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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Resignation of Lord George Murray


The origo mali, the course of the discord, and all the misfortunes, as the Jacobites would say, that flowed from it, are attributed by an individual who had good opportunities of judging, and whose narrative appears to be impartial, to "the unbounded ambition of Secretary Murray, who from the beginning aimed at nothing less than the whole direction and management of every thing. To this passion he sacrificed what chance there was of a restoration, though that was the foundation on which all his hopes were built. He had an opportunity of securing the prince's favour long enough before he could be rivalled. He was almost the only personal acquaintance the prince found in Scotland. It was he that had engaged the prince to make this attempt upon so slight a foundation, and the wonderful success that had hitherto attended it was placed to his account. The Duke of Perth, whose character indeed was well known to the prince, judging of Murray's heart by his own, entertained the highest opinion of his integrity, went readily into all his schemes, and confirmed the prince in the esteem he had already conceived for Murray. After Mr Kelly was gone, there was only Sir Thomas Sheridan and Mr Sullivan, of those that had come along with the prince that had any thing to say with him, and these Murray had gained entirely. Lord George Murray was the man the secretary dreaded most as a rival. Lord George's birth, age, capacity, and experience, would naturally give him great advantage over the secretary; but the secretary had got the start of him, and was determined to stick to nothing to maintain his ground.

"He began by representing Lord George as a traitor to the prince. He assured him that he had joined on purpose to have an opportunity of delivering him up to the government. It was hardly possible to guard against this imposture. The prince had the highest opinion of his secretary's integrity, and knew little of Lord George Murray, so the calumny had its full effect. Lord George soon came to know the suspicion the prince had of him, and was affected as one may easily enough imagine. To be sure, nothing could be more shocking to a man of honour, an done that was now for the third time venturing his life and fortune for the royal cause. The prince was partly undeceived by Lord George's gallant behaviour at the battle (of Preston), and had Lord George improved that opportunity he might have perhaps gained the prince's favour, and got the better of the secretary; but his haughty and overbearing manner prevented a thorough reconciliation, and seconded the malice and malicious insinuations of his rival. Lord George did not altogether neglect making his court. Upon some occasions he was very obsequious and respectful, but had not temper to go through with it. He now and then broke out into such violent sallies, as the prince could not digest, though the situation of his affairs forced him to bear with them.

"The secretary's station and favour attached to him such as were confident of success, and had nothing in view but making their fortunes. Nevertheless, Lord George had greater weight and influence in the council, and generally brought the majority over to his opinion, which so irritated the ambitious secretary, that he endeavoured all he could to give the prince a bad impression of the council itself, and engaged to lay it entirely aside. He had like to have prevailed at Carlisle, but the council was soon resumed, and continued ever after to be held upon extraordinary emergencies. It was not in this particular only that Murray's ambition was detrimental to the prince's affairs. Though he was more jealous of Lord George Murray than of any body, Lord George was not the only person he dreaded as a rival. There were abundance of gentlemen that joined the prince after Murray were made known under the character he thought fit to give of them, and all employment's about the prince's person, and many in the army, were of his nomination. These he filled with such as, he had reason to think, would never thwart his measures, but be content to be his tools and creatures without aspiring higher. Thus some places of the greatest trust and importance were given to little insignificant fellows, while there were abundance of gentlemen of figure and merit, that had no employment at all, and who might have been of great use had they been properly employed".

Till the siege of Carlisle, Secretary Murray had been able to disguise his jealousy of Lord George Murray, who, from his high military attainments, had been able hitherto to rule the council; but, on that occasion, the secretary displayed his hostility openly, and Lord George thereupon resigned his command as one of the lieutenant-generals of the army. The circumstances which led to the resignation of Lord George were these. It appears that, before the blockading party left Brampton, he desired Charles to give him some idea of the terms his royal highness would accept from Carlisle, not with the view of obtaining powers to conclude a capitulation, but merely to enable him to adjust the terms according to the prince's intentions and thereby save a great deal of time. Charles not being able to come to any resolution before Lord George's departure, his lordship begged of him to send his instructions after him, that he might know how to conduct himself in the event of an offer of surrender by the city; but the secretary interposed, and told Lord George plainly, that he considered the terms of capitulation as a matter within his province, and with which Lord George had no right to interfere. Lord George has not communicated the answer he gave to Murray on this occasion. The part of the army destined for the blockade, though willing to take their turn along with the rest of the army, was averse to bear the whole burden of it. Their commander was aware of this feeling, and, in a letter written to his brother, the Marquis of Tullibardine, from his head-quarters at Harbery, on the 14th of November, proposed a plan which he thought would satisfy both parties. After alluding to the indefatigable exertions of the Duke of Perth, who had himself wrought in the trenches to encourage his men to erect the battery, and the great difficulties he had to encounter from the nature of the ground, Lord George requested the marquis to represent to the prince, that the men engaged on the blockade would not expose themselves either in trenches or in the open air within cannon shot, or even within musket shot of the town, but by turns with the rest of the army; and he proposed that it should be decided by lot who should mount guard the first night, second nights, and so on. To carry the views of his men into effect, Lord George proposed the following plan, subject to the approval of a council of war, viz, that 50 men should be draughted out of each of the battalions that remained at Brampton, with proper officers, and at least two majors out of the six battalions; and that these should be sent to Butcherly, within a mile of the battery; and that as 150 men might be sufficient guard for the battery, the six battalions would in this way furnish two guards, in addition to which, he proposed that two additional guards should be draughted, one from the Athole brigade, and the other from General Gordon's and Lord Ogilvy's regiments; and, by the time these four guards had served in rotation, he reckoned that the city would be taken, or the blockade removed. A council of war was held at Brampton, upon this proposal, which came to the resolution, that as soon as the whole body forming the blockade had taken their turn as guards, the division of the army at Brampton should occupy its place, and form the blockade, but that no detachments should be sent from the different corps; nor did the council think it fair to order any such, as these corps had had all the fatigue and danger of the blockade of Edinburgh.

Such were the circumstances which preceded the resignation of Lord George Murray, who, in a letter to Prince Charles dated the 15th of November, threw up his commission, assigning as his reason the little wight which his advice, as a general officer, had with his royal highness. He, however, stated, that as he had ever had a firm attachment to the house of Stuart. "and in particular to the king", he would serve as a volunteer, and that it was his design to be that night in the trenches. In a letter, which he wrote the same day to the Marquis of Tullibardine, he stated that he was constantly at a loss to know what was going on in the army, and that he was determined never again to act as an officer; but that as a volunteer, he would show that no man wished better to the cause, and that he would do all in his power to advance the service. At the request of the marquis, who informed Lord George that Charles wished to see him, Lord George waited upon the prince, who appears to have received him dryly. On being informed by Lord George, that he had attended in consequence of a message from the prince, Charles denied that he had required his attendance, and told him that he had nothing particular to say to him. His lordship then repeated his offer to serve as a volunteer. Charles told him be might do so, and here the conversation ended. In a conversation which took place afterwards, between Lord George and Sir Thomas Sheridan, the former entered into some details, to show that in his station, as lieutenant-general, he had had no authority, and that others had usurped the office of general, by using the name of the prince. He complained that, while he was employed in the drudgery, every thing of moment was done without his knowledge or advice. He concluded by observing, that he had ventured his all, - life, fortune, and family, - in short, every thing but his honour, - that, as to the last, he had some to lose, but none to gain, in the way things were managed, and that, therefore, he had resolved upon serving in a humble capacity.

There appears to be no foundation for the statement that Lord George resigned his commission from a dislike to serve under the Duke of Perth, whom he never mentions but with respect, although he was much inferior to Lord George in ability. He had also been accused of arrogance both to those of his own rank and even to the prince. But as Burton well remarks, "men of ability like Murray, unless they preserve a rigid restraint, are apt to let the contempt they feel for the silly people they are embarked with become unreasonably apparent, especially when they are interrupted in their plans by those who do not understand them". The Duke of Perth, who was a Roman Catholic, on its being represented to him that it might injure the prince's cause to have at the head of his army one of his persuasion, cheerfully resigned his commission. On this, Lord George, with whose valuable services the army could not dispense, was persuaded to assume his command. He thus became virtually general of the army, under the prince; for his brother, Tullibardine, who was in a bad state of health, took nothing upon him.


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