Page images
PDF
EPUB

Prince Charles Edward's bed.

211

Sept. 13.] grieved, when I recollected that Kingsburgh was embarrassed in his affairs, and intended to go to America'. However, nothing but what was good was present, and I pleased myself in thinking that so spirited a man would be well every where. I slept in the same room with Dr. Johnson. Each had a neat bed, with Tartan curtains, in an upper chamber.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 13.

The room where we lay was a celebrated one. Dr. Johnson's bed was the very bed in which the grandson of the unfortunate King James the Second' lay, on one of the nights after the failure of his rash attempt in 1745-6, while he was eluding the pursuit of the emissaries of government, which had offered thirty thousand pounds as a reward for

travelling tutor. Thus Peregrine Pickle was sent first to Winchester and afterwards abroad ‘under the immediate care and inspection of a governor.' Peregrine Pickle, ch. xv.

'He and his wife returned before the end of the War of Independence. On the way back she showed great spirit when their ship was attacked by a French man-of-war. Chambers's Rebellion in Scotland, ii. 329.

'I do not call him the Prince of Wales, or the Prince, because I am quite satisfied that the right which the House of Stuart had to the throne is extinguished. I do not call him the Pretender, because it appears to me as an insult to one who is still alive, and, I suppose, thinks very differently. It may be a parliamentary expression; but it is not a gentlemanly expression. I know, and I exult in having it in my power to tell, that THE ONLY PERSON in the world who is intitled to be offended at this delicacy, thinks and feels as I do; and has liberality of mind and generosity of sentiment enough to approve of my tenderness for what even has been Blood Royal. That he is a prince by courtesy, cannot be denied; because his mother was the daughter of Sobiesky, king of Poland. I shall, therefore, on that account alone, distinguish him by the name of Prince Charles Edward. BOSWELL. To have called him the Pretender in the presence of Flora Macdonald would have been hazardous. In her old age, 'such is said to have been the virulence of the Jacobite spirit in her composition, that she would have struck any one with her fist who presumed, in her hearing, to call Charles the Pretender.' Chambers's Rebellion in Scotland, ii. 330.

apprehending

212

'Oriental gardening.

[Sept. 13. apprehending him. To see Dr. Samuel Johnson lying in that bed, in the isle of Sky, in the house of Miss Flora Macdonald, struck me with such a group of ideas as it is not easy for words to describe, as they passed through the mind. He smiled, and said, 'I have had no ambitious thoughts in it'.' The room was decorated with a great variety of maps and prints. Among others, was Hogarth's print of Wilkes grinning, with a cap of liberty on a pole by him. That too was a curious circumstance in the scene this morning; such a contrast was Wilkes to the above groupe. It reminded me of Sir William Chambers's Account of Oriental Gardening', in which we are told all odd, strange, ugly, and even terrible objects, are introduced for the sake of variety; a wild extravagance of taste which is so well ridiculed in the celebrated Epistle to him'. The following lines of that poem immediately occurred to me;

'Here too, O king of vengeance! in thy fane,

Tremendous Wilkes shall rattle his gold chain'.'

Upon the table in our room I found in the morning a slip of paper, on which Dr. Johnson had written with his pencil. these words,

'Quantum cedat virtutibus aurum'.'

What he meant by writing them I could not tell. He had

'This, perhaps, was said in allusion to some lines ascribed to Pope, on his lying, at John Duke of Argyle's, at Adderbury, in the same bed in which Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, had slept :

'With no poetick ardour fir'd,

I press [press'd] the bed where Wilmot lay;
That here he liv'd [lov'd], or here expir'd,

Begets no numbers, grave or gay.'

'See ante, iv. 70, 216.

'See ante, iv. 131 and 363.

BOSWELL.

This was written while Mr. Wilkes was Sheriff of London, and when it was to be feared he would rattle his chain a year longer as Lord Mayor.' Note to Campbell's British Poets, p. 662. By 'here' the poet means at Tyburn.

• With virtue weigh'd, what worthless trash is gold! BOSWELL. Since the first edition of this book, an ingenious friend has ob

caught

Sept. 13.]

Prince Charles Edward.

213

caught cold a day or two ago, and the rain yesterday having made it worse, he was become very deaf. At breakfast he said, he would have given a good deal rather than not have lain in that bed. I owned he was the lucky man; and observed, that without doubt it had been contrived between Mrs. Macdonald and him. She seemed to acquiesce; adding, 'You know young bucks are always favourites of the ladies.' He spoke of Prince Charles being here, and asked Mrs. Macdonald, Who was with him? We were told, madam, in England, there was one Miss Flora Macdonald with him.' She said, 'they were very right;' and perceiving Dr. Johnson's curiosity, though he had delicacy enough not to question her, very obligingly entertained him with a recital of the particulars which she herself knew of that escape, which does so much honour to the humanity, fidelity, and generosity of the Highlanders. Dr. Johnson listened to her with placid attention, and said, 'All this should be written down.'

From what she told us, and from what I was told by others personally concerned, and from a paper of information which Rasay was so good as to send me, at my desire, I have compiled the following abstract, which, as it contains some curious anecdotes, will, I imagine, not be uninteresting to my readers, and even, perhaps, be of some use to future historians.

Prince Charles Edward, after the battle of Culloden, was conveyed to what is called the Long Island, where he lay for some time concealed. But intelligence having been obtained where he was, and a number of troops having come in quest of him, it became absolutely necessary for him to quit that

served to me, that Dr. Johnson had probably been thinking on the reward which was offered by government for the apprehension of the grandson of King James II, and that he meant by these words to express his admiration of the Highlanders, whose fidelity and attachment had resisted the golden temptation that had been held out to them. BosWELL..

country

Story of Prince Charles's escape.

214 [Sept. 13. country without delay. Miss Flora Macdonald, then a young lady, animated by what she thought the sacred principle of loyalty, offered, with the magnanimity of a Heroine, to accompany him in an open boat to Sky, though the coast they were to quit was guarded by ships. He dressed himself in women's clothes, and passed as her supposed maid, by the name of Betty Bourke, an Irish girl. They got off undiscovered, though several shots were fired to bring them to, and landed at Mugstot, the seat of Sir Alexander Macdonald. Sir Alexander was then at Fort Augustus, with the Duke of Cumberland; but his lady was at home. Prince Charles took his post upon a hill near the house. Flora Macdonald waited on lady Margaret', and acquainted her of the enterprise in which she was engaged. Her ladyship, whose active benevolence was ever seconded by superior talents, shewed a perfect presence of mind, and readiness of invention, and at once settled that Prince Charles should be conducted to old Rasay, who was himself concealed with some select friends. The plan was instantly communicated to Kingsburgh, who was dispatched to the hill to inform the Wanderer, and carry him refreshments. When Kingsburgh approached, he started up, and advanced, holding a large knotted stick, and in appearance ready to knock him down, till he said, 'I am Macdonald of Kingsburgh, come to serve your highness.' The Wanderer answered, 'It is well,' and was satisfied with the plan.

Flora Macdonald dined with Lady Margaret, at whose table there sat an officer of the army, stationed here with a

'On the subject of Lady Margaret Macdonald, it is impossible to omit an anecdote which does much honour to Frederick, Prince of Wales. By some chance Lady Margaret had been presented to the princess, who, when she learnt what share she had taken in the Chevalier's escape, hastened to excuse herself to the prince, and explain to him that she was not aware that Lady Margaret was the person who had harboured the fugitive. The prince's answer was noble: 'And would you not have done the same, madam, had he come to you, as to her, in distress and danger? I hope-I am sure you would!' WALTER SCOTT.

party

Sept. 13.]

Story of Prince Charles's escape.

215

party of soldiers, to watch for Prince Charles in case of his flying to the isle of Sky. She afterwards often laughed in good-humour with this gentleman, on her having so well deceived him.

After dinner, Flora Macdonald on horseback, and her supposed maid, and Kingsburgh, with a servant carrying some linen, all on foot, proceeded towards that gentleman's house. Upon the road was a small rivulet which they were obliged to cross. The Wanderer, forgetting his assumed sex, that his clothes might not be wet, held them up a great deal too high. Kingsburgh mentioned this to him, observing, it might make a discovery. He said, he would be more careful for the future. He was as good as his word; for the next brook they crossed, he did not hold up his clothes at all, but let them float upon the water. He was very awkward in his female dress. His size was so large, and his strides so great, that some women whom they met reported that they had seen a very big woman, who looked like a man in woman's clothes, and that perhaps it was (as they expressed themselves) the Prince, after whom so much search was making.

At Kingsburgh he met with a most cordial reception; seemed gay at supper, and after it indulged himself in a cheerful glass with his worthy host. As he had not had his clothes off for a long time, the comfort of a good bed was highly relished by him, and he slept soundly till next day at one o'clock.

The mistress of Corrichatachin told me, that in the forenoon she went into her father's room, who was also in bed, and suggested to him her apprehensions that a party of the military might come up, and that his guest and he had better not remain here too long. Her father said, 'Let the poor man repose himself after his fatigues; and as for me, I care not, though they take off this old gray head ten or eleven years sooner than I should die in the course of nature.' He then wrapped himself in the bed-clothes, and again fell fast asleep.

On

« PreviousContinue »