Lady Cromartie asked me to join a shooting party she and Major Blunt were giving, to meet Prince Arthur of Connaught.
I arrived one evening in wild winter weather. There had been a heavy snowstorm, and the sky looked as if there was considerably more to come. I found all the other guests had already arrived, and we were a very merry party. It was Prince Arthur’s first “shoot” in the far North, and his first experience of what Scotland could provide in the way of autumn weather, and he was glad to avail himself of a thick woolen sweater of mine, which I was proud to present to him. He was perfectly charming to us all, and there was, owing to his simplicity, no sense of stiffness introduced into our party. That evening, after dinner, he was strolling round the room, looking at the pictures, and he paused opposite a framed letter, written by Prince Charles Edward during the ’45 to the Lord Cromartie of that time, who was his earnest supporter.
“Why!” exclaimed Prince Arthur, “that letter is written by ‘The Pretender,’ isn’t it?”
There was no answer. A thrill of horror ran through the breasts of the ardent Jacobites present. Dead silence reigned.
Then I could stand it no longer. “Please, sir,” I said, “we all call him Prince Charles Edward Stuart.”
Prince Arthur turned round laughingly. “I beg his pardon and all of yours,” he exclaimed in the most charming manner, and the hearts of all the outraged Jacobites warmed to him at once.
I was just about to creep into bed, very late that night, and very tired after my long, cold journey in a desperately sluggish train, when Lady Cromartie peeped in at my door. Her wonderful dark eyes were ablaze, and I knew at once she had something psychic to tell me. Her eyes looked like nothing else in the world but her eyes, when she is on the track of a ghost, or one of her “other side” experiences.
“I have just seen Prince Charles Edward,” she announced.
I took her firmly by the arm. Prince Charles Edward means a very great deal to me, and I don’t let anything pass me by that concerns his beloved memory.
“Tell me quick. Where did you see him?” I asked.
“I was just going to get into bed when I saw him standing looking at me, at the far end of the room. He was smiling, and as I stared back at him he slowly crossed the floor, his smiling face always turned to me, and vanished through the wall,” was Lady Cromartie’s answer.
Then I told her of a certain feeling I had experienced earlier in the evening. At the moment when our Jacobite hearts were stung to deep, though fleeting resentment, we had formed a thought form, powerful enough to reach the spirit of Bonny Prince Charlie on “the other side.” Our spirits had called on him, and he had heard and responded. Why not? If we believe in the immortality of the soul, the soul of Prince Charles Edward surely lives. Where? On the Astral plane, where the souls of all must go to divest themselves of the lower passions of earth, and the veil between the Physical plane and the Astral plane is wearing very thin in these days.
For many of us there are rents through which we are permitted to see the old friends who are not lost but gone before, and who await us in a sphere where we in turn will await the coming of those who follow after. Indeed, the time does not now seem to be so far distant when so-called death will be pushed one stage further back, and the transference of the soul from earth to the Astral plane will no longer be treated as severance. What then will be termed the severance we now call death? It will be the passing of the cleansed soul from the Astral plane to the Heaven world, for a period of blissful rest before the life urge compels the reincarnating ego to take on once more the veil of flesh, in a transient human world.
I doubt if it is possible for an English person to comprehend what it means to be a Jacobite. One is born a Jacobite or one is not. I was born a Jacobite, and I never lose my passionate love and regret for the sufferings and sorrows of Prince Charles Edward. No female figure in the past attracts me so much as does Flora MacDonald. Had I lived during the ’45 I would have worn the white cockade, and parted with my last “shift” for the love of Bonny Prince Charlie. All very ridiculous, many may say, but there it is. That is what it means to be born a Jacobite.
My grandfather was an ardent Jacobite, and consorted largely with old Jacobite families. The Sobieski Stuarts often made their home with him. Grand looking men of striking physique and good looks. Robert Chambers used to tell a story of the ghost Piper of Fingask; the property of a fine old Jacobite, Sir Peter Murray Threipland:
“One night, whilst my grandfather was visiting Sir Peter, they were sitting at supper in the old dining hall. The two old sisters of Sir Peter, Eliza and Jessie, were present. Suddenly the faint strain of the pipes was heard in the distance, surely no uncommon sound in Scotland, where every Laird has his own piper to play round the dining-table, yet a sudden silence fell upon the little party of four. All ears were listening intently, and straining eyes were blank to all but the evidence of hearing. The noise grew louder, the piper seemed to be mounting the stone staircase, yet his brogues made no sound as he ascended.
“Sir Peter dropped his head down into his arms folded upon the table. He sought to hide the fear in his old eyes. The women sat as if chiseled out of granite, gray to the lips. The piper of Fingask had come for one of them. Which? Now the piper of death was drawing very near, the skirl of his pipes had nearly reached the door. In another moment, with a full blast of triumph that beat about their ears as it surged into the hall, he had passed, and had begun his ascent to the ramparts. The skirl was dying away into a wail. Miss Eliza spoke: ‘He’s come for you, Jessie.’ There was no response. The piper of Fingask was playing a ‘Last Lament’ now, as he swung round the ramparts.
“True enough, he had come for Miss Jessie, and very shortly after she obeyed the call.”
To this day there are men and women who never forget to offer up their passionate regret for Prince Charles before they sleep. I know of one old Scottish house where his memory is an ever-present, everliving thing. The shadowy old room is consecrated to him. On the walls hang portraits of him, and trophies of the ’15 and the ’45 stand round in glass cases. On one table lies a worn, white cockade, yellow with age, and a lock of fair hair clasped by a band of blackened pearls. In a tall slender glass there is always, in summer time, a single white rose.
Above is the portrait of the idol of the present house, who gave in the past of their all in life and treasure, for the cause they hold so sacred, so dear. I cannot look upon that gay, careless, handsome face without the tears rising to my eyes. His eyes smile into mine. Involuntarily I bend before him. What was the power in you, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, that drew from countless women and men that wild unswerving devotion? Which made light of terrible hardships, which followed you faithfully through glen and corrie? What is that power which you still exert over those to whom your name is but a memory, but who still, when they think on you or look upon your pictured face, cry silently in their hearts for the lost House of Stuart?” Oh! waes me for Prince Charlie!”
One must be Scotch to understand that the Union did nothing to unite England and Scotland. To the Scottish plowman the Englishman is still a foreigner, whom he dislikes. Scotch and English servants do not work well in the same house. To us, Mary Queen of Scots lived “only the other day.” When the House of Stuart passed from us our history ended.
Our old houses are full of ghosts, the atmosphere is saturated with the tragic history of the past, the very skies seem to brood in melancholy over the soil, where so many wild bloody scenes were enacted. To the Psychic, Scotland is a land not yet emerged from the dour savagery of the past.
Ghosts I Have Seen: And Other Psychic Experiences, Violet Tweedale, 1917
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: This is the day after the anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, which dashed Jacobite hopes and forced Prince Charles Edward Stuart to flee with a price on his head until Flora McDonald helped him escape to France.
There was an odd and chilling premonition of the Jacobite defeat the night before Culloden. King George, with two courtiers, was standing on the battlements of Windsor castle. They saw a cloud “resembling a thistle, upside down, with the dim, shadowy figure of a Scothman, with targe and claymore, falling backwards.”
The Folk-lore Journal, Vol. 6, 1888
Putting on a Relentlessly Informative hat, here is some biographical detail about Lady Cromartie.
This lady has several claims to distinction. She is a countess in her own right, one of the largest women landowners in the three kingdoms, and is well known in the literary world as a writer of romance, articles on Highland life, and stories of historical interest. Lady Cromartie is a daughter of the second Earl of Cromartie, and on his death, in 1893, succeeded to the vast ; estates of the Mackenzies. In 1895, the title, which had been in abeyance, was called out in her favour by the late Queen Victoria. Her ladyship, who was born in 1878, and whose only sister is that many-sided and unconventional woman. Lady Constance Stewart-Richardson, began composing poetic stories when she was still a girl, and “The End of the Song”— a volume published by her a few years ago — enjoyed much popularity among lovers of Highland lore. Like so many modern women, Lady Cromartie is deeply interested in psychic matters, and her one-act drama, “The Finding of the Sword,” which was produced at the Playhouse in 1907, has a strong psychic interest. In 1899, the Countess married Major Edward Blunt (now Blunt-Mackenzie), and has three children.
Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, Volume VII, ND
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.