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A Journey from Edinburgh through parts of North Britain
Containing remarks on Scottish landscape and observations on rural economy, natural history, manufactures, trade and commerce interspersed with anecdotes, traditional, literary, and historical; together with biographical sketches, relating chiefly to civil and exxclesiastical affairs, from the twelfth century down to the present time in two volumes, embelished with forty-four engravings, from Drawings made on the spot, of the Lake, River, and Mountain Scenery of Scotland By Alexander Campbell (1802)

Electric Scotland Note:
This publication was produced at a time when the letter S was written as the letter F and some may have some issues in reading this.  However from practical experience i found it didn't take too long to get used to it and so reading won't likely be an issue for you. I have done my best to translate the below preface into standard English.


The title-page of a literary produdion ought, if possible, to convey to the mind of the reader a pretty accurate notion of its scope and general contents; an apology, therefore, for the seeming prolixity of the title-page prefixed to these volumes, will be found in the utility of this good old practice.

Although I have more than once appeared before the public as an author, I feel on this occasion, that diffidence and anxiety which are natural to one who gleans in a field wherein so many have reaped with reward and distinction; yet conscious of having bellowed due pains in order to render it worthy of acceptance, I await the time when the candid and judicious shall have awarded that share of approbation, to which this performance may be found justly entitled.

It appeared to me, not withstanding the numerous writers that of late have directed their attention to the examination of the antiquities, natural history, peculiar customs and manners of the northern section of our island, that many things had escaped their diligence of research, which a native intimately acquainted with the classic ground and historical incidents thereto belonging, as well as with many traditionary particulars about to sink into that oblivion from which they are now snatched, might have it in his power to examine more at leisure than any stranger, how accurate soever, traversing hastily the various districts described in the following journey : in collecting materials for which, I have spared neither time nor labour; and toward a proper selection and arrangement of what I deemed most interesting and valuable, I have done all in my power.

Aware of that kind of disgust which ceaseless egotism usually excites, I have chosen to appear as seldom as possible in the body of the work; by which means the reader is spared the unnecessary intrusion that too frequently occurs in similar productions. In truth, were I to relate but a small part of the casual incidents connected with the present itinerary, it wrould swell into many more volumes to very little purpose. But, besides three several excursions made on purpose to take the sketches of the scenery faithfully on the spot, as well as to ascertain from personal survey the present state of rural economy, manufactures, trade, and commerce, I have had, during twenty years of my life, frequent occasion to visit the extenfive range through which the traveller is herein directed.

In treating of many particulars respecting recent occurrences, as well as striking events of more remote periods of Scottish history, it will manifestly appear, that I have delivered my sentiments with that manly freedom which is characteristic of one attached to no party, and independent in his mind,—tempered, however, with due moderation, keeping steadily in view a scrupulous regard to truth wherever it was to be found.

It will also be seen, that, besides placing many known facts and circumstances in new lights, much original information on a great variety of topics will afford satisfaction to those who find pleasure in somewhat more than mere superficial knowledge.

This, I trust, will more fully appear in the descriptions, and historical and traditional matter respecting many parts of the highlands, particularly Loch-Kaitrin, and the wilds adjacent; the bishoprick of Dunkeld; the towns of Linlithgow, Stirling, Perth, and Dundee; the ancient archiepiscopal fee of St. Andrew’s, together with its univerfity; and the present capital of Scotland, Edinburgh; as also a iketch of its univerfity, particularly its celebrated school of medicine from its first establishment to the present period; with an historical outline of the Scotish episcopal church, from the first dawn of the Reformation to the close of the eighteenth century. Beside these different articles, there will likewise be found interspersed throughout, many biographical notices of some importance to those who may be interested in the literary fame of a few Scotsmen whose writings are held in high estimation in the republic of letters. To these notices are added two or three slight sketches respecting the fine arts north of the Tweed; together with the history of the Scottish stage from its origin down to the present time.

Having thus prepared the reader for what he is to expert in the following sheets, I shall only add a few remarks respecting some notices that have come to my knowledge since the present production was sent to the press.

In drawing a contrast of the character of the ancient Caledonians and the Highlanders of the present day, I have thrown out a few hints relative to the poetry common to Ireland and the Hebrides, in which the Fingalians of both nations are celebrated; as also, some particulars respecting the Scottish-Gaelic being a written language (contrary to the opinion of Johnson) long before the invention of printing. In addition to what I have said on these subjects in the course of the present work, and elsewhere, I have to state a communication made in a letter, dated “11th March 1801,” from my friend Mr. J. Ritson, of Gray’s Inn, of sufficient importance to justify its insertion in this place.

“I have made” (says Mr. Ritson) oŁ two discoveries lately in the history of Fin-Mac-Coul. He is mentioned in Jocelin’s life of St. Patrick, written about 1180, as contemporary with that saint; but in a book of much greater authority, the Ulster Annals, of which there is a translation in the Museum, he is placed in the middle of the ninth century, or year 856, when it is said, "Cuhal-Fin with his English-tribe Hibermceant alibi. Fingall (was) put to flight by Ivar.” This, if it mean” (continues Mr. Ritfon) “the same man, is an historical fact which cannot be difputed : but” (he adds) “ at all events, he was a native or inhabitant of Ireland”

In my reply to the letter whence this extract is taken, I mentioned what discoveries had been lately made at Edinburgh with regard to ancient MSS. in the Gaelic language; and like-wise sent him a literal translation of a passage from a book printed at Edinburgh A. D. 1567 in that tongue; and to be found in the preface of the abbot of Icolomkill and bishop of the Isles John Carse's Book of Common Prayer (by the way, the first protestant Prayer book in use north of the Tweed till an unsuccefsful attempt was made in the reign of Charles the Martyr). The passage alluded to is to the following purport. “But there is a great want” (says this pious prelate) “with us, and it is a great weight upon us, the Gael of Scotland and “Ireland", above the rest of mankind, that our Gaelic language is not printed, as are the other languages and tongues of the world: and there is a greater want still, that of the “Holy Bible not being printed in the Gaelic language, as it is in the Latin and the English, and every other tongue: and also, it is a want, that we have never yet had any account at printed of the antiquities of our country, or of our ancestors amongst us. But, although we have some accounts of the “Gael of Scotland and Ireland in the manuscript books of chief bards and historiographers, and others; yet, the labour of writing them over with the hand is great; but the process of printing, be the work how voluminous soever, is speedy and easily accomplished. And great is the blindness, ignorance, and sinful darkness, and evil design of the teachers and writers, and oral conservators of the Gaelic, in as much as they are more defirous- and accustomed to compose vain, tempting, lying histories, to gain the idle applause of the world, concerning Tuath de Danonds, and Milesians,—concerning champions, and Fin-mac-Cumhal and Fingalians, and a great many more that need not be mentioned in this place. In Here then is a manifest proof, that the Gaelic language was not only a written, but also a printed language, more than two hundred years ago,—a striking fact, in direct contradiction of Dr. Johnfon’s hasty asertion, that “the Earse” (he means Irish, or Gaelic) "never was a written language; and there is not in the world an Earse manuscript a hundred years “old*.”

These additional notices respecting Gaelic antiquities I have thought proper to give without any comment whatever; and as it fell to my lot, after a silence of nearly eighteen years, to revive the celebrated controversy respecting the authenticity of Ossian, and having discovered and brought before the literary world, “The Highlander,” a juvenile performance of the ingenious translator of our Celtic Homer, I trust, my apology is made, in thus having stated what will so materially contribute to the further investigation of this interesting subject.

In writing the various observations contained in these volumes, I had often occasion to notice persons then living, who are since dead, circumstances relative to whom will seem greatly altered in their application;—this, however, in some instances, was not foreseen. The venerable father of General Abercromby, greatly advanced in years, paid the debt of nature while that hero was on his expedition in the Mediterranean; he himself too is numbered among the illustrious dead, having nobly fallen in wresting Egypt from the hands of the French. The renowned conqueror of that distant region of the earth never appeared so truly great, as on that day when Learning beheld him, on his return, with dignified modesty, feated among his fellow-citizens in the hall of Institute Nationale de France, Nor did Abercromby, in my opinion, shine more in the midst of his most splendid military achievements, than when seen by few save his own family and immediate neighbours, while in the noiseless tenor of serene retirement superintending his rural affairs, and encouraging by his prefence the indigent' young ones in the school which his private bounty had founded for their instruction. The fame of Abercromby it belongs, to history to record; his domestic virtues, till latest ages, to mankind to imitate.

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