صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

with instructions to his adherents there, stating the particular services he expected from each of them in this important crisis. Fleming landed at Slains castle, which had been the general rendezvous of such emissaries for several years past, on the 13th day of March, where he was received with the most lively demonstrations of joy. The earl of Errol instantly despatched a messenger to Mr. Malcolm of Grange, with orders to have a boat and pilots in readiness to go on board the first vessel that should give the signal agreed on.

The same express, by the earl's orders, was carried along the coasts of Fife and Lothian, to give notice to the well affected, to have boats and pilots every where in waiting, that there might be neither difficulty nor delay incurred, at whatever place chance or choice should direct the expedition to land. The earl Marischal sent off notice to his friends the same evening, and early next morning, set out in person to raise the district of Marr, where he was hereditary bailiff. Mr. Nicolson, the Catholic bishop of Scotland, was next informed of the joyful tidings, that he might have the Catholics in the north, in immediate readiness. The dutchess of Gordon lost no time in apprizing her son, the marquis of Huntly, that he might exert himself in the counties of Ross and Inverness, where he had great interest. Innes of Coxtoun, was also favoured with a special notice; and, after seeing some less conspicuous characters, Fleming left Slains castle on the 14th, and arrived on the 16th, at the seat of lord Strathmore, who was in a transport of joy to see the affairs of the chevalier in such forwardness, and instantly gave orders to the chief persons in his neighbourhood, to take the necessary measures for a crisis of such vast importance. The same evening, Mr. Fleming proceeded to lord Nairn's,* who introduced him to his brother, the duke of Athole, whose vassals had been, for five months, in readiness to take

This lord Nairn, was lord William Murray, fourth son of John, first marquis of Athole, and brother to John, second marquis of Athole, who, previously to this, had been created a duke. The duke, whatever might be his feelings at this time, never actually joined the Jacobites. He was a zealous Presbyterian, and always preserved his interest with the ministers of that persuasion, which induced many of the tories to doubt bis sincerity. Douglas' Peerage of Scotland, 2d ed. vol. i. p. 150. vol. ii. p. 280.

arms at the first news of the chevalier's arrival. From the duke of Athole, he proceeded to lord Braidalbin, who read the instructions sent him by the chevalier “ with great joy,” and promised not only to join him with his vassals, but to overawe the men of Argyle, who were known to be ill affected toward him, so as that they should not dare to give him any disturbance. From Braidalbin he went to castle Drummond, where he found the marquis of Drummond and his brother, sons of the duke of Perth, who sent notice on the instant to several of the clans, who were in their confidence, and also took measures to inform the chiefs in that part of the country. He went next day to Stirlingshire, to the seat of lord Kilsyth, but found that he was then in Edinburgh, as was also the earl of Wigton. The people of Stirlingshire, he found, however, to be unanimous for the service of the chevalier, and ready to range themselves under the command of the earl of Linlithgow. On the 22d, he repaired to the house of Cochran of Kilmaronock, in Dunbartonshire, where he remained for several days, in the utmost impatience for news of the chevalier's arrival, who, he knew, according to the measures taken, should have sailed from Dunkirk on the Ilth of the month.*

While Fleming was thus in waiting, rumour gave to the chevalier a safe landing in the north, which induced him to set out with all speed for that quarter. On the road he fell in with several others going on the same errand, among whom were Seton of Touch, the Stirlings of Keir, and Cardon, &c. with whom he travelled for two days, at the end of which, finding themselves led astray by an idle rumour, they found it necessary to separate, and to shift each for himself in the best manner he could. Fleming continued his journey till he fell in with lord Nairn, who had been at Hamilton, where he found only the dutchess dowager, the duke having prudently retired to England, on pretence of necessary business, where he could amuse his Jacobite friends with professions, till the practical results of their measures should enable him to declare himself with safety. The dutchess professed to be zealous for

* Hooke's Secret Negotiations, pp, 119–165.

the chevalier; but, although lord Nairn gained over the minister of Hamilton, who, as an organ of the Presbyterians, had great influence over her, she would do nothing in the absence of her son.

Mr. Fleming now learned to his infinite mortification, that notwithstanding so many

favourable
appearances, his

expectations were vain, the expedition under Forbin having totally failed, though, as yet, the Jacobites could not believe it. Should the French fail in Fife or Lothian, they made sure of them landing in Cromarty, or failing in Cromarty, they believed they would go round to the Frith of Clyde, where they could land without opposition. Yea, so great was their infatuation, that they believed the orders of the French king were peremptory to Forbin, to join his seamen to the land forces, run the ships on shore, and abandon them rather than lose the opportunity of making a descent, which was to accomplish such important results. This enthusiasm attributed to the French in the cause of James, by the Scotish Jacobites, was, however, altogether visionary. So very different was the real state of the case, that from the time the English fleet appeared before Dunkirk, the scheme was considered, by those who were to conduct it, as hopeless.* The embarkation of the troops was immediately suspended, and Forbin lost no time in representing to the minister at Paris, the great danger of the attempt, and the little probability of its being ultimately successful. But Louis had already committed himself, and, probably only to save appearances, Forbin was ordered to put to sea, the moment the blockading squadron should be blown off its station. In the mean time the chevalier was seized with the measles, and the troops were disembarked for a few days. On the fourteenth of March, a violent tempest drove the British fleet back to the Downs, and on the seventeenth, at six o'clock in the evening, the French put to sea from the roads of Dunkirk, having ordered as many ships from the harbour to fill their place through the night, in

* Smollete's History of England. Burnet's History of his own Times.

+ Lockhart Papers, vol. i. p. 241.

order to conceal their sailing from the British cruisers, should any of them happen to look into the roads in the morning. The weather, however, became calm, and they were obliged to come to anchor off Newport pits. Here they were detained by contrary winds, till the evening of the nineteenth. During these two days, three of the frigates having exhibited signals of distress, returned to Dunkirk. As these frigates had on board eight hundred men, with a great quantity of arms and provisions, a council of war was held in the apartment of the chevalier, to determine whether they should proceed direct for Scotland, or wait till they should be rejoined by the frigates. Through the influence of the chevalier himself, it was decided that they should proceed immediately, marshal Matignon entreating admiral Forbin, to give orders for these frigates to join the squadron, as soon as they had furnished themselves with what they wanted. Another council of war became necessary to settle the place of landing. Hooke proposed the north of Scotland, as the place every way best suited for their purpose. Middleton preferred the Frith of Forth, and it was determined to make the harbour of Bruntisland, whence they could send a detachment to seize upon Stirling, and thus secure that important pass, the only direct communication between the southern and the northern parts of the kingdom.

Something, which might have been considered ominous, however, still attended them. They sailed, as we have stated, on the 19th, at ten P. M., and by six o'clock next morning, it became necessary for the ships in the van to lie to, for those who had fallen behind through the night. The remainder of that day and all night, the fleet proceeded with a brisk gale, and the chevalier was exceedingly sea sick. The voyage was continued the two following days, but on the night of the 22d, fearing to pass the Frith, it was judged prudent again to lie to. On the 23d, they were in sight of the desired Scotish coast; but they had mistaken their reckoning, steered too far north, and in order to gain the Frith, had to return towards the south. They now despatched a frigate up the Frith, bearing English colours, to fire the signal agreed

[ocr errors]

upon with colonel Hooke, twenty cannon, and in the meantime cast anchor behind the isle of May.*

Thus far every thing was prosperous, and the success of the expedition, might have been considered as no longer doubtful. The country without troops, and every where previously prepared to give them a friendly welcome, the French had but to step on shore, which a few hours more would have enabled them to do, and their work was done. The capital with its fortress, the strongest in the kingdom, and still containing the greater part of the equivalent, would in all probability have yielded to them on the first summons, and a number of Dutch ships, loaded with cannon, small arms, ammunition, and a large sum of money, being at the same time driven on shore in the shire of Angus, must of necessity, have fallen into their hands.

Their good fortune, however, was apparent not real. The British fleet being so opportunely driven back to the Downs, was a fortunate circumstance they might not have felt themselves warranted to calculate upon, but the benefit of it was entirely lost by their being driven into Newport pits, where, during the two days they remained, they were distinctly seen from the steeples of Ostend, and a vessel was despatched to advertise Sir George Byng of the fact. Sir George, on the receipt of this intelligence, sailed direct for the Frith of Forth, where he had the good fortune to arrive while Forbin, embarrassed and indecisive, was still lingering behind the island of May.

Forbin now found that all his fears had come upon him. His signal ship had sailed up the Forth according to agreement, and had fired her twenty cannon, but had received no answer; and though Malcolm of Grange came on board with the most flattering account of the friends of the chevalier, there was no demonstration made from the shore, that could direct or assist his wary admiral in the present emergency. Mr. George, a skipper of Aberdeen, who had been sent by the earl of Errol to be his pilot, having crossed over to the Edinburgh side to give notice to Mr. Lockhart of Carnwath, and captain Straiton, of the approach of the fleet, was so elated with his commission

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

* Hooke's Secret Negotiations, p. 154.

1

« السابقةمتابعة »