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Napoleon Bonaparte. And when the Prussian king was crowned as Emperor, in the palace of Versailles, a new score was begun, which France is only too eager to wipe out again.
Union between the two races has often been tried on the continent of Europe, but never with decided success. The attempt has generally been like trying to unite fire and water. Charlemagne, King of the Franks, was also Emperor of Germany from the year 800 till his death in 814. But the wide dominion which yielded to his valour and genius, was again divided almost as soon as his master hand was taken away. Anyone who has read “Morley's Dutch Republic,” knows what was the result of the endeavours made by Philip the Second of Spain to hold the Teutons of Holland in the same leash with the Belgian Celts. That was a most striking instance of failure, for it was one in which the outside pressure was so tremendous that, if it had been possible to weld the two into one, the thing would have been done. The whole power of Spain was brought down upon William the Silent, Prince of Orange, and his faithful Hollanders—and Spain was a much greater Power in those days than she has ever been since then. Indeed, it may be said that the desperate effort that she made at that time to hold the Dutch in bondage was too much for her, and that she has not yet recovered from the effects of the struggle. During the present century again, the experiment has been tried of making a kindgon. of the Netherlands out of Holland and Belgium. The union lasted for about half a generation, and then the two ill-assorted partners separated, not to be united again, in our time at least. And the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 became the occasion of separating another connection of a somewhat similar kind. Alsace, a German province, with strictly German inhabitants, became a part of France in the time of Louis XIV., about two centuries earlier. France's difficulty became Germany's opportunity, and the Alsatians once more entered into the community of the German States, that were joined into a mighty empire under the veteran Kaiser William, the fame of whose army made all the world to ring.
Enough has been said on this point. We have spoken of the relations of the two races in foreign lands. It remains to be seen, and will perhaps be more interesting to know, how they have fared in our own country. Here we find that the course of events has been different, and that the difference has been for the most part to our advantage. Owing to our insular position, a coalition of Celts and Teutons in Great Britain was possible, and in process of time became an accomplished fact. Yet even here the rivalry was difficult to kill, and it retained its vitality for many ages, to the great loss of both races. We have a deeply rooted habit of thinking of our own nation as the greatest in the world. This is certainly pardonable, as we have good grounds for our belief. But we are apt also to think that this pre-eminence has been ours for an indefinite period, extending to remote antiquity, which is an error as ridiculous as it is gigantic. If we look back for three hundred years we find that England and Scotland were two separate nations that had, from the dawn of their history, been almost constantly at war with each other. Divided as they were, it was not possible for either of them to exercise much influence in the councils of Europe. Scotland had a kind of alliance with France for many years, partly, no doubt, owing to the Celtic element in the two nations, but chiefly due to the fact that England was the common enemy of both. This alliance may have been very profitable to France, but was not at all beneficial to the smaller country. It could never make up for the want of power that was caused by the constant jealousy and enmity that our ancestors cherished against their neighbours on the south of the Tweed.
In the year 1603 the two crowns were united, and James VI. became the sole monarch of Great Britain. But for the next hundred years things were worse than before. The union of the crowns did not bring with it a union of the people. Disunion bore its natural fruit, and England became a smaller power than she had ever been since the Norman conquest. It is only when we read history with attention that we see how low our standing as a nation was during the reigns of the Stuart dynasty. Spain, and France, and Holland, by turns swayed the destinies of the world, while we were exercised with contests between Cavaliers and Roundheads, or between Resolutioners and Protesters. Even at this distance of time it is with a sense of humiliation that we remember how the Dutch sent their fleet into the Thames, and threatened the liberty of the Metropolis, while Charles the Second was trifling his life away in the palace. We may be glad that the follies of those days gave place to something like earnestness of purpose in a succeeding age.
The fusion of races was a work of time, and till it was carried out there was little but violence and disorder to be recorded in our annals. It is interesting to notice how the two contending races at last came to be made one, and what happy results followed from the change. With the union of the crowns came a sense of power in the minds of the people. It is not to be supposed that the union alone brought this about, for there were other causes at work. During the second half of the sixteenth century an enormous advance had been made in learning and civilisation. The art of printing had made knowledge more easy of attainment than it had ever been before. And it is hardly necessary to do more than mention that the literature of the Elizabethan age will be famous so long as the English language is remembered. All this, of course, opened the eyes of the people to see their own power, to the existence of which they had in the past been strangely blinded. The Stuarts—most unwisely for themselves-tried to stem the current of public feeling. The result was civil war, followed by a series of revolutions. A king was beheaded, and it seemed as if the monarchy was overthrown for ever. A short term of republicanism was followed by the restoration of the royal house to power, a restoration which only paved the way for the great revolution of 1688. The throes and convulsions through which the nation passed while these events were taking place, had one good effect which compensates for all the evil which they did. The troubles of the seventeenth century made it impossible for Celts and Teutons to remain separate any longer. It was evident that national ruin was at the door unless national union were resorted to. That union came about in 1707, when the two Parliaments were made one, and the Scottish legislature in Edinburgh ceased to exist. The change was, to use words that have become famous, “the end of an auld sang."
But it was a great deal more than that, for it was the birth of a new nation, the greatest that the world has ever seen. To unite the Celts with the Teutons was a work that had often been tried in vain. The attempt failed on the Continent because on the Continent there was always plenty of elbow room. When one race was worsted by the other the vanquished people could simply move a little further away. There was plenty of natural houndaries of mountain ranges and mighty rivers that helped to keep up the separation. To this day, then, we see the French and Germans continuing, not at all to the credit either of their heads or their hearts, the feud of their ancestors of a thousand years ago. In our island circumstances were different. Here the bounds were narrow, and encircled by the adamantine wall of the ocean. Fusion was inevitable in “this precious stone set in the silver sea.” It was only a question of time, and that time came in the days of Queen Anne, when Britain first became the ruling power of the world. The splendid series of victories achieved by Marlborough, the first really great triumphs of our arms since Agincourt, in the middle ages, were only the precursors of still greater events in coming years. The British empire was not much longer to be confined to the old world, or to the lands that had felt the iron hand of Rome. Regions that Cæsar never knew, and where his eagles had never flown, were to be possessed by the descendants of the rude tribes of the North, whom he tried so hard to subdue. The valour of the one, with the steady perseverance of the other, made the united nation irresistible, and her people are now dominant in every quarter of the globe.
It is not to be forgotten, indeed, that a violent rupture took place last century between the North American colonies and the mother country. Nor is it at all unlikely that in process of time other colonies, both in the New World and at the Antipodes, may spring up into new nations. All this is part of the general law of nature, in virtue of which new life springs out of the old, and children grown to manhood cease to depend upon the parent. This should be no cause for serious regret, and it is certainly no cause for thinking that the Anglo-Saxon, or rather the AngloCeltic race, has begun to decline from its eminence. The right view to take is, that new nations springing from the old stock serve to carry the vigour and the enterprise of the races from which they have sprung, in a chain of increasing strength around the world. If it be the case, as perhaps it is, that this is not a statesmanlike opinion, it is also the case that statesmanship has often failed to see what has been apparent to common sense. The independence of the United States was for years a cause of grief to the people of the old country. It seemed like a breaking up of the established order of things, and a step towards ultimate ruin. It was certainly a misfortune that the division was made with such a wrench, and that we did not part on good terms with our kinsmen beyond the Atlantic. But after all, a few years of war, followed by an international misunderstanding for a generation or two, is but a small thing in the history of a world. Such events bulk largely in the annals of a reign, and in the memories of those in whose days they happen, but in the general progress of humanity they are but as pebbles in a stream. They cause a ripple for a little while and then the waters move onward, never stopping, never turning back till they reach at last the ocean.
Even so has been the progress of the races formed by the union of the Celts and Teutons. Troubles have befallen them, but out of the nettle of danger the flower of safety has been plucked. Not only has a great country grown out of the American Colonies, but the country that was left has grown more
powerful than it was before. The people of the United States, made up as they are from a happy combination of the two best tribes of the old world, have risen into a nation that'still continues to grow in strength, and which promises to maintain beyond the seas the fame of that from which it had its beginning. And as far as can be seen from the evidence of history, and the present course of events, the extension of the Anglo-Celtic race must go on till the language of Britain becomes the universal language, and British civilisation rules mankind.
4th DECEMBER, 1889. The following gentlemen were elected at this meeting, viz. :Rev. Mr Bentick, E.C. Manse, Kirkhill ; Mr Cathel Kerr, Free Church College, Aberdeen ; Mr Lachlan Macbean, editor Fifeshire Advertiser, Kirkcaldy. Thereafter Mr William Mackay, honorary secretary, read a paper contributed by Mr John Mackay, Hereford, on “Sutherland Place Names—Durness and Eddrachilis.” Mr Mackay's paper was as follows :
SUTHERLAND PLACE NAMES.
DURNESS PARISH. The scenery of this parish is mostly wild and mountainous. Its western coast is very slightly indented, offering to the Atlantic a lofty and rock-bound front, terminating on the north in the huge promontory of “grim Cape Wrath,” 523 feet above sea level. Every where the coast exhibits some of the finest lock scenery in Scotland ; the cliffs about Cape Wrath, the Fair, and Whiten Heads, rising sheer up from the sea to heights of 200 to 700 feet, are fringed with “stacks,” and tunnelled by caverns, the more celebrated of which are the “Whiten” and “Smoo.”
The rocks are composed of gneiss, granitic gneiss, quartzite, and mica slate, with veins of felspar and porphyry. In some parts they are variously conglomerate, red sandstone, and limestone. The limestone underlying the surface soil of Durness proves a valuable stimulant to its pastures. The limestone caverns present fine specimens of stalactites and stalagmites. Immense blocks of rounded granite frequently rest on the limestone rocks, telling their own tale of geological history, remote, incalculably remote. From one of such blocks on the glebe land was formed, it is