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- Pickle the Spy - 3/45 -


Descriptions of his character vary between the noble encomium written in prison by Archibald Cameron, the last man who died for the Stuarts, and the virulent censures of Lord Elcho and Dr. King. Veterans known to Sir Walter Scott wept at the mention of the Prince's name; yet, as early as the tenth year after Prestonpans, his most devoted adherent, Henry Goring, left him in an angry despair. Nevertheless, the character so variously estimated, so tenderly loved, so loathed, so despised, was one character; modified, swiftly or slowly, as its natural elements developed or decayed under the various influences of struggle, of success, of long endurance, of hope deferred, and of bitter disappointment. The gay, kind, brave, loyal, and clement Prince Charlie became the fierce, shabby, battered exile, homeless, and all but friendless. The change, of course, was not instantaneous, but gradual; it was not the result of one, but of many causes. Even out of his final degradation, Charles occasionally speaks with his real voice: his inborn goodness of heart, remarked before his earliest adventures, utters its protest against the self he has become; just as, on the other hand, long ere he set his foot on Scottish soil, his father had noted his fatal inclination to wine and revel.

The processes in this change of character, the events, the temptations, the trials under which Charles became an altered man, have been very slightly studied, and, indeed, have been very obscurely known. Even Mr. Ewald, the author of the most elaborate biography of the Prince, {13} neglected some important French printed sources, while manuscript documents, here for the first time published, were not at his command. The present essay is itself unavoidably incomplete, for of family papers bearing on the subject many have perished under the teeth of time, and in one case, of rats, while others are not accessible to the writer. Nevertheless, it is hoped that this work elucidates much which has long been veiled in the motives, conduct, and secret movements of Charles during the years between 1749 and the death, in 1766, of his father, the Old Chevalier. Charles then emerged from a retirement of seventeen years; the European game of Hide and Seek was over, and it is not proposed to study the Prince in the days of his manifest decline, and among the disgraces of his miserable marriage. His 'incognito' is our topic; the period of 'deep and isolated enterprise' which puzzled every Foreign Office in Europe, and practically only ended, as far as hope was concerned, with the break-up of the Jacobite party in 1754- 1756, or rather with Hawke's defeat of Conflans in 1759.

Ours is a strange and melancholy tale of desperate loyalties, and of a treason almost unparalleled for secrecy and persistence. We have to do with the back-stairs of diplomacy, with spies and traitors, with cloak and sword, with blabbing servants, and inquisitive ambassadors, with disguise and discovery, with friends more staunch than steel, or weaker than water, with petty jealousies, with the relentless persecution of a brave man, and with the consequent ruin of a gallant life.

To understand the psychological problem, the degradation of a promising personality, it is necessary to glance rapidly at what we know of Charles before his Scottish expedition.

To begin at the beginning, in physical qualities the Prince was dowered by a kind fairy. He was firmly though slimly built, of the best stature for strength and health. 'He had a body made for war,' writes Lord Elcho, who hated him. The gift of beauty (in his case peculiarly fatal, as will be seen) had not been denied to him. His brow was high and broad, his nose shapely, his eyes of a rich dark brown, his hair of a chestnut hue, golden at the tips. Though his eyes are described as blue, both in 1744 by Sir Horace Mann, and in later life (1770) by an English lady in Rome, though Lord Stanhope and Mr. Stevenson agree in this error, brown was really their colour. {15a} Charles inherited the dark eyes of his father, 'the Black Bird,' and of Mary Stuart. This is manifest from all the original portraits and miniatures, including that given by the Prince to his secretary, Murray of Broughton, now in my collection. In boyhood Charles's face had a merry, mutinous, rather reckless expression, as portraits prove. Hundreds of faces like his may be seen at the public schools; indeed, Charles had many 'doubles,' who sometimes traded on the resemblance, sometimes, wittingly or unwittingly, misled the spies that constantly pursued him. {15b} His adherents fondly declared that his natural air of distinction, his princely bearing, were too marked to be concealed in any travesty. Yet no man has, in disguises of his person, been more successful. We may grant 'the grand air' to Charles, but we must admit that he could successfully dissemble it.

About 1743, when a number of miniatures of the Prince were done in Italy for presentation to adherents, Charles's boyish mirth, as seen in these works of art, has become somewhat petulant, if not arrogant, but he is still 'a lad with the bloom of a lass.' A shade of aspiring melancholy marks a portrait done in France, just before the expedition to Scotland. Le Toque's fine portrait of the Prince in armour (1748) shows a manly and martial but rather sinister countenance. A plaster bust, done from a life mask, if not from Le Moine's bust in marble (1750), was thought the best likeness by Dr. King. This bust was openly sold in Red Lion Square, and, when Charles visited Dr. King in September 1750, the Doctor's servant observed the resemblance. I have never seen a copy of this bust, and the medal struck in 1750, an intaglio of the same date, and a very rare profile in the collection of the Duke of Atholl, give a similar idea of the Prince as he was at thirty. A distinguished artist, who outlined Charles's profile and applied it to another of Her present Majesty in youth, tells me that they are almost exact counterparts.

Next we come to the angry eyes and swollen features of Ozias Humphreys's miniature, in the Duke of Atholl's collection, and in his sketch published in the 'Lockhart Papers' (1776), and, finally, to the fallen weary old face designed by Gavin Hamilton. Charles's younger brother, Henry, Duke of York, was a prettier boy, but it is curious to mark the prematurely priestly and 'Italianate' expression of the Duke in youth, while Charles still seems a merry lad. Of Charles in boyhood many anecdotes are told. At the age of two or three he is said to have been taken to see the Pope in his garden, and to have refused the usual marks of reverence. Walton, the English agent in Florence, reports an outbreak of ferocious temper in 1733. {17a} Though based on gossip, the story seems to forebode the later excesses of anger. Earlier, in 1727, the Duc de Liria, a son of Marshal Berwick, draws a pretty picture of the child when about seven years old:-

'The King of England did not wish me to leave before May 4, and I was only too happy to remain at his feet, not merely on account of the love and respect I have borne him all my life, but also because I was never weary of watching the Princes, his sons. The Prince of Wales was now six and a half, and, besides his great beauty, was remarkable for dexterity, grace, and almost supernatural cleverness. Not only could he read fluently, but he knew the doctrines of the Christian faith as well as the master who had taught him. He could ride; could fire a gun; and, more surprising still, I have seen him take a crossbow and kill birds on the roof, and split a rolling ball with a shaft, ten times in succession. He speaks English, French, and Italian perfectly, and altogether he is the most ideal Prince I have ever met in the course of my life.

'The Duke of York, His Majesty's second son, is two years old, and a prodigy of beauty and strength.' {17b}

Gray, certainly no Jacobite, when at Rome with Horace Walpole speaks very kindly of the two gay young Princes. He sneers at their melancholy father, of whom Montesquieu writes, 'ce Prince a une bonne physiononie et noble. Il paroit triste, pieux.' {18a} Young Charles was neither pious nor melancholy.

Of Charles at the age of twenty, the President de Brosses (the author of 'Les Dieux Fetiches') speaks as an unconcerned observer. 'I hear from those who know them both thoroughly that the eldest has far higher worth, and is much more beloved by his friends; that he has a kind heart and a high courage; that he feels warmly for his family's misfortunes, and that if some day he does not retrieve them, it will not be for want of intrepidity.' {18b}

Charles's gallantry when under fire as a mere boy, at the siege of Gaeta (1734), was, indeed, greatly admired and generally extolled. {18c} His courage has been much more foolishly denied by his enemies than too eagerly applauded by friends who had seen him tried by every species of danger.

Aspersions have been thrown on Charles's personal bravery; it may be worth while to comment on them. The story of Lord Elcho's reproaching the Prince for not heading a charge of the second line at Culloden, has unluckily been circulated by Sir Walter Scott. On February 9, 1826, Scott met Sir James Stuart Denham, whose father was out in the Forty-five, and whose uncle was the Lord Elcho of that date. Lord Elcho wrote memoirs, still unpublished, but used by Mr. Ewald in his 'Life of the Prince.' Elcho is a hostile witness: for twenty years he vainly dunned Charles for a debt of 1,5001. According to Sir James Stuart Denham, Elcho asked Charles to lead a final charge at Culloden, retrieve the battle, or die sword in hand. The Prince rode off the field, Elcho calling him 'a damned, cowardly Italian--.'

No such passage occurs in Elcho's diary. He says that, after the flight, he found Charles, in the belief that he had been betrayed, anxious only for his Irish officers, and determined to go to France, not to join the clans at Ruthven. Elcho most justly censured and resolved 'never to have anything more to do with him,' a broken vow! {19a} As a matter of fact, Sir Robert Strange saw Charles vainly trying to rally the Highlanders, and Sir Stuart Thriepland of Fingask gives the same evidence. {19b}

In his seclusion during 1750, Charles wrote a little memoir, still unpublished, about his Highland wanderings. In this he says that he was 'led off the field by those about him,' when the clans broke at Culloden. 'The Prince then changed his horse, his own having been wounded by a musket-ball in the shoulder.' {20a}

The second-hand chatter of Hume, in his letter to Sir John Pringle (February 13, 1773), is unworthy of serious attention.

Helvetius told Hume that his house at Paris had sheltered the Prince in the years following his expulsion from France, in 1748. He called Charles 'the most unworthy of mortals, insomuch that I have been assured, when he went down to Nantz to embark on his expedition to Scotland, he took fright and refused to go on board; and his attendants, thinking the matter gone too far, and that they would be affronted for his cowardice, carried him in the night time into the ship, pieds et mains lies.'

The sceptical Hume accepts this absurd statement without even asking, or at least without giving, the name of Helvetius's informant. The adventurer who insisted on going forward when, at his first landing in Scotland, even Sir Thomas Sheridan, with all the chiefs present, advised retreat, cannot conceivably have been the poltroon of Hume's myth. Even Hume's correspondent, Sir John Pringle, was manifestly


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