The preceding ballad was a song of triumph over the defeat of Montrose
at Philiphaugh; the verses, which follow are a lamentation for his final
discomfiture and cruel death. The present edition of "The Gallant
Grahams" is given from tradition, enlarged and corrected by an ancient
printed edition, entitled, "The Gallant Grahams of Scotland" to the
tune of "I will away, and I will not tarry," of which Mr Ritson
favoured the editor with an accurate copy.
The conclusion of Montrose's melancholy history is too well known. The
Scottish army, which sold king Charles I. to his parliament, had, we may
charitably hope, no idea that they were bartering his blood; although
they must have been aware, that they were consigning him to perpetual
bondage. [A] At least the sentiments of the kingdom at large differed
widely from those of the military merchants, and the danger of king
Charles drew into England a well appointed Scottish army, under the
command of the duke of Hamilton. But he met with Cromwell, and to meet
with Cromwell was inevitable defeat. The death of Charles, and the
triumph of the independents, excited still more highly the hatred and
the fears of the Scottish nation. The outwitted presbyterians, who saw,
too late, that their own hands had been employed in the hateful task
of erecting the power of a sect, yet more fierce and fanatical than
themselves, deputed a commission to the Hague, to treat with Charles
II., whom, upon certain conditions they now wished to restore to the
throne of his fathers. At the court of the exiled monarch, Montrose also
offered to his acceptance a splendid plan of victory and conquest, and
pressed for his permission to enter Scotland; and there, collecting the
remains of the royalists to claim the crown for his master, with the
sword in his hand. An able statesman might perhaps have reconciled these
jarring projects; a good man would certainly have made a decided choice
betwixt them. Charles was neither the one not the other; and, while he
treated with the presbyterians, with a view of accepting the crown from
their hands, he scrupled not to authorise Montrose, the mortal enemy of
the sect, to pursue his separate and inconsistent plan of conquest.
Montrose arrived in the Orkneys with six hundred Germans, was furnished
with some recruits from those islands, and was joined by several
royalists, as he traversed the wilds of Caithness and Sutherland: but,
advancing into Ross-shire, he was surprised, and totally defeated,
by colonel Strachan, an officer of the Scottish parliament, who had
distinguished himself in the civil wars, and who afterwards became a
decided Cromwellian. Montrose, after a fruitless resistance, at length
fled from the field of defeat, and concealed himself in the grounds of
Macleod of Assint to whose fidelity he entrusted his life, and by whom
he was delivered up to Lesly, his most bitter enemy.
As Salmasius quaintly, but truly, expresses it,
Presbyterian iligaverunt independantes trucidaverunt.
He was tried for what was termed treason against the estates of the
kingdom; and, despite the commission of Charles for his proceedings, he
was condemned to die by a parliament, who acknowledged Charles to be
their king, and whom, on that account only, Montrose acknowledged to be
"The clergy," says a late animated historian, "whose vocation it was to
persecute the repose of his last moments, sought, by the terrors of his
sentence, to extort repentance; but his behaviour, firm and dignified to
the end, repelled their insulting advances with scorn and disdain. He
was prouder, he replied, to have his head affixed to the prison-walls,
than to have his picture placed in the king's bed-chamber: 'and, far
from being troubled that my limbs are to be sent to your principal
cities, I wish I had flesh enough to be dispersed through Christendom,
to attest my dying attachment to my king.' It was the calm employment of
his mind, that night, to reduce this extravagant sentiment to verse.
He appeared next day, on the scaffold, in a rich habit, with the same
serene and undaunted countenance, and addressed the people, to vindicate
his dying unabsolved by the church, rather than to justify an invasion
of the kingdom, during a treaty with the estates. The insults of his
enemies were not yet exhausted. The history of his exploits was attached
to his neck by the public executioner: but he smiled at their inventive
malice; declared, that he wore it with more pride than he had done the
garter; and, when his devotions were finished, demanding if any more
indignities remained to be practised, submitted calmly to an unmerited
fate."—Laing's History of Scotland, Vol. I. p. 404.
Such was the death of James Graham, the great marquis of Montrose, over
whom some lowly bard has poured forth the following elegiac verses. To
say, that they are far unworthy of the subject, is no great reproach;
for a nobler poet might have failed in the attempt. Indifferent as the
ballad is, we may regret its being still more degraded by many apparent
corruptions. There seems an attempt to trace Montrose's career, from his
first raising the royal standard, to his second expedition and death;
but it is interrupted and imperfect. From the concluding stanza, I
presume the song was composed upon the arrival of Charles in Scotland,
which so speedily followed the execution of Montrose, that the king
entered the city while the head of his most faithful and most successful
adherent was still blackening in the sun.
THE GALLANT GRAHAMS.
Now, fare thee weel, sweet Ennerdale!
Baith kith and countrie I bid adieu;
For I maun away, and I may not stay,
To some uncouth land which I never knew.
To wear the blue I think it best,
Of all the colours that I see;
And I'll wear it for the gallant Grahams,
That are banished from their countrie.
I have no gold, I have no land,
I have no pearl, nor precious stane;
But I wald sell my silken snood,
To see the gallant Grahams come hame.
In Wallace days when they began,
Sir John the Graham did bear the gree,
Through all the lands of Scotland wide;
He was a lord of the south countrie.
And so was seen full many a time;
For the summer flowers did never spring,
But every Graham, in armour bright,
Would then appear before the king.
They all were dressed in armour sheen,
Upon the pleasant banks of Tay;
Before a king they might be seen,
These gallant Grahams in their array.
At the Goukhead our camp we set,
Our leaguer down there for to lay;
And, in the bonnie summer light,
We rode our white horse and our gray.
Our false commander sold our king
Unto his deadly enemie,
Who was the traitor Cromwell, then;
So I care not what they do with me.
They have betrayed our noble prince,
And banish'd him from his royal crown;
But the gallant Grahams have ta'en in hand,
For to command those traitors down.
In Glen-Prosen [A] we rendezvoused,
March'd to Glenshie by night and day,
And took the town of Aberdeen,
And met the Campbells in their array.
Five thousand men, in armour strong.
Did meet the gallant Grahams that day
At Inverlochie, where war began,
And scarce two thousand men were they.
Gallant Montrose, that chieftain bold,
Courageous in the best degree,
Did for the king fight well that day;
The lord preserve his majestie!
Nathaniel Gordon, stout and bold,
Did for king Charles wear the blue;
But the cavaliers they all were sold,
And brave Harthill, a cavalier too.
And Newton Gordon, burd-alone
And Dalgatie, both stout and keen,
And gallant Veitch upon the field,
A braver face was never seen.
Now, fare ye weel, sweet Ennerdale!
Countrie and kin I quit ye free;
Chear up your hearts, brave cavaliers,
For the Grahams are gone to high Germany.
Now brave Montrose he went to France,
And to Germany, to gather fame;
And bold Aboyne is to the sea,
Young Huntly is his noble name.
Montrose again, that chieftain bold,
Back unto Scotland fair he came,
For to redeem fair Scotland's land,
The pleasant, gallant, worthy Graham!
At the water of Carron he did begin,
And fought the battle to the end;
Where there were killed, for our noble king,
Two thousand of our Danish men.
Gilbert Menzies, of high degree,
By whom the king's banner was borne;
For a brave cavalier was he,
But now to glory he is gone.
Then woe to Strachan, and Hacket baith!
And, Lesly, ill death may thou die!
For ye have betrayed the gallant Grahams,
Who aye were true to majestic.
And the laird of Assint has seized Montrose,
And had him into Edinburgh town;
And frae his body taken the head,
And quartered him upon a trone.
And Huntly's gone the selfsame way,
And our noble king is also gone;
He suffered death for our nation,
Our mourning tears can ne'er be done.
But our brave young king is now come home,
King Charles the second in degree;
The Lord send peace into his time,
And God preserve his majestie!
Glen-Prosen, in Angus-shire.
NOTES ON THE GALLANT GRAHAMS.
Now, fare thee weel, sweet Ennerdale.—P. 38. v. 1. A corruption of
Endrickdale. The principal, and most ancient possessions of the Montrose
family lie along the water of Endrick, in Dumbartonshire.
Sir John the Graham did bear the gree.—P. 39. v. 1. The faithful
friend and adherent of the immortal Wallace, slain at the battle of
Who was the traitor Cromwell, then.—P. 39. v. 5. This extraordinary
character, to whom, in crimes and in success our days only have produced
a parallel, was no favourite in Scotland. There occurs the following
invective against him, in a MS. in the Advocates' Library. The humour
consists in the dialect of a Highlander, speaking English, and confusing
Cromwell with Gramach, ugly:
Te commonwelt, tat Gramagh ting.
Gar brek hem's word, gar do hem's king;
Gar pay hem's sesse, or take hem's (geers)
We'l no de at, del come de leers;
We'l bide a file amang te crowes, (i.e. in the woods)
We'l scor te sword, and wiske to bowes;
And fen her nen-sel se te re, (the king)
Te del my care for Gromaghee.
The following tradition, concerning Cromwell, is preserved by an
uncommonly direct line of traditional evidence; being narrated (as I am
informed) by the grandson of an eye-witness. When Cromwell, in 1650,
entered Glasgow, he attended divine service in the High Church; but the
presbyterian divine, who officiated, poured forth, with more zeal than
prudence, the vial of his indignation upon the person, principles, and
cause, of the independent general. One of Cromwell's officers rose,
and whispered his commander; who seemed to give him a short and stern
answer, and the sermon was concluded without interruption Among the
crowd, who were assembled to gaze at the general, as he came out of the
church, was a shoemaker, the son of one of James the sixth's Scottish
footmen. This man had been born and bred in England, but, after his
father's death, had settled in Glasgow. Cromwell eyed him among the
crowd, and immediately called him by his name—the man fled; but, at
Cromwell's command, one of his retinue followed him, and brought him
to the general's lodgings. A number of the inhabitants remained at the
door, waiting the end of this extraordinary scene. The shoemaker soon
came out, in high spirits, and, shewing some gold, declared, he was
going to drink Cromwell's health. Many attended him to hear the
particulars of his interview; among others, the grandfather of the
narrator. The shoemaker said, that he had been a playfellow of Cromwell
when they were both boys, their parents residing in the same street;
that he had fled, when the general first called to him, thinking he
might owe him some ill-will, on account of his father being in the
service of the royal family. He added, that Cromwell had been so very
kind and familiar with him, that he ventured to ask him, what the
officer had said to him in the church. "He proposed," said Cromwell, "to
pull forth the "minister by the ears; and I answered, that the preacher
was "one fool, and he another." In the course of the day, Cromwell held
an interview with the minister, and contrived to satisfy his scruples so
effectually, that the evening discourse, by the same man, was tuned to
the praise and glory of the victor of Naseby.
Nathaniel Gordon, stout and bold,
Did for King Charles wear the, blue.—P. 40. v. 5.
This gentleman was of the ancient family of Gordon of Gight. He had
served, as a soldier, upon the continent, and acquired great military
skill. When his chief, the marquis of Huntly, took up arms in 1640,
Nathaniel Gordon, then called Major Gordon, joined him, and was of
essential service during that short insurrection. But, being checked
for making prize of a Danish fishing buss, he left the service of the
marquis, in some disgust. In 1644, he assisted at a sharp and dexterous
camisade (as it was then called), when the barons of Haddo, of Gight,
of Drum, and other gentlemen, with only sixty men under their standard,
galloped through the old town of Aberdeen, and, entering the burgh
itself, about seven in the morning, made prisoners, and carried off,
four of the covenanting magistrates and effected a safe retreat, though
the town was then under the domination of the opposite party. After the
death of the baron of Haddo, and the severe treatment of Sir George
Gordon of Gight, his cousin-german, Major Nathaniel Gordon seems to have
taken arms, in despair of finding mercy at the covenanters' hands. On
the 24th of July, 1645, he came down, with a band of horsemen, upon the
town of Elgin, while St James' fair was held, and pillaged the merchants
of 14,000 merks of money and merchandize. [A] He seems to have joined
Montrose, as soon as he raised the royal standard; and, as a bold and
active partizan, rendered him great service. But, in November 1644,
Gordon, now a colonel, suddenly deserted Montrose, aided the escape of
Forbes of Craigievar, one of his prisoners, and reconciled himself to
the kirk, by doing penance for adultery, and for the almost equally
heinous crime of having scared Mr Andrew Cant, [B] the famous apostle of
the covenant. This, however, seems to have been an artifice, to arrange
a correspondence betwixt Montrose and Lord Gordon, a gallant young
nobleman, representative of the Huntley family, and inheriting their
loyal spirit, though hitherto engaged in the service of the covenant.
Colonel Gordon was successful, and returned to the royal camp with his
converted chief. Both followed zealously the fortunes of Montrose, until
Lord Gordon fell in the battle of Alford, and Nathaniel Gordon was taken
at Philiphaugh. He was one of ten loyalists, devoted upon that occasion,
by the parliament, to expiate, with their blood, the crime of fidelity
to their king. Nevertheless, the covenanted nobles would have probably
been satisfied with the death of the gallant Rollock, sharer of
Montrose's dangers and glory, of Ogilvy, a youth of eighteen, whose
crime was the hereditary feud betwixt his family and Argyle, and of Sir
Philip Nisbet, a cavalier of the ancient stamp, had not the pulpits
resounded with the cry, that God required the blood of the malignants,
to expiate the sins of the people. "What meaneth," exclaimed the
ministers, in the perverted language of scripture—"What meaneth, then,
this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen?" The
appeal to the judgment of Samuel was decisive, and the shambles were
instantly opened. Nathaniel Gordon was brought first to execution. He
lamented the sins of his youth, once more (and probably with greater
sincerity) requested absolution from the sentence of excommunication
pronounced on account of adultery, and was beheaded 6th January 1646.
Spalding, Vol. II. pp. 151, 154, 169, 181, 221. History of
the Family of Gordon, Edin. 1727, Vol. II. p. 299.
He had sent him a letter, which nigh frightened him out of
his wits.—SPALDING, Vol. II. p. 231.
And brave Harthill, a cavalier too.—P. 40, v. 5.
Leith, of Harthill, was a determined loyalist, and hated the
covenanters, not without reason. His father, a haughty high-spirited
baron, and chief of a clan, happened, in 1639, to sit down in the desk
of provost Lesly, in the high kirk of Aberdeen He was disgracefully
thrust out by the officers, and, using some threatening language to the
provost, was imprisoned, like a felon, for many months, till he became
furious, and nearly mad. Having got free of the shackles, with which he
was loaded, he used his liberty by coming to the tolbooth window where
he uttered the most violent and horrible threats against Provost Lesly,
and the other covenanting magistrates, by whom he had been so severely
treated. Under pretence of this new offence, he was sent to Edinburgh,
and lay long in prison there; for, so fierce was his temper, that no one
would give surety for his keeping the peace with his enemies, if set at
liberty. At length he was delivered by Montrose, when he made himself
master of Edinburgh.—SPALDING, Vol. I. pp. 201; 266. His house of
Harthill was dismantled, and miserably pillaged by Forbes of
Craigievar, who expelled his wife and children with the most relentless
inhumanity.—Ibid. Vol. II. p. 225. Meanwhile, young Harthill was the
companion and associate of Nathaniel Gordon, whom he accompanied at
plundering the fair of Elgin, and at most of Montrose's engagements. He
retaliated severely on the covenanters, by ravaging and burning their
lands. Ibid. Vol. II. p. 301. His fate has escaped my notice.
And Dalgatie, both stout and keen.—P. 41. v. 1.
Sir Francis Hay, of Dalgatie, a steady cavalier, and a gentleman of
great gallantry and accomplishment. He was a faithful follower of
Montrose, and was taken prisoner with him at his last fatal battle. He
was condemned to death, with his illustrious general. Being a Roman
catholic, he refused the assistance of the presbyterian clergy, and was
not permitted, even on the scaffold, to receive ghostly comfort, in the
only form in which his religion taught him to consider it as effectual.
He kissed the axe, avowed his fidelity to his sovereign, and died like a
soldier.—Montrose's Memoirs, p. 322.
And Newton Gordon, burd-alone.—P. 41. v. 1.
Newton, for obvious reasons, was a common appellation of an estate, or
barony, where a new edifice had been erected. Hence, for distinction's
sake, it was anciently compounded with the name of the proprietor;
as, Newtown-Edmonstone, Newtown-Don, Newtown-Gordon, &c. Of Gordon
of Newtown, I only observe, that he was, like all his clan, a steady
loyalist, and a follower of Montrose.
And gallant Veitch, upon the field.—P. 41. v. 1.
I presume this gentleman to have been David Veitch, brother to Veitch of
Dawick, who, with many other of the Peebles-shire gentry, was taken
at Philiphaugh. The following curious accident took place, some years
afterwards, in consequence of his loyal zeal.
"In the year 1653, when the loyal party did arise in arms against the
English, in the North and West Highlands, some noblemen and loyal
gentlemen, with others, were forward to repair to them, with such forces
as they could make; which the English, with marvelouse diligence, night
and day, did bestir themselves to impede; making their troops of horse
and dragoons to pursue the loyal party in all places, that they might
not come to such a considerable number as was designed. It happened, one
night, that one Captain Masoun, commander of a troop of dragoons, that
came from Carlisle, in England, marching through the town of Sanquhar,
in the night, was encountered by one captain Palmer, commanding a troop
of horse, that came from Ayr, marching eastward; and, meeting at the
tollhouse, or tolbooth, one David Veitch, brother to the laird of
Dawick, in Tweeddale, and one of the loyal party, being prisoner in
irons by the English, did arise, and came to the window at their
meeting, and cryed out, that they should fight valiantly for King
Charles, Where-through, they, taking each other for the loyal party,
did begin a brisk fight, which continued for a while, til the dragoons,
having spent their shot, and finding the horsemen to be too strong for
them, did give ground; but yet retired, in some order, towards the
castle of Sanquhar, being hotly pursued by the troop, through the whole
town, above a quarter of a mile, till they came to the castle; where
both parties did, to their mutual grief, become sensible of their
mistake. In this skirmish there were several killed on both sides, and
Captain Palmer himself dangerously wounded, with many mo wounded in each
troop, who did peaceably dwell together afterward for a time, untill
their wounds were cured, in Sanquhar castle."—Account of Presbytery of
Penpont, in Macfarlane's MSS.
And bold Aboyne is to the sea,
Young Huntly is his noble name.—P. 41. v. 3.
James, earl of Aboyne, who fled to France, and there died heart-broken.
It is said, his death was accelerated by the news of King Charles'
execution. He became representative of the Gordon family, or Young
Huntly, as the ballad expresses it, in consequence of the death of his
elder brother, George, who fell in the battle of Alford.—History of
Two thousand of our Danish men.—P. 41. v. 5.
Montrose's foreign auxiliaries, who, by the way, did not exceed 600 in
Gilbert Menzies, of high degree,
By whom the king's banner was borne.—P. 42. v. 1.
Gilbert Menzies, younger of Pitfoddells, carried the royal banner in
Montrose's last battle. It bore the headless corpse of Charles I., with
this motto, "Judge and revenge my cause, O Lord!" Menzies proved
himself worthy of this noble trust, and, obstinately refusing quarter,
died in defence of his charge. Montrose's Memoirs.
Then woe to Strachan, and Hacket baith.—P. 42. v. 2.
Sir Charles Hacket, an officer in the service of the estates.
And Huntly's gone, the selfsame way.—P. 42. v. 4.
George Gordon, second marquis of Huntley, one of the very few nobles in
Scotland, who had uniformly adhered to the king from the very beginning
of the troubles, was beheaded by the sentence of the parliament of
Scotland (so calling themselves), upon the 22d March, 1649, one month
and twenty-two days after the martyrdom of his master. He has been much
blamed for not cordially co-operating with Montrose; and Bishop Wishart,
in the zeal of partiality for his hero, accuses Huntley of direct
treachery. But he is a true believer, who seals, with his blood, his
creed, religious or political; and there are many reasons, short of this
foul charge, which may have dictated the backward conduct of Huntley
towards Montrose. He could not forget, that, when he first stood out for
the king, Montrose, then the soldier of the covenant, had actually made
him prisoner: and we cannot suppose Huntley to have been so sensible of
Montrose's superior military talents, as not to think himself, as equal
in rank, superior in power, and more uniform in loyalty entitled to
equally high marks of royal trust and favour. This much is certain, that
the gallant clan of Gordon contributed greatly to Montrose's success;
for the gentlemen of that name, with the brave and loyal Ogilvies,
composed the principal part of his cavalry.