Version classiqueVersion mobile

Scotland and the Scots, 1707-2007

 | 
Christian Auer

XVI. Religion and Sectarianism

109. Address to the Opening of the Scottish National War Memorial, 1927

Texte intégral

1After World War I numerous monuments were erected all over Scotland to celebrate the heroism and courage of the Scottish regiments. The Presbyterian churches played a significant part in the process of commemoration and remembrance. The following is the beginning of the speech delivered by the reverend Charles Warr of St Giles in Edinburgh on 14 July 1927 at the opening of the Scottish National War Memorial.

2Charles Laing Warr, Scottish Sermons and Addresses, London: Hodder, 1930, p. 84-86.

Fellow-citizens of Edinburgh, and fellow-countrymen! That which now we are about to do is not local to this city but national in its significance. It is our privilege to be participants in a signal episode in Scotland’s history. Surely none is present here whose heart is not filled by an emotion whose depth no words could fitly convey. There are times, and this indeed is one of them, when human speech is of little avail, and we are driven to seek for adequacy in the silent but eloquent language of the soul.

  • 4 Edinburgh castle.

To this giant crag4, this home and nursery of Scottish kings, whose austere brow the vanished centuries have crowned with proud heroic memories, we have come from every part of Scotland to take our share in the consecration of a noble emblem. Within these bastions which throughout the ages have looked upon so much of the pageantry of our race, the Scottish National War Memorial will proclaim to the future the glory of the sons and daughters of our own generation.

In the Great War of the nations they went forth at the call of duty. Comfort, ease, ambition they forswore. The visions and the dreams of youth they quietly surrendered. They counted not their life dear unto them, and were faithful unto death. From the hills of the north, from the isles of the west, from the straths of the lowlands, and from across the seas they came responsive to their Mother’s cry. Scotland’s children were they, selfless and reliable as their country knew that they would be in the gravest hour of the Empire’s need. Because they came, and because they died, liberty has still her dwelling-place among us and tills our glens and mountains with the music of her holy songs.

We, who through the clemency of divine Providence, and by our brethren’s sacrifice, have been brought in peace and safety to this hour, have long cherished a pious and loving desire. It has been our earnest wish, and to-day we see it realised, to commemorate their names in the heart of Scotland. There could be no site more appropriate than this from the Pentland Firth to the shores of the Solway whereon to perpetuate their memory.

  • 5 Iona, a small island in the southern Inner Hebrides of Scotland, was an early centre of Celtic Chr (...)
  • 6 The Battle of Bannockburn (24th June 1314) was a crucial victory for the Scots in the Wars of Inde (...)
  • 7 The Battle of Flodden (9 September 1513) was fought in the county of Northumberland, between the S (...)
  • 8 See text 9.

The factors that contribute to the creation of that elusive thing called nationality are many. Forces geographical, linguistic, racial, economic, and religious come into play and weave their distinctive pattern. But the supreme essentials are more than these. They are a common history, the appreciation of triumphs shared and disasters and sufferings mutually endured, the possession of honoured names and historic personalities, of reverenced anniversaries, and, above all, or places that are sacred. Such places, and innumerable, this country has. For Scotsmen there stirs in Iona5 the throb of religious fervour; on Bannockburn6 there swells the pride of sturdy independence; on the slopes of Flodden7 patriotism rears its unconquerable but bloody head; on Culloden Moor8 there quivers an incommunicable sorrow and a yearning love. But the grim and castled rock of Edinburgh has especially gathered to and embodied in itself the patriotic enthusiasm of the Scottish people.

  • 9 Saint Edwin (c. 586-632), the King of Northumbria, converted to Christianity and was baptised in 6 (...)

Back in the shadows of unrecorded time lies the origin of this mighty fortress. What savage warrior first built his eyrie on those frowning heights? We wander uncertain in the mists of our earliest story, glimpsing perchance the skin-clothed tribesmen of some Pictish king lurking on the crest of this rocky fastness, or Edwin of Northumbria9 gazing from its ramparts. But certain we are that it is nine hundred years and more since the monarchs of Scotland first had their dwelling here.

If stones had speech, what tales these stones could tell! They would speak of […] captivity and escape, of assault and defence, of deeds of violence and deeds of valour, of parliaments and priests and kings, royal birth and death.

Where else save on this rock, the crown of Scotland’s capital, beautiful for situation, mantled in romance, central in Scottish history, familiar to the whole earth, could we have so fitly raised a monument to Scotland’s dead?

Notes

4 Edinburgh castle.

5 Iona, a small island in the southern Inner Hebrides of Scotland, was an early centre of Celtic Christianity.

6 The Battle of Bannockburn (24th June 1314) was a crucial victory for the Scots in the Wars of Independence (1296-1328).

7 The Battle of Flodden (9 September 1513) was fought in the county of Northumberland, between the Scottish army under King James IV and an English army commanded by the Earl of Surrey. It ended in a disastrous defeat for the Scots.

8 See text 9.

9 Saint Edwin (c. 586-632), the King of Northumbria, converted to Christianity and was baptised in 627. After his death, Edwin was regarded as a saint.

© Presses universitaires de Strasbourg, 2013

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540

Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search