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Scotland's Work and Worth
An Epitome of Scotland's Story from Early Times to the Twentieth Century, with a Survey of the Contributions of Scotsmen in Peace and in War to the Growth of the British Empire and the Progress of the World by Charles W. Thomson in two volumes (1909)


The chapters composing this book have gradually been evolved from a lecture on Scotland's Place in the World's History, delivered by the author to the Scottish Patriotic Association at Glasgow in February 1902. The first part of the lecture was expanded into a series of twenty - seven articles which appeared in the Scottish Patriot from November 1903 to January 1906. These have now been carefully revised and enlarged to form the bulk of Volume I. The rest of the lecture has, as the result of considerable research, been similarly expanded to form Volume II.

As practically the whole of the second volume deals with the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in their various Scottish interests, it is necessary to explain that, in apportioning space to the several periods dealt with, the principle applied has been that of mental perspective, the view-point being that of Scotland’s importance not only to her own children but to the British Empire and to the modern world of thought and energy in general. Hence more attention has been devoted to historically recent events than to earlier occurrences of equal intrinsic interest or importance. Thus, in the earlier periods, the picturesque elements treated once for all by the master hand of Scott have been for the most part omitted. For similar reasons, the work of Scotsmen in the continental countries of Europe (so fully dealt with by Hill Burton, Fischer, and Michel) is only incidentally touched upon, while the part played by Scotsmen in British colonial enterprise, in view of its greater perspective value to modern thought, receives probably fuller notice than has hitherto been accorded to it in any single publication.

A constant endeavour has been made to place facts before the reader in a fair and truthful light, but at the same time the author, by writing admittedly from the standpoint of a keen sympathiser with the general trend of Scottish history, believes that he has been able to offer a more faithful presentation of the unity of purpose running through the whole course of the life-story of the Scottish people than if he had attempted the practically impossible task of writing uniformly with the cold “aloofness” of abstract justice. The ultimate purpose of the book is to aid patriotic Scots in offering reasons for the faith that is in them, and to add some impetus to those recent movements which make for a revival of the better features of Scottish life and character.

The usual historical authorities and books of reference have been freely consulted, but the author feels bound to express his special indebtedness for constant suggestions to John Hill Burton’s History of Scotland, and to Rev. Thomas Thomson’s History of the Scottish People. So far as more recent publications have been borrowed from, acknowledgment is generally made in the text, but more explicit recognition is due to Mr. (now Professor) J. H. Millar’s Scottish Literature, to Mr. AV. D. M‘Kay’s Scottish School of Painting, and to The Highland Brigade: Its Battles and Its Heroes, by Messrs. James and David L. Cromb.

For valuable help in revising particular chapters, the author has to express his warm thanks to the following gentlemen, whose special knowledge and advice have enabled him to ensure a degree of accuracy otherwise unattainable :—

Rev. Dr. Robert Laws of Livingstonia (chapter on Africa); Prof. Magnus Maclean, D.Sc., F.R.S.E-(chapters on Science and Invention); Henry Dyer, Esq., D.Sc., C.E., ex-Principal of the Imperial College, Tokio (chapter on the East); Hon. T. D. Wanliss, late member of the Parliament of Victoria (colonial chapters); A. M‘Farlane Shannan, Esq., A.R.S.A. (chapters on Painting and Sculpture); John Bell, Esq., Doctor of Music (chapter on Music and Song); Dr. W. S. Findlay, M.A., Bellshill (chapter on Medical Science); Rev. James Dewar, Motherwell (Chapter XXXV.); and Mr. Alfred Davidson, B.Sc. (chapter on Science). In the work of proof-reading his colleague, Mr. Wm. M'Pheat, M.A., has rendered valuable assistance.

Larkhall, November 1909.

Volume 1  |  Volume 2

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