I should have had the honor of acknowledging sooner the receipt of your letter of the 28th of June last, had I not concluded to defer doing it till I could announce the transmission of my portrait which has been just finished by Mr. Robertson, (of New York), who has also undertaken to forward it. (Footnote: The box here alluded to was made of the oak that sheltered William Wallace after the battle of Falkirk. The following account of it is given in a letter from the Earl of Buchan, written subsequently to the one which was brought by Mr. Robertson.
“Sir; some time ago I did myself the pleasure to transmit to you by Mr. Robertson, of Aberdeen, a testimony of my sincere respect, contained in a box made of oak, which sheltered our great Wallace after his defeat at Falkirk; which box was cut out of the tree by the proprietor and sent to the Corporation of Goldsmiths at Edinburgh, and by them presented to me with the freedom of their Company in the box above mentioned, and which I hope you will receive. It is a respectable curiosity, and will, I flatter myself, be a relic of long endurance in America, as a mark of that esteem with which I have honor to be, &c.--Dryburgh Abbey, September 15th, 1719.”
The Company of Goldsmiths had signified to the Earl of Buchan their approbation of the manner in which he proposed to dispose of the box. He accompanied the gift with the request, that Washington, in the event of his decease, would transmit it to the man in his own country who should appear in his judgement to merit it best. The circumstance explains the closing paragraph of Washington’s letter. The box was ultimately returned to the Earl of Buchan.) The manner of the execution does not discredit, I am told, to the artist, of whose skill favorable mention had been made to me. I was further induced to intrust the execution to Mr. Robertson, from his having informed me, that he had drawn the others for your Lordship, and knew the size which would best suit your collection. (H.W. this is in reference to the portrait he was getting painted at the time) I accept with sensibility and with satisfaction the significant present of the box, which accompanied your Lordship’s letter. In yielding the tribute due from every lover of mankind to the patriotic and heroic virtues of which it is commemorative, I estimate, as I ought, the additional value which it derives from the hand that sent it, and my obligation for the sentiments that induced the transfer.
I will, however, ask, that you will exempt me from a compliance with the request relating to it’s eventual destination. In an attempt to execute your wish in this particular, I should feel embarrassment from a just comparison of relative pretensions, and should fear to risk injustice by so marked a preference. With sentiments of the truest esteem and consideration, I remain your Lordship’s &c.”
And this is from George Washington's will. As you can see, he wanted it to go back to Scotland, unfortunately it just wasn't to be.
Item To the Earl of Buchan I recommit "the box made of the Oak that sheltered the Great Sir William Wallace after the battle of Falkirk" presented to me by his Lordship, in terms too flattering for me to repeat, with a request "to pass it, on the event of my decease, to the man in my country, who should appear to merit it best, upon the same conditions that have induced him to send it to me." Whether easy, or not, to select the man who might comport with his Lordships opinion in this respect, is not for me to say; but conceiving that no disposition of this valuable curiosity can be more eligable than the re-commitment of it to his own Cabinet, agreeably to the original design of the Goldsmiths Company of Edenburgh, who presented it to him, and at his request, consented that is should be transferred to me; I do give & bequeath the same to his Lordship, and in case of his decease, to his heir with my grateful thanks for the distinguished honour of presenting it to me; and more especially for the favourable sentiments with which he accompanied it.
So that was just a bit of information I thought you might find interesting. If you want to learn more, just google "The Wallace Box" and you will find more things about it.
I'll be back later again sometime this week to post more about Rob Roy so check back soon!