Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character

By E. B. RAMSAY, M. A., LL.D., F. R. S. E., Dean of Edinburgh. From the Seventh Edinburgh Edition. Boston : Ticknor & Fields. 12mo.
THIS book was not made, but grew. The foundation was a short lecture delivered in Edinburgh. It was so popular that it was published in a pamphlet form. The popularity of the pamphlet induced Dean Ramsay to recall many anecdotes illustrating national peculiarities which could not be compressed into a lyceum address. The result was that the pamphlet became a thin volume, which grew thicker and thicker as edition after edition was called for by the curiosity of the public. The American reprint is from the seventh and last Edinburgh edition, and is introduced by a genial preface, written especially for American readers. The author is more than justified in thinking that there are numerous persons scattered over our country, who, from ties of ancestry or sympathy with Scotland, wil enjoy a record of the quaint sayings and eccentric acts of her past humorists,— “her original and strong-minded old ladies, — her excellent and simple parish ministers, — her amusing parochial half-daft idiots, — her pawky lairds, — and her old-fashioned and now obsolete domestic servants and retainers.” Indeed, the Yankee is sufficiently allied, morally and intellectually, with the Scotchman, to appreciate everything that illustrates the peculiarities of Scottish humor. He has shown this by the delight he has found in those novels of Scott’s which relate exclusively to Scotland. The Englishman, and perhaps the Frenchman, may have excelled him in the appreciation of “ Ivanhoe” and “ Quentin Durward,” but we doubt if even the first has equalled him in the cozy enjoyment of the “ Antiquary ” and “ Guy Mannering.” And Dean Ramsay’s book proves how rich and deep was the foundation in fact of the qualities which Sir Walter has immortalized in fiction. He has arranged his “ Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character” under five heads, relating respectively to the religious feelings and observances, the conviviality, the domestic service, the language and proverbs, and the peculiarities of the wit and humor of Scotland. In New England, and wherever in any part of the country the New-
Englander resides, the volume will receive a most cordial recognition. Dean Ramsay’s qualifications for his work are plainly implied in his evident understanding and enjoyment of the humor of Scottish character. He writes about that which he feels and knows ; and, without any exercise of analysis and generalization, he subtly conveys to the reader the inmost spirit of the national life he undertakes to illustrate by narrative, anecdote, and comment. The finest critical and artistic skill would be inadequate to insinuate into the mind so keen and vivid a perception of Scottish characteristics as escape unconsciously from the simple statements of this true Scotchman, who is in hearty sympathy with his countrymen.