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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Arrival of Prince Charles in Eriskay


Accompanied by his attendants, the prince immediately landed in Eriskay, and was conducted to the house of Angus Macdonald, the tacksman, or principal tenant thereof and of the small islands adjoining. To anticipate that prying curiosity and speculation which the inhabitants of the western isles always display on the arrival or strangers, the prince's companions represented him as a young Irish priest, a species of visitor by no means uncommon in these islands, whither priests from the opposite coast of Ireland had been long accustomed to resort, for the purpose of giving the islanders that religious instruction and consolation of which, by the change in the national religion, they had been almost debarred from receiving from the hands of native priests. From the tacksman of Eriska, the party learned, that Macdonald, chief of Clanranald, and Macdonald of Boisdale, his brother, were upon the island of South Uist, and that young Clanranald, the son of the chief, was at Moidart upon the mainland. As Boisdale was understood to have great influence with his brother, a messenger was immediately despatched to South Uist, requesting his attendance on board the Doutelle.

Charles and his companions passed the night in the house of the tacksman, but the accommodation was very indifferent. They had not a sufficient supply of beds, but the prince, regardless of his own ease, declined to occupy one. Next morning they returned to the ship. Boisdale soon thereafter made his appearance. As his brother, Clanranald, was unfit, from age and bad health, to be of any essential service, Charles was anxious to secure the assistance of Boisdale, by whose means he expected that the clan would be induced to rise in his support. Boisdale had, however, already made up his mind upon the subject, and the result of the interview was extremely discouraging to Charles. At first, the prince proposed that Boisdale should accompany him to the mainland, and endeavour to engage his nephew to take up arms; but Boisdale decidedly declined the proposal, and even declared that he would do every thing in his power to prevent his brother and nephew from engaging in an enterprise which he considered desperate. Baffled in his first attempt, Charles next proposed to despatch Boisdale with a message to Sir Alexander Macdonald of Sleat and the Laird of Macleod, who had extensive possessions in the island of Skye, requesting their assistance; but Boisdale informed the prince that such a mission would be useless, as he had seen Sir Alexander Macdonald and Macleod very lately, - that they had stated to him the probability that the prince would arrive, but that if he came without a body of regular troops, they were determined not to join him, and were of opinion that no other person would. Boisdale added, that he was instructed by these gentlemen to mention their resolution to the prince in case he should meet him on his arrival, and to advise him, should he come unprovided with troops, to return directly to France.

Charles was sadly perplexed at Boisdale's obduracy, but he endeavoured to soften him by representing his affairs in the most favourable light; but the Highlander was inflexible. Whilst this prolonged altercation was going on, two vessels appeared making for the strait in which the Doutelle lay, a circumstance which induced her commander to weigh anchor and stand in for the mainland. Boisdale, still pressed by the prince, remained on board till the ship had advanced several miles in her course, when he entered his boat, and left Charles to ruminate over his disappointment. The Doutelle continued her course during the night, and next morning cast anchor in the bay of Lochnanuagh, which partly divides the countries of Moidart and Arisaig. On approaching the strait, the Marquis of Tullibardine, when about to retire below to dinner, observed an eagle hovering over the frigate, which he looked upon as a happy augury, but afraid of being taxed by his companions with superstition, he at first took no notice of the circumstance. On coming upon deck after dinner, he saw the eagle still hovering above the vessel and following her in her course. No longer able to restrain himself, he directed the attention of Charles and his suite to the royal bird, and thereafter turning to the prince, thus addressed him: "Sir, I hope this is an excellent omen, and promises good things to us. The king of birds is come to welcome your royal highness upon your arrival in Scotland".

Though foiled in his attempt upon Boisdale, the young adventurer resolved to repeat the same experiment upon his nephew, and accordingly he immediately sent a boat on shore with a letter to young Clanranald; AEneas Macdonald also went on shore to bring off Kinlochmoidart, his brother. Kinlochmoidart came on board immediately, and after a short interview with the prince, was despatched with letters to Lochiel, the Duke of Perth, Murray of Broughton and others.


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