The Pride and Glory of Scotland

A small note on one of the cultural aspects of Robert Falconer. On page 125, the paragraph that begins 'Alas for Scotland that such families are now to seek!' is a eulogy from MacDonald about the 'cottar' families that, in his opinion, and in that of Robert Burns, were the pride and glory of Scotland, and the spiritual lifeblood of the nation. Cottars were farm-labourers given the right to live in a cottage in return for the work they did on the land attached to it. In Robert Falconer, the representatives of this low-born nobility are the Hewson family, and in the poetry of Burns, they are the unnamed family of his famous poem The Cottar's Saturday Night. Robert, of course, discovers The Arabian Nights and Shakespeare's The Tempest before the family bible is opened for worship, but this last scene is strongly reminiscent of Burns' poem, not least the observation that the simple cottar's spiritual development would put many a bishop to shame. Readers of Falconer might well benefit from The Cottar's Saturday Night if this chapter piques their interest, and if they want to enrich their understanding of this valuable though vanished part of Scottish cultural life.