Roper’s reputation

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Some of us were brought up to the maxim that you should not speak ill of the dead. This principle seems to have passed by nationalist Dr P M Dryburgh (Letters, 18 June) in his sarcastic attack on the English historian Hugh Trevor Roper, who lived in the Borders for many years with his undeniably Scots wife.

Far from denouncing all of us, Trevor Roper championed the study of the Scottish Enlightenment. Nor, I think, was there a significant row (as Dryburgh alleges) about his calling the United Kingdom “England” to annoy Scots.

The key dispute was, in fact, because Trevor Roper used the expression “Scotch”: just as philosopher Hume, historian Robertson and economist Adam Smith had done.

Trevor Roper correctly predicted that devolution would lead to animosity between Scotland and England; he received hate mail for his pains, and he reviewed the then nationalist historical output as including “a great deal of intemperate personal abuse” .

Thus it is; to add to the terrors of death, we have now the peril of misinformed nationalist condemnations until the crack of doom itself…

Peter Smaill

Borthwick

Midlothian

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