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TO THE DESCENDANTS OF THE WHIGS: AND TO THOSE WHO
HONOUR THEIR MEMORY.
I had formerly dedicated these volumes to Sir WALTER SCOTT,--the immortal honour of Scotland; who, though he frankly differed from us in many things, was, nevertheless, known by all his friends, to admire and applaud the character of the genuine AULD WHIGS OF THE COVENANT. Alas! Sir Walter is no more! Scotland mourns her immortal poet and historian.-Next to him, whom all Scotland loved and admired,--to whom can I dedicate them, so appropriately, as unto you?
Gentlemen :--I lay before you a narrative of the deeds of your gallant forebears. braces a period of sixteen months in their history, emphatically styled the Killing Times.
While the Stuart has been commemorated in the religious festivals of England; and no pains spared, on the part of the tories of Britain, -especially of late, by Sir Walter, the FIRST WRITER of our day, to glorify their ancestors ;--justice has not been rendered to our gallant forebears. Much yet remains to be done to set their character and actions in a true light; and remove the obloquy thrown on them, by malignity or ignorance. Dr. M'Crie taught Sir Walter to think differently of them.
The character and conduct of the Scottish Whigs are public property. It belongs to the community of nations to vindicate their honour. Like WASHINGTON, they sought no private interests : they led the van in the revolution of nations. The enemy which they encountered and overthrew, is the same which the American patriots overthrew; and the same which the convulsed nations of Europe, and our Southern continent, are now combatting. The Scottish Whigs achieved, in their nation, what the patriots of every nation will achieve, in the day when they rise to vindicate their rights. Theirs is the proud honour of having struck the first blow, as the van of the patriotic hosts, who will overthrow tyranny; and give liberty to the world! Every incident respecting them is, therefore, of public interest.
One thing is peculiar to the Scottish struggle it was for their religion, as well as their liberty. This was not of the Covenanter's choice. It was a necessity imposed on them. by the intolerant claimants of Divine rights, and absolute supremacy over the human conscience! And this very circumstance throws an air of higher grandeur and sublimity over our forefathers' toils and sufferings. Our sympathies are intensely excited for the men who perilled their lives for the altars of their God, and the liberties of their country!
" Pleasant to the soul, is the remembrance of the days of other years !"
HISTORY can lay before us only a general detail. Events, their causes and consequences, are the legitimate, and almost only attainable objects of the historian. More than this it would be impossible for him to accomplish. Materials for minute details, are not usually preserved. And it would be utterly impolitic to attempt more. The tedious delineations would render his voluminous history inaccessible to the great majority of his readers.
How much is thereby lost to posterity, both of profit and enjoyment! The family picture, the fire-side scenes, to which we long to be introduced,—the smiling innocence, the unalloyed enjoyments which virtue and love bestow; the throbs of the patriot and martyr's bosom; the heart-rending sorrows spread over a whole circle of helpless and innocent beings, by the cruelty of tyrants, and the bigotry of fanatics; the sufferers' firmness, and patience, and meek-spirited forgiveness,—are all lost to us, with the instructive lessons of their minute detail.
Every one has felt how delightful history becomes