Page:Notes and Queries - Series 11 - Volume 11.djvu/501

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11 8. XL JUNE 26, 1915.] NOTES AND QUERIES.


491


WE must request correspondents desiring in- formation on family matters of only private interest to affix their names and addresses to their queries an order that answers may be sent to them direct.


PRINCE CHARLES EDWARD'S ENGLISH.

CAJILYLE'S * Frederick the Great,' in one of its excerpts relative to Scotlani in "the Forty -Five " (vol. iv. p. 139, original edition), has the following passage from an account by an eye-witness of the entry of the Young . Pretender into Edinburgh :

"A tall, slender young man, about five feet ten inches high; of a ruddy complexion, high-nosed, large rolling brown eyes ; long-visaged, red haired, but at that time wore a pale periwig, and he was in a highland habit (coat), over the shoulders a blue sash wrought with gold, red velvet breeches; a green velvet bonnet, with white cockade on it and gold lace. His speech seemed very like that of an Irishman, very sly."

The characteristic comment of Carlyle on this last item of information from the authority from whom he quotes is : " How did you know, my poor friend ? " Yet it raises another question which is not wholly without interest : How did Charles Edward really speak the English language ? I am not aware that there is any particular men- tion of the exact extent of his knowledge in that respect. That his familiarity with the use of the written language was limited may be learnt from the short note cited by Earl Stanhope in his history. The note was written by Charles Edward to his father Its spelling is very bad indeed, and cannot pass as that of an educated man, even when the fullest allowance is made for an age when English orthography was still comparatively unsettled. As Earl Stanhope observes, the weapon which the Prince knew how to handle so well is set down as a " sord."

According to the same noble author, Charles Edward's French orthography was as defective as his English, and he gives specimens of the Prince's letters in that language which prove the fact. Though he wrote French so indifferently, he would, of course, have a ready command of the spoken tongue. It was that with which he must have been most familiar from, his birth. But how about his English ? One would naturally suppose that in view of the great . heritage which, as all good Jacobites believed, awaited him sooner or later, care j would have been taken to instruct him in


English. The exiled Stuarts must have often heard of the sneers and sarcasm directed at " George the Elector " when, as George I. of England, he came to reign over a people whose language he could not speak at all. The second George, as we know, was only a slight improvement on his father in that respect. It may well be thought that special pains would be taken with the English education of those two Stuart princes who were successively known to their adherents as James III. and Charles III. But was it actually so ?

I am not aware that in any of the numerous books and documents which are extant con- cerning the exiled Royal family there is a special reference to this matter to which I call attention. In the absence of positive infor- mation the inquirer is thrown back upon mere conjecture as to how either the Old Pretender or the Young Pretender acquitted himself when he spoke English. Both were, no doubt, from their cradles surrounded with persons who were " native and to the manner born " as regards the use of the English language. But it is probable that at St. Germains, where the son of James II. was brought up, more French than English would be heard, notwithstanding the crowd of Jacobite exiles, English, Scotch, and Irish, who were in attendance, and it is likely that the English of the Old Pretender, even if it were fluent and correct, would be spoken with a foreign accent.

The likelihood of the Young Pretender's English showing traces of foreign influence is still greater. He was thrown more exclu- sively among companions whose colloquial intercourse would be conducted in French or Italian French for preference, as the language which was then supposed to be common to everybody who counted for anything all over the Continent. But there is yet a further question suggested by the curious remark of the contemporary observer cited by Carlyle, that which notes Charles Edward's " speech " as being " like that of an Irishman." May not the Prince's accent in speaking English indeed have smacked some- what of the Irish ? I see no improbability in such a conjecture. The Prince's tutor, Sir Thomas Sheridan, was an Irishman. English in the eighteenth century among educated men of both countries was, even as at the present day, doubtless much the same, so far as actual pronunciation went, both in England and Ireland. That subtler thing called accent was, however, a distinction more broadly marked, I should say, and considerably more emphasized in the eigh-