The question of change in the “life and character” of a people, during the period embraced in the reminiscences of an aged individual, must always be a subject for deep and serious consideration. In the case of Scotland, such changes comprise much that is interesting and amusing. But they also contain much matter for serious thought and reflection to the lovers of their country. In preparing the present edition of these Reminiscences, I have marked out many further changes, and have marked them from a deep feeling of interest in the moral and religious improvement of my country. To my readers I say that I hope we have all learned to view such changes under a more serious national aspect than a mere question of amusement or speculation. The Christian, when he looks around him on society, must observe many things which, as a patriot, he wishes might be permanent, and he marks many things which, as a patriot, he wishes were obliterated. What he desires should be enduring in his countrymen is, that abiding attributes of Scottish character should be associated amongst all men with truth and virtue—with honour and kindly feelings—with temperance and self-denial—with divine faith and love—with generosity and benevolence. On the other hand, he desires that what may become questions of tradition, and, in regard to his own land, REMINISCENCES of Scottish life, shall be—cowardice and folly, deceit and fraud, the low and selfish motives to action which make men traitors to their God and hateful to their fellow-men.
It would be worse than affectation—it would be ingratitude—to disclaim being deeply impressed by the favourable reception which has for so long a time been given to these Reminiscences at home, in India, in America, and in all countries where Scotchmen are to be found.
It is not the least of the enjoyments which I have had in compiling these pages, to hear of the kind sympathy which they have called forth in other minds, and often in the minds of strangers; and it would be difficult for me to describe the pleasure I have received when told by a friend that this work had cheered him in the hour of depression or of sickness—that even for a few moments it may have beguiled the weight of corroding care and worldly anxiety. I have been desirous of saying a word in favour of old Scottish life; and with some minds, perhaps, the book may have promoted a more kindly feeling towards hearts and heads of bygone days. And certainly I can now truly say, that my highest reward—my greatest honour and gratification—would spring from the feeling that it might become a standard volume in Scottish cottage libraries, and that by the firesides of Scotland these pages might become as Household Words.
EDINBURGH, 23 AINSLIE
St. Andrew’s Day
 These words, “St. Andrew’s Day,” were deleted by the Dean; and though he lived till the 27th December, he did not touch the proof-sheets after the 19th November 1872.