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Page:Footsteps of Dr. Johnson.djvu/94

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men of letters, yet they never for one moment forgot their pride in their own country. In a famous club they had banded themselves together for the sake of doing away with a reproach which had been cast upon their nation. Just as down to the present time no Parliament has ventured to trust Ireland with a single regiment of volunteers, so Scotland one hundred years ago was not trusted with a militia. In the words of Burns,

" Her lost militia fired her bluid." '

In 1759 a Bill for establishing this force had been brought into Parliament, and though Pitt acquiesced in the measure, it was thrown out by " the young Whigs." Most Englishmen probably felt with Horace Walpole, when he rejoiced that " the disaffected in Scotland could not obtain this mode of having their arms restored." a Two or three years later the literary men in Edinburgh, affronted by this refusal, formed themselves into a league of patriots. The name of The Militia Club, which they had at first thought of adopting, was rejected as too directly offensive. With a happy allusion to the part which they were to play in stirring up the fire and spirit of the country, they decided on calling themselves " The Poker." Andrew Crosbie, the original of Mr. Counsellor Pleydell, was humorously elected Assassin, and David Hume was added as his Assessor, "without whose assent nothing should be done."* It was urged with great force that Scotland was as much exposed as England to plunder and invasion. Why, it was asked, was she refused a militia when one had been granted to Cumberland and Westmoreland, and Lancashire ? Had not those countries con- tributed more adventurers to the forces of the Young Pretender than all the Lowlands ? " Why put a sword in the hands of foreigners for wounding the Scottish nation and name ? A name admired at home for fidelity, regaled [sic] in every clime for strict- ness of discipline, and dreaded for intrepidity." 4 In 1776 the Bill was a second time brought in, but was a second time rejected. " I am glad," said Johnson, "that the Parliament has had the spirit to throw it out." ~ a By this time it was not timidity only which caused the rejection. The English were touched in their pockets. It was

1 T/ie Author's Earnest Cry and Prayer. * Andrew Henderson's Consideration on the

2 Walpole 's Keign of George II., iii. 280. Scots Militia (ed. 1761), p. 26.

3 Dr. Alexander Carlyle's Autobiography, pp. 5 'Bo^vfeM's^o/inson, iii. I. 399, 49-

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