Reign of George II. (Continued.) page 4
To add to the alarm, it was resolved to call out the city guard for their march to Corstorphine whilst they were at church on Sunday, and by the ominous sound of the fire- bell. The sound of the bell, only tolled in moments of terror, instead of awaking a martial spirit, sunk the hearts of all who heard it. Still, the guardsmen hurried to the muster, the volunteers also assembled, and as Hamilton's regiment of troopers just then appeared, marching through the city to their post at Corstorphine, the volunteers waved their caps and loudly cheered them, which compliment the dragoons returned by hurrahs equally loud, and by clashing their swords. At this sight, the wives, mothers, and sweethearts of the city guard and volunteers surrounded them with tears and embraces, imploring them not to hazard their precious lives outside the walls. Captain Drummond and two hundred and fifty volunteers declared that they would march out and fight. The entreaties of the women were strongly seconded by Dr. Wishart, the principal of the university, and several clergymen, who declared that the volunteers ought to remain within the walls and defend the city. This, for such rude soldiers, was certainly the best advice. If they had mounted their walls and manned the windows of lofty houses, they might have given the assailants a warm reception; but the determination to march out being persisted in, captain Drummond gave the word and led the way, only to find, on getting outside the gate that he remained the commander of about forty men! The rest had too faithfully obeyed the entreaties of their female relatives, and oozed away through side streets and narrow wynds as they approached the city gate. Captain Drummond returned into the city with his valiant party, and the lord provost, saying he was glad to see them back again, ordered ninety of the town guard, with some of the Edinburgh regiment, to join the dragoons instead of the volunteers.
Home, who was one of the volunteers, says that the corps to which he belonged giving up their muskets, bayonets, and cartridge boxes, to be kept safe at the castle, he and twenty others, in disgust, marched away, with their arms in their hands, to join Cope on his landing. As for the town soldiery sent on to Corstorphine, colonel Gardiner no sooner saw them than he ordered them back again, as worse than useless; but the troopers did not cut a much better figure themselves. Gardiner, on Sunday evening, left a detachment of dragoons at Corstorphine, and retreated with the rest to a field betwixt Edinburgh and Leith. That night brigadier Fowkes arrived from London to take the chief command of the cavalry.
On Sunday night the Highlanders lay between Linlithgow and the city, and on Monday morning Charles sent forward a detachment, which, on coming in sight of the picquets, discharged their pistols. The dragoon picquets did not wait to return the fire, but rode off towards Colt-bridge, nearer to Edinburgh, where Fowkes and Gardiner lay with the main body of horse. No sooner, however, did those commanders perceive the advancing Highlanders, than they also gave the order to retreat, and the order was so well obeyed, that from a foot's-pace the march soon quickened into a trot, then began a gallop, and the inhabitants of Edinburgh saw the whole force going helter-skelter, without order or sense of shame, through the lanes of Barefoot's Park, and over the ground where the New Town now stands, towards Leith, where they drew bit; but one of the men going in quest of forage after dark, fell into a pit full of water, and calling to his comrades for help, the alarm, was given that it was the Highlanders coming, and the valiant troops mounted again and galloped to Preston, six miles farther, some of them, it was said, not stopping till they reached Dunbar. This "Canter of Colt-bridge," as it became called in derision, left the city wholly at the mercy of the Highlanders, except for about six or seven hundred men mustered from the city guard, the volunteer corps, and some armed gentlemen from Dalkeith and Musselburgh, who took post at the different gates.
The sight of the flying cavalry was rendered more alarming by a report brought in by a Mr. Alves, who stated that having accidentally been taken by the Highlanders, and conducted to the duke of Perth, that nobleman had desired him to go and inform the citizens of Edinburgh that they had only to open their gates, and their persons and property should be protected; resist, and they must expect military execution; and that a young man, whom the duke addressed as his royal highness, had confirmed this. This message Alves publicly delivered, for which he was suspected of treason and committed to prison j but his report had cast a terrible damp on the city, and it was thought by the people best to surrender. The magistrates, however, summoned by the lord provost to a meeting in the Goldsmiths' Hall, resolved to send a deputation to the prince, desiring that he would cease hostilities till they had had time to decide what they should do.
Scarcely had the deputies set out, when news came that the transports, with Cope's army on board, were seen off Dunbar, the wind being unfavourable for making Leith, and that his troops would soon be landed, and in full march for the city It was now determined to recall the deputation, but that was found to be too late, and general Guest was applied to return the muskets, bayonets, and cartridge boxes which had been given up to him. Guest very properly regarded men who had thrown up their arms in a panic as unfit to be trusted with them again, and advised that the dragoons should be ordered to unite with Cope's infantry, and advance on the city with all possible speed.
About ten o'clock at night the deputation returned, having met the prince at Gray's Mill, only two miles from the city, who gave them a letter to the authorities, declaring that they had a sufficient security in his father's declarations and his own manifesto; and he only gave them till two o'clock in the morning to consider his terms. The situation was embarrassing. Cope was still thirty miles off, and the Highlanders, whom a gentleman galloping through the city declared to be sixteen thousand strong, were just upon them. Nothing occurred to them but to send a fresh deputation, in order to gain time; but Charles refused to admit these messengers to his presence. The deputation returned in the utmost dejection, little deeming that the prince had taken such measures as should render them the means of surrendering the city. But Charles had dispatched Lochiel and Murray of Broughton with eight hundred Camerons, to watch every opportunity of surprising the town, carrying with them a barrel of gunpowder to blow up one of the gates. This detachment had arrived, and hidden themselves in ambush near the Netherbow Port. The deputation passed in with their coach by another gate, and the ambush lay still till the coachmen came out at the Netherbow Port to take his carriage and horses to the stables in the suburbs. The ambush rushed upon the gate before it could be closed, secured the sentinels, rushed forward to the other gate, and secured its keepers also. Others ran to the guard-house, and secured the city guard and the watchmen. The whole was effected with the utmost silence, and when the inhabitants rose in the morning they were astonished to find the city in possession of the Highlanders.
Meantime, Charles, apprised of the success of his ambush, commenced his march towards the city at ten in the morning, accompanied by the duke of Perth and by lord Elcho, the son of the earl of Wemyss, who had joined him in the night. To avoid the fire of the castle he made a circuit, and entered the King's Park by a breach that had been made in the wall, and halted his men in the hollow of the hills at the foot of Arthur's Seat. There Home, the historian, who was on the way with his companions to join Cope, stopped to observe them. He described Charles a3 tall and handsome, fair of complexion, and in Highland costume. He wore a light brown periwig, with his own hair combed over the front. His Highlanders he calculated not to exceed two thousand hardy-looking and active fellows, and appearing bold and confident in their manner. They appeared destitute of artillery except one small piece of cannon without a carriage, but drawn in a cart by Highland ponies. About three-fourths of them were armed with broadswords and firelocks, the latter being of all makes and sizes, and amongst them many fowling-pieces. Some carried firelocks without swords, some swords without firelocks. The swords were not Highland broadswords, but French ones, and one or two companies were merely armed with scythes fixed into long shafts.
As Charles advanced along the Duke's Walk - so called from having been the favourite walk of his grandfather, James II., when duke of York, and resident in Scotland - he was compelled to mount a horse to make his way through the crowds which pressed around him, eager to kiss his hand, or even to touch his clothes. This 17th of September was a day of wonder to the Jacobites, who seemed to see all their hopes realised. They declared that Charles resembled Robert Bruce in person as well as fortune, and they could discover other likenesses to the portraits of his ancestors in Holyrood, who lived long before any one was capable of painting their real features. He rode on amid the loudest acclamations, and with the people kissing his boots and wetting them with their tears.
As he entered the court of Holyrood House, general Guest sent him a welcome from the castle in the shape of a cannon-ball, which struck the tower of James V. and fell into the court, bringing with it a heap of rubbish. Charles, disregarding the danger, passed on, and was entering the porch when James Hepburn, of Kirk, who had been out in 1715, drawing his sword, stepped from the crowd, and led the way upstairs.
Lochiel, having secured the arms and guards in the city, had drawn up his Camerons at the Old Cross, and kept them in good order, the men refusing even the temptation of whisky, which was offered them by the people. At noon the heralds and pursuivants, in their ancient and showy costume of office, were called upon to march in procession to the Old Cross, where the clans stood under arms, and there to proclaim king James VIII., and to read the royal declaration issued at Rome, the commission of regency, and the manifesto of Charles. All this was done amid the musie of bagpipes and the waving of white handkerchiefs by Jacobite ladies from the neighbouring windows and balconies. Mrs. Murray of Broughton, a lady of remarkable beauty, sate all the time on horseback near the cross, with a drawn sword in one hand, and with the other distributing white ribands, the tokens of the house of Stuart.
After this triumphant day, Charles in possession of the ancient capital of his ancestors, and of their ancient palace, gave a ball, where the Jacobite ladies admired the handsome and gracious young prince for his dancing as much as they had done for his masterly horsemanship.
There was little time, however, for festivities. The English army was approaching, and it was necessary to assert his right by hard blows as well as by proclamations. A number of distinguished men had flocked to his standard since it had waved over his ancestral towers - the earl of Kellie, lord Balmerino, Sir Stewart Threipland, Sir David Murray, Lockhart of Carnwath, the grandson of Carnwath, the old pretender's stanch friend, and several Lowland gentlemen. Charles had all quarters of the city searched for arms, and from the government magazines and other quarters mustered about one thousand muskets, which, nevertheless, were not sufficient to supply all his soldiers. He levied contributions, also, on the city for tents, targets, shoes, and canteens. The citizens stood aloof from his standard; but lord Nairn arrived most opportunely from the Highlands with five hundred of the clan Maclauchlan, headed by their chief, and accompanied by a number of men from Athol. These swelled his little army to upwards of two thousand five hundred, and Charles declared that he would immediately lead them against Cope. The chiefs applauded this resolution, and on the morning of the 19th he marched out to Duddingstone, where the troops lay upon their arms, and then he summoned a council of war. He proposed to continue the march the next morning, and meet Cope upon the way. The chiefs approved the plan, and assured him that though their men had seen no battle, yet the officers would soon be amongst their enemies, and the soldiers would as certainly follow. Charles declared that he would lead the charge himself; but this produced a universal outcry that that would ruin all, for, if he fell, the war was at an end. Charles persisted, when the chiefs declared that if so they would all march home again, and he consented to lead the second line only. Early on the following morning, the 20th, they continued their march in a single narrow column, confident of victory. Charles put himself at their head, exclaiming, as he drew his sword, "Gentlemen, I have flung away the scabbard!" to which they gave answer by loud hurrahs. Their cavalry, which consisted of gentlemen and their retainers, only amounted to about fifty. Their artillery consisted of the sole cannon carried in the cart, and dragged along by Highland ponies. Charles desired that it might be left behind, as an incumbrance; but the chiefs declared that the men had so much faith in the "musket's mother," as they called the cannon, that it would be prejudicial to go without it, and accordingly it followed the troops. Besides the royal standard, different clans had their own banners, emblazoned with Highland mottoes. In the highest spirits the clans marched on through Musselburgh, and over the heights at Carberry, where Mary of Scots made her last unfortunate fight, nor did they stop till they came in sight of the English army.
Cope had landed his force at Dunbar on the very day that the prince entered Edinburgh. His disembarkation was not completed till the 18th. Lord Loudon had joined him at Inverness with two hundred men, and now he met the runaway dragoons, six hundred in number, so that his whole force amounted to two thousand two hundred men - some few hundreds less than the Highlanders At Dunbar a few volunteers came in, but without followers. The earl of Home, whose ancestor had gone out to meet Charles I. at the head of six hundred well-mounted men, made his appearance in Cope's army with two followers - a proof of the decline of the feudal influence in the Lowlands, and also of the decline of the Jacobite influence too.
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