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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Prince Charles at Glenboisdale

While Secretary Hay was at Boisdale, Charles drew up a letter to the chiefs, stating the reasons of his departure, which he inclosed in one to Sir Thomas Sheridan, with instructions to show it to them, but to keep it as long back as he conveniently could. He stated that it was "of the last consequence" to conceal his departure on some pretext or other, which he enjoined him to contrive, and to recommend, particularly to every person to whom he showed the paper, to follow the same course. In using this precaution Charles probably wished to keep the government in ignorance of his design to leave the kingdom. The letter to the chiefs, which, though written on or before the 23d of April, the date of the letter to Sir Thomas Sheridan, is post-dated the 28th, with the view, perhaps, of allowing Sir Thomas to withhold it for a few days, by which time Charles expected that he would be on his way to the Long island, where he expected to find a vessel to carry him to France. The letter to the chiefs runs thus:-

"For the Chiefs,
"When I came into this country, it was my only view to do all in my power for your good and safety. This I will always do as long as life is in me. But alas! I see with grief I can at present do little for you on this side of the water, for the only thing that can now be done is to defend yourselves till the French assist you, if not to be able to make better terms. To effectuate this, the only way is to assemble in a body as soon as possible, and then to take measures for the best, which you that know the country are only judges of. This makes me be of little use here; whereas, by my going into France instantly, however dangerous it be, I will certainly engage the French court either to assist us effectually and powerfully, or at least to procure you such terms as you would not obtain otherwise. My presence there, I flatter myself, will have more effect to bring this sooner to a determination than any body else, for several reasons; one of which I will mention here; viz. it is thought to be a politcj, (policy), though a false one, of the French court, not to restore our master, but to keep a continual civil war in this country, which renders the English government less powerful, and of consequence themselves more. This is absolutely destroyed by my leaving the country, which nothing else but this will persuade them that this play cannot last, and if not remedied, the Elector will soon be as despotick as the French king, which, I should think, will oblige them to strike the great stroke, which is always in their power, however averse they may have been to it for the time past. Before leaving off, I must recommend to you, that all things should be decided by a council of all your chiefs, or, in any of your absence, the next commander of your several corps with the assistance of the Duke of Perth and Lord George Murray, who, I am persuaded, will stick by you to the very last. My departure should be kept as long private and concealed as possible on one pretext or other which you fill fall upon. May the Almighty bless and direct you".

At Glenboisdale Charles was joined by Clanranald, Lockhart, younger of Carnwath, AEnean Macdonald, the banker, and several other adherents, who endeavoured to dissuade him from embarking for the isles, where, from the number of cruisers which hovered among the Hebrides, they considered he would run greater risk than if he remained on the mainland. Charles seemed disposed to adopt this advice; but O'Sullivan being averse to it, and having represented the great probability of speedily finding a ship among the isles to convey him to France, and the great danger of staying where he was, the prince adhered to his determination of seeking a temporary refuge in the Long island. With the intention of soliciting the protection of Sir Alexander Macdonald and the laird of Macleod, Charles sent to Kinlochmoidart for one Donald Macleod, a trustworthy person whom he wished to intrust with his despatches. Macleod had been at Inverness shipping cargo of meal for Skye when Charles entered that town, and had been employed to accompany AEneas Macdonald to the island of Barra, for the purpose of bringing over a sum of about 380, which was lying there. They had reached Kinlochmoidart, on their way back, and were about setting out for Inverness, when Macdonald received a letter from the prince announcing his defeat, and requesting him to repair to Borodale. On receiving this message Macleod immediately set out, and in passing through a forest in the vicinity of Glenboisdale, he observed a solitary wanderer among the trees, who immediately came forward and asked him if he was Donald Macleod of Gualtergill in Skye. Macleod answered that he was, and having recognised the prince in the person of his interrogator, he stated that he was at his service. "Then", said the prince, "you see, Donald, I am in distress. I therefore throw myself into your bosom; do with me what you like. I hear you are an honest man, and fit to be trusted". The aged Highlander doubting his capacity to serve him, Charles stated to him the nature of the mission on which he intended to send him. Macleod, startled at the proposal, positively refused to undertake the task; and having remonstrated with Charles upon the impropriety of asking the protection of men who had, contrary to their promise, taken part against him, he abandoned his design.

During the few days that Charles spent at Glenboisdale, he is said to have wavered in his plans. Though informed of the dispersion of his troops, he had hopes that a good many might still be collected as occasion offered. He is said even to have entertained thoughts of again assembling his scattered forces, and acting on the defence. He sent a few men, with whom Clanranald had supplied him, on all sides to obtain intelligence, but they learned nothing favourable; and accounts which he received from the Isle of Skye, that Lord Loundon was about to come over immediately to the coast of Arisaig, joined to a report, which, however, turned out to be false, that a detachment of the Duke of Cumberland;s army had already reached Fort Augustus, hastened his departure from the mainland.

Accordingly, on the evening of the 26th of April, Charles, accompanied by O'Sullivan, O'Neil, Allan Macdonald, a catholic priest of Clanranald's family, and Edward Burke, embarked in an eight-oared boat at Borodale, in the bay of Lochnanuagh, where a few months before he had landed full of hope and enthusiasm. Besides the persons enumerated, and Donald Macleod who acted as pilot, there were seven boatmen. Charles sat down in the bottom of the boat at the feet of the pilot. Macleod, who observed indications of an approaching storm, had advised Charles to postpone his voyage till next day; but the prince was so intent upon proceeding, that he would not put off his departure. Four pecks of oatmeal were all the provision the whole party carried along with them, and the only cooking utensil was a pot which Macleod had taken care to provide.

Charles soon had occasion to repent of his obstinacy in not listing to the advice of the aged mariner; for before the boat had proceeded far, a storm arose, which is described by Macleod as the most violent he had ever witnessed, though he had been all his life a seafaring man. The danger was greatly increased by the darkness of the night, and to add to the distress of the party, the rain poured down in torrents. Vivid flashes of lightning which threw a momentary gleam over the face of the troubled deep, and the crash of the thunder which rolled over the heads of the affrighted party, increased the horrors of the scene. Unprovided with a compass, they were entirely ignorant of the course they were steering; but they had, from the violence of the tempest, no alternative but to go on before the wind, and in the event of escaping the fury of the waves, running the risk of being driven upon Skye, where the prince might fall into the hands of the militia who were in that island. But all their apprehensions of danger on this score were removed, by discovering at day-break that they were on the coast of the Long island. At seven o'clock in the morning they landed with great difficulty at Rossinish, a point of land on the north-east of Benbecula called the Long island. Having secured their boat, Charles and his party entered an uninhabited hut, in which whey kindled a fire to warm themselves and dry their clothes, which were saturated with rain and salt-water. Charles purchased a cow, which was immediately slaughtered; and which, with the small quantity of meal provided by Donald Macleod, served to support the party during the time they remained on the island.

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