Who Said What About the Scots?


With a Jimmy Hat anybody can be a red-haired Scot



..the Scot is more interesting than the history of his country. He has become a character in the world, more important and more significant than the size of his land or its story would justify...It was a good while ago that he made the discovery that in no part of the globe was his Scottishness a handicap, and he has availed himself of that discovery.
...... ©Wallace Notestein, The Scott in History, New Haven Yale University Press, 1947


Long-headed thrifty industry--a sound hatred of waste, imprudence, idleness, extravagance --the feet planted firmly on the earth...and that without honesty no other excellence, religious or moral, is worth anything at all--this is the stuff of which Scotch life was made, and very good stuff it is.
.....J.A. Froude (1818-1894)


The Scots gushed out from the bleak little country like worker ants upon the world, and that inevitably enervated the bleak little country. No accurate estimate has been made of the number of Scots who fell in the two world wars, but it must have comprised a considerable part of the male issue of two generations. Add to these the enterprising men who went to the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, many African colonies and to India, Lalaysia, China, even Europe and it will be appreciated how the strength of a small country was dissipated or disseminated.
.....SCOTLAND: THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE, © Donald Cowie, 1973 by A.S. Barnes and Company, Cranbury, NJ and London: Thomas Yoseloff Ltd., London ISBN 0-498-01169-0


Tough Scotsmen in run-down pubs seem - verbally at least - vastly more speedy, more animated than their London equivalents. There's a Celtic frenzy about their speech which meant that I could penetrate none of it, apart from the profanities which sprayed around the room like shrapnel.
...FAINTHEART: An Englishman Ventures North of the Border by Charles Jennings, Abacus, Time Warner Books U.K., www.TimeWarnerBooks.co.uk; © 2001 by Charles Jennings ISBN 0349114404


They live in huts, go naked and unshod. They mostly have a democratic government, and are much addicted to robbery. They can bear hunger and cold and all manner of hardship; they will retire into their marshes and hold out for days with only their heads above water, and in the forest they will subsist on barks and roots.
.....Dio Cassius, Roman commentator, 197 A.D.


"The Highlanders were Medieval in their remembrance of old wrongs. A Highlander might insinuate himself into the friendship of a man whose ancestor had wronged one of his forebears, and bide his time and kill him. Or he might turn against a friend who, he fancied, had misused him. For the Highlander was impulsive, and did not always wait to find out the other side of the story.
.....THE SCOT IN HISTORY © Wallace Notestein, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1947


These Highlanders are famous for thieving; they are all bred up and live by theft. they come down from these dales into the low countries, and carry away horses and cattle so cunningly, that it will be hard for any to get them or their cattle, except they be acquainted with some master thief, who for some money may help them to their stolen goods, or deceive them.
.....William Camden, Elizabethan Antiquarian


In Scotland you are too theological, too gloomy. You have made even the Devil religious...You have burnt all the witches. In Ireland we have left them alone. To be sure, the 'Loyal Minority' knocked out the eye of one with a cabbage stump on the 31st of March 1711, in the town of Carrickfergus. But then the 'loyal minority' is half Scottish. You have discovered the faeries to be pagan and wicked. You would like to have them all up before the magistrate...In Scotland you have denounced them from the pulpit.
.....William Butler Yeats, in "A Remonstrance with Scotsmen for Having Soured the Disposition of their Ghosts and Fairies" from The Celtic Twilight, ©1893


There was a singular race of old Scotch ladies. They were a delightful set—- strong-headed, warm-hearted, and high-spirited —merry even in solitude; very resolute; indifferent about the modes and habits of the modern world, and adhering to their own ways, so as to stand out like primitive rocks above ordinary society.
Their prominent qualities of sense, humour, affection, and spirit, were embodied in curious outsides, for they all dressed, and spoke, and did exactly as they chose. Their language, like their habits, were entirely Scotch, but without any other vulgarity than what perfect naturalness is sometimes mistaken for.
......Dean Ramsay, Scottish Life and Character


In modern times women often worry themselves into psychiatric clinics over the ebullience of their children or financial problems, but the wives of the Scottish fishing ports had continually to consider whether they would be widows tomorrow...
They were not allowed to show their emotions, and when they went mad, as they often did, it was only in old age.
"She's saft-like, ye see, but that's inevitable at such a grand age." (The grand age in those days would be around 40 or at the time of menopause).
.....SCOTLAND: THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE, © Donald Cowie, 1973 by A.S. Barnes and Company, Cranbury, NJ and London: Thomas Yoseloff Ltd., London ISBN 0-498-01169-0


The happiest lot on earth is to be born a Scotsman. You must pay for it in many ways, as for all other advantages on earth. You generally take to drink; your youth... is a time of louder war against society, of more outcry and tears and turmoil, than if you had been born... in England.
But somehow life is warmer and closer; the hearth burns more redly; the lights of home shine softer on the rainy street. The very names, endeared in words arid music, cling nearer round our hearts.
.......Robert Louis Stevenson, The Silverado Squatters,© 1883


They all love to be talked about as "characters," and they all want to be thought clever, and they are all over-sensitive and too quick to take offence. In most of these things they are extremely similar to the Jewish people, and there might indeed by something in the much-mouthed myth that at least one of the dispersed tribes of Israel ended up in this cold, comparatively safe corner of the ancient world.
SCOTLAND: THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE, ©Donald Cowie, 1973 by A.S. Barnes and Company, Cranbury, NJ and London: Thomas Yoseloff Ltd., London ISBN 0-498-01169-0


Had Cain been Scot, God would have chang'd his doom
Not forc'd him wander, but confined him home.
Like Jews they spread, and as infection fly,
As if the Devil had ubiquity.
Hence 'tis they live at Rovers, and defie
This or that place;
Rags of Geography.
They're Citizens o' th' world; they're all in all,
Scotland's a Nation Epidemicall.
A Scot, when from the gallows-tree got loose
Drops into Styx, and turns a Soland Goose.
.......©J. Cleveland, Poems, 1647


Biting and Scratching is Scots folks' wooing.
.......John Ray, Scottish Proverbs, in A Compleat Collection of English Proverbs 4th edition,© 1768


The Scots are steadfast - not their clime.
.......Thomas Campbell, The Pilgrim of Glencoe, ©1842


In his heart [the Scot] believes that no people since the Athenians have so much to their credit and he might, in a pinch, leave the Athenians out.
...... ©Wallace Notestein, The Scot in History, New Haven Yale University Press, 1947


Every Scotchman is two Scotchmen. As his land has the wild, barren, stern crags and mountain peaks, around which tempests blow, and also the smiling valleys, where the wildrose, the foxglove, and the bluebell blossom, so the Scotchman, with his rugged force and hard intellect in his head above, has a heart below capable of being touched to the finest issues.
Sentimental, enthusiastic, the traces of a hare-brained race floating about him from his Celtic blood, which gives him fire, he is the most poetic being alive...Touch his head, and he will bargain and argue with you to the last. Touch his heart, and he falls upon your breast. .....Andrew Carnegie


I have been greatly disgusted with the appearance of the brave Highlanders. They strike me as stupid, dirty, ignorant and barbarous...Their huts are floorless except for earth; they live all together in them like pigs; there are no chimneys, hardly a window; no conveniences of life of any sort.
Dirty, ragged, starved and imbruted, they struggle to cultivate patches of rocky ground where nothing can mature, and in wretched superstition and prejudice they are as deep sunk as their ancestors ever were.
.......Henry Adams, Letter to Charles Francis Adams, 3 September 1863


It seems that the Scots
Turn out much better shots
At long distance, than most Englishmen are;
But this we all knew
That a Scotchman could do
Make a small piece of metal go awfully far.
.......©Charles Shirley Brooks (1815-74), On Scots Frugality from Punch


The Scots are affable and kind to their own people.
......Caius Julius Solinus, 3rd century A.D.


They all love to be talked about as "characters," and they all want to be thought clever, and they are all over-sensitive and too quick to take offence. In most of these things they are extremely similar to the Jewish people, and there might indeed by something in the much-mouthed myth that at least one of the dispersed tribes of Israel ended up in this cold, comparatively safe corner of the ancient world.
SCOTLAND: THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE, © Donald Cowie, 1973 by A.S. Barnes and Company, Cranbury, NJ and London: Thomas Yoseloff Ltd., London ISBN 0-498-01169-0

Scottish women were indeed known to help their men in battle. At the Seige of Berwick, the poet Barbour in The Brus describes how the women gathered the spent English arrows and ran with them to the men fighting on the walls...Everyone remembers the story of the lady at the skirmish of Ancrum Moor who fought beside her lover until both her legs were gone and then fought upon the stumps.
...... ©Wallace Notestein, The Scott in History, New Haven Yale University Press, 1947




An awful Frown sits on their threatening Brow,
And yet the Soul's all smooth, and calm below;
Thinking in Temper, rather grave than Gay,
Fitted to govern, able to obey.
Nor are their Spirits very soon enflam'd
And if provok'd, not very soon reclaim'd.
Fierce when resolv'd, and fix'd as Bars of Brass,
And Conquest through their Blood can only pass.
In spight of Coward Cold, the Race is Brave,
In Action Daring and in Council Grave;
Their haughty Souls in Danger always grow,
No Man durst lead 'em where they durst not go.
Sedate in Thought, and steady in Resolve,
Polite in Manners, and as Years Revolve;
Always secure their largest share of Fame,
And by their Courage keep alive their Name.

.......Daniel Defoe, Caledonia,© 1707,


The Scots are always telling stories of the cautiousness of brither Scots. When an old carpenter was offered a drink and asked whether he would have it then or at the end of his job, he replied, "Indeed, mem, there's been sic a power o' sudden deaths lately, that I'll just tak it now."
...... ©Wallace Notestein, The Scott in History, New Haven Yale University Press, 1947


There is no fear . . . that prohibition will be adopted there: and this from the simple reason that the Scotch do not drink. Because they manufacture the best whiskey in the world, the Scotch, in popular fancy, are often thought to be addicted to the drinking of it. This is purely a delusion.
During the whole of two or three pleasant weeks spent lecturing in Scotland, I never on any occasion saw whiskey made use of as a beverage. I have seen people take it, of course, as a medicine, or as a precaution, or as a wise offset against a rather treacherous climate; but as a beverage, never.
.......©Stephen Leacock, My Discovery of England, 1922


Hangover Drops curative candy


Scottish people drink spasmodically and intensely, for the sake of momentary but complete release, whereas the English like to bathe and paddle about bucolically in a mild puddle of beer.
......©Edwin Muir, Scottish Journey, 1935

Temperance Bray the drinker repentance stool

As to their Genius and Temper, they have certainly more Command of themselves in the Beginning of Life, and commit fewer Extravagancies in their Youth, than the English do:
Their Frugality and Temperance deserves our Imitation, which is indeed the Foundation of that Discretion we observe in them, at a Time of Life when our young Gentlemen are half mad.
.......Thomas Salmon, A New Geographical and Historical Grammar,© 1751


Buried deep in the Scottish national consciousness is the memory of a cliff-hanging struggle for independence, which lasted more than three centuries in the physical sense, and in the minds of some Scots continues today. They know, better than anyone, how easily England spread itself, often apparently without trying, and the fear of English domination by force has to some extent been replaced by a fear of English supremacy almost by default.
.....The Steel Bonnets, ©George MacDonald Fraser, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1972
ISBN: 0-394-47049-4


God help England if she had no Scots to think for her!
.......©George Bernard Shaw, The Apple Cart, 1929