In recognition of his public services as a statesman, and in testimony of his Lordship's eminence in the world of letters.
"There is one question in regard to which the city of Edinburgh holds a special position, and like all who hold a foremost position, incurs thereby a special responsibility and duty.
There are two forces, two antagonistic forces, at work in our body politic, changing its character and affecting its destiny. There is the old local liberty, the old local self-government, under which men, each in their own localities, decided the vast mass of the questions in which their lives were interested ; and there is against it that constant tendency to the aggregation of all power in the central place of rule-that which, in the language of the day, we call centralisation . . . Now, it seems to me that in this matter a city like Edinburgh, a city that in the past represented an independent kingdom, that now represents an independent kingdom, but in which the great majority of the governing actions of the community are no longer carried on, inherits a particular responsibility and duty.
The evil is of two kinds. In the first place the work in the long run is not so well done. There is no elasticity in it. You are handed over to the government of that great modern dictator whose power is spreading over the world - the inspectors kind of power whom, if I had to set up a temple to him, I should represent by an image made of wood, and clothed in red tape. But there is to my mind a still greater evil - the loss of the power of government in small local affairs is the loss of the most important education of the people. Now I have thought that I might make these remarks as a first specimen of my services as a guild brother of this city because I feel that it is on communities such as this that the foremost duty of defending local independence and local self-government should fall."
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