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For this attempt to illustrate a neglected portion of Scotish history, it is presumed that no apology will be necessary; and for the manner in which it is executed, should it be found remarkably defective, it is probable none would be accepted. Waving, therefore, every thing like prefatory remark, the author begs leave merely to state, that his great object throughout has been to unite perspicuity with impartiality, which he regards as the principal excellency of historical composition. He does not, however, pretend to that kind of impartiality which consists in having no opinion even upon the most important subjects of investigation. He who is unable to form, or who fears to express an opinion upon the characters and the events that pass in review before him, ought, in the one case from ignorance, and in the other from timidity, to be considered totally disqualified for a historian. The impartiality aimed at in the following pages, it is hoped, will be found in full and fair statements, with regard both to men and measures; and with regard to bodies of men, whether in a civil or ecclesiastic capacity, these statements have been made as much as possible in their own words, thus affording to the reader every facility for judging at once of the men and of their measures, as well as of the accuracy of those views which have been adopted by the author respecting them. If in any instance his statements shall be found defective or erroneous, he shall be ready to acknowledge and correct them when pointed out; and if, in detailing the conflicts of party, he shall be found to have caught somewhat of a party spirit, and to have uttered any sentiment inconsistent with Christian charity, he begs it may be set down as an error of the judgment, not as a settled feeling of the heart.
No. 16, MONTEITA Row, ?
Glasgow, May 1st, 1827. S
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 pleasure 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 has little acquaintance with history, wbo 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 bere 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 bad very nearly been effected, in consequence of the disputed succession that occurred on the death of Alexander III., by that subtile and warlike 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 vacant 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, however, served to convince both, and especially the latter, that they had been very much mistaken in their calculations. That Scotishmen should bave 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 trilling mark of the royal favour bestowed on them as an invidious distinction. Vain of his kingcraft, and exalting in the omnipotency of prerogative, James appears to have expected to be able to unite and to amalgamate his subjects, bowever different their manners and customs, by his owo sole authority. Scarcely had be set foot in his new kingdom, when he gave a practical display of what he 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 bis 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, “ boping that his subjects of both kingdoms, reflecting upon past disasters, while they respected bis person as infinitely precious, would secure them
selves against the return of former calamities, by a thorough union of !.i laws, parliaments, and privileges.” James was certainly not a great
'', politician, but, in this instance, he showed much more wisdom than his
parliament, who, though they took, out of condescendence to him, his