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