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Chronicles of Gretna Green
Chapter XX


The "Pretender."

Of two "Pretenders" ye have heard,
Who troubled Seotland erst:
To each we piust devote a word—
So now then for the first.

The Revolution of 1688 in England, and the accession of William, gave cheering hopes of toleration to the Presbyterian party in Scotland, at whose head was the Duke of Hamilton. The Duke of Gordon, on the other hand, openly avowed his purpose of maintaining the declining interests of James, who had now just abdicated his throne-and retired to France ; and to this end he shut himself up in the castle of Edinburgh.

The interests of the new dynasty, however, gained the ascendancy, despite a long and bitter animosity that raged between the contending parties; so that the old Jacobites, after suffering much persecution and defeat, were reduced to insignificance, or entirely crushed,—at least for a time.

James tried his fortune in Ireland; but when he had marched over the country with his invading forces, and had achieved one or two slight advantages, he was overcome at the battle of the Boyne, and enforced to fly back to Louis, and ensconce himself in his former lodgings at St. Germains.

The barbarous massacre of Glencoe, perpetrated at the instigation of the Earl of Breadalbane against the Macdonalds, partly for state purposes to drive terror into the hearts of the Jacobites, and partly from private hat6 existing between this nobleman and the highland chief, took place in February 1692. King William tried in every way to excuse himself for having signed the order for this cruel deed ; but the horror and rage which sprung up among the former king's faction against his person and government by reason of it, was so great, not only in Scotland, but also in England, Ireland, and France, as to cause him much opposition, perplexity, and trouble, during the whole of his reign afterwards.

In the session of the Scottish parliament, assembled three years subsequently, the question of its cause was agitated very loudly by the members; and a motion was made requiring the commissioners to exhibit their share in this affair for the satisfaction of the country, together with a report of the king's instructions thereon, the depositions of certain witnesses which had been examined, and copies of Secretary Dalrymple's letters, as he especially had been suspected of exceeding his instructions from the government. They begged that William would give such orders about him as he should think fit in vindication of himself and his government touching so atrocious a slaughter; that the actors concerned in it should be prosecuted by the king's advocate, according to law ; that those who had escaped actual murder, should be indemnified for their loss of property by plunder and fire sustained at the time; and that, for the peace of the country and the justification of all men innocent of participation or countenance there anent, the inquiry and the result arrived at, should be freely published and made known throughout every valley and over every highland mountain.

A great deal of dissimulation, hypocrisy, and procrastination, however, was practised during the course of these things ; and though some show of compliance with the injured party was manifested at Westminster, still little was done in bringing the participators to justice, or of satisfying and appeasing the Scotch nation.

One of the earliest questions that threatened anarchy and disorder between the two unsisterly kingdoms was the final Treaty of Union. Queen Anne had appointed the Duke of Queensbury her High Commissioner to treat of this business north the Border; and on the third day of October, 1706, he presented her Majesty's letter to the nation. It set forth the great advantages likely to accrue to the whole island in the event of a perfect and entire union,—that it would bring about a community of interests amongst all orders of men, than which nothing so much promotes friendship ; that it would lay the foundations of a solid and ever-enduring peace between both moieties of the land; that it would go far to soften down the long-existing feuds, animosities, and rebellions of hostile parties ; that it would increase their strength, their riches, their commerce; and that it would combine them all into one mass in support of the Protestant established religion, ensure their liberties at home, and render them superior to the assaults of their enemies abroad.

Notwithstanding this measure seemed to promise so fairly, yet there was a powerful faction with whom it held out anything but what was desirable. The stock of the exiled James was still flourishing, and this faction craved nothing so much as to see it recalled from a foreign soil, and re-established where it had heretofore swayed the sceptre. Hence arose the subsequent efforts of the Pretender.

The Jacobite party in Scotland made no scruple openly to avow their principles, and the Duchess of Gordon presented to the Faculty of Advocates a silver medal, representing the Chevalier de St George, the reverse bearing the British Islands, with the motto "Reddite:" and for this mark of favour they formally thanked her for having given them a medal of " their Sovereign Lord the King.

The house of peers soon began to resound with boisterous harangues about the Catalans and the Chevalier, setting forth the danger with which the Protestant succession was threatened. The Catalans represented that Great Britain had encouraged them to declare for the House of Austria, with offers of support; and complained that these promises had not been made good. Lord Boling-broke, however, vindicated the queen, and said that her engagements abided no longer than during such time as King Charles, son of the Emperor of Germany, should reside in Spain, to the sovereignty of which country it had been Anne's policy to assist him. The discussions touching the Pretender were carried forward with a most unheard-of violence: foreign monarchs were requested to aid in extirpating him from the face of the earth; and the Lord Treasurer was charged with having assisted his cause in Scotland, by having for some years past remitted sums of money to the highland clans, purposely to be expended in his service. The year after George the First came to the throne, namely, in 1715, open warfare was commenced. The Earl of Mar repaired to the Highlands to collect forces; he assembled three hundred of his own vassals; he proclaimed James Stuart King of Great Britain at Gastletown; and on the sixth day of September he set up his standard at Brae-Mar at the head of 10,000 men. About this date also, two ships arrived at Arbroath from Havre, laden with arms, ammunition, stores, and a number of officers; and the Earl of Mar was given to understand that the prince was only detained in making some final arrangements, and that he would speedily follow and join his friends.

This he did; but his affairs were desperate, and he was too late to achieve any benefit. His infatuation urged him to hazard his person in Scotland, surrounded by the hostile members of a party infinitely stronger than his own; he left Dunkirk in a French vessel, and landed safely with only six gentlemen in his suite ; and, passing unknown through several towns, was met at Feteresso by Mar and about thirty noblemen*of high degree. Here he was solemnly proclaimed ; and the declaration, dated at Comerey, was printed and dispersed.

General Forster, who headed a strong detachment of the rebel army, invaded England by the Western Marches. He passed through Gretna, over Solway Moss, and so on southwards via Carlisle, Penrith, Kendal, Lancaster, to Preston, leading twelve thousand soldiers with him : but here they were met by the Royalists, and necessitated to surrender. Gretna was still the seat of war, up to this most recent period, though we shall soon shew that the buds of love were beginning to open on its genial soil.

The young Stuart made a public entry into Dundee, and thence proceeded to Scone, where he intended to have been crowned. He enjoined the ministers to pray for him in their churches ; he ordered thanksgivings for his safe arrival to be made ; and though destitute of resources, he went through all the ceremonies of royalty. But the bright sun of his hopes passed its meridian, declined, and set for ever, with rapidity as great as it had arisen. His friends having been beaten in several skirmishes with the troops of his Majesty King George, and having been obliged to fly for safety, or to disperse amongst the mountains, and himself being hotly pursued and pressed by them, he was driven to take present safety in a ship lying in the harbour of Montrose, and to stand out to sea. Fearing lest he should fall in with the English cruisers, that were beating about the coast, seeking whom they might entrap of his party, he ran over to the shores of Norway; and finally, on reviewing his position, and resolving that no alternative was left, he steered southward, and in a few days once more arrived in France. Ingens telum necessitas, and that better dish which the Parcse served him, he was reluctantly enforced to accept.


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