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Pickle the Spy
or The Incognito of Prince Charles

The following is from Pickle the Spy by Andrew Lang:

Chapter XIII

The Last Hope

Charles asks Louis for money - Idea of employing him in 1757 - Letter from Frederick - Chances in 1759 - French friends - Murray and ‘the Pills’ - Charles at Bouillon - Madame de Pompadour - Charles on Lord George Murray - The night march to Nairn - Manifestoes - Charles will only land in England - Murray wishes to repudiate the National Debt - Choiseul’s promises - Andrew Lumisden - The marshal’s old boots - Clancarty - Internal feuds of Jacobites - Scotch and Irish quarrels - The five of diamonds - Lord Elibank’s views - The expedition starting - Routed in Quiberon Bay - New hopes - Charles will not land in Scotland or Ireland - ‘False subjects’ - Pickle waits on events - His last letter - His ardent patriotism - Still in touch with the Prince - Offers to sell a regiment of Macdonalds - Spy or colonel? - Signs his real name - ‘Alexander Macdonnell of Glengarry’ - Death of Pickle - His services recognised.

After the fatal 10th of December, 1748, Charles had entertained a bitter hatred of France, though he was always careful to blame the Ministers of Louis, not the King himself. He even refused a French pension, but this was an attitude which he could not maintain. In 1756 (July 1) he actually wrote to Louis, asking for money.

‘Monsieur Mon Frère et Cousin,’ he said. ‘With the whole of Europe I admire your virtues . . . and the benefits with which you daily load your subjects . . . Since 1744, when I left Rome, I have run many risks, encountered many perils, and endured many vicissitudes of fortune, unaided by those from whom I had the right to expect assistance, unsuccoured even by My Father. In truth such of his subjects as espoused my cause have given me many proofs of zeal, and of good will, but, since open war broke out between France and England, I have not the same support. I know not what Destiny prepares for me, but I shall put it to the touch.’

For this purpose, then, he needs money.

‘If I knew a Prince more virtuous than you, to him I would appeal.’

Whether Louis was good-natured, and gave some money for Charles to O’Hagarty and Elliot, his envoys, does not appear. {301}

In these dispositions, Charles hoped much from the French project of invading England in 1759. Though he never wholly despaired, and was soliciting Louis XVI. even in the dawn of the Revolution, we may call the invasion of 1759 his last faint chance. Hints had been thrown out of employing him in 1757. Frederick then wrote from Dresden to Mitchell, the English Ambassador at Berlin:

‘I want to let you know that yesterday a person of distinguished rank told me that a friend of his at Court, under promise of the utmost secrecy, told him this: The French intend to make a diversion in Ireland in spring. They will disembark at Cork and at Waterford. They are negotiating with the Young Pretender to put himself at the head of the Expedition, but he will do nothing, unless the Courts of Vienna and St. Petersburg guarantee the proposals made to him by France.’ {302a}

Charles, in fact, was deeply distrustful of all French offers. As we small see, he later declined to embark with any expedition for Scotland or Ireland. He would go with troops destined for London, and with no others. The year 1759 was spent in playing the game of intrigue. The French Minister, the Duc de Choiseul, was, or affected to be, friendly; friendly, too, were the old Maréchal de Belleisle and the Princesse de Ligne. Louis sent vaguely affectionate messages. In Rome, James was reconciled, and indulged in a gleam of hope. Charles’s agents were Elliot, Alexander Murray (who, I think, is usually styled ‘Campbell’) ‘Holker,’ ‘Goodwin,’ Clancarty, and Mackenzie Douglas. This man, whose real name was Mackenzie, had been a Jesuit, and is said to have acted as a spy in the Dutch service. He had also been, first the secret, and then the avowed, envoy of Louis XV. to St. Petersburg in 1755-1756. On his second visit he was accompanied by the notorious Chevalier d’Eon. {302b}

As early as January 2, 1759, Murray (I think; the letters are unsigned) assures Charles of the friendship of the French Court. The King (‘Ellis’) will lend 30,000l. On January 8, Murray writes, and a funnier letter of veiled meanings never was penned:

‘January 8.

‘I arrived on Saturday morning, I immediately call’d at Mr. Cambels, not finding him went to Mr. Mansfield and delivered in the pills you sent him . . . I met Cambel at 10 o’clock, delivered him his pills, and drank a serious bottle of Burdeaux . . . delivered a pill to Harrison who with tears of tenderness in his eyes, said from the Bottom of his heart woud do anything in his power to serve that magnanimous Bourton [the Prince], he brought me along to Mr. Budson’s, who after he had swallowed the pill came and made me a Low reverence, and desired me to assure Bourton of his respect.’

What the ‘pills’ were we can only guess, but their effects are entertaining. Charles at this time was at Bouillon, the home of his cousin, the Duc de Bouillon, and he made the President Thibault there the guardian of his child, for Miss Walkinshaw did not carry off her daughter to Paris till July 1760. {303} Murray (or Campbell) kept besieging Choiseul, Belleisle, and the Prince de Soubise with appeals in favour of Charles. We have heard how the Prince used to treat Madame de Pompadour, burning her billets unanswered. Now his mood was altered. His agent writes:

‘February 19.

‘Campbell, I send copy of Letter to Prince de Soubise.

‘I am convinced you will not delay in writting to Madame La Marquise de Pompadour and thereby show her that your politeness and gallantry are not enferiour to your other superior qualifications, notwithstanding that you have lived for these ten years past in a manner shut up from the world. It will be absolutely necessary that you inclosed it to the P. of S. [Soubise] who has given up the command of ye army in Germany in order to conduct the expedition against England.’

Charles answered in this submissive fashion:

Prince to Murray.

‘February 24.

‘Rien ne me flatterai plus que d’assurer de Bouche Mad. L. M. de P. de l’estime et de La Consideration La plus parfaitte. Vous scavez mes sentiments pour Elle, je Les ay aussy Expliqué a Le P. de Soubise, et je ne dessirres rien tant que trouver Les occasions de lui La prouver.’

He also tried to justify his past conduct to ‘Mr. Orry’ (his father), especially as regarded Lord George Murray. He declared that, in the futile attempt at a night surprise at Nairn, before Culloden, Clanranald’s regiment did encounter Cumberland’s sentries, and found that the attempt was feasible, had Lord George not retreated, contrary to his orders.

The obstinate self-will of Charles displayed itself in thwarting all arrangements attempted by the French for employing him in their projected invasion of England. They expected a diversion to be made in their favour by his adherents, but he persistently refused to be landed either in Scotland or Ireland. He was partly justified. The French (as d’Argenson admits) had no idea, even in 1745, of making him King of the Three Kingdoms. To establish him at Holyrood, or in Dublin, and so to create and perpetuate disunion in Great Britain, was their policy, as far as they had a policy. We may think that Charles was in no position to refuse any assistance, but his reply to Cardinal Tencin, ‘Point de partage; tout ou rien,’ was at least patriotic. The Dutch correspondent of the ‘Scots Magazine,’ writing on May 22, 1759, said that a French expedition for Scotland was ready, and that Charles was to sail with it, but the Prince would not lend himself to this scheme. All through the summer he had his agents, Elliot, Holker, and Clancarty, at Dunkirk, Rouen, and Boulogne. They reported on the French preparations, but, writes Charles on July 22, ‘I am not in their secret.’ He corresponded with the Duc de Choiseul and the Maréchal de Belleisle, but they confined themselves to general assurances of friendship. ‘It is impossible for the Duc de Choiseul to tell you the King’s secret, as you would not tell him yours,’ wrote an anonymous correspondent, apparently Alexander Murray.

Charles prepared manifestoes for the Press, and was urged, from England, to include certain arranged words in them, to be taken as a sign that he was actually landed. These words, of course, were to be kept a dead secret. The English Jacobites had no intention of appearing in arms to aid a French invading force, if Charles was not in the midst of it. Alexander Murray wrote suggestions for Charles’s Declaration. He was to be very strong on the Habeas Corpus Act, and Murray ruefully recalled his own long imprisonment by order of the House of Commons. He wished also to repudiate the National Debt, but Charles must not propose this. ‘A free Parliament’ must take the burden of the deed. ‘The landed interest can’t be made easy by any other method than by paying that prodigious load by a sponge.’ In a Dutch caricature of ‘Perkin’s Triumph’ (1745), Charles is represented driving in a coach over the bodies of holders of Consols. It is difficult now to believe that Repudiation was the chief aim of the honest squires who toasted ‘the King over the Water.’

In August, Murray reported that Choiseul said ‘nothing should be done except with and for the Prince.’

The manuscript letter-book of Andrew Lumisden, James’s secretary since Edgar’s death, and brother-in-law of Sir Robert Strange, the engraver, illustrates Charles’s intentions. {306} On August 12, 1759, Lumisden is in correspondence with Murray. The Prince, to Lumisden’s great delight, wants his company. Already, in 1759, Lumisden had been on secret expeditions to Paris, Germany, Austria, and Venice. Macallester informs us that Sullivan, who had been in Scotland with Charles in 1745, received a command in the French army mustering at Brest. He also tells a long dull story of Charles’s incognito in Paris at this time: how he lived over a butcher’s shop in the Rue de la Boucherie, seldom went out except at night, and was recognised at Mass by a woman who had attended Miss Walkinshaw’s daughter. Finally, the Prince went to Brest in disguise, ‘damning the Marshal’s old boots,’ the boots of the Maréchal de Belleisle, which, it seems, ‘were always stuffed full of projects.’ Barbier supposes, in his ‘Mémoires,’ that Charles was to go with Thurot, who was to attack Scotland, while Conflans invaded England. But Charles would not hear of leaving with Thurot and his tiny squadron, which committed some petty larcenies on the coast of the West Highlands.

The Prince was now warned against Clancarty of the one eye, who was bragging, and lying, and showing his letters in the taverns of Dunkirk. The old feud of Scotch and Irish Jacobites went merrily on. Macallester called Murray a card-sharper, and was himself lodged in prison on a lettre de cachet. Murray wrote, of the Irish, ‘their bulls and stupidity one can forgive, but the villainy and falsity of their hearts is unpardonable.’ Scotch and Irish bickerings, a great cause of the ruin in 1745, broke out again on the slightest gleam of hope.

Holker sent a curious account of the boats for embarking horses on the expedition. These he illustrated by a diagram on the back of the five of diamonds; a movable slip cut in the card gave an idea of the mechanism. The King of France, on August 27, sent friendly messages by Belleisle, but ‘could not be explicit.’ Elliot reported that Clancarty ‘would stick at no lyes to bring about his schemes.’ On September 5 came an anonymous warning against Murray, who ‘is not trusted by the French Ministry.’ On September 28, Laurence Oliphant of Gask sent verses in praise of Charles written by ‘Madame de Montagu,’ the lady who lent him 1,000l. years before. On October 8, Murray still reports the ‘attachment’ of Choiseul and Belleisle. He adds that neither his brother (Lord Elibank) nor any other Scotch Jacobite will stir if an invasion of Scotland is undertaken without a landing in England. On October 21 he declares that Conflans has orders to attack the English fleet lying off Havre. The sailing of Thurot is also announced: ‘I cannot comprehend the object of so small an embarkation.’ As late as October 26, Charles was still left in the dark as to the intentions of France.

Then, obviously while Charles was waiting for orders, came the fatal news in a hurried note. ‘Conflans beaten, his ship, the “Soleil Royal,” and the “Héros” stranded at Croisic. Seven ships are come in. Ten are flying at sea.’

Brave Admiral Hawke had routed Conflans in Quiberon Bay. Afflavit Deus, and scattered the fleet of France, with the last hope of Charles.

Yet hope never dies in the hearts of exiles, as is proved by the following curious letter from Murray (?). It is impossible to be certain as to the sincerity of Choiseul; the split in the Jacobite party is only too clearly indicated.

From Campbell (probably Murray).

‘December 10.

‘I delivered your letter this evening and had a long conference with both the Ministers: Mr. Choiseul assured me upon his word of honour that Your R.H. should be inform’d in time before the departure of Mr. de Gouillon, {309a} so that you might go with that embarquement if you thought proper, upon which I interrupted him and told him if they were destined for the Kingdom of Ireland that it would be to no manner of purpose, for I was certain you would not go, and that you had at all times expressly ordered me to tell them so; he continued his conversation and said you should be equally informed when the P. of S. {309b} embarked. I answered as to every project for England that you would not ballance one moment, but that you would not, nor could not in honour enter into any other project but that of going to London, and if once master of that city both Ireland and Scotland would fall of course, as that town was the fountain of all the riches; he then hinted that Guillion’s embarkment was not for Ireland, and talked of Scotland.

‘I then told him of the message you had received from my brother [Elibank] and the other leading men of the party, in that country, that not a man of consequence would stir unless the debarkment was made at the same time in England, and that every person who pretended the contrary, ought to be regarded as the enemy of your R.H. as well as of France. He then told me that in case you did not choose to go with Mr. de Guillion that it would be necessary to send one with a declaration in your name; I told him I could make no answers to that proposition, as I had never heard you talk of declarations of any sort before you was landed in England, and that you had settled all that matter, with your friends in England and Scotland. He assured me that the intentions of the King and his Ministers were unalterable as to their fixed resolution to serve you, but that they met with difficulties in regard to the transports and flat-bottomed boats which retarded the affair longer than they imagined, and that though they had already spent twenty four million every thing was not yet ready.

‘This is as near as I can recollect the purport of his conversation excepting desiring to see him before my return to Your R.H. I afterwards saw your good friend the Marcel [Belleisle] who told me that every thing that depended upon his department was ready, and said pretty near what Mr. de Choiseul had told concerning the delays of the transports, seventeen of which they yet wanted. He assured me it was the thing on earth he desired the most to see you established upon the throne of your Ancestors, and that he would with plesure give you his left arm, rather than it should not succeed: I am perfectly convinced of the sincere intention of the King and Ministers, and that nothing but the interposition of heaven can prevent your success.

‘I have not yet seen the P. of S. [Soubise] but shall to-morrow: your Cousin Bethune is greatly attached to you, and has done you great justice in destroying the villanous lyes, and aspersions of some of your false subjects [Clancarty], who by a pretended zeal for you got access to the ministers, and have had the impudence to present memorials as absurd and ridiculous, as their great quality, and immense fortunes they have lost by being attached to your family. I flatter myself you will very soon be convinced of all their infamous low schemes.’

Meanwhile, in all probability, Pickle was waiting to see how matters would fall out. If Conflans beat Hawke, and if Thurot landed in the Western Highlands, then Pickle would have rallied to the old flag, Tandem Triumphans, and welcomed gloriously His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. Then the despised warrant of a peerage would have come forth, and Lord Glengarry, I conceive, would have hurried to seize the Duke of Newcastle’s papers, many of which were of extreme personal interest to himself. But matters chanced otherwise, so Pickle wrote his last extant letter to the English Government

Add. 32,902.

‘My Lord [the Duke of Newcastle], - As I am confident your Grace will be at a lose to find out your present Corespondent, it will, I believe, suffice to recall to mind Pickle, how [who] some time ago had a conference with the young Gentilman whom honest old Vaughan brought once to Clermont to waite of yr. Grace. I find he still retains the same ardent inclination to serve his King and Country, yet, at same time, he bitterly complains that he has been neglected, and nothing done for him of what was promis’d him in the strongest terms, and which he believes had been strickly perform’d, had your most worthy Brother, his great friend and Patron, surviv’d till now. He desires me aquent your Grace that upon a late criticall juncture [November 1759] he was prepairing to take post for London to lay affaires of the greatest moment before his Majesty, but the suden blow given the enemy by Admiral Hack [Hawke] keept him back for that time. But now that he finds that they are still projecting to execute their first frustrated schem, {312} there present plan of operation differing in nothing from the first, but in what regards North Britain. He has certain information of this by verbal Expresses; writting beeing absolutely dischargd for fear of discovery. He desires me aquent your Grace of this, that you may lay the whole before His Majesty.

‘If His Majesty’s Enemys should once more faile in their favourite scheme of Envasion, this young gentilman [Glengarry] intends to make offer of raising a Regiment of as good men as ever was levied in North Britain, if he gets the Rank of full Colonell, the nomenation of his Officers, and suitable levie Mony. He can be of infinite service in either capacity mentioned in this letter [spy or Colonel], that his Majesty is graciously pleasd to employ him. He begs that this may not be delay’d to be laid before the King, as things may soon turn out very serious. He makes a point with your Grace that this be communicated to no mortall but his Majesty, and he is willing to forfite all pretensions to the Royall favour, if his services at this criticall juncture does not meritt his Majesty’s aprobation. If your Grace calls upon him at this time, as he was out of pocket upon further Chants, it will be necessary to remit him a bill payable at sight for whatever little sum is judg’d proper for the present, untill he gives proof of his attachment to the best of Sovereigns, and of his reale zeale for the service of his King and Country, against a most treacherous and perfidious Enemy. I have now done my duty, my Lord, reffering the whole manadgement to your Grace, and I beg youl pardon the freedom I have taken as I have the honour to remain at all times

‘My Lord, your Grace’s Most obedient and most oblidged humble Servt.

‘PICKLE,

‘February 19, 1760.

‘Mack [make] mention of Pickle. His Majesty will remember Mr. Pelham did, upon former affairs of great consequence.

‘Direction - To Alexander Mackdonell of Glengary by Foraugustus [Fort Augustus].’

Pickle, as he remarks in one of his artless letters, ‘is not of a suspicious temper, but judges of others’ candour by his own.’ He now carries this honourable freedom so far as to give his own noble name and address. Habemus confitentem reum. Persons more suspicious and less candid will believe that Pickle, in November 1759, was standing to win on both colours. His readiness to sell a regiment of Macdonnells to fight for King George is very worthy of a Highland chief of Pickle’s kind.

On December 23, 1761, Alastair Macdonnell of Glengarry died, and Pickle died with him. He had practically ceased to be useful; the world was anticipating Burns’s advice:

‘Adore the rising sun,
And leave a man undone
 To his fate!’

We have unmasked a character of a kind never popular. Yet, in the government of the world, Pickle served England well. But for him there might have been another highland rising, and more fire and bloodshed. But for him the Royal Family might have perished in a nocturnal brawl. Only one man, Archibald Cameron, died through Pickle’s treasons. The Prince with whom he drank, and whom he betrayed, had become hopeless and worthless. The world knows little of its greatest benefactors, and Pickle did good by stealth. Now his shade may or may not ‘blush to find it fame,’ and to be placed above Murray of Broughton, beside Menteith and Assynt, legendary Ganelons of Scotland.

Chapter XIV - Conclusion - Footnotes


   
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