It is with great good will that I
write this short preface to the edition of "A Doctor of the Old School"
(which has been illustrated by Mr. Gordon after an admirable and
understanding fashion) because there are two things that I should like to
say to my readers, being also my friends.
One, is to answer a question that
has been often and fairly asked. Was there ever any doctor so
self-forgetful and so utterly Christian as William MacLure? To which I am
proud to reply, on my conscience: Not one man, but many in Scotland and in
the the South country. I will dare prophecy also across the sea.
It has been one man’s good fortune
to know four country doctors, not one of whom was without his faults—Weelum
was not perfect—but who, each one, might have sat for my hero. Three are
now resting from their labors, and the fourth, if he ever should see these
lines, would never identify himself.
Then I desire to thank my readers,
and chiefly the medical profession for the reception given to the Doctor
For many years I have desired to pay
some tribute to a class whose service to the community was known to every
countryman, but after the tale had gone forth my heart failed. For it
might have been despised for the little grace of letters in the style and
because of the outward roughness of the man. But neither his biographer
nor his circumstances have been able to obscure MacLure who has himself
won all honest hearts, and received afresh the recognition of his more
distinguished brethren. From all parts of the English-speaking world
letters have come in commendation of Weelum MacLure, and many were from
doctors who had received new courage. It is surely more honor than a new
writer could ever have deserved to receive the approbation of a profession
whose charity puts us all to shame.
May I take this first opportunity to
declare how deeply my heart has been touched by the favor shown to a
simple book by the American people, and to express my hope that one day it
may be given me to see you face to face.
Liverpool, Oct. 4, 1895.