Search just our sites by using our customised search engine
Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The Scots Week-End
Wha's Like Us?


The vile Scots...


Scotland has had many an ill picture drawn for her in the world; and as she has been represented in False Draughts, no wonder the Injurys she has suffered are intolerable. All the Spies sent hither have carry'd back an ill Report of the Land, and fill'd the World with weak Banters and Clamour at they know not what.


Oft have I heard thee mourn the wretched lot
Of the poor, mean, despis'd, insulted Scot,


The Scots cannot endure to hear their country or Countrymen spoken against.



SHORTLY to conclude, trust yow no Skott, for they wyll yowse flatteryng wordes, and all is falsholde. - Andrew Boorde, c. 1534.

Treacherous Scotland, to no interest true.-Dryden.

But after this description of these mountains you may ask, of what use can be such monstrous excrescences? - Edward Burt.

Had Cain been Scot, God would have chang'd his doom,
Not forced him wander, but confined him home.

John Cleveland.

There never came a fool out of Scotland: they all stay at home.- Anon.

The Scotch are proverbially poor and proud, we know they can remedy their poverty when they set about it. No one is sorry for them. - Hazlitt.

A land of meanness, sophistry and lust. - Byron.

I have been trying all my life to like Scotchmen, and am obliged to desert from the experiment in despair.... The tediousness of these people is certainly provoking. I wonder if they ever tire one another! - Charles Lamb.

A Scotsman is one who keeps the Sabbath and every other darned thing he can lay his hands upon. - American saying.

After illicit love and flaring drunkenness, nothing appeals so much to Scotch sentiment as having been born in the gutter.- T. W. H. Crosland.

There was once a Scotchman - and now there are millions of the bastards.- Cockney saloon bar jest.


FORASMEKLE as the burgh of Edinburgh, quilk is the chief and principall burgh of this kingdome, quhair the soverane and heich courtes of Parliament, his Majesties Privie the Counsall and Colledge of Justice, and the Courtis of Justiciarie and Admiraltie are ordinarilie haldin and keipt, and quhairunto the best pairt of the subjectis of this kingdome, all degreis, rankis, and qualities hes a commoun and frequent resort and repare - is now become so filthie and uncleine, and the streittis, venallis, wyndis, and cloissis thairoff so overlayd with and coverit with middingis, and with the filth and excrement of man and beist, as the noblemen counsellouris servitouris, and utheris, his Majesties subjectis quha ar ludgit within the said burgh, can not have ane cleine and frie passage and entrie to thair ludgeingis, quhairthrow thair ludgeingis ar becum so lothsume unto thame, as they ar resolvit rather to mak choice of ludgeingis in the Cannongate and Leyth, or some utheris partis about the towne, nor to abyde the sycht of this schamefull uncleinnes and filthiness, quilk is so universall & in such abundance throuch all partis of this burgh, as in the heitt of somer it corruptis the air, and gives greit occasioun of seikness: and forder, this schamefull & beistlie filthiness is most detestable & odious in the sicht of strangeris, quho beholding the same, as constraynet with reassoun to gif out mony disgracefull speiches aganis this burgh, calling it a most filthie pudle of filth & unclaines, the lyk quhairof is not to be seine in no pairt of the world: quhilk being a greate discredite to the haill kingdome, that the principall & heid burgh thairof sould be so void of pollice, civilitie, ordour, & gude governement, as the hie streittis of the same cannot be keipit cleine; & the Lords of Secreit Counsall, understanding perfytlie that the said burgh, and all the streittis & vennallis thairof may very easilie, & with litill ado, be keipit and haldin cleine, gif the people thameselfis wer weill & civillie disposit, & gif the Magistratis tuk caire to caus thame, and everie ane of thame, keip the streittis foranentis thair awin boundis clein, as is done in uther civill, handsome and weill governit cities: THAIRFOIR the Lordis of Secreit Counsall commandis and ordanis, be this presents, &c.-Act of the Privy Council of Scotland anent the Burgh of Edinburgh, March 4, 1619.

Every street shows the nastiness of the Inhabitants, the excrements lye in heaps, and there is not above one house of Office in the Town, which may not improperly be call'd a house of Office itself. In a Morning the Scent was so offensive, that we were forc't to hold our Noses as we past the streets, and take care where we trod for fear of disobliging our shoes, and to walk in the middle at night, for fear of an accident to our heads. The Lodgings are as nasty as the streets, and wash't so seldom, that the dirt is thick eno' to be par'd off with a Shovell. Every room is well scented with a close stoole, and the Master Mistress and Servants lye on a flour, like so many Swine in a Hogsty; This with the rest of their sluttishness, is no doubt the occasion of the Itch, which is so common amongst them. We had the best lodgings we could get, for which we paid 31.5s. Scots, being about 10d. a night English, and yet we went thro' the Master's Bed chamber and the Kitchin and dark Entry, to our room which look't into a place they call the close, full of Nastinesse, 'tis a common thing for a Man or woman to go into these closes at all times of the day, to ease nature. We were mightily afraid of the Itch the first night, which made us keep on our white thread Stockins, and gloves, but we had the good fortune to escape it. - Joseph Taylor (1705)


They christen without the cross, marry without the ring.... They keep no holy-days, nor acknowledge any saint but St. Andrew.... Their Sabbath exercise is a preaching in the forenoon, and a persecuting in the afternoon.... They think it impossible to lose the way to Heaven, if they can but leave Rome behind them.

To conclude, the men of old did no more wonder that the great Messias should be born in so poor a town as Bethlem in Judea, then I do wonder that so brave a prince as King James should be born in so stinking a town as Edinburgh in lousy Scotland. - Sir Anthony Weldon.

The People are proud, arrogant, vainglorious Boasters, bloody, barbarous, and inhuman Butchers. Cousenage and Theft is in Perfection amongst them, and they are perfect English Haters; they shew their Pride in exalting themselves, and depressing their Neighbours. - Anon. (1670).


I will not deny, but Scotland has formerly given very eminent Scholars to the World; nay, I will go further, there are no finer Gentlemen in the World, than that Nation can justly boast of; but then they are such as have travelled, and are indebted to other Countries for those Accomplishments that render them so esteemed, their own affording only Pedantry, Poverty, Brutality, and Hypocrisy... - Scotland Characterised (1701)

Some are of Opinion, that, when the Devil shewed our Saviour the Kingdoms of the Earth, he laid his thumb upon Scotland, and that for a twofold Reason: First, Because it was not like to be any Temptation, Next, Being Part of his Mother's jointure, he could not dispose of it during her Life. - Ibid.

Their Women are, if possible, yet worse than the Men, and carry no Temptations, but what have at Hand suitable Antidotes.... Their Voice is like Thunder, and will as effectually sowre all the Milk in a Dairy, or Beer in a Cellar, as forty Drums beating a Preparative. It is a very Common Thing for a Woman of Quality to say to her Footman, "Andrew, take a fast Gripe of my A-, and help me over the Stile...." - Ibid.

They pretend to be descended from one Madam Scota, Daughter to King Pharaoh; but the best Proof, they give of it, is their Bringing two of the Plagues of Egypt along with them, viz., Lice and the Itch; which they have intailed on their Posterity ever since... - Ibid.


The Minister made such a prodigious noise in broad Scotch, and beat his Pulpit so violently, that he seem'd better qualified for a Drummer than a Parson. The women were most vail'd with plods, which gave us but little opportunity of passing our judgment on the Scotch beuatyes, but those we saw were very indifferent. There is no other place but the Church to take a view of them, for in Edenborough the Kirk allows of no plays, or publick Entertainments, neither are there any walks for the Ladyes; When any one dyes, the Bellman gives notice to all faithful brothers and sisters, and a day or two after acquaints them with his Funerall. It's very observable, that a poor pedlar, tho' almost eaten up with the Itch and Vermin, wears his Sword, and has his little Box resembling a Tapp, fill'd with Mundungoe in his pocket, without which he can't live, and if he has but a few Baubies, or half pennyes, about him, he strutts like an Emperour; They talk of everything in the Superlative degree. - Joseph Taylor (1705).


We here met with good wine, and some mutton pretty well drest; but looking into our beds, found there was no lying in them, so we kept on our cloaths all night and enjoyed ourselves by a good fire, making often protestations never to come into that country again. Idem.


Their Countrey is that barren Wilderness
Which Cain did first in banishment possess;
An open-mouth'd Asylum that received
Your broken Debtors, and your Fugitives,
A sure Retreat for Rebels and for Thieves,
A greedy, dark, degenerate place of Sin
For th' Universe to shoot her Rubbish in:
Europe unloads her Offal in a heap,
And gives the Scots those Jakes She will not keep
And Africk, to compleat their Character
Has empty'd all her outcast issue there,
Pimps, Bullies, Traitors, Robbers, 'tis all one,
Scotland, like wide-jaw'd Hell, refuses none.

The pregnant Roots that in the Garden settles
Are Garlick, Poppies, Artichoks and Nettles;
Potatoes with advantage they can sow
But Honesty's a weed that will not grow.

- A Trip lately to Scotland (1705)


The Plague of Darkness was said to be thick darkness, to be felt, which most undoubtedly there People have a share in, as the word okotin (Darkness) implies; the darkness being appliable to their gross and blockish understandings (as I had it from a Scholar of their own Nation).-The Observator's New Trip to Scotland (1708).

If all European Travellers direct their course to Italy, upon the account of its Antiquity, why should Scotland be neglected, whose wronkled surface derives its original from the Chaos? The first Inhabitants were some Straglers of the Fallen Angels, who rested themselves on the Confines, till their Captain Lucifer provided places for them in his own country. - Ibid.


There are some people who think they sufficiently acquit themselves, and entertain their company, with relating facts of no consequence, but all out of the road of such common incidents as happen every day; and this I have observed more frequently among the Scots than any other nation, who are very careful not to omit the minutest circumstance of time or place; which kind of discourse, if it were not a little relieved by the uncouth terms and phrases, as well as accent and gesture peculiar to that country, would be hardly tolerable.- Swift.


A pedling shopkeeper, that sells a pennyworth of thread, is a merchant, the person who is sent for that thread has received a commission, and, bringing it to the sender, is making a report. A bill to let you know there is a single room to be let, is called a placard, the doors are ports, an enclosed field of two acres is a park, and the wife of a laird of fifteen pounds a year is a lady, and treated with-your ladyship.-Edward Burt.


One thing I should have told you was intolerable, viz., the number of Highlanders that attended a table, whose feet and foul linen, or woollen, I don't know which, were more than a match for the odour of the dishes. - Idem.


The fishermen would not be mentioned but for their remarkable laziness ... until they are driven out by the last necessity, they will not meddle with salt-water. At low ebb, when their boats lie off at a considerable distance from the shore, for want of depth of water, the women tuck up their garments to an indecent height, and wade to the vessels, where they receive their loads of fish for the market; and when the whole cargo is brought to land they take the fishermen upon their backs, and bring them on shore in the same manner. - Idem.


The common habit of the ordinary Highlander is far from being acceptable to the eye . . . this dress is called the quelt; and, for the most part, they wear the petticoat so very short, that in a windy day, going up a hill, or stooping, the indecency of it is plainly discovered. - Idem.


I have been tempted to think that this spirit has in it, by infusion, the seeds of anger, revenge, and murder. This I confess is a little too poetical, but those who drink of it to any degree of excess behave, for the most part, like true barbarians, I think much beyond the effect of other liquors. - Idem.


The houses of the Common people here [Deeside] are shocking to humanity, being formed of loose stones and covered with parings of earth, called devots; or with heath, broom, or branches of fir. The fare of the inhabitants is equally mean: oatmeal, barley cakes, and potatoes, are their usual food; and their drink, whiskey, sweetened with honey. The men are thin, but strong: idle, because they have nothing to stimulate their industry, and indifferent about what is not absolutely necessary to their existence. The women are remarkably plain, and early acquire an aged look; but they are more industrious than their husbands, and are the principal supporters of their families. -Thomas Pennant (1769).


Their weather is not pleasing, half the year is deluged with rain. From the autumnal to the vernal equinox a dry day is hardly known, except when the showers are suspended by a tempest.... Their winter overtakes their summer, and their harvest lies upon the ground drenched with rain. - Journey to the Hebrides.

Mr Johnson's hatred of the Scotch is so well known ... that 'tis perhaps scarcely worth while to write down the conversation between him and a friend of that nation who always resides in London, and who at the return from the Hebrides asked him, with a firm voice, what he thought of his country. "That it is a very vile country to be sure, Sir", (returned for answer Dr. Johnson). Well, Sir! replies the other somewhat mortified, God made it. "Certainly he did (answers Mr Johnson again); but we must always remember that he made it for Scotchmen, and comparisons are odious, Mr S- , but God made Hell".- Mrs Thrale.

Sir Allan M'Lean bragged, that Scotland had the advantage of England, by its having more water. Johnson: "Sir, we would not have your water, to take the vile bogs which produce it. You have too much! A man who is drowned has more water than either of us"; and then he laughed. - Boswell.

I having said that England was obliged to us for gardeners, almost all their good gardeners being Scotchmen - Johnson: "Why, Sir, that is because gardening is much more necessary amongst you than with us, which makes so many of your people learn it. It is all gardening with you. Things which grow wild here, must be cultivated with great care in Scotland. Idem.

Mr Ogilvie was unlucky enough to choose for the topic of his conversation the praises of his native country. He began with saying that there was very rich land around Edinburgh. Goldsmith, who had studied physic there, contradicted this, very untruly, with a sneering laugh. Disconcerted a little by this, Mr. Ogilvie then took a new ground, where, I suppose, he thought himself perfectly safe, for he observed, that Scotland had a great many noble wild prospects. Johnson: "I believe, Sir, you have a great many. Norway, too, has noble wild prospects; and Lapland is remarkable for prodigious, noble, wild prospects. But, Sir, let me tell you, the noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees, is the highroad that leads him to England! " - Idem.

He defended his remark upon the general insufficiency of education in Scotland, and confirmed to me the authenticity of his witty saying on the learning of the Scotch: "Their learning is like bread in a besieged town: every man gets a little, but no man gets a full meal. There is", said he, "in Scotland, a diffusion of learning, a certain portion of it widely and thinly spread. " - Idem.

He would not allow Scotland to derive any credit from Lord Mansfield, for he was educated in England. "Much", said he, "may be made of a Scotchman, if he be caught young." - Idem.

Mr Arthur Lee mentioned some Scotch who had taken possession of a barren part of America, and wondered why they should choose it. Johnson: "Why, Sir, all barrenness is comparative. The Scotch would not know it to be barren." Boswell: "You have now been in Scotland, Sir, and say if you did not see meat and drink enough there". Johnson: "Why yes, Sir; meat and drink enough to give the inhabitants sufficient strength to run away from home". - Idem.

After musing for some time, he said, "I wonder how I should have any enemies; for I do harm to nobody". Boswell: "In the first place, Sir, you will be pleased to recollect, that you set out with attacking the Scotch; so you got a whole nation for your enemies". Johnson: "Why, I own, that by my definition of oats I meant to vex them". Boswell: "Pray, Sir, can you trace the cause of your antipathy to the Scotch?" Johnson: "I cannot, Sir". - Idem.


The humid and penetrating atmosphere of Scotland had for some time affected me in a very disagreeable manner, notwithstanding the active life I led. I found that the mists, the frequent rains, the change of winds, the sharpness of the air, and the absence of the sun plunged me into an involuntary melancholy, which I should not long have been able to support. - Faujas de Saint-Fond.


Put no faith in aught that bears the name of music while you are in Scotland, he said; you have not a fiddler in France who would not make a Rossini at Edinburgh. In my character of consul it is my duty to protect the subjects of His Most Christian Majesty against all delusive pretences. I was taken in on my first arrival, and all you have to do is to profit by my experience. I was asked to a private concert; I suffered the infliction of several airs with exemplary patience. My host asked me if I were not enchanted. "Very much," I replied, "but I like a little more variety; those mournful ditties shake my nerves." "What mournful ditties! they are nuptial airs." You may conceive how mortified I was, as well as my entertainer: I thought I was listening to funeral chants; as to the bagpipes, they positively put me to the rack. - Amedee Pichot (1822).


Among ourselves, the Scotch, as a nation, are particularly disagreeable. They hate every appearance of comfort themselves and refuse it to others. Their climate, their religion, and their habits are equally averse to pleasure. Their manners are either distinguished by a fawning sycophance (to gain their own ends, and conceal their natural defects), that makes one sick; or by a morose, unbending callousness, that makes one shudder. - Hazlitt.


There was very little amusement in the room but a Scotchman to hate. Some people you must have observed have a most unpleasant effect upon you when you see them speaking in profile-this Scotchman is the most accomplished fellow in this way I ever met with. The effect was complete. It went down like a dose of bitters, and I hope will improve my digestion. At Taylor's too, there was a Scotchman - not quite so bad for he was as clean as he could get himself. - Keats.


Farewell, farewell, beggarly Scotland,
Cold and beggarly poor countrie!
If ever I cross thy border again,
The muckle deil must carry me.

There's but one tree in a' the land,
And that's the bonnie gallows tree;
The very nowte look to the south,
And wish that they had wings to flee.

Farewell, farewell, beggarly Scotland,
Brose & bannocks, crowdy & kale!
Welcome, welcome, jolly old England,
Laughing lasses & foaming ale!

'Twas when I came to merry Carlisle,
That out I laughed loud laughters three:
And if I cross the Sark again
The muckle deil must carry me.

Farewell, farewell, beggarly Scotland,
Kiltit kimmers wi' carroty hair,
Pipers who beg that your honours would buy
A bawbee's worth of their famished air.

I'd rather keep Cadwaller's goats,
And feed upon toasted cheese and leeks,
Than go back again to the beggarly North
To herd 'mang loons wi' bottomless breeks.

James Hogg


To be fou' or, as he would put it, to have a drappie in his eye, is the Scotchman's notion of bigness and freedom and manly independence. He is a ranter and roarer in his cups, and on the whole much more distressing to meet drunk than sober-which is saying a great deal.- T. W. H. Crosland.


The Scots are not easy in conversation. They are more anxious to shine than to please. Everyone wishes to be thought wise, and you shall often see a stupid fellow entrench himself in gravity and preserve a profound silence, from the selfish fear of exposing his ignorance, or risking the little share of reputation he may possess. But see this man in another company where he knows he is surrounded by those more stupid than himself, he shines away and engrosses the whole conversation. His hearers hate him for his superiority; yet they are contented he should shine, rather than that they should run the risk of discomfiture by opposing him. In all companies, where there is an obvious diversity of talent, is to be observed this submission of inferior to superior ability; and when persons of equal colloquial abilities are thrown together, their discourse is rather disputation than conversation. An excessive frigidity is the consequence of the want of the frankness, which with us is the heart and soul of social enjoyment. A cautious reserve appears to pervade the breast of every Scotsman; he answers a question as if he were undergoing a cross-examination; the mysterious habit grows upon him, till he makes a secret of things which it would do him no manner of harm although all the world knew them.

An Edinburgh gentleman, who has all the open straightforwardness of English manner, said to me the other day, "I cannot endure the selfish reserve of my countrymen. They become tolerable only when they are half tipsy." - An English Commercial Traveller, 1815


It requires a surgical operation to get a joke well into a Scotch understanding. Their only idea of it, or rather that inferior variety of this electric talent which prevails occasionally in the North, and which, under the name of WUT, is so infinitely distressing to people of good taste, is laughing immoderately at stated intervals. They are so imbued with metaphysics that they even make love metaphysically. I overheard a young lady of my acquaintance, at a dance in Edinburgh, exclaim, in a sudden pause of the music, "What you say, my Lord, is very true of love in the aibstract, but " Here the fiddlers began fiddling furiously, and the rest was lost. No nation has so large a stock of benevolence of heart: if you meet with an accident, half Edinburgh immediately flocks to your door to inquire after your pure hand or your pure foot, and with a degree of interest that convinces you their whole hearts are in the inquiry. You find they usually arrange their dishes at dinner by the points of the compass; "Sandy, put the gigot of mutton to the south, and move the singet sheep's head a wee bit to the nor-wast". If you knock at the door, you hear a shrill female voice from the fifth flat shriek out, "Wha's chapping at the door?" which is presently opened by a lassie with short petticoats, bare legs, and thick ankles. My Scotch servants bargained they were not to have salmon more than three times a week, and always pulled off their stockings, in spite of my repeated objurgations, the moment my back was turned. Their temper stands anything but an attack on their climate. They would have you even believe they can ripen fruit; and, to be candid, I must own in remarkably warm summers I have tasted peaches that made most excellent pickles; and it is upon record that at the siege of Perth, on one occasion, the ammunition failing, their nectarines made admirable cannon balls. Even the enlightened mind of Jeffrey cannot shake off the illusion that myrtles flourished at Craig Cook. In vain I have represented to him that they are of the genus Carduus, and pointed out their prickly peculiarities. In vain I have reminded him that I have seen hackney coaches drawn by four horses in the winter, on account of the snow; that I had rescued a man blown flat against my door by the violence of the winds, and black in the face; that even the experienced Scotch fowls did not venture to cross the streets, but sidled along, tails aloft, without venturing to encounter the gale. Jeffrey sticks to his myrtle illusions, and treats my attacks with as much contempt as if I had been a wild visionary, who had never breathed his caller air, nor lived and suffered under the rigour of his climate, nor spent five years in discussing metaphysics and medicine in that garret of the earth-that knuckle-end of England-that land of Calvin, oatcakes, and sulphur. Sydney Smith.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus