Glen Discovery in GlenLyon
About us

Duncan Laideus Testament

from the Black Book of Taymouth

Probably penned around 1600 by William Bowie, a secretary to Donnchadh Dubh na curich - Black Duncan of the cowl - the 7th Laird of Glen Orchy
The poem purports to be the last testament of Donnchadh Lądasach, who had been executed in 1552 by Cailean Liath, the 6th Laird and father of Donnchadh Dubh
Quhen passit wes the tyme of tendir age,
And Youth with Insolence maid acquentance,
And Wickitnes enforced Evill courage,
Quhill Micht with Crueltie maid alliance,
Then Falshead tuke on him the governance
And me betaucht ane houshald for to gyde
Callit Evill cumpanie baith to gang and ryde.

My maister houshald wes heich Oppressioun,
Reif my stewart that cairit of na wrang,
Murthure, Slauchtir, ay of ane professioun,
My cubicularis hes bene thir yearis lang,
Recept that oft tuik in mony ane fang
Wes portar the yettis to oppin wyde,
And Couatice wes chalmerlane at all tyde.

Conspiracie, Inwy, and Fals repoirt
Wer my priue counsalouris lewe and deare,
Then Rubberie the poepill to extoirt
And Commone thift tuke on thame sa the steir
That Treuth in my presence durst not appeir,
For Falsheid had him ay at mortall feid,
And Thift brocht Lawtie finalie to deid.

Oppressioun cleikit Gude reule be the hair
And suddanlie in ane presoun him flang,
And Crueltie caist Pitie ouir the stair,
Quhill Innocence wes murthurit in that thrang.
Then Falshead said he maid my hous richt strang
And furnist weill with meikill wrangus geir,
And baid me neither God nor man to feir.

This cative cumpanie had sa in cure
Baith my bodie and saule in governance,
That I dred nocht Fortunes miseventure
Nor of the warld the doubill inconstance.
But now, alace ! richt sone Dame Variance
Hes maid ane change and brocht me to rwyne
For my demeritis to gar me thoill pyne.

Bot now, alace ! the time approchis neir
That the saule fra the bodie mon depairt ;
Quhairfoir I pray yow that be present heir
Vnto my counsall now ye will aduert,
Syne schaw it to my complices eftirwart :
I wat thai will say, 'He that suld hawd ws
Is gane for euir, gude Duncane Lawdus’

First in my youthead I began to deale
With small oppressionis and tendir lambis,
Syne with Lawtie I brak baith band and seill,
Cleikit couplit kiddis with thair damis,
Eftir fangit beafe with greit hammis,
Then culd I nocht stand content of ane kow
Without I gat the best stirk of the bow.

Syne rang I furth in Tyranie alway
Slayand just men that neuir did offence,
Quhill mony complaint come baith nycht and day
To King James the Ferd that royall prince,
Quha gaif strait command without residence
Me to searche and seik in euerie place
Quhill I wer fund and brocht vnto His Grace.

The loud corrinoch then did me exile
Throw Lorne, Argyle, Menteith and Braidalbane
Bot, lyke ane fox with mony wrink and wyle
Fra the hundis eschapis oft onslane,
Sa did I then, syne schupe me to remane
In Lochabir with gude Ewin Alesoun,
Quhair that we wan mony ane malesoun.

My tarie thair wes hot for ane schoirt quhyle,
Quhen hastalie on me wes maid ane chace
Be vmquhile Archibald Erle of Argyle :
Syne hitherwart agane I maid ane race,
Quhair me betyde richt sone ane cairfull cace,
Tane lyke ane tratoure without moir delay
Be Schir Duncane Campbell of Glenvrquhay,

This wyis man knew richt weill my wickit mynd,
And sone gart cast me into ane dungeoun deip
Fast into fetteris fessonit and sair pynd,
Quhair, as I list bot litill for to sleip,
Disparit of grace [I] ay did murne and weip :
Drownit in sorrow wes baith my mynd and cheir
Quhill eftirwart the fate approched neir.

The dolorous day and dulefull houre
Of Floudoun feild and battell intestyne
That royall roy, of cheualrie the floure,
With infinite nobillis brocht vnto rwyne.
This gentill knycht with ane lordlie tryne
Vnto that stoure valiantlie did pretend,
Quhair by Destanie schapin wes his end.

The tedious tydingis throucht this realme ran,
The greit defeat and finall distructioun
Off oure King with mony worthy man :
This hard I all, liand in deip dungeoun :
I thocht me then half out of my presoun,
For I did ay, as dois the meikill Devill,
Crabit of gude and euir blyith of evill.

Deliuerit then of danger and of deid,
Lattin agane vnto my libertie
By help of freindis keparis of that steid,
To quhame I promeist ane pensioun yeirlie,
Bot in guid faith my intent wes treulie
Neuir worde to keip of that promes than,
Nor yit sensyne maid to na vther man.

Then be the way me haistalie thair metis
My companions swift as ony suallowis,
For greit blythnes sittis doun and greittis,
Sayand, "Maister, weilcum be Alhallous,
Na we be hangit heich vpone ane gallous,
Gif we be nocht blyther of yow alane
Nor we had that baith God and Sanct Phillane."

" Quhat tydingis, schirris," quod I, " fra the hoist ?"
Quod thai, " In guid faith we byde not for to lane,
The King with mony worthie man is loist,
Baith Erle Archibald and Schir Duncane slane."
" Off thai tydingis," quod I, " I am richt fane,
For, had the knycht leavit, or yit the lorde,
Thai had me wirriit stark deid in ane corde.

" Now, gude fallowis, harkin quhat I say to yow,
This cuntrie think I for to reule my self,
Be trew to me all thairfoir I pray yow,
And we among ws ay sail pairt the pelf,
And rype in faith mony pouir wedois skelf,
For scho sail say that Duncane and his men
Hes not hir left the valoure of ane hen."

Then ansuerit thai all with ane voce attanis,
" Bot gif we do as thow biddis ws ay
The devill tak ws, saule, body and banis,
Quik vnto hell withouten moir delay."
I hering thame thir wordis glaidlie say,
Sik curage culd into my mynd incress,
And sone began the commonis to oppress.

Lyke ane wolfe greadie and insatiabill
Devoring scheip with mony bludie box,
To the poepill I wes als terribill,
Reiffand fra thame mony ane kow and ox
War the gray meir in the fettir lox
At Johne Vpalandis dur knit fast aneuch,
Vpone the morne he mist hir to the pleuch.

My tyme this furth in wickitnes indurit,
Seing thair wes nan me to correct,
The King wes young, the lawis wer obscurit,
Than thocht I not my tyme for to neglect ;
Mony ane kow and meir I did collect,
Conquest all by oppressioun, reif, and thift,
Quhill eftirwart that King James the Fift

Began into this regioun for to ring.
Maist circumspect with princelie governance,
With manlie hart began this awfull King
Trespassouris to pvnische with cruell vengeance
Quhilkis to his liegis had done greit offence.
Sa mony hang vpone gallousis naikit,
For feare of him the out Ilis quaikit.

This subtile King send furth with mony trane
Spyis to se in quhat land I hantit,
To him thai, " Forsuith in Braidalbane
Yon theif is with mony lymmer plantit."
Then thocht he sone that we suld be dantit.
Knawand his mynd to be gevin in sik soirt,
To Lochabir agane I maid resoirt.

I had tareit bot schoirt quhile in that steid
Quhen I wes outlaw and put vnto the horne :
Then wist I nocht quhat hoill to hyde my heid,
Full oft wareit the houre that I wes borne,
Traisting richt sone myself to be forlorne,
Hearing of the schairp law and justice
Quhilk I luiffit on na maner of wyis.

Death that sparis na creature on lyve,
Wrocht be dame Nature in this aerth adoun.
Hes tane this King of the warld belyve,
And him bereft his septoure and his croun.
Scotland, thow art the vnhappie regioun,
Thow hes greit caus for to murne and weip
Sen he is gane wes wonnt the kow to keip.

My febill bodie stowpit than in age,
Of dreidfull death abyding ay the houre,
Wex, as me thocht, of xxx yeir of age,
Hering the reuthful cryis and clamoure,
Lamenting soir that prince of hie honoure.
Me thocht richt few that his death regratit,
Bot the pouir commonis, richt weill I wat it.

My cheif and freindis then I gart convene
To ane priue counsall all thegidder,
Quhilk the Clanlaurent full soir micht mene.
The caus thairof ye may weill cousidder :
In the Passioun oulk into Balquhidder
Sevin and tuentie we slew into that place
Be fyre and suorde, thai grit na vther grace.

I gart M'Gregoure suirlie vndirstand
The Clandonoquhy wer gadderit him aganis :
Strowane thair cheif in Strathbraan we fand,
Or he was wer, we wer about his wanis ;
With felloun fyre we brint vp all attanis,
His seruandis slane and murthurit thair in steid,
Him self captiue away with ws culd leid.

In evill intent and deidis detestabill
Seing fortune this algait with ws rin,
I drew ane draucht I wat mair treasonabill
By tentatioun of Sathan me within,
That Ganyelon culd not siclike begin,
Suppois he in treasone past all vther :
In gude faith I micht be callit his brother.

With mynd peruers and fraudulent ingyne
I gart Makgregoure wickitlie pretend
The hous of Glenvrquhay to bring to rwyne.
Vpone ane nycht to Glenlyoun as thai did wend,
Baith young and auld that of that hous was kend
With suddan fyre we thocht for to persew :
Bot thai wer wyis, and weill oure treasoun knew.

Had we gottin oure will in thir thingis,
This cuntray we thocht oure selffis for to gyde ;
We sckupe to flie, bot we wantit wingis ;
Bot he fra quhame na thing that we may hyde
Hes sene oure rnyndis sa extollit in pryde,
Quhen we trowit best to cum to oure desyre,
The brig brak and we fell in the myre.

Makgregoure, of quhame sa mony stude aw,
Out of this warld richt suddanlie can fair.
Quha suld traist in fortune ony thraw !
For heir the day, the morne ye wat not quhair ;
Lyke as the elude discendis frorne the air
And haistalie returnis into nocht,
Frorne hie estait sa man full law is brocht.

Oure freyndis not litill the cais did lament,
Seing the want of sik ane one as he.
With fenyeit fair alway I stude content,
Traisting my self Makgregoure for to be.
Yit at the least thair tutoure thai maid me :
Thair wit wes waik, or ellis thai wantit sleip,
Thai gaif the wolf the wedder for to keip.

By office this to dignitie promouit,
I grew sa heich into my awin consait,
With srheud lymmaris wickitlie contrafit,
In hoill and cave wald ly quhill it wer lait,
And in the nycht the loud corrinoch, God wait,
Wes at oure taill with mony roustie akis,
We had the ky, and thai gat bot the glaikis.

The pouir pepill I put in sik ane feir
Quhill in thair hartis thai wer wonder fane
To gif me yeirlie ane pairt of thair geir.
Fra Sanctiohnestoun west vnto Strathphillane,
In diueris places I bid not for to lane,
My messingeris wer ansuerit quhair thai went ;
My purches wes bettir nor my set rent.

The Erle of Argyle than I saw extreme
Halding his justice with schairp correctioun.
I dred he wald vnto the death me deme
For the Clanlaurent put to deiectioun,
Quha wer his men vndir his protectioun.
Be the Buchquhilchanon that ye weill knaw :
I luiffit neuir justice nor yit law.

The devill that is ay imaginative,
Seduceand vs dailie to tentatioun,
Quhen that I micht levit in peax my lyve,
Gart me newlie mak inchoatioun,
Off cruell murthure on my awin natioun,
By the slauchtir of Allaster Ower I mene
Quhilk lies me brocht into full mekill tene.

Then wes I chargit to vndirly the law,
My sone and I syne baith put to the horne.
To gar the cuntray trow I stude na aw,
I maid thairat bot derisioun and scorne,
And began to reif, steale, oppres, and sorne
With sindrie lymmaris richt wickit and stout ;
Bot ane schoirt quhile with me lastit that rout.

For sum wer tane and headit of my fallous,
Sum pitiouslie pynit with ane cord,
Syne set vp heich vpone ane gay gallous,
Quhilk wes ane blissit sacrifice to oure Lorde,
And richt acceptabill I dar stand ford,
For, gif he be scant of ky in hevin,
Thai will him bring I wat ilk nycht ellevin.

Now haue I shoirtlie yow rehersit heir
How I my tyme in this warld hes spendit.
Weill I wat it is mair than fyftie yeir
Sen I first to wickitnes intendit.
The tyme is schoirt, alace ! now for to mend it,
Quhairfoir I dreid richt sone accusit to be,
Without the Lord be mercifull to me.

My deare freindis, considder this mater weill,
And in youre mynd exempill tak of me :
Traist not in fortune with her fickill quheill,
Quhen ye least wene, sonest will scho flie :
Put not youre hoip in wardlie vanitie,
For manis stait in aerth is variabill,
The flesche brickill, the feind deceauabill.

First dreid youre God, syne follow his command,
Youre prince and reularis of the law obey,
With lawtie youre lyfe sustene in ilk land,
For lawtie is of grace the very key,
With youre maister be wonder laith to pley,
Oppres to pouir na way with violence
Leist God thairof tak haistie vengeance.

Be not the takaris of na wrangus geir,
Nor in youre hous be na way recept it ;
Bettir is of taking in tyme forbeir
Nor to restoir quhen ye may not get it.
To luif youre nychtboure ye are addettit
Nixt youre God ; and how may ye than do baith
To luif him weill and do to him na skaith.

Off diueris eventuris I have yow tauld,
And how I eschapit oft throw Dame Fortune,
All thing luckit with me as myself wald,
I eschapit fra tua kingis that bure the croun,
And governouris and lordis of gret renoun :
Eftir all, Colene of Glenvrquhay larde
Had can to gif me my lattir rewarde.

The tyme is schoirt that I have now onspent,
Off temporall gude nocht I do posseid,
Quhill I have space I will mak my testament.
My spirituall gude I leif it into deid
Spirituall men for me to sing and reid,
For weill I wat thai will thair richtis haif,
And I wald pleas thame alsueill as the laif.

To my Curat negligence I resigne,
Thairwith his parochinaris for to teache :
Ane vther gift I leif him als condigne,
Sleuth with ignorance, sendill for to preche,
The saullis he committis for to bleitche
In purgatorie quhill thai be weschin clene,
Pure religioun thairbie for to sustene.

To the Vicar I leif diligence and cure
To tak the vpmest claith and the kirk kow
Mair nor to put the corps in sepulture.
Haue pouir wedo sex gryis and ane sow,
He will have ane to fill his bellie fow :
His thocht is mair vpone the pasche fynis
Nor the saullis in purgatorie that pynis.

Oppressioun the Persone I leif vntill
Pouir menis corne to hald vpone the rig
Quhill he get the teynd alhaill at his will,
Suppois the barnis thair bread suld go thig.
His purpois is na kirkis for to big :
Sa fair ane barne tyme God hes him sendin,
Thir sevin yearis the queir will ly vnmendin.

I leif vnto the Deyne dignitie but faill,
With greit attendence quhilk he sal not mis,
Fra adulteraris tak the buttok maill ;
Gif ane man to ane madin gif ane kiss,
Get he not geir, thai sail not cum to bliss :
His wynnyng is maist throw fornicatioun,
Spending it syne with siclike occupatioun.

I leif vnto the Prioure for his part
Gluttony him and his monkis to feid ;
With fer bettir will to drink ane quart,
Nor on the Bible ane cheptoure for to reid.
Yit ar thai wyis and subtile into deid,
Fenyeis thame pouir and hes greit sufficence,
And takis welth alway with greit patience.

I leif the Abbot pride and arrogance,
With trappit mwles in the court to ryde,
Not in the closter to mak residence,
It is na honoure than 1 for him to byde,
Bot erar for ane bischoprik to prouide,
For weill ye wat ane pouir benifice
Of ten thousand mark may not him suffice.

To the Bischop his fre will I allege
Becaus thair [livis] na man him to blame
Fra secular men he will him replege,
And weill ye wat the Pape is fer fra hame.
To preche the gospell he thinkis schame,
Suppois sum tyme it wes his professioun,
Rather nor for to sit vpone the sessioun.

I leif my flatterie and fals dissembling
Vnto the Freris that sae weill can fleitche,
With mair proffit throw ane mariage making
Nor all the Lentrane in the kirk to preche :
Thai glois the scripture euer quhen thai teache,
Moir in intent the auditouris to pleis
Nor the trew worde of God for to appeis.

Thir giftis that Dame Nature hes me lent
I haue disponit heir as ye may sie :
It neuir wes nor yit is myne intent
That trew kirkmen get ocht belangis me,
Bot [them] that hantis huredome and harlattrie,
Gluttony, inwy, couatice and pryde,
My executouris I mak thame at this tyde.

Adew, all freindis, quhill eftir that we meit
I can not tell you quhair nor in quhat place,
Bot as the Lorde disponis for my spreit,
Quha is the well of mercie and of grace,
That I may [stand] befoir his godlie face.
Vnto the devill I leif my synnis all,
Fra him thai come, to him agane thai sail.

Now fair weill Rannoch, with thy loch and ile,
To me thow wes richt traist baith evin and morne,
Thow wes the place that wald me nocht begyle
Quhen I haue bene oft at the kingis horne :
Yit may thou ban the houre I wes borne,
For vncourtuuslie I quite the thy hyre,
That left the birnand in ane felloun fyre.

Now, gude Glendoquhart, for euir mair adew,
That oft hes bene my bucklar and my beild,
Baith day and nycht to me thou wes richt trew,
And laitlie vnto quhen that I grew in eild
And durst na mair be sene vpone the feild
Nor dar the houlet quhen the day is licht,
Yit thow me kepit with thy mane and micht.

Fair weill Glenloquhay, with thy forest fre ;
Fair weill Fernay, that oft my freind hes bene ;
Fair weill Morinche, alace, full wo is me !
Thow wes the ground of all my wo and teyne ;
Fair weill Braidalbane and Lochtay sa scheyne ;
Fair weill Glenvrquhay and Glenlyoun baith,
My daith to yow wil be bot litill skaith.

Fair weill Glenalmound, garding of plesance,
For mony fair floure haue I fra ye tane ;
Fair weill Strathbraan, and haue remembrance
That thow sail neuir mair sie Duncane agane ;
Atholl, Strathtay, of my death be fane,
For oftymis I tuik youre reddiest geir,
Thairfoir for me se ye greit not ane teir.

Fair weill Stratherne, maist cumlie for to knaw,
Plenisit with plesand policie preclair
Of touris and townis standand fair in raw ;
I ruggit thy ribbis quhill oft I gart them rair
Gar thy wyffis, gif thow will do na mair,
Sing my dirige eftir vsum Sarum,
For oftymis I gart tharne alarum.

Fair weill Menteith, quhair oft I did repair,
And come onsocht ay as dois the snaw,
To part fra the my hart is wonder sair,
Sumtyme of me I gart ye stand greit aw ;
Bot fortune now hes lend me sik ane blaw,
That thai quhilk dred me as the deith beforne,
Will mok me now with hethyn schame and scorne.

Adew all freindis, sen now I mon depart,
And end my lyfe with schame and miserie,
Quhilk sail not faill to yow all eftirwart,
Bot gif ye ceis and wickitnes lat be.
Bot of ane thing I warne yow all treulie,
Nowthir is, wes, or salbe you amang
To eschaip sa oft and do sa mekill wrang.

Behald heirof quhat is the finall end
Bot dulefull death, schamefullie to be schent ?
Quhairfoir now, or I ony forder wend,
My sinfull lyfe first heir I will repent,
Beseikand the Lorde quhair I haue miswent,
Eftir the death that he will gif me syne,
The hevinlie place and heretage divyne.

In manus tuas, Lorde that deit on rude,
Commendo spiritum meum with humilitie :
Redemisti me with thy pretious blude,
Fra endles pane of hell to mak me frie :
Sen for my saik thou damned wes to die,
Grant me thy grace eftir this warldlie stryf
For to obtene the euirlasting lyf.

Off the M'Gregouris Armes.
The sworde and fir tree croceit beneath ane croun
Ar fatall signes appropriat to this race,
By sum foirseing fellow weill set doun,
Meit for suche lymmaris spoilzeing euerie place.
The croun presentis the Kingis most royall grace,
Ane rychteous judge with skill quha dois decre
That thai and all such cutthroittis suld imbrace
His seueir censure for thair villanie,
To wit, gif ony fra his sworde gois frie
On execute, continewing in thair wrang,
He will erect ane gallous of that trie,
And thairvpone thame in ane widdie hang.
Sa faris my wittis can serve, I can nocht ken
Ane better badge for suche a sort of men.

One thing yit restis that sould their armes befit,
If with Sanct Johnstounis rubenis thai war knit.