" With respect to Carte's extract, I have no doubt but it is faithfully copied; but on this extract it is

necessary to make an observation, which applies to " all the rest, both of Carte's and Macpherson's, and “ which leads to the detection of an imposture of the

latter, as impudent as Ossian itself. The extracts are evidently made, not from a journal, but from a

narrative; and I have now ascertained beyond all doubt "" that there were in the Scotch College two distinct

manuscripts, one in James's own hand, consisting of

papers of different sizes bound up together, the other "" a sort of historical narrative, compiled from the “ former. The narrative was said to have been revised - and corrected, as to style, by Dryden* the poet,

(meaning probably Charles Dryden, the great poet's son,) and it was not known in the College whether it

was drawn up in James's life, or by the direction of * his son, the Pretender. I doubt whether Carte ever

saw the original journal; but I learn, from undoubted "authority, that Macpherson never did; and yet to “ read his Preface, page 6 and 7, (which pray advert to,)

one would have supposed, not only that he had inspected it accurately, but that all his extracts at least,

[ocr errors]

* It is the opinion of the present possessor of the narrative, that it was compiled from the original documents by Thomas Innes, one of the Superiors of the College, and author of a work entitled, A Critical Essay on the ancient Inhabitants of Scotland.


- if not Carte's also, were taken from it. Macpherson's "impudence in attempting such an imposition, at a “ time when almost any man could have detected him, " would have been in another man, incredible, if the “ internal evidence of the extracts themselves against

him were not corroborated by the testimony of the principal persons of the College. And this leads me to a point of more importance to me. Principal

Gordon thought, when I saw him at Paris, in October “ 1802, that all the papers were lost. I now hear from well-informed

person, that the most material, viz. those written in James's own hand-writing, were in“ deed lost, and in the way mentioned by Gordon, but

that the Narrative, from which only Macpherson made his extracts, is still existing, and that Mr. Alexander

Cameron, Blackfriars Wynd, Edinburgh, either has " it himself, or knows where it is to be found."

The above information was correct. There is strong presumptive evidence, that the Manuscripts of King James the Second were destroyed; but the Narrative, as described, was then, and is now, in the hands of Dr. Cameron, Roman Catholick Bishop in Edinburgh. It could not be in the possession of a person who is better qualified to judge of its merits, and on whose fidelity, should he be induced to print it, the publick might more implicitly rely. I am indebted to his accuracy and friendship, for some additional information respecte

ing the manner in which the Manuscripts of the Scotch College were lost. As the facts are in themselves curious, I lay before the reader his succinct and interesting relation of them, contained in a letter to me, dated Edinburgh, March 2, 1808.



“ Before Lord Gower, the British Embassador, left

Paris, in the beginning of the French Revolution, he " wrote to Principal Gordon, and offered to take charge " of those valuable papers, (King James's Manuscripts,

&c.) and deposit them in some place of safety in Britain. I know not what answer was returned, but

nothing was done. Not long thereafter, the Principal “came to England, and the care of every thing in the

College devolved on Mr. Alexander Innes, the only British subject who remained in it. About the same time, Mr. Stapleton, then President of the English

College of St. Omer, afterwards Bishop in England, " went to Paris, previously to his retiring from France, " and Mr. Innes, who had resolved not to abandon his

post, consulted with him about the means of pre' serving the Manuscripts. Mr. Stapleton thought, if " he had them at St. Omer, he could, with small risk,

convey them to England. It was therefore resolved, so that they should be carefully packed up, addressed to " a Frenchman, a confidential friend of Mr. Stapleton, " and remitted by some publick carriage. Some other

[ocr errors]


* things were put up with the Manuscripts. The whole « arrived without any accident, and was laid in a cellar. “ But the patriotism of the Frenchman becoming suspi

cious, perhaps upon account of his connection with " the English College, he was put in prison; and his “ wife, apprehensive of the consequences of being found “ to have English manuscripts, richly bound and orna“ mented with Royal arms, in her house, cut off the

boards, and destroyed them. The Manuscripts thus disfigured, and more easily huddled up in any sort of

bundle, were secretly carried, with papers belonging " to the Frenchman himself, to his country-house, and - buried in the garden. They were not, however, per“ mitted to remain long there ; the lady's fears increased,

and the Manuscripts were taken up and reduced to " ashes.

" This is the substance of the account given to Mr, Innes, and reported by him to me in June, 1802, in

Paris. I desired it might be authenticated by a proces verbale. A letter was therefore written to St. Omer, - either by Mr. Innes, or by Mr. Cleghorn, a lay gen" tleman, who had resided in the English College of St. " Omer, and was personally acquainted with the French

man, and happened to be at Paris at this time. The

answer given to this letter was, that the good man, - under the pressure of old age and other infirmities,

was alarmed by the proposal of a discussion and

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

investigation, which revived in his memory past " sufferings, and might, perhaps, lead to a renewal of "them. Any further correspondence upon the subject " seemed useless, especially as I instructed Mr. Innes " to go to St. Omer, and clear up every doubt, in a “ formal and legal manner, that some authentic docu"ment might be handed down to posterity concerning " those valuable Manuscripts. I did not foresee that

war was to be kindled up anew, or that my friend Mr. Innes was to die so soon. " Mr. Cleghorn, whom I mentioned above, is at present in the Catholick seminary of Old-Hall Green,

Puckeridge, Hertfordshire. He can probably name “ another gentleman who saw the Manuscripts at St.

Omer, and saved some small things, (but unconnected " with the Manuscripts,) which he carried away in his pocket, and has still in his possession.

I need not trouble your Lordship with my reflec" tions upon this relation; but I ought not to omit that

I was told, sometimes, that all the Manuscripts, as “ well as their boards, were consumed by fire in the " cellar in which they had been deposited upon their

arrival at St. Omer.”

The gentleman alluded to in the latter part of the above letter, is Mr. Mostyn, from whom Mr. Butler of Lincoln's-Inn very kindly procured a statement of the

« VorigeDoorgaan »