Friday 28 December 2012

The Making of the Ulsterman (pt2)


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 Edited by JAMES CARSON. 
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By Rev. Dr. J. S. MacIntosh.

From "The Scotch-Irish in America." 1892.


Common is the saying, and not more common than true, blood will tell, blood of the Scot begins to tell. Rover and viking and pushing pioneer of the earlier days reappear, and wherever there is fighting and honour, and gain and open pathways to leadership and glory, the adventurous Scot is found. Europe begins to know the old raiders' grandsons as the "Scotch Guardsmen and Scotch Archers" of France, such as was Crawford and Leslie and Quentin Durward; as the "Scotch Brigade" of Holland; as the "Pikemen" of great Gustavus, and as the vanguard in many a European host. The schools and colleges and seminaries of France, Germany, and Italy find not a few of their keenest intellects from the old Borders. In the Hanse towns, and from the Baltic to the Mediterranean, every busy centre and trading town knows the canny Scot.

But he has before him the newer, and finer, and more world-marking career as colonizer; and the hour of his transplantation has come.

Stand upon the cliffs of Donegal; look sharply and knowingly at the rocks beneath your feet! Do you not recognise them? Have you never seen them before? Dive down deep beneath those rolling surges that thunder against the grim buttresses of the coast. Search with the geologist eye the seabed. You will find that another solid roadway runs from shore to shore, as from Staffa to the Causeway. That solid roadbed is the very rock of the old Grampians. And as the firm stone of the two lands are one, beneath the sea, so across the sea the same hard, the same hard, strong reliable race is to stretch - the

Lowlander Becomes the Ulsterman.

In that seed bed of the Strathclyde were to be found the sires and grandsires of the world's mightiest colonisers -- the true twin brothers of the Puritan. It is very worthy of notice that the Englishman was transplanted to America ere he grew to be the unchangeable "John Bull," and the Lowlanders out of whom were to come our Scotch-Irish, were moved across to Ulster ere they became fixed for ever as the Sawneys of to-day. Some folks migrate too soon; and some move too late; the vanguard from the Lowlands started just at the true moment for the doing of their own plainly marked divine work.

It has been well said by a writer in the Quarterly Review: "For two generations." -- before James the First -- "increasing intercourse with Calvinistic churches on the continent, the discipline of adversity applied by high commission courts and bishops, and above all by the growth of education and the spread of Bible reading had favoured the growth of that serious and high-minded enthusiasm which makes the Puritan epoch. It is difficult to understand how a single habit of reading the Bible should have transformed the life of a nation. We must compare with it the still more sudden and complete changes produced by like causes in Scotland, where the English speaking population were converted in a few years from a lukewarm conformity to Roman Catholicism to a fervent attachment to Calvinism. There, as in England, the growth of education favoured the growth of new opinions. Protestantism and the popular forms of government were understood to be kindled forces; there, as in England the movement was felt most strongly among the lower and middle classes. The more logical and compromising character of the Scottish national character agreed with the stricter forms of Swiss Calvinism; and the same phenomena which produced the Puritan party in England made the Lowland Scotch a Puritan Nation."

Just at the critical moment, when the finality of the Scotch was threatened. just at the moment when he could become another and yet remain essentially the uprooting of the promising sapling comes, and God oversees the transplanting.

The Plantation of the Scotch into Ulster

Kept for the world the essential and the best features of the Lowlander. But the vast change gave birth to and trained a somewhat new and distinct man, soon to be needed for a great task which only this Ulsterman could do; and that work -- which none save God, the guide, foresaw -- was with Puritan to work the revolution that gave humanity the American Republic.

Now into the right or wrong of England's way of settling war-wasted Ulster by planting groups of colonists, we will not enter; here we take simple historic fact -- thus 't was done. And well was it for the world, and first for Ireland, that 't was done.

One of the greatest facts in history is the plantation of Ulster; the sixteenth of April, 1605, should be for us all memorable, by all historic, ancestral and constitutional rights, for that sixteenth day of April was all the state papers show, "The Day of the Great Charter."

On that day was given forth by the English court that charter under which the "Undertakers" were authorised to start a movement, the end of which the world sees not yet.

But it is a bright and sunny day of middle May which is in many respects the still greater day, for that May day was the landing of the Lowlanders to restore Ulster and largely remake history. We journey to Plymouth Rock and tell of the landing of the Puritans; and none too often nor too fondly. But let us not forget that the Ulsterman has his day, and that America has a right to know and keep the day, the May day of the Ulster landing, for that too lives in the very heart of this land.

By that landing, the seat of a new empire has been found. New empire? Yes, empire; for imperial by all proofs and tokens was that race that came to Ulster to change it from savage wilds to smiling fields and busy towns.

As is broadly believed, and as Buckle has proved, province and people are ever closely linked.

What, then, the environment for this great evolution in history? The dominating life at the centre is a man; every inch of him the off-spring of the northern sea rover and of the Strathclyde home maker -- the child of waves, and hills, and rocks. And he stands now in a land singularly suited to him -- a province of strangely varied scenery, a coast almost unrivalled, in the Norway and Iceland of his Norse sires; a province of rolling hills and deep glens, of wide-spread moors and far-stretch loughs, of sunny lakes dotted with fairy islets, of silvery streams where the salmon leap and the trout frisk; a province which bars out the northern seas by the bold strengths of the Causeway and shuts off the southern Celt by the ramparts of Mourne Hills; a province dented deeply to the north with Carrick Lough and Swilly Bay, and to the south by the sea arms pf Carlingford and Sligo; a province strikingly resembling the old home in the Strathclyde, but gifted with softer and balmier breezes, and warmer seas that shall tend to soften, and mellow, and sweeten the overhardness of the Lowlander.

In Ulster now stands

The Transplanted Scot,

The man of opportunity, of utility and order, the man of law and self-respect and self-reliance; with a king's charter in his hand, with a king's smile upon him, with the cheers of England's hopeful civilization encouraging him, and before him a war-wasted country to reclaim and to hold. War-wasted country! Yes; savage feuds and forays had left it a dismal desert! Quaintly the old Montgomery Manuscripts tell the tale -- they found the lands "more wasted than America when the Spaniards landed there" -- between Donaghadee and Newtownards -- "thirty cabins could not be found, nor any stone walls, but ruined, roofless churches, and a few vaults at Grey Abbey, and a stump of an old castle as Newton." From the Calendar of State Papers for Ireland during the years 1608 to 1610, we learn the Ulster was then the most savage part of Ireland!

But there stands the soldier of the world's vanguard of civilization, the reorganising son of sires always leaving their marks in a finer life and larger prosperity, the daring son of daring invaders, who were always victors; and the brave pioneer faces the desert and its dangers with hardiness, with fertility of resource, with industry and thrift.

And now the forces changing the Lowlander into the Ulsterman begin to work. What are these forces? Whence came they. And what changes did they work. Why is the transplanted Scot not just like the old Scot? What are the discriminating marke of the Ulsterman, and how did he gain them? These are questions that must be answered.

Our American term -- the Scotch-Irish -- is not known even in Ulster, save among the very few who have learned the ways of our common speech. The term known in Britain is the Ulsterman; and in Ireland it is the "sturdy Northern," or at times the "black Northern."

The transplanted Scot begins as a chartered and favoured colonist. He had expectations, large expectations of special favour; and he had a right from given pledges to entertain these expectations. This point has been but seldom stated; and never been marked and emphasised, as the facts of the case and the needs of the after-tale call for. You can not measure aright his burning sense of wrong at a later day; you can not understand his methodized madness till he shows his broken treaties and dishonoured compacts. He had the right to expect the backing of England, the fullest enjoyment of his hard-won home, the co-equal privilege of citizenship, the largest possession of freedom in both church and state. This statement can be easily verified to the fullest from the family history of many old Ulster family histories, from the Montgomery and Hamilton MSS., from state papers, and from a proclamation inviting settlers for Ulster and dated at Edinburgh, 28th of March, 1609.

This chartered and favoured colonist, the destined maker of a new state and the father of a fresh manhood for the struggling world, faces bravely the many hazards he had already measured and braced himself to meet. A man of destiny, he was a true pioneer like our own Scotch-Irish in this land. There is wide difference  between the mere pioneer and the pioneer-colonist; we know that there are men who can be only scouts and advance-frontiersmen and men, again, who can be both scouts and settlers. The Ulsterman was the latter. He joins dash and daring to self-poise and self-dependence. The two cities of Ulster, Belfast and Derry, are the evidences of the transplanted Scot; Belfast is self-made and Derry is self-kept. Picked men they were, these favoured colonists. Doubt has been expressed on this very point. But the doubt has sprung either from ignorance or sectarian bigotry or race hatreds. In the calendar of state papers for Ireland -- 1615-1625 -- we have among many other clear statements the official report of Capt. Pynnar, who, sent by the government to inspect the Ulster settlers, tells in plain, honest words exactly what he then found. We have further the accounts in the register of the Privy Council of Scotland of the great care taken in the selection of the "undertakers." We know that King James gave his own personal oversight to the plantation. We know that the Duke of Lennox, under the royal eyes, drew from Dumbartonshire, that the Earl of Abercorn from Ayrshire, and that from Gallowayshire and Dumfriesshire, Crawford, Cunningham, Ochiltree, and MacLellan carefully selected colonists for the new venture. In one of the letters of Sir Arthur Chichester, Deputy of Ireland, we rend as follows: "The lord Ucheltrie arrived in Ireland at the time of our being in Armagh, accompanied with thirty-three followers, gentlemen of sort, a minister, some tenants, free-holders, and artificers." In another communications to government the keen-eyed deputy says: "The Scottishmen come with better port (i.e. manifest character), they are better accompanied and attended" -- (than even the English settlers). Just as to these western shores came the stronger souls, the more daring, and select, so to Ulster from the best parts of lower Scotland came the picked men to be Britain's favoured colonists.

(To be continued.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 27 December 1918 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week for several years. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

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