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The rose of all the world is not for me. I want for my part. Only the little white rose of Scotland That smells sharp and sweet - and breaks the heart. ~ Hugh MacDiarmid
From its destitution of trees, Scotland was once a by-word; now it is a garden of beauty. ~ Frederick Douglass
Give me but one hour of Scotland,
Let me see it ere I die. ~ William E. Aytoun

Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Alba) is a country forming the northernmost third of Great Britain. An independent kingdom until 1707, it is now a constituent part of the United Kingdom with limited powers of self-government.

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  • I think I see our ancient mother Caledonia, like Caesar, sitting in the midst of our senate, ruefully looking round about her, covering herself with her royal garment, attending the fatal blow, and breathing out her last with an ‘Et tu quoque mi fili.’
    • Lord Belhaven, speech in the Scottish Parliament against the Act of Union (2 November 1706), quoted in ‘Appendix to Vol. VI. No. I’, The Parliamentary History of England from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803, Vol. VI. A.D. 1702–1714 (1806), column 143
  • I do not discuss the Scotch cases. They are not binding on us as authorities, though of the greatest service, as containing the opinions and arguments of able and accomplished lawyers.
    • Bramwell, L.J., Johnson v. Raylton (1881), L. R. 7 Q. B. 449; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 222
  • I believe that the intelligence of the people in Scotland is superior to the intelligence of the people in England… I told them that they were the people who should have repeal of the Union; for that, if they are separate from England, they might have a government wholly popular and intelligent, to a degree which I believe does not exist in any other country on the face of the earth. However, I believe they will be disposed to press us on, and make us become more and more intelligent; and we may receive benefits from our contact with them, even though, for some ages to come, our connexion with them may be productive of evil to themselves.
    • John Bright, speech in Manchester (January 1843), quoted in G. M. Trevelyan, The Life of John Bright (1913), pp. 84-85
  • And if you’re like me and a million more people who are convinced that the case for cooperation is greater than any case put for separation then I say to you: hold your heads high. Show dignity and pride. Be confident. Let us have confidence that our values are indeed the values of the majority of the people of Scotland. That our principles of sharing and cooperation are far better and mean more to them than separation and splitting apart.
  • O Scotia! my dear, my native soil!
    For whom my warmest wish to heaven is sent;
    Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil
    Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content.
    • Robert Burns, The Cotter's Saturday Night (1786), Stanza 20.
  • My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
    My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer.


  • From the lone shieling of the misty island
    Mountains divide us, and the waste of seas
    Yet still the blood is strong, the heart is Highland,
    And we in dreams behold the Hebrides!
    Fair these broad meads, these hoary woods are grand;
    But we are exiles from our fathers' land.
    • "Canadian Boat Song", an anonymous poem first published in Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine, September 1829, and ostensibly translated from the Gaelic. There has been much debate as to the poem's authorship. [1]
  • [I am] fast becoming a patriot of the most decided stamp. Scornfully as I used to speak and think of Scotland in my hours of bitterness and irritation, I never fail to stand up manfully in defence of it thro' thick and thin, whenever a renegade Scot takes upon him to abuse it.
    • Thomas Carlyle, Letter to Thomas Murray (24 August 1824), quoted in Fred Kaplan, Thomas Carlyle: A Biography (1983), p. 100
  • No one in England has ever wished to prevent the fullest expression of Scottish or Welsh traditions and customs. Indeed, their manifestation is regarded with pleasure and pride by the English people. We have reaped great advantages from this tolerant mood.
    • Winston Churchill, 'Yugoslavia and Europe' (29 October 1937), quoted in Winston Churchill, Step by Step, 1936–1939 (1939; 1947), p. 169


  • Look at England, whose mighty power is now felt, and for centuries has been felt, all around the world. It is worthy of special remark, that precisely those parts of that proud island which have received the largest and most diversified populations, are to day the parts most distinguished for industry, enterprise, invention and general enlightenment. In Wales, and in the Highlands of Scotland the boast is made of their pure blood, and that they were never conquered, but no man can contemplate them without wishing they had been conquered. They are far in the rear of every other part of the English realm in all the comforts and conveniences of life, as well as in mental and physical development. Neither law nor learning descends to us from the mountains of Wales or from the Highlands of Scotland. The ancient Briton, whom Julius Caesar would not have as a slave, is not to be compared with the round, burly, amplitudinous Englishman in many of his qualities of desirable manhood.


  • From the time of the North Briton of the unprincipled Wilkes, a notion has been entertained that the moral spine in Scotland is more flexible than in England. The truth however is, that an elementary difference exists in the public feelings of the two nations quite as great as in the idioms of their respective dialects. The English are a justice-loving people, according to charter and statute; the Scotch are a wrong-resenting race, according to right and feeling: and the character of liberty among them takes its aspect from that peculiarity.
    • John Galt Ringan Gilhaize (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1823) vol. 3, p. 313
  • I feel with a peculiar sympathy all that relates to Scotland. The natives of Scotland, and all those who have Scotch blood in their veins—particularly if, like me, they only have Scotch blood in their veins—are not apt to forget the country from which they sprang. They know its great qualities. They know the solidity of its character.
    • William Ewart Gladstone, Speech in Westminster Palace Hotel (23 May 1878), quoted in The Times (24 May 1878), p. 12
  • For real dangers the people of England and Scotland form perhaps the bravest people in the world. At any rate, there is no people in the world to whom they are prepared to surrender or to whom one would ask them to surrender the palm of bravery. But I am sorry to say there is another aspect of the case, and for imaginary dangers there is no people in the world who in a degree is anything like the English in regard to being the victim of absurd and idle fancies. It is notorious all over the world. The French, we think, are an excitable people; but the French stand by in amazement at the passion of fear and fury into which an Englishman will get him when he is dealing with an imaginary danger.
  • [T]he practice of thrift is not one of the most distinguishing characteristics of the people of this country. It exists more beyond the border, in Scotland, undoubtedly, than it does in England, but it is increasing, and increasing very much, happily, in England itself. I rejoice to say that it has been in the power of the State to effect this by judicious legislation—not by what is called "grandmotherly legislation", of which I for one have a great deal of suspicion—but by legislation thoroughly sound in principle—namely, that legislation which like your savings bank, helps the people by enabling the people to help themselves.
    • William Ewart Gladstone, Speech to the annual meeting of the depositors in the provident savings banks connected with the South-Eastern and Metropolitan Railway Companies in the City Terminus Hotel (18 June 1890), quoted in The Times (19 June 1890), p. 6


  • They wanted to see in the House of Commons a strong Labour party, which would be able to compel the employer class and the landlord class to take their hands off the life of the nation and enable the working people to have a chance to live. They knew the terrible curse landlordism had been to Ireland; it had been the same in Scotland. It had been a curse all the time and always, and they wanted to get rid of it. They could only do so by having Labour members in Parliament to fight the cause of the common people.
    • Keir Haride, Speech in Ayr to the Glasgow branch of the National Union of Dock Labourers (25 August 1906), quoted in The Times (27 August 1906), p. 4
  • Surely we had got beyond that stage of civilisation as represented by war and the age of barbarism. What was the deduction from Mr. Haldane's observations? That the mass of the people in the industrial army corresponded to the rank and file in the military Army were to have no opinions, no individuality, no will of their own, no right to think, and no power to act, that they were to be obedient and in subjection to those placed in power and authority over them. That kind of dogma might do for the military feudalism of Germany, but it was alien and contrary to the freedom-loving spirit of Scotland, which inspired the poems of Robert Burns.
    • Keir Hardie, Speech in the town hall of Darvel, Ayrshire (12 January 1907), quoted in The Times (14 January 1907), p. 11
  • Of course, Scotsmen are not foreigners. They are fellow-subjects of ours, and they are in the same position as any other fellow-subjects, with the important exception that their system of jurisprudence differs in very important particulars from ours . . . and to call a Scotsman an English subject is a perfect absurdity.
    • Higby, L.J., Mac Iver v. Burns (1895), L. R. 2 C. D. [1895], p. 637; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 221-222
  • I thought that I was the only historian, that had at once neglected present power, interest, and authority, and the cry of popular prejudices; and as the subject was suited to every capacity, I expected proportional applause. But miserable was my disappointment: I was assailed by one cry of reproach, disapprobation, and even detestation; English, Scotch, and Irish, Whig and Tory, churchman and sectary, freethinker and religionist, patriot and courtier, united in their rage against the man, who had presumed to shed a generous tear for the fate of Charles I and the Earl of Strafford.
    • David Hume, 'My Own Life' (1776), quoted in David Hume, Essays: Moral, Political, and Literary (1741–1777), ed. Eugene Miller (1985), p. xxxvii




  • It is not then from the alienated affections of Ireland or America, that you [George III] can reasonably look for assistance; still less from the people of England, who are actually contending for their rights, and in this great question, are parties against you. You are not however, destitute of every appearance of support: you have all the Jacobites, Non-jurors, Roman Catholics, and Tories of this country, and all Scotland, without exception. Considering from what family you are descended, the choice of your friends has been singularly directed; and truly, Sir, if you had not lost the Whig interest of England, I should admire your dexterity in turning the hearts of your enemies.
    • Junius, No. 35 (19 December 1769)


  • As I crossed a few hours ago from Scotland I said to myself,—"The majority there are Radicals. They are going to vote next week for the Home Rule Bill. What would they say to a proposal which was to subject them to the same kind of Government or the same kind of men to which, for the sake of party interests, they are willing to sacrifice you?" They would never accept it. I know Scotland well, and I believe that, rather than submit to such a fate, the Scottish people would face a second Bannockburn or a second Flodden.
    • Bonar Law, Speech in Belfast (8 April 1912), quoted in The Times (9 April 1912), p. 7
  • You Clyde boys were pretty hard on me today. But it's fine to hear your Glasgow accent. It's like a sniff of the air of Scotland in the musty atmosphere of this place.
  • The B[ritish] E[mpire] is a sisterhood of nations—the greatest in the world. Look at this table: There sits Africa—English and Boer; there sits CanadaFrench, Scotch & English; there sits Australia, representing many races—even Maoris; there sits India; here sit the representatives of England, Scotland & Wales; all we ask you to do is to take your place in this sisterhood of free nations. It is an invitation, Mr. De Valera: we invite you here.
    • David Lloyd George, Remarks to Frances Stevenson as recorded in her diary (14 July 1921), quoted in A. J. P. Taylor (ed.), Lloyd George: A Diary (1971), pp. 227-228


  • The rose of all the world is not for me.
    I want for my part
    Only the little white rose of Scotland
    That smells sharp and sweet - and breaks the heart.
  • [Upon King James VI's coronation as King of Scots] Sirrah! Ye are God's vassal; there are twa kingdoms in Scotland; there is Christ Jesus the King of the Kirk, whose subject King James VI is, and of whose kingdom he is not a king, nor a lord, nor a head, but a member.
    • Andrew Melville in Klieforth and Munro's The Scottish Invention of America, Democracy and Human Rights: A History of Liberty and Freedom from the Ancient Celts to the New Millenium, page 199
  • It was often asked how it was that Scotland was a democratic country. He believed that the root causes of the spirit of democracy in its truest and highest sense still prevailed and would prevail in Scotland. Some said that the Scottish people were democrats because of John Knox and the parish schools; some said it was due to Burns, who was the truest democrat who ever wrote a verse; some said it was the Presbyterian form of ecclesiastical organisation. He would be content with the result that, somehow or other, there was in that part of the island a sort of reservoir of democratic man-to-man feeling which they hardly found in any other part of the United Kingdom.
  • Humza Yousaf, as far as I can see, is not the First Minister of Scotland [...] He's become the First Minister of Gaza, or an ambassador for Gaza, or something like that. But people like Humza Yousaf, I say it carefully, have infiltrated our system. He does not seem to be much bothered by the situation of the Scottish people, or the people of Glasgow who have one of the lowest life expectancies not just in Britain but anywhere in Europe. He does not seem to care about that or if he does, he does nothing about it. But my word if you look at his social media proclamations … you would think that he was indeed First Minister of Gaza. This is a problem that the Scots must sort out, the Scottish electorate must sort out, indeed the British electorate must sort out.


  • England may as well dam up the waters of the Nile, with bulrushes, as to fetter the step of freedom, more proud and firm in this youthful land, than where she treads the sequestered glens of Scotland, or couches herself among the magnificent mountains of Switzerland. Arbitrary principles, like those, against which we now contend, have cost one king of England his life, another, his crown — and they may yet cost a third his most flourishing colonies.
    • James Otis Jr., As quoted in The Class Book of American Literature (1826) edited by John Frost, Lesson XLIX : Specimen of the Eloquence of James Otis i extracted from "The Rebels."




  • It is by self-reliance, humanly speaking, by the independence which has been the motive and impelling force of our race, that the Scots have thriven in India and in Canada, in Australia and New Zealand, and even in England, where at different times they were banned. As things are we in Scotland do not take much or even ask much from the State, but the State invites us every day to lean upon it... Speaking as a Scotsman to Scotsmen, I plead for our historical character, for the maintenance of those sterling national qualities which have meant so much to Scotland in the past. (Cheers.)
    • Lord Rosebery, speech to Glasgow University (12 June 1908), reported in The Times (13 June 1908), p. 12.
  • I know no other waters to be compared with them;- such streams can only exist under very subtle concurrences of rock and climate. There must be soft rain, not (habitually) tearing the hills down with floods; and the rocks must break irregularly and jaggery.
    • John Ruskin The Sounds of Scottish Streams. Fors Clavigera, letter XXXII, August 1873. also John Ruskin, Selected Writings, selected by Kenneth Clarke, page 101, Penguin Classics, 1991


  • It is the foundation of my Government's mission to build a modern, compassionate and just society in Scotland. A society where we not only meet our immediate needs, but ensure that all can share in the benefits of prosperity. And a Scotland that is ever conscious of its global responsibilities - promoting peace, supporting international development and protecting our environment. Building this society and instilling these values in our population requires the highest standards of teaching in our education system - and a strong ethical dimension.
  • When you have the majority of a country up to the age of 55 already voting for independence, then I think the writing's on the wall for Westminster. I think Scots of my generation and above should be looking at themselves in the mirror and wonder if we by majority, as a result of our decision, have actually impeded progress for the next generation, something no generation should do. The destination is pretty certain – we're only now debating the timescale and the method. I'll contribute to that debate, but I think it's time for new leadership. There are a number of political opportunities coming up. For many, many years, a referendum route wasn't the chosen route of the SNP or Scotland. For many years, there was a gradual attitude to independence. You establish a parliament and establish successively more powers until you have a situation where you're independent in all but name, and then presumably declare yourself to be independent. Many countries have proceeded through that route – there is a parliamentary route where people can make their voice heard as well – so a referendum is only one of a number of routes. I think that’s the best route. That’s always been my opinion but my opinion is only one of many.
  • Many Britons...feel strongly about something which was once called "the alien wedge". And surely it cannot be doubted, even by those who profess allegiance to the "multicultural society", that our society, unlike America, is not of that kind, and therefore that immigration cannot be an object of merely passive contemplation on the part of the present citizenship. There is perhaps no greater sign of the strength of liberalism (a strength which issues, not from popular consensus, but from the political power of the liberal elite) than that it has made it impossible for any but the circumlocutory to argue that the English, the Scots and the Welsh have a prior claim to the benefits of the civilization that their ancestors created, which entitles them to reserve its benefits for themselves.
    • Roger Scruton, The Meaning of Conservatism: Third Edition (2001), p. 62
  • O Caledonia! stern and wild,
    Meet nurse for a poetic child!
    Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,
    Land of the mountain and the flood,
    Land of my sires! what mortal hand
    Can e'er untie the filial band,
    That knits me to thy rugged strand!
  • There is no European nation which, within the course of half a century, or little more, has undergone so complete a change as this kingdom of Scotland. The effects of the insurrection of the 1745 — the destruction of the patriarchal power of the Highland chiefs — the abolition of the heritable jurisdictions of the Lowland nobility and barons — the total eradication of the Jacobite party [...]. [...] This race has now almost entirely vanished from the land, and with it, doubtless, much absurd political prejudice — but also many living examples of singular ad disinterested attachment to the principles of loyalty which they received from their fathers, and of old Scottish faith, hospitality, worth, and honour. [...] for the purpose of preserving some idea of the ancient manners of which I have witnessed the almost total extinction, I have embodied in imaginary scenes [...].
    • Walter Scott, Waverley (1814), Chapter LXXII, A postscript, which should have been a preface
  • It requires a surgical operation to get a joke well into a Scotch understanding.
  • That knuckle-end of England—that land of Calvin, oat-cakes, and sulphur.
    • Sydney Smith, Lady Holland's Memoir (1855), Volume II, p. 17
  • I will venture to say, there is no country existing which is at present more flourishing; no people whose general condition is better, or whose rights and liberties are more firmly secured.
    • Lord Succoth, Lord President, Downie's Case (1794), 24 How. St. Tr. 187; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 222


  • Political self-government, central and local, was an English invention, imported into Scotland by the Grey Ministry, but intensely popular in spite of its foreign origin. Although in temper, creed and outlook on life the Scottish people were less submissive than the English, the civil institutions of their country contained in 1830 no elements of popular election such as always existed here and there in the south of the island. There was no safety-valve for all that pent energy. The Reform Bill, in England an evolution, in Scotland was a revolution, veiled in form of law, and the passions aroused over it had been proportionately more fierce.
    • G. M. Trevelyan, British History in the Nineteenth Century (1782–1901) (1922), p. 243


  • I can not be a traitor, for I owe him no allegiance. He is not my Sovereign; he never received my homage; and whilst life is in this persecuted body, he never shall receive it. To the other points whereof I am accused, I freely confess them all. As Governor of my country I have been an enemy to its enemies; I have slain the English; I have mortally opposed the English King; I have stormed and taken the towns and castles which he unjustly claimed as his own. If I or my soldiers have plundered or done injury to the houses or ministers of religion, I repent me of my sin; but it is not of Edward of England I shall ask pardon.
    • William Wallace, Statement at his trial, rejecting the assertion he was a traitor to Edward I of England (23 August 1305), as quoted in Lives of Scottish Worthies (1831) by Patrick Fraser Tytler, p. 279
    • Variant: I could not be a traitor to Edward, for I was never his subject.
  • The side of my family that comes from Scotland, hell, they didn’t even worry about fighting people outside of Scotland. Highlanders and lowlanders just fought the hell out of each other.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 692-93.
  • Give me but one hour of Scotland,
    Let me see it ere I die.
    • William E. Aytoun, Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers—Charles Edward at Versailles, line 111.
  • Hear, Land o' Cakes and brither Scots
    Frae Maiden Kirk to Johnny Groat's.
    • Robert Burns, On Capt. Grose's Peregrinations Thro' Scotland.
  • It's guid to be merry and wise,
    It's guid to be honest and true,
    It's guid to support Caledonia's cause,
    And bide by the buff and the blue!
  • Only a few industrious Scots perhaps, who indeed are dispersed over the face of the whole earth. But as for them, there are no greater friends to Englishmen and England, when they are out on't, in the world, than they are. And for my own part, I would a hundred thousand of them were there [Virginia] for we are all one countrymen now, ye know, and we should find ten times more comfort of them there than we do here.
    • George Chapman, Eastward Ho, Act III, scene 2. Written by Chapman, Jonson, Marston. James I was offended at the reflexion on Scotchmen and the authors were threatened with imprisonment. Extract now found only in a few editions.
  • The Scots are poor, cries surly English pride;
    True is the charge, nor by themselves denied.
    Are they not then in strictest reason clear,
    Who wisely come to mend their fortunes here?
  • The noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees is the high-road that leads him to England.
  • In all my travels I never met with any one Scotchman but what was a man of sense. I believe everybody of that country that has any, leaves it as fast as they can.
  • Now the summer's in prime
    Wi' the flowers richly blooming,
    And the wild mountain thyme
    A' the moorlands perfuming.
    To own dear native scenes
    Let us journey together,
    Where glad innocence reigns
    'Mang the braes o' Balquhither.
  • In short, he and the Scotch have no way of redeeming the credit of their understandings, but by avowing that they have been consummate villains. Stavano bene; per star meglio, stanno qui.

See also

At Wikiversity, you can learn about:
  • Encyclopedic article on Scotland on Wikipedia
  • Media related to Scotland on Wikimedia Commons
  • Scotland travel guide from Wikivoyage
  • The dictionary definition of scotland on Wiktionary
  • Works related to Scotland on Wikisource