|About the Book|
When the author projected this further encroachment on the patience of an indulgent public, he was at some loss for a title- a good name being very nearly of as much consequence in literature as in life. The title of Rob Roy was suggested by the lateMoreWhen the author projected this further encroachment on the patience of an indulgent public, he was at some loss for a title- a good name being very nearly of as much consequence in literature as in life. The title of Rob Roy was suggested by the late Mr. Constable, whose sagacity and experience foresaw the germ of popularity which it included. No introduction can be more appropriate to the work than some account of the singular character whose name is given to the title-page, and who, through good report and bad report, has maintained a wonderful degree of importance in popular recollection. This cannot be ascribed to the distinction of his birth, which, though that of a gentleman, had in it nothing of high destination, and gave him little right to command in his clan. Neither, though he lived a busy, restless, and enterprising life, were his feats equal to those of other freebooters, who have been less distinguished. He owed his fame in a great measure to his residing on the very verge of the Highlands, and playing such pranks in the beginning of the 18th century, as are usually ascribed to Robin Hood in the middle ages, -and that within forty miles of Glasgow, a great commercial city, the seat of a learned university. Thus a character like his, blending the wild virtues, the subtle policy, and unrestrained license of an American Indian, was flourishing in Scotland during the Augustan age of Queen Anne and George I. Addison, it is probable, or Pope, would have been considerably surprised if they had known that there existed in the same island with them a personage of Rob Roys peculiar habits and profession. It is this strong contrast betwixt the civilised and cultivated mode of life on the one side of the Highland line, and the wild and lawless adventures which were habitually undertaken and achieved by one who dwelt on the opposite side of that ideal boundary, which creates the interest attached to his name. Hence it is that even yet, Far and near, through vale and hill, Are faces that attest the same, And kindle like a fire new stirrd, At sound of Rob Roys name. There were several advantages which Rob Roy enjoyed for sustaining to advantage the character which he assumed. The most prominent of these was his descent from, and connection with, the clan MacGregor, so famous for their misfortunes, and the indomitable spirit with which they maintained themselves as a clan, linked and banded together in spite of the most severe laws, executed with unheard-of rigour against those who bore this forbidden surname. Their history was that of several others of the original Highland clans, who were suppressed by more powerful neighbours, and either extirpated, or forced to secure themselves by renouncing their own family appellation, and assuming that of the conquerors. The peculiarity in the story of the MacGregors, is their retaining, with such tenacity, their separate existence and union as a clan under circumstances of the utmost urgency. The history of the tribe is briefly as follows-But we must premise that the tale depends in some degree on tradition- therefore, excepting when written documents are, quoted, it must be considered as in some degree dubious.