"A Sorry Poor Nation, which lies as full North,
as a great many Lands which are wiser,
Was resolv'd to set up for a People of Worth,
That the Loons who laugh'd at Her might prize her."
-Anonymous Englishman, 17001
These were the first words
of a book widely read in London during the earliest years of the 18th century.
Named "Caledonia, or The Peddler Turned Merchant," the book was
a comedy, telling the story of how the pathetic Scots failed spectacularly
in their attempt to found a colony called Caledonia (also known as Darien),
and attempt to become wealthy in the 1690's. These words capture the essence
of how the English, and most of Europe for the matter, viewed Scotland at
the turn of the 18th century. Impoverished and stagnant, Scotland was looked
upon as a backward kingdom to the north, having started the 17th century as
the poorest kingdom in western Europe yet managing to decline through the
century. The English actually viewed them in nearly as worse a light as they
did the Irish.
But how did Scotland
view itself? These years, between the Glorious Revolution in 1688 and the
Act of Union of 1707, were among the most momentous in the Scotland's history.
They were to determine whether Scotland would remain as it had since 1603,
the far junior member of an unequal regal union with England, or adopt a different
monarch than England upon Anne's death and start its life anew. What they
would ultimately choose was a third option, to agree to a union with England
and take their chances as part of a new Great Britain. It was certainly a
momentous decision, and it was these years that defined to a large extent
which choice the nation made.
This study seeks to answer how the Scots viewed themselves in the critical years before union, and what events shaped those conceptions of their nation. Through studying the literature