Tales of a Grandfather, by Walter Scott


Abbotsford, December 1827.

THESE Tales were written in the interval of other avocations, for the use of the young relative to whom they are inscribed. They embrace at the same time some attempt at a general view of Scottish History, with a selection of its more picturesque and prominent points. Having been found useful to the young person for whom the compilation was made, they are now given to the public, in the hope that they may be a source of instruction for others. The compilation, though professing to be only a collection of Tales, or Narratives from the Scottish Chronicles, will nevertheless be found to contain a general view of the History of that country, from the period when it begins to possess general interest.

The Compiler, may here mention, that, after commencing his task in a manner obvious to the most limited capacity, of which the Tale of Macbeth is an example, he was led to take a different view of the subject, by finding that a style considerably more elevated was more interesting to his juvenile reader. There is no harm, but on the contrary there is benefit, in presenting a child with ideas somewhat beyond his easy and immediate comprehension. The difficulties thus offered, if not too great or too frequent, stimulate curiosity and encourage exertion.

To these notices, which formed an introductory advertisement to the First Edition of this little work, it may be added, that the favourable reception which it has generally met with, has been at least equally gratifying to its author, as the public approbation of former works destined for the amusement of children of a larger growth. He has, therefore, carefully revised the present edition, corrected several errors and inaccuracies, and made numerous and large additions, so as to bring the little book nearer its proper character, of an abridged History of Scotland, for the use of young persons. The reigns of Malcolm Canmore, and of his immediate successors, have been given in some detail, instead of passing at once from the defeat and death of Macbeth to the wars of Bruce and Baliol.

If time and other avocations permit, it is the author’s purpose to carry this little work down to the period of 1748, when the two sister nations became blended together in manners as well as by political ties. The task will afford an opportunity to show the slow and interrupted progress by which England and Scotland, ostensibly united by the accession of James the First of England, gradually approximated to each other, until the last shades of national difference may be almost said to have disapeared.

Abbotsford, Feb. 1828.


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