Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση
[blocks in formation]

possible in any way to inspire it with the least general interest. I have avoided, with almost equal solicitude, details of historical facts, in cases where these did not possess the merit of a fame already achieved; and I have been alike studious not to indulge in the researches of mere antiquarianism. The unideaed jargons of botany and geology have met with no better attention ; because, though aware of what Horace says,

-“Sunt quos," &c.--I am also certain that these studies are appreciated only by the wise few. To avoid mere descriptions of scenery has been equally my care ; for, even although I possessed, what I do not possess in any extraordinary degree, a taste for the beautiful or grand in nature, and were capable of delineating both with force and distinctness, I know that it is impossible for an y reader to apprehend and combine in his imagina. tion the ingredients of a scene painted by the pen.

The great general design of this work has been to direct attention almost exclusively to the poetical and romantic; or, to state the principle on a still broader scale, to whatever points in the country could be supposed to interest the largest portion of the public. That Scotland is not deficient in localities of such a noble order, will I think be readily allowed. In order to render


narrative, if possible, still more acceptable, I have interspersed it with innumerable original anecdotes of a local character, many of which are hu.

It will also be found to comprehend a great body of matter tending to the valuable purpose of illustrating the manners of former times. In all that relates to the selection of materials, it has been my prime and governing object to be original; to say as little as possible where I could say nothing new, and to be as



[blocks in formation]

copious as my limits would allow, when I possessed information that was at once novel and agreeable.

It will be readily conceded, that these objects have not been attained without the employment of considerble pains. It would have been easy to copy the humdrum details and innumerable errors of my predecessors, as each and all of them have done in their turn. But to produce a work aiming at so much originality and correctness required a very


It scarce. ly becomes an author to speak at all, and far less with pride, of his labours; but it is perhaps allowable to say something in the present case, in order that the reader may know to what extent he is to rely upon the

accuracy of the details which he has condescended to peruse.

Without alluding to previous historical studies, I may be permitted to state, that after employing several months of the last year in the perusal of former topographical publications and manuscripts, I began, in the early part of summer, to make a round of deliberate pedestrian tours through the country. Instead of the pilgrim's scallop in my hat, I took for motto the glowing expression of Burns, “ I have no dearer aim than to make leisurely journeys through Caledonia ; to sit on the fields of her battles ; to wander on the romantic banks of her streams; and to muse by the stately towers of venerable ruins, once the honoured abodes of her heroes." In order to secure an acquaintance with every remarkable locality, and with its popular legends, I carried letters from my city friends, giving me a claim upon the best offices of the most intelligent persons resident in the districts which I was to visit. I was thus generally successful in eliciting, over and above the kindness of many a worthy and true-hearted Scot,

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

the best information that was to be had regarding all the more attractive localities of


native land. Goldsmith speaks with just contempt of the travellers who are whirled through Europe in a postchaise. I sedulously eschewed this practical absurdity. Except in cases where stage-coaches could convey me over a desolate and uninteresting tract, I constantly adopted the more deliberate and independent mode of locomotion which nature suggests. I had thus an opportunity of becoming familiarly acquainted at once with the face of the country and the traditions of the people; I could move fast or slow as I pleased, and make such digressions from the main route as seemed necessary. I traversed almost every vale in the lowlands of Scotland, and a great proportion of those in the more northerly region. I saw all the towns except three or four. My peregrinations occupied upwards of nineteen weeks, and extended to the sum of two thousand and twenty-six miles.

In presenting this array of doings and sufferings to the public, I disclaim being influenced by the sentiment which caused Dogberry to assert himself “ one that had had losses.” What I say is mere naked truth, told for the simple purpose of assuring the reader, that the work he has now got into his hands is not the catch-penny compilation of a bookseller's back shop; no patched and contorted tissue of stolen rags, like too many similar publications; that it is not the crude fruit of a literary hot-bed, inflated into premature perfection by the bribe of a greedy publisher ; but the result of an honest enthusiasm-an enthusiasm which the consideration of pecuniary profit could neither nourish nor inspire. I consider these assurances, moreover, the

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

more necessary, because almost all the statements in the following pages rest solely upon my personal creditupon the idea which the public shall fornı of the pains I have taken, and the opportunities of observation I may be supposed to have enjoyed. To

say that enthusiasm could insure the production of a good work would be palpably absurd. It may, however, be asserted, that it is indispensably requisite to the production of a work deserving that appellation in its best sense. Money alone, though a powerful, is after all but an imperfect inspiration ; and the books which it creates are no more like the productions of a purer motive, than the dowdy flowers of a secluded city dunghill resemble those which spring from the fair primeval earth, generated by the natural juices of the ground, and freshened by the nightly visits of the lov


[ocr errors]

ing dew.

It is not the intention of the present writer to say, that because he was not conducted through his labours by the hope of gain, he has found every difficulty successfully overcome by the mere ardour of his mind. He is certain, however, that that is the burning liquid which can melt down the obstructions upon which harder instruments had been tried in vain, and that, though it may not in this case have secured, its infuence must at least give the chance of success. It has been his wish from earliest boyhood, in the words of Burns,

Some usefu' plan or book to make,
For puir auld Scotland's cherished sake.

He has already done more than perhaps his years would give to expect, towards the preservation of what

[blocks in formation]

is dearest to her-the memory of her ancient simple manners and virtues; the celebration of her native wit and humour ; and, in a more extended view of the

; subject, for the reclamation of that which is altogether poetry-the wonderful, beautiful, glorious past. In the present work, he has steadily pursued the same object; conscious and certain that, though many of his own generation may not give him credit for so exalted purpose,

the people who shall afterwards inhabit this romantic land will appreciate what could not have been preserved but with a view to their gratification.


Edinburgh ; February 8, 1827.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »