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Scotland's Influence on Civilization
Retrospect and Conclusion


WHAT, now, is the conclusion of this whole survey?

In casting one's eye upon a geographical globe, Scotland, away up toward the north pole, looks like the most insignificant country in the world. Far removed from the beaten highway of nations, it seems a mere speck of land, a diminutive cape upon the outer edge of creation. But what an influence has gone abroad from that once remote and inaccessible corner of the earth, that ancient battle-ground of the Picts and the Scots! What a light of history, of civilization, of liberty, has shone forth with increasing brightness from that little Presbyterian country!

What has produced that strong influence, that clear light of modern civilization? It would perhaps be unphilosophical to affirm dogmatically that Presbyterianism alone has done it, for other agencies have had a foothold and for ages have been at work there. It will be enough to say what cannot in the light of history be well denied—that Christianity has done it, and that, too, a Christianity of the Presbyterian type. A Presbyterianized Christianity has made Scotland what it is to-day—a land of Sabbaths, of Bibles and of education, the very bulwark of Protestantism, the model of a free Church and a free State, the home of an intelligent, thriving, happy people.

Still further, what are the sons and the daughters of this thoroughly Presbyterianized stock doing all around the globe to-day ? for there is a Scotland abroad as well as at home. The race does not decay, though transported to the ends of the earth, nor does its religion die. It is found that the Presbyterianism which no fires of persecution could ever burn from the bones of the fathers is a type of religion so inwrought into the heart of their descendants that no exile from home, however distant that exile may be, can drive it from their memory. Wherever they go their Presbyterianism goes with them, and flourishes alike amid Canadian snows and under tropical suns. With it they are to-day laying the foundations of Christian empire in Australia; with it they are advancing the standards of a Christian civilization through the wilds of Africa; with it they are pushing the streams of emigration and colonization through British America and through India. Side by side with their Presbyterian neighbors from the North of Ireland, they are to-day helping to extend and to build up, even as their heroic fathers helped to found, republican and Christian institutions, in every part of our own vast country, from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

The Scotch and the Scotch-Irish—par labile, fratntm—have been from the beginning constituent factors in all our national greatness. They have contributed not less to the general growth of the country at large than to the growth of the Presbyterian Church within the country. The Scotch and Irish Presbyterian has always been devoted to his Church, but not less so to his country. By all his antecedents, and the very principles of the religion in which he was born, he has always been a patriotic citizen while being a true Churchman. There is no more glorious chapter in American history than that which tells how the heroic sons of Caledonia and Erin, after contributing their toil to the first settlement of the country in many of the thirteen colonies, gave themselves up to its service in the hour of its peril and fought under Washington and Greene, Marion and Sumter, Pickens and Anderson, through all the battles of the Revolution. Nor did they falter under the varying fortunes of the war, from Saratoga to King's Mountain, and from King's Mountain back to Yorktown, until liberty and independence were won. Through all our history and over all our institutions, civil and religious, social and educational, the influence of Scotland and Ireland has been as potential as it has been salutary. Nor can America ever forget that at the most critical period of our history it was the Scottish statesman and philosopher Witherspoon who in the halls of legislation stood side by side with Hancock and Adams, Franklin and Jefferson, Rutledge and Middleton, and signed that immortal document, the charter of our national independence, which made him one of the fathers of our country.

There is, in fact, no stronger or more enduring type of national character in the world than the Scottish; and when upon that native stock is engrafted what is probably the strongest and most enduring religious system in the world, that of Calvinistic Presbyterianism, the combination forms a character which is wellnigh indestructible. It gives us a man who will find his way or make one through the world, and wherever he goes will leave his mark. Migrations and intermarriages will not easily wear out such a type of character, and after generations the hand of the "canny Scotsman" can still be traced in his work. And where is the work or the human avocation in which the Scotch have not excelled? Some go to foreign shores, and, though landing without a dollar, they soon find an opening in trade or handicraft, and in the end build up great mercantile houses to be carried on by sons or grandsons after they are gone. Some have or develop a taste for agriculture, and by thrifty economy add acre to acre until their wide domains of the "choicest of the wheat and the corn and the vine" surpass anything ever dreamed of in the home-land. Some build up great manufacturing establishments and some aspire to the high seats of political power, becoming judges on the bench or legislators in Congress or governors of our State commonwealths. Some in our own country have risen from small beginnings until they became great grain-merchants or successful bankers and railroad-builders, controlling millions of dollars. Some, leaving their native land in early youth, have established permanent banking-houses, like that of John and Thomas Coutts in London, an institution now a hundred years old, whose present proprietor, Lady Burdett Coutts, does honor to her name and Scottish ancestry by spreading her magnificent benefactions around the globe.

Many Scotchmen at home and their descendants in other lands have risen to the highest distinction as medical practitioners or writers on medical science, as illustrated in the great names of Abercrombie, Cullen, John and William Hunter and Sir Charles Bell. As college presidents, and as writers on philosophical, educational and theological subjects, the eminent names of John Witherspoon of the earlier times, and that of James McCosh of the later, may be instanced as fitting representatives of Scottish influence in our own country. In recent popular literature it is sufficient to mention George Macdonald and Thomas Carlyle, Scotchmen by birth and education, whose widely-read writings have made their names as household words in innumerable habitations of the English-speaking world. Probably no man of our generation has acquired a wider literary fame and more deeply impressed his thoughts upon all current literature than this grim North Briton Carlyle, a man whose idiosyncrasies of style and character would be intolerable but for the brilliant originality of his genius. He had the dye of a Scotchman deep within him, nor could his long life in London nor all his German learning wear it out.

In the United States it would not be easy to find any important town or any great city where enterprising Scotchmen and Scotch-Irishmen have not made their influence felt in one way or another. The extent to which these elements have entered into all social, commercial, professional and political life in the United States would be apparent to any one reading any large list of the names of our prominent men and families. This is especially striking in the recorded minutes of our larger ecclesiastical bodies. Scarcely less conspicuous are such names in any list of the men who have attained eminence in the United States in the medical profession, in law, in statesmanship and as educators. Amongst those who have attained to the Presidency of the United States several belonged to this stock—as Jackson, Polk, Buchanan and Grant—whilst a review of the lists of senators, governors of States, judges and other high officials in the civil service and distinguished officials in the army and navy will show many names manifestly of the same parentage. Wherever found—whether among the original immigrants or their descendants—these names indicate an element which has constituted the very bone and muscle of the country. They have helped to form the working power and the intelligence of the nation. Nor has the nation ever had within its veins a truer and a nobler blood.

While enterprising and far-seeing Scotchmen have been winning the peaceful victories of wealth and fortune and contributing to the intellectual and moral power of our own and other nations, where can a region of the earth be found in which Scottish blood has not flowed to maintain the honor of Britain and advance the cause of Protestant civilization? "Have not the snows of Canada, the sands of Egypt, the fields of Spain and India, all drank it in like water?" The distinguished name of Sir John Moore, who fell in Spain heroically battling against the ambitious designs of Napoleon, and the still more distinguished name of his former commander, Sir Ralph Abercrombie, who fell in Egypt at the head of his battalions, stand high on the rolls of British military glory. But from their Scottish boyhood they had been trained to the service which they thus sealed with a hero's death. The Scottish soldiery, bravest of the brave, marched to victory or to death in the long struggle against Napoleon, and contributed their full share to win the final triumph at Waterloo. The hardy Highland regiments led by Sir Colin Campbell took part in the desperate battles of the Crimean war from Alma to Balaklava. When the gallant Havelock, in India, at the Sepoy rebellion of 1857, marched his little army to the relief of Lucknow, it was with the veteran remnants of Scottish regiments and under the martial inspiration of the Highland music that the welcome deliverer came.

As illustrating the distinction which the descendants of Scotchmen, not less than Scotch-men themselves, have won in foreign lands, one striking example may be adduced. One of the ablest generals of France during the wars of Napoleon, Marshal Macdonald, was the son of a famous Scotch Highland family, whose father, with twenty other Macdonalds, fought for Charles Edward the Pretender in 1745 in the field of Culloden, and they kept him concealed for many weeks. The son, endowed with superior military genius, entered the French service in 1784 and rapidly rose to the highest honors of war and of the state. For distinguished services rendered on many hard-fought fields he became a peer of France, duke of Tarentum, minister of state, ambassador to foreign courts and grand chancellor of the Legion of Honor. After conducting several important campaigns and desperate marches, now victorious and now defeated by some of the greatest captains in Europe, he was present in 1809 at the decisive battle of Wagram, and by the emperor was created on the field a marshal of France with the words, "For this victory I am principally indebted to you and my artillery guards."

Some one—Bulwer, perhaps—has said that "past and present are the wings on which, harmoniously conjoined, moves the great spirit of human knowledge." The same truth is aptly expressed by Tennyson in the oft-quoted lines,

"Yet I doubt not through the ages one increasing purpose runs, And the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns.',

This is the true philosophy of history. Its great spirit is the divine intelligence, and its increasing purpose is the accomplishment of man's good and God's glory. No good impulse, past or present, is ever lost. No real contribution to knowledge and goodness, small or great, can fail to help forward the general movement of the world. The individual has his place, the nation its force, in the onward march of civilization.

Our aim in this monograph has been to show the place and illustrate the force of Scotland in this movement of the ages. Both the present and the past bear witness to her power and show the unmistakable footprints of her presence at home and abroad. Her name is graven on many a monument of the past and written with a pen of adamant on some of the most enduring institutions of the present. Though "small among the thousands of Israel," she is not forgotten before God. She has won a position of usefulness and honor which cannot be readily vacated until the whole mission is fulfilled and the high destiny achieved. She has borne her part in the brunt of the world's battle and done her best in the defence of the Lord's kingdom, and she is still in the front rank of the advancing columns of Christian civilization. She has contributed her full share to educate the race of men. She has given her influence to speed its progress, to augment its intelligence, to ennoble its virtue, to refine and dignify its enjoyment. That influence in every land has been on the side of truth, of right, of liberty, of industry and economy, of Christianity, of all public and private, social and domestic, improvement. That influence has constituted one of the most marked and essential eIenments of modern civilization—so essential, indeed, that we should regard an educated man as scarcely up to the highest and widest culture from whose curriculum of studies had been excluded all knowledge of the history, philosophy, science, literature and Christianity of Scotland.

Much has been said in our day about the coming man and the coming woman. Much fruitless speculation also has been suggested as to the coming destiny of our great republic. It is safest to bide our time and await the developments of the future. We may rest assured that all real progress, whether for the individual man or for the nation, will be in the direction of the lines already traced in the experience of the past and made clear in the light of the present. It is always safe to travel such well-known lines, and new ones are often dangerous. We know from all the past, as well as from the word of God, that it is religion that makes the greatest character and the greatest nation, for religion is the deepest sentiment of our nature, and religion brings us the nearest to God and to truth. Scotland stands as an ocular demonstration to the world of what Christianity in its highest Presbyterian style can do for a people and make out of a people. There can be no mistake as to what it has done in Scotland, both in the development of the individual man and in the development of the national character.

In this day of much material science and of much skepticism, of much distrust as it regards the plainest teachings of the Bible and much disposition to set aside religion altogether, the great nations of the earth, confident of their superior culture, may be in no humor to profit by the experience or to follow the example of God-fearing and Christ-honoring Scotland, and yet for lessons of true practical wisdom it is evident that they might go farther and fare worse. It is evident that they will not much improve in either morals or manners by going back, as some of them seem inclined to do, to the old paganism of the classic Greeks and Romans. It remains historically true that the world already has widely felt and largely profited by the influence of Scotland. For its wide extent to-day, and its place among civilized nations, the British empire owes much to the potential influence of Scotland.

Scotland's place in history is well assured—as much so, perhaps, as that of any other portion of the globe. Its own history forms an integral part of the history of the world, just as its realm and its people now constitute an integral portion of the British empire. That history can never be reversed, nor can it ever be forgotten among civilized men. Its influence has gone as an important factor into the general advancement of human civilization. It is easy to see that the world is immeasurably better to-day on account of that influence than it could have been without it. The world would not be what it is to-day had there been no Scotland, no Scottish history, no Scottish civilization. The general course of civilization is the resultant of many different forces, some of them exerting their unspent influence from the distant nationalities of antiquity, and others coming in successively from the nations and the races that figure in modern history. Of the latter class there has been no equal territory on the map of modern Europe that has for centuries exerted a more pronounced and unmistakable influence, and at the same time a more beneficial and far-reaching influence, on the progress of knowledge, the progress of education, the progress of human liberty and Christian civilization, than this little realm of Scotland.

The religious history of Scotland illustrates the great truth that the Lord can work by the few as well as by the many. He assuredly did so when he selected the narrow confines of Palestine for the abode of his chosen people. Here were unfolded the stupendous mysteries of man's redemption, and here was enacted the greatest drama of human history in the immolation of the Son of God. Here, too, were set in motion all the great forces of our Christian civilization. Who can deny that in the long struggle for Christian liberty, for the vindication of the rights of conscience, for the maintenance of the pure gospel, the open Bible and the true Church, God chose Scotland, even as he had chosen Palestine, as the spot where the truth should be asserted, the battle fought out and the victory at last won? It was not a mere accident, nor was it without a great purpose, that Christianity, originating in little Palestine, on the western verge of the Asiatic continent, after being driven across all Europe by the usurpations and the persecutions of more than ten centuries, should at last make its final stand for liberty and God's eternal truth on the rock-bound shores of Scotland---another little territory, not unlike Palestine, though washed by a larger and rougher sea. Nor was the later battle in Scotland less important in the principles at stake and in the results of good for all mankind than had been the battle of Scotland so long before. In each case the victory was decisive, and it was for all time.

The lesson derived from the whole history of Scotland is a most significant and instructive one. It shows what an energetic and intelligent people apparently shut out from the greater world, and restricted to a narrow and somewhat sterile soil, can do for themselves, and not only for themselves, but for other nations. The territory on which this history was enacted is exceedingly Iimited, but for that very reason it all the better serves to illustrate the great law of Christianity—that communities, like individuals, must not live for themselves alone They can never reach the highest destiny except by sharing the common lot of humanity and contributing their full quota both of toil and of influence to swell the stock of the universal good. Not only must the light be kindled, but it must be diffused from a thousand radiating centres, in order to fill the world. It is mainly within the last two or three centuries—that is, since the Scottish people ceased to fight one another and turned their whole energies to the arts of peaceful and productive industry—that the Scottish history has furnished for the world this impressive and memorable example of what a small population on a narrow territory can achieve for themselves and for the rest of mankind. It is in this history, especially in its sublime transition from desolating and destructive wars to the reign of peaceful and productive industry, that we find the very idea and model of modern progress and of true Christian civilization.

No one can deny the immense development of wealth and comfort in Scotland during the last two centuries. In no part of the world---except, perhaps, America—has there been a more marked progress in all that goes to make up the convenience and the enjoyment of life. On every hand the intelligent traveler discerns in Scotland the indications of growth and improvement. Now, the significant and undeniable fact in the whole history of Scottish progress, from the beginning till now, is that it has been Christian progress. There is no type of civilization in the world which is more emphatically and intensely Christian than that of Scotland. Agnostic philosophers and skeptics may deny its excellence or deride it if they please, but the fact of its existence and of its chief characteristic as a distinctly Christian civilization is a matter of history beyond any man's denial. The universally recognized traits of Scottish character, the world over as well as in Scotland, stand out in proof that Scottish civilization is, and always has been, intensely Christian. What are the striking elements of that character as exemplified in all the history? They are honesty, thrift, economy, industry, moderation, patience under toil, endurance, perseverance, reliability, self-reliance, integrity, individual independence and personal courage. What has given to the Scot that character? What has endowed him with those stern, rugged and indestructible virtues? His religion, his Bible, his Christianity, his Protestantism, his Presbyterianism.

Now, it is easy to demonstrate that these sterling attributes of Christian virtue, so boldly proclaimed by Christianity at the beginning, are precisely those characteristics which, when they come to be fully incorporated in the life of any community or nation, must in time work out those great results of individual character, civil order, social comfort and national wealth which we have seen produced in Scotland. Christianity is the true light of the world. Christianity is the true life of the nation not less than of the individual. Christianity is the true civilizer of nations. Christianity contemplates mankind as a great hive of active workers and producers of wealth. Christianity not only enjoins all those great economic and industrial virtues which must create wealth, and with it comfort, but it frowns upon every vice and every evil passion and every bad habit and every sinful indulgence which might squander and destroy wealth. It is impossible that any Christian community, large or small, should fully live up to the requirements of the gospel without in time becoming rich, virtuous, intelligent and happy.

Doubtless there are social disorders in Scotland as in all other Christian countries. Ignorance, vice, crime, intemperance, drunkenness, with their sad entailments of poverty, insanity and pauperism, are still found there in the crowded cities, as they are in all great centres of population, but they are the exception, not the rule, of social life in Scotland. They exist there, not because the Scotch are Sabbath-keeping Christian people, but in despite of Christianity. Christianity there, as everywhere else, is at war with these evils, and Christianity, if fully and universally accepted by the people, would soon abolish the evils. To a great extent it has always abolished them, and where it has not gained a complete victory it has at least held the evils in check by the authority of law and the voice of universal public opinion. In no land under heaven is law more supreme and public sentiment more pronounced and inflexible in its judgment than in Scotland. Christianity has done much for a nation when its intelligent public sentiment, embodied in the permanent forms of law is unalterably against evil and the evil-doer. This victory of righteous law and Christian authority the Bible has certainly gained in Scotland.

After every deduction has been made for lawlessness and folly, it can still be said that the gospel not only holds its own, but is making headway, in the land of Knox. The Scot has gone abroad to the ends of the earth, but he has not thereby drained the life-blood of the stock at home nor dimmed the light that to-day shines in Christian beauty over his native soil. The reign of law, both natural and revealed, is recognized and respected in Scotland. Quietness and peace, righteousness and truth, industry and economy, social order, individual liberty and public justice, prevail among the people; while the rights of property, the rights of conscience, the security of human life, the sanctity of divine worship and the claims of the Lord's day are everywhere respected. We know not when or where the millennial reign of the Messiah shall begin; but if all the earth to-day stood as near the cross as Scotland stands, with as true a gospel, as pure a worship and as thorough a Christianity, we should think that this long-expected reign of peace and good-will among men might be near—even at the door.

THE END.


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