“Craigielinn” won the first prize in the competition for Scottish stories held by the Ayrshire Association. There was some difference of opinion among the judges as to which should be second, but there was none as to which should be first. In these circumstances this tale might well have been left to make its own way with the world; but its author has been good enough to ask me to write a few lines of introduction to it, and I have consented to do so.
The first recommendation of this story is the excellent knowledge of the Scottish language which it displays. Nor is this slight praise. The old Doric language seems dying out, and there is none to do it honour. William Black, Charles Gibbon, and George Macdonald have done much to keep it alive in the pages of contemporary fiction. It is not too much to say that, in his own humble way, our author is not unworthy to be mentioned beside these great names. Then the story itself has claims upon our notice. It is simple, natural, and easy. There is no straining after effect. The characters are clearly drawn, and, so far as the size of the canvas allows, well filled in. Thirdly, one must not forget the beautiful descriptive passages that occur here and there throughout the story. These are quietly introduced, and fit well in to the general flow of the narrative. They are well conceived, and well expressed. And, lastly, there are the touches of humour—for what would a Scottish story be without humour?
Whoever writes a story in the Scottish language necessarily appeals to a somewhat narrow circle of readers. Let all within that circle—all who appreciate a simple and truthful Scottish tale—read this little book. They will not be disappointed.
W. Macdonald, LL.D.,
Rector of the High School of Otago.
6th April, 1884.