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BOOK of the proposed limitations. In these limitations the settlement obtained from Charles I. was revived; that the privy-council and officers of state should be named by the king, with consent of parliament, which was then considered as a full security for the religion and liberties of an inde pendent nation 13. Whatever are the evils with which it is pregnant, whether it tends to dissolve the union, or to relax the sinews and strength of an empire, we must acknowledge that to preserve the independence, or to prevent the discontent of an united kingdom, not incorporated under the same legislature, there seems to be no method but to submit the domestic administration to the choice or consent of the estates. That constitutional control on the executive, which the legisla.. tive power should possess, is lost wherever the administration is supported by external influence; and to restore an equality to parliament, additional limitations are necessary, if not an express consent to the appointment of ministers. Accordingly, the same limitations were first adopted at the treaty of Edinburgh, in the reign of Mary, to preserve the nation from the influence of French councils during her marriage with Francis II.
But the court party were adverse to every limi tation on the crown. Their opposition was inef, fectual; but when the act of security was carried by a majority of fifty-nine votes, the royal assent
13 Burnet, v. 224.
was expressly refused. A bill was introduced by BOOK
the earl of Marchmont, to establish the succession, under the proposed limitations, in the princess Sophia; but the settlement of the crown was premature, and acceptable to no one. The parliament was prolonged in expectation of supplies; and the prohibition against French wines was repealed, in order to restore the customs. But the members were exasperated at the refusal of the royal assent to the act of security; and on the question, liberty or subsidy, they determined, after a fierce and tumultuous debate, to proceed next day to the limitations on the crown. Some denied the authority of the royal negative, introduced since the restora tion. Others professed their resolution to die free rather than to live slaves, and threatened to assert the privileges of parliament sword in hand 14. "Better," said Fletcher, " that a popish prince "should succeed to the throne under such limita"tions as may render the nation free and inde"pendent, than the best protestant without limi"tations. If we live free, it is indifferent to me, provided these limitations are enacted, whether "a successor from Hanover or St. Germains be "named to the throne." The commissioner, intimidated by their violence, despaired of success,
14 Lockart, 57. Boyer's Annals, ii. 57. "We were often "in the form of a Polish diet, with our swords in our hands, " or at least our hands on our swords." Sir John Clerk's Memoirs, MS.
BOOK and adjourned the parliament without obtaining
1703. Fletcher of
It was in this parliament that the eloquence of Salton's Fletcher of Salton was first distinguished. Fletcher was apparently the early pupil of Burnet; but his virtues were confirmed by mature study, foreign travel, persecution, and exile. When he withdrew from the oppressive government of the duke of York, he engaged as a volunteer in the Hungarian wars; and, rather than desert his friend, embarked in Monmouth's unhappy expedition, of which he disapproved. At the revolution he returned with the prince of Orange, whose service he declined when that prince was advanced to the throne. From the study of the ancients, and the observation of modern governments, he had imbibed the principles of a genuine republican. Disgusted at William's authority as inordinate, he considered the prince as the first and most dangerous magistrate of the state, to be severely restrained, not indulged in the free exercise, or abuse of power. His mind was firm and independent, sincere and inflexible in his friendship and resentments, impatient of contradiction, obstinate in his resolves, but unconscious of sordid motive or an ungenerous desire. His countenance was stern, and his disposition unaccommodating; however affable to his friends; but his word was sacred; his probity was never sullied by the breath of suspicion; and equally tenacious of his dignity,
and scrupulous in the observance of every point BOOK of honour, his spirit was proverbially brave as the sword he wore. His schemes were often eccentric and impracticable; but his genius was actuated by a sublime enthusiasm, and enriched by an extensive converse with books and men. His eloquence is characterized by a nervous and concise simplicity, always dignified, often sublime; and his speeches in parliament may be classed among the best and purest specimens of oratory which the age produced. His free opinions were confined to no sect in religion, nor party in the state. The love of his country was the ruling passion of his breast, and the uniform principle of his whole life. In a corrupt age, and amidst the violence of contending factions, he appeared a rare example of the most upright and steady integrity, the purest honour, the most disinterested patriot
15 The same expression is used without communication by Lockhart and Macky; but the last is peculiarly happy in his character of Fletcher. "He is a gentleman steady in his "principles, of nice honour---brave as the sword he wears, " and bold as a lion---would lose his life readily to serve his "country, and would not do a base thing to save it."
16 It appears from Sir John Clerk's Memoirs, that Fletcher was not expert at extemporary replies. His speeches, to be distinctly understood, must be read historically, as they refer to the different clauses of the act of security and limitations on the crown. In this view, his Conversation on Governments, written to vindicate the proceedings of this session, appears to me to be one of the best specimens of dialogue writing in modern times.
BOOK ism; and while the characters of his venal, but more successful competitors are consigned to infamy or oblivion, his memory is revered and cherished as the last of the Scots.
The courts of France and St. Germains were not inattentive to these transactions. Among other emissaries, Simon Fraser was employed in Scotland; a man of low cunning, but of a flagitious and desperate character, who claimed the honours and estate of Lovat. He had fled from justice for a rape on the late lord Lovat's widow 17. whom, to secure possession of the estate, he had forced to consummate a pretended marriage; but the influence of her brother, the marquis of Athol, intercepted a pardon. On his becoming a proselyte to the catholic religion, his extravagant proposals were embraced and recommended by the exiled queen. He obtained a private interview with Louis, and assured de Torcy, that if five thousand French troops were landed at Dundee, and five hundred at Fort William, the highland chieftains, from whom he was commissioned,
" Lovat's Memoirs have been lately published, in which he denies that he ever approached the house where the dowager resided. We may judge of his veracity not only from the trial (Arnot) but from his father's letter to Argyle, (Carstairs, 434.) representing his son as advantageously married to the widow, and both living very happily together. It is amusing to read the pompous accounts of the territories, the subjects, and the wars of this highland adventurer, whose whole clan exceeded not seven hundred men.