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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Charles resolves to invade England


Having now spent nearly six weeks in Edinburgh, the prince considered that he could not longer delay his intended march into England. By postponing that measure a few days longer he might have still further increased his force by the return of the men who had gone home after the battle, of whom he had received favourable accounts; by the accession of a body of Gordons which Lord Lewis, brother to the Duke of Gordon, was raising among the followers of the family; and by other small corps from the north. But it was judged that this advantage would be more then counter-balanced by other circumstances attendant upon delay. The long stay of the Highland army in Scotland had enabled the government to concentrate a considerable force in the north of England, already far superior, in point of numbers, to the prince's troops, and this force was about to receive large additions from the south and from the continent. Nothing but a dread of the Highlanders and ignorance of their real strength kept the English army, already concentrated in the north, from entering Scotland; but horrible as was the impression made upon the minds of the English troops, by the reports which had been carried to England of the prowess of the Highlanders, it was not to be supposed, that, after the arrival of large reinforcements, their commanders would remain inactive. Had the government been aware of the weakness of the prince's army after the battle of Gladsmuir, it would probably not have delayed a single week in sending an army into Scotland; but the exaggerated reports which had been every where spread, of the great strength of the Highland army, were fully credited. Attempts were made by some friends of the government as well as by others, to ascertain their numbers; but Charles, by perpetually shifting their cantonments, and dividing them into detached bodies, not only contrived to conceal his weakness, but to impress these prying persons with an idea that he was much stronger than he really was.

Another reason for hastening his march south was the danger that the army might be diminished by desertion if kept in a state of inactivity. Desertions were frequent, and it was thought that nothing but an active life would put an end to a practice imputed to idleness and repose, and which allowed the men time to think on their families, and contemplate the hardships and dangers they were likely to undergo in a foreign land. But the chief motive which urged Charles and his council to put the army in motion was an apprehension that their supplies of money would be soon exhausted, in which event it would be quite impossible to keep the army together for a single day. By adhering to a declaration he had made, that he would not enforce the obnoxious malt tax; the public money, which had been collected, and was still in course of being raised, was far from being adequate to support the army which Charles had collected; and the contributions of his friends, which at first were considerable, were now beginning to fail. The supplies which had lately been received from France were therefore very opportune; but without additional and early pecuniary succours, which, though promised, might not speedily arrive or might miscarry, it was considered that unless the exchequer of the enterprise was replenished in England, the abandonment of the enterprise was inevitable. For these reasons, and as the prince informed his council that he had received the strongest assurances of support from numbers of the English Tories and Jacobites, a unanimous resolution was entered into to march forthwith into England.

Upon this resolution being adopted, the prince despatched a messenger to France with intelligence of his intentions, and to solicit the French court to made a descent on England. As this court had all along given as its reason for not seconding the prince's designs, by sending an army into England, the doubt which it had of his having a considerable party in that country, the messenger was instructed to represent the situation of the prince's affairs in the most favourable point of view. This person, by name Alexander Gordon, a Jesuit, left Edinburgh accordingly on the 28th of October. On arriving in France he drew up a most flattering report, which he put into the hands of the prince's brother, Henry, Duke of York, then at Paris, to be laid before the French king. In this report he stated, that while the prince had about 12,000 men with him in Edinburgh and its vicinity, there were 4,000 more expected to arrive - that he had already upwards of 1,000 cavalry, and that a great number more were on their march to join him, - that almost all these troops were well armed, and were amply provided with every necessary, - and that all the inhabitants of the counties and towns where the prince had appeared, and particularly those of Edinburgh and Glasgow, had furnished the army with clothing, arms, and money, and, in short, with every thing in their power. He stated, that besides the Highland chiefs and the noblemen of different counties, who had declared in favour of the prince before the battle of Preston, a great number of persons of distinction had since joined him at Edinburgh, among whom he particularly enumerated Lord Nothsdale and Kenmure, and Maxwell of Kirkconnel, - that besides these there were many others, who, being unable to give their personal services, had sent the prince horses, arms, and money, and that after the prince's father had been proclaimed in the capital and the most considerable towns in Scotland, those who had formerly shown themselves least disposed to acknowledge him had displayed the most favourable dispositions toward the prince, being either subdued by the charms of his manners, or gained over by his manifestos and proclamations. In short, that by the astonishing victory he had achieved, many persons, who would otherwise have still been in connection with the court of London, had submitted themselves to the price, who might be said to be now absolute master of Scotland. That with regard to England, the people of that kingdom were ready to receive the prince with open arms as soon as he should appear among them with an army supported by France, - that, independently of the general discontent of the nation with the government, the prince was emboldened to enter England by upwards of a hundred invitations which he had received from the nobility of England, and by large sums of money which he had obtained for the payment of his troops, - that the English government, alarmed at this state of things, had, as was reported, hesitated accepting offers, which some counties had made of raising bodies of militia, for fear that this force would be employed against itself. In fine, that such was the disposition of men's minds throughout the whole of Great Britain, that the fear of the prince not being supported by foreign aid, of which the court of London was in great dread, alone prevented the people from openly declaring themselves, and that every person was persuaded, that for every thousand of foreign troops which the prince could bring into the field, his army would receive an accession, four times as large, from the English people, who only wanted the presence of a foreign force to encourage them to take up arms against the government.

The last days of October were occupied in making the necessary arrangements for the march of the Highland army; preparatory to which, orders were issued, near the end of that month, to call in the different parties which were posted at Newhaven, Leith, and other places in the vicinity of Edinburgh. The army which, for three weeks after the battle of Preston had lain in camp at Duddingston, had, since the middle of October, been quartered in and around the city; but on the 26th of that month the main body left Edinburgh, and encamped on a field a little to the west of Inveresk church, with a battery of seven or eight pieces of cannon pointing to the south-west. Hitherto Charles, to conceal his weakness, had reviewed his army in detached portions; but he now ordered a general review of his whole force on the 28th of October. The place appointed was Leith links; but being warned by a few bombs which were thrown from the castle as the army was approaching the ground, that he might expect some annoyance, Charles abandoned his intention, and reviewed his army on the sands between Leith and Musselburgh.


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