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While some of the places that are visited on these routes may be thought so generally familiar that nothing novel or useful can now be said about them, there are not a few to which such an estimate cannot properly apply; for visits to every portion of his Lands lead to nearly all the shires of Scotland, through much of England, a part of Wales, the Isle of Man, France, Spain, Belgium, the valley of the upper Rhine, Switzerland, and even the far East.
The writer, without attempting a general essay upon so great a subject as that expressed by the name of Sir Walter Scott, but feeling affection and gratitude for the pleasure and the profit he has conferred, proposes that this book shall contain sketches of the long and wonderfully varied series of his works; of the not less remarkable story of his life, and of the places with which both works and life are associated. These sketches are necessarily so numerous that almost constant abridgment of extremely abundant and diversified materials has been found to be required, in order that this book should not become undesirably large.
If in thus following this one (and rather personal) general subject, there appears to be any thing of what has, for want of another name, been called “Boswellism,” this quality may explain and assert itself by suggesting an application of the old anecdote relating George II.'s reply to a remark charging General Wolfe with madness, — a reply that may be recalled though not expressed here; and this application may signify that there is, at least, not only no harm in personalities similar to those chiefly occupying these pages, but, also, no harm if they affect more than the writer and his subject. He simply hopes that he may furnish some help to others, enabling them to enjoy many pleasant things that he has enjoyed, and to do so without the trouble of collecting much, and quite scattered, information needed for the tour proposed; that, indeed, he may be of some use to
those who derive pleasure or satisfaction from Old-World stories and scenes, mediæval art, aspects of former social life, healthy walks over green fields, or fresh heather, or breezy hills, and the real romance told by the life of a truehearted man, — and that man one of the noblest in genius and spirit the world has known.
Smailholm, 313–16; Dryburgh, 316–21.