Gateway to the Classics: Scotland's Story by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall
Scotland's Story by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall

George II.—The Wanderings of Bonnie Prince Charlie

"On hills that are by right his ain,

He roams a lonely stranger;

On ilka hand he 's pressed by want,

On ilka side by danger.

Yestreen I met him in the glen,

My heart near bursted fairly,

For sadly chang'd indeed was he;—

Oh, wae's me for Prince Charlie!

Dark night came on, the tempest howl'd

Out over the hills and valleys;

And whaur was 't that your Prince lay down,

Wha's hame should be a palace?

He row'd him in a Highland plaid,

Which cover'd him but sparely,

And slept beneath a bush o' broom'—

Oh, wae's me for Prince Charlie!"

For five long months Prince Charlie wandered in the Highlands and Islands of western Scotland. He suffered hunger, and cold, and wet, but through it all he was cheerful and brave. No house was safe, for the whole country was full of soldiers searching for him. He hid in rocks and caves by the seashore, or slept among the heather. Often he had no food at all for a whole day at a time, other days he had only raw oatmeal.

Many times Prince Charlie was nearly caught, but he escaped danger after danger. For although the money offered for his capture would have made many a poor Highlander rich beyond his wildest dreams, not one tried to earn it. Instead, they risked their lives and their freedom to help and save him.

Among the many people who helped Prince Charlie, a beautiful lady called Flora Macdonald is perhaps the most famous. With great danger to herself, she went to him when he was hiding on the seashore and the King's soldiers were all around seeking for him. Dressed as her maid he travelled safely for a few days, and managed to escape from the island on which he was at the time, and to go to another.

"There were twa bonnie maidens, and three bonnie maidens,

Cam' ower the Minch, and cam' ower the main,

Wi' the wind for their way, and a corry for their hame,

And they are dearly welcome to Skye again!

Come along, come along,

Wi' your boatie and your song,

My ain bonnie maidens, my twa bonnie maidens,

For the night it is dark and the red coat is gone,

And ye are dearly welcome to Skye again.

There is Flora my honey,

So dear and so bonnie,

And ane that's sae tall and sae handsome withal:

Put the ane for my King and the other for my Queen,

And they are dearly welcome to Skye again.

Come along, come along,

Wi' your boatie and your song,

My ain bonnie maidens, my twa bonnie maidens,

And saft shall ye rest, where the heather it is best,

And ye are dearly welcome to Skye again."

When Flora Macdonald could no longer help the Prince, he found other people ready to do so, and for some time he lived with seven robbers, called the seven men of Glenmoriston. These seven men had fought at Culloden, and now, afraid to return to their homes, they led a wild life among the mountains. They hated the Butcher Duke and his soldiers, and they attacked them and stole from them whenever they could. Once, four of them attacked, and put to flight, seven of the Duke's men, and another time they attacked a whole troop of soldiers and carried off from them a herd of cattle which they were driving to the camp.

The Prince was nearly starving when he came among these wild men, for he had had nothing to eat for two days. He was afraid to tell who he was, and pretended that he was the son of a Highland chieftain. In spite of his ragged clothes, however, the seven men knew the Prince at once, but far from wishing to hurt him, they were delighted, and bound themselves by a most solemn oath to help him in every way. "May our backs be to God, and our faces to the Evil One, may all the curses that the scriptures do pronounce be upon us and our sons after us, if we do not stand firm to the Prince in the greatest of dangers, or if we tell to any man, woman, or child, that the Prince is in our keeping till once his person is out of danger."

And so well did they keep this oath, that the Prince had been safe in France for a year, before they told any one that he had been with them.

Charles lived for several weeks with these wild men. They soon became good friends, and the robbers loved and served the Prince, and did everything that they could to make his life more comfortable.

His clothes were very old and ragged, so they waylaid a servant who was travelling with his master's clothes, and stole them for the Prince. They went in disguise to the nearest town to hear the news and buy newspapers, and once one of them brought a pennyworth of gingerbread back with him, thinking it would be a great treat for the Prince!

Charles, on his side, insisted that he should be treated as one of themselves. He made them keep on their bonnets, instead of going bareheaded before him. And instead of calling him "Your Highness" they called him Dougal.

The robbers admired the Prince, because he could shoot and hunt, and climb and walk, as well as any of them, and sometimes would help to cook the dinner.

Charles could speak no Gaelic, and the seven men could speak no English, so one of the Prince's friends had to translate all that was said. It was agreed that the Prince should not say anything that could not be translated to the men, and that the men should not say anything which could not be translated to the Prince. Charles in this way found out that they all used bad words, and swore dreadfully. He scolded them for this, and at last, when they saw that he was really sorry about it, they gave up swearing altogether.

About this time a young man called Roderick Mackenzie, who had fought for Charles, and who was very like him, was also wandering and hiding among the hills and valleys. While the soldiers were hunting for the Prince, they found Mackenzie. When they tried to take him prisoner, he defended himself bravely, and fought hard for his life, but at last a soldier struck him to the ground. Then seeing that he must die, and hoping to serve his Prince to the last, he cried out, "Villains, you have slain your Prince." The soldiers thinking that they had really killed the Pretender, cut off Mackenzie's head and sent it to London, so for a time the search for Charles was not so keen. But the mistake was soon found out.

Charles at last felt he must leave his kind robber friends and try once more to escape to France. They loved him so well, that they tried hard to make him stay. But he would not, and at length after some more adventures, he managed to escape on board a French ship. Twenty-three gentlemen, and more than a hundred common men, went with him. As they sailed away from their beloved land, tears dimmed their eyes, but hope was strong in the hearts, and they swore one day to return and conquer.

But they never came again.

"Royal Charlie 's now awa',

Safely ower the friendly main;

Mony a heart will break in twa,

Should he no come back again.

Will ye no come back again?

Will ye no come back again?

Better lo'ed ye canna be,

And will ye no come back again?"

Many of those who had fought for Charles died on the scaffold. Many who had helped him to hide and escape were imprisoned. Among these was Flora Macdonald, but two years later she was set free. Even while she was a prisoner, people flocked to see her, glad to speak to and shake hands with, so brave a woman, and there was hardly a woman in all Scotland who did not envy her for having been able to help the Bonnie Prince.

And so Bonnie Prince Charlie goes out of our story. The end of his life was sad. He lived an exile and a wanderer in foreign lands, and at last died far from his own country.

In the great church of St. Peter in Rome there is a monument, placed there, it is said, by King George iv. , upon which there are the names in Latin of James iii. , Charles iii. , and Henry ix. , kings of England. They were kings who never ruled, and who are known in history as the Old Pretender, the Young Pretender, and Henry, Cardinal of York, who was the younger brother of the Young Pretender.

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