George II.—The Story of How Prince Charlie Came Home
In 1716 a.d. James Stewart fled back to France, a hopeless man. Nearly thirty years later, in 1745 a.d. , his son Charles returned, full of youth and hope, ready to fight once more for the crown. He was just twenty-five; he was gay and handsome, and for many a year he had made up his mind to win the kingdom for his father. Once when he was walking by the shore, his hat blew off into the sea. Some of his friends began to get a boat out to go after it, but Charles stopped them. "It is not worth while," he said, with a laugh, "I shall soon have to go to England to fetch my head-piece."
But when Charles landed in the north of Scotland one July day in 1745 a.d. , he had no money, and very few followers. At first the Highland chiefs, remembering the misfortunes of thirty years before, were unwilling to help Charles.
"Go home," said one old chief, "for here you can do no good."
"I have come home," replied Charles. "I will rather skulk among the mountains of Scotland, if I have only six men with me, than return to France."
"Lochiel," he said to another unwilling chief, "may stay at home and learn his Prince's fate from the newspapers."
"But no," cried Lochiel, "if you are resolved to fight, I will fight too. I will share the fate of my Prince, and so shall every man over whom I have power."
So with brave words and smiles, and winning ways, the young Prince made his way to the hearts of the fierce Highland chiefs. Little by little the Jacobite army grew, and once more the Stewart standard was set up. To the sound of the pipes it fluttered out on the Highland breeze. It was of red silk, and bore the words Tandem Triumphans, which mean, triumphant at last.
As the standard was raised, the Highlanders cheered, and threw their bonnets in the air, till it seemed as if the sky was darkened with them. The white-haired Jacobite Marquis—the "high minded Murray"—who held the standard, was so old that he had to be supported by a friend on either side. But, although he was so feeble, he loved the Stewarts. He had begged to have the honour of rearing the standard, and was ready to lose his life and all that he had for his Prince.
When King George heard that Prince Charlie had landed in Scotland, he ordered one of his generals, called Sir John Cope, to march against him. He also offered a great reward to any who would take the "Pretender" prisoner. Charles replied to this by offering a reward to any one who would seize the "Elector of Hanover."
After the setting up of the standard, Prince Charles and his army marched southward. At five o'clock one morning, Lochiel and his men marched into Edinburgh, and amid the sullen silence of some, and the cheers of others, "James viii. " was once more proclaimed.
A few hours later the Prince himself rode to Holyrood. The air rang with cheers, and crowds of people crushed round him, eager to touch his hand, or even to kiss his boots. That night, the old state rooms of the palace, silent so long, rang again with sounds of music and laughter. For Charles gave a ball, and all the lovely ladies and gallant men of Edinburgh gathered to do honour to their Prince.
Two days later, in the grey of early morning, Charles placed himself at the head of his troops, for Sir John and his army were not far off.
"Gentlemen," he cried, drawing his sword, "I have thrown away the scabbard."
By that he meant, that having now drawn his sword to fight for the crown, he would never sheathe it again until he conquered or died, and cheer upon cheer rent the air as the men heard his brave words.
That night Prince Charles slept upon the field among his followers. Very early next morning they were up, and before the royal troops were ready they attacked them. In about five minutes, the King's army was utterly defeated, and was flying from the field, their leader with them.
The Highlanders lost very few men, but the slaughter of the royal troops was dreadful. "See your enemies at your feet, sir," said one of his officers to Charles.
"Alas," replied the Prince sadly, as he turned away, "they are my father's subjects."
After the battle of Prestonpans, as this battle was called, from the name of the place near which it was fought, Charles returned to Edinburgh. There he spent a few days, gathering men and money, giving balls and parties, and winning hearts with his smiles. Bonnie Prince Charlie he was called. The women loved him for his bonnie face and winning ways, and the men because he was daring and manly, "he could eat a dry crust, sleep on pease-straw, take his dinner in four minutes, and win a battle in five," they said.
Ladies danced with him and prayed for him, and sold their jewels to get money for him, and every man who had a sword laid it at his feet.
At last Charles made up his mind to march into England and fight for his crown there. But the Highland chieftains did not wish to go. They wanted to stay in Scotland, and fight for Scotland only, and they tried hard to persuade the Prince not to go either.
"I see, gentlemen," said Charles at last, "that you are determined to stay in Scotland and defend your country; but I am not the less resolved to try my fate in England though I go alone." So the chieftains gave way, and the march into England began.
But, although Charles met with little opposition, the English Jacobites did not rise to join his standard as he had expected. No one resisted him; he took several towns as he marched along, but there was no excitement, no enthusiasm, as there had been in Scotland. After a long, weary march, the Jacobite army reached Derby, and there the chieftains insisted on turning back. In vain Charles urged and implored them to go on. "Rather than go back," he cried, "I would wish to be twenty feet below ground." But they would not listen to him.
So the long weary march back began.
Meanwhile, had the Prince only known it, London was awaiting his coming in fear. The King was ready to flee. And if the King had fled there is no doubt that many who now quietly looked on, waiting to see what would happen, would have taken sides with the Prince, and Britain might once more have had a Stewart King. But for good or ill the Prince turned back.
On the march south he had been cheerful and merry, gladly sharing every hardship with his men. Now he was gloomy, sullen, and broken-hearted. And the men themselves, when they heard that they were to march back, were full of grief and rage. After many hardships, after two months' march through bitter winter weather, the wearied army reached Glasgow. But the Stewart cause was lost, and the Prince a broken man.
At Glasgow the hopes of the Prince revived a little, and he marched northward, intending to take Stirling Castle. King George had sent another general to replace Sir John Cope, who had run away from Prestonpans, and at Falkirk another battle was fought in which the King's soldiers were again defeated. But the Highland chieftains, instead of following up this victory and besieging Stirling, advised the Prince to march northward. And again, sorely against his will, the Prince was obliged to listen to them.
When the King heard that Charles had beaten another general, he was very angry and resolved to send his own son, the Duke of Cumberland, to fight the rebels.
On Culloden Moor the two armies met. On Culloden Moor the last hope of the Stewart cause was lost. The royal army was rested and fresh, well drilled and well armed. The Jacobite army was weary, hungry, ragged, and desperate.
In a few minutes Prestonpans had been won. In a few minutes Culloden was lost. But after Prestonpans Charles had been pitiful to the wounded—"they are my father's subjects," he said. After Culloden, Cumberland treated the fleeing and the wounded with such merciless cruelty that ever after he was called the "Butcher." Yet the men he slaughtered were his father's subjects too.
Charles would have been glad to die on Culloden with his faithful followers, but two of his officers took his horse by the bridle and led him from the field. His life was saved, but his cause was lost, and he was a hunted man with the price of thirty thousand pounds upon his head.
This rebellion is called "The '45," because it took place in 1745 a.d.