GEORGE I.—FOR THE KING OVER THE WATER
‘ Here ‘s a health to the king whom the crown doth belong to ;
Confusion to those who the right king would wrong so ;
I do not here mention either old king or new king ;
But here is a health, boys—a health to the true king.’
Queen Anne died in 1714 a.d. She was the last of the
Stewarts. The last of the long line of kings who had sat
upon the throne of Scotland for nearly four hundred years.
She was succeeded, as had been arranged, by George,
Elector, or King of Hanover, who was the great-grandson
of James VI.
King George was fifty-five when he came to the
throne. He was a thorough German, and could speak no
English. Although he had known for some years that
he would one day be King of Britain, he had taken no
trouble to learn the English language, nor did he trouble
to do so after he came to the throne.
King George was allowed to take possession of the
throne quietly, but there were many people, both in
England and in Scotland, who did not give up the hope
of once more having a Stewart to reign over them.
Queen Anne’s brother James, who was called the Pre
tender, was living in France, ‘over the water.’ When
the King’s health was drunk, the Jacobites, as the people
who clung to the Stewart cause were called, would pass
their glasses over the water-jug, silently drinking, not to
the king upon the throne, but to the king over the water.
They wore white cockades or rosettes, which was the
badge of the Pretender, and here and there the people
of a town or village would pluck up courage and proclaim
King James viii. But no one paid much attention to
these doings, and it was not until George I. had been
upon the throne about a year that a rebellion broke
This rebellion is called ‘ The ‘15,’ because it took place
in 1715 a.d.
One of the chief Jacobite leaders was the Earl of Mar.
He, pretending that he was going to have a great hunting
party, invited many of the Highland chieftains to his
house. But it was only a pretence. Having gathered
the chiefs together, Mar made a speech to them, begging
them to fight for their true king. And there, in a lonely
Highland glen, the standard of the Pretender was set up,
and amid cheers and shouts James viii. was proclaimed.
As the banner fluttered out on the breeze the golden
ball fell from the top of the pole. This frightened the
Highlanders very much, for they thought it was a sign
of bad luck. But in spite of this, men flocked to the
standard, and soon Mar found himself at the head of an
army of nine or ten thousand men.
King George too gathered an army, which, under the
Duke of Argyll, marched against the Jacobites. At a
place called Sheriffmuir the two forces met Mar had far
more soldiers than Argyll, and if he had attacked at once,
he might have swept Argyll from the field. But Mar
was not a good general. Instead of attacking Argyll he
called a council of war.
‘ Shall we fight or not ? ’ he asked.
‘ Fight, fight,’ cried the Highlanders.
So Mar agreed to fight, and when the soldiers heard
FOR THE KING OVER THE WATER 389
the news they threw their bonnets in the air and shouted
The Highlanders were fiercely brave, but they needed
a leader, such a leader as Mar was not. ‘ Oh for an hour
of Dundee ! ’ cried one of the chieftains when he saw how
things were mismanaged and opportunities lost Gallant
Montrose, or cruel, proud Dundee, would have led them
to victory. But the battle of Sheriffmuir was neither a
victory nor a defeat, for while one half of Mar’s army
routed Argyll’s men, the other half ran away, and both
sides claimed the victory.
‘ There’s some say that we wan,
Some say that they wan,
Some say that nane wan at a’, man;
But one thing I’m sure,
That at Sheriffmuir
A battle there was, which I saw, man ;
And we ran, and they ran, and they ran, and we ran,
And we ran and they ran awa’, man.
Whether we ran, or they ran,
Or we wan, or they wan,
Or if there was winning at a’, man,
There ‘s no man can tell,
Sare our brave general,
Who first began running at a’, man.
For we ran, and they ran, and they ran, and we ran,
For we ran and they ran awa’, man.’
‘ If we have not gained a victory,’ said one chieftain,
‘ we ought to fight Argyll once a week till we make
But Mar did not fight. He waited, and day by day
his army became weaker, for the Highlanders, growing
disgusted at doing nothing, went home again. Day by
day Argyll’s army grew stronger.
In the Lowlands of Scotland and in the north of
England the Jacobites also rose. But they too had no
wise leader, and almost without a struggle they laid down
their arms again. Many of the chief rebels were taken
prisoner and sent to the Tower of London, and one of
them, Lord Derwentwater, was afterwards beheaded for
his share in the rising.
And all this time the Jacobites were fighting and
rebelling for a man that they had never seen, for James
remained in France. But at last he came to Scotland,
and the hearts of the Highlanders rose again.
‘Now,’ they said, ‘we will live more like soldiers.
Now we will be led to battle instead of mouldering away
But they were soon disappointed. James was no
soldier. He was handsome, cold, and grave. He never
smiled, and hardly ever spoke, so that even his followers
called him ‘ Old Mr. Melancholy.’ This was not the kind
of king that the Highlanders had expected. ‘Can he
speak at all?, they asked angrily, and although he was
brave enough, they began to think that he was a coward.
‘ Why did the King come ? ’ they asked.
‘ Was it to see his subjects butchered like dogs, with
out striking a blow for their lives and honour ? ‘
‘ If he is willing to die like a Prince, he will find ten
thousand men in Scotland ready to die with him’
James had not come with any very great hopes, and
now he was disappointed to find his army so small. He
grew more and more gloomy, and when he heard that
Argyll was marching upon him he burst into tears.
‘ Weeping,’ said a friend when he heard of it, ‘ is not the
way to conquer kingdoms.’
Weeping was not the way to conquer kingdoms, and
neither was James of the stuff of which conquerors are
made. He gave it up. He ran away to France, taking
FOR THE KING OVER THE WATER 391
with him the Earl of Mar, and leaving the men who had
risked everything in his cause leaderless and despairing.
‘King James VIII.’ had been in his country just six
When the Jacobites heard that their King had deserted
them, they were filled with grief and anger. In disgust
and despair they threw away their arms, and scattering
as quickly as they had gathered, they fled, some back to
their homes, to their wild glens and mountains, others
to the Orkney Isles, and from there to France. The
rebellion was over.
‘ It was a’ for our rightfu’ King,
We left fair Scotland’s strand.
It was a’ for our rightfu’ King
We e’er saw foreign land, my dear,
We e’er saw foreign land.
Now a’ is done that men can do,
And a’ is done in vain ;
My love and native land farewell,
For I maun cross the main, my dear,
For I maun cross the main.
The sodger frae the wars returns,
The sailor frae the main ;
But I hae parted frae my love,
Never to meet again, my dear,
Never to meet again.
When day is gane, and night is come,
And a‘ folk bound to sleep ;
I think on him that ’s far awa’,
The lee-lang night, and weep, my dear.
The lee-lang night, and weep.’
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