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The deficiency of Scottish authors, in every department connected with wit and humour, has been universally admitted. This we may ascribe to the sly and cautious temper of the people, which is calculated to repress every exertion of mirth and pleasantry. It may also have proceeded, in some measure, from the difficulty they meet with in attaining such a command of the English language as must be requisite for the forcible and humorous delineation of ordinary life and manners*. (all, Sir ; but I have as little with the place to which you are going.”
* A noted literary character has waggishly observed, in speaking of the learning of Scotland, “That every
one has a mouthful, but nobody a bellyful.” The amount of this criticism seems to be, that instead of consuming their whole life by a vain endeavour to become adepts in two dead languages, they have divested them. selves of a superstitious reverence for antiquity, and are content to cultivate each branch of knowledge so far only as they find it useful or agreeable. The mouthful of the Scot may be somewhat scanty, but it is fresh and wholesome food; to him the English bellyful seems offal.
Changes in the Political State of England from
the Accession of the House of Stuart—The Advancement of Commerce and Manufactures
-Institutions for National Defence-Different Effect of these in Britain, and upon the Neighbouring Continent.
THE accession of James the First to the English throne, while it gave rise to such remarkable changes in the state of his ancient hereditary dominions, became the source of great advantages, in common to both countries; from which, however, England, as the ruling power, derived the principal benefit. As far back as we can clearly trace the history of the two kingdoms, we find them engaged in a course of mutual depredation and hostilities, during which, indeed, England was commonly in the end victorious; though, at the same time, from her superior wealth,
she was usually the principal sufferer.
Upon the Norman conquest, when England was involved in connexions with the continent of Europe her enemies were of course incited to cultivate the friendship of Scotland ; and after the pretensions of the king of England to the sovereignty of France had produced a rooted animosity between the two countries, the monarchs of the latter became the constant allies of the Scottish princes. In this situation, Scotland was commonly the dupe of French politics; and was found a convenient instrument for creating a powerful diversion of the forces in the southern part of the island. The invasions of England by her Scottish neighbours, being thus directed and assisted by a foreign power, became in many cases alarming and formidable. In the reign of Elizabeth, France had an opportunity of retaliating the vexation and embarrassment she had felt from her ancient enemy, by supporting the claim of Mary, Queen of Scots, to the crown of England. The artful policy of the English queen in order to counteract and disappoint the machinations practised against her, has been supposed by many to throw an indelible
stain upon her character; and even when regarded in the most favourable point of view, can be justified only by its necessity. The intrigues of this wise princess, the expense incurred by her on that account, the extreme rigour, not to say injustice, with which she treated her unfortunate rival, a measure which, she foresaw, was likely to draw upon her the public censure and resentment: all these are sufficient proofs of the danger to which she found herself exposed, and of the mischief which her dominions were liable to suffer through the medium of Scotland.
By the union of the two crowns in the person of James the First, England was completely delivered from every hazard of that nature. The two kingdoms, having the same sovereign, possessed of the power of declaring war and peace, were reduced under the same administration, and consequently destined for the future to live in perpetual amity. As their whole military force acted under one head, and against their common enemies, they were enabled to assume a superior rank in the scale of Europe; while the insular situation of Britain gave her little ground to apprehend any
foreign invasion, and little reason to interfere in the politics of the continent.
The peace and security which England derived from these favourable circumstances contributed to the encouragement of industry, and to the improvement of those commercial advantages which the peculiar situation of the country had bestowed upon her. After the accession of the house of Stuart, therefore, the advancement of trade and manufactures became still more conspicuous than it had been under the princes of the Tudor family ; and its consequences, in diffusing opulence and independence, were proportionably more extensive. Towards the latter part of the reign of Elizabeth, the woollen manufacture, which, from the tyranny of Spain in the Netherlands, had been transported into England, gave employnient to a number of industrious hands, and put in motion a correspondent amount of capital, which, upon the extension or variation of the demand for commodities, could easily be diverted into other channels. Various branches of manufacture sprung up, one after another; and found a market for their productions. The prosperity of inland trade