Unfortunately this hazard was converted into a certainty by his sending some men on shore in the Orkneys. Two of these, Spence and Blackadder, were seized at Kirkwall by the bishop of the diocese, and sent up prisoners to Edinburgh, by which means the government was not only satisfied of the reality of the intended invasion, of which, however, they had before had some intimation, but could guess with a reasonable certainty the part of the coast where the descent was to take place, for Argyle could not possibly have sailed so far to the north with any other view than that of making his landing either on his own estate, or in some of the western counties. Among the numberless charges of imprudence against the unfortunate Argyle, charges too often inconsiderately urged against him who fails in any enterprise of moment, that which is founded upon the circumstance just mentioned appears to me to be the most weighty, though it is that which is the least mentioned, and by no author, as far as I recollect, much enforced. If the landing in the north was merely for the purpose of gaining intelligence respecting the disposition of the country, or for the more frivolous object of making some few prisoners, it was indeed imprudent in the highest degree. That prisoners, such as were likely to be taken on this occasion, should have been a consideration with any man of common sense is impossible. The desire of gaining intelligence concerning the disposition of the people was indeed a natural curiosity, but it would be a strong instance of that impatience which has been often alleged though in no other case proved to have been part of the earl's character, if, for the sake of gratifying such a desire, he gave the enemy any important advantage. Of the intelligence which he sought thus eagerly, it was evident that he could not in that place and at that time make any immediate use; whereas, of that which he afforded his enemies, they could and did avail themselves against him. The most favourable account of this proceeding, and which seems to deserve most credit, is, that having missed the proper passage through the Orkney Islands, he thought proper to send on shore for pilots, and that Spence very imprudently took the opportunity of going to confer with a relation at Kirkwall; but it is to be remarked that it was not necessary for the purpose of getting pilots, to employ men of note, such as Blackadder and Spence, the latter of whom was the earl's secretary; and that it was an unpardonable neglect not to give the strictest injunctions to those who were employed against going a step further into the country than was absolutely necessary.
Argyle, with his wonted generosity of spirit, was at first determined to lay siege to Kirkwall, in order to recover his friends; but, partly by the dissuasions of his followers, and still more by the objections made by the masters of the ships to a delay which might make them lose the favourable winds for their intended voyage, he was induced to prosecute his course. In the meantime the government made the use that it was obvious they would make of the information they had obtained, and when the earl arrived at his destination, he learned that considerable forces were got together to repel any attack that he might meditate. Being prevented by contrary winds from reaching the Isle of Islay, where he had purposed to make his first landing, he sailed back to Dunstafnage in Lorn, and there sent ashore his son, Mr. Charles Campbell, to engage his tenants and other friends and dependants of his family to rise in his behalf; but even there he found less encouragement and assistance than he had expected, and the laird of Lochniel, who gave him the best assurances, treacherously betrayed him, sent his letter to the government, and joined the royal forces under the Marquis of Athol. He then proceeded southwards, and landed at Campbelltown in Kintyre, where his first step was to publish his declaration, which appears to have produced little or no effect.