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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Prince Charles returns to Benbecula


The little island on which Charles now was, was inhabited by a few fishermen, who, imagining the prince's boat to be a press-boat belonging to one of the ships of war, ran away to conceal themselves, leaving their fish behind. Charles and his party fared upon some of the fish which they found drying upon the beach. Unwilling to deprive the poor fishermen of any part of their hard-earned spoils without an equivalent, the prince was about laying down some money on the place from which the fish was taken; but on one of his followers representing to him that by doing so the fishermen might suppose that some person of note had visited the island, and that such an idea might lead to bad consequences, he desisted. Charles remained in this desolate island four days, during all which time he and his party lay in a wretched hut, resembling a hog-sty, and so wretchedly roofed that they were obliged to spread the boat's sail over the top of it. They lay upon the bare floor, without any covering, and to prevent surprise, kept watch by turns.

Resolving to return to Glass to pay Donald Campbell a visit, Charles left the little island of Iffurt on the 10th of May, and coursed along the shores of the Long Island till he arrived at the isle of Glass. Understanding that Campbell had absconded, from an apprehension that he would be seized for having entertained the prince, - a rumour to that effect having got abroad, - the prince left Glass the same day. There being no wind, the boatmen were obliged to row all night; but about daybreak, the wind began to rise, and hoisting sail, they scudded along the coast of Harris. Having no fresh water on board, they were forced, from lack of other provisions, to use oatmeal made up with salt water, of which Charles partook heartily. This salt water drammach, as this extraordinary preparation was called, was qualified with a dram of brandy, which the prince distributed from a bottle he held in his hand.

In coursing along Harris, Charles, while crossing the mouth of Finsbay, espied a ship of war, commanded by Captain Ferguson, lying in the bay, at the distance of about two musket shots, which immediately gave them chase. The ship followed them three leagues; but they escaped among the rocks at the point of Roudil in the Harris. They then kept close to the shore, and in passing along the coast of North Uist were observed by another war vessel lying in Lochmaddy, which also gave them chase. Charles reached Benbecula after a very close pursuit, and had scarcely landed when a storm arose, which drive the vessels that pursued him off the coast. After this escape, Charles could not help remarking, that Providence would not permit him to be taken at this time.

It being low water when Charles landed in Benbecula, one of the boatmen went along the rocks in quest of shell-fish, and found a crab, which he held up to the prince with an expression of joy. Taking up a pail which lay in the boat, Charles immediately proceeded to the spot where the boatman stood, and, in conjunction with him, soon filled the pail with crabs. The party then proceeded to a small hut which lay at the distance of two miles. Charles carried the pail, which Macleod insisted on relieving him of; but Charles refused to part with it, observing that he and the rest of the company might carry the baggage. The door of the hovel was so low, that the party could only enter by creeping in on their hands and knees; but to make the entry easier for the prince, Burke dug away part of the ground, and put heather below the prince's knees. From this homely residence, Charles sent a message to old Clanranald, acquainting him of his return to Benbecula, and of the difficulties with which he was beset. Clanranald, at the same time, sent Charles half-a-dozen shirts, some shoes and stockings, a supply of wine and brandy, and other articles, to make his situation as comfortable as circumstances would admit of. After passing several days in this miserable habitation, Charles, by the advice of Clanranald, removed to South Uist, and took up his abode near the hill of Coradale, in the centre of the island, which was considered a more secure place of retreat.

When on the eve of leaving Benbecula, Charles despatched Donald Macleod in Campbell's boat, which he still retained, to the mainland, with letters to Lochiel and Secretary Murray, desiring to know how affairs stood, and requesting that a supply of cash and brandy might be sent to him. Donald met Lochiel and Murray at the head of Loch Arkaig; but Murray, from whom he was desired to obtain the money, informed him that he had none to spare, having only sixty Louis-d'ors, which he meant to keep for his own necessities. Donald received letters from Lochiel and Murray to the prince, and, having found the means, he purchased two ankers of brandy, at a guinea each, for the use of the prince, with which he returned after an absence of eighteen days.


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