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The Religious Anecdotes of Scotland

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William Adamson
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There has been of late a great desire to enter upon the study, more or less minutely, of the particulars of individual lives. This has risen, in the main, from a motive worthy of all praise. It has been said that the proper study of mankind is man, and in harmony -with this idea, the desire has been developed, to know the details of the lives of those who have really lived, and who have made an impression on the minds of their contemporaries. Hence the numerous biographies, and volumes similar to the present, which have made their appearance.It is somewhat difficult to define an Anecdote, and yet most people know it when it is placed before them. The word anecdote does not now bear its original significance, which was a secret history, something unedited and unpublished. On the contrary it means the reverse of this.It is not a story, nor a description, nor yet a connected series of stories. Taken, in its manifest and more correct form, as now understood, it is a particular, separated incident, of an interesting nature, which is a complete unity in itself. It thus presents a complete mental picture, and like pictures generally, is of a nature to arrest attention and instruct. Those who have a cultivated mind can at once discriminate an anecdote from what is like it, and will be able to appreciate what it makes known, while others do not trouble themselves about its nature, but seek to understand what it means. But all have a liking for the detached fact, which makes them feel that they can see deeper into the working of the human soul, and understand the emotions and motives which rule there. This gives the anecdote an attractive power, which culture does not destroy, but refine, and which is common to man as man.