Why did the Stuarts fail to win?
Fr. GODFREY ANSTRUTHER, 0.P.
NORTHERN LIGHTS: the story of Lord Dervvenhvater, by Ralph Arnold (Constable 25s.).
WHEN people tire (if they ever do) of the Elizabethans and the Gunpowder Plot, there will still remain the Stuart risings of 1715 and 1745 to fire their imagination. Amid so much in the 18th century that is drab and depressing (especially for Catholics). the chivalry and daring of those ill-fated rebellions provide an inexhaustible fount of romance.
III-organised, futilely led or misled. and ignominiously defeated, they were by no means the harebrained and hopeless conspiracies that they are often made out to be.
There was so much sympathy, Catholic and Anglican, for the Stuart cause that with a competent leader and proper planning the result might have been very different. At least Scotland might have been restored to the Stuart line.
One of the most attractive
figures in the earlier rising was the young Earl of Derwentwater, James Radcliffe, and this hook tells again, in great detail and with utter fairness, the story of this wealthy Catholic Jacobite squire from his early years in the court of the exiled Stuarts at St. Germain to his untimely execution in 1716.
Last martyr ?
TT is probable that he could have saved his life by apostasy. If this could be proved it would make him the last of the English martyrs, for his case is very similar to that of his countryman Blessed Thomas Percy, Earl of Northumberland, who led the Northern Rebellion of 1569.
Mr. Arnold writes with such sensitiveness that one would assume (were it not for his own avowal on p.155) that he shared James' faith. Indeed, fairness and sympathy are the marks of this enthralling book.
Particularly valuable is the account of how the recusants managed to circumvent the penal laws and retain their estates intact.
I know a no book that explains so lucidly the law of entail and how it works in practice. For generations the Radcliffes kept their lands and their faith.
At a time when so many Catholic families apostatised they remained firm, and it was through lack of heirs male (helped by two executions) that they finally lost the title and the estates.
J AMES' brother Charles was also out in '15 and was captured. He escaped from Newgate and thereby was excluded from the general pardon. He was recaptured at sea on his way to join the insurgents in 1745 and died a traitor's death in the following year.
The book concludes with a highly entertaining narrative of the eccentric Amelia and her unconventional methods of asserting her somewhat dubious claims to the Derwentwater estates. Around these three principal figures Mr. Arnold has woven a full and very readable history of a great Catholic family. have only one complaint. This is a work of original scholarship, much of it derived from manuscript sources which are acknowledged in the author's note.
Some of these are mentioned in the text but there is none of the apparatus that one expects in such a work. This may make it more attractive-looking for the general reader (who is supposed to be frightened by footnotes), but considerably lessens its value for the student.