« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
A VISIT AT DERBY.
To Lieut.-Gen. Sir Edward Kerrison, Bart.
Being now at Derby, I desired to see the house which was dwelt in by Prince Charlie, and where he found the final term of his daring enterprise, We have paid it a visit this morning—the very anniversary, as it might be called, of the young Adventurer's own arrival, for it was on Wednesday, the 4th of December, 1745, that he and his Highlanders marched into this town. But these dates, though they seem the same, are not really so, since the one depends on the Old Style and the other on the New. The house where the Prince took up his quarters was at that time the property of the Earl of Exeter, but now belongs to Mr. Mousley. He is agent to Lord Chesterfield's estates in this county; and my Chesterfield cousinship obtained for us a cordial welcome and a complete inspection. The house stands in Fall Street, near the Market Place; on one side a small triangular court, which fronts the street; on the other side a long garden stretching down to the river. At the end of this garden there was formerly a ferry; and it is recorded by the tradition of the place that it was over this ferry that Prince Charles took his way on the morning of his retreat, the 6th of December, mounted his horse in the meadow beyond, and rode back over the stone bridge which stands farther down; his object being, no doubt, by this wide circuit to conceal from the townsmen, and almost perhaps from himself, the fact of his retreat and the direction of his march. In the garden, close to the old ferry, a fine branching chestnut tree looks down upon the river. It may, I think, have been standing in “the Forty Five,” and was planted in early youth by a gentleman of Derby, who survived till upwards of ninety, and died within twenty years of this time. Mr. Mousley told me that he used to come regularly once every year to the garden, to have a look at his favourite tree, and had more than once described to him Prince Charles, whom he perfectly well remembered at Derby, as a handsome fair-haired young man. He also used to tell this story. During the day the Highlanders staid, the Mayor of the town resolved to pay his respects to their leader. Accordingly he went to Lord Exeter's house—was let in by the Highlander at the gate—and walked up to the top of the stairs. There at the top stood another of “the petticoat men,” as the Highlanders at that juncture used to be called in England, and so grimlooking as a little to flurry his Worship's nerves. Thus, when this new-made Master of the Ceremonies asked him, before he threw open the door for his reception, “Whom do you wish to see, sir?” he lost his presence of mind; and instead of answering, as he ought, “the Prince,” recurred to his accustomed phrase, and called out “The Pretender!” Upon this, as the story goes on, he was very unceremoniously kicked down from the top of the stairs to the bottom, with these words: “Rascal that you are, if you want to see a pretender, you should go to St. James's " But I forget that all this time I am leaving you outside the house—a piece of ill-manners of which Mr. Mousley himself would never have been guilty. It is a substantial handsome brick building, the front to the garden apparently much the same as it was a century ago. The dining-room is on the ground floor, but its character has been completely altered by modern improvements, which will no doubt be better appreciated by Mr. Mousley's convivial guests than by his antiquarian visitors. The staircase however is of dark polished oak, with carved balustrades, the same as when trod by the feet of the insurgents. On the first floor the drawingroom is equally unaltered; it is all over wainscoted with ancient oak, very dark and handsome, and looks out, as also the dining-room below, into the garden. At present the walls are adorned with several pictures, among which I recognised, not inappropriately, Prince Charles himself, and another of his truant wife in after years, the Countess of Albany. In this drawing-room it was that Charles held his Councils all through the day of the 5th of December, on the great question, “Advance or Retreat?” There it was that early in the morning Lord George Murray
came in, followed by the other chiefs, and declared that, unless there were some certain promise or near hope of English aid, they would go no further into England. Then it was that Charles tried entreaties and arguments by turns, but both in vain, exclaiming, with no ungenerous warmth, “Sooner than go back, I would wish to be twenty feet under ground !” There it was that in fact they discussed and decided the fate, for the time, of England. For the papers which I have lately seen in the State Paper Office have confirmed me more and more in my opinion, that had the young Adventurer marched forward, he would, in the first instance at least, have prevailed. “The army at Finchley,” of which the London newspapers were boasting, was only as yet it seems an army upon paper, and Charles had got one or two marches in advance of the army of the Duke of Cumberland. Nor was this last army as yet, perhaps, in a condition to engage him upon equal terms. I have found in the State Paper Office two unpublished letters received by the Duke of Newcastle from Sir Everard Fawkener, who was Chief of the Staff to the Duke of Cumberland at this juncture. From these I took some extracts that I have now by me. Both the letters are dated from the same place, and on the same day, namely, Stafford, 2nd of December, 1745. The first letter seems to show that much confusion and skurry prevailed at the Duke's head-quarters, and also indicates a wholly erroneous idea as to the insurgents' line of march. Had the Highland chiefs advanced at all, it was to have been straight on London.
But here are Sir Everard's own words:—
“I shall send your Grace some of our latest and best intelligence: one is confounded by the multiplicity of it, but I will endeavour to separate for your Grace's perusal. The best appearance and the last of all seems to be that they are trying for Wales; for Broken Cross is to the westward or south-west of Macclesfield, and to go from thence to Nantwich, they must pass not very far from our advanced post at Congleton.”
The second letter of the same date says:—
“By to-morrow the Duke will have eleven old battalions, and ten old and two new squadrons. . . . . The nation never had more depending on one event.”
From this sentence we may in some degree compute the real numbers. Each battalion in this age was commonly taken at between four and five hundred men when prepared for a campaign, but was always reckoned at much less when at home and not expecting service. There were many deductions in the latter case for furloughs, or sick leave, or for the deficiencies to be filled up by recruiting; so that as far as I am able to compute, from my reading of this period, I should estimate each battalion at home at scarcely more than three hundred men. The squadrons taken when abroad as of 120 men, may be taken at home as perhaps of 100. On this basis then the Duke of Cumberland's force, at the beginning of December, 1745, would be only 3300 foot and 1200 horse.' Now, the Highland army at
* When on learning, somewhat I gents, the Duke of Cumberland tardily, the retreat of the insur- is t off in pursuit, and engaged