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The Scottish Tradition in Canada
The Scottish Background
W. Stanford Reid

Scots have played an important part in the development of Canada, as the subsequent chapters in this book will show, but in order to understand why this has been the case we must look beyond Canada to Scotland itself. The traits of character, the ways of thinking, the prejudices and the biases with which the Scottish immigrants came to this country and which they passed on to their descendants even to the third and fourth generations, found their origins in the homeland which they had left. It is therefore necessary that we should commence our survey of the Scottish tradition in Canada by looking at the Scottish background in order to gain some comprehension of the place which the Scot has made for himself in Canada.

Two basic forces which have made the Scot what he is are Scotland's geography and Scotland's history. The physical character of the land itself has wielded a powerful influence on Scottish development; along with that has gone the influence of its geographic position in the world. At the same time, history which includes the human development in this environment has played an even more important role in shaping the Scottish character. We must, therefore, take both these factors into account when we attempt to understand the Scot and his contributions to the New World.

Scotland, like Caesar's Gaul, is divided into three geographical areas: the far north, including Caithness, Sutherland and the Orkneys, which are flat, windblown and not very fertile; the middle portion, containing the Highlands lying north of the Firth of Forth-Firth of Clyde line, which are mountainous, rugged and on the west coast come down to the sea's edge with cliffs sometimes over two hundred feet high, with long coastal indentations or sea-lochs, deep valleys and poor soil; the southern area or Lowlands with a broad belt of fertile land running between Edinburgh and Glasgow, and the more southerly portion having low hills or uplands and relatively good soil. The Lowland area has always been the wealthiest part of the country, and since the eighteenth century and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution it has tended to dominate Scotland, drawing off much of the population from the northern areas to its factories and workshops. It has also had a further advantage in that it has the best ports on both the east (Aberdeen, Dundee, Perth, Leith) and west (Ayr, Ardrossan, Glasgow) coasts, and is closer to England than the other regions, which means that its opportunities for commerce are considerably greater.

Although Scotland did not begin to develop as a nation-state until Kenneth MacAlpine, King of Dalriada in Argyllshire, succeeded to the throne of Pictland in 843, it had a long history before that date. Successive invasions and settlements of Stone Age, Bronze Age and Celtic peoples had populated the country. In the fifth century Celtic Scots from Ireland had landed in modern Argyllshire to found the Kingdom of Dalriada and probably about the same time the Picts, made up of a mixture of Celts and Bronze Age peoples, had established their kingdom in the central and eastern Highlands. Consequently, when King Kenneth I succeeded to the Pictish throne he began a process of unification which took place at first north of the Forth and Clyde line, but which eventually included the Britons of the Kingdom of Strathclyde in the southwest and the Angles who had pushed north from Northumbria to found Edinburgh (Edwin's Burgh) and settle the south centre and east.

Many factors helped to bring about the coalescence of these diverse elements into one nation. One of the most important was the Christian Church. Although at first Celtic Christianity from Ireland, which dated back to the third century, had begun the conversion of the various peoples, it was eventually ousted by Roman Christianity which, with its urbanized approach and highly structured organization, was able to set up a unified church which tended to bring the various parts of the country together. Another important factor was the advent of the Anglo-Normans after the Norman Conquest of England, for they brought with them the ideas of feudalism, centralization of government and nationalism, which came to dominate the Lowlands although they did not affect so strongly the clan-oriented society of the Highlands.

One other force which brought about the unification of Scotland was pressure from outside. From the eighth to the twelfth centuries the north of Scotland constantly suffered under attacks from Scandinavians who settled in the Orkneys, the Hebrides, and Caithness and Sutherland. This experience had forced the other parts of the country to draw closer to each other to resist the invaders. More significant in this process, however, was the Scottish resistance to the attempts of the English kings to make Scotland a vassal state. William the Conqueror had forced King Malcolm I (Canmore) to do some form of homage; Henry II had made William the Lion his prisoner and forced him to become his vassal, although Richard I sold him back his independence; and Edward, rightly known as "the hammer of the Scots," made the most determined effort to bring the Scots to heel. At first Edward almost succeeded, but as a result of English oppression, the church, the nobility and the burghs joined together in resistance, the principal leadership being given at first by one of the lairds, William Wallace of Elderslie, and then by Robert deBrus, Earl of Carrick, who became King Robert I. Edward I was succeeded by his son Edward II, who through ineptitude and problems at home was forced after the Battle of Bannockburn (1314) to give up any hope of conquering Scotland. As a result of this ordeal by fire Scotland had become a nation.

Yet the country still suffered from an internal division between the Highlands and the Lowlands which was to endure down to the eighteenth century. For one thing, there was a language difference. The Highlander spoke Gaelic or "Old Celtic" which differed even from the language of the Celts of southwest Wales and Ireland, and was completely different from the Anglo-Norman language spoken in the central and eastern Lowlands. Added to this was the difference of social organization. In the Highlands the land was regarded as the property of the clan as a whole through the chief. Each crofter had his own "in-field" or plot and might also cultivate an "out-field," but his principal interest was the pasturing of his cattle, which grazed upon the common land. The Lowlander, on the other hand, tended to follow the English practice of relatively intensive arable cultivation of strips of land scattered throughout the lord of the manor's fields. While in the Lowlands the tendency by the beginning of the modern period was towards the consolidation of land into individual farms, in the Highlands the farming methods changed little until the eighteenth century. The linguistic and socio-economic patterns also had their political effects. In the north the chief of the clan was the ruler, often a kind of petty monarch who was supposed to take good care of his clansmen, who in turn were obliged to follow him in war, usually carrying a broadsword or Lochaber axe. In the Lowlands the country was organized along feudal lines with the vassals of the king serving both as his civil service and the heavy cavalry of which his feudal army consisted. Added to this force on occasion during the War of Independence and later, he called out the peasants as a whole, who formed the "schiltrons" of pikemen which defeated the English cavalry at Bannockburn and other battles. The Scottish monarch's power in the north varied very much according to his own ability, power and capacity to win the support of powerful clans such as the Gordons in the northeast and the Campbells in the west. The one constant unifying element in the country seems to have been the church with its monasteries, its bishoprics, its parishes and its services in a common Latin.

Yet while the Scots had maintained their independence and autonomy against English encroachments in the early part of the fourteenth century, they were not suffered to live in peace. During the War of Independence they had become allied to France, who constantly sought to use them as a cat's paw to cause England trouble during the Hundred Years War which began in 1337. The English for their part repeatedly attempted to add Scotland to the empire which they hoped to establish by the conquest of France. In the fifteenth century these difficulties were further compounded by the fact that from 1406 until the union of the crowns of England and Scotland in 1603, every Scottish monarch came to the throne as a minor. This gave full scope to aristocratic intrigue and conflict, resulting at times even in civil war. Yet despite, or perhaps because of their difficulties, the Scots during this period became increasingly conscious of their identity as a nation. To this was added a radical change in the church in the sixteenth century which gave further strength to the Scottish sense of uniqueness.

The Protestant Reformation began in 1517 when Martin Luther in Wittenberg, Saxony, made his protest against ecclesiastical corruption. This movement spread to other areas of Europe, particularly Switzerland, where Ulrich Zwingli and Henry Bullinger in Zurich, and somewhat later Jean Calvin in Geneva, led in the development of the reform movement. In Scotland the condition of the church, which had reached a low ebb, and the social and economic changes which were taking place prepared the way for the advent of the new religious thought and ideas. The church itself was in considerable disarray theologically, morally and socially, with the result that many of the rising bourgeoisie seem to have been becoming disillusioned and rather cynical. One has only to read the acts of the last two or three synods of the church before 1560 to gain an impression of its condition. At the same time, Scottish merchants, sailors, soldiers and scholars were bringing in the new ideas from Germany, France and Switzerland. These were taken up first of all in the port towns of Aberdeen, Perth, Dundee and Leith but soon spread into the hinterland to gain the support of the lairds or landed gentry and some of the nobles. By 1555 the Protestant movement had gained a considerable amount of support, although it was still without any effective organization.

The man who pulled the whole movement together was John Knox who, from 1549 to 1553, had been a refugee in England because of his beliefs and, on the Roman Catholic Mary Tudor's accession to the English throne, had found it necessary to move to Geneva where he became the pastor of the English refugee congregation. In 1555 he returned to Scotland for some nine months to encourage and help organize those pressing for ecclesiastical reform. Then in 1559, after Elizabeth, who favoured Protestantism, succeeded her sister Mary as Queen of England and his English congregation consequently departed to their homes, Knox went back to Scotland. There he quickly became the spiritual leader of the reform movement. Largely through his influence, in 1560 the Scottish Estates or parliament abolished papal authority and the recital of the Mass, while at the same time establishing a Protestant church which Knox believed to be "the best reformed church in the world," his sentiments being echoed by many of those who sat in the church's General Assembly. Thus by the time of Knox's death in 1572 the groundwork had been laid for a distinctively Scottish Protestant religious outlook.

Central to the doctrine of the Reformation was the basic Christian paradox of the depravity of man and the overflowing abundance of the grace of God in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer. Knox and his supporters were uncompromising Calvinists who believed that man's whole life is to be lived to the glory of God. This, however, could be done only by the way in which the Christian knew God's will for him through the guidance of the Holy Spirit speaking in Holy Writ. Consequently, the church had the tremendous responsibility of expounding faithfully the Word of God in the Old and New Testaments, of administering the sacraments and of "uprightly" enforcing Christian discipline. This in turn meant that the church must be autonomous, free from the control of the nobility, the government and even the universities. Nevertheless, the ministers of the church had the duty of admonishing the rulers concerning their obligations since they too were also citizens of the Kingdom of Christ, and of guiding the schools and universities that they might train the youth to take their proper places in both church and commonwealth. These ideas, set forth in the "Scots Confession" of 1560 and in the first Book of Discipline, became the foundation of Scottish Protestantism producing what one author has called "a nation of aggressive thinkers and enquirers into the truth."1

Once the new church, with the support of the government, had established itself firmly in the country and the Reformation had been more or less generally accepted, a noticeable change took place. The Scots, who had never been particularly noted for religious devotion or even high moral conduct, seemed to experience something of a change of heart. A new and deep religious feeling seemed to develop among the people, including the Roman Catholic minority. Theology became a matter of consuming interest to many, and attendance at sermons almost a national pastime. Yet withal, we do not see the intense bitterness of conflict between Protestant and Catholic that appeared at the same time in other countries. The deposition of the young Queen Mary in 1567 probably forestalled a civil "war of religion" similar to that which plagued France for years. No Catholics were executed for their beliefs after the Reformation came into effect in 1560. Controversy was common, but systematic persecution was not. This may be partly because most of the Roman Catholic minority were either located in the Highlands or were to be found among the lower classes in the towns, but also because the Scot usually felt that argument was more effective than terror. Religion and religious controversy in this way came to provide another dimension to Scottish national identity.

Knox's work was carried on after his death in 1572 by those who had come under his influence: James Melville, Robert Pont, and Robert Bruce, but especially Andrew Melville who, influenced also by the thinking of Theodore Beza, Calvin's successor in Geneva, sought to set up a completely articulated presbyterian system of church government with an ascending hierarchy of church courts made up of elected members, from the session at the congregational level through presbyteries and synods to the national general assembly. Under the influence and drive of such men the Reformation spread across the country not only in the Lowlands but into the Highland glens and straths, with the result that by the end of the century the Reformed Church of Scotland was indeed truly national, wielding a broad and powerful influence upon the whole of Scottish life. From this point on Scottish character and life would be closely involved with a strong Calvinistic Protestantism. Even those opposed to it because of conflicting religious beliefs or simply because they did not like its practical effects would, nevertheless, have to take it into account.

Scotland throughout the latter part of the sixteenth century, however, was by no means a peaceful or prosperous country. Not only was she affected by the constant conflicts in Europe which damaged her trade, but she also suffered from the internal anarchy fostered by an unruly aristocracy. Nevertheless, some progress was made towards peace as James VI gradually took control of the government. Yet even he, though hailed as the "Scottish Solomon" and entertaining grandiose ideas of Divine Right, was not able to bring peace until he ascended the English throne in 1603 on the demise of Elizabeth.

The advent of James to the throne of England came as the result of the foresight of Henry VII who had married his daughter Margaret to James's great grandfather, James IV, who died fighting the English in 1513. Henry seems to have seen the ultimate outcome of this move as the union of the two countries; and although it took a century to bring about the preliminary step of the union of the crowns, it was on the way to achieving its purpose. The move, however, was by no means an unmixed blessing to Scotland. The Scottish court forsook Edinburgh for London, which resulted in Scottish interests being placed repeatedly in a secondary position to those of England. Furthermore James, who had been obliged to wage a continual campaign against his nobility and who had sought by every means to dominate the democratically governed Reformed Church, now had behind him the power which enabled him to control both, as he said, with a stroke of his pen from Whitehall.

It was the conflict with the Scottish church which finally led to an explosion which ushered in the Civil War between Charles I and the English Parliament. As a result of James's imposition of episcopacy on the Church of Scotland there had been growing discontent in its ranks. But when Charles I and Bishop Laud attempted in 1637 to impose an English form of liturgy on the congregation of St. Giles, Edinburgh, and Jenny Geddies tossed her stool at the dean's head for saying 'mass at her lugs,' not only did the other ladies follow Jenny's example, but the nation also rose in revolt. The result was the "First Bishop's War" which forced Charles to call his Parliament to pay off the Scottish forces encamped in the north of the country. From that time on one move led to another, until war broke out in England, to be followed by the formal alliance of the Scottish and English rebels in the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643. Yet, although the Scots proved to be valuable allies for the English parliamentary party, when they refused to accede to Charles's execution and gave their support to his son, the English parliamentary armies in 1651 moved into the country upon which they imposed an unequal union for close to a decade. This union, although it brought prosperity to some of the Scots, left a considerable legacy of antipathy to English rule, even among the church leaders who had so much in common with the Puritans.

Although many of the Puritan clergy had agreed with the Scots in their ideas of doctrine and church government, and as a result had drawn up the strongly Calvinistic Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, The Directory of Worship and the Form of Church Government, the English Parliament had rejected these documents while the Scottish Estates adopted them wholeheartedly. "The Westminster Standards" in this way became the hallmark of Scottish Presbyterianism which was opposed to both English Congregationalism and English Episcopacy. The rule of Cromwell's Independents, however, was relatively mild compared to that of the bishops who returned with the restoration of Charles II to the thrones of the two countries in 1660. Charles, whose principal interest was in ruling as an absolute monarch similar to his cousin Louis XIV in France, attempted to force even by musket, boot and thumbscrew the Scottish Presbyterians to accept an episcopal church order. The result was the rise of the Covenanters, who demanded the restoration of the National Covenant of 1638, but all that resulted was the "killing days" under "Bluidy Clavers" (Graham of Claverhouse). The outcome was the growth of an anti-Stuart, radical Protestant element in the country which was violently opposed to England and everything for which it seemed to stand.

Religion, however, was not the only cause for discontent with the unequal marriage to the English. Although Scotland had been given freedom to trade within the English Empire during the Cromwellian occupation, with the Restoration the English merchant lobby saw that this was brought to an end. Thenceforward, Scots might go as colonists to Virginia and similar places, a few Scottish articles of trade might be shipped to the colonies, but otherwise Scots were strictly foreigners. At the same time, Scotland had its own trade destroyed by being involved against its will in the English wars with the Dutch and the French, two of their best European customers. Gradually the Scots came to depend almost entirely upon trade with England, who was prepared to give no presents in return.

When the English rose in revolt against James II and placed William of Orange and his wife Mary, James's daughter, on the throne, the Scots went along with the move although with no great enthusiasm. One thing that did reconcile many to the new regime was the final establishment of presbyterianism and the abolition of episcopacy. William, however, soon wiped out the benefits of the favour obtained through this move by the massacre of the MacDonalds of Glencoe and his involvement in the failure of the Scottish attempt to establish a colony at Darien on the Isthmus of Panama. The feeling in most quarters was that they had returned to 'square one,' for the English, while insisting that the Scots were foreigners, did not recognize the rights of the Scots to independent action.

Although Scottish discontent did not come to a head during the reign of William and Mary, probably due to a constant threat of the return of the Roman Catholic Stuarts, it did during the reign of James II's second daughter Anne. Scots were becoming so frustrated with the situation in which they felt themselves always subordinated to English interests that they believed that the only answer was total independence of England, under a Scottish monarch. Although Roman Catholics, the Stuarts would be the only possible candidates for this position, a point of view adopted by even a good many Protestants. Anne's answer was complete union of the two countries by an amalgamation of their parliaments. After much argument and negotiation this was finally brought about in 1707. The maintenance of the presbyterian character of the Church of Scotland as established and the continuance of Scottish law were guaranteed, although both promises were soon forgotten by England once the union was effected. At the same time, Scots were given complete freedom of trade within the Empire, a privilege of which they took immediate advantage.

The eighteenth century was a century of very mixed feelings in Scotland. The mercantile community, particularly in Glasgow, came into sudden prominence, since by virtue of their geographic position they were favourably placed to enter the North American markets, in which they gained almost a monopoly of the tobacco trade. Thus, despite increased taxes resulting from the union, certain sections of the country began to prosper. Other elements in the population, on the other hand, were not so happy. The 48 members of the House of Commons and the 16 elected peers had little influence in Parliament, the MPs being usually under the control of some "manager" such as Lord Dundas. Increasing discontent within the Church of Scotland over the abrogation of the congregation's right to choose its own minister (1712) led to two secessions, one under Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine (1733) and the other under Thomas Gillespie (1761). At the same time, for a mixture of reasons, religious, economic, political and social discontent came to expression in the Highlands in the Rebellions of 1715 and 1745 in favor of complete independence under a Stuart monarchy. Many Scots were by no means prepared to have their country swallowed up by the English, either culturally, religiously or politically.

Despite the resistance to change, however, both Highlands and Lowlands underwent many modifications as a result of the union with England. The Highlanders during this period experienced what was probably the most drastic alteration to their social structure and way of life. As a result of the ruthless suppression of the rebellions, particularly of the '45, the Highlands were "pacified." Every effort was made to destroy the clan system by wiping out the authority of the chieftains, by banning the wearing of the kilt, by calling in all firearms and by building roads throughout the whole area. These measures were followed by the enlisting of whole regiments of clansmen to fight overseas in the Empire's wars, and by the beginning of the clearance of people from the Highland glens. These uprooted Highlanders either migrated to Lowland cities such as Glasgow or crossed the sea to America, bearing with them the traditions, sentiment, nostalgia and often anger of a displaced people.

While the pacification of the Highlands was enacted and enforced as the result of government legislation, "the clearances" took place because the chieftains, now deprived of their former authority and independence, sought to recoup themselves by becoming sheep graziers who could sell their wool to the growing textile industry in the south. Simultaneously the Lowlands, particularly in the region of Glasgow, which were developing industrially were quite prepared to take the influx of migrants who could find jobs in the burgeoning tobacco industry, in the cotton and linen factories, and in the building of ships or in the mining of coal. The English Industrial Revolution was radically altering the whole face of Scotland.

Yet the economic changes were by no means the only, nor perhaps the most important, changes affecting Scottish identity during the eighteenth century. One of the reasons for Scotland's development was its unique emphasis upon education ever since the establishment of the Reformed Church which had sought to set up a nationwide parish school system. G. M. Trevelyan believes that at the Union of 1707, the Scots were the best educated people in Europe. The eighteenth century saw a growth of education particularly at the post-secondary level. The universities under the leadership of men such as Dr. William Robertson, Principal of Edinburgh University, flourished as they never had before. Furthermore, the growing interest in science and technology owing to the expanding industrialization found the Scottish universities, much more than their English counterparts, prepared to develop the sciences. Chemistry and physics advanced under the direction of teachers and scientists such as Joseph Black of Edinburgh. What we now call economics was first set forth systematically by Adam Smith, Professor of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow; and technology expanded as the result of the work of inquisitive craftsmen such as James Watt, an instrument-maker, and the improver of the steam engine. The result was Scottish intellectual expansion and development which sometimes produced the scepticism of the philosopher David Hume and at others the piety and religious vigour of the preacher Robert Haldane, but laid a large part of the foundations for the development of English-speaking Canadian education in the nineteenth century.

With all these changes, Scottish identity became somewhat dimmed and the Scot tended to become increasingly anglicized. Political life under Lord Bute and Lord Dundas, who became First Viscount Melville, was centred in London, while English influence, economic, intellectual and religious, extended its hold on the Scottish outlook. Reaction came in the religious sphere with the founding of the Associate Presbytery (1733) and the Relief Presbytery (1761), but these were indirect manifestations since these bodies' primary interests were in maintaining the spiritual freedom of the church from the control of a frequently rationalistic or Anglican nobility and parliament. Added to this, the Associate Presbytery divided in 1747 over the issue of whether a Christian could take the oath of allegiance when he became a burgher of a Scottish burgh. The oath required the one taking it to promise his loyalty to the form of the Christian Church established in the land. Some believed that the oath could be taken by members of the Associate Presbytery, others said, "No." This was to have important repercussions in Canada as both the "Burgher" and "Anti-Burgher" synods were among the earliest churches to send missionaries to the British North American colonies. By 1820 these two bodies had reunited in Scotland to form the United Associate Secession Church and in 1847 they joined with the Relief Church to form the United Presbyterian Church which rejected any type of civil church establishment. Much more important to national identity, however, was the revival of Scottish self-consciousness under the influence of Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and John Galt who by their poetry and their novels reminded the Scot of his difference from the Englishman - indeed from all other men. It was the Romantic Revival in Scotland which brought about the effective resurgence of the feeling of Scottish identity and uniqueness.

This rebirth of Scottish consciousness came just in time, for the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries saw Scotland experiencing a revolution unlike any she had known before. The Wars of Independence and the Protestant Reformation had both been important for the wide influence which they had exercised, but the increasing pace in the industrialization of the country was equally, if not more, far-reaching. To be sure, the Industrial Revolution was not a specifically Scottish phenomenon, seeing that its main centre was in England, but it did have important effects in Scotland that extended far beyond the walls of the factories and shops. It brought about radical changes which have left their impress not only upon Scotland, but also upon other countries such as the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada.

The immediate impact was felt in the Lowlands. Scientific farming had become important shortly after the opening of the nineteenth century with the farmers of Lothian gaining the reputation of being some of the best agriculturalists in the world. But parallel with the agricultural development went the development of heavy industry based on Scottish mineral resources: ship-building, railway engine-building, general engineering. These were principally centred on Glasgow and the surrounding area. At the same time, light industry such as the production of cotton goods and other textiles became active in other parts of the country. J. and P. Coates, the sewing thread manufacturers, commenced operations in Kilmarnock. Swan and Co. in Kirkcaldy began with the production of jute bags, but soon turned to linoleum. Dundee, Aberdeen and other cities were likewise caught up in industrial development, while distilling, an ancient industry, expanded all over the country from the valley of the Spey in the east to Islay and Skye on the west. By the end of the nineteenth century new industry had begun to manufacture electrical equipment, chemicals and other products needed for an increasingly complex society.

The financing for all these developments was largely Scottish, for the Scots had already developed a banking system which gave monetary stability to the economy. Instead of following the English example of having one central government bank with individual banks set up all over the country, the Scots had relatively few banks, some going back to the early eighteenth century, but many bank branches. Thus the dangers of failure were minimal, while the possibility of bank investment in and financial support of industry was much greater. Although the government tried to make the Scots conform to the English pattern, it was defeated largely through the attacks by Sir Walter Scott on the idea in his Letters of Malachi Malagrowther. There were, of course, booms and busts throughout the century and although there were bank failures such as that of the City of Glasgow Bank in 1878, in general Scottish financial houses weathered the storms as well as if not better than their English or American counterparts. Usually such periods of depression led to outflows of immigrants to the colonies and United States.

Naturally, these economic changes brought about radical social changes. Class division became more marked and obvious as not infrequently '' the rich got richer and the poor got poorer," to quote the song of the 1930s. Gradually also English capital began to flow northward to buy up Scottish industries and often to move them to England. But even when the industries were left in Scotland the profits were taken south, coming back in the form of money to purchase Scottish estates, which were used mainly for the deer or grouse hunting of the English capitalist and his aristocratic English and Anglo-Scottish friends. This in turn led to more clearances and the resulting migration of the ousted crofters either to the industrial Lowlands and England or overseas.

Along with these changes went an alteration of the whole ecclesiastical pattern. With its parish system in which one church served a fixed geographic area, the Church of Scotland was unable, and in some cases unwilling because of the cost involved, to take steps to meet the needs of the migrant workers moving into the industrial centres. Added to this, many of its leaders had so imbibed the eighteenth century rationalism that they had nothing to say to their working class parishioners who lived in poverty, squalor and degradation in the narrow dead-end side streets of Edinburgh, Glasgow and other industrial cities. As one critic put it, "they read cold moral essays to cold, but none too moral congregations." The reaction to this came through the work of men such as the Haldane brothers who brought about an evangelical revival within a segment of the established church. Their work was carried on by the Rev. Dr. Thomas Chalmers, a brilliant mathematician and economist, who sought to bring about the spiritual, moral and social reform of the whole country. His great problem, however, was that of obtaining churches for evangelical minis-ters since the power of appointment lay in the hands of the heritors, usually the local landlords, not in those of the congregations. After a ten-year struggle over the issue, the General Assembly backed by the civil courts refused to make any change and 451 ministers, followed by nearly one-third of the Established Church's membership, walked out in 1843 to found The Free Church of Scotland. This church, along with the United Presbyterians formed in 1847, did much to help solve the spiritual problems of the "lower classes" both in the Highlands and in the industrial areas of the country. At the end of the century the United Presbyterians and a majority of the Free Church merged to found the United Free Church, although the strongly Calvinistic wing of the Free Church refused to go into the union, continuing, principally in the Highlands, down to the present day.

Intellectually Scotland in the nineteenth century was influenced strongly by winds blowing from outside while at the same time keeping its own particular characteristic outlook. The impact of the Reformation continued strong in most areas of life showing its power in such movements as the ecclesiastical disruption of 1843, in the development of such bodies as the Free Presbyterian Church, and in strong Sabbatarianism coupled with independence of thought and a liking for metaphysical and theological discussion. In the universities, however, with the rising influence of physical science, the acceptance of Darwinian evolution and similar trends, the Reformation doctrines were beginning to lose their hold, although the basic attitudes often remained. From Adam Smith and David Hume down to the end of the nineteenth century, Scotland produced its quota, if not more than its quota, of philosophers, scientists, doctors and others active in intellectual fields. At the same time the Scottish literary tradition was carried on by Thomas Carlyle, R. L. Stevenson, J. M. Barrie, "Ian MacLaren," Andrew Lang, George Brown and numerous others.

The changes in Scotland were not limited in their effects to Scotland alone however, for the nineteenth century was the century of imperialism, colonization and missionary activity, with people from the western world flowing out to the uttermost parts of the earth. And the Scots were in the vanguard of the movement. One one hand, there were soldiers such as "Chinese Gordon" who ended his days as a victim of the Mahdi in Khartoum, and David Livingstone, the missionary-geographer who fought the slave trade to his dying day. On the other, there were the nameless and almost countless immigrants who set sail from Glasgow and other west coast ports to seek their fortunes and to find free lands "down under" or in the New World of the Americas. Scots went everywhere, settling in the "outback" of Australia, on the veldt of Matabeleland in Africa, on the pampas of Argentina and in the wilds of the Yukon or the North West Territories in Canada. One Canadian newspaper in the 1920s even went so far as to say that when the first official flight was made to the moon, a Scot would be waiting to welcome it. While this was hardly possible, it is well to note that the first man to set foot on the moon bore the name of Armstrong, long associated with the clans on the Scottish borders!

Yet while separated from their "ain folk," the Scots have not changed radically. Their attitudes, prejudices and points of view have continued strong. Their nationalism, albeit no longer specifically Scottish, has been usually transferred to their new heath, as we can see for instance in the influential part they played in bringing about Canadian Confederation. Their aggressiveness in every field of activity into which they have entered has manifested itself repeatedly. In the areas settled by Highlanders the use of Gaelic has so continued that there are probably as many speakers of "the language" in Cape Breton today as there are in Scotland, and Scottish customs, particularly Highland dancing, have become so popular that one even finds Dutchmen and Germans happy to wear the kilt, although genuine Scots may sometimes object to such a profanation of their national garb. Usually the Scot also maintains a religious background which keeps coming to the fore, even when he likes to proclaim himself a freethinker or an agnostic. But above all one might say that he has not lost his clannishness. Robert Louis Stevenson was quite right when he said:

The fact remains: in spite of the differences of blood and language the Lowlander feels himself the sentimental countryman of the Highlander. When they meet abroad, they fall upon each other's neck in spirit; even at home there is a kind of clannish intimacy in their talk.2

Because of this continuance of characteristics even through three and four generations, Scots are usually quite identifiable within even a cosmopolitan population. If one is asked to speak at a Scottish Masonic Lodge in Toronto, to a Highland Dance Society in Durham, North Carolina, to the St. Andrews Society in Montreal or to one of the dozen other Scottish organizations across Canada or the United States, one finds that there is a basic similarity and, consequently, understanding. The sense of humour, which is most important, and very different from English or American humour, is the same; the background traditions are similar and the reactions vary little. Even the differences between Protestant and Roman Catholic seem to have had their rough edges smoothed considerably by the removal from the old battle grounds to the new lands of conquest. They are all "brither Scots" together facing an uncomprehending and sometimes a sneering and often hostile, but obviously inferior world.

Yet the Scots have also been adaptable, making some of the best settlers history has known. Like the Jews they have been able to move into new situations, face new hazards and difficulties and by a power of adaptation overcome, while at the same time maintaining their identity. Various explanations have been offered for this capacity, but it would seem that the reason is the history of Scotland itself, the traditions which it has devel-°ped from the days of Wallace, Bruce, Knox, Burns, Scott to the present. It is this Scottish tradition which has played such an important part in the development of Canada and the Canadians.3


1. W.Notestein, The Scot in History (London: Cape, 1947), p. 123.

2. R. L. Stevenson, "The Foreigner at Home," in Memories and Portraits (London: Collins, n.d.), p. 36.

3. For a more detailed account of the Scottish background the reader should turn to the New Edinburgh History of Scotland by W. C. Dickinson and G. Pryde, 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Nelson, 1961-2), or to the Edinburgh History of Scotland in four much larger volumes, edited by Gordon Donaldson (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1971 ff.).

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