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A History of the Four Georges, Volume I

The clans were got together at Braemar


[Sidenote: 1715--John Erskine of Mar]

The insurrection had already broken out in Scotland. John Erskine, eleventh Earl of Mar, set himself up as lieutenant-general in the cause of the Chevalier. Lord Mar was a man of much courage and some capacity. He had held high office under Queen Anne. One of the biographers of that period describes Mar as a devoted adherent of the Stuarts. His career is indeed a fair illustration of the sort of thing which then sometimes passed for devoted adherence to a cause. When King George reached England he dismissed Mar from office, suspecting him of sympathy with the Jacobite movement. Mar had expected something of the kind, and had written an obsequious and a grovelling letter to George, in which he spoke of the king's "happy accession," professed unbounded devotion to the house of Hanover, and promised that "You shall ever find in me as faithful a subject as ever any king had." The new king, however, declined to trust to the faithfulness of this subject; and a year after the faithful subject had returned to his Jacobite convictions, and was gathering the Highland clans in James Stuart's name.

The clans were got together at Braemar. The white cockade was mounted there by clan after clan, the Macintoshes being the first to display it as the emblem of the Stuart cause. Inverness was seized. King James was proclaimed at several places, notably at Dundee, by Graham, the brother of "conquering Graham," Bonnie Dundee, the fearless, cruel, clever Claverhouse who fell at Killiecrankie. Perth was secured. The force under Mar's leadership grow greater every day. He had begun with a handful of men. He had now a little army. He had set up his standard almost at hap-hazard at Braemar, and now nearly all the country north of the Tay was in the hands of the Jacobites.

The Duke of Argyll was put in command of the royal forces, and arrived in Scotland in the middle of September 1716. He hastened to the camp, which had been got {124} together somehow at Stirling. He came there almost literally alone. He brought no soldiers with him. He found few soldiers there to receive him. Under his command he had altogether about a thousand foot and half as many dragoons, the latter consisting in great measure of the famous and excellent Scots Grays. His prospect looked indeed very doubtful. He could expect little or no assistance from his own clan. They had work enough to do in guarding against a possible attack from some of the followers of Lord Mar. Glasgow, Dumfries, and other towns were likewise in imminent danger from some of the Highland clans, and were kept in a continual agony of apprehension. It seemed likely enough that Argyll might soon be surrounded at Stirling. If Mar had only made a forward movement it is impossible to say what degree of success he might not have accomplished. It seems almost marvellous, when we look back and survey the state of things, to see what a miserable force the Government had to rely upon. In the whole country they had only about eight thousand men. They had more men abroad than at home, and in the critical condition of things which still prevailed upon the Continent, it did not seem clear that they could, except in the very last extremity, bring home many of the men whom they kept abroad. Of that little force of eight thousand soldiers they did not venture to send a considerable proportion up to the North. They had, perhaps, good reason. They did not know yet where the serious blow was to be struck for the Stuart cause. Many of George's counsellors still looked upon the movement in Scotland as something merely in the nature of a feint. They believed that the real blow would yet be struck by Ormond in the West of England.


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