‘Said the Highland prophet sooth? Or must second-sight go for nothing?’
Waverley turned, and was warmly embraced by Fergus Mac-Ivor. ‘A thousand welcomes to Holyrood, once more possessed by her legitimate sovereign! Did I not say we should prosper, and that you would fall into the hands of the Philistines if you parted from us?’
‘Dear Fergus!’ said Waverley, eagerly returning his greeting. ‘It is long since I have heard a friend’s voice. Where is Flora?’
‘Safe, and a triumphant spectator of our success.’
‘In this place?’ said Waverley.
‘Ay, in this city at least,’ answered his friend, ‘and you shall see her; but first you must meet a friend whom you little think of, who has been frequent in his inquiries after you.’
Thus saying, he dragged Waverley by the arm out of the guard chamber, and, ere he knew where he was conducted, Edward found himself in a presence room, fitted up with some attempt at royal state.
A young man, wearing his own fair hair, distinguished by the dignity of his mien and the noble expression of his well-formed and regular features, advanced out of a circle of military gentlemen and Highland chiefs by whom he was surrounded. In his easy and graceful manners Waverley afterwards thought he could have discovered his high birth and rank, although the star on his breast and the embroidered garter at his knee had not appeared as its indications.
‘Let me present to your Royal Highness,’ said Fergus, bowing profoundly——
‘The descendant of one of the most ancient and loyal families in England,’ said the young Chevalier, interrupting him. ‘I beg your pardon for interrupting you, my dear Mac-Ivor; but no master of ceremonies is necessary to present a Waverley to a Stuart.’
Thus saying, he extended his hand to Edward with the utmost courtesy, who could not, had he desired it, have avoided rendering him the homage which seemed due to his rank, and was certainly the right of his birth. ‘I am sorry to understand, Mr. Waverley, that, owing to circumstances which have been as yet but ill explained, you have suffered some restraint among my followers in Perthshire and on your march here; but we are in such a situation that we hardly know our friends, and I am even at this moment uncertain whether I can have the pleasure of considering Mr. Waverley as among mine.’
He then paused for an instant; but before Edward could adjust a suitable reply, or even arrange his ideas as to its purport, the Prince took out a paper and then proceeded:—‘I should indeed have no doubts upon this subject if I could trust to this proclamation, set forth by the friends of the Elector of Hanover, in which they rank Mr. Waverley among the nobility and gentry who are menaced with the pains of high-treason for loyalty to their legitimate sovereign. But I desire to gain no adherents save from affection and conviction; and if Mr. Waverley inclines to prosecute his journey to the south, or to join the forces of the Elector, he shall have my passport and free permission to do so; and I can only regret that my present power will not extend to protect him against the probable consequences of such a measure. But,’ continued Charles Edward, after another short pause, ‘if Mr. Waverley should, like his ancestor, Sir Nigel, determine to embrace a cause which has little to recommend it but its justice, and follow a prince who throws himself upon the affections of his people to recover the throne of his ancestors or perish in the attempt, I can only say, that among these nobles and gentlemen he will find worthy associates in a gallant enterprise, and will follow a master who may be unfortunate, but, I trust, will never be ungrateful.’
The politic Chieftain of the race of Ivor knew his advantage in introducing Waverley to this personal interview with the royal adventurer. Unaccustomed to the address and manners of a polished court, in which Charles was eminently skilful, his words and his kindness penetrated the heart of our hero, and easily outweighed all prudential motives. To be thus personally solicited for assistance by a prince whose form and manners, as well as the spirit which he displayed in this singular enterprise, answered his ideas of a hero of romance; to be courted by him in the ancient halls of his paternal palace, recovered by the sword which he was already bending towards other conquests, gave Edward, in his own eyes, the dignity and importance which he had ceased to consider as his attributes. Rejected, slandered, and threatened upon the one side, he was irresistibly attracted to the cause which the prejudices of education and the political principles of his family had already recommended as the most just. These thoughts rushed through his mind like a torrent, sweeping before them every consideration of an opposite tendency,—the time, besides, admitted of no deliberation,—and Waverley, kneeling to Charles Edward, devoted his heart and sword to the vindication of his rights!
The Prince (for, although unfortunate in the faults and follies of his forefathers, we shall here and elsewhere give him the title due to his birth) raised Waverley from the ground and embraced him with an expression of thanks too warm not to be genuine. He also thanked Fergus Mac-Ivor repeatedly for having brought him such an adherent, and presented Waverley to the various noblemen, chieftains, and officers who were about his person as a young gentleman of the highest hopes and prospects, in whose bold and enthusiastic avowal of his cause they might see an evidence of the sentiments of the English families of rank at this important crisis.1 Indeed, this was a point much doubted among the adherents of the house of Stuart; and as a well-founded disbelief in the cooperation of the English Jacobites kept many Scottish men of rank from his standard, and diminished the courage of those who had joined it, nothing could be more seasonable for the Chevalier than the open declaration in his favour of the representative of the house of Waverley-Honour, so long known as Cavaliers and Royalists. This Fergus had foreseen from the beginning. He really loved Waverley, because their feelings and projects never thwarted each other; he hoped to see him united with Flora, and he rejoiced that they were effectually engaged in the same cause. But, as we before hinted, he also exulted as a politician in beholding secured to his party a partisan of such consequence; and he was far from being insensible to the personal importance which he himself gained with the Prince from having so materially assisted in making the acquisition.
Charles Edward, on his part, seemed eager to show his attendants the value which he attached to his new adherent, by entering immediately, as in confidence, upon the circumstances of his situation. ‘You have been secluded so much from intelligence, Mr. Waverley, from causes of which I am but indistinctly informed, that I presume you are even yet unacquainted with the important particulars of my present situation. You have, however, heard of my landing in the remote district of Moidart, with only seven attendants, and of the numerous chiefs and clans whose loyal enthusiasm at once placed a solitary adventurer at the head of a gallant army. You must also, I think, have learned that the commander-in-chief of the Hanoverian Elector, Sir John Cope, marched into the Highlands at the head of a numerous and well-appointed military force with the intention of giving us battle, but that his courage failed him when we were within three hours’ march of each other, so that he fairly gave us the slip and marched northward to Aberdeen, leaving the Low Country open and undefended. Not to lose so favourable an opportunity, I marched on to this metropolis, driving before me two regiments of horse, Gardiner’s and Hamilton’s, who had threatened to cut to pieces every Highlander that should venture to pass Stirling; and while discussions were carrying forward among the magistracy and citizens of Edinburgh whether they should defend themselves or surrender, my good friend Lochiel (laying his hand on the shoulder of that gallant and accomplished chieftain) saved them the trouble of farther deliberation by entering the gates with five hundred Camerons. Thus far, therefore, we have done well; but, in the meanwhile, this doughty general’s nerves being braced by the keen air of Aberdeen, he has taken shipping for Dunbar, and I have just received certain information that he landed there yesterday. His purpose must unquestionably be to march towards us to recover possession of the capital. Now there are two opinions in my council of war: one, that being inferior probably in numbers, and certainly in discipline and military appointments, not to mention our total want of artillery and the weakness of our cavalry, it will be safest to fall back towards the mountains, and there protract the war until fresh succours arrive from France, and the whole body of the Highland clans shall have taken arms in our favour. The opposite opinion maintains, that a retrograde movement, in our circumstances, is certain to throw utter discredit on our arms and undertaking; and, far from gaining us new partisans, will be the means of disheartening those who have joined our standard. The officers who use these last arguments, among whom is your friend Fergus Mac-Ivor, maintain that, if the Highlanders are strangers to the usual military discipline of Europe, the soldiers whom they are to encounter are no less strangers to their peculiar and formidable mode of attack; that the attachment and courage of the chiefs and gentlemen are not to be doubted; and that, as they will be in the midst of the enemy, their clansmen will as surely follow them; in fine, that having drawn the sword we should throw away the scabbard, and trust our cause to battle and to the God of battles. Will Mr. Waverley favour us with his opinion in these arduous circumstances?’
Waverley coloured high betwixt pleasure and modesty at the distinction implied in this question, and answered, with equal spirit and readiness, that he could not venture to offer an opinion as derived from military skill, but that the counsel would be far the most acceptable to him which should first afford him an opportunity to evince his zeal in his Royal Highness’s service.
‘Spoken like a Waverley!’ answered Charles Edward; ‘and that you may hold a rank in some degree corresponding to your name, allow me, instead of the captain’s commission which you have lost, to offer you the brevet rank of major in my service, with the advantage of acting as one of my aides-de-camp until you can be attached to a regiment, of which I hope several will be speedily embodied.’
‘Your Royal Highness will forgive me,’ answered Waverley (for his recollection turned to Balmawhapple and his scanty troop), ‘if I decline accepting any rank until the time and place where I may have interest enough to raise a sufficient body of men to make my command useful to your Royal Highness’s service. In the meanwhile, I hope for your permission to serve as a volunteer under my friend Fergus Mac-Ivor.’
‘At least,’ said the Prince, who was obviously pleased with this proposal, ‘allow me the pleasure of arming you after the Highland fashion.’ With these words, he unbuckled the broadsword which he wore, the belt of which was plaited with silver, and the steel basket-hilt richly and curiously inlaid. ‘The blade,’ said the Prince, ‘is a genuine Andrea Ferrara; it has been a sort of heir-loom in our family; but I am convinced I put it into better hands than my own, and will add to it pistols of the same workmanship. Colonel Mac-Ivor, you must have much to say to your friend; I will detain you no longer from your private conversation; but remember we expect you both to attend us in the evening. It may be perhaps the last night we may enjoy in these halls, and as we go to the field with a clear conscience, we will spend the eve of battle merrily.’
Thus licensed, the Chief and Waverley left the presence-chamber.
1. The Jacobite sentiments were general among the western counties and in Wales. But although the great families of the Wynnes, the Wyndhams, and others had come under an actual obligation to join Prince Charles if he should land, they had done so under the express stipulation that he should be assisted by an auxiliary army of French, without which they foresaw the enterprise would be desperate. Wishing well to his cause, therefore, and watching an opportunity to join him, they did not, nevertheless, think themselves bound in honour to do so, as he was only supported by a body of wild mountaineers, speaking an uncouth dialect, and wearing a singular dress. The race up to Derby struck them with more dread than admiration. But it is difficult to say what the effect might have been had either the battle of Preston or Falkirk been fought and won during the advance into England. [back]