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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Charles entertained by robbers in a cave


Resolving again to go to Pollew, Glenaladale's brother and the Glengarry man were despatched, about three o'clock on the morning of the 29th, in quest of some trusty persons to conduct the prince thither, and were appointed to meet Charles and the rest of the party on the top of a neighbouring hill. Charles and his friends set off about five o'clock, and, after a walk of two hours, reached the top of the appointed hill, where they met the guide, who stated that he was directed by some proper persons he had found out, to desire Glenaladale to repair to a hill in the Braes of Glenmoriston, called Corambian, where they promised to come at an appointed hour with some vituals. The persons alluded to were a party of seven men, who, having been engaged in the insurrection, had formed themselves into a sort of predatory fraternity; intending, perhaps, to resume their former habits of industry when the persecutions of the government ceased. These had taken up their abode in a romantic cave on the side of Corambian, and seldom removed to any considerable distance from their rocky den, unless compelled by the necessity of providing for their immediate wants.

As directed, Charles and his friends proceeded to Corambian, and when they came near the cave, Glenaladale and the guide went forward, leaving Charles and the other two Macdonalds at a little distance. All the inmates of the den were present except one, and having killed a sheep that day, had just sat down to dinner. Glenaladale said he was glad to see them so well provided, and they invited him to sit down and share with them. He then said he had a friend with him, outside, for whom he must beg the same favour. Being asked by them who the friend was, he answered that it was young Clanranald, his chief. Nobody could be more welcome, they said, than the young chief; and they added, that they were willing to purchase food for him at the point of their swords. Glenaladale then left the cave and brought in Charles, who, being immediately recognised by its residents, had every aspect shown him by these men, who fell on their knees before him. It is almost unnecessary to add, that Charles, who had scarcely tasted food for forty-eight hours, made ample amends for his long fast. After dinner, Charles's entertainers made up a bed for him of ferns and tops of heath, on which he was soon lulled asleep by the gentle murmurs of a purling stream that ran through the grotto close to his bedside.

The dress which Charles wore at this time is thus described by Mr Holme, who obtained his information from Hugh Chisholm, one of the seven persons who were in the cave at the time Charles resided in it. Upon his head he had a wretched yellow wig and a bonnet, and about his neck a clouted handkerchief. He wore a coat of course, dark-coloured cloth, a Stirling tartan vest, much worn, a pretty good belted plaid, tartan hose, and Highland brogues tied with thongs, so much worn that they would scarcely stick upon his feet. His shirt, the only one he had, was of the colour of saffron. The inhabitants of the cave had no change of dress to offer their guest; but an incident occurred which enabled them to supply his wants. Hearing that a detachment of government troops under Lord George Sackville, was marching from Fort Augustus to Strathglass, and knowing that they must pass at no great distance from their abode, the robbers resolved to make an attempt upon their baggage. For this purpose they placed themselves between two hills, near the road to Strathglass, where, free from observation, they awaited the detachment. It soon appeared, and after it had passed, the Highlanders fired at some officers' servants, who were a considerable distance behind, and, rushing down upon them, seized and carried off some portmanteaus, in which they found every thing that Charles stood in need of.

The search for Charles, which had hitherto been pursued with the most persevering assiduity, now began to slacken, in consequence of an occurrence, which, it was supposed, rendered further search unnecessary. Among other persons who had joined Charles at Edinburgh, there was a young man of respectable family, named Roderick Mackenzie. He had served as one of the prince's life-guards. Being about the same age as Charles, tall and somewhat slender, like the prince, and with features resembling, in some degree, those of Charles, he might, with ordinary observers, who had not been accustomed to see them together, have passed for the prince. As he could not venture with safety to Edinburgh, where he had two maiden sisters living, he fled to the Highlands after the battle of Culloden, and, while skulking among the hills of Glemmoriston, was surprised by a party of soldiers, about the middle of July. Mackenzie endeavoured to escape; but being overtaken, he turned round upon his pursuers, and, drawing his sword, bravely defended himself. He was shot by one of the soldiers, and as he fell, he exclaimed, "You have killed your prince! you have killed your prince!" and immediately expired. Overjoyed at their supposed good fortune, the soldiers cut off the young man's head, and hurried to Fort Augustus with their prize. The Duke of Cumberland, convinced that he had got the head of his relative, had it, it is said, packed up, and ordered a postchaise, went off to London, carrying the head along with him. Shortly after his arrival, however, the deception, which had been of essential service to Charles, was discovered.

Being pretty secure in Coiraghoth, as the cave was called, Charles remained three days in this retreat, during which he recruited so well that he considered himself able to encounter any hardships. The whole party then shifted their quarters to another hill, about two miles off, and took up their abode in another cave, on the 2d of August. after staying four days in their new dwelling they were again obliged to shift, in consequence of information, they received, that one Campbell, a tia, had pitched his camp at a little distance, to graze a large head of cattle. Leaving one of their party behind to watch Campbell's motions, they set off in a northerly direction, and travelled to the heights of Strathglass. Charles was conducted to a sheep-cot, in which a bed was made up for him, consisting of turf, with the grass-side uppermost, and a pillow of the same. He remained in this hovel three days, during which an express was sent to Pollew, to ascertain whether a report which had reached him of some French vessels having been seen off the coast, was correct. On the supposition that the report would turn out to be well founded, the party followed the express, and crossing along the moor, put up at another shieling for the night, and about twelve o'clock, next day, August the 10th, arrived at a place called Glencanna, and passing the day in a neighbouring wood, repaired at night to a village hard by. About two o'clock next morning they scrambled up a hill on the north side of Glencanna, and sending off two of their number to forage for provisions, they waited two days in a neighbouring shieling for the return of their messenger from Pollew. The express arrived, and brought notice that a French ship had been upon the coast, and had landed two gentlemen, who had gone to Lochiel's country in quest of the prince. In expectation of meeting these gentlemen, Charles resolved to retrace his steps.


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