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Reign of George II. (Continued.) page 9


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They were now only one hundred and twenty-seven miles from the capital, both Wade and Cumberland behind them, and Charles, notwithstanding the conditions on which they had come on from Macclesfield, still confidently and enthusiastically dwelt on the onward march to London, and his certain success. He dwelt buoyantly on this topic after supper, but found no response from his chief officers. Still, the next day recruiting for volunteers was active, and drummers and sergeants were in every quarter of the town beating up for them; but the only men they got amounted to three - an itinerant blacksmith, a butcher, and a stocking- maker. Whilst this was going on, Charles and his officers attended service at All-Saints Church, and one Coppock, whom Charles had made bishop of Carlisle, preached before them. In the morning a council was held, when lord George Murray reminded the prince that he had engaged to the chiefs, that if they received no reinforcements before they reached Derby, they would commence a retreat. He appealed to the prince whether they had received the least accession of strength, the least sign of encouragement; whether he had even received a single letter promising assistance, or advising their advance? Such being the case, what hope was there for them in proceeding? They had barely five thousand men to contend against three armies, amounting at least altogether to thirty thousand. If they got to London before Cumberland, and if they managed to elude the army at Finchley, they had scarcely numbers to take quiet possession of London. But were they forced to fight the king and his army under the walls of the metropolis, they could not do it without loss; and then, supposing Wade and Cumberland to unite behind them, as they certainly would do, how could they hope to contend against them? Assistance from France, as they had pointed out, was hopeless, whilst the English had such a force in the Channel. The only possible result was, that they should be surrounded and destroyed by overwhelming numbers, whilst the prince, and such of his followers as might be taken alive, had nothing but an ignominious death to expect at the hands of their blood-thirsty enemies. On the other hand, if they made their way back to Scotland, as they very well could, by dispatches just received by the prince they were informed that lord John Drummond had landed at Montrose with the regiment of Royal Scots and some picquets of the Irish brigade, so that lord Strathallan would then be able to join them with at least four thousand men. With ten thousand men in Scotland, where they had numerous friends, they could make a great stand, and give time for some of the chances of war falling in their favour. Lord George assured him that these were the unanimous sentiments of the chiefs, and they confirmed that assertion.

Charles listened to these arguments with undisguised impatience. He set his mind on achieving this grand enterprise, and would not suffer himself to contemplate anything short of it. Though the country had not responded to his call, he had, in a most daring and extraordinary manner, beginning with only seven adherents, marched thus into the very heart of England. Wherever he had encountered the royal forces he had defeated them; in all other cases he had outmanoeuvred them, and to him nothing seemed easier than, by a bold and rapid advance, to strike terror into his enemies, and secure the long-anticipated crown. It was a certain fact, too, of which he was well aware, that the inferior officers and all the common men were as much bent on the march to London as himself. They entertained no fears, they admitted of no misgivings; they had yet seen no army on the road which they had not readily routed, and all that day had been taking the sacrament at the different churches, and sharpening up their swords at the different smiths for the decisive blow at London.

Charles dwelt confidently on these facts, and on his unshaken trust in Providence, which had thus far led him, as he contended, by so clear and strong a hand. He admitted that there were dangers in advancing, but he demanded whether there were no dangers in retreat; besides which, retreat was disgraceful. He contended that, spite of all that had been said, only let them succeed in gaining London, and both French and English succour would pour in. The French would land in Kent or Essex, the friends of their cause would then come out in all their force, and their enemies, confused by the boldness and daring of their enterprise, would become divided and helpless. He appealed to them whether they would desert their prince in the very moment that he was about to seize the long-contested prize?

It must be confessed that the language of Charles Edward was, what his conduct had been from the first, that of a hero, who scorns difficulties, is not appalled by the most formidable dangers, and thinks nothing impossible to a brave commander with even a mere handful of brave and determined men; and the probability is, that, had his officers been willing to follow him, and live or die in the enterprise, he would have seized London, and accomplished one of the most brilliant exploits in history. It is true that George II. was also a brave and stanch commander, prepared to die on the spot rather than yield, as he had shown at Dettingen. But the greater part of his forces at Finchley were raw levies, and might not have stood better than the troops had done in Scotland. There was a terror of the Highlanders, even in the army; and as for London itself, the panic, when it was heard that they had got betwixt the duke's army and the capital, was, according to Fielding, who was then in London, incredible. There was a frantic rush upon the Bank of England, and it is said that it must have closed, had it not gained time by paying in sixpences. The shops were shut, business was at a stand; the ministers were in the utmost terror, and the duke of Newcastle was said to have shut himself up for a day, pondering whether he should declare for the pretender or not. The king himself was by no means confident of the result. He is said to have sent most of his precious effects on board a yacht at the Tower quay, ready to put off at a minute's warning. The day on which the news of the rebels being at Derby reached London, was long renowned as Black Friday. In such a state of terror, and the army at Finchley inferior in numbers, and infinitely inferior in bravery, who can doubt that Charles would for a time have made himself master of the metropolis? It could, however,, have been but for a time. The united armies of Wade and Cumberland would soon have been down upon him, the spirit of the nation would have risen against the Stuart and popery, and the issue was certain. % No bravery, however chivalrous, can avail when the heart of a people is not with the aspirant; and, notwithstanding the faction of the Jacobites was still numerous, the coldness with which the young prince had been received on his whole march, demonstrated that the Stuart dynasty could never more take root in England. The brave little army of Highlanders would have suffered the fate which lord George portrayed, and a more bloody tragedy than that of Culloden would have darkened the annals of England.

Charles, wrought up to the highest pitch of agony at the prospect of being compelled to abandon the splendid design of entering London in triumph, continued to expostulate and entreat the whole day. The duke of Perth and some of the Irish officers, moved by his distress, gave way, and called on the other chiefs to yield; but they remained immovable, and the prince, seeing the case hopeless, at length gave up the contest, and, in deep dejection, assented to the retreat. But, as if he deemed the relinquishment of the march on the metropolis the ruin of the whole enterprise, he declared that henceforth he would summon no more councils; being accountable only to God and his father, he would not again either seek or accept their advice.

The next morning, the 6th of December, the retreat commenced; but the soldiers and the inferior officers little dreamed that it was a retreat. They imagined that they were going to fight the duke of Cumberland, and marched out in high spirits. The morning was foggy, and for some time the delusion was kept up; but when the fog cleared away, and they perceived that they were retracing their former route, their disappointment and rage became excessive. "The grief," says Chevalier Johnstone in his "Memoirs," "could not have been greater had we been beaten." The men continued their march in sullen anger and loud denunciations of the shameful retreat, as they deemed it. They ceased to observe that strict discipline and that regard to property which they had maintained in coming; they began to plunder, to seize horses for their own convenience, and commit many acts of outrage. As for Charles, he showed in his whole aspect and demeanour the bitter disappointment which had thus overtaken him. The most splendid vision which could illumine the hopes and fascinate the imagination of a high-spirited prince, that of snatching, at the head of his little but heroic band, the crown and throne of his ancestors from the possession of the usurper, was suddenly and cruelly rent away, as he felt, and that too surely, for ever. Though we cannot wish him to have succeeded, we may well understand the dark and crushing weight of grief under which he was retracing his steps. Till that moment, the belief that he was about to restore his line to the glorious heritage of ages was strong in his soul; from that moment he saw it gone irredeemably. He no longer, therefore, marched on foot, to animate his soldiers to endure fatigue, but mounting a black horse, said to have been colonel Gardiner's, he rode on listlessly, and without taking any further interest in the movements of his army.

The effect of retreating, instead of advancing, became strikingly evident. The army appeared anxious only to help itself, the inhabitants no longer appeared to show them the degree of cold respect they had manifested in going. They were looked upon as a defeated army. The Highlanders carried off horses where they could find them, and rode away bareback, and often with halters only of straw. The people did not fail to retaliate where they could. Near Stockport the inhabitants shot at a Highland patrole, and his comrades, in revenge, set fire to the village; and the country people retaliated again by killing any stragglers or wounded that were left behind. At Manchester very different was the reception of the retreating to that of the advancing army. True, on their advance, a good deal of the apparent rejoicing was fictitious. Charles had sent on and commanded the ringing of the bells and the illumination of the houses; but now, so far from bell-ringing or illumination, the mob violently resisted their entrance, and attacked their rear when they marched away. The prince, incensed at this treatment, levied five thousand pounds on the town, and the next morning the retreat was continued. The same disposition appeared in the people, as they passed along, to show their real sentiments, now the army was under the cloud. As they were quitting Wigan, a fellow, intending to shoot the prince, fired at Mr. O'Sullivan. Search was made, but the offender could not be found.

The retreat was rapidly continued through Preston, and on to Lancaster, which they reached on the 13th. There they threw open the prisons, and committed other disorders. Their retreat had grown into something more resembling a flight. The men had abandoned much of their subordination, and plundered, and the chiefs extorted money from the gentlemen of the country as they passed. This aroused the wrath of the inhabitants, who attacked the vanguard under the duke of Perth, betwixt Penrith and Kendal. Perth, on this, fell back on the main body, having had several of his cavalry and their horses killed. On the 15th Perth was able to advance again with reinforcements from the main body, but the townsmen of Penrith again attacked him with such fury, that he was obliged to halt and fall back, whilst the assailants, headed by several gentlemen and farmers, pursued them as far as Shap, a village in a wild, hilly country betwixt Penrith and Kendal. There the prince came up, and the countrymen were dispersed by a charge of Glengarry's men, and several prisoners made. Amongst them was a footman of the duke of Cumberland, who said the duke was close at hand with four thousand men.

Charles, thereupon, strengthened his van by placing in it two regiments, the Stuarts of Appin and the Macphersons of Cluny. The sun was about to set when the man's intelligence was confirmed by the appearance of the duke's vanguard on the heights in their rear.

In fact, the duke, discovering his mistake at Stone, had turned back, and, in all haste, sought to recover his position on the high road to London. Near Coventry on the 8th he learned the retreat of the rebels from Derby, and he sent on general Hawley from Meridan Moor with a thousand cavalry and a thousand foot, mounted on horses collected in the neighbourhood, to harass the retreat of the Highlanders.

He also dispatched a message to marshal Wade in the neighbourhood, to strike across the country and join in the pursuit. It was not, however, till the 16th that his advanced guard of cavalry came up with the van of the Highland army. In the night of the 16th, Charles, having seen the outposts of the enemy on the heights, had bivouacked with all his army in and around Shap. That evening lord George Murray, who commanded the rear, was labouring along with immense difficulty over the horrible mountain roads. His carts broke down on the craggy roads, his gun- carriages stuck fast in the ruts, and the horses, worn out with fatigue, were unable to extricate them. He was compelled to throw away a great quantity of baggage, and even much of his powder, into a mountain stream, to prevent it falling into the hands of the enemy. The next day he continued his laborious route towards Penrith, the enemy and crowds of country people hanging on his rear. "Had the country people," says a Jacobite of that neighbourhood, "had the least thought or judgment, they might have made themselves masters of all the baggage and cannon." They had only to have thrown down some parts of the stone walls bounding the highway, and it would have been impossible for the Highlanders to stop to clear the obstructions away whilst the enemy was so close upon them. In fact, general Oglethorpe had been dispatched by Wade with all his cavalry after the rebels, and, by a rapid march of three days, was now up with them at the same time that the duke of Cumberland's thousand cavalry and thousand mounted foot came up too. They united in the pursuit, but, luckily for the Highlanders, they were as much exhausted by their march as themselves.

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Pictures for Reign of George II. (Continued.) page 9

Young Moidart
Young Moidart >>>>
Erecting the standard of the young pretender
Erecting the standard of the young pretender >>>>
Stirling castle
Stirling castle >>>>
Pinkie house
Pinkie house >>>>
Holyrood house
Holyrood house >>>>
Field of Prestonpans
Field of Prestonpans >>>>
Carlisle castle
Carlisle castle >>>>
Edinburgh castle
Edinburgh castle >>>>
Mrs. Skyring and young pretender
Mrs. Skyring and young pretender >>>>
Medal of Prince Charles Edward
Medal of Prince Charles Edward >>>>
Medal of James III
Medal of James III >>>>
Retreat of the young pretender
Retreat of the young pretender >>>>
Field of Culloden
Field of Culloden >>>>
Battle of Culloden
Battle of Culloden >>>>
The escape of the young pretender
The escape of the young pretender >>>>

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