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The Scot in British North America

The purpose of this work is so fully developed in the introductory chapter that any preliminary reference to it would seem unnecessary. At the same time readers expect to have a preface to a book, even if they do not read it. There are one or two remarks to be made, by way of addenda, to the explanation given in the body of the volume. In the first place it seems well to disclaim emphatically any attempt to exalt the Scot above his fellow-colonists of other nationalities. The publishers have already given Ireland a chance to speak, as she is fully capable of doing, for herself and her sons; and it is only fair that "auld Scotia" should also have her turn. It seems strange, and yet it is a fact, and that there has been, amongst kindred peoples, an amount of prejudice against the Scot, which seems perfectly inexplicable. From the time when James VI. of Scotland became James I. of England until now, not merely at home, but in later years in the colonies, nothing has been so common as virulent criticism of the Scottish character. The predominant religion of the country, the caution and the thrift of its people, and their so-called clannishness, have been made the unmerited butts for ridicule or sarcasm. In England, during the eighteenth century, most of the literary men took delight in abusing the North Briton. Horace Walpole, Junius, John Wilkes and Dr. Johnson are only samples of the general herd. The virulent pen of Junius was especially active. He had, or fancied he had, grounds of suspecting the backstairs influence of Lord Bute, and afterwards fell foul of Lord Mansfield, whom he abused, when argument failed, because he was born north of the Tweed. That most vindictive of political opponents, whilst he admitted that "national reflections" were not to be justified, as a general rule, deemed them quite proper when they gave point to the stiletto he plied in the dark. Of the later use of prejudice against the Scottish people, it is unnecessary to speak, for every reader must have met with instances of it even in the Dominion. The truth seems to be that, while "nothing succeeds like success," there is nothing which so readily inspires jealousy. The very virtues which have given Scotsmen success have been the causes of "envy, hatred and malice, and all uncharitableness" in regard to them.

In this work an endeavour is made to show whence the strong, honest and persevering character of the Scot had its origin, and then to describe in detail what he has done for British North America. While doing this to the extent of the information at his command, the writer has been careful to avoid invidious comparisons between the Scottish and other nationalities. The aim of the book is simply to show what the Scot has done in the Dominion, without in any way undervaluing what it owes to the Englishman, the Irishman, the Frenchman, or the German. The difficulty of collecting local data or facts of any sort only to be found outside of books has been an obstacle; and if the survey seems to lack completeness, the reader must be so kind as to lay it to this account.

Without desiring to obtrude his personality unduly, it seems proper to state that, although, on one side of the house a Scot - the son of a Scotsman the writer has never had the advantage of visiting North Britain. Perhaps that may not be so great a disadvantage as it might at first sight appear. This preface is necessarily written before the remaining volumes have taken final form and shape and therefore, seems to be hardly so complete as it otherwise would have been. It is to be hoped that, when the entire work is in the hands of the public, the promise of its title page will be found to have been fully kept.

Toronto, February 16th, 1880.

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