Waverley, by Sir Walter Scott

Chapter XXIX

The Confusion of King Agramant’s Camp

Itwas Waverley’s custom sometimes to ride a little apart from the main body, to look at any object of curiosity which occurred on the march. They were now in Lancashire, when, attracted by a castellated old hall, he left the squadron for half an hour to take a survey and slight sketch of it. As he returned down the avenue he was met by Ensign Maccombich. This man had contracted a sort of regard for Edward since the day of his first seeing him at Tully-Veolan and introducing him to the Highlands. He seemed to loiter, as if on purpose to meet with our hero. Yet, as he passed him, he only approached his stirrup and pronounced the single word ‘Beware!’ and then walked swiftly on, shunning all further communication.

Edward, somewhat surprised at this hint, followed with his eyes the course of Evan, who speedily disappeared among the trees. His servant, Alick Polwarth, who was in attendance, also looked after the Highlander, and then riding up close to his master, said, —

‘The ne’er be in me, sir, if I think you’re safe amang thae Highland rinthereouts.’

‘What do you mean, Alick?’ said Waverley.

‘The Mac-Ivors, sir, hae gotten it into their heads that ye hae affronted their young leddy, Miss Flora; and I hae heard mae than ane say, they wadna tak muckle to mak a black-cock o’ ye; and ye ken weel eneugh there’s mony o’ them wadna mind a bawbee the weising a ball through the Prince himsell, an the Chief gae them the wink, or whether he did or no, if they thought it a thing that would please him when it was dune.’

Waverley, though confident that Fergus Mac-Ivor was incapable of such treachery, was by no means equally sure of the forbearance of his followers. He knew that, where the honour of the Chief or his family was supposed to be touched, the happiest man would be he that could first avenge the stigma; and he had often heard them quote a proverb, ‘That the best revenge was the most speedy and most safe.’ Coupling this with the hint of Evan, he judged it most prudent to set spurs to his horse and ride briskly back to the squadron. Ere he reached the end of the long avenue, however, a ball whistled past him, and the report of a pistol was heard.

‘It was that deevil’s buckle, Callum Beg,’ said Alick; ‘I saw him whisk away through amang the reises.’

Edward, justly incensed at this act of treachery, galloped out of the avenue, and observed the battalion of Mac-Ivor at some distance moving along the common in which it terminated. He also saw an individual running very fast to join the party; this he concluded was the intended assassin, who, by leaping an enclosure, might easily make a much shorter path to the main body than he could find on horseback. Unable to contain himself, he commanded Alick to go to the Baron of Bradwardine, who was at the head of his regiment about half a mile in front, and acquaint him with what had happened. He himself immediately rode up to Fergus’s regiment. The Chief himself was in the act of joining them. He was on horseback, having returned from waiting on the Prince. On perceiving Edward approaching, he put his horse in motion towards him.

‘Colonel Mac-Ivor,’ said Waverley, without any farther salutation, ‘I have to inform you that one of your people has this instant fired at me from a lurking-place.’

‘As that,’ answered Mac-Ivor, ‘excepting the circumstance of a lurking-place, is a pleasure which I presently propose to myself, I should be glad to know which of my clansmen dared to anticipate me.’

‘I shall certainly be at your command whenever you please; the gentleman who took your office upon himself is your page there, Callum Beg.’

‘Stand forth from the ranks, Callum! Did you fire at Mr. Waverley?’

‘No,’ answered the unblushing Callum.

‘You did,’ said Alick Polwarth, who was already returned, having met a trooper by whom he despatched an account of what was going forward to the Baron of Bradwardine, while he himself returned to his master at full gallop, neither sparing the rowels of his spurs nor the sides of his horse. ‘You did; I saw you as plainly as I ever saw the auld kirk at Coudingham.’

‘You lie,’ replied Callum, with his usual impenetrable obstinacy. The combat between the knights would certainly, as in the days of chivalry, have been preceded by an encounter between the squires (for Alick was a stout-hearted Merseman, and feared the bow of Cupid far more than a Highlander’s dirk or claymore), but Fergus, with his usual tone of decision, demanded Callum’s pistol. The cock was down, the pan and muzzle were black with the smoke; it had been that instant fired.

‘Take that,’ said Fergus, striking the boy upon the head with the heavy pistol-butt with his whole force — ‘take that for acting without orders, and lying to disguise it.’ Callum received the blow without appearing to flinch from it, and fell without sign of life. ‘Stand still, upon your lives!’ said Fergus to the rest of the clan; ‘I blow out the brains of the first man who interferes between Mr. Waverley and me.’ They stood motionless; Evan Dhu alone showed symptoms of vexation and anxiety. Callum lay on the ground bleeding copiously, but no one ventured to give him any assistance. It seemed as if he had gotten his death-blow.

‘And now for you, Mr. Waverley; please to turn your horse twenty yards with me upon the common.’ Waverley complied; and Fergus, confronting him when they were a little way from the line of march, said, with great affected coolness, ‘I could not but wonder, sir, at the fickleness of taste which you were pleased to express the other day. But it was not an angel, as you justly observed, who had charms for you, unless she brought an empire for her fortune. I have now an excellent commentary upon that obscure text.’

‘I am at a loss even to guess at your meaning, Colonel Mac-Ivor, unless it seems plain that you intend to fasten a quarrel upon me.’

‘Your affected ignorance shall not serve you, sir. The Prince — the Prince himself has acquainted me with your manoeuvres. I little thought that your engagements with Miss Bradwardine were the reason of your breaking off your intended match with my sister. I suppose the information that the Baron had altered the destination of his estate was quite a sufficient reason for slighting your friend’s sister and carrying off your friend’s mistress.’

‘Did the Prince tell you I was engaged to Miss Bradwardine?’ said Waverley. ‘Impossible.’

‘He did, sir,’ answered Mac-Ivor; ‘so, either draw and defend yourself or resign your pretensions to the lady.’ ‘This is absolute madness,’ exclaimed Waverley, ‘or some strange mistake!’

‘O! no evasion! draw your sword!’ said the infuriated Chieftain, his own already unsheathed.

‘Must I fight in a madman’s quarrel?’

‘Then give up now, and forever, all pretensions to Miss Bradwardine’s hand.’

‘What title have you,’ cried Waverley, utterly losing command of himself — ‘what title have you, or any man living, to dictate such terms to me?’ And he also drew his sword.

At this moment the Baron of Bradwardine, followed by several of his troop, came up on the spur, some from curiosity, others to take part in the quarrel which they indistinctly understood had broken out between the Mac-Ivors and their corps. The clan, seeing them approach, put themselves in motion to support their Chieftain, and a scene of confusion commenced which seamed likely to terminate in bloodshed. A hundred tongues were in motion at once. The Baron lectured, the Chieftain stormed, the Highlanders screamed in Gaelic, the horsemen cursed and swore in Lowland Scotch. At length matters came to such a pass that the Baron threatened to charge the Mac-Ivors unless they resumed their ranks, and many of them, in return, presented their firearms at him and the other troopers. The confusion was privately fostered by old Ballenkeiroch, who made no doubt that his own day of vengeance was arrived, when, behold! a cry arose of ‘Room! make way! place a Monseigneur! place a Monseigneur!’ This announced the approach of the Prince, who came up with a party of Fitz-James’s foreign dragoons that acted as his body-guard. His arrival produced some degree of order. The Highlanders reassumed their ranks, the cavalry fell in and formed squadron, and the Baron and Chieftain were silent.

The Prince called them and Waverley before him. Having heard the original cause of the quarrel through the villainy of Callum Beg, he ordered him into custody of the provost-marshal for immediate execution, in the event of his surviving the chastisement inflicted by his Chieftain. Fergus, however, in a tone betwixt claiming a right and asking a favour, requested he might be left to his disposal, and promised his punishment should be exemplary. To deny this might have seemed to encroach on the patriarchal authority of the Chieftains, of which they were very jealous, and they were not persons to be disobliged. Callum was therefore left to the justice of his own tribe.

The Prince next demanded to know the new cause of quarrel between Colonel Mac-Ivor and Waverley. There was a pause. Both gentlemen found the presence of the Baron of Bradwardine (for by this time all three had approached the Chevalier by his command) an insurmountable barrier against entering upon a subject where the name of his daughter must unavoidably be mentioned. They turned their eyes on the ground, with looks in which shame and embarrassment were mingled with displeasure. The Prince, who had been educated amongst the discontented and mutinous spirits of the court of St. Germains, where feuds of every kind were the daily subject of solicitude to the dethroned sovereign, had served his apprenticeship, as old Frederick of Prussia would have said, to the trade of royalty. To promote or restore concord among his followers was indispensable. Accordingly he took his measures.

‘Monsieur de Beaujeu!’

‘Monseigneur!’ said a very handsome French cavalry officer who was in attendance.

‘Ayez la bonte d’aligner ces montagnards la, ainsi que la cavalerie, s’il vous plait, et de les remettre a la marche. Vous parlez si bien l’Anglois, cela ne vous donneroit pas beaucoup de peine.’

‘Ah! pas du tout, Monseigneur,’ replied Mons. le Comte de Beaujeu, his head bending down to the neck of his little prancing highly-managed charger. Accordingly he piaffed away, in high spirits and confidence, to the head of Fergus’s regiment, although understanding not a word of Gaelic and very little English.

‘Messieurs les sauvages Ecossois — dat is, gentilmans savages, have the goodness d’arranger vous.’

The clan, comprehending the order more from the gesture than the words, and seeing the Prince himself present, hastened to dress their ranks.

‘Ah! ver well! dat is fort bien!’ said the Count de Beaujeu. ‘Gentilmans sauvages! mais, tres bien. Eh bien! Qu’est ce que vous appelez visage, Monsieur?’ (to a lounging trooper who stood by him). ‘Ah, oui! face. Je vous remercie, Monsieur. Gentilshommes, have de goodness to make de face to de right par file, dat is, by files. Marsh! Mais, tres bien; encore, Messieurs; il faut vous mettre a la marche. . . . Marchez done, au nom de Dieu, parceque j’ai oublie le mot Anglois; mais vous etes des braves gens, et me comprenez tres bien.’

The Count next hastened to put the cavalry in motion. ‘Gentilmans cavalry, you must fall in. Ah! par ma foi, I did not say fall off! I am a fear de little gross fat gentilman is moche hurt. Ah, mon Dieu! c’est le Commissaire qui nous a apporte les premieres nouvelles de ce maudit fracas. Je suis trop fache, Monsieur!’

But poor Macwheeble, who, with a sword stuck across him, and a white cockade as large as a pancake, now figured in the character of a commissary, being overturned in the bustle occasioned by the troopers hastening to get themselves in order in the Prince’s presence, before he could rally his galloway, slunk to the rear amid the unrestrained laughter of the spectators.

‘Eh bien, Messieurs, wheel to de right. Ah! dat is it! Eh, Monsieur de Bradwardine, ayez la bonte de vous mettre a la tete de votre regiment, car, par Dieu, je n’en puis plus!’

The Baron of Bradwardine was obliged to go to the assistance of Monsieur de Beaujeu, after he had fairly expended his few English military phrases. One purpose of the Chevalier was thus answered. The other he proposed was, that in the eagerness to hear and comprehend commands issued through such an indistinct medium in his own presence, the thoughts of the soldiers in both corps might get a current different from the angry channel in which they were flowing at the time.

Charles Edward was no sooner left with the Chieftain and Waverley, the rest of his attendants being at some distance, than he said, ‘If I owed less to your disinterested friendship, I could be most seriously angry with both of you for this very extraordinary and causeless broil, at a moment when my father’s service so decidedly demands the most perfect unanimity. But the worst of my situation is, that my very best friends hold they have liberty to ruin themselves, as well as the cause they are engaged in, upon the slightest caprice.’

Both the young men protested their resolution to submit every difference to his arbitration. ‘Indeed,’ said Edward, ‘I hardly know of what I am accused. I sought Colonel Mac-Ivor merely to mention to him that I had narrowly escaped assassination at the hand of his immediate dependent, a dastardly revenge which I knew him to be incapable of authorising. As to the cause for which he is disposed to fasten a quarrel upon me, I am ignorant of it, unless it be that he accuses me, most unjustly, of having engaged the affections of a young lady in prejudice of his pretensions.’

‘If there is an error,’ said the Chieftain, ‘it arises from a conversation which I held this morning with his Royal Highness himself.’

‘With me?’ said the Chevalier; ‘how can Colonel Mac-Ivor have so far misunderstood me?’

He then led Fergus aside, and, after five minutes’ earnest conversation, spurred his horse towards Edward. ‘Is it possible — nay, ride up, Colonel, for I desire no secrets — is it possible, Mr. Waverley, that I am mistaken in supposing that you are an accepted lover of Miss Bradwardine? a fact of which I was by circumstances, though not by communication from you, so absolutely convinced that I alleged it to Vich Ian Vohr this morning as a reason why, without offence to him, you might not continue to be ambitious of an alliance which, to an unengaged person, even though once repulsed, holds out too many charms to be lightly laid aside.’

‘Your Royal Highness,’ said Waverley,‘must have founded on circumstances altogether unknown to me, when you did me the distinguished honour of supposing me an accepted lover of Miss Bradwardine. I feel the distinction implied in the supposition, but I have no title to it. For the rest, my confidence in my own merit is too justly slight to admit of my hoping for success in any quarter after positive rejection.’

The Chevalier was silent for a moment, looking steadily at them both, and then said, ‘Upon my word, Mr. Waverley, you are a less happy man than I conceived I had very good reason to believe you. But now, gentlemen, allow me to be umpire in this matter, not as Prince Regent but as Charles Stuart, a brother adventurer with you in the same gallant cause. Lay my pretensions to be obeyed by you entirely out of view, and consider your own honour, and how far it is well or becoming to give our enemies the advantage and our friends the scandal of showing that, few as we are, we are not united. And forgive me if I add, that the names of the ladies who have been mentioned crave more respect from us all than to be made themes of discord.’

He took Fergus a little apart and spoke to him very earnestly for two or three minutes, and then returning to Waverley, said, ‘I believe I have satisfied Colonel Mac-Ivor that his resentment was founded upon a misconception, to which, indeed, I myself gave rise; and I trust Mr. Waverley is too generous to harbour any recollection of what is past when I assure him that such is the case. You must state this matter properly to your clan, Vich Ian Vohr, to prevent a recurrence of their precipitate violence.’ Fergus bowed. ‘And now, gentlemen, let me have the pleasure to see you shake hands.’

They advanced coldly, and with measured steps, each apparently reluctant to appear most forward in concession. They did, however, shake hands, and parted, taking a respectful leave of the Chevalier.

Charles Edward92 then rode to the head of the MacIvors, threw himself from his horse, begged a drink out of old Ballenkeiroch’s cantine, and marched about half a mile along with them, inquiring into the history and connexions of Sliochd nan Ivor, adroitly using the few words of Gaelic he possessed, and affecting a great desire to learn it more thoroughly. He then mounted his horse once more, and galloped to the Baron’s cavalry, which was in front, halted them, and examined their accoutrements and state of discipline; took notice of the principal gentlemen, and even of the cadets; inquired after their ladies, and commended their horses; rode about an hour with the Baron of Bradwardine, and endured three long stories about Field-Marshal the Duke of Berwick.

‘Ah, Beaujeu, mon cher ami,’ said he, as he returned to his usual place in the line of march, ‘que mon metier de prince errant est ennuyant, par fois. Mais, courage! c’est le grand jeu, apres tout.’

92 The Author of Waverley has been charged with painting the young Adventurer in colours more amiable than his character deserved. But having known many individuals who were near his person, he has been described according to the light in which those eye-witnesses saw his temper and qualifications. Something must be allowed, no doubt, to the natural exaggerations of those who remembered him as the bold and adventurous Prince in whose cause they had braved death and ruin; but is their evidence to give place entirely to that of a single malcontent?

I have already noticed the imputations thrown by the Chevalier Johnstone on the Prince’s courage. But some part at least of that gentleman’s tale is purely romantic. It would not, for instance, be supposed that at the time he is favouring us with the highly wrought account of his amour with the adorable Peggie, the Chevalier Johnstone was a married man, whose grandchild is now alive; or that the whole circumstantial story concerning the outrageous vengeance taken by Gordon of Abbachie on a Presbyterian clergyman is entirely apocryphal. At the same time it may be admitted that the Prince, like others of his family, did not esteem the services done him by his adherents so highly as he ought. Educated in high ideas of his hereditary right, he has been supposed to have held every exertion and sacrifice made in his cause as too much the duty of the person making it to merit extravagant gratitude on his part. Dr. King’s evidence (which his leaving the Jacobite interest renders somewhat doubtful) goes to strengthen this opinion.

The ingenious editor of Johnstone’s Memoirs has quoted a story said to be told by Helvetius, stating that Prince Charles Edward, far from voluntarily embarking on his daring expedition, was, literally bound hand and foot, and to which he seems disposed to yield credit. Now, it being a fact as well known as any in his history, and, so far as I know, entirely undisputed, that the Prince’s personal entreaties and urgency positively forced Boisdale and Lochiel into insurrection, when they were earnestly desirous that he would put off his attempt until he could obtain a sufficient force from France, it will be very difficult to reconcile his alleged reluctance to undertake the expedition with his desperately insisting upon carrying the rising into effect against the advice and entreaty of his most powerful and most sage partizans. Surely a man who had been carried bound on board the vessel which brought him to so desperate an enterprise would have taken the opportunity afforded by the reluctance of his partizans to return to France in safety.

It is averred in Johnstone’s Memoirs that Charles Edward left the field of Culloden without doing the utmost to dispute the victory; and, to give the evidence on both sides, there is in existence the more trustworthy testimony of Lord Elcho, who states that he himself earnestly exhorted the Prince to charge at the head of the left wing, which was entire, and retrieve the day or die with honour. And on his counsel being declined, Lord Elcho took leave of him with a bitter execration, swearing he would never look on his face again, and kept his word.

On the other hand, it seems to have been the opinion of almost all the other officers that the day was irretrievably lost, one wing of the Highlanders being entirely routed, the rest of the army outnumbered, outflanked, and in a condition totally hopeless. In this situation of things the Irish officers who surrounded Charles’s person interfered to force him off the field. A cornet who was close to the Prince left a strong attestation that he had seen Sir Thomas Sheridan seize the bridle of his horse and turn him round. There is some discrepancy of evidence; but the opinion of Lord Elcho, a man of fiery temper and desperate at the ruin which he beheld impending, cannot fairly be taken in prejudice of a character for courage which is intimated by the nature of the enterprise itself, by the Prince’s eagerness to fight on all occasions, by his determination to advance from Derby to London, and by the presence of mind which he manifested during the romantic perils of his escape. The author is far from claiming for this unfortunate person the praise due to splendid talents; but he continues to be of opinion that at the period of his enterprise he had a mind capable of facing danger and aspiring to fame.

That Charles Edward had the advantages of a graceful presence, courtesy, and an address and manner becoming his station, the author never heard disputed by any who approached his person, nor does he conceive that these qualities are overcharged in the present attempt to sketch his portrait.

The following extracts corroborative of the general opinion respecting the Prince’s amiable disposition are taken from a manuscript account of his romantic expedition, by James Maxwell of Kirkconnell, of which I possess a copy, by the friendship of J. Menzies, Esq., of Pitfoddells. The author, though partial to the Prince, whom he faithfully followed, seems to have been a fair and candid man, and well acquainted with the intrigues among the adventurer’s council:—

‘Everybody was mightily taken with the Prince’s figure and personal behaviour. There was but one voice about them. Those whom interest or prejudice made a runaway to his cause could not help acknowledging that they wished him well in all other respects, and could hardly blame him for his present undertaking. Sundry things had concurred to raise his character to the highest pitch, besides the greatness of the enterprise and the conduct that had hitherto appeared in the execution of it.

‘There were several instances of good nature and humanity that had made a great impression on people’s minds. I shall confine myself to two or three.

‘Immediately after the battle, as the Prince was riding along the ground that Cope’s army had occupied a few minutes before, one of the officers came up to congratulate him, and said, pointing to the killed, “Sir, there are your enemies at your feet.” The Prince, far from exulting, expressed a great deal of compassion for his father’s deluded subjects, whom he declared he was heartily sorry to see in that posture.

‘Next day, while the Prince was at Pinkie House, a citizen of Edinburgh came to make some representation to Secretary Murray about the tents that city was ordered to furnish against a certain day. Murray happened to be out of the way, which the Prince hearing of called to have the gentleman brought to him, saying, he would rather despatch the business, whatever it was, himself than have the gentleman wait, which he did, by granting everything that was asked. So much affability in a young prince flushed with victory drew encomiums even from his enemies.

‘But what gave the people the highest idea of him was the negative he gave to a thing that very nearly concerned his interest, and upon which the success of his enterprise perhaps depended. It was proposed to send one of the prisoners to London to demand of that court a cartel for the exchange of prisoners taken, and to be taken, during this war, and to intimate that a refusal would be looked upon as a resolution on their part to give no quarter. It was visible a cartel would be of great advantage to the Prince’s affairs; his friends would be more ready to declare for him if they had nothing to fear but the chance of war in the field; and if the court of London refused to settle a cartel, the Prince was authorised to treat his prisoners in the same manner the Elector of Hanover was determined to treat such of the Prince’s friends as might fall into his hands; it was urged that a few examples would compel the court of London to comply. It was to be presumed that the officers of the English army would make a point of it. They had never engaged in the service but upon such terms as are in use among all civilised nations, and it could be no stain upon their honour to lay down their commissions if these terms were not observed, and that owing to the obstinacy of their own Prince. Though this scheme was plausible, and represented as very important, the Prince could never be brought into it, it was below him, he said, to make empty threats, and he would never put such as those into execution; he would never in cold blood take away lives which he had saved in heat of action at the peril of his own. These were not the only proofs of good nature the Prince gave about this time. Every day produced something new of this kind. These things softened the rigour of a military government which was only imputed to the necessity of his affairs, and which he endeavoured to make as gentle and easy as possible.’

It has been said that the Prince sometimes exacted more state and ceremonial than seemed to suit his condition; but, on the other hand, some strictness of etiquette was altogether indispensable where he must otherwise have been exposed to general intrusion. He could also endure, with a good grace, the retorts which his affectation of ceremony sometimes exposed him to. It is said, for example, that Grant of Glenmoriston having made a hasty march to join Charles, at the head of his clan, rushed into the Prince’s presence at Holyrood with unceremonious haste, without having attended to the duties of the toilet. The Prince received him kindly, but not without a hint that a previous interview with the barber might not have been wholly unnecessary. ‘It is not beardless boys,’ answered the displeased Chief, ‘who are to do your Royal Highness’s turn.’ The Chevalier took the rebuke in good part.

On the whole, if Prince Charles had concluded his life soon after his miraculous escape, his character in history must have stood very high. As it was, his station is amongst those a certain brilliant portion of whose life forms a remarkable contrast to all which precedes and all which follows it.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/scott/walter/waverley/chapter58.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:29