My father-in-law never
kept a journal; but when he died, he left in manuscript an
autobiography, which he had written at various times of leisure during
the latter part of his life, and which was complete from his earliest
years to the close of his literary career in 1862.
By his will he constituted his eldest son (my husband) his literary
executor, and expressed a wish that this life should be published at as
early a period as he should deem advisable.
It seemed to my husband a few years ago that the time had come when,
with propriety, this might be done; but the nature of his military
profession never left him the quiet and leisure necessary to revise the
MSS. with the care and attention which an almost contemporary memoir
requires; and I therefore undertook the task, which has truly been a
labour of love to me.
In this undertaking I have received valuable assistance from the
publishers, Messrs Blackwood & Sons, with which firm my father-in-law
was so long and intimately connected.
In a work of this nature there were, of course, a few passages bearing
upon the private career of individuals now living, or only recently
deceased, the publication of which could serve no useful end. These have
been omitted. In all other respects the work is published as it was
written,—for an autobiography cannot possess any value which does not
truly and faithfully represent, in his own words, the thoughts,
opinions, and feelings, as well as actions, of its author.
My father-in-law died at Fossil House, near Glasgow, after a short
illness, on the 23d May 1867, He continued his public duties as Sheriff
of Lanarkshire up to the first day of his illness. He was buried in the
Dean Cemetery, in Edinburgh, where so many of his old friends and
contemporaries lie, and his funeral was attended, as far as the North
British Railway station in Glasgow, by the Lord Provost and many of the
Magistrates of the city, by the Faculty of Procurators, the Juridical
Society, all the Sheriff’s officials of every grade, a deputation of
Volunteers, and a large body of Freemasons; But the most striking part
of the day’s proceedings as a comment on his public life was, that the
whole of the road, from the gate of Fossil to the railway station, a
distance nf two and a half miles, was lined with crowds of the poorest
of the population; and all the mill-workers in the vicinity sacrificed
half a day’s earnings to come and pay, with quiet respectful demeanour,
a last tribute of respect to the old Tory Sheriff, so well known to them
for thirty-three years.
JANE R. ALISON.
Volume 1 |