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.
Volume 1 |
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.