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Origins of the Forty Five
And other papers relating to that rising. By Walter Biggar Blakie


THESE papers are interesting and important, and the Editor's introduction is not less interesting and important. No one else knows so much about the Forty-Five as Mr. Blaikie, and no one else can write about it so well. He has unearthed some valuable material, and he has explained its significance both in his masterly introduction and in a series of useful notes, which supply an answer to every reasonable question. When this has been said and it is certainly no more than justice requires the reviewer's task is restricted to an attempt to indicate briefly the lines of interest in Mr. Blaikie's book. He has called it Origins of the Forty-Five, and the name which he has added to the historiography of the Rising is that of John Gordon of Glenbucket. The Jacobite revival may be said to have begun with the sale of an Aberdeenshire estate and the visit of the laird to Rome, in January, 1737-8, as an emissary of a group of Scottish Jacobites, including Glengarry, who was Gordon's son-in-law. Murray of Broughton, in a series of memoranda, printed by Mr. Blaikie, belittles Gordon's mission, but he himself was sent from Rome to Scotland soon after Gordon's arrival, and the French State Papers which appeared in 1901 in Captain Jean Colin's Louis XV. et les Jacobites tell how the Chevalier de St. George was living tranquilly in Rome, having abandoned all hope of a restoration, when about the end of 1737 he received a message from his subjects in Scotland.' The French State Papers and Murray of Broughton's contemptuous reference gave Mr. Blaikie his clue ; he searched for, and discovered, the date of the sale of Glenbucket in 1737, tracked Gordon to Paris and then to Rome, and proved his point. From the collection of documents used by Captain Colin, Mr. Blaikie has printed, for the first time, a 'Letter from some Scottish Lords to Cardinal Fleury,' written in 1741, which throws fresh light upon the development of the movement, and is naif and amusing as well as enlightening. These two MSS., in Mr. Blaikie's expert hands, justify the title of the book, and they and he have made a real contribution to our knowledge of the topic. Of the 'Other Papers relating to the Forty-Five,' the one which will attract most attention comes also from the French archives, and is an account of the events immediately preceding Culloden, written by the Marquis d'Eguilles, the official representative of France in the Jacobite army. It was a disputed question among the Jacobites themselves whether the Prince or Lord George Murray was responsible for fighting the battle of Culloden. Captain Daniel, an English Jacobite whose Progress with Prince Charles is here printed, asserts that Lord George insisted upon fighting that day, and that the Prince was compelled to yield to him. Neil Maceachain, the Prince's guide in the Hebrides, ascribes the statement to Charles himself, and says that he often spoke about the way in which, in spite of all his own 'rhetoric and eloquence,' Lord George out-reasoned him, and left him with no choice if he was to avoid a dissension in the army. There is no reason to doubt Maceachain's statement, and Charles Edward was neither the first nor the last Prince to avail himself, in this way, of the 'responsibility of ministers ' as an explanation of disaster. But Mr. Blaikie quotes the definite and detailed statement of D'Eguilles that the decision to fight was made by Charles himself:

The Prince, who believed himself invincible because he had not yet been beaten, defied by enemies whom he thoroughly despised, seeing at their head the son of the rival of his father, proud and haughty, badly advised, perhaps betrayed, could not bring himself to decline battle even for a single day. I requested a quarter of an hour's private audience. There I threw myself in vain at his feet.'

The arguments which D'Eguilles says he addressed to the Prince were sufficiently strong; who were the bad advisers he does not say. Andrew Lumisden, in another of the narratives, remarks that Charles had either to fight or to starve, but he adds that he ' resolved to risk the event of an engagement altho above 3000 men were expected every hour,' a remark which tends to confirm the statement of the French envoy. It is difficult to believe that D'Eguilles was not speaking the truth, for it is difficult to suggest any reason for his distorting the facts, and Mr. Blaikie's reference to the French State Papers has settled a long-standing dispute.

There is plenty of local colour and local incident in the book. An Inverness minister, whom Mr. Blaikie identifies with the author of The Highlands of Scotland in 7750, edited by Mr. Andrew Lang in 1898, gives a lively account of the Highlands, and the minister of Tain tells of the progress of affairs in Ross and Sutherland. Of these ministerial narratives, the most valuable for the military history of the Rising is a narrative dealing with the counties of Aberdeen and Banff, from which we learn many details about the skirmish at Inverurie in March, 1746. In a valuable series of appendices, Mr. Blaikie deals with several interesting topics. His 'Genealogical Tables showing the kinship of certain Highland Chiefs and Leaders in 1745' will surprise even those who know about Highland relationships. It was very much of a family business, and some of the chiefs must have entered the Rising from similar motives to those of Hector M'Intyre in his repudiation of the Antiquary's gibe at writers.

Perhaps the most pathetic document in the book is the Appendix, which gives the protest of Cardinal York, made when, at the death of James in 1766, Clement XIII. refrained from acknowledging King Charles III., and thus abandoned the traditional policy of the Papacy towards the exiled house. At great length the Cardinal convicts the Pope of 'five serious inconsistencies,' and in the course of his exposition of the argument he tells a characteristic anecdote of King James III. It was usual for the Pope, at an interview with an heir to a throne, to offer him an arm-chair, and it was important that this recognition should be accorded to Prince Charles Edward. But in deference to ' the custom of the Kingdom of England where even the eldest son in the presence of his father is not allowed to sit in a seat equal to his,' James desired that when he and his son were received in audience together, the Prince should be given an easy chair, but without arms. Fortunately, the good Cardinal was able to say that, when the Prince visited the Pope alone, he was provided with an armchair.

ROBERT S. RAIT.

You can read this book here in pdf format


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