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LORD BELHA V EN.
The author of this speech belonged to the Hamilton family. He was one of the old Presbyterian lords, of high education, especially in classical literature ; lofty in his demeanor ; dauntless in spirit; and wholly devoted to the peculiar interests of his country. The speech owes much of its celebrity to the circumstances under which it was delivered. It embodies the feelings of a proud and jealous people, when called upon to surrender their national independence, and submit to the authority of the British Parliament.
A century had now elapsed since the union of the English and Scottish crowns in the person of James I., and Scotland still remained a distinct kingdom, with its own Parliament, its own judicial system, its own immemorial usages which had all the force of law. This state of things, though gratifying to the pride of the Scottish people, was the source of endless jealousies and contentions between the two countries; and, as commonly happens in such cases, the weaker party suffered most. Scotland was governed by alternate corruption and force. Her nobility and gentry were drawn to England in great numbers by the attractions of the Court, as the seat of fashion, honor, and power. The nation was thus drained of her wealth ; and the drain became greater, as her merchants and tradesmen were led to transfer their capital to the sister kingdom, in consequence of the superior facilities for trade which were there enjoyed.
It was now apparent that Scotland could never flourish until she was permitted to share in those commercial advantages, from which she was debarred as a distinct country, by the Navigation Act of England. The Scotch were, therefore, clamorous in their demands for some arrangement to this effect. But the English had always looked with jealousy upon any intermeddling with trade, on the part of Scotland. They had crushed her African and India Company by their selfish opposition, and had left her Darien settlement of twelve hundred souls to perish for want of support and protection ; so that few families in the Lowlands had escaped the loss of a relative or friend. Exasperated by these injuries, and by the evident determination of the English to cut them off from all participation in the benefits of trade, the Scotch were hurried into a measure of alarming aspect for the safety of the empire. Noble and burgher, Jacobite and Presbyterian, were for once united. There was one point where England was vulnerable. It was the succession to the crown. This had been settled by the English Parliament on the Protestant line in the house of Hanover, and the fullest expectations were entertained that the Parliament of Scotland would readily unite in the same measure. Instead of this, the Scotch, in 1704, passed their famous Act of Security, in which they threw down the gauntlet to England, and enacted, that " the same person should be incapable of succeeding in both kingdoms, unless a free communication of trade, the benefits of the Navigation Act, and liberty of the Plantations (i. e., of trading with the British West Indies and North America) was first obtained.” They also provided conditionally for a separate successor, and passed laws for arming the whole kingdom in his defense.
It was now obvious that concessions must be made on both sides, or the contest be decided by the sword. The ministry of Queen Anne, therefore, proposed that cornmissioners from the two kingdoms should meet at London, to devise a plan of Union, which should be mutually advantageous to the two countries. This was accordingly done, in the month of April, 1706; and, after long negotiations, it was agreed, that the two kingdoms should be united into one under the British Parliament, with the addition of sixteen Scottish peers to the House of Lords, and of forty-five Scottish members to the House of Commons; that the Scotch should be entitled to all the privileges of the English in respect to trade, and be subject to the same excise and duties; that Scotland should receive £398,000 as a compensation or “ equivalent” for the share of liability she assumed in the English debt of £20,000,000; and that the churches of England and Scotland respectively should be confirmed in all their rights and privileges, as a fundamental condition of the Union.
These arrangements were kept secret until October, 1706, when the Scottish Parliament met to consider and decide on the plan proposed. The moment the Articles were read in that body, and given to the public in print, they were met with a burst of indignant reprobation from every quarter. A federal union which should confer equal advantages for trade, was all that the Scotch in general had ever contemplated : an incorporating union, which should abolish their Parliament and extinguish their national existence, was what most Scotchmen had never dreamed of. Nor is it surprising, aside from all considerations of national honor, that such a union should have been regarded with jealousy and dread. No past experience of history," says Hallam, " was favorable to the absorption of a lesser state (at least where the government partook so much of a republican form) in one of superior power and ancient rivalry. The representation of Scotland in the united Legislature, was too feeble to give any thing like security against the English prej. udices and animosities, if they should continue or revive. The Church of Scotland was exposed to the most apparent perils, brought thus within the power of a Legislature so frequently influenced by one which held her, not as a sister, but rather as a bastard usurper of a sister's inheritance; and though her permanence was guaranteed by the treaty, yet it was hard to say how far the legal competence of Parliament might hereafter be deemed to extend, or, at least, how far she might be abridged of her privileges and impaired in her dignity."
It was with sentiments like these that, when the first article of the treaty was read, Lord Belhaven arose, and addressed the Parliament of Scotland in the following speech. It is obviously reported in a very imperfect manner, and was designed merely to open the discussion which was expected to follow, and not to enter at large into the argument. It was a simple burst of feeling, in which the great leader of the country party, who was equally distinguished for "the mighty sway of his talents and the resoluteness of his temper," poured out his emotions in view of that act of parricide, as he considered it, to which the Parliament was now called. He felt that no regard to consequences, no loss or advancement of trade, manufactures, or national wealth, ought to have the weight of a feather, when the honor and existence of his country were at stake. He felt that Scotland, if only united, was abundantly able to work out her own salvation. These two thoughts, therefore NATIONAL HONOR and NATIONAL UNION—constitute the burden of his speech.
OF LORD BELHAVEN AGAINST THE LEGISLATIVE UNION OF ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND, DELIV.
ERED IN THE PARLIAMENT OF SCOTLAND, NOV. 2, 1706.
My Lord CHANCELLOR,—When I consider, and secured by prescriptions, that they despair the affair of a union betwixt the two nations, of any success therein. as expressed in the several articles thereof, and I think I see our learned judges laying aside now the subject of our deliberation at this time, their pratiques and decisions, studying the comI find my mind crowded with a variety of mel mon law of England, graveled with certioraris, ancholy thoughts; and I think it my duty to dis- nisi priuses, writs of error, verdicts, injunctions, barden myself of some of them by laying them demurs, &c., and frightened with appeals and before, and exposing them to the serious con- avocations, because of the new regulations and sederation of this honorable House.
rectifications they may meet with. I think I see a free and independent kingdom I think I see the valiant and gallant soldiery delivering up that which all the world hath been either sent to learn the plantation trade abroad, fighting for since the days of Nimrod; yea, that or at home petitioning for a small subsistence, for which most of all the empires, kingdoms, as a reward of their honorable exploits; while states, principalities, and dukedoms of Europe, their old corps are broken, the common soldiers are at this time engaged in the most bloody and left to beg, and the youngest English corps kept cruel wars; to wit, a power to manage their own standing. affairs by themselves, without the assistance and I think I see the honest industrious tradesman counsel of any other.
loaded with new taxes and impositions, disapI think I see a national church, founded upon pointed of the equivalents, drinking water in a rock, secured by a claim of right, hedged and place of ale, eating his saltless pottage, petition. fenced about by the strictest and most pointed ing for encouragement to his manufactures, and legal sanctions that sovereignty could contrive, answered by counter petitions. voluntarily descending into a plain, upon an In short, I think I see the laborious plowequal level with Jews, Papists, Socinians, Ar man, with his corn spoiling upon his hands for minians, Anabaptists, and other sectaries. want of sale, cursing the day of his birth, dread
I think I see the noble and honorable peerage ing the expense of his burial, and uncertain of Scotland, whose valiant predecessors led ar- whether to marry or do worse. mies against their enemies upon their own prop- I think I see the incurable difficulties of the er charges and expense, now devested of their landed men, fettered under the golden chain of followers and vassalages; and put upon such an "equivalents,” their pretty daughters petitionequal foot with their vassals, that I think I see ing for want of husbands, and their sons for want a petty English exciseman receive more hom- of employment. age and respect than what was paid formerly to I think I see our mariners delivering up their their quondam Mackalamores.
ships to their Dutch partners; and what through I think I see the present peers of Scotland, presses and necessity, earning their bread as unwhose noble ancestors conquered provinces, derlings in the royal English navy! overran countries, reduced and subjected towns But above all, my Lord, I think I see our anand fortified places, exacted tribute through the cient mother, Caledonia, like Cesar, sitting in greatest part of England, now walking in the the midst of our Senate, ruefully looking round Court of Requests, like so many English attor- about her, covering herself with her royal garneys; laying aside their walking swords when ment, attending the fatal blow, and breathing in company with the English peers, lest their out her last with an et tu quoque mi fili !? self-defense should be found murder. I think I see the honorable estate of barons, spoken of above, was to be distributed, a great por
· The "equivalent," or compensation, of £398,000 the bold assertors of the nation's rights and lib
tion of it, to the shareholders of the African and Inerties in the worst of times, now setting a watch dia Company, who had suffered so severely by the upon their lips, and a guard upon their tongues, breaking up of the Darien settlement. As the shares lest they may be found guilty of scandalum mag- must, in many instances, have changed hands, great natum, a speaking evil of dignities.
inequality and disappointment was to be expected I think I see the royal state of burghers walk in the distribution of this money; which was likoing their desolate streets, hanging down their ly, in most cases, to go into the hands of the friends beads under disappointments, wormed out of all of government,
as a bribe or recompense for services
on this occasion. the branches of their old trade, uncertain what
? The actual exclamation of Cesar, as stated by hand to turn to, necessitated to become pren- Suetonius, was in Greek, Kaì où TÉKVOV ; and thou tices to their unkind neighbors; and yet, after also, my child? The Latin version was undoubtall, finding their trade so fortified by companies, I edly made at the time, by those who reported the Are not these, my Lord, very alicting was riding in his triumphal chariot, crowned thoughts? And yet they are but the least part with laurels
, adorned with trophies, and apsuggested to me by these dishonorable articles. plauded with huzzas, there was a monitor apShould not the consideration of these things viv- pointed to stand behind him, to warn him not to ify these dry bones of ours ? Should not the be high-minded, nor puffed up with overweenmemory of our noble predecessors' valor and ing thoughts of himself; and to his chariot were constancy rouse up our drooping spirits ? Are tied a whip and a bell, to remind him that, not our noble predecessors' souls got so far into the withstanding all his glory and grandeur, he was English cabbage stalk and cauliflowers, that we accountable to the people for his administration, should show the least inclination that way? and would be punished as other men, is found Are our eyes so blinded, are our ears so deafen- guilty. ed, are our hearts so hardened, are our tongues The greatest honor among us, my Lord, is to so faltered, are our hands so settered, that in represent the sovereign's sacred person (as High this our day—I say, my Lord, in this our day- Commissioner) in Parliament; and in one parwe should not mind the things that concern the ticular it appears to be greater than that of a very being, and well-being of our ancient king- triumph, because the whole legislative power dom, before the day be hid from our eyes ? seems to be intrusted with him. If he give the
No, my Lord, God forbid ! Man's extremity royal assent to an act of the estates, it becomes is God's opportunity: he is a present help in a law obligatory upon the subject, though contime of need—a deliverer, and that right early! trary to or without any instructions from the Some unforeseen providence will fall out, that sovereign. If he refuse the royal assent to a may cast the balance ; some Joseph or other vote in Parliament, it can not be a law, though will say, “Why do ye strive together, since ye he has the sovereign's particular and positive are brethren ?" None can destroy Scotland save instructions for it. Scotland's self. Hold your hands from the pen, His Grace the Duke of Queensbury, who now and you are secure! There will be a Jehovah- represents her Majesty in this session of ParliaJireh ; and some ram will be caught in the ment, hath had the honor of that great trust as thicket, when the bloody knife is at our mother's often, if not more, than any Scotchman ever had. throat. Let us, then, my Lord, and let our no- He hath been the favorite of two successive ble patriots behave themselves like men, and we sovereigns; and I can not but commend his conknow not how soon a blessing may come. stancy and perseverance, that, not withstanding
I design not at this time to enter into the his former difficulties and unsuccessful attempts, merits of any one particular article. I intend and maugre some other specialities not yet dethis discourse as an introduction to what I may termined, his Grace has yet had the resolution afterward say upon the whole debate, as it falls to undertake the most unpopular measure last. in before this honorable House; and therefore, if his Grace succeed in this affair of a union, and in the further prosecution of what I have to say, that it prove for the happiness and welfare of the I shall insist upon a few particulars, very neces- nation, then he justly merits to have a statue of sary to be understood before we enter into the gold erected for himself; but if it shall tend to detail of so important a matter.
the entire destruction and abolition of our naI shall therefore, in the first place, endeavor tion, and that we, the nation's trustees, shall go to encourage a free and full deliberation, with into it, then I must say, that a whip and a bell, out animosities and heats. In the next place, I a cock, a viper, and an ape, are but too small shall endeavor to make an inquiry into the na- punishments for any such bold, unnatural underture and source of the unnatural and dangerous taking and complaisance. divisions that are now on foot within this isle, I. That I may pave the way, my Lord, to a with some motives showing that it is our inter- full, calm, and free reasoning upon this allair, est to lay them aside at this time. And all this which is of the last consequence unto this nawith all deference, and under the correction of tion, I shall mind this honorable House, that we this honorable House.
are the successors of those noble ancestors who My Lord Chancellor, the greatest honor that founded our monarchy, framed our laws, amend. was done unto a Roman, was to allow him the ed, altered, and corrected them from time to glory of a triumph; the greatest and most dishonorable punishment was that of parricide. He birth a Scotchman, had by long employment in the
3 The High-Commissioner Queensbury, though by that was guilty of parricide was beaten with service of the Court, lost all regard for the distinctive rods upon his naked body, till the blood gushed interests and honor of bis native country. He was out of all the veins of his body; then he was conciliating in his manners, cool, enterprising, and sewed up in a leathern sack called a culeus, resolute, expert in all the arts and intrigues of poliwith a cock, a viper, and an ape, and thrown tics, and lavish of the public money for the accomheadlong into the sea.
plishment of his purposes. He bad been the agent My Lord, patricide is a greater crime than of the Court for attempting many unpopular meastime, as the affairs and circumstances of the na- II. My Lord, I come now to consider our dition did require, without the assistance or ad- visions. We are under the happy reign, blessed vice of any foreign power or potentate; and be God, of the best of queens, who has no evil who, during the time of two thousand years, design against the meanest of her subjects; who have handed them down to us, a free, independ- loves all her people, and is equally beloved by ent nation, with the bazard of their lives and them again ; and yet, that under the happy fortunes. Shall not we, then, argue for that which influence of our most excellent Queen, there our progenitors have purchased for us at so dear should be such divisions and factions, more dana rate, and with so much immortal honor and gerous and threatening to her dominions than if glory? God forbid. Shall the hazard of a we were under an arbitrary government, is most father unbind the ligaments of a dumb son's strange and unaccountable. Under an arbitrary tongue, and shall we bold our peace when our prince all are willing to serve, because all are patria, our country, is in danger ?" I say this, under a necessity to obey, whether they will or my Lord, that I may encourage every individ- not. He chooses, therefore, whom he will, withual member of this House to speak his mind out respect to either parties or factions; and if sreely. There are many wise and prudent men he think fit to take the advice of his councils or among us, who think it not worth their while Parliaments, every man speaks his mind freely, to open their mouths; there are others, who can and the prince receives the faithful advice of his speak very well, and to good purpose, who shel- people, without the mixture of self-designs. If ter themselves under the shameful cloak of si- he prove a good prince, the government is easy; lence from a fear of the frowns of great men and if bad, either death or a revolution brings a delivparties. I have observed, my Lord, by my ex- erance : whereas here, my Lord, there appears perience, the greatest number of speakers in no end of our misery, if not prevented in time. the most trivial affairs; and it will always prove Factions are now become independent, and have so, while we come not to the right understand got footing in councils, in Parliaments, in treaties, ing of the oath de fideli, whereby we are bound in armies, in incorporations, in families, among not only to give our vote, but our faithful ad- kindred; yea, man and wife are not free from vice in Parliament, as we should answer to God. their political jars. And in our ancient laws, the representatives of It remains, therefore, my Lord, that I inquire the honorable barons and the royal boroughs are into the nature of these things; and since the termed " spokesmen." It lies upon your Lord. na nes give us not the right idea of the thing, I ships, therefore, particularly to take notice of am afraid I shall have difficulty to make myself such, whose modesty makes them bashful to well understood. speak. Therefore I shall leave it upon you, and The names generally used to denote the facconclude this point with a very memorable say- tions are Whig and Tory; as obscure as that of ing of an honest private gentleman to a great Guelfs and Ghibellines; yea, my Lord, they have Qaeen, upon occasion of a state project, con- different significations, as they are applied to factrired by an able statesman, and the favorite to tions in each kingdom. A Whig in England is a great King, against a peaceful, obedient peo- a heterogeneous creature : in Scotland he is all ple, because of the diversity of their laws and of a piece. A Tory in England is all of a piece, constitutions : "If at this time thou hold thy and a statesman: in Scotland he is quite other. peace, salvation shall come to the people from wise; an anti-courtier and anti-statesman. another place; but thou and thy house shall per- A Whig in England appears to be somewhat ish." I leave the application to each particu- like Nebuchadnezzar's image, of different metlar member of this House.5
ures in the Scottish Parliament; and he had now parricide, all the world over.
"the resolution to undertake the most uppopular In a triumph, my Lord, when the conqueror measure last." He was generally hated and suswords. By many at the present day, “ Et tu Bru- pected as a renegade ; and hence the bitterness te,” has been given as the expression; but for this, with which he is here assailed, as seeking “the en. it is believed, there is no classical authority. tire destruction and abolition of the nation."
als, different classes, different principles, and dif* Allusion is here made to the story of Cræsus ferent designs; yet, take them altogether, they and his dumb child, as related by Herodotus. At are like a piece of some mixed drugget of. dif. the storming of Sardis, a Persian soldier, through serent threads; some finer, some coarser, which, ignorance of the King's person, was about to kill after all, make a comely appearance and an · Cresus; when his damb son, under the impulse of agreeable suit. Tory is like a piece of loyal astonishment and terror, broke silence, and exclaim-home-made English cloth, the true staple of the ed, “Ob man, do not kill my father Cræsus!" There nation, all of a thread; yet if we look narrowly was evidently in the mind of the speaker, and per into it, we shall perceive a diversity of colors, baps in the language actually employed, a play on the words pater, father, and patria, country, which which, according to the various situations and
Somegave still greater force to the allusion.
positions, make various appearances. s An appeal is here made, not merely to those times Tory is like the moon in its full; as apmembers of Parliament who were at first awed into peared in the affair of the Bill of Occasional Consilence by the authority of the Court, but to the formity. Upon other occasions, it appears to be Squadroné Volanté, or Flying Squadron, a party under a cloud, and as if it were eclipsed by a beaded by the Marquess of Tweddale, who beld the balance of power, and were accustomed to throw greater body; as it did in the design of calling themselves, during the progress of a debate, on that over the illustrious Princess Sophia. However, side where they could gain most. This party had by this we may see their designs are to outthus far maintained a cautious silence; and the ob- shoot Whig in his own bow. ject of Lord Belbaven was to urge them, under the pressure of a general and indignant public senti. side, before the influence of the Court had time to ment, to declare themselves at once on the popular operate through patronage or bribery.