Page images


BOOK Sovereignty of Holland, at the expence of its freedom, he would have equally rejected the crown of England, had it been offered on terms inconsistent with those great designs. From the deliverer of England, he became the arbiter and protector of the liberties of Europe; and if not the most skilful and successful general, he was certainly the most enlightened and upright statesman of his age; inflexible in his pursuit of public utility; not incapable of yielding to exigences; and improving dexterously every opportunity that occurred. Indifferent and impartial to the factions that divided and shook the nation, he trusted and employed them alternately, with a confidence that extended even to domestic treason; and from his intimate knowledge of the human character, he possessed the rare talent of adapting the services of his secret enemies to the prosecution of his designs. His character was chiefly distinguished by a steady integrity; by a dignified simplicity, and a patriotic regard for the rights of mankind. At the distance of a century, when the prejudices of faction are forgotten, and the benefits conferred by his government have partly ceased, religious toleration, which he was the first prince in Europe to introduce, constitutes the purest glory of his life, and of his reign. Like other benefactors of the human race, he experienced distrust and ingratitude from the nations which he redeemed; but the English ought to re


5 1702.

vere his memory, as the greatest monarch who BOOK has succeeded to Elizabeth, and the last who assumed the personal direction, and devoted himself to the service, of the state.

Were an abatement to be made from this illus- Lenity of his reign in trious character, it is in the government of Scot- Scotland. land that the most exceptionable part of his conduct appears. There, however, it may be truly affirmed, that the statesmen in whom he was obliged to confide, trained under the former government, and tenacious of its abuses, betrayed him into arbitrary exertions of power; while the political situation of Europe, which engrossed his time and his presence, in the cabinet and in the field, necessarily rendered him remiss and inattentive to domestic affairs. Let it be remembered also, that notwithstanding the incessant plots and conspiracies of the Jacobites, and the jealous fears that invariably render new governments rigid and cruel, not a single person perished on the scaffold, nor was there a noble family in Scotland ruined by forfeitures during his lenient reign.







Accession of Anne.-New Parliament.-Act of Security proposed.-Passed.-Alarm-and Acts in England against the Scots.-Protestant Succession attempted in Parliament.-Postponed for a treaty of Union.-Negociation of the Commissioners.-Articles examined in Parliament.-Debates and Arguments of each party on an Union.-Insurrection projected and disappointed.-Union ratified by the Scotch-and English Parliaments.-Completed by dissolving the Privy Council, and introducing the English Treason Laws.-Review of its effects.Conclusion of the whole.


HE accession of the princess Anne, the eldest, and the only protestant daughter of James that survived, was acceptable to the whigs, as the of Anne. settlement of the crown was fulfilled according to

1702. Accession

the claim of rights, and propitious to the tories,


as a Stuart was again restored to the throne. The BOOK latter were introduced into the administration in England; but in Scotland, where the tories were almost all Jacobites, the whigs were still permitted to remain in power. But the Jacobites were disposed to acquiesce in the queen's government, from a rational expectation, and perhaps a secret assurance, that though she would never relinquish the crown while alive, yet the tics of natural affection, and attachment to the last prince of her race, might persuade her to secure the succession to her brother, in the event of her decease.


The convention parliament, however refractory State of at times, had subsisted during the whole of the preceding reign. From its long duration, the ministry had found access to a majority of the members; and it was neither the interest of the former to dissolve the parliament, nor the inclination of the latter to return to their constituents. While the people were tranquil, a general election was considered as unnecessary; whenever they were agitated, it was represented as dangerous. But the loss of Darien, as it was ascribed to the pernicious influence of English councils, had created a formidable opposition in parliament, in proportion to the discontent which it excited through the nation. The Jacobites had assumed the mask of public spirit, to unite with a party that asserted the commercial interests and the independence of Scotland; and the duke of Hamil




BOOK ton, the ostensible leader of the country party, was popular from his uniform opposition to the His attachment to the exiled family was unalterable; but his address was sufficient to unite and reconcile the most discordant parties, and the most opposite characters to the prosecution of his designs. Cautious, and almost irresolute in deliberation, he was prompt, intrepid, and inflexible in the execution of measures; an impressive rather than an eloquent speaker; skilful in penetrating into the designs of others, but actuated, on the most important occasions, by some selfish, subordinate considerations of interest or revenge. His fortune was embarrassed by debts and lawsuits, but his stake was too considerable, in each kingdom, to permit him ever to instigate his party' to arms. From his ambition to supplant the duke of Queensberry in administration, his chief object at present, was to procure a dissolution of parliament, where his party was still inferior in strength1.


By an act passed in the late reign for the seculiament. rity of the kingdom, the duration of parliament

from par

was prolonged six months after the death of the king. The estates were authorized to meet in parliament, within twenty days, in order to provide for the public safety and the protestant succession, but not to innovate on the constitution,


'Lockhart's Mem, with Sir John Clerk's MS. Notes, p. 28, Cunningham's Hist. i. 322.

« PreviousContinue »