by James Shaw (c.1758–c.1828)
James Shaw, known as the Lochnell poet, was born in Mull about 1758 and he subsequently lived in the parish of Ardchattan in Argyll. Five of his poems, including Òran do Bhonipart, were published in Pàdraig Turner’s important anthology Comhchruinneacha do dh’ Oran Taghta Ghaidhealach nach robh riamh roimhe clò-bhuailte gus a nis, air an tional o mheodhair air feadh Gaidhealtachd a’s eileine na h-Alba (An anthology of previously unpublished Gaelic songs collected from memory across the Highlands and Islands), published in Edinburgh in 1813.
Although John Mackenzie, editor of the 1841 anthology Sàr Obair nam Bard Gaelach, said that James Shaw “lived in a state of idleness and dissipation, praising those who paid him well for it, and composing satires on those who refused him money or liquor!”, in Òran do Bhonipart Shaw expresses a sense of patriotism. He warns the French that a well prepared and spirited army awaits them should they dare try to invade Britain. Invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte and his army was a real fear for the British people in 1797-8 and again in 1802-05.
A rìgh, gur h-aotrom leinn an t-astar,
Bitheamaid sunndach air bheag airtneil,
Dol an còmhdhail Bhoiniparti
Chionn bhi bagairt air Rìgh Deòrs’.
’Illean cridhe, bitheamaid sunndach,
Seasamaid onair ar dùthcha,
Fhad ’s a mhaireas luaidh is fùdar,
Ciod a chuireas cùram oirnn?
Thòisich thu oirnn o chionn fada
Le bòsd, le bòilich is le bagradh
’S ged thig thu air tìr an Sasainn
Cha tèid thu dhachaidh rid bheò.
Nis dh’ èirich na Volunteers
An onair an rìgh ’s a Mhorair Iain
Chuir nam Frangach gu an cridhe
Chionn bhith bruidhinn tigh’nn dar còir.
On fhuair sinne deise nan Gàidheal
Bonaidean ’s còtaichean sgàrlaid
Suaicheantas an rìgh mar fhàbhar
Le coc-àrd de dh’ite ’n eòin.
Nam biodh againn, mar bu dual dhuinn,
Lann chinn-Ìlich air ar cruachainn,
A’ sgoltadh nan ceann gu an guaillean
Ga ’m bualadh le smuais nan dòrn.
Ged thig thu air tìr an Albainn
An dòchas losgaidh agus marbhaidh
Tha againne suas de dh’ armailt
Na shracas d’ eanchainn agus d’ fheòil.
How happy we are undertaking the journey; let’s be in good spirits with few sorrows, going to meet Bonaparte because he is threatening King George.
Chorus: Brave lads, let’s be merry; let’s uphold the honour of our country. As long as lead and powder last, what is there to worry us?
You began to menace us a long time ago, with boasting, bombast and threats and, though you come ashore in England, you won’t ever return home.
Now the Volunteers have arisen in defence of the honour of the King and Lord John, to stand up to the French for planning to invade us.
Since we received the uniform of the Gael, bonnets and scarlet coats, the favour of the king’s emblem with a bird’s feather cockade.
If we had, as is our custom, Islay swords at our sides, splitting heads to the shoulders, hitting them with the power of fists.
Though you were to come ashore in Scotland hoping to burn and kill, we have raised enough of an army to tear your brains and your flesh.