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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Charles in South Uist


On his return he found the prince in a more comfortable dwelling than that in which he had left him. He had removed to South Uist on the 16th of May, and lived in the house of one of Clanranald's tenants, situated upon Coradale. The house not being water-tight, two cow-hides were placed upon four sticks to prevent the rain from falling upon him when asleep. The house in which the prince lodged was called the Forest house of Glencoradale, and though the situation was remote, it was the best that could be devised for securing a retreat either to the hills or to the sea, according to circumstances. There being an abundance of game in the island, the prince occupied himself almost daily in his favourite amusements of hunting and shooting. His dexterity is shooting birds upon the wing was particularly remarked. To vary his recreation, he frequently went down to the sea-shore, and going on board a small boat, caught, with hand-lines, some small fishes called lyths by the inhabitants. Clanranald placed twelve able men at his disposal to serve as guides through the island, and to execute any orders Charles might give them.

While Charles was thus passing his time in South Uist, his situation every day was becoming more and more critical. The Long Island, as the principal group of the Hebrides is called, was surrounded on every side by cutters, sloops of war, and frigates. Upwards of fifteen hundred militia and some regular troops were landed in different parts of the island, and a guard was posted at every ferry in the archipelago to prevent any person from getting out of it without a passport. Charles was made aware of his danger; but he declined to leave the Long island till he should receive some farther intelligence, which Clanranald endeavoured to obtain by crossing over to the mainland. At length the peril of Charles became so imminent, that there appeared no possibility of an escape. He had already spent three weeks in South Uist; and though his residence was known to upwards of a hundred persons, all of whom were probably aware of the splendid reward which had been offered for his apprehension, yet such was the fidelity of these poor people, that not one of them betrayed their trust, by giving notice to the emissaries of the government of the place of his concealment. He lived in comparative security in South Uist till about the middle of June, when, in consequence of the presence of a body of militia in the island of Eriska, which lies between Barra and South Uist, he found it absolutely necessary to shift his quarters. He accordingly left South Uist in Campbell's boat with his four companions, on the 14th of June, and landed in the small isle of Wia or Fovaya, between South Uist and Benbecula, in which he remained four nights; and on the 18th, the prince, O'Neil, and Burke, went to Rossinish, leaving O'Sullivan and Macleod in Wia. Charles passed two nights at Rossinish; but receiving information that some militia were approaching Benbecula, he resolved to return to Coradale. O'Sullivan and Macleod anticipating Charles's design by bringing the boat to Rossinish during the night, and having set sail, they encountered a violent storm, accompanied by heavy rain, which forced them to land upon the rock of Achkirside-allich at Uishinish Point, in a cleft of which they took up their quarters. At night, finding their enemies within two miles of them, they sailed again, and arrived safely at a place called Ceiestiella, whence they steered towards Loch Boisdale; but, observing a boat in their way, they returned to their former place, where they passed the night. They proceeded to Loch Boisdale next day, where they were informed that Boisdale had been made a prisoner, a circumstance which perplexed Charles exceedingly, as Boisdale, from his perfect knowledge of the different places of concealment in the Long island, was the chief person on whom he relied for directions in his various movements. Charles skulked some days about Loch Boisdale, where he and his attendants received occasional supplies of food from Lady Boisdale.

During the time the prince remained in Loch Boisdale, he was kept in a perpetual state of alarm by the vessels of war which hovered off the coast of South Uist. At one time no less than fifteen sail were in sight; and two of them having entered the Loch, Charles and his companions abandoned the boat, and fled to the mountains. The vessels having gone out to sea, Charles and his party returned to the boat, in which they had left a small stock of provisions; and having taken out the sails for the purpose of covering them, they lay in the fields two nights on the south side of the Loch. Removing the third night farther up the inlet, they passed two other nights in the same way, suffering all the time the greatest privations. Hitherto the military had not visited South Uist; but information was brought on the last of these days to Charles, that a party, under Captain Caroline Scott, an officer celebrated, along with General Hawley, Major Lockhart, and others for his cruelties, had just landed at the head of a body of 500 regulars and militia, within a mile and a half of the place where Charles then was. On receiving this alarming intelligence, Charles instantly resolved to separate his party; and leaving O'Sullivan, Macleod, and Burke, with the boatmen, to shift for themselves, he and O'Neil went off to the mountains, carrying only two shirts along with them. The faithful Macleod was so affected at parting that he shed tears.

(Macleod was taken prisoner a few days afterwards in Benbecula, by Lieutenant Allan Macdonald, of Knoch, in Sleat, in the island of Skye. He was put on board the Furnace, and brought down to the cabin before General Campbell, who examined him most minutely. The general asked him if he had been along with the Pretender? "Yes", said Donald, "I was along with that young gentleman, and I winna deny it". "Do you know", said the general, "what money was upon that gentleman's head? - No less a sum than thirty thousand pounds sterling, which would have made you and your family happy for ever". "What then?", replied Donald, "what though I had gotten it? I could not have enjoyed it for two days. Conscience would have gotten the better of me; and although I could have gotten all England and Scotland for my pans, I would not have allowed a hair of his body to be touched if I could hinder it, since he threw himself upon my care". Campbell observed that he could not much blame him. Donald was sent to London, but released on the 10th of June, 1747. When he arrived in Leith from London, on his return to Skye, he had no money to carry him thither; but his wants were supplied by the Rev. Robert (afterwards bishop) Forbes, an Episcopal clergyman in Leith, who set a subscription on foot in that town, and in Edinburgh, "to make out", as the bishop says, "for honest Palinurus, if possible, a pound sterling, for every week he had served the prince in distress; and", continues the worthy bishop, "I thank God I was so happy as to accomplish my design directly". In acknowledgement of his fidelity, Donald was presented by Mr John Walkinshaw of London, with a large silver snuff-box, handsomely chased, and doubly gilt in the inside. Upon the lid of this box there was the representation of an eight-oared boat, with Donald at the helm, and the eight rowers making their way through a very rough and tempestuous sea. The Long island is seen in the distance upon one of the extremities of the lid, and the boat appears to be just steering into Rossinish, the point of Benbecula where Charles landed after leaving Lochnanuagh. On the other end of the lid there was a landscape of the end of the isle of Skye, as it appears opposite to the Long island, on which the sites of Dunvegan and Gualtergill are marked. The clouds were represented as heavy and lowering, and the rain descending; and above the clouds, i.e. near the hinge, the following motto was engraved:- "Olim haec meminisse juvabit. Aprilis 26to, 1746". Upon the bottom, and near the edge of the lid, was this inscription, - "Quid Neptune, paras? Fatis agitamur iniquis". The following words were engraved on the bottom of the box:- "Donald Macleod of Gualtergill, in the isle of Skye, the faithful Palinurus, aet 68, 1746". Below which there was a representation of a dove with an olive branch in its bill. Donald never put any snuff into this box, and when asked the cause by Mr Forbes, he exclaimed, "Sneeshin in that box! Na, the diel a pickle sneeshin shall ever go into it till the King be restored; and then, I trust in God, I'll go to London, and then I will put sneeshin in the box, and go to the Prince, and say 'Sir, will you take a sneeshin out o' my box"').


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