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Scotland, Historic and Romantic
By Maria Hornor Lansdale in two volumes (1901)


Book Review

This volume of nearly 600 pages appears to have been suggested by a tour made by three American sisters, for the purpose of seeing with their own eyes the scenes of historic interest which had become familiar to them in the literature of the country. One of them afterwards set herself to record what they had seen, not, however, in a personal narrative of travel, but in a simple matter-of-fact digest of all that had most interested them in the course of their journeys. Writing for an American public she very properly thought it her duty to repeat many a well-known anecdote and legend, but she had made her reading wide enough to enable her to introduce also mention of events and personages which, even to the average Scot, are not as familiar as they should be. Her book was published in the United States two years ago. The present edition of it, revised and partly re-written, has been prepared for the use of readers in Scotland.

The volume makes no pretension to be an original contribution to Scottish history. But the authoress, fascinated by the romantic associations of the country, has evidently read with great diligence and has endeavoured to select and arrange some of the more interesting memories that cling to the old towns, the ruined abbeys, the mouldering castles, the crumbling keeps and the battlefields all over the kingdom. These materials she has grouped topographically by counties—perhaps the most convenient arrangement for the tourist. In her selection of incidents, however, she seems to have had regard rather to their romantic attractions than to their chronological sequence or sometimes even to their historical credibility. An obvious objection to her arrangement is met by her with a chronological table of the most important events in her narrative and a genealogical chart of the Scottish sovereigns from the year 1005 down to the present time. Her enthusiasm disarms criticism. She may be congratulated on having produced a very readable book, which can hardly fail to awaken in the minds of readers abroad a lively appreciation of the sources from which the romance of Scotland springs. In this new edition, Scottish readers, to whom it more directly appeals, will be pleased to recognise this tribute to the glamour of their native land, and will find in it not a little information which to many of them will be fresh. The book is not too large to find a corner in a travelling bag, as an interesting companion to the tourist. It is well illustrated with maps and portraits of historical personages.

Archibald Geikie.

Volume 1  |  Volume 2

Preface

Books have been written about Scotland from many points of view. Its prehistoric annals have been the theme of a number of writers. Its mythical history from the reign of Fergus in 330 B.c. is given by its early historians. It has too a Roman history and a Celtic history; of these but little will be found in the present volumes. The object has been rather to give a sketch, however incomplete, of the country from the great War of Independence in the time of Wallace and Bruce; to indicate that connection of the present with the past that adds so great a charm to scenes of historical interest, and to give some account of ancient castles and ecclesiastical buildings round which circle so much history and romance.

The plan followed is topographical, taking up the country county by county; and although much has necessarily been omitted, still an attempt has been made to give the cream of the history as associated with the scenes of the events. It naturally happens from adopting this system that there is sometimes overlapping, and not infrequently repetition and confusion of sequence. To assist the reader a chronological table of the principal events of Scottish history referred to, and a genealogical chart of the sovereigns of Scotland from the beginning of the eleventh century, have been added.

I desire here to express my thanks to a well-known writer on Scottish history who has given me notes on a number of incidents not usually found in books on Scotland, as well as many passages elucidating matters of history not easily understood by an American, and has given me the kindest assistance in other ways in the preparation of this book.

M. H. L.
Edinburgh, April 22, 1901.


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