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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
The Prince's interview with Clanranald


Next day young Clanranald, accompanied by his kinsmen, Alexander Macdonald of Glenalladale, AEneas Macdonald of Dalily and a Highland offices (author of a journal and memoirs of the expedition), come to Forsy, a small village opposite to the Doutelle's anchorage ground. They called for the ship's boat, and were immediately carried on board. The feelings of the party on getting upon deck are thus described by the writer alluded to. "Our hearts were overjoyed to find ourselves so near our long-wished-for prince; we found a large tent erected with poles on the ship's deck, covered and well furnished with variety of wines and spirits. As we entered this pavilion we were most cheerfully welcom'd by the Duke of Athole, to whom some of us had been known in the year 1715. While the duke was talking with us, Clanranald was a-missing, and had, as we understood, been called into the prince's cabin, nor did we look for the honour of seeing His R. H. at least for that night".

Of the conversation which took place between the prince and Clanranald during the three hours they were closeted together, no account was ever given; but it is probable that if the latter stated any objections against the enterprise, they had been overcome before he rejoined his companions, as no allusion is made by the writer just quoted, to any unwillingness on the part of the young chieftain to join the prince. Maxwell of Kirkconnel, who mentions the refusal of Boisdale, says, that young Clanranald frankly offered his services to the prince, a statement which, from the ardent and romantic attachment for the Stuarts with which that young chieftain was inspired, seems to approximate nearer the truth than that of Home, who classes Kinlochmoidart and young Clanranald together, as joining in a positive refusal to take up arms.

According to Home, young Clanranald and Kinlochmoidart came on board together, and were addressed, with great emotion, by Charles, who had been almost reduced to despair by his interview with Boisdale. After using all the arguments he could for taking up arms, he conjured them to assist their countryman, their prince, in his utmost need. Though well inclined and warmly attached to the cause, the gentlemen in question are said to have positively refused, and to have told the prince, one after another, that to take up arms in their present unprepared state, without concert or support, would bring down certain destruction on their own heads. Charles persisted, argued, and implored, but without effect. During this conversation the parties walked backwards and forwards upon the deck, and were closely eyed by a Highlander who stood near them armed at all points, as was then the fashion of the country. He was a younger brother of Kinlochmoidart, and had come off to the ship to inquire for news, not knowing who was on board. When he gathered from their discourse that the stranger was Prince Charles, and heard his chief and his brother refuse to take up arms in his behalf, his colour went and came, his eyes sparkled, he shifted his place and grasped his sword. Charles observing his demeanour, stopped short, and turning towards him, put this interrogatory, "Will not you assist me?" "I will! I will!" exclaimed Ranald; "though no other man in the Highlands should draw a sword, I am ready to die for you". Charles, delighted with the young man's answer, evinced his gratitude by a profusion of thanks and acknowledgements, extolled his champion to the skies, and said he only wished that all the Highlanders were like him. Stung with the prince's observation, which could be regarded only as a reproach, and smitten by the example set by the heroic youth, the two Macdonalds instantly declared that they would unsheath their swords in support of the claims of the house of Stuart, and would use their utmost endeavours to rouse their countrymen to arms.

After the interview with the prince, Clanranald returned to his friends, who had, during the conference, been regaling themselves in the pavilion. In about half-an-hour thereafter, the prince entered the tent and took his seat without appearing to notice any of the company. His appearance, and the scene which followed, are thus described by an eyewitness. "There entered the tent a tall youth of a most agreeable aspect, in a plain black coat with a plain shirt, not very clean, and a cambrick stock fixed with a plain silver buckle, a fair round wig out of the buckle, a plain hat with a canvas string having one end fixed to one of his coat buttons; he had black stockings, and brass buckles in his shoes. At his first appearance I found my heart swell to my very throat. We were immediately told by one Obrian, a churchman, that this youth was also an English clergyman, who had long been possessed with a desire to see and converse with Highlanders.

"When this youth entered, Obrian forbid any of those who were sitting to rise; he saluted none of us, and we only made a low bow at a distance. I chanced to be one of those who were standing when he came in, and he took his seat near me, but immediately started up again and caused me to sit down by him upon a chest. I at this time taking him only to be a passenger or some clergyman, presumed to speak to him with too much familiarity, yet still retained some suspicion he might be one of more note than he was said to be. He asked if I was not cold in that habit, (viz the Highland garb), I answered I was so habituated to it, that I should rather be so (feel cold) if I was to change my dress for any other. At this he laughed heartily, and next inquired how I lay with it at night, which I explained to him. He said that by wrapping myself so close in my plaid I would be unprepared for any sudden defence in the case of a surprise. I answered that in such times of danger, or during the war, we had a different method of using the plaid, that with one spring I could start to my feet with drawn sword and cocked pistol in my hand, without being the least encumbered with my bed-clothes. Several such questions he put to me; then rising quickly from his seat he calls for a dram, when the same person whispered me a second time to pledge the stranger but not to drink to him, by which seasonable hint I was confirmed in my suspicion who he was. Having taken a glass of wine in his hand, he drank to us all round, and soon after left us".

Having thus secured the support of young Clanranald, Charles selected him to execute the commission which his uncle, Boisdale, had refused to undertake. Accordingly, on the 22d of July the young chieftain, attended by Allan Macdonald, a younger brother of Kinlochmoidart, was despatched with letters from the prince, to Sir Alexander Macdonald and the laird of Macleod, to solicit the aid of their services. These powerful chieftains, who could raise nearly 2,000 men between them, had promised to join the prince if he brought a foreign force along with him, but when they found that he had come without troops, they considered themselves released from their engagements, and refused to join in an enterprise which they considered desperate.

During young Clanranald's absence, Donald Macdonald of Scothouse, Dr, Archibald Cameron on the part of his brother Donald Cameron, younger of Lochiel, and Hugh Macdonald, brother of the laird of Morar, came on board the Doutelle. The latter, on his way home from Edinburgh, had met Kinlochmoidart crossing the water of Lochy, and had been informed by him of the arrival of the prince. In expectation of seeing the prince, he went to Kinlochmoidart's house, where he found AEneas Macdonald, brother of Kinlochmoidart, who told that he might see the prince the following day if he pleased, but cautioned him not to accost him as such, as the prince passed for a French Abbe with the crew of the vessel, who were ignorant of his rank. Next day the two Macdonalds went on board; and Charles, being informed of the name and character of his visitor, invited him down to the cabin. In a conversation which ensued, Hugh Macdonald expressed his fears as to the result of the expedition if preserved in, and hinted that, as he had brought no forces along with him, the most eligible course the prince could pursue, was to return to France, and wait a more favourable opportunity. Charles remarked that he did not wish to be indebted for the restoration of his father to foreigners, but to his own friends; that he had now put it in their power to have the glory of doing so, and that as to returning to France without making an attempt, foreigners should never have to say that he had thrown himself upon his friends, that they had turned their backs upon him, and that he had been forced to retire for shelter to foreign lands. He concluded by observing, that if he could get only six stout trusty fellows to join him, he would choose rather to skulk with them among the mountains of Scotland than return to France. Dr. Cameron also urged Charles to return, and told him that Lochiel had made up his mind not to join; but Charles returned the same answer he had given to Hugh Macdonald. On the return from Skye of young Clanranald and Allan Macdonald, who brought back an absolute refusal from Sir Alexander Macdonald and the laird of Macleod, the whole party on board, including even Sir Rhomas Sheridan, by whose advice the prince generally acted, importuned him to desist, chiefly on the ground that the refusal of two such influential and powerful chieftains would prevent others, who were well disposed to the cause, from joining; but Charles was immovable, and though without a single supporter, persisted in his resolution.


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