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SIR WALTER SCOTT
Address before the Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club,
November 11, 1899.
R. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN:-I MR
thank you most warmly for this cordial greeting, but I take all the credit of it for my country and not for myself. Truly your country and mine are connected by bonds of sympathy which were never stronger and closer than at this very hour. When Dandie Dinmont had listened to the reading of Mrs. Margaret Bertram's will, he threw himself back and gave utterance to that great saying: “Blood is thicker than water." Little did he dream that he was giving to two great nations a watchword for the exchange of love and greetings eighty years afterwards.
I can assure you that Lord Salisbury, in his generous and cordial words last night at the Lord Mayor's banquet, will meet with a quick and hearty response on the other side of the Atlantic. Our great poet has said that “ peace hath her victories not less renowned than war," and this ironclad friendship that now prevails between these two kindred nations is her last and greatest victory. It means peace not merely between your country and mine, but among all the great nations of the earth, and it tends, by advancing civilization, to promote the prosperity and welfare not of the Anglo-Saxon race alone, but of the whole human race.
Now, it must be said that Americans and Scotchmen in particular have a great deal in common. Even in those lighter personal characteristics which sometimes amuse our common critics, they are very much alike. Our national habit, for I confess it is a fixed habit, of making ourselves at home wherever we go, must have been inherited from some remote Scottish progenitor, for I assure you that your people come over and settle down upon us and make the very fat of our land their own. They celebrate the birthday of your patron saint in America with far more gusto than you have ever done at home. No doubt about that. And on the thirtieth of November, they convert our great land, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, into another land of cakes.
I have known more than one of these invaders who, landing on our shores in youth with nothing but sound minds and brave hearts in stalwart bodies, have returned in mature age to become the owners of lordly castles and broad domains of which princes and dukes might well be proud.
There is another habit of ours which I do not admit, but which malicious critics ascribe to us, of being very eager in the pursuit of the almighty dollar. Well, I have been studying the Scottish character somewhat since my arrival, and I am bold enough to ask the question whether that is not, after all, a feeble and respectful imitation of your keen and constant pursuit of the five times more almighty pound.
Although those are circumstances in which we are alike, there is one ruling trait more striking than either of these, and that is that innate modesty — that overwhelming modesty and distrust of ourselves, which is truly the common characteristic of both peoples, and which always puts us in a pious frame of mind and leads us to unite in uttering that well worn prayer: “Lord, help us to have a good conceit of ourselves."
But, seriously, in those essential and vital qualities that go to make up the national character, we are also alike; and we may boast and be proud of our mutual resemblance. I mean in that
I inborn love of independence; that claim for the individual to all the liberty and all the scope which is consistent with the general welfare; in the pure spirit of the highest and noblest democracy at home in these islands as well as in the United States, and in that spirit by which we measure men more by their worth than by their birth.
6. The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The man's the gowd for a' that.'
And then we agree also in that love of national liberty; of freedom bred in the bones of every nation that has struggled for and achieved it. They all, you all, we all, worship the champions that have helped us win it even for centuries after they are turned to dust, and if liberty ever should be in danger on either continent, we should invoke their venerated names and spirits.
“Oh, once again to freedom's cause return
The patriot Tell, the Bruce of Bannockburn.
And wake to life the sword of Washington.”
We acknowledge with gratitude the service which Scotchmen have rendered to us in every period of our national history. They helped us found more than one of our infant colonies; they helped us to win our independence; and in your ancient cemetery, the monument erected to our great patriot, Lincoln, (the first erected to him on this side of the water) recalls the valor of Scottish soldiers who helped us to maintain our political independence; to strike the shackles from the limbs of four millions of slaves, and to prove, in the words of our martyr President, that“ government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
I have been told to-night to propose the theme of literature, but that entire sentiment at this place and in this presence centres upon the name and personality of one man. All the other fixed stars in the spacious firmament of Scottish literature must pale a little to-night before the light of this central luminary.
To an American visiting, for the first time, Scotland and your romantic, your picturesque, your beautiful city of Edinburgh, everything