"The whole History of Scotland,"
says Maarten Maartens, "is a fierce romance of piety and passion; and,
wherever you look into it, it enthrals you with its strong human love and
Now, if one half of the nation found
its romance in its fidelity to the Stuarts — and let us not forget the
tragic story of Mary Queen of Scots — the other half of the nation found
as heroic, and no less deep, a call in the Religious Covenants.
Look first at the Highlands— which
may well be considered, as Oxford has been considered, the Home of Lost
Does not the unswerving attachment
of the Highlands to a Family that was not always equally loyal to them,
awaken our admiring wonder; as it was unquestionably the motive that led
them to so much brilliant, though it were short-lived, achievement?
For, twice at least, the clans
combined to hurry the Kingdom into the gravest peril; and on four separate
occasions their rebellions were distinctly formidable.
There was the career of the Marquis
of Montrose, who in 1644 espoused the cause of Charles the First, in the
nation’s quarrel; and, in engagement after engagement, swept the
Parliamentary armies before him, till the victory of Kilsyth laid all
Scotland at his feet. The hill-men, no doubt, could not utilize their
success; they failed to consolidate their gains; and Montrose was captured
and carried to Edinburgh. There he was condemned, and there he was
executed in the Grassmarket on the 21st of May 1650. His trial has been
made famous by Aytoun in the "Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers."
Then there was Graham of Claverhouse,
Viscount Dundee, a persecutor indeed of the Covenanters, yet in his way a
patriot. When James the Second had fled, in 1688, Claverhouse was one of
the first to take up arms on behalf of his sovereign, and against what he
deemed the usurpation of William and Mary. The Camerons, the MacDonalds,
and other clans flocked to his standard; and with a handful of Highlanders
he routed, by one headlong charge, the forces of Mackay at Killiecrankie
in 1689. But "Cruel Claverse" fell on the field; and the Highlanders went
Then again there was the Earl of
Mar, who in 1715 raised the standard of revolt in aid of James the
Pretender. The clansmen were swiftly successful and overran the North. The
Highland army marched in triumph to Preston in England. But impetuosity
alone could not win a campaign. They were worn out; then driven back; and
finally cut to pieces at Sherrifmuir in Scotland. The leaders perished on
But the most formidable insurrection
that ever occurred in Britain was that to which reference has already been
made, when, in 1745, the Young Pretender Charles Edward landed at Moidart
in Invernesshire and summoned the clans to his side. He marched on
Edinburgh and captured it; he proclaimed his father as James the Eighth;
he held court at Holyrood.
Tall and graceful, polished and
knightly, the young Prince must have seemed a veritable hero of romance;
and his courage and gaiety never failed. To all, this sudden success was
intoxicating, but it could not last.
The Jacobites were ill organized;
and England was strong.
Many of the Highland chiefs
remonstrated with the Prince. They knew his attempt was foredoomed to
failure, and they counselled him to withdraw from it. Amongst those that
gave this sound advice was Lochiel, the Head of the Camerons, who,
moreover, — so runs the legend — had been warned by a seer to hold aloof
from Charles Edward, as disaster was impending on his path. But Lochiel’s
sensitiveness to a point of honour overruled his wisdom. Charles appealed
to his loyalty — and not in vain.
He said, "In a few days I will erect
the Royal Standard, and have myself proclaimed as Charles Stuart —come
over to claim the crown of his ancestors. Lochiel, whom my father told me
was my firmest friend, may stay at home and learn from the newspapers the
fate of his Prince."
"No," said Lochiel; "I will share
the fate of my chief, and so shall every man over whom fortune gives me
In this spirit the greater part of
the Highlands responded to the call. With enormous enthusiasm the Highland
forces marched against General Cope, and defeated him at Prestonpans. They
then advanced into England, went as far as Derby, and threatened London.
The Highland host, however, were
disappointed that the English Jacobites did not join them, and they
returned to Scotland. There at Falkirk Moor they won another victory; but
they were routed with appalling slaughter at Culloden, in June 1746.
Charles Edward had to flee for his life, and a price was put on his head.
Though the whole land must have
known a good deal about his movements and his hiding-places, no one
betrayed the secret. For five months he wandered in the Highlands and
Islands, and at last in September he escaped to France.
The most surprising part of the
story is his rescue by Flora MacDonald. She was twenty-four; and although
not a Jacobite, she contrived on the Island of Skye a plan for getting him
safe off. At the risk of her life, she took him three days in an open
boat, from Benbacula to Portree. He was disguised as an Irish
peasant-woman. At the very last, he was almost discovered by a cousin of
her own, an officer in King George’s army. The Government was very severe
with the rebels and with all that helped them; but Flora MacDonald was
treated with clemency. The romance appealed to all. One likes to think of
what King George said. "As king of England, I cannot approve of the
insurrection of the clans; but, as Elector of Hanover, I wish you to give
the Prince my compliments, and tell him I admire his fidelity to
principle; and that I wish him well." After this one is prepared to learn
that, in later years, Flora MacDonald received support from the
For generations, Culloden remained a
name of ill omen in the Highlands. Many of the clans were almost
exterminated, most noble houses were ruined. The tartan itself was for a
Now was the great time of Jacobite
lyrics. They sprang up everywhere, as the Prince’s misfortunes increased.
Loyalty to Prince Charlie became with many a kind of religion.
Though most of these ballads are
filled with a sense of loss and unutterable regret, there are a few that
are quite gay. Such is the song composed to immortalize the exploit of the
pipers who, finding no ford when they reached the river Esk, swam across
and danced themselves dry on the other bank.
Wi’ a hundred pipers an’ a’, an’ a’,
(an’ a’ = and all)
Wi’ a hundred pipers an’ a’, an’ a’;
We’ll up an’ gie them a blaw, a blaw, (blaw = a tune on the pipes)
Wi’ a hundred pipers an’ a’, an’ a’,
It’s owre (owre = over) the Border awa’, awa’;
We’ll on an’ we’ll march to Carlisle ha’,
(Wi’ its yetts (yetts = gates), its castle an’ a’, an’ a’,)
Wi’ a hundred pipers an’ a, an’ a’.
Our young sodger lads looked braw,
With their tartans, an’ kilts an’ a’, an’ a’,
With their bonnets and feathers and glittering gear,
An’ pibrochs, sounding sweet an’ clear;
Will they a’ return to their am dear glen?
Will they a’ return, our Hieland men?
Second-sighted Sandy looked fu’ wae (fu’ wae = full of sorrow),
And mothers grat (grat = wept), when they marched away.
O, wha is foremost o’ a, o’ a;
O, wha does follow the blaw, the blaw’
Bonnie Charlie, the King o’ us a’, hurra!
Wi’ his hundred pipers an’ a’, an’ a’;
His bonnet an’ feather are wavin’ high,
His prancin’ steed maist seems to fly,
The nor’ wind plays wi’ his curlin’ hair,
While the pipers blew up an’ unco flare (unco flare = surprising blast).
But for the most part all the Jacobite songs have a
tone of deep sadness, though they may be gay on the surface.
The carnage at Culloden, as on so many Highland
conflicts, brought mourning into all the glens. It repeated in the
Highlands what the terrible disaster of Flodden Field had occasioned in
the Lowlands more than two centuries before, when Scottish arms suffered
their most crushing defeat.
There the flower of Scottish youth, nobles and
commoners— with their rash King James IV. at their head— were all slain.
This is the theme of Scott’s "Marmion".
We mention it here by way of educing a parallel to the
state of feelings in the Highlands after 1746—which were then as desolate
as Edinburgh and the Lothians were in 1513. The most celebrated of all
Scottish dirges has come down to us from the days of Flodden. It is called
the Flowers o’ the Forest. It is too quaint and primitive to be omitted
here, though the original form is lost.
1) Yowe = ewe. a) loaning = narrow path between fields.
3) a’ wede away = all weeded out. 4) buchts = enclosures in the fold into
which ewes were driven to be milked. 5) dowle and wae = down cast and
sorrowful. 6) daffing and gabbing = gaiety and raillery. 7) hairst =
harvest. 8) jeering = jesting. 9) bandsters are lyart and runided =
sheaf-binders are elderly and wrinkted. 10) fleeching = flattering speech.
1) swankies = strapping young countrymen. 2)
eerie = inexplicably timid and anxious. 3) dool = grief. 4) heartless =