SIR THOMAS DICK LAUDER
OF GRANGE AND FOUNTAINHALL, BARONET.
I am not much acquainted with what Goldsmith has termed the
ceremonies of a dedication. I know, however, that like other
ceremonies, they are sometimes a little tedious, and often more than a
little insincere. But it is well that, though dulness be
involuntary, no one need deceive unless he wills it. There are
comparatively few who seem born to think vigorously, or to express
themselves well; but since all men may be honest, though all cannot be
original or elegant, every one, surely, may express only what he feels.
In dedicating this little volume to you, I obey the dictates of a real,
though perhaps barren, gratitude; nor can I think of the kind interest
which you have taken in my amusements as a writer, and my fortunes as a
man, without feeling that, though I may be dull, I cannot be insincere.
There are other motives which have led to this address.
He who dedicates, more than expresses his gratitude. By his choice
of a Patron, he intimates also, as if by specimen, the class which he
would fain select as his readers; or, as I should perhaps rather express
myself, he specifies the peculiar cast of intellect and range of
acquirement from which he anticipates I the justest appreciation of his
labours, and the deepest interest in the subject of them. Need I say
that I regard you, Sir Thomas, as a representative of the class whom it is
most my ambition to please? My stories, arranged as nearly as
possible in the chronological order, form a long vista into the past of
Scotland, with all its obsolete practices and all its exploded beliefs.
And where shall I find one better qualified to decide regarding the truth
of the scenery, the justness of the perspective, or the proportions and
costume of the figures, than he, whom contemporary genius has so happily
designated as the "Poet and Painter of the great Morayshire Floods?"
I can form no higher wish than that my work may prove worthy of so
discerning a critic, or that you, Sir, may be as fortunate in your protégeé
as I in my patron.
I am, I trust, no hypocrite in literature, but a
right-hearted devotee to whom composition is quite its own reward.
If my ,little volume succeed, I shall be gratified by reflecting that the
pleasure derived from it has not been confined to myself; if it fail,
there will be some comfort in the thought that it has proved, to at least
one mind, a copious source of entertainment. Besides, I am pretty
sure, I shall be sanguine enough to transfer to some production of the
future, the few hopes which, in the past, I had founded on it. And
when thinking of it as the "poor deceased," I reflect that, at worst, it
was rather dull than wicked, and that it rather failed in performance than
erred in intention; I shall not judge the less tenderly regarding it, when
I further remember that it procured for me the honour of your notice, and
furnished me with this opportunity of subscribing myself,
With sincere respect,
Your humble friend, and obedient Servant,
NOTE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
THE present edition contains about
one-third more matter than the first. The added chapters, however,
like those which previously composed the work, were almost all written
about twenty years ago,* in leisure hours snatched from a laborious
employment, or during the storms of winter, when the worker in the open
air has to seek shelter at home. But it is always less
disadvantageous to a traditionary work, that it should have been written
early than late. Of the materials wrought up into the present
volume, the greater part was gathered about from fifteen to twenty years
earlier still; and though some thirty-five or forty years may not seem a
very lengthened period, such has been the change that has taken place
during the lapse of the generation which has in that time disappeared from
the earth, that perhaps scarce a tithe of the same matter could be
collected now. We live in an age unfavourable to tradition, in which
the written has superseded the oral. As the sun rose in his
strength, the manna wasted away like hoarfrost from off the ground.
In preparing my volume a second time for the press, I have
felt rather gratified than otherwise, that, at least, much of what it
contains should have been preserved. The reader will here and there
find snatches of dissertation, which would perhaps not be missed if
away—which, at all events, had they not been written before, would have
remained unwritten now; but which I have spared, partly for the sake of
the associations connected with them, and partly under the impression that
the other portions of the work would have less of character if they were
wanting. Some of these dissertative fragments I have, however,
considerably abridged, and there were others of a similar kind in the
first edition which have been wholly suppressed. In my longer
stories I have, I find, exercised the same sort of liberty in filling up
the outlines as that taken by the ancient historians in their earlier
chapters. Livy in the times of the Empire could write speeches for
Romulus and Junius Brutus, and introduce them into his narrative as
authentic; and Taciturn details as minutely, in his Life of Agricola, the
deliberations of the warlike Caledonians as if he had formed one of their
councils. Even the sober Hume puts arguments for and against
toleration into the mouths of Cardinal Pole and his opponents which
belonged to neither the men nor the age. But though I have, in some
cases, given shade and colour to the original lines, in no case have I
altered the character of the drawing. I have only to state further,
that the reader, when he finds reference made, in the indefinite style of
the traditionary historian, to the years which have elapsed since the
events related took place, must add in every instance twenty additional
twelvemonths to the number; the some thirty bygone years of my narratives
have stretched out into half a century, and the half century into the
threescore years and ten.
* Chiefly between the years 1829 and 1832, inclusive.
A few of the paragraphs were however, introduced at a later time.
My Old Library and its Contents—The Three Classes of
Traditions —Legend of Sludach— Singular Test of Character—The Writer's
Alypos—Etymological Legends—Epic Poetry of the Middle Ages—Astorimon—The
Spectre Ships—Olaus Rudbeck.
The Bay of Cromarty—The Old Coast Line—The Old Town—The
Storms of the Five Winters—Donald Miller's Wars with the Sea.
Macbeth—Our earlier Data—The Fions of Knock-Ferril—The
King's Sons—The Obelisks of Easter Ross—Dunskaith—The Urquharts of
Cromarty—Wallace—The Foray of the Clans—Paterhemon.
Remains of the Old Mythology—The Devotional
Sentiment—Interesting Usages—Rites of the Scottish Halloween—The Charm of
the Egg—The Twelfth Rig—Macculloch's Courtship—The Extinct Spectres—Legend
of Morial's Den—The Guardian Cock.
A Scottish Town of the 17th Century—The Old Castle of the
Sir Thomas Urquhart.
The Reformation—Outbreaking at Rosemarkie--Sir John
Urquhart of Craigfintrie—The Ousted Ministers—Mr. Fraser of Brea—Luggie.
The Chaplain's Lair.
The Curates—Donald Roy of Nigg—The Breaking of the Burg—
143 George Earl of Cromartie—The Union.
Important Events which affect the Religious
Character—Kenneth Ore—Thomas Hogg and the Man-horse—The Watchman of
Cullcuden—The Lady of Ardvrock—The Lady of Balconied.
The Fisherman's Widow.
The Story of John Feddes—Andrew Lindsay.
The Chapel of St. Regulus—Macleod the Smuggler—The Story of
The Poor Lost Lad—A Ballad in Prose—Morrison the Painter.
The Economy of Accident—The Black Years—Progress of the
Pestilence—The Quarantine—The Cholera.
Martinmas Market—The Herring Drove—The Whale-Fishers—The
Flight of the Drove—Urquhart of Greenhill—Poem—William Forsyth—The
Sandy Wright and the Pair Orphan.
Tarbat Ness—Stine Bheag o' Tarbat.
The Mermaid—The Story of John Reid—Maculloch the Corn-Agent
—The Washing of the Mermaid.
The Bad Year—Sandison's Spulzie—The Meal Mob.
The Forty-Five—Nanny Miller's Onslaught—The Retreat—The
Battle of Culloden—Old John Dunbar—Jacobite Psalm.
The Dropping Cave—The Legend of Willie Millar—A Boy
Wars of the Town's-people—Macculloch the Lawyer—The Law-Plea—Roderick and the Captain—Mr. Henderson.
The Churchyard Ghost—My Writing-Room—The Broken Promise
—The Polander—The One-eyed Stepmother—The Pedlar—The Green Lady—Munro the
The Literati of Cromarty—Johnie o' the Shore—Meggie o' the
Shore —David Henderson—Macculloch of Dun-Loth.
The Gudewife of Minitarf.
The Olds School, and what it produced—Dr. Hossack—The
hard Dominie—Mr. Russel them minister—The Cock-Fight—M'Culloch the
The Itinerant Sculptor—Kirk-Michael—The Apprentice's
Dream—The Wild Wife—Gordon of Newhall—Sir Robert Munro— Babble Hanah.
George Ross, the Scotch Agent.
The Burn of Eathie—Donald Calder—The Story of Tom M'Kechan—Fause
Our Town Politics—The First Whig—The Revolution—The
Democracy—The Procession—Hossack's Pledge—The County Meeting—The French
War—Whiggism of the People.