Page images
PDF
EPUB

SPEECH

OP LORD BELHAVEN AGAINST THE LEGISLATIVE UNIOX CF ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND DELIV

ERED IN THE PARLIAMENT ON SCOTLANTI, NOV. 2, 1706.

My LORD CHANCELLOR,—When I consider | an: sccured by prescriptions, that they despais the affair of a union betwixt the two nations, / of any success therein. as expressed in the several articles thereol, and I think I see our learned judges laying aside now the subject of our deliberation at this tine, their pratiques and decisions, studying the comI find my mind crowded with a variety oi mel. mon law of England, graveled with certioraris, ancholy thoughts; and I think it my duty to dis- misi priuses, writs of error, verdicts, injunctions, burden 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 sae 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,
1

fighting for since che 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, priscipalities, 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 tmpositions, 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 Vegal sanctions that sovereignty could contrive, answered by counter petitions.

roluntarily 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 petition equal 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 at un whose 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 throagh 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

1 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 InCerties in the worst of times, now setting a watch dia Company, who had suffered so severely by the

apon heir 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 like ing their desolate streets, hanging down their ly, in most cases, to go into the hands of the friends heads 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, Kai Tékvov; and thor tices to their unkind neighbors; and yet, after also, my child? The Latin version was undonbt all, find'ng their trade so fortified by companies, 1 edly made at the time, by those who reported the

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Are not these, my Lord, very afflicting was riding in his triumphal chariot, crowned thoughts? And yet they are but the least part with laurels, adorned with trophies, and ap. suggested to me by these dishonorable articles. plauded with huzzas, there was a wonitor ap. Should 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 overweer. memory 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, if found Are our eyes so blinded, are our ears so deafen- guilty. ed, are our bearts so hardened, are our tongues The greatest honor among us, my Lord, is to so faltered, are our hands so fettered, 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 24 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 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, notwithstanding

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 10_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, Hat 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 ol 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 na1. I shall therefore, in the first place, endeavor tion, and that we, the nation's trustees, shall go in encourage a free and full deliberation, with into it, then I must say, that a whip and a bell, Vout animosities and heats. In the next place, I | a cock, a viper, and an ape, are but too small

shall jendeavor 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 affair, 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, amendwas 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

· 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 had been the agent My Lord, patricids is a greater crime than of the Court for attempting many unpopular meas.

ures in the Scottish Parliament; and he had now parricide, all the world over.

"the resolution to undertake the most unpopular In a triumph, my Lord, when the conqueror measure last.” He was generally hated and sus. words. 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 op it is believed, there is no classical authority. tire destruction and abolition of the bation."

time, as the affairs and circumstances of the na- II. My Lord, I come now to consider our di. tion 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 ovil who, during the timo 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 hy ent, nation, with the hazard of their lives and them again ; and yet, that under the happ; furtunes. 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 dan. a rate, and with so much immortal honor and gerous and threatening to her dominions than if glory? God forbid

Shall the hazard Jor a we were under an arbitrary government, is most father unbind the ligaments of a dumt son's strange and unaccountable. Under an arbitrary tongue, and shall we hold our peace when our prince all are willing io 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, with. ual member of this House to speak his mind out respect to either parties or factions; and il freely. 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 is bad, either death or a revolution brings a deliv. parties. 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. names 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 fac. conclude 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 Queen, upon occasion of a state project, con- different significations, as they are applied to fac. trived 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 ali 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 statesmar.. in Scotland he is quite otherpeace, 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

als, different classes, different principles, and dis* Allusion is here made to the story of Creesus ferent designs; yet, take them altogether, they and bis dumb child, as related by Herodotus. At are like a piece of some mixed drugget of difthe 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 dumb 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, “Oh 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, haps in the language actaally employed, a play on the words pater, father , and patria, country, which which, according to the various situations and

Some. gave still greater force to the allusion.

positions, make various appearances. 5 An appeal is bere 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 Con. silence by the authority of the Court, but to the formity. Upon other occasions, it appears to be Squadronė Volanté, or Flying Squadron, a party under a cloud, and as if it were eclipsed by a headed by the Marquess of Tweddale, who held the greater body; as it did in the desig: of calling balance of power, and were accustomed to throw 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 out. thus far maintained a cautious silence; and the ob shoot Whig in his own bow. ject of Lord Bellaven was to urge them, under tho pressure of a general and indignant public senti. side, before the influence of the Court had time to nent to declare themselves at once on the popular operate through patronage or bribery.

[ocr errors]

measures.

Whig, in Scotland, is a true blue i'resbyterian, that man put in, and then they will make her the who, without considering time or power, will most glorious queen in Europe. venture his all for the Kirk, but something less Where will this end, my Lord? Is aot her for the State. The greatest difficulty is how to Majesty in danger by such a method ? Is not devoribe a Scots Tory. Of old, when I knew the monarchy in danger? Is not the nation's them first, Tory was an honest-hearted, com- peace and tranquillity in danger? Will a chango radish fellow, who, provided he was maintained of parties make the nation more happy? No. and protected in his benefices, titles, and dig- my Lord. The seed is sown that is like to af. nities by the State, was the less anxious who ford us a perpetual increase. It is not an annual had the government of the Church. But now, herb, it takes deep root; it seeds and breeds ; what he is since jure divino came in fashion, and and if not timely prevented by her Majesty's that Christianity, and by consequence salvation, roya! e deavors, will split the whole island in comes to depend upon episcopal ordination, I two. profess I know not what to make of him; only IIT. My Lord, I think, considering our pres this I must say for him, that he endeavors to do ent circumstances at this time, the Almigay by opposition that which his brother in England God has reserved this great work for us. We endeavors by a more prudent and less scrupulous may bruise this hydra of division, and crush this method.

cockatrice's egg. Our neighbors in England Now, my Lord, from these divisions there are not yet fitted for any such thing; they are has got up a kind of aristocracy, something like not under the afflicting hand of Providence, as the famous triumvirate at Rome. They are a we are. Their circumstances are great and kind of undertakers and pragmatic statesmen, glorious; their treaties are prudently managed, wbo, finding their power and strength great, both at home and abroad; their generals brave and answerable to their designs, will make bar- and valorous, their armies successful and victo. gains with our gracious sovereign ; they will rious; their trophies and laurels memorable and serve her faithfully, bat upon their own terms; surprising; their enemies subdued and routed, they must have their own instruments, their own their strongholds besieged and taken. Sieges This man must be turned out, and relieved, marshals killed and taken prisoners,

provinces and kingdoms are the results of their 6 A few words of explanation will make this de victories. Their royal navy is the terror of scription clearer. The English Whigs effected the Europe; their trade and commerce extended Revolution of 1688 by combining various interests through the universe, encircling the whole habagainst James 11., and in favor of King William. itable world, and rendering their own capital Hence the party was composed of discordant ma city the emporium for the whole inhabitants of terials; and Belhaven therefore describes it as a the earth.?' And which is yet more than all "mixed drugget of different threads," although, as & Scotch Presbyterian, he would naturally consider these things, the subjects freely bestowing their it as adapted to make “a comely appearance and treasure upon their sovereign; and above all, an agreeable suit," from its Low-Charch character, these vast riches, the sinews of war, and with and its support of the Protestant succession. The out which all the glorious success had proved English Tories were “the true staple of the nation," abortive, these treasures are managed with such being chiefly the old and wealthy families of the Es: faithfulness and nicety, that they answer season tablishment, holding to High-Church principles and ably all their demands, though at never so great the divine right of kings. They gained the ascendo a distance. Upon these considerations, my Lord, ency on the accession of Queen Anne to the throne, how hard and difficult a thing will it prove to and were thus “like the moon in its full." They showed their sense of this ascendency, and their de. persuade our neighbors to a self-denying bill. termination to maintain it, by the Bill of Occasional 'Tis quite otherwise with us, my Lord, as we Conformity, which excluded from office all persons are an obscure poor people, though formerly of who had attended a dissenting place of worship. better account, removed to a distant corner of Afterward they changed their policy, and sought the world, without name, and without alliances ; favor with the Hanover family, by a proposal for our posts mean and precarious ; so that I pro"calling over the Princess Sophia,” who was the fess I don't think any one post in the kingdom next successor to the crown. This gave great ofsense to Queen Anne, so that now they were ander worth the briguing (seeking) after, save that of a cloud, and as it were eclipsed. This courting being commissioner to a long session of a face of the Hanover family (which had hitherto been sup. tious Scots Parliament, with an anteduted com. ported by the Whigs alone) showed the English mission, and that yet renders the rest of the min Tory to be " a statesman," or statemonger, bent on isters more miserable. What hinders us then, having power from supporting the state. A Scotch Tory, on the contrary, was a Jacobite, an “anti- The battle of Blenheim and other victories of courtier and anti-statesman," opposed to the very Marlborough had recently taken place, and had existence of the new government; while a Scotch raised England to the height of her military reWhig was a true blue Presbyterian, resolving his nown, while her naval superiority had been recert entire politics into the advancement of his Kirk and ly established by equally decisive victories at sea. his country. The object of this satire on parties 8 By an act passed near the close of King Will. was to create'a national spirit among the Scotch, iam's reign, the duration of the existing Scottish which should put an end to their factions, and unite Parliament was to be prolonged for the period of them all ia maintnining their country's independ. six months after his death. But it did not actually ance,

meet, on the accession of Queen Anne, until the end

cver!

my Lurd, to lay aside our divisions, to unite cor- | design; and I am content to beg the favor upor dially and heartily together in our present cir- my bended knees. 10 cumstances, when our all is at stake. Hanniet

No answer. bal, my Lord, is at our gates-Hannibal is come My Lord Chancellor, I am sorry that I must within our gates--Hannibal is come the length pursue the thread of my sad and melancholy of this table be is at the foot of the throne.story. What remains is more afflictive than He will demolish the throne, it we take not no- what I have already said. Allow me, then, to tice. He will seize upon these regalia. He make this meditation—that if our posterity, after will take them as our spolia opima, and whip we are all dead and gone, shall find themselves us out of this house, never to return again. under an ill-made bargain, and shall have re

For the love of God, then, my Lord, for the course to our records for the names of the mansafety and welfare of our ancient kingdom, whose agers who made that treaty by which they have sad circumstances I hope we shall yet convert suffered so much, they will certainly exclaim, into prosperity and happiness! We want no “Our nation must have been reduced to the last means if we unite. God blessed the peace extremity at the time of this treaty! All our makers. We want neithez rien, nor sufficiency great chieftains, all our noble peers, who once of all manner of things Rysssary to make a na- defended the rights and liberties of the nation, tion happy. All depends upon management. must have been killed, and lying dead on the bed Concordia res parvæ crescunt--small means in- of honor, before the nation could ever condescend crease by concord. I fear not these Articles, to such mean and contemptible terms! Where though they were ten times worse than they are, were the great men of the noble families—the if we once cordially forgive one another, and that Stewarts, Hamiltons, Grahams, Campbells, Johnaccording to our proverb, Bygones be bygones, stons, Murrays, Homes, Kers? Where were and fair play for time to come. For my part, the two great officers of the Crown, the Constain the sight of God, and in the presence of this ble and the Marischal of Scotland ? Certainly honorable House, I heartily forgive every man, all were extinguished, and now we are slaves for. and beg that they may do the same to me. And I do most humbly propose that his Grace my But the English records—how will they make Lord Commissioner may appoint an Agape, may their posterity reverence the names of those illusorder a Love-seast for this honorable House, that trious men who made that treaty, and forever we may lay aside all self-designs, and after our brought under those fierce, warlike, and trouble. (asts and humiliations, may have a day of re- some neighbors who had struggled so long for joicing and thankfulness; may eat our meat with independency, shed the best blood of their nation, gladness, and our bread with a merry heart. and reduced a considerable part of their coun. Then shall we sit each man under his own fig. try to become waste and desolate ! tree, and the voice of the turtle shall be heard I see the English Constitution remaining firm in our land, a bird famous for constancy and -the same two houses of Parliament; the same fidelity.

taxes, customs, and excise; the same trade in My Lord, I shall pause here, and proceed no companies ; the same municipal laws; while all further in my discourse, till I see is his Grace my ours are either subjected to new regulations, or Lord Commissioner (Queensbury) will receive annihilated forever! And for what? Only that any humble proposals for removing misunder. we may have the honor to pay their old debts ; standings among us, and putting an end to our and may have some few persons present (in Parfatal divisions. Upon my honor, I have no other liament) as witnesses to the validity of the deed,

when they are pleased to contract more ! of nine months. Hence the legality of its assem

Good God! What? Is this an entire surbling was denied by the Duke of Hamilton the mo

render? ment it convened; and he, with eighty other mem. My Lord, I find my heart so full of grief and bers, withdrew before it was constituted. Queens indignation, that I must beg pardon not to finish bery, however, proceeded, as High Commissioner, to the last part of my discourse; but pause that I open Parliament. This, undoubtedly, is the trans. may drop a tear as the prelude to so sad a story! action here alluded to. The commission under which he acted was dated back, probably, within the six

This fervent appeal had ao effect.

The months prescribed ; ard hence the sneer about "an antedated commission." Violent animosities were

Treaty of Union was ratified by a majority of created by this procedure.

thirty-three out of two hundred and one mem• The spolia opima, or “richest spoils" of war bers. That it was carried by bribery is now among the Romans, consisted, according to Livy, matter of history. Documents have beer brought of the armor and trappings which a supreme com- to light, showing that the sum of £20,000 was mander had stripped, on the field of battle, from the sent to Queensbury for this purpose by the En leader of the foc. Plutarch says that, down to bis glish ministers; and the names of those to whom tine, only three examples of this kind had occurred the money was paid, belonging chiefly to the in Roman history. The image is, therefore, a very Squadroné, are given in full. striking one, representing Scotland as prostrate, and stripped of her regalia (cbjects of almost supersti- 10 Lord Brougham, it seems from this passage, tious veneration to the people), which would be was not without precedent, when he sonk on his borne off by England as her spolia opima, to grace knees before the House of Lords, in urging the cer triumph.

Adoption of the Reform Bil.

« PreviousContinue »