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By Robert Louis Stevenson

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While my husband and Mr. Henley were engaged in writing plays in
Bournemouth they made a number of titles, hoping to use them in
the future. Dramatic composition was not what my husband
preferred, but the torrent of Mr. Henley's enthusiasm swept him
off his feet. However, after several plays had been finished,
and his health seriously impaired by his endeavours to keep up
with Mr. Henley, play writing was abandoned forever, and my
husband returned to his legitimate vocation. Having added one of
the titles, The Hanging Judge, to the list of projected plays,
now thrown aside, and emboldened by my husband's offer to give me
any help needed, I concluded to try and write it myself.

As I wanted a trial scene in the Old Bailey, I chose the period
of 1700 for my purpose; but being shamefully ignorant of my
subject, and my husband confessing to little more knowledge than
I possessed, a London bookseller was commissioned to send us
everything he could procure bearing on Old Bailey trials. A
great package came in response to our order, and very soon we
were both absorbed, not so much in the trials as in following the
brilliant career of a Mr. Garrow, who appeared as counsel in many
of the cases. We sent for more books, and yet more, still intent
on Mr. Garrow, whose subtle cross-examination of witnesses and
masterly, if sometimes startling, methods of arriving at the
truth seemed more thrilling to us than any novel.

Occasionally other trials than those of the Old Bailey would be
included in the package of books we received from London; among
these my husband found and read with avidity:--

in Aucharn in Duror of Appin
FOR THE Murder of COLIN CAMPBELL of Glenure, Efq;
Factor for His Majefty on the forfeited
Estate of Ardfhiel.

My husband was always interested in this period of his country's
history, and had already the intention of writing a story that
should turn on the Appin murder. The tale was to be of a boy,
David Balfour, supposed to belong to my husband's own family, who
should travel in Scotland as though it were a foreign country,
meeting with various adventures and misadventures by the way.
From the trial of James Stewart my husband gleaned much valuable
material for his novel, the most important being the character of
Alan Breck. Aside from having described him as "smallish in
stature," my husband seems to have taken Alan Breck's personal
appearance, even to his clothing, from the book.

A letter from James Stewart to Mr. John Macfarlane, introduced as
evidence in the trial, says: "There is one Alan Stewart, a
distant friend of the late Ardshiel's, who is in the French
service, and came over in March last, as he said to some, in
order to settle at home; to others, that he was to go soon back;
and was, as I hear, the day that the murder was committed, seen
not far from the place where it happened, and is not now to be
seen; by which it is believed he was the actor. He is a
desperate foolish fellow; and if he is guilty, came to the
country for that very purpose. He is a tall, pock-pitted lad,
very black hair, and wore a blue coat and metal buttons, an old
red vest, and breeches of the same colour." A second witness
testified to having seen him wearing "a blue coat with silver
buttons, a red waistcoat, black shag breeches, tartan hose, and a
feathered hat, with a big coat, dun coloured," a costume referred
to by one of the counsel as "French cloathes which were

There are many incidents given in the trial that point to Alan's
fiery spirit and Highland quickness to take offence. One witness
"declared also That the said Alan Breck threatened that he would
challenge Ballieveolan and his sons to fight because of his
removing the declarant last year from Glenduror." On another
page: "Duncan Campbell, change-keeper at Annat, aged thirty-five
years, married, witness cited, sworn, purged and examined ut
supra, depones, That, in the month of April last, the deponent
met with Alan Breck Stewart, with whom he was not acquainted, and
John Stewart, in Auchnacoan, in the house of the walk miller of
Auchofragan, and went on with them to the house: Alan Breck
Stewart said, that he hated all the name of Campbell; and the
deponent said, he had no reason for doing so: But Alan said, he
had very good reason for it: that thereafter they left that
house; and, after drinking a dram at another house, came to the
deponent's house, where they went in, and drunk some drams, and
Alan Breck renewed the former Conversation; and the deponent,
making the same answer, Alan said, that, if the deponent had any
respect for his friends, he would tell them, that if they offered
to turn out the possessors of Ardshiel's estate, he would make
black cocks of them, before they entered into possession by which
the deponent understood shooting them, it being a common phrase
in the country."

Some time after the publication of Kidnapped we stopped for a
short while in the Appin country, where we were surprised and
interested to discover that the feeling concerning the murder of
Glenure (the "Red Fox," also called "Colin Roy") was almost as
keen as though the tragedy had taken place the day before. For
several years my husband received letters of expostulation or
commendation from members of the Campbell and Stewart clans. I
have in my possession a paper, yellow with age, that was sent
soon after the novel appeared, containing "The Pedigree of the
Family of Appine," wherein it is said that "Alan 3rd Baron of
Appine was not killed at Flowdoun, tho there, but lived to a
great old age. He married Cameron Daughter to Ewen Cameron of
Lochiel." Following this is a paragraph stating that "John
Stewart 1st of Ardsheall of his descendants Alan Breck had better
be omitted. Duncan Baan Stewart in Achindarroch his father was a

One day, while my husband was busily at work, I sat beside him
reading an old cookery book called The Compleat Housewife: or
Accomplish'd Gentlewoman's Companion. In the midst of receipts
for "Rabbits, and Chickens mumbled, Pickled Samphire, Skirret
Pye, Baked Tansy," and other forgotten delicacies, there were
directions for the preparation of several lotions for the
preservation of beauty. One of these was so charming that I
interrupted my husband to read it aloud. "Just what I wanted!"
he exclaimed; and the receipt for the "Lily of the Valley Water"
was instantly incorporated into Kidnapped.

F. V. DE G. S.



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