Now we will attempt anew to explain the difficulties of a universal definition of 'Scottishness'. There were major distinctions within Scotland, and the division between Highlands and Lowlands, the existence of three languages (Gaelic, Scots and English), the huge population migrations into and out of the country in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries made it impossible for Scotland to achieve a kind of 'unified culture' - a kind of all-embracing 'Scottishness'. The country was neither a nation nor a province, and , most of all, there was no autonomous Scottish culture , so we had better assume the existence of diverse versions of 'Scottishness'. We could explain it by the historical distrust of the Scottish Lowlanders for the Highlanders, which was then superseded by the English and Scottish distrust and dislike of each other. Bearing all these aspects in mind Burns` perception of Scottish history does not reflect the historical reality, and, all in all, we may evaluate Burns` image of 'Scottishness' as naive and one-sided. Remarkably enough though- it has lasted in the literary tradition or political opinion probably up to this very day. Interesting here is that Scott may have shared in part Burns` picture of 'Scottishness', and the similarities are indeed notable. McMaster asserts that the fact that Scott wrote about Scottish social history- and not English social history as most writers unjustly assume- underlines the thesis that he was mainly interested in Scottish matters and described and defined the identity of 'Scottishness' rather than 'Britishness'. We may agree with this assertion for Scott describes, for example, in Waverley 1. Scottish villages, landscape or houses, 2. Scottish characters like Evan Dhu and others and 3. dramatic scenes in a pathetic and picturesque way (drinking, conviction of McIvor or the withdrawal of the Highland Army). To Gammerschlag all three complexes represent the emphasizing of 'Scottishness'. In accordance to Scott Burns also portrays in his poems these- not only- idyllic Scottish traditions In this aspect of 'Scottishness' the two do not differ for both glorified Scottish landscape.
In Lockhart´s view Scott himself even stands for 'Scottishness' because to him Scott was "of Scotia´s blood." . Scott´s risky construction of old Highland traditions may be seen as a kind of 'Scottishness' as well. Evidence for this assumption could be found in the fact that the Scottish Highland dress became the national sign of 'Scottishness'. As we will now comprehend there are many possible definitions, and, therefore, this confirms the thesis that both had different versions of Scottish national identity ('two-version thesis'). Furthermore, Gammerschlag finds out that Scott wrote about "the sensibility of the Scottish position paired with a healthy moral." This position implies an identity rather in favour of a 'Britishness', which could be defined as the quality and character of 'the British'. We may assert that Scott felt Scottish but was British in orientation. The 'Waverley Novels' are thus identified as explorations of what is to be British as well as what is to be Scottish. They are explorations of colonialism as well as of the cultures of the colonised. The emphasis, however, was on 'Britishness', and it was a kind of normative perspective of it which is often equated with 'Englishness'. In this context McCrone claims that identities as well as societies can co-exist, i.e. if Scots were Scottish for certain purposes and British for other purposes, then they were simply recognising the complex pluralities of modern life. For the Scots it was a kind of dual consciousness, and Waverley helped transport this development. It was the consciousness of a dual nationality because Britain became a double nation: both united, but also fractured. In the first half of the nineteenth century first attempts were made to map the British Isles , and in a way to define Britain or 'Britishness' in general. The development of fictional- as we have seen in the 'Historical Novels'- and cartographic representations of cultural identity reinforced the regional status of Scotland. In order to illustrate this development I would like to give an unusual and probably far-fetched attempt to define 'Britishness' with the help of an mathematical picture: I propose the formula 'Englishness' plus 'Scottishness' equals 'Britishness'.
Scott himself may have been a 'disguised Englishman' and a 'Scotsman', which made him to a 'Briton'. It is this combination that determined the British character and personality. A certain type of 'Brit' was born, and Sir Walter Scott probably created with his character Edward Waverley the prototype of this 'species'. On the one hand, Scott chose the modern, new concept of 'Britishness' in contrast to the antiquated, old image of 'Scottishness' preferred by Burns on the other. In a way Burns appears to be the last 'Scot', and Scott seems to be the first 'Brit'- as the topic and a result of this analysis could be summarized rather boldly. The latter may have idealised the old and feudal 'Highland system', but in the end he rejected it in favour of the modern 'British system'. One could conclude that Scott stands for the transition from the 'heart' to the 'head', which symbolizes a new British national consciousness. Just as a new 'Scottish consciousness' started to emerge in Scotland after the Union (1707) a new 'British consciousness' began to appear after the 'Battle of Culloden'(1746). McCrone underlines this thesis by asserting that Scottish people had to deal with a personality split between the 'Scottish heart' and the 'British head'. He states that Scotland was divided between hankering after a partly imagined past and looking towards a future represented by reason and the British state. Nairn agrees with this assumption in claiming that the new 'British-Scots middle class' had to separate the inevitable new popular- national consciousness from action and to separate its 'heart' from its 'head'. In the following I intend to illustrate this image with more evidence and examples. Lehmann, for instance, states that Burns wrote poetry of the 'heart' , i.e. he wrote about native pride and was a man of soul and passion. In his inmost 'heart' he favoured the extreme left and the revolutionary ideas of his time. In this age of liberty and refinement, he often raised his voice even at the risk of seriously damaging his own interests. Here I recall the conflict between his position as a tax collector for the British Government and his passionate attitude to the revolution in France. In his last years Burns changed his life by giving up the drudgery of farm life, moving into a house in the town centre of Dumfries and entering the service of George III´s Government as an excise official. Even at this point of time, when Burns was a civil servant working for the Government of the King, he did not change his opinion on the English policy in Scotland, and he remained true to his principles. He always criticised injustice and was in favour of an independent mind. The following example will prove the assumption that he damaged his own interests: Burns was sending weapons to French rebels, but serving as a British excise official it was rather dangerous and, eventually, the Board of Excise denounced him as an enemy of the existing Government. In the end he stayed silent and obeyed, and his political sins were forgiven. This behaviour demonstrates that to call him a 'revolutionary' would be too farfetched. He supported both the king and the revolutionary idea. The apparent paradox does not any longer exist considering the complex situation of this time, and there is a combination of opposites, which is to be found at every turn in Scottish character- in history and literature.
For Burns- in contrast to Scott- Scotland had not yet disappeared and Britain had not appeared. He strongly supported the national idea, but the patriotic cause was high above worldly reward for him. Although he could not make his living with his poetry, he had a great impact on people, and his expressive language gave him the power to transport every imagination and to agitate every 'heart'. Scott´s approach to appeal to the 'head', however, may have more rational, but is probably not so fascinating as Burns` agitation. Scott was an heir of the new elegant, and rational 'North Britain'. This again underlines the existence of different interpretations of Scottish national identity. There is still more proof of this thesis, and now we are examining the 'language issue' in Burns and Scott: in the eighteenth century there was an interest among Scottish writers in the purification of English and the removal of primitive Scots and Gaelic voice. Burns´ father talked 'English' to his boys between meals and encouraged them to avoid vulgar broad Scottish in order to polish their language for broad Scotch had been considered as the dialect of the coarse. Burns, however, wrote his poems for the most part in the Scottish dialect, which is a dialect of the great English tongue and yet a dialect that generations of nobly-gifted Scots have raised to the dignity of a language in its own right. In Burns the Scots found a part of their cultural identity, which was replaced by the English court language from the entire public life. Here we may emphasize Robert Burns` contribution to a Scottish cultural identity. His language had a certain power and his vision began at home, but he carried 'home' into universal territory.
Furthermore, in this context we have already pointed out that the literary life was overwhelmed by the fashions and standards of England, but Robert Burns helped define a unique Scottish literary style. Ferguson points out that the decay of Scots as a literary language had been started by the Reformation in the sixteenth century and was finished by the Union of the two kingdoms in 1707, but Burns started a revival of the Scottish literary tradition. After the Union the Scots tongue started to vanish not only as a literary language but as a whole, and, therefore, the 'language issue' was problematic. Daiches, however, claims that the language of educated Scotsmen remained Scots, and Burns´ poems were written "chiefly in the Scottish dialect" too. Here we may claim that 'English' may have had a great impact on Britain, but it did not replace the Scottish or Gaelic language entirely. In addition, the linguistic situation in Burns´ Scotland was so confused that he created a synthetic language of his own: his native spoken dialect combined with standard southern English and Scots of other times and regions. Before Burns there was no unity and no identity as far as language is concerned. Some wrote in English and some in Scots, but with his strong but simple language Burns affected many Scots. Burns wrote mainly his Scotch as it was spoken, and he was able to distil great thoughts into simple language. Moreover, he was a vernacular writer, which means that he made use of dialect in his poems, and he aligned himself with Scotland´s continuing cultural differences by emphasising it even in the vocabulary. Burns also imitated and copied the vernacular tradition of his predecessors- to name Allan Ramsay and Adam Fergusson (1750- 1774) only-, but he was not only the heir, but also the finisher and the crowning glory. As Henderson concludes with Burns the old vernacular tradition (old Scots) reached its climax of its influence. Here we could underline Burns´ strong impact on the Scottish national identity.
Scott was a founder of a vernacular school of his own- that of the vernacular novel. Moreover, Scott used a modified form of the Scottish vernacular, but- opposed to Scott- Burns always wanted to demonstrate his strong dislike of English policy towards Scotland and his language helped him illustrate this intention. Burns, however, chose to blend English with Scottish dialect in his poems, and by doing this he was not employing the traditional language. McGuirk points out that there was a mixture of Scots with English elements in Burns´ diction. Burns´ satires like the dramatic monologues in 'Holy Willie´s Prayer' or his narratives like 'Tam O´Shanter' point in their structure in two directions: inwards and backwards to a local dialect-speaking community, and outwards and forwards to a general audience in English. Here we find a correspondence with Scott, who also mixed Scottish/ Scots and English, but there is an important difference too. Burns may have used the English language reluctantly, whereas Scott might have liked it. In the following we will prove this assertion. Gordon claims in this context that the Scottish dialect in Scott´s novels is usually leavened with English phrases. Scott also refers in Waverley to the language of Elizabethan times, quotes William Shakespeare and Edmund Spenser, who were two representatives of this literary era. This may be seen as an indication for his interest in the English language and culture. Furthermore, by adding French and Latin quotes and elements he created a sophisticated language. I assert here that both writers offered the Scottish people, who were longing for a cultural identity, with their blended language a possibility to utter their uniqueness and oneness. Doing that they influenced the Scottish cultural identity and- analogous to the other aspects- Burns put more stress to the reviving of old Scots whereas Scott was able to cope with a strong English influence.
Now we will return
to the Jacobite cause because a detailed comparison of Burns and Scott
will at this stage of the analysis prove the existence of two divergent
versions of Scottish national identity. Scott´s academic usage of
history and Burns´ opposed view of patriotic truth propose the hypothesis
that Scott had a different perception and description of Scottish history
in general and of the fate of 'the Stuarts' in particular. Many specific
examples will help me convey this type of assertion which is being made:
after visiting Stirling Castle, Burns was moved to scratch the following
on the window of his room: "Here Stewarts once in triumph reign`d
[...]". This statement indicates that Burns, who had never hidden
his preference for the Stuarts, revealed a "warm interest in the
cause of the 'House of Stuart'". He dedicated several poems to the
fate of this family, e.g. 'Lament of Mary Queen of Scots' (1791) and 'Charlie,
he´s my darling' (1794, referring to Charles Edward Stuart). Burns
even exposes a romantic 'Jacobitism' with his references to the Prince,
especially to his absence and to the implications of his overseas´
residence for Scotland. We can also notice a shift in his political opinion
because his politics extended from 'Jacobinism'- supporting the radical
ideas of the 'French Revolution' - to 'Jacobitism'. His liking of the
radical Jacobites is represented, for instance, by the poem 'Ye Jacobites
By Name'- as both were opposed to English authority. Consequently, he
presumably disliked the idea of living under an English monarch. Burns
seems to have seen himself in the 'Jacobite tradition', and
For Burns´ radical 'pro-Jacobite' and 'anti-English' attitude was clearly present in parts of his poetry and because he was well-known he had a great impact on many Scotsman. Many would read and cite his poems and would adopt the Scottish identity that he described and marked. In his poem 'Address to the De`il' (1784) the Highland garden plant 'ragweed', which is also called 'Stinking Billy', is introduced. It is named after William (Billy), the Duke of Cumberland, who is became famous for his 'ruthless treatment' of the survivors of the 'Battle of Culloden'. This example shows that Burns substantially influenced the Scottish culture with his disapproval of English policy. Conclusively, the most important fact to point out is that Burns revealed a radical and one-sided view on the 'Jacobite rising'. For the Scots were looking for an identity and were searching for interpretations of the past, Burns gave them answers and versions of interpretation, which, nonetheless, form a contrast to Scott´s suggestions. Here we find a major divergence in the perception of Scottish history, and this indicates the existence of two versions of Scottish national identity. Burns´ view on the identity of the Scottish nation differs considerably with Scott´s sight. He never made a serious attempt to follow where Burns led , i.e. Scott would have probably never supported the 'Jacobites' in the sense of glorifying 'the Stuarts' like Burns did. Scott may have shown, however, a hidden admiration for Burns´ passion for Scotland because he quotes Burns´ poem 'My heart is in the Highlands' in Waverley. This fact indicates that he did not entirely reject Burns´ position and that he may have been envious of Burns´ courage to deal with Scottish history in such a patriotic way, but- as this analysis will prove- there are more differences in Scott´s and Burns´ work and life than similarities, and on the whole, Scott´s view on Scotland deviated greatly from Burns´ picture. This again confirms the thesis of the existence of two versions of Scottish national identity. The clear deviations in the perception and description of Scotland are logical in so far as Scott belonged to the second generation of Scotsmen to be born in a society from which the primitive and feudal ways had been banished. Burns belonged to the first generation of the Scots though, who most likely did not immediately benefit from the positive effects of the 'post-Culloden era' as Scott´s generation did. In contrast to Scott Burns did probably not realize the enlightenment idea of that time that feudal systems like the Highland clans have to be destroyed in favour of a civilized society. After all Burns and Scott were just a different age group, and their view on 'Culloden' had a divergent perspective.
Now I would like to focus on the fascination for 'Highlandism', which can be found in Burns´ and Scott´s work as well, and here we find a correspondence. After travelling through the Highlands Burns dedicated several poems to this issue like 'My heart is in the Highlands', 'My Highland Lassie' (1786), 'Highland Mary' (1792) and 'Farewell to the Highlands' (1789). His enthusiasm was contagious, and "there are few readers who do not dream of following him into the Highlands where he has left his heart". We may claim that Burns` 'heart image' and praising of the Highlands is convincing and seducing. Here we have to consider the 'romantic movement' with all its praising of nature. In contrast to Burns, however, who only touches the 'heart', Scott appeals to the 'head' for he was a rational, even academic novelist. At this point of comparison this 'heart- head relation' mainly serves to illustrate that probably Scott himself had an ambivalent attitude to the 'Jacobite cause' and his own 'construction of Scotland'. There is indeed a fundamental difference to the glorifying tone to the 'Jacobite Rebellion' in Burns´ patriotic poems. It is a completely contrary view on the Scottish national identity symbolized by the 'old' and 'modern' standpoint and a conflicting and mixed sight. Unlike Burns, who had always demanded the return to the 'old Stuart system' and supported the primitive 'feudal clan system', Scott´s Waverley offers a narrative telling of progress from primitive barbarity to civilization and the rule of law. Scott seems to be glad that he had not lived in 1745, and like Robert Burns his 'Jacobitism' belonged to "fancy rather than to reason". As a matter of fact both were not personally involved in any fighting as far as the 'Jacobites' are concerned, and the only involvement they showed was the writing of poems and novels on this issue. At the end of this passage I will finally summarize that Scott rejected any action or change concerning the 'Hanoverian regime', whereas Burns went on strongly supporting the antiquated and obsolete concept of 'Jacobitism'. By doing so both Burns and Scott created- as the title of this examination suggests- a version of Scottish national identity. To demonstrate that theses two versions differ has still been the main purpose of this analysis.
Now I would like to return to the 'class issue' in order to show some more differences, and with the findings so far we can assert already that both writers´ background substantially differs. Scott, on the one hand, was part of a 'privileged class', and Burns, on the other hand, was indisputably a member of the 'labouring class'. Even as far as their status of an artist and the merits for their writings are concerned they are considerably unlike: Scott was- in contrast to Burns who had not been able to make his living with his poems- the first best-selling author in Scotland who lived in a luxurious country house near Abbotsford as opposed to Burns who only dwelled in a farmhouse for the most time of his life. Now we are studying the so-called 'class system' in a more detailed way for Daiches states in this context that Burns was an unremitting opponent of it. The major divisions at the end of the eighteenth and at the beginning of nineteenth century as far as 'class' is concerned were those between town and country, merchant or landlord and farmer or labourer and industrial and rural 'haves' or 'have-nots'. Burns and Scott differ in almost all aspects, and according to this definition Scott was a 'have' whereas Burns had been a 'have-not'. Finally, Burns was uncertain of his social position and felt frustrated by a society which denied him opportunities to which others became entitled by birth. In conclusion, his position in society substantially differs to Scott, but- as we have seen- he criticized social inequality in his poetry and doing so he contributed to the social transformation in Scotland.
The next passage is dedicated to the development of a Scottish 'middle class' because it is considerably significant for the Scottish national identity, and now we will juxtapose both Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott concerning their attitude and contribution to this outgrowth. With the progress of time regional culture was increasingly identifiable with peasant culture and 'upper classes' become absorbed into a general civilized, polite society. Burns, however, was a difficult man to deal with a polite society because he still demanded respect from his social superiors. To him, this 'superior class' consisted of English-speaking Scots of the higher ranks, all with any pretension to social position and fashion, who liked to "free their talk of Scots phrases and their tongue of Scots tones [ ]". In this context we may find a correspondence with Scott´s attitude because in the 'Waverley Novels' the English dialect spoken by Scottish characters denotes their 'superior class' too. The eighteenth and nineteenth century Scottish society did indeed make an effort to integrate itself into English speech. Many Scots tried to avoid speaking vulgarly and provincially. Snell mentions in this context that the protagonists of Scott´s novels are usually 'middle class' and English speaking. Obviously, 'middle class' Scots gained in numbers, and Trumpener describes the process of transformation of small-town societies from the 1760s to the 1820s as the establishment of a new 'middle class' hegemony. Scott accepted the social conventions of his time according to which everyone was more or less firmly placed at birth in a 'class hierarchy', to him there were 'gentlemen' and 'the others' for it was a clear distinction almost everyone accepted such notions as facts of life.
Furthermore, Scott was at home with all the conflicting classes in Scotland, but he never raised the question of social conflict and the 'class struggle' between 'middle class' and 'proletariat' which was then beginning to sharpen. In Guy Mannering Scott wrote about the general rise of the 'middle classes', the resulting decay of the feudal system and its ruling class , but he criticized and condemned this development. Here we find a correspondence with the 'working class issue' because Scott totally rejected the emergence of this new 'middle class' too. He probably deprecated its existence, and we could assert that he was opposed to this development in any form. Thus he did not contribute to it. He pointed out the contrast between a feudal and a modern society to which he felt a well-grounded and progressively strengthening anxiety because Scottish civil society had advanced too quickly for him. Nairn describes in this context that the new bourgeois social classes inherited a socio-economic position, and consequently 'conservatism' was amplified. Conservative Scott seems to have feared the 'new class' for personal reasons because he possibly was afraid of social disadvantages for himself. He was torn between the old ways of life and the new ways which were bringing unthought-of property and 'middle class'. In the end we may claim that Scott was a 'middle class' radical who detested this development. Burns, however, supported the 'middle class movement' for it corresponds with his convictions concerning the social inequality between 'have' and 'have-nots', between the better and lower classes and between rich and poor. The emergence of the 'middle class' was inevitable for him, and by writing about it he contributed to its development. Nairn depicts the rapid progress of Scotland´s new, 'middle class' civil society, and he believes that the middle-income groups were increasing in number in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Here we may assume that this must have influenced the Scottish national identity. Furthermore, there were obviously two different worlds in Scotland, a poor 'Highland world', which was predominately Gaelic-speaking and pre-feudal, and a comparatively prosperous 'Lowland world', which had evolved into a bourgeois society. It was the distinction between a backward land and advanced culture. As the cultural climate altered and as a new sense of history spread in Europe, the Scots 'middle class' were bound to acquire a keener consciousness of this. As far as Burns´ and Scott´s attitude to the existence of a Scottish 'middle class' is concerned we may see it on the whole as evidence to the thesis that both writers had two versions of Scottish national identity.
In order to judge Scott´s stance on social inequality we need to observe even deeper his 'social environment'. He was a 'Tory' in the party sense. A 'Tory' at that time symbolizes the interests of the county gentry, the merchant classes and the official administration. Mack mentions in this context that Scott was not only a baronet but also an extensive landowner , and- as Sutherland puts it- Scott was worried about his property and status. His family did not lose property, power or influence after the Union but increased it. On the contrary, Scott was destined to survive and to participate in the 'new Scotland'. This statement again proves that he was conservative or and that he had the attitude of a 'Tory' and member of the landed gentry. To Scott it was clear that property and rank together achieved the order and refinement of civilization , and he preferred to maintain firm divisions in rank. This position on 'class distinction' contradicts completely Burns` comprehension of 'rank distinction' for he opposed the insolence of rank wherever it appeared. He attacked the aristocracy and disliked the artificial connection between rank and hereditary wealth. In this context we will find a most striking difference: on the one hand Burns was for the most time of his life a farmer and defended the interests of 'the poor' and 'the underprivileged'. Scott, on the other hand, was widely regarded as boring for he was an 'anti-revolutionary'. This does by no means apply to Robert Burns because he supported the ideas of 'Jacobinism' and 'Jacobitism', and, furthermore, he was 'anti-English', 'anti-Hanoverian', and- most crucial here- 'anti-aristocratic'. After 1707 we will still uncover 'closed castes' in Scotland and an essentially 'conservative class' which was still largely aristocratic in nature. Some educated few- like Scott himself- were above the vast average, and the passive mass were below. Landowners and aristocracy got richer and richer, sold their estates to factory builders, and- unlike France- there was no political revolution in Britain because no change was wanted. Furthermore, the English 'ruling class' was able to tolerate a high degree of North-British autonomy, and the Scottish 'bourgeoisie' - to which landowner Scott definitely belonged- made use of it. All these arguments prove that these two Scotsmen could probably be no more unlike as far as their social situation and ideals are concerned. We have already found out in the first chapter that they indeed differed politically, but the social perspective is a new aspect. The essential assumption of this examination that they had two versions of Scottish national identity becomes more and more profound. Here is more evidence to support the thesis that Scott had a conservative attitude to movements that threatened the existence of Britain and the prevailing status quo in Scotland. His inflexible stance on this issue is proved and underlined by his protagonist Waverley, who is more attracted by the 'Tory milieu' of his Uncle Everard than by the 'Whig milieu' of his father. Now it is necessary- after we have seen what a 'Tory' was in Burns´ and Scott`s days- to define a 'Whig'. The term has its origin in Scottish Gaelic and was applied to Scottish Presbyterians. Moreover, it connoted nonconformity, rebellion and reforms. We may have given evidence enough to label Scott a 'Tory' and Burns a 'Whig'. The latter was definitely a nonconformist, a Scottish Presbyterian and supported a radical transformation from 'Hanoverian Scotland' back to 'Stuart Scotland' and rational Scott, nevertheless, accepted the existence of Great Britain and was in favour of further progress. This 'Tory-Whig' comparison amplifies the 'two-version-thesis'. Now I continue, however, giving antithetical assertions that serve as an opposing view because Scott had also contradictory positions and was not conservative through and through. Snell, for instance, claims that by presenting impoverished people in his novels Scott criticizes the chains of feudal dependence. He destroys the myth of the organic community by exposing the exploitation of the peasantry. The radical 'Whig' William Howitt states that Scott´s stories are all founded on the struggles of 'the weak' against 'the strong', 'the oppressed' against their tyrants and reformers and even open rebels against established governments. When we consider Waverley, for instance, we can indeed agree with him on this argument because the protagonist wavered and first supported the rebellion and criticized the 'British establishment'.
Undoubtedly, he first provokes the 'ruling class' before he changes his behaviour and reconciles with 'them'. Gammerschlag even calls it the "resistance against recognized powers". To illustrates this notion Scott shows his sympathy for the defiance in his Waverley: two formerly powerful clansmen- the baron and Fergus- are portrayed as increasingly impoverished and powerless in the 'new Scotland' because in the new 'class system' of Britain after the Union they are 'lower' than they could cope with. They are desperately trying to resist the 'new class'. Brown demonstrates that this is not the case with Waverley because he has no real 'class affinities' with the conservative side. This example underlines the assumption that Waverley in a way stands for the novelist Scott himself who also had no problems with the 'conservative side' because he belonged to it. He revealed an ambivalent attitude to this 'conservatism' though for the most heroic figure in Waverley is not the Prince or any of the gentlemen but a simple Highlander (Fergus) , which indicates Scott´s sympathy for the defiant Scots in this conflict. Furthermore, nearly all the great characters in his novels speak Scots and most of them are simple people, but that does not mean that they are therefore uncivilized. Scott makes an effort to treat his characters fairly presenting both the negative and positive aspects of their respective causes. He tries to portray a realistic picture and in this context this could mean that he probably intended to demonstrate the political disadvantages of the Highlanders. He may have lacked the perception of a 'social disadvantage' but he had presumably seen a 'political disadvantage'. Here we find another opposing view to the assumption that Scott was one-sided aristocratic and conservative for he also depicts aristocratic or gentlemanly behaviour towards social inferiors as "arrogant, over-bearing and insufferable rude." As a matter of fact, Waverley is about the collapse of aristocratic authority. As this example demonstrates he criticized- like Burns- the established, which means his own, aristocracy and thus 'social injustice' as well. This attitude is indeed rather surprising and interesting, and all in all we can sum up that Scott and Burns were also quite close concerning some positions because Scott was not conservative through and through. This conclusion may in a way contradict the 'two-version-thesis', but this just reveals that in a complex and in itself paradoxical topic like the Scottish national identity we cannot expect unambiguous results. Eventually, we will stick to the assertion that Burns and Scott had nevertheless two distinct versions because the differences on the whole prevail.
Now we will continue our attempt to underline this argument: in 1813 Scott declined the offer and the honour of being a 'Poet Laureate' because he was probably too humble and too vain to take it. Later, however, he accepted the baronetcy (1818) and was knighted in 1819, which made him a 'Sir'. Furthermore, he was lionized in Paris in 1826. All these facts display that the novelist Walter Scott- by adding the title 'Sir' to his name - probably changed his identity too. We could see parallels to the transformation of his character Waverley- from an English gentleman to a 'Jacobite' and vice versa- and to the alteration of Scotland itself, which in reality ceased to be a 'feudal organization' and turned to a modern civilized society. The next aspect that we are going to pay attention to is the development of a 'working class' in Scotland for it also reflects on the main the 'two-version-thesis'. Brown exposes that Scott´s strong 'Tory' opinion explains that he had little or no sympathy for the mass of the newly emerging urban 'working class'. The stirrings of the 'new class' were too confused during Scott´s lifetime, and he showed antipathy to them as he later points out. Nairn even asserts that Scott said nothing about modern Scotland in the sense of a 'working-class' Scotland. Concerning this point it rather difficult to judge in conclusion, but it is certainly true that his main works of the Waverley Novels are more about a political than a social conflict, and this implies that the 'working-class issue' is not particularly significant for Scott. In contrast to Burns Scott wrote historical- and by no means social- novels respectively poems.
Moreover, he did probably not pay much attention to the 'social upheaval' because being famous and rich he was not affected by it. In this context we find a strong contrast in the perception of a Scottish national identity to Burns because Scott ignores and leaves aside an important issue of this time. Furthermore, Scott loved the immense vivacity of common people too , but he saw them from a different perspective. In contrast to Scott, however, Burns was provincial, and Scott was known to everybody- both in Britain and Europe as a whole-, whereas Burns was only celebrated in parts of Scotland for he only travelled there and died very early at the age of thirty-seven. As opposed to Burns Scott had been prognosticating economic changes and the coming of the sheep at an early stage , i.e. he predicted the disastrous 'Highland clearances' of nineteenth-century Scotland, when Highland cotters were murdered, expelled or at least exploited. Scott anticipated the entailing 'class distinction' between- often English- landowners and Scottish peasants. In contrast to Burns he did not mention the 'class divergences' between the 'working class' and the 'upper class', and on this point of Scottish national identity the writers differ completely.
Now I will compare their attitude as far as 'patriotism' is concerned, and here it may be defined as the love or zealous devotion to a nation. We have already asserted that Burns was a patriotic Scotsman, and in the course of this passage I will prove this thesis. Concerning this aspect Grey finds out that when the war with France broke out "none proved more loyal and enthusiastically patriotic than he", and Strauss even claims that Burns` love of his country was one of the foundations of such a poet´s mental existence. The love may have even become a passion. In his diction Burns seems to convey an idealizing- and not only descriptive- view of Scotland. According to 'Kindlers neues Literaturlexikon' Robert Burns had strong emotions for his native soil, and much of Burns´ 'patriotism' and sense of nation derived unconsciously from the storehouse of ideas generated in seventeenth century Scotland. He felt "the desire to do something for his native Scotland, be it only to write a song in praise." It took, however, some years to mature and to make up his mind to write patriotic poems and songs. For Scotland Burns felt "immortal longings." This is only a speculation, but to me it does not seem to be far-fetched: if the wearing of the kilt had not been banned after 'Culloden', I assume that patriotic Burns, who adored Highland traditions, would have proudly worn this piece of Scottish traditional cloth.
Here is another example
portrayed in order to illustrate Burns´ strong 'patriotism': during
his time in Edinburgh he made trips to the south-west Borders and the
Highlands, and he regarded the journeys as pilgrimages to the classical
ground of Scotland. These travels were perfectly inspiring for him. On
his way back from Edinburgh he travelled to several places in the Highlands
and during this tour the poet visited the battlefield of Bannockburn,
where Robert the Bruce defeated Edward II in 1314. When the poet had visited
the battlefield he wrote about this incident: "Here no Scot can pass
uninterested." In order to underline his strong patriotic feelings
he even knelt and kissed the grave of King Robert the Bruce when he visited
the noble Abbey in Dunfermline in October 1787. These examples depict
his devotion to Scotland and its past in a perfect way. Although he had
gained experience and inspiration on his journeys, he wrote the poem 'Bruce´s
March to Bannockburn- Scots wha´ hae' not before 1793. In order
to illustrate the poet´s motivation to compose this piece of work,
a significant part of a letter written by Robert Burns to his friend Mr.
Thomson in 1793 is quoted: "There is a tradition, which I have met
with in many places in Scotland, that was Robert Bruce´s march at
the battle of Bannockburn. This thought, in my yesternight´s evening
walk, warmed me to a pitch of enthusiasm on the theme of liberty and independence,
which I threw into a kind of Scottish ode [...]". This extract from
the letter perfectly illustrates that Burns was enthusiastic and excited
when he thought about the Scottish heroic past. As Hecht describes it
in 'Scots wha´ hae' Burns´ 'patriotism' burst into flame.
This poem deals with the liberation from English guardianship and suppression.
It represents a glorification of William Wallace, who was a freedom fighter
and precursor for Robert the Bruce. In the poem he communicates a feeling
of justifiable pride for the great men of the past who have fought for
freedom. He intended to utter the Scottish desire to be free and to live
in liberty and independence. Here in this poem about the two heroes of
the thirteenth and fourteenth century the reader finds Burns` strong 'patriotism'
and even 'hatred' of the English. This is an indication for the thesis
that he was extremely 'Scotland-orientated'.
Scott´s complex feelings about Scotland cannot be explained by simple counterpointing his attitude as 'conservative' or 'progressive'. Undoubtedly he welcomed 'the Union', but he still was a Scotsman who looked back on Scotland`s past with excitement. Scott´s devotion to his country was so strong and so obvious because he had a passionate concern with Scottish past. Furthermore, Scott´s melancholy prose and verse stand for the "mourning for Scotland´s vanished independence." He was not only a poet with democratic convictions, but a Scottish patriot at the same time. Another aspect in this context is that only a few novels were not set in Scotland, e.g. Ivanhoe and Kenilworth, which indicates that he was more concerned about Scottish history and topics than anything else. Snell finds out that Scott probably felt to give respect to his own country when he wrote Waverley. Another evidence for Scott´s 'patriotism' is the plaster cast of the head of Robert the Bruce, King Of Scotland in the fourteenth century, which was placed at the fire place of his luxury country house Abbotsford. By displaying this head he showed his Scottish 'patriotism'. To sum up we may point out that there was a strong patriotic motivation in both Burns and Scott and a patriotic trust for the benefit of Scotland. Scott´s 'patriotism' had limits though. Scott always wanted to be a soldier, but he never joined the forces. Here, however, we find a major difference to Burns because he joined the Dumfries Volunteers. Scott had only engaged others to enlist in the Volunteers for defence of the British Isles, so he was proud of the British nation as well, and in this sense he was an patriotic Brit. The following example will perfectly illustrate this attitude.
After Napoleon´s fate had been sealed at Waterloo, Scott travelled to Belgium where he wrote about the bravery of the British soldiers ('The field of Waterloo'). Concerning this issue he also wrote the book The Life of Napoleon, and by doing so he may have reinforced British 'patriotism' because in the book British military success is portrayed. We have already shown that Scott liked the idea of a strong Great Britain, and disliked the idea of Scottish independence. Roy assumes in this context that Scott´s seems to treat less than objectively Burns´ commitment to the idea of independence. We may say Scott downgraded it and that he probably has seen movements for Scottish independence- like Wallace´s freedom struggles for instance- as sociologically interesting but historically absurd. Concerning this attitude we may find another aspect: although Robert Burns never fully identified with the 'Jacobite cause', songs such as Scots wha hae combine the evocation of a traditional Scottish national hero- i.e. William Wallace- with the ideals of liberty and freedom espoused by the French Revolution. This poem was a great expression of nationalism and may itself have been inspired by the 'Jacobite Rebellion'. Burns placed it at the centre of the new national consciousness.
Now as we approach the end of this analysis we will focus on the concepts of 'nation', 'nationality' and 'nationalism' because they are crucial for the definition of the Scottish national identity. In the context of this analysis 'nationality' may be defined as the membership of a nation or a sovereign state, but there are also unresolved questions on nationality: the problem of dual or multiple nationality and the problem of stateless persons, i.e. who have no nationality. Applied to this examination we may ask now: was Robert Burns himself a stateless person, and did Sir Walter Scott have a dual nationality? Furthermore, what is the role of 'disappearing Scotland' in this context? Here the term 'nation' may be defined as a social, cultural and ethnical unity and after having analysed political and social issues in the first and second chapter we have to ask ourselves now: has Britain in this sense really been a 'nation', and how would Burns and Scott probably have replied this question? All these central questions will be discussed here.
Now the reader will comprehend that these complex and abstract definitions give us the foundation to measure up Burns and Scott, and I am trying to develop a concept of their possible interpretations. As Nairn asserts the eighteenth century was the age of democratic nationalism, but Scotland´s nationalism failed to grow like the others so literary nationalism stepped in, which was itself a matter of subjective invention. Haws agrees with this assumption by claiming that the solution was finally rejected at 'Culloden' only to be replaced by "literary nationalism" in the era of Burns and Scott, which nationalism- in the sense of this examination- may be defined as the loyalty and devotion to the Scottish nation and country, such that the national interests are placed above individual interests. In this context we have already pointed out that both Burns and Scott invented a specific identity, and that they indeed were devoted to their native country. In 'Tam O´Shanter', for instance, which could be announced as the artistic highlight in the poet´s creation of poetry, Burns included his traditional knowledge and he describes some Scottish dances in a detailed way; by doing so he showed his nationalism as Brown points out. Moreover, Burns was influenced by cultural nationalism, and he collected, edited, and annotated folksongs as a way of preserving Scotland´s cultural heritage. Thus he contributed to the unique Scottish culture. Over and over again Burns pinpoints, for example, the unique qualities of Scots music, by which he distinguishes it from other national music , and by doing this he glorifies it in particular and Scots cultural achievements in general. To Burns- it seems- Scottish culture was superior. Another definition of nationalism could mean the complex of events, feelings and ideas. We have seen already many events presented in his poetry- like the 'Jacobite Rebellion' or Wallace´s 'freedom fight' for instance- which illustrate Burns´ nationalistic attitude. As Sampson states in the cause of Scottish nationalism we are able to enlist Burns without reservation. Burns showed nationalistic sentiments, which have fed national pride, and thus he became the 'Scottish National Bard'.
Furthermore, men like Burns and Scott were putting Scotland on the map with England, i.e. these geniuses and the 'Scottish Enlightenment' made their contribution to Scottish 'nationalism' by showing that the Scots produced men of ideas. We may call Scott a poetical nationalist because he conferred a new reputation on the national character, and bestowed on Scotland an imperishable name. Hook avers that Scottish culture was permanently and deeply marked by Waverley and its successors. For him they even provided the finishing touches to Scotland´s new 'romantic national identity'. Scott was in his fashion a nationalist, but his Scottish 'nationalism' was modified. Scott was proud of Scotland and wanted to "keep an inch of the Scottish flag flying" , before the Saxons would control the northern part of Britain. Scott´s attitude to the Scotland, however, remained deeply ambivalent. Here we have to bear in mind that he felt British as well. In The Antiquary, for instance, the spirit of 'nationalism'- British, not Scottish 'nationalism'- is supreme. In 1826 Scott wrote in his journal that it was difficult to steer between "the natural impulses of one´s national feelings setting in one direction and the prudent regard to the interests of the empire and the internal peace [ ]. I will endeavour to keep side of both." Again, the national notion with its over-emphasis on the past was separated from the practical with its emphasis on the present and the future. We may agree with McCrone´s assertion in so far as Scott rejected any attempts to reinstate the 'old Scottish order' in favour of the 'new British order'.
Now I would like to discuss the crucial question of the existence of a Scottish or/ and British nation. For this purpose we will define 'nation' as a folk that was born in the same country. In this sense Scotland was indeed a nation, and Burns and Scott- being born in south-west and central Scotland- belonged to the 'Scottish nation'. In this context Zancu claims that Burns´ message is the message of a proud nation. Furthermore, he was almost able to identify his personality with the personality of the nation, which could mean that this 'super-Scot' indeed had believed in the 'Scottish nation'. Applied to Britain we can also describe a 'British nation' after the Union of 1707, because since this year the country 'Great Britain' existed which may prove the 'nation' existence. 'Nation' could also mean the community of people with the same awareness and conviction of the political-cultural past share the will to form a joint state. . As far as this definition is concerned and due to our findings we cannot call Scotland a 'nation' because there were various perceptions of the past. Burns` and Scott`s view on the political past, for instance, differed considerably. We have discussed this issue in detail, but concerning a 'British nation' we may probably agree with this notion for the political-cultural past of the country was not even one hundred years old and there was not much possibility of a different awareness of its more or less young past. Furthermore, many British people seem to have shared the same opinion and conviction on the British role concerning the 'French wars' for example. For Scotland, however, we could point out an unbridgeable dilemma: It was too much of a nation and had too different a civil society to become a mere province of Great Britain. A last aspect in this context is Scotland as a 'folk'. Here 'folk' could be equated with 'nation', 'race' or even the antiquated expression 'tribe'. It also could mean the people of a particular class. We may assert that Scotland was a 'folk' or a 'tribe' because of the existence of Highland clanship. Snell also claims that the fundamental truths of Scottish culture are to be found among the 'folk'.
To me, however, after having analysed this issue rather detailed all these concepts seem to be 'nostalgia'. I may conclude that Burns had a wrong perception of the attitude of the Scottish population. Moreover, he may have rejected the inevitable existence of the British nation. In contrast to Burns Scott was perfectly well aware that Scotland's commitment to a mercantile, secular British world was irrevocable, and that such a world had great advantages over that of the Stuarts and the Highland patriarchs. Scott may have also been in favour of Great Britain because otherwise he feared that Scotland would become a very dangerous North British neighbourhood. In this context we could assert that it was no accident that its two British national anthems, "God Save the King" and "Rule Britannia" were composed in this period. The latter song was even written by a Scot, James Thomson, which proves the strong Scottish support for Britain. Presumably, Robert Burns´ passion for Scotland, however, was stronger than his liking for Great Britain and in so far he could be regarded as a Scottish poet. Henderson reckons him to be a British poet though. As a concluding result of this analysis we cannot agree because the 'ploughman poet' Robert Burns may have been Scottish through and through, whereas Sir Walter Scott appears to represent the British citizens.
© 2008 The Robert Burns World Federation