I THINK it necessary to state how I became possessed of the original copy of the “Ancient History of Caledonia.” I was a sailor on board a man-of-war. Returning in 1842, I was one day sent on Store Duty to the Tower of London. One of my shipmates calling me by name, a gentleman who heard him came to me and said—”Am I like Jock at the fair—are there more M`Larens here than me?” I answered that I was a M’Laren. We became very intimate. He was Master Gunner at the Tower, by name David M’Laren. I remained there all night; and the topic of conversation happening to fall upon nationality, he informed me that he had seen a book in the shop of a Jew in Petticoat Lane, with the word “Chaldea” marked upon it. Through curiosity I went along with him to see it. What he called the book turned out to be a large roll of written skins, not very well preserved, there being holes here and there, and the writing in many places injured by damp. An oaken box which had contained the roll, attracted my attention. It was lined with copper, and had outside on the lid a great many ornaments in the same metal, including a large lion rampant with a sword in its paw. I offered him a sum of money for the box, but he would not part with it until he had first removed the mounting from it. I then offered him a piece of money for the book, which he refused; but when I left he followed after me with it, insisting that I should take it at the price offered, and to avoid being mobbed, I paid the book, got possession of it, and left. After returning home I tried several clergymen with it, but received no encouragement, until I met with the Rev. Duncan M’Gregor, Roman Catholic Priest, Lochaber. He told me it was the “Ancient History of Caledonia.” He translated it from the ancient Latin, in which it was written, into the Gaelic language, as I expected from the nature of the book that it would command a greater sale in that language. From various causes it never was printed in Gaelic, but from this translation, I have now got it translated into the English language, the original document being completely destroyed during the first translation by the means taken to make the writing legible.
Ancient Caledonia – History of