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indulgent public, he was at some loss for a title; a good name being very
nearly of as much cons equence 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 whos e 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 birt h, 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 ent erprising 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 cent ury, as are usually ascribed to Robin Hood in the middle
ages,— and that within forty miles of Glas gow, 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 Roy’s 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 undertak en 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 stirr’d,
At sound of Rob Roy’s 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 eit her 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
The sept of MacGregor claimed a descent from Gregor, or Gregorius, third
son, it is said, of Alpin King of Scots, who flourished about 787. Hence
their original patronymic is MacAlpine, and they are usually termed the
Clan Alpine. An individual tribe of them retains the same name. They are
accounted one of the most ancient clans in the Highlands, and it is
certain they were a people of original Celtic descent, and occupied at
one period very extensive possessions in Perthshire and Argyleshire,