"It appears from tradition, as well as some parish registers still extant"

The opening of the Editor’s Narrative immediately characterises the first part of the novel as a simulation of the historical writing that was becoming popular in Scotland during Hogg’s time. By beginning with a reference to primary source material and using the passive voice, the Editor creates an image of himself as the dispassionate researcher of bygone events. As his account progresses, it becomes clear that this veneer of objectivity should be regarded with some scepticism, although it's hard to resist it entirely. This dissembling on Hogg’s part – employing a narrative style that leads one to interpret the text in a particular way when something quite different is going on – mirrors the deceptions and trickery practiced by his characters.