Awakening of Europe - M. B. Synge
"Land of the mountain and the flood."
Europe was busily engaged in warfare. George II. of England had but just returned from the Continent, where he had been helping Maria Theresa against her many foes, when suddenly the news rang through England that another of the hapless Stuarts was in arms in Scotland.
Let us take a glance at this Scotland, this
"Land of the mountain and the flood,"
which together with England and Wales is known as Great Britain. Unlike the sister country, Ireland, no salt waves of the sea divide her from England; only the Cheviot Hills separate the two countries, which have been united since the year 1603.
"One life, one flag, one fleet, one throne."
It is the most mountainous part of Great Britain, and this fact has had a great deal to do with the story of Scotland and the character of her people. There are the Highlands and the Lowlands, the Highlanders and the Lowlanders.
The union of England and Scotland under one king took place in 1603. In that year Elizabeth of England lay dying, leaving no child to succeed her on the English throne. In vain she had been begged to name an heir. As death approached she spoke constantly of James, King of Scotland, now a man of thirty-six. Again the courtiers pressed her to name her heir.
"My seat," she murmured, "hath been the seat of kings, and I will have no rascal to succeed me."
Once more they pressed her for a name.
"And who should it be," she whispered with her last breath, "but our cousin of Scotland?"
So James was crowned King of England, Scotland, and Ireland, assuming the title of King of Great Britain. Mutual advantage arose to both countries, former discords were soon forgotten, while the poets burst into triumphant songs over the union:—
"The flag of their union far o'er the wide earth
Is welcomed with gladness; and ne'er may it cease
To wave as the emblem of valour and worth,
Proclaiming in battle the promise of peace.
The children shall equal the deeds of the sire,
The future in glory out-glory the past;
And dearly we'll cherish, till time shall expire,
One Country, one Cause, and one Hope at the last."
From the death of James I. the Scottish people took up the cause of the Stuarts.
And so it was that in the year 1745, when the exiled grandson of James landed in the Hebrides, the clans with one accord rallied to his standard at Glenfinnan,—
"When the mighty heart of Scotland, all too big to slumber more,
Burst in wrath and exultation, like a huge volcano's roar."
His force swelled as he marched in triumph to Edinburgh to proclaim his father, the "Old Pretender," king. Two thousand English troops sent against him were cut to pieces in a single charge of furious clansmen at Prestonpans in the course of ten minutes. Victory doubled the Scottish forces, and the Young Pretender, as he was now called, was at the head of 6000 Highlanders. Matters were growing serious, when George II. of England sent his second son, the Duke of Cumberland, against the Highland troops under the Young Pretender.
The armies met at Culloden Moor, near Inverness. The English army was large, well fed, well trained—a contrast to the Highland troops under the Prince, who had eaten but a biscuit each the day before the battle. The Prince was desperate. He planned a night march as his only hope of defeating such an army. Setting the heath on fire, to convey the idea that the Highland troops were camping for the night, Prince Charlie set forth with his men in profound silence. The night was very dark and progress was slow. At two o'clock in the morning they were yet four miles from the English camp. A distant roll of guns told them that the English were not asleep. It was useless to risk a surprise. Instead, the Highlanders crowned the heights of Culloden. They were now tired, footsore, weary, having passed the night in marching. They were also without food. They lay down to snatch a few hours' sleep, when a sudden alarm announced the English army. Hurry and confusion reigned, but the clansmen soon flung themselves in a wild rush on the English. They were received with a terrible fire of musketry by the troops under the Duke of Cumberland. All that courage and despair could do was done. There was the howl of the Highland advance, the scream of the onset, the thunder of musketry, the din of trumpet and drum, the flash of firearms, the glitter of broadswords. And then came the end. The battle was over as rapidly as all other Highland conflicts. Soon, very soon, the Highland force was fleeing from the field, away from the field of Culloden, never to be banded more in the hopeless cause of the Stuarts.
Culloden was over and Prince Charlie a fugitive. Attended by a faithful few, he embarked in an open boat for the Hebrides. A violent storm arose, rain poured down in torrents, vivid lightning showed the blackness of the raging waters, while thunder crashed overhead.
Meanwhile a heavy price was set on his head. Search-parties were everywhere, and he had many a narrow escape of falling into the hands of his enemies. When he reached Stornoway at last, he was drenched to the skin and had tasted no food for eighteen hours. A faithful friend took pity on him and gave him food and shelter. For many a long day the little band sailed about among the creeks and islands of the Outer Hebrides, now chased by a man-of-war, now driven on to the desolate rocks by the fury of the sea, eating oatmeal mixed with salt water as an alternative to starvation. For every creek and ferry along those wild shores was watched by English soldiers. There was £30,000 for the man who would give up Prince Charlie. And not a man was found to betray his Prince. Many were the songs written and sung about this Scottish idol—this Prince Charlie of Scottish romance.
It is a well-known story how the Prince fell into the hands of Flora Macdonald, and how she planned his escape to the island of Skye. She dressed him as her tall Irish maid Betty Burke, in a flowered print gown and quilted petticoat, white apron, cloak, and hood. As such he accompanied her to the sea-shore, though boats of armed men were watching them at the time. Under cover of darkness they sailed across the stormy waters to Skye.
" 'Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward,' the sailors cry;
'Carry the lad that's born to be King
Over the sea to Skye.' "
But there was danger here too. The Prince was tall.
"What long strides the maid takes, and how awkwardly she manages her petticoats!" said a bystander, and the Prince had to change his dress.
So he wandered about from place to place, and the faithful Highlanders kept their secret bravely, till finally the Prince made his way to France.
Thus ended the last attempt of the unlucky Stuarts to regain the crown of Scotland and England. George II. was firmly established on the throne of Great Britain and Ireland, and his direct descendants still rule over the ever-increasing Empire.