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Domestic Annals of Scotland
Preface to Volume III


THE DOMESTIC ANNALS OF SCOTLAND FROM THE REFORMATION TO THE REVOLUTION having experienced a favourable reception from the public, 1 have been induced to add a volume containing similar details with regard to the ensuing half-century. This is in many respects an interesting period of the history of Scotland. It is essentially a time of transition—transition from harsh and despotic to constitutional government; from religious intolerance and severity of manners to milder views and the love of elegance and amusement; from pride, idleness, and poverty, to industrious courses and the development of the natural resources of the country. At the same time, the tendency to the wreaking out of the wilder passions of the individual is found gradually giving place to respect for law. We see, as it were, the dawn of our present social state, streaked with the lingering romance of earlier ages. On these considerations, I am hopeful that the present volume will be pronounced in no respect a falling off in contrast with the former two.

It will be found that the plan and manner of treatment pursued in the two earlier volumes are followed here. My object has still been to trace the moral and economic progress of Scotland through the medium of domestic incidents—whatever of the national life is overlooked in ordinary history; allowing the tale in every case to be told as much as possible in contemporary language. It is a plan necessarily subordinating the author to his subject, almost to the extent of neutralising all opinion and sentiment on his part; yet, feeling the value of the self-painting words of these dead and gone generations—-so quaint, so unstudied, so true~—so corrective in their genuineness of the glozing idolatries which are apt to arise among descendants and party representatives—! becoms easily reconciled to the restricted character of the task. If the present and future generations shall be in any measure enabled by these volumes to draw from the errors and misjudgments of the past a lesson as to what is really honourable and profitable for a people, the tenuis labor will not have been undergone in vain.

EDINBURGH. January 1861.


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