AFTER the temporary subjection of the Highlands in 1720, and the years immediately succeeding, had been in appearance completed, by the establishment of garrisons, the formation of military roads, and the general submission of the Highland clans who were most opposed to Government, Scotland enjoyed a certain degree of internal repose, if not of prosperity. To estimate the nature of this calm, we must look at the state of the country, in two points of view, as it concerned the Highlands and the Lowlands.
In the Lowlands a superior degree of improvement began to take place, by the general influence of civilisation, rather than by the effect of any specific legislative enactment. The ancient laws, which vested the administration of justice in the aristocracy, continued to be a cause of poverty amongst the tenantry of the country. Every gentleman of considerable estate possessed the power of a baron, or lord of regality, and by means of a deputy, who was usually his factor or land-steward, exercised the power of dispensing justice, both civil and criminal, to those in his neighbourhood. In the most ordinary class of lawsuits one party was thus constituted the judge in his own cause; for in all cases betwixt landlord and tenant, the questions were decided in the court of the baron, where the landlord, by means of an obsequious deputy, in fact possessed the judicial power. The nature of the engagements between the proprietor and the cultivator of the ground, rendered the situation of the latter one of great hardship. The tenants usually held their farms from year to year and from the general poverty of the country, could pay but little rent in money. The landlords, who were usually struggling to educate their children, and set them out in the world, were also necessitous, and pursued indirect expedients for subjecting1 the tenants in services of a nature winch had a marked connexion with the old slavish feudal tenures. Thus the tenant was bound to grind his meal at the baron’s mill, and to pay certain heavy duties for the operation, though he could have had it ground more conveniently and cheaply elsewhere. In some instances he was also obliged to frequent the brewery of his landlord. In almost every case, he was compelled to discharge certain services, of driving coals. casting peats,1 or similar domestic labour, for the proprietor. In this manner the tenant was often called upon to perform the field work of the Laird when that of his own farm was in arrear, and deprived of that freedom of employing his powers of labour to the best possible account, which is the very soul of agriculture.
Nevertheless, though the Scottish lairds had the means of oppression in their hands, a judicious perception of their own interest prevented many, and doubtless a sense of justice warned others, from abusing those rights to the injury of their people. The custom, too, of giving farms in lease to younger sons or other near relatives, tended to maintain the farmers above the rank of mere peasantry, into which they must have otherwise sunk; and as the Scottish landholders of those days lived economically, and upon terms of kindness with their tenants, there were fewer instances of oppression or ill usage than might have been expected from a system which was radically bad, and which, if the proprietors had been more rapacious, and the estates committed to the management of a mere factor or middle-man, who was to make the most of them, must have led to a degree of distress which never appears to have taken place in Scotland. Both parties were in general poor, but they united their efforts to bear their indigence with patience.
The younger sons of gentlemen usually went abroad in some line of life in which they might speedily obtain wealth, or at least the means of subsistence. The colonies afforded opportunities of advancement to many; others sought fortune in England, where the calmer and more provident character of the nation, joined with the ready assistance which each Scotsman who attained prosperity extended 10 those who were struggling for if. very often led to success. The elder sons of the Scottish landholders were generally, like those of France, devoted to the law or to the sword, so that in one way or other they might add some means of increase to the family estates. Commerce was advancing by gradual steps. The colonial trade had opened slow but increasing sources of exertion to Glasgow, which is so conveniently situated fur the trade with North America, of which that enterprising town early acquired a respectable portion. The Church of Scotland still afforded a respectable asylum for such as were disposed to turn their thoughts towards it. It could, indeed, in no shape afford wealth, but it gave sufficiency for the moderate wants of a useful clergyman, and a degree of influence over the minds of men, which, to a generous spirit, is more valuable than opulence. The respectability of the situation, and its importance in society, reconciled the clergyman to its poverty, an evil little felt, where few could be termed rich.
Learning was not so accurately cultivated as in the sister country. But although it was rare to find a Scottish gentleman, even when a divine or lawyer, thoroughly grounded in classical lore, it was still more uncommon to find men in the higher ranks who did not possess a general tincture of letters, or, thanks to their system of parochial education, individuals even in the lowest classes, without the knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic. A certain degree of pedantry, indeed, was considered as a characteristic of the nation, and the limited scholarship which it argued, proved eminently useful to Scotchmen, who, going abroad, or to England, which they considered as a foreign country, mixed in the struggle for success with the advantage of superior information over those of the same class elsewhere. Thomson, Mallet, and others engaged in the pursuits of literature, were content to receive their reward from the sister country; and if we except the Poems of Allan Ramsay, praised by his countrymen, but neither relished nor understood by South Britons, the Scots made little figure in composition, compared to the period of Gawin Douglas and Dunbar. Upon the whole, the situation of Scotland during the early part of the eighteenth century, was like that of a newly transplanted forest-tree, strong enough to maintain itself in its new situation, but too much influenced by the recent violence of the change of position, to develope with freedom its principles of growth or increase.
The principal cause which rendered Scotland stationary in its advance, towards improvement, was the malevolent influence of political party. No efforts seem to have been made to heal the rankling wounds which the civil war of 1715 had left behind it. The party in favour failed not, as is always the case, to represent those who were excluded from it as the moat dangerous enemies of the king on the throne, and the constitution by which he reigned; and those who were branded as Jacobites were confirmed in their opinions, by finding themselves shut out from all prospect of countenance and official employment. Almost all beneficial situations were barred against those who were suspected of harbouring such sentiments, by the necessity imposed on them, not only of taking oaths to the established government, but also such as expressly denounced and condemned the political opinions of those who differed from it. Men of high spirit and honourable feelings were averse to take, oaths by which they were required openly to stigmatize and disown the opinions of their fathers and nearest relatives, although perhaps they themselves saw the fallacy of the proscribed tenets, and were disposed tacitly to abandon them. Those of the higher class, once falling under suspicion, were thus excluded from the bar and the army, which we have said were the professions embraced by the elder sons of gentlemen. The necessary consequence was, that the sons of Jacobite families went into foreign service and drew closer those connexions with the exiled family, which they might have otherwise been induced to drop, and became confirmed in their party opinions, even from the measures employed to suppress them. In the rank immediately lower, many young men of decent families were induced to renounce the privileges of their birth, and undertake mechanical employments, in which their conduct could not be obstructed by the imposition of the obnoxious oaths. It was fortunate for the peace of the kingdom, that, though many of the landed gentry were still much imbued with the principles of Jacobitism, they did not retain the influence which so long rendered them the active disturbers of the Government; for, although the feudal rights still subsisted in form, it was now a more difficult matter for a great lord to draw into the field the vassals who held of him by military tenure. The various confiscations which had taken place operated as serious warnings to such great families as those of Gordon, Athole, Seaforth, or others, how they rashly hoisted the standard of rebellion, while the provisions of the Clan Act and other statutes, enabled the vassal so summoned to dispense with attendance upon it, without hazarding, as in former times, the forfeiture of his fief. Nor was the influence of the gentry and landed proprietors over the farmers and cultivators of the soil less diminished than that of the great nobles. When the proprietors, as was now generally the case throughout the Lowlands, became determined to get the highest rent they could obtain for their land, the farmer did not feel his situation either so easy or so secure, that he should, in addition, be called on to follow his landlord to battle. It must also be remembered, that though many gentlemen, on the north of the Tay especially, were of the Episcopal persuasion, which was almost synonymous with being Jacobites, a great proportion of the lower classes were Presbyterian in their form of worship, and Whigs in political principle, and every way adverse to the counter-revolution which it was the object of their landlords to establish. In the south and west, the influence of the established religion was general amongst both gentry and peasantry.
The fierce feelings occasioned throughout Scotland generally, by the recollections of the Union, had died away with the generation which experienced them, and the benefits of the treaty began to be visibly, though slowly, influential on their descendants. The Lowlands, therefore, being by far the wealthiest and most important part of Scotland, were much disposed to peace, the rather that those who might have taken some interest in creating fresh disturbances, had their power of doing so greatly diminished.
It is also to be considered, that the Lowlanders of this later period were generally deprived of arms, and unaccustomed to use them. The Act of Security, in the beginning of the 18th century, had been made the excuse for introducing quantities of arms into Scotland, and disciplining the population to the use of them; but the consequences of this general arming and training act had long ceased to operate, and, excepting the militia, which were officered; and received a sort of discipline, the use of arms was totally neglected in the Lowlands of Scotland.
The Highlands were in a very different state, and from the tenacity with which the inhabitants retained the dress, language, manners, and customs of their fathers, more nearly resembled their predecessors of centuries long since past, than any other nation in Europe. It is true, they were no longer the ignorant and irreclaimable barbarians, in which light they were to be regarded so late perhaps as the sixteenth century. Civilisation had approached their mountains. Their mariners were influenced by the presence of armed strangers, whose fortresses were a check to the fire of their restless courage. They were obliged to yield subjection to the law, and, in appearance at least, to pay respect to those by whom it was administered. But the patriarchal system still continued, with all the good and bad which attached to its influence. The chief was still the leader in war, the judge and protector in peace. The whole income of the tribe, consisting of numerous but petty articles of rude produce, was paid into the purse of the chief, and served to support the rude hospitality of his household, which was extended to the poorest of the clan. It was still the object of each leader, by all possible means, to augment the number capable of bearing, arms; and, of course, they did not hesitate to harbour on their estates an excess of population, idle, haughty, and warlike, whose only labour was battle and the chase, and whose only law was the command of their chieftain.
It is true, that, in the eighteenth century, we no longer hear of the chiefs taking arms in their own behalf, or fighting pitched battles with each other, nor did they, as formerly, put themselves at the head of the parties which ravaged the estates of rival clans or the Lowlands. The creaghs or inroads took place in a less open and avowed manner than formerly, and were interrupted frequently both by the regular soldiers from the garrisons, and by the soldiers of the independent companies, called the Black Watch. Still, however, it was well understood that on the estates, or countries, as they are called, of the great chiefs, there was suffered to exist, under some bond of understood but unavowed conditions of allegiance on the one side, and protection on the other, amongst pathless woods and gloomy valleys, gangs of banditti ready to execute the will of the chief by whom they were sheltered, and upon a hint darkly given and easily caught up, willingly disposed to avenge his real, or supposed wrongs. Thus the celebrated Rob Roy, at the commencement of the eighteenth century, was able, though an outlawed and desperate man, to maintain himself against every effort of the Montrose family, by the connivance which he received from that of Argyle, who allowed him, as the phrase then went, “ wood and water,” that is to say, the protection of their lakes and forests.
This primitive state of things must, in the gradual course of events, have suffered great innovations. The young Highlanders of fortune received their education in English or Lowland schools, and, gradually adopting the ideas of those with whom they were brought up, must have learned to value themselves less on their solitary and patriarchal power, than on the articles of personal expenditure and display which gave distinction to those around them. This new passion would have been found in time inconsistent with the performance of the duties which the tribe expected and exacted from their chief, and the bonds which connected them, though so singularly intimate, must have in time given way. The Reverend Peter Rae, historian of the Rebellion in 1715, states that, even in his own time, causes of the nature we have hinted at were beginning to operate, and that some chiefs, with the spaghlin or assumption of consequence not uncommon to the Celtic race, had addicted themselves to expenses and luxuries to which their incomes were not equal, and which began already to undermine their patriarchal power and authority over their clans.
But the operation of such causes, naturally slow, was rendered almost imperceptible, if not altogether neutralized, by the strong and counteracting stimulus afforded by the feelings of jacobitism common to the western chiefs. These persons and their relations had many of them been educated or served as soldiers abroad, and were in close intercourse with the exiled family, who omitted no means by which they could ensure the attachment of men so able to serve them. The communication of the Stewart family with the Highlands was constant and unceasing, and was, no doubt, most effectual in maintaining the patriarchal system in its integrity. Each chief looked upon himself as destined to be raised to greatness by the share he might be able to take in the eventful and impending struggle which was one day to restore the House of Stewart to the throne, and that share must be greater or less according to the number of men at whose head he might take the field.1 This prospect, which to their sanguine, eyes appeared a near one, was a motive which influenced the lives, and regulated the conduct, of the Highland chiefs, and which had its natural effect in directing their emulous attention to cement the bonds of clanship, that might otherwise have been gradually relaxed.
But though almost all the chiefs were endeavoring to preserve their people in a state to take the field, and to assist the cause of the heir of the Stewart family when the moment of enterprise should arrive, yet the individual character of each modified the manner in which he endeavoured to provide for this common object; and I cannot propose to you a stronger contrast than the manner in which the patriarchal power was exercised by Donald Cameron of Lochiel, and the notorious Fraser of Lovat.
The former was one of the most honourable and well-intentioned persons in whom the patriarchal power was ever lodged. He was grandson of that Sir Evan Dhu, or Black Sir Evan, who made so great a figure in Cromwell’s time, and of whom I have already told you many stories in a former volume of this little work. Far from encouraging the rapine which had, been, for a long time objected to the men of Lochaber, he made the most anxious exertions to put a stop to it by severe punishment; and while he protected his own people and his allies, would not permit them to inflict any injury upon others. He encouraged among them such kinds of industry as they could be made to apply themselves to; and in general united the high spirit of a Highland chief: with the sense and intelligence of a well-educated English gentleman of fortune. Although possessed of an estate, of which the income hardly amounted to seven hundred a-year, this celebrated chief brought fourteen hundred men into the Rebellion, and he was honourably distinguished by his endeavours on all occasions to mitigate the severities of war, and deter the insurgents from acts of vindictive violence.
A different picture must be presented of Lord Lovat, whose irregular ambition induced him to play the Highland chief to the very utmost, while he cared for nothing save the means of applying the power Implied in the character to the advancement of his own interest. His hospitality was exuberant, yet was regulated by means which savoured much of a paltry economy. His table was filled with Frasers, all of whom he called his cousins, but took care that the fare with which they were regaled was adapted, not to the supposed equality, but t o the actual importance of his guests. Thus the claret diet not pass below a particular mark on the table; those who sat beneath that limit had some cheaper liquor, which had also its bounds of circulation; and the clansmen at the extremity of the board were served with single ale. Still it was drunk at the table of their chief, and that made amends for all. Lovat had a Lowland estate, where he fleeced his tenants without mercy, for the sake of maintaining his Highland military, retainers. He was a master of the Highland character, and knew how to avail himself of its peculiarities. He knew every one whom it was convenient for him to caress; had been acquainted with his father; remembered the feats or his ancestors, and was profuse in his complimentary expressions, of praise and fondness. If a man of substance offended Lovat, or, which was the same thing, if he possessed a troublesome claim against him, and was determined to enforce it, one would have thought that all the plagues of Egypt had been denounced against the obnoxious individual. His house was burnt, his flocks driven off, his cattle houghed; and if the perpetrators of such outrages were secured, the jail of Inverness was never strong enough to detain them till punishment. They always broke prison. With persons of low rank, less ceremony was used; and it was not uncommon for witnesses to appear against them for some imaginary crime, for which Lord Lovat’s victims suffered the punishment of transportation.
We cannot wonder that a man of Lovat’s disposition should also play the domestic tyrant; but it would be difficult to conceive the excess to which he carried enormities in this character. After his return to Scotland in 1715, he was twice married; first, in 1717, to a daughter of the Laird of Grant, by whom he had two sons and two daughters; his second, or rather his third wife, was a Campbell, a relation of the Argyle family. It is supposed he married her with a view to secure the friendship of that great family. Finding himself disappointed in this expectation, he vented his resentment on the poor lady, whom he shut up in a turret of his castle, neither affording her food, clothes, or other necessaries, in a manner suitable to her education, nor permitting her to go abroad, or to receive any friend within doors. Dark rumours went forth of the treatment of the wife of this daring chief, who had thus vanished from society. She had a friend, whose fearless interest in her fate induced her to surmount all sense of personal danger, and to visit Castle Downie with the purpose of ascertaining the situation of Lady Lovat. She contrived to announce her arrival so unexpectedly, as to leave Lovat no apology by which he could escape her intrusive visit. He took his resolution, went to the prison-chamber of his unfortunate wife, and announced to her the arrival of her friend. “ As it is my pleasure, madam,” he said, “ that you receive your visitor in the character of a contented and affectionate wife, you will please to dress yourself” (laying proper apparel before her), “and come down with the easy and free air of the mistress of the mansion, happy in her husband’s affection and unlimited trust. It will become you to beware how you give the least hint of any discord between you and me; for secret eyes will be upon you, and you know what reason you have to dread disobeying my commands.” In this manner the poor lady met her friend, with her tongue padlocked concerning all that she would willingly have disclosed, Lovat contriving all the while to maintain so constant a watch on his wife and her visitor, that they could not obtain the least opportunity of speaking apart. The visitor, however, in the very silence and constraint of her friend, had seen enough to satisfy her that all was not well; and when she left Castle Downie, became importunate with Lady Lovat’s family to be active in her behalf. She in consequence obtained a separation from her cruel husband, whom she long survived. Such acts of tyranny were the dismal fruits of the patriarchal power, when lodged in the hands of a man of fraud and violence. But Lovat’s conduct was so exaggerated, as inclines us to believe there must have been a certain mixture of deranged intellect with his wickedness; a compound perfectly reconcilable to the profound craft which displayed itself in other points of his character. I must not forget to notice that Lord Lovat, having obtained the command of one of the Highland independent companies, in consequence of his services in the year 1715y took advantage of the opportunity it gave him to make all the men of his clan familiar with the use of arms; for though he could not legally have more than a certain number of men under arms at once, yet nothing was more easy than to exchange the individuals from time to time, till the whole younger Frasers had passed a few months at least in the corps. He became incautious, however, and appeared too publicly in some suspicious purchases of arms and ammunition from abroad. Government became alarmed about his intentions1 and withdrew his commission in the Black Watch. This happened in 1737, and it was, as we shall hereafter see, the indignation arising from being deprived of this independent company, that finally determined him on rushing into the rebellion.
Few of the Highland chiefs could claim the spotless character due to Lochiel,. and none, so far as is known to us, descended to such nefarious practices as Lovat. The conduct of most of them hovered between the wild and lawless expedients of their predecessors in power, and the new ideas of honour and respect to the rights of others which recent times had introduced; and they did good or committed evil as opportunity and temptation were presented to them. In general a spirit of honour and generosity was found to unite easily and gracefully with their patriarchal pretensions; and those who had to deal with them gained more by an appeal to their feelings than by arguments addressed to their understandings.
Having thus taken a view of the situation of Scotland both in the Highlands and Lowlands, we must next take some notice of the political condition of the two contending families, by whom the crown of Great Britain was at the time disputed. George, the first of his family who had ascended the British throne, had transmitted the important acquisition to his son, George II. Both sovereigns were men of honour, courage, and good sense; but, being born and educated foreigners, they were strangers to the peculiar character, no less than to the very complicated form of government, of the country over which they were called by Providence to reign. They were1 successively under the necessity of placing the administration in the hands of a man of distinguished talent, the celebrated Sir Robert Walpole. Unfortunately, this great statesman Was a man of a coarse mind, who altogether disbelieving in the very existence of patriotism, held the opinion that every man had his price, and might be bought if his services were worth the value at which he rated them. His creed was as unfavourable to the probity of public men, as that of a leader who should disbelieve in the existence of military honour would be degrading to the character of a soldier. The venality of Sir Robert Walpole’s administration became a shame and reproach to the British nation, which was also burdened with the means of supplying the wages of the national corruption.
The kings also, George I. and II., under whom Sir Robert Walpole conducted public affairs, were themselves unpopular from a very natural reason. They loved with fond partiality their paternal dominions of Hanover, and the manners and customs of the country in which they had been born and bred. Their intimacy and confidence were chiefly imparted to those of their own nation; and so far, though the preference might be disagreeable to their British subjects, the error flowed from a laudable motive. But both the royal father and son suffered themselves to be hurried farther than this. Regard for their German territories was the principle which regulated their political movements, and both alliances and hostilities were engaged in for interests and disputes which were of a nature exclusively German, and with which the British nation had nothing to do. Out of this undue partiality for their native dominions arose a great clamour against the two first kings of the House of Guelph, that, called to the government of so fair and ample a kingdom as Britain, they neglected or sacrificed its interests for those of the petty and subaltern concerns of their electorate of Hanover. Besides other causes of unpopularity, the length of Sir Robert Walpole’s administration was alone sufficient to render it odious to a people so fickle as the English, who soon become weary of one class of measures, and still sooner of the administration of any one minister. For these various reasons, the government of Sir Robert Walpole, especially towards its close, was highly unpopular in England, and the Opposition attacked it with a degree of fury which made those who watched the strife from a distance imagine, that language so outrageous was that of men in the act of revolt. The foreign nations, whose ideas of our constitution were as imperfect formerly as they are at this moment, listened like men who hear what they conceive to be the bursting of a steam-engine, when the noise only announces the action of the safety-valves. While the family of Hanover maintained an uneasy seat on an unpopular throne, the fortunes of the House of Stewart seemed much on the decline. Obliged to leave France, Spain, and Avignon, and not permitted to settle in Germany, the Chevalier de St George was obliged, shortly after his Scottish enterprise of 1715, to retire to Italy, where the sufferings of his father for the Roman Catholic religion gave him the fairest right to expect hospitality. He was then in the thirtieth year of his age, the last male of his unfortunate family, when, by the advice of his counsellors, he fixed his choice of a wife on the Princess Clementina Sobieski, daughter to Prince James Sobieski of Poland, and grand-daughter to that King John Sobieski who defeated the Turks before Vienna. This young lady was accounted one of the greatest fortunes in Europe. The dazzling pretension to the British crown set forth by the negotiator of the marriage on the part of James, propitiated the parents of the princess, and it was agreed that she should be conducted privately to Bologna, with a view to her union with the Chevalier de St George. Some extra preparation on the part of the princess and her mother, in the way of dress and equipage, brought the intrigue to the knowledge of the British court, who exerted all their influence with that of Austria for the interruption of the match. The Emperor, obliged to keep measures with Britain on account of his pretensions to Sicily, which were supported by the English fleet, arrested the bride as she passed through Innsbruck, in the Tyrol, and detained her, along with her mother, prisoners in a cloister of that town. The Emperor also deprived Prince James Sobieski the lady’s father, of his government of Augsburg, and caused him to be imprisoned.
A bold attempt for the release of the princess was contrived and executed by Charles Wogan, who had been one of the prisoners at Preston, and was a devoted partisan of the cause in which he had nearly lost his life. He obtained a passport from the Austrian ambassador, in the name of Count Cernes and family, stated to be returning From Loretto to the Low Countries. A Major Misset and his wife, personated the supposed count and countess; Wogan was to pass for the brother of the count; the Princess Clementina, when she should be liberated, was to represent the count’s sister, which character was in the mean time enacted by a small girl, a domestic of Mrs Misset. They represented to the wench that she was only to remain one or two days in confinement, in the room of a lady whom Captain Toole, one of the party, was to carry off, and whose escape it might be necessary to conceal fur some time. Captain Toole, with two other steady partisans, attended on the party of the supposed Count Cernes, in the dress and character of domestics.
They arrived at Innsbruck on the evening of the 27th of April, 1719, and took a lodging near the convent. It appears that a trusty domestic of the princess had secured permission of the porter to bring a female with him into the cloister, and conduct her out at whatever hour he pleased. This was a great step in favour of their success, as it permitted the agents of the Chevalier de St George to introduce the young female, and to carry out Clementina Sobieski in her stead. But while they were in consultation upon the means of executing their plan, Jenny, the servant girl, heard them name the word princess, and afraid of being involved in a matter where persons of such rank were concerned, declared she would have nothing more to do with the plot. Many fair words, a few pieces of gold, and the promise of a fine suit of damask belonging to her mistress, overcame her scruples; and taking advantage of a storm of snow and hail Jenny was safely introduced into the cloister and the princess, changing clothes with her, came out at the hour by which the stranger was to return. Through bad roads and worse weather they pushed on till they quitted the Austrian territories, and entered those of Venice. On the 2d of May, after a journey of great fatigue and some danger, they arrived at Bologna, where the princess thought it unnecessary to remain longer incognita.
In the mean time, while his destined bride made her escape from the Tyrol, the Chevalier had been suddenly called on to undertake a private expedition to Spain. The lady was espoused in his absence by a trusty adherent, who had the Chevalier’s proxy to that effect, and the bridegroom’s visit to Spain having terminated in nothing satisfactory, he soon after returned to complete the marriage. The Jacobites drew many happy omens from the success with which the romantic union of the Chevalier de St. George was achieved, although after all, it may be doubted whether the Austrian Emperor, though obliged in appearance to comply with the remonstrances of the British Court, was either seriously anxious to prevent the Princess’s escape, or extremely desirous that she should be retaken. By this union the Chevalier de St George transmitted his hereditary claims, and with them his evil luck, to two sons. The first, Charles Edward, born the 31st of December, 1720, was remarkable for the figure he made during the civil war of 1745–6; the second, Henry Benedict, born the 6th of March, 1725, for being the last male heir, in the direct line, of the unfortunate House of Stewart. He bore the title of Duke of York, and entering the Church of Rome, was promoted to the rank of Cardinal. The various schemes and projects which were agitated, one after another, in the councils of the Chevalier de St George, and which for a time served successively to nourish and keep afloat the hopes of his partisans in England and Scotland, were so numerous, so indifferently concocted, and so ineffectual in their consequences, that, to borrow an expression from the poet, the voyage of his life might be said to be spent in shallows.1 With whatever Court Britain happened to have a quarrel, thither came the unfortunate heir of the House of Stewart, to show his miseries and to boast his pretensions. But though treated with decency, and sometimes fed with hopes which proved altogether fallacious, the Chevalier found his eloquence too feeble to persuade any Government to embarrass themselves by making common cause with him after the miscarriage of the Spanish invasion of 1719, which only gave rise to the petty skirmish of Glenshiel. In the intervals of these ineffectual negotiations, the Chevalier’s domestic establishment was divided by petty intrigues among his advisers, in which his wife occasionally took such keen interest, as to proclaim, in a public and scandalous degree, their domestic disunion. From all these circumstances, from his advance in years, and the disappointments which he brooded over, the warmest adherents of the House of Stewart ceased to expect any thing from the personal exertions of him whom they called their King, and reposed the hopes of their party in the spirit and talents of his eldest son, Charles Edward; whose external appearance, and personal accomplishments seemed at first sight to justify his high pretensions, and to fit him well for the leader of any bold and gallant enterprise by which they might be enforced.
In attempting to describe to you this remarkable young man, I am desirous of qualifying the exaggerated praise heaped upon him by his enthusiastic adherents and no less so to avoid repeating the disparaging language of public and political opponents, and of discontented and disobliged followers, who have written father under the influence of their resentments than in defence of truth. Prince Charles Edward styling himself Prince of Wales, was a youth of tall stature and fair complexion. His features were of a noble and elevated cast but tinged with an expression of melancholy. His manners were courteous, his temper apparently good, his courage of a nature fit fur the most desperate undertakings, his strength of constitution admirable, and his knowledge of manly exercises and accomplishments perfect. These were all qualities highly in favour of one who prepared to act the restorer of an ancient dynasty. On the other hand, his education had been strangely neglected in certain points of the last consequence to his success. Instead of being made acquainted with the rights and constitution of the English nation by those who superintended his education, they had taken care to train him up exclusively in those absurd, perverse, exaggerated and antiquated doctrines of divine hereditary right, and passive obedience, out of which had arisen the errors and misfortunes of the reign of his ancestor, James the Second of England. He had been also strictly brought up in the Roman Catholic faith, which had proved so fatal to his grandfather; and thus he was presented to the British nation without any alteration or modification of those false tenets in church and state so obnoxious to those whom he called his subjects, and which had cost his ancestor a throne. It was a natural consequence of the high ideas of regal prerogative in which he was trained, though it might also be in some respects owing to a temper naturally haughty and cold, that the young Prince was apt to consider the most important services rendered him, and the greatest dangers encountered in his cause, as sufficiently to reward the actors by the internal consciousness of having discharged their duties as loyal subjects, nor did he regard them as obligations laying him under a debt which required acknowledgment or recompense. This degree of indifference to the lives or safety of his followers (the effect of a very bad education) led to an indulgence in rash and sanguine hopes, which could only be indulged at an extravagant risk to all concerned. It was the duty of every subject to sacrifice every thing for his Prince, and if this duty was discharged, what results could be imagined too difficult for their efforts? Such were the principles instilled into the mind of the descendant of the ill-starred House of Stewart.
It is easy to be imagined, that these latter attributes were carefully veiled over in the accounts of the character of the young Chevalier, as spread abroad by his adherents within Scotland and England; and that he was held up to hope and admiration, as a shoot of the stem of Robert Bruce, and as one who, by every perfection of mind and body, was ordained to play anew the part of that great restorer of the Scottish monarchy. The state of the Jacobite party, both in the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland, has been already noticed. In England it was far inferior to its strength in 1715; the fatal affair of Preston was remembered with dread. But many great families attached to the High Church principles continued to look with a longing eye towards him whom they regarded as the heir of the crown, by indefeasible right; and some, at considerable risk to their persons and estates, maintained an intercourse with the agents of the old Chevalier de St George, who thus received intelligence of their hopes and plans. The principal of these were the Wynnes of Wynnstay, in Wales, with the great family of Windham. Other houses, either Catholics or High Churchmen; in the west, were united in the same interest. A great part of the Church of England clergy retained their ancient prejudices; and the Universities, Oxford in particular, still boasted a powerful party, at the head of which was Dr William King, Principal of St Mary’s Hall, who entered into the same sentiments. Such being the state of affairs when war was declared betwixt Britain and Spain, in 1740, seven daring Scottish Jacobites signed an association, engaging themselves to risk their lives and fortunes for the restoration of the Stewart family, provided that France would send a considerable body of troops to their assistance. The titular Duke of Perth, the Earl of Traquair, Lochiel, and Lovat, were of the number who signed this association. The agent employed to advocate the cause of the Jacobites at Paris, was Drummond, alias MacGregor, of Bohaldie, with whom was Joined a person whom they called Lord Semple; these agents were supposed to have ready access to the French ministers. Bohaldie was closely related to several chieftains of the Scottish clans, and in particular to Cameron of Lochiel, on whose judgment and prudence the others were in a great degree disposed to rely. But after a protracted negotiation, nothing could be resolved upon with any certainty; for the French ministers, on the one hand, were afraid that the Jacobites in their political zeal might dupe both themselves and France, by inducing them to hazard the forces of the latter kingdom upon a distant and dangerous expedition; while, on the other hand, the Jacobites, who were to risk their all in the enterprise, were alike apprehensive that France, if she could by their means excite a civil war in England, and oblige its Government to recall her troops from Germany, would not, after that point was gained, greatly concern herself about their success or failure.
At length, however, when France beheld the interest which Britain began to take in the German war, assisting the Empress Queen both with troops and money, her Administration seems suddenly to have taken into serious consideration the proposed descent upon Scotland. With a view to the arrangement of an enterprise, Cardinal de Tencin, who had succeeded Cardinal Fleury in the administration of France, invited Charles Edward, the eldest son of the old Chevalier de St George, to repair from Italy to Paris. The young prince, on receiving a message so flattering to his hopes, left Rome as if on a hunting expedition; but instantly took the road to Genoa, and, embarking on board a small vessel, ran through the English fleet at great risk of being captured, and arriving safe at Antilles, proceeded to Paris. He there took part in counsels of a nature highly dangerous to Great Britain. It had been settled by the French Court that a French army of fifteen thousand men should be landed in England under the celebrated Field-marshal Saxe, who was to act under the commission of the Chevalier de St George as commander-inchief. Having intimated this determination to the Earl-marischal and Lord Elcho, eldest son of the Earl of Wemyss, who were then in the French capital, Charles left Paris to superintend the destined embarkation, and took up his residence at Gravelines, in the beginning of February, 1744. Here he resided in the most strict privacy, under the name of the Chevalier Douglas. Bohaldie waited upon him as his secretary. The French fleet was got in readiness, and the troops designed for the invasion embarked; but the alertness of the British navy disconcerted this as it had done former expeditions. The French army no sooner appeared off Torbay, than they were confronted by a fleet of twenty-one sail of the line, under Admiral Sir John — Norris. The elements also took part in the strife, and, as usually happened on former occasions, decided against the House of Stewart. A heavy, tempest arose, obliging both the English and French to scud before the wind. The latter fleet were dispersed and suffered Damage. The plan of invasion was once more given up, and the French troops were withdrawn from the coast.
It is in vain to enquire upon what principles the French Ministry preferred this attempt upon England, at great expense, and with a large army, to an invasion of Scotland, where they were sure to be joined by a large body of Jacobites, and where one-third part of the troops would have made a serious, perhaps a fatal impression. History is full of attempts to assist malecontents in an enemy’s country, which have miscarried from being ill-concerted in point of place or time. That the present did not arise out of any very accurate combinations is certain, for so little had the French Ministers thought on the means of propitiating the English Jacobites, that they did not at first design that the Duke of Ormond should embark with the expedition, though the most popular of the Chevalier’s adherents in South Britain. The Duke was at length hastily summoned from Avignon to join the armament when it was on the eve of sailing, but receiving information while he was on the road that the design was given up, he returned to his residence. It is probable that the French were determined to make England the object of attack, merely because they could more easily either reinforce or bring off their expedition, than if it was sent against Scotland.
Lord Marischal had repaired to the Prince at Gravelines, but was not much consulted on the objects of the expedition. When he asked concerning the embarkation for Scotland, he was informed that it would take place after that to England was despatched. But after the miscarriage of the enterprise, and disembarkation of the troops, Charles Edward invited the Earl to visit him at Gravelines, when he seriously proposed to hire a boat, and go with him to Scotland, where, he said, he was sure he had many friends who would join him. This idea, from which he was diverted with difficulty, seems to have been the slight sketch which was afterwards the ground-work of the rash expedition of 1745–6. In the end of summer Prince Charles left Gravelines and went to Paris, where he resided for the winter, little noticed by French families of fashion, but much resorted to by the Irish and Scots who were in that capital.
In the month of August, 1744, John Murray of Broughton, who had been for three or four years an agent of the old Chevalier, and much trusted by him and his adherents, returned to Paris from Scotland, carrying with him the joint opinion of the Jacobites in that country upon the subject of an invasion. Mr Murray was a gentleman of honourable birth and competent fortune, being the son of Sir David Murray, by his second wife, a daughter of Sir John Scott of Ancrum. His early travels to Rome gave him an opportunity of offering his services to the old Chevalier, and he had ever since retained his confidence. The opinion which he now delivered to Charles, as the united sentiments of his friends in Scotland, was, that if he could persuade the French Government to allow him six thousand auxiliary troops, ten thousand stand of arms, and thirty thousand louis-d’or, he might assuredly reckon on the support of all his Scottish friends. But Murray had been charged at the same time to say, that if the Prince could not obtain succours to the amount specified, they could do nothing in his behalf. The answer which the Prince returned by Murray to his Scottish adherents was, that he was weary and disgusted with waiting upon the timid, uncertain, and faithless politics of the Court of France; and that, whether with or without their assistance or concurrence, he was determined to appear in Scotland in person, and try his fortune. Mr Murray has left a positive declaration, that he endeavoured as much as possible to divert the Prince from an attempt, which rather announced desperation than courage; but as there were other reasons for imputing blame to the agent, many of those who suffered by the expedition represent him as having secretly encouraged the Prince in his romantic undertaking, instead of dissuading him from so rash a course. Whether encouraged by Murray, or otherwise, Charles Edward continued fixed in his determination to try what effect could be produced by his arrival in Scotland, with such slender supplies of money and arms as his private fortune might afford. With a view to this experiment, the Prince sent Murray back to Scotland, with commissions to those whom he regarded as the most faithful friends of his family, given in his own name, as Prince of Wales and Regent for James VIII., for which last title he possessed an ample warrant from his father. The arrival of these documents in Scotland excited the utmost surprise and anxiety; and at a full meeting of the principal Jacobites held at Edinburgh, it was agreed to despatch Mr Murray to the Highlands, to meet, if possible, the young Adventurer on his first coming upon the coast, and communicating their general disapprobation of an attempt so desperate, to entreat him to reserve himself and the Scottish friends of his family for some period in which fortune might better favour their exertions. The titular Duke of Perth alone dissented from the opinion of the meeting, and declared, in a spirit of high-strained loyalty, that he would join the Prince if he arrived without a single man. The others were unanimous in a different judgment, and Murray, empowered by them, remained on the watch on the Highland coast during the whole month of June, when, the Chevalier not appearing, he returned to his own seat in the south of Scotland, supposing naturally that the young man had renounced an attempt which had in it so much of the headlong rashness of youth, and which he might be fairly believed to have laid aside on mature consideration.
But the Chevalier had resolved on his expedition. He was distrustful of the motives, doubtful of the real purposes of France, and was determined to try his fate upon his own resources, however inadequate to the purpose he meant to effect. It is said that Cardinal Tencin was the only member of the French Government to whom his resolution was made known, to which the minister yielded his acquiescence rather than his countenance; and at length, as England and France were now engaged in open war, he generously consented that Charles should pursue his desperate enterprise upon his own risk and his own means, without farther assistance than a very indirect degree of encouragement from France. The fatal defeat at Fontenoy happened about the same period, and as the British forces in Flanders were much weakened, the Adventurer was encouraged to hope that no troops could be spared from thence to oppose his enterprise.
In consequence of the understanding betwixt diaries and Tencin, a man-of-war of sixty guns, named the Elizabeth, was placed at the disposal of the adventurous Prince, to which diaries Edward added a frigate or sloop of war, called the Doutelle, which had been fitted out by two merchants of Dunkirk, named Rutledge and Walsh, to cruize against the British trade. In this latter vessel he embarked, with a very few attendants, and with the whole or greater part of the money and arms which he had provided.
The expedition was detained by contrary winds till the 8th of July, when the vessels set sail upon this romantic adventure. But the chances of the sea seem to have been invariably unpropitious to the line of Stewart. The next day after they left port, the Lion, an English ship of war, fell in with them, and engaged the Elizabeth. The battle was desperately maintained on both sides, and the vessels separated after much mutual injury. The Elizabeth, in particular, lost her first and second captains, and was compelled to bear away for Brest to refit.
The Doutelle, on board of which was Charles Edward and his suite, had kept at a distance during the action, and seeing its termination, stood away for the north-west of Scotland, so as to reach the Hebrides. Avoiding another large vessel, understood to have been an English man-of-war, which they met in their course, the sloop that carried the young Prince and his fortunes at length moored near the island of South Uist, one of the isles belonging to MacDonald of Clanranald and his kinsfolk. Clanranald was himself on the mainland; but his uncle, MacDonald of Boisdale, by whose superior talents and sagacity the young Chief was much guided, was at that time on South Uist, where his own property lay. On being summoned by the Prince, he came on board the Doutelle. Charles Edward immediately proposed to Boisdale to take arms, and to engage his powerful neighbours, Sir Alexander MacDonald, and the Chief of the MacLeods, in his cause. These two chiefs could each bring to the field from 1200 to 1500 men. Boisdale replied, with a bluntness to which the Adventurer had not been accustomed, that the enterprise was rash to the verge of insanity; that he could assure him that Sir Alexander MacDonald and the Laird of MacLeod were positively determined not to join him unless on his bringing the forces stipulated by the unanimous determination of the friends of his family; and that, by his advice, his nephew Clanranald would also adopt the resolution of remaining quiet. The young Chevalier argued the point for some time, still steering towards the mainland; until, finding Boisdale inexorable, he at length dismissed him, and suffered him to take his boat and return to South Uist. It is said, that this interview with Boisdale had such an influence on the mind of Charles, that he called a council of the principal followers who accompanied him in the Doutelle, when all voices, save one, were unanimous for returning, and Charles himself seemed for a moment disposed to relinquish the expedition. Sir Thomas Sheridan alone, an Irish gentleman, who had been his tutor, was inclined to prosecute the adventure farther, and encouraged his pupil to stand his ground, and consult some more of his Scottish partisans before renouncing a plan, on which he had ventured so far, that to relinquish it without farther trial would be an act of cowardice, implying a renunciation of the birth-right he came to seek. His opinion determined his pupil, who was on all occasions much guided by it, to make another appeal to the spirit of the Highland leaders.
Advancing still towards the mainland, Charles with his sloop of war entered the bay of Lochnannagh, between Moidart and Arisaig, and sent a messenger ashore to apprise Clanranald of his arrival. That chieftain immediately came on board, with his relation, MacDonald of Kinloch–Moidart, and one or two others. Charles applied to them the same arguments which he had in vain exhausted upon Boisdale, their relation, and received the same reply, that an attempt at the present time. and with such slender means, could end in nothing but ruin. A young Highlander, a brother of Kinloch–Moidart, began now to understand before whom he stood, and, grasping his sword, showed visible signs of impatience at the reluctance manifested by his chief and his brother to join their Prince. Charles marked his agitation, and availed himself of it.
He turned suddenly towards the young Highlander, and said, “ You at least will not forsake me?”
“ I will follow you to death,” said Ranald, “ were there no other to draw a sword in your cause.”
The Chief, and relative of the warm-hearted young man, caught his enthusiasm, and declared, That since the Prince was determined, they would no longer dispute his pleasure. He landed accordingly, and was conducted to the house of Borodale, as a temporary place of residence. Seven persons came ashore as his suite. These were the Marquis of Tullibardine, outlawed for his share in the insurrection of 1715, elder brother of James, the actual Duke of Athole; Sir Thomas Sheridan, the Prince’s tutor; Sir John MacDonald, an officer in the Spanish service; Francis Strictland, an English gentleman; Kelly, who had been implicated in what was called the Bishop of Rochester’s Plot; Aeneas MacDonald, a banker in Paris, a brother of Kinloch–Moidart; and Buchanan, who had been intrusted with the service of summoning the Chevalier from Rome to Paris. One of his attendants, or who immediately afterwards joined him, has been since made generally known by the military renown of his son, Marshal MacDonald, distinguished by his integrity, courage, and capacity, during so many arduous scenes of the great revolutionary war.
This memorable landing in Moidart took place on the 25th July, 1745. The place where Charles was lodged was remarkably well situated for concealment, and for communication with friendly clans, both in the islands and on the mainland, without whose countenance and concurrence it was impossible that his enterprise could succeed. Cameron of Lochiel had an early summons from the Prince, and waited on him as soon as he received it. He came fully convinced of the utter madness of the undertaking, and determined, as he thought, to counsel the Adventurer to return to France, and wait a more favourable opportunity. “ If such is your purpose, Donald,” said Cameron of Fassiefern to his brother of Lochiel, “ write to the Prince your opinion; but do not trust yourself within the fascination of his presence. I know you better than you know yourself, and you will be unable to refuse compliance.” Fassiefern prophesied truly. While the Prince confined himself to argument, Lochiel remained firm, and answered all his reasoning. At length Charles, finding it impossible to subdue the chief’s judgment, made a powerful appeal to Ills feelings. “ I have come hither,” he said, “ with my mind unalterably made up, to reclaim my rights or to perish. Be the issue what will, I am determined to display my standard, and take the field with such as may join it. Lochiel, whom my father esteemed the best friend of our family, may remain at home, and learn his Prince’s fate from the newspapers.”
“ Not so,” replied the chief, much affected, “ if you are resolved on this rash undertaking, I will go with you, and so shall every one over whom I have influence.”
Thus was Lochiel’s sagacity overpowered by his sense of what he esteemed honour and loyalty, which induced him to front the prospect of ruin with a disinterested devotion, not unworthy the best days of chivalry. His decision was the signal for the commencement of the Rebellion; for it was generally understood at the time, that there was not a chief in the Highlands who would have risen, if Lochiel had maintained his pacific purpose. He had no sooner embraced the Chevalier’s proposal, than messengers were despatched in every direction to summon such clans as were judged friendly, announcing that the royal standard was to be erected at Glenfinnan on the 19th of August, and requiring them to attend on it with their followers in arms.
Sir Alexander MacDonald of Sleat, and MacLeod of MacLeod, were,; is already mentioned, men of the greatest note in the Hebrides, and their joint forces were computed at more than three thousand men. They had declared themselves friendly to the Prince’s cause, and Clanranald was despatched to them to hasten their junction. The envoy found them both at Sir Alexander MacDonald’s, and said all he could to decide them to raise their following; but that chieftain alleged that he had never come under any explicit engagement to join Charles, nor could he be persuaded to do so in such a desperate undertaking. MacLeod’s engagements are said to have been more peremptory; but he appears to have been as reluctant as Sir Alexander MacDonald to comply with Charles Edward’s summons, alleging that his agreement depended on the Prince bringing certain auxiliaries and supplies, which were not forthcoming. He, moreover, pleaded to Clanranald, that a number of his men resided in the distant islands, as an additional excuse for not joining the standard immediately. Clanranald’s mission was therefore unsuccessful, and the defection of these two powerful chiefs was indifferently supplied by the zeal displayed by others of less power. Charles, however, displayed great skill in managing the tempers, and gaining the affections, of such Highlanders as were introduced to him during his abode at Borodale. The memoirs of an officer, named MacDonald, engaged in his army, give so interesting an account of his person and behaviour, that I shall throw it to the end of this chapter in the form of a note. The Prince’s Lowland friends were also acquainted with his arrival, and prepared for his designs.
Government was, at the same time, rendered vigilant, by the visible stir which seemed to take place among the Jacobites, and proceeded to the arrest of suspicious persons. Among these, one of the principal was the titular Duke of Perth, upon whose ancestor the Court of St Germains had conferred that rank. He was son of Lord John Drummond, who flourished in the 1715, and grandson of the unfortunate Earl of Perth, Lord Chancellor to James VII. before the Revolution. The present descendant of that honourable house was a man respected for his high rank, popular manners, dauntless bravery, and sweetness of disposition, but not possessed of any extraordinary degree of talent. This nobleman was residing at Castle Drummond, when Captain Campbell of Inveraw, who commanded an independent Highland company lying at Muthil, in the neighbourhood, received orders to lay him under arrest. Campbell, by the mediation of a friend, procured himself an invitation to dine at Drummond-castle, and caused his men to approach the place as near as they could without causing suspicion. When dinner was over, and the ladies had retired, Inveraw put the arrest into execution, and told the Duke he was his prisoner, stating”, at the same time, his orders in apology. The Duke seemed to treat the thing with indifference, and said, since it was so there was no help for it. But, in leaving the apartment, he made the captain pass before him as if by a natural motion of politeness, and turning short on his heel, instead of following him, left the room, and by a private door fled from the house into the wood. There was an instant pursuit, and the Duke would probably have been retaken, had he not found a pony, and leapt upon its back, with only a halter on its head, and without a saddle. By the advantage thus afforded him, he was enabled to escape to the neighbouring Highlands, where he lay safe from pursuit, and soon after obtained knowledge of the young Chevalier’s having landed, and made preparation to join him.
John Murray of Broughton, in the mean while, Had discharged the perilous task of having the manifestoes printed, which were to be dispersed when the invasion should become public, as well as that of warning several persons who had agreed to give supplies of money and arms. He now left his house, where he had lived for the last three weeks in constant danger, and fear of arrest, and set out to join the Prince. His active genius meditated some other exploits. By the assistance of a Jacobite friend, of a fearless and enterprising disposition, he laid a scheme for surprising the Duke of Argyle (brother and successor to the famous Duke John), and making him prisoner at his own castle of Inverary. Another project was to cause Government to receive information, which, though false in the main, was yet coloured with so many circumstances of truth as to make it seem plausible, and which came to them through a channel which they did not mistrust. The reports thus conveyed to them bore, that the Jacobite chiefs were to hold a great consultation in the wilds of Rannoch, and that Murray had left his house in the south to be present at the meeting. It was proposed to those managing on the part of Government to seize the opportunity of despatching parties from Fort William and Fort Augustus to secure the conspirators at their rendezvous. The object of the scheme was, that the Highlanders might have an opportunity of surprising the forts, when the garrison should be diminished by the proposed detachments. Mr Murray having thus planned two exploits, which, had they succeeded, must have been most advantageous to the Prince’s cause, proceeded to join Charles Edward, whom he found at the house of MacDonald of Kinloch–Moidart, who had advanced to that place from Borodale. Many Highland gentlemen had joined him, and his enterprise seemed to be generally favoured by the chiefs on the mainland. Clanranald had also joined with three hundred and upwards of his clan. Regular guards were mounted on the person of the Prince; his arms and treasure were disembarked from the Doutelle, and distributed amongst those who seemed most able to serve him. Yet he remained straitened for want of provisions, which might have disconcerted his expedition, had not the Doutelle fallen in with and captured two vessels laden with oatmeal, a supply which enabled him to keep his followers together, and to look with confidence to the moment which had been fixed for displaying his standard.
Mr Murray, to whose management so much of the private politics of Prince Charles had been confided, was recognised as his Secretary of State, and trusted with all the internal management of the momentous undertaking.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:54