Part 5 out of 6
being engaged with politics."
"That will do well," Lord George said. "I will get the list of persons on
whom you should call prepared tomorrow. You had best go to Sir Thomas
Sheridan and Francis Strickland, who came over with you, and get them to
present you to Secretary Murray and recommend you to him. If he hears
that your mission is of my recommendation he will do all he can to set
the prince against you. Everything that I do is wrong in his eyes, and I
do believe that he would ruin the cause in order to injure me, did he see
no other way to accomplish that end. Therefore, if he mentions my name,
as he is like to do, knowing that you have been my aide de camp, be sure
that you say nought in my favour, or it will ruin you with him. You will,
of course, attend the prince's levee tomorrow, and had best make
preparation to start at nightfall."
The next day, accordingly, Ronald called upon Sir Thomas Sheridan and
Strickland, and telling them that the prince had determined to send him
on a mission into Lancashire, asked them to present him to Secretary
Murray, from whom he would receive orders for his guidance and
instruction as to the persons whom he was to visit. The two gentlemen
proceeded with him to the house in which Secretary Murray had taken up
his abode, and introduced him, with much warmth, as a fellow passenger on
board the Doutelle.
"You have been serving since as Lord Murray's aide de camp?"
"Yes, sir, the prince recommended me to him at Perth, and I have since
had the honour to carry his orders."
"Captain Leslie, for so the prince has granted him a commission," Sir
Thomas said, "has served two years in the French army, and was present at
Dettingen and Fontenoy. He mentioned to me on the voyage that he had the
honour of being presented by Marshal Saxe to the King of France, and that
he received his commission from the marshal, to whom he had acted as aide
de camp at Fontenoy."
"You have begun well, indeed, young sir," Murray said, "to have received
at your age, for I judge that you are not yet twenty, commissions in the
French army and ours."
"He has another claim upon all you Scottish gentlemen," Sir Thomas said,
"for Colonel Macdonald told us, when he introduced him to us at Nantes,
that it was through his interference and aid alone that he escaped safely
from Glasgow, and that all his papers, with the names of the king's
friends in Scotland, did not fall into George's hands. He was taken
prisoner for his share in that affair, but escaped from the ship in the
Thames, and succeeded in crossing to France. So you see, young as he is,
he has rendered good service to the cause."
The expression of the secretary's face, which had before been cold and
distant, changed at once. He had been aware that Ronald had been chosen
for this business on the recommendation of Lord George Murray, and his
jealousy of that nobleman had at once set him against Ronald, of whose
antecedents he was entirely ignorant; but what he now heard entirely
altered the case, and disposed him most favourably towards him,
especially as his own name would have been one of the most prominent in
the list, he having been in constant communication with Colonel Macdonald
during the stay of the latter in Scotland.
"I had no idea it was to you that we are all so indebted," he said
warmly. "I heard from Colonel Macdonald, after his return from France,
that he owed his escape entirely to the quickness and bravery of a young
gentleman of whose name he was ignorant, but who, he feared, would suffer
for his interference on his behalf, and prayed me and all other loyal
gentlemen of Scotland to befriend you should they ever discover your
name, for that we assuredly owed it to you that we escaped imprisonment,
if not worse. I am truly glad to meet you and thank you in person. And so
you are going on this mission?"
"I have undertaken to do my best, sir. Fortunately I have a faithful
follower who fought beside my father in '15, followed him to France and
fought by his side in the Scottish Dragoons for fifteen years, and who
has since been my best friend. He worked for years, when I was a child,
as a drover of cattle from the Highlands into England. He knows
Cumberland and Lancashire well, and would be known at every wayside inn.
He will accompany me, and I shall pass as his nephew, therefore no
suspicion will be likely to light upon me."
"And you set out tonight?"
"Yes, sir, if my orders and letters are ready."
"There will not be many letters," the secretary said. "It would not do
for you to have documents upon you which might betray you and our friends
there should you be arrested. I will give you a list of the gentlemen on
whom you have to call, which you had best learn by heart and destroy
before you cross the frontier. You shall have one paper only, and that
written so small that it can be carried in a quill. This you can show to
one after the other. If you find you are in danger of arrest you can
destroy or swallow it. I will give them to you at the prince's levee this
afternoon, and will send to your tent a purse of gold for your expenses."
"I shall need but little for that, sir," Ronald said smiling.
"For your expenses, no," the secretary said; "but one never can say what
money may be required for. You may have to buy fresh horses, you may want
it to bribe someone to conceal you. Money is always useful, my young
friend. By the way, what family of Leslies do you belong to? I heard that
one of your name had accompanied the prince, but no more."
"My father was Leslie of Glenlyon."
"Indeed!" the secretary exclaimed. "Of course, I know the name well. The
lands were confiscated; but we shall soon set that right, and I will see
that they are added to when the time comes to reward the king's friends
and punish his foes."
Ronald now took his leave and returned to Malcolm, who was making
preparation for the enterprise. He had already purchased two suits of
clothes, such as would be worn by Lowland drovers, and was in high
spirits, being more elated than was Ronald himself at the latter's
promotion. In the course of the day he bought two rough ponies, as being
more suitable for the position they were to assume than the horses with
which they had been furnished at Perth. Ronald attended the levee, and
thanked the prince for the favour which he bestowed upon him.
"You are a young gentleman after my own heart," Prince Charles said, "and
I promised myself on shipboard that we should be great friends; but I
have been so busy since I landed, and you have been so occupied in my
service, that I have seen but little of you. On your return I hope that I
shall be able to have you near my person. I am half jealous of you, for
while you are younger than I am you have seen good service and taken part
in great battles, but hitherto I have led a life almost of idleness."
Ronald bowed deeply at the prince's gracious speech. On his return to his
tent he found a messenger from the secretary with a purse which, on
counting its contents, they found to amount to a hundred guineas.
They started immediately, and travelled twenty miles before stopping for
the night at a small wayside inn.
"This seems like old times to me," Malcolm said as, after eating supper,
they sat by a turf fire, "except that on my way down I had the herd to
look after. There is no fear of our being questioned or suspected till we
reach the border, for there is not an English soldier between the Forth
and the Tweed; nor is it likely that we shall meet with any difficulty
whatever till we get to Carlisle. Cope's forces, or what remain of them,
are at Newcastle, and it will be there that the English will gather, and
the western road is likely to be open until, at any rate, Prince Charles
moves south. George's troops have plenty to think about without
interfering with the Lowlands drovers. At the same time, after we have
once crossed the Tweed, we may as well leave the high road. I know every
bypath over the fells."
On the third day after starting they crossed the border and were among
the hills of Cumberland. They found that among the villages great
apprehension existed. The tales of the rapine and destruction wrought in
the old times by the Scottish forays had been handed down from father to
son, and nothing less than the destruction of their homes and the loss of
their flocks and herds was looked for. Malcolm was welcomed warmly at the
little village inn where they put up for the night.
"Why, it's well nigh three years since I saw you last," the host said,
"and before that it was seldom two months without our seeing you. What
have you been doing with yourself?"
"I have been gathering the herds in the Highlands," Malcolm said, "while
others have driven them down for sale; but at present my occupation is
gone. The Highlanders are swarming like angry bees whose hive has been
disturbed, and even if we could collect a herd it would not be safe to
drive it south; it would be seized and despatched to Edinburgh for the
use of the clans there."
"Is it true that there are fifty thousand of them, and that they have
sworn to kill every English man, woman, and child?"
"No, they are not so strong as that," Malcolm said. "From what I hear I
should say they were not more than half; and I do not think there is any
occasion for peaceful people to be afraid, for they say that the prince
has treated all the prisoners who fell into his hands in the kindest
manner, and that he said that the English are his father's subjects as
well as the Scots, and that he will see that harm is done to no man."
"I am right glad to hear it," the innkeeper said. "I don't know that I am
much afraid myself; but my wife and daughter are in a terrible fright,
and wanted me to quit the house and go south till it is all over."
"There is no occasion for that, man," Malcolm said; "you will have no
reason for fear were the whole of the clans to march through your
village, unless you took it into your head to stand at the door and
shout, `God bless King George.'"
"I care not a fig about King George or King James," the man said. "It's
nought to me who is king at London, and as far as I know that's the way
with all here. Let them fight it out together, and leave us hard working
folks to ourselves."
"I don't suppose either James or George would care for that," Malcolm
said laughing; "but from what I have heard of Prince Charles I should say
that there is nothing in the world that he would like better than to
stand with broadsword or dagger against the Duke of Cumberland, and so
settle the dispute."
"That would be the most sensible thing to my mind," the innkeeper said;
"but what brings you here, Anderson, since you have no herd with you?"
"I am just getting out of it all," Malcolm said. "I have had my share of
hard knocks, and want no more of them. I don't want to quarrel with
Highlanders or Lowlanders, and as trade is at a standstill at present,
and there's nothing for me to do in the Highlands, I thought I would come
south till it was all over. There is money to collect and things to look
after, and I have to notify to our regular customers that the herds will
come down again as soon as the tempest is over; and between ourselves,"
he said in a lower voice, "I wanted to get my nephew out of harm's way.
He has a hankering to join the prince's army, and I don't want to let him
get his brains knocked out in a quarrel which isn't his, so I have
brought him along with me."
"He is a good looking young fellow, I can see, and a strong one. I don't
wonder that he wanted to mount the white cockade; lads are always wanting
to run their heads into danger. You have had your share of it, as you
say; still you are wise to keep the lad out of it. I don't hold with
soldiering, or fighting in quarrels that don't concern you.
Malcolm and Ronald travelled through Cumberland and Westmoreland, calling
upon many of the gentlemen to whom the latter had been charged to deliver
Prince Charles's messages. They could not, however, flatter themselves
that their mission was a success, for from few of those on whom they
called did they receive assurances that they were prepared to take
action; all the gentlemen professed affection for the Stuarts, but
deprecated a descent into England unless the prince were accompanied by a
strong body of French troops.
The rising of '15 had been disastrous for the Jacobites of the North of
England, and though all declared that they were ready again to take up
arms and risk all for the cause of the Stuarts, if the prince was at the
head of a force which rendered success probable, they were unanimously of
opinion that it would be nothing short of madness to rise until at any
rate the prince had marched into England at the head of a strong army.
The principal personage upon whom they called was Mr. Ratcliff, a brother
of the Earl of Derwentwater, who had been executed after the rising of
'15. That gentleman assured them that he himself was ready to join the
prince as soon as he came south, but that he wished the prince to know
that in his opinion no large number of English would join.
"The memory of ' 15 is still too fresh," he said; "while the Stuarts have
been absent so long that, although there are great numbers who would
prefer them to the Hanoverians, I do not believe that men have the cause
sufficiently at heart to risk life and property for it. Many will give
their good wishes, but few will draw their swords. That is what I wish
you to say to Prince Charles. Among gentlemen like myself the feeling of
respect and loyalty to his father's house is as strong as ever, and we
shall join him, however desperate, in our opinion, the chances of success
may be; but he will see that the common people will stand aloof, and
leave the battle to be fought out by the clansmen on our side and
George's troops on the other."
Some weeks were passed in traversing the country to and fro, for the
desired interviews were often only obtained after considerable loss of
time. They could not ride up as two Highland drovers to a gentleman's
house, and had to wait their chances of meeting those they wished to see
on the high road, or of sending notes requesting an interview, couched in
such terms that while they would be understood by those to whom they were
addressed they would compromise no one if they fell into other hands.
There was indeed the greatest necessity for caution, for the authorities
in all the towns and villages had received orders from the government to
be on the lookout for emissaries from the north, and they were frequently
exposed to sharp examination and questioning. Indeed it was only
Malcolm's familiarity with the country, and the fact that he had so many
acquaintances ready to testify that he was, as he said, a Scotch drover,
in the habit for many years of journeying down from the north with
cattle, that enabled them to escape arrest.
After much thought they had decided upon a place of concealment for the
quill containing Ronald's credentials, which would, they thought, defy
the strictest scrutiny. A hole had been bored from the back into the heel
of Ronald's boot deep enough to contain the quill, and after this was
inserted in the hiding place the hole was filled up with cobbler's wax,
so that it would need a close examination indeed to discover its
existence. Thus, although they were several times closely searched, no
document of a suspicious nature was found upon them.
Their money was the greatest trouble, as the mere fact of so large a sum
being carried by two drovers would in itself have given rise to
suspicions, although had they been on their return towards Scotland the
possession of such an amount would have been easily explained as the
proceeds of the sale of the cattle they had brought down. They had
therefore left the greater part of it with a butcher in Carlisle, with
whom Malcolm had often had dealings, retaining only ten pounds for their
The day after they reached Manchester four constables came to the little
inn where they were stopping and told them that they were to accompany
them before the magistrates.
"I should like to know what offence we are charged with," Malcolm said
angrily. "Things have come to a pretty pass, indeed, when quiet drovers
are to be hauled before magistrates without rhyme or reason."
"You will hear the charge quickly enough when you are before their
worships," the constable said; "but that is no affair of mine -- my
orders are simply to take you there."
"Well, of course we must go," Malcolm said grumblingly; "but here we have
been well nigh twenty years travelling to and fro between England and
Scotland, as my host here can testify, without such a thing happening
before. I suppose somebody has been robbed on the highway, and so you
sharp sighted gentlemen clap hands on the first people you come across."
Three magistrates were sitting when Ronald and Malcolm were brought into
the courthouse. They were first asked the usual questions as to their
names and business, and then one of the magistrates said:
"Your story is a very plausible one; but it happens that I have here
before me the reports, sent in from a score of different places, for in
times like these it is needful to know what kinds of persons are
travelling through the country, and two men answering to your description
are reported to have visited almost every one of these places. It is
stated in nearly every report that you are drovers ordinarily engaged in
bringing down herds of Highland cattle, and it is added that in every
case this account was verified by persons who have previously known you.
All this would seem natural enough, but you seem to have journeyed hither
and thither without any fixed object. Sometimes you have stopped for two
days at little villages, where you could have had no business, and, in
short, you seem for upwards of a month to have been engaged in wandering
to and fro in such a way as is wholly incompatible with the affairs upon
which you say you were engaged."
"But you will observe, sir," Malcolm said quietly, "that I have not said
I am engaged upon any affairs whatever. I am not come to England on
business, but solely to escape from the troubles which have put a stop to
my trade in the Highlands, and as for fifteen years I was engaged in
journeying backwards and forwards, and had many friends and
acquaintances, I came down partly, as I have said, to avoid being mixed
up in the trouble, partly to call upon old acquaintances, and partly to
introduce to them my nephew, who is new to the work, and will shortly be
engaged in bringing down cattle here. I thought the present was a good
opportunity to show him all the roads and halting places in order that he
might the better carry out the business."
"Your story has been well got up," one of the magistrates said, "though I
doubt whether there be a single word of truth in it. However, you will be
at present searched, and detained until we get to the bottom of the
matter. This is not a time when men can travel to and fro through the
country without exciting a suspicion that they are engaged upon other
than lawful business. At present I tell you that in our eyes your conduct
appears to be extremely suspicious."
The prisoners were then taken to a cell and searched with the utmost
rigour. Their clothes were examined with scrupulous care, many of the
seams being cut open and the linings slit, to see if any documents were
concealed there. Their shoes were also carefully examined; but the mud
had dried over the opening where the quill was concealed, and the
officials failed to discover it. Even their sticks were carefully
examined to see if they contained any hollow place; but at last,
convinced that had they been the bearers of any documents these must have
been discovered, the officials permitted them to resume their clothes,
and then paying no heed to the angry complaints of Malcolm at the state
to which the garments had been reduced, they left the prisoners to
"Be careful what you say," Malcolm whispered to Ronald. "Many of these
places have cracks or peepholes, so that the prisoners can be watched and
their conversation overheard."
Having said this Malcolm indulged in a long and violent tirade on the
hardship of peaceful men being arrested and maltreated in this way, and
at the gross stupidity of magistrates in taking an honest drover known to
half the countryside for a Jacobite spy. Ronald replied in similar
strains, and any listeners there might have been would certainly have
gained nothing from the conversation they overheard.
"I should not be surprised," Malcolm said in low tones when night had
come and all was quiet, "if some of our friends outside try to help us.
The news will speedily spread that two men of the appearance of drovers
have been taken on suspicion of being emissaries from Scotland, and it
will cause no little uneasiness among all those on whom we have called.
They cannot tell whether any papers have been found upon us, nor what we
may reveal to save ourselves, so they will have a strong interest in
getting us free if possible."
"If we do get free, Malcolm, the sooner we return to Scotland the better.
We have seen almost all those whom we are charged to call upon, and we
are certainly in a position to assure the prince that he need hope for no
rising in his favour here before he comes, and that it is very doubtful
that any numbers will join him if he marches south."
The next morning they were removed from the cell in which they had been
placed to the city jail, and on the following day were again brought
before the magistrates.
"You say that you have been calling on people who know you," one of the
magistrates began; "and as I told you the other day we know that you have
been wandering about the country in a strange way, I now requite that you
shall tell us the names of all the persons with whom you have had
The question was addressed to Malcolm as the oldest of the prisoners.
Ronald looked round the court, which was crowded with people, and thought
that in several places he could detect an expression of anxiety rather
"It will be a long story," Malcolm said in a drawling voice, "and I would
not say for sure but that I may forget one or two, seeing that I have
spoken with so many. We came across the hills, and the first person we
spoke to was Master Fenwick, who keeps the Collie Dog at Appleswade. I
don't know whether your worship knows the village. I greeted him as
usual, and asked him how the wife and children had been faring since I
saw him last. He said they were doing brawly, save that the eldest boy
had twisted his ankle sorely among the fells."
"We don't want to hear all this nonsense," the magistrate said angrily.
"We want a list of persons, not what you said to them."
"It will be a hard task," Malcolm said simply; "but I will do the best I
can, your worship, and I can do no more. Let me think, there was Joseph
Repton and Nat Somner -- at least I think it was Nat, but I won't be sure
to his Christian name -- and John Dykes, and a chap they called Pitman,
but I don't know his right name."
"Who were all these people?" the magistrate asked.
"Joe Repton, he is a wheelwright by trade, and Nat Somner he keeps the
village shop. I think the others are both labouring men. Anyhow they were
all sitting at the tap of the Collie Dog when I went in."
"But what have we to do with these fellows?" the magistrate exclaimed
"I don't know no more than a child," Malcolm said; "but your worship
ordered me to tell you just the names of the persons I met, and I am
doing so to the best of my ability."
"Take care, prisoner," the magistrate said sternly; "you are trifling
with the court. You know what I want you to tell me. You have been to
these villages," and he read out some fifteen names. "What did you go
there for, and whom did you see?"
"That is just what I was trying to tell your worship in regular order,
but directly I begin you stop me. I have been going through this district
for fifteen years, and I am known in pretty well every village in
Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Lancashire. Having been away for three
years, and my trade being stopped by the war, as your worship well knows,
I have been going round having a crack with the people I know. Such as
were butchers I promised some fine animals next time I came south; such
as were innkeepers I stayed a night with and talked of old times. If your
worship will have patience with me I can tell you all the names and what
I said to each of them, and what they said to me, and all about it."
"I don't want to know about these things. I am asking you whether you
have not been calling on some of the gentry."
"Indeed, now," Malcolm said with an air of astonishment, "and this is the
first time that I have heard a word about the gentry since I came into
the court. Well, let me think now, I did meet Squire Ringwood, and he
stopped his horse and said to me: 'Is that you, Malcolm Anderson, you
rascal;' and I said, 'It's me, sure enough, squire;' and he said, 'You
rascal, that last score of beasts I bought of you --'"
"Silence!" shouted the magistrate as a titter ran through the court. "All
this fooling will do you no good, I can tell you. We believe that you are
a traitor to the king and an emissary of the Pretender. If you make a
clean breast of it, and tell me the names of those with whom you have
been having dealings, there may be a hope of mercy for you; but if not,
we shall get at the truth other ways, and then your meanness of condition
will not save you from punishment."
"Your worship must do as you like," Malcolm said doggedly. "I have done
my best to answer your questions, and you jump down my throat as soon as
I open my mouth. What should a man of my condition have to do with kings
or pretenders? They have ruined my trade between them, and I care not
whether King George or King James get the best of it, so that they do but
make an end of it as soon as possible, and let me bring down my herds
again. There's half a dozen butchers in the town who know me, and can
speak for me. I have sold thousands of beasts to Master Tregold; but if
this is the treatment an honest man meets with I ain't likely to sell
them any more, for as soon as I am let free and get the money the
constables have taken from me I am off to Glasgow and if I ever come
south of the border again, may I be hung and quartered."
Finding that nothing was to be made out of the prisoners, the magistrate
ordered them to be taken back to jail.
CHAPTER XVI: The March to Derby.
Two days later when the jailer brought in breakfast to their cell he
dropped on the table by the side of the loaf a tiny ball of paper, and
then without a word went out and locked the back door. Malcolm put his
finger to his lips as Ronald was about to utter an exclamation of joy.
"One's appetite is not as good here as it was when we were tramping the
hills, Ronald; but one looks forward to one's meals; they form a break in
So saying, he took up one of the lumps of bread and began to ear,
securing at the same time the pellet of paper. "We can't be too careful,"
he said in a whisper. "It is quite possible that they may be able to
"I don't see how," Ronald replied in the same tone; "I see no crack or
crevice through which sound could pass."
"You may not see one," Malcolm said, "but it may exist for all that. One
of the boards of the ceiling may be as thin as paper, and anyone
listening through could hear every word we say when we speak in our
natural voices. The magistrates evidently believe that they have made a
valuable capture, and would give anything to prove that their suspicions
are correct. Now, I will go and stand at that grated opening and look at
this paper, if they are watching us they will see nothing then."
The little piece of paper when unfolded contained but a few words: "Keep
up your courage. You have friends without working for you. Destroy this."
Malcolm at once again rolled up the pellet, put it into his mouth and
swallowed it, and then whispered to Ronald what he had just read.
"I thought," he whispered, "that we should soon get a message of some
sort. The news of our arrest will have set the hearts of a score of
people quaking, and they would do anything now to get us out from this
prison. They have already, you see, succeeded in bribing our warder."
At his evening visit the warder passed into Ronald's hand a small parcel,
and then, as before, went out without speaking.
"I am confirmed in the belief that we can be overheard," Malcolm said.
"Had the man not been afraid of listeners he would have spoken to us. Now
let us see what he has brought us this time."
The parcel contained a small file, a saw made of watch spring, and a tiny
phial of oil.
"So far so good," Malcolm said quietly. "Our way through these bars is
clear enough now. But that is only the beginning of our difficulties.
This window looks into the prison yard, and there is a drop of some forty
feet to begin with. However, I have no doubt our friends will send us the
means of overcoming these difficulties in due course. All we have to
concern ourselves about now is the sawing through of these bars."
As soon as it was dark they began the work, relieving each other in
turns. The oil prevented much sound being made, but to deaden it still
further they wrapped a handkerchief over the file. The bars had been but
a short time in position and the iron was new and strong. It was
consequently some hours before they completed their work. When they had
done, the grating was left in the position it before occupied, the cuts
being concealed from any but close observation by kneading up small
pieces of bread and pressing them into them, and then rubbing the edges
with iron filings.
"That will do for tonight," Malcolm said. "No one is likely to pay us a
visit; but if they did, they would not notice the bars unless they went
up and shook them. Tomorrow morning we can put a finishing touch to the
As soon as it was daylight they were upon their feet.
"It does very well as it is," Malcolm said, examining the grating. "It is
good enough to pass, and we need not trouble further about it. Now
collect every grain of those iron filings. No, don't do that on any
account," he broke in, as Ronald was preparing to blow some of it from
the lower stonework through the opening. "Were you to do that, it would
be quite possible that one of the prisoners walking in the yard might see
it, and would as likely as not report the circumstance to one of the
warders in order to curry favour and perhaps obtain a remission of his
sentence. Scrape it inside and pour every atom down the crevices in the
floor. That done, we are safe unless anyone touches the grating."
They watched their warder attentively when he next came into the cell,
but this time he had no message for them. "We must not be impatient,"
Malcolm said; "our friends have a good many arrangements to make, for
they will have to provide for our getting away when we are once out;
besides, they will probably have to bribe other warders, and that kind of
thing can't be done in a hurry."
It was not for another two days that the warder made any fresh sign.
Then, as on the first occasion, he placed a pellet of paper on the table
with their bread.
"This is a good deal larger than the last," Ronald whispered.
It was not until some little time after they had finished their meal that
Ronald moved to the grating and unrolled the little ball of paper; it
contained only the words:
"You will receive a rope this evening. With this lower yourselves from
your window into the courtyard. Start when you hear the church bells
strike midnight, cross the court and stand against the wall near the
right hand corner of the opposite side. The third window on the second
floor will be opened, and a rope lowered to you. Attach yourselves to
this, and you will be pulled up from above."
After reading the note Ronald passed it on to Malcolm, who, as before,
swallowed it, but had this time to tear it into several pieces before
doing so. The warder was later bringing their supper than usual that
evening, and it was dark when he came in. As he entered the room he let
the lamp fall which he carried.
"Confound the thing!" he said roughly. "Here, take hold of this bread,
and let me feel for the lamp. I can't be bothered with going down to get
another light. You can eat your supper in the dark just as well, I have
As he handed Ronald the bread he also pushed into his hand the end of the
rope, and while he pretended to search for the lamp he turned round and
round rapidly, and so unwound the rope, which was twisted many times
round his body. As soon as this was done he picked up the lamp, and with
a rough "Goodnight," left them.
"It is just as I suspected," Malcolm said in Ronald's ear. "There is a
peephole somewhere, otherwise there could be no occasion for him to have
dropped the lamp. It is well that we have always been on our guard."
They ate their bread in silence, and then after a short talk on the
stupidity of the English in taking two drovers for messengers of Prince
Charles, they lay down on their rough pallets to pass with what patience
they could the long hours before midnight, for it was late in October,
and it was little after five o'clock when the warder visited them. They
felt but slight anxiety as to the success of the enterprise, for they had
no doubt that every detail had been carefully arranged by their friends
without, although certainly it seemed a strange method of escape that
after lowering themselves from a third floor window they should
afterwards be hauled up into a second. At last, after what seemed almost
an endless watch, they heard the church clocks strike twelve, and
simultaneously rose to their feet. Not a word was spoken, for although it
was improbable in the extreme that any watcher would be listening at that
hour of the night, it was well to take every precaution. The grating was
lifted out and laid down on one of the couches so that all noise should
be avoided. The rope was then strongly fastened to the stump of one of
the iron bars.
"Now, Malcolm, I will give you a leg up; I am younger and more active
than you are, so you had better go first."
Without debating the question, Malcolm put his foot on Ronald's hand, and
in a moment was seated in the opening of the window. Grasping the rope he
let himself quietly out, and lowered himself to the ground, reaching it
so noiselessly that Ronald, who was listening, did nor hear a sound.
After waiting a minute, however, he sprang up on to the sill, and feeling
that the rope was slack, was soon by Malcolm's side below. Then both
removed their shoes and hung them round their necks, and walking
noiselessly across the court they took up their post under the window
indicated in the note. In less than a minute the end of a rope was
dropped upon their heads.
"You go first this time, Ronald," Malcolm said, and fastened it beneath
Ronald's arms. Then he gave a pull at the rope to show that they were
ready. The rope tightened, and Ronald found himself swinging in the air.
He kept himself from scraping against the walls by his hands and feet,
and was especially careful as he passed the window on the first floor. In
a minute he was pulled into the room on the second floor by the men who
had hoisted him up. A low "Hush!" warned him that there was still a
necessity for silence. The rope was lowered again, and Ronald lent his
aid to hoist Malcolm up to the window. As soon as he was in, it was as
slowly and carefully closed.
"You are mighty heavy, both of you," a voice whispered. "I should not
have thought it would have been such hard work to lift a man up this
height. Now, follow us, and be sure you make no noise."
Two flights of stairs were descended, and then they stood before a small
but heavy door; some bolts were drawn and a key turned in the lock, this
being done so noiselessly that Ronald was sure they must have been
carefully oiled. The two men passed through with them, locking the door
"Thank God we are out!" Malcolm said fervently. "I have been in a watch
house more than once in my young days, but I can't say I like it better
as I grow older." They walked for some minutes, and then their guides
opened a door and they entered a small house.
"Stir up those peats, Jack," one of the men said, "and blow them a bit,
while I feel for a candle."
In a minute or two a light was obtained.
"That's very neatly done, I think, gentlemen," laughed the man addressed
as Jack, and who they now saw was the warder who had attended upon them.
"We had rare trouble in hitting upon that plan. The cell you were in
opened upon a corridor, the doors to which are always locked by the chief
constable himself; and even if we could have got at his key, and opened
one of them, we should have been no nearer escape, for two of the warders
sleep in the lodge, and there would be no getting out without waking
them, and they could not be got at. They are both of them married men,
with families, and that sort of man does not care about running risks,
unless he happens to be tired of his wife and wanting a change. Nat here
and I have no incumbrances, and weren't sorry of a chance to shift.
Anyhow, there was no way, as far as we could see, of passing you out
through that part of the prison, and at last the idea struck us of
getting you out the way we did. That wing of the jail is only used for
debtors, and they are nothing like so strict on that side as they are on
the other. Some of the warders sleep there, so there was no difficulty in
getting hold of the key for an hour and having a duplicate made. Till
yesterday all the cells were full, and we had to wait till a man, whose
time was just up, moved out. After that it was clear sailing."
"Well, we are immensely obliged to you," Ronald said.
"Oh, you needn't be obliged to us," the warder replied; "we are well paid
for the job, and have a promise of good berths if Prince Charles gets the
best of it. Anyhow, we shall both make for London, where we have
acquaintances. Now we are going to dress up; there's no time to be lost
talking. There is a light cart waiting for us and horses for you half a
mile outside the town."
He opened a cupboard and took our two long smock frocks, which he and his
companion put on.
"Now, gentlemen, will you put on these two suits of soldiers' clothes. I
think they will about fit you."
Ronald and Malcolm were soon attired as dragoons.
"There's a regiment of them here," the man said, "so there was no
difficulty in buying a cast off suit and getting these made from it. As
to the helmets, I guess there will be a stir about them in the morning.
We got hold of a soldier today and told him we wanted a couple of helmets
for a lark, and he said, for a bottle of brandy he would drop them out of
a barrack window at ten o'clock tonight; and he kept his word. Two of
them will be surprised in the morning when they find that their helmets
have disappeared; as to the swords and belts, I don't know that they are
quite right; they were bought at an old shop, and I believe they are
yeomanry swords, but I expect they are neat enough. I was to give you
this letter to take with you; it is, as you see, directed to General Wade
at Newcastle, and purports to come from the colonel of your regiment
here, so that if by any chance you are questioned on the way, that will
serve as a reason for your journeying north. Here is a purse of twenty
guineas; I think that's about all."
"But are we not to see those who have done us such service," Ronald
asked, "in order that we may thank them in person?"
"I don't know who it is any more than the man in the moon," the warder
replied. "It was a woman dressed as a serving wench, though I doubt it
was only a disguise, who came to me. She met me in the street and asked
me if I should like to earn fifty pounds. I said I had no objection, and
then after a good deal of beating about the bush it came out that what
was wanted was that I should aid in your escape. I didn't see my way to
working it alone, and I told her so. She said she was authorized to offer
the same sum to another, so I said I would talk it over with Nat. He
agreed to stand in, and between us we thought about the arrangements; but
I never got to know any more about her. It was nothing to me whom the
money came from, as long as it was all right. We have had half down, and
are to have the other half when we get to the cart with you. And now if
you are ready we will be starting. The further we get away from here
before morning the better."
They made their way quietly along the streets. The town was in total
darkness, and they did not meet a single person abroad, and in a quarter
of an hour they were in the open country. Another ten minutes and they
came upon the cart and horses. Three men were standing beside them, and
the impatient stamp of a horse's hoof showed that the horses were tied up
closely. A lantern was held up as the party came up.
"All safe," Ronald replied. "Thanks, many thanks to you for our freedom."
The man holding the lantern was masked, so they could not see his face.
He first turned to the two warders, and placed a bag of money in their
"You have done your work well," he said; "the cart will take you thirty
miles on your road, and then drop you. I wish you a safe journey. You had
best hide your money in your boots, unless you wish it to fall into the
hands of highwaymen. The London road is infested with them."
With a word of farewell to Ronald and Malcolm, the two warders climbed
into the cart, one of them mounted beside them and took the reins, and in
another minute the cart drove away in the darkness. As soon as it had
started the man with the lantern removed his mask.
"Mr. Ratcliff!" Ronald exclaimed in surprise.
"Yes, it is myself. There are half a dozen of us engaged in the matter.
As soon as we heard of your arrest we determined to get you out. I was
only afraid you would have been taken up to London before we could get
all our plans arranged, for I knew they had sent up for instructions. It
was well that we were ready to act tonight, for orders were received this
afternoon that you should be sent up under an escort tomorrow. You
puzzled them rarely at your examination, and they could make nothing of
you. Our greatest fear was that you might betray yourselves in the prison
when you fancied you were alone, for we learned from the men who have
just left us that you were placed in a special cell where all that you
said could be overheard, and your movements to some extent watched
through a tiny hole in the wall communicating with the cell next to it.
It widens out on that side so that a man can get his ear or his eye to
the hole, which is high up upon the wall, and but a quarter of an inch
across, so that it could scarcely be observed unless by one who knew of
its existence. The warder said that they could hear plainly enough
through this hole, but could see very little. However, they do not seem
to have gathered much that way."
"We were on guard, sir; my friend Malcolm thought it possible that there
might be some such contrivance."
"And now, my young friend," Mr. Ratcliff said, "you had best mount at
once; follow this road for half a mile, and then take the broad road to
the left; you cannot mistake it. It goes straight to Penrith. You have
got the letter to General Wade?"
"Yes, sir, and the money; we are indeed in every way greatly indebted to
"Say nothing about it," Mr. Ratcliff said. "I am risking my life as well
as my fortune in the cause of Prince Charles, and this money is on his
service. I hear he is already on the march south. Repeat to him when you
join him what I have already told you, namely, that I and other gentlemen
will assuredly join him; but that I am convinced there will be no general
rising in his favour unless a French army arrive to his assistance. The
delay which has taken place has, in my opinion, entirely destroyed his
chances, unless he receives foreign assistance. Wade has ten thousand men
at Newcastle, the Duke of Cumberland has gathered eight thousand in the
Midlands, and there is a third army forming to cover London. Already many
of the best regiments have returned from Holland, and each day adds to
their number. Do all you can to dissuade him from advancing until French
aid arrives; but tell him also that if he comes with but half a dozen
followers, Charles Ratcliff will join him and share his fate, whatever it
With a hearty shake of the hand he leapt on his horse, and, followed by
his servant, galloped off in one direction, while Ronald and Malcolm set
out in the other.
"This is a grand disguise," Ronald said. "We might ride straight into
Wade's camp at Newcastle without being suspected."
"I have no doubt we could," Malcolm agreed. "Still, it will be wiser to
keep away from the neighbourhood of any English troops. Awkward questions
might be asked, and although the letter you have for the general may do
very well to impress any officers of militia or newly raised troops we
may meet on the road, and would certainly pass us as two orderlies
conveying despatches, it would be just as well not to have to appear
before the general himself. Our swords and belts would probably be
noticed at once by any cavalry officers. I know nothing about the English
army, and do not know how much the yeomanry swords and belts may differ
from those of the line. However, it is certain the less observation we
attract from the soldiers the better; but as to civilians we can ride
straight on through towns and villages with light hearts."
"We may as well breathe our horses a bit, Malcolm, now there is no
occasion for haste, and we can jog along at our own pace. There is no
probability of pursuit, for when they find that we and the warders are
missing and see the rope from our window they will be sure that we shall
have started early and are far away by the time they find out we are
Accordingly they travelled quietly north, boldly riding through small
towns and villages, putting up at little inns, and chatting freely with
the villagers who came in to talk over the news, for the north was all
excitement. Orders had been issued for all the militia to turn out, but
there was little response, for although few had any desire to risk their
lives in the cause of the Stuarts, fewer still had any intention of
fighting for the Hanoverians.
When they arrived within a few miles of Newcastle they left the main road
and struck across country, their object being to come down upon the road
running north from Carlisle, for they thought it likely that parties of
General Wade's troops would be scattered far over the country north of
Newcastle. At a farm house they succeeded in buying some civilian
clothes, giving out that they were deserters, and as they were willing to
pay well, the farmer, who had no goodwill towards the Hanoverians, had no
difficulty in parting with two of his best suits.
They were now in a country perfectly well known to Malcolm, and
travelling by byways across the hills they crossed the Cheviots a few
miles south of Carter Fell, and then rode down the wild valleys to
Castletown and thence to Canobie of the Esk. As they entered the little
town they found the wildest excitement prevailing. An officer with two
orderlies had just ridden in to say that quarters were to be prepared for
Prince Charles, and a quantity of bullocks and meal got in readiness for
the use of the army, which would arrive late that evening. Ronald soon
found the officer who had brought the order and recognized him as one of
Lord Perth's aides de camp. He did not know Ronald in his present dress,
but greeted him heartily as soon as he discovered who he was.
"How is it the troops are coming this way?" Ronald asked.
"They are marching through Liddesdale from Kelso. We halted there for two
days, and orders were sent forward to Wooler to prepare quarters. This
was to throw Wade off the scent and induce him to march north from
Newcastle to oppose us on that road, while, as you see, we have turned
west and shall cross into Cumberland and make a dash at Carlisle."
A few hours later the prince arrived with his army, and as soon as he
entered the quarters prepared for him Ronald proceeded there and made his
"I could wish it had been better, Captain Leslie," the prince said; "but
the die is cast now, and I cannot think that our friends in the north,
who proved so loyal to our cause in '15, will hang back when we are among
them. When they see that Charles Ratcliff and other gentlemen whom you
have visited range themselves under our banner I believe the common
people will join us also. Now give me a full account of your mission."
Ronald gave the list of the gentry he had visited, and described his
arrest and imprisonment in Manchester and the manner in which Mr.
Ratcliff had contrived his escape.
"You have done all that is possible, sir," the prince said, "and at an
early opportunity I will show you I appreciate your services."
On the next day, the 8th of November, the corps crossed the border; on
the 9th they were joined by another column, which had marched from
Edinburgh by the western road, and the united force marched to Carlisle
and sat down before it. The walls of the city were old and in bad
condition, the garrison was ill prepared for a siege. It consisted of a
company of invalids in the castle, under the command of Colonel Durand,
and a considerable body of Cumberland Militia. The walls, however, old as
they were, could for some time have resisted the battery of four pounder
guns which formed the prince's sole artillery.
The mayor returned no answer to the prince's summons and orders were
issued to begin to throw up trench works, but scarcely had the operations
begun when news arrived that Marshal Wade was marching from Newcastle to
relieve the city. The siege was at once abandoned, and the prince marched
out with the army to Brampton and took up a favourable position there to
give battle. The news proved incorrect, and the Duke of Perth with
several regiments were sent back to resume the siege.
On the 13th the duke began to raise a battery on the east side of the
town, but after a few shots had been fired from the walls the courage of
the besieged failed them. The white flag was hung out, and the town and
castle surrendered on the condition that the soldiers and militia might
march away, leaving their arms and horses behind and engaging not to
serve again for a year. On the 17th the prince made a triumphal entry
into the place, but was received with but little show of warmth on the
part of the inhabitants.
A halt was made at Carlisle and a council was held to determine upon the
next step to be taken. The news which had been received from Scotland was
very unfavourable. Lord Strathallan, who had been appointed by the prince
as commander in chief, and directed to raise as many troops as possible,
had collected between two and three thousand men at Perth, and Lord Lewis
Gordon had raised three battalions in Aberdeenshire; but on the other
hand a considerable force had been collected at Inverness for King
George. The towns of Glasgow, Paisley, and Dumfries had turned out their
militia for the house of Hanover. The officers of the crown had
re-entered Edinburgh and two regiments of cavalry had been sent forward
by Marshal Wade to their support.
While even Scotland was thus wavering it seemed almost madness for the
little army to advance into England. The greater portion of the
Highlanders had from the first objected strongly to leave their country,
and upwards of a thousand had deserted and gone home on the march down
from Edinburgh. They had started less than six thousand strong, and after
leaving a garrison of two hundred men in Carlisle, but four thousand five
hundred were available for the advance south, while Wade, with his ten
thousand men, would be in their rear and two English armies of nearly
equal strength be waiting to receive them. At the council the opinions of
the leaders were almost unanimous against an advance, but upon Lord
George Murray saying that if Prince Charles decided upon advancing the
army would follow him, he determined upon pressing forward.
The army began its advance on the 20th of November, and halted a day at
Penrith, upon the news that Marshal Wade was moving to attack them; but
the English general had not made any move, and the Scotch again pushed on
through Shap, Kendal, and Lancaster, to Preston. During the march Prince
Charles marched with his troops clad in Highland garb, and with his
target thrown across his shoulder. He seldom stopped for dinner, but ate
his food as he walked, chatting gaily with the Highlanders, and by his
cheerfulness and example kept up their spirits. The strictest discipline
was enforced, and everything required by the troops was paid for. At
Preston the prince on his entry was cheered by the mob, and a few men
From Preston the army marched to Wigan, and thence to Manchester. The
road was thronged with people, who expressed the warmest wishes for the
prince's success; but when asked to enlist, they all hung back, saying
they knew nothing about fighting. Still the feeling in favour of the
prince's cause became stronger as he advanced south, and at Manchester he
was received with the acclamations of the inhabitants, the ringing of the
bells, and an illumination of the city in the evening. The people mounted
white cockades, and the next day about two hundred men enlisted and were
enrolled under the name of the Manchester Regiment, the command of which
was given to Mr. Francis Townley, a Roman Catholic belonging to an old
Lancashire family, who, with Mr. Ratcliff and a few other gentlemen, had
joined the army on the advance.
The leaders, however, of the prince's army were bitterly disappointed at
the general apathy of the people. Lancashire had in '15 been the
stronghold of the Jacobites, and the mere accession of two or three
hundred men was evident that nothing like a popular rising was to be
looked for, and they had but themselves to rely upon in the struggle
against the whole strength of England. Marshal Wade was in full march
behind them. The Duke of Cumberland lay at Lichfield in their front with
a force of eight thousand veteran troops; while a third army, of which
the Royal Guards were the nucleus, was being formed at Finchley. Large
bodies of militia had been raised in several districts. Liverpool had
declared against them; Chester was in the hands of the Earl of
Cholmondeley; the bridges of the Mersey had been broken down;
difficulties and dangers multiplied on all sides.
Prince Charles, ever sanguine, was confident that he should be joined by
large numbers as he advanced south; but his officers were now thoroughly
alarmed, and the leaders in a body remonstrated with Lord George Murray
against any further advance. He advised them, however, to offer no
further opposition to the prince's wishes until they came to Derby,
promising that, unless by that time they were joined by the Jacobites in
considerable numbers, he would himself, as general, propose and insist
upon a retreat. Ronald utilized the short halt at Manchester to obtain
new uniforms for himself and Malcolm, which he was glad to exchange for
the farmer's garb, which had been the occasion of a good deal of joking
and mirth among his fellow officers on the downward march.
On the first of December, Prince Charles, at the head of one division,
forded the Mersey near Stockport, where the water was waist deep. The
other division, with the baggage and artillery, crossed lower down, at
Cheadle, on a hastily constructed bridge, and the two columns joined that
evening at Macclesfield. Here Lord George Murray succeeded in misleading
the Duke of Cumberland as to his intentions by a dexterous manoeuvre.
Advancing with a portion of his force he dislodged and drove before him
the Duke of Kingston and a small party of English horse posted at
Congleton, and pursued them some distance along the road towards
Newcastle under Tyne.
The Duke of Cumberland, supposing that the prince's army were on their
march either to give him battle or to make their way into Wales, where
the Jacobite party were extremely strong, pushed forward with his main
body to Stone. Lord George Murray, however, having gained his object,
turned sharp off to the left, and after a long march arrived at Ashborne,
where the prince, with the other division of the army, had marched
direct. The next afternoon they arrived at Derby, having thus altogether
evaded the Duke of Cumberland, and being nearly three days' march nearer
London than was his army.
The prince that night was in high spirits at the fact that he was now
within a hundred and thirty miles of London, and that neither Wade's nor
Cumberland's forces interposed between him and the capital. But his
delight was by no means shared by his followers, and early next morning
he was waited upon by Lord George Murray and all the commanders of
battalions and squadrons, and a council being held, they laid before the
prince their earnest and unanimous opinion that an immediate retreat to
Scotland was necessary.
They had marched, they said, so far on the promise either of an English
rising or a French descent upon England. Neither had yet occurred. Their
five thousand fighting men were insufficient to give battle to even one
of the three armies that surrounded them -- scarcely adequate, indeed, to
take possession of London were there no army at Finchley to protect it.
Even did they gain London, how could they hold it against the united
armies of Wade and Cumberland? Defeat so far from home would mean
destruction, and not a man would ever regain Scotland.
In vain the prince replied to their arguments, in vain expostulated, and
even implored them to yield to his wishes. After several hours of stormy
debate the council broke up without having arrived at any decision. The
prince at one time thought of calling upon the soldiers to follow him
without regard to their officers; for the Highlanders, reluctant as they
had been to march into England, were now burning for a fight, and were
longing for nothing so much as to meet one or other of the hostile armies
opposed to them. The prince's private advisers, however, Sheridan and
Secretary Murray, urged him to yield to the opinion of his officers,
since they were sure that the clansmen would never fight well if they
knew that their chiefs were unanimously opposed to their giving battle.
Accordingly the prince, heartbroken at the destruction of his hopes,
agreed to yield to the wishes of his officers, and at a council in the
evening gave his formal consent to a retreat.
CHAPTER XVII: A Baffled Plot.
Utterly disheartened and dispirited the army commenced its march north.
The prince himself was even more disappointed than his soldiers, and
showed by his manner how bitterly he resented the decision at which his
officers had arrived. It had seemed to him that success was within his
grasp, and that he had but to march to London to overthrow the Hanoverian
dynasty. And it is by no means improbable that his instincts were more
correct than the calculations of his advisers. The news of his rapid
march south had sent a thrill through the country; and although so far
the number of those who had joined him was exceedingly small, at that
moment numbers of gentlemen in Wales and other parts of the country were
arming their tenants, and preparing to take the field.
There was no hostile force between himself and London, for the force at
Finchley was not yet organized, and could have offered no effectual
opposition. A panic reigned in the metropolis, and the king was preparing
to take ship and leave the country. Had the little army marched forward
there is small doubt that James would have been proclaimed king in
London. But it may be doubted whether Prince Charles could have
maintained the advantage he had gained. Two armies, both superior to his
own, were pressing on his rear, and would have arrived in London but a
few days after himself; and although the Londoners might have accepted
him, they would hardly have risen in arms to aid him against Cumberland's
army. Had this halted at a distance, the reinforcements which might have
joined the prince would have been more than counterbalanced by the
regiments of English and Hanoverian troops which the king could have sent
over, and although the strife might have been lengthened the result would
in all probability have been the same.
Prince Charles had no ability in governing. His notions of the absolute
power of kings were as strong as those of his ancestors, and, surrounded
as he was by hotheaded Highlanders, he would speedily have caused
discontent and disgust even among those most favourably inclined by
hereditary tradition to the cause of the Stuarts. But of all this he was
ignorant, and in the retreat from Derby he saw the destruction of his
Hitherto he had marched on foot with the Highlanders, chatting gaily as
he went. Now he rode in rear of the column, and scarce exchanged a word
with even his most intimate advisers. The Highlanders no longer preserved
the discipline which had characterized their southward march. Villages
were plundered and in some cases burned, and in retaliation the peasantry
killed or took prisoners stragglers and those left behind. Even at
Manchester, where the reception of the army had been so warm a few days
before, its passage was opposed by a violent mob, and the prince was so
offended at the conduct of the townspeople that he imposed a fine of five
thousand pounds upon the city.
The next morning the march was continued. The Highlanders laid hands on
every horse they could find, and so all pressed on at the top of their
speed for the border. The Duke of Cumberland, who had fallen back in all
haste for the protection of London, was close to Coventry when he heard
that the Scotch had retreated northward. With all his cavalry, and a
thousand foot whom he mounted on horses supplied by the neighbouring
gentry, he set out in pursuit. At Preston he was joined by another body
of horse, sent across the country from the army of Marshal Wade; but it
was not until he entered Westmoreland that he came up with the rear guard
of the insurgents, which was commanded by Lord George Murray.
Defeating some local volunteers who molested him, Lord George learned
from the prisoners that the duke with four thousand men was close at
hand, and he sent on the news to the prince, who despatched two
regiments, the Stuarts of Appin and the Macphersons of Cluny, to
reinforce him. It was nearly dark when by the light of the moon Lord
George saw the English infantry, who had now dismounted, advancing. He at
once charged them at the head of the Macphersons and Stuarts, and in a
few minutes the English were completely defeated, their commander,
Colonel Honeywood, being left severely wounded on the field, with a
hundred killed or disabled men, while the loss of the Scotch was but
It was with great difficulty that the Highlanders could be recalled from
the pursuit, and Lord George himself sent an urgent message to the prince
begging for a further reinforcement, in order that he might maintain his
ground and defeat the whole force of the duke. As usual his wishes were
disregarded, and he was ordered to fall back and join the main body at
Penrith. The check, however, was so effective that the duke made no
further attempt to harass the retreat of the Highlanders.
Passing through Carlisle, some men of a Lowland regiment, and Colonel
Twonley with his regiment raised at Manchester, were left there as a
garrison, so that the road should be kept open for another and, as the
prince hoped, not far distant invasion. The step was, however, a cruel
one, for the Duke of Cumberland at once laid siege to the place, battered
a breach in its ancient wall, and the garrison were forced to surrender.
Many of them were afterwards executed and imprisoned, and ruin fell upon
Charles with his army marched north to Glasgow, where they remained eight
days, requisitioning supplies from the town. During their stay Ronald and
Malcolm put up at the house of Andrew Anderson.
"What think you of the chances now, Malcolm?" Andrew asked his brother,
after hearing what had taken place since he had last seen him.
"I think no better and no worse of it than I did before, brother. They
have had more success than I looked for. I did not think they would ever
have got as far south as Derby. Who would have thought that a few
thousand Highlanders could have marched half through England? But I see
no prospect of success. The prince is badly advised. He has but one
really good soldier with him, and he is set against him by the intrigues
and spite of Secretary Murray and his friends, and partly, it may be, by
Lord George's own frankness of speech. He has at his back but half the
Highlands, for the other portion stand aloof from him. In the Lowlands he
has found scarce an adherent, and but a handful in England. The
Highlanders are brave; but it is surely beyond human expectation that
five or six thousand Highlanders can vanquish a kingdom with a brave and
well trained army with abundant artillery. Ronald and I mean to fight it
out to the end; but I do not think the end will be very far off."
"I am sorry for the young prince," Andrew said. "He is a fine fellow,
certainly -- handsome and brave and courteous, and assuredly clement. For
three times his life has been attempted, and each time he has released
those who did it without punishment. I could not but think, as I saw him
ride down the street today, that it was sad that so fine a young man
should be doomed either to the block or to a lifelong imprisonment, and
that for fighting for what he has been doubtless taught to consider his
right. There are many here who are bitter against him; but I am not one
of them, and I am sorry for him, sorry for all these brave gentlemen and
clansmen, for I fear that there will be a terrible vengeance for all that
has been done. They have frightened the English king and his ministers
too sorely to be ever forgiven, and we shall have sad times in Scotland
when this is all over."
Two evenings later Ronald noticed that Andrew, who had been absent for
some time, and had only returned just in time for supper, looked worried
and abstracted, and replied almost at random to any questions put to him.
"It is of no use," he said suddenly when his wife had left the room after
the conclusion of the meal. "I am a loyal subject of King George, and I
wish him every success in battle, and am confident that he will crush out
this rebellion without difficulty, but I cannot go as far as some. I
cannot stand by and see murder done on a poor lad who, whatever his
faults, is merciful and generous to his enemies. Malcolm, I will tell you
all I know, only bidding you keep secret as to how you got the news, for
it would cost me my life were it known that the matter had leaked out
"This evening five of the council, knowing that I am a staunch king's
man, took me aside after the meeting was over, and told me that there was
a plan on foot to put an end to all the trouble by the carrying off or
slaying of Prince Charles. I was about to protest against it, when I saw
that by so doing I should, in the, first place, do no good; in the
second, be looked upon as a Jacobite; and in the third, be unable to
learn the details of what they were proposing. So I said that doubtless
it was a good thing to lay by the heels the author of all these troubles,
and that the life of one man was as nought in the balance compared to the
prosperity of the whole country. Whereupon they revealed to me their
plan, asking me for a subscription of a hundred pounds to carry it out,
and saying truly that I should get back the money and great honour from
the king when he learned I had done him such service. After some
bargaining I agreed for fifty pounds."
"But what is the plot, Andrew?" Malcolm said anxiously.
"It is just this. The prince, as you know, goes about with scant
attendance, and though there are guards in front of his house, there are
but two or three beside himself who sleep there. There is a back entrance
to which no attention is paid, and it will be easy for those who know the
house to enter by that door, to make their way silently to his chamber,
and either to kill or carry him off. I threw my voice in against killing,
pointing out that the king would rather have him alive than dead, so that
he might be tried and executed in due form. This was also their opinion,
for they had already hired a vessel which is lying in the stream. The
plan is to seize and gag him and tie his arms. There will be no
difficulty in getting him along through the streets. There are few folks
abroad after ten o'clock, and should they meet anyone he will conclude
that it is but a drunken Highlander being carried home. You see, Malcolm,
there is not only honour to be gained from the king, but the thirty
thousand pounds offered for the prince's person. I pretended to fall in
with the plan, and gave them the fifty pounds which they lacked for the
hire of the vessel, the captain refusing to let them have it save for
money paid down. Now, Malcolm, I have told you and Ronald all I know
about the matter, and it is for you to see how a stop may be put to it."
"The scoundrels!" Malcolm said. "Their loyalty to the king is but a veil
to hide their covetousness for the reward. When is it to take place, and
how many men are likely to be engaged in it?"
"Six trusty men of the city watch and their five selves. I said I would
subscribe the money, but would have no active share in the business. They
might have all the honour, I would be content with my share of the reward
offered. Two of them with four of the guards will enter the house and
carry off the prince. The rest will wait outside and follow closely on
the way down to the port ready to give aid if the others should meet with
any obstruction. The whole will embark and sail to London with him."
"And when is this plot to be carried out?" Malcolm asked.
"Tomorrow at midnight. Tide will be high half an hour later; they will
drop down the river as soon as it turns, and will be well out to sea by
the morning. And now I have told you all, I will only ask you to act so
that as little trouble as possible may arise. Do not bring my name into
the matter if you can avoid doing so; but in any case I would rather run
the risk of the ruin and death which would alight upon me when this
rebellion is over than have such a foul deed of treachery carried out.
There is not a Scotchman but to this day curses the name of the traitor
Menteith, who betrayed Wallace. My name is a humble one, but I would not
have it go down to all ages as that of a man who betrayed Charles Stuart
for English gold."
"Make yourself easy, brother; Ronald and I will see to that. When once
treachery is known it is easy to defeat, and Ronald and I will see that
your name does not appear in the matter."
"Thank God that is off my mind!" Andrew said. "And I will off to bed, or
Janet will wonder what I am talking about so long. I will leave you two
to settle how you can best manage the affair, which you can do without my
help, for matters of this kind are far more in your way than in mine."
"This is a villainous business, Ronald," Malcolm said when they were
alone; "and yet I am not surprised. Thirty thousand pounds would not
tempt a Highlander who has naught in the world save the plaid in which he
stands up; but these money grubbing citizens of Glasgow would sell their
souls for gain. And now what do you think had best be done in the matter,
so that the plot may be put a stop to, and that without suspicion falling
upon Andrew? It would be easy to have a dozen men hiding in the yard
behind the house and cut down the fellows as they enter."
"I do not think that would do, Malcolm; it would cause a tumult, and the
fact could not be hidden. And besides, you know what these Highlanders
are; they already loathe and despise the citizens of Glasgow, and did
they know that there had been a plot on foot to capture and slay the
prince, nothing could prevent their laying the town in ashes."
"That is true enough. What do you propose then, Ronald?"
"I think it best that if there should be any fighting it should be on
board the ship, but possibly we may avoid even that. I should say that
with eight or ten men we can easily seize the vessel, and then when the
boat comes alongside capture the fellows as they step on to the deck
without trouble, and leave it to the prince to settle what is to be done
"That is certainly the best plan, Ronald. I will get together tomorrow
half a dozen trusty lads who will ask no questions as to what I want them
to do, and will be silent about the matter afterwards. We must get from
Andrew tomorrow morning the name of the vessel, and see where she is
lying in the stream, and where the boat will be waiting for the prince."
The next night Ronald and Malcolm with six men made their way one by one
through the streets so as not to attract the attention of the watch, and
assembled near the strand. Not until the clock struck twelve did they
approach the stairs at the foot of which the boat was lying. There were
two men in it.
"You are earlier than we expected," one said as they descended the steps.
"The captain said a quarter past twelve."
"Yes, we are a little early," Malcolm replied as he stepped into the
boat; "we are ready earlier than we expected."
A moment later Malcolm suddenly seized one of the sailors by the throat
and dragged him down to the bottom of the boat, a handkerchief was
stuffed into his mouth, and his hands and feet tied. The other was at the
same time similarly secured.
So suddenly and unexpected had been the attack that the sailors had had
no time to cry out or to offer any resistance, and their capture was
effected without the slightest sound being heard. The oars were at once
got out and the boat was rowed out towards the vessel lying out in the
middle of the stream with a light burning at her peak. As they approached
the side the captain appeared at the gangway.
"All is well, I hope?" he asked.
"Could not be better," Malcolm replied as he seized the rope and mounted
the gangway, the others closely following him. As he sprang upon the deck
he presented a pistol at the captain's head.
"Speak a word and you die," he said sternly.
Taken by surprise, the captain offered no resistance, but suffered
himself to be bound. Two or three sailors on deck were similarly seized
and secured, the hatchway was fastened to prevent the rest of the crew
from coming on deck, and the ship being thus in their possession two of
the men at once took their places in the boat and rowed back to the
A quarter of an hour later those on board heard a murmur of voices on
shore, and two or three minutes later the splash of oars as the boat
rowed back to the ship. Ronald put on the captain's cap and stood at the
gangway with a lantern.
"All right, I hope?" he asked as the boat came alongside.
"All right, captain! You can get up your anchor as soon as you like."
Two men mounted on to the deck, and then four others carried up a figure
and were followed by the rest. As the last one touched the deck Ronald
lifted the lantern above his head, and, to the astonishment of the
newcomers, they saw themselves confronted by eight armed men.
The six men of the watch, furious at the prospect of losing the reward
upon which they had reckoned, drew their swords and rushed forward; but
they were struck down with handspikes and swords, for Ronald had
impressed upon his men the importance of not using their pistols, save in
the last extremity. In two minutes the fight was over. The five citizens
had taken little part in it, save as the recipients of blows; for
Malcolm, furious at their treachery, had bade the men make no distinction
between them and the watch, and had himself dealt them one or two heavy
blows with his handspike after he had seen that the guard was
The whole of them were then bound, and warned that their throats would be
cut if they made the least noise. The prince was released from his bonds,
and he was at once conducted by Malcolm and Ronald to the cabin, where a
light was burning.
The prince was so much bewildered by the events that had occurred that he
did not yet understand the state of the case. He had. been awoke by a gag
being roughly forced into his mouth, while at the same moment his hands
were tightly bound. Then he was lifted from his bed, some clothes were
thrown on to him, a man took his place on either side, and, thrusting
their arms into his, threatened him with instant death if he did not come
along with them without resistance. Then he had been hurried down stairs
and along the streets, two men keeping a little ahead and others
following behind. He had been forced into a boat and rowed up to a ship,
and on reaching the deck a desperate combat had suddenly commenced all
round him. Then the gag had been removed and the bonds cut. Bewildered
and amazed he gazed at the two men who had accompanied him to the cabin.
"Why, Captain Leslie!" he exclaimed. "Is it you? What means all this
scene through which I have passed?"
"It means, your royal highness," Ronald said respectfully, "that I and my
friend Malcolm obtained information of a plot on the part of some of the
citizens to carry you off and sell you to the English. We could have
stopped it by attacking them as they entered the house to seize you; but
had we done so an alarm must have been raised, and we feared that the
Highlanders, when they knew of the treachery that had been attempted
against you, might have fallen upon the citizens, and that a terrible
uproar would have taken place. Therefore we carried out another plan. We
first of all obtained possession of the ship in which you were to have
been taken away, and then overcame your captors as they brought you on
board. All this has been done without any alarm having been given, and it
now rests with you to determine what shall be done with these wretches."
"You have done well, indeed, Captain Leslie, and I thank you and your
friend not only for the great service you have rendered me, but for the
manner in which you have done it. I ought to have foreseen this. Did not
the Lowlanders sell King Charles to the English? I might have expected
that some at least would be tempted by the reward offered me. As for
punishment for these men, they are beneath me. And, moreover, if I can
trust my eyes and my ears, the knocks which you gave them will be
punishment enough even did I wish to punish them, which I do not. I could
not do so without the story of the attempt being known, and in that case
there would be no keeping my Highlanders within bounds. As it is they are
continually reproaching me with what they call my mistaken clemency, and
there would be no restraining them did they know of this. No, we had best
leave them to themselves. We will order the captain to put to sea with
them at once, and tell him he had best not return to Glasgow until I have
left it. They will have time to reflect there at leisure, and as,
doubtless, they have each of them given reasons at home for an absence of
some duration there will be no anxiety respecting them. And now,
gentlemen, will you fetch in those who have aided in my rescue. I would
thank every one of them for the service they have rendered, and impress
upon them my urgent desire that they should say nothing to anyone of this
While the prince was speaking to the men, Malcolm went out, and having
unbound the captain, ordered him to deliver up the sum which he had
received for the conveyance of the prince and his captors to England.
The captain did as he was ordered.
"How much is there here?" Malcolm asked.
"Three hundred pounds."
Malcolm counted out fifty of it and placed them in his pocket, saying to
"There is no reason Andrew should be a loser by the transaction. That
will leave two hundred and fifty, which I will divide among our men when
we get ashore."
Malcolm then gave the prince's orders to the captain; that he must,
immediately they left the ship, get up his anchor as before intended, and
make out to sea; and that under pain of being tried and executed for his
share in this treacherous business, he was not to return to Glasgow with
his eleven passengers for the space of a week.
The prince and his rescuers then entered the boats and rowed to shore,
and the prince regained his apartment without anyone in the house being
aware that he had been absent from it. The next day the prince sent for
Ronald and Malcolm, and in a private interview again expressed to them
his gratitude for his rescue from the hands of his enemies.
"I have none but empty honour to bestow now," he said; "but believe me,
if I ever mount the throne of England you shall see that Charles Edward
Stuart is not ungrateful."
The incident was kept a close secret, only two or three of the prince's
most intimate advisers ever informed of it. These were unanimous in
urging that an absolute silence should be maintained on the subject, for
the fact that the attempt would have certainly been crowned with success
had it not been for the measures Ronald had taken, might encourage others
to attempt a repetition of it.
Having rested his army by a stay of eight days at Glasgow, Prince Charles
set out on the 3rd of January, 1746, for Stirling, where he was joined by
Lords John Drummond, Lewis Gordon, and Strathallan, the first named of
whom had brought some battering guns and engineers from France. Their
following raised the force to nearly nine thousand men -- the largest
army that Charles mustered during the course of the campaign. The siege
of Stirling was at once commenced; but the castle was strong and well
defended, and the siege made but little progress.
In the meantime the Duke of Cumberland had been recalled with the greater
part of his force to guard the southern coasts of England, which were
threatened by an invasion by a French force now assembled at Dunkirk, and
which, had it sailed before the Highlanders commenced their retreat from
Derby, might have altogether altered the situation of affairs. The
command of the English army in the north was handed by the duke to
General Hawley, a man after his own heart, violent in temper, brutal and
cruel in conduct.
He collected at Edinburgh an army of nearly the same strength as that of
Prince Charles, and with these he matched out as far as Falkirk to raise
the siege of Stirling, and, as he confidently boasted, to drive the
rebels before him. Prince Charles, leaving a few hundred men to continue
the siege, matched out to Bannockburn. The English did not move out from
Falkirk, and the prince, after waiting for a day, determined to take the
Hawley himself was stopping at Callendar House at some distance from his
army and General Huske remained in command of the camp. To occupy his
attention the prince despatched Lord John Drummond, with all the cavalry,
by the straight road by Stirling to Falkirk, which ran north of the
English camp. They displayed, as they marched, the royal standard and
other colours, which had the desired effect of impressing Huske with the
idea that the prince with all his army was moving that way. In the
meantime Charles with his main force had crossed the river Carron to the
south and was only separated from the English by Falkirk Muir, a rugged
and rigid upland covered with heath.
Just as the English were about to take their dinner some country people
brought in the news of the approach of the Highlanders. Huske at once got
his men under arms, but he had no authority, in the absence of Hawley, to
set them in motion. Messengers, however, were sent off on horseback at
once to Callendar House, and the general presently galloped up in
breathless haste, and putting himself at the head of his three regiments
of dragoons, started for Falkirk Muir, which he hoped to gain before the
Highlanders could take possession of it. He ordered the infantry to
follow as fast as possible. A storm of wind and rain beat in the face of
the soldiers, and before they could gain the crest of the muir the
Highlanders had obtained possession. The English then halted and drew up
on somewhat lower ground.
Between them was a ravine which formed but a small depression opposite
the centre of the English line, but deepened towards the plain on their
right. The English artillery, in the hurry of their advance, had stuck
fast in a morass, but as the Highlanders had brought no guns with them
the forces were equal in this respect. Lord John Drummond had from a
distance been watching the movements of the English, and as soon as he
saw that they had taken the alarm and were advancing against the prince,
he made a detour, and, riding round the English, joined the Highland
infantry. The prince's army was divided into two lines: its right was
commanded by Lord George Murray, the left by Lord John Drummond; the
prince, as at Preston, took up his station in the centre of the second
line on a conspicuous mound, still known by the name of Charlie's Hill.
The English infantry were also drawn up in two lines, with the Argyle
militia and the Glasgow regiment in reserve behind the second line. The
cavalry were in front under Colonel Ligonier, who, at the death of
Colonel Gardiner, had succeeded to the command of his regiment. General
Hawley commanded the centre and General Huske the right.
The battle commenced by a charge of Ligonier with his cavalry upon the
Highland right. Here the Macdonald clansmen were posted, and these, at
Lord George Murray's order, reserved their fire until the dragoons were
within ten yards, and then poured in a scathing volley, under which
numbers of the horsemen went down. The two dragoon regiments, which had
fled so shamefully at Preston and Coltbridge, turned and galloped at once
from the field; but Cobham's regiment fought well, and when compelled to
retreat rallied behind the right of the line.
Lord George Murray endeavoured to get the victorious Macdonalds into line
again; but these were beyond control and rushing forward fell upon the
flank of Hawley's two lines of foot, which were at the same moment
furiously assailed in front; the Highlanders, after pouring in their
fire, dropped their muskets and charged broadsword in hand.
The English, nearly blinded by the wind and rain, were unable to
withstand this combined assault. General Hawley, who at least possessed
the virtue of courage, rode hither and thither in their front, trying to
encourage them, but in vain, the whole centre gave way and fled in
confusion. On the right, however, the English were defending themselves
successfully. The three regiments placed there, on the edge of the
ravine, maintained so steady a fire that the Highlanders were unable to
cross it, and Cobham's dragoons charged down upon the scattered and
victorious Highlanders in the centre and effectually checked their
pursuit. Prince Charles, seeing the danger, put himself at the head of
the second line and advanced against the three English regiments who
still stood firm.
Unable to withstand so overwhelming a force these fell back from the
ground they had held, but did so in steady order, their drums beating,
and covering, in their retreat, the mingled mass of fugitives. Had the
Highlanders, at this critical moment, flung themselves with their whole
force upon these regiments the English army would have been wholly
destroyed; but night was already setting in, and the Scottish leaders
were ignorant how complete was their victory, and feared an ambuscade.
Lord John Drummond, a general officer in the French service, especially
opposed the pursuit, saying, "These men behaved admirably at Fontenoy;
surely this must be a feint."
The Highlanders remained stationary on the field until some detachments,
sent forward by the prince, brought back word that the English had
already retreated from Falkirk. They left behind them on the field four
hundred dead or dying, with a large portion of officers, and a hundred
prisoners; all their artillery, ammunition, and baggage fell into the
hands of the Highlanders, whose total loss was only about a hundred. The
English, on their retreat, burned to the ground the royal palace at
CHAPTER XVIII: Culloden.
The victory of Falkirk brought but little advantage to Prince Charles,
and dissensions arose among the officers; Lord George Murray being
furious with Lord John Drummond for preventing the complete destruction
of the English army, while Lord John Drummond severely criticised Lord
George for the confusion which had taken place among his troops after
Great numbers of the Highlanders, who had spent the night after the
battle in plundering the English camp and stripping the slain, made off
with their booty to the mountains, and the number of desertions was
increased by the withdrawal of the greater part of Glengarry's clansmen.
On the day after the battle the musket of one of the Clanranald clansmen
went off by accident and killed the son of Glengarry. His clansmen loudly
demanded life for life, and Clanranald having reluctantly consented to
surrender his follower, the poor fellow was immediately led out and shot;
but even this savage act of vengeance was insufficient to satisfy the
Glengarry men, the greater part of whom at once left the army and
returned to their homes.
After the battle the siege of Stirling was renewed; but owing to the
gross incompetence of a French engineer, who had come over with Lord
Drummond, the batteries were so badly placed that their fire was easily
silenced by that of the castle guns. The prince, in spite of the advice
of Lord George Murray and the other competent authorities, and listening
only to his favourite councillors, Secretary Murray and Sir Thomas
Sheridan, continued the siege, although on the 3Oth of January the Duke
of Cumberland arrived in Edinburgh and took the command of the army.
Never had Scotland a more bitter enemy. Relentless and savage as General
Hawley had been, his deeds were more than rivalled by those of the Duke
of Cumberland, who was justly branded by contemporary historians with the
name of "the butcher." He was, however, an able general, of great
activity and high personal courage.
After halting but one night in Edinburgh he set out at the head of his
army to meet the enemy; but these did not repeat their tactics at
Falkirk. Disgusted at the conduct of the prince in slighting their advice
and listening only to his unworthy counsellors, Lord George Murray with
all the principal military leaders held a consultation, and presented a
memorial to the prince. In this they stated that, seeing the great
numbers of Highlanders who had gone home, they were of opinion that
another battle could not be fought with a chance of success, and
therefore recommended that the army should at once retire to the
Highlands, where a sufficient number of men could be kept together to
defy the efforts of the enemy at such a season of the year, and that in
the spring ten thousand Highlanders could be got together to go
wheresoever the prince might lead them. Prince Charles was struck with
grief and dismay at this decision, but as all the military leaders had
signed it he was forced to give way.
The army at once blew up its magazines, spiked its guns, and marched for
the north in two divisions with much confusion and loss of order. The
Duke of Cumberland pursued, but was unable to come up to them, and halted
Ronald, who had, from the time he returned to the army, again taken up
his former appointment of aide de camp to Lord George Murray, had during
this time tried his best to reconcile the differences which were
constantly breaking out between that general, the prince, and the clique
who surrounded him. It was a difficult task, for Lord George's
impetuosity and outspoken brusqueness, and his unconcealed contempt for
Secretary Murray and Sheridan, reopened the breach as fast as it was
Since the day when he had saved the prince from being carried off at
Glasgow the latter had shown a marked partiality for Ronald's society,
and the latter had therefore many opportunities of intervening to prevent
open quarrels from breaking out. The prince himself was frequently
greatly depressed in spirits, and the light hearted gaiety which had
distinguished him on the first landing was now fitful and short lived.
His disappointment at the failure of a campaign in which he had won every
battle was deep and bitter. He had relied upon the aid of France, but no
aid had come. He had been grossly misinformed as to the willingness of
the Jacobites of England to take up arms in his favour; and although a
portion of the Highlanders of Scotland had warmly embraced his cause, yet
many on whom he had relied stood aloof or were in arms against him, while
in the Lowlands he had found but few adherents.
So far from gaining ground, he was losing it. Numbers of the Highlanders
had gone off to their homes. The retreat from Derby had completely
chilled the enthusiasm of his adherents, while the waverers and time
servers had been induced thereby to declare against him. The Duke of
Cumberland's army steadily increased, and even had the advice of the
Highland chiefs been followed and the army dispersed to reassemble in the
spring, the chances of success would have been no more favourable than at
present, for now that the first surprise and panic were past England
would put forth her whole strength, and would by the spring have an army
assembled in Scotland against which the Highland clans, even if
unanimous, could not hope to cope.
Ronald was perfectly alive to the hopelessness of final success. He had
seen the British infantry at Dettingen and Fontenoy, and felt sure that
although the wild Highland rush had at first proved irresistible, this
could nor continue, and that discipline and training must eventually
triumph over mere valour. When he and Malcolm talked the matter over
together they agreed that there could be but one issue to the struggle,
and that ruin and disaster must fall upon all who had taken part in the
"I feel thankful indeed," Ronald said one day, "that I am here only as a
private gentleman risking my own life. I do not know what my feelings
would be, if, like these Highland chiefs, I had brought all my kinsmen
and followers with me into the field. The thought of the ruin and misery
which would fall upon them would be dreadful. I fear that the vengeance
which will be taken after this is over will be far greater and more
widespread than that which followed '15. All say that the Duke of
Cumberland is brutal and pitiless, and the fact that we were nearly
successful will naturally add to the severity with which the English
government will treat us if we fall into their power. Had the enterprise
been defeated at its commencement they could have afforded to be lenient.
As it is, I fear that they will determine to teach the Highlands such a
lesson as will ensure their never again venturing to rise in arms against
the house of Hanover."
"And I don't know that they are altogether to be blamed," Malcolm said.
"I am not so young as I was, Ronald, and I see now that I was wrong in
teaching you to be a Jacobite. It is all very well for men like
Tullibardine, who knew the Stuarts on the throne, to fight to put them
back again; but to your generation, Ronald, the Stuarts are after all
only a tradition, and it is a sort of generous madness for you to risk
your life to set them again on the throne of England. It cannot matter a
brass pin to you whether James or George rules at St. James's. It is not,
as in the case of the Royalists in England in Charles's time or of the
Covenanters of Scotland, that a great principle is involved -- a
principle for which men may well risk their lives and all they hold dear.
It is a question of persons only, and although I may hold that by right
of descent Charles Edward is Prince of Wales and rightful heir to the
throne of England, that is no reason why I should risk my life to place
him there; and after all it seems to me that if the majority in these
islands determine that they will be ruled by the house of Hanover instead
of the house of Stuart they have some right to make their own choice."
"You argue like a philosopher, Malcolm," Ronald said laughing, "and do
not remind me in the slightest degree of the Malcolm who used to chat
with me in Glasgow."
"You are right there, lad. You see I was brought up a Jacobite, and I
have been a soldier all my life, accustomed to charge when I was told to
charge and to kill those I was told to kill; but I own that since I have
been out now I have got to look at matters differently. The sight of all
these poor Highland bodies blindly following their chiefs and risking
life and all for a cause in which they have no shadow of interest has
made me think. A soldier is a soldier, and if he were to sit down to
argue about the justice of every cause in which he is ordered to fight
there would be an end to all discipline. But these poor fellows are not
soldiers, and so I say to myself, What concern have they in this matter?
Their chiefs would gain honours and rewards, patents of high nobility,
and additions to their estates if the Stuarts conquered, but their
followers would gain nothing whatever. No, lad, if we get over this
scrape I have done with fighting; and I hope that no Stuart will ever
again succeed in getting Scotland to take up his cause. I shall go on
fighting for Prince Charles as long as there is a man left with him; but
after that there is an end of it as far as I am concerned, and I hope as
far as Scotland is concerned."
"I hope so too, Malcolm. When Scotland is herself divided, Ireland
passive, and all England hostile, success is hopeless. The Stuarts will
never get such another chance again as they had on the day when we turned
our backs on London at Derby, and I hope that they will not again make
the attempt, especially as it is manifest now that France has only used
them as tools against England, and has no idea of giving them any
Charles on approaching Inverness found it toughly fortified and held by
Lord Loudon with a force of two thousand men. The prince halted ten miles
from the town at Moy Castle, where he was entertained by Lady M'Intosh,
whose husband was serving with Lord Loudon, but who had raised the clan
for Prince Charles. The prince had but a few personal attendants with
him, the army having been halted at some distance from the castle.
One evening Ronald had ridden over to Moy Castle with some despatches
from Lord George Murray to the prince, and had remained there to dine
with him. It was late before he mounted his horse. He was, as usual,
accompanied by Malcolm. They had ridden but a short distance through the
wood which surrounded the castle when a shot was fired, and almost
immediately afterwards four or five men came running through the trees.
"What is the matter?" Malcolm shouted.
"The English army are upon us!" one of the M'Intoshes -- for they were
clansmen who had been sleeping in the wood -- answered.
"They must intend to seize the prince," Ronald said, "and will already
have sent round a body of horse to cut off his retreat. Scatter through
the wood, men, and do each of you raise the war cry of one of the clans
as if the whole army were here. This may cause a delay and enable the
prince to ride off. Malcolm, do you ride back with all speed to the
castle and warn the prince of Loudon's approach."
The Highlanders at once obeyed Ronald's orders, and in a minute or two
the war cries of half a dozen of the principal clans in Prince Charles's
army rang through the woods, while at the same time the Highlanders
discharged their muskets. Ronald also shouted orders, as to a large body
The English, who had made sure of effecting a successful surprise,
hesitated as they heard the war cries of the clans ringing through the
woods, and believing that the whole of Prince Charles's army were at hand
and they were about to be attacked in overwhelming numbers, they
retreated hastily to Inverness. No sooner had Ronald discovered that they
had fallen back than he rode off to inform the prince that the danger was
He found Prince Charles mounted, with Lady M'Intosh on horseback by his
side, and the retainers in the castle gathered round, broadsword in hand,
in readiness to cut their way through any body of the enemy's horse who
might intercept their retreat. Charles laughed heartily when he heard of
the strategy which Ronald had employed to arrest the advance of the
enemy, and thanked him for again having saved him from falling into the
hands of the enemy.
The English made their retreat to Inverness in such confusion and dismay
that the affair became known in history as the "rout of Moy."
The next morning, the 17th of February, the prince called up his army,
and the next day advanced against Inverness. Lord Loudon did not await
his coming. The panic of his soldiers two days before showed him that no
reliance could be placed upon them, and embarking with them in boats he
crossed the Moray Frith to Cromarty, where the troops shortly afterwards
disbanded upon hearing that the Earl of Cromarty was marching against
them with some Highland regiments.
The town of Inverness was occupied at once, and the citadel surrendered
in a few days. The army, now in a barren and mountainous region, were
deprived of all resources. Many ships with supplies were sent off from
France, but few of them reached their destination; several being captured
by British cruisers, and others compelled to go back to French ports.
The supply of money in the treasury was reduced to the lowest ebb, and
Charles was obliged to pay his troops in meal, and even this was
frequently deficient, and the men suffered severely from hunger. Many
deserted, and others scattered over the country in search of subsistence.
In the meantime the Duke of Cumberland's army was receiving powerful
reinforcements. In February Prince Frederick of Hesse Cassel, with five
thousand of his troops, who had been hired by the British government,
landed at Leith. These troops were placed in garrison in all the towns in
the south of Scotland, thus enabling the Duke of Cumberland to draw
together the whole of the English forces for his advance into the
On the 8th of April he set out from Aberdeen with eight thousand foot and
nine hundred horse. He marched along the coast accompanied by the fleet,
which landed supplies as needed. At the Spey, Lord John Drummond had
prepared to defend the fords, and some works had been thrown up to
protect them; but the English cannon were brought up in such numbers that
Lord John, considering the position untenable, retired to Inverness,
while the English army forded the Spey, and on the 14th entered Nairn,
where some skirmishing took place between their advance guard and the
Prince Charles and his principal officers rested that night at Culloden
House and the troops lay upon the adjacent moor. On the morning of the
15th they drew up in order of battle. The English, however, rested for
the day at Nairn, and there celebrated the Duke of Cumberland's birthday
with much feasting, abundant supplies being landed from the fleet.
The Highlanders, on the other hand, fasted, only one biscuit per man
being issued during the day. Consequently many straggled away to
Inverness and other places in search of food. Lord Cromarty, with the
regiments under his command, were absent, so that barely five thousand
men were mustered in the ranks. At a council of war Lord George Murray
suggested that a night surprise should be made on the duke's camp at
Nairn, and as this was the prince's own plan it was unanimously agreed
Before, however, the straggling troops could be collected it was eight
o'clock at night. Nairn was twelve miles distant, and the men, weakened
by privation and hunger, marched so slowly across the marshy ground that
it was two o'clock in the morning before the head of the columns arrived
within four miles of the British camp, while the rear was still far away,
and many had dropped out of the ranks from fatigue.
It was now too late to hope that a surprise could be effected before
daylight, and the army retraced its steps to Culloden Moor. Worn out and
exhausted as they were, and wholly without supplies of provisions, Lord
George Murray and the other military officers felt that the troops could
not hope to contend successfully against a vastly superior army, fresh,
well fed, and supported by a strong force of artillery, on the open
ground, and he proposed that the army should retire beyond the river
Bairn, and take up a position there on broken ground inaccessible to
The prince, however, supported by Sir Thomas Sheridan and his other evil
advisers, overruled the opinion of the military leaders, and decided to
fight on level ground. The Highlanders were now drawn up in order of
battle in two lines. On the right were the Athole brigade, the Camerons,
the Stuarts, and some other clans under Lord George Murray; on the left
the Macdonald regiments under Lord John Drummond. This arrangement,
unfortunately, caused great discontent among the Macdonalds, just as
their being given the post of honour at Falkirk had given umbrage to the
At eleven o'clock the English army was seen approaching. It was formed in
three lines, with cavalry on each wing, and two pieces of cannon between
every two regiments of the first line. The battle began with an artillery
duel, but in this the advantage was all on the side of the English, the
number of their pieces and the skill of their gunners being greatly
Prince Charles rode along the front line to animate his men, and as he
did so several of his escort were killed by the English cannonade. A
storm of snow and hail had set in, blowing full in the face of the
Highlanders. At length Lord George Murray, finding that he was suffering
heavily from the enemy's artillery fire, while his own guns inflicted but
little damage upon them, sent to Prince Charles for permission to charge.
On receiving it he placed himself at the head of his men, and with the
whole of the right wing and centre charged the enemy. They were received
with a tremendous musketry fire, while the English artillery swept the
ranks with grape; but so furious was their onslaught that they broke
through Munro and Burrel's regiments in the first line and captured two
pieces of cannon. But behind were the second line drawn up three deep,
with the front rank kneeling, and these, reserving their fire until the
Highlanders were close at hand, opened a rolling fire so sustained and
heavy that the Highlanders were thrown into complete disorder.
Before they could recover themselves they were charged by horse and foot
on both flanks, and driven together till they became a confused mass. In
vain did their chiefs attempt to rally them. Exhausted and weakened in
body, swept by the continuous fire of the English, they could do no more,
and at last broke and fled. In the meantime the Macdonalds on the left
remained inactive. In vain Lord John Drummond and the Duke of Perth
called upon them to charge, in vain their chief, Keppoch, rushed forward
with a few of his clansmen and died in front of them. Nothing would
induce them to fight, and when the right and centre were defeated they
fell back in good order, and, joining the remnants of the second line,
retired from the field unbroken.
Charles, from the heights on which he stood with a squadron of horse,
could scarce believe the evidence of his eyes when he saw the hitherto
victorious Highlanders broken and defeated, and would have ridden down
himself to share their fate had not O'Sullivan and Sheridan seized his
horse by the bridle and forced him from the field. Being pressed by the
English, the retreating force broke into two divisions. The smaller
retreated to Inverness, where they next day laid down their arms to the
Duke of Cumberland; the other, still preserving some sort of order,
marched by way of Ruthven to Badenoch.
Fourteen colours, two thousand three hundred muskets, and all their
cannon fell into the hands of the English. The loss of the victors in
killed and wounded amounted to three hundred and ten men, that of the
Highlanders to a thousand. No quarter was given to the stragglers and
fugitives who fell into the hands of the English. Their wounded were left
on the ground till the following day without care or food, and the
greater portion of them were then put to death in cold blood, with a
cruelty such as never before or since disgraced an English army.
Some were beaten to death by the soldiers with the stocks of their
muskets, some were dragged out from the thicket or caverns to which they
had crawled and shot, while one farm building, in which some twenty
wounded men had taken refuge, was deliberately set on fire and burned
with them to the ground. In any case such conduct as this would have
inflicted eternal discredit upon those who perpetrated it; but it was all
the more unjustifiable and abominable after the extreme clemency and
kindness with which Prince Charles had, throughout the campaign, treated
all prisoners who fell into his hands.
Ronald had ridden close beside Lord George Murray as he led the
Highlanders to the charge; but he had, as they approached the first
English line, received a ball in the shoulder, while almost at the same
instant Malcolm's horse was shot under him. Ronald reeled in the saddle,
and would have fallen had not Malcolm extricated himself from his fallen
horse and run up to him.
"Where are you hit, lad?" he asked in extreme anxiety.
"In the shoulder, Malcolm. Help me off my horse, and do you take it and
go on with the troops."
"I shall do nothing of the kind," Malcolm said. "One man will make no
difference to them, and I am going to look after you."
So saying he sprang up behind Ronald, and placing one arm round him to
support him, took the reins in the other and rode to the rear. He halted
on rising ground, and for a short time watched the conflict.
"The battle is lost," he said at last. "Lord George's troops are in utter
confusion. The Macdonalds show no signs of moving, though I can see their
officers are urging them to charge. Now, Ronald, the first thing is to
get you out of this, and beyond the reach of pursuit."
So saying he turned the horse and rode away from the field of battle.
"Does your shoulder hurt much?" he asked after they had gone a short
"It does hurt abominably," Ronald said faintly, for he was feeling almost
sick from the agony he was suffering from the motion of the horse.
"I am a fool," Malcolm said, "not to have seen to it before we started. I
can't do much now; but at least I can fasten it so as to hurt you as
little as possible."
He took off his scarf, and, telling Ronald to place his arm in the
position which was most comfortable to him, he bound it tightly against
"That is better, is it not?" he asked as he again set the horse in
"Much better, Malcolm. I feel that I can go on now, whereas before I
could not have gone much further if all Cumberland's cavalry had been
close behind. How far are you thinking of going? I don't think my horse
can carry double much further. Poor beast, he has had as short rations as
his master, and was on the move all last night."
"No. But we shall not have to make a very long journey. The English
marched twelve miles before they attacked us, and I do not think they are
likely to closely pursue far tonight; besides, I have no intention of
riding now that there is no fear of immediate pursuit. I think that in
another two miles we shall be safe from any fear of the English cavalry
overtaking us, for we shall then reach a forest. Once in that we shall be
safe from pursuit, and shall soon be in the heart of the hills."
On reaching the forest Malcolm dismounted, and leading the horse turned
off from the road. Following a little trodden path they were soon in the
heart of the forest, and after keeping on for two hours, and crossing
several hills, he stopped by the side of a stream.
"We are perfectly safe here," he said, "and can sleep as securely as if