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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Descendants of the Stuarts


Whilst Charles's partisans have painted him in the most glowing colours of admiration, as the paragon of all that is noble and high-minded, others have represented him as a man devoid of any good and generous feelings, - as despotic, revengful, ungrateful, and avaricious, - having, in short, all the vices without one of the redeeming virtues of his race. Paradoxical as the ascertion may be, there is some truth in both delincations; but considerable abatements must be made from the exaggerated eulogies of the one party, as well as from the sweeping condemnation of the other. There were, in fact, as has been well observed, two Charles Edwards. The hero of 1745 was a generous and high-minded youth, who, notwithstanding some constitutional defects, merited a better destiny; but the Charles Edward of a subsequent period was a degraded man, who, dispirited by misfortune and soured by disappointment, lost all command over himself, and became the sport of his passions. He retained, however, to the close of his existence, a vivid recollection of his early exploits, and frequently betrayed genuine emotion on hearing any allusion to Scotland and the Highlanders.

When Charles was ill in 1784, his brother the cardinal, supposing him to be on his death-bed, drew up a paper maintaining his pretensions to the British crown, which, he declared, were in no way prejudiced or renounced by his retention of the incognito title, Cardinal Duke of York. A copy of this document he sent to the pope, cardinals, and various foreign ministers. When his brother the prince did die, and Henry was left the last and sole representative of the royal Stuart race, he caused a medal to be struck bearing the inscription, "Henry IX, King of England, by the grace of God, but not by the will of men". This, however, was all the cardinal ever did to maintain his right divine to the throne from which his grandfather fled. He appears to have been perfectly contented with his life as a Roman cardinal, to have been generous and gentle in disposition, and to have performed his duties faithfully as a minister of the Catholic Church, although in his own home he is said to have insisted upon a strict observance of all the etiquette usual in the residence of a reigning sovereign. He had many rich livings both in Italy and France, but of most of these and of all his wealth and treasures, literary, antiquarian, and curious, he was despoiled by the emiasaries of the French revolution in 1798, when he took refuge in Venice infirm and destitute. His case was represented to his successful relative George III, who immediately, and in as delicate a manner as possible, generously settled on the cardinal a pension for life of L.4000 a year. The cardinal returned to Rome in 1801, and resided there till his death in 1807, aged 82 years. He was buried in St Peter's, beside his father and brother, "and a stately monument, from the chisel of Canova, but at charge, as I believe, of the House of Hanover, has since arisen to the memory of James the Third, Charles the Third, and Henry the Ninth, Kings of England - names which an Englishman can scarcely read without a smile or a sigh! Often at the present day does the British traveller turn from the sunny height of the Pincian or the carnival throngs of the Corso, to gaze in thoughtful silence on that sad mockery of human greatness, and that last record of ruined hope!".

Henry of York, as we had said, was the last scion of the direct line of the royal house of Stuart, although he was by no means the last of the Stuarts, as the genealogy of nearly every royal and princely house of Europe can testify. Much valuable information on this point is contained in Mr Townsend's Descendants of the Stuarts, where the reader will meet with many interesting and a few strange and startling facts. The Stuart blood, it would seem, enriches the veins of every Christian sovereign of Europe, and among the European noble families will be found many princes who, by the now ignored and we hope never to be revived, priciple of divine hereditary right, are nearer heirs to the British throne than the Prince of Wales. The heir-of-line of the Stuarts is, we believe, Francis, ex-Duke of Modena, the heiress presumptive being his niece, Maria Theresa, wife of Prince Louis of Bavaria. Great Britain, however, is as likely to assert her right to the allegiance of the United States as is any of the many descendants of the Stuarts to endeavour to establish a claim to the throne of England, to the prejudice of the reigning family. The Lady who at present occupies the throne of Britain (Queen Victoria), and in whose veins runs a large share of the ancient Stuart blood, had won her way to the hearts of all classes of her subjects, Highland and Lowland, by her true nobility of character, genuine womanliness, and anxious interest in the welfare of her people, as effectually as did the young Cheavalier by his youthful thoughtless daring, fascinating manners, and feigned enthusiasm for all that was Highland. Still the ancient spirit is not dead, and probably never will die, so long as Gaelic and Lowland Scotch is understood in the land, and so long as there exists such a superabundance of Jacobite songs unmatched for pathos and humour, and set to music which cannot fail to touch the heart of the "canniest Scot" that ever tried to over-reach his neighbour. This sentimental Jacobitism, initiated by Scott, appears to be getting stronger and stronger ever year, and pervades all classes of society from the "Queen on the throne to the meanest of her subjects"; it has, indeed, become now to a certain extent fashionable, no dount owing largely to the example set by the greatest lady in the land, in her love and admiration of the Highlands and Highlanders. Tartans, not very many years ago proscribed and forbidden to be worn under severe penalties, and regarded as barbarous and vulgar, have now become the rage, and are as indispensable to every Scottish family, Highland or Lowland, as its crest or its family ghost.


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