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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Charles goes to Ellagol


Strath, the country of the Mackinnons, was at a considerable distance, and the route to it which these two travellers took lay through one of the wildest and most mountainous districts on the island. Though a good pedestrian, Malcolm could scarcely keep his distance ahead of Charles, whose locomotive powers were surprising, there being few persons who could match him at walking. Alluding to his celerity of foot, he told Malcolm that provided he got out of musket-shot, he had no dread of a pursuit by English soldiers, but he had not the same confidence if chased by a party of Highland militia. He asked Malcolm what they would do in the event of meeting any person among the mountains, who might attempt to kill or take them. "That depends upon their numbers", replied Malcolm; "if there should be no more than four of them, I'll engage to manage two". "And I", rejoined Charles, "will engage to manage the other two". Malcolm, in his turn, asked Charles what they should do if attacked by a party of English soldiers, "Fight, to be sure", was the reply.

As Malcolm expected that they should fall in with some of the country people before they came to the end of their journey, by whom, from his being well known in the island, he might be recognised, he desired Charles not to evince any anxiety when he (Malcolm) should speak to them, but remove to a short distance and sit down till the conversation ended. They met a few of these people from time to time, on which occasion Charles not only observed the injunction of Malcolm, but superadded the customary menial duty, of touching his bonnet when addressed by his supposed master. With the exception of a bottle of brandy, the two travellers appear to have had no other sustenance during their long and fatiguing journey. When reduced to a single glass, Charles urged Malcolm to take it, lest he should faint with the excessive fatigue. Malcolm refused, and insisted that the prince himself should drink it, but Charles resolutely refused, and compelled Malcolm to drain the bottle. Malcolm then hid the bottle in a thick bush of heath, where he found it about three years thereafter. Honest Macleod long preserved it "as a curious piece", which he expected would one day make a figure in Westminster.

When opportunity offered, the prince and Malcolm relieved the tediousness of the journey, by conversing on a variety of topics. The conversation happening to turn upon Lord George Murray, Charles observed that his lordship, whether from ignorance or with a view to betray him, he would not say, misconducted himself in not obeying orders, and that in particular, for two or three days before the battle of Culloden, Lord George scarcely did anything he desired him to do. When Malcolm told him of the many atrocities committed after that battle, he appeared amazed, and said, "Surely that man who calls himself the duke, and pretends to be so great a general, cannot be guilty of such cruelties. I cannot believe it". Talking of the fatigues he was obliged to undergo, the prince said, "Do you not think, Macleod, that God Almighty has made this person of mine for doing some good yet? When I was in Italy, and dining at the king's (his father's) table, very often the sweat would have been coming through my coat with the heat of the climate, and now that I am in a cold country, where the climate is more trying, and exposed to different kinds of fatigues, I really find I agree equally with both. I have had (pointing to his kilt) this philibeg on now for some days, and I find I do as well with it as any of the best breeches I ever put on. I hope in God, Macleod, to walk the streets of London with it yet". A man holding such sentiments as these was not likely to be easily discouraged.

When approaching Mackinnon's bounds, Malcolm stated to the prince his apprehensions, that, disguised as he was, he was afraid he would still be recognised by some of Mackinnon's people, who had been out in his service. He, therefore, suggested that Charles should disguise himself still further. The prince then proposed to blacken his face with powder; but Malcolm objected to this plan, which, he said, would tend rather to discover than to conceal him. "Then", observed Charles, "I must be put into the greatest dishabille possible"; and pulling off his wig, and putting it into his pocket, took out a dirty white napkin, which Malcolm, at his desire, tied about his head close to his eyebrows. He then put off his bonnet, tore the ruffles from his shirt, and took the buckles out of his shoes, and made Malcolm fasten then with strings. Charles now asked his friend if he thought he would still be recognised, and on Malcolm answering that he thought he would, Charles said, "I have so off a face, that no man that ever saw me once but would know me again". In Malcolm's opinion, Charles, though almost a Proteus, could never disguise his majestic mien and carriage; and he declared that there was not a person who knew what the air of a noble or great man was, that would not, upon seeing the prince, however disguised he might be, at once perceive something about him that was not ordinary, - something of the stately and grand.

They had not gone far after this conversation, when Malcolm Macleod's opinion was verified, for no sooner had the travellers entered Strath, than Charles was recognised by two men of Mackinnon's clan, who had been out in the insurrection. They stared at the prince for a little, and on discovering him, lifted up their hands and wept bitterly. Malcolm begged that they would compose themselves, lest by showing so much concern they might discover the prince. After cautioning them not to mention the meeting to any one, he swore them to secrecy upon his naked dirk, and then dismissed them. They kept their word.

Being within two miles of the laird of Mackinnon's house, Malcolm asked him if he wished to see the old chief; "No", said Charles, "by no means". I know Mackinnon to be as good and as honest a man as any in the world; but he is not fit for my purpose at present. You must conduct me to some other house, but let it be a gentleman's house". They then proceeded, at Malcolm's suggestion, to a place called Ellagol, or rather Ellighiul, near Kilvory or Kilmaree, where they arrived in the morning after a journey of twenty-four Highland miles, being upward of thirty English miles. At Ellagol there lived one John Mackinnon, who had served as captain under the laird of Mackinnon, and had married a sister of Malcolm. Being desirous to ascertain the state of matters in the neighbourhood before conducting Charles into the house of his brother-in-law, Malcolm left the prince at a little distance from the house, and went forward to make the necessary inquiries. He found that Mackinnon was from home; and on informing his sister that he had come to stay a short time at Ellagol, if he could do so with safety, she assured him that he would be perfectly safe. as there were no military people about the place, and that he was very welcome. Malcolm then told her that he had nobody along with him but one Lewis Caw, son of Mr Caw, a surgeon in Crieff, whom, being a fugitive like himself, he had engaged as his servant, but that he had fallen sick. Mrs Mackinnon felt interested in the stranger, and requested her brother to bring him in.


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