Thursday, 24 April 2014

A Letter to Mary Grant of the "Inverness Courant".

Dear Mary Grant, I hope that you are well and that the Courant is flourishing. From the other journals that we have seen this last while and the reports we have of newspapers from further afield, I have no doubt that you and the Inverness Courant are in very good health, and have acquired a reputation far beyond your humble beginnings, and in fact beyond your wildest dreams. You have obviously obtained our reports so far on the Jacobite insurrection, and we see that you have been making these reports available to other titles, for a goodly price, I hope. Somehow we obtained copies of the following newspapers, which all carry our reports. These are the Edinburgh Evening Courant, the London Daily Courant and the Belfast News Letter. We have reliable information that the London Gazette has been reporting present events in Scotland. Mary, we three have acquired a little fame, and perhaps we may be written into the margins of history. These last six weeks have amazed us, in the things we have seen, but we were also forced to witness violence and barbarity beyond anything we could have imagined. I will return to these matters later. At this point I should like to mention SIR JOHN MURRAY OF BROUGHTON who knew the Prince in Rome and Paris and who travelled between France and Britain informing and cajoling Jacobite sympathisers to prepare for the return of the Stuarts. Murray is Secretary to the Prince, who has a high regard for him. On hearing that the Prince had landed at Arisaig, Murray immediately went to join him. Lord Elcho, who despises 'Secretary Murray', informed us of the following. Murray has great influence over most of the Prince's affairs including the administration of his finances and all his private correspondence. Murray of Broughton, said Elcho, wanted to take over 'military affairs' and become the Prince's chief advisor in such matters. But Lord George Murray had been appointed Lieutenant-General of the army by Charles and it was he who was in command of the Jacobite army. Lord George would not take orders from Secretary Murray, who had never been a soldier. As far back as Perth, Secretary Murray was bad-mouthing Lord George, telling the Prince that Lord George had taken the oath of allegiance to King George, and that he was a traitor and ideally placed to betray the Cause. His hope was that the Duke of Perth would be put in command, someone that Secretary Murray knew could be manipulated to do the Secretary's bidding. For ever after, this was to sour relations between Lord George Murray and the Prince, who always suspected his motives, despite Murray being held in the highest regard by the whole Army. It didn't help that Lord George was a Protestant (Scottish Episcopalian) and that the Duke of Perth was Catholic. Murray like Lord Elcho were not part of the Catholic cabal which surrounded the Prince. Edinburgh fell to the Jacobites without a shot being fired, and in a manner which was pure farce (covered in a recent report to you). As the Prince and his retinue proceeded along the streets to Holyrood Palace, there was much cheering, but it did not ring true. The citizens were not happy to see the Prince and his army in Edinburgh, and in truth they were afraid. A sceptical eyewitness wrote that "The populace of a great city who huzza for anything that brings them together, will huzza for sure." Ladies in the windows became hoarse with their cheering, as they waved their white handkerchiefs in honour of the day. Many others showed their dislike by a stubborn silence. We have dealt with the battle at Prestonpans in a recent report to you, but there are a few comments I would like to add concerning that affair. As ingenus of warfare, it must be said that we found the sights and sounds of battle overwhelming. You may read about a battle, but until you witness the violence and barbarity you can not imagine how dreadful were the scenes we witnessed. The English soldiers were terrified of the Highlanders. They threw away there weapons with the aim of escaping, but in doing so were cut down or captured by the swift of foot Highlanders. These were the same English soldiers who had been at Dettingen and Fontenoy and until this battle were justly reckoned to be among the best in Europe. The English army was thrown into confusion from the very outset and could not easily escape the ditches and enclosures in which they were trapped. The carnage that ensued was terrible. This must give the government in London something to think about. They will now treat the Jacobite Army with more respect, and not as a rabble of untrained yokels from the wild north of the kingdom.

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