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their fierce and independent spirits. The will of the prince became the supreme law in Scotland; and the nobles strove, with emulation, who should most implicitly obey commands, which they had formerly been accustomed to contemn. Satisfied with having subjected the nobles to the crown, the king left them in full possession of their ancient jurisdiction over their own vassals. The extensive rights, vested in a feudal chief, became in their hands dreadful instruments of oppression; and the military ideas, on which these rights were founded, being gradually lost or disregarded, nothing remained to correct or to mitigate the rigour with which they were exercised. The nobles, exhausting their fortunes by the expense of frequent attendance upon the English court, and by attempts to imitate the manners and luxury of their more wealthy neighbours, multiplied exactions upon the people, who durst hardly utter complaints which they knew would never reach the ear of their sovereign, nor move him to grant them any redress. From the union of the crowns to the revolution in one thousand six hundred and eightyeight, Scotland was placed in a political situation, of all others the most singular and the most unhappy; subjected at once to the absolute will of a monarch, and to the oppressive jurisdiction of an aristocracy, it suffered all the miseries peculiar to both these forms of government. Its kings were despotic; its nobles were slaves and tyrants; and the people groaned under the rigorous domination of both.

During this period, the nobles, it is true, made one effort to shake off the yoke, and to regain their ancient independency. After the death of James, the Scottish nation was no longer viewed by our monarchs with any partial affection. Charles the first, educated among the English, discovered no peculiar attachment to the kingdom of which he was a native. The nobles, perceiving the sceptre to be now in hands less friendly, and swayed by a prince with whom they had little con

nexion, and over whose councils they had little influence, no longer submitted with the same implicit obedience. Provoked by some encroachments of the king on their order, and apprehensive of others, the remains of their ancient spirit began to appear. They complained and remonstrated. The people being, at the same time, violently disgusted at the innovations in religion, the nobles secretly heightened this disgust; and their artifices, together with the ill-conduct of the court, raised such a spirit, that the whole nation took arms against their sovereign, with a union and animosity of which there had formerly been no example. Charles brought against them the forces of England, and, notwithstanding their own union, and the zeal of the people, the nobles must have sunk in the struggle. But the disaffection which was growing among his English subjects, prevented the king from acting with vigour. A civil war broke out in both kingdoms; and after many battles and revolutions, which are well known, the Scottish nobles, who first began the war, were involved in the same ruin with the throne. At the restoration, Charles the second regained full possession of the royal prerogative in Scotland; and the nobles, whose estates were wasted, or their spirit broken, by the calamities to which they had been exposed, were less able and less willing than ever to resist the power of the crown. During his reign, and that of James the seventh, the dictates of the monarch were received in Scotland with most abject submission. The poverty to which many of the nobles were reduced, rendered them meaner slaves and more intolerable tyrants than ever. The people, always neglected, were now odious, and loaded with every injury, on account of their attachment to religious and political principles, extremely repugnant to those adopted by their princes.

The revolution introduced other maxims into the government of Scotland. To increase the authority of the prince, to secure the privileges of the


nobles, had hitherto been almost the sole object of our laws. The rights of the people were hardly ever mentioned, were disregarded, or unknown. Attention began, henceforward, to be paid to the welfare of the people. By the 'claim of right,' their liberties were secured; and, the number of their representatives being increased, they gradually acquired new weight and consideration in parliament. As they came to enjoy more security, and greater power, their minds began to open, and to form more extensive plans of commerce, of industry, and of police. But the aristocratical spirit, which still predominated, together with many other accidents, retarded the improvement and happiness of the nation.

Another great event completed what the revolution had begun. The political power of the nobles, already broken by the union of the two crowns, was almost annihilated by the union of the two kingdoms. Instead of making a part, as formerly, of the supreme assembly of the nation; instead of bearing the most considerable sway there, the peers of Scotland are admitted into the British parliament by their representatives only, and form but an inconsiderable part of one of those bodies in which the legislative authority is vested. They themselves are excluded absolutely from the House of Commons, and even their eldest sons are not permitted to represent their countrymen in that august assembly. Nor have their feudal privileges remained, to compensate for this extinction of their political authority. As commerce advanced in its progress, and government attained nearer to perfection, these were insensibly circumscribed, and at last, by laws no less salutary to the public, than fatal to the nobles, they have been almost totally abolished. As the nobles were deprived of power, the people acquired liberty. Exempted from burthens, to which they were formerly subject; screened from oppression, to which they had been long exposed, and adopted into a constitution whose genius and laws were more

liberal than their own, they have extended their commerce, refined their manners, made improvements in the elegancies of life, and cultivated the arts and sciences.

This survey of the political state of Scotland, in which events and their causes have been mentioned rather than developed, enables us to point out three æras, from each of which we may date some great alteration in one or other of the three different members of which the supreme legislative assembly in our constitution is composed. At their 'accession' to the throne of England, the kings of Scotland, once the most limited, became, in an instant, the most absolute princes in Europe, and exercised a despotic authority, which their parliaments were unable to control, or their nobles to resist. At the 'union' of the two kingdoms the feudal aristocracy which had subsisted so many ages, and with power so exorbitant, was turned, and the Scottish nobles, having surrendered rights and pre-eminences peculiar to their order, reduced themselves to a condition which is no longer the terror and envy of other subjects. 'Since the union,' the commons, anciently neglected by their kings, and seldom courted by the nobles, have emerged into dignity; and, being admitted to a participation of all the privileges which the English had purchased at the expense of so much blood, must now be deemed a body not less considerable in the one kingdom, than they have been in the other.


The church felt the effects of the absolute power which the king acquired by his accession; and its revolutions, too, are worthy of notice. James, during the latter years of his administration in Scotland, had revived the name and office of bishops. But they possessed no ecclesiastical jurisdiction or preeminence; their revenues were inconsiderable, and they were scarcely distinguished by any thing but by their seat in parliament, and by being the object of the clergy's jealousy, and the people's hatred. The king, delighted with the splendour and authority which the Eng

lish bishops enjoyed, and eager to effect a union in the ecclesiastical policy, which he had in vain attempted in the civil government of the two kingdoms, resolved to bring both churches to an exact conformity with each other. Three Scotsmen, were consecrated bishops at London. From them their brethren were commanded to receive orders. Ceremonies unknown in Scotland were imposed; and though the clergy, less obsequious than the nobles, boldly opposed these innovations, James, longpractised, and well-skilled in the arts of managing them, obtained at length their compliance. But Charles the first, a superstitious prince, unacquainted with the genius of the Scots, imprudent and precipitant in all the measures he pursued in that kingdom, pressing too eagerly the reception of the English liturgy, and indiscreetly attempting a resumption of church lands, kindled the flames of civil war; and the people being left at liberty to indulge their own wishes, the episcopal church was overturned, and the presbyterian government and discipline were reestablished with new vigour. Together with monarchy, episcopacy was restored in Scotland. A form of government, so odious to the people, required force to uphold it; and though not only the whole vigour of authority, but all the barbarity of persecution, were employed in its support, the aversion of the nation was insurmountable, and it subsisted with difficulty. At the revolution, the inclinations of the people were thought worthy the attention of the legislature, the presbyterian government was again established, and, being ratified by the union, is still maintained in the kingdom.

Nor did the influence of the accession extend to the civil and ecclesiastical constitutions alone; the genius of the nation, its taste and spirit, things of a nature still more delicate, were sensibly affected by that event. When learning revived in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, all the modern languages were in a state extremely barbarous, devoid of elegance, of vigour, and even

of perspicuity. No author thought of writing in languages so ill adapted to express and embellish his sentiments, or of erecting a work for immortality with such rude and perishable materials. As the spirit, which prevailed at that time, did not owe its rise to any original effort of the human mind, but was excited chiefly by admiration of the ancients, which began then to be studied with attention in every part of Europe, their compositions were deemed not only the standards of taste and of sentiment, but of style; and even the languages in which they wrote were thought to be peculiar, and almost consecrated to learning and the muses. Not only the manner of the ancients was imitated but their language was adopted, and, extravagant as the attempt may appear to write in a dead tongue, in which men were not accustomed to think, and which they could not speak, or even pronounce, the success of it was astonishing. As they formed their style upon the purest models: as they were uninfected with those barbarisms, which the inaccuracy of familiar conversation, the affectation of courts, intercourse with strangers, and a thousand other causes, introduce into living languages, many moderns have attained to a degree of elegance in their Latin compositions, which the Romans themselves scarce possessed beyond the limits of the Augustan age. While this was almost the only species of composition, and all authors, by using one common language, could be brought to a nearer comparison, the Scottish writers were not inferior to those of any other nation. The happy genius of Buchanan, equally formed to excel in prose and in verse, more various, more original, and more elegant, than that of almost any other modern who writes in Latin, reflects, with regard to this particular, the greatest lustre on his country.

But the labour attending the study of a dead tongue was irksome; the unequal return for their industry which authors met with, who could be read and admired only within the narrow circle of the learned, was mortifying;

and men, instead of wasting half their lives in learning the language of the Romans, began to refine and to polish their own. The modern tongues were found to be susceptible of beauties and graces, which, if not equal to those of the ancient ones, were at least more attainable. The Italians having first set the example, Latin was no longer used in works of taste; it was confined to books of science, and the politer nations have banished it even from these. The Scots, we may presume, would have had no cause to regret this change in the public taste, and would still have been able to maintain some equality with other nations, in their pursuit of literary honour. The English and Scottish languages, derived from the same sources, were, at the end of the sixteenth century, in a state nearly similar, differing from one another somewhat in orthography, though not only the words, but the idioms were much the same. The letters of several Scottish statesmen of that age are not inferior in elegance, or in purity, to those of the English ministers with whom they corresponded. James himself was master of a style far from contemptible; and, by his example and encouragement, the Scottish language might have kept pace with the English in refinement. Scotland might have had a series of authors in its own, as well as in the Latin language, to boast of; and the improvements in taste, in the arts, and in the sciences, which spread over the other polished nations of Europe, would not have been unknown there.

But, at the very time when other nations were beginning to drop the use of Latin in works of taste, and to make trial of the strength and compass of their own languages, Scotland ceased to be a kingdom. The transports of joy, which the accession at first occasioned, were soon over: and the Scots being at once deprived of all the objects that refine or animate a people; of the presence of their prince; of the concourse of nobles; of the splendour and elegance of a court, an universal

dejection of spirit seems to have seized the nation. The court being withdrawn, no domestic standard of propriety and correctness of speech remained; the few compositions that Scotland produced were tried by the English standard, and every word or phrase that varied in the least from that, was condemned as barbarous; whereas, if the two nations had continued distinct, each might have retained idioms and forms of speech peculiar to itself; and these, rendered fashionable by the example of a court, and supported by the authority of writers of reputation, might have been viewed in the same light with the varieties occasioned by the different dialects in the Greek tongue; they even might have been considered as beauties; and in many cases might have been used promiscuously by the authors of both nations. But, by the accession, the English naturally became the sole judges and lawgivers in language, and rejected, as solecisms, every form of speech to which their ear was not accustomed. Nor did the Scots, while the intercourse between the two nations was inconsiderable, and ancient prejudices were still so violent as to prevent imitation, possess the means of refining their own tongue according to the purity of the English standard. On the contrary, new corruptions flowed into it from every different source. The clergy of Scotland, in that age, were more eminent for piety than for learning; and though there did not arise many authors among them, yet being in possession of the privilege of discoursing publicly to the people, and their sermons being too long, and, perhaps, too frequent, such hasty productions could not be elegant, and many slovenly and incorrect modes of expression may be traced back to that original. The pleadings of lawyers were equally loose and inaccurate; and that profession having furnished more authors; and the matter of which they treat mingling daily in common discourse and business, many of those vicious forms of speech, which are denominated 'Scotticisms,' have been in

troduced by them into the language. Nor did either the language of public taste receive any improvement in parliament, where a more liberal and more correct eloquence might have been expected. All business was transacted there by the lords of articles; and they were so servilely devoted to the court, that few debates arose; and, prior to the revolution, none were conducted with the spirit and vigour natural to a popular assembly.

ing the power of the lords of articles, and other salutary laws passed at the revolution, having introduced freedom of debate into the Scottish parliament, eloquence, with all the arts that accompany or perfect it, became immediate objects of attention: and the example of Fletcher of Salton, alone, is sufficient to show that the Scots were still capable of generous sentiments, and, notwithstanding some peculiar idioms, were able to express themselves with energy, and with elegance.

At length, the union having incorporated the two nations, and rendered them one people, the distinctions which had subsisted for many ages gradually wear away; peculiarities disappear; the same manners prevail in both parts of the island; the same authors are read and admired; the same entertainments are frequented by the elegant and polite; and the same standard of taste, and of purity in language, is established. The Scots, after being placed, during a whole century, in a situation no less fatal to the liberty than to the taste and genius of the nation, were once put in possession of privileges more valuable than those which their ancestors had formerly enjoyed; and every obstruction that had retarded their pursuit, or prevented their acquisition of literary fame, was totally

Thus, during the whole seventeenth century, the English were gradually refining their language and their taste: in Scotland the former was much debased, and the latter almost entirely lost. In the beginning of that period, both nations were emerging out of barbarity; but the distance between them, which was then inconsiderable, became, before the end of it, immense. Even after science had once dawned upon them, the Scots seemed to be sinking back into ignorance and obscurity; and, active and intelligent as they naturally are, they continued, while other nations were eager in the pursuit of fame and knowledge, in a state of languor. This, however, must be imputed to the unhappiness of their political situation, not to any defect of genius; for no sooner was the one removed in any degree, than the other began to display itself. The act abolish-removed.





[UGH BLAIR, born at Edinburgh in 1718, was the contemporary and friend of Johnson, to whom he was indebted for the prosperous commencement of his literary career. He was a professor of Rhetoric in his native town for the space of twenty-four years, and during that time delivered those lectures which have earned him his reputation. He also held the office of minister in one of the Edinburgh churches,


The idle man lives not to himself with any more advantage than he lives to the world. It is indeed on a sup

Herrig, British Auth.

in which situation he published a good many of his sermons, all of them remarkable for the elegance and taste of their style, and admired for their inculcating Christian morality without any allusion to controversial topics. Blair, however, shows himself in them to be far below the elder divines in force of expression, power of argumentation and elevation of thought. He died in the year 1800.

position entirely opposite, that persons of this character proceed. They imagine that, how deficient soever they may be in point of duty, they at least consult their own satisfaction. They leave to


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