14 JUNE 1963, Page 9

No Auld Alliance

My native land, Scotland, is not quite so tolerant. A sudden illness immured me in a Glasgow nursing home and I was able to follow the reports of the various church assemblies and synods that were meeting in May in Edinburgh and, in one instance, in Inverness. The Church of Scotland Assembly was quite tolerant, although it seemed to me that, in protesting against Roman claims to control the marriage of its faithful, the Church of Scotland was making much the same claims for itself. There was but a solitary protest against the celebration of the fourteen- hundredth anniversary of the arrival of St. Columba from Scotia Major (Ireland) in Scotia Minor (Scotland). I couldn't make out from the protestant whether he believed that everything about St. Columba, except his existence, was a myth, or that it was a protest against the recon- struction•of Iona Abbey by Dr. MacLeod: but it showed that the old fire was not yet totally extinguished. When we got to the Free Kirk Assembly, the churchmen were in a sterner mood. There was, for these defenders of the traditions of John Knox or of what they thought were the traditions of John Knox, a great deaf to deplore in modern Scotland, as indeed there is. But my favourite meeting was that of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland Synod in Inverness. For one thing, the moderator was an African who has had 'a charge' in Scotland for six or seven years. For another, there were no concessions to the spirit of this latitudinarian age. The Synod roundly denounced the Queen for visiting 'the Man of Sin,' not, as far as I can remember, even giving him the title of the 'so- called Pope of Rome.'