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ten gentlemen, hastened to the seat of Lord Lovat, who was so soon to die a traitor's death. *
The moment when the prince and his ruined party galloped up the glen towards the abode of Lovat, must have been one of the most agonizing in the long life of that unprincipled politician. Lovat had at one time supported the old Pretender, but afterwards favoured the house of Brunswick; and again, in 1745, his rage for plotting induced him to co-operate with the insurgents, and hazard all in this world upon the chance of success. The die had been cast—the game was lost at Culloden, and ruin was hastening towards Lovat. Ile, however, concealed his feelings, listened to the prince's expressions of ultimate triumph, and parted from the young adventurer at ten o'clock that night. The prince dared not make a longer stay with Lovat, as the royal army was hourly expected. The tumult of a camp and the hopes of triumph were now exchanged for the silence and desolation of Loch Ness. Along these rugged shores the hunted Stuart urged his wearied horse, and after a ride of forty-five miles reached the seat of a partizan at Invergarry, a short distance beyond Fort Augustus, at five o'clock the next morning.
No crowd received them at the gates, no shouts greeted the exhausted Jacobites ; all was desolate ; the inhabitants had fled, and even the furniture was removed. One domestic remained to watch the course of events, but he was unable to offer the prince aught save the bare floor for a resting-place. The agony, hurry, and exertions of the last few hours had completely exhausted the wanderers. They required food, but the abandoned house afforded no provision for such a party. It was feared that the prince would be compelled to continue his harassing flight without any refreshment except a little water from a lake. A man, however, contrived to make the lake yield some food for the fugitives ; two salmon were caught, and they made a dinner of fish before recommencing their flight.
The prince now took his melancholy leave of all his adherents except three, who were named Sullivan, O'Neil, and Edward Burke. The last was servant to one of the Stuart partizans, and chosen as guide on account of his acquaintance with the difficult mountain passes. If the change from Culloden to a lonely hill was startling, it was but a prelude to another change now rendered necessary by numerous dangers. The prince exchanged clothes with Burke, and thus hoped to deceive the vigilance of his pursuers should he fall in with any of the numerous bands intent
* He was executed on Tower-bill, London, April, 1746, then aged eighty.
his capture. The cagerness of his enemies was not left to the excitement of political hate, but stimulated to the highest pitch by an offer of £30,000 to any who should effect the prince's seizure, Such a sum would have made the fortune of the captor, and the pursuit was urged with a desperate energy, which seemed to promise little hope of escape for the prince. For five nights he was unable to procure undisturbed rest, and continued pressing into the western wilds. At last his horse was of no further service, the rugged mountain-passes being inaccessible to horsemen. It was Sunday when the prince found himself crossing the wildest district of Aresaig, where he rested for four days at the village of Glenborisdale, and here news from some of his influential adherents reached him. They besought him to remain in the country, and wait in the recesses of the hills till fresh forces could be collected. This was doubtless the advice of desperate men, whose ruin was certain should the prince fail. These petitions were not granted ; the dangers pressing upon the fugitive induced him to push his course still farther into the west, with the hope of gaining a temporary residence in the Hebrides. An old man, named Donald Macleod, arrived from Skye to guide the prince to the Western Isles. An eight-oared boat was procured, in which four pecks of oatmeal and a pot to boil their food were stored, with which provisions they sailed at night for the Hebrides. A tempest soon arose, and it was feared lest the boat might be driven on the shores of Skye, where crowds of watchful troops were on the look-out, instigated by the prospect of winning the £30,000. Skye was, notwithstanding, safely passed, and the storm-beaten men driven on the shore of Benbecula, a small island between North and South Uist. The tempest had probably saved the prince from capture by driving into port all the look-out vessels, and thus enabling him to land without detection. A ruined cowshed was all the shelter afforded, and this being without a door, the storm swept into every part. Here, in the most sheltered corner, the descendant of kings helped to make a fire, and in a short time the iron pot with oatmeal was placed on the lighted sticks : a cow was purchased from a herdsman, and thus the wanderers procured something like a meal. As the storm continued to rage, the little party were confined to the cowhouse, and used this interval of rest in devising plans for their subsequent proceedings. It was resolved to pass themselves off for shipwrecked Orkney-men, desirous of purchasing a ship to return home. Could a vessel be procured, they could then easily escape to France. In pursuance of this plan, the boat was steered for Stornaway, on the eastern shore of the isle of Lewis ; but this place was not reached without peril and suffering.
It was on the 29th of April when they departed for Stornaway, a distance of about seventy miles. Ordinary navigators would, at such a time, have hauled their boat high on some sheltered beach, when masses of storm-riven clouds hurried across the troubled sky, and flung their boding shadows on the heaving sea. But this was of little account when contrasted with a dungeon in the Tower of London, the insults of victorious soldiers, and the scaffold in the distance. The word was accordingly given, and the boat launched into the boiling surf. Not more than thirty miles could be made ; the fury of the gale forced the cutter on the shore of Scalpa, which belonged to a partizan of the Royalists. The assumed character of shipwrecked seamen enabled the party to land without exciting suspicion ; and some persons, friendly to the Stuarts, were soon found willing to incur the animosity of the laird, by aiding the escape of the man whose capture on the coast of Scalpa might have raised its owner to wealth and honours in England. By such means the prince at length arrived within a short distance of Stornaway, whither one of his attendants proceeded to prepare a vessel for the conveyance of the party to France. This same attendant had previously engaged a ship at Stornaway, and felt assured that the prince's dangers were now drawing to a close. He had, he hoped, excited no suspicion in the town, and was therefore surprised and alarmed on his return to find the whole place in a commotion-men rushing to arms, and the wildest reports in circulation. Some declared the prince was at hand, with five hundred men ; others that he was marching to burn the town and seize a ship to convey him to France.
This excitement soon subsided, and the messenger found that the inhabitants bore no ill will to the prince, though, at the same time, they refused to furnish him with either a pilot or a ship. This doubtless arose from fear of the governmert, for the people of Stornaway do not seem to have meditated any active measures against the prince, notwithstanding the vast reward offered for his seizure. Their object was to get him out of their locality, fearing otherwise peril to themselves or to him. Some few were perhaps anxious to effect his capture, but these were restrained by a sense of the infamy which would follow such an attempt. Attachment to the Stuarts was the romantic passion of the Highlands, and his betrayer would not have been allowed to dwell long in these mountain homes.
This stir at Stornaway cut off all hopes of procuring a ship, nor could the prince now depart from the island, for the boatmen having been seized with a panic, had departed with the cutter. Whilst Charles perceived himself thus rejected and deserted, he must have recalled the days when the first of the lIighland chiefs earnestly begged of him ducal titles and military appointments. Nor was his desperate condition relieved by those hopes of brighter days which support the energies of baffled heroes. Upon his retreat from England, he had passed the famous field of Bannockburn. Perhaps then he might have hoped to become, like Bruce, victorious over present disappointment, but such anticipations could scarcely cheer his spirit now. The next morning brought the boatmen back, fright, not treachery, having caused their temporary desertion ; and they were still willing to risk their lives in aiding the escape of him whom they had been taught to regard as their king. On the 6th of May they left the coast of Lewis ; the utmost watchfulness was necessary, as the king's cruisers were by this time swarming in these narrow seas, the government having received information that the prince was in the Hebrides. Twice the English ships came in sight, and twice was the party preserved, being compelled on each occasion to run the boat among dangerous rocks. During these attempts to elude their watchful pursuers, they were forced to feed on a mixture of oatmeal and salt water, a sad exchange for the wines with which the Jacobites had so often drunk “ Confusion to the white horse,* and success to James the 8th. A landing was at last effected in safety, and some crabs found on the shore afforded a dinner to the famished prince. He now despatched Donald, his most trusted attendant, with messages to some Highland chiefs, requesting a remittance of money, and intelligence relating to the state of the country, and especially the fate of those brave men who had so deeply perilled themselves in his cause. The chief of Clanronald, in the meantime, discovered the abode of the young Stuart, and hastened to supply him with clothes and food. This relief was in truth needed, as the appearance of the prince was far more abject than that of the most wretched beggar. Perpetual alarms, combined with want of food and rest, had so worn his body that his most intimate friends could scarcely recognise in that haggard countenance the gallant Charles Edward Stuart. His linen is said by one who shared his dangers to have become “ dingy as a dish-clout,” and the rest of his apparel accorded with his melancholy condition. Such was his state who, a few months previously, had levied a contribution on the capital of Scotland for the equipment of his army, and in whose honour banners had been wrought, and cockades distributed by lords and ladies. His energies were not, however, depressed ; like others of the Stuart race, he showed himself capable of that brave endurance which commands respect, though united to great errors and numerous weaknesses. The prince was now for three weeks sheltered in an almost inaccessible part of South Uist, where twelve of the chief's trusty clansmen watched day and night near his retreat. The messenger despatched to his friends in the Highlands for money and intelligence returned without any of the former, but more of the latter than was agreeable. The chiefs were involved in too wide a ruin to exert themselves in raising money for a fugitive prince. Some were irritated against him—first for risking the success of their enterprise on one desperate cast at Culloden ; and secondly for not maintaining the struggle after that blow. Lovat declared that “. a mad fool would have fought that day ;” and before the