Prince Charles Edward and the Forty-five. By Winifred Duke. (Robert Hale, 10s. 6d.) Reviewed by PETER F. ANSON
0 re-tell an old, old story in such a
manner as to be able to grip the attention of a reader who is already familiar with every incident of it-to such a degree that he had vowed never to look at any more books about the hero of this tragic incident in Scottish history-is a great achievement. I will confess that I had no intention of doing more than dip into this book when asked to review it-but having read Sir Hugh Walpole's foreword, in which he remarks that this is " a true, serious and honest history, the truest and most honest history (of Prince Charles Edward) that has yet appeared," I went on to the first chapter. All sense of time was forgotten, and it was not until I had reached the last page that I laid down the book.
As Sir Hugh Walpole points out, this book " is so fair and so wise that partisans may be offended. . ." " What a relief it is after the sentimental dithyrambs, the exaggerated colours, the religious advocacy of other histories!" lie emphasises the point that Miss Duke depicts Prince Charles Edward as " little more than a boy," who " nearly brought off one of the most romantic adventures in the world's history." She is not afraid to scold him for his sulkiness and bad manners, yet (to quote Sir Hugh once more) " I think there was an excuse for the sulks . . . so near and so far! And to lose it all with the turn of the wheel."
Miss Duke writes as a scholar who has an intimate knowledge of her subject. One of the best features of this book is the frequent quotation of contemporary documents, which enable the reader to form an impartial idea of how the Forty-five rising appeared to both sides.
There is a good index, but it would have been much easier to follow the Prince's wanderings in the Highlands after the Battle of Culloden if a map had been included. This is not easy, even for anybody who knows the district.