Chapter XXXI: George I
For a year the Scottish Jacobites, and Bolingbroke, who fled to France and became James's Minister, mismanaged the affairs of that most unfortunate of princes. By February 1715 the Earl of Mar, who had been distrusted and disgraced by George I, was arranging with the clans for a rising, while aid from Charles XII of Sweden was expected from March to August 1715. It is notable that Charles had invited Dean Swift to visit his Court, when Swift was allied with Bolingbroke and Oxford. From the author of "Gulliver" Charles no doubt hoped to get a trustworthy account of their policy. The fated rising of 1715 was occasioned by the Duke of Berwick's advice to James that he must set forth to Scotland or lose his honour. The prince therefore, acting hastily on news which, two or three days later, proved to be false, in a letter to Mar fixed August 10 for a rising. The orders were at once countermanded, when news proving their futility was received, but James's messenger, Allan Cameron, was detained on the road, and Mar, not waiting for James's answer to his own last despatch advising delay, left London for Scotland without a commission; on August 27 held an Assembly of the chiefs, and, still without a commission from James, raised the standard of the king on September 6.
The folly of Mar was consummate. He knew that Ormonde, the hope of the English Jacobites, had deserted his post and had fled to France.
Meanwhile Louis XIV was dying; he died on August 30, and the Regent d'Orléans, at the utmost, would only connive at, not assist, James's enterprise.
Everything was contrary, everywhere was ignorance and confusion. Lord John Drummond's hopeful scheme for seizing Edinburgh Castle (September 8) was quieted pulveris exigui jactu, "the gentlemen were powdering their hair" - drinking at a tavern - and bungled the business. The folly of Government offered a chance: in Scotland they had but 2000 regulars at Stirling, where "Forth bridles the wild Highlandman." Mar, who promptly occupied Perth, though he had some 12,000 broadswords, continued till the end to make Perth his headquarters. A Montrose, a Dundee, even a Prince Charles, would have "masked" Argyll at Stirling and seized Edinburgh. In October 21-November 3, Berwick, while urging James to sail, absolutely refused to accompany him. The plans of Ormonde for a descent on England were betrayed by Colonel Maclean, in French service (November 4). In disguise and narrowly escaping from murderous agents of Stair (British ambassador to France) on his road, James journeyed to St Malo (November 8).
In Scotland the Macgregors made a futile attempt on Dumbarton Castle, while Glengarry and the Macleans advanced on Inveraray Castle, negotiated with Argyll's brother, the Earl of Islay, and marched back to Strathfillan. In Northumberland Forster and Derwentwater, with some Catholic fox-hunters, in Galloway the pacific Viscount Kenmure, cruised vaguely about and joined forces. Mackintosh of Borlum, by a well-concealed movement, carried a Highland detachment of 1600 men across the Firth of Forth by boats (October 12-13), with orders to join Forster and Kenmure and arouse the Border. But on approaching Edinburgh Mackintosh found Argyll with 500 dragoons ready to welcome him; Mar took no advantage of Argyll's absence from Stirling, and Mackintosh, when Argyll returned thither, joined Kenmure and Forster, occupied Kelso, and marched into Lancashire. The Jacobite forces were pitifully ill-supplied, they had very little ammunition (the great charge against Bolingbroke was that he sent none from France), they seem to have had no idea that powder could be made by the art of man; they were torn by jealousies, and dispirited by their observation of Mar's incompetence.
We cannot pursue in detail the story of the futile campaign. On November 12 the mixed Highland, Lowland, and English command found itself cooped up in Preston, and after a very gallant defence of the town the English leaders surrendered to the king's mercy, after arranging an armistice which made it impossible for Mackintosh to cut his way through the English ranks and retreat to the north. About 1600 prisoners were taken. Derwentwater and Kenmure were later executed. Forster and Nithsdale made escapes; Charles Wogan, a kinsman of the chivalrous Wogan of 1650, and Mackintosh, with six others, forced their way out of Newgate prison on the night before their trial. Wogan was to make himself heard of again. Mar had thrown away his Highlanders, with little ammunition and without orders, on a perfectly aimless and hopeless enterprise.
Meanwhile he himself, at Perth, had been doing nothing, while in the north, Simon Frazer (Lord Lovat) escaped from his French prison, raised his clan and took the castle of Inverness for King George. He thus earned a pardon for his private and public crimes, and he lived to ruin the Jacobite cause and lose his own head in 1745-46.
While the north, Ross-shire and Inverness, were daunted and thwarted by the success of Lovat, Mar led his whole force from Perth to Dunblane, apparently in search of a ford over Forth. His Frazers and many of his Gordons deserted on November 11; on November 12 Mar, at Ardoch (the site of an old Roman camp), learned that Argyll was marching through Dunblane to meet him. Next day Mar's force occupied the crest of rising ground on the wide swell of Sheriffmuir: his left was all disorderly; horse mixed with foot; his right, with the fighting clans, was well ordered, but the nature of the ground hid the two wings of the army from each other. On the right the Macdonalds and Macleans saw Clanranald fall, and on Glengarry's cry, "Vengeance to-day!" they charged with the claymore and swept away the regulars of Argyll as at Killiecrankie and Prestonpans. But, as the clans pursued and slew, their officers whispered that their own centre and left were broken and flying. Argyll had driven them to Allan Water; his force, returning, came within close range of the victorious right of Mar. "Oh, for one hour of Dundee!" cried Gordon of Glenbucket, but neither party advanced to the shock. Argyll retired safely to Dunblane, while Mar deserted his guns and powder-carts, and hurried to Perth. He had lost the gallant young Earl of Strathmore and the brave Clanranald; on Argyll's side his brother Islay was wounded, and the Earl of Forfar was slain. Though it was a drawn battle, it proved that Mar could not move: his forces began to scatter; Huntly was said to have behaved ill. It was known that Dutch auxiliaries were to reinforce Argyll, and men began to try to make terms of surrender. Huntly rode off to his own country, and on December 22 (old style) James landed at Peterhead.
James had no lack of personal courage. He had charged again and again at Malplaquet with the Household cavalry of Louis XIV., and he had encountered great dangers of assassination on his way to St Malo. But constant adversity had made him despondent and resigned, while he saw facts as they really were with a sad lucidity. When he arrived in his kingdom the Whig clans of the north had daunted Seaforth's Mackenzies, while in the south Argyll, with his Dutch and other fresh reinforcements, had driven Mar's men out of Fife. Writing to Bolingbroke, James described the situation. Mar, with scarcely any ammunition, was facing Argyll with 11,000 men; the north was held in force by the Whig clans, Mackays, Rosses, Munroes, and Frazers; deep snow alone delayed the advance of Argyll, now stimulated by the hostile Cadogan, Marlborough's favourite, and it was perfectly plain that all was lost.
For the head of James £100,000 was offered by Hanoverian chivalry: he was suffering from fever and ague; the Spanish gold that had at last been sent to him was lost at sea off Dundee, and it is no wonder that James, never gay, presented to his troops a disconsolate and discouraging aspect.
On January 29 his army evacuated Perth; James wept at the order to burn the villages on Argyll's line of march, and made a futile effort to compensate the people injured. From Montrose (February 3-14) he wrote for aid to the French Regent, but next day, urged by Mar, and unknown to his army, he, with Mar, set sail for France. This evasion was doubtless caused by a circumstance unusual in warfare: there was a price of £100,000 on James's head, moreover his force had not one day's supply of powder. Marshal Keith (brother of the Earl Marischal who retreated to the isles) says that perhaps one day's supply of powder might be found at Aberdeen. Nevertheless the fighting clans were eager to meet Argyll, and would have sold their lives at a high price. They scattered to their western fastnesses. The main political result, apart from executions and the passing of forfeited estates into the management of that noted economist, Sir Richard Steele, and other commissioners, was - the disgrace of Argyll. He, who with a petty force had saved Scotland, was represented by Cadogan and by his political enemies as dilatory and disaffected! The Duke lost all his posts, and in 1716 (when James had hopes from Sweden) Islay, Argyll's brother, was negotiating with Jacobite agents. James was creating him a peer of England!
In Scotland much indignation was aroused by the sending of Scottish prisoners of war out of the kingdom for trial - namely, to Carlisle - and by other severities. The Union had never been more unpopular: the country looked on itself as conquered, and had no means of resistance, for James, now residing at Avignon, was a Catholic, and any insults and injuries from England were more tolerable than a restored nationality with a Catholic king.
Into the Jacobite hopes and intrigues, the eternal web which from 1689 to 1763 was ever being woven and broken, it is impossible here to enter, though, in the now published Stuart Papers, the details are well known. James was driven from Avignon to Italy, to Spain, finally to live a pensioner at Rome. The luckless attempt of the Earl Marischal, Keith, his brother, and Lord George Murray, brother of the Duke of Atholl, to invade Scotland on the west with a small Spanish force, was crushed on June 10, 1719, in the pass of Glenshiel.
Two or three months later, James, returning from Spain, married the fair and hapless Princess Clementina Sobieska, whom Charles Wogan, in an enterprise truly romantic, had rescued from prison at Innspruck and conveyed across the Alps. From this wedding, made wretched by the disappointment of the bride with her melancholy lord, - always busied with political secrets from which she was excluded, - was born, on December 31, 1720, Charles Edward Stuart: from his infancy the hope of the Jacobite party; from his cradle surrounded by the intrigues, the jealousies, the adulations of an exiled Court, and the quarrels of Protestants and Catholics, Irish, Scottish, and English. Thus, among changes of tutors and ministers, as the discovery or suspicion of treachery, the bigotry of Clementina, and the pressure of other necessities might permit, was that child reared whose name, at least, has received the crown of Scottish affection and innumerable tributes of Scottish song.
|To Next Section|