Letter of King James VIII to John Campbell, called Duke of Argyll, February 4, 1716

Before departing from Scotland, King James III and VIII wrote the following letter to the commander-in-chief of the Elector of Hanover. It would seem that the letter was never delivered since in the mid-nineteenth century it was in the possession of the Fingask family.

A printed version of the letter can be found in James Browne, A History of the Highlands and of the Highland Clans (Glasgow: Fullarton, 1843), volume 2, pages 340-342.

Monross, 4th February, 1716

It was the view of delivering this my ancient kingdom from the hardship it lay under, and restoring it to its former happiness and independency, that brought me into this country; and all hopes of effectuating that at this time being taken from me, I have been reduced much against my inclination, but by a cruel necessity, to leave the kingdom with as many of my faithful subjects as were desirous to follow me, or I able to carry with me, that so at least I might secure them from the utter destruction that threatens them, since that was the only way left me to show them the regard I had for, and the sense I had of their unparalleled loyalty.

Among the manifold mortifications I have had in this unfortunate expedition, that of being forced to burn several villages, &c., as the only expedient left me for the publick security, was not the smallest. It was indeed forced upon me by the violence with which my rebellious subjects acted against me, and what they, as the first authors of it, must be answerable for, not I: however, as I cannot think of leaving this country without making some provision to repair that loss, I have, therefore, consigned to the magistrates of ...... the sum of ......., desiring and requiring of you, if not as an obedient subject, at least as a lover of your country, to take care that it be employed to the designed use, that I may at least have the satisfaction of having been the destruction and ruin of none, at a time I came to free all. Whether you have yet received my letter, or what effect it hath had upon you, I am as yet ignorant of; but what will become of these unhappy nations is but too plain. I have neglected nothing to render them a free and prosperous people; and I fear they will find yet more than I the smart of preferring a foreign yoak to that obedience they owe me; and what must those who have so obstinately resisted both my right and my clemency have to answer for ? But however things turn, or providence is pleased to dispose of me, I shall never abandon my just right, nor the pursuits of it, but with my life; and beseech God so to turn at last the hearts of my subjects, as that they may enjoy peace and happiness by submitting to what their interest and duty equally require of them. As for your own particular, you might, if you had pleased, joined interest and greatness in your own person; but, though you have refused to do that, I must earnestly request of you to do at least all in your power to save your country from utter ruin, and to be just at least to them, since you are it not to me.

I thought to write this in my own hand, but had not time.

James R.

This letter was accompanied by a note of the following letter to General Gordon, written in the King's own hand.

General Gordon is hereby empowered, as soon as he has no other further occasion for the money left in his hands for the subsistence of the troops, to forward, if he thinks fitt, the enclosed letter to the duke of Argil, and to fill up the blanks of my letter with the name of the town where he shall leave the money, and the sum he shall leave.

James R.

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