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The Constitutional Necessity for the Union of 1707
By Wm. S. McKechnie


ALL great movements that control the destinies of nations have their roots in constitutional phenomena. To this rule, the union of Scotland and England forms no exception. Towards the close of the seventeenth century there were forces at work which rendered a change in the relations of the two kingdoms inevitable, and which clearly indicated the direction such change must take, if a solution at once satisfactory and permanent was to be attained. The events of William’s reign had made the continuance of the status quo impossible. The relations of the Scottish Parliament to a king of Scotland, who was also king of England and was fast becoming the bondservant of the English Parliament, had proved fatal to the independence of the smaller nation. Scotland might still fondly cling to the tradition of her separate existence as a free and equal kingdom, but she found herself forced in practice to allow her national policy to be controlled in the interests of a foreign nation—a nation that had shown itself unsympathetic and contemptuous and had proved the most bitter and the most successful of trade-rivals. The key to the relations of the two kingdoms must thus be sought in the nature of the bonds uniting their two separate legislatures to a common executive head—a head so potent to thwart the weaker, so powerless to resist the stronger. Mutual sympathy and a Reeling of interests and traditions in common might have minimized the evils resultant from defective constitutional machinery; but in 1707 the sentiment of nationality was not a bond of union but rather a knife that cut the island sharply into two hostile units. The political atmosphere was surcharged with feelings of jealousy, mutual repulsion, and ill will.

The causes of Scottish discontent thus lay deeper than any trivial or temporary misunderstanding, deeper than the memories of Glencoe and Darien, bitter as these memories were. The discontent was the logical outcome of the constitutional necessities of a critical situation; and, before the close of the seventeenth century, the bond, in its existing form, had become intolerable to Scotsmen. The principles at stake, when properly understood, present themselves in a graphic and even dramatic form, well calculated to appeal to the imagination of loyal Scotsmen and to arrest the attention of their English fellow-citizens even after an interval of two centuries. It is the more remarkable that the bi-centenary of the Union of 1707, an event that created a powerful nation destined to play a leading part in the politics of the old world and in the colonization of the new, should have aroused only languid interest in Scotland, while meeting w\h almost cynical apathy in England. The tepid enthusiasm excited in Northern Britain in 1907 is the more conspicuous when contrasted with the warm and wide-spread rejoicings called forth in the previous year by so comparatively unimportant an occasion as the quarter-centenary of George Buchanan's birth.

The contrast may be explained in part by the readiness of generous minds to respond to the personal appeal which the achievements of great men, dead or alive, always make to their affections, combined with the public’s lack of interest in abstract questions. Other causes contributing to the neglect of the bi-centenary of the Union might perhaps be found, on one side of the Tweed, in the complacent parochialism of a section of English public opinion, and, on the other side, in a lingering feeling that the loss of nominal independence suffered in 1707 by the cider and prouder monarchy calls for oblivion or sorrow rather than for noisy celebrations.

Yet all such considerations are inadequate to account fully for the strange and chilling apathy with which the mass of Britons, on both sides of the Border, have responded to the gallant attempts made by a few learned historians to arouse interest in the circumstances under which, exactly two hundred years ago, Great Britain took its birth. A partial explanation, it is here suggested, lies in the fact that the discussions of the subject have ignored the broad constitutional problems involved, dwelling instead on subordinate side issues or on comparatively trivial matters of detail. Much has been said about plots and intrigues, about the influence of individuals and the position of parties prior to 1707, about differences of opinion on questions of religion, politics, and finance during the negotiations, and about the ultimate effects of the Union on Scottish trade, society, and literature ; but nothing, or next to nothing, has been said on the relations of the Scottish Parliament to the Scottish king and, through him, to the English ministers and the English Parliament. The instructive volume before us, so admirable in many ways, the outcome of the patriotic enterprise of the Editor of the Glasgow Herald, forms no real exception to the general rule. In its pages, every aspect of the Union is discussed, except the most essential. Here, the history of the Scottish Parliament from 1307 is outlined by Mr. R. S. Rait in a few bright and lucid pages. ‘The End of an Auld Sang’—an oft-told tale—-is told once more by Mr. Andrew Lang, who in a second essay makes, upon slender and inconclusive evidence, a serious charge against the Covenanters of the western shires. The debates on the Act of Security are outlined by Dr. James Mackinnon. Some of the ecclesiastical and personal aspects of the Scottish Union, and a few points of comparison with the Irish Union, are discussed by Mr. Law Mathieson. The industrial aspects fall to Mr. W. R. Scott and the literary aspects to Mr. J. H. Millar. Some topics of special local interest for Glasgow and Edinburgh respectively are treated by Mr. Renwick and Dr. James Colville (who between them represent Glasgow historical scholarship in this enterprise due to Glasgow initiative). Two papers of unusual interest on ‘The English Standpoint’ are contributed by Professor Lodge; while the text of the Articles of Union (to which the Act for securing the Protestant religion and Presbyterian Church government ought to have been appended) concludes the volume. The result of the independent labours of so many experts, each writing to a prescribed theme on which he is well qualified to speak, thus lies before us in the form of a collection of disconnected essays, lacking unity because no attempt has been made to connect the various subordinate topics with the great central constitutional movement. Yet the frame-work of government forms the skeleton of the body politic; and it is impossible for the poetical pathologist, without some knowledge of the anatomy of the figure, to understand what parts are diseased or out of joint.

Professor Hume Brown, searching in his introductory chapter for ground not already occupied by other contributors, might have found his opportunity in this omission : but he has endeavoured to show instead how the Union of the Parliaments has restored Scotland to the place of weight in European politics which she enjoyed previous to 1603, but lost at the Union of the Crowns. In what wav, ether than as an organic part of Great Britain, Scotland has, since 1707, exercised an influence over international affairs it is not easy to understand; but her impotence in the councils of Europe at the close of the seventeenth century may be accepted as an undoubted fact. If Professor Hume Brown had proceeded to lay bare the causes of this impotence- -a task which perhaps no one in Scotland was better fitted by historical insight and equipment to accomplish—he would inevitably have been led to a discussion of those constitutional phenomena which lay at the root of the movement. He has not done so, however, and has explained neither the nature of the nexus between the English Parliament and the common monarch, nor the impossibility of Scotland, deprived as she was of a separate executive head, pursuing any foreign policy of her own. As these constitutional relations seem essential to a right understanding of the Union of the Parliaments, alike as to its antecedents and its far-reaching results, this article proposes to proceed to a short analysis of their leading features.

With the results of the Revolution of 1688, an event which secured to the English Whigs the final triumph of the principles of government they had long struggled for, Scotland was bitterly disappointed. Why? Briefly, because William might be compelled to serve one, but not two masters; and the more helpless he found himself to defy the wishes of the wealthier and stronger nation, the more completely was the weaker nation entangled in his chains and dragged with him at the heels of the English Parliament. The growth of parliamentary government in England crushed out all possibility of parliamentary government :n Scotland. Such a result had not been dreamed of by the patriots of either country in the period between 1660 and 1688, when a consciousness of common aims and interests, as well as a sense of common dangers, had still united them in their struggles against a common enemy. If Charles II. had too often regulated his policy on lines that opposed the aspirations of patriotic Scotland, he had as frequently offended his English subjects; if James II. had persecuted the Presbyterians of the north, he had also plotted to overthrow Episcopacy in the south. Both kingdoms had suffered from the same divine-right monarchy, and expected to benefit equally from its overthrow.

When the Bill of Rights became law the English constitutionalists, indeed, entered their promised land. Yet, with public opinion unsettled at home and an invasion of Ireland pending, their position was insecure sc long as Scotland delayed to acquiesce in the settlement of the Crown upon William and Mary; and the Scots Estates might selfishly have dictated the price of their consent, demanding exemption from the operation of the Navigation Acts, or a closer union on terms of their own prescribing. The leaders at Edinburgh showed that they were not ignorant of the grave issues at stake when they passed, on 23rd April, 1689, an Act authorising the appointment of commissioners to treat of union. On the following day the Scottish Crown was offered to William and Mary on the conditions embodied in the Claim of Right. The letter which made this offer expressed a desire ‘ that as both kingdoms are united in one head and sovereign, so they may become one body politic, one nation, to be represented in one Parliament.’ The Parliament at Westminster, however, its immediate object now secured, took no steps to meet these advances—advances, it must be owned, of a somewhat half hearted kind, since the course suggested by Scottish prudence was repugnant to Scottish pride. The golden opportunity had thus been lost; and the events of the next two decades made it clear that the Estates at Edinburgh, whether through pride, ignorance, or credulity, had committed a tactical blunder in accepting the new ruler of England’s choice without first safeguarding Scottish interests. The patriots of the north who had shared the sufferings and the strivings of their political friends across the Border reaped no share of the spoils of victory. William of Orange, against his better judgment, was forced to trample underfoot the liberties and aspirations of the subjects of his northern kingdom ; and the key to his conduct towards Scotland must be sought in English constitutional phenomena. William’s reign is notable, in the eyes of students of political science, for the laying of the foundations of that modern cabinet system, which is the practical guarantee of liberty in most of the free countries and self-governing colonies of the modern world. Politicians of the days of William and Anne, it is true, were far from understanding the essential features involved; and what they understood, displeased them. All the same, a distinct advance was being made throughout these years towards the evolution of the essentials of cabinet government, as we find them in the British constitution of to-day—towards the control, that is, of the royal prerogative by a small band of ministers united in adherence to a definite political creed, owning the authority of a common leader, each jointly responsible for the political acts of his fellows, and all by the operation of the potent principle of ministerial responsibility beneath the domination of the House of Commons.

Macaulay has recounted, once for all, the gradual steps by which Parliament enslaved the Ling; how the Commons adopted a niggardly policy of annual doles, enforced by a rigorous appropriation of supplies, and audit of accounts ; how the leaders of the various parliamentary factions, disunited in all else, were pet united in their determination to curtail the perogatives of the Crown ; how William found it impossible to procure funds for his French campaigns without the support of the leading Whigs; how to please them he was forced to form his famous unto Ministry, the earliest unambiguous anticipation of a modern cabinet; how gradually the financial dram of the long-continued war, combined with William’s attempts at independent action in concluding the Partition Treaties, produced a Tory reaction that compelled him, in 1698, to dismiss Somers and other leading Whigs, and fill their places from the ranks of the party he disliked. With William’s personal feelings and bitter humiliation this article has no immediate concern, except in their bearing on Scots affairs. It is evident, however, that if the king had at Parliament’s dictation to choose his ministers from among men he distrusted and disliked; if he was powerless to carry out his most dearly-cherished schemes, or even at times to protect himself from indignities and insults; if he was compelled by insular prejudice to repay, with conspicuous ingratitude, the deep obligations that hound him to his faithful Dutch troops; :n such circumstances, the wishes of his Scottish subjects could not long prevail against the prejudices of his English ministers.

It is true that a logical distinction might be drawn between the separate prerogatives of the two Crowns; but in the field of politics logical subtleties give way to practical requirements; and it was the English House of Commons, not the Scots Estates, that regulated all matters De Jure Regnt apvid Scotos. It is further true that the northern country possessed separate ministers of her own. Even in its best days, however, the Scots Privy Council had never rivalled the powers of its English counterpart; while in the two decades that preceded the Union, no appreciable influence was exercised over the destiny of Scotland by the decision* of the Scots Privy Council as a whole, or of any inner circle of that body sitting at Edinburgh. Where William’s ministers were indifferent, his attitude towards northern affairs was directed by Carstares or such other statesman as had gained the royal ear, while in all matters of international importance the king of Scotland was compelled to regulate Scots affairs according to the exigencies of English party politics. Thus, under William of Orange, the ancient kingdom whose independence had survived the attacks of Edward Plantagenet and Oliver Cromwell, while still nominally tree and independent, was practically in a worse position than any British self-governing colony at the present day. The real centre of the political life of the Dominion of Canada lies at Ottawa, and that of the Commonwealth of Australia at Melbourne. The legislatures which meet at these colonial capitals are much more than mere law-making assemblies, for they exercise an active control over the colonial cabinets, the selection of which is dictated by the lower chamber, and the members of which are subject to the doctrine of ministerial responsibility. Scotland, on the contrary, prior to 1707, was in matters of importance governed from London, not from Edinburgh ; while such powers as remained to the Scots Privy Council were by no means subject to the parliamentary control of the Estates. North, as well as south of the Tweed, ministerial responsibility meant the same thing— responsibility to the Parliament that sat at Westminster. Even in the Transvaal, politically dominated by the Boers, recently in rebellion against British suzerainty, the earlier constitution framed by Mr. Lyttleton, which conferred representative institutions without responsible government, has been condemned and superseded as not sufficiently liberal. Yet Scotland between 1660 and 1707, had to endure an executive government which admitted no responsibility to the national legislative assembly.

It would be absurd, of course, to criticise the institutions of the seventeenth century by the standards of the twentieth. Yet such comparisons are Instructive; and it was specially galling to Scotsmen that the seat of the executive authority should be gradually transferred to a foreign capital at the very time when the principles of self-government were taking firm root in England. In two respects at least, defective constitutional liberty was a greater hardship to pre-union Scotland than it would be to a modern British colony. While, at the present day, the policy of the mother country towards its colonies is always sympathetic, the English ministers of William and Anne were hostile and contemptuous of Scottish prejudices. The very proximity of the two kingdoms, on the other hand, in that intolerant age, made it seem the more impossible to statesmen south of the Tweed to allow independence of action to a neighbour steeped in hostile traditions and with leanings towards the exiled Stuart race. Seton of Pitmedden rightly said: ‘Two kingdoms subject to one Sovereign, having different interests, the nearer these are one to another the greater jealousy and emulation will be betwixt them.’

That the rage of Scotland was, to a. great extent, blind and unreasoning rage affords no cause for wonder; for many irritating symptoms diverted attention from the true seat of the disease. The Scottish lion, blind with fury, knowing it was wounded, but realizing neither the nature nor location of the wound, attacked such victims as chance flung in its path—Captain Green and his unfortunate messmates of the Worcester among the number. The root-causes of the discontent, if imperfectly diagnosed in 1707, seem clear enough to-day; there may have been other subordinate causes rendering an ultimate union likely, but all other necessities flowed from the constitutional necessity. Scotland, it is true, after 1660, as a foreign land, was excluded from free trade with England and the plantations. The incidence of the Navigation Acts had been cruelly felt by the merchants of Leith and Aberdeen in the reign of Charles II. Yet, if Scotsmen had remained as completely aliens in England, as were the French or Dutch, they could not have reasonably complained. It was different when they found themselves constitutionally bound to their supercilious rivals, who were using the accumulated weight of the two crowns to prevent Scotland making treaties for war or commerce with other European powers. The friends of the Darien scheme may have been selfish and unwise in the policy they expected William to adopt. Yet, whether they were reasonable or the reverse was not the point; but rather whether the national will or the king’s will should prevail in Scots affairs. If, south of the Tweed, the Whigs had put in practice the doctrine that sovereigns exist to serve the community, why should Scotland be burdened with a king who (as in his dealings with the Hamburg merchants) thwarted her dearest aspirations. Scotland, like the American colonies before the war of independence, was treated in some respects as though it were a dependency not of the British Crown, but of the English Parliament. The status quo had become intolerable, and the only question at the commencement of Queen Anne’s reign was as to the form the inevitable change should take.

What new solutions were possible. Seton of Pitmedden in his famous speech of 2nd November, 1706, clearly explained 'the three different ways proposed for retrieving the languishing condition of this nation; which are, That we continue under the same sovereign with England, with limitations on his prerogative as king of Scotland; that the two kingdoms be incorporated into one; or that they be entirely separated.’ To these three he subsequently added a fourth solution: the words ‘Federal Union,’ he explained, had ‘become very fashionable, and may be handsomely fitted to delude unthinking people.’ To a brief discussion of these various solutions we may now proceed.

(1) Complete separation, in these days of Jacobite activity and acute trade rivalries, would have resulted in constant or intermittent warfare between the kingdoms, if not in the conquest of the smaller by the larger—alternatives equally repugnant to Scottish patriotism ;—while from England’s point of view, it would have seemed intolerable to allow a hostile Scotland, probably in alliance, as of old, with France, to remain unconquered as a constant menace to her northern frontier. Surely, to bring back the old unhappy days of the Anglo-Scottish wars was an impossible solution.

(2) The scheme known as 'the I.imitations', pressed by Fletcher of Saltoun, in season and out of season, upon the Estates, while conferring the empty title of King of Scotland on the new sovereigns called to the English throne by the Act of Settlement, sought to reduce their independent powers to zero in all vital questions. On its purely theoretic side, this arrangement had much to recommend it. No one of his contemporaries, indeed, has shown so clear an insight into the real nature of the evil as Fletcher did, when he declared, in one of his fiery outbursts: ‘It is not the prerogatives of a king of Scotland would diminish, but the prerogatives of English ministers over this nation.’ His suggested remedy, however, was open to serious practical objections. So far as ‘the Limitations’ would have really secured an effective control by the Estates over the royal prerogative, this would have amounted to a transference of ‘sovereignty’ from the king to the Scottish Parliament, and would have destroyed to that extent the bond of unity with England. In so far, on the other hand, as the control of the Estates proved incomplete, Scotland would have remained exposed, as formerly, to the interference of foreigners in her affairs, with the added evils and confusions consequent upon a divided ‘sovereignty.’ The position of the monarch under such a scheme, upon either alternative, would have been so full of danger and humiliation that no self-respecting prince would have accepted it. Finally, England would never willingly have acquiesced in an arrangement which brought added responsibilities without adequate return.

(3) In explaining the disadvantages of a federal union, Seton of Pitmedden, in the speech already quoted, showed astounding penetration. After asking, among other searching questions, ‘whether there can be any sure guarantee projected for the observance of the articles of a federal compact, stipulated betwixt two nations, whereof the one is much superior to the other in riches, numbers of people, and an extended commerce’ he proceeds to show from history how the weaker of the two kingdoms, united by such a compact, has invariably repudiated the connection with the stronger, 'unless prevented by open force, or secret influence on its government.’ To his two examples of Spain and Portugal, Sweden and Denmark, it is now possible to make several striking additions. Four important systems of government have been based, in modern times, upon a federal or quasi-federal principle—those of the United States of America; Switzerland; Austria-Hungary; Norway and Sweden. In the two first named, the federal tie is generally admitted to have proved successful; in the two latter it has failed conspicuously. Norway, rebelling against a burden that had grown intolerable, renounced in 1904 her allegiance to a monarch she respected, in order to free herself from the hated supremacy of Sweden. Hungarian patriots, while grinding beneath their heels Croatians, Serbs, Roumanians, and Slovaks, chafe unceasingly against Austrian supremacy, complaining that Hungarian interests and political ideals are systematically subordinated to those of their uncongenial political yoke-fellows.

To which of these groups would a federal Anglo-Scotia, in 1707, have corresponded the more closely? Would it have resembled a more or less numerous group of cantons or states like the Republics of Switzerland and North America—united under a federal legislature in which the interest of each of the original members is so small as to be easily neutralised by a combination of the others? Or would it rather have resembled the dual monarchies, where a common executive head in one case still compels, and in another has failed to compel, a smaller nation to submit to the continuance of a hated tie? Such historical parallels, conclusive as they are, are hardly needed to prove that in 1707, a federal union, would have kept alive all the evils of the previous regime, leaving Scotland powerless in the hands of English ministers. By a process of exhaustion, it has thus been shown that the only possible solution of the pressing constitutional problem, consistent both with national interests and national pride, lay such a complete fusion of the two nations on terms of equality, as would secure for Scotsmen a fair share of influence in the organic life of the new nation; and make, at the same time, adequate provision for preserving—so far as human ingenuity could preserve them— her national church, administrative machinery, and separate legal system. It is possible to ask, however, whether in truth all these objects have been successfully and permanently obtained.

It must be admitted, at least, that the mere fact of Scottish birth has not prevented individuals from holding high office in every department under the British Constitution, the office of Prime Minister not excepted; while the most sanguine anticipations of commercial advantages to be gained by Scotland from freedom of trade with England have been surpassed. It may still be asked, however, to what extent the guarantees of the Scottish Church and of the peculiar legal system, so jealously regarded in the Union debates, have stood the test of time. If an affirmative answer is here impossible, it is no slight on the statesmanship of the framers of the Treaty of Union to say that they failed to achieve what was logically impossible. A federal union, if adopted, might like ‘the law of the Medes and Persians which altereth not have permanently guaranteed existing institutions against attempts at legislative interference; but in the debates in the Cockpit and subsequently at Edinburgh, all idea of a union thus restricted was deliberately abandoned. The fundamental postulate on which the entire Treaty was built was that the Union should be absolute, complete, and irreducible, and that both existing Parliaments must surrender all their powers to a new Parliament, possessing legislative ‘soveirenty’ equally over the laws and institutions of both kingdoms. To attempt to combine with this postulate a legal (as opposed to a moral) guarantee that the Presbyterian Church or any of the peculiar laws and institutions of Scotland should remain perpetually unchanged, was like attempting to reconcile the contradiction in terms underlying the mathematical quibble which inquires what would happen if an irresistible force should meet an immoveable mass. The new Parliament having been declared irresistible, it followed that nothing could be inielable; while if any existing institution had been rendered legally unchangeable, it would have followed that as respects that institution at least, the Parliament was not supreme. There might be and there was a moral obligation upon the new legislature to respect the conditions of the Treaty, but such obligation could not have been made legally binding, without fundamentally altering the nature of the British Parliament as a sovereign legislative body. It is true that in the years following the Union, Scotland bitterly lamented the absence of legal guarantees, and had good reason to charge the overwhelming English majorities at Westminster with breach of faith in violating the spirit of the Treaty. It is true, further, that the Union would never have been effected, if the waverers at Edinburgh had suspected for one moment, when the crucial votes were taken, that the stipulated terms would not be scrupulously observed down to the minutest item.

It is necessary in this connection, however, to distinguish between those national institutions which the Act of Union deliberately left to the operation of the legislative supremacy of the British Parliament, and those others which it attempted, however illogically, to render permanent and inviolable, (1) Scotland stipulated to preserve her separate system of jurisprudence; but here there was no thought to stereotype the entire body of the existing laws. That would have been to turn a progressive Scotland into a second China. By the 18th Article all laws not inconsistent with the Treaty, were to remain in force ‘but alterable by the Parliament of Great Britain.’ Well meaning directions were added—possessing, of course, no legally binding authority—as to the way in which that Parliament ought to use these powers. Laws concerning ‘public right, policy, and civil government’ should be uniform throughout the realm, while those concerning private right should be altered only for the utility of the subject of Scotland. The continuance of a separate Privy Council for Scotland was left entirely to the discretion of Queen Anne and her successors in Parliament by the 19th Article, the terms of which rather suggest that its discontinuance would be the more natural course. It was, therefore, no hardship that an Act was passed in the very year of the Union, exercising these powers of abolition. Nor was it a breach of faith that the House of Lords should hear appeals from the Court of Session and the Court of Justiciary, since in the Union debates the Upper House was systematically described as 'the only sovereign indicature of Britain, with equal authority over both kingdoms. It was a grievance, however, although not a legal one, that this right of review was sometimes influenced by political bias as it undoubtedly was in Greenshield’s case, the fate of which was really determined by the Tory triumph, consequent upon the trial of Dr. Sacheverell.

(2) In two important matters at least, when the Scots commissioners consented to the Union, they intended that Scottish institutions should remain inviolable for ever. The Presbyterian Church was to remain intact both under the original Articles of Union and also in terms of the special Act passed for its protection; while in Defoe’s words, ‘The Courts of Justice, and the general form of administration, such as session, justiciary, and all other Courts, were to remain in force for ever.’ The judicial system, thus secured by a law that was to he incapable of repeal, included the various heritable jurisdictions, which chained Scotland to the feudal past. Defoe, with his usual prescience, regretted that the continued existence of these last had not been left for Parliament to determine. That was not done, however; and it is therefore clear that the Act abolishing military tenures, which swept these anomalies away in 1747, was, however desirable, a deliberate breach of the terms of Union.

A more emphatic: example of the incompatibility of parliamentary sovereignty with the stipulations of the Treaty of Union had been already afforded by three laws passed in 1712. The Toleration Act, the Act Restoring Patronage, and the Christmas Observance Act, whether wise or unwise in themselves, showed that the national sentiment of Scotland was subject to the over-ruling power of Westminster, and that this power might sometimes be exercised in a manner that was purely vexatious. It was bitterly realized that bigoted Episcopalian majorities in both Houses of Parliament ha the legal power, if they chose to exercise it, of overturning the Presbyterian form of church government in Scotland in spite of express stipulations to the contrary in the Treaty itself, and in the Act specially passed for its protection.

Such incidents illustrate the adequacy of the precautions taken in 1707 considered as legal guarantees of the permanency of existing institutions. They fall far short, however, of proving the Union a mistake. The incorporation of the two nations with each other, if accepted at all, had to be accepted by both sides, with all the faults inherent in the qualities of the measure. Scotland could not reasonably expect to retain all the advantages of separation while gaining in addition those attendant upon union. She surrendered her independence exactly as England did. In one respect, however, she found herself in worse case than England, since she accepted the domination of a legislative assembly in which her own representatives would have found themselves in a hopeless minority, if divisions had taken place on national as opposed to party lines. This was the risk she had to run—the price she paid for the Union, With the passage of two centuries these dangers and defects have disappeared from view, while the compensating advantages have become the more conspicuous. The recurrence of undue interference on the part of English majorities with exclusively Scottish affairs has been minimized, if not entirely obviated, with the growth of a tolerant spirit in politics and religion; while a feeling of mutual participation in the new and wider nationality—not incompatible with a sincere Scottish or local English patriotism— has done much towards consolidating the Union.

Time, then, has justified the framers of the Treaty. Scottish national institutions were protected in so far as was possible or desirable, and the successful termination of the negotiations in 1707 must be viewed as a triumph of Scottish diplomacy. At a time when Englishmen looked upon Scotland and Scotsmen with hatred and contempt, or at least with a half-contemptuous indifference—at a time when the mass of Englishmen were apathetic or antagonistic to the question of a closer union—it was surely a triumph for Scotland first to awaken English statesmen to a due sense of the urgency of the problem by passing the Act of Security—‘that masterpiece of policy,’ as Defoe aptly terms it, and then to extort terms of perfect equality on lines which were strictly fair, if not generous, and which entirely satisfied the quick pride of reasonable Scotsmen, by ensuring the construction of a stable basis on which national prosperity, to an extent undreamed of at the time, was afterwards to be built.

If Scotland, in 1707, renounced for ever her ancient constitution along with her continued existence as an independent state—an apparent blessing which pressure of circumstances had turned to an actual curse—she gained in return an honourable share in the life of Great Britain, and the right to exercise her fair measure of control in shaping the destinies of the British Empire— a right of which her sons have not been slow to take advantage.

Wm. S. McKechnie.


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