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I am induced to trouble you with the result, that Logan had no accession whatever in Gowrie's conspiracy.*
The evidence consists in the letters, on which Sprott and the remains of Logan were respectively convicted. Two letters are inserted in Sprott's confession: the one is from Gowrie to Logan, which appears no more: the other is Logan's answer, which was engrossed in the indictment, and is only to be found in Archbishop Abbot's Account of the Trial of Sprott. At the distance of two years, on the trial of Logan's ashes,f four additional letters are produced, of which the discovery might undoubtedly have been recent. But the letter formerly inserted in Sprott's indictment is again produced, and in a form so materially different, so much amplified, amended and altered, that, on comparing the two editions as preserved by Abbot, Cromarty, and Arnot, no doubt of the forgery can remain. To me, at least, the detection appears so complete, that the evidence employed to attest the authenticity of Logan's letters, can amount to no more than a proof of the dexterity with which the forgery was executed.
• Mr. Laing subsequently saw reason to change this opinion. In the second edition of his History of Scotland, vol. iii. p. 506, he makes the following very candid avowal:“ From the different copies of the same letters from Logan to Gowrie, as inserted in Sprott's trial, and in Logan's attainder, I did not hesitate, in the first edition of this History, to pronounce the whole correspondence a forgery. The difference appeared to be still greater upon examining the original records of justiciary and of parliament, in which Sprott's trial and the attainder of Logan are respectively engrossed. At the same time, however, the absolute identity of the letters with Logan's hand-writing is attested by such strong and unexceptionable evidence, that any explanation, sufficient to reconcile the apparent contradiction between the different copies of the same letter, should be preferred to the ultimate supposition of forgery. The explanation which I have now discovered has at last convinced me, that the letters are genuine, and that Logan was accessary to the Gowrie conspiracy."
t“ Although Logan and his servant were already dead, his memory was still exposed to persecution, and his innocent offspring reserved for punishment. According to a legal maxim, that no person can be condemned in absence, his bones were dug up, and in the succeeding parliament produced and arraigned at the bar.”—Laing's History, vol. iii. p. 54.
It is sufficient to refer you to the means of detection, without enlarging on the internal contradictions which the letters contain. The forgery itself may be easily explained. From Johnstone's History, p. 267, and from Calderwood's Manuscript History, vol. vi. p. 140, it appears that Sprott was a notary, expert and long practised in forgery, that he was capable of devising the letters, from the preposterous expectation of a reward, but unable to endure the extreme and repeated torture which produced his confession, “when he was resolved, " he says, “to die, and had not a hope nor a wish to live." On the other hand, the principal statesmen of that period, besides their desire to gratify James, by an opportune and unexpected confirmation of Gowrie's conspiracy, had an additional motive to promote, or perhaps to devise, the forgery themselves. Lord Balmerino, the secretary, had purchased Logan's estate : the price was still due to his heirs; but it might be extinguished by his posthumous attainder and a gift of his escheat.
(Douglas' Peerage, p. 65; Scotstarvet's Staggering State, p. 62.) The benefit, it is true, was intercepted, as Balmerino himself was attainted that year; but Logan's trial, although necessarily delayed till the parliament 1609, must have been concerted before Sprott's execution. I conceive that the mine was prepared by Balmerino, and sprung by the Earl of Dunbar, his successful rival, who occasioned his disgrace.
These remarks on a collateral subject do not affect your conclusions concerning Gowrie's conspiracy; and, very possibly, the forgery has not escaped your observation. It was concealed from Dr. Robertson; as apparently he never met with Abbot's pamphlet; and, from Cromartie's disingenuity in transcribing Sprott's confession, with the omission of the letters, he had no opportunity of detecting the forgery. It is a curious picture of the times when two ministers of state, Dunbar and Balmerino, were engaged in false accusation, forgery, and judicial murder.
If these remarks can contribute any additional information, they will be some small retribution for the pleasure and instruction I have received from your writings.
MR. DILLY TO MR. PINKERTON.
Thursday, Jan. 26th, 1797. I send the two sets of your History of Scotland, as I promised. Much will depend as to a successful reception, upon the candor and good disposition of the critics upon the work. I think, Sir, from the conversation which passed between you and Dr. Gillies in my counting-house, he may be prevailed upon to write an account of the History for the Monthly Review. As to the Critical, * I presume, though you have relinquished the employment as a monthly contributor, the printer will be ready to receive what may be given from yourself or a friend. I shall postpone the publication a few weeks longer.
*“ In the course of this work a letter will appear from Mr. Samuel Hamilton, who was at that time proprietor of the Critical Review, by which it will be seen how much Mr. Pinkerton was connected with that publication. Mr. Pinkerton has likewise preserved in his correspondence a letter from Dr. Richard Griffith, the editor of the Monthly Review, dated 14th July, 1796, upon the subject of some attempt which had been made to influence that work against him; and I here subjoin a copy of that letter, as curious of its kind.
“I am as much surprised at the discovery made by your letter, received yesterday, as you could be at the contents of mine to you. I cannot imagine who is the scoundrel that has taken so dishonest a liberty with your name. I inclose his letter, and heartily wish it may lead to a discovery of the writer. If you do find him out, I should take it very kindly, if you would acquaint me with the worthy gentleman's name. The plot seems to have been formed with a view to exasperate, if possible, the Monthly Reviewers against you and your publications; but it is happily blown up; and I shall be glad to see it produce a contrary effect.
“ I am much obliged, Sir, by the candid manner in which you have opened your mind to me, throughout the whole of your (genuine) letter. It has increased the good opinion I had before conceived of you.
“You will please to preserve the incendiary epistle; as it is possible we may hereafter have occasion to refer to it, should the writer pursue his machinations."
January 28th, 1797. I am obliged to you for your letter, and for good opinion of my little labors. Your two chapters in Henry's last volume I read with more pleasure than any part of the work, and entertain the best expectations of your History, the design of which has been repeatedly mentioned to me. Your letter revived my thoughts on Gowrie's conspiracy, which were almost dormant, having for this twelvemonth been correcting through the press my History, from 1371 to 1542. It is now printed off; and I shall diversify my present leisure by renewing my design of a short tract on that strange business. Literature is already loaded with large books on small subjects; and I only mean, Ist, to repeat the opinions of former writers; 2d, to propose my own; 3d, to offer some proofs and arguments in its support ; and 4th, to answer some objections.
I think of printing it anonymously next summer; and, as your letter is extremely to the purpose,
if you have no objection, I shall subjoin it, omitting the complimentary parts. If I remain anonymous, perhaps (if you consent) you will prefer my only saying it is “ from an able writer, now employed