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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
The Chevalier's ignorance of the expedition


Of the many singular circumstances attending this extraordinary insurrection, the utter ignorance in which the personage in whose name it was undertaken was kept, is not the least. Charles had indeed written his father on the eve of his departure from France, acquainting him with the resolution he had taken, but before his letter reached Rome, the prince was actually at the head of his army. The object of Charles in concealing his design from the Chevalier is obvious. He was aware that his father would have opposed such a rash attempt, and might probably have applied to the court of France to prevent his departure; and having taken his resolution, he was determined not to put it in jeopardy by too timely an accouncement of his intentions. Whatever opinion may now be formed of the prudence of an undertaking, which, had it succeeded, would have been considered as one of the boldest strokes of political widsom, there can be but one sentiment as to the conduct of the prince, in thus withholding from his parent all knowledge of the design he had formed for accomplishing the object of his daring ambition. Though under the corrupt influence of a few interested persons, whom he kept about his person, he still retained a sufficient portion of filial respect to prevent him from violating the declared injunctions of his father; and as no opposition short of actual violence could have induced him to forego his resolution of going to Scotland, he avoided the disagreeable alternative of disregarding the commands which his father would have laid upon him by taking the course he did.

When the Chevalier de. George received the prince's letter, which informed him that he was to proceed instantly to Scotland, he was greatly surprised and agitated; but as the step had been taken, he became reconciled to it, and even could not help applauding the courage of the prince in entering upon the enterprise. Writing to the Duke of Ormond, on the 11th of August, the Chevalier says, "I have now by me your letters of the 14th July, and of the 27th, which last came by the courier, which brought me an account of the resolution the prince had taken, and executed without consulting me, for he was very sure I would not have approved it, tho' I cannot but say, that the courage and sentiments he shows on this occasion, will always do him honour". Again in writing to his agent, Sempil, on the same day, he observes, "What takes me up wholly at present, is the resolution the prince has taken and executed, without my knowledge... The question now is to look forward, and not to blame what is past. It is true, I never should have advised the prince to have taken such a step, but since it is taken it must be supported, and whatever be the event, it will certainly turn much to the prince's personal honour, nay, even something may be said to justify what he has done. The usage he met with in France, and the dread of a peace, were no doubt strong motives to push him on a rash undertaking, than to sit still; and who knows but what has happened, may, in some measure, force the court of France out of shame to support him, while otherwise perhaps they had continued to neglect him, and then have abandoned him at last... The prince's example will, I hope, animate our friends in England; he has ventured generously for them, and if they abandon him, they themselves, and indeed our country, will be ruined".

It had always been the opinion of the Chevalier - an opinion which experience has shown was well founded - that no attempt on Scotland could possibly succeed, unless accompanied by a simultaneous landing in England; and he now saw the necessity of enforcing this consideration more strongly than ever upon the court of France. In the letter which Charles had sent him, he desired his father to write to the King of France and Cardinal Tencin, entreating them for support. The Chevalier however, did not confine himself to the king and to the cardinal, but addressed himself also to the Marechal de Noailles, and the whole of the French ministers. Alluding to the necessity of supporting the prince by a descent on England, the Chevalier says in the letter to Ormond, from which a quotation has already been made; "Enfin, since the step is taken, it is certainly incumbent on all of us to do our best to support it, and I am very sure nothing will be wanting on your side for that effect. My darkness, my anxiety, and the multiplicity of my reflections on this occasion, are so great that I shall not pretend to enlarge on this subject at present. In the mean time, I now write to Lord Marischal by way of Paris, and write also directly to the King of France, and all the ministers, for without a landing in England is soon made, humanly speaking it will be impossible for the prince to succeed". He repeats almost the same observations in his letter to Sempil, also referred to: "I know not particularly the grounds he (the prince) goes upon, but I am afraid there is little room to hope he will succeed, except he be vigorously supported by the court of France; and, therefore, we must all of us in our different spheres leave nothing undone for that effect. I now write myself to the King of France and all the ministers, and we must be all of us more than ever soley and wholly intent on the great object".

But the Chevalier, in his anxiety to procure early succors for the prince, did not confine himself to words. To pay off the debts which Charles had contracted before his departure, he immediately remitted a sum of 200,000 francs to O'Bryan, his chief agent at Paris, and placed another sum of 50,000 francs in the hands of Waters, junior, his banker in Paris, at the disposal of O'Bryan, to meet instant contingencies. He afterwards remitted to Waters, through Belloni, his banker at Rome, 80,000 Roman crowns, and promised another remittance of 28,000 in a few weeks, which, he said, would exhaust his treasury.

In his letter to the King of France, the Chevalier informed him that he had learned with great astonishment the departure of the prince for Scotland; that knowing well he would never have approved of such a step, he had taken his resolution and put it into effect withour consulting him; but that being done, he was obliged in sincerity to confess that he could not but admire the conduct of the prince in entering upon the enterprise, which, he was certain, would make a great and favourable impression upon the minds of his adherents. He stated, however, his conviction, that without the aid of a foreign force it was utterly impossible for the prince to succeed, and he entreated his majesty to furnish the necessary assistance. He reminded him that the prince had been invited by him into France, and although a year and a half had since elapsed, that he certainly had not forgot the object which brough his son thither; and that a crisis had now arrived, when the smallest delay on the part of his majesty might be attended with danger to the success of the brave attempt which the prince had made, and that he might now, at little risk and at a small expense, finish the work which the prince was about to commence. As to himself personally, the Chevalier informed Louis that he had formerly intimated to him that he intended to resign his rights to the prince; and that his intentions were still the same, with this difference, however, that while he formerly considered that such a step would be advantageous for his family, it had now become indispensably necessary for his own honour, on account of his infirmities, as he considered that he should act rashly, and be guilty of bad faith towards his subjects, if he pretended to take upon himself the cares of government, when he was incapable of any fatigue either of body or of mind, and consequently unable to discharge the duties of a sovereign.


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