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A Century of Scottish History
From the Days before the '45 to those within Living Memory By Sir Henry Craik (1901)


IT is the object of these volumes to follow the course of Scottish history from the time when Scotland was divided from its southern neighbour by well-defined lines of demarcation, alike in religion, in politics, in tradition, and in social habit when, indeed, the points of contact were but few and unimportant down to the period when the Scottish nation, while preserving some valuable and durable national characteristics, became, as regards all its main interests and in the main current of its history, absorbed in one stream with that southern neighbour, with whom it has now formed a partnership so close as to share a common life, and, in the eyes of Europe, to be almost identical. The history of Scotland down to the Jacobite rising of 1745 has been treated very fully in previous works. But in those works the first half of the eighteenth century has been dealt with chiefly as the concluding chapter of her national history not as it affected the period which was to follow. It has therefore been found necessary in these volumes to recapitulate shortly the leading events of that half century, as opening the new chapter in Scottish history which began with the Revolution and the Act of Union episodes, indeed, complementary to one another. From that point Scotland began to shape a new phase in her national life.

As the plan of the present work is to give a chronological narrative of the leading historical events down to the middle of the nineteenth century, it has been necessary to include in it an account of the rising of 1745. But as that dramatic and romantic episode has formed the subject of many detailed narratives, and as the personal history of many of the chief actors has been fully told, the present account of it has been confined to the main events, which alone may be held to come within the history of the nation as a whole.

From 1745 onwards the history of Scotland has hitherto been treated for the most part only as subsidiary to the history of the Empire, and as forming a subordinate chapter in the history of England. Besides this we have, as illustrating Scottish life, a large and most interesting series of memoirs, of accounts of social traits, of pictures of manners, and of contemporary reminiscences. The history of the great ecclesiastical struggle, which culminated in 1843, has been treated as an episode apart, and not as a phase of national history, with its origin in the past and with its permanent influence on national character. The object of these volumes is to give a chronological narrative of all the principal incidents political, ecclesiastical, and legislative, as well as literary, social, and commercial which form the history of Scotland throughout a very momentous century, in the course of which the character of her permanent contribution to the common life of the Empire was chiefly shaped.

H. C.
January 1901.

It finishes with..

We have thus followed the history of Scotland from the period when she was first joined by legislative union with England, and when there still lay before her the last struggle of a decayed system against the forces of modern constitutionalism, down to a period within the memory of those now living. We have seen how, if much of the stress and strain which she had to endure was the inheritance of her own stormy history, it was also, in no small degree, the result of the heedless injustice, the careless apathy, and the purblind neglect of successive English governments. We have seen how, out of varied and often antagonistic elements, she managed to form and to preserve a very strong and vivid sense of nationality, which was not lessened, but distinctly increased and fostered, by the Jacobite movement—a movement which became stronger in Scotland just as it faded away in England. We have seen how she provoked the jealousy of, and met with indifference and contempt an almost insane outburst of abuse from, her southern neighbour. We have seen how, preserving much that was most picturesque and romantic in her national traditions, she shook herself free from the trammels and bondage of mediaevalism, and achieved notable results in thought and literature, which gave her a proud place not only in the Empire, but abroad. We have seen how she helped to consolidate and strengthen the Empire, and how she bore her part in the most critical struggle which that Empire has yet seen. We have seen how her enterprise developed and how she became absorbed in the eager competition for wealth. We have watched how the older and more exclusive forces gradually grew more weak, and how Scotland took her part in the great Reform movements which changed the face of society.

We have seen a new class gaining political supremacy, and holding with a tenacity distinctive of the nation to the new opinions which they had come to form, and clinging to them as sternly as to a religion or an ethical code. We have seen how these convictions were clinched by the fierceness of a great ecclesiastical struggle, the bitter memories of which very slowly passed away. During that struggle a close alliance was struck between religious opinions which were opposed to the dominant latitudinarianism of the previous century, and the middle class which had thriven on commercial prosperity, and had no sympathy with the older social traditions. Only as the century closes has the stubbornness of these convictions relaxed, and a great change of political principle taken place. Its weight and its meaning will be differently explained by different men. To trace its causes, and to estimate its results, must be the business of another generation.

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