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Sir Ewen's Interview with Sir Robert Spottiswood - Lochiel Becomes a Royalist
an excerpt from The Memoirs of Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel
by John Drummond of Balhaldie
circa 1727

The Marquess, within a few days thereafter, putt himself upon the head of the Covenanters' Army, which being joyned by 1200 of his own Highlanders, and 3000 Fife men, they followed Montrose, who had crossed the river of Forth some five or six myls above Stirling, and waited for them at Kilsyth.  Here they were defeated with a most terrible slaughter; and the consequence of this great victorey, wherein 7000 of the Covenanters were killed, was, that the whole kingdom submitted to the conqueror.  The nobility and gentry flocked to him from all parts; the citys of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and generally all on the South and West sides of the Firth and Clyde, made their submissions; and the Marquess of Argyle, and others who satt at the helm, fled to Berwick for their safety.

Montrose having relived all who were confined by the Covenanters for their loyalty, dispatched the principall of the nobility and gentry to their several countreys, to conveen their vassals, and levey what forces they could, but especially horse, which he wanted most; and expected soon to be at the head of such an army, as wowld enable him to retrive his Majestie's affairs in England, which were then in a very bad situation.

He was much incouraged in his designs by the arivall of Sir Robert Spotiswood, Secretary of State for Scotland, from the King, a person of great honour and merit, ane eminent lawer, and an able statsman.  He was sone to the famous Archbishop Spotiswood, and being in his younger years bred to tile law, he made a good figure at the bar, and was afterwards advanced to the office of President of the Court of Session; wherein he accquired great reputation by his integrity and knowledge.  When the Rebellion brock out, he relived to the King, and upon the Earl of Lannerk's defection, was made Secretary of State.  He brought a commission from his Majesty to Montrose, constituting him Captain-General and Deputy-Governour of Scotland, with ample powers to hold Parliaments, creat Knights, &c. ; and soon thereafter falling into the enemy's hands, he, for this very peice of service, lost his head, in the manner that shall be by and by related.

Thus invested with the royall authority, Montrose issued out writs for calling a Parliament, which he appointed to meet at Glasgow upon the 20th of October thereafter.  But before that time, the scene changed, and his enemys soon effected, by their treachery, what they cowld not doe by their valour; for these that fled to Berwick, having wrote to David Lesslie, who commanded the Scots horse in the service of the English rebells, then imployed in the seige of Heriford in Wales, to march speedily to their relief, he returned answer, that he would soone come with such a body of good troops as wowld cutt Montrose to pices; and desired them to endeavour, in the meantime, to draw him furder Southward.  This they not only effected, by means of some treacherous Lords, who pretended great loyalty to the King, but also by proper instruments, raised a kind of mutiny in his army.  Macdonald, who commanded the Irish, and whom Montrose had knighted but a few days before, was the first that left him with the greatest part of those troops, under pretence of revenging his father's death, whom he said Argyle had murdered.  The Athol men, and other Northern Highlanders, likewaise followed his example; and in a few days thereafter he was obliged to permitt the rest to retire to their several homes for some days, in order to repair their houses, which the enemy had burnt; whereby his army was reduced to 700 foot, and 200 gentlemen on horseback, who had lately joyned him.

However, with these he marched to Philliphaugh, where matters were so mannaged by these traiterous Lords, who pretended to be his friends, that he was surprized and defeated by David Lesslie, who tooke the advantage of a fogy morning, and inclosed and surrounded him with 6000 horse, before it was heard he was in that neightbourhood.  Montrose himself escaped with about 150 horse; and his foot withdrew to a little hold which they mentained till quarters was granted them by Lessly, but, being disarmed and brought to a plain, they were all inhumanly butchered by the instigation of the barbarous preachers that attended him.

Among others were taken the Earl of Heartfell, predecessor of the Marquis of Annandale, the Lords Drummond and Ogilby, Sir Robert Spotiswood, William Murray, brother to the Earl of Tullibardine, Alexander Ogilby of Inverwharrity, and Collonell Nathaniell Gordon, whom they reserved for a more solemn death.  They executed three of them at the cross of Glasgow, to witt, Sir William Rollock, Sir Philip Nisbit, and Inverwharrity, though but a youth, scarse 18 years old; and Mr David Dick, one of their principall apostles, was so pleased with the sight of this trajedy, that he said, in a rapture of joy, "The work goes bonnily on!" which afterwards passed into a proverb.

The Parliament meeting at St Andrews, upon the 26th November thereafter, they brought the rest of the prissoners thither to receive their doom.  The Marquess of Argyle brought Locheill with him to this bloody assembly.  Though that gentleman was yet too young to make any solid reflections on the conduct of his guardian, yet he soon conceived an aversion to the crewelty of that barbarous faction.  He had a custome of visiteing the state prissoners as he travelled from city to city; but as he was ignorant of the reasons why they were confined, so he cowld have no other view in it but satisfie his curiosity; but he had soon an opportunity of being fully informed.

The first that were appointed to open the trajedy was the Earl of Heartfell and the Lord Ogilby.  But the last having had the good fortune to make his escape on the night preceeding the day designed for his execution, by exchaingeing cloaths with his sister, who supplyed his place till he was gone; and Argyle, conceiving that he was favoured by the Hamiltons, his relatives, did, in meer spite to them, safe the Earl of Hartfell, whoso blood they thristed for.

Ogilby's escape occasioned Sir Robert Spotiswood and the other two who were under sentance of death with him, to be confined in so strick a manner, that even their nearest friends and relations were discharged access.  Locheill had, after his usewall manner, formed a designe of seeing them before their execution; and the difficulty of effecting it increased his curiosity, and added to his resolution.  He took ane opportunity, when the Marquess was bussy, and walking alone to the castle, where they were confined, he called for the Captain of the Guard, and boldly demanded admittance.  The Captain, doubtfull what to doe, and excuseing himself by the strickness of his orders, "What!" said Locheill, "I thought you had knowen me better than to fancy that I was included in these orders!  In plain terms, I am resolved not only to see these gentlemen, but expect you will conduct me to their apartments."  These words he spoke with so much assurance, that the Captain, afraid of Argyl's resentment if he dissobliged his favourite, ordered the doors to be opned, and leading the way into Sir Robert's room, excused himself that he could not stay, and retired.

That venerable person appeared no way dejected, but received his visitant with as much cheerfulness as if he had enjoyed full liberty.  He viewed him attentively allover; and having informed himself who he was, and of the occasion of his being in that place, "Are you," said he, "the sone of John Cameron, my late worthy friend and acquaintance, and the grandchield of the loyal Allan M'Coildui, who was not only instrumentall in procuring that grreat victorey to the gallant Marquess of Montrose, which he lately obtained at Inverlochy, but likewaise assistant to him in the brave actions that followed, by the stout party of able men that he sent along with him?"  And then, imbraceing him with great tenderness, be asked how he came to be putt in the hands of the Marquess of Argyle?  And Locheill, having satisfied him as well as he could - "It is surprizeing to me," said he, "that your friends, who are loyall men, should have intrusted the care of your education to a person so opposite to them in principles, as well with respect to the Church as to the State!  Can they expect you will learn any thing at that school but treachery, ingratitude, enthusiasm, creuelty, treason, disloyalty, and avarice?"

Locheill excused his friends, and answering Sir Robert, that Argyle was as civil and carefull of him as his father cowd possibly be, asked him why he charged his benefactor with such vices?  Sir Robert answered, that he was sorey he had so much reason; and that, though the civility and kindness he spoke of were dangerous snares for one of his years, yet he hoped, from his own good disposition, and the loyalty and good principals of his relations, he wowld imitate the example of his predecessors, and not of his patron.  He then proceeded to open to him the history of the Rebellion from its first breacking out, and gave him a distinct view of the tempers and charracters of the different factions that had conspired against the Mytre and Crown; explained the nature of our constitution, and insisted much on the piety, innocence, and integrety of the King.  In a word, he omitted no circumstance that he judged proper to give a clear idea and conception of the state of affairs, which he related with great order.  Locheill was surprized at the relation, and listened with attention.  Every part of it affected him; and he felt such a strange variety of motions in his breast, and conceived such a hatred and antipathy against the perfideous authors of these calamitys, that the impression continued with him during his life.

Sir Robert was much pleased to observe that his discourse had the designed influence.  He conjured him to leave Argyle as soon as possibly he could; and exhorted him, as he valued his honour and prosperity in this life, and his immortal hapiness in the nixt, not to allow himself to be seduced by the artefull insinuations of subtile rebells, who never want plausible pretexts to cover their treasons; nor to be ensnaired by the hypocriticall sanctity of distracted enthusiasts; and observed, that the present saints and apostels, who arrogantly assumed to themselvs a title to reform the Church, and to compel mankind to belive their impious, wild, and indiggested notions, as so many articles of faith, were either excessively ignorant and stupid, or monsterously selfish, perverse, and wicked.  "Judge alwayes of mankind," said he, "by their actions; there is no knowing the heart.  Religion and virtue are inseperable, and are the only sure and infalible guids to pleasure and happiness.  As they teach us our several dutys to God, to our neightbour, to our selvs, and to our King and countrey, so it is impossible that a person can be indued with either, who is deficient in anyone of these indispensible duties, whatever he may pretend.  Remember, young man, that you hear this from one who is to die to-morrow, for endeavouring to perform these sacred obligations, and who can have no other intrest in what he says, but a reall concern for your prosperity, hapiness, and honour!"

Several hours passed away in these discourses before Locheill was aware that he had stayed too long.  He tooke leave with tears in his eyes, and a heart bursting with a swell of passions which he had not formerly felt.  He was nixt conducted to the appartment of Collonell Nathaniel Gordon, a hansom young gentleman, of very extraordinary qua1ities, and of great courage and fortitude; and having condoled with him for a few moments, he went to that of William Murray, a youth of uncommon_vigour and vivacity, not exceeding the nineteenth year of his age.  He bore his missfortune with a heroick spirit, and said to Lochiell, that he was not affraid to die, since he died in his duty, and was assured of a happy immortality for his reward.  This gentleman was brother to the Earl of Tulliebardine, who had intrest enough to have saved him; but it is affirmed by cotemporary historians, that he not only gave way to, but even promotted, his tryall, in acquanting the Parliament, which then demurred upon the matter, that he had renounced him as a brother, since he had joyned that wicked crew, (meaning the royallists,) and that he wowld take it as no favour to spare him.  Of such violence was that faction, as utterly to extinguish humanity, unman the sowle, and drain off nature herself. And it may be observed, that an ungoverned zeale for religion is more fruitfull of mischief than all the other passions putt together.

The nixt day the bloody sentance was executed upon these innocents.  Two preachers had, for some days preceeding, endeavoured to prepare the people for the sacrafice, which, they said, "God himself required, to expiate the sins of the land!"  And because they dreaded the influence that the dieing words of so eloquent a speaker as Sir Robert Spotiswood might have upon the bearers, they not only stopt his mouth, but tormented him in the last moments of his life with their officious exhortations and rapsodies.

Locheill beheld the trajedy from a window opposite to the scaffold, in companey with the Marquess and other heads of the faction.  The scenes were so moveing that it was impossible for him to conceal his excessive griefe, and indeed the examplearey fortitude and resignation of the sufferrers drew tears from a great maney of the spectators, though prepossessed against them as accursed wretches, guilty of the most enormous cryms, and indicted by God himself, whose Providence had retaliated upon themselves the mischiefs they had so often done to his servants.

When the melancholy spectakle was over, Locheill, who still concealed the visite he had made them, tooke the freedom to ask my Lord Argyle "what their cryms were?  For," said he, "nothing of the criminall appeared from their behaviour.  They had the face and courage of gentlemen, and they died with the meekness and resignatione of men that were not consious of guilt.  We expected to have heard an open confession of their cryms from their own mouths; but they were not allowed to speak, though I am informed that the most wicked robbers and murderers are never debared that freedom!"

His Lordship, who was surprized to hear such just and natural observations come from so young a person, and willing to efface the impressions that such objects commonly make upon generous minds, employed all his arte and eloquence, whereof he was a great master, to justifie the conduct of his party, and to paint the actions of his antagonists in the most odious collours.  And because he on no other occasion, that we hear of, ever endeavoured to byass the mind of his pupiil either in favours of one faction or other, I shall here recite a few of the particulars, which will give the reader some light into the policys and arguments made use of by that party in defence of their procedure: - He said, that the behaviour of the sufferers did not proceed from their innocence, but from certain confirmed oppinions and principils which were very mischivious to the publick, and had produced very fatall effects: That the cryms of robbry, murder, theft, and the like, were commonly comitted by mean people, and were too glaring, ugly, and odious in their nature, to bear any justification, and that, therefor, it was for the benefite of mankind that the criminal should be allowed to recite them in publick; because the designe was not to make converts, but to strick the audience with horrour: That the Provost did wisely, in not allowing the criminals to speake, and especially Sir Robert Spotiswood, for he was a man of very pernitious principals, a great statesman, a subtile lawyer, and very learned and eloquent, and, therefore, the more capable to deduce his wicked maxims and dangerous principales in such an artfull and insinnuating manner, as wowld be apt to fix the attention of the people, and to impose upon their understanding: There is such a simpathy in human nature, and the mind is so naturally moved by a melancholy object, that whatever horour we may have at the cryme, yet we immediatly forgett it, and pity the criminall when he comes to suffer: The mind is then so softned, that it is very apt to take such impressions as an artefull speaker is inclined to impress upon it: The misery of his condition is an advocate for his sincerity; and we never suspect being imposed upon by a person who is so soon to die, and who can have no intrest in what he endeavours to convince us of; and yet experience shows us great numbers who dye in the most palpible and pernitious errors, which they are as anxious to propogate even at the point of death, as they were formerly when their passions were most high.

His Lordship then proceeded to open the cause of the wars, and accused the King and his Ministers as the sole authors.  He alleaged that the Massacre of the Protestants in Ireland was by his Majestie's warrand: That all the oppressions in England, the open encroachments upon the civil and ecclesiasticall libertys of Scotland, and all their other grivances, were the effects of the King's assumeing an absolute and tyranical authority over the lifes, libertys, and propertys of the subject: He inveyed against Montrose and his followers, not only as the abettors of slavery and tyrany, but as common robbers, and the publick enemys of mankind: He said, that the malefactors who were executed were guilty of the same cryms, and that they justly suffered for murder, robery, sacralege, and rebellion: In a word, he p1ead his cause with such a perswasive eloquence, and with such seeming force of argument and reason, that his discourse wowld have doubtless made dangerous impressions upon the mind of his young pupill, if it had not been wholly prepossessed by the more solid reasonings of Sir Robert Spotiswood.  That great man had fully informed him of all that was necessarey to prevent his being thereafter imposed upon; and there is such a beautifull uniformity in truth, that it seldome misses to prevail with the generous and unprejudiced.

But Locheill did not then think it proper to return much answer, or to open his true sentiments of the matter.  All he said was, that he was informed that Montrose was a very brave man, and that, though he had killed many in battle, yet he never heard of any that he had putt to death in cold blood: That he wondered that so good a man as the King was said to be could be guilty of so much wickedness; and that he believed it either to be the missrepresentations of his enemys, or the doeings of these that mannaged for him: That he was too young, but he thought it hard that any man should suffer for what he believed to be true; and that if the gentlemen whom he saw goe to death with so much courage, were guilty of no other crimes but fighting for the King whom they ouned for their master, and differing in points of religion, he thought that our laws were too severe!

Locheill, after this, resolved to take the first opportunity of returning to Lochaber.  He was now 17 years old; and the horrour of so maney executions, the injustice he thought done to the King, and the aversion he had conceived against his enemys, inflamed him with a violent desire of exerting himself in that cause, and of joining Montrose, who now again began to make a figure.

Editor's NotesThis is the original account of how Sir Ewen's young life was changed by a chance encounter with a heroic gentleman.  While Drummond of Balhaldie originally wrote this account in the eighteenth century manuscript The Memoirs of Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel, his work would not be published until the Maitland Club put it to press in 1842.