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Significant Scots
Archibald Campbell


CAMPBELL, ARCHIBALD, ninth Earl of Argyle, son of the preceding, was an equally unfortunate, though less distinguished political character, in the unhappiest era of Scottish history. He was educated under the eye of his father, and, at an early period of life, was highly distinguished for his personal accomplishments. After going through the schools, he was sent to travel on the continent, and, during the years 1647, 1648, and 1649, spent the greater part of his time in France and Italy. He appears to have returned to Scotland about the close of 1649, and we find him, in 1650, after Charles II. had arrived in Scotland, appointed colonel of one of the regiments of foot-guards, that were embodied on that occasion, which he held by commission from the king, refusing, from a principle of loyalty, to act under a commission from the parliament. He was present at the battle of Dunbar, fought in the month of September, 1650, when he displayed great bravery; and where his lieutenant-colonel, Wallace, who afterwards commanded the covenanters at Pentland, was taken prisoner. After the battle of Worcester, he still continued in arms, and kept up a party in the Highlands ready to serve his majesty on any favourable opportunity that might occur. Nor did he hesitate, for this purpose, to act along with the most deadly enemies of his house. In 1654, he joined the earl of Glencairn, with a thousand foot, and fifty horse, contrary to advice of his father, who saw no possibility of any good being done by that ill-advised armament. After having remained, along with this assemblage of cavaliers, for a fortnight, finding his situation neither safe nor comfortable among so many Murrays, Gordons, and Macdonalds, he withdrew from them, taking the road for the barracks of Ruthven, and was pursued by Macdonald of Glengary, who would certainly have slain him, had he not escaped with his horse, leaving his foot to shift for themselves. Glengary, having missed lord Lorne, would have revenged himself by killing his people, but was prevented by Glencairn, who took from them an oath of fidelity, and carried them back to the camp; whence they, in a short time, found means to escape in small bodies, till there was not one of them remaining. On this occasion, he carried a commission of lieutenant-general from Charles II., which rendered him so obnoxious to Cromwell, that be excepted him from his Act of Grace, published in the month of April this year. Lord Lorne was soon after this necessitated to take refuge in one of his remote islands, with only four or five attendants; and, seeing no prospect of any deliverance, submitted to the English in despair. In November of the following year, 1655, Monk compelled him to find security for his peaceable behaviour, to the amount of five thousand pounds sterling. He was, notwithstanding of all this, constantly watched, particularly by the lord Broghill, who had the meanness to corrupt even his body servants, and constitute them spies upon their master’s conduct. 

In the spring of 1657, Monk committed him to prison, and Broghill was earnest to have him carried to England, for the more effectually preventing his intrigues among the royalists. Shortly after the Restoration, he waited on his majesty, Charles II., with a letter from his father, and was received so graciously, that the marquis was induced to go up to London upon the same errand as his son, but was sent to the Tower without an audience. During the time that Middleton was practising against his father the marquis, lord Lorne exerted himself with great zeal, and though he failed in rescuing his beloved parent from the toils into which he had been hunted, he left a favourable impression on the mind of Charles with regard to himself, and, in place of bestowing the estates of Argyle upon Middleton, as that profligate fondly expected, he was induced to restore them, as well as the original title of earl, to the rightful heir. Nor was this all; when, to the astonishment of all the world, he was, by the Scottish parliament, condemned to death, under the odious statute respecting leasing-making, he was again saved by the royal favour, to the confusion of his enemies. For some considerable time after this, there is little to be told of the earl of Argyle, and that little no way creditable to his fame. He had his share of the preferments and of the dirty work of the period, in which he fouled his hands more than was meet, as a Highlander would say, for the son of his father. It was on the 29th of June, 1681, that Argyle gave his vote in the council against Donald Cargill; and the very next day the parliament sat down, which framed under the direction of the bigoted James VII., then duke of York, and commissioner to the Scottish parliament, that bundle of absurdities known by the name of the Test, which was imposed without mercy upon all, especially such as lay under any suspicion of presbyterianism. This absurd oath was refused by many of the episcopal ministers, who relinquished their places rather than debauch their consciences by swearing contradictions. Some took it with explanations, among whom was Argyle, who added the following; that, as the parliament never meant to impose contradictory oaths, he took it as far as consistent with itself and the protestant faith, but that he meant not to bind or preclude himself in his station, in a lawful manner, from wishing or endeavouring any alteration which he thought of advantage to the church or state, and not repugnant to the protestant religion and his loyalty; and this he understood to be a part of his oath. Of the propriety of taking the test, even with this explanation, in a moral point of view, some doubt may reasonably be entertained. With such an explanation, why might not any oath be taken that ever was framed, and what can save such swearing from the charge of being a taking of God’s name in vain; for an oath so explained is after all not an oath in the proper sense and meaning of the word. This explanation he submitted to the duke of York, who seemed to be perfectly satisfied; but he had no sooner put it in practice than he was indicted for his explanation, as containing treason, leasing, and perjury, and, by a jury of his peers, brought in guilty of the two first charges. This was on the 13th of December, 1681, and on the night of the 20th, fearing, as he had good reason, that his life would be taken, he made his escape out of the castle, disguised as a page, and bearing up the train of his step-daughter, lady Sophia Lindsay, sister to the earl of Balcarras. On the third day after sentence of death was pronounced upon him, Fountainball says, "There was a great outcry against the criminal judges and their timorous dishonesty. The marquis of Montrose was chancellor of this assize. Sir George Lockhart called it lucrative treason to the advantage of church and state; and admired how a man could be condemned as a traitor for saying he would endeavour all the amendment he can to the advantage of church and state." Even these who thought the words deserved some lesser punishment, called it diabolical alchemy, to screw them into treason. Lord Halifax told Charles himself, that he knew not the Scottish law, but the English law would not have hanged a dog for such a crime. On his escape from the castle, Argyle, by the direction of Mr John Scott, minister of Hawick, rode straight to the house of Pringle of Torwoodlee, who sent his servant along with him to the house of Mr William Veitch, who conducted him to Clapwell, in Derbyshire; where, becoming afraid from the alarm that had been everywhere given, Mr Veitch thought it prudent to advise with Lockyer, an old Cromwellian captain, who generously offered his services to conduct Argyle safely to London; which he did, bringing him first to Battersea, four miles above London, to Mr Smith’s, a sugar baker’s house, whose wife was a very pious and generous gentlewoman. They were rich, and had no children; of course they were able to do a great deal in the way of charity, without hurting themselves. They acquainted the lady with the earl’s secret, but concealed it from her husband, and his lordship passed for an ordinary Scottish gentleman of the name of Hope. The lady, however, in a day or two, sent to one of her agents in the city to provide two chambers at a good distance from one another, where two friends of her’s might be quiet and retired for a while; and Argyle and Veitch were sent to town by night to the house of Mr Holmes, the lady’s agent, to be directed to their lodgings. None of them knew Holmes; but the moment Holmes came into the room which they had been shown, he took Argyle in his arms, saying, my dear lord Argyle, you are most welcome to me. Argyle, in astonishment, and not without some visible concern, inquired how he knew him. I knew you, said Holmes, since that day I took you prisoner in the Highlands, and brought you to the castle of Edinburgh. But now we are on one side, and I will venture all that is dear to me to save you. So he carried them to their several lodgings; those of Argyle being known to no one but Mr Veitch and Holmes. As soon as the noise about his escape was over, Mrs Smith brought them both out to a new house they had moved to at Brentford; Argyle passing for a Mr Hope, and Veitch for a captain Fabes. Here there were frequent meetings of noblemen, gentlemen, and rich merchants, with a view of devising means for preventing the nation from falling into slavery; but the whole ended in the discovery of the Rye-house plot, which occasioned the apprehending of Mr William Carstairs, Mr Spence, and Baillie of Jerviswood; the two former of whom were put to the torture, and the latter executed in the most cruel manner. Upon the appearance of the plot being discovered, Argyle went over to Holland; and Mrs Smith, who was deep in the plot also, persuaded her husband to emigrate to that country from general motives, for he was ignorant of the plot; and they continued to live together, taking up their abode at Utrecht. Veitch, happily, when the search was made for them in London, had departed for Scotland; and, after hiding for some time in the best manner he could, he also stole over to Holland. There he met with Monmouth, Argyle, the earl of Melville, lord Polwart, Torwoodlee, James Stuart, and many others similarly situated, who all took a deep interest in the plan now formed for invading both kingdoms at the same time, Monmouth to lead the attack upon England, and Argyle that upon Scotland. "Both of them," says Veitch, who seems to have been quite familiar with the whole plan, "had great promises sent them of assistance, but it turned to nothing, and no wonder; for the one part kept not their promises, and the other followed not the measures contrived and concerted at Amsterdam, April the 17th, 1685." The persons present at this meeting were Argyle, and his son Charles Campbell, Cochrane of Ochiltree, Hume of Polwart, Pringle of Torwoodlee, Denholm of Westshields, Hume of Bassendean, Cochrane of Waterside, Mr George Wisheart, William Cleland, James Stuart, and Gilbert Elliot. Mr Veitch says, he brought old president Stairs to the meeting with much persuasion; and he gave bond for one thousand pounds to Madam Smith, whose husband was now dead; she lent out six or seven thousand more to Argyle and others for carrying on the enterprise. Having made all necessary arrangements, so far as was in their power, and dispatched. Messrs Barclay and Veitch, Cleland and Torwoodlee, to different parts of Scotland to prepare for their reception, Argyle and his company went on board their fleet of three ships, the Anna,Sophia, and David, lying off the Vlie, on the 28th of April; and, with a fair wind, set sail for Scotland, and in three days approached the Orkneys. At Kirkwall, most unfortunately, Spence, Argyle’s secretary, and Blackadder, his physician, went on shore, were instantly apprehended by the bishop and sent up to Edinburgh, which alarmed the government, and gave them time to prepare for the attack which they had heard of, but of which they were now certain. Sailing round toArgyle’s country, his son was landed, who sent through the fiery cross, but with no great effect. Finding that they were pursued by a frigate, they put into a creek and landed their arms and stores at the old castle of Allangreg. In the meantime, the marquis of Athol came against them with a considerable force, by whom they were drawn away from the castle, leaving only one hundred andfifty men to defend it in case of an attack. Being attacked, the small garrison fled, and the whole of their provisions and stores fell into the hands of the enemy. All this was discouraging enough; but, what was worse, they were not agreed among themselves, nor was the country agreed to take part with them. The suffering presbyterians would have nothing to do with Argyle, with whom they were highly offended, for the part he had hitherto acted, and the declaration he emitted did not give them great hopes of that which was yet to come. In short, it was soon evident that they would be obliged to separate, and every man shift for himself in the best manner he could. Disappointed in the Highlands, it was proposed to try the Lowlands; but they had wandered in the Highlands till the government forces, under Athol, Gordon, and Dumbarton, had cut off their communication with the disaffected parts of the country, and even cut them off from the possibility of escape. It was at last, however, resolved, that they should march upon Glasgow; and they crossed the water of Leven three miles above Dumbarton, on the night of the 16th of June. Marching next morning towards Kilmaronock, in the hope of finding some provisions, of which they were in absolute want, they discovered a party of horse, and stood to their arms, but the party they had observed being only a small body of horsemen not sufficiently strong to attack them, they passed on. On setting their watch the same night, they were alarmed again by a party of the king’s forces. Attempting a night-march to Glasgow, they wandered into a moss, where they were so broken and scattered that; in the morning, there were not above five hundred of them together.

All hope of success was now over. Sir John Cochrane and Sir Patrick Hume crossed the Clyde, with about one hundred and fifty men; and Argyle refusing to follow them, they marched to Muirdyke, where they were attacked by lord Ross, whom they repulsed in a very gallant manner, but were under the necessity of separating shortly after Argyle, thus left to himself, despatched Sir Duncan Campbell and two Duncansons, father and son, to his own country, to attempt raising new levies; and repaired himself to the house of an old servant, where he calculated upon a temporary asylum, but was peremptorily denied entrance. In consequence of this he crossed the Clyde, attended only by one companion. At the ford of Inchinnan they were stopped by a party of militia men. Fullarton, the name of Argyle’s companion, used every means he could think of to save his general, who was habited as a plain country man, and whom he passed for his guide. Seeing them determined to go after his guide, as he called him, he offered to surrender without a blow, provided they did not hurt the poor man who was conducting him. These terms they accepted, but did not adhere to; two of their number going after Argyle, who being on horseback, grappled with them, till one of them and himself came to the ground. He then presented his pocket pistol, when the two retired, but other five coming up, knocked him down with their swords, and seized him. When they found who it was they had made prisoner, they were exceedingly sorry, but they durst not let him go. Fullarton, perceiving the stipulation on which he had surrendered broken, snatched at the sword of one of them in order to take vengeance upon his perfidious opponents, but, failing in his attempt, he too was overpowered and made prisoner. Renfrew was the first place that was honoured with the presence of this noble captive; whence, on the 20th of June, he was led in triumph into Edinburgh. The order of the council was particular and peremptory, that he should be led bareheaded in the midst of Graham’s guards with their matches cocked, with his hands tied behind his back, and preceded by the common hangman; and that he might be more exposed to those insults which the unfeeling vulgar are ever ready to heap upon the unfortunate, it was specially directed that he should be led to the castle, which was to be the place of his confinement, by a circuitous route. All this, however, while it manifested the native baseness of the Scottish rulers and the engrained malevolence of their hearts, only served to display more strongly the heroic dignity, the meekness, the patience, and the unconquerable fortitude which animated the bosom of their unfortunate victim; and it tended in no small degree to hasten that catastrophe which all this studied severity was intended to avert. The Scottish parliament, on the 11th of June, sent an address to the king; wherein, after commending his majesty in their usual manner for his immeasurable gifts of prudence, courage, and conduct; and leading Argyle, whom they style an hereditary traitor, with every species of abuse, and with every crime, particularly that of ingratitude for the favours which he had received, as well from his majesty as from his predecessor; they emplore his majesty to show him no favour; and that his family, the heritors, the preachers, &c. who have joined him, may for ever be declared incapable of mercy, or of bearing any honour or estate in the kingdom; and all subjects discharged, under the pains of treason, to intercede for them in any manner of way. Accordingly, the following letter, with the royal signature, and countersigned by lord Milford, secretary of state for Scotland, was despatched to the council at Edinburgh, and by them entered and registered on the 29th of June. "Whereas, the late earl of Argyle is, by the providence of God, fallen into our power, it is our will and pleasure, that you take all ways to know from him those things which concern our government most; as, his assisters with men, arms, and money,—his associates and correspondents,—his designs, &c. but this must be done so as no time may be lost in bringing him to condign punishment, by causing him to be denounced as a traitor within the space of three days, after this shall come to your hands, an account of which, with what he shall confess, you shall send immediately to our secretaries, for which this shall be your warrant." James, who, while he was viceroy in Scotland, attended the infliction of torture upon the unhappy victims of his tyranny, and frequently called for an other touch, watching, at the same time, the unhappy victim with the eager curiosity of a philosophical experimenter, evidently, by this letter, intended that it should have been applied to Argyle. "It is our will and pleasure, that you take all ways to know from him, &c." seems positively to enjoin it; and when we reflect that torture was at the time in common use, and that the men to whom this order was addressed were in the habit of practising it, we might almost say, every day, it is somewhat of a mystery how he escaped it. Certain it is, however, that he did escape it, but how will, in all probabiIity, never be known. That he did not escape it by any undue disclosures, is equally certain. That they had received such orders he was told, and of their readiness to obey them, he had too many proofs; yet, when examined in private by Queensberry, he gave no information with respect to his associates in England; he also denied that he had concerted his design with any persons in Scotland; but he avowed boldly, and with the utmost frankness, that his hopes of success were founded on the cruelty of the administration, and such a disposition in the people to revolt as he conceived to be the natural consequence of oppression. He owned, at the same time, that he had laid too much weight upon this principle. Writing, too, to a friend, just before his examination, he has these words: "What may have been discovered from any paper that may have been taken, he knows not. Otherwise, he has named none to their disadvantage." Perhaps it was to atone for their neglect with regard to the torture, that the council ordered his execution on the very next day, although they had three to choose upon; and, to make the triumph of injustice complete, it was ordered upon the iniquitous sentence of 1682. The warning was short, but it must have been, in some degree, anticipated; and he received it with the most perfect composure. He possessed a faith full of assurance that triumphed over all his afflictions, and a hope that breathed immortality.

The morning of his execution was spent in religious exercises, and in writing short notices to friends. He had his dinner before he left the castle, at the usual hour, at which he discoursed with those that were along with Mr Charteris and others, with cheerful and becoming gravity. After dinner he retired, as was his custom, to his bedchamber, where it is recorded he slept quietly for about a quarter of an hour. While he was in bed, one of the members of the council came, and wished to speak with him. Being told that the earl was asleep, and had left orders not to be disturbed, he seemed to think that it was only a shift to avoid further questionings, and the door being thrown open, he beheld, in a sweet and tranquil slumber, the man who, by the doom of himself and his fellows, was to die within the space of two short hours. Struck with the sight, he left the castle with the utmost precipitation; and entering the house of a friend that lived near by, threw himself on the first bed that presented itself. His friend naturally concluding that he was ill, offered him some wine, which he refused, saying, ‘No, no, that will not help me—I have been at Argyle, and saw him sleeping as pleasantly as ever man did, but as for me—." The name of the person to whom this anecdote relates is not mentioned, but Wodrow says he had it from the most unquestionable authority. After his short repose, he was brought to the high council-house, from which is dated the letter to his wife, and thence to the place of execution. On the scaffold he discoursed with Mr Annand, a minister appointed by the government to attend him, and with Mr Charteris, both of whom he desired to pray for him. He then prayed himself with great fervency. The speech which he made was every way worthy of his character—full of fortitude, mildness, and charity. He offered his prayers to God for the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and that an end might be speedily put to their present trials. Having then asked pardon for his own failings, both of God and man, he would have concluded, but being reminded that he had said nothing of the royal family, he prayed that there never might be wanting one in it to support the protestant religion; and if any of them had swerved from the true faith, he prayed that God might turn their hearts, but at any rate to save his people from their machinations. Turning round he said, Gentlemen, I pray you do not misconstruct my behaviour this day. I freely forgive all men their wrongs and injuries done against me, as I desire to be forgiven of God. Mr Annand said, this gentleman dies a protestant; when he stepped forward and said, I die not only a protestant, but with a heart-hatred of popery, prelacy, and all superstition whatsomever. He then embraced his friends, gave some tokens of remembrance to his son-in-law, lord Maitland, for his daughter and grand-children, stripped himself of part of his apparel, of which he likewise made presents, and laying his head upon the block, repeated thrice, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit, when he gave the signal, and his head was severed from his body. Thus died Archibald Campbell, earl of Argyle, on the 30th of June, 1685, of whom it has been said, "Let him be weighed never so scrupulously, and in the nicest scales, he will not be found in a single instance wanting in the charity of a Christian, the firmness and benevolence of a patriot, nor the integrity and fidelity of a man of honour."


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