Search just our sites by using our customised search engine
Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Memoirs and Correspondence of Sir Robert Murray Keith, K.B.
Edited by Mrs. Gillespie Smith

I came across this article about the 2 volume publication about this Significant Scot.  I also found a pdf version of the publication and so all is provided here in pdf format.


The motives which have given birth to the following publication, are such, as it is believed may enlist the sympathies, if not challenge the approbation, of the reader. There are, in the annals of every family, any of whose members have filled conspicuous stations in the public service—some privileged epochs round which its own memories have been fondly taught to congregate, and which it would fain rescue from oblivion in those of others. Such, during the long diplomatic career of Sir Robert Murray Keith, was the episode of the revolution in Denmark in 1772; and his spirited rescue, as representative of Great Britain, of a "daughter of England,” and the sister of his sovereign, from a fate the least disastrous probable issue of which was imprisonment for life in a northern fortress.

The omission—probably from prudential motives—of this most critical and important interposition, in a foreign work of fiction, recently translated, and introduced to the British public under the attractive title of the “Queen of Denmark,” (an omission which the present editor may be pardoned for ranking with that of the “part of Hamlet,” from another Danish tragedy) naturally led to a search into those family archives where reposed the familiar letters and official correspondence penned during the events themselves, and so honourable alike to the character, the feelings, and the fame of him by whom they were written and received.

To weave these valuable and hitherto inedited documents into a slight record of the charms, the sorrows, and the injuries of the British Princess, to whom (in his own striking words) it was a "proud commencement for the Envoy’s chivalry to convey, through the vaulted entrance of Hamlet’s castle, the welcome tidings of fraternal affection and liberty restored,” was felt to be alike a duty and a pleasure. To this, the following sheets would have been exclusively limited, had not the reputation of Sir R. M. Keith for political sagacity, on the one hand, and wit and bonhommie on the other, suggested, on high literary authorities, the propriety of a more extensive selection from his twenty years’ correspondence, while a resident at other foreign courts, than had been originally designed.

This enlarged plan, resulting in a copious melange of the grave and the gay, unique perhaps in diplomatic life, and probably, on that account, more likely to find acceptance with the general reader—has seemed to justify, if not to render necessary, a more detailed account of the writer’s family than would have served to introduce the letters from Denmark; as well as a review of the circumstances by which his character was fashioned, and its rare combination of soldier frankness, and courtier-like refinement, of political acumen, and domestic playfulness, developed and matured.

Should the indulgent reader, in tracing, as drawn by his own hand, the lineaments of one whom the same process has enabled a relative, early deprived of his society by death, for the first time to comprehend and appreciate—in any measure share her impressions—the dutiful labour of love of the Editor will have reaped its rich reward.

To the merely political reader, some apology may appear necessary, for the paucity of what the sated Envoy so often turns from with disgust, as the “tools of his trade ” viz., diplomatic details, during the long years intervening between 1772 and 1789. But besides the obsoleteness at this day, and comparative unimportance in European policy, of the events occurring at Vienna, during that long lull, preceding an unexampled tempest—they have been amply detailed, with copious references almost at every page to the valuable dispatches of Sir R. M. Keith, by Archdeacon Coxe; so that to take up the political thread where he left it, previously to the singular and hitherto inedited negotiations at the Congress of Sistovo in 1791, has been not only the Editor’s most eligible, but sole possible course.

Volume 1
Volume 2



This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus