Gertrude of Wyoming

Lochiel’s Warning

Thomas Campbell


LOCHIEL, Lochiel, beware of the day,
When the lowlands shall meet thee in battle array!
For a field of the dead rushes red on my sight,
And the clans of Culloden are scatter ’d in fight:
They rally, they bleed, for their kingdom and crown
Woe, woe to the riders that trample them down:
Proud Cumberland prances insulting the slain,
And their hoof-beaten bosoms are trod to the plain.—
But mark! through the fast flashing lightning of war,
What steed to the desert flies frantic and far?
’Tis the barb of Glenullin, whose bride shall await,
Like a love-lighted watch-fire, all night at the gate:
A steed comes at morning: no rider is there;
But its bridle is red with the sign of despair.
Weep Albin!1 to death and captivity led!
Oh weep! but thy tears cannot number the dead:
For a merciless sword on Culloden shall wave,
Culloden, that reeks with the blood of the brave.

Go, preach to the coward, thou death-telling seer!
Or if gory Culloden so dreadful appear,
Draw, dotard, around thy old wavering sight
This mantle, to cover the phantoms of fright!

Ha, laugh’st thou, Lochiel, my vision to scorn?
Proud bird of the mountain, thy plume shall be torn!—
Say, rush’d the bold eagle exultingly forth,
From his home, in the dark-rolling clouds of the north,
Lo! the death-shot of foemen outspeeding, he rode
Companionless bearing destruction abroad;
But down let him stoop from his havoc on high!
Ah! home let him speed;—for the spoiler is nigh.
Why flames the far summit? Why shoot to the blast,
Those embers like stars from the firmament cast?
’Tis the fire-show’r of ruin all fearfully driv’n
From his eyrie, that beacons the darkness of heav’n.—
Oh chieftain whose tow’r on the mountain shall burn!
Return to thy dwelling, all lonely return!
For the blackness of ashes shall mark where it stood.
And a wild mother scream o’er her famishing brood.

False wizard, avaunt! I have marshall’d my clan,
Their swords are a thousand, their bosoms are one:
They are true to the last of their blood and their breath,
And like reapers descend to the harvest of death:
Then welcome be Cumberland’s steed to the shock!
Let him dash his proud foam like a wave in the rock!
But woe to their kindred, and woe to their cause,
When Albin her claymore indignantly draws!
When her bonnetted chieftains to victory crowd,
Clanranald the dauntless, and Moray the proud,
All plaided and plum’d in their tartan array.—

Lochiël! Lochiël! beware of the day!—
For dark and despairing, my sight I may seal;
But man cannot cover what God would reveal:
’Tis the sunset of life gives me mystical lore,
And coming events cast their shadows before.
I tell thee Culloden’s dread echoes shall ring,
With the blood-hounds that bark for thy fugitive king:
Anointed by heav’n with the vials of wrath,
Behold! where he flies on his desolate path.
Now, in darkness and billows, he sweeps from my sight:
Arise ye wild tempests, and cover his flight!2
’Tis finish’d!—their thunders are hush’d on the moors;
Culloden is lost, and my country deplores:
But where is the iron-bound prisoner, where,3
When the red eye of battle is shut in despair?
Say, mounts he the ocean wave, banish’d forlorn,
Like a limb from his country cast bleeding and torn?
Ah no! for a darker departure is near:—
The war drum is muffled, and black is the bier.
His death-bell is tolling!—let mercy dispel
Yon sight, that it freezes my spirit to tell!
Life flutters convuls’d in his quivering limbs,
And his blood-streaming nostril in agony swims!
Accurs’d be the faggots, that blaze at his feet!
Where his heart shall be thrown, ere it ceases to beat,
With the smoke of its ashes to poison the gale.

Down, soothless insulter! I trust not the tale;
Lochiel, untainted by flight or by chains,
While the kindling of life in his bosom remains,
Shall victor exult in the battle’s acclaim,—
Or look to yon heav’n from the death-bed of fame.


Lochiel, the chief of the warlike clan of the Camerons, and descended from ancestors distinguished in their narrow sphere for great personal prowess, was a man worthy of a better cause and fate than that in which he embarked, viz. the enterprise of the Stuarts in 1745. His memory is still fondly cherished among the Highlanders, by the appellation of the gentle Lochiel, for he was famed for his social virtues as much as his martial and loyal (though mistaken) magnanimity. His influence was so important among the Highland chiefs, that it depended on his joining with his clan whether the standard of Charles should be raised or not in 1745. Lochiel was himself too wise a man to be blind to the consequences of so hopeless an enterprise, but his sensibility to the point of honour overruled his wisdom. Charles appealed to his loyalty, and he could not brook the reproaches of his Prince. When Charles landed at Borrodale, Lochiel went to meet him, but, on his way, called at his brother’s house, (Cameron of Fassafern) and told him on what errand he was going; adding, however, that he meant to dissuade the Prince from his enterprise. Fassafern advised him in that case to communicate his mind by letter to Charles. “No,” said Lochiel, “ I think it due to my Prince to give him my reasons in person for refusing to join his standard.” “Brother,” replied Fassafern, “I know you better than you know yourself; if the Prince once sets eyes on you, he will make you do what he pleases.” The interview accordingly took place, and Lochiel, with many arguments, but in vain, pressed the Pretender to return to France, and reserve himself and his friends for a more favourable occasion, as he had come, by his own acknowledgment, without arms, or money, or adherent; or, at all events, to remain concealed till his friends should meet and deliberate what was best to be done. Charles, whose mind was wound up to the utmost impatience, paid no regard to this proposal, but answered, “that he was determined to put all to the hazard.” “In a few days,” said he, “ I will erect the royal standard, and proclaim to the people of Great Britain, that Charles Stuart is come over to claim the crown of his ancestors, and to win it or perish in the attempt. Lochiel, who my father has often told me was our 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 Prince, and so shall every man over whom nature or fortune hath given me any power.”

1.    The gaelic appellation of Scotland, more particularly the Highlands.    [back]

2.    The final escape of Charles by sea.    [back]

3.    Alluding to the victims of military execution, after the battle.    [back]

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