Beginners
Experts
Burns Supper
Discussion Forum
Newsletter
Poems & Songs
The Letters
Federation
E - Membership
Schools
Contributions
Links
Top Features
Search the Site


Conclusion


At the end of this examination we are now in the position to summarize and to evaluate crucial aspects of this analysis. First I would like to remind the reader of the fact that the Scots in Burns` and Scott`s day were looking for a new identity for the old had- due the political and cultural clash which was a result of 'the Union- disappeared. We may assert here that Scottish self-esteem and pride were destroyed in the wake of this depressing situation. Many Scotsmen may have lost their traditions because everything was to be changed into an English model. This loss of identity could not be compensated by wealth, for many Scotsmen- like Burns himself- believed in the Scottish nation. As a consequence, there were rebellions against this new order. Burns and also Scott sympathized and Burns even identified with the 'Jacobite cause'. However, not all Scots supported the 'Jacobite Rebellion' and in the end the rising was overcome. 'Old Scotland' was fading gradually but inevitably. Burns, however, never escaped the 'old Scotland'. In order to fill the 'identity gap' literature stepped in. In this examination we have seen the Scottish literary revival on behalf of both Burns and Scott. The Scottish vernacular tradition was revived, but Scots was also mixed with English. Both writers created a new and old Scottish tradition. With this (re)-invention they contributed to a certain type of Scottish national identity, and, additionally, both created a legend. Indeed there are similarities as far as Burns and Scott are concerned, but on the whole we may find a different perception and interpretation of the Scottish past and future. It could be described as a divergent image of 'Scottishness'. Burns` definition of 'Scottishness' may have be seen in the description of social inequality and injustice represented by demands concerning education and schooling, social rights and the overcoming of 'class distinction'. He contributed to the development of 'social movements' which were fighting for social rights, reforms and independence. In his poetry he supported 'the poor', the 'working class' and the 'common man'. Burns himself may have stood for the 'have-nots', whereas Scott was a representative of the 'privileged class' or the 'haves'. Moreover, Scott may have 'wavered' between the old feudal 'Scottish system' and the new evolving modern 'British system', but in the end he was in favour of the healing of old divisions. Opposed to Burns who was extremely left and revolutionary Scott was conservative and peaceful. Furthermore, he invented the 'Historical Novel' and by doing so he marked the idea of 'Britishness' because his character Waverley helped consolidate the British state. Of course, Britain seems to have been a risky construction then- not only in his novels- and we could still not judge in conclusion if it really existed, but there may have been a kind of British nationality. In this sense the political union was fulfilled, but the cultural was not. Nevertheless, Britain was enriched by Scottish cultural aspects like 'Highlandism'. All in all, we could postulate a 'Scottish-English marriage'. With the fading of the 'Scottish nation' the 'British nation' was born. Finally, I would like to remind the reader of the formula 'Englishness' plus 'Scottishness' equals 'Britishness', and it seems that the last Scot Burns and the first Brit Scott had two versions of Scottish national identity.

References and Footnotes

 

 

2008 The Robert Burns World Federation