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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Cage fitted for Charles's reception


After they had recovered from the first transports of their joy, Lochiel conducted Charles into the hut, where the latter beheld a sight to which his eyes had not been accustomed for many months. Besides abundance of mutton, the hut contained an achor of whisky, of twenty Scotch pints, some good dried beef sausages, a large well-cured bacon ham, and plenty of butter and cheese. On entering the prince took a hearty dram, and drank to the health of his friends. Some minced collops were then prepared for him with butter in a large saucepan, which Lochiel and Cluny always carried about with them, being the only fire-vessel they had. The pan was set before Charles with a silver spoon. He took his repast with great gusto, and was so delighted with this little change in his circumstances, that he could not help exclaiming, with a cheerful countenance, "Now, gentlemen, I live like a prince". After dinner he asked Lochiel if he had always fared so well during his retreat. "Yes, Sir", answered Lochiel; "for neare three months past I have been hereabout with my cousin Cluny; he had provided for me so well that I have plenty of such as you see, and I thank Heaven your Royal Highness has got through so many dangers to take a part". Finding, on his arrival at Auchnacarry, that Charles had departed with his friends for Badenoch, Cluny had retraced his steps, and he reached Mellenauir two days after Charles's arrival there. On entering the hut Cluny would have kneeled before Charles, but the prince prevented him, and giving him a kiss, said, "I am sorry, Cluny, you and your regiment were not at Culloden: I did not hear till very lately that you were so near us that day".

The day after his return to Mellenauir, Cluny, thinking it time to remove to another retreat, conducted the prince and his attendants to a little shieling called Uiskchibra, about two miles farther into Benalder. This hut was very bad and extremely smoky; but Charles accommodated himself, as he had always done, to circumstances. After passing two nights in this miserable abode, he was conducted to a very extraordinary and romantic habitation called the Cage, which Cluny had fitted up for Charles's reception. From the description given by Cluny of this remarkable retreat, it will be seen how well adapted it was for the purpose of concealment.

"It was", says Donald Macpherson, "situated in the face of a very rough, high, and rocky mountain, called Letternilichk, still a part of Benalder, full of great stones and crevices, and some scattered wood interspersed. The habitation called the Cage, in the face of that mountain, was within a small thick bush of wood. There were first some rows of trees laid down, in order to level a floor for the habitation; and as the place was steep, this raised the lower side to an equal height with the other; and these trees, in the way of joists or planks, were levelled with earth and gravel. There were betwixt the trees, growing naturally on their own roots, some stakes fixed in the earth, which, with the trees, were interwoven with ropes, made of heath and birch twigs, up to the top of the Cage, it being of a round or rather oval shape; and the whole thatched and covered over with fog. This whole fabric hung, as it were, by a large tree, which reclined from the one end all along the roof to the other, and which gave it the name of the Cage; and by chance there happened to be two stones at a small distance from one another, in the side next the precipice, resembling the pillars of a chimney, where the fire was placed. The smoke had its vent our here, all along the face of the rock, which was so much of the same colour, that one could discover no difference in the clearest day. The Cage was no larger than to contain six or seven persons; four of whom were frequently employed playing at cards, one idle looking out, one baking, and another firing bread and cooking".

Charles's deliverance was now nearer at hand than he or his friends probably expected. Several small vessels had arrived on the west coast, from time to time, to carry him off to France; but the persons in charge of these not being able to find him had returned home. Charles knew this, and now that he was able to keep up a communication with his friends, he took care to provide against a similar recurrence. He was at a considerable distance from the coast, but matters were so concerted that, if a French vessel appeared, he could easily get the intelligence. There were some of his partisans skulking near the west coast, who, though they did not know where he himself was, had instructions to convey the news to others who were concealed in the interior, who would again communicate it to persons in the knowledge of the prince's place of retreat. For some time Colonel Warren, of Dillon's regiment, had been exerting himself to induce the French government to fit out an expedition to rescue Charles from his toils. He at last succeeded in procuring two vessels of war, L'Heureux and La Princesse de Conti, with which he departed from St Malo about the end of August. In the event of his bringing the prince safe away, the Chevalier de St George had promised to make him a Knight Baronet, a dignity which he afterwards conferred upon him.


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