Page images
PDF
EPUB

sex, she was altogether incapable of decisive counsels; and nothing but her irresistible popularity could have supported her authority amidst the ferment of those distracted times.

MACPHERSON.

PRINCE CHARLES EDWARD STUART.

As to his person, he is tall and well made, but stoops a little, owing perhaps to the great fatigue which he underwent in his northern expedition. He has a handsome face and good eyes (I think his busts, which about this time were commonly sold in London, are more like him than any of his pictures which I have yet seen); but in a polite company he would not pass for a genteel man. He hath a quick apprehension, and speaks French, Italian, and English; the last with a little of a foreign accent. As to the rest, very little care seems to have been taken of his education. He had not made the belles lettres or any of the finer arts his study, which surprised me much, considering his preceptors, and the noble opportunities he must have always had in that nursery of all the elegant and liberal arts and sciences. But I was still more astonished when I found him unacquainted with the history and constitution of England, in which he ought to have been very early instructed. I never heard him express any noble or benevolent sentiments, the certain indications of a great soul and a good heart; or discover any sorrow or compassion for the misfortunes of so many worthy men who had suffered in his cause *.

But the worst part of his character is his love of money, a vice which I do not remember to have been imputed by our historians to any of his ancestors, and is the certain index of a base and little mind. I know it may be urged in his vindication, that a prince in exile ought to be an economist. And so he ought; but nevertheless his purse should be always open, as long as there is any thing in it, to relieve the necessities of his friends and adherents. King Charles the Second, during his banishment, would have shared the last pistole in his pocket with his little family. But I have known this gentleman, with two thousand louis-d'ors in his strong box, pretend he was in great distress, and borrow money from a lady in Paris, who was not in affluent circumstances. His most faithful servants, who had closely attended him in all his difficulties, were ill rewarded. Two Frenchmen, who had left every thing to follow his fortune, who had been sent as couriers half through Europe, and executed their commissions with great punctuality and exactness, were suddenly discharged, without any fault imputed tothem, or any recompense

* As to his religion, he is certainly free from all bigotry and superstition, and would readily conform to the religion of the country. With the catholics he is a catholic; with the protestants he is a protestant: and, to convince the latter of his sincerity, he often carried an English Common Prayer Book in his pocket; and sent to Gordon (whom 1 have mentioned before), a nonjuring clereyman, to christen the first child he had by Mrs. W.

for their past services. To this spirit of avarice may be added his insolent manner of treating his immediate dependants, very unbecoming a great prince, and a sure prognostic of what might be expected from him if ever he acquired sovereign power. Sir J. Harrington and Colonel Goring, who suffered themselves to be imprisoned with him, when the rest of his family and attendants fled, were afterwards obliged to quit his service on account of his illiberal behaviour. But there is one part of his character which I must particularly insist on, since it occasioned the defection of the most powerful of his friends and adherents in England, and by some concurring accidents totally blasted all his hopes and pretensions. When he was in Scotland, he had a mistress, whose name is Walkenshaw, and whose sister was at that time, and still is, housekeeper at Leicester House. Some years after he was released from his prison, and conducted out of France, he sent for this girl, who soon acquired such a dominion over him, that she was acquainted with all his schemes, and trusted with his most secret correspondence. As soon as this was known in England, all those persons of distinction who were attached to him were greatly alarmed; they imagined that this wench had been placed in his family by the English ministers; and, considering her sister's situation, they seemed to have some ground for their suspicion; wherefore they dispatched a gentleman to Paris, where the prince then was, who had instructions to insist that Mrs. Walkenshaw should be removed to a convent for a certain time; but her gallant abso

lutely refused to comply with this demand: and although Mr. M'Namara, the gentleman who was sent to him, who had a natural eloquence, and an excellent understanding, urged the most cogent reasons, and used all the arts of persuasion to induce him to part with his mistress, and even proceeded so far as to assure him, according to his instructions, that an immediate interruption of all correspondence with his most powerful friends in England; and, in short, that the ruin of his interest, which was now daily increasing, would be the infallible consequence of his refusal; yet he continued inflexible, and all M'Namara's entreaties and remonstrances were ineffectual. M'Namara staid in Paris some days beyond the time prescribed him, endeavouring to reason the prince into a better temper; but finding him obstinately persevere in his first answer, he took his leave with concern and indignation, saying, as he passed out, " What has your family done, sir, thus to draw down the vengeance of Heaven on every branch of it through so many ages 1" It is worthy of remark, that in all the conferences which M'Namara had with the prince on this occasion, the latter declared, that it was not a violent passion, or indeed any particular regard *, which attached him to Mrs. Walkenshaw,

* I believe he spoke the truth when he declared he had no esteem for his northern mistress, although she had been his companion for so many years. She had no elegance of manners: and as they had both contracted an odious habit of drinking, so they exposed themselves very frequently, not only to their own family, but to all their neighbours. They often quarrelled, and sometimes fought. They were some of these drunken scenes which, probably, occasioned the report of his madness.

and that he could see her removed from him without any concern; but he would not receive directions, in respect to his private conduct, from any man alive.—When M'Namara returned to London, and reported the prince's answer to the gentlemen who had employed him, they were astonished and confounded. However, they soon resolved on the measures which they were to pursue for the future, and determined no longer to serve a man who could not be persuaded to serve himself, and chose rather to endanger the lives of his best and most faithful friends, than part with a harlot, whom, as he often declared, he neither loved nor esteemed. If ever that old adage, Quos Jupiter vult perdere, &c. could be properly applied to any person, whom could it so well fit as the gentleman of whom I have been speaking? for it is difficult by any other means to account for such a sudden infatuation. He was, indeed, soon afterwards made sensible of his misconduct, when it was too late to repair it: for from this era may truly be dated the ruin of his cause; which, for the future, can only subsist in the nonjuring congregations, which are generally of the meanest people, from whom no danger to the present government need ever be apprehended. Dr. W. King.

GEORGE n. The king is in his seventy-fifth year; but temperance and an excellent constitution have hitherto preserved him from many of the infirmities of old age.

vOL. II. R

« PreviousContinue »