I AM normally in full agreement with Lesley Riddoch’s articles. But wherefore this “baying of the Tuileries”? (Why Neil Oliver is not the biggest problem for the NTS ... at least he is not an aristocrat, The National, January 4). Have we learned nothing from the stupidity and hatred unleashed by the French Revolution?

Apart from escaping inheritance tax, there was no gain to the pockets or profits of the aristocrats who have given or left houses, castles, gardens and even lands to the nation, our nation, by way of the National Trust for Scotland. Most owners were not aristocrats at all: sometimes they were impoverished, sometimes childless (like the Campbells of Canna), sometimes neither, but usually they were inspired by courtesy and consideration.

There was consideration in that they appreciated the beauty and value of what they had inherited or maintained, and courtesy in that they realised others could and should be able and allowed to enjoy them too. It was not always an easy thing to do: The National Trust can only accept a property that is endowed for its upkeep. Sometimes the owners were able to give that endowment, often they were not. Sometimes another well-wisher stepped in to help, often remaining an anonymous donor. These also were people of courtesy, consideration and very real generosity.

The National Trust for Scotland became the organisation by which these things could be safely and sensibly done. It was the old Lord Bute who worked tirelessly and selflessly in the 1920s and 1930s to establish the NTS. He himself was a man of great punctiliousness and courtesy: he spoke Scots as fluently as he spoke English or French and to each in his native tongue. He was (unlike Neil Oliver) profoundly understanding of Scottish history.

My father, George Scott-Moncrieff, and the notable architect Ian Lindsay worked for Bute throughout the 1930s and 40s, discovering, photographing, researching and writing about old Scottish buildings, from the greatest to the smallest, many of them at that time in perilous or ruinous condition. Several of the aristocrats Lesley Riddoch mentions were, or are, noble in the true and responsible sense of that word, giving time, care and knowledgeable attention to the properties and matters the NTS has in hand.

Where things have slipped up has sometimes been through the members of NTS ettling to be grand! But that is a different matter. It is also true that as an organisation they have not been geared to land-ownership, and they have sometimes been inconsiderate of the views or needs of those families who gave them their properties in the first place.

Aristocrats, like the rest of us, are a mixed bunch: some are very good and some are not so good. If the people of Scotland wish this country to be strong, free and independent, we must learn to overcome our prejudices and leave aside classism. Only in this way can we work together for the future of our country.

Lesley J Findlay
Fort Augustus