Four centuries after they were written, these words are still used to summon up the courage to do the right thing, rather than submit to the easy option. The man who wrote them, James Graham, First Marquis of Montrose, lived at a time when British central government was arbitrary and authoritarian in its control but weak in genuine policies. Slippery deals, cynical spin, smug grandees and greedy newcomers were rife. As Britain fragmented into civil war under the burden of the separate ambitions of a host of political opportunists, Montrose fought against the unholy alliance between extreme Puritanism and parliamentary hypocrisy. He was executed in Edinburgh at the age of 37 Montrose was scholarly and widely-travelled. His words were full of wit and vision. Above all, they have the immediacy of personal engagement in the battle to save Scotland from lapsing back into its old endemic vulnerability. "To Win Or Lose It All" gives today's reader a unique chance to compare the passions that divided a badly devolved Britain then and now.
ROBIN BELL is an award winning poet and documentary writer who lived in New York and London for many years before returning to his native Scotland. He is probably best-known for Strathinver: A Portrait Album 1945-1953, a dramatised version of which won a Sony Award for Best British Radio Feature and Documentary. It was hailed by David Wade in The Times as 'Scotland's answer, and a confident one, to Under Milk Wood''. 'Occasionally, a book appears which alters the whole body of poetry of the relevant country and beyond. This is such a book.' Tom Scott, Books In Scotland Bittersweet Within My Heart, his translations of the French poems of Mary, Queen of Scots, was described by Van Hennessy in the Daily Mail as 'The most moving and intimate of all royal autobiographical writing. Historically, they are sensational. They offer us a glimpse into a noblewoman's heart and are the most intimate and moving of all autobiographical writing.'