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Andrew Fletcher

Andrew Fletcher

FLETCHER, ANDREW, so much celebrated for his patriotism and political knowledge, was the son of Sir Robert Fletcher of Salton and Innerpeffer, by Catharine Bruce, daughter of Sir Henry Bruce of Clackmannan, and was born in the year 1653. His descent was truly noble, his father being the fifth in a direct line from Sir Bernard Fletcher of the county of York, and his mother of the noble race of Bruce; the patriarch of the family of Clackmannan, having been the third son of Robert de Bruce, lord of Annandale, grandfather of Robert de Bruce, king of Scots. The subject of this memoir had the misfortune to lose his father in early youth; but he was, by that parent, on his deathbed, consigned to the care of Gilbert Burnet, then minister of Salton, and afterwards bishop of Salisbury, who carefully instructed him in literature and religion, as well as in the principles of free government, of which Fletcher became afterwards such an eminent advocate. After completing his course of education under his excellent preceptor, he went upon his travels, and spent several years in surveying the manners and examining the institutions of the principal continental states. His first appearance as a public character was in the parliament held by James, duke of York, as royal commissioner, in the year 1681. In this parliament Fletcher sat as commissioner for the shire of East Lothian, and manifested the most determined opposition to the arbitrary and tyrannical measures of the court. In a short time he found it necessary to withdraw himself, first into England, to consult with his reverend preceptor, Dr Burnet, and afterwards, by his advice, to Holland. For his opposition to the test, and to the general spirit of the government, he was, not long after, summoned to appear before the lords of his majesty’s privy council at Edinburgh. Of the spirit of this court, the most abominable that has disgraced the annals of Great Britain, Fletcher was too well aware to put himself in its power, and for his non-appearance he was outlawed and his estate confiscated. Holland was at this time the resort of many of the best men of both kingdoms, who had been obliged to expatriate themselves, to escape the fury of an infatuated government, and with these Fletcher formed the closest intimacy. In the year 1683, he accompanied Baillie of Jerviswood to England, in order to concert measures with the friends of liberty there, and was admitted into the secrets of lord Russell’s council of six. This assembly consisted of the duke of Monmouth, the lords Russell, Essex, and Howard, Algernon Sydney, and John Hampden, grandson to the immortal patriot of that name. Tyranny was, however, at this time, triumphant. Monmouth was obliged to abscond; Russell was apprehended, tried, and executed, principally through the evidence of his associate lord Howard, who was an unprincipled wretch. Essex was imprisoned, and either cut his own throat, or had it cut by assassins,—history has never determined which. Sydney was executed, and Howard subjected to a fine of forty thousand pounds sterling. Many other persons of inferior note were executed for this plot. Jerviswood fell into the hands of the Scottish administration, and was most illegally and iniquitously put to death. Fletcher too was eagerly sought after, and, had he been apprehended, would certainly have shared the same fate. He, however, escaped again to the continent, where he devoted his time to the study of public law, and for sometime seems to have had little correspondence with his native country.

In the beginning of the year 1685, when James VII. acceded to the throne of Britain, Fletcher came to the Hague, where were assembled Monmouth, Argyle, Melville, Polworth, Torwoodlie, Mr James Stuart, lord Stair, and many other gentlemen, both Scottish and English, when the unfortunate expeditions of Argyle and Monmouth were concerted. It does not appear, however, that Fletcher was a leader among these gentlemen. His temper was of the most stern and unaccommodating character, and he was bent upon setting up a commonwealth in Scotland, or at least a monarchy so limited as to bear very little resemblance to a kingdom. He had drunk deep of the spirit of ancient Greece, with which the greater part of his associates, patriots though they were, had no great acquaintance, and he had a consciousness of his own superiority that could not go well down with those feudal chieftains, who supposed that their birth alone entitled them to precedency in council, as well as to command in the field. His own country was certainly dearer to him than any other, and in it he was likely to put forth his energies with the greatest effect; yet from his dissatisfaction with their plans of operation, he did not embark with his countrymen, but with the duke of Monmouth, in whom, if successful, he expected less obstruction to his republican views. Fletcher was certainly at the outset warmly attached to Monmouth’s scheme of landing in England, though he subsequently wished it to be laid aside; and he afterwards told Burnet, that Monmouth, though a weak young man, was sensible of the imprudence of his adventure, but that he was pushed on to it against his own sense and reason, and was piqued upon the point of honour in hazarding his person with his friends. He accordingly landed at Lynn, in Dorsetshire, on the 11th of June, 1685, with about an hundred followers, of whom the subject of this memoir was one of the most distinguished. Crowds of people soon flocked to join the standard of Monmouth, and, had he been qualified for such affairs as that he had now undertaken, the revolution of 1688 might perhaps have been anticipated. He, however, possessed no such qualifications, nor did those on whom he had principally depended. Lord Gray, to whom he had given the command of the horse, was sent out with a small party to disperse a detachment of militia that had been assembled to oppose him. The militia retreated before the troops of Monmouth, who stood firm; but Gray, their general, fled, carrying back to his camp the news of a defeat, which was in a short time contradicted by the return of the troops in good order. Monmouth had intended to join Fletcher along with Gray in the command of his cavalry, and the Scottish patriot certainly would not have fled, so long as one man stood by him; but unfortunately, at the very time when Gray was out on the service in which he so completely disgraced his character, Fletcher was sent out in another direction, in which he was scarcely less unfortunate, having, in a personal quarrel about a horse which he had too hastily laid hold of for his own use, killed the mayor of Lynn, who had newly come in to join the insurgent army, in consequence of which he was under the necessity of leaving the camp immediately. The melancholy fate of Monmouth is generally known.

Though there cannot be a doubt that the shooting of the mayor of Lynn was the real cause of Fletcher’s abandoning the enterprise so early, he himself never admitted it. He had joined, he said, the duke of Monmouth on the footing of his manifestations, which promised to provide for the permanent security of civil liberty and the protestant religion, by the calling of a general congress of delegates from the people at large, to form a free constitution of government, in which no claim to the throne was to be admitted, but with the free choice of the representatives of the people. From the proclaiming of Monmouth king, which was done at Taunton, he saw, he said, that he had been deceived, and resolved to proceed no further, every step from that moment being treason against the just rights of the nation, and deep treachery on the part of Monmouth. At any rate, finding that he could be no longer useful, he left Taunton, and embarked aboard a vessel for Spain, where he no sooner arrived, than he was thrown into prison, and on the application of the British ambassador, was ordered to be delivered up and transmitted to London in a Spanish ship fitted up for that purpose. In this hopeless situation, looking one morning through the bars of his dungeon, he was accosted by a person, who made signs that he wished to speak with him. Looking around him, Fletcher perceived an open door, at which he was met by his deliverer, with whom he passed unmolested through three different military guards, all of whom seemed to be fast asleep, and without being permitted to return thanks to his guide, made good his escape, with the assistance of one who evidently had been sent for the express purpose, but of whom he never obtained the smallest information. Travelling in disguise, he proceeded through Spain, and considering himself out of danger, made a leisurely pilgrimage through the country, amusing himself in the libraries of the convents, where he had the good fortune to find many rare and curious books, some of which he was enabled to purchase and bring along with him, to the enriching of the excellent library he had already formed at his seat of Salton, in East Lothian. In the course of his peregrinations, he made several very narrow escapes, among which the following is remarkable, as having apparently furnished the hint for a similar incident in a well-known fiction. He was proceeding to a town where he intended to have passed the night; but in the skirts of a wood, a few miles from thence, upon entering a road to the right, he was warned by a woman of respectable appearance to take the left hand road, as there would be danger in the other direction. Upon his arrival, he found the citizens alarmed by the news of a robbery and murder, which had taken place on the road against which he had been cautioned, and in which he would have certainly been implicated, through an absurd Spanish law, even although not seen to commit any crime. After leaving Spain, he proceeded into Hungary, where he entered as a volunteer into the army, and distinguished himself by his gallantry and military talents. From this distant scene of activity, however, he was soon recalled by the efforts that at length were making to break the yoke of tyranny and the staff of the oppressor that had so long lain heavy on the kingdom of Britain. Coming to the Hague, he found there his old friends, Stair, Melville, Folworth, Cardross, Stuart of Coltness, Stuart of Goodtrees, Dr Burnet, and Mr Cunningham, who still thought his principles high and extravagant, though they associated with him, and were happy to have the influence of his name and the weight of his talents to aid them on so momentous an occasion. Though not permitted to be a leader in the great work of the revolution, for which, indeed, both his principles, which were so different from those of the men who effected it, and his intractable and unyielding temper, alike disqualified him, he came home in the train of his countrymen, who, by that great event were restored to their country and to their rightful possessions; and, according to the statement of the earl of Buchan, [Life of Fletcher of Salton] made a noble appearance in the convention which met in Scotland after the revolution for settling the new government. Lockhart of Carnwath, who was no friend to the new government, nor of the principles upon which it was founded, takes no notice of this portion of the life of Fletcher, though he is large upon his speeches, and indeed every part of his conduct, when he afterwards became a violent oppositionist.

In the year 1692, when every effort to bring about a counter revolution was made, Fletcher, though strongly, and perhaps justly, disgusted with king William, renouncing every selfish principle, and anxious only to promote the welfare of the country, exerted himself to the utmost to preserve what had been already attained in the way of a free government, though it came far short of what he wished, and what he fondly, too fondly, hoped the nation had been ripe to bear. In all that regarded the public welfare, he was indeed indefatigable, and that without any appearance of interested motives. He was the first friend and patron of that extraordinary man, William Paterson, to whom the honour of the formation of the bank of England ought, in justice, to be ascribed, and who projected the Darien company, the most splendid idea of colonization that was ever attempted to be put in practice. "Paterson," says Sir John Dalrymple, "on his return to London, formed a friendship with Mr Fletcher, of Salton, whose mind was inflamed with the love of public good, and all of whose ideas to procure it had a sublimity in them. Fletcher disliked England, merely because he loved Scotland to excess, and therefore the report common in Scotland is probably true, that he was the person who persuaded Paterson to trust the fate of his project to his own countrymen alone, and to let them have the sole benefit, glory, and danger in it, for in its danger Fletcher deemed some of its glory to consist. Although Fletcher had nothing to hope for, and nothing to fear, because he had a good estate and no children, and though he was of the country party, yet, in all his schemes for the public good, he was in use to go as readily to the king’s ministers, as to his own friends, being indifferent who had the honour of doing good, provided it was done. His house of Salton, in east Lothian, was near to that of the marquis of Tweeddale, then minister for Scotland, and they were often together. Fletcher brought Paterson down to Scotland with him, presented him to the marquis, and then, with that power which a vehement spirit always possesses over a diffident one, persuaded the statesman, by arguments of public good, and of the honour that would redound to his administration, to adopt the project. Lord Stair and Mr Johnston, the two secretaries of state, patronized those abilities in Paterson, which they possessed in themselves, and the lord advocate, Sir James Stewart, the same man who had adjusted the prince of Orange’s declaration at the revolution, and whose son was married to a daughter of lord Stair, went naturally along with his connexions." From the above, it appears that Fletcher, next to the projector, Paterson, who was, like himself, an ardent lover of liberty, had the principal hand in forwarding the colonization of Darien, and to his ardent and expansive mind, we have no doubt, that the plan owed some, at least, of its excellencies, and also, perhaps, the greatest of its defects. "From this period," remarks lord Buchan, "till the meeting of the Union Parliament, Fletcher was uniform and indefatigable in his parliamentary conduct, continually attentive to the rights of the people, and jealous, as every friend of his country ought to be, of their invasion by the king and his ministers, for it is as much of the nature of kings and ministers to invade and destroy the rights of the people, as it is of foxes and weasels to rifle a poultry yard, and destroy the poultry. All of them, therefore," continues his lordship, "ought to be muzzled." Among other things that Fletcher judged necessary for the preservation of public liberty, was that of a national militia. In a discourse upon this subject, he says, "a good and effective militia is of such importance to a nation, that it is the chief part of the constitution of any free government. For though, as to other things the constitution be never so slight, a good militia will always preserve the public liberty; but in the best constitution that ever was, as to all other parts of government, if the militia be not upon a right footing, the liberty of that people must perish."

Scotland, ever since the union of crowns, had been stripped of all her importance in a national point of view, and the great object at this time was to exclude English influence from her councils, and to restore her to her original state of independence; a thing which could never be accomplished, so long as the king of Scotland was the king of England. James the sixth, when he succeeded to the English crown, wiser than any of his statesmen, saw this difficulty, and proposed to obviate it by the only possible means, a union of the two kingdoms; but owing to the inveterate prejudices of so many ages, neither of the kingdoms could at that time be brought to submit to the judicious proposal. Fletcher and his compatriots saw what had been the miserable evils, but they saw not the proper remedy; hence, they pursued a plan that, but for the superior wisdom of the English, would have separated the crowns, brought on hostilities, and the entire subjection of the country, by force of arms. In all the measures which had for their object the annihilating of English influence, Fletcher had the principal hand, and there were some of them of singular boldness. In case of the crowns of the two kingdoms continuing to be worn by one person, the following, after pointing out in strong terms the evils that had accrued to Scotland from this unfortunate association, were the limitations proposed by Fletcher:—"1st, That elections shall be made at every Michaelmas head court, for a new parliament every year, to sit the first of November next following, and adjourn themselves from time to time till next Michaelmas—that they choose their own president, and that every thing shall be determined by balloting, in place of voting. 2d, That so many lesser barons shall be added to the parliament, as there have been noblemen created since the last augmentation of the number of the barons, and that in all time coming, for every nobleman that shall be created, there shall be a baron added to the parliament. 3d, That no man have a vote in parliament but a nobleman or elected members. 4th, That the kings shall give the sanction to all laws offered by the estates, and that the president of the parliament be empowered by his majesty to give the sanction in his absence, and have ten pounds sterling a day of salary. 5th, That a committee of one-and-thirty members, of which nine to be a quorum, chosen out of their own number by every parliament, shall, during the intervals of parliament, under the king, have the administration of the government, be his council, and accountable to the next parliament, with power, on extraordinary occasions, to call the parliament together, and that, in said council, all things be determined by balloting, in place of voting. 6th, That the king, without consent of parliament, shall not have the power of making peace and war, or that of concluding any treaty with any other state or potentate. 7th, That all places and offices, both civil and military, and all pensions formerly conferred by our kings, shall ever after be given by parliament. 8th, That no regiment or company of horse, foot, or dragoons, be kept on foot in peace or war, but by consent of parliament. 9th, That all the fencible men of the nation betwixt sixty and sixteen, be with all diligence possible armed with bayonets and firelocks all of a calibre, and continue always provided in such arms, with ammunition suitable. 10th, That no general indemnity nor pardon for any transgression against the public shall be valid without consent of parliament. 11th, That the fifteen senators of the college of justice shall be incapable of being members of Parliament, or of any other office or pension but the salary that belongs to their place, to be increased as the parliament shall think fit; that the office of president shall be in three of their number to be named by parliament, and that there be no extraordinary lords. And also, that the lords of the justice court shall be distinct from that of the session, and under the same restrictions. 12th, That if any king break in upon any of these conditions of government, he shall, by the estates, be declared to have forfeited the crown." The above limitations did not pass the house, though they met with very general support; yet, something little short of them were really passed, and received the royal assent. The so much applauded Act of Security made many provisions respecting the mode of proceeding in parliament in case of the queen’s death, with the conditions under which the successor to the crown of England was to 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 with all the burghs of 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. The same parliament passed an act 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 sole power of making war with any prince, state, or potentate whatsoever, without consent of parliament. A proposal made at this time for settling the succession, as the English parliament had done in the house of Hanover, was treated with the utmost contempt, some proposing to burn it, and others insisting that the member who proposed it should be sent to the castle, and it was at last thrown out by a majority of fifty-seven voices.

Another limitation proposed by Fletcher, was, that all places, offices, and pensions, which had been formerly given by our king, should, after her majesty and heirs of her body, be conferred only by parliament so long as the crowns remained united. "Without this limitation," he continues, "our poverty and subjection to the court of England will every day increase, and the question we have now before us, is, whether we will be free-men, or slaves for ever? whether we will continue to defend or break the yoke of our independence? and whether we will choose to live poor and miserable; or rich, free, and happy? Let no man think to object that this limitation takes away the whole power of the prince; for the same condition of government is found in one of the most absolute monarchies of the world, China." Quoting the authority of Sir William Temple for this fact, he continues, "and if, under the greatest absolute monarchy of the world, in a country where the prince actually resides—if among heathens this be accounted a necessary part of government for the encouragement of virtue, shall it be denied to christians living under a prince who resides in another nation? Shall it be denied to people who have a right to liberty, and yet are not capable of any, in their present circumstances, without this limitation." We cannot refrain copying the following sentences on the benefits he anticipated from the measure:—"This limitation will undoubtedly enrich the nation by stopping that perpetual issue of money to England, which has reduced this country to extreme poverty. This limitation does not flatter us with the hopes of riches, by an uncertain project—does not require so much as the condition of our own industry; but by saving great sums to the country, will every year furnish a stock sufficient to carry on a considerable trade, or to establish some useful manufacture at home with the highest probability of success: because, our ministers, by this rule of government, would be freed from the influence of English councils, and our trade be entirely in our own hands, and not under the power of the court, as it was in the affair of Darien. If we do not attain this limitation, our attendance at London will continue to drain this nation of all those sums which should be a stock for trade. Besides, by frequenting that court, we not only spend our money, but learn the expensive modes and ways of living of a rich and luxurious nation; we lay out, yearly, great sums in furniture and equipage to the unspeakable prejudice of the trade and manufactures of our own country. Not that I think it amiss to travel into England, in order to see and learn their industry in trade and husbandry; but at court, what can we learn, except a horrid corruption of manners, and an expensive way of living, that we may for ever after be both poor and profligate? This limitation will secure to us our freedom and independence. It has been often said in this house, that our princes are captives in England, and, indeed, one would not wonder, if, when our interest happens to be different from that of England, our kings, who must be supported by the riches and power of that nation in all their undertakings, should prefer an English interest before that of this country; it is yet less strange, that English ministers should advise and procure the advancement of such persons to the ministry of Scotland, as will comply with their measures and the king’s orders, and to surmount the difficulties they may meet with from a true Scottish interest, that places and pensions should be bestowed upon parliament men and others. I say, these things are so far from wonder, that they are inevitable in the present state of our affairs; but I hope, they likewise show us that we ought not to continue any longer in this condition. Now, this limitation is advantageous to all. The prince will no more be put upon the hardship of deciding between an English and a Scottish interest, or the difficulty of reconciling what he owes to each nation in consequence of his coronation oath. Even English ministers will no longer lie under the temptation of meddling in Scottish affairs, nor the ministers of this kingdom, together with all those who have places and pensions be any more subject to the worst of all slavery. But if the influences I mentioned before still continue, what will any other limitation avail us? What shall we be the better for our act concerning the power of war and peace, since by the force of an English interest and influence, we cannot fail of being engaged in every war, and neglected in every peace? By this limitation, our parliament will become the most uncorrupted senate of all Europe. No man will be tempted to vote against the interest of his country, when his country shall have all the bribes in her own hands, offices, places, and pensions. It will be no longer necessary to lose one half of the customs, that parliament men may be made collectors; we will not desire to exclude the officers of state from sitting in this house, when the country shall have the nomination of them; and our parliament, free from corruption, cannot fail to redress all our grievances. We shall then have no cause to fear a refusal of the royal assent to our acts, for we shall have no evil counselor nor enemy of his country to advise it. When this condition of government shall take place, the royal assent will be the ornament of the prince, and never be refused to the desires of the people; a general unanimity will be found in this house, in every part of the government, and among all ranks and conditions of men. The distinctions of court and country party shall no more be heard in this nation, nor shall the Prince and people any longer have a different interest. Rewards and punishments will be in the hands of those who live among us, and consequently best know the merit of men, by which means, virtue will be recompensed, and vice discouraged, and the reign and government of the prince will flourish in peace and justice. I should never make an end if I should prosecute all the great advantages of this limitation, which, like a divine influence, turns all to good, as the want of it has hitherto poisoned every thing, and brought all to ruin."

If Fletcher really believed the one half of what he ascribes in this speech to his favourite limitation, he was an enthusiast of no common order. We suspect, however, that his design was in the first place to render the king insignificant, and then to dismiss him altogether; it being one of his favourite maxims, that the trappings of a monarchy and a great aristocracy would patch up a very clever little commonwealth. The high-flying tories of that day, however, or in other words, the jacobites, in the heat of their rage and the bitterness of their disappointment, citing to him as their last hope of supporting even his most deadly attacks upon the royal prerogative, from the desperate pleasure of seeing the kingly office, since they could not preserve it for their own idol, rendered useless, ridiculous, or intolerable to any one else who should enjoy it. By this means, there was a seeming consistency in those ebullitions of national independence, and a strength and vigour which they really did not possess, but which alarmed the English ministry; and the union of the kingdoms, which good sense and good feeling ought to have accomplished, at least one century earlier, was effected, at last, as a work of political necessity, fully as much as of mercy. In every stage of this important business, Fletcher was its most determined opponent, in which he was, as usual, seconded by the whole strength of the jacobites. Happily, however, through the prudence of the English ministry, the richness of her treasury, and the imbecility of the duke of Hamilton, the leader of the jacobites, he was unsuccessful, and retired from public life, under the melancholy idea that he had outlived, not only his country’s glory, but her very existence, having witnessed, as he thought, the last glimmering of hope, and heard the last sounds of freedom that were ever to make glad the hearts of her unfortunate children. He died at London in 1716.

The character of Fletcher has been the subject of almost universal and unlimited panegyric. "He was," says the earl of Buchan, "by far the most nervous and correct speaker in the parliament of Scotland, for he drew his style from the pure models of antiquity, and not from the grosser practical oratory of his contemporaries; so that his speeches will bear a comparison with the best speeches of the reign of queen Anne, the Augustan age of Great Britain." Lockhart says, "he was always an admirer of both ancient and modern republics, but that he showed a sincere and honest inclination towards the honour and interest of his country. The idea of England’s domineering over Scotland was what his generous soul could not endure. The indignities and oppression Scotland lay under galled him to the heart, so that, in his learned and elaborate discourses, he exposed them with undaunted courage and pathetic eloquence. He was blessed with a soul that hated and despised whatever was mean and unbecoming a gentlemen, and was so steadfast to what he thought right, that no hazard nor advantage,—not the universal empire, nor the gold of America, could tempt him to yield or desert it. And I may affirm that in all his life, he never once pursued a measure with the least prospect of any thing by end to himself, nor farther than he judged it for the common benefit and advantage of his country. He was master of the English, Latin, Greek, French, and Italian languages, and well versed in history, the civil law, and all kinds of learning. He was a strict and nice observer of all the points of honour, and had some experience of the art of war, having been some time a volunteer in both the land and sea service. He was in his private conversation affable to his friends, (but could not endure to converse with those he thought enemies to their country,) and free of all manner of vice. He had a penetrating, clear, and lively apprehension, but so exceedingly wedded to his own opinions, that there were few, (and these too must be his beloved friends, and of whom he had a good opinion,) he could endure to reason against him, and did for the most part so closely and unalterably adhere to what he advanced, which was frequently very singular, that he’d break with his party before he’d alter the least jot of his scheme and maxims; and therefore it was impossible for any set of men, that did not give up themselves to be absolutely directed by him, to please him, so as to carry him along in all points: and thence it came to pass, that he often in parliament acted a part by himself, though in the main he stuck close to the country party, and was their Cicero. He was no doubt an enemy to all monarchical governments; but I do very well believe, his aversion to the English and the union was so great, that in revenge to them he’d have sided with the royal family. But as that was a subject not fit to be entered on with him, this is only a conjecture from some innuendoes I have heard him make. So far is certain, he liked, commended, and conversed with high-flying tories more than any other set of men, acknowledging them to be the best countrymen, and of most honour and integrity. To sum up all, he was a learned, gallant, honest, and every other way well accomplished gentleman; and if ever a man proposes to serve and merit well of his country, let him place his courage, zeal, and constancy, as a pattern before him, and think himself sufficiently applauded and rewarded by obtaining the character of being like Andrew Fletcher of Salton."—Of the general truth of these descriptions we have no doubt; but they are strongly coloured through a national prejudice that was a principal defect in Fletcher’s own character. That he was an ardent lover of liberty and of his country, his whole life bore witness; but he was of a temper so fiery and ungovernable, and besides so excessively dogmatic, that he was of little service as a coadjutor in carrying on public affairs. His shooting the mayor of Lynn on a trifling dispute, and his collaring lord Stair in the parliament house, for a word which he thought reflected upon him, showed a mind not sufficiently disciplined for the business of life; and his national partialities clouded his otherwise perspicacious faculties, contracted his views, and rendered his most philosophical speculations, and his most ardent personal exertions of little utility. Upon the whole, he was a man, we think, rather to be admired than imitated; and, like many other popular characters, owes his reputation to the defects, rather than to the excellencies of his character.

Fletcher of Saltoun
By G. W. T. Omond (1897) (pdf)

The Political Works of Andrew Fletcher (1732) (pdf)

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