For Jaded City Workers from the South
By PETER F. ANSON
The Scottish birth rate for 1937 was 17.6 per thousand; and was, with one exception, the lowest yet recorded in this country. The marriage rate has been steadily increasing since 1931, and now equals 7.7 per thousand. The death rate last year amounted to 13.9 per thousand.
The alarming prospect of this shrinking population raises many problems. Does it mean that in fifty years' time Scotland will become a more or less uninhabited "National Park"—a sort of summer playground for jaded town workers from the South?
Glasgow is out to show the world that it can give Paris a few tips when it comes to organising a vast exhibition. Whatever else it may do, the Empire Exhibition, in May, is going to put Scotland on the map for the next six months—not to say on the air—for one reads of big preparations being made for special Scottish broadcast programmes.
The Catholic Pavilion
It is reported that the Catholic Pavilion, designed by Mr. JI. E. Cola, a well-known Catholic architect, is making good progress. If he manages to produce a building that surpasses or even equals the Vatican Pavilion at the Paris Exhibition last year he will deserve to be congratulated. It would be hard to create anything quite so perfect as Paul Tournon's high altar sanctuary, or Paul Flandrin's baptistery, and one wonders if there will be anything in the Catholic Pavilion at Glasgow quite so satisfying as the ecclesiastical art in the Austrian chapel, or in the pavilions of Belgium, Holland, or the various departments of Frances
The Caledonian Power Bill
The Caledonian Power Scheme has already been mentioned in these columns more than once. The Bill is to make its third appearance in the House of Cornmons this month, after having twice been thrown out.
No measure relating to the Highlands has ever roused such opposite views. nor debated with such violence. A writer in
the March number of The Scots Maga( ,
zinc truthfully remarks that "unless and until the Bill (and any other resembling it) is subjected to the strict and impartial scrutiny which can be obtained from the Committee Stage of Parliamentary procedure only, there will be no economic peace in the Highlands; only a sense of frustration and a smouldering resentment."
If this Bill can stand pruning so as to safeguard certain real or supposed interests—e.g.. the "amenities" of the burgh of Inverness, the salmon fisheries, tourist reaf
tie, and sporting rights of owners of large estates — it will certainly be a real step towards bringing increased prosperity to the distressed areas of the Highlands.
On the other hand—to quote once more from the same source: "If the House of Commons on the strength of its own amateur judgment, does for the third time in succession throw out a measure of such weight and far-reaching possibilities as the Caledonian Power Bill, its action will not only entail a tragedy, but be in essence a crime."
The Tercentenary of the National Covenant Our newspapers have devoted considerable space during the past few weeks to the 'tercentenary of the signing or the National Covenant at the Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh in 1638. Probably most Englishmen have forgotten what an epoch-making event this was in the annals of Scotland, and would have been surprised if they had seen how it was featured as a news-item in our daily press.
But Scotsmen have long memories, and look back with pride and thankfulness to this repudiation of the Divine Right of Kings to foist upon an unwilling people the Anglican liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer.
The spirit of the seventeenth century Covenanters is not yet quenched, and from time to time crops up in unexpected quarters_ Recently the Edinburgh Town Council refused to grant permission for a certain local private golf club to open on Sundays, pointing out that this might be "opening a breach for the secularisation of the Lord's Day," and hinting that it might even lead to the young people of the city being allowed to play games in the public parks, which would be a sacrilege almost too terrible to contemplate.
Then the Free Kirk ministers have just issued an "encyclical" against the evils of amateur dramatic societies which are becoming more and more popular in this country.
In fact, so convinced is the Free Kirk that play-acting is one of' the Devil's devices, that not so long ago certain shopkeepers in a village on Loch Sunart in Argyll, refused to supply provisions at a house where one of the servants was about to take part in a play in another village fifteen miles away.
The young man's employer had no objection to play-acting herself, but she did object to having to go without her meals. so the amateur actor had no choice but to relinquish his part. Such is the militant spirit of Free Kirk Christianity: