A great bibliophile and a friend of the philosopher John Locke, Fletcher spent most of his adult life outwith Scotland - in London, Paris and The Hague - but he addressed the social and economic problems of his homeland with great seriousness. Known in his day as the `Patriot? for his insistent and articulate opposition to the union of parliaments, Fletcher proposed a new European political order of middling-sized states (not necessarily equating to existing national boundaries). Scotland and England would in this scheme each preserve their parliaments and form a confederal British union within the larger European body. His last words were 'Lord have mercy upon my poor country that is so barbarously oppressed'.