Scottish Journal Of Political Economy June 1959

DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9485.1960.tb00135.x
Publication Date01 Nov 1960
AuthorHenry Hamilton
SCOTTISH
JOURNAL
OF
POLITICAL
ECONOMY
JUNE
1959
ECONOMIC
GROWTH
IN SCOTLAND,
1720-1770
THE
purpose of this paper
is
to
examine the economic history of
Scotland over a short but critical period, namely,
1720-1770,
with a
view to eliciting the forces operating in and on the economy.
In
a petition to the House
of
Commons about
1720
we read
:
‘Scotland
is
a
country
the most barren of manufactures of any
nation in these parts of Europe; they have nothing of their own growth
to export, except corn, coals, cattle and some wool; nor nothing to
form any manufactures from that which they receive from their neigh-
bows.’
There is some exaggeration in this statement but not
a
great deal.
Scotland was indeed a desperately poor country. Before the Union
efforts had been made to develop industry and to open up trade with
distant parts of the world, but all the grand schemes of the Scots came
to naught with the collapse
of
the Darien Scheme in
1704.
The
loss
of
over
E153,000
on that ilI-fated venture brought bitter disillusion-
ment and widespread ruin to Scotland. Small wonder that the Union
of Parliaments in 1707 was accepted with sullen resignation. The
repayment
of
the capital of the Darien Company with interest in terms
of
the Treaty
of
Union brought relief to this sorely-tried country and
made a welcome contribution towards lessening the great scarcity
of
capital which had depressed Scotland ever since
1700.
But scarcity of capital and lack of enterprise were not the only
factors which inhibited economic progress. The climate of opinion
was such as to discountenance enterprise and economic pursuits. For
instance, for many generations religious disputations had engaged the
attention of Scots people, and talents which might otherwise have gone
to
the advancement of the standard of living were spent in barren
controversy. The universities contributed to this state of affairs, for
1
A short view
of
some probable effects
of
laying
a
duty on Scotch linen
imported (British Museum).
85
1

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