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.