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- Pickle the Spy - 4/45 -


staggered by the anecdote, and tells Hume that another of his fables is denied by the very witness to whom Hume appealed. {20b} Hume had cited Lord Holdernesse for the story that Charles's presence in London in 1753 (1750 seems to be meant) was known at the time to George II. Lord Holdernesse declared that there was nothing in the tale given by Hume on his authority! That Charles did not join the rallied clans at Ruthven after Culloden was the result of various misleading circumstances, not of cowardice. Even after 1746 he constantly carried his life in his hand, not only in expeditions to England (and probably to Scotland and Ireland), but in peril from the daggers of assassins, as will later be shown.

High-spirited and daring, Charles was also hardy. In Italy he practised walking without stockings, to inure his feet to long marches: he was devoted to boar-hunting, shooting, and golf. {21a} He had no touch of Italian effeminacy, otherwise he could never have survived his Highland distresses. In travelling he was swift, and incapable of fatigue. 'He has,' said early observer, 'THE HABIT OF KEEPING A SECRET.' Many secrets, indeed, he kept so well that history is still baffled by them, as diplomatists were perplexed between 1749 and 1766. {21b}

We may discount Murray of Broughton's eulogies Charles's Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, and his knowledge of history and philosophy, though backed by the Jesuit Cordara. {21c} Charles's education had been interrupted by quarrels between his parents about Catholic or Protestant tutors. His cousin and governor, Sir Thomas Sheridan (a descendant of James II.), certainly did not teach him to spell; his style in French and English is often obscure, and, when it is clear, we know not whether he was not inspired by some more literary adviser. In matters of taste he was fond of music and archaeology, and greatly addicted to books. De Brosses, however, considered him 'less cultivated than Princes should be at his age,' and d'Argenson says that his knowledge was scanty and that he had little conversation. A few of his books, the morocco tooled with the Prince of Wales's feathers, remain, but not enough to tell us much about his literary tastes. On these, however, we shall give ample information. In Paris, after Culloden, he bought Macchiavelli's works, probably in search of practical hints on state-craft. In spite of a proclamation by Charles, which Montesquieu applauded, he certainly had no claim to a seat in the French Academy, which Montesquieu playfully offered to secure for him.

In brief, Charles was a spirited, eager boy, very capable of patience, intensely secretive, and, as he showed in 1745-1746, endowed with a really extraordinary clemency, and in one regard, where his enemies were concerned, with a sense of honour most unusual in his generation. His care for the wounded, after Prestonpans, is acknowledged by the timid and Whiggish Home, in his 'History of the Rebellion,' and is very warmly and gracefully expressed in a letter to his father, written at Holyrood.' {23a} He could not be induced to punish miscreants who attempted his life and snapped pistols in his face. He could hardly be compelled to retort to the English offer of 30,0001. for his head by issuing a similar proclamation about 'the Elector.' 'I smiled and created it' (the proclamation of a reward of 30,000l. for his head) 'with the disdain it deserved, upon which they' (the Highlanders) 'flew into a violent rage, and insisted upon my doing the same by him.' This occurs in a letter from Charles to James, September 10, 1745, dated from Perth. A copy is found among Bishop Forbes's papers. Here Charles deplores the cruelties practised under Charles II. and James II., and the consequent estrangement of the Duke of Argyll. {23b}

In brief, the contest between Charles and Cumberland was that of a civilised and chivalrous commander against a foe as treacherous and cruel as a Huron or an Iroquois. On this point there is no possibility of doubt. The English Government offered a vast reward for Charles, dead or alive. The soldiers were told significantly, by Cumberland, that he did not want prisoners. On the continent assassins lurked for the Prince, and ambassadors urged the use of personal violence. Meanwhile the Prince absolutely forbade even a legitimate armed attack directed mainly against his enemy, then red- handed from the murder of the wounded.

With this loyalty to his foes, with this clemency to enemies in his power, Charles certainly combined a royal grace, and could do handsome things handsomely. Thus, in 1745, some of the tenants of Oliphant of Gask would not don the white cockade at his command. He therefore 'laid an arrest or inhibition on their corn-fields.' Charles, finding the grain hanging dead-ripe, as he marched through Perthshire, inquired the cause, and when he had learned it, broke the 'taboo' by cutting some ears with his sword, or by gathering them and giving them to his horse, saving that the farmers might now, by his authority, follow his example and break the inhibition. {24a}

Making every allowance for an enthusiasm of loyalty on the part of the narrators in Bishop Forbes's MS. 'Lyon in Mourning' (partly published by Robert Chambers in 'Jacobite Memoirs' {24b}), it is certain that the courage, endurance, and gay content of the Prince in his Highland wanderings deserve the high praise given by Smollett. Thus, in many ways we see the elements of a distinguished and attractive character in Charles. His enemies, like the renegade Dr. King, of St. Mary's Hall (ob. 1763), in his posthumous 'Anecdotes,' accused the Prince of avarice. He would borrow money from a lady, says King, while he had plenty of his own; he neglected those who had ruined themselves for his sake. Henry Goring accused the Prince of shabbiness to his face, but assuredly he who insisted on laying down money on the rocks of a deserted fishers' islet to pay for some dry fish eaten there by himself and his companions--he who gave liberally to gentle and simple out of the treasure buried near Loch Arkaig, who refused a French pension for himself, and asked favours only for his friends--afforded singular proofs of Dr. King's charge of selfish greed. The fault grew on him later. After breaking with the French Court in 1748, Charles had little or nothing of his own to give away. His Sobieski jewels he had pawned for the expenses of the war, having no heart to wear them, he said, 'on this side of the water.' He was often in actual need, though we may not accept d'Argenson's story of how he was once seen selling his pistols to a gun-maker. {25a} If ever he was a miser, that vice fixed itself upon him in his utter moral ruin.

Were there, then, no signs in his early life of the faults which grew so rapidly when hope was lost? There were such signs. As early as 1742, James had observed in Charles a slight inclination to wine and gaiety, and believed that his companions, especially Francis Strickland, {25b} were setting him against his younger brother, the Duke of York, who had neither the health nor the disposition to be a roysterer. {26a}

Again, on February 3, 1747, James recurs, in a long letter, to what passed in 1742, 'because that is the foundation, and I may say the key, of all that has followed.' Now in 1742 Murray of Broughton paid his first visit to Rome, and was fascinated by Charles. This unhappy man, afterwards the Judas of the cause, was unscrupulous in private life in matters of which it is needless to speak more fully. He was, or gave himself the air of being, a very stout Protestant. James employed him, but probably liked him little. It is to be gathered, from James's letter of February 3, 1747, that he suspected Charles of listening to advice, probably from Murray, about his changing his religion. 'You cannot forget how you were prevailed upon to speak to your brother' (the devout Duke of York) 'on very nice and delicate subjects, and that without saying the least thing to me, though we lived in the same house . . . You were then much younger than you are now, and therefore could be more easily led by specious arguments and pretences. . . . It will, to be sure, have been represented to you that our religion is a great prejudice to our interest, but that it may in some measure be remedied by a certain free way of thinking and acting.' {26b}

In 1749 James made a disagreeable discovery, which he communicated to Lord Lismore. A cassette, or coffer, belonging to Charles, had, apparently, been left in Paris, and, after many adventures on the road, was brought to Rome by the French ambassador. James opened it, and found that it contained letters 'from myself and the Queen.' But it also offered proof that the Prince had carried on a secret correspondence with England, long before he left Rome in 1744. Probably his adherents wished James to resign in his favour. {27a}

As to religion, Dr. King admits that Charles was no bigot, and d'Argenson contrasted his disengaged way of treating theology with the exaggerated devoutness of the Duke of York. Even during the march into England, Lord Elcho told an inquirer that the Prince's religion 'was still to seek.' Assuredly he would never make shipwreck on the Stuart fidelity to Catholicism. All this was deeply distressing to the pious James, and all this dated from 1742, that is, from the time of Murray of Broughton's visit to Rome. Indifference to religious strictness was, even then, accompanied by a love of wine, in some slight degree. Already, too, a little rift in the friendship of the princely brothers was apparent; there were secrets between them which Henry must have communicated to James.

As for the fatal vice of drink, it is hinted at on April 15, 1747, by an anonymous Paris correspondent of Lord Dunbar's. Charles had about him 'an Irish cordelier,' one Kelly, whom he employed as a secretary. Kelly is accused of talking contemptuously about James. 'It were to be wished that His Royal Highness would forbid that friar his apartment, because he passes for a notorious drunkard . . . and His Royal Highness's character, in point of sobriety, has been a little blemished on this friar's account.' {28a}

The cold, hunger, and fatigue of the Highland distresses had, no doubt, often prompted recourse to the national dram of whiskey, and Charles would put a bottle of brandy to his lips 'without ceremony,' says Bishop Forbes. The Prince on one occasion is said to have drunk the champion 'bowlsman' of the Islands under the table. {28b}

What had been a jovial feast became a custom, a consolation, and a curse, while there is reason, as has been seen, to suppose that Charles, quite early in life, showed promise of intemperance. In happier circumstances these early tastes might never have been developed into a positive disease. James himself, in youth, had not been a pattern of strict sobriety, but later middle age found him almost ascetic.

We have sketched a character endowed with many fine qualities, and capable of winning devoted affection. We now examine the rapid decline of a nature originally noble.

Returned from Scotland in 1746, Prince Charles brought with him a head full of indigested romance, a heart rich in chimerical expectations. He now prided himself on being a plain hardy mountaineer. He took a line of his own; he concealed his measures from the spy-ridden Court of his father in Rome; he quarrelled with his brother, the Duke of York, when the Duke accepted a cardinal's hat. He broke violently with the French king, who would not aid him. He sulked at Avignon. He sought Spanish help, which was refused. He again became the centre of fashion and of disaffection in Paris. Ladies travelled from England merely to see him in his box at the theatre. Princesses and duchesses 'pulled caps for him.' Naturally cold (as his enemies averred) where women were concerned, he was now


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