PART. VIII.—Jacobite Memoirs of the Rebellion of 1745. Edited
from the Right Reverend Robert Forbes, A.M., Bishop of the Scottish Episcopal Church of Ross and Caithness, by Robert Chambers, Author of "Traditions of Edinburgh,"
II) &c. London: Longman and Co. and
Edinburgh: Chambers. 1834.
THE history of this book is extremely interesting, and realizes
many of those fictions which have been devised by ingenious men
for drawing attention to works otherwise not likely to attract notice.
Bishop Forbes, one of the Episcopal clergymen at Leith,
was, with the greater number of his brethren, warmly attached to
the interests of the house of Stuart; and, accordingly, when Prince
Charles Edward, in September, 1745, descended from the Highlands,
he joined a small party of friends, who advanced to the 'neighbourhood of Stirling, in order to pay their respects to the
representative of him whom they were still inclined to honour as
their sovereign. Mr. Forbes and four of his companions (the bishop says, "We were seven in number,
taken on the seventh day of the week, the seventh day of the month, and the seventh
month of the year, reckoning from March." Two, indeed, were servants.) were apprehended by the civil authorities and thrown into prison, where they were detained until after the suppression of the unfortunate rising accomplished by the victory at Culloden. He was released from Edinburgh on 29th May, 1746.
This accident, which the zealous presbyter deeply bewailed as
the means of preventing him from kissing the hand of the regent,
saved him from the severer penalties which were inflicted upon
those who were actually engaged in the insurrection; and hence
it appears that, when tranquillity was restored, the conscientious
Jacobite returned into the bosom of his charge at Leith, to mourn
over the disappointment of his hopes and the loss of many friends,
as well as to record their exploits and vindicate their characters.
He steadily prosecuted his design of collecting, from the mouths
and pens of the survivors of the late enterprise, such narratives
and anecdotes as they could give from their own knowledge respecting
that extraordinary incident. His papers, we are told,
whether contributed in writing, or taken by himself from oral
communication, he regularly transcribed upon octavo sheets,
which in the end formed volumes; and nothing, it is added, can
exceed the neatness, distinctness, and accuracy with which the
whole task is performed. He took care, in particular, to see
most of the individuals who had been apprehended for their concern
in the prince's escape, and carried prisoners to London, an
opportunity being generally afforded by their passing through
Edinburgh, on their way back to the Highlands. apprehended by the civil power and thrown into prison, where they were detained until after the suppression of the unfortunate rising accomplished by the victory gained at Culloden.* "
The collection, which ultimately filled ten volumes, was bound in
black, with black-edged leaves, and styled, in allusion to the woe of
Scotland for her exiled race of princes, 'The Lyon in Mourning Volume One,Two, and Three; or, a
Collection (as exactly made as the iniquity of the times would permit)
of Speeches, Letters, Journals, relative to the Affairs, but more particularly
to the Dangers and Distresses of .' The first three volumes
bear the date 1747;the next three, of 1748; the seventh is dated in
1749, the eighth in 1750, the ninth in 1761, and the tenth in 1775.
It thus appears that the bulk of the collection was made immediately
after the close of the insurrection, when the recollections of the actors
must of course have been most fresh; and this part of the collection is
fortunately the most important in historical value. The latter volumes,
indeed, are chiefly composed of fugitive jeux d'esprit upon the Whig
party and the government; of letters giving obscure hints respecting the
life of Prince Charles on the continent; and of other matters, which,
though highly illustrative of the spirit of the Jacobites, throw little light
on the history of the rebellion.
In a letter dated 9th April, 1743,
The Jacobite Lairds of Gask By Thomas Laurence Kington-Oliphant, Forbes first relates the Stuart family to Æneas and his two Sons (referring to James and his sons, Charles Edward, and Henry Stuart). In doing so, Prince Charles becomes Ascanius (and also Alexis).
On the 9th of April, 1743, Gask
had a letter from Mr. Forbes, an Episcopalian clergyman,
who long afterwards became a constant correspondent
on the matter nearest the hearts of the Oliphants.
His sprightly style in later letters reminds us of the
French or Irish priest of the old school. Veteran plotter
that he is, he never signs his name to a single letter he
writes. His allusions to the King over the water are
As I am well appriz'd of your zeal for a certain
Gentleman & his neglected cause, so with great pleasure
it is, that I embrace the present opportunity to
give you some Accounts, that cannot miss to fetch you
no small Comfort, & to afford you matter of thankfulness, tho' intermixt with some degrees of Concern.
The late Illness, or rather Contagion, that has been
raging with so much violence on the other side of the
Water,hath swept away great Numbers; but great Reason
have we all to adore & thank the kind providence of
Heaven for so remarkably preserving Æneas & his
two Sons, who were all dangerously ill, but now (thanks
to God) are compleatly recovered. May our Joy &
Thankfulness rise in proportion to the Danger.
But fit it is, that our Cup of sweets be dash'd with some drops of Bitters, to prevent an Excess of rejoicing, & to heighten our Relish for Objects of greater value & real Steadiness. The worthy Nidsdale, Sr
Thomas Shirradane, (Preceptor to the two lovely
Branches) & a Gentleman of the Bed-chamber, whose
name I know not, are dead. The Death of Shirradane,
in particular, must affect Æneas much, for he was a
great & universal Scholar, without any mixture of the
Pedant, which adorn'd him with the finish'd Character
of the fine accomplish'd Gentleman. This Character of
him I had more than once from one, who was intimately
acquainted with him. My best wishes attend the
Family of Gask.