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The Scot in England
Chapter V - Scottish Support for English Art


We have seen that men of letters were in the vanguard of the peaceful Scottish army which had been let loose on England. They had good reasons for joining the southward trek, for there was nothing but starvation for them in their own country. Allan Ramsay's really worth-while poems did not bring in sufficient cash to enable him to give up wig-making. Robert Ferguson, the Edinburgh copying clerk who broke the hard ground which Robert Burns cultivated, lived under conditions of extreme poverty and died in a madhouse at the early age of twenty-four. The erudite Thomas Ruddiman was paid five pounds a year—in oatmeal!—as a teacher at Laurencekirk, but when he moved on to Edinburgh to become assistant in the Advocate's Library his annual income jumped to eight pounds. Robert and Andrew Foulis, the finest printers in Europe, had had to close up their Glasgow shop for lack of business. Many other instances of the hopeless conditions which men connected with the world of letters had to face in the Scotland of that day could be cited. [The conditions are not much better to-day. The modern Scot has no interest in modern literature, and Scottish writers of distinction are obliged to see support in England. The Scottish way of supporting them is to claim them—after they are dead!] Strved in such a lean field, the ambitious ones packed up their belongings and headed for London. The majority of them were penniless when they crossed the Border, and some had to learn the English language, but in spite of these handicaps they played a prominent part in fashioning England's literature.

There were some weak spots in the structure which they reared. Mallet had weakened the foundations, and the debris of his unscrupulous work had not been cleared away when another wrecker came down from Scotland to vindicate the Englishman's assertion that the Scots were a pack of impudent impostors. This was William Lauder, a bad-tempered, assertive customer who stumped around on a wooden leg. Unable to secure a position as a teacher in the metropolis, this scholarly charlatan drifted into Grub Street and became a pamphleteer. He was in his proper place. Not much was heard of him until he published Latin originals of Milton's Paradise Lost.

Here was a sensation indeed. Milton's masterpiece a plagiarism ! The pamphlet electrified the literary circles of London. Its ponderous Latin verses seemed to prove, beyond all doubt, that Milton had been a sanctimonious old humbug after all, and Doctor Samuel Johnson, who had a fatal weakness for getting himself involved with Scots scribblers of dubious character, [Johnson's quarrel with James McPherson over the latter's spurious collection of Gaelic poems is famous.] was so impressed by the significance of the exposure, that he wrote a preface for Lauder's work, commending the courage and perspicacity of the pamphleteer. It was the lesson that taught the lexicographer never to speak kindly of Scotsmen again. Lauder's impudent fraud was discovered by another scholarly Scot, and the charlatan stumped angrily into oblivion. Happily for the honest Scots who were working out their destinies in London, no more Lauders of literature appeared to undermine them.

At this period Scots elbowed their way into the majority of London's newspaper offices, where they worked hard and wrote themselves into oblivion. A few, however, rose above the dead level of mediocrity, and of those pioneers and builders who left their marks on English life, Alexander Chalmers deserves special mention, for his record as a producer of literary goods was enough to make a modern writer turn pale. Chalmers was born in Aberdeen in 1759, where his father was a printer, and headed for London in 1777. For some years he lived precariously as a freelance, but his ability had not passed unnoticed, for the day came when he was able to inform his sceptical friends in Aberdeen that he was editor of the Public Ledger and the London Packet.

Editors were supposed to be tremendously busy fellows in those days, arriving at their offices at eight o'clock of a morning and penning pungent leaders till the shadows of night fell over London. Chalmers, however, must have been a fast worker or a good manager, for here is the record of his spare-time achievement :

1793—Wrote a history of England—two volumes.
1797—Wrote a glossary to Shakespeare.
1798—Wrote a book about the Isle of Wight. Edited Barclay's Universal English Dictionary.
1803—Edited forty-five volumes devoted to British essayists. Edited a new edition of Shakespeare, in nine volumes.
1805—Wrote a Life of Robert Burns. Wrote a Life of Doctor Beattie.
1806—Edited ten volumes of Fielding's Works. Edited twelve volumes of Samuel Johnson's Works. Edited fourteen volumes of Warton's Essays.
1807—Edited twelve volumes of Gibbon's Decline and Fall.
1808—Edited forty-five volumes of Walker's Classics.
1809—Edited eight volumes of Bolingbroke's Works.
1810—Wrote a history of the colleges, halls, and public buildings attached to the University of Oxford. 1811—Revised six volumes of Bishop Hind's edition of Addison's Works. Revised eight volumes of Pope's Works. Wrote three volumes of his own Essays.

One would be justified in thinking that such a solid accomplishment would have satisfied the editor of the Public Ledger, but it was only a preliminary canter for this Aberdonian, for in 1812 he began to write The General Biographical Dictionary. The very thought of such a compendium is enough to numb a writer and send him to bed—or to the nearest tavern! But the industrious Chalmers compiled thirty-two volumes of his dreary but useful catalogue of the activities of human ants. The work contained nine thousand biographical articles, and of that number the author, with Scottish meticulousness, pointed out, 3934 were entirely his own compositions, 2176 were rewritten by him, and the rest revised and corrected by his indefatigable quill. This remarkable machine must have been built of stout materials, for it continued to run until 1834.

Aberdonians had a good deal to do with the London newspapers of the eighteenth century. James Perry, who was born in the city of granite and apocryphal jokes, proceeded to London in 1777, and got a job at a guinea a week writing for the London Evening Post. A few years later we begin to hear of him as the proprietor of the Morning Chronicle. How he managed it, on a guinea a week, is one of the perennial mysteries that attend the careers of a certain type of self-made Scot, at home and abroad. It is probably just as well, all things considered, that the upward climb is veiled.

Howbeit, James Perry made a success of the Morning Chronicle. One of the first men he engaged was John Black, who had walked from Berwickshire to the English metropolis with the proverbial three halfpennies in his pocket. [John Campbell, born at Cupar-Fife on 15th September, 1779, was another protege of Perry's, working on the Morning Chronicle as a theatrical critic. By wire-pulling and assiduous solicitation he got into politics and became, in turn, Solicitor-General, Attorney-General, and Lord Chancellor. His Lives of the Lord Chancellors is a masterpiece of dullness.] Black's mind was not as empty as his pockets. He had learned six languages, and with that educational equipment soon became editor of the Morning Chronicle. During his long occupancy of the editorial chair he surrounded himself with Scots, but among these earnest plodders was a young Englishman who, in the opinion of Black, had "conseederable abeelity". The young reporter's name was Charles Dickens, and he proved, later on, that he had considerable ability.

George Smith, the son of a Morayshire farmer, was the founder of the Pall Mall Gazette. Fired with patriotic motives, he endeavoured to make the publication mirror the best thought of England, and with that commendable object in view surrounded himself with brilliant writers. Alas! Smith made the discovery that London was not yet ready for a Press that took the serene and lofty view, and he sank a fortune in his austere organ of progress. Still, the Pall Mall Gazette helped to fashion the larger enterprise of England, and George Smith was never heard to regret having spent so much hard cash to voice his ideas of practical patriotism.

These men were fairly representative of the capable and industrious Scots who entered the journalistic field in London, and who continued to exert an increasing influence in the business and editorial management of the newspapers and magazines of the metropolis. It would be difficult, to-day, to find a London publication that does not carry its quota of Scots. [Among the Scots who occupy dominant positions in the field of journalism in London to-day may be mentioned Mr. W. Lints Smith, manager of The Times; Mr. Walter Grierson, joint managing-director of George Newnes, Ltd., the well-known periodical and magazine publishers; Mr. William Will, general manager of the important publications controlled by Allied Newspapers Limited; Dr. J. M. Bulloch, formerly editor of the Graphic and now literary critic of Allied Newspapers Limited; Ian Colvin, chief leader-writer of the Morning Post; Mr. D. S. Meldrum, literary critic of the Morning Post; Mr. James Bone, London editor of the Manchester Guardian; Sir Alexander Mackintosh, parliamentary correspondent of Liverpool Daily Post and British Weekly; Mr. James Milne, formerly literary editor of the Daily Chronicle, and now literary correspondent of the Daily Telegraph; Howard Alexander Gray, leader-writer on the Observer; Mr. Peter B. M. Roberts, London correspondent of the Scotsman; Mr. Ivor J. C. Brown, of the Observer; Mr. Bruce Lockhart, of the Evening Standard; Mr. Robert Bell, until recently assistant-editor of the Observer; Mr. Dunbar, managing-editor of the Herald and other Odhams papers; and Lord Beaverbrook, proprietor of the Daily Express.] Indeed, they add so much to the congestion of Fleet Street that they have been cursed bitterly for entering that journalistic Golgotha. In his urbane book, The Unspeakable Scot, Mr. Crosland has this to say about the Scottish journalist in London:

He is punctual, dogged, unoriginal and a born galley-slave. You can knock an awful lot of work out of him, and no matter how little you pay him, he may be depended upon to sustain "the dignity of the office" in the matter of clothes, external habits of life, and a dog-like devotion to the hand that feeds him and the foot that kicks him. In short, he is a capital routine man, and if you have a journal which you wish to maintain on the ancient lines of stodge and flatfootedness, the Scotchman does you admirably. But it is impossible to get away from the fact that the vogue of the stolid, arid, stereotyped, sleepy sort of journalism which satisfied the last generation is rapidly going to pieces. The contemporary world wants and will have what it chooses to call the "live" journalist, and the Scotchman who is a live journalist to the extent of evolving anything bright or subtle or suggestive or original has yet to be found. At the present moment, he is managing to keep himself alive by imitation. As a plagiarist of ideas, necessity has made him a master. He knows that the reign of dullness is coming to an end, and that the auld-wife journalism in whose benevolent presence he has prosed and prosed for so many years, is even now in her dotage and cannot last much longer. So that he has taken thought and determined to aim higher. What man has done, a Scot can do. It is not given him to be witty and brilliant and unhackneyed on a little oatmeal. But, thank Heaven! he can always play sedulous ape, and sedulous ape it shall be.

We have an uneasy feeling, based on a good deal of experience with Scottish editors, that there is something in what Mr. Crosland says. Too many Scots are inclined to follow the old ruts when, after years of patient and hopeful labour, they gain editorial authority. Seldom do they raise their noses from the well-worn track of tradition. Their caution is most admirable; but one result of it is that the country, especially north of the Tweed, supports an astonishingly large number of journals that are as unchanging as moss-grown tombstones, and which, like moss-grown tombstones, become more and more difficult to read as the years pass.

On the other hand, Mr. Crosland could have levelled his criticism against Englishmen, or Norwegians, with equal point. Editors who combine wisdom with originality and hair-trigger progressiveness are very rare birds. In twenty years of journalistic experience we can think of only one man who possessed the requisite gifts—and he was a devious, malicious, and coarse-grained bully who was never happier than when destroying reputations. Scots, therefore, need not feel cast down because their countrymen are not so prominent as they might be in the new journalism, which floods the country with feverish print and false alarms, in order that Baron Self made may pose as a Power looming over a Cringing Government.

Great as was the influence exerted by Scotsmen during the pioneering period of journalism in England, it appears almost insignificant by comparison with the astonishing record of Scottish publishers who left their native country to open up shop in London. They had had a pretty thin time of it in Glasgow and Edinburgh; but, almost without exception, they had entered the publishing business because they liked books, they had served their terms of apprenticeship in an exacting school, and they had sound business heads on their shoulders.

Prior to the time that these men gained a footing in London, the lot of the author was indeed a pitiful one, setting him to

Unpack his heart with words, and fall a-cursing,
Like a very drab, a scullion!

He was the prey of unscrupulous and ignorant men who called themselves publishers, but who should have been buccaneers of the Caribbean. It seems almost trite to hark back to the fact that Milton received only five pounds from Samuel Simmons, the English publisher, for the manuscript of Paradise Lost. This was at the middle of the seventeenth century. After Simmons came an exploiter, who bore the ominous name of Jacob Tonson, who, without using weapons, acquired Dryden's Troilus and Cressida for twenty pounds. Dean Swift received a few pounds for Gulliver's Travels, but that was the only manuscript he ever received a penny for. His other manuscripts were gifts—unwillingly given, we may believe—to his rapacious publishers and posterity. Pope's bitter denunciations of the publishing craft are well known. So are those of Byron.

The murderous relationship that existed between author and publisher in those days is reflected by Dryden's pungent description of the mountebank who launched his books:

With leering looks, bull-faced, and freckled fair,
With two left legs, and Judas-coloured hair,
And frowsy pores, that taint the ambient air!

The ambient air was freed of its taint when Scotsmen established publishing houses in London; indeed, the improvements which they brought about in the business of putting books on the market form a remarkable chapter in the history of English literature. It was as if the loosely conducted and reviled profession had been transformed by the touch of a magic wand.

The allied arts of printing and publishing had not developed to any great extent in Scotland at this time; but restricted as they were from a commercial standpoint, they were by no means lacking in quality and progressiveness. Allan Ramsay, half a century previously, had established the first circulating library in Edinburgh. William Ged's invention of stereotype printing had been utilized. Sir Robert Strange, a native of the Orkney Islands, had introduced line engraving to London in 1747 and had become one of England's most artistic and successful engravers. Thomas Nelson, another Scot, had invented the rotary stereo press. The beautiful types used by the Foulis Brothers, already mentioned, were the talk of the publishing world all over Europe. In addition to their skill as craftsmen, the Scottish printers and publishers of this period were men of pronounced character and keen business acumen. [It is worth noting that in the following century five of Glasgow's Lord Provosts were drafted from the publishing trades.] With such a sound background, those of them who opened establishments in London brought to the business of making and selling books sound business ethics and an artistic appreciation of the efforts of writers.

Two of the most outstanding men among them were Andrew Millar and William Strachan (the same man who, as noted in a previous chapter, changed his name to Strahan). Millar was publisher for Hume, Thompson, Fielding, and Robertson, and he launched Dr. Samuel Johnson's great Dictionary. Strahan placed Gibbon's monumental Decline and Fall before the London public in 1776, in partnership with Cadell, and in doing so made a bargain with the great historian that was in curious contrast to modern contracts for book publication. Gibbon took two-thirds of the profits, leaving the smaller fraction to the publisher. Modern book-publishing contracts—largely as a result of the ability and eagerness of successful ironmongers, prize-fighters, professional golfers, politicians, and misunderstood women to write revealing autobiographies—are invariably worded so that the obscure author remains hopeful and threadbare till death stills his fevered hand. In the case of Gibbon and Strahan, the opposite was the case, for on the third edition of the Rise and Fall the author collected the tidy sum of 326 13s. 4d., while the publisher had to be content with 163 6s. 8d. Gibbon was a genius in more ways than one!

Strahan, in addition to putting Gibbon's masterpiece on the market, had the honour of launching Adam Smith, and saw the beginning of the transformation that was brought about in England's economic life by The Wealth of Nations. He was, by instinct and training, a sound business man, but he displayed the daring and generosity that are characteristic of big-minded money-makers. When he offered Tennyson four thousand pounds for the right to publish the poet's books, it was an indication of the great improvement that had been brought about in the world of books by Strahan and other Scots. It is scarcely necessary, in view of the sums of money which passed between them and authors, to point out that they had replaced the old mendacious system of literary patrons by clean-cut business methods, thereby wiping out the odium that had for so long been associated with authorship in London.

Strahan had taken too much pleasure out of the business of publishing books, and had done too much for authors, to leave a fortune when he died in 1785. [Strahan established the Argosy magazine, also the Contemporary Review, and sank a good deal of money in his efforts to develop them.]

"There will be no books of importance now printed in London," exclaimed Hume, when he heard that the publisher had passed away. That, of course, was too gloomy a forecast, but it stands in the history of British publishing as an indication of the status of William Strahan.

Strahan, and his less spectacular but equally capable partner, were succeeded by other Scotsmen, who carried on the traditions they had established. The names of these Scots come thick and fast as we stroll down Paternoster Row. Thomas Cadell, for instance, succeeded Millar, with whom he had served his apprenticeship. The founder of the great house of Hutchinson and Company, Sir George Thompson Hutchinson, was a Scot, and had served his apprenticeship with Strahan. Archibald Constable, with a fine record in Edinburgh behind him, opened up shop in the metropolis towards the end of the century, and the firm is still there, with an enviable record of achievement to its credit. Of the founder of this fine old house, Sir Walter Scott remarked: "Never did there exist so intelligent and so liberal an establishment."

George Smith, the Morayshire farmer's son whom we have already met, with his partner, Elder— another Scot!—published the poems of Robert Browning and John Ruskin, and the novels of Charlotte Bronte and Charles Makepeace Thackeray. They also put the Cornhill Magazine on its feet, opening its pages to talent, which added permanent lustre to English literature. Thomas Hardy had already written Desperate Remedies, Under the Greenwood Tree, and A Pair of Blue Eyes, without impinging upon the consciousness of a rather dull public; but Smith and Elder saw something in the mild man from Wessex and stuck to him. They commissioned him to write Far from the Madding Crowd for the Cornhill Magazine, and before the last instalment of that lovely tale appeared, Gabriel Oak and his dear Bathsheba Everdene had been for ever enshrined in the hearts of Englishmen, and a great new novelist was basking modestly in the sunshine of a long-deferred success. What an achievement for a publisher!

A spacious era of English literature had arrived, and, guided and supported by Scottish publishers, great stars arose and moved majestically across the literary firmament. Sir Walter Scott, Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, Charles Reade, Charlotte Bronte, and Charles Kingsley were a part of this glorious constellation!

Their publishers were worthy of them. John Murray, who spoke with a broad Scottish accent, earned the title of "Prince of Publishers". He was succeeded by Adam Black, another Scot who had worked up from the bottom after a stern apprenticeship in his native country. Black was a genius. In 1827 he acquired the copyright of the Encyclopedia Britannica from Constable, got Dr. James Browne— another Scot, of course!—to edit the new edition, and proceeded to make a fortune. [There is a good deal of truth in the saying that no dictionary or encyclopaedia has ever been compiled without the assistance of Scots. The Encyclopedia Britannica had its origin in Scotland, the first edition being published in 1771 by the Edinburgh firm of Bell and MacFarquhar. William Smellie was the patient editor who compiled the information crammed into its pages. Sir James A. H. Murray, a Scot, was editor of the Oxford English dictionary.] Black also bought the copyright of Sir Walter Scott's novels in 1851, paying 31,000 for it. Another wise investment, in spite of the large amount of money involved. This shrewd and daring old book-lover was one of the first men to recognize the genius of Macaulay—and it wasn't because the historian was more than half Scotch! Apart from the profession which he adorned, the sterling worth of Adam Black was shown in another revealing light, when he politely but firmly declined the proffered honour of a knighthood, on the pawky grounds "that my wife had no desire to be called 'My Lady', and it would foster vanity in my children!"

T. Fisher Unwin inherited his literary leanings from his Scottish mother. It was Unwin who developed Joseph Conrad. By this time Blackwoods, of Edinburgh, had opened up in London, where they put before the English public the works of Charles Reade, Trollope, and George Eliot. It was largely as a result of the encouragement of Blackwoods that George Eliot continued to write her great social novels.

The great house of MacMillans was founded by Daniel MacMillan, who learned his trade in Ayrshire, and who opened up in a modest way in London just one hundred years ago. Among the first of the long list of literary celebrities launched by this great publishing house were Tennyson and Charles Kingsley.

We have come down to the present day, for all these Scottish publishing houses prospered, and, like a famous beverage, are still going strong in the land of their adoption. They are still the pillars of the publishing business of London, and while, among and around them, many fine English houses flourish, London without its Scottish publishers would be a bare field indeed for the British author.

It will have been noticed that, with the exception of Sir Walter Scott, no names of Scottish novelists are linked with the success of the Scottish publishers who broke so much new ground in London in the last century. At that time, it is necessary to repeat, Scotland's genius took a practical form, and with the notable exceptions of Scott and Smollett, who did not have to worry over the problem of earning their daily bread, there were no novelists in Scotland. Instead, the country was flooded with the heavy literature of polemics, the treatises bearing such grave titles as: The Institutes of Moral Philosophy, The Theory of Knowing and Being, Thoughts on Man's Condition, The Delusive and Persecuting Spirit of Popery, and Exercitationes de Verbo Dei, et Dissertatio de Versionibus, which perhaps reflected the philosophical bent of the best Scottish minds, but did not cut much ice as literature.

One curious fact emerges from this frozen period in Scottish literature, however—the fact that Scots had glorified the sea-power of England in song and story. Thompson and Campbell wrote the songs; Smollett wrote the stories. To our old friend from Dumbartonshire belongs the distinction of writing the first novels that depicted the hard life of the British sea-dog, and while they belong to a day that has gone by, they have never been surpassed as literature of the sea.

Smollett was familiar with the men who manned England's fighting ships in the latter part of the eighteenth century, and had a first-hand knowledge of the disgraceful conditions imposed upon them by boodling politicians and ignorant naval officers, for he went to Cartagena with the fleet as a surgeon's mate. Out of that voyage of vengeance, and his sympathy for the grossly abused tar, came The Adventures of Roderick Random, the first novel of the sea to appear in these islands, which introduced John Bull to Tom Bowling, "as good a seaman as ever cracked biscuit"; Daniel Whipcord, the ship-chandler; Captain Oakum, Jack Rattlin, Captain Cormorant, and a whole crew of other original and salty characters. Roderick Random was followed by The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, the pages of which resounded with the gusty gossip of Commodore Hawser Trunnion, who "swore woundily", and described his promotion in these broad maritime terms:

I did not rise in the service by parliamentary interest, or a handsome wife. I was not hoisted over the bellies of better men, nor strutted athwart the quarter-deck in a laced doublet, and thingumbobs at the wrists. Damn my limbs! I have been a hard-working man, and served all offices on board from cook's shifter to the command of a vessel!

The third novel of the sea which Smollett wrote was The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker, and it proved to be his last, for he died soon after it appeared, at the comparatively early age of fifty-one.

Smollett was a first-class delineator of the characters of sailors, and apart from the fact that he was the first successful writer of stories that dealt with the British Navy, his name deserves to be honoured for the sound literary quality of his work. He set the course for Marryat, Glascock, and other less distinguished novelists of the sea who followed him; and even to-day it is difficult to name a writer who caught so faithfully, and portrayed so entertainingly the lives of men who go down to the sea in ships. [The author of the famous old classic of the sea, Tom Cringle's Log, was Michael Scott, who was born in Glasgow in 1789.]

After the middle of the eighteenth century the ranks of the Scottish pamphleteers and propagandists began to thin rapidly, and writers of genuine merit began to emerge from the mists of the north. It would be idle to attempt to prove that modern Scottish literature has influenced England to any great extent. In the main it has been disfigured by the political inhibitions of the Scot. Parliamentary Union left Scotland with a pronounced inferiority complex, and no country, labouring under such a psychological handicap, has ever produced a large and urbane literature. To produce great literary works a country must be free of the shadow of a dominating power. What books have come out of Newfoundland? That island is Great Britain's oldest colony.

The United States, next door, has flooded the world with her virile and varied literature. To produce great literature, a country's soul must be emancipated, and something grievous happened to Scotland's soul when she relinquished her independence in 1707 for the cash consideration of 360,000. That dark fact has clouded the country's mind with the passing of the years, and it is not difficult to trace its increasing influence on the minds of modern Scottish writers. Thus, as we recede from the period when giants like Scott and Burns laboured, we encounter, with increasing frequency, the school of inhibition, with its pretty romances of the Jacobite period, its new study of Mary Queen of Scots, its sickly sentimental portrayals of kailyard types, its bitter flings at the country, and, in recent years, its rising anthem in praise of scenery.

Still, here and there real genius rose above the mists, and out of Scotland came books that won, and retained down the years, the very highest places in England's prolific honour-roll of literature. We think it will be admitted that the greatest historical novels read by Englishmen came from the magic pen of Sir Walter Scott. James Boswell, of Auchinleck, gave England The Life of Doctor Samuel Johnson, by universal acknowledgment the greatest biography in the English language. In the field of the tragic drama, George Douglas Brown wrote that black and awful masterpiece, The House with the Green Shutters, the equal of which, as sheer art, is not easily found in English literature of any period. Robert Louis Stevenson gave Englishmen Treasure Island and Kidnapped, classics of adventure which never grow old and which, because of their faultless art, have easily withstood the successive challenges of a long list of able writers in the same field.

Writing for younger minds, and for once discarding the silliness that disfigures so much of his work, Sir James Barrie brought London to his feet with Peter Pan, a classic of fanciful adventure which stands alone. In the more sober literature of political economy, Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations became the chart that guided England out of the unproductive shallows of protected commerce into the mighty world-circling deeps of free trade that made her the greatest trading nation the world has ever seen. In the field of poetry, one is confronted by a formidable array of great English classicists, but the master of them all was Lord Byron, and his genius, which had a profound influence on the literature of Europe, had its origin in the soil of Scotland. [George Gordon Noel Byron (1788-1824), has been so persistently catalogued as an English poet that it seems necessary to point out that he inherited his incandescent genius from his fitful, passionate, and artistic mother, Catherine Gordon, heiress of Gight, in Aberdeenshire.] In the realm of philosophy, what British writer has exerted a greater influence than Carlyle?

Asked why he gave Scottish parts in his plays to English actors and actresses, Sir James Barrie replied —need we add, whimsically: "It isn't Scotch to act!" The pawky remark would have been nearer the truth if the words "in Scotland" had been added, for until recent years there was no development of the theatrical art in Scotland, as a result of the narrow view of the theatre held by the clergy. On 24th April, 1595, the Kirk-Session of Glasgow directed the town's drummer to forbid "all persons from going to Ruglen to see vain plays on Sundays", and "The Temple of Beelzebub" remained in disrepute for two centuries. True, "The Tragedy of Douglas", written by the Reverend John Home, of Athelstaneford, Midlothian, was performed in the theatre in the Canongate on 14th December, 1756—Thomas Carlyle was in the audience!—but even that heavy tragedy was considered to be a menace to the morals of the people.

How could dramatists thrive in such an atmosphere? They could pander to the local appetite with plays that invariably introduced a young meenister with a slow but sure manner, and a sharp-tongued heroine with a heart o' gold, or they could pack up and go to—London. Those who had genuine ability took the latter course, and by the time they had won fame they were regarded as being Sassenachs. Is it any wonder that a man with such a vast knowledge of the London theatre as Mr. Charles B. Cochran should have written to us while this book was on the stocks, with this barren recollection of Scottish theatrical figures: "It's an extraordinary thing, but

I can't recall any famous Scotsmen other than Harry Lauder and Norman McKinnell, [Norman McKinnell was born in Maxwelltown, Kirkcudbrightshire, on 10th February, 1870. He appeared first at Clacton-on-Sea in 1894, then became associated with H. Beerbohm Tree, appearing at Her Majesty's in "King John", "Julius Caesar", "The Vanity of Youth", and other plays.] who have shone in the theatre. There must be a number."

There are a number. Sir George Alexander, for instance. This great actor and producer was always regarded as being an Englishman, but he was the son of a Scottish manufacturer who had moved across the Border in the great trek that followed the Union of Parliaments. Alexander went to London, took up acting, and won moderate fame when, in 1881, he appeared at the Lyceum with the great Irving. Ten years later he became manager of the St. James's Theatre, and there he produced Oscar Wilde's "Lady Windermere's Fan" and "The Importance of Being Earnest", Pinero's "The Second Mrs. Tanqueray", "The Princess and the Butterfly", "His House in Order", and "The Thunderbolt", Anthony Hope's "Prisoner of Zenda" and "Rupert of Hentzau", and Stephen Phillip's "Paolo and Francesca". The list of these famous plays of the last century will impress upon the minds of people familiar with the theatre the melancholy fact that plays of equal merit are seldom produced in London to-day—even with the help of Broadway. Sir George Alexander played the leading role in each of them with great distinction; indeed, his record in the dual capacity of producer and leading man is one that has not been surpassed in the history of the English stage.

Another great Scottish actor-manager who appeared on the same stage with Sir George Alexander was Alexander Matheson Lang, the son of an Inverness minister. Lang's reputation as an actor became international. He produced "The Merchant of Venice", "Othello", and "The Wandering Jew", and, like Sir George Alexander, took the leading role in each of his productions. Playing Benedick to the Beatrice of Ellen Terry, he attained a fame comparable to that of Garrick.

The majority of English theatregoers believe that Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson, the distinguished London actor and theatrical producer, is a product of their country, and indeed he has the air of a man who has never remained away from London any longer than was absolutely necessary. Nevertheless, he is the son of an Aberdeen journalist.

The list of Scottish men and women who have attained distinction in the theatrical world of England could be lengthened, [One of the first Scottish actors to attain great fame in London was Charles Murray (1754-1821), whose father, Sir John Murray, was secretary to Bonnie Prince Charlie. Viola, Nell, and Fay Compton are descendants of Charles Murray. Other famous actresses of England owe much to their Scottish ancestry. Ellen Terry's mother was Scotch. Sophie Stewart is as Scottish as Harris Tweed. Sybil Thorndike's grandmother was a talented Scotswoman. The famous Grace Huntley (1860-1896) belonged to Southwick, Scotland, and lies in a lonely little kirkyard close to the author's] but the triumvirate mentioned are a convincing proof of the fact that if Scotland has not given as many actors to the London stage as England, she has demonstrated that she can produce the very cream of the profession.

A survey of the dramatic arts of England would not be complete without a reference to those ultramodern developments—the cinema and radio. Both arts have been developed in London: the cinema to a point where it has quite definitely surpassed, in point of artistic quality, the best efforts of Hollywood; the radio entertainment to a point of perfection where it has become the pride of this country and the envy of others. In saying so we are almost overcome with embarrassment, for it is necessary to add that the cinema industry of Great Britain has been built up, from its very foundations, by Mr. John Maxwell, of Glasgow, and that the directing genius of the British Broadcasting Corporation is Sir John Reith, of Aberdeen!


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