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ART. I.--1. The History of Selkirkshire; or, Chronicles of
Ettrick Forest. By T. CRAIG-BROWN. 2 vols. quarto.
Edinburgh: 1886. 2. A Short Border History. By FRANCIS HINDES GROOME,
Author of 'In Gipsy Tents,' &c. Kelso : 1887. 3. Reminiscences of Yarrow. By James RUSSELL, D.D., late
Minister of Yarrow. With Preface by Professor CAMP
BELL FRASER. Edinburgh and London : 1886. 4. The History and Poetry of the Scottish Border : their
Main Features and Relations. By John VEITCH, LL.D., Professor of Logic and Rhetoric in the University of Glasgow Glasgow : 1878. SOME years ago we had occasion to review
several Scottish County Histories, one of them being 'The History and Antiquities of Roxburghshire,' by Alexander Jeffrey, the fourth and concluding volume of which had not at that time, however, been published. Since then, two other counties in the Scottish Border have been made the subject of historical treatment : namely, Peebles, by the late Dr. William Chambers, in one large octavo volume, published in 1864, and Selkirk, by Mr. T. Craig-Brown. Of the last-named history we shall have occasion to speak more at length; but it may here be noted that the three histories exhibit, in respect to the range and originality of their contents, a chronological order of progression as noteworthy as it is pleasing. This points to the great advances which have been made within the last quarter of a century in the unearthing of historical treasure by means of State Paper and Records publications, as well as the bringing to light of
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valuable local muniments through the combined efforts of antiquarian and other societies, and of individual workers. Of the earliest of these three bistories, it may be said that it has suffered by coming into the world too soon. Mr. Jeffrey had an admirable literary style, and considerable powers of generalisation ; but unfortunately the chief book of reference on which he had to rely was Chalmers's • Caledonia,' a work which does not now occupy the place it once did as an historical authority. It enshrines a vast wealth of local and family lore, but is never to be consulted except under enlightened precautions. Still, even with the drawbacks alluded to, Mr. Jeffrey's book forms a work of local reference not to be rashly undervalued or set aside. The History of Peebles-shire,' by Dr. Chambers, is a plain, straightforward, unvarnished narrative, embodying an excellent arrangement of materials, and avoiding that bane of local history, repetition. In point of accuracy, method, and precision, it is perhaps the best-ordered among the few county histories which Scotland possesses.
Coming to the one of these three county histories which more immediately concerns us—that of Selkirk, by Mr. CraigBrown--it may be said at once that, in respect to the extent and value of the local historical materials brought together within its pages, it excels the others. The author's industry, as displayed in these two large quarto volumes, is marvellous, and deserves the most unqualified praise. Every likely repository, public and private, has apparently been resorted to and ransacked. All the entries relating to the county in the volumes of the Privy Council Records, the Exchequer Rolls, the various monastic cartularies, the Criminal
· Trials of Pitcairn, and other books more or less rare or inaccessible, have been diligently collected and placed in their chronological order, while many manuscripts both of earlier and later times have been equally laid under contribution. We really cannot point to any historic transaction or event of importance coming within the scope of these volumes, that has not been included. Yet the book, withal, is not what it should have been, or what, with the exercise of more care and self-restraint on the part of the author, it might have been. It errs, in the first place, on the side of excess; there is too much of it. This superfluous bulk is due to the plan the author has chosen to follow, involving a great deal of repetition. There are three divisions, embracing the general history, the history of