Professor John Haldane (b 1954), philosopher, nominated
St Margaret of Scotland (c1045-1093)
John Buchan: Lord Tweedsmuir (1875-1940)
Born in Hungary in 1046, Margaret [St Margaret of Scotland] was an early political migrant to Scotland, along with members of her family. Her father had been invited by the English supreme council to replace Edward the Confessor, but he died shortly after arriving on English soil. The family remained at the court but on the Confessor's death the government decided that her brother Edgar had no right to the succession and subsequently he, his sister and other relatives were encouraged to take flight.
The ship in which they escaped for the continent was blown north and west to the shores of Fife. Hearing of the refugee's arrival in Scotland, Malcolm Canmore made his way from Dunfermline to greet them. Very soon Margaret's beauty, learning and religious commitment won his heart and they married at Dunfermline in 1069.
There followed a period of 'Anglicisation' and 'Europeanisation' of the court and kingdom, particularly with regard to the church. Though much of this was institutionalised during the reign of her sons, Edgar, Alexander and David, it was Margaret who brought Benedictine monks to establish the Abbey at Dunfermline, and who gave a lead in caring for the poor and sick. She provided for pilgrims to St Andrews by establishing a ferry across the Forth and harangued the old local church leaders to organise into diocese and to regularise the liturgical and sacramental life of the church throughout Scotland. Her husband and eldest son were killed in battle in 1093 and Margaret died a few days later. In 1250 she was canonised. To this day her chapel atop Edinburgh Castle remains a potent shrine to her self-effacing but intense religious faith.
At a time when Scotland is in search of an ennobling self-conception to raise it above narrow political interest, and when the Christian churches appear to be losing their historic role in shaping the conscience of the nation, St Margaret Queen of Scotland offers the example of a determinate spirituality conjoined to a social mission – and serves as a reminder of the fact that foreign influence is ancient and often benign.
It is hard to think of any Scot in the 20th century who achieved as much in as many fields as John Buchan. Born in 1875, son of a Free Church manse, his family moved from Perth to Fife to Glasgow. From Hutcheson's Grammar School, Buchan won a bursary to the University, and from there a scholarship took him to Oxford where he quickly made his mark, taking a First and becoming President of the Union.
At Oxford Buchan was already publishing and listed in 'Who's Who,' but his ambitions were greater and more various. Then and later, he read for the Bar, served in the post-Boer War reconstruction of South Africa, became a director of the publishers Nelson & Sons, a director of Reuters news agency, the Scottish Universities' MP, member of the House of Lords, Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Kirk, Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh and finally Governor-General of Canada. He died there in 1940.
Along the way Buchan published well over one hundred books and hundreds more articles. His multi-volumed 'History of the First World War,' written as hostilities proceeded, is a remarkable accomplishment and has come to be re-appreciated in recent years. Among his best works from a literary perspective are his biographies of great men such as those of Augustus, Cromwell, Montrose and Scott; but it is for his thrillers, particularly those featuring Richard Hannay, that Buchan remains best known. The first, 'The Thirty Nine Steps,' has not been out of print since it was first published in 1915.
Buchan combines many features rarely found together: his taste for the outdoors and for library scholarship, his appetite for position and his genuine love of ordinary Scots folk, his concern with decisive action and with the imaginative understanding of complex and often troubled figures, his Presbyterian Christianity and his feeling for the pagan worlds and for the mysteries of Catholicism. Many of these aspects are brought together in his final and posthumously published 'Sick Heart River' (1941). Any Scot wishing to celebrate the last century and the next would do well to read or re-read this fine book and be reminded of Buchan's multi-aspected greatness.