The Jacobites used language in a way that enabled them to communicate with each other while avoiding detection by the authorities. Because Jacobite allegiances could not be stated openly, language, both in spoken and written form, had to be used carefully, with messages concealed and encoded. Layers of meaning were embedded in words, just as they were incorporated into symbols and images. Slogans, mottoes, ciphers and acronyms could encapsulate powerful, subversive messages in just a few succinct words or letters, such as ABC for A Blessed Change or QRS for Quickly Return Stuart. In contrast to the publicly recited and lengthy oaths that suspected ‘rebels’ had to swear to prove their allegiance to the crown, a few words said in the right time and place could speak volumes to those who knew the right codes. This use of an often deliberately misleading and private language reinforced the bonds of allegiance between those loyal to the House of Stuart.
Mottoes often made use of Latin words and phrases, such as Fiat (‘may it be’) and Audentior Ibo (‘I will go more boldly’), reflecting the social status and level of education of many Jacobite supporters. Classical texts provided a rich store of appropriate sentiments: the Roman poet Virgil’s Aeneid was particularly popular among Jacobites, with its theme of heroes returning from unjust exile to claim their rightful inheritance. Such references were outwardly a matter of innocuous literary discussion between members of the classically educated elite, with no political implications; but for those who shared Jacobite sympathies their true significance would be powerfully apparent.
Nevertheless more overtly anti-Government phrases were also used, as in the Jacobite slogan Down with the Rump. This is thought to refer to the Rump Parliament of the 1640s, held responsible for the execution of King Charles I. In this sense, the phrase was quite obviously meant as an unambiguous statement of anti-Hanoverian feeling, and an assertion of the legitimacy of the Stuart line.