Alex Salmond and schoolchildren
Alex Salmond and Voltaire both get a mentionReuters

The new Oxford Dictionary of Quotations has, coincidentally, been published on the same day Scotland goes to the polls to decide its future.

And just to prove there is nothing new under the sun, here is a selection of some of the best quotes to fit the occasion, including everyone from Alex Salmond to Voltaire – and you don't see those two names in the same sentence very often.

It might help pass the time while waiting for the results to come in.


Lord Belhaven

Good God! What, is this an entire surrender?

towards the end of his speech opposing the Union with England; speech in the Scottish Parliament, 2 November 1706

Cartoon captions

No son — they're not the same — devolution takes longer.

father to his son, who is reading a book on evolution; caption to cartoon by Scottish cartoonist Ewen Bain (1925–89) in Scots Independent January 1978

Billy Connolly
Billy Connolly is 'against a pretendy government'ITV

Billy Connolly

I don't want a Stormont. I don't want a wee pretendy government in Edinburgh.

— on the prospective Scottish Parliament; often quoted as 'a wee pretendy Parliament'; interview on Breakfast With Frost (BBC TV), 9 February 1997

Declaration of Arbroath

So long as there shall but one hundred of us remain alive, we will never subject ourselves to the dominion of the English. For it is not glory, it is not riches, neither is it honour, but it is freedom alone that we fight and contend for, which no honest man will lose but with his life.

— to the Pope, asserting the independence of Scotland; letter sent by the Scottish Parliament, 6 April 1320

Winifred Ewing

The Scottish Parliament which adjourned on 25 March in the year 1707 is hereby reconvened.

— opening speech, as oldest member of the new Parliament; in Scottish Parliament 12 May 1999

Christopher North

Minds like ours, my dear James, must always be above national prejudices, and in all companies it gives me true pleasure to declare, that, as a people, the English are very little indeed inferior to the Scotch.

— Blackwood's Magazine (October 1826) 'Noctes Ambrosianae' no. 20

James Ogilvy, Lord Seafield

Voltaire
Voltaire was a fanBuzzfeed

Now there's ane end of ane old song.

— as he signed the engrossed exemplification of the Act of Union, 1706; in The Lockhart Papers (1817) vol. 1

Political slogans

It's Scotland's oil.

— Scottish Nationalist Party, 1972

Alex Salmond

The Scottish parliament is our passport to independence.

outgoing speech as party leader to the Scottish Nationalist Party Conference; in Guardian 23 September 2000

John Smith

The settled will of the Scottish people.

— of the creation of a Scottish parliament; speech at the Scottish Labour Conference, 11 March 1994

Claude Cockburn

I had occasion, not for the first time, to thank heaven for the state of mind which cartographers seek to define as Scotland

Crossing the Line (1960) ch. 12

Robert Burns

What are all the boasted advantages which my country reaps from a certain Union that can counterbalance the annihilation of her independence?

Letter to Mrs Dunlop, 10 April 1790

Voltaire

It is a wonderful result of the progress of human culture, that at this day there come to us from Scotland rules of taste in all the arts, from epic poetry to gardening.

Commonly quoted as 'We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation'