Chapter III., pp.18-30.

[How Scotland Lost her Parliament Contents]

The Protests of the National Party against the Treaty – Extracts from Lord Belhaven’s famous speech – Duke of Hamilton’s protest – Lockhart of Carnwath and Duke of Athole’s protests – Black-List of the bribed – Examples of true Scots.

LORD BELHAVEN made a strong protest in the Scottish Parliament against the Treaty. In beginning his address he found his mind crowded with a variety of melancholy thoughts, and disburdened himself as follows:- ‘I think I see a free and independent kingdom delivering up that which all the world hath been fighting for since the days of Nimrod. Yea, that for which most of all the empires, kingdoms, states, principalities, and dukedoms of Europe are at this very time engaged in the most bloody and cruel wars that ever were, to wit, a power to manage their own affairs by themselves without the assistance and counsel of any other.’ He went on to remind the House that they were the successors of their noble predecessors who founded the Scottish Monarchy, who frame the laws, amended, altered, and corrected them from time to time as the affairs and circumstances of the nation required, without the assistance or advice of any foreign power or potentate, and who, during the time of 2000 years, have handed them down to us – a free independent nation – with the hazard of their lives and fortunes; ‘Shall not we,’ he asked, ‘then argue for that which our progenitors have purchased for us at so dear a rate, and with so much immortal honour and glory?’ In pursuing what his Lordship called his ‘sad and melancholy story,’ he referred to the motives which engaged the two nations to enter upon a Treaty of Union, and to the fact of such motives having changed since the beginning of the negotiations. He alluded to the threatening and minatory laws against Scotland by the Parliament of England, and quoted the resolve presented by the Duke of Hamilton at a previous session of Parliament, as follows:- ‘That this Parliament will not proceed to the nomination of a successor till we have had a previous treaty with England in relation to our commerce and other concerns with that nation. And further, it is resolved that this Parliament will proceed to make such limitations and conditions of government for the rectification of our Constitution as may secure the liberty, religion, and independency of this kingdom before they proceed to the said nomination.’ Lord Belhaven then entered upon a condemnation of the behaviour of the Lords Commissioners, prefacing his remarks with a meditation on what posterity would say concerning them, and of the absence from the treaty of the great historic names of Scotland. He strongly deprecated an incorporating union. ‘I take,’ he says, ‘an incorporating union to be, where there is a change both in the material and formal points of government, as if two pieces of metal were melted down into one mass, it can neither be said to retain its former form nor substance as it did before the mixture. But now when I consider this treaty, I see the English Constitution remaining firm, the same two Houses of Parliament, the same taxes, the same customs, the same excises, the same trade in companies, the same municipal laws and courts of judicature, and all ours are either subject to regulations or annihilation; only we have the honour to pay their old debts, and to have some few persons present for witnesses to the validity of the deed when they are pleased to contract more.’ 

Such are a few extracts from the famous speech of Lord Belhaven; but the party who were bent upon the Union were deaf to all arguments, so the Nationalists were driven to that last refuge of the weak, to enter their formal protest against the wrong inflicted upon their country. We will now give a few extracts from those protests which fell upon the table in a shower. The Duke of Hamilton, the leader of the National party, maintained that it was a violation of the Constitution for the Parliament which had been elected under the reign of King William to treat of any business under the reign of Queen Anne. It is clear that if this Parliament had been dissolved and a new one elected there would have been no Treaty of Union, for in the then temper of the people there would have been none of the Court party returned to power. We give the full text of His Grace’s protest:- 

   ‘Forasmuch as by the fundamental laws and constitution of this kingdom all Parliaments do dissolve by the death of the King or Queen, except in so far as innovated by the 17th Act 6th Session of King William’s Parliament last in being, at his decease to meet and act what should be needful for the defence of the true Protestant religion, as now by law established, and maintaining the succession to the Crown, as settled by the Claim of Right, and for preserving and securing the peace and safety of the kingdom, and seeing that the said ends are fully satisfied by Her Majesty’s succession to the throne, whereby the religion and peace of the kingdom are secured, we conceive ourselves not now warranted by the law to meet, sit, or act, and therefore do dissent from anything that shall be done or acted.’ And thereupon His Grace took instruments and craved an extract of his protestation, and seventy-nine members of the first quality and best estates in the kingdom adhered thereto, and all withdrew out of the House and left the other part to sit and act by themselves. 

As the Duke of Hamilton and the other dissenting members passed in a body from the Parliament House to the Cross Keys Tavern, near the Cross, they were huzzaed by the acclamation of a vast number of people of all degrees and ranks. These dissenting members sent up my Lord Blantyre with an address from them to the Queen showing their reasons for this their procedure, which Her Majesty positively refused to receive, but allowed my Lord Blantyre to wait upon her. 

Mr George Lockhart of Carnwath entered his protest against the degradation of the Scottish nobility in these words:- 

   ‘I do protest for myself and such other barons as shall adhere to this my protestation, that neither this vote, nor any other vote, conclusion, or article in this Treaty of Union, shall prejudice the barons of this kingdom from their full representation in Parliament, as now by law established, nor in any of their privileges, and particularly of their judicative and legislative capacities, of which they are deprived by the terms of this Treaty of Union, and I crave this my protestation may be admitted and recorded.’ To which most of the barons that were against the Union did adhere. 

We now give the protest of the Duke of Athole in full, as it travels over the whole ground of objection referred to by the National party. It cannot be too often stated that the Scotch earnestly desired a Union with England, and it was only the unjust terms that exception was taken to:- 

   ‘Whereas by my protest given in the 4th of November last, before voting the first article of the Union, I did reserve liberty to renew protestation against any other article of the Treaty; and as I protested for the reasons therein mentioned, so I do now for myself and all others who shall adhere and protest against any vote for approving the twenty-second article of this Treaty of Union, and against all the parts thereof, for these reasons:- Because the peers of the realm who are hereditary members of Her Majesty’s great Council and Parliament, do hereby become elective, and so Her Majesty is deprived of her born counsellors, and the peers of their birthright, and whereas they are at present one hundred and sixty in number they are by this article reduced to sixteen; are to be joined with the House of Lords in England, whose number at present consists of above one hundred and eighty, whereby ‘tis plain that the Scottish peers’ share of the legislative and judicative powers in the British Parliament is very unequal with that of the English, though the one be the representatives of as independent as nation as the other, and that it is a plain forfeiture of the peerage of this kingdom; and as it is the height of injustice, and against the laws and practice of this and all well-governed nations, to forfeit any person without an heinous crime, so ‘tis against all laws to forfeit either the peers that are now present, or those that are minors and absent without so much as being called or cited for that end. It is likewise contrary to the true honour and interest of Her Majesty and the Monarchy to suppress the estate of peers, who have formerly been the greatest supporters of the Monarchy, and it is dishonourable and disgraceful for this kingdom that the peers thereof shall only have rank and precedency next after the peers of the like order and degree in England without regard to their antiquity or the dates of their patents as is stipulated by the following articles of this Treaty. In the next place, each shire and Royal Burgh within this kingdom, have the number of their representatives determined by Acts of Parliament, whose number at present being one hundred and fifty-five are by this article of the treaty reduced to forty-five, and to be joined to five hundred and thirteen in the House of Commons, where they can have no influence, by reason of the cast disproportion of their numbers; besides, that, the Barons and Burgesses of this nation, by this way of uniting, are deprived of their inherent right of being fully and individually represented in Parliament, both in relation of their legislative and judicative capacities; and they are not only highly prejudged in lessening their representation, but also degraded from being members of the Parliament of this Kingdom, where they sit as judges in all causes civil and criminal, to be joined to the Commons of another nation who are accustomed to supplicate for justice at the bar of the House of Lords. The Barons and Burrows are further prejudged in this, that whereas now every shire and Royal Burgh have their own representatives, one commissioner will hereafter represent several shires and burghs, who it cannot be supposed will understand the several interests and concerns of the said several shires and burghs whom they may represent. And further, for the present representatives of the Barons and Burrows in Parliament, to offer by any vote or deed of theirs to incapacitate their constituents, or deprive them of any part of their inherent right, is that which their constituents may and do justly disallow, they only having their commissions with the ordinary power of making or amending laws and giving supplies; but no was to alter fundamental constitutions, or to take away or diminish their representation, which is also a plain forfeiture of their constituents, of their inherent rights and undoubted privileges, and is contrary to the fundamental laws of his nation, which are the birthright of the people thereof. From all which it is plain and evident that this, from a sovereign independent monarchy, shall dissolve its constitution and be at the disposal of England, whose constitution is not in the least to be altered by this treaty, and where it is not to be supposed the Scots shall have any weight in the making of laws, even though relative to their own kingdom, by reason of the vast disproportion and disparity of their representation aforesaid; and therefore I do also protest that no vote may hinder or prejudge the Noblemen, Barons, and Burrows as now represented in Parliament, to retain, bruke, enjoy, and exercise all their rights, liberties, and privileges as fully and freely as hitherto they have enjoyed them; and since it evidently appears, not only from the many protests of the honourable and worthy members of this House, but also from the multitude of addresses and petitions of the several parts of this Kingdom of the Barons, Freeholders, Heritors, Burrows, and Commons, and from the Commission of the General Assembly, that there is a general dislike and aversion to the incorporating Union as contained in these articles, and that there is not one address from any part of the Kingdom in favour of the Union. I do therefore protest against concluding this and the following articles of the Treaty until Her Majesty shall be fully informed of the inclinations of her people. That if Her Majesty think fit she may call a new Parliament to have the immediate sentiments of the nation, since these articles have been made public where it is to be hoped they may fall upon such methods as may allay the ferment of the nation, satisfy the minds of the people, and create a good understanding betwixt the two Kingdoms by an Union upon honourable, just, and equal terms, which may unite them in affection and interest, the surest foundation of peace and tranquility for both Kingdoms; and this, my protestation, I desire may be received and inserted in the minutes, and recorded in the Books of Parliament as a testimony of my disassent, and the disassent of such as shall adhere to me.’ 

What then could be the motive of the English party in so shamefully betraying the interests of their country and paying so little heed to public opinion? We fear there is no other conclusion to come to than that it was the basest of all motives – bribery. What was privately given to the Commissioners in London at this time of day it will be hard to find out, but an examination of their recorded acts sufficiently explains their zeal for the Union. By the Treaty of Union the Scots were to have the questionable blessing of excise and customs brought into their country to enable them to pay a portion of the English debt, and as a drawback or equivalent they were to be paid a sum of £398,085 10s, which was to be disbursed mainly to the shareholders of the African Company, whose shares at that time were worthless, such shareholders being largely made up of members of the English party. That is, the whole people of Scotland were to be taxed in order to raise a sum to bribe their own Parliament to betray their country! Need we wonder at the people of Scotland looking with loathing on the money as it came from England as being the price paid for their liberties! The Lord Chancellor and the Lords of Session, who were vehemently in favour of the Union, were to have their salaries raised – the Lords-Ordinary from £200 a year to £500 a year, and other humbler members of the profession, macers, &c., received substantial rewards. 

Had the equivalent not been used to bribe the Scottish Parliament then that large sum would have been lying to the credit of Scotland to this day, either in investments of land, which would now have yielded an enormous rental, or lying at interest in the Scottish Treasury. He will indeed be a clever Scot who can now lay a finger on any part of that large sum. Another mode of bribery practised by Lord Godolphin was to transmit a sum of £20,000 to the Scottish Treasury to be used for paying arrears of salary of those who were willing to vote for the Treaty of Union. Of all forms of corruption perhaps this is the most insidious, for it lulls the conscience of the receivers to sleep by making them believe they are only getting payment of a just debt. We here give a list of these noblemen and gentlemen, and the sums they got for betraying their country. The only one who did not vote for the Union was the Duke of Athole, and we can only account for his singular virtue by supposing that he had address enough to get what was due to him without paying the price expected at his hands.

THE BLACK-LIST OF THE BRIBED

Earl of Marchmont received 

£1104, 15s. 7d.; 

Earl of Cromarty, 

£300; 

Lord Preston Hall, 

£200; 

Lord Justice Clerk, 

£200; 

Duke of Athole,  

£1000; 

Earl of Balcarres, 

£500; 

Earl of Dunmore,  

£200; 

Lord Anstruther,  

£300; 

Mr Stewart of Castle Stewart,  

£300; 

Lord Elphingston,  

£200; 

Lord Fraser,  

£100; 

Lord Polwarth, 

£50; 

Mr John Campbell, 

£200; 

Earl of Findlater, 

£100; 

Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, 

£100; 

Earl of Glencairn, 

£100; 

Earl of Kintore, 

£200; 

John Muir, Provost of Ayr, 

£100; 

Lord Forbes, 

£50; 

Earl of Seafield, 

£490; 

Marquis of Tweeddale, 

£1000; 

Duke of Roxburgh, 

£500; 

Lord Elibank,  

£50; 

Lord Banff,  

£11; 

Major Cunningham, 

£100; 

to the Messenger that brought down the Treaty of Union, 

£60; 

Sir William Sharp,  

£300; 

Patrick Coultrain, 

£25; 

Alexander Wedderburn,  

£75; 

to the Commissioner for equipage and daily allowance, 

£12,325. 

Perhaps there was no period in the history of Scotland when there flourished so many corrupt statesmen as in the early years of the eighteenth century, but there are some names which stand out with greater infamy then others. Among these a foremost place must be given to John Dalrymple, Earl of Stair, the contriver and executor of the massacre of Glencoe. As a Secretary of State in the last Scottish Parliament he used his eminence, influence, and patronage to destroy the liberties of his country. The Duke of Queensberry held a bad place in that inglorious work, while Lord Chancellor Seafield brutally jested over the extinction of our native Parliament, and a crowd of sycophants gladly followed in the footsteps of these daring spirits. 

But virtue is never left without its champions. We have already given an example of the heroic stand made by Lord Belhaven, but the brightest spirit of the times was undoubtedly Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun. This true statesman and patriot fought all his life against the incorporating Union. He was for limiting the powers of the Crown, and there can be no doubt that in principle he was a Republican. When the Union was passed he disdained to live any longer in Scotland, and, in spite of remonstrances of all his friends, he left it for ever, saying – ‘It is only fit for the slaves who sold it.’ Another man who was earnest in the defence of his country was George Lockhart of Carnwath, but he was more of a Jacobite than a pure patriot. The vacillating Duke of Hamilton we may credit with good intentions, yet his infirmity of temper was fatal to the success of his party. If he was corrupt he paid a heavy penalty for his fault, being deprived of all his employments and at last treacherously slain in that land to which he had subordinated the interests of his native country. 

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