An Appeal to Scots from a Victorian

“AN APPEAL TO SCOTSMEN.

—————

POLITICAL INJUSTICE.

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   An appeal has been issued under the auspices of the Scottish Home Rule Association, Edinburgh, which has been formed for the purpose of regaining for Scotland a national Parliament, subject to the Crown. All loyal Scots are earnestly requested to join it, and help on the cause of their country. The minimum annual subscription to the Association is one shilling. The terms of the appeal are as follow:- 

   ‘Fellow-countrymen, – By the loyalty which we believe is inherent in every true Scot’s nature, we appeal to you on behalf of the grand old country to which you belong, and to which you are indebted for the blessings of national and religious liberty. The struggles of faithful witnesses have preserved for you the inestimable blessing of religious liberty, and the terrible contests of your ancestors have bequeathed to you a measure of the invaluable blessings of national liberty, and prevented our country from being reduced by English arms to a similar condition to unhappy Ireland. But are you aware that the incorporating Union of 1707, in linking our country with England, has deprived Scotland of that liberty which England could never succeed in robbing her of by any other means? Are you aware that while Scotland’s representation in the Imperial Parliament is limited to 72, England boasts of 465 members? What chance, then, has Scotland to obtain the legislation she desires when her vote is constantly overwhelmed by the immense English majority? Can it be said that Scotland enjoys national liberty when the almost unanimous voice of her representatives in Parliament is voted down by English members? There are to her ways of crushing the liberties of a nation than by the sword. England failed in this way, and she now uses her Parliamentary superiority to crush the voice of Scotland, and, too, in questions that concern Scotland only. Is this a condition of liberty I appeal to the spirit of every patriotic Scotsman who reads this – Do you consider it a duty to submit to the numerical superiority of England, and do you think Scotland should be subservient to England because her population is smaller than that of England? 

   ‘Moreover, in the matter of taxation and Imperial expenditure, every Scotsman pays more per head than an Englishman, and much more than an Irishman. It has been calculated that in thirty years, from 1861 to 1891, Scotland paid £92,684,319 more than her due share of taxation; and during the same period she received £39,000,000 less than she was entitled to, of the Imperial expenditure; or, altogether, from these two causes alone, £131,684.319 – which amount Scotland has been robbed of during a period of only thirty years. If we add to this the amount she has lost since the Union in 1707, the total would be prodigious. The Marquis of Bute estimates that the loss to Scotland from all causes, including cost of private bill legislation and money spent in England by the nobility and gentry, and from eight to ten millions annually! 

   ‘Can nothing be done to check this robbery? Cannot Scotsmen unite to defend the rights and interests of their country apart from mere party lines? Why follow Gladstone or Salisbury, Rosebery or Balfour, when by all alike the rights of Scotland are neglected? Why not unite on national and patriotic ground, and demand back, as a right, your old Parliament of which your ancestors were robbed by means of ‘English gold?’ Is it too late now to strike for liberty and your country’s cause? Why not support the Scottish Home Rule Association in its noble and patriotic endeavour to obtain for Scotland a Local National Legislature, so that Scotsmen may have the sole management of their own country’s affairs, untrammelled by Englishmen or Irishmen? Why, then, not demand back the right which was stolen from us by the extraordinary one-sided Treaty of Union – the right of a free nation to manage its own affairs? 

   ‘Harken to the language of our immortal Burns:- “What are all the advantages which my country reaps from the Union that can counterbalance the annihilation of her independence, and even her very name.’ He then breaks out into the following scathing lines:- 

‘Fareweel to a’ our Scottish fame! 
    Fareweel our ancient glory! 
 Fareweel e’en to the Scottish name, 
   Sae famed in martial story! 
*   *   *   *   *
‘What force or guile could not subdue 
   Through many warlike ages, 
Is wrought now by a coward few, 
   For hireling traitor’s wages. 
The English steel we could disdain, 
   Secure in valour’s station; 
But English gold has been our bane, 
   Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!
‘Oh, would, ere I had seen the day 
   That treason thus could sell us, 
My auld grey head had lain in clay, 
   W’ Bruce and loyal Wallace! 
But pith and power till my last hour, 
   “I’ll make this declaration: 
We’re bought and sold for English gold – 
   Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!”

   ‘Scotsmen! – Are you then content to remain a nation of slaves – slaves politically to England – or will you unite, as true brave men, and demand back your rights? Harken to the words of the ancient Caledonian warrior, Galgacus, to his countrymen gathered to oppose the Roman advance into Caledonia:- 

   “March then to battle, and think of your ancestors and think of your posterity!”

   ‘Think then of your ancestors, and their struggles for liberty, and of your posterity, then strike for freedom. The eyes of the world are on you, and remember that “He  who would be free, himself must strike the blow,” and that “Fortune favours the brave!”

   ‘I subscribe myself, 

                                    ‘Your fellow-countryman, 

‘THEODORE NAPIER,  

   ‘President of Scottish National Association of Victoria.’ ”  

– Banffshire Advertiser, Thursday 7th February, 1895.

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