The Scots Abroad: Labour, capital, enterprise 1750–1914
Croom Helm, $35.95, 287 pp
The editor of The Scots Abroad took one big hoary fact, stuffed it in a cannon and fired it. Indeed he fired it to several parts of the world. Then he wrote letters to the provincial experts, asking them to survey the effects his missile had on landing. The results of course were fairly predictable and roughly the same in each case – it was the same fact after all. A lot of gravel and some larger stones thrown up, several casualties among the native population, little damage to public buildings, though in more than one case banks were reported collapsed and men in grey suits were seen running away. At the bottom of the crater lay the fact, quite unexploded, still as hoary and unyielding as when it was fired. This was a Scottish fact, or, rather, the fact was a Scot, or a Scottish ‘national type’, so we shouldn’t wonder that it was quite intact.