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ALEXANDER BRODIE OF BRODIE,
EXTRACTS FROM THE EXISTING MANUSCRIPTS, AND
PRINTED AT EDINBURGH IN THE YEAR 1740.
A BER DEEN :
PRINTED FOR THE SPALDING CLUB, ...
ALEXANDER BRodie of BRODIE, the Author of the following Diary was the representative of the ancient family of that name, in the counties of Elgin and Nairn. Upwards of a century ago, this work was brought under notice by the appearance of a small octavo volume, comprising the earliest existing portion of the Diary, from 25th of April, 1652, to 1st of February, 1654. The Editor of that volume, printed at Edinburgh in 1740, is not known. From its marked religious character, it was often surmized that passages which related to public events might have purposely been kept out. Yet the Editor is quite explicit on this point, when he informs the reader, that the MS. had fallen “very accidentally into his hands,” and that in publishing it, “nothing that could be read, so as to make a full sentence is omitted.” He at the same time laments that “the Journal of this excellent person should appear to the public under the disadvantage of being imperfect.” In using this phrase, he evidently refers to the loss of what the Author himself mentions as his “First Diary Book,” which contained the years 1650 to 1652. “I hope,” (says the anonymous Editor) “whoever is possessed of it, if it still be extant, will not deny the publick so valuable a present.” He seems not to have been aware of the existence of some other and later volumes. But it is clear that the Laird of Brodie himself never contemplated even the possibility that any part of his Diary should be printed; and having no such object in view for recording public events, it was chiefly for his own benefit g
that, for so many years, he continued the practice of keeping a register of his religious experiences, and the trials and difficulties of his Christian life. We have reason, therefore, to conclude that the 1740 volume exhibits an accurate transcript of the Original Manuscript, with this exception that the personal pronoun I has been changed to he, to suit, it might be, the necessarily fragmentary character of the volume. In fact, selections only were, or could be given, from the manuscript, judging from the subsequent volumes, in which the constant use of cypher or a kind of short-hand, interspersed more or less in every page, is quite sufficient to render no small portion of the writing altogether unintelligible, and to afford clear proof of the Editor's judgment and skill in his selections. His remark, therefore, of printing passages of a full sentence, thus becomes easily understood; but the wish he expressed regarding “the first Diary Book,” has unfortunately never been gratified. The attention of the Members of the Spalding Club was early directed to this Diary, as likely to furnish materials for a work of some historical importance, in addition to its local interest. Application was accordingly made to WILLIAM BRODIE of Brodie, Esq., the Author's representative, and this was liberally responded to by allowing the Secretary, Mr. John STUART, to have the free use of such manuscript books as were preserved. The result of a careful search was to prove that the Author's Diary, which he had commenced in the year 1650, was continued till within one day of his death, on the 17th of April, 1680; although some of the volumes are lost; and further, that the Diary itself was chiefly confined to recording his daily religious experiences and meditations, interspersed with occasional notices of public occurrences. The five volumes of Brodie's Diary which have been recovered, are as follows:— Wol. 1. Begins January 22d, 1655, and ends October 13th, 1656. Vol. II. . Begins July 6th, 1661 (the first leaf probably commencing July 1st, being lost), and ends July 11th, 1663.