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Speech delivered by General de Gaulle at Edinburgh, 23rd June 1942


I do not think that a Frenchman could have come to Scotland at any time without being sensible of a special emotion. Scarcely can he set foot in this ancient and glorious land before he finds countless natural affinities between your country and ours dating from the very earliest times. In the same moment, awareness of the thousand links, still living and cherished, of the Franco-Scottish Alliance, the oldest alliance in the world, leaps to his mind.

When I say "Franco-Scottish Alliance," I am thinking, firstly, of course, of that close political and military entente which, in the Middle Ages, was established between our ancient monarchy and yours.

I am thinking of the Scottish blood which flowed in the veins of our kings and of the French blood which flowed in the veins of your kings, of glory shared on past battlefields, from the siege of Orleans, raised by Joan of Arc, to Valmy, where Goethe recognised that a new age was dawning for the world.

In every combat where for five centuries the destiny of France was at stake, there were always men of Scotland to fight side by side with men of France, and what Frenchmen feel is that no people has ever been more generous than yours with its friendship.

Yet in our old alliance there was more than a common policy, more than marriages and fighting deeds. There were not only the Stuarts, the Queens of France and Scotland, Kennedy, Berwick, Macdonald, and the glorious Garde écossaise. There were also a thousand ties of spirit and soul. How could we forget the mutual inspiration of French and Scottish poets, or the influence of men like Locke and Hume on our philosophy? How could we fail to recognise what is common to the Presbyterian Church of Scotland and the doctrines of Calvin? How could we hide the influence which the great Walter Scott has exercised over the receptive mind of French youth? How could we ignore all the exchanges of ideas, feelings, customs, and even words so frequent between two peoples joined by a natural friendship, a friendship of which a visit to Edinburgh affords such ample proof?

This friendship and understanding which Frenchmen have found in Scotland throughout history are to-day more precious than ever. Undoubtedly, they are mingled at the present time with the joint aims, efforts, and ideals which go to make up the alliance between France and Great Britain. But I think I can say, without giving cause for offence, that although mingled, they are not lost in the mingling, and they retain their special character, just as in a bouquet a single flower still keeps its own perfume and colour.

That the soil of France enfolds lovingly the thousands and thousands of Scots whose blood was shed with that of our own soldiers during the last war, I can affirm. The monument to their memory on the hill of Buzancy has, I know, never been more frequently bedecked with flowers than since the new invasion. If the roses of France are bloodstained to-day, they still cluster round the thistle of Scotland. For my part, I can say that the comradeship of arms, sealed on the battlefield of Abbeville in May-June, 1940, between the French armoured division which I had the honour to command and the gallant 51st Scottish Division under General Fortune, played its part in the decision which I made to continue the fight at the side of the Allies to the end, come what may.

We live at a time when every friendship counts, especially those which have lasted longest. That which you extend to us in the difficult task my comrades and I have undertaken affords comforting proof that, like your forefathers, you know where the real France stands and you have kept your faith in her future. We, like our forefathers, will know how to repay.

And that is why, in thanking you for the truly touching reception which you have given me here, I close by quoting the old motto of the Compagnie écossaise: Omni modo fidelis.


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