improvement is to form a plan that is practical; and that he who proposes what cannot possibly be expected to take place, does nothing; does worse than nothing, for he makes the very cause of improvement ridiculous.

The particular temperament of Fletcher's mind, his disposition to attempt what he thought just rather than gain the good which was possible, the common mistake of virtuous reformers, operated, as it will always do, most unfortunately for himself and all those whose interests he could have wished to promote. If he and the patriots had made their bargain, and consented to support the measure of the union in case certain conditions were complied with ; if they had submitted to turn to the best account this experiment for the improvement of the situation of both countries, there can be no doubt that the twentieth article, respecting all hereditable offices, superiorities, &c. &c., might have been materially modified, or perhaps, as in Cromwell's wiser ordinance, made directly the reverse of what it was left to stand ; that the twenty-first article also might have been modified ; and by these means the system of vassalage and the representation of Scotland might not have been left in a state only fitted in succeeding times to disgrace the legislature and injure the best interests of both kingdoms.

What in the mean time he attempted failed. The very Act of Security which he carried, became, as he might have foreseen, the very reason why the English were determined at all events to carry the union. The union became a direct consequence of the dilemma to which the two kingdoms were thus reduced, and we can conceive no sensations more keen and intolerable than were those of Fletcher and the patriots, who were now to find every labour of their understandings defeated, and every passion of their hearts disappointed.

Before I conclude this subject, I must mention that the remainder of the book of Defoe, that is, the greater part of it, is a formal account of the articles of the treaty of Union, and the discussions which took place. But these discussions can now only interest or instruct, as specimens of the details and reasonings of men of business, when the commercial and ordinary concerns of nations are to be settled by treaties and mutual concessions. They give us also some insight into the

relative state of the commerce, laws, and manufactures of the two countries at the time. But the pages of Defoe are on the whole formal and dull, and there is not even as good an account of the tumults at Edinburgh, as might have been expected, though what is given forms one of the most interesting parts of the work.

There is the same sort of formal, official representation of the union, and its attendant circumstances and debates, in Mr. Bruce; but with respect to both publications, it is to be observed, that from those who are employed by cabinet ministers to forward a great measure, like Defoe, or to report a great measure, like Mr. Bruce, it is only information of a particular complexion that can be expected.

With respect to the consequences of the union, a considerable time elapsed, as will always be the case in such circumstances, before those happy effects took place which the measure was so fitted to produce. For this part of the subject I must refer you to Laing, who is indeed too concise and too general in this very interesting part of his work, but who is an intelligent writer, and who at least gives more information on the point than others.

The history of Scotland becomes, about the time of the revolution, interesting to mankind, for it becomes connected with the revolution in England, an event in which the best interests of human nature were deeply concerned. If Scotland had not sufficiently sympathized with England, if William had not been acknowledged, and if afterwards the Protestant line of succession had not been established in both parts of the island ; if a civil war had ensued, and if the hardy and enthusiastic Jacobites of the north had been joined by their affluent and powerful neighbours, the Jacobites of the south, the exiled family might at last have been restored, the revolution might have failed, and been a standing example for the generous and brave in every age and country of the difficulties which attend all enterprises for the liberty of the people ; enterprises alike accompanied, it would have been said, with disappointment and ruin, whether attempted by Ilampden and the patriots in the tiine of Charles, or by Lord Somers and King William in the reign of James.

Happily an issue so deplorable was escaped, but the manner

in which it was escaped gives an importance to this period of the history of Scotland which I think may well claim your attention, and which might, I must also think, have deserved the labours of Dr. Robertson. The subject, however, devolved upon Mr. Laing, and his very respectable history, particularly the second volume, I cannot but request you to peruse.

I am hastening to my conclusion, but I must take this my only opportunity to say, in a few words, what I have to offer with respect to this interesting country of Scotland. Its history will of course be read in Dr. Robertson, and as his work is one of the most early books that is put into our hands, it must be read anew, for it is read before it can be understood. The history indeed presents a turbid and repulsive scene, which would have been little known to the inhabitants of this country, and still less to the readers of the continent, if the picture of it had not been drawn by so masterly a hand, and if a ray of softer and more attractive light had not been shot athwart the gloom by the beauty and sufferings of the unfortunate but not faultless Mary.

Those difficulties with which Dr. Robertson had to struggle, arising from the rude nature of the documents from which his history was to be drawn up, and which necessarily constitute so much of the merit of the work, cannot well be known by an English reader, but they may be distantly comprehended from the account of his life by Dugald Stewart, which should on this and many other accounts be read. Much of this sort of merit belongs also to Mr. Laing. By the labours of the two the public are put into possession of the whole of the history of Scotland that is important to us, and are furnished with what is valuable in those original materials which no philosophic diligence or taste for historical inquiry would ever have induced readers on this side the Tweed to estimate or examine for themselves,

The first part of the history of Scotland is discussed only in a rapid and general manner by Dr. Robertson. The real subjects of his work are very properly the Reformation, Elizabeth, and Mary. At the close of the whole there are a few pages by way of conclusion that are highly worthy of your meditation; but to these must be added the first one hundred pages of the third volume of Millar's Account of the English


government, for these supply what cannot be so well found elsewhere, philosophic remarks and information on the constitution and government of Scotland.

The student cannot fail to keep in mind the history of the legislature and parliaments of his own country while he is reading those of Scotland.

The fortunate manner in which our own parliament fell into two houses, and remained not, as in Scotland, united in one house, again presents itself to our observation and its consequences to our reflection. The peculiarity in the Scotch parliament of the lords of articles is also remarkable, and in its history full of instruction.

On the whole, Scotland, as a country, has not been fortunate. May her subsequent prosperity reward, however late, the intelligence and courage by which her sons are distinguished !

She was placed, from the first, in proximity with a powerful state; a situation most unfavourable. For a long series of years she had her monarchy and her aristocracy, but though they were directly opposed, and each abated the tyranny of the other, unhappily no other power in the state ever seemed to exist. The people were nothing. Even the union of the two crowns in the person of our James I. was unfavourable to her liberties; and it was not till the Revolution in 1688 that the interests of the people began to be considered : a late period this in the history of Europe.

In the general struggle and contests that accompanied the Reformation, that Christian church, the Presbyterian, which, after the greatest calamities and the exercise of the most elevated virtues, she at last acquired for herself, as what she thought best, though not without its own very important merits, had been long distinguished for harshness, fanaticism, and intolerance. The union of the two kingdoms in the reign of Anne improved her condition in all these respects, but improved it slowly. Her system of law ever was and has still remained tedious, inconvenient, and expensive; her system of representation wretched. The consequences of such a system have been but too inevitable. While her moral and political writers are of the most enlightened, bold, and generous cast, and are only accused of pushing the prin

ciples of speculation and inquiry too far, her practical statesmen and politicians have been in general remarkable chiefly for their selfishness and servility; and the same union of the two countries which has added strength and range to our philosophy, fervour to our poetry, and spirit to our arms, has certainly not been favourable to the political morality, and therefore not favourable to the civil liberties of England.

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