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from LORD HALIFAX'S GHOST BOOK (1936)
This narrative was sent to the Viscount by Mr. H.W. Hill...
Lord Archibald Campbell died at Easter, 1913. I saw the announcement that he was very ill and had gone from Coombe to Inveraray. His son, Mr. Niall Campbell, was in France for Easter, but came home when he heard of his father's serious condition. Having been told by a friend that Lord Archibald, before going to Inveraray, was heard to say that he felt he would not come back and to express certain wishes which were to be carried out after his death, I wrote to Mr. Niall Campbell, who very kindly sent me a description of all the arrangements he had made for the funeral and asked me to keep myself free to dine with him at the Bachelors' Club one evening on his return, so that he might tell me all his news.
I dined with Mr. Campbell, who had now become Duke of Argyll, at his club, on May 28th, 1914, and mentioned what I had been told about his father. He replied that he was glad to have my information, since it explained something which had been puzzling him. I then went on to mention some of the stories which I had read in West of Scotland newspapers. There was a tale about ravens, which came down from the glens and were seen hovering about Inveraray while his father was passing. It was said that this always happened when the Chief or anybody closely related to him was about to die.
Mr. Campbell said he believed that the story was true, but that they did not take much notice of the ravens. However, he then told me that the "Galley" had appeared on Loch Fyne. When I asked him to explain what this was, he told me that the "Galley" was a little ship like the one in their Arms, and that when the Chief or one near to him was dying it appeared on Loch Fyne with three people on board, one of whom is supposed to be a saint connected with St. Columba. When his father was dying the "Galley" was seen to pass silently up the Loch and to come to land at a particular point. It then passed overland and finally disappeared at the site of a holy place associated with St. Columba and given to the Church by the forebears of the Campbells. A great many people saw it on the occasion of his father's passing, including a "foreigner," that is to ,say, one who was not a Campbell or even a Highlander, but a Saxon. When the "Galley" was seen to pass over the land, this man called out, "Look at that funny airship!"
In August 1914 I was staying at Inveraray, arriving there after luncheon on the 18th. That afternoon, when tea was served in the library, there were present the Duke, his sister (Lady Elspeth), the Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, the Chamberlain of Argyll and his wife, Mr. Samuel Gurney and myself. I remember that we were all sitting having tea round a big table when presently I heard a tremendous noise at my side, like the banging of books. It was as though a whole shelf of books had been taken out and thrown violently on to the floor of the open gallery, which runs round the library.
I looked up, but said nothing. In fact, no one uttered a word, but I noticed that the Duke and his sister exchanged glances and then looked at me. I had the impression that no one else in the room had heard anything.
After tea, the Duke spoke to his sister and then took me into his private room. He said to me: "You heard a noise while we were at tea. My sister and I saw that you heard it and that no one else did."
He went on to tell me that that side of the Castle was haunted, and that that particular noise had been heard there for many years. On one Sunday evening, when he was working in the library, it went on for an hour. "My sister," he said, "will tell you all about it."
Next day, when Lady Elspeth was out walking with me, she told me the story. She was good enough to say that she and her brother regarded me as quite one of the "elect," since I was the only person besides themselves who had heard the noise. She had been expecting to hear it, because when she went into the library before tea she saw "the old man." This was the ghost of the Harper, who was hanged at Inveraray by Montrose's men when they came up the glen in pursuit of the great Marquess of Argyll. The Harper always appears in the Campbell tartan and is a harmless little old thing. She generally both sees and hears him; but the Duke only hears the noise.
The story struck me as strange because the present Castle is comparatively new, having been built in 1750 and not on the site of the previous building. Probably the poor old man appears on the spot where the tree grew on which he was hanged.
Lady Elspeth went on to say that when we had gone in to tea she had distinctly seen the "little man" standing in the gallery. As for the others present, she was quite contemptuous about Highland bishops and "Norfolk dumplings."1 It was more surprising that the Chamberlain and his wife had noticed nothing, while I, a mere Saxon, had heard the noises. I suggested that the visit of the Bishop to the Castle was a good opportunity for putting the "little man" to rest, but she would not hear of this. He was, she said, a friend and in some sense a guardian; he was quite happy and never did anyone any harm.
Since that time I have often heard the Harper. In 1918, when I had lately recovered from a long and almost fatal illness, I was at Inveraray. I was put in the "Archie" Room, which is above the Green Library and like it has a turret attached. During the whole of the fortnight of my stay I never ceased to be conscious of a presence in the bedroom and in the turret, which I used as a sitting-room.
I did not mention my sensations to anybody except the Duke's aunt, the late Mrs. Callander of Ardkinglas and Cramond, who asked me which was my bedroom. When I told her she said, "I know and have seen!" She then put her finger on her lips.
When I was leaving Inveraray, Lady Elspeth walked down to the Lodge with me. I asked her why she had put me in that room and she replied: "For your own good. My aunt, Lady Mary Glyn, who was so ill here lately, would have died if she had not been placed in that room."
Other people have also seen the Harper. Lady George Campbell saw him in the Blue Room, which is in the same part of the Castle as the "Archie" Room, and one of her daughters saw him on the stairs. During the night, the music of the harp is often heard. Last autumn Mrs. Ian Campbell was staying at the Castle and took her harp with her. She occupied the "Archie" Room and kept the harp in the turret. In the night she heard someone playing it, and it was, of course, the "little man." The lady had had the same experience on a former visit.
I was again staying at Inveraray in October 1922, towards the end of the month. The Duke was unwell and had retired to bed early, having decided that he would not be able to attend the funeral next day of the Marquess of Breadalbane.
That evening Lady Elspeth and Mr. Ian Campbell, a lad of nineteen, who was Lord Walter Campbell's grandson and the Duke's second heir, were sitting together in the Green Library, to which a round turret room is attached. Presently they heard great noises, as though books were being thrown about in the turret; and after a few minutes the doors from the turret into the library opened. Nothing could be seen, but something had entered and was slowly and deliberately scuffling about the room. Lady Elspeth and Mr. Ian Campbell ran upstairs to tell the Duke, who remarked that the visitor must be "the old man." He must, the Duke said, have appeared on account of the funeral of Lord Breadalbane, such apparitions being by no means unusual on the death of great clansmen.
A few days later the Duke wrote to me to tell me of these occurrences; and on the same day I had a letter from Lady Elspeth, in which she reported that "the Little Harper had been very active" about the time of the funeral. It would seem that this was his way of showing his annoyance at the absence of the great Chief from the obsequies of his vassal.