A PROCLAMATION of indemnity being published by
Queen Anne in March, 1703, in favour of all who had borne arms
against Government since 1688, most of the Jacobites in France then
came home. Struan returned with the rest. He quietly took possession
of his property, as if no forfeiture had taken place. Now his own
master, and the independent chief of several hundred devoted
adherents, he began with enthusiasm to form plans for the
beautifying and improving of his estate, in the prosecution of which
he exhibited a great deal of sound common-sense, mingled with the
taste acquired in France, and with not a little of his own natural
oddity of character. The fir woods were turned to account, and good
regulations laid down for the proper grazing and cultivation of the
ground. But the favourite creation of Struan's taste was the
Hermitage of Mount Alexander. Choosing the bold bluff mound,
standing, sentinel-like, at the entrance of Rannoch for a site, he
placed his nest on the top, and ornamented and planted all round, as
he himself styles it, "A la mode de France." From this sanctuary
woman was strictly excluded. He was exclusively served by male
attendants, and the company invited to his jovial bachelor feasts
were, without exception, of the same sex. To his servants he was a
kind and indulgent master. This was the advice he gave one of them
when entering upon his employment:—
"You are a stranger, and I'll tell you the sort
of master you have got. I'll make you serve me right. I'm
dreadfully hasty, too, and shall scold you at times without rhyme or
reason. When I'm angry, I'll not bear you to be insolent, nor a dumb
dog neither. When you are right and I wrong, defend yourself like a
man, but do it without impertinence." Almost every gate and door
about the Hermitage bore proofs of Struan's poetical talents. Take
for example :—
LINES OVER THE DOOR OF MOUNT ALEXANDER.
"Turn thee, judicious guest, and relish all
The various beauties of the globe, in small.
The power and being of a God you'll trace
In the contexture of this narrow space."
OVER THE DINING ROOM DOOR.
"Let no excess in our plain board appear,
For moderation is the best of cheer.
Oft-times the man, in meat and drink profuse,
Frantic or dull, with the bewitching juice,
Forgets the God that gave it for his use."
OVER THE BEDCHAMBER DOOR.
"Here taste a sweet and undisturbed repose,
A short-lived death t' unbend thy mind from woes.
Yet be prepared, not knowing but thou'rt bound
To fetch thy nap till the last trump shall sound.*
But the "Lines over Mount Alexander Gate" were
those that chiefly provoked the ire of the fair, and called forth
their poetical castigation :—
"In this small spot whole paradise you'll see,
With all its plants but the forbidden tree.
Here every sort of animal you'll find,
Subdued, but woman who betrayed mankind.
All kinds of insects,
too, their shelter take
Within these happy groves, except the snake.
In fine, there's nothing poisonous here enclosed,
But all is pure as heaven at first disposed.
Woods, hills, and dales, with milk and corn abound.
Traveller, pull off thy shoes, 'tis holy ground."
whimsical, warm-hearted Struan was a prime favourite with all
parties. He was, in fact, a privileged person. His known
eccentricity, his learning, and poetical genius, no less than his
extreme sense of honour, and the antiquity of his family, endeared
him to Whig and Jacobite, and excused in him those political sallies
and practices which would consign another to a State prison. Struan
was no intriguer. He could only think of the restoration of his
"King" by a bold and chivalrous coup-de-main. But though not
implicated in the tortuous secret checks and counter-checks of
parties, he could see by his frolicsome eye more than those he came
in contact with counted upon, and their selfish littleness and
fine-spun-scheming formed a subject for his rough hearty muse much
oftener than they at all wished. Party-spirit did not blind him as
much as others either to falsehood or worth. The firmest Jacobite in
the three kingdoms, he could ridicule the caballers of St. Germains,
and eulogise the Duke of Argyle, without affording the least ground
of suspicion of having turned his coat.
Struan was suddenly
called from his nine years' quiet retirement. Anne died; the Elector
of Hanover was proclaimed King of Great Britain; Mar proclaimed the
Chevalier at Moulinearn—these events followed fast upon each other.
Struan was among the first to join the rebel Earl. He had been
previously summoned to attend at Edinburgh, under the pain of fine
and imprisonment, to give bail for his allegiance to the existing
Government— From his hostility to the whole race of "wee lairdies,"
and to their chief in special, he was known at this time among his
Jacobite friends by the nick-name of "Elector."
Mar thought it of much importance to gain the
hearty co-operation of the " Elector of Struan." He was anxious to
humour him himself, and endeavoured to make others do so also. At
the beginning of the rebellion, Perth was seized by the Jacobites of
Fife. Colonel Hay, brother to the Earl of Kinnoull, was appointed
governor of the captured city, with very despotic instructions
indeed. Alexander of Struan, with his Robertsons, reinforced Hay by
order of Mar. In his letter to Hay, Mar thus introduces Struan:—"You
must take care to please the Elector of Struan, as they call him. He
is an old colonel; but, as he says himself, understands not much of
the trade. So he'll be ready to be advised by Colonel Balfour and
Urquhart. As for money, I am not so rife of it as I hope to be soon
; but I have sent off the little I have, fifty guineas, by the
bearer." Struan's enthusiasm was of that infectious kind which
spread from man to man. His zeal shamed the sluggish and inflamed
the lukewarm. One of the ways by which he dragged half-unwilling
recruits to the standard of the Chevalier may be seen from the
STRUAN TO HIS BROTHER, DUNCAN VOIR, OVER A BOTTLE.
"To retrieve your good name
And establish your fame
Dear Goth* let your fiddling alone:
'Tis better to go
* Struan calls his brother by this nickname very
And fight with the foe
That keeps royal James from his own."
DUNCAN VOIR'S ANSWER.
"The fatigues of the field
Small pleasures can yield
But the silly repute of a Hector;
Then at Carie we'll stay,
And drink every day,
With the dear little prig, the Elector."
Such humorous bantering was with Struan a common
weapon. Duncan Voir did go out to seek the "silly repute of a
Hector," but got a long imprisonment instead. Another brother was
among the slaughtered at Preston.
At the Battle of Sheriffmuir, Struan, along with
Lord Strathallan, commanded the centre of Mar's second line. The
honest laird distinguished himself more by his downright
knight-errant. bravery than by the talents proper for a commander.
When the English dragoons reeled before the first furious onset of
the clans, Struan, it is said, threw himself before the lines, and,
holding up his purse, shouted to one of the retreating foe, "Turn,
caitiff, turn; fight with me for money, if not for honour!"
The firmness of the Government forces, and the
ability of their general, though the battle was undecisive enough to
allow both parties the claim of victory, made such an impression
upon the insurgents, that many began to despair of the issue, and
gradually deserted their colours. Struan's sanguine nature, roused
by actual conflict to the highest pitch of enthusiasm, overlooked
all obstacles and difficulties in the way, and fixedly gazed on the
expected result, the installing of James at Whitehall. The song in
which he expressed his feelings immediately after the Battle of
Sheriffmuir will show his sentiments better than anything else:—
"Since loyalty is still the same
Whether it win or lose the game,
To flinch it were a burning shame
Since Mar has won a battle:
Let each brave true-hearted
Scot Improve the victory he has got,
Resolving all shall go to pot,
Or James the Eighth to settle.
Let those unmanly men who fear,
With downcast looks, and hanging ears,
Who think each shadow that appears
An enemy pursuing—
Let such faint-hearted souls be gone,
The dangers of the field to shun;
We'll make Argyle once more to run,
And think on what he's doing.
Can poor Low-country water-rats,
Withstand our furious mountain-cats,
The dint of whose well-armed pats
So fatally confoundeth,
When many hundred warlike men
Were so well cut, and so well slain,
That they can scarce get up again
When the last trumpet soundeth?
Come, here's to the victorious Mar,
Who bravely first conceived the war,
And to all those who went so far
To shake off Union's slavery—
Whose fighting for such noble cause
As king and liberty and laws,
Must from their foes even force applause,
In spite of their own knavery."
But the affairs of the insurgents were rapidly
falling to ruin. Few were animated with a spirit similar to
Struan's. The Chevalier arrived at Perth in January, and made a
shadowy attempt to assume the insignia and discharge the functions
of royalty. The presence of the Prince in the rebel camp did more
harm than good. His pale melancholy face showed no trace of sanguine
hope; and instead of using the animating military eloquence of a
Montrose or Dundee, to rally and encourage his followers, the
unhappy Chevalier did so preserve that silent deportment naturally
belonging to him—but in present circumstances so thoroughly out of
place—as to provoke the Highlanders to ask "if he could speak?" On
the approach of Argyle the insurgent camp finally broke up ; and
after a few weeks' residence in the country, James embarked at
Dundee for France in the beginning of February, 1716, and never
returned. After his unmartial conduct on this occasion, though
cherishing their allegiance to him as a religious sentiment, James
never thoroughly gained the love of the Highlanders for his person
in the way his son -Charles Edward did. After Sheriffmuir, Struan
does not again mention his name, coupled as formerly with personal
commendation, but merely as the perpetuator and temporary
representative of the "sacred blood of anointed kings." The
disappointment appears to have been universal; and, indeed, had it
been otherwise, Charles' name would not have so completely eclipsed
that of his royal father in the rebellion of '45 and ever
afterwards. The language of official documents might be different;
but few of the Highlanders thought at Culloden they were fighting
for any person or thing other than the Prince and Prince alone.
Before leaving the country, the Chevalier sent a letter to
the Duke of Argyle, "desiring him, if not as an obedient subject, at
least as a lover of his country," to appropriate certain sums of
money left behind by him, for the purpose of repairing, as far as
possible, the damages of war. The Duke's merciful order, to "spare
the poor blue bonnets" at Sheriffmuir, sank deep into the grateful
hearts of the rebels, and his manly talents and known integrity
pointed him out to all but to the Germanised London Government as
the fittest person for settling the troubles following the
rebellion. Struan's lines to the Duke on the same occasion are
creditable to both :—
"By gentle means
mankind is formed to good,
Virtue's inculcated, and vice subdued:
The tender patriot's mildness oft prevails
When the tumultuous warrior's fury fails.
This Scotia saw, when, by your milder art,
You gained th' applause and love of every heart.
Th' unconquerable clans, when you engage,
Bold to perform, as in your counsel sage,
Submit their interests, and dismiss their rage.
Safe on your word, they fear no treacherous foe,
No breach of public faith, no Preston, no Glencoe."
Struan and the Laird
of Glenlyon accompanied their Prince to France. The estate was a
second time forfeited. Struan continued in exile until 1724 or
thereabouts. During his exile, war broke out between Great Britain
and Spain. Cardinal Alberoni formed a scheme for distracting the
efforts of England, by fitting out an expedition for supporting the
pretensions of James. The conducting of this expedition was
entrusted to Ormond. The Regent Orleans sided with King George.
Attempts were made to engage the famous Duke of Berwick, natural son
of James II., now a Marshal of France, in
this expedition. In the eyes of Struan, Berwick was clearly the man
of the age; he introduces his name as often as he can, and always
associated with praise. With great respect, tempered with a little
disappointed bitterness, he expostulates with the Duke about the
Ormond expedition, and counsels him directly to desert France and
fly to Spain. It would appear that Struan obtained, for the second
time, pardon from Government, through the intercession of the Dukes
of Argyle and Albemarle. In 1723, the estate was granted to Struan's
sister, which grant she, according, as it would seem, to a previous
arrangement, transferred to trustees for her brother in liferent,
and in reversion to the next heir-male of the family.