The Stuart Papers in the
possession of the Crown, to which his late Majesty was graciously pleased to
allow access for the use of the present Work, and which reach as far back as
the Revolution of 1688, consist of a large mass of important documents
illustrative of the efforts of James the Second, and of his son and
grandson, to recover the crown which the first had lost by his own
obstinacy, or the treachery of his advisers; but as the events of the
Rebellion of 1745 formed the only subject of inquiry, the commencement of
the investigation was limited to the year 1740, and was carried down to the
close of the year 1755, in which period the principal events preceding the
Rebellion, those of the Rebellion itself, and the occurrences which
followed, are embraced. It is believed that the documents examined,
amounting to about 15,000 unedited pieces, convey all the information
required to complete the history of one of the most remarkable epochs in the
British annals. Copious selections have been made from these papers for the
present Work, and many entire documents have been copied, all of which have
been either partly incorporated with the Work itself, or given in an
Appendix. From the information which these Papers afford, the Publishers
have no hesitation in stating, that this Work contains the most complete and
authentic history yet published of the events of 1745. To give some idea of
the historical importance of these documents, which, for the first time,
meet the public eye, or are referred to in the present Work, the following
general enumeration may suffice:—
1. Eighty-one letters and memorandums written by Charles Edward.
2. Seventy letters of his father, the Chevalier de St. George.
3. Two of Cardinal York.
4. Six of Lochiel.
5. Eleven of old and young Glengary.
6. Three of Lochgary.
7. Eight of Lord Marischal.
8. Three of Robertson of Strovvan.
9. Eight of Drummond of Bochaldy.
10. Six of Lord George Murray.
11. Two of Lord John Drummond.
12. Three of Lord Strathallan.
13. Three of Dr. Cameron, Lochiel’s brother.
14. Three of Mr. John Graham.
In the selection which has been made are also letters of Lord and Lady
Balmerino; the Duchess of Perth; Lords Clancarty, Ogilvy, Nairne, and Elcho;
Macdonald of Clanranald; Gordon of Glenbucket; Sir Hector Maclean; Sir John
Wedderburn; Oliphant of Gask; and James Drummond, or Macgregor, the son of
Rob Roy, &c. &c. The correspondence throws considerable light on several
matters hitherto little understood or imperfectly known. The embezzlement of
the money left by the Prince under the charge of Macpherson of Cluny is
referred to, and the conduct of the persons who appear to have appropriated
it to their own use is freely animadverted on. The correspondence likewise
embraces two most interesting letters from the Chevalier to the Prince on
the subject of his marriage, and on the promotion of Prince Henry to the
dignity of Cardinal.
Besides the correspondence, the selection comprehends a report of Gordon the
Jesuit, on the state of affairs in Scotland in 1745; A treaty entered into
at Fountainebleau between the King of France and the Chevalier after the
battle of Prestonpans; Instructions from the King of France to Lord John
Drummond on the conduct of the expedition intrusted to him; Note from Lord
George Murray to the Prince, resigning his command after the battle of
Culloden, with his reasons for that step; Notice from the Prince to the
Chiefs of the Clans after said battle; List of Charges drawn up by the
Prince against Macdonald of Barisdale; State of allowances granted by the
French Government to the Highland officers; Memoir presented by the Prince
to the King of France on his return from Scotland; Commission by Charles to
treat for a marriage with the Princess of Hesse Darmstadt; Charles’s
accounts with Waters, his banker at Paris; Account of the Moidart family,
presented to the Chevalier de St. George; A curious and interesting Memoir
presented to the Prince in 1755 by a deputation of gentlemen, in relation to
his conduct during the extraordinary incognito he preserved for several
years, with the Prince’s answer; Address by the Chevalier de St. George to
the universities of Oxford and Cambridge; Memorandum by the Prince, in which
he refers to his visit to England in 1750, &c. &c.
This partial enumeration will serve to convey some idea of the extent of the
researches which have been made into this great repository of materials for
history, and also of the value of the acquisitions which have been made for
the present Work; but it is only from the documents themselves, and the new
light which they shed on one of the most interesting and memorable episodes
in British history, that their real importance can be fully estimated.
In offering to the public the following History
of the Highlands and Highland Clans, which has so long occupied my
attention, I think it right to state, without reserve, that the Work makes
no pretensions whatever to original discovery, or novel speculation. Nothing
is more easy than to hazard conjectures, invent theories, construct
plausible hypotheses, and indulge in shadowy generalizations. In the regions
of doubt and obscurity, there is always ample scope for the exercise of that
barren ingenuity, which prefers the fanciful to the certain, and aims at the
praise of originality by exciting surprise rather than producing conviction.
My object has throughout been of a humbler, though, as I conceive, of a much
more useful kind. I have sought to embrace, in this Work, the different
branches of the subject of which it treats, and to render it a repertory of
general information respecting all that relates to the Highlands of Scotland
rather than a collection of critical disquisitions on disputed questions of
history or tradition. How far I have succeeded in this object, or whether I
have succeeded at all, is another and very different question, as to which
the public alone are entitled to decide; and I am fully aware that, from
their decision, whatever it may be, there lies no appeal. In any event,
however, I shall console myself with the reflection that I have done
somewhat to facilitate the labours of those who may come after me, by
collecting and arranging a body of materials, the importance of which will
be best appreciated by those who are the most intimately conversant with the
In reference to the History of the Clans, I have to acknowledge, and I do so
with the greatest pleasure, my obligations to the work of the late Mr Donald
Gregory, and more particularly to that of Mr W. F. Skene, in as far as it
treats of the origin, descent, and affiliations of the different Highland
tribes. Many of the opinions and views promulgated by the latter I have
ventured to dispute, at the same time assigning the reasons which have led
me to differ from him; but it must, nevertheless, be unequivocally admitted,
that, without the benefit of his researches and those of his immediate
predecessor, Mr Gregory, it would have been a task of no ordinary difficulty
to compile even the faintest sketch of the History of the Highland Clans,
far less to arrange it in any thing like a systematic form. The labour of
half a lifetime would hardly have been sufficient to collect, examine, and
digest the materials which still remain buried in the repositories of the
principal families of the North ; and it is more than doubtful whether the
result of such researches would have, in any degree, repaid the anxiety and
toil which the prosecution of them would have imposed. Genealogies afford
but meagre food for the historian, and current traditions or family legends
fall more within the province of the romancer or the poet, than of him whose
business it is to ascertain facts, and to endeavour to fix the natural
sequence of events. Both the gentlemen I have named have, each in his own
way, treated this subject in a truly inquisitive spirit; and neither, so far
as 1 have observed, has permitted himself to supply the deficiency of
information by drawing upon the resources of his own fancy or imagination.
I have further to state, that, throughout the whole of this Work, I have
endeavoured to exercise that strict impartiality, which is incumbent upon
every one who undertakes to write history. If I have any prejudices, I am
unconscious of their existence. If I have done injustice to any one, it has
been involuntarily and unintentionally. If the opinions I have expressed are
erroneous, they have at least been honestly formed. That 1 have an affection
for the subject, I freely admit; that I have, in any instance, sought to
minister to the vanity of the Highlanders generally, or to that of
individual tribes of the Highland people, I decidedly deny. Perhaps I shall
be accused of having gone to the opposite extreme, and made admissions, on
disputed points, which a larger share of patriotic prudence might have
induced me to withhold. Be it so. Truth is of no country. There is enough in
the Highland character to sustain its just and reasonable claims to
distinction, without having recourse to the absurd exaggerations and
embellishments in which too many have chosen to indulge.
Some apology is due to the public for the delay which has occurred in
bringing out this Work, more especially as it has been entirely imputable to
myself, and in no degree whatever owing to my excellent and indulgent
publishers. Non omniapossumus omnes. Circumstances over which I had no
control often interrupted my labours, when most anxious to pursue them, and
forced me to turn my attention to other and far less attractive avocations.
But now when the task is completed, I trust that any temporary feeling of
chagrin or disappointment will be forgotten, and that no extrinsic
consideration will be allowed to affect the judgment the public may be
disposed to pronounce on the Work which is at length respectfully submitted
to their decision.
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