• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

Scotland! Scotland!

Back to "Sunshine on Leith" and "I'm on My Way". Keep your eyes open at 1:09.

Another of my flights of fancy - I appreciate the continued toleration.

Some loose editing has been done. The opinions and errors are mine.

In 1651 Thomas Hobbes was surrounded by Chaos, a world of all against all where life was nasty brutish and short.

He offered a solution. But the world was full of solutions. And everyone believed their solution was the right solution.

Chaos prevailed.

But eventually everything passes. People just get worn out and can’t find the energy to continue fighting.

By 1689 John Locke was getting a hearing from the public when he published “A Letter Concerning Toleration”. This was the age old plea of Rodney King: “Why can’t we just get along?” The thought was not original. It hadn’t gained much traction.

However Locke was in a privileged position. He was attached to the household of Mary Stewart.

He had become attached after 1683 while he was hiding out in the Netherlands dodging her father’s authorities. Mary was living in the Netherlands having married her first cousin, (it’s an Anglican thing,) the Dutchman William of Orange. While he was in the Netherlands he found he was among friends who all gravitated to Mary’s side. She shared their beliefs. Those beliefs were shared by her husband – her cousin, by the Dutch people she had been living with since she married William, by the Scots who had been fighting for those beliefs alongside the Dutch since 1566 and who had implemented those beliefs in Scotland in 1560. Those beliefs were shared by a community of French, disparagingly called Huguenots, who had originated many of those beliefs. They were also shared by a large portion of English society.

Unfortunately for Mary they were not shared by her father nor her uncle the king.

This was also unfortunate for the English where the dispute took to the taverns and the fields. It was considerably more unfortunate for the Scots where they were being killed by the King’s Men for not believing the right thing. They were forced out of their meeting places. They were hanged. They were drowned. They were run through. Men, women and children. Without trial.

They learned to meet in fields. To carry swords to their meetings. To post four armed pickets at the corners of the meeting while they listened to their ministers speak. The pickets kept their eyes open for the King’s Men who were not particular about observing the Lord’s Day of rest and were quite happy to continue their slaughter on the Sabbath. Meanwhile the ministers spoke to the meeting – comforting and supporting – passing the news - and agitating. It was the last bit that bothered the King’s Men.

It was those conditions that drove the ministers and their audiences, their congregants, out of Scotland to refuge in the Netherlands and into the arms of Mary.

It was also unfortunate for the Irish who had to suffer as colonies of the King’s Men in Ireland tried to keep the colonies of Scots under control while the Scots colonies were being reinforced by angry refugees from the land of the Scots.

In truth this was nothing new for the Irish. They had been observing this since their Columba and his Culdees had been sparring with the followers of a Welshman named David over whether or not Three Chapters should be removed from a book. Some Greek name of Justinian had decreed that those Three Chapters should be removed from a codex that was available all over the Greek’s domain. Finian, a scribe at the eastern edge of that domain, and one of his pupils, Columba, disagreed over the implementation. They involved their families in the dispute and came to blows in a field called Cul Dreimhne in what it now Ulster. The land then was claimed by the Connels, Columba’s family and was known as Tyrconnel. Columba’s family lost and Columba was exiled. Fortunately he had relatives across the water between Tyree and Kintyre. Just across from the Antrim (the people of Antyre). The locals had been trading good quality stone across the waters for better than 4000 years. They had also being raiding and trading sheep and people for the same length of time. Columba’s relatives gave him a wee island of his own called Iona.

The Welshman, David, who was all in with some modern ideas that originated in Milan with an African from Carthage, Augustine of Hippo, a scribe of the local governor, Ambrose, blamed the whole mess on another Greek, Pelagian. Pelagian seems to have been a popular name at the time. Two of the Greek governors of Rome were known as Pelagian. They preceded another Greek name of Gregory. They went by the title Pope. Their support all came from Byzantion, some people called it Constantinople, by way of a regional governor in the town of Ravenna.

Columba lost the battle at Cul Dreimhne but the war between his side and David’s side would continue for generations and become part of the culture. Nobody remembering why the fight started.

But back to John Locke.

Mary’s uncle died and her father became king. In less than four years he managed to perturb the locals on both sides of the Scots-English border to such an extent that they went looking for ways to get rid of him. They found help in the Netherlands. They offered the throne to Mary and her husband William. If only they would stop the killing.

Enter John Locke.

“Why can’t we all just get along?”

“A Letter Concerning Toleration”

Does it really matter if Columba or David was right?

Does it really matter if those Three Chapters were included in Finian’s Psalter? Which way we calculate Easter? How we style our hair? What name we call the being, the deity that created everything, the great architect of the universe?

Why don’t we let everybody decide for themselves what is right? What is the truth of the matter? Just so long as they don’t upset their neighbours. Let everybody choose their own path. Some will be right. Some will be wrong. Nobody will know for sure until they have left this world. And by then it will be too late.

Hell may exist. Some may find themselves there. Despite their best intentions. Insh’allah.

The cynic’s responses:

“We all go to Hell our own way.”

“The way to Hell is paved with good intentions”.

“Pass the beer.”

As John Locke’s pupil, Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Shaftesbury put it in 1709, we all .need to learn to rub along together and tolerate a bit of friction and the pain that goes along with it. That rubbing along, the rough with the smooth, makes the rough smooth and polishes the smooth to a high gloss and turns them into jewels. It makes for a polished society. Or in the Scots words of the day a “polite” society.

Locke had a sellable message and willing audience. But how to get the message out? How to distribute it? Transmit it? Printing pamphlets would only get you so far. Especially where, even in Scotland that had had universal education as government policy since 1560, especially where most people couldn’t read. The primary means of communication was oral. The Twitterverse of the day, the 140 letter blurbs, were supplied by the Town Cryers, “Oyer! Oyer! Oyer!” accompanied by clang of bell, beat of drum or blow of bagpipes. But Locke’s message needed the audience to be comfortable and paying attention. That meant getting them back into the comfort of their meeting places where they could hear what their ministers had to tell them this week.

That could be problematical.

First ministers convinced of the message needed to be found.

That meant convincing ministers of the message.

Young brains are easier to convince than old brains.

The obvious places to start were the schools for new ministers.

But the new ministers were being taught by old ministers with old brains.

The solution was simple if not particularly tolerant. Not liberal at all.

The solution was to create a safe space where all those inclined to agree with John Locke that toleration was necessary could gather. These new ministers would then be exposed to these new ideas.

You could build a new safe space.S

But there being Scots involved it was cheaper to repurpose an existing space. It would also be faster. Accordingly it was decided to repurpose the University of Glasgow. The decider was William Carstares.

William Carstares was Mary Stewart’s Scottish Chaplain. He and John Locke were well acquainted. They were both well acquainted with Mary’s preferred English Chaplain, John Tillotson. She wanted him for Archbishop of Canterbury because of his tolerant views.

John Tillotson picked up his views from a group of academics at Cambridge University called “latitudinarians”, people willing to give others a bit of latitude in the arguments, people that were broad minded. Broadly speaking. People that could tolerate a bit of chaos in their discussions and their lives. Unfortunately for Mary Tillotson didn’t want the job. Eventually he was given the job regardless and performed well. An American congregationalist from Massachusetts that met Tillotson, one with very firm views, said that if Tillotson had been Archbishop on 1619 there would have been no need for the Mayflower to sail to Massachusetts. The American was Increase Mathers. His son was Cotton Mathers. Salem witch finder.

When John Locke’s countrymen, Mary Stewart’s British subjects, Scots, English and Welsh, asked for reprieve from her aggravating Uncle James she returned to the island of Great Britain with her husband, her advisor, her chaplains and her sister. Mary returned with her husband William of Orange, her Scots chaplain William Carstares, her English chaplain, John Tillotson, and their friend and advisor, John Locke.

Also on board was her sister Anne Stewart. Mary had agreed with Anne that after Mary and William had both died then Anne should become Queen, assuming that Mary and William hadn’t had any children. Anne got her turn at the crown in 1702. She organized the Union of England and Wales with Scotland, and the combining of the Parliaments and Privy Councils and churches with their politicians and bureaucrats and clerics, in 1707. Despite being married, her husband was Fredrick of Denmark, and becoming pregnant seventeen times, she died without leaving an heir. Most of her pregnancies miscarried. Only five made it to their christening. Only one of the five made it past their second birthday. He died at eleven.

The Act of Union the joined England, Wales and Scotland into the United Kingdom of Great Britain was her legacy. When she died it was passed on to the grandson of Mary and Anne’s grandfather James Stewart VI, to George, the Holy Roman Empire’s Elector of Hanover. He ruled Great Britain and Hanover from 1714 to 1727.

This period of time, from the arrival of Mary at Torbay in Devon in 1688 to the passing of George I in 1727 proved to be the making of the modern United Kingdom and its institutions.

And the first, and arguably the most important of those institutions was the University of Glasgow. Not the old university with its ministers thumping the catechism of the Covenants and Confessions into malleable young minds. But the new University of Glasgow, the safe space created violently by the authoritarian decree of William Carstares, backed the threat of royal force. The University of Glasgow supervised by William Carstare’s brother in law William Dunlop, with a new Professor of Divinity, James Wodrow. The University of Glasgow that taught a new curriculum. That taught an enlightened curriculum. That taught of seeing the world in a new light, a new licht in Scots.

It taught new presbyterian ministers, ministers that would serve communities of Scots in both Scotland and Ireland, to see the world differently.

How to see it? That was a matter of debate. And the debate never ended.

1651 to 1727.
76 years.
A lifetime.
A world re-organized.

And a critical act of violence in a university in Glasgow in 1692.

The entire staff were fired.

And replaced.
"Finian, a scribe at the eastern edge of that domain"

Now that was just plain dumb. Brain fart.

"Finian, a scribe at the eastern western edge of that domain"