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worse than follow this example. The arrangement is found to work well, and no wonder. Who doubts that in some matters age must bow to youth, as in others, youth to age? A constitution which forces youth and age into antagonism must be radically wrong.
Allusion was made above to the need of gauging one nation's work by that of its neighbours. This need is particularly felt in a small country like Scotland, which can scarcely expect to excel in all the arts at one time, and which has small means of attracting the work of other countries. To meet this need the President has raised a sum of over £10,000 among the friends of the R.S.A., the interest of which is handed every year to the Hanging Committee to be spent on bringing exhibits from foreign countries. The increased space in the new building afforded a good opportunity for this new departure. It was not lost. Seizing on sculpture as a weak point in Scots art, the first exhibition held last year was marked by an admirable selection of French contemporary sculpture. This year's exhibition again contains some sculpture from France and Belgium, as well as a large number of paintings and architectural drawings from those countries, a few from Germany, Sweden and Italy, and some good work from England. Altogether, the work of thirty-seven foreign artists, not counting the Englishmen, is represented. These exhibits were not taken at random, but carefully chosen by a travelling committee.
It may be urged that these strangers take up space which would otherwise be devoted to the work of Scots artists. This is another way of saying that it raises the standard of admission. The same charge might be brought against the method of spacing, which is such as to show each picture or object to full advantage. This again raises the standard. But the standard is not too high. It is higher than that of the Royal Academy in London, which, perhaps wisely, confines its exhibition almost entirely to the work of British artists, but which, most unwisely, crowds every inch of its walls, and so causes an exhibition, which is perhaps really the most interesting in Europe, to appear one of the poorest. The standard is higher, so far as painting is concerned, than that of the Paris Salon, and well it may be. Should it tend to become too high, and good work be shut out, this would, in the judgment of the writer, be a good reason for extending the Galleries, but not for overcrowding them, or for excluding foreign exhibitsassuming always that these are carefully selected and individually worth having.
The R.S.A. is much to be congratulated on these two first exhibitions in its new home. The foreign work, of which so much has been said, occupied after all only a fraction of the space. Contemporary Scots painting filled the bulk of the rooms. It was here seen at its best, and at its best it is now as good as any in the world. The Exhibition is as large as any mind can comfortably comprehend, and yet not large enough to weary the visitor. In a word, the scale appears ideal for the purpose. The rubbish which tires and confuses the visitor to Burlington House or the Grand Palais being happily absent, the Academy escapes the ugly responsibility which falls on these exhibitions of encouraging men and women to devote themselves to an occupation for which they are not fit.
This sketch would not be complete without some allusion to the funds administered by the Academy. The Exhibition fund has already been described. There is also a small and variable income from the entrance fees of new members, being £15 for associates and another 10 when they become academicians. There is a Pension fund derived from the proceeds of the exhibitions under an obligation laid on the Academy by its first charter. Formerly all academicians and associates had a claim on this fund if they cared to make it; now non-resident members, that is, those who have lived three years out of Scotland, lose their claim, though it can be restored if they return within ten years and there is a vacancy. The number of associates being now no longer limited to twenty, they are not all eligible for pensions, but as vacancies occur they are added to the pensionable list in order of election. A Committee of the Academy also administers the Alexander Nasmyth fund, in which any Scots artist is eligible to participate.
The relative numbers of painters, sculptors, architects and engravers, who form the Academy, is not fixed by Charter.2 Painters always have predominated and probably always will predominate, because their work best lends itself to the Exhibition, which forms so conspicuous a part of the Academy's business. In the writer's judgment a more equal distribution between the three principal arts would be of advantage, and would greatly strengthen the Academy's position as a controlling factor in the art of the country.
1 Supplementary Charter of 1891.
2 In the first Charter the number of engravers was limited, but under a supplementary Charter of 1895 even this was left open.
The future, so far as painting is concerned, seems bright. A Scots school, distinct from every other, is scarcely a thing to aim at, nor does such a thing seem possible in these days when men and pictures travel so much and so fast. But we have at this moment more than our share of the world's distinguished painters, and truth and thoughts likely to live seem to underlie the charm and skill of their best work, while our country, climate, traditions and national turn of mind give it a flavour and coherence of its own. There is, of course, the inevitable drain to London. We have seen that the Academy has wisely done what it can to discourage it. But does it really matter so very much? The artist born and trained in Scotland does not readily lose touch with his country, nor can he readily throw off what he takes with him. Wherever he lives he usually remains, and is reckoned a Scots artist to the end of his days.
The trouble is rather that we have too many painters. At present sculpture and architecture and the applied arts really stand in need of more care than painting. In spite of a few notably good living architects, and a tradition of good and solid construction which we owe to the national character and national climate, the general level of architectural design in Scotland is decidedly low, and the standard of applied art is even lower. Happily our leading architects are of the true brand,-men whose influence extends, like that of every great man in that profession, far beyond the mere shell of a building, and includes a wide region of design into which they call sculptor, craftsman and painter to help them. Happily applied art already employs a few good artists, though not nearly enough. Thus everything seems ready for a transfer of artistic energy from the overstocked profession of picture-making to architecture and the applied arts, and it would appear to be the duty of the Academy to employ its great influence in the encourage
ment of that transfer.
JOHN STIRLING MAXWELL.
The Influence of the Convention of the Royal Burghs of Scotland on the Economic Development of Scotland before 1707
HE seventeenth century is a time of great change and development in the economic history of Scotland. At the beginning of the century her trade and industry were practically the same in organization and in scope as they had been for the two preceding centuries-the break with the middle ages was only beginning. At the end new industries were being promoted and old ones developed by individuals and by companies; the great Darien failure was the collapse of a modern scheme, and the Scottish merchants had begun that trade with America which was to lead their successors to fortune. Scotland, by the time of the union, had entered on the paths which were to lead her by modern methods to commercial and industrial success, although her progress was for some time still to be slow and halting.
This great change was the result of the work of several factors. These were the enterprise of the people and their growing interest in economic affairs, the increase of capital, the influence of new ideas from England and other countries, and the regulations and encouragement of four agents, the crown, the privy council, the parliament and the convention of the burghs. It is of the influence on the economic development of Scotland of the last of these factors the convention of the burghs-that this article treats.
The burghs of Scotland have been more alike in their organization and development than those of England. Almost all the more important held directly of the crown; parliament legislated for them as a whole; and they had their own burghal parliamentthe convention-to regulate their affairs and guard their interests. This assembly apparently developed in the sixteenth century from the Court of the Four Burghs, a judicial court presided over by the chamberlain. Towards the end of the fifteenth century its functions were enlarged, for, in 1487, parliament enacted that
commissioners of all the burghs should meet yearly at Inverkeithing to treat of the 'welefare of merchandis the gude Rewle and statutis for the commoun proffit of borrowis and to provide for Remede apoun the scaith and Inuirs sustenit within burrowis.' 1 Trade was developing and industry increasing. The inhabitants of the royal burghs were the people who were chiefly concerned in these matters, and their shadowy legal court of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries became, in the sixteenth, the substantial and prosperous convention with solid commercial and industrial interests. Statutes in 1578 and 1581 ratified and enlarged the act of 1487, and by the end of the sixteenth century the constitution of the convention was established as it was to remain, with few and unimportant changes, for the next two centuries and more.
There was as a rule one general convention in the year to which all royal burghs were bidden to send commissioners. But there were also particular conventions, often two or three in the year. In 1626, Edinburgh was authorized, if matters of importance occurred, to summon the next adjacent burghs and others most concerned, not fewer than ten or more than twelve that course may be taiken with a mutuall and vniforme consent of the best expedient in all thinges.'2 Matters were often referred to these meetings by the larger body and questions which required to be put before the privy council or parliament, or on which the council asked for advice, were entrusted to their charge.
The conventions were held in different towns, and the provost of the burgh chosen presided at their meetings. The chamberlain ceased to attend early in the sixteenth century, so the convention was a democratic assembly in so far as no king's officer or noble was present, nor did the burghs as a rule meet with any interference in the management of their affairs. But while the convention was democratic in that it was a parliament of the commons, its members were the aristocracy of their order. In 1574 it was ordained that no commission should be given except to 'merchantis and trafficquaris, haifand thair remanyng and dwelling within burgh, and beris bourdene with the nychtbouris and inhabitantis thairof,' and this qualification was insisted upon to the exclusion of the craftsmen.
The limitations of the convention are obvious to the modern eye. It was an assembly of the representatives of the royal burghs
1 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, ii. 179.
2 Records of the Convention of the Royal Burghs of Scotland, iii. 219.