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NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.
G. W. Green.
ART. I. Histoire de Charles-Edouard, dernier Prince de la Maison de Stuart, précédée d'une Histoire de la Rivalité de l'Angleterre et de l'Écosse. Par AMÉDÉE PICHOT, D. M. Quatrième Édition, révue, corrigée, et augmentée de Pieces inédites. Paris: Librairie d'Amyot, Éditeur. 1845 et 1846. 2 vol. 8vo.
As you enter the left aisle of the church of St. Peter's at Rome, the first object which attracts your attention is a marble slab, cut out like the doors of a vault, with two figures on the sides, and three heads in medallion above. In the character of the heads there is nothing very remarkable, although the artist has evidently given to every feature the last touches, as if engaged upon a subject worthy of the highest efforts of his chisel. But in the figures at the sides of the vault-door there is something so sweet and touching, such a mingling of grace and solemnity in their delicate forms and thoughtful countenances, that, as they stand there with their faces cast down and their torches reversed, with an expression rather of sadness than of poignant grief, a feeling of sympathetic. melancholy steals over you unawares, and you instinctively. raise your eyes once more to see who they were whose last slumbers are guarded by forms of such angelic beauty. Then, perhaps, you will find something more there than you could distinguish at a first glance, piety, resignation, and somewhat of that sorrow which, however manfully the heart may bear up against it, still leaves traces of the struggle behind. On the tablet above are engraved in golden letters,. VOL. LXIV. NO. 134.
without any other comment than a verse of Scripture, which, for the propriety of the allusion, would have suited any tomb as well, the names of the last three descendants of the royal house of Stuart.
Of two of these, history, of which this great fabric is so full, has but little to record, beyond the weakness and superstition of the father, and the benevolence and purer piety of the younger son. But the elder has left a brighter trace behind him, and for a while bid fair to rival the glories and redeem the errors of his race. Then came a dark cloud, and the name of the Stuarts was blotted out for ever from the page of living history. It is to the heroic, daring, and romantic adventures of this brief though brilliant period that we propose to call the attention of our readers in the following pages.
The year 1721 had opened under happy auspices for the partisans of the Stuarts, for an heir had been born to the throne, and their hopes and affections, so long chilled by the weakness of the father, were turned with double warmth to the son. All the pomp of royal etiquette had been rigorously observed at the birth of Charles Edward. The nobles of his three kingdoms had been summoned to attend on this important occasion; the apartment was crowded with cardinals and prelates; rich gifts were offered around the cradle, and a royal salute from the cannon of St. Angelo showed how deep an interest the Catholic world still felt in the fortunes of a family which had sacrificed a throne to its zeal for the religion of its fathers.
The first years of the young prince were passed under the eye of his mother, to whom he is supposed to have been indebted for that heroic fortitude which was far from being a family trait, and in which his father was so singularly deficient. One of his earliest instructers was the Chevalier de Ramsay, the friend and the pupil of Fénélon. Charles Edward soon spoke English, French, and Italian with equal facility, and displayed very early a decided taste for music. But in other branches, although provided with good masters, his progress was far from being great, and the President Des Brosses, who had frequent opportunities of seeing him in his youth, says that his mind at twenty was by no means so well formed as it ought to have been in a prince of that age. It was not, however, from any want of intelligence, but his
thoughts were elsewhere, and Rome, with all the charm of her arts and the grandeur of her antiquities, could not call them away from their favorite subject of meditation. The presentiment of his destiny seems to have weighed upon him from a child. English travellers were his favorite guests, and England was the favorite topic of his conversation. On a sail from Gaeta to Naples, his hat fell into the sea. The sailors were for putting about to row after it. "Let it alone," said he; "the waves will carry it to England, and I will some day or other go there for it myself."
When fourteen years old, he followed his cousin, Marshal Berwick, to the siege of Gaeta. The trench was already opened, and immediately upon his arrival he entered it and remained some time there, with the greatest coolness, in the midst of a shower of balls. Next day he went to wait upon the Marshal at his quarters in a house against which the enemy were directing their fire. The walls were riddled with bullets, and his attendants made every effort to prevent him from entering; but in spite of all their entreaties, in which the marshal, too, had vainly united, he persisted in making his visit. All these little traits were carefully noted by his adherents, who repeated them to one another with the fondest anticipations. "Would to God," says Marshal Berwick in a letter to his brother, "that the worst enemies of the Stuarts could have been witnesses of his conduct during the siege. It would have won many of them back again."
From Gaeta he went to Naples, where he produced the same favorable impression at court, by the grace and elegance of his manners, which he had done at the army, by his coolness and intrepidity. The summer following he made a campaign in Lombardy, and two years after visited the principal cities of Upper Italy, in all of which he was received with the honors due to his rank. The next few years must have hung heavily upon his hands, for he had tasted just enough of the excitement of active life to feel the oppression of that monotonous existence where one day passes like another, and at the end of the year one finds himself nearer to nothing but his grave. His passion for music served to while away some portion of the time, and the weekly concerts, in which he played the violoncello and his brother sang, were frequented by men of taste as the best music in Rome. But his favorite amusement was the chase,
which gave a freer play to his natural vivacity, and enabled him to preserve the active habits he had formed in the
Hunting in the Pontine marshes is not that tame amusement which it has come to be with us. You build a hut of boughs and branches, or, clearing away the earth from some moss-covered ruin, spread a bed of leaves or straw in one corner, and your table of stone in another. Here you come for shelter from the storm, and here is cooked the game which you have won during the day, and here you sleep. Around you expands the broad tract of the marshes, with its long grass and green trees, so beautiful to the eye. Before you is the deep blue of the Mediterranean, where you see the sun set with a glow unknown to northern climes; and at night you may hear afar off the deep murmur of its waves mingling with the solemn voices of the night wind. Behind Behind you and at your side, mountains, girding the plain as with a cincture, and swelling upward, one behind another, till they are lost in the distance. The Circean cape to the south, with its dark outline stretching boldly into the sea, and reminding you of Ulysses and Circe, and the days when history and fable were one. To the east the precipitous wall of the Apennines, with Cora, whence Juno's temple looks down upon you from its rocky seat, and Massimo, hanging like an eagle's nest amid precipices and crags. And on the north the gently swelling slope of the Alban mount, with the white-walled convent that crowns its wooded cone, and the vineyards and olive-orchards that cluster in rich profusion round its base. And the game is worthy of a scene where every object carries you back to days in which the chase was a living image of war; the boar, with his bristled skin, his foam-covered tusks, and flaming eyes. The dogs, a strong, bold breed, and trained to the deadly sport, rouse the fierce animal from his lair, and, yelling wildly on his track, tell you where to look for the prey. On he comes, with a quick, short step, grinding his teeth until the foam flies from them like spray, his small eyes glowing like living fire, and breaking his way with headlong speed through bush and brake. Every huntsman has his stand in the space through which he is expected to pass, and each fires in turn, as he draws nigh; but it is a quick hand and a sure eye and perfect coolness alone that can give you success. Woe, too,
to the poor dog that is first to approach him, when, maddened by pain, and with speed diminished by the loss of blood, he turns for the final struggle. Some are ripped up by a single plunge of his tusks, some tossed in the air, some crushed beneath him as he falls; and not unfrequently the huntsman, too, counts himself happy, if a slight flesh-wound is the only mark which he bears away from the deadly contest.
Such scenes were for Charles Edward no bad preparation for what he was so soon to undergo, in guiding the last effort of the Stuarts for the throne of their fathers. At length, the long wished-for moment seemed to have arrived. France was on the point of taking an active part in the war of the Austrian succession, and, looked to a rising in favor of the exiled family as the surest means of finding employment for the English monarch at home. A body of fifteen thousand men was to invade England, under the command of Marshal Saxe, and all the principal measures were to be concerted at Paris, with Charles Edward himself. Still the whole negotiation was enveloped in a veil of the deepest mystery. At Rome the Bailli de Tencin and Cardinal Acquaviva acted as agents for France, and not a word was said to the ambassador. Charles Edward, the most important personage in the whole drama, was to be kept as long as possible in the background, and to conceal both his departure from Rome and his arrival at Paris.
A hunting-party to the marshes was made the pretext for leaving Rome, and the prince, pretending to have sprained his foot on the road, separated from his companions, and, assuming the dress and medal of the Spanish courier, pushed forward, with the utmost speed, for Genoa. Here he embarked in a felucca for Antibes. The wind was against him, and he was compelled to pass through the midst of an English squadron, enemies now, but soon, he hoped, to become his subjects and defenders. On the 13th of January, he reached Antibes, near the spot where, seventy-one years later, Napoleon was to land on his return from Elba. Reporting himself and his companion to the commandant as Englishmen, under the names of Graham and Mattock, he mounted a post-horse and took the road to Paris. At Avignon, he had an hour's interview with the Duke of Ormond, and by the 20th was already in the capital.
Here every thing seemed to favor his hopes. The army