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AN EXTENSIVE AND INTERESTING CORRESPONDENCE
FROM THE YEAR 1625 TO 1748;
NUMEROUS LETTERS FROM THE UNFORTUNATE LORD LOVAT,
THE WHOLE PUBLISHED FROM THE ORIGINALS
DUNCAN GEORGE FORBES, OF CULLODEN, Esq.
TO WHICH IS PREFIXED,
Memoirs of the Right Honourable Duncan Forbes,
Many Years Lord President of the Court of Session in Scotland.
ILLUSTRATED BY ENGRAVINGS.
"And You may then revolve what tales I have told you
Of courts, of princes, of the tricks in war:
PRINTED FOR T. CADELL AND W. DAVIES, IN THE STRAND.
PREFACES have, generally, one of three objects; either to solicit
favour, to apologize for defects, or to afford explanation. The following pages may, perhaps, require a short notice with more than one of those views.
After the death of the Lord President Forbes, in 1747, a period of nearly 40 years elapsed, during which his son and grandson made only short and unfrequent visits to Scotland; and there is every probability, that not the nature only, but even the very existence of these Papers, had eluded recollection. Certain it is, that they must have narrowly escaped destruction by a fire which consumed the old castle of Culloden about thirty years ago.
When Mr. Home was writing his "History of the Rebellion of 1745,” he either had been informed, or conjectured, that important documents relative to his subject might be found in the possession of the Culloden family. With this view, he paid a visit to the Highlands in the autumn of 1791; and it is extremely unlikely, from the acknowleged liberality of the Proprietor, that, had the existence of the Papers been then known, he would have been disappointed in the object of his journey. A reference, however, to his publication will show, that he did not derive any material advantage from his visit at Culloden House.
About five years since, a similar anxiety for information occasioned a partial search to be made by a gentleman of erudition, in the county of Inverness, at the instance of a friend in the South of Scotland. On this occasion, a small number of Papers were procured and transmitted; but the undertaking, for the purpose of which the search had been made, having been relinquished, the documents were returned with the same handsome alacrity with which they had been granted. It is really extraordinary,
extraordinary, that this partial discovery of Papers did not lead to a more careful investigation. The design of publishing a book, however, is not among those most frequently entertained by country Gentlemen ; and, admitting that it might have occurred to some acquaintance of the family who was more immediately attached to literary pursuits, it must also be allowed, that there is a considerable delicacy to be overcome, before a Gentleman can request a free inspection of family papers.
But for an accident, the mention of which would be wholly uninteresting to the public, it is probable, that the CULLODEN PAPERS would still have remained in the obscurity and oblivion, into which inadvertence had thrown them. In exploring some dark and unfrequented recesses of the House of Culloden for purposes of a very different nature, in the year 1812, two large chests and three sacks were found, containing the materials, a careful selection from which forms the contents of the present volume; mingled, without the least order, or indication of previous inspection, with the lumber of local and uninteresting documents, of useless accounts, trivial memoranda, and law papers, of all dates within the last 200 years.
From this chaotic mass of Manuscripts, a selection of what was considered as best calculated to subserve the purpose of history was made, and put to the press in chronological succession. The Editor, however, had frequent occasions to regret, that many of the Papers were either Letters requiring Answers, to which no Answers could be found; or Answers to Letters that seemed to have no existence; or, again, Letters referring to others which could not be traced.
When the printing had been far advanced, this circumstance, so much to be regretted, induced a more eager search, and a hamper of similar Papers was brought to light. It was impossible, however, now to interfere with the chronological order that had been adopted; and it was deemed expedient to form a second part of the Collection, under the name of ADDENDA; to recommence, like the former, according to their dates; which would furnish an easy clew to the Reader, for connecting and associating Papers, on similar subjects, that had been printed in the former part of the Volume. Of these last Papers, not a
few may, perhaps, be found even more interesting than those which had been previously inserted.
The Editor hopes that he may be allowed to deprecate any displeasure being felt by Noblemen or Gentlemen of the present day, on account of the mention incidentally made of their ancestors, &c. To have omitted their names altogether, would have destroyed the interest of the Letters ; and to have inserted them by initials only, would, without answering any purpose of concealment, have seemed to intimate, that they did not appear in a creditable point of view; which, in many instances, will be far from the conviction of liberal minds, that can connect circumstances with the times in which they happened. The expressions which one man employs in writing of another, are often far from being those of his serieus sentiments: allowance must be made for momentary irritation, for conflicting interests, and for what, perhaps, is esteemed address and dexterity in pushing on the business of life. Amongst other instances, we may particularize the notice (in page 33) which Lord Lovat takes of his neighbours and kinsmen in the Aird: so far from his real sentiments being those expressed in his letter, it is well known that he gloried in those gentlemen being part of his clan, and that he knew they were men of handsome independent estates (situated in the fairest district of the Highlands), and of education and honour; and of all the various circumstances upon which his Lordship piqued himself, the distinction of being the head of these very Barons was by far the dearest to his heart. Many other instances might, if necessary, be quoted, in which the momentary expression of anger or contempt could be resolved into the same want of temper or of sincerity.
As to the tendency of many of the Highland chieftains and their clans in favour of the exiled family, whatever opinions divided the kingdom at that time, this cannot now be a subject requiring vindication; and if it raise a glow upon the faces of their descendants, it is not likely to be the blush of shame. Error may be produced by the excess of the noble, as well as by that of the baser passions; but while courage, disinterestedness, generosity, fidelity, compassion, and gratitude for former benefits bestowed, shall continue to be esteemed among the human virtues, the actions