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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


272 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. The regiment remained in Ireland till 1775, when, after an absence of thirtytwo years, it embarked at Donaghadee for Scotland, where it did not long remain. The War of Independence having broken out, the corps was again destined for America. Previous to leaving Glasgow, in 1776, the soldiers were supplied with new arms and accoutrements, including broadswords and pistols, which latter were provided by the Colonel. They sailed from Greenock on the 14th of May, and were constantly engaged in the arduous struggle which ensued in the New World, until peace was concluded in 1783. Here we may mention that during this war the broadsword was laid aside, from a belief that it retarded the progress of the men while marching through the woods ; and it has never since been resumed. At the termination of the war, the regiment was removed to Nova Scotia, and did not return to Scotland till the year 1790. On the breaking out of the war with France, in 1794, it was again actively engaged in Flanders-fought at the battle of Nimeguen, and suffered in the harassing retreat to Bremen ; and when that short and unsuccessful campaign had been finished, was embarked for the West Indies, where, under the gallant Abercromby, it assisted in reconquering these islands from the French. The conduct of the Royal Highlanders at Alexandria, where the Invincibles of France were broken and defeated, became the theme of general commendation. It is worthy of remark, that the only man in all England who attempted to depreciate their fame was the late William Cobbett, who attempted, in his Register, to show that the standard surrendered to Major Stirling of the 42d, had been taken by one Lutz of another regiment. This petty hostility, on the part of the “Lion of Bottley,” proceeded from the vulgar and narrowminded prejudice which his splenetic disposition entertained towards everything appertaining to Scotland or Scotsmen; an antipathy, however, which he had the candour to renounce, after he had actually visited the country, and seen Scotland as she is. So great was the enthusiasm of the public at the success of the British arms, that the Highland Society of London resolved to present their soldier-countrymen of the 42d Regiment with a handsome mark of their approbation; but the affair of the standard led to a communication with some of the officers, which, from a mistaken notion of honour on the part of the latter, had the effect of retarding for a time the intentions of the Society.’ “At a fete given at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh, on the 13th of January 1802,” says a journal of that date, “ Major Stirling, of the 42d regiment, appeared in the full uniform of that gallant corps, He was received with loud and most enthusiastic applause, the music striking up the favourite air of ‘ The Garb of Old Gaul.’ ’’ The next ‘‘ field of glory” was the well-known campaign in Egypt. Much national feeling prevailed at this period. AS we have already noticed in the memoir of the Marquis of Huntly, the late Duke of York, being President of the Society in 1817, presented the Marquis, on behalf of the 42d Regiment, with a superb piece of plate.
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 273 The same paragraph thus briefly relates the story of the standard, which had caused so much speculation :- “ On the celebrated 21st of March, when the French Invincibles found their retreat entirely cut off by the Highlanders, two French officers advanced to Major Stirling and delivered their standard into his hands, who immediately committed it to the charge of Sergeant Sinclair. Sinclair being afterwards wounded, it was picked up in the field by a private of the Minorca corps, who carried it to his own regiment. The standard was marked with the names of the different victories of the Hero of Italy, but considerably worn. The name of the battle of Lodi was scarcely visible.” The following short account of the third monthly meeting of the Highland Society of London, on the 23d of April 1802, is from a newspaper of that period, and may not be deemed unentertaining :- “ The meeting was held at the Shakspeare Tavern, Covent Garden, Lord Macdonald, president for the year, in the chair. The company was very numerous, among whom appeared Lieut.- Colonel Dickson, and thirteen officers of the 42d Regiment, in their uniforms, wearing the gold medals presented to them by the Grand Signior. An elegant dinner was served at half-past six o’clock, during which several national airs on the pipe were performed by the pipers of the Society ; and a few pibrochs, with wonderful skill and execution, by Biichsnan, Pipe-Major of the 42d Regiment. After dinner, severalloyal and appropriate toasts were given in the Gaelic language, and many plaintive and martial songs were sung ; and the greatest harmony and conviviality prevailed during the evening.‘ On the complimentary toast to the 42d Regiment, and the two other Highland corps on the Egyptian service, having bcen given, the following Stanza, the exemptore composition of a member present, was introduced by Digoum in the characteristic air of ‘ The Garb of Old Gaul :’- ‘ The Pillar of Pompey, and famed Pyramids, Have witnessed our valour and triumphant deeds ; Th‘ Invincible standard from Frenchmen we bore, In the land of the Reys, the laurels we wore ; For such the fire of Highlanders, when brought into the field, That Bonaparte’s Invincibles must perish, or must yield ; We’ll bravely fight, like heroes bold, for honour and applause, And we defy the Consul and the world to alter oiir laws.’ ” The “Royal Highlanders ” returned to Scotland h 1802, and experienced the most gratifying reception in all the towns as they marched from England towards the capital of their own country, where they were welcomed with excess of kindness and applause. During their stay in Edinburgh at this period the regiment was presented with a new set of colours, on which were the figure of a sphinx, and the word Egypt, as emblematic memorials of their gallant services in the campaign of 1801. The interesting ceremony took place on the Castle Hill, where, the regiment having been formed, the Rev. Principal Baird delivered an appropriate prayer ; after which the Commander-in-Chief, General Vyse, presented the colours to Colonel Dickson, and addressed his “ brother soldiers of the 42d Regiment ” in a very energetic harangue. A vast concourse of spectators were present on the occasion, amongst whom were the Duke of Buccleuch, General Don, Colonels Cameron, Scott, Eaillie, Graham, and several other military officers. Gow’s band of ins€rumental music, Murphy the Irish piper, together with the vocal strains of Dignum, and other public singers, added much to the general festivity. VOL. 11. 2 N
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