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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Death of Prince Charles


After the estrangement of his friends, Charles appears to have given up all thoughts of restoration, and resided chiefly at Avignon till shortly before the death of his father, on December 31, 1766, when he returned to Italy, fixing his abode at Florence. The Chevalier had, for several years, been in a declining state of health, and, for two years before his death, had been confined to his bed-chamber. His remains were carried to the church of the parish where he had resided, and were decorated with all the insignia of royalty. Over the bed was this inscription:- "Jacobus Magnae Britanniae Rex, Anno MDCCLXVI". The body lay in state three days, during which none but the Italian princes and British subjects were admitted into the church. The corpse was then removed in procession to St Peter's church to be interred. By his will, the Chevalier left his real estate, which yielded about forty thousand crowns per annum, exclusive of pensions, to Prince Charles. He also left him a box of jewels belonging to the crown of Poland, formerly pledged to the Sobieski family, if not redeemed. The jewels belonging to his own family he directed to be divided between Charles and Henry.

From the state of comparative seclusion in which the Chevalier passed the most part of his life, his personal history is less known than either that of his father, or his son, Charles Edward. His character, to judge from his correspondence and the many acts of individual kindness he showed towards his exiled adherents, was benevolent and estimable. He seems to have been better acquainted with the principles of the English constitution than any of his race, and would, had he been called to empire, have very possibly eschewed the dangerous rock of the prerogative on which his grandfather and father split. His boast was not merely that he was an Englishman, but that, to use an Italian phrase, there was not "a greater Englishman than himself".

After his father's death, Prince Charles retired to Albano, near Rome, where he appears to have lived in great seclusion till the year 1772, when the court of Versailles, desirous for its own selfish purposes to prevent the male line of the house of Stuart from becoming extinct, negotiated a marriage between him and the young princess Louisa Maximiliana Carolina of Stolberg-Gedern; and the three Bourbon courts all concurring in the match, a suitable allowance was settled by them on the prince and his wife. Charles, who, in consequence of the refusal of the court of Rome to recognise the titles which his father had assumed, had taken that of the Count of Albany, which when a youth he had used on his travels through Italy, took up his residence upon his marriage in the neighbourhood of Florence, whither he was invited by the grand duke of Tuscany. The marriage was unfortunate, Charles had lived too long single to enjoy connubial happiness; and his mind, soured by misfortune and degraded by dissipation, unfitted him for the discharge of the domestic virtues. An English lady who saw Prince Charles at Rome in 1770, describes him thus:- "The Pretender is naturally above the middle size, but stoops excessively; he appears bloated and red in the face, his countenance heavy and sleepy, which is attributed to his having given in to excess of drinking, but when a young man he must have been esteemed handsome. His complexion is of the fair tint, his eyes blue, his hair light brown, and the contour of his face a long oval; he is by no means thin, has a noble person and a graceful manner. His dress was scarlet, laced with broad gold lace; he wears the blue riband outside of his coat, from which depends a cameo, antique, as large as the palm of my hand, and he wears the same garter and motto as those of the noble St George in England. Upon the whole, he had a melancholy, mortified appearance".

Charles and the princess lived together uncomfortably till 1780, Charles, it is said, often treating his youthful, beautiful, accomplished, and gentle wife with the greatest brutality. In 1777 she became acquainted with the great Italian dramatist Alfieri, and the two immediately conceived for each other a passionate, lasting, and comparatively pure love; for while her husband lived there is every reason to believe that she remained faithful to him. The princess left Charles in 1780, and took up her residence with his brother the cardinal at Rome, but shortly after removed from that to Baden and ultimately to Paris, where Alfieri joined her, and they separated no more. On her husband's death, it is understood that she was privately married to Alfieri, who died in 1803, she surviving him upwards of twenty-one years. When Tuscany fell under the dominion of Bonoparte, he ordered the princess, then living in Florence, (she having incurred his displeasure), to repair to Paris. She was afterwards allowed to return to Florence, where it is said she made a left-handed marriage with a French historical painter, named Francis Xavier Fabre, the friend of Alfieri, whom upon her death she appointed her universal executor.

Picture of the monument to the Stuart Kings in the Vatican in Rome About 1785, Charles, who must have felt himself at this time a lonely, homeless, disappointed old man, took to live with him his daughter, Charlotte, by Miss Walkinshaw, who was born about 1760. Little is known of this lady; she, however, appears to have been of a gentle disposition, and we would fain hope that her presence and companionship helped much to soften the misanthropy and soothe the bitter spirit of the disappointed aspirant to the British throne. Shortly after his daughter came to live with him, Charles removed to Rome, where in January 1788 he was prostrated by paralysis, and after an illness of three weeks died on the 31st. He was buried royally in the church of his brother at Frascati, the body, however, being afterwards removed to St Peter's at Rome. Some time before his death, he legitimatized his daughter, and as the last act of his shadowy sovereignty, created her Duchess of Albany, leaving her the greater part of his private property. Even down to the time of his death, it would seem he had not entirely relinquished the hope of one day sitting on the throne of his ancestors, for, according to Lord Mahon, he used to keep under his bed a strong box with 12,000 sequins, ready for the expenses of his journey to England whenever he might suddenly be called thither. His daughter, so far as is known his sole descendant, survived him only one year.


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