Monday, June 6, 2011     17:19

THE '45 RISING

 

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A merchant's daughter lives through a stirring period of Scots history .  Comedy. drama and shock - and a quirky, unusual view of the important people involved.

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Tuesday 17th September
Castle cannon firing 3 times woke us at dawn - the Highlanders are in the town!  Mattie in conniptions, screamed, ‘Oh, Lord save us, we’ll all be murdered in our beds!’  I said Highlandmen would never act so badly.  Pray I’m right!  Aunt gave her a sip of brandy to calm her, & took a fair gulp herself.  I wish I’d had some, I’m scared, but will never admit it, special not to Alan & Geordie.
Uncle went out for news, says Provost Stewart let them in!  Some Highlanders rushed the city gates as his coach returned from meeting with Prince Charles, & held them open for the Jacobites to march right in!  Not a soul’s hurt, thank the Lord.
Later –  about 9 o’clock, Aunt lay down on her bed, ‘Just for a wee nap.’  We heard shouting, ‘The Prince is coming!’  Aunt was still snoring; Alan, Geordie & I slipped out to watch.  They tried to forbid me, but I’d like to see the lad can tell me what I can or can’t do!  We borrowed the servants’ plaids, not to be noticed, & joined the press of folk down High Street towards old Holyrood Palace, where Prince will stay. 
Highlanders shoved path thro’ the crowd, just tramping along anyhow, all grinning & cheerful.  Pipers, playing ‘The King shall enjoy his own again’, followed them, & then Prince Charles riding a white horse.  He’s incredible handsome, about 25, well-formed, fair-skinned, in white wig, tartan coat with gold braid, lace at neck & cuffs, red velvet breeches, blue sash over shoulder.  Horsemen, mostly gentlemen in breeches, not kilts, & some in cocked hats, carried his flag behind him, a red cross on white, with the motto ‘Tandem Triumphans’ – Triumphant at last.  
The crowd were cheering, laughing & weeping, shouting, ‘Good luck to the Prince!  God bless ye, sire!’  We shouted too, not to stand out; & also carried away by emotion. 
Then came more pipers & streams more Highlanders, some well equipped but many half-naked, stunted starvelings.  Even they were bristling with weapons, scabbardless swords, pistols & muskets without locks, pitchforks, even cudgels, & their women among them, gaping at the high houses as they swaggered along, leading ponies & donkeys piled with bundles – loot, likely. 
We returned home an hour after noon, sweaty & hungry, but Joey had gone out, I cooked eggs.  As we finished them, trumpets sounded in High Street & woke Aunt Morag.  Several gentlemen & 5 heralds in tabards embroidered brilliant gold & red with the Scottish Royal Arms were at Mercat Cross not 50 paces off.  When the crowd quietened, a herald proclaimed James III, Prince Charles’ Father, as rightful King of England, Scotland & Ireland.  We could hear fine from the parlour window, as he read the Prince’s declaration; he’s come to claim his Father’s Rights, not to oppress his people, & no-one will be hurt who don’t fight him.  The mob cheered, threw bonnets high, fired a few muskets in excitement.
Geordie’s scathing about Prince Charles; ‘Fine & fancy, all frills & lace, & did ye see the powder on his face?  More like a lady than a man!’  He minced about, waving handkerchief, putting it to nose to sniff perfume, etc, amazing comical!  Alan was quiet, frowning; I fear he’d been impressed.
Aunt hasn’t realised we were out, thank the Lord.  Most exciting day of my life - so far!