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The Black Dwarf

Introduction by "Jedediah Cleishbotham"
Tales Of My Landlord
Collected And Reported By Jedediah Cleishbotham,
Schoolmaster And Parish-Clerk Of Gandercleugh.
As I may, without vanity, presume that the name and official description prefixed
to this Proem will secure it, from the sedate and reflecting part of mankind, to
whom only I would be understood to address myself, such attention as is due to
the sedulous instructor of youth, and the careful performer of my Sabbath duties,
I will forbear to hold up a candle to the daylight, or to point out to the judicious
those recommendations of my labours which they must necessarily anticipate
from the perusal of the title-page. Nevertheless, I am not unaware, that, as Envy
always dogs Merit at the heels, there may be those who will whisper, that albeit
my learning and good principles cannot (lauded be the heavens) be denied by
any one, yet that my situation at Gandercleugh hath been more favourable to my
acquisitions in learning than to the enlargement of my views of the ways and
works of the present generation. To the which objection, if, peradventure, any
such shall be started, my answer shall be threefold:
First, Gandercleugh is, as it were, the central part--the navel (SI FAS SIT
DICERE) of this our native realm of Scotland; so that men, from every corner
thereof, when travelling on their concernments of business, either towards our
metropolis of law, by which I mean Edinburgh, or towards our metropolis and
mart of gain, whereby I insinuate Glasgow, are frequently led to make
Gandercleugh their abiding stage and place of rest for the night. And it must be
acknowledged by the most sceptical, that I, who have sat in the leathern
armchair, on the left-hand side of the fire, in the common room of the Wallace
Inn, winter and summer, for every evening in my life, during forty years bypast
(the Christian Sabbaths only excepted), must have seen more of the manners
and customs of various tribes and people, than if I had sought them out by my
own painful travel and bodily labour. Even so doth the tollman at the well-
frequented turn-pike on the Wellbraehead, sitting at his ease in his own dwelling,
gather more receipt of custom, than if, moving forth upon the road, he were to
require a contribution from each person whom he chanced to meet in his journey,
when, according to the vulgar adage, he might possibly be greeted with more
kicks than halfpence.
But, secondly, supposing it again urged, that Ithacus, the most wise of the
Greeks, acquired his renown, as the Roman poet hath assured us, by visiting
states and men, I reply to the Zoilus who shall adhere to this objection, that, DE
FACTO, I have seen states and men also; for I have visited the famous cities of
Edinburgh and Glasgow, the former twice, and the latter three times, in the
course of my earthly pilgrimage. And, moreover, I had the honour to sit in the
General Assembly (meaning, as an auditor, in the galleries thereof), and have
heard as much goodly speaking on the law of patronage, as, with the
fructification thereof in mine own understanding, hath made me be considered as
an oracle upon that doctrine ever since my safe and happy return to
Gandercleugh.
 
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