The Scot is not an
aborigine of Scotland. He came in with the Celtic invasion of the British
Islands before history was written. It is quite probable that the
settlement of England and Scotland was simultaneous, or very nearly so.
There seems to be much ignorance and consequent diversity of opinion as to
the origin of the Scot. Some writers think that he was derived from the
aboriginal Scuite, and others that he was an Irish Celt, who crossed St.
Patrickís Channel and possessed himself of the country. The best authority
available indicates that the aboriginal tribes known in the vernacular as
the Pehts and Scuitesóby the Romans as Picti and Scotti, and in English as
Picts and Scotsówere primitive tribes of Turanian origin and were of a
very low order of being, subsisting more by instinct than intelligence.
They belonged to a dying race and became extinct, as did the Turanian
tribes on the Continent, with the dawn of civilization and history. They
were in no way allied to the Scot-Highlander or Lowlander who were of the
pure, indomitable and imperishable Celtic blood. Men become confused with
the vast antiquity of the race and misplace events.
My old, lamented, genial friend, Proctor Knott, of
Kentucky, whose inimitable wit and humor ran in the line of discovery,
tells us that in A. D. 843 Kenneth MacAlpine effected a union of the Picts
and Scots from which resulted the united Kingdom of Scotland; and this was
written in sober earnest as a contribution to the history of our race, but
Mr. Knott was farther off in this than he was when he thought he
discovered Duluth. In A. D. 843 there was neither Peht nor Scuite among
the Caledonian hills; and had there been they would have been useless for
purposes offensive or defensive. They were wild impotent hordes incapable
of combinations of any kind and had disappeared long before the highland
pike and lowland thistle thrust their bristling spines in the faces of
their enemies and drove back the armed Legionaries of Rome. The Scuite
(Scott) left his name to his native hills as the only reminder that he had
ever been there and left nothing else worthy of mention.
It was the Highland and Lowland Scotch Celtic Clans
that combined under Kenneth MacAlpine in A. D. 843 and built, and ever
after maintained the Kingdom of Scotland.
The wild Highland Clansmen of the North were of the
pure Celtic blood, bearing the unmistakable birthmarks of their race.
There was no taint of Turanian brutality in their natures; such as
corrupted the Germanic Aryans, clouded their mentality and dwarfed their
stature. The Highlander was tall, athletic, nimble as a deer; crafty,
cunning, frugal and affectionate, dangerous to his enemies and loyal to
his friends ; but, above all, he had a sensitive, active brain, that
readily grasped the possibilities of his surroundings; analyzed the
motives of men, and ultimately placed him in the very vanguard of human
Whether the Celt first crossed into Scotland from the
North of Ireland is not important, as they were of the same race and
people; but from the rugged and inhospitable nature of the country on both
sides of St. Patrick's Channel at that age, and the rocky and sea girt
shores of the Western Coast of Caledonia, it is more than probable that he
entered by way of the Isthmus of Clyde and Forth.
England being the largest and most productive country
would naturally be the first peopled, and the trend of population would
thus be directed toward the adjoining country by a way not exposed
to the perils of the Sea.
The theory of the invasion and conquest of Scotland by
the Irish does not seem to be well sustained. It is one of those vague,
but pretty delusions that serve to amuse the fancy of people who build
imaginary structures on the supposed eternal fitness of things, without a
single known fact on which to base their conclusions.
Scotland maintained her nationality as one of the
independent powers of the earth for a thousand years though sorely
assailed by hostile nations. England, under Edward I., made a strenuous
effort to effect her subjugation, and for many years relentless war was
waged. Whole armies were destroyed and clans swept out of existence, and
for a time it seemed that the heroic nation was doomed; but again and
again she emerged from her mountain fastnesses and hidden glens and
renewed the contest, until Bruce at Bannockburn in 1314 swatted the
invader such a mighty blow that he fled from the land never to return.
Never, afterwards for a moment, was Scotland in danger of subjugation by
England or any other power.
Just when Feudalism was introduced into Scotland is not
definitely stated or material to our story; but we infer that it differed
from the Knight-erranty of the Continent in this respect: that at all
times the individual rights of the people were conserved and they were the
repository of ultimate power. It is said that the Scottish nation in the
course of its existence beheaded forty Kings and drove as many more to
suicide to escape the inevitable for attempting to usurp the rights of the
people-the right to live-the right to labor and enjoy the fruits of their
industry-the right to the highway and the products of the forest and the
stream-the right to settle their disputes in their own way before courts
of their own creation, and the right to be heard before condemned. These
were inherent in the Scot from his old Celtic ancestry and he stoutly
refused to be separated from them. Feudalism in Scotland under these
conditions was not a rank disadvantage. It was rather a combination of the
old original clans around the common center-the king-concentrating the
power of the government to speedily and efficiently resist the
encroachments of unfriendly neighbors and upon the whole, was, perhaps, an
advance in civilization.
Freed from the menace of hostile powers, the genius of
the Scot for industrial pursuits and invention shone out with luminous
rays. Ship building on the Clyde took form and crystalized into scientific
models of winged speed and swan-like grace. From the looms of Paisley,
Kilmarnock and Dundee, fabrics of woolen, cotton and flax appeared in and
monopolized the markets of the world and the rolling thunders of the iron
works of Lanarkshire and Stirlingshire played bass to the hum of the
trilling spindles. The Lowlands from the Grampian Hills to the Firth of
Forth yielded their cereals, fruits and vegetables; the pastures of the
Northland their cattle, sheep and red-deer; the fisheries,
deep-sea, lake and river, each and all contributed to man's subsistence
and wealth. The long driven Celt from his last refuge on the Islands of
the Sea-the first to emerge from the darkness of the far East-now faced
about and confronted the nations, his arms laden with untold blessings to
the children of men.
Education was widely diffused throughout the land and
eagerly embraced by the people. To the wild highlander and groping
husbandman was opened the broad highway to learning and that mental
culture for which his expanding brain burned and his soul longed. Schools
were established and the Yokels became philosophers contentious for the
right, the good and the true. The great Universities of Edinburgh,
Glasgow, St. Andrews and Aberdeen, reared their towers and cupolas and
their chimes rang out the glad song of the coming regeneration of mankind.
Beneath their lofty domes problems of mighty import to the generations of
men were considered and solved, ready to be launched like thunderbolts in
the approaching storm; and when the Reformation came Scotland was prepared
for the moral cataclysm that deluged the earth and swept away the mists
and gloom of the Dark Ages. In those great universities the teachings of
Christ in the original, stripped of monkish superstition, had been
honestly and persistently subjected to the analysis of the clearest brains
and brightest minds in Christendom; and they now arose like giants, armed
and equipped and plunged into the polemic controversy.
The Reformation in Scotland was of wider scope and
greater significance than elsewhere. On the Continent it had taken the
form of destruction of temples, statuary and the finest works of art,
while the crucial test was based on the sacraments and the abjuration of
Papacy. The Anglican Church retained the ritualistic and episcopal form of
the Vatican, but made the King of England the head of the church instead
of the Pope. The universities of Scotland had delved deeper into the
mystery of Godliness and gave wider scope to their interpretation of the
purposes of the Almighty as revealed to man.
From the teachings of Christ they evolved the principle
of the equality of man before the law, and the right to worship God
according to the dictates of his own conscience. While adhering
strenuously to the Eternal decrees, they found the crucial test of
Godliness in the personal righteousness of the man, the purity of his
motives and the spiritual inspiration by which he was enabled to hold
communion with the Almighty. They boldly declared that the secular power
of government vested in the people and that neither King nor Bishop could
divest them of it without gross usurpation ; and right here, upon this
high plane, far above the fulminations of princely palaces and lofty
cathedrals the Presbyterian Church of Scotland was founded. Here was the
pith of Christian civilization-the keynote to the science of the
government of men. Wise men of all ages had sought for it in vain.
Indo-China in her seclusion, Greece in her glory, and Rome in her power
had failed to find the talismanic key that would open the mystery of human
government and it remained for the great universities on Scotia's Hills to
first announce to the civilized world, that "A government of the people,
for the people and by the people," was the only form that had just claims
These principles boldly maintained in after years
became the inspiration of the Puritans in England, the Huguenots in
France, the Scotch Irish in Ulster and found significant expression in the
American Revolution. It was the song of the ancient Celt returning by
peaceful ways to the conquest of the world.
The Reformation dates from A. D. 1520. James, a
Protestant Prince of Scotland, upon the abdication of his mother, Mary
Queen of Scotland, succeeded to the throne as James VI., and in A. D.
1603, by the will of Queen Elizabeth, who had beheaded his mother, he
became King of England as James I. Upon this accession of the King of
Scotland to the British throne, a union of the two nations was effected on
terms that forever secured Scotland her civil and religious liberties, and
this alliance has never been broken. The effect of this union was to
nominally bring into co-operation the Anglican and Presbyterian churches
against the Catholics, a combination that did not always work for
righteousness or the purity of the faith once delivered unto the Saints.
While all this was going on, poor Ireland was being
ground beneath the heel of the oppressor. England, having failed to
subjugate her, was tearing at her vitals, rending her in twain, bent upon
her extirpation and determined to depopulate the island and place upon her
green hills people of her own faith and stupidity. The Norman pale pierced
her center and the natives were driven back into Connaught as the Briton
had been driven into Wales. Their lands were confiscated, lines
obliterated, cottages destroyed and great plantations plotted, surveyed
and bestowed on royal favorites and religious parasites. In those days
there was sore distress in Ireland.
The Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnel held the Province of
Ulster in the North, consisting of nine counties, to-wits Antrim, Armagh,
Caven, Donnegal, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry, Monaghan and Tyrone. It was
a wild region of rock-ribbed coasts and deep-indented bays. Bogs and fens
and inaccessible glens furnished hiding places for fugitives flying for
their lives from their armed oppressors. There were beautiful lands in
Ulster, but there were also ample places of impregnable security, and it
was here that the proud Princes of Ireland organized resistance to further
encroachments and made forays upon the invaders that were very
embarrassing. But it was all in vain. Heroism and intrepidity were
powerless against the preponderance of force, and the Irish were driven
out of their strongholds and, taking to the sea, forty thousand of them
fled to other lands, leaving the Province depopulated. The lands were
confiscated and reverted to the Crown.
Now James I. does not seem to have earned or acquired
the respect of anybody, but he was a thrifty Scot and favored his
countrymen above others, especially when he could reap profits by so
doing. He was not tardy in bringing the Crown Lands of Ulster into market.
Ulster, wild and forbidding as it appeared three hundred years ago,
required but a touch of the canny hand of the Scot to transform it into a
garden of rare fertility and beauty. The soil was peculiarly adapted to
the cultivation of flax; in fact, the best in the world, and King James
offered liberal inducements to his countrymen to remove thither and open
up the linen industry. They were not slow in availing themselves of the
advantages offered and a great emigration at once ensued.
Right here was the origin of the so-called Scotch-Irish
race. It is not an ancient race by any means; nor is it particularly
peculiar from the other branches of the old Celtic family, all of whom
have certain characteristics, common to the whole.
The migration to Ulster continued in great volume,
until the Province containing 8,550 square miles was well peopled by the
Scots, most of whom were of the Presbyterian faith, though many of the
Anglican persuasion also joined in the settlement. The transformation of
the country was wonderful, and Ulster speedily became the most prosperous
and progressive of the four Provinces of the Kingdom. Churches and schools
were everywhere established, for these ungainly long-legged, knock-kneed,
crafty Scots were learned as well as thrifty, and could bless a man in
Latin, curse him in Greek, razzle dazzle him in Euclid and wheedle him in
the vernacular. The distaff, the spinning wheel and the loom sang a syren
song to the Commerce of the Sea, and the white sails of the Nations were
seen on her bays, and like the winged birds of the North glided over her