"An Intimate Picture of Wilfred Campbell"

by Faith L. Malloch


 

Chapter VIII


In the mean time my father and I were corresponding with our dearest friends—he who had opened a magic door for us, and added a love whose greatness had enriched our whole lives. I only which I could convey to you who did not know him some idea of his great charm, his quaint whimsical humour and tender hearted chivalry. There is no room here for my father’s correspondence which is a matter to be dealt with by itself, but I am going to include some of the letters the Duke wrote to me before he died after our return to Canada.

 

                                                                 The Palace Peterborough
December 31, 1911

"My Dear Faith:—
     A Happy New Year to you and to your father—whose name I ought to have written first—but one gets into bad habits writing and talking to ladies! Ask him if this is not so?
     You will be having all sorts of "high jinks" now at Ottawa, but I am sorry to hear the snow has not come up to time, and that the frost is not inclined to take part in the season at all. Never mind Ottawa has Faith—the rest will follow. We have fog which is always punctual and pervasive if not persuasive.
     We are visiting a sister, and are lodged in a 13th. Century Palace—dine in a vaulted and finely arched "Refectory["] near a guard-room—and sit in church in stalls next [to] the tomb of Catharine of Arragon. This lady you know lived before the Campbells took possession of Canada.
                         Ever yours,
                         Argyll"

                                                                  Kensington
                                                                  January 4th. 1911

"My Dear Faith—
A very happy New Year to your dear Father and to you with many repetitions of "that same"—I wish we had the winter you speak of—all is wet and damp and foggy with us. I wonder if you have yet seen your own wonderful West which is developing so rapidly, that I shouldn’t know again the places I visited in 1881 unless there be a mountain form in the far West to make a place recognizable. All foreground scenes would be altered.
     Lord Strathconna goes on attending "functions" as tho he were still a young Employe[e] of the H.B. Company, and is himself a wonderful advertisement of the healthy climate you enjoy.
     The Princess and I are staying in London for the present, and the New Year opens with a rifle fight in the London slums as tho we were in the early days of American administration, and had to fight desperadoes in Paint and Feathers.
     Inverary harbours two brothers and their families, and much New Year festivity.
                         Ever your truly,
                         Argyll"

 

A letter starts this—

 

"My dear Faith:—
     See you don’t come to scaith
By thinking there’s nothing nice
     In Winter but ice.
For a brother of mine at a rink
     Paused too often to think
When he was too warm and got ill
     With an asthmatic chill—
Became in fact as you call it sick
     As he hadn’t the trick
Which you must have for next Winter
     When again a hot sprinter
That bad chills succeed a long warning
     In ways that are truly alarming—
So after each skating—don’t do any waiting
     But go home all rosy
Warm-dry-for a half hour
     And then you have will power
Like a good lass—a sensible—
     And don’t be ostensible
Till thoroughly rested.

This recipe’s tested
By our secretary
Thus enabled to marry
At an age past all reason
Because he in season
Skated—then slept
And strength and health kept;
Also oh never
Tho’ ever so clever
Write too many "tomes"
—Mind I don’t wish you dumber
And hope that all Summer
You’ll sing and be "werry"
Happy and Merry-
That you’ll never "for Lorne" be but
"Ever strike "Ile"
Is Faith fully wished by,
          Yours ever,
          Argyll."

 

                                                                  Kensington Palace
                                                                  March 11, 1913

"My Dear Faith:—
     Many thanks for your nice "note of hand" which I see attempts to break into verse. You seem to expect Mr. Wilfred to live through Faith and not by sight as regards letter receiving—all must come through you—not through him to you! This is more advanced than is the doctrine of our suffragists, who still allow Parents some correspondence free of supervision. We shall hear of all your progress on these matters soon officially from the Governor General whom we expect at the end of this month. I have seen you in "Muskwash" never in a state of squash; perhaps you mis-wrote the term? I am looking forward to seeing your father—Faith is not of sight you know.
                         Yours truly and faithfully,
                         Argyll"

 

                                                                  Kensington Palace
                                                                  March 5, 1914.

"My Dear Faith:—
     I am delighted to hear the good news. The name sounds very literary. Pray present him with my "felicitation" (odious and unliterary word) and tell him I forgive a desertion of the clan under the circumstances. Your account of the Rideau night scene takes me back to the days when we had Canada "more to ourselves." Your father will feel the change greatly—and I cannot help wishing I had a "question hour" as the H. of Commons calls their time of Government Examination to hear what the future Malloch Government intended to do??? I fancy a farm somewhere will form part of life’s outfit even if there be any amount of city occupation besides?????? One can’t help being inquisitive about one’s friends.
     Pray remember me to your father and believe me,
                         Yours truly,
                         Argyll."

"The little old fashioned hot water or gravy pot is called an Argyll from the 18th. Century, so you may deign accept it.
                         A."

 

This was the last letter I ever received from the Duke, and two months later he died of pneumonia. It was as if a great light had gone out of the Poet’s world—He whom he had loved with a great love had passed away— the one who had shared and sympathised with all his Imperial and poetical dreams. His loss was irreparable, so few there are in life who are great enough to forget themselves long enough to enter into the lives and dreams of others. We never have so many friends that we can afford to lose one, and when we lose the one who has been most surely a part of us great is one’s loss indeed. But those things that bind friends together love, sympathy, and understanding are eternal and cannot die, but live on and in living bind us everlastingly to those we love who have passed on, forming a promise and a surety of Eternal things for us. These things the Poet felt and was consoled in part. I am going to quote here a description of the Duke’s funeral from the "Westminster Gazette":—

 

 

The Last Sleep of Argyll

"Kilmun, the Cell of Munne, one of the Columbian Saints of the sixth century, has been the resting-place of the Argyll name since the 14th. century. The church lies on the shores of the Holy Loch, on the broad waters of the Clyde. There is a legend that connects its name with the wrecking of a galley containing soil brought from Palestine. Its name may more probably have come from the founding of a chantry and collegiate church by Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochow in 1442. He was the first to assume the title of Argyll, and the first to be buried in the church. The earliest burying place of the Lords of Lochow was under the shadow of Cruachan, and tradition says that the Black Knight of Lochow received permission from the great Lamont, in whose lands Kilmun then stood, to bury a son he was carrying home to Loch Awe, but the severities of the winter season obliged him to lay the body in this alien land.

No rood or ground, save the simple place of sepulture, belongs now to the Argyll family. Better than possession are the hearts of a great people and when John, the ninth of his name, was carried to his fathers, he passed through a multitude who claimed him as of kindred in name, in race and of country. Argyll was destined to die in the month of May, a season which has through the ages been associated with the fate of chieftains of his name. On the 2nd. of that month "unfortunate Argyll" started to help Monmouth in his rebellion and was executed for his part in it. His father, the Great Marquis, had died on the scaffold in the same month. The first Duke, created to the title by William of Orange for services rendered to him abroad and in England and the seventh and eighth Dukes were all three carried home along the shores of Corval in the time of May. No fairer day ever dawned on the Highland shores than that which broke on May 15th. and turned the gleaming waters of the West into a silver shield over which passed the fleet of vessels accompanying the one which bore the body, and carried the flag of the galleys and the Cross.

Far away on English soil passed John Douglas Sutherland, the twenty-ninth Baron of Lochow. Westminster Abbey gave him shelter and a stately service. He lay in a chapel close by the vault that holds the Duke of Argyll and Greenwich, immortalised by Scotland’s greatest Immortal; and at the service there was present the Sovereign whose House and descent "Argyll and Greenwich" had so great a part in establishing on the throne.

But the Abbey and the great congregation were aliens to his name and country, and the last sleep of Argyll must be under the shelter of the hills everlasting, and among a people whose history civil and religious, was one with the story of his name. There was pageantry without pomp, there was mourning but not as of those who dwell in the shadow of the sealed tomb. Nature was at its gayest. The green lowhills along the foreshores flames with whin [sic], and the "Heavens upbreaking through the castle" came with the wild hyacinths in the larchwood. From Roseneath—the point of the sanctuary, encircled with the sharp ethereally blue outline of the hills— sarcastically named "Argyll’s bowling-green"—past the castle of Ardencaple, the birth place of the eighth Duke, along the shores of Loch Long till the shore wide Holy Lock was reached, sped the ship with the flag at half-mast. There were met representatives of all the story of his life among his countryman: The Volunteer forces, which had claimed his early enthusiastic service, the Lairds owning the name of Campbell and wearing the tartan that has seen the watch-fires of many a camp in many lands. A half mile bordered by the rippling waves on which floated a procession of boats. One minute guns, coming back in low peals of echoing thunder, the waving of heraldic symbols, and the foot-falls of an unnumbered multitude, so passed the long-drawn procession. The pipers calling the coronach and the laments sounding with the cadence of a great pilgrim’s march—so he was left in the guardianship of the hills, the gentlest and most chivalrous of the White Knights of Lochow, in the place of his ancestors.

And as he would have wished, the ship that had borne him returned over the great ferry ways, carrying at its masthead the galleys of Lorne, the flag of Niall Diarmid, thirtieth Baron of Lochow, tenth Duke of Argyll.

                                                                        Ne Obliviscaris."