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A History of the Four Georges, Volume I

On Bagshot Heath or Finchley Common


the windows of houses whose

inmates refused to illuminate in honor of the Chevalier were broken; William the Third was burned in effigy in various parts of London, and in many towns throughout the country. So serious at one period did the revulsion of Jacobite feeling appear to be, that it was thought necessary to form a camp in Hyde Park, and to bring together a large body of troops there. The Life Guards and Horse Grenadiers, three battalions of the Foot Guards, the Duke of Argyll's regiment, and several pieces of cannon were established in the camp. By a curious coincidence the troops were reviewed by King George, the Prince of Wales, and the Duke of Marlborough, on the 25th of August, 1715, the very day on which, as we shall presently see, the Highland clans set up the standard of the Stuarts at Braemar, in Scotland. The camp had a certain amount of practical advantage in it, independently of its supposed political necessity--it made Hyde Park safe at night. Before the camp was established, and after it was broken up, the Park appears to {122} have been little better than Bagshot Heath or Hounslow Heath. It was the favorite parade-ground of highway robbers and murderers. The soldiers themselves were occasionally suspected of playing the part of highwaymen. "A man in those days," says Scott, "might have all the external appearance of a gentleman, and yet turn out to be a highwayman;" and "the profession of the polite and accomplished adventurer who nicked you out of your money at White's, or bowled
you out of it at Marylebone, was often united with that of the professed ruffian who, on Bagshot Heath or Finchley Common, commanded his brother beau to stand and deliver." "Robbers--a fertile and alarming theme--filled up every vacancy, and the names of the Golden Farmer, the Flying Highwayman, Jack Needham, and other Beggars' Opera heroes, were familiar in our mouths as household words." The revulsion of Jacobite feeling actually showed itself sometimes among the soldiers in the camp. Accounts published at the time tell us of men having been flogged and shot for wearing Jacobite emblems in their caps. Perhaps in mentioning this Hyde Park camp it may not be inappropriate to notice the fact that General Macartney, who had figured in a terrible tragedy in the Park two or three years before, returned to England, and obtained the favor of George by bringing over six thousand soldiers from Holland to assist the King. General Macartney was the man who had acted as second to Lord Mohun in the fatal duel in Hyde Park on the 15th of November, 1712, when both Mohun and the Duke of Hamilton were killed. Macartney escaped to Holland, and was charged by the Duke of Hamilton's second with having stabbed the Duke through the heart while Colonel Hamilton was endeavoring to raise him from the ground. Macartney came back and took his trial, but was only found guilty of manslaughter--that is to say, found guilty of having taken part in the duel, and escaped without punishment. Probably Macartney, and Hamilton, and Mohun, and the Duke are best remembered in our time because of the {123} effect which that fatal meeting had upon the fortunes of Beatrix Esmond.


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