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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


270 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. cattle. The ranks were filled by persons of the utmost respectability, and were open to all who chose to enrol themselves ; but the officers were selected from among those who were known or supposed to be zealous in favour of the Hanoverian succession. In 1’140 these bands were formed into a regular regiment of the line, with the addition of four new companies. The uniform at that period consisted of a scarlet jacket and vest, with “ buff facings and white lace, tartan plaid of twelve yards plaided round the body, the upper part being fixed on the left shoulder, ready to be thrown loose and wrapped over both shoulders and firelock in rainy weather. These were called belted plaids, from being kept tight to the body by a belt of strong thick leather.” The arms were a musket, a bayonet, and a large basket-hilted sword, which were furnished by Government ; but the men were at liberty to carry pistols and dirks, if they chose to provide them for themselves, In 1743 the regiment was ordered for England, a circumstance which excited considerable alarm in the minds of the men, who, notwithstanding the late change, still considered that their services were limited to Scotland ; but they were flattered by the assurance that they were merely to proceed to London, for the purpose of being reviewed by the King, who had never seen a Highland regiment. An interesting yet melancholy occurrence is connected with the history of the “Black Watch” at this period. Having reached London about the end of April, the regiment was at once an object of curiosity and of terror to the Cockneys. Immense crowds resorted to their quarters, and amongst others many individuals disaffected to the Government. The latter tampered with the feelings of the Highlanders, by representing the pretext of their having been ordered to London for the gratification of his Majesty as a mere hoax, as the King had actually set out for Hanover previous to their arrival;’ and that they were entrapped for the purpose of being sent out to the American plantations- the Botany Bay of that period. Indignant at the breach of faith and degradation which seemed intended for them, the Highlanders began to meditate escaping to their own country. Accordingly, the night immediately following the review which took place on the 14th of May, the men, unknown to their officers, assembled on a common near Highgate, and ccjmmenced their march for Scotland. No sooner had their flight been discovered than troops and messengers were despatched in all directions. Nothing but the desertion of the Highlanders was talked of in London ; but so rapid and secret had been their movements, that no trace of them could be discovered till the 19th of the month. They ’ This was true; but two of the Highlanders, despatched to London prior to the regiment leaving Scotland, had been introduced to the King ; and, in the great gallery of St. James’s performed the broadsword and other exercises before his Majesty, the Duke of Cumberland, Marshal Wade, and a number of general officers. The audience were highly gratified, and the Highlandem were rewarded with a gratuity of one guinea each, which they “presented to the popter at the Palace gate as they went out.”*
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 2 i l were then as far as Northampton, and had entered a place called Lady ?Vood, between Brigstock and Deanthorp, about four miles from Ormdale. Here they were surrounded by a strong force under General Blakenay, and after a good deal of negotiation induced to surrender. They were then brought back to London, and a court-martial having been held, three of them suffered capital punishment, and two hundred were ordered to serve in different corps abroad. We gladly turn from this unfortunate incident to a brighter page in the annals of the regiment. Order having been speedily restored, the corps embarked for Flanders, where it became distinguished no less for exemplary behaviour in quarters than for gallantry in the field. By the uncommon daring at Fontenoy, the soldiers showed that the late desertion had originated in other motives than the fear of a foreign enemy. In the words of one of the prisoners on the trial-“ They were willing to fight the French and Spaniards, but not to go like rogues to the plantations.” Many interesting anecdotes are told of the ‘‘ Black Watch” at this their first engagement, where, after a day of hard and continued fighting, it had the honour of being ordered to cover the retreat of the Allies, as the “only regiment that could be kept to their duty’-a task which was performed with unprecedented success in the teeth of a victorious enemy. It is not our intention to enter into a minute detail of the subsequent services of the “gallant Forty-twa.” In 1745, on the breaking out of the Rebellion of that period, the regiment was recalled from Flanders, but fortunately had no occasion to act offensively against the partisans of the house of Stuart. After a variety of services in the three kingdoms, it embarked for North America in 1756, and shared in all the harassing and sanguinary operations of the first American war, At the siege of Ticonderago the exertions of the corps, although unsuccessful, were distinguished by the most desperate valour ; and, as a testimony of his Majesty’s satisfaction and approbation, the title of Royal was conferred upon the regiment. The Royal Highlanders returned to Ireland in 1768. While stationed there, some slight alterations were made in the regimental dress. On marching to Dublin the year following, the men received white cloth waistcoats, instead of their old red ones j and were supplied by the Colonel (General Lord John Murray) with white goat-skin purses, as an improvement upon those of badgerskin, which they formerly wore. About this time also it is said the words of “The Garb of Old Gaul,” originally in Gaelic, were composed by some one of the regiment; but though the authorship has been attributed to three individuals, it has never been satisfactorily ascertained. The words were set to music, of his own composition, by Major Reid,’ who was one of the most accomplished flute-players of the age. Major Reid left at his death, in 1806, t52,000 (subject to the liferent of his daughter) to the Univeraity of Edinburgh, for the purpose of instituting a Professorship of Muaic in the College. The h t Professor, Mr. John Thomson, aon of Dr. Andrew Thomson, was appointed in 1839, but only served about a year. He was succeeded by S i E R Bishop. .
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