W.E. Aytoun.

Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers and Other Poems online

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Dundee, that I shall take leave to quote its termination in the words of
Drummond of Balhaldy:

"An advice so hardy and resolute could not miss to please the generous
Dundee. His looks seemed to heighten with an air of delight and
satisfaction all the while Locheill was speaking. He told his council
that they had heard his sentiments from the mouth of a person who had
formed his judgment upon infallible proofs drawn from a long experience,
and an intimate acquaintance with the persons and subject he spoke of.
Not one in the company offering to contradict their general, it was
unanimously agreed to fight.

"When the news of this vigorous resolution spread through the army,
nothing was heard but acclamations of joy, which exceedingly pleased
their gallant general; but before the council broke up, Locheill begged
to be heard for a few words. 'My Lord' said he, 'I have just now
declared, in the presence of this honourable company, that I was
resolved to give an implicit obedience to all your Lordship's commands;
but I humbly beg leave, in name of these gentlemen, to give the word of
command for this one time. It is the voice of your council, and their
orders are, that you do not engage personally. Your Lordship's business
is to have an eye on all parts, and to issue out your commands as you
shall think proper; it is ours to execute them with promptitude and
courage. On your Lordship depends the fate, not only of this little
brave army, but also of our king and country. If your Lordship deny us
this reasonable demand, for my own part I declare, that neither I, nor
any I am concerned in, shall draw a sword on this important occasion,
whatever construction shall be put upon the matter.'

"Locheill was seconded in this by the whole council; but Dundee begged
leave to be heard in his turn. 'Gentlemen,' said he, 'as I am absolutely
convinced, and have had repeated proofs, of your zeal for the king's
service, and of your affection to me as his general and your friend, so
I am fully sensible that my engaging personally this day may be of some
loss if I shall chance to be killed. But I beg leave of you, however, to
allow me to give one _shear-darg_ (that is, one harvest-day's work) to
the king, my master, that I may have an opportunity of convincing the
brave clans, that I can hazard my life in that service as freely as the
meanest of them. Ye know their temper, gentlemen; and if they do not
think I have personal courage enough, they will not esteem me hereafter,
nor obey my commands with cheerfulness. Allow me this single favour, and
I here promise, upon my honour, never again to risk my person while I
have that of commanding you.'

"The council, finding him inflexible, broke up, and the army marched
directly towards the Pass of Killiecrankie."

Those who have visited that romantic spot need not be reminded of its
peculiar features, for these, once seen, must dwell for ever in the
memory. The lower part of the Pass is a stupendous mountain-chasm,
scooped out by the waters of the Garry, which here descend in a
succession of roaring cataracts and pools. The old road, which ran
almost parallel to the river and close upon its edge, was extremely
narrow, and wound its way beneath a wall of enormous crags, surmounted
by a natural forest of birch, oak, and pine. An army cooped up in that
gloomy ravine would have as little chance of escape from the onset of an
enterprising partisan corps, as had the Bavarian troops when attacked by
the Tyrolese in the steep defiles of the Inn. General Mackay, however,
had made his arrangements with consummate tact and skill, and had
calculated his time so well, that he was enabled to clear the Pass
before the Highlanders could reach it from the other side. Advancing
upwards, the passage becomes gradually broader, until, just below the
House of Urrard, there is a considerable width of meadow-land. It was
here that Mackay took up his position, and arrayed his troops, on
observing that the heights above were occupied by the army of Dundee.

The forces of the latter scarcely amounted to one-third of those of his
antagonist, which were drawn up in line without any reserve. He was
therefore compelled, in making his dispositions, to leave considerable
gaps in his own line, which gave Mackay a further advantage. The right
of Dundee's army was formed of the M'Lean, Glengarry, and Clanranald
regiments, along with some Irish levies. In the centre was Dundee
himself, at the head of a small and ill-equipped body of cavalry,
composed of Lowland gentlemen and their followers, and about forty of
his old troopers. The Camerons and Skyemen, under the command of
Locheill and Sir Donald Macdonald of Sleat, were stationed on the left.
During the time occupied by these dispositions, a brisk cannonade was
opened by Mackay's artillery, which materially increased the impatience
of the Highlanders to come to close quarters. At last the word was given
to advance, and the whole line rushed forward with the terrific
impetuosity peculiar to a charge of the clans. They received the fire of
the regular troops without flinching, reserved their own until they were
close at hand, poured in a murderous volley, and then, throwing away
their firelocks, attacked the enemy with the broadsword.

The victory was almost instantaneous, but it was bought at a terrible
price. Through some mistake or misunderstanding, a portion of the
cavalry, instead of following their general, who had charged directly
for the guns, executed a manoeuvre which threw them into disorder; and,
when last seen in the battle, Dundee, accompanied only by the Earl of
Dunfermline and about sixteen gentlemen, was entering into the cloud of
smoke, standing up in his stirrups, and waving to the others to come
on. It was in this attitude that he appears to have received his
death-wound. On returning from the pursuit, the Highlanders found him
dying on the field.

It would he difficult to point out another instance in which the
maintenance of a great cause depended solely upon the life of a single
man. Whilst Dundee survived, Scotland at least was not lost to the
Stuarts, for, shortly before the battle, he had received assurance that
the greater part of the organised troops in the north were devoted to
his person, and ready to join him; and the victory of Killiecrankie
would have been followed by a general rising of the loyal gentlemen in
the Lowlands. But with his fall the enterprise was over.

I hope I shall not be accused of exaggerating the importance of this
battle, which, according to the writer I have already quoted, was best
proved by the consternation into which the opposite party were thrown at
the first news of Mackay's defeat. "The Duke of Hamilton, commissioner
for the parliament which then sat at Edinburgh, and the rest of the
ministry, were struck with such a panic, that some of them were for
retiring into England, others into the western shires of Scotland, where
all the people, almost to a man, befriended them; nor knew they whether
to abandon the government, or to stay a few days until they saw what use
my Lord Dundee would make of his victory. They knew the rapidity of his
motions, and were convinced that he would allow them no time to
deliberate. On this account it was debated, whether such of the nobility
and gentry as were confined for adhering to their old master, should be
immediately set at liberty or more closely shut up; and though the last
was determined on, yet the greatest revolutionists among them made
private and frequent visits to these prisoners, excusing what was past,
from a fatal necessity of the times, which obliged them to give a
seeming compliance, but protesting that they always wished well to King
James, as they should soon have occasion to show when my Lord Dundee
advanced."

"The next morning after the battle," says Drummond, "the Highland army
had more the air of the shattered remains of broken troops than of
conquerors; for here it was literally true that

'The vanquished triumphed, and the victors mourned.'

The death of their brave general, and the loss of so many of their
friends, were inexhaustible fountains of grief and sorrow. They closed
the last scene of this mournful tragedy in obsequies of their lamented
general, and of the other gentlemen who fell with him, and interred them
in the church of Blair of Atholl with a real funeral solemnity, there
not being present one single person who did not participate in the
general affliction."

I close this notice of a great soldier and devoted loyalist, by
transcribing the beautiful epitaph composed by Dr. Pitcairn: -

"Ultime Scotorum! potuit, quo sospite solo,
Libertas patriæ salva fuisse tuæ:
Te moriente, novos accepit Scotia cives,
Accepitque novos, te moriente, deos.
Illa nequit superesse tibi, tu non potes illi,
Ergo Caledoniæ nomen inane, vale.
Tuque vale, gentis priscæ fortissime ductor,
Ultime Scotorum, ac ultime Grame, vale!"




THE BURIAL MARCH OF DUNDEE


Sound the fife, and cry the slogan -
Let the pibroch shake the air
With its wild triumphal music,
Worthy of the freight we bear.
Let the ancient hills of Scotland
Hear once more the battle-song
Swell within their glens and valleys
As the clansmen march along!
Never from the field of combat,
Never from the deadly fray,
Was a nobler trophy carried
Than we bring with us to-day;
Never, since the valiant Douglas
On his dauntless bosom bore
Good King Robert's heart - the priceless -
To our dear Redeemer's shore!
Lo! we bring with us the hero -
Lo! we bring the conquering Græme,
Crowned as best beseems a victor
From the altar of his fame;
Fresh and bleeding from the battle
Whence his spirit took its flight,
Midst the crashing charge of squadrons,
And the thunder of the fight!
Strike, I say, the notes of triumph,
As we march o'er moor and lea!
Is there any here will venture
To bewail our dead Dundee?
Let the widows of the traitors
Weep until their eyes are dim!
Wail ye may full well for Scotland -
Let none dare to mourn for him!
See! above his glorious body
Lies the royal banner's fold -
See! his valiant blood is mingled
With its crimson and its gold.
See! how calm he looks and stately,
Like a warrior on his shield,
Waiting till the flush of morning
Breaks along the battle-field!
See - Oh never more, my comrades!
Shall we see that falcon eye
Redden with its inward lightning,
As the hour of fight drew nigh;
Never shall we hear the voice that,
Clearer than the trumpet's call,
Bade us strike for King and Country,
Bade us win the field or fall!
On the heights of Killiecrankie
Yester-morn our army lay:
Slowly rose the mist in columns
From the river's broken way;
Hoarsely roared the swollen torrent,
And the pass was wrapped in gloom,
When the clansmen rose together
From their lair amidst the broom.
Then we belted on our tartans,
And our bonnets down we drew,
And we felt our broadswords' edges,
And we proved them to be true;
And we prayed the prayer of soldiers,
And we cried the gathering-cry,
And we clasped the hands of kinsmen,
And we swore to do or die!
Then our leader rode before us
On his war-horse black as night -
Well the Cameronian rebels
Knew that charger in the fight! -
And a cry of exultation
From the bearded warriors rose;
For we loved the house of Claver'se,
And we thought of good Montrose.
But he raised his hand for silence -
"Soldiers! I have sworn a vow:
Ere the evening-star shall glisten
On Schehallion's lofty brow,
Either we shall rest in triumph,
Or another of the Graemes
Shall have died in battle-harness
For his Country and King James!
Think upon the Royal Martyr -
Think of what his race endure -
Think on him whom butchers murder'd
On the field of Magus Muir: -
By his sacred blood I charge ye,
By the ruin'd hearth and shrine -
By the blighted hopes of Scotland,
By your injuries and mine -
Strike this day as if the anvil
Lay beneath your blows the while,
Be they Covenanting traitors,
Or the brood of false Argyle!
Strike! and drive the trembling rebels
Backwards o'er the stormy Forth;
Let them tell their pale Convention
How they fared within the North.
Let them tell that Highland honour
Is not to be bought nor sold,
That we scorn their Prince's anger,
As we loathe his foreign gold.
Strike! and when the fight is over,
If ye look in vain for me,
Where the dead are lying thickest,
Search for him that was Dundee!"

Loudly then the hills re-echoed
With our answer to his call,
But a deeper echo sounded
In the bosoms of us all.
For the lands of wide Breadalbane,
Not a man who heard him speak
Would that day have left the battle.
Burning eye and flushing cheek
Told the clansmen's fierce emotion,
And they harder drew their breath;
For their souls were strong within them,
Stronger than the grasp of death.
Soon we heard a challenge-trumpet
Sounding in the pass below,
And the distant tramp of horses,
And the voices of the foe:
Down we crouched amid the bracken,
Till the Lowland ranks drew near,
Panting like the hounds in summer,
When they scent the stately deer.
From the dark defile emerging,
Next we saw the squadrons come,
Leslie's foot and Leven's troopers
Marching to the tuck of drum;
Through the scattered wood of birches,
O'er the broken ground and heath,
Wound the long battalion slowly,
Till they gained the field beneath;
Then we bounded from our covert. -
Judge how looked the Saxons then,
When they saw the rugged mountain
Start to life with armèd men!
Like a tempest down the ridges,
Swept the hurricane of steel,
Rose the slogan of Macdonald -
Flashed the broadsword of Locheill!
Vainly sped the withering volley
'Mongst the foremost of our band -
On we poured until we met them,
Foot to foot, and hand to hand.
Horse and man went down like drift-wood
When the floods are black at Yule,
And their carcasses are whirling
In the Garry's deepest pool.
Horse and man went down before us -
Living foe there tarried none
On the field of Killiecrankie,
When that stubborn fight was done!

And the evening-star was shining
On Schehallion's distant head,
When we wiped our bloody broadswords,
And returned to count the dead.
There we found him, gashed and gory,
Stretch'd upon the cumbered plain,
As he told us where to seek him,
In the thickest of the slain.
And a smile was on his visage,
For within his dying ear
Pealed the joyful note of triumph,
And the clansmen's clamorous cheer:
So, amidst the battle's thunder,
Shot, and steel, and scorching flame,
In the glory of his manhood
Passed the spirit of the Græme!
Open wide the vaults of Athol,
Where the bones of heroes rest -
Open wide the hallowed portals
To receive another guest!
Last of Scots, and last of freemen -
Last of all that dauntless race
Who would rather die unsullied
Than outlive the land's disgrace!
O thou lion-hearted warrior!
Reck not of the after-time:
Honour may be deemed dishonour,
Loyalty be called a crime.
Sleep in peace with kindred ashes
Of the noble and the true,
Hands that never failed their country,
Hearts that never baseness knew.
Sleep! - and till the latest trumpet
Wakes the dead from earth and sea,
Scotland shall not boast a braver
Chieftain than our own Dundee!




THE WIDOW OF GLENCOE


The Massacre of Glencoe is an event which neither can nor ought to be
forgotten. It was a deed of the worst treason and cruelty - a barbarous
infraction of all laws, human and divine; and it exhibits in their
foulest perfidy the true characters of the authors and abettors of the
Revolution.

After the battle of Killiecrankie the cause of the Scottish royalists
declined, rather from the want of a competent leader than from any
disinclination on the part of a large section of the nobility and gentry
to vindicate the right of King James. No person of adequate talents or
authority was found to supply the place of the great and gallant Lord
Dundee; for General Cannon, who succeeded in command, was not only
deficient in military skill, but did not possess the confidence, nor
understand the character of the Highland chiefs, who, with their
clansmen, constituted by far the most important section of the army.
Accordingly no enterprise of any importance was attempted; and the
disastrous issue of the battle of the Boyne led to a negotiation which
terminated in the entire disbanding of the royal forces. By this treaty,
which was expressly sanctioned by William of Orange, a full and
unreserved indemnity and pardon was granted to all of the Highlanders
who had taken arms, with a proviso that they should first subscribe the
oath of allegiance to William and Mary, before the 1st of January, 1692,
in presence of the Lords of the Scottish Council, "or of the Sheriffs or
their deputies of the respective shires wherein they lived." The letter
of William addressed to the Privy Council, and ordering proclamation to
be made to the above effect, contained also the following significant
passage: - "That ye communicate our pleasure to the Governor of
Inverlochy, and other commanders, that they be exact and diligent in
their several posts; but that they show no more zeal against the
Highlanders after their submission, _than they have ever done formerly
when these were in open rebellion_."

This enigmatical sentence, which in reality was intended, as the sequel
will show, to be interpreted in the most cruel manner, appears to have
caused some perplexity in the Council, as that body deemed it necessary
to apply for more distinct and specific instructions, which, however,
were not then issued. It had been especially stipulated by the chiefs,
as an indispensable preliminary to their treaty, that they should have
leave to communicate with King James, then residing at St. Germains, for
the purpose of obtaining his permission and warrant previous to
submitting themselves to the existing government. That article had been
sanctioned by William before the proclamation was issued, and a special
messenger was despatched to France for that purpose.

In the mean time, troops were gradually and cautiously advanced to the
confines of the Highlands, and, in some instances, actually quartered on
the inhabitants. The condition of the country was perfectly tranquil. No
disturbances whatever occurred in the north or west of Scotland;
Locheill and the other chiefs were awaiting the communication from St.
Germains, and held themselves bound in honour to remain inactive; whilst
the remainder of the royalist forces (for whom separate terms had been
made) were left unmolested at Dunkeld.

But rumours, which are too clearly traceable to the emissaries of the
new government, asserting the preparation made for an immediate landing
of King James at the head of a large body of the French, were
industriously circulated, and by many were implicitly believed. The
infamous policy which dictated such a course is now apparent. The term
of the amnesty or truce granted by the proclamation expired with the
year 1691, and all who had not taken the oath of allegiance before that
term, were to be proceeded against with the utmost severity. The
proclamation was issued upon the 29th of August: consequently, only four
months were allowed for the complete submission of the Highlands.

Not one of the chiefs subscribed until the mandate from King James
arrived. That document, which is dated from St. Germains on the 12th of
December 1691, reached Dunkeld eleven days afterwards, and,
consequently, but a very short time before the indemnity expired. The
bearer, Major Menzies, was so fatigued that he could proceed no farther
on his journey, but forwarded the mandate by an express to the commander
of the royal forces, who was then at Glengarry. It was therefore
impossible that the document could be circulated through the Highlands
within the prescribed period. Locheill, says Drummond of Balhaldy, did
not receive his copy till about thirty hours before the time was out,
and appeared before the sheriff at Inverara, where he took the oaths
upon the very day on which the indemnity expired.

That a general massacre throughout the Highlands was contemplated by the
Whig government, is a fact established by overwhelming evidence. In the
course of the subsequent investigation before the Scots Parliament,
letters were produced from Sir John Dalrymple, then Master of Stair, one
of the secretaries of state in attendance upon the court, which too
clearly indicate the intentions of William. In one of these, dated 1st
December 1694, - _a month_, be it observed, before the amnesty
expired - and addressed to Lieutenant-Colonel Hamilton, there are the
following words: - "The winter is the only season in which we are sure
the Highlanders cannot escape us, _nor carry their wives, bairns_, and
cattle to the mountains." And in another letter, written only two days
afterwards, he says, "It is the only time that they cannot escape you,
for human constitution cannot endure to be long out of houses. _This is
the proper season to maule them, in the cold long nights_." And in
January thereafter, he informed Sir Thomas Livingston that the design
was "to destroy entirely the country of Lochaber, Locheill's lands,
Keppoch's, Glengarry's, Appin, and Glencoe. I assure you," he continues,
"your power shall be full enough, _and I hope the soldiers will not
trouble the Government with prisoners_."

Locheill was more fortunate than others of his friends and neighbours.
According to Drummond, - "Major Menzies, who, upon his arrival, had
observed the whole forces of the kingdom ready to invade the Highlands,
as he wrote to General Buchan, foreseeing the unhappy consequences, not
only begged that general to send expresses to all parts with orders
immediately to submit, but also wrote to Sir Thomas Livingston, praying
him to supplicate the Council for a prorogation of the time, in regard
that he was so excessively fatigued, that he was obliged to stop some
days to repose a little; and that though he should send expresses, yet
it was impossible they could reach the distant parts in such time as to
allow the several persons concerned the benefit of the indemnity within
the space limited; besides, that some persons having put the Highlanders
in a bad temper, he was confident to persuade them to submit, if a
further time were allowed. Sir Thomas presented this letter to the
Council on the 5th of January, 1692, but they refused to give any
answer, and ordered him to transmit the same to Court."

The reply of William of Orange was a letter, countersigned by Dalrymple,
in which, upon the recital that "several of the chieftains and many of
their clans had not taken the benefit of our gracious indemnity," he
gave orders for a general massacre. "To that end, we have given Sir
Thomas Livingston orders to employ our troops (which we have already
conveniently posted) to cut off these obstinate rebels _by all manner of
hostility_; and we do require you to give him your assistance and
concurrence in all other things that may conduce to that service; and
because these rebels, to avoid our forces, may draw themselves, _their
families_, goods, or cattle, to lurk or be concealed among their
neighbours: therefore, we require and authorise you to emit a
proclamation to be published at the market-crosses of these or the
adjacent shires where the rebels reside, discharging upon the highest
penalties the law allows, any reset, correspondence, or intercommuning
with these rebels." This monstrous mandate, which was in fact the
death-warrant of many thousand innocent people, no distinction being
made of age or sex, would, in all human probability, have been put into
execution, but for the remonstrance of one high-minded nobleman. Lord
Carmarthen, afterwards Duke of Leeds, accidentally became aware of the
proposed massacre, and personally remonstrated with the monarch against
a measure which he denounced as at once cruel and impolitic. After much
discussion, William, influenced rather by an apprehension that so
savage and sweeping an act might prove fatal to his new authority, than


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