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Papers Relating to the Scots in Poland (1576 - 1798)
Note by the Latin Translator


The first four sections of this book and the second and third Appendices, except where footnotes indicate otherwise, consist of translations from Latin originals; any other passages translated from Latin are specially indicated by note. In accepting responsibility for these, and craving indulgence for their shortcomings, the Translator would like the circumstances under which they were made to be known.

The time spent on actual translation has been slight compared with that devoted to critical work in preparing the text for translation. Owing partly to the copyist’s ignorance of Latin, and partly, perhaps, to illegibility of originals, many of the documents as transcribed had no punctuation at all, others, more unfortunately, had a spurious punctuation achieving, on more than one occasion, the division of a word by a full stop and the commencement of a fresh sentence with the truncated member, but frequently responsible for difficulties much more elusive and mystifying. Errors in transcription have been so numerous that constant emendation has been necessary, some lines requiring the alteration of as many as twelve letters before elucidation became possible. In no cases, however, have proper names been tampered with, and variant spellings of surnames will be found even in short extracts.

In view of the problematical value of the text as reconstructed, only a few Latin passages, and these the most sound, have been printed as specimens. Literal translations of the remaining documents are given, except in a few cases (indicated by note) where considerations of space or corruptness of text make it advisable to give an abstract only.

To aid the serious student of Polish history in the accurate identification of the various officials and tribunals in Poland, the Latin terms for the English equivalents adopted in the translations may prove useful:

Mayor: praeconsul, proconsul.
Councillor: consul.
Magistrate: magistratus.
Chief Assessor: archiscabinus.
Assessor: scabinus.
Board of Twenty: vigintiviratus.
Advocate: advocatus.
Ordinary: ordinarius.
Minister-General of the Realm: ministerialis generalis Regni.
Palatine: palatinus.
Marshal: mareschalcus.
Captain: capitaneus.
Castellan: castellanus.
Steward: tenutarius.
Greater Chancery of the Realm: acta praesentia Matricis Regni Cancellariae maioris.
General Council of the Realm: comitia Regni generalia.
General Convention: conventus generalis.
Ordinary Court-general of the Tribunal of the Realm at Lublin: iudicium ordinarium generale Tribunalis Regni Lublinense.
Council of Cracow, Warsaw, etc.: officium Consulare Cracoviense, Varsaviense, etc.

Of the courtesy-epithets used with such punctiliousness whenever a name occurs, the commonest are famatus (well-famed) and generosus (well-born). The Eight Scots Merchants are honesti (honest), one Merchant to the Court is honoratus (honourable), certain officials are nobiles (noble), and all magistrates are spectabiles (worshipful). These epithets are chosen with some propriety, e.g. a soldier is strenuus (strenuous), a student ingeniosus (talented), a Jew perfidus (unbelieving), a serving-maid laboriosa (industrious).

The words mercator and negociator were not, apparently, used as synonyms, and are rendered ‘merchant’ and ‘trader’ respectively.

Many of the charters and letters are written in excellent Latin, diverging surprisingly little either in vocabulary or syntax from the Latin of classical times. Some enormous periods are handled with admirable skill; and there is everywhere sustained a regular and carefully balanced style which, more perhaps than anything else, has made possible such success in repairing the damages of transmission as has been achieved.

The Translator feels that he owes a special debt of gratitude to Dr. J. Maitland Thomson for the valuable help he was always ready to give when consulted on points of difficulty.

J. MACKAY THOMSON.


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