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Prince Charles Stuart
Charles Edward Stuart, called the "Young Pretender" by his enemies, the "Young Chevalier" by neutrals, "Prince of Wales" and "Prince Regent" by his partisans, "Prince Edouard" by the French, "Ned" by his intimates, as we read in letters of Oliphant of Gask, and "Prince Charlie" by later generations, was born at Rome, December 31, 1720. His father was James VIII., of Scotland, and III. of England, according to the Legitimist theory; his foes called him "The Pretender," partly on the strength of the old fable about the warming-pan, so useful to the Whigs. No sane person now doubts the genuineness of James' descent from James II., but the nickname of Pretender still sticks, though Boswell tells us that George III. particularly disliked an appellation which "may be parliamentary, but is not gentlemanly." James III., or the Chevalier de St. George, was taken up by Louis XIV. on the death of James II., in France. He is said to have displayed courage in several battles in Flanders, but his attempt to assert his rights in 1715 was a melancholy failure. James showed melancholy and want of confidence; he soon left Scotland for the Continent, and the best that can be said for his conduct is that he endeavored to compensate the peasants whose houses were destroyed in the military operations of "the Fifteen." Unable to reside in France, he retired to Rome, a pensioner of the Pope, and entertained with royal honors. In 1719 he married Clementina Sobieski, a granddaughter of the famous John Sobieski, who delivered Europe from the Turks. Their eldest son, Prince Charles, appears to have inherited the spirit and daring of his Polish ancestors, which animated him throughout his youth, and were extinguished less by Culloden than by the treatment which he received from the French court, by his imprisonment in Vincennes in 1748, and by the unrelenting animosity of the English Government, which made him a homeless exile living mysteriously in hiding on the Continent. Heart-broken by these misfortunes and by other disappointments, Charles developed an unreasoning and sullen obstinacy, which alienated his adherents, while the habit of heavy drinking, learned in his Highland distresses, ruined his head and heart, and converted the most gallant, gay, and promising of princes into a brutal dipsomaniac.
The First Meeting of Prince Charles with Flora Macdonald.
More was expected, and till assured of more, France held aloof, while making promises enough. Even the Highland chiefs said that without a French army nothing could be done. In 1744 Charles left Rome, under pretext of a hunting party, concealed his withdrawal with great skill, and reached Paris. He was obliged, however, to be incognito and was not received by the king. An invading force was crowded on board ship. The chance seemed excellent, England's forces being mainly abroad; but the old friends of England, the winds, drove the battered fleet back into harbor, and Charles in vain tried to persuade the Earl Marischal to accompany him to Scotland in a small fishing vessel.
One result followed the reception of Charles by France, niggardly as that reception was--war with England broke out, and the French army of invasion was moved from Dunkirk to Flanders. The prince, not permitted to serve in the French army, returned to Paris, where he had been falsely assured by Semple and AEneas Macdonald that England was ready to rise for him. Murray, who visited him in Paris, tried to dissuade him from a wild venture; in Scotland he found the chiefs of his own opinion, but the letter carrying the news never reached the prince. His Irish friends urged him on; "the expedition was entirely an Irish project." He borrowed money from his bankers, the Waters, he pawned his share of the Sobieski jewels, and, with a privateer man-of-war and a brig, La Doutelle, he left Belleisle on July 13, 1745. Neither the French court nor his father knew that, attended only by seven men, "The Seven Men of Moidart," he had set out to seek for a crown. The day before he embarked he wrote to James; he said that no man would buy a horse, nor trust a prince, that showed no spirit. "I never intend to come back," he added. So, dressed as a student of the Scots College, he started. He lost his convoy, the Elizabeth, on the way, after a drawn battle with the Lion (Captain Brett). Resisting all advice to turn back, as AEneas Macdonald, who accompanied him, narrates, he held on in La Doutelle, and reached Erisca, an islet between Barra and South Uist, on August 2, 1745. An eagle hovered over his ship, and Tullibardine hailed the royal bird as a happy omen. But he found himself unwelcome. Boisdale bade him go home; "I am at home," said the prince. He steered for Moidart, the most beautiful but the wildest shore of Scotland, a region of steep and serrated mountains, of long salt-water straits, winding beneath the bases of the hills, and of great fresh-water lochs. Loch Nahuagh was his port; here he received Clan Ranald, whose desolate keep, Castle Tirrim, stands yet in ruins, since "the Fifteen." Glenaladale (whose descendants yet hold their barren acres), Dalilea, and Kinlochmoidart (now, like Clan Ranald, landless men) met him with discouraging words. But, seeing a flash in the eyes of a young Macdonald, of Kinlochmoidart, Charles said, "You will not forsake me?" "I will follow you to death, were no other sword drawn in your cause."
The chiefs caught fire, Charles landed, with the seven men of Moidart--AEneas Macdonald, the Judas of the cause; the Duke of Athol (Tullibardine), who had been out in the fifteen; Sheridan, the prince's tutor; Sir John Macdonald; Kelley, a parson who had been in Atterbury's affair; Strickland, an Englishman; and Buchanan. Young Lochiel was disinclined to join, but yielded to the fascination of the prince. With his accession the rising was a certainty. But Duncan Forbes of Culloden, the lord president, had influence enough to hold back the Macleods of Skye, to paralyze the shifty Lovat, and to secure the Sutherland house for the Hanoverian cause. Charles left Boisdale for Kinlochmoidart, "the head of Loch Moidart," where an avenue of trees, the prince's walk, is still shown, though the old house was burned after Culloden. Keppoch cut off a small party of Scots Royal; this was first blood for the Jacobite cause. The wounded were hospitably treated by Lochiel; the English captain was released on parole. Charles now crossed the steep hills between Kinlochmoidart and the long narrow lake of Loch Sheil, there he took boat, and rowed past the lands of Glenaladale and Dalilea to Glenfinnan, where Tullibardine raised the standard, inscribed Tandem Triumphans. A statue of the prince, gazing southward, now marks the spot. The clans came in, and as Charles marched southeast, each glen sent down its warriors to join the stream. The clansmen, as a rule, had probably little knowledge of or interest in the cause. They followed their chiefs. The surviving Gaelic poetry speaks much of the chieftains; of Tearlach, righ nan Gael, but little is said. It was the middle of August before the rulers of England received the news of the landing. They at once set a reward of #30,000 on Charles's head, a proceeding "unusual among Christian princes," said Charles, who was compelled by his forces, and their threats of desertion, to follow the evil example. Sir John Cope was sent with an English army to stop the prince. It appeared likely that the armies would meet about Dalwhinnie, now the highest and bleakest part of the Highland Railway. The path then led over Corryarrack; Charles and his men raced for the summit, but Cope was not to be seen. He had marched east and north, to Inverness, and all the south of Scotland lay open to the prince. He passed by Killiecrankie and Blair Athol to Perth; Cluny came in, with the Duke of Perth, and Lord George Murray, Charles's most skilled general, who had been out at Glensheil, in 1719, and had learned the lesson of war in the Sardinian army. How easily he won Edinburgh, how he held court at Holyrood, how he routed Cope (who returned by sea) at Preston Pans or Gladsmuir, is familiar to all. His clemency was conspicuous; he wrote to James that he would give up Holyrood to the wounded, rather than see them homeless. Home, a Whig volunteer, and the author of a Whiggish history, acknowledges the nobility of his conduct, and his "foolish lenity" (he would not permit the execution of several persons who tried to assassinate him) is blamed by the fanatics who, in 1749, issued a wild Cameronian manifesto, "The Active Testimonies of Presbyterians." The contrast with the savage brutalities of Cumberland is very notable. In the battle the chiefs refused to let Charles lead the charge, but he was at the head of the second line, "a pistol shot behind" the first. Preston Pans was fought on September 21, 1745. That Charles dallied before Edinburgh Castle till October 21st was no fault of his. Some of his men had gone home with booty, others were to be waited for, many of the chiefs were in favor of holding Scotland under James as a separate kingdom, and it was only by constant personal appeals that the prince persuaded them to push south. Lord George's strategy deceived the English, who knew not where to look for the Highlanders. They met at Carlisle, took it, passed through Preston and Manchester, gave Cumberland the slip, and their advanced posts, six miles south of Derby, were within a hundred and twenty miles of London. The army of Finchley was unlikely to make a stand, the city was partly Jacobite, the mob were ready for anything, when Lord George and the chiefs insisted on retreat. Historians doubt which policy was the wiser; it is certain that success, if to be attained at all, could only be won by audacity. The chiefs, however, declared for a return and a junction with French forces then expected. Charles wept and prayed to no avail. His army, as disappointed as himself, found their faces set to the north, and the prince, who had ever walked among the first ranks, leaving his carriage to old Lord Pitsligo, now rode dejected and heart-broken. The retreat was rapid and able. At Clifton, Murray turned on the pursuing dragoons, headed a claymore charge, and drove them back. A hapless garrison of Lancashire volunteers was left to the tender mercies of Cumberland in Carlisle, and Charles went by way of Whiggish Dumfries (the house where he lodged is now an inn) to Glasgow. To all intents and purposes the end had come. Charles had lost faith in the advisers who dragged him back from the south, he listened to Murray of Broughton and to his Irishry; he suspected, unjustly but not unnaturally, the good faith of Lord George. He dallied at Stirling, besieging the castle without proper artillery, and Hawley was sent to attack him. On January 17, 1746, the armies met at Falkirk. A storm of wind and rain blew at the backs of the Highlanders, they charged, scattered the enemy, drove them in flight, and cut up the Glasgow volunteers. But, in the dark and the mist they scarcely knew their own advantage. The pipers had thrown their pipes to their boys, had gone in with the claymore, and could not sound the calls. Hawley wrote to Cumberland "My heart is broke ... I got off but three cannon of the ten." Hawley retreated to Edinburgh, the Duke of Cumberland came to take the command; the Highlanders began to desert with their booty, dissensions prevailed, and Charles went on besieging Stirling. Again Lord George Murray urged a retreat, Charles dashed his head in impotent rage against the wall of his room, but he had to follow. With perfect truth he said:
"I cannot see anything but ruin and destruction to us all in case we should think of a retreat;" his forces in flight would lose heart, his enemies would gain confidence. All this was true, but all this was unavailing. Months were spent in unimportant movements. Cumberland, meanwhile, instructed his men in the method of meeting a Highland charge, and deceiving the parry of the Highland shields. It was known that France would lend no substantial aid, and a French subsidy of 30,000 Louis d'or came too late, after the battle of Culloden, and was buried at the head of Loch Arkaig. One last chance Charles had: Lord George proposed, and Charles eagerly seconded, a night surprise at Nairn. But the delays on the march, and the arrival of dawn, made Murray command a retreat, and Charles's faith in him was irretrievably gone for the time, though he later expressed in writing a more worthy opinion. With 10,000 well-fed men against 5,000 who were starving, Cumberland had every chance of victory at Culloden. The Macdonalds, placed on the left wing, would not charge. Keppoch's men were discontented because they were not allowed to have a Catholic chaplain. Crying out, "The children of my clan have forsaken me," Keppoch charged alone, and died the death of renown. Beaten and blinded by a storm of snow in their faces, the Highland right clove the ranks of Monro and Burrell, only to fall, in layers three or four deep, before the fire of Sempill's regiment in the second line. The whole English force advanced; Charles rode to his second line, and offered to charge with them. His officers told him that it was in vain; Highlanders once beaten would not rally. (MS. "Lyon in Mourning," and MS. of Stuart Threipland at Abbotsford.) Charles was hurried off the field by his Irish tutor, and fled to Lord Lovat's, at Gortuleg. A story of his lack of courage, told by Sir Walter Scott on the authority of Sir James Stewart Denham's recollections of Lord Elcho's MS., is erroneous. Lord Elcho's MS. does not contain the statement. What he objects to is Charles's refusal to meet the fragments of his army at Ruthven, in Badenoch, whence they hoped to wage a guerilla warfare. Lord George Murray himself admits that the project was impossible. Charles, however, should have gone to Ruthven, but he distrusted Lord George; and his hope of a speedy voyage to France, where he expected to receive aid in men and money, was frustrated.
It is needless to repeat the tale of Cumberland's almost incredible butcheries, cruelties, and robberies, or to tell of the executions accompanied by the torture of disembowelling the living man. The story of Charles's wanderings and distresses is narrated best in the MS. "Lyon in Mourning," partly printed by Robert Chambers, in "Jacobite Memoirs." No words can overpraise the loyalty of the starving Highlanders; neither English tortures, nor the promise of #30,000, ever moved one man or woman from their constant faith. Only one hungry boy whom Charles had fed, attempted to betray him, but was not believed. As for the prince, he is briefly described by a companion as "the most prudent man not to be a coward, the most daring not to be foolhardy, whom he had ever known." He showed a constant gayety, singing and telling tales to hearten his followers. His resource was endless; he was by far the best cook and the least fastidious eater of his company. He could cook a dish of cow's brains, or swallow raw oatmeal and salt-water. Surrounded by English cordons, through which he slipped at night up the bed of a burn, when the sentinels had reached their furthest point apart, Charles led a little expedition which cut off the cattle intended for the provender of his enemies. (MS. "Lyon in Mourning.") He would not even let a companion carry his great-coat. He knew every extremity of hunger, thirst, and cold; and perhaps his most miserable experience was to lurk for many hours, devoured by midges, under a wet rock. Unshorn, unwashed, in a filthy shirt, his last, he was yet the courteous prince in his dealings with all women whom he met, notably with Flora Macdonald, the stainless and courageous heroine of loyalty and womanly kindness. At last, late in September, 1746, Charles, with Lochiel and many others, escaped in a French barque from Loch Nahuagh, where he had first landed. It has been said of him by his enemies, especially by Dr. King, a renegade, that he was avaricious and ungrateful. Letters and receipts in the muniment room of a Highland chief show him directing large sums, probably out of the Loch Arkaig treasure, to be paid to Lochiel, to "Keppoch's lady," and to many poor clansmen. The receipts, written in hiding, and dried with snuff or sand, attest that the money came to the persons for whom it was intended.
Charles' expedition could only be justified by success. That it failed was due to no want of courage, or audacity, or resolve on his part, but to the very nature of a Highland army, to the jealousies of Irish and Scotch, to the half-heartedness of his English partisans, and to the English horror of his father's religion. By his own creed he held very loosely.
In France Charles was a popular hero, and adored by ladies. His appearance at court was magnificent, and for him the Princesse de Tallemant made every sacrifice. But the Government was deaf to his appeals, a journey to Spain was fruitless; worst of all, his brother Henry, to whom he had been tenderly devoted, accepted a cardinal's hat, on July 3, 1747. This was fatal. The English would never forgive a son of their so-called king who became a Romish priest; and the shadow of the hat fell on Charles. From letters of James to the prince, it is plain that, for some reason, the Duke of York could not look forward to marriage and to continuing the Stuart family. The young man, therefore, having also a vocation withal, accepted ecclesiastical rank, and a cluster of rich benefices. A breach between Charles and James followed, which was never healed, despite the touching letters of the king to his "dearest Carluccio." Charles betook himself to adventurous and secret projects. In the Highlands he had learned to seek the consolation of the poor, and to forget hunger, cold, misery, and sorrow in drink. He drank "our best bowlsman," says an islander, under the table. The habit soon dominated him, and--with his disgraceful arrest and imprisonment, when he refused to acknowledge the peace of Aix la Chapelle and to withdraw from France--soured his character and ruined his life. Released from Vincennes, he hurried to the then Papal city of Avignon, where he introduced boxing-matches. England threatened to bombard Civita Vecchia, and Charles had to depart. Whither he went no man knows. There is a Jacobite tract of 1750, purporting to be written by his equerry, Henry Goring. According to this, Charles, Goring, and a mysterious Comte de la Luze (Marshal Keith?), went to Lyons, Dijon, Strasbourg. Here Charles rescued a beautiful girl from a fire, and honorably declined to take advantage of her manifest passion for her preserver. The party was attacked by assassins, Charles shot two of them, La Luze and Goring accounted for others. They took ship from some northern coast, were tempest-driven to an unfriendly port, visited, apparently, Frederick the Great, spent some time in Lithuania, and there are hints of a love affair, though Charles had already proclaimed that he would never marry to beget royal beggars. He certainly visited Sweden; there was talk of him as a candidate for the Polish crown. For many years (1749-1755) neither James nor the English Government knew where Charles really was. Grimm says that for three years he lay hidden in the house of a lady in Paris, a friend of the Princesse de Tallemant. A sportsman and a lover of the open air is not likely to have loitered so long with Armida in a secret chamber. There is tattle about him in D'Argenson's "Memoirs;" a disguised shabby prince appears now and then, none knows whence, and vanishes. In the papers of Charles Stuart, Comte d'Albanie, one finds a trace of a visit paid by the prince to Ireland. There is evidence, in the State Papers, that he was not far from Paris, in June, 1749. We have it under his own hand, in the Stuart Papers at Windsor, that he visited London on September 5, 1750, returning to Paris on September 13th. Here, as we know from the document left by Archibald Cameron, Lochiel's brother, the last man executed for the rising, or rather for a later plot, Charles renounced the Catholic faith. Charles himself gives 1750 as the date of this conversion. It came five years too late, and he recanted his recantation. He was in England again later (1752), and held his last council in Merriworth Castle in Kent. There is a legend of his ghost haunting a house in Godalming, which probably comes from a tradition of his residence there. Since 1750 or thereabouts, a Miss Clementina Walkinshaw, of Barrowfield, had been his mistress. He is said to have met her near Glasgow, and flirted with her; when or where she fled to him on the continent is obscure. Mr. Ewald supposes her to have been with him in Paris before the affair of Vincennes (1748). The writer, however, has seen a letter from Paris to a sister of Miss Walkinshaw describing the arrest at the Opera House, without the most distant allusion to Clementina, about whom her sister would be concerned. Clementina, judging by a miniature, was a lady with very large black eyes; a portrait in oil gives a less favorable view of her charms. In 1754 Charles was again in England, and in Nottingham. He actually walked in Hyde Park, where someone, recognizing him, tried to kneel to him. He therefore returned at once to France. He is reported to have come back in 1755 or 1756, braving the reward of #30,000 for his head. The Jacobites now requested him to dismiss Clementina Walkinshaw, whose eldest sister was a lady housekeeper in the Hanoverian family. A scrap in Charles's hand at Windsor proves that he regarded some lady as a possible traitor, but he declined to be dictated to, in his household matters, by his adherents. This gave the English Jacobites an excuse for turning their coats, of which they availed themselves. Sir Walter Scott makes the romance of "Redgauntlet" hang on the incident. About this time jottings of Charles prove that he fancied himself a Republican. He hated Louis XV., and declined on one occasion to act as a bug-bear (epouvantail), at the request of France. He had already struck a medal in honor of the British Navy and contempt of the French. He is now lost sight of till 1760, when Miss Walkinshaw, with his daughter, left his protection for that of a convent. This lady, in some letters, now unluckily lost, endeavored to persuade her family that she was married to the prince. A later myth averred that her daughter (the Duchess of Albany) had been secretly married, and a General Stuart, claiming, on this evidence, to be a legitimate descendant of the prince, died about 1852. As Charles, late in life, legitimatized his daughter by Clementina Walkinshaw (a thing needless had he been married to her mother), and made affirmation that he never had any other child, all these legends are manifestly absurd. (The affirmation is among documents in possession of Lord Braye, and is published by the Historical MSS. Commission.)
From this point there is little historical or personal interest in the life of Charles. His father, James III., died in 1766, and was buried as a king. Charles hurried from Bouillon to Rome; his brother, the cardinal, tried to secure his recognition by the Papal Court, but the Pope dared not, and no other government chose to defy the English Ministry. Charles's life was spent, now in seclusion, now in society; he still was fond of shooting, of music, and the drama; he still retained his grace of demeanor when he happened to be sober. Late in 1771 he went in disguise to Paris, where he accepted a pension from France, and a beautiful bride, Louise, Princess of Stolberg, descended from the Earl of Ailesbury into whose arms Charles II. fell under the stroke of his fatal illness. The ill-matched pair were married on Good Friday, April 17, 1772. At first Charles behaved with more sobriety and good humor than usual. A child of the marriage was expected, at least by the Scotch Jacobites, in 1773. There is a legend that a child was actually born, was intrusted to Captain John Carter Allen, was brought up by him as his own, and this infant, grown to manhood, became the father of two gentlemen calling themselves John Sobieski Stolberg Stuart and Charles Edward Stuart, Counts of Albany. They lived till late in the present century, were picturesque figures in society, and writers of some spirit and vigor. For long they were much cherished by some noble Highland families. Charles, the younger, has left descendants. It is needless to discuss here the authenticity of these claims.
Charles's relations with his wife were on the pattern of his relations with his mistress. He was jealous, and brutal beyond description; she was courted by Alfieri, the poet, and, after fleeing from her husband to a convent, she united her fortunes with Alfieri's. On his death she chose a young French painter, Fabre, as his successor, and to him she left her rich collection of relics, spoils of the poet and the king. A beautiful, witty, and engaging woman, she was long a centre of society in Italy. She died in 1824. In 1784 Charles sent for his daughter by Miss Walkinshaw. Both had long been maintained by the cardinal. He made her Duchess of Albany, medals were designed, if never struck, representing her as spes ultima et exigua, "the last frail hope," of the Stuarts. For the last time, in conversation with a Mr. Greathead, the old spirit blazed out. His face brightened, he began the tale of his campaign, but, when attempting to narrate the butcheries of Cumberland, the cruel executions in London, he fell on the floor in convulsions. He used to solace himself by playing on the pipes, and at the sound of the martial music which he had heard on three stricken fields, he was able to live in the past. On January 31, 1788, the anniversary of the death of Charles I., Charles Edward passed away from earth. His daughter did not long survive him; she was killed by a fall from her horse. Henry now took the title of Henry IX. "by grace of God, not by the will of men." He died in 1806; the French had stripped him of all his property, even the famous Sobieski rubies were gone, and he was in receipt of a pension from the English Government. In 1819 George IV. erected a monument by Canova, in St Peters at Rome, to "James III., son of James II., King of Great Britain, to Charles Edward, and Henry, his sons, the last of the Royal Stuart line. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord." Sir Walter Scott visited this alone of Roman sights, in 1832, just before he came home to die.
Had Charles fallen at Culloden, history could find no blot on his name, no stain on the white rose. Surviving, as he did, a broken-hearted exile, with no home, no chance of a career, "eating his own heart, shunning the paths of men," as Homer says of Bellerophon, he fell a victim to the habit which has ever the same wretched results, which turns a hero to a coward, a gentleman to a brute. Yet, in his one year of brilliance, he won immortal love. Scott had seen strong men, the prince's ancient comrades, weep at the mention of his name. No man, in any age, ever inspired such a large, such a gallant, such a tender and melancholy body of song. Even now as one hears the notes of
"Will ye no come back again,
Better lo'ed ye canna be,"
sung by the lads of a Scotch village, one feels that Charles Stuart did not wholly fail; the song outlives the dynasty, and relics of Prince Charlie are fondly cherished, while no man cares a halfpenny for his Hanoverian rivals.
The best life of Prince Charles is that by Mr. Ewald (London, 1875). Mr. Ewald alone has used the State Papers at the Record Office. Lord Stanhope's and Mr. Chambers's "Histories of the Forty-five" are also excellent; as are "Jacobite Memoirs," selected from Bishop Forbes's MS. "Lyon in Mourning." These works, with the contemporary tracts, and some MSS., with Lord Stanhope's "Decline of the Last Stuarts," and the Stuart Papers at Windsor, as given in Browne's "History of the Highland Clans," have been consulted in compiling this study of Prince Charles.
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