Hector the Hero

This Scottish lament, a pretty song which I recently learned to play on the violin, has a curious history to go along with its curious title.

It was composed in 1903 by Scottish fiddler J. Scott Skinner to honor a friend—a Scottish general in the British army who was publically accused of homosexuality with boys. Which is pedophilia rather than homosexuality, but folks weren’t drawing distinctions in those days, and homosexual sex was illegal. You could go to prison for it.

A government commission later exonerated him but it was too late for the general.  He had promptly killed himself— either confirming the accusation or simply acknowledging that his name would be forever besmirched.

“Lament him, ye mountains of Ross-shire;
Your tears be the dew and the rain;
Ye forests and straths, let the sobbing winds
Unburden your grief and pain.”


Scottish Shetland fiddlers Jenna Reid and Aly Bain play a nice version of it here. Needless to say my own version (so far minus their good vibrato and delicate sustained bowing) is rather robotic, but, hey, I’m working on it.

0 responses to “Hector the Hero

  1. So you are making good progress, I gather. I only hope you don’t intend to add bagpipe to the ensemble 😉

  2. Dick Stanley

    No, but Mrs. Charm is considering picking up the viola again which she played in school years ago. So with Mr. B. on clarinet, we would have a family trio.