The Opprobrium of Their Origin

A woodcut depicting Saracens in Erhard Reuwich's Peregrinatio in Terram Sanctam, 1486.
A woodcut depicting Saracens in Erhard Reuwich’s Peregrinatio in Terram Sanctam, 1486.

This is the tribe which took its origin and had its name from Ishmael, the son of Abraham; and the ancients called them Ishmaelites after their progenitor. As their mother Hagar was a slave, they afterwards, to conceal the opprobrium of their origin, assumed the name of Saracens, as if they were descended from Sara, the wife of Abraham. Such being their origin, they practice circumcision like the Jews, refrain from the use of pork, and observe many other Jewish rites and customs. If, indeed, they deviate in any respect from the observances of that nation, it must be ascribed to the lapse of time, and to their intercourse with the neighbouring nations. Moses, who lived many centuries after Abraham, only legislated for those whom he led out of Egypt. The inhabitants of the neighboring countries, being strongly addicted to superstition, probably soon corrupted the laws imposed upon them by their forefather Ishmael. The ancient Hebrews had their community life under this law only, using therefore unwritten customs, before the Mosaic legislation. These people certainly served the same gods as the neighbouring nations, honouring and naming them similarly, so that by this likeness with their forefathers in religion, there is evidenced their departure from the laws of their forefathers. As is usual, in the lapse of time, their ancient customs fell into oblivion, and other practices gradually got the precedence among them.

Salminius Hermias Sozomenus, Ecclesiastical History, Book VI.

An Hardy and Intrepid Race of Men

John Slezer's engraving of Edinburgh Castle, c.1693 showing the Scottish Union Flag being flown above the Royal apartments.
John Slezer’s engraving of Edinburgh Castle c.1693, showing the Scottish Union Flag being flown above the Royal apartments.

SCOTLAND, considering its limited population and extent, has made a distinguished figure in History. No country, in modern times, has produced Characters more remarkable for learning, valour, or ability, or for knowledge in the most important arts both of peace and of War; and though the Natives of that formerly independent, and hitherto unconquered, kingdom have every reason to be proud of the name of Britons, which they have acquired since the Union in 1707, yet still they ought not to relinquish, on that account, all remembrance of the Martial Atchievements, the Characteristic Dress, or the Language, the Music, or the Customs of their Ancestors. If in all these respects they were to be completely assimilated to the English, Scotland would become in a manner blended with England, whilst its inhabitants at the same time could claim no peculiar merit, from old English valour, virtue, literature, or fame; whereas if they consider themselves not only as Britons, but as Scotchmen, there are many circumstances, connected with the more remote, and even the modern periods of their history, which they can recollect with enthusiasm, as the Songs of their Ancient Bards;– the Tales of their former times, when FINGAL conquered, and OSSIAN sung his praises,– their determined resistance to the Roman arms;– their reiterated victories over the Danes, who were formerly the terror of the North;– the renowned atchievements of a WALLACE, a DOUGLAS, and a BRUCE, and other heroes, in their contests with the English, the most warlike nation then existing;– their valour in the service of France, of Holland, and of other Powers;– the share they had in the immortal Victories of the great Gustavus;– the manner in which they have distinguished themselves in more recent times, as at Fontenoy, at Quebec, on the banks of the Ganges and of the Nile, and on so many other important occasions;– their contributing in so material a degree to the revival of Learning in Europe;– their having been the means of establishing some of the most famous Universities on the Continent;– the many celebrated Authors and Artists which Scotland has successively produced;– in short, in the words of a distinguished modern poet, the Scots may be accounted

… a manly race,
Of unsubmitting spirit, wise, and brave;
… thence of unequal bounds
Impatient, and by tempting glory borne
O’er every land,– for every land, their life
Has flow’d profuse, their piercing genius plann’d,
And swell’d the pomp of peace, their faithful toil.

Or if less partial authority be required, than the testimony of a Scottish Poet, let us recollect, that the celebrated Earl of Chatham, on the 11th of January, 1766, expressed himself in the British Senate, when the Military Services of the Scots were under discussion, in the following terms:

I sought for Merit wherever it was to be found. It is my boast that I was the first Minister who looked for it, and found it in the Mountains of the North! I called it forth, and drew into your service, an hardy and intrepid race of men! men who, when left by your jealousy, became a prey to the artifices of your enemies, and had gone nigh to have overturned the State in the war before the last. These men, in the last war, were brought to combat on your side; they served with fidelity, as they fought with valour, and conquered for you in every part of the world.

Perhaps the best mode by which the Scots may be enabled to keep up that National Spirit, which was formerly so conspicuous, that “fier comme un Ecossais,” became proverbial on the Continent, is occasionally to meet in that Garb, so celebrated as having been the dress of their Celtic Ancestors, and on such occasions, at least, to speak the emphatic Language, to listen to the delightful Music, to recite the Ancient Poetry, and to observe the peculiar customs of their country.

— An Account of the Highland Society of London, 1813.

Our Royall Prerogative

William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury.
William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury.


That you advert that the Proclamation authorizing their Service Book derogate nothing from our Royall prerogative. That in the Kalendar you keep such Catholick Saints as are in the English; that you pester it not with too many; but such as you insert of the peculiar Saints of that our Kingdom, that they be of the most approved; and here to have regard to those of the Blood Royall and such Holy Bishops in every See most renouned. But in no case ommitt Saint George and Patrick. That in your Book of Orders, in giving Orders to Presbiters, you keep the words of the English Book, without change, “Receive the Holy Ghost,” &c. That you insert in the Lessons ordinarly to be Read in the Service, out of ye Book of Wisdome, the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 Chapters; and out of the Book of Ecclesiasticus, the 1, 2, 5, 8, 35, and 49 Chapters. That every Bishop in his own family, twice a day, cause the Service to be done. That all A.Bishops and Bishops make all Universitys and Colledges within their Diocesses to use twice a day the Service. That the Preface to the Common Prayer, Signed by our hand, and the Proclamation authorizing the same, be Printed and inserted in the Book of Common Prayer.– Given at Newmarket, Oct. 8th, 1636, and of our Reigne the 11.

To Dress Out the Corse of the Anglican Religion

This very circumstance of the daily-increasing interest in Christian archaeology is abundantly significant, and full of happy augury. It reveals an improved state of the public mind, and leads to the hope of the dawn of better days. It is not only by word, but by fact, that our fellowmen in England, and in Scotland too, have begun to study some thing more than mere Christian antiquities, that they have begun to test the character of Christian aesthetics, that they are no longer content to view the outside of religion, but that they must penetrate within — that they are no longer satisfied with contemplating the old walls of our venerable cathedrals and ivy-covered abbeys, but that they are pushing their inquiries after the doctrines that were preached, and the sacraments that were administered, and the sacrifice that was immolated in the parish church, and the village chapel, during the glorious ages of the faith of our fathers.

But this is not all, for many of the clergy are taking another step decidedly in advance. They are endeavouring to model their religious services according to the full-blown Roman type. Urged on by the high tide of religious sentiment which has now set in, as well as by their own better feelings, they are cultivating religious art, to a marvellous extent. No longer can they endure the cold and vapid worship as by law established, which has completely lost its hold of pious minds; they must have something which is warm and animated, something which is imposing and attractive, some thing that shall touch the heart and impress the soul. No longer can they themselves endure to be regarded as mere state functionaries, as sheer stipendiaries of an institution founded not by the law of heaven, but by the law of the land. They must need rise up to a higher level, and stand upon a nobler platform; they must assert, but in vain, the prerogatives of Christian churchmen; they must declare, but to no purpose, that they are the “messengers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God!” No longer can they endure to be the butt of lay dictation, to be under the supervision of every Low-Church, Broad-Church, or rather, no-Church warden — to be controlled by the Court of Arches, and concussed by her Majesty’s Privy Council. They must proclaim — but it is all moonshine — the freedom of the gospel, and that they, forsooth, are the lineal successors of the apostles! Hence they must retrace their steps, but at imminent peril of being silenced, Romewards, and they must assimilate their services in accordance with the Roman model! They must adopt the rites of the Roman Ritual, introduce the feasts and fasts of the Roman Calendar, propound the doctrines of the Apostolic and Roman Church. They must describe all this religious acting and teaching, as primitive and Catholic, but not Roman — and they must protest against Romanism as well as against Protestantism! Hence they no longer can tolerate the negative designation, “Protestant;” they must, “per fas aut nefas,” be affirmative — they must be out-and-out Catholic. Catholics must be Romanists, or by courtesy, “Roman” Catholics! They must, therefore, in their lately-fledged zeal, be more Catholic than the Catholics themselves. They must outstrip the quiet old religionists of eighteen hundred years’ standing, and in this sensational age, they must create by their recently adopted rites, the most extra-ordinary sensation!

No longer are they therefore content with weekly, they must have daily services; they must have so many fast days and feast days, so many, and so varied, Ritualistic observances. They must have so multiform religious emblems at the Church door, and so diversified decorations on the church walls. They must have so many lamps burning in the sanctuary; so many candles lighted at the altar; so many celebrations during the morning; so imposing vesper services in the afternoon. They must have divers confessionals, with the names of the confessors emblazoned, due notice being given that confessions shall be heard on Fridays and Saturdays, as well as on the vigils of all Feasts. They must still have so many genuflections, despite the Court of Arches, and such profound prostrations, in defiance of the Privy Council. They must have fuming of the sweetest incense, and such ringing of the altar bell, and the vesper bell, and the angelus bell, and, doubtless, by-and-bye, of the curfew bell! They must have beautifully organized processions, headed by the cross-bearers, composed of guilds, and societies, and confraternities, and sisterhoods and brotherhoods, with banners aloft, and vocal and instrumental music, all which have utterly astounded “our own correspondents,” and taken the city of London by surprise, if not by a holy kind of violence!

Now it must in very truth be said, that those rites, however admirable — those religious demonstrations, however beautiful in themselves — nay desirable in public worship, when legitimately employed, are by no means congenial to the nature of the Anglican Establishment which repels them, moreover condemns them, by the law officials, and which declares that they who use them do so at their peril; and that they are guilty of a high crime and misdemeanour against the Church of England. For these Ritualistic ceremonials are altogether alien to the National Church, as they are unmeaning in that Church’s service; they are counterfeit imitations of the Catholic and Roman Ritual. They are not the current coin of the Anglican religious realm; they are not in “use and wont” in the various temples of their fellow religionists. They are no doubt so far successful endeavours in the aesthetic order, but they are transparent fallacies; they are nugatory efforts in the supernatural order, to dress out the corse of the Anglican religion, and to try to resuscitate the body, when the soul has fled; they are disingenuous devices in the mystical order, to employ those spasmodic influences by way of inducing the simple-minded to believe that there is after all some spark of life in that religious system, by law established, when in reality there is nothing but death and decomposition!

— J. Stewart M’Corry, D.D., The Monks of Iona; in Reply to “Iona, by the Duke of Argyll”; London (1871).

The Priceless Charms of Iona

Iona Abbey.
Iona Abbey.

Surely his Grace of Argyll ought to know, that the fascinations of Iona are by no manner of means attributable to the present ducal proprietor. They are by no means attributable to the climate, nor to the soil, nor to the rocks, nor to the neighbouring mountains; they are not attributable to modern architecture; they are not, therefore, attributable to any natural or artificial, but rather to a supernatural, nay, to a celestial agency! The priceless charms of Iona are to be ascribed to the incomparable genius of the Catholic religion, which his Grace of Argyll sets down as “mediæval superstition;” and the matchless treasures of Iona are to be ascribed to those devoted men, whose hearts throbbed with that heaven-born religion, and whose hands erected to God those beauteous structures which are, forsooth, “the monuments of the dull and often corrupt monotony of mediæval Romanism!”

J. Stewart M’Corry, D.D., The Monks of Iona; in Reply to “Iona, by the Duke of Argyll”; London (1871).

A Measure of Retaliation

The United States Capitol following the burning of Washington City on 24 August 1814, during the War of 1812, watercolour (restored) by George Munger (1781-1825), Library of Congress.
The United States Capitol following the burning of Washington City on 24 August 1814, during the War of 1812, watercolour (restored) by George Munger (1781-1825), Library of Congress.

…in consequence of the late disgraceful conduct of the American troops in the wanton destruction of private property on the north shores of Lake Erie, in order that if the war with the United States continues you may, should you judge it advisable, assist in inflicting that measure of retaliation which shall deter the enemy from a repetition of similar outrages.

Sir George Prévost, Governor General of The Canadas in a letter to Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, 2 June 1814.

I am most decidedly of opinion that the readiest way to attain this object is to bring home to the supporters of the Government which authorizes this unnatural system of warfare a full share of its dreadful calamities and to this end, I have issued to the commanding officer of H.M. blockading squadron an order, accompanied by a secret memorandum…

No. 1
By the Honorable Alexander Cochrane, K.B. &c, &c, &c.

Whereas… it appears that the American troops in Upper Canada have committed the most wanton and unjustifiable outrages on the unoffending inhabitants by burning their mills and houses, and by a general devastation of private property…

You are hereby required and directed to destroy and lay waste such towns and districts as you may find assailable. You will hold strictly in view the conduct of the American army towards His Majesty’s unoffending Canadian subjects and you will spare merely the lives of the unarmed inhabitants of the United States.

Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane to John Wilson Croker, the Secretary to the Admiralty, 14 June 1814.

Two hundred years ago today, on 24 August 1814, after defeating the Americans at the Battle of Bladensburg, a British force led by Major General Robert Ross occupied Washington City and set fire to many public buildings, including the Executive Mansion and the Capitol, as well as other facilities of the United States government. The attack was in part a retaliation to American actions in the Raid on Port Dover.

The Head of the Table

Ruins of Finlaggan Castle, former stronghold of the MacDonald Lords of the Isles, on Eilean Mór on Loch Finlaggan, Islay.
Ruins of Finlaggan Castle, former stronghold of the MacDonald Lords of the Isles, on Eilean Mór on Loch Finlaggan, Islay.

The Chief of the Macdonalds happening to be in Ireland, was invited to an entertainment given by the Lord-Lieutenant. He chanced to be among the last that came in, and set himself at the foot of the table near the door. The Lord-Lieutenant asked him to come and sit beside him, and Macdonald, who had no English, inquired “What the Carle said?” He bids you move towards the head of the table, was the answer. “Tell the Carle,” (replied the Chief indignant that the dinner had not been kept back till his arrival), “that wherever Macdonald sits, that is the ‘head of the table’.” An Account of the Highland Society of London, 1813.