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HISTORY OF THE UNION.
Nothing has been a more unfailing subject of declamation among moralists, than the inveterate selfishness of the human character. Man, savage and civilized, learned and illiterate, whether as an associated or an insulated being, is everywhere found grasping at what he fancies pleasurable or profitable, with very slender regard for either the pleabure or the profit of others; yet, under every modification of character, nothing is really more difficult than to persuade him of his true interest. Under the influence of self-love, like a ship in full sail, be drives rapidly along, but, from the want or the weakness of reason, like the same ship deprived of her rudder, he is carried away by the currents of opinion, dashed upon the rocks of conceit, ingulfed among the quicksands of prejudice, or swallowed up in the whirlpools of passion.
Every day's experience furnishes abundant examples of this melancholy result in the case of individuals, and he bas little acquaintance with history, who cannot point out manifold instances of the same fatality in the conduct of nations. The history of some nations, indeed, seems to demonstrate nothing else, and the history of all shows, that the best blessings of life, the stability and good order of society, are the special gifts of divine providence, rather than the results of human prudence or human foresight
. Of this important fact, perhaps nothing in the wide range of European history can be a more pertinent illustration than the Union effected between the kingdoms of Scotland and England in the year 1707, of which, as introductory to the more easy and full understanding of the following history, we shall here present the reader with a very brief account.
The subjugation of Scotland was an enterprise that from a very early period occupied a prominent place in the policy of England, and it had very nearly been effected, in consequence of the disputed succession that occurred on the death of Alexander III., by that subtile and war
like prince, Edward I. who, notwithstanding the partial successes of Sir William Wallace, carried his victorious arms over the length and breadth of the country, and, for aught that now appears, had his life been prolonged for a few more years, would have rendered his conquest permanent and perpetual, which, saving the reverence due to national vanity, would certainly have been highly beneficial to both ends of the island. Pursuing the tangled web of continental politics which involved her in perpetual warfare, this, the most prudent of all her projects, was for some ages suspended, but it was never lost sight of, till, by the failure of the house of Tudor, and the accession of the house of Stuart to her vacaut throne, she became more completely mistress of the country than she could have been by the most splendid feats of arms.
James VI. not only the most childish of monarchs, but the vainest of men, on being called to fill the throne of England, was exceedingly elated with his good fortune, nor were his Scotish subjects much behind him in the extravagance of their expectations. A very short time, bowever, served to convince both, and especially the latter, that they had been very much mistaken in their calculations. That Scotishmen should have hoped to share in the good fortune of their monarch was but natural, and that their monarch should have been desirous of obliging them was no more than dutiful. Yet these very circumstances awakened the jealousy, and strengthened the long cherished animosity of the English, who were indignant at the smallest pretension on the part of their new fellow-subjects, and regarded the most triding mark of the royal favour bestowed on them as an invidious distinction. Vain of his kingcraft, and exulting in the omnipotency of prerogative, James appears to have expected to be able to unite and to amalgamate his subjects, however different their manners and customs, by his own sole authority. Scarcely had he set foot in his new kingdom, when he gave a practical display of what be held to be his Jus Divinum, by ordering a person to be hanged at Newark on a charge of theft, without so much as the form of a trial ; and considering the laws and the authority of the kingdoms as centred in himself, he regarded it as his peculiar felicity to have terminated the long continued and bloody animosities of two hostile nations, who henceforth, under one government, were to enjoy the most perfect tranquillity, secure for ever from all foreign influence. He accordingly assumed the title of king of Great Britain, quartered the cross of St. Andrew with that of St. George, issued a proclamation or dering Scotish coins to pass current in England, and, to indicate the peaceful triumphs of his reign, the iron doors of the border towns were by his orders taken off and turned into ploughshares. Finding, however, his kingcraft not so highly relished by his English as it had been by his Scotish subjects, he applied for assistance to the English parliament, “ hoping that his subjects of both kingdoms, reflecting upon past disasters, wbile they respected bis person as infinitely precious, would secure themselves against the return of former calamities, by a thorough union of laws, parliaments, and privileges.". James was certainly not a great politician, but, in this instance, be showed much more wisdom than bis parliament, who, though they took, out of condescendence to him, his
scheme into consideration, proceeded no farther on the subject, than to appoint in 1604, forty-four English, to meet with thirty Scotish commissioners, to talk over the terms of an union, but without any power of establishing it.*
Loath to be baulked in a project upon which he had set bis heart, and which be regarded as that which was to shed a peculiar glory over his history, James continued to press the subject with all the art, and with all the eloquence of which he was master, aided by that of Sir Francis, afterwards lord Bacon, but in vain. All be could obtain, after hectoring, in his usual style of arrogancy, both houses of parliament, was, in the end of the year 1606, an act for the atter abolition of all memory of hostilities between the two nations, and for repressing all occasions of discord for the time to come.t
Here the plan for uniting the two kingdoms rested till the year 1643, when the tyrannical and bloody proceedings of Charles I. induced the parliament of England with the convention of estates, and General Assembly of the church of Scotland, to enter into the famous Solemn League and Covenant, wherein by solemn oath, the two nations became bound to “ remain conjoined in a firm peace and union to all posterity.” This solemn agreement, however, was very soon broken by the duke of Hamilton and his faction, who invaded England in 1648. He was totally routed at Preston, by the parliamentary army under Cromwell; and, with all that remained of bis forces, shortly after made prisoner at Utoxeter. Cromwell in return invaded Scotland, subdued, and, in 1654, incorporated it with the English commonwealth, in consequence of which, thirty members from that country were elected to sit in his parliament, which was summoned for the third of September that same year.
The unfortunate restoration of Charles II. and the measures consequent thereon, while they were intended to annul and to blot out all remembrance of these transactions, reduced Scotland to a state of dependance and slavery utterly unknown in her previous annals ; yet, even in this state of debasement, upon a bill being passed for embodying her militia in 1669, a treaty of union was supposed necessary to guard against the apprebended danger of the measure. Commissioners were accordingly appointed for both nations, and during the following year, their negotiations were carried on with vigour, and the treaty was considerably advanced. The Scotish gentlemen of that day, bowever, were men of complacent tempers, the symptoms of danger soon evanished, Charles and Lauderdale sat still at their cups, and the union was again laid aside. After this, the inroads of the clans, and the triumpbs of Claverhouse, were sufficient to quiet all fears on the head of Scotish independency, till the arrival of the prince of Orange, and the revolution in 1688, gave her a breathing space, when, manifesting somewhat of her ancient spirit, her former actions came into remembrance, and a union was again proposed by king William, as that alone which could allay the beats and promote the bappiness and prosperity of both nations.
Imperial History of England, vol. ii. pp. 1, 9.
Never were the debasing effects of a long continued system of misrule exhibited in a more affecting manner than in Scotland at this time. Her nobility were almost to a man dipped in the iniquitous measures of the late reigns; they were needy, and of course dependant, and a great proportion of them looked to the restoration of James, and a return to his maxims of government, as the only means whereby they could attain to influence and emolument. These feelings, however, they, for the most part, attempted to conceal; and under the pretence of love to their country, and zeal for its liberties, thwarted, as far as was in their
power, every measure that was in any degree calculated to extend or to secure these liberties. The presbyterians, who had the real welfare of the country most at heart, though they succeeded in having presbytery generally established—this being necessary to satisfy the body of the people--were regarded by William and his ministers, who were generally episcopalians, with no friendly feelings, and, unable fully to perfect the work which they had begun, were deserted by many of their friends, and reduced to the necessity of purchasing one part of their rights by the sacrifice of others equally important, and to which they were equally entitled.*
While the nation was thus broken by faction, and borne down by żyranny in the government, a train of adverse events, or rather a series of mismanagements, afforded perpetual fuel to the angry feelings by which the nation was inflamed. The pensioning of the clans, the worse than brutal affair of Glenco, the cool and cruel extinction of the Darien colony, with the inextinguishable hostility manifested towards the African company, were all laid hold of by the Jacobites—who, claiming fellowship with the country party, and occasionally voting along with them, bad become exceedingly popular--and held forth as undeniable proofs that England had determined on the ruin of the Scotish nation. In consequence of these clamours, the Scotish parliament, in place of providing supplies for the necessary expenses of the government, and settling the succession to the crown in the protestant line, in unison with the English parliament, was chiefly occupied with schemes for securing the nation from the oppression of English counsels. For this pretended purpose was passed, in the year 1703, the so often applauded act of security, whereby a great many provisions were made respecting the mode of proceedure in parliament, in case of the queen's death, with the conditions under which the successor to the crown of England should be allowed to succeed to that of Scotland, which were to be, " at least, freedom of navigation, free communication of trade, and liberty of the plantations to the kingdom and subjects of Scotland established by the parliament of England.” It also provided that the whole protestant heritors, and all the boroughs in the kingdom, should forthwith provide themselves with fire-arms for all the fencible men, who were protestants, within their respective bounds ; and they were further ordained and appointed to exercise the said fencible men once a month, at least. No
• Nothing can be more false and fulsome than the panegyrics, that, by presbyterian writers, have been often poured out upon king William, whose conduct towards the Scotish church was in many instances impolitic, unjust, and tyrannical.
clause of this celebrated act, however, is more remarkable than that regarding the successor to the crown, which declares that he shall be "always of the royal line of Scotland, and of the true protestant religion," which so evidently militated against the pretender, that it has been supposed to have been inserted by the influence of the duke of Hamilton, in order to secure his own succession to the crown, he being, after the house of Hanover, the next protestant heir. This supposition, it must be admitted, has been supported with great plausibility, and goes far to explain the hesitating indecision which afterwards, on so many occasions, marked the conduct of his grace; yet it is still possible that he might have nothing further in view by the admission of this clause than the Jacobites generally had, which was to procure the support of the presbyterians, without whose aid they found themselves unfit to carry this or any other particular measure through the bouse. Nothing is more certain than that he had the instructions under which he was acting at this time, sent him from St. Germain's ;* and it would be but an ungrateful labour to prove so distinguished a patriot the detestable betrayer of two interests at the same time. Another remarkable act passed by this parliament, was that “anent peace and war;" which provided among other things, “ That after her majesty's death, and failing heirs of her body, no person, at the same time king or queen of Scotland and England, shall have the sole power of making war with any prince, state, or potentate whatsoever, without consent of parliament." To the first of these acts, the act of security, the royal assent was refused, but the last, in the hope of soothing the house, and inducing it to grant supplies, was passed apparently without any hesitation. A proposal for settling the succession in the house of Hanover, given in to this parliament, was treated with the utmost contempt--some proposing to burn it, and some insisting that the earl of Marchmont, who presented it, should be sent prisoner to the castle. It was at last thrown out of the house by a plurality of fifty-seven voices. That the movers of some of these measures, and a few of their supporters were really in earnest with regard to the liberties of the nation, we cordially admit-but the effective numbers were found among the Jacobites, who, strange as it may appear, were confident that in the end they should be able to improve them all for promoting passive obedience, and indefeasible hereditary right.
These violent proceedings on the part of the Scotish parliament, could not fail to alarm the English ministry, and particularly the queen, to whom it was proposed by the earl of Stair, that an English army should be sent into Scotland, and there maintained at the expense of England, for the purpose of keeping possession of the country during the remainder of her life, and that she should henceforth in that countıy call no more parliaments, an advice every way worthy of the projector of the butchery at Glenco, but an advice which her majesty had the good sense to reject. That she possessed ample resources in her kingdom of England to bave carried through such a project, she probably did not
Vide Stuart Papers, 1703