A recent acquisition: ‘A dramatic dialogue between the King of France and the Pretender’

Earlier this year we bought a 12-page pamphlet containing the poem ‘A dramatic dialogue between the King of France and the Pretender’ (Shelfmark: RB.m.701). The work was printed in London in 1746. Interestingly, it is not recorded in David F. Foxon’s ‘English verse, 1701-1750 a catalogue of separately printed poems with notes on contemporary collected editions’ (London: Cambridge University Press, 1975).

Title page

Title page

The poem is an imaginative recreation of a conversation between between Louis XV and Charles Edward Stuart, known as the Young Pretender, following events at the Battle of Culloden on 16 April 1746. It is signed only ‘By a young gentleman of Oxford’. The poem is composed in blank, or unrhymed, verse.

While the King refers to the Duke of Cumberland as ‘that beardless, unexperienc’d Boy’, the Pretender recounts the abilities of the Duke in battle:

‘But, soon as e’er the sad and dreadful Name
Of Cumberland was whisper’d through the Lines,
Each Face grew pale, a sudden Panick seiz’d
Each Scottish Heart, as if some mighty Power
With him had join’d, to disappoint our Hopes.’

The Pretender goes on to relate his troops’ valiant attempts before they ‘fell a victim to their dreadful Duke’, and Charles himself was forced ‘reluctant, from the bloody Field’.

What makes our acquisition even more important is that this is the only recorded copy. This new addition supplements the Library’s rich holdings of printed material relating to Jacobites and Jacobitism.

Further reading: