Saturday, May 12, 2012

Robert Louis Stevenson and Jacobites


Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me die.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

Following up on my post about Robert Louis Stevenson's defense of St. Damian, the Leper Priest, here is some background on Stevenson's great Jacobite novels: Kidnapped and The Master of Ballantrae:

Masterpiece Theater aired the BBC adaptation of Kidnapped a few years ago. Set in the period after the failure of Bonnie Prince Charlie's 1745 attempt to regain the throne, Kidnapped tells the story of David Balfour:

In an effort to claim his inheritance -- the House of Shaws, a great landed estate -- Davie finds himself trapped on a ship and headed for slavery in the New World. But thanks to the intervention of a swashbuckling highlander, Alan Breck, Davie eludes his captors and joins Breck on a wild flight through the Scottish highlands, pursued by notoriously ruthless English bounty hunters. . . .

On a quest for justice, through perilous encounters with friend and foe, Davie gradually learns about the difference between right and wrong. But there are still difficult moral decisions to be made, right up until the story's final, enthralling chapter...

First published in 1886, Kidnapped -- a gripping adventure story full of drama, poignancy, heroism and danger -- surpasses even Treasure Island as a sophisticated literary work masquerading as a ripping yarn for young readers.

This site traces the path taken by Balfour and Breck through the Scottish Highlands between 27 June and 24 August 1751.

The Master of Ballantrae also explores issues of inheritance and loyalty against the backdrop of the Jacobite uprising of 1745 and its affects on Scotland:

The Master of Ballantrae begins in 1745 and is narrated by Mackellar, the loyal, often meddling steward to the respected Durie of Durisdeer family. The family consists of the old Lord and his two sons, James (the eldest son and Master of Ballantrae) and Lord Henry. Miss Alison Graeme, a relative, and heir to a great fortune, also lives with the family.

In order to keep her wealth in the family, Alison is pledged to be the Master’s wife. The Master himself is a drinker, a gambler, and a womanizer. Although he is manipulative and insinuating, he is his father’s and Alison’s favorite. Despite Henry’s best attempts, he always falls short in the eyes of his family, his only champions Mackellar and an old servant Macconochie.

The Jacobite Rising of 1745 proves an anxious time for the Durie family. To be on the safe side they decide to support both parties: one son will go and fight for the Jacobites, while the other will stay home to keep favour with King George.

As the eldest, the Master should stay at home. He refuses, and finally demands that he and Henry toss a coin for it. The Master wins and rides out, but the family later hear he has been killed at the Battle of Culloden. Tam Macmorland, who fought alongside the Master, now falsely alleges that Henry had betrayed the Master and his men to the King.


  1. I always suspected those 2 stories were 'Jacobite' but didn't have a word for them until much later in life. Thank you Stephanie, now I'll have to get them and read them again!

  2. Hello, Mrs. Mann and Company!

    I have always found stories/songs about the Jacobite rebellion to be exciting and interesting. In fact, I have "Kidnapped" the movie on my hold account at Netflix. I look forward to viewing it.

    Unfortunately, I have noticed that much of the Jacobite legacy is currently being used by Scottish Nationalists to stir up animosity between the Scottish and the English, even though the Jacobite Rebellions were far from mere Anglo-Scottish wars.

    If anyone is interested in further thoughts on the subject, I recently posted an article about the Jacobite Rebellions here:

    Comments and opinions are most welcome.

    God Bless,
    Pearl of Tyburn