By Hon. George W. Ross, LL.D.,
M.PP., Premier of Ontario
THE love of country so
openly avowed by Scotch-men for the ''land of brown heath and shaggy
wood," is a traditional rather than a personal sentiment. It appeals to
the past more than to the present. When a Scotchman calls for an
expression of Scotland's chivalry, he is far less likely to cite the
actions of recent years than the events of centuries ago. The "Scots wha
hae wi' Wallace bled," are for the time being greater than any of their
successors, although many thousands since have shown equal courage. If
he calls for a song, it is "Sing to me the auld Scots songs, the songs
my mither sang," or " Should auld acquaintance be forgot." And it is
here that veneration for the past—a veneration sanctioned by centuries
of achievement in ''Arms in Art and Song," which is so strong a
characteristic of Scottish character, asserts itself.
To be born on Scottish
soil is to be the heir of all its traditions, the legatee of all the
virtues of its sons. If he is not a man of letters himself, or if he has
not made for himself a name among his fellows, what of it? Has he not
"forbears by the thousand who can more than make up the deficiency? His
social status may not be high, or his calling one of distinction, what
"The honest man though
e'er sae poor,
Is king o' men for a' that.''
In every emergency he
calls upon the past, knowing that the history of his race will be a
passport to recognition and esteem. Who wouldnot love a country with
such a history?
The patriotism of the
Scotchman partakes also of the poetry of nature as well as the romance
of tradition. When Sir Walter Scott wished to show that Scotland was
from the beginning of time consecrated to Freedom, he said:
"The foot of slave her
heather never stained,
Nor rocks that battlement her sons profained.''
The heroic Griogalaich
makes an appeal to Nature in proof of his determination to overcome his
While there are leaves in
Or foam on the river
McGregor despite them,
Shall flourish forever."
Perhaps the people of no
country so fully reflect in their lives the rugged character of the land
which gave them birth as the natives of Scotland. The firmly planted
mountain bared to the northern winds, and calm and unshaken by storms or
tempests has in its essential features been reproduced in the calm and
unwavering courage of Scotch character whenever confronted with
opposition or adversity, and so has the blooming brae sides and the
rippling brooks, and the sun-kissed hills. There may be sternness and
apparent indifference in the solitude of her glens, but just beyond the
shadows here and there is a sunny nook guarded by a milk-white thorn and
cheered by the music of the max-is whose song is one perpetual chorus of
happiness and hope. Who would not love a land that has ii- printed upon
its people its own qualities of strength and courage and brightness?
And shall we lose these
qualities because in the order of Providence those hills are now far
away or because only by imagination we can look upon the scenes of
childhood? Rather shall we not transfer to the land of our adoption the
sweetest memories of the old land and reproduce here amid the lakes and
valleys of Canada the qualities which make Scotland so famous among the
nations of the earth.
"Time but the impression
As streams their channels deeper wear."
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