Page images
PDF
EPUB

XI.

17713

When the tories, during the last years of queen BOOK Ann, had engrossed the exclusive possession of Law power, the duke of Hamilton was created a British peer; but the house of lords, where the influence of the whigs predominated, opposed his patent as repugnant to the union, and rejected his claim to an hereditary seat. Sixteen of the Scottish peers were admitted, by virtue of that treaty, to sit and vote in the English parliament; but they appealed in vain to the fallacious promises of the English commissioners, who durst not deny that the clause was purposely inserted to capacitate, not to disqualify them for additional honours, by creation or descent. The tories procured a succession of acts against the presbyterian church; and the sixteen peers were induced at last to intermingle their private grievances with the public discontent. The malt-tax, from which the Scots had obtained an exemption during the war, was extended to the whole island on the return of peace. But the tax was still appropriated to the deficiencies incurred by the war; and the Scots complained that it was unequal from the inferior quality of their barley, and an oppressive imposition which the poverty of their country was unable to sustain. Their peers concurred with their commoners to dissolve the union; the whigs with the Jacobites to rescue their country from the English yoke. On a day appointed to consider the state of the nation, the earl of Seafield enumerated the various grievances

[ocr errors]

BOOK
XI.

1713.

[ocr errors]

BOOK which the Scots endured; that their privy-council ww was first abolished; that the English laws against 1713. high treason were next introduced, and their own

repealed; that their peers were then stigmatised as
the only persons declared incapable of acquiring
honours; that at last, instead of being relieved
from the burthens of war, their country was
oppressed by a more intolerable tax on the return
of peace; and he concluded with a motion to dis.
solve the union, from which, instead of the ex-
pected benefits, such evils were incurred. The
motion was seconded by. Mar, Argyle, and the
Scottish peers, and supported by most of the Eng-
lish whigs; but it was opposed by the tories, who
concurred with Harley to preserve an union of
which they still disapproved. They affirm that
the Scots had no reason to complain of the malt-
tax, which was suspended only during the war;
and they maintained that the union could not now
be dissolved, as the two parliaments by whom it
was contracted, had ceased to exist. The Scots
asserted that they had acquiesced in a solemn as-
surance, inserted in the treaty, that the united,
parliament never would impose an unequal tax
beyond the abilities of their nation to sustain;
that theirs was not half, nor above a third part of
the value of English malt, but that the dispropor-
tion of the tax was above two thirds; and that the
powers of the two parliaments to treat or to con-
tract, were consolidated in the present, to whom

it was equally competent to dissolve an union, BOOK which, instead of the advantages promised and ex. Mai pected, was productive only of new grievances, instead of national concord, of additional animosities and mutual discontent. The whigs professed that they were ready to dissolve an union productive of such unforeseen inconveniences, if the protestant succession should be previously secured 9'; but amidst the ostensible arguments of contending parties, their real motives are not always revealed. Though still hostile to an union, the tories were certainly not attached to the house of Hanover; and an obscure plan to restore the hereditary line, was disappointed, according to the Jacobites, by the untimely death of the duke of Hamilton, whom the queen had appointed ama bassador to France, from a design, it is said, to introduce her brother the pretender into Scotland, with some Irish regiments in the French service, in order to promote his eventual succession to the English throne. The whigs, apprehensive of similar designs, appear to have listened to the assu. rances of the Scots, that the protestant succession should be more firmly secured if the union were dissolved. From the separation of the two kinge doms, their friends might obtain an ascendant, and open an asylum for themselves in Scotland, where, with the interest or assistance of Hanover, they

XI.

1713.

SSU.

9: Boyer's Political Transactions, 1712-13, and History. Burnet. :

BOOK
ΧΙ,

1713.

BOOK might counteract the secret designs of the court.

But the tories were equally afraid, lest their adversaries should acquire the direction or the support of that kingdom if it were once disunited ; and parties were so nearly balanced, that, by the defection of Mar and Loudon, the motion for dissolving the union was rejected only by four

votes 92. The two The unhappy consequences predicted at the rebellions. 1715. union, seemed to be verified by the two rebellions

in which the nation was involved; but the first must be ascribed to the impolitic violence of the whigs themselves. A severe proscription from olice was begun by the tories in the last years of queen Ann. Instead of attempting to reconcite their advcrsaries to the new government, the whigs transcribed and improved the example, with little intermission, during the two succeeding reigns. Not satisfied with the removal of the former ministers, they demanded their heads; and their persecution converted the tories into Jacobites, and filled the nation with tumult and discontent. Mar, the secretary of state for Scotland, who professed an early allegiance, was sincerely disposed to acquiesce in the succession of the House of Hanover, and procured a loyal address from the highland clans; but the contumelious refusal of his overtures, and of their submission, the im

92 Sir John Clerk's Memoirs, MS. Macpherson's Orig. Papers, i. 388.

peachment of Oxford and Stafford, and the attain- BOOK der and exile of Ormond and Bolingbroke, reduced him to despair 93. On repairing to the highlands he was joined by ten thousand men, from clans or families disgusted at the union, or attached to the hereditary, descent of the crown 94.

XI. CC

1715.

[ocr errors]

63 Transact. of the Antiq. Society Edin. vol. i. p. 562. The family account of Lord Mar's conduct, to which I have adhered, is confirmed by his confidential letters to his brother lord Grange, expressive of the utmost solicitude to preservë the tranquillity of Scotland on the queen’s death. On the king's arrival at Greenwich, he attended to present the highland address which lord Grange had prepared; but was informed that it would not be received, as his majesty was well assured that it had been manufactured at St. Germains. Concluding his ruin determined, he scrupled no longer to accede to the terms offered by the pretender's agent.

94 Sir John Clerk represents the Scots as already so sensible of the benefits of the union, “ that the pretender, in 1715) was obliged to alter that part of his proclamation which promised to repeal the union; and to express his intention of leaving it to the determination of a free parliament." Sir John, in all his writings, naturally grasps at whatever was favourable to the union, to which he confesses that three fourths of the nation were hostile at the time. Testamentary Mem. MS. That his information in this instance was defective, appears from the pretender's declaration, published after his arrival, and never recalled ; “ That he came to relieve his subjects of Scotland from the hardships they groaned under from the late unhappy union, and to restore the kingdom to its ancient free and happy státe.” Boyer's Polit. State, 1. 613. Nothing but the danger of a rebellion deterred the presbyterians, on the accession of George I. from VOL. IV.

Cc

« PreviousContinue »