Fareweel to a' our Scottish fame,
What force or guile could not subdue,
O would, or I had seen the day
We live in a cynical age, where every day the headlines test our faith in politics, the church and the economy. So it was in Burns' day.
In 1791 he wrote a poem lambasting those members of the Scottish parliament who voted in favor of merging theirs with that of England to create the parliament of Great Britain.
It was a broadside, as only Burns could fire, at the self serving and hypocrisy. Most Scots were opposed to the merger. After all their own parliament or estates had been around since the 13th century. They feared losing their independence.
The 1707 Act of Union was negotiated by two commissions representing their respective governments. The Scottish contingent consisted of financially imperiled nobles, bankers and merchants who had lost a lot of money trying to break into world markets, then dominated by the English and Spanish. In exchange for regognizing the Hanoverian succession to the English Crown, Catholic Stuarts be damned, the Scots would gain access to the English free market.
Those who supported such a move argued that it was the only way to promote commerce and growth for a country with a severe debt problem, that Scotland could never stand on its own.
In fact some members of the commission believed they would be compensated for their personal financial losses. Article 14 of the Act of Union granted Scotland about 400,000 pounds sterling against future national debt issues.
Was there ever any doubt about the vote's outcome?
Contributed by John Lewandowski