Gateway to the Classics: Our Island Story by H. E. Marshall
Our Island Story by  H. E. Marshall

George II.—The Story of Flora Macdonald

To your arms! to your arms! Charlie yet shall be your King.

To your arms! all ye lads that are loyal and true.

To your arms! to your arms! his valour nane can ding,

And he's on to the south wi' a jovial crew.

For master Johnnie Cope, being destitute of hope,

Took horse for his life and left his men;

In their arms he put no trust, for he knew it was just

That the King should enjoy his own again.

To your arms! to your arms! my bonny highland lads.

We winna brook the rule o' a German thing.

To your arms! to your arms! wi' your bonnets and your plaids,

And hey for Charlie and our ain true King.

A FTER the battle of Prestonpans, Charles returned to Edinburgh and remained there for some days gathering men and money. It was a gay time. There were constant balls and parties, and Bonnie Prince Charlie was loved more and more each day. The Bonnie Prince, who "could eat a dry crust, sleep on peas-straw, take his dinner in four minutes, and win a battle in five," was toasted everywhere.

At last Charles and his army were ready and marched into England. But although no one resisted him, although he took several towns without a blow being struck, hardly any of the English joined him. The Highlanders grew weary of marching through strange country, and home-sick for their mountains, and many of them deserted and went home. By the time Charles reached Derby, the leaders were so disheartened that they persuaded him to turn back to Scotland. Yet the people in London were awaiting his coming in terror, and King George was ready to run away.

It is difficult to guess what might have happened had the Prince gone on. But he did not. He turned again towards Scotland, and began the long, sad march homeward.

The wearied army reached Glasgow at last, having marched six hundred miles through snow and rain and wintry weather in less than two months.

Charles now decided to take Stirling Castle. He met the King's army at Falkirk and defeated them, but after that, instead of trying to take Stirling, as he had intended, he listened to the advice of some of the Highland chiefs and marched northward.

As Charles had defeated two generals, King George now sent his own son, the Duke of Cumberland to command his army. At Culloden, near Inverness, the last Jacobite battle was fought. The royal army was much larger than the Jacobite one, and although the Highlanders fought with all their usual fierce courage, they were utterly defeated. Charles would have been glad to die with his brave followers, but two of his officers seized the bridle of his horse and forced him against his will to leave the field. The battle was turned into a terrible slaughter, for the Duke of Cumberland behaved so cruelly to the beaten rebels that ever after he was called the Butcher.

The Stuart cause was lost, and Bonnie Prince Charlie was a hunted man. The King offered £30,000 to any one who would take him prisoner. But although the money would have made many a poor Highlander richer than he had ever imagined it possible for any one to be, not one of them tried to earn it. Instead, they hid their Prince, fed him, clothed him, and worked for him. At last, after months of hardships and adventures, he escaped to France.

Many people helped Prince Charles, but it was a beautiful lady, called Flora Macdonald, who perhaps helped him most. She served him when he was most miserable and in greatest danger. The whole country round was filled with soldiers searching for him. He scarcely dared to leave his hiding-place, and was almost dying of hunger. No house was safe for him, and he had to hide among the rocks of the seashore, shivering with cold and drenched with rain.

With great difficulty and danger to herself, Flora Macdonald reached the place where the Prince was hiding, bringing with her a dress for him to wear. The Prince put it on, and together they went to the house of a friend, where Flora asked if she and her maid "Betty" might stay that night. This friend was very fond of Flora, and very glad to see her. She was a Jacobite, and when she was told who "Betty" was she made ready her best room for the Prince. A little girl belonging to the house came into the hall while Betty was standing there, and ran away frightened at the great tall woman, but no one suspected who she was.

Disguised as Flora Macdonald's maid, Prince Charlie travelled for many days, escaping dangers in a wonderful way. For the Prince made a very funny-looking woman. He took great strides, and managed his skirts so badly that, in spite of the danger, his friends could not help laughing. "They do call your Highness a Pretender," said one. "All I can say is that you are the worst of your trade the world has ever seen."


They took a sad farewell of each other.

When there was no need for Flora to go further with the Prince, they took a sad farewell of each other. "I hope, madam," said he, bending over her hand and kissing it, "we shall yet meet at St. James's." By that he meant that he still hoped to be King some day, and welcome her in his palace of St. James's in London. Then he stepped into the boat which was waiting for him, and Flora sat sadly by the shore, watching it as it sailed farther and farther away.

Far over yon hills of the heather so green,

And down by the corrie that sings to the sea,

The bonnie young Flora sat sighing her lane,

The dew on her plaid and the tear in her e'e.

She looked at a boat which the breezes had swung,

Away on the wave like a bird on the main;

And aye as it lessened, she sighed and she sang,

Farewell to the lad I shall ne'er see again;

Farewell to my hero, the gallant and young,

Farewell to the lad I shall ne'er see again.

The target is torn from the arm of the just,

The helmet is cleft on the brow of the brave,

The claymore for ever in darkness must rust,

But red is the sword of the stranger and slave;

The hoof of the horse and the foot of the proud

Have trod o'er the plumes in the bonnet of blue.

Why slept the red bolt in the heart of the cloud

When tyranny revell'd in blood of the true?

Farewell, my young hero, the gallant and good!

The crown of thy fathers is torn from thy brow.

This rebellion is called "The Forty-five" because it took place in 1745 A.D.

Prince Charlie reached France safely, but the rest of his life was sad. He was a broken, ruined man, and he lived a wanderer in many lands. At last, he died in Rome, on 30th January 1788 A.D., the anniversary of the day on which Charles I. had been beheaded.

In St. Peter's at Rome there is a monument, placed there, it is said, by King George IV., upon which are the names, in Latin, of James III., Charles III., and Henry IX., kings of England. They were kings who never ruled, and are known in history as the Old Pretender, the Young Pretender, and Henry, Cardinal of York, brother of the Young Pretender.

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