The year which witnessed the victory of Ramillies remains yet more memorable as the year which witnessed the final Union of England with Scotland. As the undoing of the earlier union had been the first work of the Government of the Restoration, its revival was one of the first aims of the Government which followed the Revolution. But the project was long held in check by religious and commercial jealousies. Scotland refused to bear any part of the English debt. England would not yield any share in her monopoly of trade with the colonies. The English Churchmen longed for a restoration of Episcopacy north of the border, while the Scotch Presbyterians would not hear even of the legal toleration of Episcopalians. In 1703, however, an Act of Settlement which passed through the Scotch Parliament at last brought home to English statesmen the dangers of further delay. In dealing with this measure the Scotch Whigs, who cared only for the independence of their country, joined hand in hand with the Scotch Jacobites, who looked only to the interests of the Pretender. The Jacobites excluded from the Act the name of the Princess Sophia; the Whigs introduced a provision that no sovereign of England should be recognized as sovereign of Scotland save upon security given to the religion, freedom, and trade of the Scottish people.
Great as the danger arising from such a measure undoubtedly was, for it pointed to a recognition of the Pretender in Scotland on the Queen's death, and such a recognition meant war between Scotland and England, it was only after three years' delay that the wisdom and resolution of Lord Somers brought the question to an issue. The Scotch proposals of a federative rather than a legislative union were set aside by his firmness; the commercial jealousies of the English trader were put by; and the Act of Union provided that the two kingdoms should be united into one under the name of Great Britain, and that the succession to the crown of this United Kingdom should be ruled by the provisions of the English Act of Settlement. The Scotch Church and the Scotch Law were left untouched: but all rights of trade were thrown open, and a uniform system of coinage adopted. A single Parliament was henceforth to represent the United Kingdom, and for this purpose forty-five Scotch members were added to the five hundred and thirteen English members of the House of Commons, and sixteen representative peers to the one hundred and eight who formed the English House of Lords. In Scotland the opposition was bitter and almost universal.
The terror of the Presbyterians indeed was met by an Act of Security which became part of the Treaty of Union, and which required an oath to support the Presbyterian Church from every sovereign on his accession. But no securities could satisfy the enthusiastic patriots or the fanatical Cameronians. The Jacobites sought troops from France, and plotted a Stuart restoration. The nationalists talked of seceding from the Houses which voted for the Union, and of establishing a rival Parliament. In the end, however, good sense and the loyalty of the trading classes to the cause of the Protestant succession won their way. The measure was adopted by the Scotch Parliament, and the Treaty of Union became in 1707 a legislative Act to which Anne gave her assent in noble words. "I desire," said the Queen, "and expect from my subjects of both nations that from henceforth they act with all possible respect and kindness to one another, that so it may appear to all the world they have hearts disposed to become one people." Time has more than answered these hopes. The two nations whom the Union brought together have ever since remained one. England gained in the removal of a constant danger of treason and war.
To Scotland the Union opened up new avenues of wealth which the energy of its people turned to wonderful account. The farms of Lothian have become models of agricultural skill. A fishing town on the Clyde has grown into the rich and populous Glasgow. Peace and culture have changed the wild clansmen of the Highlands into herdsmen and farmers. Nor was the change followed by any loss of national spirit. The world has hardly seen a mightier and more rapid development of national energy than that of Scotland after the Union. All that passed away was the jealousy which had parted since the days of Edward the First two peoples whom a common blood and common speech proclaimed to be one. The Union between Scotland and England has been real and stable simply because it was the legislative acknowledgment and enforcement of a national fact.
With the defeat of Ramillies the fortunes of France reached their lowest ebb. The loss of Flanders was followed by the loss of Italy after a victory by which Eugene relieved Turin; and not only did Peterborough hold his-ground in Spain, but Charles the Third with an army of English and Portuguese entered Madrid. Marlborough was at the height of his renown. Ramillies gave him strength enough to force Anne, in spite of her hatred of the Whigs, to fulfil his compact with them by admitting Lord Sunderland, the bitterest leader of their party, to office. But the system of political balance which he had maintained till now began at once to break down. Constitutionally, Marlborough's was the last attempt to govern England on other terms than those of party government, and the union of parties to which he had clung ever since his severance from the extreme Tories soon became impossible. The growing opposition of the Tories to the war threw the Duke more and more on the support of the Whigs, and the Whigs sold their support dearly. Sunderland, who had inherited his father's conceptions of party government, was resolved to restore a strict party administration on a purely Whig basis, and to drive the moderate Tories from office in spite of Marlborough's desire to retain them.
The Duke wrote hotly home at the news of the pressure which the Whigs were putting on him. "England," he said, "will not be ruined because a few men are not pleased." Nor was Marlborough alone in his resentment. Harley foresaw the danger of his expulsion from office, and began to intrigue at court, through Mrs. Masham, a bedchamber woman of the Queen, who was supplanting the Duchess in Anne's favour, against the Whigs and against Marlborough. St. John, who owed his early promotion to office to the Duke's favour, was driven by the same fear to share Harley's schemes. Marlborough strove to win both of them back, but he was helpless in the hands of the only party that steadily supported the war. A factious union of the Whigs with their opponents, though it roused the Duke to a burst of unusual passion in Parliament, effected its end by convincing him of the impossibility of further resistance. The opposition of the Queen indeed was stubborn and bitter. Anne was at heart a Tofy, and her old trust in Marlborough died with his submission to the Whig demands.