A Virginian of the Virginians

Typical of those men — most typical — was Lee. He represented, individualized, all that was highest and best in the southern mind and the Confederate cause — the loyalty to state, the keen sense of honor and personal obligation, the slightly archaic, the almost patriarchal, love of dependent, family, and home. As I have more than once said, he was a Virginian of the Virginians. He represents a type which is gone — hardly less extinct than that of the great English nobleman of the feudal times, or the ideal head of the Scotch clan of a later period; but, just so long as men admire courage, devotion, patriotism, the high sense of duty and personal honor — all, in a word, which go to make up what we know as character  —just so long will that type of man be held in affectionate, reverential memory. They have in them all the elements of the heroic. As Carlyle wrote more than half a century ago, so now: “Whom do you wish to resemble? Him you set on a high column. Who is to have a statue? means, Whom shall we consecrate and set apart as one of our sacred men? Sacred; that all men may see him, be reminded of him, and, by new example added to old perpetual precept, be taught what is real worth in man. Show me the man you honor; I know by that symptom, better than by any other, what kind of man you yourself are. For you show me there what your ideal of manhood is; what kind of man you long inexpressibly to be, and would thank the gods, with your whole soul, for being if you could.”

Charles Francis Adams, “Shall Cromwell Have a Statue?” delivered before the Beta of Illinois Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society of the University of Chicago, 17 June 1902.

Formalities Observed

A romantic depiction of Highland chiefs, in Stewart and Gordon tartans; J. Logan, The Scottish Gaël, 1831.
A romantic depiction of Highland chiefs, in Stewart and Gordon tartans; J. Logan, The Scottish Gaël, 1831.

Every Heir or young Chieftain of a Tribe was oblig’d in Honour to give a publick Specimen of his Valour before he was own’d and declar’d Governor or Leader of his People, who obey’d and follow’d him upon all Occasions.

This Chieftain was usually attended with a Retinue of young Men of Quality, who had not beforehand given any Proof of their Valour, and were ambitious of such an Opportunity to signalize themselves.

It was usual for the Captain to lead them, to make a desperate Incursion upon some Neighbour or other that they were in Feud with; and they were oblig’d to bring by open force the Cattel they found in the Lands they attack’d, or to die in the Attempt.

After the Performance of this Achievement, the young Chieftain was ever after reputed valiant and worthy of Government, and such as were of his Retinue acquir’d the like Reputation. This Custom being reciprocally us’d among them, was not reputed Robbery; for the Damage which one Tribe sustain’d by this Essay of the Chieftain of another, was repair’d when their Chieftain came in his turn to make his Specimen: but I have not heard an Instance of this Practice for these sixty Years past.

The Formalities observ’d at the Entrance of these Chieftains upon the Government of their Clans, were as follow:

A Heap of Stones was erected in form of a Pyramid, on the top of which the young Chieftain was plac’d, his Friends and Followers standing in a Circle round about him, his Elevation signifying his Authority over them, and their standing below their Subjection to him. One of his principal Friends deliver’d into his Hands the Sword worn by his Father, and there was a white Rod deliver’d to him likewise at the same time.

Immediately after, the Chief Druid (or Orator) stood close to the Pyramid, and pronounc’d a Rhetorical Panegyric, setting forth the antient Pedigree, Valour, and Liberality of the Family as Incentives to the young Chieftain, and fit for his imitation.

—  A Description of the Western Isles of Scotland, Martin Martin, 1703.

With All the Display Which the Parties Could Make

The Highlanders had no feasts nor rejoicings at a birth, but a funeral was conducted with all the display which the parties could make. All the clan, and numerous neighbors, were invited and entertained with a profusion of every thing. The male part of the procession was regularly arranged according to rank, and, instead of laying aside their weapons, they were all well armed and equipped on such an occasion. The statistical account of the parish of Tongue, in Sutherland, informs us that a funeral procession there was regulated with military exactness by an old soldier, a person easily found in these parts. If the coffin is borne on a bier, he, every five minutes, or at such time as may be thought convenient, draws up the company, rank and file, and gives the word “relief;” when four fresh bearers take place of the others. There are some particular observances in Highland families such as that of the Campbells of Melfort, Duntroon, and Dunstaffnage, who being descended from a Duke of Argyle, took the following method of cementing their friendship; when the head of either family died, the chief mourners were always to be the two other lairds. This was the case on occasion of the death of the late Archibald Campbell of Melfort. The coffin was usually borne in a sort of litter between two horses, called carbad, a term which is now often applied to the coffin itself. Carbad seems to have been originally applied to such vehicles, and, when restricted to those used for funeral purposes, became synonymous with the shell in which the body was deposited. The Gaëlic Cobhain, the origin of coffin in its primary sense, meant a box, or any hollow vessel of wood. The desire to be interred in the sacred Isle of Iona appears to be as old as the era of Druidism. The Druidical cemetery is still seen separate from the others, and has never been used as a Christian burial place. In the poem of Cuthon, as translated by Dr. Smith, it is said that Dargo, who is called Mac Drui Bheil, son of the Druid of Bel, was buried in the Green Isle, an epithet given to Iona, where his fathers rested. In this Isle forty eight kings of Scotland, four of Ireland, and eight of Norway are buried, besides numerous individuals of note. There were certain cairns on the lines of road along which funerals passed, both in Ireland and Scotland, on which the body was rested; and some villages, particularly one at the entrance of Locheil from the muir of Lochaber, are called corpach, from the circumstance of the coffin being laid down there on the halt of the company; corp, in Gaëlic, being a body. Durand says that the Gauls used black in mourning. The Highlanders have, I presume, ever done the same, but, except by the wearing of crape, I know not how they evinced the loss of their relatives.

James Logan, The Scottish Gaël; Or, Celtic Manners, as Preserved Among the Highlanders: Being an Historical and Descriptive Account of the Inhabitants, Antiquities, and National Peculiarities of Scotland: More Particularly of the Northern, Or Gaëlic Parts of the Country, where the Singular Habits of the Aboriginal Celts are Most Tenaciously Retained, London, 1831.

Macmillan’s Cross

Macmillan's Cross; Kilmory Knap Chapel, Kilmory, Knapdale, Argyll and Bute, on the west coast of Scotland.
Front face of Macmillan’s Cross; Kilmory Knap Chapel, Kilmory, Knapdale, Argyll and Bute, on the west coast of Scotland.

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.

John Campbell of the Bank

John Campbell of the Bank, 1759 (or 1749). All “modern tartans” identified with the Clan Campbell are blue, green, and black. I am not aware of any red tartan which has been associated either historically or by the tartan mills with the Clan Campbell. This portrait just reinforces the truth that Highlanders simply wore what tartans were locally available or to their taste. John Campbell (c.1703-1777) was a Scottish banker and man of business. He worked for The Royal Bank of Scotland from its foundation in 1727, and was its cashier, 1745-77. He served as agent for his kinsmen the 2nd Earl of Breadalbane and Lord Glenorchy, keeping their estate accounts and acting as their representative for all types of business in Edinburgh. Campbell was a Gaelic-speaker with an interest in supporting the survival of the language. He read poetry and his diary suggests that he also wrote it, although no samples are known to survive. It is thought that he was one of the financial supporters of James Macpherson, in his search for the ‘lost’ Ossian cycle of poems.

John Campbell’s diary recounts how the Jacobite army took control of Edinburgh on 17 September 1745. On 1 October, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s secretary informed John Campbell that he had £857 of Royal Bank banknotes and wanted payment for them in gold. Upon failure to comply, the Jacobites would seize property from the Bank and its directors to the value of the notes.

It was not immediately easy for the Bank to comply, because all the Bank’s valuables, including its reserves of gold, had been moved to Edinburgh Castle for safekeeping during this time of turmoil. At first, it had been possible to get access to the Castle when necessary, but by this time the Castle – still in government hands – was locked down, while the rest of the city was under Jacobite control. Just a few days earlier, Campbell and some colleagues had been refused access to the castle, despite waiting at the gates for an hour.

Campbell sought and obtained a special pass from the Jacobite authorities permitting him to pass through the streets safely on his way to the castle. He also wrote ahead to the castle warning its commander that he would be asking for access. The commander implied he would be allowed in, but refused to put anything in writing.

Campbell, accompanied by colleagues and directors from the Bank, made his expedition to the castle on 3 October 1745. He successfully gained access, withdrew the gold to meet the Prince’s demands (which by now had risen to over £3,000), and more to meet any imminent further demands. He also destroyed a large quantity of unissued notes to remove the risk of them entering circulation and becoming an additional liability. While he worked, shooting went on between government forces in the Castle and Jacobites outside.

He paid the money to the Prince’s secretary at his office later that evening. The Jacobite army left Edinburgh on 1 November, marching on into England in a bid to claim the British throne. The army’s progress into England was funded in no small part by the gold it had received from The Royal Bank of Scotland.

R. R. McIan’s Buchanan

A Highlander in Buchanan tartan 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.

Clo Mhic Ille Mhicheil

Jacobite Standard during the 1745 rising.
Lyrics: English Translation:
Oganaich uir a’ chuil teudaich Oh noble youth with long black hair
‘S oil liom eudach a bhith dhith ort I hate it that you are wanting clothing
Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil
Chuir Roinn Eorpa clo am beart dhuit Europe has put cloth in the loom for you
‘S gu tig e as cha bhith sith ann And until it comes out, there will be no peace
Sèist: Chorus:
Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil
O hugaibh, hug a ri hug O hugaibh, hug a ri hug
Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil
Ach, bith bithidh i fighte, cumte, luaidhte But it will be woven, shaped and waulked
Mus tig buain na Feill Mhicheil Before the harvest of Michaelmas comes
Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil
Gun tig gruagaichean Chlann Raghnaill The maidens of Clanranald will come
Comhlain dhaicheil nach dean diobradh Handsome bands which will not desert you
(Sèist) (Chorus)
Gun tig nionagan o’n Cheapaich Girls will come from Keppoch
A bheir caithris air mun sgithich Who will keep a night-watch on it ‘ere they tire
Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil
Is gheibh sinn sgioba eile a Eirinn And you will get another crew from Ireland
O Iarl’Antram nan steud riomhach From the Earl of Antrim with his handsome horses
(Sèist) (Chorus)
Mar sin is Niallaich thar saile Likewise MacNeils from across the sea
Far shruthain laidir an lionaldh Over the strong currents of the flowing tide
Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil
Na b’ionann seo ‘s an luadhadh dosgach Let this not be like the disastrous waulking
Bha’n Cuil-lodair nuair a phill sinn There was at Culloden, when we retreated
(Sèist) (Chorus)
Cuireamaid ‘na eideadh Tearlach Let us dress Prince Charlie in his equipment
Stracamaid an aird ar dichioll Let us aim at the height of our endeavor
Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil
Dh’fhaodadh e bhith’n drasda umad You could have been wearing the cloth now
‘N a thrusgan urramach rioghail As an honored royal vestment
(Sèist) (Chorus)

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.

John Lamont and William McHardie

John Lamont and William McHardie as portrayed in watercolour by Kenneth MacLeay RSA in the monumental XIX Century work on Highland Dress, The Highlanders of Scotland.

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.

Neil MacLeod & Murdoch MacNeill

Neil MacLeod & Murdoch MacNeill.

Portrait of Neil MacLeod and Murdoch MacNeill by Kenneth MacLeay RSA and collected in The Highlanders of Scotland.