In 1724 Allan Ramsay published his ‘Evergreen,’ desiring thereby to stimu-
late the return to local and national tradition and living nature. We who
inherit Ramsay’s old home and would also follow in his steps as workers
and writers, publishers and builders, are seeking to gather such traditions
as still linger around us, to set down such thought or song as may be in
ourselves—hopeful at least of suggesting better things to those who will
follow us here.
Amongst the Local and National Traditions which are interesting many
Scotsmen to-day, the present issue of the ‘Evergreen’ is particularly con-
cerned with two. These are the Celtic Renascence, now incipient alike in
Literature and Art, and the revival and development of the old Continental
sympathies of Scotland—the development of the newer but increasing
sympathies of England. The Ancient League with France and the later
intercourse with the Netherlands have deeply marked our history, some-
times even theirs, and the ‘Evergreen’ of ‘Spring’ and ‘Autumn’ give
evidence that this association is still a living and fruitful one. Hence,
while we would renew local feeling and local colour, we would also
express the larger view of Edinburgh as not only a National and Imperial,
but a European city—the larger view of Scotland, again as in recent, in
mediaeval, most of all in ancient times, one of the European Powers of
Culture—as of course far smaller countries like Norway are to-day. Our
first appeal is thus to Magna Scotia beyond Tweed and over sea, but we
would also share in that wider culture-movement which knows neither
nationality nor race.
The ‘Return to Nature’ is a rallying call which each age most answer in
its own way. The ending century has written its answer large in Science
and Industry, in Literature and Art; yet many solutions are still lacking.
Many of us are no longer satisfied with analysis and observation, with
criticism and pessimism; many begin to ask for Synthesis, for Action, for
Life, for Joy. The solution lies through action, through experiment—
‘vivendo discimus.’ Hence our open and growing group with its many
activities, educational and civic, architectural and decorative, seeks to
realise somewhat of the ‘Cité da Bon Accord’ of our illustrious guest, the
veteran pioneer of synthetic science and of social ideals, M. Élisée Reclus.
But Social Life is not merely built upon the ground of Nature; it is its out-
come and growth. Hence the need of fresh readings in Life, of fresh
groupings in Science, both now mainly from the humanist side, as lately
from the naturalist side. Yet if Man be one with Nature, her evolution is
also his, and this not only through the ages and the generations, but
through the year and its Seasons.
Here then are some of the ideas of the ‘Evergreen.’ It makes no promise
of perpetual life, but seeks only to link the Autumn of our own age with an
approaching Spring, and pass, through Decadence, towards Renascence.
Branford, Victor V. and Patrick Geddes.“Prefatory Note.” The Evergreen: A Northern Seasonal, vol. 2, Autumn 1895, p. 8. Evergreen Digital Edition, edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2016-2018. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019. https://1890s.ca/egv2_branford_prefatory/