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Papers Relating to the Scots in Poland (1576 - 1798)

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.

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