JAMES VIL—A FORLORN HOPE
Charles ii. was succeeded by his brother, James vii
At heart Charles had been a Roman Catholic, although
he did not dare to own it. James, more honest, openly
confessed that he was a Roman Catholic.
Many Protestants who had been driven out of both
England and Scotland, had taken refuge in Holland. It
seemed to them that now was the time to strike a blow
and free Britain, for they knew that many of the people
must hate and fear a Catholic King.
They agreed that the Duke of Monmouth, an English
noble, should invade England, and that at the same time
the Earl of Argyll should invade Scotland. The story of
Monmouth belongs to England’s Story, so I will only tell
you here of Argyll.
On the 2nd of May 1685 A.D., with three ships full of
arms and stores, the Earl set out. His hopes were high,
but from the very beginning the expedition was doomed to
failure. The men who came with him would not agree
to obey him as their general. They all wanted to give
orders. Some wanted to do one thing, some another.
Much delay was caused by these quarrels, and many
mistakes were made. Argyll was not strong-willed
enough to be a great leader. He could not carry men
along with him, and make them want to do what he
knew to be best So he yielded to his captains, and
364 SCOTLAND’S STORY
instead of staying in the Highlands of Argyllshire where
he had landed, and where he was sure of a great following
of his own clan, he marched southward. But as he
marched, his little army dwindled away. Still, when at
last he found himself face to face with the royal troops,
he wanted to fight at once. The others did not. It was
folly, they said, to fight such a great army with their few
men. They advised Argyll rather to decamp in the night
and try to reach Glasgow.
Once more the Earl yielded to his captains. To deceive
the enemy his soldiers lit camp-fires as usual, and leaving
them burning, marched away. But the night was dark and
the guides mistook the path. Instead of leading the men
aright, they led them into a bog. Terror and confusion
took hold upon them. They scattered and fled in the
darkness, and although they had been a good army at
night, in the morning there were scarcely five hundred
left. Even they too melted away, until the Earl was
deserted and almost alone. Thus was his army shattered
before a blow had been struck.
Accompanied by only one friend, the Earl went to the
house of an old servant, thinking that he would be safe
there. But the man would not receive his former master,
and drove him from the door. So, hungry and weary,
Argyll and his friend wandered away again. The Earl,
disguised as a peasant, walked behind his friend as if he
were his servant, hoping in that way to escape.
They had not gone far, however, before they were
met by some of the King‘s soldiers. The Earl‘s friend
tried to draw the attention of the men to himself, so that
Argyll might escape. But some of the men, suspecting
that he was no common peasant, attacked him. They
were near a little river, and hoping to escape that way,
Argyll sprang into the water. He got through the
A FORLORN HOPE
river and then turned on his pursuers with his pistol.
But alas I in springing through the water the powder had
become wet, and it would not go off. The soldiers closed
round him, and a blow on the head brought him to the
ground. ‘ Unfortunate Argyll,’ exclaimed the Earl as he
When the soldiers knew who their prisoner was they
were sorry. They were paid to fight for the King, yet
perhaps their hearts were with Argyll. But they dared
not let him go again, and so, bound hand and foot, the
great Earl was led to Edinburgh and thrown into the
Once before, Argyll had been in that prison. He had
been seized and condemned to death for a little fault.
But he had succeeded in escaping, and had fled to Holland.
Now it would have been easy to condemn him for treason
and rebellion. But even in those fierce times, that would
have meant a trial and delay. His enemies would suffer
no delay, so it was decided to condemn him on the old
charge, and his head was ordered to be cut off.
Argyll met his fate very bravely and nobly. He
wrote many letters to his friends, and, like Montrose, he
wrote his own epitaph in poetry. He was not a poet like
Montrose, and the verses are not very beautiful, but they
are interesting, and they show how calm and brave he was.
‘ Thou passenger who shalt have so much time
To view my grave and ask what was my crime :
No stain of error, no black vice‘s hand
Was that which chased me from my native land.
Love to my country, twice sentenced to die,
Constrained my hands, forgotten arms to try.
More by friends’ fraud my fall proceeded hath,
Than foes’ ; tho’ now they twice decreed my death.
On my attempt tho’ providence did frown,
His oppress’d people God at length shall own.
366 SCOTLAND’S STORY
Another hand by more successful speed,
Shall raise the remnant, bruise the serpent’s head.
Tho‘ my head fall, that is no tragic story,
Since going hence, I enter endless glory.’
An hour before Argyll was to die, he lay down to
sleep. He had always been in the habit of resting every
afternoon, and now on his last afternoon in life, he slept as
peacefully as ever he had done. While he was sleeping,
one of his enemies came to see him, but when he looked
at the Earl sleeping like a child, he hurried from the room
and burst into tears.
‘ What is the matter ? ‘ asked his friends.
At first he could not speak. Then he said, ‘ I have
been to see Argyll, and found him sleeping as pleasantly
as ever man did, within an hour of Eternity ; but as for
me------’ He could say no more.
At last Argyll awoke, and accompanied by his friends,
he walked calmly to his death, and there, as he himself
said, ‘ in the midst of clouds he found fair sunshine.’
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