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HIS MOST GRACIOUS MAJESTY,
WILLIAM THE FOURTH,
KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, ETC.,
IS WITH PERMISSION
BY HIS OBEDIENT SERVANT,
SOME apology may perhaps be deemed necessary for a Lowlander attempting to write a History of Highland Literature. The only apology offered, is, that it was not written with the view of being published. While studying the Gaelic Language in 1825, a friend wished me to make up a catalogue of his Gaelic books; it appeared after this list was made up scarcely probable that many more should exist-and under the idea of having almost already completed the list, the present work was undertaken. All the Gaelic books in the neighbourhood were examined, but I found the work increase so rapidly on my hands, that it became necessary to class them and re-write the whole; and the longer I searched the more I was convinced, that the Literature of the Gael was richer than even its friends imagined. The number of Translations, Song books, etc., which I now met with, many of them works which I had never previously heard of, obliged me four times to extend the plan originally adopted and to re-write the MS.
The great body of this work was finished in 1827, when the MS. fell accidentally into the hands of the Right Honourable Sir John Sinclair, Bart., who
recommended it to be laid before the Highland Society of London, from whom it received a Premium in 1831; and at the earnest request of many distinguished Patrons of Gaelic Literature it has been printed.
Although, since the MS. was finished, in 1827, I have ransacked the principal Libraries in this country and on the Continent in search of Gaelic books, yet I am aware that the list at best must be imperfect. I therefore hope that any one taking an interest in Gaelic Literature, and possessing any work, however trifling, will do me the goodness to forward it to my Publishers, that in any future edition it may be noticed.
Although I have been exceedingly guarded, yet considering the sources from which my information has been derived, the nature of the book-the nature of the information, and more particularly the circumstance of its being the first work of the kind, I am well aware that in these pages there will be found many imperfections; but will always esteem any correction that may be made, whether it be public or private, and endeavour to avail myself of it, if it appear to be just or well founded.
To those who may object to my not having noticed the Irish Gaelic, I would remark that not having sufficient access to Irish publications, has been one reason, and another, that I was afraid of entering upon a field so unbounded, as would necessarily have swollen out the limits of this volume to an immense size;-if, however, the present work be well received, it is my intention to pursue my researches, not only to the Irish Gaelic, but also to all those branches descended from the ancient Celtic.
The plan of arrangement adopted in the Catalogue, is