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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Arrival of Charles at Holyrood


Charles was now within the royal domains, and little more than quarter of a mile from the royal palace of Holyrood, where his grandfather, James II, when Duke of York, had, almost 60 years before, exercised the functions of royalty, as the representative of his brother Charles II. Sanguine as he was, he could scarcely have imagined that within the space of one short month, from the time he had raised his standard in the distant vale of the Finnan, he was to obtain possession of the capital of Scotland, and take up his residence in the ancient abode of his royal ancestors. Exulting as he must have done, at the near prospect which such fortuitous events seemed to afford him of realising his most ardent expectations, his feelings received a new impulse, when, on coming within sight of the palace, he beheld the park crowded with people, who had assembled to welcome his arrival. Attended by the Duke of Perth and Lord Elcho, and followed by a train of gentlemen, Charles rode down the Hunter's bog, on his way to the palace. On reaching the eminence below St. Anthony's well, he alighted from his horse for the purpose of descending on foot into the park below. On dismounting he was surrounded by many persons who knelt down and kissed his hand. He made suitable acknowledgements for these marks of attachment, and after surveying for a short time the palace and the assembled multitude which covered the intervening grounds, he descended into the park, which, from its having been much frequented by the Duke of York, afterwards James II, when he resided at Holyrood, obtained the name of the Duke's walk, Charles stopped for a few minutes to exhibit himself to the people.

In person Charles appeared to great advantage. His figure and presence are described by Mr Home, an eye-witness, as not ill-suited to his lofty pretensions. He was in the bloom of youth, tall and handsome, and of a fair and ruddy complexion. His face, which in its contour exhibited a perfect oval, was remarkable for the regularity of its features. His forehead was full and high, and characteristic of his family. His eyes, which were large, and of a light blue colour, were shaded by beautifully arched eye-brows, and his nose, which was finely formed, approached nearer to the Roman than the Grecian model. A pointed chin, and a mouth rather small, gave him, however, rather an effeminate appearance; but on the whole, his exterior was extremely prepossessing, and his deportment was so graceful and winning, that few persons could resist his attractions. The dress which he wore on the present occasion was also calculated to set off the graces of his person to the greatest advantage in the eyes of the vulgar. He wore a light-coloured peruke, with his hair combed over the front. This was surmounted by a blue velvet bonnet, encircled with a band of gold lace, and ornamented at top with a Jacobite badge, a white satin cockade. He wore a tartan short coat, and on his breast the star of the order of St Andrews. Instead of a plaid, which would have covered the star, he wore a blue sash wrought with gold. His small clothes were of red velvet. To complete his costume, he wore a pair of military boots, and a silver-hilted broadsword.

Charles remained some time in the park among the people, but as he could not be sufficiently seen by all, he mounted his horse, a fine bay gelding which the Duke of Perth had presented to him, and rode off slowly towards the palace. Every person was in admiration at the splendid appearance he made on horseback, and a simultaneous huzza arose from the vast crowd which followed the prince in triumph to Holyrood House. Overjoyed at the noble appearance of the prince, the Jacobites set no bounds to their praises of the royal youth. They compared him to King Robert Bruce, whom, they said, he resembled in his figure as they hoped he would in his fortune. The Whigs, on the other hand, regarded him differently; and though they durst not avow their opinions to the full extent, and were forced to admit that Charles was a goodly person, yet they observed that even in that triumphant hour when about the enter the palace of his fathers, the air of his countenance was languid and melancholy, - that he looked like a gentleman and a man of fashion, but not like a hero or a conqueror. Their conclusion was, that the enterprise he had undertaken was above the pitch of his mind, and that his heart was not great enough for the sphere in which he moved.

Holyrood House in 1745
Holyrood House in 1745. From an old print.

On arriving in front of the palace Charles alighted from his horse, and entering the gate proceeded along the piazza within the quadrangle towards the Duke of Hamilton's apartments. When the prince was about to enter the porch, the door of which stood open to receive him, a gentleman stepped out of the crowd, drew his sword, and raising it aloft, walked up stairs before Charles. The person who took this singular mode of joining the prince, was James Hepburn of Keith, a gentleman of East Lothian. When a very young man he had been engaged in the rebellion of 1715, not from any devoted attachment to the house of Stuart, (for he disclaimed the hereditary indefeasible right of kings, and condemned the government of James II), but because he considered the union, which he regarded as the result of the revolution, as injurious and humiliating to Scotland, and believed that the only way to obtain a repeal of that measure, was to restore the Stuarts. In speaking of the union, he said that it had made a Scottish gentleman of small fortune nobody, and that rather than submit to it, he would die a thousand deaths. For thirty years he had kept himself in readiness to take up arms to assert, as he thought, the independence of his country, when an opportunity should occur. Honoured and beloved by both Jacobites and Whigs, the accession to the Jacobite cause of this accomplished gentleman, whom Mr Home describes as a model of ancient simplicity, manliness, and honour, was hailed by the former with delight, and deeply regretted by the latter, who lamented that a man whom they so highly revered, should sacrifice himself to the visionary idea of a repeal of the union between England and Scotland.

On his way to the palace Charles had been cheered by the acclamations of the people; and on his entering that memorable seat of his ancestors, these acclamations were redoubled by the crown which filled the area in front. On reaching the suite of apartments destined for his reception, he exhibited himself again to the people from one of the windows with his bonnet in his hand, and was greeted with loud huzzas by the multitude assembled in the courtyard below. He replied to these congratulations by repeated bows and smiles.


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