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Scotland and the Scots
Scottish Characteristics - Persevering, Ambitious, Logical, Thoughtful


SCOTLAND is full of marked characteristics. Even its geographical outline is remarkable, and tells the story of the ravages of natural forces, and the wear and change of time, more completely than that of any other land which has yet been studied by geologists. Within its borders we find scenery of almost every description from the grim towering heights of the Grampians, sometimes crowned with snow all the year round, to the rich undulating hills of the south from the dark, bleak, haunted, mist-shrouded fastnesses of the Western Highlands, to the fertile, smiling valleys of the Lothians; from the barren moor to the blossoming carse; from the placid waters of the Tweed or the Esk to the stormy rush of the firths of Clyde or of Forth; from the gentle loveliness of Loch Arrochar or Loch Katrine, to the moaning or the tumult of the waters of Loch Fyne or Loch Maree; from the treacherous sands of the Solway to the stern, lonesome promontory which for ages has defied the wildest battlings of the elements at Cape Wrath. Within the two oceans which beat against it on either side, the tourist can sojourn amid whatever variety of scene delights his fancy the most. He can roam over green-clad hills, climb cold frowning rocks bearing yet the marks of nature's fashioning, travel through lovely valleys, meander among pleasant meadows, sail on inland seas surrounded with the most romantic scenery which ever delighted the eye of painter or poet, or he can drop into cities having histories dating away back for centuries, and which still possess landmarks connecting those ancient days with these of the present year of grace.

In a country whose geographical features are so full of characteristics, we may be certain that its people—the makers of its history—possess marked idiosyncrasies, or individualities, or positive qualities, in abundance, and really it is more difficult to say what characteristics, which are worth having, may not be attributed to a thorough representative Scot, than to enumerate all those he is certain to possess. I once met a Scot in New York, when he was applying to a well known firm for a situation as bookkeeper. He had no more practical knowledge of bookkeeping than he had of Patagonian, but he was a man of sound intelligence and a good penman and arithmetician. He had been trained in a civil engineer's office in Glasgow and was rising rapidly until an unfortunate commercial disaster ruined his employer, prostrated general business, and threw him, as well as many others, out of employment. He got his situation as bookkeeper and held it for three years, when he managed to secure a position in an engineer's office. I suppose he must have kept the books of the establishment in a manner which satisfied his employers or they would not have retained his services so long. When I asked him, years afterwards, how he managed, he replied, "By using common sense, by being watchful and wary and aye thinkin'." Had he given a year to the consideration of the question he could not more aptly have defined or described the principal characteristics which have distinguished the Scotsmen who have risen to the head of the heap in whatever country they have chosen to make their home. Each nation on the earth has its quota of travelers, men who seek in other climes than their own the fortune or adventure which have been denied to them at home. But among them all there are none who have been more generally successful, or have left so deep an impress wherever their footsteps have lingered, as those who first drew breath in the land of the heather and who have made the title of "the Scot Abroad " synonymous with prudence, honor and triumph.

As it would be impossible within the limits of an essay to describe all the characteristics of Scotsmen, I propose confining myself to the more salient, those which have had most to do with making up the national character as it is commonly understood, and which have been the most important factors in moulding the social life of the people and shaping their national history. These characteristics are perseverance, ambition, integrity, thoughtfulness, clannishness and conservatism.

The first of these grand characteristics—if I may so call them—perseverance, is probably the most common of them all. On an old house which once stood on the West Bow in Edinburgh, there was a sculptured stone bearing the words "He yt tholis overcummis," or as it has been translated "he that bears, or perseveres, overcomes." It is a grand old motto, and has cheered and encouraged many a Scot in days gone by when struggling through the hard and uncertain battle of life, and the great bulk of Scottish biography is made up of instances which prove the truth of the sentiment. Perseverance is a splendid quality in all nations. In Scotland it is an essential one. Without it the people would never have overcome its natural disadvantages, its bleak moorlands, its northern location and its general poverty, and turned it into a centre for commerce, a busy, thriving mart of industry, and a potent factor for good in the daily progress of civilization.

We read in the life of Robert Bruce, the hero-king, a striking lesson on the value of perseverance. Those who have read the story—and what Scot has not—will remember how, defeated on every side, his followers slain or scattered and his hopes seemingly blasted for ever, that brave prince retired to the island of Rathlin on the Irish coast for safety and rest. While lying in his hut one day he observed a spider among the rafters industriously trying to connect its web by means of a tiny cable from one beam to another. The slender cord broke, just as the connection seemed completed, but without a moment's delay the insect proceeded to repair the damage by commencing a new cable. Seven times in succession the object of the worker was frustrated in the same manner, but at the end of the seventh time it commenced its task anew apparntly as fresh and determined as when it first began, and the eighth endeavor proved a complete success. Bruce, who had watched the mimic struggle with constantly increasing interest, was aroused from his own lethargy and inaction by what he had seen. He, too, had been defeated seven times like the spicier, so he resolved to make another effort and to keep steadily to his task until its glorious purpose was achieved. The end was the victory at Bannockburn, and an acknowledged position for Scotland among the free states of the world.

It was a spirit of indomitable perseverance that enabled William Chambers to struggle sturdily from the very depths of poverty, until he became a successful and influential publisher, a generous benefactor to his native town of Peebles, and chief magistrate of the capital of Scotland. Even after attaining the highest possible measure of success, "standing before kings" as he often quoted, and enjoying the honor and esteem of his countrymen, his natural quality of perseverance remained unabated to the end. Up to the latest hour of his long life he was busy at work, improving his favorite periodical, contributing to its pages and directing its management with the same activity he possessed in the prime of manhood. Besides, his interest in public matters never ceased, and his latest work in that direction, the restoration of St. Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh, was successfully completed after involving a great amount of thought, anxiety and labor, just as his spirit was being freed from its worn-out body. A day or two before his death he received an intimation from the Crown stating that a baronetcy had been conferred upon him. Such an honor was never more worthily bestowed. For centuries to come the story of his bitter struggles in early life and his ultimate triumphs, will be told as a bright incentive to the youth of his native land and as another proof of the truth of his favorite maxim "He wha tholes overcomes."

Scottish perseverance finds no better, nobler or more appropriate illustrations than in the history of the Covenanting struggles. There we find men, and women too, persevering in the endeavor to promote the truth as they believed it, imperilling all their worldly possessions, and offering up their lives freely, even willingly, if thereby they might be regarded even as "witnesses" testifying to the undying love of their Heavenly Master, and ensuring the advancement of His Kingdom on earth. The sufferings of these worthies were something terrible, almost, it seemed, beyond the power of human endurance, and often enough the prospect was so gloomy that it almost appeared as though sunshine for them had forever passed away. These people bewailed the blindness and fiendishness of their persecutors, they mourned over the godlessness and degeneracy of their times, they cried aloud, with bitterness in their voices, as they saw the unrighteous triumph again and again, but I have never read in all my study of the actors in that awful succession of national tragedies, of any of them who lamented their own condition, who murmured against the hardships they had to endure, or who doubted, even for a moment, the ultimate triumph of the cause they had at heart. "What thinkest thou of thy husband now, woman?" was the question put by Graham of Claverhouse to the wife of John Brown, the carrier of Priesthill, after he had murdered her husband before her eyes. The woman wept bitterly, for she was but a woman, and her bread-winner and companion lay dead on the ground at her feet. But through her womanly weakness came the indomitable spirit of the Covenant, and looking Claverhouse steadily in the face, she answered with a touch of pride, ''I ever thought much good of him, but now more than ever." To her he was more now than a man—he was a martyr, a witness for Christ. He had thrown off his mortality and assumed immortality, and testified to the truth with his blood. For him death had no sting, and the grave no victory. Need we wonder after reading this episode, to learn that the same night the widow with her children and mourning friends, amidst their tears, worshipped God in the bereaved house, and joined in this veritable psalm of triumph -

And now, even at this present time
Mine head shall lifted be,
Above all those that are my foes
And round encompass me:
Therefore unto his tabernacle
I'll sacrifices bring
Of joyfulness: I'll sing, yea!
To God shall praises sing."

The story of Alexander Peden, "Peden the Prophet" as he is still affectionately called by his countrymen, may briefly be told as an illustration of the perseverance which animated the Covenanting heroes. He was born in the parish of Sorn in 1626. When 30 years of age, he was appointed minister of the parish of New Luce in Galloway, and after preaching there for three years was ejected, in 1663, along with most of the other parish ministers in Scotland. As he left the pulpit of his church for the last time he closed the door carefully behind him and with his Bible in his hand said, with great solemnity, ''In my Master's name I arrest thee! that none ever enter thee but such as enter as I have done, by the door." This is accredited as one of his prophecies, and certain it is that no curate or indulged priest ever entered the pulpit, nor apparently did anyone try to enter it, until the troublous times were past, and the Revolution settlement put an end to the persecutions. Peden's opposition to the Government's interference with religion was so defiant and so outspoken, that warnings and threats could not make him be silent. He had entered the lists for a goodly fight, and had no fear for the result. He had his commission from the Lord and the Lord would carry him through in whatever way seemed to Him best. Glory, triumph, or happiness might all fail him here, but he was certain of them yonder. He regarded himself as simply an instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and only asked prayerfully, beseechingly, to know His will, and to do His commands. Such were the sentiments that inspired this undaunted man, that enabled him to overcome all human weaknesses, and permitted him to look at the gallows as though it were a stepping stone to Paradise. The Privy Council at Edinburgh proclaimed him a rebel and declared his life and property forfeited, but he continued steadfastly to preach the gospel as it was given him to preach. His latest biographer, Mr. A. B Todd, of Cumnock, says—

He wandered up and down the country, principally among the wilds of Ayrshire, Dumfries, and Galloway, making also occasional visits to Ireland. Many and marvelous were the escapes which he had from the dragoons, who scoured the country in quest of him and the others who refused to comply with the prelatic party. In 1673, however, he was taken prisoner and, without a trial, was sent to the lonely fortress on the Bass Rock, where he remained for five long dreary years. He was then brought to trial, and with sixty others, sentenced to perpetual banishment in Virginia, but, as Peden is said to have predicted, through some instrumentality not very well known, they were all set at liberty on their arrival in Gravesend. Going then to London, where he stayed for several months, he returned to Scotland on the very day the Covenanters were so signally defeated and broken up at Bothwell Bridge. We cannot wait to recount his many remaining wanderings and hair-breadth escapes from his pursuers. The mists which brood so frequently over the lonely Glendyne, and the broad moors of Sanquhar, oft hid him from those who thirsted for his blood. The wild wastes of Avondale, the desolate Airsmoss, and the lonely and rugged hills around Muirkirk were his frequent hiding places." His last refuge was a miserable little cave on the brink of the Lugar river. There

"Wrestling with God he passed the hours away
Wile his rapt eye peerced the far future day,
* * * * *
True to his God, mid scoffers, blood and strife;
Who, when day dawned, came here with wear' feet
Unmurmingly, and sought this lone retreat.

It was a terrible life to lead, one which might have made a strong man ask whether life really was worth living. But it was a priceless life to Peden. He never wavered, or turned his thoughts away from the grand work which he be- lieved God had given him to do. lie had no thought of his own weakness, nor was he troubled about errors of judgment. God was with him and as he was His minister so He would keep him right. His faith was as that of a child, simple, sufficient and ample; he had but one object—the regeneration of his country, and with it the overthrow of its persecutors. We can analyze his life and actions as we may, but the honesty of his purpose remains unquestioned. We may sneer at his sacrifices, but they were made in a holy cause. We may criticise his theology, detect flaws in his discourses, ridicule his pretensions to the gift of prophecy, and burlesque his manner of speech, but his theology was sufficient to make his life sublime and to inspire him with a belief that the prize of eternity was his. His prophesies, if so we may regard them, often came to pass, and his speech was always direct and straightforward. He was one of the highest types of manhood which that age of true men brings to our notice, and we can but faintly estimate what we owe to his heroism and his sturdy perseverance in the good fight.

But for his indomitable perseverance, the Rev. Henry Duncan D.D., minister of Ruthwell, would never have been heard of beyond the confines of that little parish. But his energy was too strong to permit him to dream his life away in attending simply to the duties appertaining to his clerical position. He performed these services well and won the approval of even the most straightlaced among his flock, a class of critics who do not usually approve of clergymen meddling with matters outside of their calling. In theological circles he was recognized as a sturdy controversialist, a hater of socialianism, a man of thoroughly orthodox views, and an effective preacher. But these qualities would not have prevented his memory from slipping away into the dim recesses of the past, had they formed his sole claim to fame. As it is, he will always hold a prominent place among the more eminent of his countrymen, as the founder of savings banks for the people. The condition of the laboring classes at the time he was inducted as minister of Ruthwell claimed his closest attention. He saw that these poor people were the reverse of prudent in husbanding their earnings, suffered frequently from commercial and agricultural depression, and carefully considered how he might benefit them. Most clergymen would have journeyed round the country soliciting aid from the wealthy in building an institution of some sort, or devised some scheme in which the charity of the rich might come into play. But he chose a better plan, for he made the poor help themselves by giving them an opportunity for exemplifying the national thrift. In 1810, he established the Ruthwell Savings Bank, as an institution in which the laborers might deposit what they could spare from their earnings, as a nest egg for the proverbial rainy day. Deposits were secure, a small rate of interest was allowed, and the scheme almost from its inception was a success. The experiment created much comment throughout the country, and its originator was overwhelmed with enquiries from various points, as to its working, besides messages conveying criticisms. suggestions, schemes and all sorts of notions. At one period his annual expenditure for postage in connection with his correspondence cost him a hundred pounds, nearly one-half of his stipend as minister. But although the individual expense was heavy, he firmly believed that the work was worthy of it, and that if his plans were perfected he would have solved one of the social enigmas of the time. After a while, Dr. Duncan saw that if a general scheme of people's savings banks was to be a lasting and complete success, it would require to be under government supervision with national security for all deposits, and he zealously set about accomplishing that end. This was an extraordinary, almost hopeless task for a man in his position, but he exerted himself to the uttermost, wrote, spoke, lectured and canvassed, until he reached the goal he had in view in 1819, when the Act of Parliament establishing savings banks in Scotland was passed. Even then he did not rest content. Daily experience with the details and workings of these institutions showed many defects, practice falsified many theories, new safeguards were found to be here and there needed, details required, in many points, to be simplified. Dr. Duncan watched carefully over these, noting all defects, testing all schemes of improvement, and finally in 1835 got another Act of Parliament passed, by which the savings banks were placed in almost perfect working order, and so crowned his labors with the most unqualified success. I question if any other Scottish clergyman, before or since, was so successful in getting the Legislature of Britain to endorse his philanthropic or social schemes. Dr. Duncan proved himself a benefactor not only to his countrymen but to other nations, and so long as these magnificent institutions exist his memory is certain to be held in grateful remembrance. Dr. Duncan's energy was so great that it permitted him to enter into other fields of work, and to win success as a literary man when most engrossed in his banking studies. But even in his literary efforts the improvement of the social condition of the people was ever uppermost in his thoughts. His "Scottish Cheap Repository," was a series of tracts on useful and moral topics, intended for the cottage fireside, and he wrote two or three rather pretentious novels, in which he inculcated many of his favorite theories and maxims. As a novelist he was not a success, but as a controversial writer of religious or political topics he was unsurpassed in his time. He founded the Dumfries and Galloway courier, one of the most interesting of all Border newspapers and edited it for seven years. In 1839 he received the highest honor the Church of Scotland could confer upon him, by being elevated to the Moderatorship of the General Assembly. At the Disruption he came "out" and entered into the controversy in connection with that event with all his wonted energy. He continued to minister at Ruthwell, as pastor of the Free Church until 1846, when he was fatally stricken with paralysis while conducting a religious service. Dr. Duncan died in harness, if ever man did, and the end was in keeping with the restless, indomitable life of the clergyman and true philanthropist. During his career Dr. Duncan performed an immense amount of actual hard work, more than it seems possible for one man to do, and yet life had its lighter pleasures for him. In the quiet of his study he loved to "drop into poetry," and some of his effusions deserve more than a passing mention. In particular he has left behind him one song which is even to the present day the most popular of all curling ditties, and proves him to have been as keen a votary of the roarin' game as he was an adept in social science.

Up curler, frae your bed sae warm,
And leave your coaxing wife, man,
Gae get your besom, cramps, and stanes
And join the friendly strife, man.
For on the water's face are met
Wi' mony a merry joke, man
The tenant and his jolly laird,
The pastor and his flock, man,
* * * *
Now fill a bumper, fill but ane,
And drink wi' social glee, loan,
May curlers on life's slippery rink,
Frae cruel rubs be free, man,
Or, should a treacherous bias lead
Their erring course agee, man,
Some friendly in-ring may they meet
To guide them to the tee, man."

It was this same spirit of perseverance that permitted the Ettrick Shepherd, on the hillside, to overcome the defects of his education and to rise superior to all obstacles until he became the acknowledged successor of Burns as high priest of Scottish song; that carries so many hundreds of poor students at Scottish universities through their curriculum that made the late William McBean, of Inverness, rise from the station of drummerboy to that of lieutenant-general in the British army and colonel of the gallant 93d Sutherland Highlanders; that permitted James Watt to solve the problem of steam; that made Henry Bell construct his "Comet;" that enabled a workingman like Hugh Miller to read the story of nature as depicted in the old red sandstone; that animated David Livingstone when engaged in solving the mysteries of "the dark continent;" and we find the same quality of perseverance represented in General Grant, an American soldier of undoubted Scottish descent, and illustrated by him in a single sentence when he said, ''I intend to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.''

In organizations and in the nation the same quality is noticeable. The first Tay Bridge was no sooner destroyed than the company owning it began to take steps for the erection of another and stronger structure. The present condition of the Clyde, a stream which is wide enough and deep enough to bear on its bosom the largest merchant vessels of the world, is another instance. A century ago the Clyde was a sluggish stream, so shallow that it was fordable often by men at the Broomielav. Now, by dint of steady perseverance the river has been made one of the greatest of commercial highways. When we consider the history of this river, and understand the difficulties which have been overcome, and the amount of time, labor, thought and money which have been expended in its improvement, we may well believe that the saying of the old Scotch captain was neither very far wrong or irreverent. An American sailing down the Clyde began talking to the commander of the steamer about the superiority of the rivers in the United States. He extolled the Hudson, the Mississippi, the Ohio, and many others for their superior size, depth and other advantages. ''Aye," said the Scottish sailor after listening to the eulogism until he was tired, ''ye hae grand rivers, nae doot, an' I wadna misdoot a word ye hae said, but ye maun min' that God made the rivers ye speak o', but we made the Clyde."

With perseverance, energy must also be classed. To some the words may seem synonymous, but in reality such is not the case. A man may persevere in doing nothing or in debauchery, but in these and many other evil courses energy does not come into action; a man needs no energy to make himself a drunkard, although he certainly needs perseverance, for a love for strong drink is not a natural taste, but one which can only be acquired by practice. It is when the drunkard tries to reform that it is necessary for his perseverance to be supplemented by energy. Energy in well-doing is in most natures necessary to a continuance in well doing, and energy is oftentimes necessary to make perseverance a success. It was energy that enabled John Knox to accomplish more during the last fifteen years of his life than in all the forty-two he had lived before. It was the tireless energy of Thomas Chalmers and so many of the men of 1843, that organized the Free Church on a firm and enduring basis and made it start forth on its career, not with the faltering, tottering steps of a beginner, or the uncertain mumblings of a child, but with the sturdy step and deep resonant voice of a full-grown man, the equal at least of all its compeers and fully equipped at all points to wage war in defence of its rights and in defiance of evil. It was his indomitable, restless energy that enabled Henry Brougham to ascend the ladder of legal preferment in England in spice of the most disheartening obstacles, until he stood on the very highest rung as Lord High Chancellor. It was his energy, too, that permitted Francis Jeffrey to make the Edinburgh Review a literary and political power in Britain, although its place of publication was far removed from the centre of literary and political influences, and although it proclaimed the poverty of its founders by boldly announceing in its motto that they cultivated literature on a little oatmeal. The energy which Professor Blackie showed while conducting the movement for the establishment of a Gaelic chair in Edinburgh University was the main agent which led to its success, and the same genial professor's reputation as a literary man was, according to his own confession, due to his energy in publishing books which did not repay the bare mechanical cost of their production.

But the most magnificent example of this resistless overpowering, all-conquering energy is to be found in the life of Sir Walter Scott when, after the failure of the Ballantynes and Constable, he assumed the task of wiping off honorably the vast load of indebtedness which had settled upon him. The story is a sad one to read, but it is a noble illustration of what a man can do when he essays a task in the right spirit. The year 1826 saw Scott a ruined man with liabilities amounting to about 10,000. Everyone knew that he was not to blame for all this, that the follies of some and the mistakes of others, had done more to bring about the crisis than all the extravagances in land, and stone, and lime of the "Author of Waverley." Had he adopted the ordinary course in such disasters he would have called together a meeting of his creditors and offered them a composition. In view of all the circumstances, there is no doubt that any offer he might have made would have readily been agreed to. But he declined such a method of escaping from his difficulties, and said that "God granting him time and health he would owe no man a penny." So his beloved mansion of Abbotsford, the pride of his life, was closed up, and taking lodgings in Edinburgh, the good Sir Walter began his heroic task. Almost his only resource was his pen, yet so industriously did he ply it that within two years he earned a large amount for his creditors. A new edition of his collected novels, several new tales, the ponderous "Life of Napoleon," and countless minor works of varying degrees of excellence were the result of these years of sturdy labor. In December, 1830, the liabilities had been reduced by 63,000, and the giant, although feeling the effects of his exertions both in mind and body, persevered in his effort. But the strain was too great for the man, nature completely revolted against it after repeated warnings, and in 1832 he closed his eyes forever on this world with the gentle murmur of the Tweed sounding a sweet lullaby in his ears, and afterward a plaintive coronach over his bier. Looking over what he accomplished during these later years it is almost impossible to realize that one man could write so much on so widely diversified topics, and with so much orignality, freshness and strength. It was certainly not equal in quality to the work of a decade before, but it was infinitely better than that of most writers in their prime. The exertion was an extraordinary one, but it cost a life. Yet it invests the closing years of the "Wizard of the North" with a title of true nobility far superior to that which his own worthless sovereign conferred upon him, and with a halo of glory which otherwise would have been wanting. It made his own life as thrilling a story as that of any of the characters he evoked from the recesses of his mighty brain. These last years, with all their harrowing experiences, sorrows and privations, were needed to bring out the strength and manhood in Scott's character and to give his memory a tenderer and purer place in the hearts of his countrymen than even his writings could have done.

Dourness may also be classed under perseverance, although it is a word which, like several others in the Scottish vocabulary, can hardly be translated by a single equivalent. It has been defined as meaning hard, bitter, disagreeable, closefisted, severe and stern, and a combination of all these, if it is possible to conceive of such a combination, would be the proper meaning of the word. Robert Burns doubtless thought old farmer Armour a typical specimen of a dour Scotsman, when the latter was hunting after him with the view of thrusting him into jail. Old Earl Archibald Bell-the-Cat was in a dour mood when, beside the fated bridge at Lauder in 1482, he uttered the words which gave him his cognomen and made him live in Scottish history. Queen Mary regarded John Knox as a particularly dour individual when he argued with her in Holyrood House, and she came face to face with equally dour, although less polite opponents in the men who forced her to sign her abdication in the lonely castle of Lochleven. A Highland tradition gives us a story of a dour chief. In the 16th century Gordon of Auchindoun, burned down the castle of Forbes of Corgarff, when 27 persons including the wife and family of the laird perished in the flames. After many years the differences between the two chiefs were healed and, with their retainers, they sat down together at dinner in the castle of Drurnmuior. Through a mistake, Forbes' men in the midst of their repast drew their swords against the Gordons and killed many of them before their leaders could check the outbreak. When order was restored Forbes turned to Sir Adam Gordon and calmly said, ''This is a sad tragedy. But what is done cannot he undone and the blood that now flows on the floor of Drummuior will just help to slocken the auld fire of Corgarff." This was truly dour enough reasoning. When Sir Patrick Gray demanded the body of his nephew, the Tutor of Bombs, from grim Earl Douglas and the latter took him out into the courtyard of his castle and offered him the body, minus the head, of the unfortunate youth, he was the victim of a very dour jest. But dourness has its bright and wholesome as well as its (lark and brutal side. The following extract from the autobiography of James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, shows how dourness stood him in good stead at one time when he was beginning to "speel the brae." "I had no method," he tells us, "of learning to write save by following the Italian alphabet; and though I often stripped myself of coat and vest when I began to pen a song, yet my wrist took a cramp, so that I could rarely make above four or five lines at a sitting. Whether my manner of writing it out was new I know not, but it was not without singularity. Having very little time to spare from my flock (of sheep), which was unruly enough, I folded and stitched a few sheets of paper which I carried in my pocket. I had no inkhorn, but in place of it, I borrowed a small vial, which I fixed in a hole in the breast of my waistcoat; and having a cork fastened by a piece of twine it answered the purpose quite as well. Thus equipped, whenever a leisure minute or two offered, if I had nothing else to do, I sat down and wrote out my thoughts as I found them." Thus the dour determination to succeed was softened and mitigated by the intense complacency and evident humor with which the poet surveyed his surroundings. Lord Braxfield, one of the strangest beings who ever sat on a judicial bench, had a dour maxim which he used to repeat with infinite zest, "Hang a thief when he's young an' he'll no steal when he's auld," and he passed a dour joke on a criminal before him who claimed to be a peer: "Nae doot, nae doot," he said, "ye're a peer, but gin ye dinna tak care ye'll be a peer o' anither tree." Sir Walter Scott tells a story of a dour Highlandman, who, on his death bed was urged to forgive all his enemies. This he agreed to do with one exception. The attending minister implored him to make his forgiveness complete, saying, "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord." The dying man answered, "To be sure it is too sweet a morsel for a mortal. Well, I forgive him, but the Deil take you, Donald (turning to his son) if you forgive him."

Dour is one of the oldest and purest words in the Scottish vocabulary. It was used by Barbour, Lindsay, Douglas and others of the poets in what has been termed the Augustan age of Scottish poetry. Moreover it has retained the same pronunciation during all the changes in speech since then, as well as the meaning it had in the earliest tunes—stern, bold, fierce. So, too, Burns uses it with perfect propriety in describing a wintry wind—

"Biting Boreas, fell and dour."

But with the characteristic dourness of the Scot, there is at times a dash of humor, although it is too often so grim as to he almost imperceptible to one not to the manor born. John Knox was a dour man, but humor was not one of the least important trats in his character, and his modern worshipper, Thomas Carlyle, was noted for his grim yet quaint humor, although dyspepsia tried hard to smother it. Dourness is a desirable quality for any man, or woman either, to possess, but to he really of practical service it must be tempered or offset by some other characteristic. A man who is simply dour and nothing else is unfit to be trusted in any society, and ought not to be permitted to remain at large.

Ambition, in which may be included pride, is another of the main characteristics of the Scottish people. There are few Scots, no matter how humble, who do not possess this quality, and its existence is one of the most important factors in promoting the welfare and wealth of the nation. Even the poorest Scots are imbued with an ambition to rise, and not only that, they also cherish a hope that in the future they will rise. "Hope weel an' hae weel," says the old proverb, and it has been evolved out of the homely, experienced wisdom of the people. When a Scot loses hope he loses everything and is no longer of the slightest use in this world, I except it be, perhaps, to pose as an horrible example of hopelessness.

It has long been one of the most sacred ambitions of a Scot's life to give his children a little better education than he had received himself, and in all the simple annals of the poor with which I am acquainted, there is nothing more devoted, more touching, or more noble, than the sacrifices which parents have made to push their children forward in the battle of life. I have known fathers and mothers pinching, scraping, saving, even denying themselves the actual necessaries of life to maintain a son at college, strengthened and sustained by the hope, that that son would one day "wag his pow in a poopit," or at all events acquire honorable distinction in some of the higher ranks of life. And of how honorably these sons have acted their parts in the struggle, every university in Scotland can furnish thousands of illustrations. Ambition is a noble characteristic in any people when rightly directed, and in the Scot, as a rule, it is generally so developed that it reflects honor on himself and his country, and is of direct benefit to the world. It was the ambition of Burns—

'That I for poor auld Scotland's sake
Some usefu' plan or book could make,
Or sing a sang at least,"

that made him become the master singer of his native land. It was ambition that led Alexander Wilson, the Paisley poet, to study in the recesses of the American forests the habits, plumage, and varieties of the native birds and so earn for himself the title of "American Ornithologist." It was ambition that enabled Paul Jones to rise until he became the naval hero of the American revolution. It was ambition that kept poor David Gray, the poet of Merkland, alive until the publication of his first and only volume of verse was arranged for. It was ambition that sustained Colin Campbell, a penniless subaltern, until he wielded the baton of a field-marshal and became a peer of the realm. It was ambition that led William Paterson to found the Bank of England, to organize the Darien scheme, by which he and so many of his countrymen were ruined through the treachery of William of Orange, and made him the first representative in the parliament of the United Kingdom of the Dumfries burghs.

But it must be remembered that in Scotsmen, as in people of other nationalities, ambition is not always productive of happy results either to the individual or the nation. John Law, an Edinburgh man, who was for a time Comptroller-General of the Finance in France, is a case in point. His father was a goldsmith and banker in Auld Reekie, and John conceived the idea that he was a born financier and his ambition was to make a name for himself as such in the world. And he did. In 1700 he tried to get the Scottish parliament to adopt a system of paper currency, but the hard headed Caledonian legislators believed in hearing the "clink of the siller," and refused to endorse his plan. Then he went to the Continent and became a gambler and made a fortune. This did not suit his ambition, however, and he concocted several banking schemes which he offered unsuccessfully to different governments. In 1716 he opened a private bank in Paris, and it became so successful that a national bank was established on a similar basis. In 1719 Law started his renowned Mississippi scheme, which soon involved so many thousands of people in Scotland, England and France in ruin. It enjoyed a brief hey-day of success, however, and while that lasted Law's influence in France was unbounded. He was made a Councillor of State, besides being placed in charge of the finances of the nation. When the bubble burst, the ruin of the financier was as complete as that of any of the victims. He fled from France penniless, and becoming a very ordinary gambler once more, led a miserable existence in Venice, until 1729, when he died in the most abject poverty. The history of Scotland furnishes many illustrations of this ''vaulting ambition that o'er leaps itself," and perhaps one of the most notable is that of Robert Cochrane. A mason in the reign of James III. This man, who certainly possessed brains as well as ambition, somehow managed to so ingratiate himself into the good graces of his weak-minded king that he became his principal confidant and adviser. His ambition seems to have been to become the leading subject of the kingdom, or rather to rule the country with the king as a figurehead. Through his machinations, the Earl of Mar, a younger brother of the king was put to death, and his title and estate were bestowed on Cochrane. The acceptance of these was certainly an error of judgment on his part, for he had hardly been invested with them than the nobility began hatching schemes to get rid of him. They soon succeeded and under the leadership of the grim Earl of Angus hanged Cochrane and several, of his friends over the old bridge at Lauder in 1482. Cochrane, although greedy, scheming and vindictive, evidently possessed abilities, but the nobility deemed him an upstart. Whatever his faults may have been, however, they were no worse than those which characterized the very men who deemed him unfit to live. If it were necessary to present more illustrations of this phase and result of ambition, the annals of the peerage of Scotland from the beginning until almost the present day would furnish a plentiful crop.

We may now proceed to consider the Scot as a logical being and in this connection we behold him like the sun, shining not merely for himself but for all. The cool, calculating, practical nature of the Scotsman has often been commented upon, possibly more so than any other of his recognized characteristics, for it is precisely these qualities that have contributed most to the great measure of success he has won at home as well as abroad. The advice which Bailie Nicol Jarvie received from his father, the Deacon, concentrates all that can he said of this characteristic into an aphorism—"Never put out your arm further than you can draw it back." Some people have said that a Scot can see further through a two-inch door or a stone wall than anyone else, and certainly his natural propensity for "putting this an' that thegither." makes him solve a knotty problem, and see through a tangled argument, more quickly and clearly than most of his neighbors. A Scottish merchant will calculate the chances of a venture much more thoroughly than his English or German rival, and though, at times, he may lose a chance by making haste slowly, he generally wins in the long run. In China or India, English and French settlers often at first gather gear quickly and become actually rich, while the Scot who started with them is still apparently only looking out for his chances, and frittering away his time in studying his surroundings. But once he begins to gather he soon makes up to his friends and then creeps steadily past them, for he has the happy faculty of knowing how to keep a firm hold of whatever comes in his way. Indeed, it has been maliciously said that the Scotsman keeps the Sabbath day and everything else he can lay his hands on.

The facility for seeing through a stone wall has made Scottish geologists the most prominent in the world in interpreting the story of nature as imprinted in the rocks of their native land. It enabled Sir Roderick I. Murchison to expound the mysteries of the Silurian system as no other man before or since his time has attempted. It also enabled Hugh Miller to relate the story told on the old red sandstones of Cromarty and the North with the pen of a scientist and the grace of a poet. To this logical insight into the problems of science may be referred the fame which Scotsmen have won as discoverers. Watt and the steam-engine, Simpson and chloroform, Murdoch and illuminating gas, Young and paraffine oil, Bell and the reaping machine, are names and discoveries which are linked together by universal consent. To the possession of this quality may also be ascribed the fame which Scotsmen have acquired as practical mathematicians. The most brilliant name in this class of thinkers is that of Napier of Merchiston whose logarithms, discovered or invented in the early part of the 17th century was in its own sphere, as important a revelation as Newton's discovery of the law of gravitation.

The hard, practical nature of the logic which seems to be an inherent quality among Scotsmen in every walk of life finds plenty of illustrations in the domestic annals of the people. A gentleman, Mr. Douglas of Cavers, Roxburghshire, was one day walking in the old churchyard near his estate and stopped to look at a stone cutter who was carving an angel on a tombstone. The workman, following the fashion of the time, had adorned the head of the angel with a grand flowing wig." In the name of wonder," said Mr. Douglas, "who ever saw an angel with a wig?' "And in the name of wonder," replied the workman, "who ever saw an angel without one?" On a small farm near Edinburgh a donkey was kept for doing all sorts of odd jobs, under the supervision, generally, of the farmer's son. One evening when the lad was putting up the beast he blundered in some way, and his father, who was standing by, said angrily: "Man, Jock, you're just an ass yoursel'." "Awed," replied Jock quietly, "ye're my father." Here is an instance of the natural logic of the Scot, under circumstances when logic is not apt to come into play. A party of Edinburgh volunteers had been to Linlithgow accompanied by a band. The latter had been liberally served with refreshments during the day, and on the homeward journey were completely demoralized, some of them forgetting where their instruments were. At the Haymarket station the ticket collector entered among them with the usual demand for "tickets." "Make haste there," he said to one burly chap who was fumbling aimlessly in his pockets. Growing tired of the search he threw himself back in his seat saying: "I canna fin' the ticket, I've lost it." "Lost it! nonsense" replied the collector. "Ye couldna lose the ticket." "Could I no?" answered the other triumphantly, ''man, I've lost the big drum." Many humorous stories have been told about the Rev. William Anderson, minister of John Street U P. Church, Glasgow, and here is one which illustrates the topic in hand. One day Mrs. Anderson, having returned from a walk, missed a pair of new boots which had been sent home that morning for her husband, and which she had noticed on the lobby table when she went out. Getting no satisfaction from the servant she went into the study and asked the minister if he had seen anything of the hoots. "Weel, yes," he replied in his own peculiar way, "there was an' auld beggar man here asking for help, an' as he was ill-shod I gied him the boots." "But bless me, " said the wife,"you might have given him a pair of old ones." "It wasna auld anes he needit," was the doctor's answer, "he had auld anes already." A teacher in a Sabbath school was expatiating to his class on the miracle of Jonah in the whale's belly. After exciting the astonishment of the children by the narrative he said: "Can any of you imagine a miracle more wonderful than that?"

"Yes, sir " said a little fellow shaking his hand vigorously.

"What?" asked the teacher.

"A whale in Jonah's belly," was the answer.

The inquisitive character of the Scot, so often the topic of pleasant or sneering remark is really a part of this logical quality. He desires to have the premises right before arriving at a conclusion. I once asked a countryman whom I met when traveling near Leuchars, in Fifeshire, how far it was to St. Andrews. "Are ye gaun to St. An'rews?" he queried. "I am." "Ye'lI hae traivelled a bit the day?" was his next question, and I confessed I had. "Did ye come frae Dundee?" "No, I started from Broughty Ferry," I replied. So on he went asking a dozen other questions and then having satisfied his curiosity he satisfied mine by telling me the distance about which I had inquired. There was no intention of rudeness on his part, and if I had turned the tables upon him and "speered" a few things about himself he would not have taken it amiss. Only it is likely that for every question I put he would have asked me a dozen.

But the logical character of the Scot shows itself more clearly in his sturdy common sense than in anything else. This quality has been carried into everything the Scotsman thinks or does and the world is the better for it. He has carried it even into the highest realm of thought and his philosophy, known as the "Common Sense School" has proved to be one of the most straight forward and practical which has ever been enunciated. It has produced such masters as Thomas Brown, Dugald Stewart, Thomas Reid and Sir William Hamilton, names which rank among the very foremost in the history of modern ethics. These men investigated philosophy solely for the truth which lay concealed within it, and when they grasped that truth they boldly proclaimed it to all who cared to listen. Other modern philosophers, and many ancient ones too, went to work on a different basis. They evolved some theory from the recesses of their brains and then rushed wildly through the realms of thought to prove its truth, or the likelihood of its truth, for they were always content with the shadow when they could not grasp the substance. The common sense school of Scottish metaphysics, coming before the world at a time when the sophisms and sentimentalisms of Germany fell thick and fast, cleared the air, dissipated the mists and fogs and made philosophy be regarded once more as a practical as well as a speculative science. Even in the present day the warfare between the two most recent systems— the purely practical and the purely speculative—is kept in check by the clear, logical minds of Scottish philosophers like Dr. James McCosh, or laughed away by the pleasant humors of real original thinkers like John Stuart Blackie.

Still the common sense, inquisitiveness and logic in the Scot would amount to very little were it not for the native thoughtfulness which is the basis of them all. Many have heard the story of the Highlandman who praised his parrot, because, though it did not speak much, it thought a good deal. But the taciturn thoughtfulness of the Scot arises from a desire to temper his conversation with judgment. The "airy nothings" of the Frenchman are incomprehensible to him. In what are regarded as the lighter forms of literature—vers de socielie, drawing-room dramas, fashionable romances, "days in a garden" or "tours in my chamber "—he is behind the age. To purely speculative poetry, the country has contributed no Master and such transcendental writers as Shelley have never acquired any hold among the people. A Scottish tragedy worthy of ranking among the masterpieces of compositions of that class has not yet been written, and a purely Scotch comedy by a Scottish author is an impossibility. Even fiction must contain a pretty large modicum of historical fact or information to make it popular and to enable it to maintain that popularity. The main reason that a Scot gives for reading and relishing the Waverley novels, for instance, is that "a great deal o' them is true." Pure fiction, for its own sake, has never charmed the people, or at best has enjoyed a passing degree of popularity. But give a Scotsman a sermon, a history, a bit of philosophy, a piece of criticism or a song of the heart, something relating to the things of this world or the next, and he is at home. On such themes he can point to writings of his countrymen which are not inferior to any in the literature of other lands. And in the perusal of such subjects he takes a real pleasure, for they allow him to think, and suggest in turn many trains of thought. The intelligent Scot likes to weigh, and ponder, and wrestle with what he reads, and a book which does not afford him scope in these respects is of small moment. To bear such a strain and still be regarded as a favorite, is testimony enough to prove that a book which is popular in Scotland must indeed be above the average.


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