Adventures and Exiles: The Great Scottish Exodus by Marjory Harper - review by Allan Massie

Allan Massie

25 Million and Counting

Adventures and Exiles: The Great Scottish Exodus


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Douglas Young, poet, Scottish Nationalist, and Professor of Greek at the University of St Andrews, used to maintain that there were around 25 million Scots in the world. That was almost half a century ago. So there may be more now. The number, probably never to be ascertained, depends of course on what you regard as the necessary qualifications. The Scottish Rugby Union last year made a Scot of a New Zealander whose grandmother had been born in Glasgow, and remained in Scotland till she was all of four. I myself have tried to claim Evelyn Waugh as a Scottish novelist, on the grounds that the two most distinguished of his great- great-grandfathers, the Rev. Alexander Waugh and Henry, Lord Cockburn, were undeniably Scots born and bred. It was a claim, advanced not entirely in jest, which did not convince the late lamented editor of this magazine. Yet I dare say Young might have included both Waughs in his 25 million.

Throughout history Scotland has been a poor country, and energetic young men have sought fortune, and sometimes fame, elsewhere. In the Middle Ages many went to France, as readers of Walter Scott’s splendid novel Quentin Durward will remember. Others made for the Low Countries, or Germany and the Hanseatic ports.

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