Open main menu

Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/126

This page needs to be proofread.



XL FEB. 7, 1903.

QUOTATIONS WANTED (9 th S. xi. 68). "Neat, not gaudy," I have always regarded as a misquotation or faulty reminiscence ol 'Hamlet,' I. iii. 71, "rich, not gaudy.


EPITAPH OF JAMES BOSSOM (9 th S. x. 486). In the churchyard of Kirkpatrick-Flemmg, Dumfriesshire, there is a tombstone with the following inscription :

"Here lyes the body of John Scott who was murthered by the hand of Fergus Graham of Mossknow upon the 21 st day of November 1750 of age 51. Also William Scott who died at Kirk- patrick 20 th Jan? 1800 aged 80 years," &c.

This shows that the epitaph mentioning the murder of James Bossom given by M. N. G. is not unique. W. M. J.-F.


The Great Marquess : Life and Times of Archibald,

Eighth Earl and First (and only) Marquess of

Argyll (1607-1661). By John Willcock, B.D.

(Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier.)

MR. WILLCOCK has followed up his interesting,

vivacious, and picturesque ' Life of Sir Thomas

Urquhart of Cromartie, Knight,' and other works

of shorter breath, by a memoir of that shifty and

cautious politician Archibald, Earl and Marquess

of ArgylL This is an important historical com-

pilation, narrating for the hrst time in its entirety

the career of a man who, between 1638 and the

Restoration, was the most conspicuous figure in

Scottish politics, and was, perhaps, the least tract-

able subject with whom either King Charles I. or

King Charles II. had to deal. Ample as is the

information we possess concerning Argyll, his life

on anything like a scale commensurate with its

importance has not previously been attempted ;

and it speaks volumes for the erudition and energy

of the biographer that many points are now for the

first time set right, that much controversy must

henceforth be regarded as at an end, and that

some dates hitherto universally accepted must be

changed. If we accept Mr. Willcock's authority

and we are in no position in regard to such matters

to dispute it a mistake of nine or ten years has

been made in the date of birth of the marquess.

This has been generally taken as 1598, and is so

given in biographical sketches with an iteration

that might prove impressive did we not know how

accustomed are biographers to repeat each other's

errors. For 1598 Mr. Willcock substitutes 1607

and he may be held to establish his point. This is

important for many reasons, among which must be

counted the fact that when he took not, we maj

be sure, without abundant reflection the step

that made him thenceforward the head of th,

Covenanting party in Scotland, Argyll was, by this.

computation, precisely at the most virile anc

responsible period of life, being thirty-one years o

age. Up almost to the great historic meeting in

Glasgow Cathedral, 21 Nov., 1638, when Argyl

undertook, or was forced into, the leadership of the

Covenanters, he had been Lord Lome. The death

in retirement of his father established him in the

ank of eighth earl, and gave him a position of nfluence and authority that put him above all fear >f rivalry.

Considered as a history, Mr. Willcock's book wins plenary acceptance. The decisions of the late Samuel ilawson Gardiner have to be reconsidered by the ight which it casts, and the works of Rushworth and of Balfour, the ' Memoirs' of Guthry, Baillie's 'Let- >ers and Journals,' and the histories of Clarendon, Burnet, Hill Burton, and numerous others, are all supplemented or corrected by Mr. Willcock's dis- coveries. To advance one point only. Though mentioned by Burnet, the private letters of Argyll, showing that he had been "hearty and zealous on the side of the usurpation "which were sent by Monck after the evidence on the trial had been closed and when a complete acquittal seemed inevitable, and the reading of which sealed his fate are now printed in an appendix, many of them for the first Lime, from the archives at Inverary. So late as 1886 the existence of these seems to have been questioned, Mr. T. F. Henderson declaring that "their exact purport cannot be ascertained, all the records of evidence against him [Argyll] having been destroyed after the trial." That Mr. Willcock is equally successful in his attempted rehabilitation of Argyll we cannot say. Englishmen with no adequate sense of the enormity of episcopacy are, presumably, out of court. Fact, fiction, sentiment, romance, literature everything is against Argyll. Writers so thoroughly Scottish as Walter Scott and Aytoun influence our feelings in our own despite. Fair and false were the Campbells in public estimation, and such was the marquess. That he was ambitious and unscrupulous is nothing. Every Scottish leader of the day was the same. Here is what his father, according to Burnet, said to Charles I. : " Sir, I must know this young man better than you can dp : you have brought me low that you may raise him ; which I doubt you will live to repent ; for he is a man of craft, subtilty, and falsehood, and can love no man ; and if ever he finds it in his power to do you mischief, he will be sure to do it." Mr. Willcock would have us accept this and other like sayings with mistrust; but the opinion expressed by the seventh earl concerning him is exactly what we feel in rising from the volume. Not much more favourable than the estimate of Argyll formed by his father appears to have been that of his son and successor, who at least was at one time at open war with him. Swift calls him "the greatest villain of his age." Whatever may be the rights of the case, his conduct to Mont- rose deprived him of popular sympathy. Almost the only fault we have to find with Mr. Willcock's book is that it reads like a sustained apology, and we feel that we are constantly invited to disregard testimony which we are, in fact, disposed to accept. We do not dwell upon the points in Argyll that most unfavourably impress us, since they are too numerous to mention. In regard to the destruction of Airlie, our author, in regard to Argyll's share, takes refuge in an attitude of incredulity. Concern- ing Forthar Castle, he says that the circum- stances, "if the narrative containing them can be relied upon, certainly exhibit Argyll in an unfavour- able light." The italics are ours. In a foot-note he adds that " it is quite possible that Airlie Castle was burnt without orders from him." Of course it is possible, but we must not build a fabric entirely upon possibilities. It is a curiously significant stroke of irony that Argyll, who with