This he did by working hard to help suppress the more rebellious clans. He raised an independent company of Highland soldiers, effectively a private army, mostly drawn from the Fraser clan, and he passed on information to General Wade who had been sent north to pacify the Highlands. Neither Wade, nor his Hanoverian allies in the North entirely trusted him, but his soldiers did, and the fact that they were now serving a different cause did not seem to bother them. When, in 1739, the regiment that was to become the Black Watch was raised, one of the companies incorporated into it was Lovat's. He was not, however, given its command — Wade was too suspicious of him. And rightly so, it turned out. For when Bonnie Prince Charlie landed in Scotland in his bid to reclaim the throne, Lovat finally showed his true colours and threw in his lot with the Stuarts, sending his son Simon to fight for the Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden.
It was a decision that cost him his life, and, in the end there is something admirable about the old villain coming good in the end and facing his death with bravado. Sarah Fraser recounts all this with verve and great authority, leavening the history with colourful accounts of the clothes, food, customs and cruelty of the times. She is perhaps a little too reliant on her imagination to be entirely acceptable to historians. Observations like "he put down his drink and forced himself to be civil . . ." or "a tense and wearied ride full of half-imagined voices", make one a trifle suspicious as to whether this is history or romance. But hers is a gripping story, compellingly told.
Victoria Schofield, on the other hand, is the author of an official history, and she takes no liberties with the facts. That does not make her story any less gripping or any less compelling. And this too is an exercise in paradox. For while Black Watch recruits were raised to suppress their own countrymen, they drew, for their traditions and their inspiration, on the dress, habits and customs of the very Highlanders they were there to subdue. Their motto, Nemo me impune lacessi — "no one harms me and gets away with it" — was the same as that chosen by the Jacobite rebels of 1715. At least 300 of them were bound by ties of kinship with those who had supported Bonnie Prince Charlie; they wore the same dress (the kilt, in a dark green tartan, hence the regiment's name), played the same pipes, and spoke the same language. When the articles of war were read out to them, they were delivered in Gaelic and English. And when they were dispatched to America to fight the French, one of the regiments came under the command of Simon Fraser, son of the executed Lord Lovat.
They fought ferociously in the name of the British interest, British ambition, and the expansion of British power, without ever losing their pride in being Scottish. After Fontenoy, their first battle abroad, which was narrowly lost in 1743, a French officer wrote: "The Highland furies rushed in upon us with more violence than ever did a sea driven by a tempest . . . in short we gained the victory; but may I never see such another." That suggests that they had inherited another military tradition of their countrymen — the Highland Charge, used to such effect by Montrose and Dundee in the 17th century. Yet they went on to develop the strategy of the traditional square formation, which requires absolute discipline and control, prompting the Duke of Cambridge to utter the memorable words after the Battle of Alma in 1854: "Well done 42nd, you are a lot of bricks!"