the ruine of his posterity and family, than for what concerned his own person.
The restoring of the son would be prejudicial to many of his Majestie’s loyal subjects of the best quality, and to divers orphans and widows who have been opprest and almost ruined by the father, and can expect no other reparation of their losses, but from the forfeiture of the said estate, unlesse his Majesty would put himself to unnecessary charges to repair them some other way.
The restoring of this family is not only dangerous and inconvenient for the aforesaid general reasons, but also for the said Archibald his particular faults and misdemeanors; for, besides that vice runs much in a bloud, as King James hath observed, it’s well known that both he and his brother Neil are of the same principles with their father, who died impenitent, asserting the Covenant, and sowing the seeds of sedition and rebellion, and, as it were, entailing it upon his children, as appears by his last speech — which bad principles were instilled in them both with their milk; and to make the elder more compleat, he was sent abroad to be bred at Geneva, with recommendations from his father to that Kirk, and to the Presbyterians of France, where he kept correspondence between his father and them; and the younger was lately proved to have been privy and consenting to all his father’s treacherous complyances with the English in Scotland, and to have been actually in arms with them.
The bad principles and inclinations of the elder appeared when his Majesty retired from St Johnstons, with intention to go to some of his loyal subjects in the northern parts of Scotland; for immediately upon that news he rifled his Majestie’s cabinets, and, after his Majestie’s return, he being captain of the guard, put a padlock on his Majestie’s door, keeping him a prisoner — which sufﬁciently shows that he is his father’s son.
To evidence further his bad inclinations and aversion from his Majestie’s service, he never raised regiment or company all the time the King was in Scotland to joyn with the Royal army. But a little before his Majesty was to march into England, he eagerly urged that some parties might be drawn out of every regiment to make up one for himself, under pretence of the King’s Guard; and though he knew that would be undoubtedly denied him, yet he still persisted to press the same, on pur pose to have some pretence of discontent, that so he might avoid marching into England with his Majesty, which shal be testiﬁed by some who were then privy to his father’s and his own designs.
Though it be pretended, for expiation of these misdemeanours, that he appeared thereafter in his Majestie’s service in the High-lands, under the Earl of Glencairne and Middleton, his Majestie’s generals, yet that doth no waies eveience his loyalty, and cannot expiate the least of his faults, for divers reasons: (1) Because when he was there, in his usual discourses he eagerly asserted the Covenant, and justiﬁed the barbarous death of the renowned Marquess of Montross, his Majestie’s general, as he had barbarously and scandalously insulted over him at his carting and execution. (2) Because even then he combined with the late Lord Balcarras to divide his Majestie’s forces, by endeavouring to renew and set up that fatal and rebellious Covenant. (3) Because he endeavoured also another way to destroy those forces by using all possible persuasions with the Viscount of Kenmure to make him usurp the general’s place, not only without, but against the King’s order; and fearing this unsuccessful treachery would come out, to shun his deserved punishment he immediately ﬂed away to his father’s bounds, from whence he wrote letters to make some chief gentlemen desert his Majestie’s general, and so break his forces. And this is all the great loyalty that ever he shewed, which is so much brag’d of by his friends and intercessours.
And that he persisted still in the same bad inclinations divers years after, appeared lately; for when General Monck, now Duke of Albemarle, was upon his last march into England, and had made some transactions with his Majestie’s loyal subjects of Scotland for promoting his Majestie’s happy restoration, the said Archibald, then dwelling in one of the Marquesse of Huntlye’s houses, did not only divert all those under his power, but also dealt with divers others, to enter into a combination with him, and to sign bonds to oppose the said general’s noble and immortal designs.
The restoring of the said Archibald will be also dangerous for the great store of money that in all probability is left him by his father, who received great summes from the pretended States of Scotland for all his treacherous and cruel expeditions against his Majestie’s loyal subjects there; and also from the Parliament of England, and particularly 40 thousand pound sterling at the delivering up of the ‘King at Newcastle, besides a good summe he had thereafter from Cromwell; and what he made up by the revenues of two bishopricks these 20 years, by seizing the Marquess of Huntlye’s estate, and a part of the Marquess of Montrosses; by exacting divers of his Majestie’s few-duties payable to the Exchequer; by oppressing of many gentlemen his neighbours, and dispossessing them of their estates: all which cannot amount to lesse then a hundred and ﬁfty thousand pound sterling, which summe must remain entire or little diminished, since it’s known he lived sparingly, and these last 20 years he would pay none of his debts, neither principals nor proﬁts; so that his son, having such store of money, is as powerfull as his father to do mischief if he be restored.
Lastly, as the restoring of this family would be a notable prejudice to many who have been opprest by it, and no small grief to his Majestie’s loyal subjects, who justly apprehend the dangers that may thence ensue to his Majestie’s prejudice and disturbance of the nation, and would strengthen the hands of his Majestie’s enemies and weaken his friends, so it is the only hopes and desire of those who have been enemies to his Majestie’s father, of blessed memory, or who by this means expect the resurrection of the rebellious Covenant so destructive to monarchy. And therefore that family in prudence ought not to be restored.
1 From the Pamphlet of an Enemy of the Argyll Family.
— Lord Archibald Campbell’s Records of Argyll (1885).
Montrose, Montrose, you were the rose
You gave your life for loyalty
But it’s no’ the hour for a rose tae flower
Between the kirk and royalty
Father, father, tell me, why do the horsemen ride
Why do the troopers look so grim by Jamie Graham’s side
Is it true that he’s a traitor, father, tell me why
There’s no’ a man among them all will look him in the eye
Hide your eyes, my bonny boy, for the deed is a’ but done
The headsman’s axe will win the day, the Graham’s race is run
For honour rode with courage, but evil rode with guile
And the darkest horse among them a’ was the vengeance of Argyll
Hearken now, my bonny boy, as we stand before the kirk
Or does the thunder o’ the horses’ hooves hide a’ the devil’s work
For the Covenant’s a Campbell mare that rides across the law
And ere a Stuart bridles her, a Graham’s heid must fa’
I’ll read you now a riddle by the shining o’ the moon
When king and kirk sit down tae sup, wha needs the longer spoon
When Scotland hides her head in shame and justice looks awa’
And the scaffold buys an English throne wi’ the bravest heart of a’
A figure of Gaelic folklore, Alasdair the son of Colla the Left-handed MacDonald was born into Clan Donald around 1610 on the island of Colonsay in the Outer Hebrides. As Clan Donald was spread across them, Mac Colla had experience of both the Scottish Highlands and Islands and the Gaeltacht of Ireland. A soldier like his father, and being particularly renowned for his expertise with the claymore, his youth was taken up with the perpetual conflict between the Presbyterian Covenanter Campbells and the Catholic MacDonalds. He came to prominence in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms during which Clan Donald sided with the Royalists and Irish Confederates.
Attacked by a Covenanter/Campbell force, Mac Colla was forced to flee the Western Isles early in the war. Colla, his father (“Collkitto”), was taken prisoner by the Campbells. Upon the outbreak of the Irish Rebellion of 1641, Mac Colla found himself in Antrim, under the command of Randal MacDonald, the chief of the Irish MacDonalds. Mac Colla quickly became involved in fighting the Protestant settlers in east Ulster. He was implicated in several massacres of Protestant civilians, but he also scored some notable military victories. He was defeated and wounded in an attack on Lurgan and was rescued by Dónall Geimhleach Ó Catháin. The Scottish Covenanters landed an army in Ulster and drove the Irish Catholic forces out of the greater part of the province.
In 1644, he was selected by the Supreme Council of Confederate Ireland to lead an expedition to Scotland to aid the Royalists against the Covenanters there. He was charged with an army of perhaps two thousand Ulstermen. Arriving in Scotland, Mac Colla joined forces with the Royalist James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose, and he also raised more men from among his MacDonald clansmen and other anti-Campbell clans.
In the subsequent Scottish Civil War, Mac Colla and Montrose won a series of victories at the battles of Tippermuir, Aberdeen, Inverlochy, Auldearn, Alford, and Kilsyth. Perhaps the most notable of these battles was the Battle of Inverlochy, during which the Marquess of Argyll left the command of his army to his General, Duncan Campbell of Auchinbreck, and retired to his galley anchored on Loch Linnhe to watch the battle. In many respects, the Battle of Inverlochy was as much part of the clan war between the deadly enemies Clan Donald and Clan Campbell and their allies as it was part of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, and that is how it was portrayed in Gaelic folklore.
During his Highland campaign, Mac Colla also freely pillaged Campbell lands, killing all the men he could find there. On January 14, 1645, Mac Colla sacked Inveraray, the seat of the Campbells of Argyll. In an incident in Argyllshire after the Royalists were ordered to lay down arms, Mac Colla burned down a building full of Campbell women and children becoming known as the “Barn of Bones.”
Mac Colla has been credited with inventing the tactic of the Highland Charge in the Civil Wars– a tactic whereby his men ran toward the enemy infantry, fired a single volley at close range, and then closed in hand-to-hand combat. This tactic proved remarkably effective in both Ireland and Scotland, due to the musket’s slow reloading time and the poor discipline and training of many of the troops Mac Colla’s men faced.
Mac Colla’s father was killed by the Campbells in retaliation for his son’s atrocities in the Campbell country. Mac Colla himself retreated to Kintyre and then to Ireland with his family, where he re-joined the Irish Confederates in 1647. His troops (both Irish survivors of the 1644 expedition and Scottish Highlanders) were split up and assigned to the Leinster and Munster armies, with Mac Colla attached to the latter. Mac Colla’s men were mostly killed in the Confederate defeats at the Battle of Dungan’s Hill in County Meath and then at the Battle of Knocknanauss in County Cork. Alasdair Mac Colla himself was killed by English Parliamentarian soldiers at Knocknanauss after he had been taken prisoner.