The two books meet in the person of Simon Lovat, who is instrumental in raising one of the component companies of the regiment. Yet here, already, is a massive irony. For surely Lovat was a Jacobite, his clan devoted to the return of the Stuarts, a sworn enemy of the Hanoverian cause — how come he is helping a British government by raising troops to defend it? The answer, as Sarah Fraser skilfully reveals, is that this noble clan chief, head of an illustrious Highland family, and as a Fraser, the epitome of glamour, is in fact a complete blackguard. He plays both ends against the middle, deals clandestinely with his enemies, and seems to have deserved his grisly end on the executioner's block.
The artist William Hogarth caught up with him as he was on his way to the Tower, and captured the image of a corpulent old rogue, a half smile on his face, his eyes fixed on the main chance, his fingers perhaps counting the number of times he had betrayed his friends. In the end, it appears, his only loyalty was to his own ambitions, and those were the securing of his lands and title. If that involved switching sides, so be it.
His principal opponents were not, initially, the government, but his own kinsmen, the Murrays of Atholl, who perhaps had a better claim on the inheritance, but who were outwitted and outfoxed by a man whom one of them described as "wicked, dangerous and notoriously to be suspected". Lovat would resort to any stratagem, however violent, to achieve his ends. This included the abduction and rape of his first wife, Amelia, who had been born a Murray, and who stood to inherit a vast swathe of Highland land and power if she took the name of Fraser. This she did, poor lady, but entirely against her will and only by force.
Sarah Fraser is clearly both entranced and appalled by the behaviour of the family into which she has married. She makes it clear that Simon Lovat inspired great devotion among his clansmen, who would loyally follow him in battle, whatever side he happened to be on at the time, and she admires his manly qualities. But she is unflinching when it comes to recounting his treachery. Deciding that the accession of Queen Anne offered him no chance of advancement, Lovat threw in his lot with the Stuarts and went into exile at St Germain-en-Laye, where plans for reclaiming the British throne were the principal currency. He undertook to go back to Scotland to encourage the clans to rally to the Stuart cause, and to discover who could be relied on. In fact he went straight to see the Duke of Queensberry, High Commissioner in Scotland for Queen Anne, and offered to pass on information about French plans to invade. He had become, in effect, a double agent, or as Sarah Fraser explains: "In his heart a Jacobite, he must now dedicate himself to the Hanoverian cause, for his own and his clan's survival."