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Memoirs of the Rev. John Blackader
Compiled chiefly from unpublished manuscripts, and memoirs of his life and ministry written by himself while prisoner on the Bass; and containing illustrations of the episcopal persecution from the restoration to the death of Charles II. With an appendix giving a short account of the history and siege of the Bass, &c. by Andrew Crichton (1823) (pdf)


The Memoirs here presented to the public, were originally intended merely as an article to a Periodical Miscellany. But from the discovery of various materials, of which I was then unapprised, they appeared to me to be not altogether unworthy the distinction of a separate volume. Whether the result may justify my anticipations, it is for others to determine. Writers naturally magnify to themselves the importance of their subject. They are too inclinable to appreciate with self partiality, as, in general, they measure the value of their production by the labour of their researches.

The period of which these Memoirs treat, is unquestionably important; and it has, of late, obtained a kind of adventitious celebrity from circumstances upon which it is unnecessary to condescend. No investigation can be regarded as useless, which has truth for its object: But there is an additional interest in such discussions, when they tend to illustrate times and events that have made a conspicuous figure on the arena of literary controversy, and may be said still to divide the public opinion.

The subject cannot be considered as exhausted. Much has already been given to the world, but much remains yet to be explored. Among the manuscript collections of Wodrow, are various documents which that writer could only notice in a very cursory manner. These contain matter calculated still further to unveil the atrocities of a persecution which some endeavour to extenuate, or affect to disbelieve. They would assist in clearing away misapprehensions on the conduct and character of those men who figured in the great national struggle for civil and religious liberty.

I do not flatter myself that my researches will advance much that is essentially new or of historical consequence : And I am prepared to expect, that those who are versant in that period, may find the quantity and importance of original information shrink within narrow dimensions. I am aware also, that the Individual, to whom they refer, is only one among a Cloud of other Witnesses, and his life'” cannot be viewed as supplying any material chasm in the Biography of the church. Though prominent in his own times, his name is comparatively unknown to fame. It is not, therefore, calculated to excite intense curiosity, or rally round it a host of expectations. Yet I am persuaded his annals will be perused both with interest and advantage. It was because he had not already found a more honourable memorial, and did not occupy a more distinguished place on the rolls of martyrology, that the present attempt is made to usher his history into notice.

With respect to the authorities from which I have drawn my materials, they are mostly alluded to in course of the work. I have extracted from public records, and family writs which were put into my possession. The principal sources were two of the Wodrow manuscripts in the Advocates Library; one, an “ Account of Mr.Black-adefs Sufferings, written bv his son; the other, “ Memoirs/’ written by himself, while a prisoner on the Bass, commencing with his ordination (in 1653) to the parish of Troqueer, in the presbytery of Dumfries. These I have used as my ground-work, and from them various extracts are given entire, in the form of quotations. But as the narrative was in some places dull and prolix, it required to be abridged: In others there was a deficiency of necessary information, which I have endeavoured to supply from collateral sources. It was solely with this view, that excursions have occasionally been made into the province of general history : And though these illustrations may have little claim to novelty, it is hoped they will not be without their usefulness, especially to such readers as have not the means of exploring for themselves the fountains of intelligence, or want leisure to bestow a more z profound and critical attention on historical researches.

Like many others who have been indebted to them for similar favours, I cheerfully express the obligations under which I lie to the Curators of the Advocates Library, whose politeness and liberality seem rather to invite than to permit access to their literary stores. I have the same satisfaction in acknowledging the kindness of Dr. William Ritchie, Professor of Divinity, and the Managers of the Theological Library. There are various individuals who deserve my warmest gratitude, for their friendly attention and ready assistance. Among these I cannot omit to record the names of Dr. M*Crie and Dr. Lee. The papers relative to the Bass, referred to in the Appendix, are from the Manuscripts in the Library at North-Berwick House, and were politely communicated to me by Sir Hew Dalrymple Hamilton, Bart. The engraving of the Bass is taken from the original drawing of T. Dury, their ma-jestie’s engineer for Scotland, who superintended the siege in 1691. It is more complete, and a more correct likeness than that in Slezer's Theatrum Scotiae.

Edinburgh, 13th May 1823.

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