Scotland's Story Chapter LXXXV. George I - For the King over the water
'Here's a health to the king whom the crown doth
belong to; Confusion to those who the right king would wrong so; I
do not here mention either old king or new king; But here is a health,
boys—a health to the true king.'
QUEEN ANNE died in 1714 A.D. She was the last of the
Stewarts. The last of the long line of kings who had sat upon the throne of
Scotland for nearly four hundred years. She was succeeded, as had been
arranged, by George, Elector, or King of Hanover, who was the great-grandson
of James VI.
King George was fifty-five when he came to the throne.
He was a thorough German, and could speak no English. Although he had known
for some years that he would one day be King of Britain, he had taken no
trouble to learn the English language, nor did he trouble to do so after he
came to the throne.
King George was allowed to take possession of the
throne quietly, but there were many people, both in England and in Scotland,
who did not give up the hope of once more having a Stewart to reign over
them. Queen Anne's brother James, who was called the Pretender, was living
in France, 'over the water.' When the King's health was drunk, the Jacobites,
as the people who clung to the Stewart cause were called, would pass their
glasses over the water-jug, silently drinking, not to the king upon the
throne, but to the king over the water. They wore white cockades or
rosettes, which was the badge of the Pretender, and here and there the
people of a town or village would pluck up courage and proclaim King James
viii. But no one paid much attention to these doings, and it was not until
George x. had been upon the throne about a year that a rebellion broke out.
This rebellion is called 'The '15,' because it took
place in 1715 A.D.
One of the chief Jacobite leaders was the Earl of Mar.
He, pretending that he was going to have a great hunting party, invited many
of the Highland chieftains to his house. But it was only a pretence. Having
gathered the chiefs together, Mar made a speech to them, begging them to
fight for their true king. And there, in a lonely Highland glen, the
standard of the Pretender was set up, and amid cheers and shouts James viii.
As the banner fluttered out on the breeze the golden
ball fell from the top of the pole. This frightened the Highlanders very
much, for they thought it was a sign of bad luck. But in spite of this, men
flocked to the standard, and soon Mar found himself at the head of an army
of nine or ten thousand men.
King George too gathered an army, which, under the
Duke of Argyll, marched against the Jacobites. At a place called Sheriffmuir
the two forces met. Mar had far more soldiers than Argyll, and if he had
attacked at once, he might have swept Argyll from the field. But Mar was not
a good general. Instead of attacking Argyll he called a council of war.
'Shall we fight or not?' he asked.
'Fight, fight,' cried the Highlanders.
So Mar agreed to fight, and when the soldiers heard
the news they threw their bonnets in the air and shouted for joy.
The Highlanders were fiercely brave, but they needed a
leader, such a leader as Mar was not. 'Oh for an hour of Dundee I' cried one
of the chieftains when he saw how things were mismanaged and opportunities
lost. Gallant Montrose, or cruel, proud Dundee, would have led them to
victory. But the battle of Sheriffmuir was neither a victory nor a defeat,
for while one half of Mar's army routed Argyll's men, the other half ran
away, and both sides claimed the victory.
'There some say that we wan, Some say that they
wan, Some say that nane wan at a', man; But one thing I 'm sure,
That at Sherift'muir A battle there was, which I saw, man; And we ran,
and they ran, and they ran, and we ran, And we ran and they ran awa',
Whether we ran, or they ran, Or we wan, or they wan, Or if there was
winning at a', man, There's no man can tell, Save our brave general,
Who first began running at a', man. For we ran, and they ran, and they
ran, and we ran, For we ran and they ran awa', man.'
'If we have not gained a victory,' said one chieftain,
'we ought to fight Argyll once a week till we make it one.'
But Mar did not fight. He waited, and day by day his
army became weaker, for the Highlanders, growing disgusted at doing nothing,
went home again. Day by day Argyll's army grew stronger.
ln the Lowlands of Scotland and in the north of
England the Jacobites also rose. But they too had no wise leader, and almost
without a struggle they laid down their arms again. Many of the chief rebels
were taken prisoner and sent to the Tower of London, and one of them, Lord
Derwentwater, was afterwards beheaded for his share in the rising.
And all this time the Jacobites were fighting and
rebelling for a man that they had never seen, for James remained in France.
But at last he came to Scotland, and the hearts of the Highlanders rose
'Now,' they said, 'we will live more like soldiers.
Now we will be led to battle instead of mouldering away doing nothing.'
But they were soon disappointed. James was no soldier.
He was handsome, cold, and grave. He never smiled, and hardly ever spoke, so
that even his followers called him 'Old Mr. Melancholy.' This was not the
kind of king that the Highlanders had expected. 'Can he speak at all?' they
asked angrily, and although he was brave enough, they began to think that he
was a coward.
'Why did the King come?' they asked.
'Was it to see his subjects butchered like dogs,
without striking a blow for their lives and honour?'
'If he is willing to die like a Prince, he will find
ten thousand men in Scotland ready to die with him.'
James had not come with any very great hopes, and now
he was disappointed to find his army so small. He grew more and more gloomy,
and when he heard that Argyll was marching upon him he burst into tears.
'Weeping,' said a friend when he heard of it, 'is not the way to conquer
Weeping was not the way to conquer kingdoms, and
neither was James of the stuff of which conquerors are made. He gave it up.
He ran away to France, taking with him the Earl of Mar, and leaving the men
who had risked everything in his cause leaderless and despairing. 'King
James VUL' had been in his country just six weeks.
When the Jacobites heard that their King had deserted
them, they were filled with grief and anger. In disgust and despair they
threw away their arms, and scattering as quickly as they had gathered, they
fled, some back to their homes, to their wild glens and mountains, others to
the Orkney Isles, and from there to France. The rebellion was over.
It was a for our rightfu' King, We left fair
Scotland's strand. It was a' for our rightfu' King We e'er saw
foreign land, my dear, We e'er saw foreign land.
Now a' is done that men can do, And a' is done in vain; My love and
native land farewell, For I maun cross the main, my dear, For I mann
cross the main.
The sodger frae the wars returns, The sailor frae the main; But I hac
parted frae my love, Never to meet again, my dear, Never to meet
When day is gane, and night is come, And a' folk
bound to sleep; I think on him that's far awa', The lee-lang night,
and weep, my dear, The lee-lang night, and weep.'
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