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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
Prince Charlie's Army on Glasgow Green, 1745


IT was on that portion of the Green known as the Fleshers’ Haugh that Prince Charles Edward, the "Young Chevalier" of Scottish song, reviewed his troops on the occasion of his unwelcome visit to Glasgow, in the winter of 1745-6 ! Among the Whigs of Glasgow the Chevalier had few friends. Accordingly when, returning from England, he arrived at our city on his way to the Highlands, he deterniined to make the most of the wealthy enemy. The Highlanders, after their lengthened and bootless campaign, were in a most necessitous condition. Their tartans were nearly worn out, while many of them were without brogues, bonnets, or shirts. On their way to the city every individual they met was speedily divested of shoes and other articles of dress; yet notwithstanding such windfalls, they presented a most miserable appearance.

But Glasgow "saw another sight" (and paid for it, too) before their departure. Charles, without ceremony, at once took up his residence at the best house in the city, and adopted the necessary measures for refitting his army. The magistrates were compelled to officiate as clothiers, to the tune of 12,000 shirts, 6,000 cloth coats, 6,000 pairs of shoes, 6,000 pairs of stockings, 6,000 waistcoats, and an equal number of bonnets.

"My conscience!" what would Bailie Nicol Jarvie have said to such an act of extortion? But whatever the honest Bailie could have said, the described articles had to be produced, and it was in the pride of these borrowed plumes that the review we have mentioned was held.

"We marched out (says one of Charlie’s English followers, in a manuscript journal) with drums beating, colours flying, bagpipes playing, and all the marks of a triumphant army, to the appointed ground, attended by multitudes of people who had come from all parts to see us, and especially the ladies, who, though formerly much against us, were now changed by the sight of the prince into the most enthusiastic loyalty." During the review Charles stood under a thorn-tree, on the declivity which forms the north-western boundary ol the Fleshers’ Haugh, about a hundred yards east of the round seat."

One of the citizens, then a boy, many years afterwards said: "I managed to get so near him that I could have touched him with my hand, and the impression which he made upon my mind shall never fade as long as I live. He had a princely aspect, and its interest was much heightened by the dejection which appeared in his pale, fair countenance and downcast eye. He evidently wanted confidence in his cause, and seemed to have a melancholy foreboding of that disaster which soon ruined the hopes of his family forever."

In the contemplation of the subsequent misfortunes of the Chevalier and his devoted Highlanders, their faults and failings are forgotten. And now every heart (including that of the Queen on the throne) thrills in sympathy with the pathetic lyrical expression of our townsman Glen:-

"Oh, waes me for Prince Charlie!"


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