All posts by Richard K. Munro (Auld Munro)

Like Russell Kirk, I am a great admirer of the late Gilbert Highet. I am the president and founder of the Gilbert Highet Society (on Facebook) which includes many scholars and authors. I was intensely homeschooled as a boy learning English phonics, drama, and oratory as well as the history of the Raj and British Empire where my people prominently served as Empire builders in the Merchant Marine, Indian Civil Service or Highland Regiments. My people specialized in building ships, trains, bridges and were interpreters or scouts for the British Army or Navy for generations. For many generations, it was the desire of each son of Munro, Fraser, MacFarlane or MacKenzie to go a-soldiering far "frae the hame" and to return to marry a woman of his faith "and race and line" and by that was meant to marry a woman of the Gaeltacht (Gaidhealteachd). Two things changed this pattern forever. 1) the depopulation of the Highlands from 1790-1890 meaning there was no place to go home to and 2) the Catastrophe of what we called An Cogadh Mor (the Big War) and An Cogadh Hitler (the Hitler War) 1914-1945. This led to the biggest catastrophe of all -the British Empire went smash and so we became "Orphans of Empire." But the old Highland prophecy sang "Is gearr gach reachd ach riaghailt Dhe" (Each realm is short but the Kingdom of God. " We have seen many Empires rise and fall. I am a teacher of English, Spanish.& history. Author of Spying for the Other Side, KIM PHILBY &The Historic El CID. I have authored one-act plays such as "Euripides' Trojan Women (Calliope),"Romans on the Rhine", "Clad in Gold Our Young Mary" "Beneath Alexandria's Sapphire Sky" among others. Certified teacher in history, Spanish and English. MA Spanish Literature. BA with Honors (NYU '78) winner of Helen M. Jones Prize for History. ISI Fellow UVA 2004-2005. Board of Advisors PRO-ENGLISH I have edited galleys of several books but especially CHURCHILL WALKING WITH DESTINY for my dear friend Andrew Roberts with whom it was my honor to serve. I consider this biography to be the greatest biography of our time both for history and as literature. I Have taught Spanish for Native Speakers, AP US HISTORY, AP Spanish as well as English for Learners in the USA and Spain. My specialty is English literacy for newcomers (emphasizing phonics, diction, and grammar) and sheltered English immersion Social Studies (history) for English learners. I believe in sheltered English immersion for newcomers (English language books, notes, tests and quizzes with some translation and bilingual glossaries available. I have a New Wine Credential. I am married with three children. Two of our children are teachers and one is an engineer. I am proud to have served as a peacetime "Ice Cream" Marine (reserves) and to hold an honorable discharge from USMCR. My people served in the Armies of many Allied Powers 1914-1945; we served under the King's and Queen's Colours of the Red, White ,and Blue of the United Kingdom in every generation since 1707. No one "in my race and line" (to use the old expression) was ever conscripted or press-ganged into service. The graves of my kith and kin who answered the call are found in American and Allied cemeteries around the globe. Spain. Italy. Greece, Belgium, France, Germany. Guadalcanal, North Africa, Burma, India. I have made pilgrimages to many of these places. Perhaps the saddest are the Menin Gate (Ypres), Normandy and Dunkirk. Dozens of close family friends and relatives were killed there including the entire football team of my father's youth. Along with the 51st Highland Division, every single man was killed, wounded or captured. There was no evacuation for them. Captain Patrick Munro was a POW for five years. Many died "fo sgail a Swastika"(under the dark shadow of the Swastika) as slave laborers in the mines and factories of the 3rd Reich. NE not forget. Caisteal Folais Na Theine; the signal fire was set and we answered the call. (An Gairm). The Brave will be tried and no hero is proof against wound. God made man strong only for a while so that he could serve the Chief and help others. Never seek a fight but never shun one either. Touch not this cat but with a glove. My parents emigrated to the USA when young in 1923 and 1927. The war destroyed the fragile economic communities from which they came and essentially no one ever returned. They became US citizens and were Americans by choice. Both graduated from public high school and were the first and only members of their families to graduate from high school and go on to college. My mother was an RN and came from a strict Free Church Calvinist family. My father had a BA in English and French Comparative Literature and was a Roman Catholic. They were married in two separate Catholic and Anglican ceremonies. No one in my mother's family came to either wedding and during the entire war period, my mother had no contact with her mother and family. Needless to say, from a young age I was exposed to great sectarian hatreds and prejudices and this almost destroyed my Christian faith altogether. What saved me? The love of good Christians; the forgiveness of good Christians. I am a direct descendant of the recusant Gaels of Ferindonald baptized by the martyr Father Robert Munro in the 18th century. My father's mother was baptized in Oban, Scotland by Father Allan MacDonald and my father by Father Collins (St. Anthony's Glasgow). Both religious were graduates of the Scots College in Valladolid (Spain) and spoke fluent Italian and Spanish. In the 20th Century, my family emigrated to the Americas (Chile, Canada, and the USA) My uncle worked in Chile and Argentina circa 1914-1936 and my father was an American officer in Texas, Louisiana and the Pacific Theater during WWII. My father was a notable amateur linguist ( reading ancient Greek, Latin, speaking Tagalog, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian). I grew up in a multilingual cosmopolitan household and cannot remember a time when I spoke, sang or heard only English. My mother played the piano and sang in five languages. I lived and studied in Spain and got my MA in Spanish Literature there via the University of Northern Iowa under the legendary Adolfo Franco Pino. I first visited Spain and Italy in 1964. My primary interest is in classical literature (chiefly English and Spanish), history, music, and poetry particularly the music and literature of the Scottish Highlands and Lowlands. Cuimhnich air na daoine bhon tainig mise (I remember the people I came from...the Gaels of Cioch Mhor in Ferindonald). Most of my family today is Spanish-speaking (Spain, Mexico, Chile and the USA). Most of us follow the faith of St. Maelrubha, St. Columba, St. Patrick and St. Mungo. Of course, no Highlander ever recognized St. Andrew as a patron per se as he was later accretion of lowlanders as worthy as St. Andrew is. I was married in Spain and my son was married in Mexico. Every marriage in our family for centuries has a direct or indirect connection to Spain either through marriage in Spain or marriage by priests educated in the Scots College in Spain or Rome. I believe in the policy of the Buen Vecino (the Good Neighbor) and in la conviviencia (peaceful coexistence) of different cultures, languages and religions. I realize I am the very last of my race but am glad to be the father of a new race of Americans whose blood comes from the peoples and races of four continents. Hyphenations can be good descriptors but they are usually a temporary condition like bilingualism. Monolingualism, cultural diffusion and assimilation are the natural tendency of the human race.

You’re not the boss of me!

What values and virtues do we pass on to our children? Should they be proud of the “race”? Should they be proud of their “nationality”? Should they be exclusively one nationality or another? Should they be proud of their material success and wealth? I hope they value above all, family, culture and faith. Generosity and love are, I believe, the keys to happiness and abundance.

Ruben Navarette posted a recent missive from a reader who complained about Navertte identifying as Mexican-American.

“If, as you say, you are true blue then you would refer to yourself as just plain “American.” You, quote are a “Mexican-American” Yankee doodle etc.

My husband’s grandparents were born in Ireland. He calls himself American. Likewise my son-in-law whose 4 grandparents were born in Poland, calls himself American.

You say only one of your grandparents were born in Mexico, then why the hyphenate?”

Navarette, quoting his nine-year old daughter said,  because “You’re not the boss of me.” Just so. There was a time when a King would say: “you are my subject and you must follow the religious faith of the realm.” In America, things are different. And if you honor your mother and father and if they come from a culture and faith tradition you love it is very normal and reasonable to feel a close emotional tie to that other nation that “patria chica” -that “wee homeland of your heart.” Legally my forefathers were British subjects (all of them including the Irish in the family). But no one I have know had ever considered himself “British”. Technically a British person is a Welsh-speaking Briton. Some Scots were, in fact, descended from Welsh-speaking Britons. WIlliam Wallace was descended from Welsh-Speaking Britons. But my ancestral clans were not. They were Gaelic in identify with roots in the Gaeltacht of Ireland and Scotland. It is quite possible some of my ancestors were dual French nationals because some of my ancestors served in the French King’s bodyguards. In any case, it is very likely that at least some of my ancestors were Anglo-Normans or even Lochlanoch (Vikings). But those connections are so remote that they have little influence on my identity or character. But clan or tribal identity was strong. That feeling WAS as strong or stronger than any nationality. When my grandfather spoke of his “race and line” he was not speaking of the “White Race” (I never once heard him speak in such terms. He taught me there was only one race now and in the future -the human race). No, he was speaking of his ancestry as a member of Clan Munro and being also descended from Clan MacKenzie, Clan Fraser and Clan MacFarlane. He considered himself a Highlander (Gael) first and foremost though he was legally British and then legally, by choice an American.

I have relatives who are completely assimilated and never had any interest in the heritage, culture or religion of their grandparents. The way to get along is to go along. They are more English than the English and more Americans than any Americans. That’s fine if it makes them happy. I know a business associate of my father named “Hunter” who said he was “Anglo-Saxon”; my father was astonished to learn his brother was “Cacciatore” ; their family was Italian in origin. But that man hid his “Italian roots” (he was very fair-skinned) and married a WASP in the Episcopal Church. He didn’t even invite his Italian-speaking mother to the wedding. That was astonishing to me. But some people, then, were eager to get into the country club and the right private school and college. Today it would be different, I think. Of course, I chuckle at all this because I have been asked, hundreds of times, if I am Italian-American because my name ends in -o. I have been called “Mr Murro” many times. I have also been called “Monroy” many times as well. I never make a big deal if people mispronounce or misspell my name unless it has legal or financial consideration.

But some people ARE by their very nature, hypenated Americans. They might be dual nationals (many people in my family are dual nationals) For example, my wife and daughter in law and son in law have deep, deep cultural and language ties to Spain and Mexico. Spanish is an everyday language in our household. So almost everyone one in my family is Mexican-American or Hispanic-American (some have roots in Spain and Chile).

My own roots are Gaelic (Highland and Irish) and I am a hispanophile but have never claimed to be anything else but a Gael. Thanks to the miracle of the Internet and modern social media I can correspond to Scotland and listen to Scottish music and radio (in English, Scots or Gaelic) every day. And my hyphen came to me honestly because it was a significant part of my culture, identity, and language. I will always feel a close tie to the Highlands and Islands. My forefolk were Highlanders and Islanders for over 1000 years.

But my strongest identity is as a Christian in the Roman Catholic tradition. I have ancestors who were of the Protestant persuasion also, of course, (Free Church or Scottish Episcopal Church) but the basic tendency of my family was High Church. My parents were married in both the Anglican Communion and Roman Catholic Church for example and so were my father’s parents. Some of my maternal grandmother’s relatives were Church of Ireland (Anglicans). It was very common for Irish or Scottish soldiers serving in the British military in the 19th and early 20th century to fold into the Anglican Communion or have as we used to say “a Protestant trail.” For poor people it really didn’t make much difference. For people like the Duke of Wellington or Edmund Burke it DID make a difference because if they did not conform with the Anglican religion they could not inherit their property. Both were Irishmen, of course. Burke’s sisters and cousins were, I believe, all Roman Catholic. I was reading about Myles Keogh the other day and he came from a well-to-do Irish Catholic landowning family. He fought in the Papal Army and then later for the Union during the Civil War. He was famously killed at the Battle of Little BIghorn in 1876 with Custer and his horse Comanche was the only survivor of the battle. Some historians believe Keogh and two sergeants were among the very last survivors and died in a mini-last stand of their own and hence were some distance from the main body and therefore his wounded horse managed to survive the story. Myles Keogh was a Gael. His name is purely Gaelic. I am quite certain he considered himself a Gael and he probably was conversant in Gaelic. The evidence of course is indirect but he was fluent in Italian and one of the markers of a bilingual Gael is linguistic ability. Certainly his parents and grandparents were native speakers. It is only after 1845-1850 when entire populations were wiped out that Irish Gaelic went into a precipitous decline.

My cultural values were very close to my wife’s because we belong to the same civilization -Western Christendom.

Rome was always more important for us than London and it is easy for us as amphibious Gaels to live in the Spanish-speaking world and learn the language.

We are accepted as “honorary” Hispanics because we love the Hispanic culture and language. Hyphens are useful when they mean something. Sometimes they are almost meaningless.

We know “official” Hispanics who don’t know a word of Spanish and have very little connection to Spain or Mexico. We know “Native Americans” who don’t know a word of indigenous language but boast of being 1/8 or 1/16 Native American. Good for them.

A man’s roots are a man’s roots and a man’s culture is a man’s culture. I decided long ago that I was the last of my race.

I never had any interest, really, of dating women of my parent’s language and nationality. I encouraged our children to have interest in languages, generally speaking, but I made no direct effort to teach them Gaelic. Naturally, they picked up some words, some phrases some choruses. Nonetheless for me and for them The Gaeltacht is the past and a lost world. A distant world. There are abandoned villages and island from whence my people came but no one lives there now.

We survived the 20th century but lost our nationality and language. My grandparents came to this country with next to nothing carrying with them only a strong desire to work, to be free and to practice their religions traditions in private and freely without persecution or discrimination from the Bold State.

In a long journey some things have to be left behind.

We did retain our strong faith, the most important and enduring value IMHO. I am an American citizen and proud of that.

But that is no all I am nor is it all that my grandchildren and in-laws are.

It is only natural that people with such cultural and linguistic ties to Latin America will consider themselves “hyphenated” Americans. We are citizens of Mexico, Canada, Spain, Chile and the USA. All of us have connections by marriage or ancestry to Scotland and Ireland but as time goes by those ties are more and more remote. Perhaps our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be so mixed that they will consider themselves Americans only or Mexicans only or Chileans only. Good for them. I only hope they are happy, free and have a strong faith and culture.

I believe America is their future but if they are happy and production I don’t care where they live or how they “self-identify”. I only pray is that carry as good citizens of the world and good people of faith. One of the great questions in life is whether or not there is (or isn’t) an eternal dimension to man (the human person). Of course, Jesus teaches that there is. I believe that each person has a soul, an immortal soul, a self-consciousness, a spirit. We are married in life to our soul but of course in death we depart this land of the living and then our souls and body part. The prime teachings of the Great Teacher are love, faith, hope, gentleness, forgiveness, humility, integrity. These virtues are the essential ones I hope we have imparted to our children (two of whom have married in the church). There are no realms that endure, goes an old Gaelic saying but the Kingdom of God. And this Kingdom of God is among us. This is the unity and wholeness I seek for myself and for my children and grandchildren. We have seen many Empires rise and fall . We have served the yoke of many kings and emperors. I know what it is to be the last of my race -I have always identified strongly with the Last of the Mohicans -a book that has Munros in it and Gaels. Once upon a times there were Gauls and Gaul, once upon a time there were Galatians and Galatia. Once upon a time we dwelled in Alba, the land of the Mountains White. Once upon a time we lived in Ferindonald. It is only a memory now and only the past. Omina exeunt in mysterium. All things vanish into mystery. But a part of that heritage lives in our strong desire to be free and to belong to Christendom.

No matter what country we make our home that will be, I am quite certain an important the most important part of our heritage. For we are descended from Gaels the oldest and truest Christians of the Northern people. “Dread God and respect his commandments. That is the whole duty of man.” That’s a philosophy of life worth teaching. That’s a tradition worth passing on. And ladies and gentleman it is a way of life open to all regardless of race or national origin. Race and nationality are nothing compared to this. They are just passing fancies in this mortal storm.

Were washington, lincoln and churchill hateful and morally objectionable white SUPREMACISTS?

One could easily denounce George Washington for ‘retrograde’ White Supremacist views. But Washington’s views on race changed and advanced over his lifetime. Similarly, Lincoln lived and had a political life in a world in which “Universal Suffrage” meant “White Male” universal suffrage only. Lincoln explored many policies and points of view but the truth is throughout his life, like Washington Lincoln’s views evolved yet were always based on the natural rights doctrine of equality found in the Declaration. In 1859 Lincoln wrote “the principles of Jefferson are the definitions of a free society. And yet they are denied, and evaded with no small show of success. One dashingly calls them “glittering generalities; another bluntly calls them “self-evident lies” and still other insidiously argue that they apply only to “superior races.” Lincoln rejected White Supremacy and said, “those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves, and under a just God can not long retain it.” Lincoln said, “I have only to say let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man and that race and the other race being inferior, and therefor must be placed in an inferior position, discarding our standard that we have left us. Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout the land until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal.” Robert Sherwood in his Pulitzer Prize winning drama Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1938) pushed Jefferson’s and Lincoln’s abstract truth a bit more when he had Lincoln say should we read the Declaration as “all men are created equal, except negros, foreigners, catholics and Jews.” Lincoln did not in fact refer to the Jews at that time but who could doubt that Lincoln would have defended the Jewish people? I have studied Churchill’s life and writings for over 50 years Never at any time did Churchill express admiration for dictatorship, arbitrary government, or extreme authoritarianism. Quite the contrary. Washington and Lincoln lived in slave owning societies and yet progressed beyond the simple prejudices of their time. Churchill was a Victorian aristocrat by birth and education and yet the reason he is so interesting and compelling character is that he progressed beyond the Social Darwinism and Laissez Fair capitalism of his time to embrace a more liberal, pragmatic social policy and a more liberal attitude towards Woman’s suffrage. We should make a grave error if we slip into presentism and an obsession with politically correct nomenclature. Churchill, must be judged by the entirety of his life, his works and his writings not by quibbles or his use of old-fashioned terms -it seems to us- like “Civilization” or “Christian Civilization” rather than “Judeo-Christian Civilization”. Churchill was, without a doubt as Andrew Roberts has demonstrated, the greatest defender of liberty, natural rights, rule of law, due process of modern times. It is not too much to say Churchill was the savior not only of his nation but the cause of national independence and freedom all over the world, Churchill, more than any other individual put Fascism, anti-Semitism and the racial supremacy of the Nazis to the sword leaving that doctrine defeated and destroyed and completely discredited. All honor to Sir Winston Churchill, Lincoln and Washington.

HYPHENATED americans and other realities

 How many times have I heard this nationalist comment “You should consider yourself an American first and foremost. Get rid of the hyphen!! ” And of course, if we speak another language besides English in public, sometimes we are told “to shut up and talk American!” , to which I reply, “excuse me, Sir, the language I speak to my wife and sister-in-law, in private conversation, is none of your business. What language would you expect I would speak to a guest in the USA from a Spanish-speaking country?” Of course, one cannot tell by the color of the skin or eyes the native language of a person. Spanish-speaking persons can be of any race and any religion. I daresay the same can be said of English-speakers as well. Very soon -if it is not a reality already- there will be more English-speakers of English as a second language than native English speakers.

If a hyphen has some significance it should be used. I don’t consider myself a Mexican-American for the simple reason I have no Mexican ancestry though I certainly am a hispanophile. But if my son-in-law considers himself a Mexican or Mexican-American that’s fine with me. He is a US citizen. I also consider myself an Anglophile but have never considered myself an Anglo-American though I would be proud if I had any English ancestors. English is a acquired language for us only becoming predominate in my family post the mid 20th century. I can never remember a time when I did not hear different languages in our home being spoken or sung. Both my father and mother were multilingual A hyphen is certainly more attractive than the ugly “Latinx” que no es ni chica ni limonada. If you honor your mother and father what is more natural than honoring their homeland? The hyphen, of course, could be temporary. It might last only one or two generations. People change their idea of nationality or religious faith over time through education, assimilation, and intermarriage. I am quite sure that if parts of my family emigrated to , let’s say, Australia, that they would, after a time consider themselves Australians. What would be more normal?

I could never hate the homelands of my parents, my wife, my in-laws and I am a citizen of the United States. My grandchildren are all Mexican-American. But we have an identity beyond that of our political nationality and the English tongue. We have my family traditions and our faith traditions. I decide what party I want to vote for and I decide what hyphens I put by my name. If I want to say that I am, above all, an Earthling, that is my choice. Could I not be a Mormon-American? Or Jewish-American? Or Catholic-American? Of course, I could. In each case the hyphen could be very meaningful.

I don’t expect my children and grandchildren to have much to do with the culture and language of their great-grandparents none of whom were native English-speakers. I only hope my children and grandchildren -all of whom are native Spanish-speakers by the way- are free, stay true to their faith tradition, work hard and stay economically secure.

Our family line is crossed with Old Mexico but also Spain, Panama, Canada, France and Chile. So what does that make us? We have been called Spanish Munros and Irish Munros by people in our own family because it says a truth about our cosmopolitan family. We are all Americans by choice because we love living in a free and stable land. I don’t tell my children how they should identify themselves.

What they feel is a natural feeling brought about by la convivencia and love. I grew up loving and identifying with the Scottish Highlands but no one ever told me to do so -quite the contrary. My parents encouraged us all to assimilate and become as American as possible. My grandfather always said, “Scotland? What a country? It is a good country to be FROM.” He had zero interest in EVER returning and he did not. He was an American by choice but by culture and accent remained Scottish-American his entire life. So rapid and total “americanization” is not always possible. We love baseball but also love football (soccer). We remained outside the American mainstream to some extent and live on the fringe of the English-speaking world. This can be seen in the music we like and in the cuisine we share (strongly Spanish/Italian and French). Neither I, nor my son nor my daughter nor my sister married a “normal” monolingual English-speaker. We retain ties, close ties, to communities of Non-English speakers. So in that sense our cosmopolitanism has made us amphibious.

Everyday of my life I hear and speak other languages other than English. I would calculate that 90% of phone conversations in our household are held in Spanish. Our children feel at home in English as well as Spanish but always have spoken Spanish to my wife and family. I myself have spent many months of my life -consecutive weeks and months almost an entire year-when I have never spoken or heard a single word of English though I recall I corresponded in English and of course read books and newspapers in English (even though most of the books and newspapers I read were not in English). I studied Portuguese in Portugal and Spanish literature in Spain. But the Casa Del Libro in Madrid had the complete Penguin library in English. So I read many English books (chiefly classics) when I lived in Spain. They were numerous, widely available and relatively inexpensive. Books in other languages were rare and expensive. So I read less in those languages. I have many bilingual books. I have always been fascinated by translations. Consider the Italian adage “traduttore, traditore”: a literal translation is “translator, traitor”. The pun is almost lost in English, though the meaning persists. (A similar solution can be given, however, in Hungarian, by saying a fordítás: ferdítés, which roughly translates as “translation is distortion”.) My father felt that poetry to be appreciated should be read in the original as much as possible. Chinese and Hebrew were a little too much for him but he read Greek, Latin, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Russian, Scots and Gaelic quite fluently. He had an immense French library and that was perhaps his best Romance language. But he studied and appreciated art songs and operas in the original tongue whenever possible. I have surpassed him in Portuguese and Spanish but not in German, Greek or Russian. But I am young yet (still learning).

Some what are we? Our roots make our family, in my opinion, Americanísma. Spanish is, in my opinion, an All-American language. It existed and thrived in America before English and will continue to thrive and survive and coexist with English. English is not Mohican or Apache or Irish and neither is Spanish. World languages, the languages of Empire will endure. They were made to endure.

It is good, wise and useful to speak the national languages of North America, which include French, Spanish and English. But that is a choice people make. People can choose to study computers and engineering or they can choose to do what is easy and that is to be monolingual. It seems a strange choice to me. I love languages. In fact, this summer I am studying another one. I correspond, regularly in three or four languages. People enjoy using their mother tongue and respond very positively.

We have chosen to prepare ourselves to coexist as Good Neighbors in a multicultural, multilingual world.

That’s a reality that is not going away. English is powerful, the language of the banks and the long-range guns but we are not going to live in a monolingual English-only world. It is not wise. It is not good business and it is not good diplomacy.

I have always known that English was not the best, nor the only nor the oldest language in the world. But I love and respect English. But I admit I have always had a soft spot for other languages as well and they are mine, too. When we married all they hymns were in Latin so all sides of the family could understand and appreciate them. We sang songs in English and translated them to Spanish. We sang songs in Spanish and translated them to English. We sang some of our own macaronic original songs.

Yes, we have always valued English as the lingua franca of the Commonwealth, and the USA. At one time the sine qua non for business and culture was to speak Latin, Greek or French. Those are former languages of Empire and still are highly influential as culture languages. But it is delightful, useful and fun to speak the languages of other communities.

This will be the hallmark of a new generation of Latin/Spanish Munros and Mendozas. Will they be Hispanic-Americans Mexican-Americans? Perhaps.

Anything but “Latinx” , a horrible expression. People say that is the new growth of a language but this Esperanto-like invention is, more likely la mortaja (the death shroud) of a language. Creating a patois may be a political choice but it is not a healthy linguistic choice. Made-up words and language are not natural.

But whatever my grandchildren and children decide will be their choice. I respect that. I pray they make good choices and happy choices. And I hope sincerely they will be proud of their ancient heritage and recognize that they are part of a great international melting pot -the United States of America. Yes, the melting pot bubbles on. That is a certainly we all need to accustom ourselves to if we haven’t already.

the gilbert highet society

The Gilbert Highet SocietyPublic group · 224 membersJoin GroupWe try to stay true to the spirit of the late Gilbert Highet. Gilbert Highet was a patriot, an educator, critic and writer. Before WWII he served in M…

We try to stay true to the spirit of the late Gilbert Highet. Gilbert Highet was a patriot, an educator, critic and writer. Before WWII he served in MI6 while visiting Nazi Germany with his wife who had an MA in German. Highet himself was fluent in German and several other languages. During WWII he was a Colonel in British Intelligence (his true role has never been completely revealed but I surmise he contributed to interpretation of ULTRA intelligence). He may have been an agent for MI6 (military intelligence during the war and even before the war). Therefore his true contribution to the Allies has never been publicly acknowledged. He and his wife, author Helen MacInness were naturalized Americans -Americans by choice-having emigrated from Scotland. Their son Keith Highet was a veteran of the US Marines who served in Korea and a noted legal scholar. Highet is best known for his book “The Classical Tradition,” a generous, lucid survey of the Western Canon.He also was the translator of PAIDEIA by Werner Jaeger, one of the best books ever written on Greek culture and literature. In the 1950’s he had a radio program on WQXR and later turned his radio scripts into books of essays (still outstanding reads). His book MAN’S UNCONQUERABLE MIND still makes compelling reading; many have called him the Scottish-American Cicero. But beyond all of this, his writing was jargon-free and confident. It is a style and manner that is sorely missed. Gilbert Highet. wrote Robert Ball, “taught the classics for 40 years, also believed in the importance of great books, which he brought to life in class and in print through a humane form of scholarship. He concen­trated on those aspects of the classics that he thought made them worth studying—their truth, beauty, and wisdom, and the imagery and language that inspired him—without burying the texts under a technical, theoretical superstructure.”

In addition to all this Professor Highet recorded many radio programs on general culture and some of these recordings are commercially available. This group celebrates the best in non-fiction writing, fiction, history, literature poetry and culture.”I believe that much of the maladjustment in our societies is caused, not by malevolence and corruption, but simply by ignorance.” GILBERT HIGHET We also post things that would interest Mr. Highet such as literature, history, poetry and Scottish things as well as aticles and pictures of HELEN MACINNES, his wife, the well-known 20th century suspense author whose books were made into well-known films such as THE SALZBURG CONNECTION.

Origins of religious freedom

It was only the European exhaustion over the many violent wars of the Reformation era, and the subsequent secular rationalism of the Enlightenment, that led to a political solution that honored individual liberty in matters of religion.

This story, however, is not only superficial and inadequate, but backward. Religious historian Robert Louis Wilken’s Liberty in the Things of God documents how the origins of religious freedom aren’t secular, but decidedly Christian.

Tertullian, a North African Christian writer of the early third century, was the first to argue that because religious faith is an inward disposition of the mind and heart, it cannot be coerced by external forces. The Church Father writes:

It is only just and a privilege inherent in human nature that every person should be able to worship according to his own convictions; the religious practice of one person neither harms nor helps another. It is not part of religion to coerce religious practice, for it is by choice not coercion that we should be led to religion.


Six Reasons not to marry and why you should (if you can)


John Anderson and his Jo.
An old married couple “John Anderson my Jo” (a poem by Robert Burns)

There are also reasons why you should marry: the principle ones are health and happiness. Nonetheless, Oscar Wilde wrote; “Never marry at all, Dorian. Men marry because they are tired, women, because they are curious: both are disappointed.” Ambrose Bierce defined love as . “A temporary insanity curable by marriage.” Both these definitions, it seems to me, focus on sexual attraction. Rosamunde Pilcher in Wild Mountain Thyme wrote: “Marriage isn’t a love affair. It isn’t even a honeymoon. It’s a job. A long hard job, at which both partners have to work, harder than they’ve worked at anything in their lives before. If it’s a good marriage, it changes, it evolves, but it does on getting better. ” Mark Twain was even wiser: “Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.” Frank Delaney, the Irish novelist wrote: “Marriage is very important. Marrying a girl is the most important thing a man can do. Never mind business or politics or sport or any of that, there’s nothing so vital to the world as a man marrying a woman. That’s where we get our children from, that’s how the human race goes forward. And if it’s too late for children, there’s the companionship of a safe and trusted person.” Delaney understood marriage was for the happiness of a couple and also for the stability of society. C.S.Lewis, who finally found out what true happiness was in his marriage: “For a good wife contains so many persons in herself. What was H. not to me? She was my daughter and my mother, my pupil and my teacher, my subject and my sovereign; and always, holding all these in solution, my trusty comrade, friend, shipmate, fellow-soldier. My mistress; but at the same time all that any man friend (and I have good ones) has ever been to me. Perhaps more.” However, There are at least six reasons NOT TO MARRY. A gentleman thinks of such things for himself , his children, his charges and his friends.

Henry Miller, who was very frank about sex said, “Sex is one of the nine reasons for reincarnation. The other eight are unimportant” Sex is, of course, important for marriage. Sexual intimacy (eros), in my opinion, either strengthens existing “storgic love” (affection) and philia love (friendship) and then blossoms into conjugal love –a love that can last a lifetime- or it destroys itself. To build relationship upon youthful physical attraction alone is to build upon a foundation of sand. Sexual intimacy is the icing on the cake but is not very nutritious or satisfying by itself.  My father always taught me “never date a girl who would not make a good mate” and I think that was good advice. I have known many women and been friends with many women and most importantly I have maintained friendships with many women of all ages PRECISELY because I did not insist or want our relationships to be intimate.

Men –and I am a man- despise what they can get easily and if physical sexual attractiveness is the only thing holding a couple together then it will be doomed because no one stays 19 or 25 forever. 

On the other hand, when young women gradually develop ‘storgic” love affection for many men and honest friendship with many men they will never be, in my opinion for want of male admirers and male friends. 

The key to having a successful personal life is meeting many people of common interests and cultivating those relationships. Within those relationships you will meet other people of the same sex or the opposite sex or older mentors who will introduce you to people of similar character and interests. But if you spend your life with superficial hookups you will end up like “I AM CHARLOTTE SIMMONS” (a little masterpiece by Tom Wolfe). 

This is a difficult lesson to teach young people, particularly young women who fear , it seems, not getting dates and being ignored entirely particularly in a school youth culture atmosphere.

But the way around this of course is not to have a life centered on friendships with classmates only or people who habituate bars or beaches (probably the worst place in the world to meet people). My own children are not angels by any means but are good and moral persons. But they have always had multiple set of communities with which to meet people and keep social networks open on many fronts. And I think that is the key for young people to meet others and perhaps find that special one.

I think Feminism has done young women a very great disservice but putting them at loggerheads with men and their own natures. The fact is , young women’s best years for fertility and attractiveness are between 16 and 27. Nothing can change that. After age 27 the fertility of women drops over incrementally year by year until by age 40 or 42 or so conception is difficult or impossible. Therefore, women who sacrifice their family life for professional careers are often opting for a life of loneliness and childlessness. There must be great many women 40 and above who now regret they never had children though I doubt, if I may be so bold, there are many American woman above 40 who lack sexual experience.

But most of their experience is of the dud-in-the mud hook up kind and so really is mostly wasted time.  Neither the person nor society will have anything to show for it fifty years in the future.

One should cultivate many communities and particularly healthy communities such as family friends, and people in your Church community or other clubs like ballroom dancing, language clubs, book clubs etc. Social relationships built upon debauchery (excessive consumption of food and drink) are among the worst kind and prematurely ruin your looks, your character and your health.

One day you wake up and your are 30 or 35 and have lost or are losing your good looks and your figure; that is no time to settle down and look for a decent mate and of course men of worth who want to start a family are not likely to marry someone past 35. 

That is just a fact of nature; men can marry and marry successfully even late in life –though I do not recommend it myself and women ought to marry younger though I don’t recommend marriage between teenagers because usually these relationships are built mostly on physical attraction alone and both parties lack maturity to make good choices.

There are at least six reasons NOT TO MARRY (a gentleman thinks of such things for himself , his charges and his friends).

#1 Don’t marry someone you don’t really know. If you are pressured to rush to the altar as my Uncle Norman was you have to ask yourself. “What is the reason for the rush?” If he or she truly cares they will give you time to be sure.

#2 Don’t ever marry someone you don’t like or have anything in common with BESIDES sex and physical attraction. Everyone I have ever known married someone with whom he or she felt a strong sexual attraction. I could be wrong but this is the easiest part of a relationship. Speaking as a man, most women 16 to 60 are sexually attractive at some point in their lives. Once again, speaking from personal experience, most women hit their peak attractiveness from age 25 to about 42. Most women, just like most men, unless they work very hard at it, start to lose the battle of the bulge in their 40’s. Once again, perhaps it is just me, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. If I compare the looks of my friend’s wives who are excessively thin they seem more pinched, more wrinkled and less attractive with each passing year. Other women, with a more matronly look, remain very pleasant to be with and to look at.

Some women are astonishingly beautiful for a short period of time and others have a high lifetime batting average and remain attractive for a longer period of time. There is such a thing as growing old gracefully. The bottom line is if you can’t respect the behavior, habits and values of your potential mate, rethink the situation. What will it be like with this person once the haze of romantic love fades? Could you love your wife (once again, speaking as a man) if she lost her size 6 figure? Let’s face it multiple pregnancies and the years usually wreak havoc with a woman’s figure. And time does not remain still for any of us in any case. It is a mistake to marry for beauty alone, a very big mistake.

If the people around you who know you well and love you –your parents, siblings, close relatives, teachers, and wise friends- are counseling you against marriage to a certain person, you must pause. Although they don’t know your potential spouse as well as you do, they are not as emotionally mixed up as you are by the strong sexual attraction or romantic feeling you have for that other person. This is particularly true if the couple is sexually active (which I counsel against but I am a realist). Nothing fools you that you have to have your spouse like an active sex life before marriage. I wonder what purpose a honeymoon serves for people like that? And why even wear white? But if people around you are expressing doubts you should at least give yourself some time to think about what you are doing. Imagine, for example, if your spouse had no money, lost all of his or her teeth and gained 100 pounds. My father always said to me that I should look at the mother of the potential bride because it was a reasonable indication of what the daughter would look like in 25 or 30 years with 25, 30 or 50 additional pounds. I would add another proviso too. I don’t think it is important to marry for money and position. I think marrying for personal happiness and family reasons are the most important. But that having been said there is something one should always consider. It is one thing to marry someone who has next to no money but it is another to marry someone with extravagant tastes and $50,000 in debt!!!! Most marriages fall apart for two basic reasons: lack of sexual compatibility and financial distress.

#4 building upon that last point. Never marry anyone in whom there are signs of unstable behavior. If you beloved needs to be drunk or high to have a good time, I think it is a serious cause to worry. If he or she can never hold down any kind of job at all in the last few years find out why. Can’t he or she get along with the boss or with coworkers.. Is the discipline of work too much for him or her? Once again, I have never been a great success in life but I have always worked. I worked my way up from being an ex-soldier, a laborer in construction and unloading rail cars to sales, to being a bank employee, then finally a Community College instructor and high school teacher. No one has ever asked me for my resume or offered me a job but I have always been respected as someone who was a hard worker, honest and loyal and have so always been gainfully employed in my life.

#5 And lastly to reiterate a point mentioned before if your primary drive for getting married is an overpowering urge to have –or continue to have –sex with this person, STOP. Sex is important for a good marriage but sex is NOT love.

It is absurd to overvalue physical love. Speaking as a man, men are beasts and I think it is true to say, that in the dark, as has been said, women are all the same if that’s all you want from a woman. But once again that is not love. Real love is sharing laughter, sharing experience, sharing children, sharing affection, trust. Physical love (eros) can provide the spark and the glue for the beginning of a relationship but it cannot provide the substance. Being in love and having love in a marriage is something other and something more than being sexually aroused. Not all desire is love though it may always be lust. The desire for a woman period might just be lust but the desire for a specific woman is another. Some people say this is love too but I do not ; love that is merely transitory and sexual is not love merely as Anthony Burgess called it in A Clockwork Orange, “the old in and out”.

I have seen many successful marriages between mature males (25 or so )with young women as young as 18 or 19. I believe that male and female should be about the same age though there is nothing wrong with a woman being slightly older (my wife was 27 when we married and I was 26). 

#6 Never get married because you feel you have to or everyone else is getting married. It is chivalrous to treat your date with respect. It is foolishness to marry someone because OOPS she says she is pregnant. I have known friends who married their pregnant girlfriends but did not know if they were the father. That is no way to start a marriage. Once again fidelity and trust are the basis of any good relationship. 

Marriage is a tough business.  Tougher than I thought it would be.  But I still recommend it -if the conditions are right.   And if both parties work at keeping the marriage together with some give and take.  But love and friendship always have to be present.

 The reason our marriage has lasted is because:

1) we developed a close friendship that was maintained chiefly by correspondence I always sought close relationships with women and I do not deny I always desired to marry. We have always liked and trusted one another.
2) We did not seriously date until we had known each other for about seven years. I was just starting out and could not talk about having a serious relationship until I had a job and some money but I was happy to have her loving friendship and esteem.
3) I respected my fiancée and was in no hurry into things she was not ready for
4) Our wedding night and our honeymoon were really special and a kind of heaven
5) We have always been faithful to one another and we communicate.
6) We believe that marriage is a sacrament and that we are un matriomonio which is a singular thing in Spanish 
7) We have been best friends for almost 46 years and husband and wife for almost 37–we were married on the 9th of June 1982 (St.Columba’s day).
8) Naturally we have had ups and downs but it has been of tremendous help that I have a close storgic love and philia relationship with my wife’s sister, my mother in law, my wife’s uncles and brothers so our relationship is not built up OUR relationship alone. Having the support of my family and her family has been vital for us and has helped maintain trust and closeness. And now we have support from the bottom up; we have three adult children and we are a mutual aid and friendship society!
There is no question my middle daughter has always been a peacemaker. She too wanted our household to stick together.
9) We also have many married friends most of whom are Catholic or Evangelical Christians
10) We take morality seriously. I would not say I am a prude exactly but I believe in the virtue of modesty and self-control what the Greeks call sophrosyne.
11) This is not to say I have not had temptations in life but I avoid most temptations by putting my cards on the table. I will be friends with the opposite sex –and I have many friends –former students and teachers aged 21-80 look at some of my Facebook friends and you will see a great variety of ages. But I never pretend I am single and have no desire and no interest whatsoever in obtaining a sexual conquest for a single night. That is an expense of spirit in a waste of shame for no purpose. But on the other hand I would gladly be the friend of any woman –aged 21-80- for a lifetime as long as they know I only want their friendship and spiritual and intellectual companionship not anything else. But this has not been easy because particularly when I was younger, many young women , on the prowl themselves like so many female “Don Juans”- deeply resented the rejection and took it as an insult. On the other hand , women who are 50,60,70,80 DO appreciate the friendship and kindness of a (somewhat younger man). They know it is their minds and their souls which are dear not their physical charms.

Nonetheless, alienation of affections is one of the primary reasons marriages fail. They say the French (the elite anyway) have their solution –it seems horrible to me and contrary to fidelity and honesty- a man keeps his lover and his wife separately. That is to say one has (presumably young, thin and attractive) temporary lover and a permanent mother-manager. Virtual bigamy or polygamy you might call it. It seems like a bore to me. If you wife is your partner and best friend don’t you want to spend as much time as possible with your best friend? But there is no question, however, the issue of extramarital sex is present in many marriages. 

Once again, speaking as a man, one must avoid excessive temptations and exercise self-control. Most of my women friends are safely married or far away. I never pretend to be unmarried and do not socialize with younger unmarried women. It seems to me Lotharios must neglect their families, their work or their intellectual life because if one is dedicated to those things one simply has no time to roll up ephemeral sexual contests. Once –just once- while I was studying at UVA I went to a spaghetti dinner at the Catholic parish in the university. What a mistake! The participants were overwhelmingly single young women in their early to mid 20’s. I was in my late 40’s at the time. I was very polite but I did not stick around and I never took the bus to that church again. If I am alone I make sure I go to early Mass. Sometimes when I am alone on a business trip or home alone I may have a conversation at restaurant or bar with a younger woman –a college student for example- but only in an avuncular fashion. I can’t understand teachers who want to date their students. Of course, I love my students and want to best for them but because I love them I want to do them no harm. I am there to teach them not to seduce them or abuse them. I really am much happier to be a mentor, a friend, an invited guest at their wedding and then perhaps their child’s teacher or their child’s godfather. Such is the joy of a civilization of love.

In choosing this unique person for our mate, this combination of history and charm, this merging of flesh and soul, we are looking for a lifetime of love that will sustain us. If we are wise we will come to understand that genuine love is not a free gift but an earned achievement. Perhaps we catch love when it comes our way like a fever or virus; I do not know. 

But I do know this true love is based on fidelity and it is up to us to learn how to grow in love. A marriage, am posadh -the old Gaelic word- or matriomonio in Spanish, presupposes, traditionally, love and duration though I recall an old saying that “marriage is like a bee; there’s honey in it but there is also a sting in it.”  There is also an old Gaelic saying of which I am very fond: ‘Tis not good to marry without a ring; no ring no ding.”   Ni math posadh gan fainne! 

My father knew Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 by heart and I often heard his collection of Roland Colman recordings of the Sonnets. Ronald Colman was not just a movie actor to us; we remembered him as a highly decorated combat soldier and volunteer of the London Scottish in WWI (so were Basel Rathbone and Claude Raines).As a small boy it was made clear to me that Shakespeare was almost as authoritative as the Bible or Burns and there is no question it was an important part of my education as man or gentleman.

So my father often quoted Sonnet 116.  My mother used to recite to me (by heart) Burn’s poem “John Anderson, My Jo.”   My father also made it clear to me how much he loved my mother and similarly my mother made it clear to all how she loved my father.  They were married for 59 1/2 years separated only by war and death.  

And let me say that my Auld Pop  (my grandfather) was widowed also but never talked about any other woman except his wife. Mary Munro was so talked about and so quoted by my father and mother and grandfather that I almost came to think as if I had known her myself though she died almost twenty years before I was born. Therefore such values are caught or shown by example, not taught.

That is fidelity –to love someone who gave you so much love during your life that you never forget that person. Certainly love of that kind is a selfless love because the dead cannot do anything for you themselves except perhaps connect to you in communion and comfort you through their souls and memory. One of our favorite modern movies is Sense and Sensibility which uses this poem to show Marianne Dashwood’s conceptions of love. 

Ah, yes, love’s not Time’s fool: 

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come:

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Ronald Colman of the London Scottish
Ronald Colman as I imagined him reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets.

I have been called a hopeless romantic but to that charge I say romantic chivalrous men have more fun and sing the best love songs because they know what chivalry and love is all about. And a chivalrous man is brave and will stick around.

People today have lots of sex –or at least they boast about it- but often they find relationships flat and devoid of romantic love. That is because Eros-love (sex) promises more than it can deliver, especially in regards to companionship, trust and permanence. Why? Because we perceive romantic love as something spontaneous, something that does not demand work patience and a strong moral base.

The wisdom, literature and songs of our forefolk tell us something that is quite the opposite. The very essence of romantic love, true love is commitment, trust and fidelity. This is where, in my opinion, chivalry provides a vital ingredient. Love relationships provide the laboratory where the virtues of chivalry are tested to their fullest, and the manliness of a “leal mon” is proved. With time and fidelity true love grows and true love not only stimulates the best in us but it is a recipe for happiness and love that can last a lifetime –and beyond. “

Aye! ‘S truth I am telling ye!, ” as Auld Pop would have said it.  When I was a small boy I first heard the word “divorce.” I didn’t know what it was. I had never heard of it. I understood it to be something bad and my friend was sad. Perhaps it was poking Jesus with a spear or something like that! So I came home and asked Auld Pop was this divorce was. He paused and then said, ” That’s something they do in Amerrrica.” But, Aulp Pop, I protested, “we WERE living in America now.” To that he replied, “That doesn’t mean we have to pick up all their bad habits.” A lot of people’s behavior is based on bad habits and foolish decisions. I believe if one is very careful in getting married and if both BELIEVE in marriage (what we can sacramental marriage) then one has a better chance to stay married. Getting married is one of the most important decisions anyone can make. All I am saying is this: take you time and try to exercise some judgment and reason.