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Thus had the stage been set for Alexander and Janet Schaw, who, all unconscious of so much preparation for their advent into history, wandered happily from one to another of the West Indian islands, to various plantations and centres of the colony of North Carolina, and finally, Miss Schaw herself, to Lisbon, meeting old friends and acquaintances, and enjoying the lavish hospitality that clannish Scotsmen naturally offered to such charming and distinguished guests.It is a matter for congratulation that Miss Schaw made her visit to the West Indies and the Cape Fear just when she did, for had she come a few years later, she would have found Antigua and St.Reluctantly we close the volume, for we would know all her story; but she leaves us abruptly in Portugal, with never a hint as to how she got back to Scotland or how and where she spent the later years of her life: and we ask ourselves, Who was this “affect. Schaw,” where did she come from and whither did she go, this vivacious, adventurous, aristocratic lady, this devoted sister, who willingly faced great discomfort and hardships in order to accompany one dear brother to his new home in the West Indies and to visit another in the far distant British colony of North Carolina?What manner of woman is this who suddenly appears on our field of vision, leaves an unforgettable account of herself and her relatives and friends, and vanishes as suddenly as she came?The Journal relates that there sailed from the Firth of Forth on October 25, 1774, a small craft, the bound for the West Indies and North Carolina, the chief passengers of which were a young Scotsman and his sister, the author of the Journal, who from other sources we discover were Alexander and Janet Schaw of Edinburgh.
In the lowlands of Scotland, amid the hills and valleys and along the rivers and firths from the Grampians to the Tweed and the Clyde, were scores of Scottish families of old-time stock whose attention was attracted early to the islands and mainland of the New World.
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With the blanks filled out as far as possible, with but few corrections in spelling and capitalization, and with here and there a change in the diverting, but somewhat erratic, punctuation, the Journal, in the form now presented, is the same as that of the British Museum manuscript. Schaw” while on her eventful journey to the West Indies and North Carolina, were probably copied many times for circulation among relatives and friends.
But of more importance than these slight changes in form is the fact that two other copies of the Journal are known to exist, one of which, the Vetch manuscript, owned by a descendant of the Schaws and recently bequeathed to a descendant of the Rutherfurds,—the two families that play the chief rôles in the Journal,—we have not been allowed to examine, even for purposes of textual comparison. Vere Langford Oliver, the distinguished author of a history of Antigua, was purchased by him a few years ago in the belief that it was unique; and although this is not the case, it is of particular value in that it gives the name of the author and is dedicated to Alexander Schaw, “the Brother, Friend, and fellow traveller of the Author, his truly affect. Thus, from 1904, when the editors of the present volume came upon the British Museum manuscript, these other manuscripts have been appearing, first Colonel Vetch's and later Mr.