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The lives of literary men do not ordinarily present to us the stirring
events by which those of eminent statesmen and warriors are dis­
tinguished. Their biographies consist generally of little more than
an account of their works; still, the importance attributed by pos­
terity to their labours adds an interest to the circumstances in which
it may have been their lot to be cast.

Amongst the many eminent men to whom Scotland is indebted
for the honourable place which she holds in the literature of Europe,
there are few to whom she owes more than to the Tytlers of Wood-
houselee. This family, long settled in the neighbourhood of Edin­
burgh, produced in succession William Tytler, Alexander Fraser
Tytler afterwards Lord Woodhouselee, and Patrick Fraser Tytler,
who, by the interest and value of their writings—extending over
nearly a century—have done honour to themselves, and have con­
tributed in no small degree to elucidate the history of their country.

The first of the family distinguished by his devotion to litera­
ture was William Tytler, (the grandfather of the subject of this
Memoir,) who was born in Edinburgh on the 12th of October 1711.
He was the son of Alexander Tytler, a Writer to the Signet in that
city, who enjoyed the highest reputation for the probity and excel-

vi                              BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF

lence of his private character. Like his father, William Tytler
studied law, and became a Writer to the Signet in 1744. But
although carrying on a legal business of considerable extent, he found
leisure to indulge his taste for literary composition, and obtained
considerable fame by publishing, in 1759, his well-known vindica­
tion of Mary Queen of Scots. This work, entitled, “ An Inquiry,
Historical and Critical, into the Evidence against Mary Queen of
Scots, and an Examination of the Histories of Dr Robertson and Mr
Hume with respect to that Evidence,” was so favourably received
by the public as to pass through four editions. In it Tytler sought
to vindicate the memory of the unfortunate Queen, by bringing for­
ward many circumstantial proofs that she was innocent of a com­
plicity in the death of her husband Darnley, and attempting to
shew that the letters alleged to have been written by her to the
Earl of Bothwell were spurious.

This Vindication received the commendations of Samuel Johnson,
Smollett, and other eminent literary men, who acknowledged the
author’s ingenuity, although they did not agree with the conclusion
at which he arrived.

In addition to this remarkable publication, Tytler made several
other interesting contributions to Scottish literature, among which
may be noticed, “ The Poetical Remains of James I., King of Scot­
land, with a Dissertation on the Life and Writings of that Monarch.”

After spending a long life in the tranquil enjoyment of literary ease,
Tytler died at the family seat of Woodhouselee on Sept. 12, 1792,
in the eighty-first year of his age. A high sense of honour, an uncor-
rupted integrity, a manly opposition to every kind of depravity or
vice, were the distinguishing features of his character; and he died
without leaving an enemy or detractor in the world.

Alexander Fraser Tytler, his eldest son, better known, perhaps, by
his judicial title of Lord Woodhouselee, was born at Edinburgh on
the 4th October 1747. He was educated first at the High School
of that city, and afterwards at a private school in the neighbour­
hood cf London. When he had reached the age of seventeen he

PATRICK FRASER TYTLER.                              vii

entered the University of Edinburgh, and, having passed through the
course of education preparatory to a legal life, was called to the bar
in the year 1770, when he was in his twenty-third year. He married,
in 1776, Anne Fraser, eldest daughter of Mr William Fraser of Bel-
nain, Writer to the Signet, by whom he had a family of eight children,
of whom Patrick, the future historian of Scotland, was the youngest.

In 1780 he was appointed Professor of Universal History in the
University of Edinburgh, and discharged the duties of the chair
with great ability and success. As Professor of History he pub­
lished, in 1782, his well-known “ Elements of General History,”—a
work the merits of which have been generally recognised, and which
is still a standard class-book on the subject.

He published anonymously, in 1790, an “ Essay on the Princi­
ples of Translation." This treatise speedily obtained a great reputa­
tion, and deserves to be regarded as one of the best introductions to
criticism in the English language.

In the same year he was appointed, through the interest of Lord
Melville, Judge-Advocate of Scotland ; and, about nine years after­
wards, was raised to the Bench under the title of Lord Woodhouselee.

Besides the works already mentioned, and several smaller produc­
tions, Lord Woodhouselee published an elegantly written memoir of
Henry Home, Lord Kames, which contains notices of many of the
literary Scotsmen of the last century. He died on the 5th January
1813, in the sixty-sixth year of his age.

Patrick Eraser Tytler, the fourth son and youngest child of
Lord Woodhouslee, was born at Edinburgh on the 30th of August
1791. He was educated at the High School there, under Mr (after­
wards Professor) Christison and Dr Adam of that seminary. These
gentlemen were distinguished for their success as teachers, and under
their care a large number of pupils, who afterwards filled eminent
positions in life, received the elements of a liberal education. As a
boy, Tytler gave little promise of that devotion to literary pursuits
by which he was to be afterwards distinguished. He was, however,
beloved by his schoolfellows for the generous nature of his disposi-

viii                             BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF

tion, and for his spirited and manly character. His father early
remarked the ability which lay under his apparent carelessness and
inattention. “ You do not understand the boy,'’ he would say. “ I
tell you he is a wonderful boy. Look at the eager expression of his
countenance when listening to conversation far above his years; he
is drinking in every word. You tell me he never opens an improv­
ing book ; that it must always be an amusing story for him. I am
much mistaken if he does not read grave enough books by and by.”

Tytler was fortunate in having as his tutor a young man who
afterwards earned some reputation by his writings—the Rev. John
Black, minister of the parish of Coylton, in Ayrshire, and author of
an elegant “ Life of Tasso.” Under the care of this accomplished
guide Tytler made rapid progress, and acquired that taste for read­
ing which he afterwards turned to so good an account. At a
somewhat later period he enjoyed the assistance in his studies of
another gentleman afterwards highly distinguished—the Rev. John
Lee—who, after filling several important academical offices, died
Principal of the University of Edinburgh.

In his youth Tytler had also the great advantage of participating
in the literary society which his father gathered around him. He
may, indeed, be said to have breathed a literary atmosphere from
his boyhood. Henry Mackenzie, (the “ Man of Feeling,”) Scott,
Sydney Smith, Mackintosh, and Jeffrey, were his father’s frequent
guests ; and young Tytler had the privilege of listening to the
brilliant conversation of these eminent men.

Intending that his son should enter the profession of the law,
Lord Woodhouselee resolved that, before beginning his legal studies,
he should spend a year at an academical institution in England.
Accordingly, Tytler was sent to Chobham House School, and placed
under the care of the Rev. Charles Jerram, a gentleman of great
worth. Under this excellent master he made much progress, par­
ticularly in the art of writing Latin verses, and in the study of the
Greek poets. At the same time he did not neglect his general
reading; and when he returned to Edinburgh, he brought with him

PATRICK FRASER TYTLER.                               ix

an increased taste for that polite literature which was the delight of
his future life.

The following extract of a letter, which he wrote after his return
from Chobham to his brother Alexander, is interesting as shewing
the early period at which his love for the study of history developed
itself. It is dated June 14, 1810 :—“I now come to give you
some idea of my studies. When I first went to England, from
having always lived in a literary family, where Mr Black and papa
were continually talking upon learned subjects, as well as having
read a few books, I had picked up more general knowledge than is
commonly to be found amongst the boys at an English school.
This made me in some degree looked up to, and balanced my de­
ficiency in classical knowledge. To this last I applied tooth and
nail; reading by myself, and often getting up in the winter morn­
ings to study by candle-light. At last I began to understand
and like Greek, and to make some progress in Latin versification.
My vein improved amazingly at Chobham. The study of Virgil and
Horace, of Milton and Thomson, was to me truly delightful. I often
gave exercises in English verse; and Mr Jerram was sometimes pleased
to express his approbation, and to ask for a copy of them. But I
acquired a high relish for another noble branch of literature, and
which I am at present pursuing with the greatest pleasure. I mean
history. I there read Robertson’s admirable History of Charles V.,
and wrote short notes upon it. Since that I have been reading
Machiavei’s History of Florence, Watson’s Philip II., Gibbon’s
Decline and Fall, Clarendon’s noble work on the Rebellion, Sully’s
Memoirs, Clarendon’s Life, Voltaire’s Charles XII., Papa’s Ele­
ments, Chevalier Ramsay’s Life of Turenne, Junius’s Letters, the
Life of Lord Chatham ; and I am now engaged with Hume, and
Rapin’s Acta Regia. What do you think of history, my dear Sandie ?
To me it seems the noblest of all studies. To say that it is enter­
taining is its least praise. It is the school of statesmen and war-
riors ; and the pleasure, next to living in the times, and being a wit­
ness to the actions of these, is that of reading their lives and actions.” *
* Burgon’s Memoir, p. 65.

x                            BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF

About the close of the year 1809 Tytler entered the University
of Edinburgh, and began with enthusiasm the study of law. But
while he was working hard, along with his young friend Archibald
(now Sir Archibald) Alison, at the Institutes of Heineccius, his
favourite studies were not forgotten. At the request of his father,
he wrote, in 1810, a poem, which he entitled, “The Woodhouselee
Masque,” and which was allowed by competent judges to be a
most graceful performance. This, and other unpublished poems,
and also the elegant poetical translations which exist in some of his
minor works, display a genius for poetry which, had it been culti­
vated, would have entitled him to rank amongst the poets of his

Tytler was called to the Scottish Bar on the 3d of July 1813;
shortly after which he had to mourn the loss of his excellent father,
Lord Woodhouselee, who had long suffered from a painful disease.

In the beginning of 1814, Tytler embraced the opportunity, which
the peace of that year afforded, to visit France, in company with
William and Archibald Alison, and Mr D. Anderson of Moredun.
This tour lasted from April to June, and afforded the most lively
gratification to the young tourists. They had the honour of being pre­
sented, while in Paris, to many distinguished men, including the great
Platoff, and enjoyed the sight of innumerable celebrities. A record
of this tour is preserved in an anonymous work, in two volumes,
entitled, “Travels in France during the Years 1814-15, comprising a
Residence at Paris during the stay of the Allied Armies, and at Aix
at the period of the Landing of Bonaparte.” It was understood to
be the production of Mr Archibald Alison, and contained certain
chapters which Tytler contributed.

Through the influence of Alexander Maconochie, Esq., afterwards
Lord Meadowbank, then Lord-Advocate, Tytler was appointed,
when he had only been three years at the bar, a Junior Crown
Counsel in Exchequer—an office worth £150 per annum. He also
made some progress as a pleader at the bar. But literature and
historical inquiry, although not engrossing all his attention, still

PATRICK FRASER TYTLER.                                xi

occupied his leisure hours, and induced him to contribute various
papers to literary journals.

During the years 1817 and 1818, he wrote several articles for
Blackwood’s Magazine, then in its infancy. These were, “ Remarks
on Lacunar Strevilinense;" an address “ To my Dog;" and a fanciful
fragment, under the title of “ A Literary Romance.”

The fatigues of his professional and other duties rendered him
desirous of making a fresh tour for the benefit of his health; and he
visited Norway in 1818, in company with Mr D. Anderson of More-
dun. While on their tour they happened to be at Drontheim, when
Bernadotte, after being crowned King of Sweden, made his entry,
with his son Prince Oscar, into that city. The young Scotsmen
had the honour of being presented to the king, by whom they were
graciously received, and invited to dine with his Majesty.

The first separate work which Tytler published was his “ Life of
James Crichton of Cluny, commonly called the Admirable Crichton.”
It appeared in 1819, and was dedicated to the memory of his father,
Lord Woodhouselee.

In this interesting memoir Tytler brought together the various
materials bearing on the life and exploits of this extraordinary per­
sonage, whose remarkable attainments made Scotland celebrated
throughout Europe in the sixteenth century. By a careful examina­
tion of the contemporary literature of the period in which Crichton
flourished, Tytler successfully refuted the attempts which had been
made by several authors to discredit the evidence on which his fame
had so long rested.

Tytler’s fondness for antiquarian research is nowhere more ap­
parent than in this biography, which may be said to have left little
to be gleaned by subsequent inquirers. The work was well received
by the public ; and a second edition was called for in 1823.

In 1822 was founded the Bannatyne Club, of which Tytler was one
of the original members. This literary society, founded on the model
of the Roxburghe Club, was formed by Sir W. Scott, Thomas Thom­
son, David Laing, and some other enthusiastic Scottish antiquaries.

xii                           BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF

It existed until 1860 ; and, during that long period, issued to its
members a series of works which have been described as forming
the greatest, the most important, and the most splendid disclosures
that have been made of the latent historical treasures of Scotland.

Following the example of the Roxburghe Club, the members of
the Bannatyne celebrated the anniversary of their institution by an
elegant symposium. At these banquets original compositions were
sung by such of the members as were of a poetical temperament.
Their songs, or “ garlands,” as they were termed, were afterwards
printed in a sumptuous style for the use of the members. Sir W.
Scott produced the first, “ Quhairin the President speaketh,” and was
followed by Tytler, who contributed three songs, which were quaintly
described as having been “ Brevit be ane lernit Councillar in the
Kingis Chekar,” and which displayed a considerable amount of
humour and poetical ability.

In addition to the volumes printed at the expense of the Club
generally, it was, if not a condition of membership, at least expected
that a volume should be printed by each of the members, and pre­
sented to the rest. Tytler, accordingly, in conjunction with his
friends Mr Hog of Newliston and Mr Adam Urquhart, contributed
a volume of “ Memoirs of the Wars carried on in Scotland and Ire­
land, 1689-91, by Major-General Hugh Maekay.” This curious
volume was printed in 1833.

Tytler’s attention was at this time nearly equally divided between
law and literature, and, as it has commonly been supposed that a
literary man could not be a good lawyer, it seemed necessary that
he should make his election between them, for success in his future
career. But a compromise suited him better, and so he published, in
1823, “ An Account of the Life and Works of Sir T. Craig of Ric-
carton,” the author of a celebrated treatise on the Feudal Law of
Scotland. Craig had been a man of studious and retired habits, and
mixed but little in the factions and intrigues of his time. Tytler,
while recording the facts in the uneventful life of the great lawyer,
gave an interest to the work by incorporating many notices of the

PATRICK FRASER TYTLER.                             xiii

eminent statesmen who were his contemporaries during the period
between 1538 and 1608. This work was well received by the mem­
bers of the legal faculty ; but, while it served to maintain its author’s
literary reputation, it failed to increase his practice at the bar.

Tytler’s agreeable manners and joyous temperament made him a
prominent member of the Midlothian troop of Yeomanry Cavalry,
which numbered then, as it does still, many young men of rank
connected with the Scottish metropolis. An incident which oc­
curred in 1824 was the cause of much merriment amongst the
troop, and called forth several of those amusing lyrical effusions in
which Tytler so much excelled. “ He had planned a quiet afternoon
with his brother, under the paternal roof of Woodhouselee, and,
with that view, had stolen away from his companions and the
prospect of duty on the Portobello sands. But he was quickly
missed at head­quarters; his intended line of march anticipated ;
and a corporal’s troop, with a led horse, and a mock warrant for
seizure, were despatched to apprehend and bring back the deserter.
Tytler, the instant he espied the approach of this band, escaped by
a back door, and took shelter in the glen above Woodhouselee. He
remained there until he thought the danger must be over, and then
ventured to return to the house ; but ill had he calculated on the
sharpness of the lawyer-soldiers of the Lothian Yeomanry. He
was captured at the very threshold by the ambush which awaited his
return, deprived of his arms, mounted on the led horse, and carried
off in triumph to the military encampment at Musselburgh. The
entire pantomime so touched his fancy, that he turned the incident
into a song that same evening, and sang it the next day, (to the air
of ’ The Groves of Blarney,') at the mess table, amid the applause
and laughter of his delighted companions. He confessed how
' Private Tytler, forgetting quite, sir,’ the heinousness of desertion,—
and in defiance of

' That truth, the soul of discipline,—

Most undutifully, in the month of July,
Set out for Woodhouselee to dine.'

xiv                             BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF

The enemy’s approach, and his own retreat to the glen he gra­
phically described, as well as the exceeding discomfort to which he
had been subjected as he

' Shrouded sat beneath the pine.’" *

This song, called “ The Deserter,” and several others, were pri­
vately printed, in 1825, as " The Songs of the Edinburgh Troop.”

Tytler and his yeomanry troop did good service on occasion of
a great fire which happened in Edinburgh at that time. They were
on duty for the purpose of guarding the effects which the inhabitants
were endeavouring to save from the conflagration. And to a happy
suggestion of Tytler the preservation of the Advocates’ Library from
the flames may be said to be due. He suggested that the roof of
the building in which the books were contained should be covered
with wet blankets, and personally assisted in having this work done.
The expedient was fortunately effectual, and that noble collection of
books was saved.

From his intimacy with Sir Walter Scott, whose antiquarian
tastes and literary labours led him to inquire minutely into almost
every circumstance connected with Scottish history, Tytler derived
much advantage. It was the advice of this great man that he
should concentrate his energies on a historical work, which would
supply a desideratum in Scottish literature. Scott possessed, in an
eminent degree, the talent for imbuing his circle of friends with the
same enthusiasm for literary enterprises which was characteristic of
his own nature. He found in Tytler one of congenial sympathies;
and while his friend was on a visit to Abbotsford, in 1823, he had
seriously urged him to undertake the task of writing a history of

No one would have been so competent for such an enterprise as
Sir Walter himself; but the multifarious nature of his other literary
pursuits deprived him of the leisure necessary for the great amount
of preliminary research which such a work involves. The subject
was one, however, in which he was deeply interested ; and as he at
* Burgon’s Memoir, p. 166.

PATRICK FRASER TYTLER.                           xv

one time cherished the hope that an opportunity might occur when
he might be enabled to devote his own energies to its treatment, he
had collected various anecdotes from Scottish history for the pur­
pose. These he afterwards published as the “ Tales of a Grand­
father,” one of his most popular works.

The following interesting account of the circumstances to which
we owe Tytler’s invaluable work, is given in a letter written by Mr
Pringle of Whytbank to Mr James Tytler in 1854. The historian
had been on a visit to Mr Pringle at Yair, and, accompanied by that
gentleman, had spent a most agreeable day at Abbotsford :—“ While
we were riding home at night,” continues Mr Pringle,—“ I re­
member the place ; it was just after we had forded the Tweed at
Birdside,—your brother told me, that in the course of that evening
Sir Walter Scott had taken him aside, and suggested to him the
scheme of writing a history of Scotland. Sir Walter stated that,
some years before, the booksellers had urged him to undertake such
a work, and that he had at one time seriously contemplated it.
The subject was very congenial to his tastes; and he thought that
by interspersing the narrative with romantic anecdotes illustrative
of the manners of his countrymen, he could render such a work
popular. But he soon found, while engaged in preparing his mate­
rials, that something more was wanted than a popular romance,—
that a right history of Scotland was yet to be written ; but that
there were ample materials for it in the national records, in collec­
tions of documents both private and public, and in Scottish authors
whose works had become rare or were seldom perused. The re­
search, however, which would be required for bringing to light,
arranging and digesting these materials, he soon saw would be far
more than he had it in his power to give to the subject; and it
would be a work of tedious and patient labour, which must be
pursued not in Scotland only, but amongst the national collections
of records in London, and wherever else such documents may have
been preserved. But such a labour his official duties and other
avocations would not allow him to bestow upon it. He had, there-

xvi                          BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF

fore, ended in a resolution to confine his undertaking to a collection
of historical anecdotes for the amusement of the rising generation,
calculated to impress upon their memories the worthy deeds of
Scottish heroes, and inspire them with sentiments of nationality.
He also mentioned that the article on the Culloden Papers, pub­
lished in the Quarterly Review for 1816, which I have always con­
sidered as one of the most attractive as well as characteristic of all
his writings, had been originally conceived in the form of a portion
of an introductory essay to the contemplated historical work, which
was now likely to go no further.

“ He then proposed to your brother to enter on the undertaking,
and remarked to him, that he knew his tastes and favourite pursuits
lay so strongly in the line of history, and the history of his native
country must have such peculiar interest for him, that the labour
could not fail to be congenial to him; that though the requisite
researches would consume a great deal of time and thought, he
had the advantage of youth on his side, and might live to complete
the work, which, if executed under a deep sense of the importance
of historical truth, would confer a lasting benefit on his country;
and he ended with offering all the aid in his power for obtaining
access to the repositories of information, as well as advice in pur­
suing the necessary investigations.

“ I asked my friend if the suggestion pleased him ? He replied,
that the undertaking appeared very formidable ; that I knew he had
always been fond of historical pursuits, and though he confessed he
had frequently cherished an ambition for becoming an historical
author, yet it had never entered into his mind to attempt a history
of his own country, as he knew too well the difficulties which he
would have to encounter, especially those of attaining accuracy, and
realising his own conception of what a history of Scotland ought
to be ; but that the suggestion, coming from such a quarter, as well
as the offered assistance, was not to be disregarded. You may be
sure that I encouraged him to the best of my power; for though I
knew how much it was likely to withdraw his attention from his



professional avocations, yet I also knew how much more congenial
a pursuit it would prove, and how much more he was likely to attain
to excellence, and establish his reputation in this channel. It was,
therefore, with much satisfaction that I soon afterwards learned from
him that he had entered seriously on the undertaking.”*

Before the first two volumes of the “ History of Scotland” made
their appearance, Tytler communicated an elegant paper to the Royal
Society of Edinburgh, which was published in its Transactions in
1826. It is entitled, “An Historical and Critical Introduction to
an Inquiry into the Revival of the Greek Literature in Italy after
the Dark Ages.”

In March 1826 Tytler was married to Rachel, daughter of
Thomas Hog, Esq., of Newliston,—a lady to whom he had been
long attached. This union afforded him unmixed happiness, which
was only terminated by the early death of his wife in 1835. After
his marriage, Tytler established himself in 36 Melville Street, Edin­
burgh, where he began the preparation of his History. He also
published, anonymously, at this time, a life of John Wycliff, the
precursor of the English Reformation.

After his marriage, Tytler entered upon his historical labours
with the utmost enthusiasm. As the result of two years of unre­
mitting exertion, the first volume appeared in March 1828, and
was followed by the second in 1829. These volumes were favour­
ably received, and were reviewed by Sir Walter Scott in an able
article in the Quarterly for 1829. Sir Walter concluded his charac­
teristic paper by referring to the laborious task thus begun, and
wishing the author God speed—

For long, though pleasing, is the way,
And life, alas! allows but an ill winter’s day.”

He also expressed the hope that Tytler, young, ardent, and compe­
tent to the task, would not delay to prosecute it with the same spirit
which he had already displayed.

Tytler appears at first to have had some difficulty in obtaining a

* Burgon’s Memoir, p. 175.                           b

xviii                           BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF

suitable publisher for his History, and had calculated on but a
moderate success for this first instalment of his great work. He
was agreeably disappointed when the sale of the first edition of
these two volumes exceeded one thousand copies. A fair success
attended the publication of the other volumes, which appeared suc­
cessively in 1831, 1834, 1837, 1840, 1842, and 1843.

In the further prosecution of his labours, Tytler visited London
in 1830, to consult the manuscripts in the State Paper Office and
in the British Museum. While in London he endeavoured to secure
the succession to the office of Historiographer for Scotland, when it
should become vacant. This appointment was then held by the
venerable Dr Gillies, who was in the eighty-third year of his age.
Tytler was warmly received by many of the first literary men of the
metropolis, and was engaged by Mr Murray to write a collection of
biographies of illustrious Scotsmen, for a series of popular works
then projected by that eminent publisher.

This very interesting work accordingly appeared as “ Lives of
Scottish Worthies,” in 1831-33. It contained notices of the fol­
lowing twelve Scottish celebrities :—Alexander III., Michael Scott
the wizard of Scotland, Wallace, Bruce, Barbour, Wyntoun, Fordun,
James I., Henryson, Dunbar, Gawin Douglas, and Sir David Lyndsay.

In consequence of a change of ministry, Tytler lost his Exchequer
appointment in 1830, which rendered him more dependent on his
literary exertions. The failing health of his wife shortly afterwards
induced him, as he was no longer necessitated to reside in Edin­
burgh, to try the effect of a change to a southern climate. He re­
moved his family accordingly to Torquay, where they resided for a
year. He also spent some time at Rothesay in Bute.

Notwithstanding the interruptions caused by his changes of resi­
dence about this time, occasioned by the most ardent attachment to
his amiable and accomplished wife, Tytler found leisure to write a
“ Life of Sir Walter Raleigh,” and a “ Historical View of the
Progress of Discovery in America.” These works formed part of a
series issued by Messrs Oliver and Boyd, under the title of “ The

PATRICK FRASER TYTLER.                          xix

Edinburgh Cabinet Library,” and were very popular. Of his Life of
Raleigh new editions were called for in 1840, 1844, 1846, and 1847.

From his fondness for research among the national archives, and
his familiarity with the contents of the State Paper Office in Lon­
don, Tytler was, in 1834, desirous of obtaining a permanent appoint­
ment of a congenial nature. As the keepership of the records in
the Chapter House of Westminster (to which a salary of £400 a year
was attached) was then vacant, Tytler became a candidate for that
appointment. He was, however, unsuccessful, and the office was
bestowed on Sir Francis Palgrave.

In the following year, he suffered a severe blow to his domestic
happiness through the death of his wife, which he bore with Chris­
tian resignation. By religious meditation, and by attention to the
education of his youthful family, he strove to comfort himself under
this painful bereavement.

He was destined to experience a great disappointment in 1836.
On the death of Dr Gillies, who survived till he was in his eighty-
ninth year, Tytler fully expected the appointment of Historiographer
for Scotland. A promise had actually been made to his father, Lord
Woodhouselee, that he should have this honour conferred on him ;
but, by an unlooked-for change of ministry, the office was otherwise
disposed of. It was bestowed on George Brodie, Esq., Advocate.

From his familiarity with the national archives, Tytler was, in 1836,
examined, by a committee of the House of Commons as to the best
plan for rendering these documents available to historical inquirers.
His evidence tended to shew the folly of attempting to print in
the whole of these ancient records. He suggested, however,
the propriety of publishing lists or calendars of these papers, which
should, at the same time, embrace a short analysis of their contents.
This valuable suggestion, after the lapse of twenty years, has been
adopted, and the collection of “ Calendars of State Papers,'’ now in
course of publication, will, when completed, be an absolutely essen­
tial aid to those engaged in historical inquiries.

Besides a volume of his “ History of Scotland,” Tytler published,

xx                              BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF

in 1837, his “Life of Henry VIII.,” which, like his “ Life of Raleigh,”
formed a volume of Oliver and Boyd’s “ Edinburgh Cabinet Library.”
It passed through several editions. He also, about this time, in con­
junction with Mr John Miller, Q.C., and the Rev. Joseph Stevenson,
instituted the English Historical Society. As the Bannatyne Club
illustrated Scottish history, this society was originated for the pur­
pose of publishing early chronicles and documents of interest to the
student of the literature of England. It flourished for nearly twenty
years, and printed for the use of its members a series of twenty-nine
volumes, remarkable for the excellence of their typography, and for
the care with which they were edited. The labours of Tytler in con­
nexion with this society increased the debt this country owes to
his unwearied exertions in the cause of historical research.

As the nature of his literary avocations required constant refer­
ence to the manuscript treasures contained in London, Tytler found
it expedient to take up his abode in the metropolis; he accordingly
removed finally to London in 1837.

Shortly after settling in his new residence in that city Tytler
published, in 1839, a work in two volumes, entitled, “ England
under the reigns of Edward VI. and Mary, with the contemporary
History of Europe, illustrated in a Series of Original Letters never
before printed. " This work contains 191 letters, written by the
most distinguished persons of the period, from 1546 to 1558, with
introductory remarks, biographical sketches, and useful historical
notes. It may be regarded as an attempt to popularise the immense
mass of manuscript literature contained in the State Paper Office
and other repositories, as the obsolete spelling of the letters was
modernised to render them intelligible to general readers. From
the multifarious nature of the contents of these volumes, it is diffi­
cult to describe them. The work is, however, a favourable specimen
of the manner in which a well-skilled antiquary may render generally
attractive and interesting those ancient documents which, in their
original form, would be seldom consulted.

The publication of the “ History of Scotland” was brought to a

PATRICK FRASER TYTLER.                              xxi

close in 1843 by the issue of the ninth and last volume, which Tytler
concludes as follows :—“ It is with feelings of gratitude, mingled
with regret, that the author now closes this work—the history of
his country—the labour of little less than eighteen years;—grati­
tude to the Giver of all good that life and health have been spared
to complete, however imperfectly, an arduous undertaking; regret
that the tranquil pleasures of historical investigation, the happy
hours devoted to the pursuit of truth, are at an end, and that he
must at last bid farewell to an old and dear companion,'’

Tytler has the merit of having executed his great work with much
candour and impartiality. On every period of Scottish history
which he has examined he has thrown fresh light; and he has given
a clear and consistent narrative of events which, in many instances,
had previously been the subject of the fiercest controversy. This
work, whilst it displays an immense amount of antiquarian know­
ledge, is, at the same time, replete with elevated sentiments ; and is
written in that elegant style which might have been expected from
its author’s hereditary claims to literary distinction.

He begins his history with the accession of Alexander III., in
1242, and continues it to the union of the crowns of England and
Scotland under James I., in 1603. The period which he thus
assigned to himself is illustrated by reference to nearly every source
of authentic information which the recent spirit of antiquarian
research had placed at the disposal of the historical inquirer. The
voluminous publications of the Record Commission, embracing
the Acts of the Scottish Parliament, and the Rotuli Scotiæ, a work
relating to the transactions between England and Scotland from
1290 to 1517; the accounts of the Great Chamberlain of Scotland
from 1263 to 1435 ; and the publications of the Bannatyne Club,
afforded, in addition to the original MSS. discovered by himself in
the national archives, the authentic materials with the aid of which
his work was prepared.

The history of Scotland, previous to the reign of Alexander, still
remains an interesting field of research; and it may be doubted

xxii                            BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF

whether this part of the subject has yet been so fully explored as to
admit of its results being embodied in a history for popular use. The
void has been supplied, to a certain extent, by Tytler in his chapter
on the state of Ancient Scotland, in which he gives the most graphic
account of its early condition anywhere to be found.

In his treatment of what may be called the quœstiones vexatœ
of Scottish history, it must be said that he rarely allows his own
sympathies to influence the impartiality of his narrative. As an
instance of this, it may be remarked, that whilst he entertained the
greatest respect for the memory of his grandfather—whose vindica­
tion of Queen Mary laid the foundation of the literary fame of the
family—he came to a different conclusion with reference to Queen
Mary, so clearly had his researches established her guilt.

It was at one time Tytler’s intention to continue his history down
to the period of the union of Scotland with England, in 1707.
But from the voluminous and important nature of the documents to
be arranged and examined for this purpose he found himself unable
to enter on such a herculean task

A short abstract of his History formed the article “ Scotland “ in
the Seventh Edition of the “ Encyclopaedia Britannica.'’ It first
appeared in 1842, and was afterwards printed in a separate form as
a suitable class-book for schools.

Tytler at length began to receive the long-delayed rewards of his
literary diligence and indefatigable research. A pension of £200
was bestowed on him by Government in recognition of his services.
This mark of royal favour was communicated to him in the most
handsome terms by Sir Robert Peel, then Prime Minister. He also
had the honour of being consulted by Her Majesty and Prince
Albert with reference to the collections of historical curiosities,
drawings, and miniatures preserved at Windsor. On the occasions
of his visiting the palace for this purpose, Tytler was received with
much attention, and retained a lively sense of the affability of the
royal family. At the desire of Her Majesty he wrote an account
of a singular relic in the royal collection, known as the Darnley

PATRICK FRASER TYTLER.                            xxiii

Jewel. A few copies of his notes on this subject were printed for
Her Majesty’s use.

In 1845, Tytler was united, for the second time, in marriage to
Anastasia, daughter of Thomson Bonar, Esq., of Camden Place,

The intense mental application which characterised the whole of
Tytler’s life, although relieved by an occasional indulgence in active
field sports, had, as might be expected, a prejudicial effect on his
health. He had a slight paralytic seizure in 1841, from the effects
of which, by prompt attention, he recovered. His health, however,
broke down in 1846, and he became a confirmed invalid. After
residing for some years in Germany for the improvement of his
health, he returned to England in 1849, and died in London on Christ­
mas Eve of that year, when he was in the fifty-eighth year of his age.
His remains were brought to Edinburgh, and were interred in the
family vault, in the Greyfriars’ churchyard. He left three children,
two sons,—Alexander, and Thomas Patrick, who entered the East
India Company’s military service,—and one daughter.

The uneventful career of Tytler, thus closed at a comparatively
early age, was well worthy of the distinguished family from which
he sprung. His high moral character, and his amiable and cheerful
disposition, endeared him to a large circle of friends. At the same
time he was distinguished, from his youth upwards, by a deep sense
of religion—the result of his excellent early training—by which his
life was carefully regulated. His numerous published works attest
the patient research with which he brought to light historical docu­
ments of the highest interest and value ; while to his indomitable
perseverance in this respect was united an amount of perspicuous
discrimination in the employment of them, which justly entitles him
to take an honourable place among those authors who have most
successfully laid open the historical treasures of their country for
the instruction of the present and of future generations.

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