Arts

Excerpt from the play 'Union' by Tim Barrow set in 1707

This is an excerpt from a scene which was read at an event at the "Previously..." Scotland's History Festival, on November 19 2015

Set in the magnficent chamber of the Scottish Parliament, the scene features Lord Queensberry, the main proponent of the Treaty of Union and Lord Hamilton, who led the opposition.

 

HAMILTON:  “Scots have fought tooth and claw for independence.

We withstood Longshanks, Henry VIII, Cromwell.

And when our old English enemies ran out of royalty,

Now his descendant occupies the English throne.

But remember from whose bloodline she descends.

And if we so wish, we may choose our own heir to Queen Anne.

It was to us they turned for a monarch!

Robert Bruce is jigging in heaven,

We are an independent race, Lords.

We take pride in our Parliament,

Our Law, Church, trade, culture.

True, we share a sovereign with England,

Her father had another child in lawful wedlock.

A son.”

 

LORD: Jacobite!

 

HAMILTON: “Nationalist, my lord!

My forefathers defended our independence,

And I continue a proud tradition.

English monarchs ever sought to conquer us, by war or diplomacy.

But every attempt to amalgamate our separate countries has failed.

Two nations.

Like oil and water, they cannot mix.

This Treaty must meet the fate of its predecessors.

Honour the commitments of your ancestors,

And vote it down.”

(...)

 

QUEENSBERRY: “Would my honourable lord care to swap positions?

Could he joust with English power-brokers?

Would he gamble with Robert Harley, the greatest politician of the age,

And not lose his shirt, his mind and country?

Perhaps my distinguished friend would treat with Queen Anne,

Navigating the wily schemes of his monarch?

Perhaps the honourable gentleman would like tae meet me tomorrow at dawn,

AND FIGHT A DUEL ON THE SLOPES OF ARTHUR’S FUCKING SEAT!!

 

Session after session I met with the English,

Battling to attain the best possible deal for Scotland.

Every clause has been debated, every benefit scrapped for.

I have lost sleep, money... I am even below my fighting weight...

Whilst above us hovers the threat of war.

Mistake not, if this Treaty fails, warfare with England is the result.

And would we battle the Duke of Marlborough?

The greatest soldier of our age, who at present,

Slaughters the combined armies of France and Spain?

A man who pimps his own sister to James VII,

Would little prevent his soldiers rampaging our streets,

Massacring our citizens, ransacking our institutions.

My honourable opponents, the Lords Hamilton and Belhaven,

Touchingly talk of Scotland as an ideal.

The fabled dreams of the noble Bruce.

Fantasy.

A dream as broken as our economy.

We are in debt, impoverished, impotent.

How can we protect our citizens?

What assurance may we offer?

Examine well this Treaty, Lords.

At stake is the very existence of our nation.”

 

...