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OF THE ADVENTURES OF
IN THE YEAR 1751
HOW HE WAS KIDNAPPED AND CAST AWAY;
HIS SUFFERINGS IN
A DESERT ISLE; HIS JOURNEY IN THE WILD HIGHLANDS;
HIS ACQUAINTANCE WITH ALAN BRECK STEWART
AND OTHER NOTORIOUS HIGHLAND JACOBITES;
WITH ALL THAT HE SUFFERED AT THE
HANDS OF HIS UNCLE, EBENEZER
BALFOUR OF SHAWS, FALSELY
WRITTEN BY HIMSELF AND NOW SET FORTH BY
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
WITH A PREFACE BY MRS. STEVENSON
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
PREFACE TO THE BIOGRAPHICAL EDITION
While my husband and Mr. Henley
were engaged in writing plays in Bournemouth
they made a number of titles, hoping to use them in the future. Dramatic composition was
not what my husband preferred, but the torrent of Mr. Henley's
enthusiasm swept him off his feet.
However, after several plays had been finished, and his
health seriously impaired by his endeavours to keep up with Mr. Henley,
play writing was abandoned forever, and my husband returned to his
legitimate vocation. Having
added one of the titles, The Hanging Judge, to the list of projected
plays, now thrown aside, and emboldened by my husband's offer to give
me any help needed, I concluded to try and write it myself.
As I wanted a trial scene in the Old Bailey, I chose the period of 1700 for my purpose; but being shamefully ignorant of my subject, and my husband confessing to little more knowledge than I possessed, a London bookseller was commissioned to send us everything he could procure bearing on Old Bailey trials. A great package came in response to our order, and very soon we were both absorbed, not so much in the trials as in following the brilliant career of a Mr. Garrow, who appeared as counsel in many of the cases. We sent for more books, and yet more, still intent on Mr. Garrow, whose subtle cross-examination of witnesses and masterly, if sometimes startling, methods of arriving at the truth seemed more thrilling to us than any novel. Occasionally other trials than those of the Old Bailey would be included in the package of books we received from London; among these my husband found and read with avidity: —THE
in Aucharn in Duror of Appin
FOR THE Murder of COLIN CAMPBELL of Glenure, Efq;
Factor for His Majefty on the forfeited
Estate of Ardfhiel.
My husband was always interested in this period of his
country's history, and had already the intention of writing a story
that should turn on the Appin murder.
The tale was to be of a boy, David Balfour, supposed to
belong to my husband's own family, who should travel in Scotland as
though it were a foreign country, meeting with various adventures and
misadventures by the way. From the trial of James Stewart my husband
gleaned much valuable material for his novel, the most important being
the character of Alan Breck. Aside
from having described him as "smallish in stature," my husband seems to
have taken Alan Breck's personal appearance, even to his clothing, from
A letter from James Stewart to Mr.
John Macfarlane, introduced as evidence in the trial, says: "There is
one Alan Stewart, a distant friend of the late Ardshiel's, who is in
the French service, and came over in March last, as he said to some, in
order to settle at home; to others, that he was to go soon back; and
was, as I hear, the day that the murder was committed, seen not far
from the place where it happened, and is not now to be seen; by which
it is believed he was the actor. He
is a desperate foolish fellow; and if he is guilty, came to the country
for that very purpose. He
is a tall, pock-pitted lad, very black hair, and wore a blue coat and
metal buttons, an old red vest, and breeches of the same colour." A second witness testified
to having seen him wearing "a blue coat with silver buttons, a red
waistcoat, black shag breeches, tartan hose, and a feathered hat, with
a big coat, dun coloured," a costume referred to by one of the counsel
as "French cloathes which were remarkable."
There are many incidents given in
the trial that point to Alan's fiery spirit and Highland quickness to
take offence. One
witness "declared also That the said Alan Breck threatened that he
would challenge Ballieveolan and his sons to fight because of his
removing the declarant last year from Glenduror." On another page:
"Duncan Campbell, change-keeper at Annat, aged thirty-five years,
married, witness cited, sworn, purged and examined ut supra, depones,
That, in the month of April last, the deponent met with Alan Breck
Stewart, with whom he was not acquainted, and John Stewart, in
Auchnacoan, in the house of the walk miller of Auchofragan, and went on
with them to the house: Alan Breck Stewart said, that he hated all the
name of Campbell; and the deponent said, he had no reason for doing so:
But Alan said, he had very good reason for it: that thereafter they
left that house; and, after drinking a dram at another house, came to
the deponent's house, where they went in, and drunk some drams, and
Alan Breck renewed the former Conversation; and the deponent, making
the same answer, Alan said, that, if the deponent had any respect for
his friends, he would tell them, that if they offered to turn out the
possessors of Ardshiel's estate, he would make black cocks of them,
before they entered into possession by which the deponent understood
shooting them, it being a common phrase in the country."
Some time after the publication of
Kidnapped we stopped for a short while in the Appin country, where we
were surprised and interested to discover that the feeling concerning
the murder of Glenure (the "Red Fox," also called "Colin Roy") was
almost as keen as though the tragedy had taken place the day before. For several years my
husband received letters of expostulation or commendation from members
of the Campbell and Stewart clans.
I have in my possession a paper, yellow with age, that was
sent soon after the novel appeared, containing "The Pedigree of the
Family of Appine," wherein it is said that "Alan 3rd Baron of Appine
was not killed at Flowdoun, tho there, but lived to a great old age. He married Cameron
Daughter to Ewen Cameron of Lochiel."
Following this is a paragraph stating that "John Stewart
1st of Ardsheall of his descendants Alan Breck had better be omitted. Duncan Baan Stewart in
Achindarroch his father was a Bastard."
One day, while my husband was
busily at work, I sat beside him reading an old cookery book called The
Compleat Housewife: or Accomplish'd Gentlewoman's Companion. In the midst of receipts for
"Rabbits, and Chickens mumbled, Pickled Samphire, Skirret Pye, Baked
Tansy," and other forgotten delicacies, there were directions for the
preparation of several lotions for the preservation of beauty. One of these was so
charming that I interrupted my husband to read it aloud. "Just what I wanted!" he
exclaimed; and the receipt for the "Lily of the Valley Water" was
instantly incorporated into Kidnapped.
F. V. DE G. S.
MY DEAR CHARLES BAXTER:
If you ever read this tale, you
will likely ask yourself more questions than I should care to answer:
as for instance how the Appin murder has come to fall in the year 1751,
how the Torran rocks have crept so near to Earraid, or why the printed
trial is silent as to all that touches David Balfour.
These are nuts beyond my ability to crack.
But if you tried me on the point of Alan's guilt or
innocence, I think I could defend the reading of the text. To this day you will find
the tradition of Appin clear in Alan's favour.
If you inquire, you may even hear that the descendants of
"the other man" who fired the shot are in the country to this day. But that other man's name,
inquire as you please, you shall not hear; for the Highlander values a
secret for itself and for the congenial exercise of keeping it I might
go on for long to justify one point and own another indefensible; it is
more honest to confess at once how little I am touched by the desire of
accuracy. This is
no furniture for the scholar's library, but a book for the winter
evening school-room when the tasks are over and the hour for bed draws
near; and honest Alan, who was a grim old fire-eater in his day has in
this new avatar no more desperate purpose than to steal some young
gentleman's attention from his Ovid, carry him awhile into the
Highlands and the last century, and pack him to bed with some engaging
images to mingle with his dreams.
As for you, my dear Charles, I do
not even ask you to like this tale.
But perhaps when he is older, your son will; he may then
be pleased to find his father's name on the fly-leaf; and in the
meanwhile it pleases me to set it there, in memory of many days that
were happy and some (now perhaps as pleasant to remember) that were sad. If it is strange for me to
look back from a distance both in time and space on these bygone
adventures of our youth, it must be stranger for you who tread the same
streets — who may to-morrow open the door of the old Speculative, where
we begin to rank with Scott and Robert Emmet and the beloved and
inglorious Macbean — or may pass the corner of the close where that
great society, the L. J. R., held its meetings and drank its beer,
sitting in the seats of Burns and his companions.
I think I see you, moving there by plain daylight,
beholding with your natural eyes those places that have now become for
your companion a part of the scenery of dreams.
How, in the intervals of present business, the past must
echo in your memory! Let it not echo often without some kind thoughts
of your friend,