It is very necessary to
present to the members of the Scottish History Society, in an apologetic
vein, the disastrously chequered history of this very much belated book.
The original intention of the Council was to issue Papers relatng to
the Scots in Poland, a collection made and in part edited by Miss
Beatrice Baskerville, and, as it was expected that this volume would be
ready in 1907-1908, its title was accordingly placed among the Society’s
publications for that year. Many and serious delays occurred, however:
some were caused by the awkward climatic conditions of Poland, which
render the transcribing of original documents by copyists almost
impossible for many months of each year, other delays were caused by the
difficulty of printing exactly (as was originally intended) the
Manuscripts sent in Polish or Polish Latin transcriptions by not too
accurate archivists. Losses of letters in the post, and changes in the
secretariat of the Society further protracted matters.. Then, as could not
have been anticipated, the Balkan War arose, which distracted Miss
Baskerville’s attention from her book to a more active Slavonic field.
Lastly, the Polish and German literati engaged later to translate portions
of this unlucky work were suddenly called off to fight in the great
International War of 1914, and their places were only filled eventually by
gracious volunteers, who bridged over by their kindness and labour yet
another difficulty which could not have been foreseen. The form of
presentation of this work as it is now issued was therefore greatly
changed from its original arrangement, although the material used is
almost the same.
To the present volume is
now prefaced an elementary introductory essay, a supplementary sketch of
the history of the Scots in Poland, a general introduction, which is an
addition to the documents in this book rather than a close examination of
them, by Mr. A. Francis Steuart, Advocate, the late Joint-Honorary
Secretary of the Scottish History Society, who has been obliged by the
force of circumstances to see the volume through the press. Miss
Baskerville’s short introduction, dealing a little with the same
information, but using it very differently, is now given as a preface to
the papers concerning the Scottish Brotherhood of Lublin. The rest of her
collection is printed, as we see here, without much attempt at
arrangement, and with few comments, but as fully as possible; for no one
knows, after a war like the present, waged fiercely in Poland, how many of
the originals may remain extant. All this is designed for the future
historian interested in the subject to draw on and excavate from by his
own labour as he might from a wealthy mine.
The Scottish History
Society owes a special debt of gratitude to Mr. J. Mackay Thomson, M.A.
Edin., B.A. Oxon., whose kindness in undertaking the recensions and
translations of the difficult Polish-Latin transcriptions has made the
presentation of some part of the original Latin text, corrupt and
incorrectly copied, possible. Without his help the book would with
difficulty have been issued.