Collection of the Rev. David Macrae on Centralisation & Promotion of Home Rule

[Treaty of Union Articles Contents]



   SIR, – In Wednesday’s paper your special telegraphic news began with a paragraph headed ‘England and Arabi.’ Why ‘England?’ England has nothing more to do with Arabi than has Scotland or Ireland. The paragraph itself was quoted from the London Daily News, and began, ‘Arabi must and will have fairplay when England is standing by;’ and went on – ‘The Khedive and his Ministers owe their power to the English arms.’ This English fashion of naming ‘England’ in place of ‘Britain’ is a fashion which, I think, the Scottish people, as represented by the Scottish press, ought steadily to resist. 

   It involves, first of all, wherever used, whether in England or in Scotland, a gross historical blunder, and, I may add, a gross historical injustice. In point of fact, no such State exists as England. England as a State ceased to exist in 1707, when she and Scotland became united into one new State by the name – not of ‘England,’ but of ‘Great Britain.’ And so far from the name being deemed a matter of trifling importance, the very first Article in the Treaty of Union expressly provides that the new State formed by the union of the two kingdoms of England and Scotland shall be called, not by the name of either kingdom, but by the new name of ‘Great Britain.’ In like manner the Third Article provides that ‘the United Kingdom of Great Britain be represented by one and the same Parliament, to be styled the Parliament of Great Britain.’ To speak, therefore, of ‘the English Parliament,’ ‘the English army,’ ‘England standing by,’ and so forth, is historically both a blunder and an injustice. And it seems to me that our Scottish press, on which the Scottish nation in a matter like this has to depend so much, should see that in Scotland at least this injustice is not done; and should, in printing an English telegram or quoting from an English paper, correct this English blunder, just as it would correct an error in spelling or a manifest slip in the name of some public man. 

   But this is worse than a mere blunder, worse even than a mere evasion of the letter of the law. It is a fashion that will, if it be permanently adopted, rob Scotland of her most glorious and inspiring traditions, and so far weaken the empire itself by taking away from Scotland the inspiration of her history. Some people pooh-pooh this idea, because they do not trouble themselves to think. But no man who reflects for a moment will estimate lightly the influence upon a nation of a noble historical record. England is right in being proud of her history and of her name. It is one of the elements of her dignity and power. But Scotland, not less than England, has a history – an ancient and noble history – a history that is a power and inspiration to every Scotchman that deserves the name. Under the name of ‘Great Britain,’ Scotland and England ring both their names and both their histories into union. The empire is stronger for both, and for want of either the empire would be so much the weaker. Ask the English – even those who honour Scotland most – how they would feel if the British Empire were called ‘Scotland,’ and the army ‘the Scottish army,’ and the Government ‘the Scottish Government.’ If there is nothing in a name (as some people thoughtlessly say), then there could be no objection to this change. But the Englishman, when the question is put in that form, sees at once what he is so apt meantime to miss. He sees that under the name of ‘Scotland’ he, as an Englishman, would lose his place in history, and be robbed of the glorious names and the glorious deeds identified for a thousand years with the name of England. A Scotchman is a Briton, but he is not an Englishman; and under the English name Scotchmen are pushed into connection with a local history that is not theirs, and away from the history of their own country, glorious with the names of Wallace, of Bruce, of John Knox, of a thousand more, all of them fountains of manly pride and noble inspiration, which even in the interest of the empire it would be wiser of England to help Scotland preserve… Surely a man who can use the word ‘British’ at one end of his sentence could learn without much difficulty to use it also at the other. It is worth remembering, further, that public men when they come to Scotland and find the reception that awaits them when they begin before a Scottish audience to speak about national interests as ‘English,’ are found quite able on their return – or even in their next speech in Scotland – to use the proper terms. Lord Palmerston never forgot the wholesome lesson taught him when he came to Glasgow first and spoke of Scotland as ‘that part of England north of the Tweed.’ Those who think that Scotchmen are indifferent on this question should have seen that sight. But Palmerston knew the value of national feeling and honest pride in one’s fatherland; and when he returned he not only spoke of ‘Britain’ and ‘the British,’ where formerly he said ‘England’ and ‘English,’ but he applauded the Scottish people for ‘treasuring up in their hearts the honourable and glorious traditions of their country… – I am, &c.,


– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Friday 20th October, 1882.


   The monthly meeting of the Dundee School Board was held yesterday – Provost Moncur presiding. There were also present – Revs. Dr Grant, Dean Nicolson, Messrs Dunlop, Legge, Troup, Inglis, Macrae, Hamilton, Clapperton, and Holder, Bailies Hunter and Doig, Messrs Smith and Macdonald. 


   Mr MACRAE then moved the adoption of the following motion:- 

   ‘That the Board regrets to find in so many of the school histories submitted for its inspection, even those issued by Scottish publishers, that the terms ‘England’ and ‘English’ are so often used, as if they were proper equivalents for the terms ‘Britain’ and ‘British;’ that the Board appoints a Committee to correspond on this subject with the publishers especially of the books used in its own schools, and to confer with the teachers under the Board as to the best means of having this objectionable and blundering misuse of our national names corrected.’ 

   Mr Macrae, in supporting the motion, said that English people were slow to understand why the Scottish people should object to Britain being spoken of as ‘England.’ Yet none would be quicker than English people to resent this very treatment if applied to themselves. If circumstances were reversed, and England and the rest of the empire were being called not ‘Britain’ but ‘Scotland;’ the Government called ‘the Scottish Government;’ the army ‘the Scottish army,’ and so on, none would be quicker to protest than the English. And rightly too. They would understand then that it is no trifling thing for a nation to be robbed of a glorious name and a glorious history. Under the name of ‘Britain,’ England comes as well as Scotland, with all her noble history and inspiring tradition. This would be lost to England under the name of ‘Scotland;’ and Scottish history with all its inspiration is lost under the name of ‘England.’ Thoughtless people cried down the question as a mere matter of sentiment. But sentiment is a powerful force; and no man who knows anything of human nature would disregard it, or overlook the importance of enlisting it on the side of loyalty and against disloyalty and discontent. Some people said Irish disloyalty now-a-days was mere sentiment; but it required 30,000 bayonets to keep that sentiment from bursting out into civil war. Scotland is different from Ireland. But Scottish loyalty will perceptibly cool if the name of ‘Britain,’ in which Scotland has her historic place, is to be set aside, and ‘England’ substituted. We owe no loyalty to England, and never did. Our loyalty is due solely to the British Crown and the British Government. But the question was not one of mere sentiment. It was one of the rights guaranteed in the Treaty of Union between the two countries – the very first article in which set forth that the United Kingdom was to be called not England or Scotland, but Great Britain. In face of this, the united name was being set aside, and ‘England’ substituted. Here it was even in the histories issued by Scottish publishers, and was being introduced into their schools in Dundee. ‘The History of Scotland’ ended as was proper enough with the Union, but instead of the history of the United Kingdom beginning, it was thereafter the ‘History of England,’ with Scotland taken in. The lion and the lamb had lain down together, but the lamb was inside of the lion. (Great laughter.) The British throne was ‘the English throne,’ Gladstone, ‘the Prime Minister of England,’ and so on. When action against this practice was proposed some said it was no use fighting against what was now a custom. But if the custom was a bad one, they were there for the very purpose of fighting against it. And it had become the custom just because so many Scottish newspapers, and Scottish M.P.s, and Scottish publishers, and public Boards like their own conformed to it, or at least allowed their national rights to be taken from them without even a protest. It was the Scottish people themselves, not the English that were to blame. England would not trouble herself if the defrauded parties made no complaint. Had Ireland rested content with English landlordism there never would have been a Land Act. Had Scotland been content six hundred years ago to be counted a part of England there never would have been a Scottish name or a Scottish nation. But some said, ‘We may call the empire “British,” but we have still to use the English language.’ But using the English language did not turn Scotchmen into Englishmen. The Americans used the English language, so did the negroes in the Southern States, but that did not make them Englishmen. The Belgians spoke French, but that did not make them French people. The Swiss spoke French, but that did not turn Switzerland into a part of France. Still it was said, ‘You have to put up with an anomaly.’ British people speak the English language.’ But the practice condemned by the motion, instead of doing away with the anomaly, increased it a hundred fold. ‘Britain’ and ‘British’ are the terms used in all official documents, even when M.P.s and newspapers used ‘England’ and ‘English’ in speaking of them. People may speak of ‘English’ money, but every coin contradicts the error, stamped as it is with the name, not of England, but of Britain. In the histories before them, this use of ‘England’ for Britain led to the most absurd anomalies. Mr Macrae then quoted numerous passages in illustration, in which the terms ‘British’ and ‘English’ were absurdly mixed up – the ‘English troops’ of one sentence, re-appearing as ‘British infantry’ in the next, and so on. But some said, ‘Britain still leaves out Ireland.’ But so did ‘England;’ and ‘England’ leaves out Scotland also. It was an odd way of excusing one injustice to add it to another. Besides, ‘Britain’ was a term applying naturally to Ireland, in ways that ‘England’ did not. The Irish etymologically had a better right to be called British than either the English or the lowland Scotch. Ireland had also, as well as England and Scotland, her place in the expression, ‘The British Islands.’ If Ireland could not be included in Britain, still less could she be included in ‘England,’ which was but a part of Britain, unless a part could contain more than the whole. As for Irish feeling, if Ireland objected to be called a part of Britain, she would object ten times more to be called a part of ‘England,’ the name of England recalling what ‘Britain’ did not, hateful memories of conquest and centuries of misrule and oppression. Any argument therefore against counting Ireland into ‘Britain’ applied with redoubled force against counting it into ‘England.’ Mr Macrae hope the Board would adopt his motion. If it hung back it would, in his opinion, fail in its duty, both as a School Board which ought not to sanction historical blunders in its books, and as a Scottish Board which should refuse to assist in this perversion of Scottish history.” 

– Dundee Courier, Tuesday 8th January, 1884.


   The injustice to Scotland which was wont to be declaimed against by the late Mr Burns of Glasgow, and which recently formed the subject of some pungent comments from Mr Douglas Campbell, one of our London correspondents, has been taken up in a brief, but terse and pointed pamphlet, by the Rev. David Macrae of Dundee. The monopolising spirit of Cockneydom invariably substituted ‘England’ for ‘Britain.’ In the Press and on the Platform the former term is constantly employed in direct antagonism to the Treaty of Union, which stipulated that England and Scotland should thenceforth be called ‘Great Britain.’ Is it argued that Ireland is not included in the term ‘Britain?’ True; but, as Mr Macrae justly contends, it would surely be less offensive to Ireland to use the larger than the smaller term. The confusion which results from the habit of setting aside ‘Britain’ for ‘England’ is forcibly illustrated by numerous quotations by Mr Macrae from current literature. In reference to a recently-published School History he says:- 

   The Union is recorded in the middle of the book as if it were a mere incident in the history of England – which remains England with Scotland taken in. The lion and the lamb lie down together, but the lamb is inside of the lion. The absurdity of the thing is all the greater that the book records the fact that the two kingdoms were united into one ‘under the name of “Great Britain.” ’ Yet the very name which it says they were united under is forthwith set aside, and the name of ‘England’ used, almost continually, instead. The British throne is called the ‘English throne’; the British fleet is the ‘English fleet’; the war between Britain and the United States in 1812 is described as a war ‘between the States and England.’ In the battle of Waterloo we hear only of ‘English soldiers’; and in the Afghan war the troops are ‘English troops,’ and the army the ‘English army.’ It was not the British and French that fought side by side in the Crimean war, but, according to this History, ‘the English and French.’ The settlement of the Alabama claim is described as an event ‘unique in English history,’ and Mr Gladstone is not the British Premier, but the ‘Prime Minister of England.’ And this outrage on our national name and history – this practical turning of Scotland into a mere county or district of England – is found in histories issued by Scottish publishers for use in Scottish schools. 

   This question, as our author thus shows, is not one of mere sentiment: it is one of historical accuracy and justice. It is not always easy, perhaps, for Scotch newspapers, in view of the prevailing custom in the English Press, to keep their columns free from the circumscribed term when the whole kingdom is meant; but a protest so admirably put, as Mr Macrae has put it, must have no little influence in correcting the mistake. The pamphlet which sells at a penny may be had at the Fife Herald warehouse.” 

– Fife Herald, Wednesday 30th July, 1884.


   A public meeting was held last night in the Kinnaird Hall, Dundee, ‘to protest against the misuse of national names.’ There was a large attendance, the hall and galleries being filled… 

   In his note Mr Thornton said – ‘I am heart and soul with you in the object of the meeting. It may be true enough that a rose would smell as sweet by any other name; yet nobody would like its name changed. Names are not small things. The Athenians were Greeks, but they were first of all Athenians. In this island of ours there is ample room for a healthy Scotch nationality combining with, without being supplanted by, the nationality of England. Hence the imperial name Britain. Being a Scotchman first of all, I prefer to admire Englishmen rather than to be included in the name.’ (Applause.) Mr Macrae then said they had met to protest against the growing practice of using the terms ‘England’ and ‘English’ instead of ‘Britain’ and ‘British’ – to protest against it as an outrage on their national honour and self-respect, and also as a direct violation of the Treaty of Union with England. (Applause.) They were continually hearing of the English Parliament – which had never had any existence since the Union; of the English army – which existed in the days of Bannockburn – (laughter) – of the English fleet, the English Premier, the English Government, England’s policy, and so forth, as if Scotland were a mere English county, and Ireland were not worth speaking of at all. (Laughter.) After the battles in Egypt, where the Scotch and Irish regiments had the heaviest part of the fighting, the General in command complimented the troops on maintaining the honour of England. Had there been defeats, he supposed they would have been styled ‘British defeats.’ (Laughter.) Many of those who wrote so glibly of the English policy, the English Government, the English army, the English Empire, and so forth, might not be aware of the mischief they were doing, but they were doing it; while many must be aware that they were irritating Scottish feeling and violating the Treaty of Union. Their object seemed to be to have Scotland regarded as a mere dependency of England. (A Voice – We will not allow it.) He was sure they would not allow it. (Applause.) Had Scotland been content 600 years ago to be counted a part of England there would never have been a Wallace, a Bruce, a Bannockburn, a Scottish name, or a Scottish nation. (Hear, hear.) It was surely time this cowardly and weak acquiescence should come to an end, and he appealed to the electors to take advantage of the opportunity at the forthcoming general election to let the candidates know that they must be loyal to their country, and not speak of Scotland as a part of England. (Applause.) 

   … The grievance was of comparatively recent origin. He did not know how it began, but supposed that in the course of a speech some English member of Parliament, after a dinner not carried out on Blue Ribbon principles, had been unable to articulate ‘Britain,’ and used the term ‘England’ instead. (Laughter.) It was a curious fact that alcohol had a detrimental effect on the powers of speech, and the first letter of the alphabet which disappeared was generally the letter ‘t,’ so that ‘British’ became ‘Brish.’ (Laughter.) Whether that was the origin of the custom or not, they knew that of late years it had been growing and extending in the most deplorable way, and it became them to do what they could to check and if possible to abolish it. (Applause.) If they changed the name of the country they destroyed the unity, weakened the loyalty, and tampered with the spirit wherein consisted the real strength and wealth of nations. (Applause.) It was more than a mere name for which they were contending; it was more than a vague sentiment for which they were doing battle. It was a great reality, and one which would make itself felt more and more if this wrong went on as it had been doing. But he was not without hope that the crusade which had been inaugurated would in the end be crowned with success, and that the odious custom would disappear even more rapidly than it had appeared. (Applause.)” 

– Dundee Advertiser, Wednesday 6th May, 1885.


   Rev. Mr Macrae, Dundee, having been invited to London to take part in to-day’s Hyde Park Demonstration, says in his reply that had it been possible for him to attend he would have urged in connection with proposed legislation that the attention of the English people should be called to the unfavourable position in which they allow the working people and the poor to stand in relation to the help of the law, as compared with what we have in Scotland. He points out that here the public prosecutor is always at hand to deal with crimes in the public interest and without expense to the parties who have suffered. In England, on the contrary, where these private parties have themselves to institute proceedings, the expense and risk are so serious that multitudes of people, especially if poor, are terrified to appeal to the law, and so the scoundrels who have perpetrated their crimes escape. He points out further that under a Scottish system, as soon as the public prosecutor takes action, the case is out of private hands; no private compromises to withdraw it or hush it up are permissible. The law proceeds on the sound principle that a crime is not only an injury to the individual, but an injury to society. It, therefore, in the public interest, proceeds with the case, and, in spite of any backdoor attempts to hush it up, brings the criminal to justice. Mr Macrae thinks England might take a valuable lesson from Scotland at this point. 

   Referring in a postscript to the proposed ‘appeal to the people of England’ in connection with this movement, Mr Macrae says:- If it is meant to include Scotland and Ireland, it should be remembered that the use of the terms ‘England’ and ‘English,’ instead of ‘Britain’ and ‘British,’ is a violation of the Treaty of Union, and he thinks it would be a sad blot upon a movement which solemnly appeals to law, and seeks to protect the innocent from outrage, if it proceeded itself, by the language it used, to violate the feelings and the rights of a sister nation, in face of a solemn international compact and pledge of honour. He suggests that the appeal should be an appeal to the British people, and says that the great principles it sets forth need to be urged on the attention of the people in Scotland and Ireland quite as much as in England.” 

– Dundee Courier, Saturday 22nd August, 1885.





   Having met the Rev. David Macrae, of Dundee, during his recent visit to Glasgow, and had a conversation with him about his views on Home Rule and Scottish nationality, and having corresponded with him since, we append the remarks which bring out his general position on this question:-


   ‘Yes, I have been speaking a good deal of late about Scottish nationality,’ Mr. Macrae said, ‘and I wish others would do the same. I wish the papers would take it up. They should fight the battle for Scotland. That, for instance,’ said Mr. Macrae, pointing to the title-page of The Scottish News, ‘I consider a change in the right direction. I am on the other side politically, but that is a recognition of our nationality which I heartily welcomed.’ 

   ‘I attach great importance to the use of “Britain” and “British” instead of “England” and “English,” and with good reason. If that point be surrendered, the whole position of Scotland is weakened. Why should it be surrendered? It is only the assertion of a truth. England is not Britain; it is only a part of it. This fashion of calling the United Kingdom “England,” as if Scotland were a mere English county, is a falsification of history. In English people it is dishonourable as well as inaccurate. It is a violation of the Treaty of Union. The Treaty stipulates as the very first condition of Union, that the United Kingdom shall be called – not England – but Great Britain. Scotland would never have consented to union but for that, and the English public are therefore doing us a wrong, and violating their own solemn pledge when they use “England” for “Britain,” and speak of the Government, or the Empire, or the Parliament, or Imperial affairs, as ”English.” We hear a great deal about the “Constitutional Party.” That party at this point is the most unconstitutional party that exists. There was Salisbury – the leader of it. When Prime Minister lately, he made the Queen in her speech, speak of “England” instead of “Britain,” in violation of the Constitution. I call that treason; and Salisbury made the Queen a party to it. Yet he talks about loyalty to the Constitution.’ 

   To the suggestion that the English people do not understand why there should be any feeling about the mere name, Mr. Macrae said –  

   ‘Don’t they? Just you try. Go and call an Englishman an Irishman! You will soon find that no man on earth is quicker than an Englishman to understand what there is in a name when it touches his own vanity or self-respect. He expects us Scotch people to be content to be called an Irishman? A Scotchman is quite as proud of his nationality as an Englishman is, and with quite as much reason. This English disregard of every national sentiment except their own is a stupendous blunder on the part of the English people.’


   ‘Yes, I think the whole policy of disregarding national sentiment has done immeasurable harm. Our difficulty with Ireland is no mere difficulty about bad laws – though some of the laws are bad enough. Ireland is not exceptional in that. We have bad laws here, and bad laws in England too. The deepest root of our difficulty in Ireland is that Irish national sentiment has been persistently irritated and outraged for generations, turning the Irish people both at home and abroad into enemies when they might have been made our friends.’ 

   ‘Certainly, I am in favour of Home Rule for Ireland and for Scotland too. I admit that the Irish people are hostile to us, but it would be folly to refuse them more power, and thus make them more hostile to us than ever.


   in itself. The English fashion of treating the smaller nationalities is creating a necessity for it; for Ireland it has become indispensable, and the only hope of disarming Irish hostility is by showing the Irish people that we are growing wiser and kindlier – that we are prepared to grant their rights and do our best to atone for the errors and cruelties of the past.’ 

   ‘Yes, I do think Ireland would respond if the Orange faction will permit her. She will do it even for her own interest. As soon as she is made responsible for her own government, she will not only see the necessity of proving the capacity for self-government, but see the immense importance of cultivating friendly relations with England and Scotland.’


   ‘What will the Protestants in Ireland do if Home Rule be granted?’ repeated Mr. Macrae. ‘Why, if they are people of sense they will do their duty – they will do what they can to make Ireland prosperous. They will lay aside their religious animosity, which is quite as bad in a Protestant as in a Catholic, and join with the rest of the Irish people in promoting order and peace and progress. If Mr. Parnell, who is a Protestant, can work so harmoniously with the Catholic members of the Irish people, why should not the Ulster Protestants be able to work harmoniously with the Ulster Catholics and the Irish people generally? There isn’t a finer race of people in the world than the Scotch-Irish of Ulster – if they would only turn Orangeism into Christianity, and do by the Catholics as they would like the Catholics to do by them.’


   ‘What would Scotland gain by Home Rule? She would be able to deal for herself with Scottish questions, and with larger questions on which she is ahead of England – such, for example, as education, the liquor question, the Church question, and the land question. If we had Home Rule in Scotland, the Crofters Bill would not have been the abortion it is; and we should not see our Highlands turned into mere sporting ground for Mr. Winans and a few idle aristocrats. For another thing, we should be saved the endless trouble, annoyance, and expense of having to carry all our Scottish Parliamentary business up to London, when we want the money at home, and would manage the business itself more easily and better.’


   ‘Yes, I would be for a Federal system. I don’t believe in anything else for Ireland either. I don’t see how Mr. Gladstone’s plan of excluding the Irish representatives from the Imperial Parliament would work, except as a mere temporary expedient. It would be in one sense a calamity if it did work; for we want not separation, but a better, and truer, and wider union. I would have Home Rule for England and Wales, as well as for Ireland and Scotland; and I would have all these nationalities represented in an Imperial Parliament – “British,” not “English” – and I would have this general Parliament meet somewhere else than in London, to escape the disturbing influence of that stupendous mass of provincialism.’


   ‘I admit,’ continues Mr. Macrae, ‘that would be a startling change, but it would be a wise one, and it would only be doing in this country what was done so wisely in the United States, where Congress is kept away from huge cities like New York or Philadelphia or Chicago, and meets in Washington – in a district reserved for the purpose – a district not even included in any one State.’


   ‘Certainly, I would include the Colonies in the Federal system, and India and Canada and Australia should be represented in the Imperial or general Parliament.’ 

   ‘No, I do not think such a system would be inconsistent with the Monarchy. I don’t see why it shouldn’t work sufficiently well either with a Monarchy or a Republic. But we needn’t trouble about that. Happily, it would not need a revolution now to turn this Empire into a Republic should that form be found best. We have the substance of Republicanism here already.’ ”

– Glasgow Evening Post, Tuesday 4th May, 1886.

   “SYMPATHY WITH IRELAND. – Last night a crowded meeting of the Rev. David Macrae’s congregation was held in the Kinnaird Hall, Dundee – Mr Macrae in the chair – at which the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:- 

  1. That this meeting of Scottish people denounces the policy which the present Government is pursuing in Ireland, as iniquitous and cruel in itself, and fitted to cause riot and outrage, by irritating beyond the limit of endurance the feelings of a high-spirited people.

  2. That this meeting desires to express its heartfelt sympathy with the Irish nation in its present struggle for its national rights, and hopes that in spite of provocation it will move steadily on within the lines of constitutional agitation to the triumph which seems now drawing near.

  3. That this meeting desires to express the warm sympathy with the aims of the Highland Land Law Reform and the Scottish Home Rule conferences now being held at Oban, and its hope that Highlands and Lowlands may stand shoulder to shoulder in seeking the reform of unjust and oppressive laws, and the vindication of Scotland’s right to the management of her own affairs.

  4. That this meeting desires to thank Dr Clark, M.P. for Caithness, and Mr Hunter, M.P. for West Aberdeen, for calling attention in Parliament to the conduct of the present Government in permitting a treaty with China to be negotiated under the name of ‘England’ instead of ‘Britain,’ in direct violation of the Treaties of Union between England and Scotland and between Great Britain and Ireland.

   After the resolutions were carried, a number of Highland airs were rendered by a band under the leadership of Mr McPherson, and national songs were sung by Misses Kidd and Wighton and Mr John Stevenson. Votes of thanks brought the meeting to a close.” 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Friday 16th September, 1887.


   In the Waterloo Rooms, Glasgow, last night, the Rev. David Macrae, Dundee, delivered an address under the auspices of the Glasgow Junior Liberal Association, his subject being ‘Home Rule and Scottish Rights.’ There was a large attendance. Mr William Jacks, ex-M.P. for Leith, occupied the chair. The Chairman said he believed that a measure of Home Rule for Scotland could be brought forward, which would be not only practicable, but consistent with retaining our full representation in the Imperial House of Parliament, and consistent also with making the voice of Scotland, as of yore, powerful in influencing the destinies of the Empire. (Applause.) 

   The Rev. Mr Macrae said there were some people who thought ministers should not interfere in politics. They were to be quite free to deal with sinners of Bible times, but not with those in the present day. They must not say a word about those who turned pasture land into wilderness for sport, and drove the landless people into acts of violence to keep themselves, their wives, and their little ones from starvation. If that was their religion, they needed another; if that was Christianity, they needed to have Christianity born again into the spirit of Christ. (Applause.) These were times, it seemed to him, when every man, whether minister or beadle, needed to be a politician. Perhaps no nation of its size had more reason to be proud of its nationality than Scotland had. (Applause.) After emphatically protesting against the use in State of documents, school books, and public speeches, of the words England and English, where Britain and British should be used, as stipulated in the Treaty of Union, Mr Macrae said the maintenance of the Imperial names was indispensable to the maintenance of national honour and national rights. He strongly advocated Home Rule for Scotland. If Scotland had been managing her own affairs we should not have seen half of the Highlands turned into deer forests. We should not have seen three hundred square miles of country locked up for one man’s sport, while the hardy population were forced to the verge of starvation, or driven out of the country, because, forsooth, there was no room for them there. If Scotland had been managing her own affairs, there never would have been a crofter and cottar question such as they had before them at present, or the question, had it arisen, would have been settled long since with regard more to justice and humanity than they were likely to see in its settlement under existing circumstances. (Applause.) Referring to Ireland, he pointed out the injustices to which that country had been subjected by the British Government in the past, and expressed the hope that Home Rule would ere long be established in that country. (Applause.) 

   Resolutions were passed expressing the opinion that a Legislature should be established, sitting in Scotland, with full control over all purely Scotch questions, and with an Executive Government responsible to it and the Crown; resenting as a direct violation of the Treaty of Union and an outrage on Scottish national sentiment the growing practice of using the terms England and English instead of Britain and British; and appealing to all who desire to foster the principle of British unity and brotherhood to make an immediate and resolute stand against this mischievous attempt to Anglicise the United Kingdom, and treat the other nationalities as mere provinces or dependencies of England.” 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Thursday 15th December, 1887.



   A ‘Scottish Night’ was held in the Gilfillan Memorial last night, when a resolution was submitted for transmission to the German Emperor, thanking him for his recent practical recognition of Scottish right. There was a large attendance, and Rev. David Macrae occupied the chair. 

   The CHAIRMAN said the misuse of the terms ‘England’ and ‘English’ as synonyms for ‘Britain’ and ‘British’ was not only a falsification of history, but an insult to Scotland, and a constant source of irritation to Scottish people at home and abroad. (Applause.) He hoped the action of the Emperor of Germany would draw more public attention to the vital distinction between the British Empire and the portion of it which properly bears the name of ‘England,’ and help to rectify the present mischievous error, not only on the Continent, but in England itself, where it prevailed, he believed, more from ignorance and thoughtlessness than from intentional injustice or from deliberate and therefore dishonourable violation of international obligation. (Applause.) 

   Mr PETER MATTHEW then said it would be uncourteous on the part of the Scottish people if they were to allow what the German Emperor had done to pass unrecognised. (Applause.) He moved the following resolution:- 

   The public press of this country having reported, on the authority of the Imperial Military Gazette, and Imperial order of December 17 directing that the First Regiment of Dragoons of the Guard, hitherto called ‘The Queen of England’s Regiment,’ shall in future bear the title of ‘The Queen of Great Britain and Ireland’s Regiment,’ this public meeting desires to convey to your Imperial Majesty an expression of the great satisfaction with which, as Scottish people, we have heard of this step. 

   The practice of using the terms ‘England’ and ‘English’ instead of ‘Britain’ and ‘British’ is not only historically inaccurate, but is on the part of the English people a violation both of the Treaty of Union between England and Scotland, and the subsequent Treaty of Union between Great Britain and Ireland. In the former it is expressly stipulated as a condition of union that the United Kingdom is to be called, not England, but Great Britain, and in the subsequent treaty it is stipulated that the enlarged State so constituted was to be called, not ‘England,’ but the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.’ The adjective used in that treaty to cover all the included Kingdoms and dependencies is uniformly ‘British.’ The common practice of substituting the term ‘English’ is therefore historically inaccurate, and is naturally resented by the Scottish nation as affecting both its honour and its historical position. It is with profound satisfaction that we, as Scotchmen, hear of the step taken by your Imperial Majesty in rectifying the title of the regiment referred to, and calling attention in this way to the important question involved. 

   The meeting trusts that your Imperial Majesty will graciously accept this message of thanks, along with a warm expression of respect for your Majesty, and desire for continued increasing prosperity of the great Empire over which your Majesty reigns, and that peace and concord between the nations be maintained and developed. 

   Ex-Bailie Philip seconded, and the resolution, which is to be forwarded to the German Ambassador in London for transmission to the Emperor, was unanimously adopted. 

   During the evening Scottish selections were rendered by an instrumental band, and several ladies treated the audience to Scottish song.” 

– Dundee Courier, Friday 10th January, 1890.


   At Wednesday night’s ‘Social’ in the Gilfillan Memorial, Mr Macrae lectured before a large audience on ‘Scottish National Rights.’ As Scotchmen, he said, they were proud of their nationality, and with good reason. Froude had declared that three small nations had made deep marks in the fields of time – Judea, Greece, and Scotland. Scotland had done good work in the world; and her history was a fountain of perpetual inspiration to her children both at home and abroad. There was nothing selfish about her patriotism. It carried with it a sense of responsibility and fraternity. Love of home was a nursery for the larger sentiment of patriotism, and patriotism was a nursery for the still larger sentiment of international fraternity and the brotherhood of man. If Scotland sacrificed her national life and her sense of national honour and self-respect, she would be less worthy of the respect of other nations. He wished to call attention to two things that were inflicting deadly injury on that national life, and that needed to be resolutely and strenuously fought against. One was the evil of centralisation; the other was the practice of submitting to have Scotland spoken of as part of England, thus surrendering at one stroke Scotland’s claim to national existence, and therefore to national rights. Speaking on this point, he said that names were vital things. They were the landmarks and fingerposts of history. Why had Scotland made it an indispensable condition to union with England that the united name should be – not England, but ‘Great Britain?’ Why did she postpone the union until England accepted this condition? Because it enshrined a great historic truth, and put England’s seal to the fact that after centuries of conflict Scotland remained unconquered, and entered the union a free and independent nation to form along with England a still larger nationality under the name of Great Britain… Encouraged by the cowardly acquiescence of the Scottish members of Parliament, the Government had introduced the name of ‘England’ into the New Hebrides and Burmah Treaties, instead of the term required by the treaties of union between England and Scotland, and between Great Britain and Ireland. It was high time that Scotland looked to her rights.” 

– Dundee Evening Telegraph, Thursday 2nd October, 1890.


The Rev. DAVID MACRAE moved the following resolution:-

   Names and words, he remarked, were the symbols of things, and to misname was to confuse, mislead, and falsify. They objected to have Scotland included in the term ‘England,’ as if it were a mere English County, because the name falsified their position. Scotland was not a part of England – no more a part of England than a part of Ireland. (Applause.) They objected to be spoken of as Englishmen, because they were not Englishmen, but Scotchmen. They spoke English, they used the English language, but that no more made English people of them than the wearing of Scotch tweeds or the drinking of Scotch whisky turned an Englishman into a Scotchman. (Laughter and applause.) It was not a question of whether it was better to be an Englishman or a Scotchman, but a question of what they were. (Hear, hear.)” 

– Dundee People’s Journal, Saturday 20th August, 1892.



   SIR, – More than 100,000 Scottish people of all ranks and classes, including several of the nobility, over 600 Provosts and Town Councillors, and upwards of 50 Members of Parliament, including the Members for the Scottish Universities, have now signed the Scottish People’s Petition to the Queen protesting against the misuse of our national names, such as is found even in official documents, in direct and flagrant violation of the Treaty of Union. It is a monster petition, more than three-quarters of a mile in length. As the time for closing it has now come, it is earnestly requested that all who have petition sheets in hand return them without delay to the hon. secretary, Mr Theodore Napier, 25 Merchiston Park, Edinburgh. They can be returned with such signatures as they already have. Better still, they can first be filled by a few hours of energetic work and then sent in. All who desire the maintenance of Scottish rights and Scottish honour are glad to sign when the opportunity is given them. To those who read this letter I would earnestly say – ‘Do not let your name be absent from this historic document.’ – I am, &c., 


– Dundee Courier, Friday 12th November, 1897.