Mrs Connolly, what are you clutching to your bosom? Murgatroyd inquired.
He was continually astonished by the reading material that she propped
up on the recipe stand while she stirred the porridge.
I don’t want Edmund Burke to get splashed, she replied.
Burke! You’re not reflecting on revolution, are you, Mrs C? jibed Diana.
There’s an atmosphere of insurrection out there, countered Mrs C, and I
for one am not going to be found knitting while heads roll.
So, what does he say about civil disunity? Murgatroyd asked. Here, let me
take over the spurtle. Read us some of his more salient points.
Hmm, Mrs C tidied her hair and turned a few pages. I like the bit where he
uses the metaphor of a breached castle. It reminds me of our pele tower.
Yes, here’s a good bit-
You possessed…the foundations of a noble and venerable castle. You might have built on those old foundations….you had the elements of a constitution very nearly as good as could be wished…you had that action and counteraction, which, in the natural and in the political world, from the reciprocal struggle of discordant powers, draws out the harmony of the universe. These opposed and conflicting interests, which you considered as so great a blemish in your old and in our present constitution, interpose a salutary check to all precipitate resolutions.They make all change a subject of compromise, which naturally begets moderation; they produce temperaments preventing the sore evil of harsh, crude, unqualified reformations.
That’s brilliant, Mrs C. Diana enthused. Now that Ian Paisley has gone, no one speaks forcefully like that any more. I suppose they were of the same race as Jonathan Swift and knew how to pack a punch.
Indeed. He goes on:
…you chose to act as if you had never been moulded into civil society, and had everything to begin anew. You began ill because you began by despising everything that belonged to you…Under a pious predilection for those ancestors, your imaginations [should] have realized in them a standard of virtue and wisdom, beyond the vulgar practice of the hour…..Respecting your forefathers, you would have been taught to respect yourselves….you would not have been content to be represented as a gang of [Tartan] slaves, suddenly broke loose from the house of bondage, and therefore to be pardoned for your abuse of the liberty to which you were not accustomed, and ill-fitted.
I can’t imagine a current politician telling it so straight, Murgatroyd stated.
He really whips it up after that, sir. Listen:
Would it not have been wiser to have, what I for one, always thought you, a generous and gallant nation, long misled to your disadvantage by your high and romantic sentiments of fidelity, honour, and loyalty; that events had been unfavourable to you, but that you were not enslaved… You would have had an unoppressive but a productive revenue. You would have had a flourishing commerce to feed it. You would have had a free constitution; a potent monarchy; a disciplined army…and not..that monstrous fiction, which by inspiring false ideas and vain expectations into men destined to travel in the obscure walk of laborious life, serves only to aggravate and embitter that real inequality, which it can never remove.
Compute your gains : see what is got by those extravagant and presumptuous speculations which have taught your leaders to despise all their predecessors and all their contemporaries, and even to despise themselves, until the moment when they [will] become truly despicable. By following those false lights, France has bought undisguised calamities at a higher price than any nation….
France?! exclaimed Diana. I thought he was talking about Scotland. If only
Alistair Darling had taken a leaf out of his book, the ‘Better Together’ campaign
would have sounded a lot more passionate.
The porridge is ready, dearies. Mrs C closed the book carefully, placing a ‘Just Say
No‘ bookmark in page 34. But this is the real stuff tae pit hairs on your chest.
I suppose there are parallels between the two nations. After all, youse’ll have
heard aboot the Auld Alliance?
I say, suggested Murgatroyd, why don’t we have breakfast readings every
morning until next Thursday? Then we can be prepared to collar any pollsters
or canvassers if they dare to put one of their leaflets through the letterbox.
So long as they’re not proselytising members of some sect, laughed Diana.
Same difference, stressed Murgatroyd. It’s time to get tough with the
anti-intellectual opposition. All these Utopias need busting and
Burke is the heavyweight to add ballast to our case.
And he waved the spurtle round his head like a caber thrower
warming up at The Cowal Games.