Guide to Scotland
   Gateway to the British Isles since 1996
A Brief History of Scotland

Presented by Peter N. Williams, Ph.D.

Chapter 10: Scotland Resurgent

The old spirit did not die completely when Charles went off to the continent, never to return. How could it? The Highlanders had a long history of fighting, winning some, losing some and then coming back for more. Many of the leading clans, despite their severe losses, still hoped for help from France. Even as late as it was it was reported that the Macleans were anxious to renew the fight. Charles Edward, however, their "Bonnie Prince," preferred to spend his time in idleness in Rome or Florence, often hopelessly drunk as a pathetic "King over the Water." When he died in 1788, his successor was his young brother Henry, Cardinal York, who assumed the rather ambitious title Henry IX. He did not claim the throne of Britain. Upon his death in 1808, the Stuarts were no more.

Scotland now was now fully accepted in, and for its own part, fully accepted the Union. It was ready to play a major role in the expansion of the British Empire. In particular, the fighting qualities and heroic traditions of the Highlanders were put to good use in British armies sent to fight in Europe and further afield. The Seven Years War (1756-63) that closely followed the failure of the Jacobite Rebellion was the most dramatically successful war ever fought by Britain. Success followed success (mostly at the expense of France) in Canada, India, West Africa and the West Indies. The tiny North Atlantic island of Britain found itself at the head of a vast, world empire in which the Scots played a leading role.

The Crown provided the strongest link between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. For one reason or another unknown to this author, perhaps to assuage guilt, King George III of England erected a grand marble tomb in Rome to the memory of the unfortunate Stuarts. His son, George IV, dressed in the Royal Stuart tartan, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, made a state visit to Scotland in 1822, the first by a reigning monarch in 172 years. After being greeted by Sir Walter Scott (in Campbell tartan), he was then entertained lavishly by Lord Hopetoun, whose own father had welcomed the Butcher Cumberland shortly after Culloden. It was Queen Victoria however; who was most anxious to make amends for the grievous harm suffered by her northern neighbors. Even Albert, her German consort, took to wearing a kilt on their frequent visits to the Highlands, where he praised the inhabitants' "good-breeding, simplicity and intelligence."

Royal interest in the traditions of the Highlands apart, however, the peculiar situation that had created the Union did nothing to promote Scotland's political self-expression. Here the situation was one of stagnancy. Real power in Scotland, for the most part, resided in the hands of a political manager. His personal influence and power of patronage allowed him to manipulate the votes of the 45 Scottish members that, after the dissolution of the Scottish Parliament in 1707, perfidious England had so graciously allowed to attend its own Parliament at Westminster. Thirty of these members represented the counties and 15 the 65 royal burghs.

This was hardly a democracy at work. The system of franchise meant that in 1788 the whole country possessed fewer than 3,000 voters. Large new population centers were not royal burghs, and therefore had no representation at all. No wonder corruption prevailed; it was so easy for the London Government to manipulate the all too-few voters through appointments, benefits and preferment's.

In the early part of the 18th century, Scotland was governed by a succession of Lord Advocates, including two Dukes of Argyll and later by Henry Dundas, Viscount Melville. For his efforts at keeping the majority of Scottish Members loyal to the Government, he was rewarded handsomely, progressing from Lord Advocate, through President of the Board of Control for India, Treasurer of the Navy, to Home Secretary and Secretary of War. To his credit, in a position of authority lasting thirty years, Dundas attempted to put right some of the grievous wrongs suffered by the Highlands at the hands of the Hanoverians. His efforts led to the repeal of the nefarious Act of 1746 that had forbidden Highland dress "the garb of sedition," and the playing of the pipes. In 1784, he was able to have many of the forfeited Jacobite estates returned to their rightful owners.

Chapter 10: Scotland Resurgent Continued