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Honour, along with Fin MacCowl and other legendary heroes; an isolated exploit or two of his has strayed into the Scottish ballads; 2 while "Robert Hude and Lytill Johne" took a place, alongside of the Abbot of Unreason, in the interludes and other satirical representations by which at first the Reformation was advanced, and afterwards the Puritanism of Scottish piety was scandalised. But the true Scottish counterpart of the southern hero is not the Robin Hood of Scottish literature, but the legendary Wallace. Both became, in popular imagination and in the literature which popular imagination creates, ideal representatives of the popular struggle against Norman oppression; and the difference in the portraiture of the two heroes must be ascribed to the difference of the forms in which that oppression came to be most keenly felt north and south of the Tweed respectively. The cruel forest laws of Norman England were unknown in the north; and the Normans first made themselves felt for evil in Scotland when Edward I. began the long-sustained attempt to bring it into feudal subjection to the English crown.
If the ballads of Scotland had kept up in the Scottish mind an enthusiasm for different great cycles of
1 Stanza CVI.
2 Child's "English and Scottish Ballads," vol. v. p. 187.
3 Irving's "History of Scottish Poetry," pp. 445-450.
4 See Burton's "History of Scotland," vol. ii. pp. 156, 157. It is not impossible, therefore, to combine the theory of the mythological origin of the Robin Hood legend with all that is essential to Thierry's theory of its historical origin ("History of the Norman Conquest," vol. ii. pp. 223–232, Hazlitt's translation) The reader of Ivanhoe need scarcely be reminded that Scott takes the same view as Thierry.
romance, we might have been able to trace a different influence to the ballads which form each of the different cycles; but, as it is, we have simply to contemplate the effect on the Scottish character of that romance which infuses a peculiar spirit into many of our ballads. What is it, then, that essentially constitutes an incident, a life, a character, which is described as romantic, because partaking of this spirit?
Any phenomenon in human nature is said to be romantic, when it is not a spiritless obedience to external rule, but the outflowing of a spirit from within. A romantic life, therefore, does not present the uniformity of one that is destitute of romance, for the spirit of a man is more varied in its impulses than an external law in its operations. It is on this account that a man who moves unswervingly in a rut which has long been worn by the wheels of custom, and whose life is but the monotonous repetition of similar tasks from day to day, is spoken of as unromantic; whereas we attribute more or less romance to a character in proportion to the eccentricity of the movements in which it reveals the changeful centre of its action-the variable moods of the human soul. This is the sense which must be attached to romance, when it is traced to its source in human nature; and it is in this sense that the critics have distinguished the Romanticists of literature from the French or classical school. It is evidently, therefore, in this sense also that we must seek to discover the romance of the Scottish character, of which the romantic ballads are at once an outgrowth and a support.
Where, then, are we to look for romance of this sort in the character of the Scottish people? The national peculiarities of the Scots may be, in a large measure, explained by the fact that Norman feudalism never became thoroughly organized among them, as many idioms of their dialect are due to its having been comparatively so little affected by the Norman-French. To this they owe the strong love of personal freedom which has distinguished them from a very early period, appearing in the peculiar mildness of their laws in reference to thralls, and in the recognition of rights possessed by the meanest peasant, at a time when the recognition of such rights was incomprehensible to the feudalism of other nations.2 It need not be observed, that the love of personal freedom is of the very essence of the romantic spirit.
The spirit of romance may also be traced in every great epoch of Scottish history. The love of national freedom, which characterised the long struggle against feudal subjection to a powerful neighbour, was but a manifestation of that romantic tendency which rejects the tyranny of any force foreign to the spirit of the nation. The next great movement-the Reformation of the sixteenth century-was, in many of the peculiar features which that movement assumed in Scotland, an exhibition of the noblest spirit of romance. Perhaps more unequivocally than any other Reformed. national Church, that of Scotland proclaimed the great principles of Protestantism. It ignored any real dis
1 Burton's "History of Scotland," vol. ii. pp. 151-154.
tinction between clergy and laity, asserting the direct responsibility of each human being to God, who, in the memorable language of its symbols, is declared to be "the alone Lord of the conscience." It therefore recognized the independent worth of each individual in God's universe; and while this is implied in several remarkable facts connected with the organization and service of the Church, it also found the most beneficent practical embodiment in the first national system which attempted to educate each individual into fitness for the responsibilities and the rights accorded to him by the Reformation. In the great struggle of the following century appeared another of the nobler outgoings of romance: the struggle was simply a passionate but indomitable protest against the imposition of Church forms which were not the outgrowth of the national spirit, and by which the national spirit could not be fettered. The great events of Scottish history subsequent to the Union have been mainly ecclesiastical; but in these may be traced the same spirit of romance. This spirit throws light perhaps on the almost fanatical horror of read prayers or even of read sermons in the service of the Church; but certainly it is displayed in the persistent opposition to any system of appointing pastors without the choice of the congregation being consulted; and everyone acquainted with the history of Scotland during the last hundred years, knows what an important part that opposition has played.
Perhaps, in conclusion, some will see the most unequivocal proof of a romantic spirit among the Scottish people in the love of adventure which has characterised
"the Scot abroad." I believe that I have sketched some profounder and more general manifestations of that spirit; but there cannot be a doubt that the narrow boundaries of their fatherland, and the extremely limited nature of its material resources in former times, have been felt by many Scotsmen to afford but a small range for the play of a romantic spirit, and have consequently driven many, in whom that spirit was strong, into foreign lands. It is also unquestionable that the inheritance of the national spirit, which they have carried with them, has given them a force to clear a way for themselves through the obstacles of nature and the entanglements of society, wherever they have gone, from the time when nearly every European university boasted of its Scotch professor1 till the present day, when Scotsmen or their descendants are found occupying prominent situations in the United States and in all the colonies of Great Britain.
1 See Sir William Hamilton's "Discussions," pp. 119–121.