Tales of a Grandfather


Walter Scott

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Table of Contents

Preface.

Dedication.


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62

Chapter 63

Chapter 64

Chapter 65

Chapter 66

Chapter 67

Chapter 68

Chapter 69

Chapter 70

Chapter 71

Chapter 72

Chapter 73

Chapter 74

Chapter 75

Chapter 76

Chapter 77

Chapter 78

Chapter 79

Chapter 80

Chapter 81

Chapter 82

Chapter 83

Chapter 84

Chapter 85

Chapter 86

Chapter 87

Preface.

Abbotsford, December 1827.

THESE Tales were written in the interval of other avocations, for the use of the young relative to whom they are inscribed. They embrace at the same time some attempt at a general view of Scottish History, with a selection of its more picturesque and prominent points. Having been found useful to the young person for whom the compilation was made, they are now given to the public, in the hope that they may be a source of instruction for others. The compilation, though professing to be only a collection of Tales, or Narratives from the Scottish Chronicles, will nevertheless be found to contain a general view of the History of that country, from the period when it begins to possess general interest.

The Compiler, may here mention, that, after commencing his task in a manner obvious to the most limited capacity, of which the Tale of Macbeth is an example, he was led to take a different view of the subject, by finding that a style considerably more elevated was more interesting to his juvenile reader. There is no harm, but on the contrary there is benefit, in presenting a child with ideas somewhat beyond his easy and immediate comprehension. The difficulties thus offered, if not too great or too frequent, stimulate curiosity and encourage exertion.


To these notices, which formed an introductory advertisement to the First Edition of this little work, it may be added, that the favourable reception which it has generally met with, has been at least equally gratifying to its author, as the public approbation of former works destined for the amusement of children of a larger growth. He has, therefore, carefully revised the present edition, corrected several errors and inaccuracies, and made numerous and large additions, so as to bring the little book nearer its proper character, of an abridged History of Scotland, for the use of young persons. The reigns of Malcolm Canmore, and of his immediate successors, have been given in some detail, instead of passing at once from the defeat and death of Macbeth to the wars of Bruce and Baliol.

If time and other avocations permit, it is the author’s purpose to carry this little work down to the period of 1748, when the two sister nations became blended together in manners as well as by political ties. The task will afford an opportunity to show the slow and interrupted progress by which England and Scotland, ostensibly united by the accession of James the First of England, gradually approximated to each other, until the last shades of national difference may be almost said to have disapeared.

Abbotsford, Feb. 1828.

Dedication.

To Hugh Littlejohn, Esq.

Much Respected Sir,

Although I have not yet arrived at the reverend period of life which may put me once more on a level with yours, yet I find myself already better pleased to seek an auditor of your age, who is usually contented to hear the same story repeated twenty times over, than to attempt instructing the more critical hearers among my contemporaries, who are apt to object to any tale twice told. It is, therefore, probable that had we been to remain near to each other, I should have repeated to you many of the stories contained in this book more than once. But, since that has ceased to be the case, I have nothing remaining save to put them in this shape, in which you may read them as often as you have a mind.

I have in this little book imitated one with which you are well acquainted, — I mean the collection of Stories taken from the History of England, and which has been so deservedly popular.*

As you, however, happen to be a person of quick study, and great penetration, it is my purpose to write a little work, which may not only be useful to you at the age of five or six years, which I think may be about your worship’s present period of life, but which may not be beneath your attention, either for style or matter, at the graver term of eight, or even ten years old. When, therefore, you find any thing a little too hard for you to understand at this moment, you must consider that you will be better able to make out the sense a year or two afterwards; or perhaps you may make a great exertion, and get at the meaning, just as you might contrive to reach something placed upon a high shelf, by standing on your tiptoes, instead of waiting till you grow a little taller. Or who knows but papa will give you some assistance, and that will be the same as if he set you upon a stool that you might reach down what you wanted.

And so farewell, my dear Hugh Littlejohn. If yon should grow wiser and better from what you read in this book, it will give great pleasure to your affectionate

Grandfather

* Stories from History of England, by Right Hon. J. W. Croker

Chapter 1

ENGLAND is the Southern, and Scotland is the northern part of the celebrated island called Great Britain. England is greatly larger than Scotland, and the land is much richer, and produces better crops. There are also a great many more men in England, and both the gentlemen and the country people are more wealthy, and have better food and clothing there than in Scotland. The towns, also, are much more numerous, and more populous. Scotland, on the contrary, is full of hills, and huge moors and wildernesses, which bear no corn, and afford but little food for flocks of sheep or herds of cattle. But the level ground that lies along the great rivers is more fertile, and produces good crops. The natives of Scotland are accustomed to live more hardily in general than those of England. The cities and towns are fewer, smaller, and less full of inhabitants than in England. But as Scotland possesses great quarries of stone, the houses are commonly built of that material, which is more lasting, and has a grander effect to the eye than the bricks used in England. Now, as these two nations live in the different ends of the same island, and are separated by large and stormy seas from all other parts of the world, it seems natural that they should have been friendly to each other, and that they should have lived as one people under the same government. Accordingly, about two hundred years ago, the King of Scotland becoming King of England, as I shall tell you in another part of this book, the two nations have ever since then been joined in one great kingdom, which is called Great Britain. But, before this happy union of England and Scotland, there were many long, cruel, and bloody wars, between the two nations; and, far from helping or assisting each other, as became good neighbours and friends, they did each other all the harm and injury that they possibly could, by invading each other’s territories, killing their subjects, burning their towns, and taking their wives and children prisoners. This lasted for many many hundred years; and I am about to tell you the reason why the land was so divided.

A long time since, eighteen hundred years ago and more, there was a brave and warlike people, called the Romans, who undertook to conquer the whole world, and subdue all countries, so as to make their own city of Rome the head of all the nations upon the face of the earth. And after conquering far and near, at last they came to Britain, and made a great war upon the inhabitants, called the British, or Britons, whom they found living there. The Romans, who were a very brave people and well armed, beat the British, and took possession of almost all the flat part of the island, which is now called England, and also of a part of the south of Scotland. But they could not make their way into the high northern mountains of Scotland, where they could hardly get any thing to feed their soldiers, and where they met with much opposition from the inhabitants. The Romans, therefore, gave up all attempts to subdue this impenetrable country, and resolved to remain satisfied with that level ground, of which they had already possessed themselves.

Then the wild people of Scotland, whom the Romans had not been able to subdue, began to come down from their mountains, and make inroads upon that part of the country which had been conquered by the Romans.

These people of the northern parts of Scotland were not one nation, but divided in two, called the Scots and the Picts; they often fought against each other, but they always joined together against the Romans, and the Britons who had been subdued by them. At length, the Romans thought they would prevent these Picts and Scots from coming into the southern part of Britain, and laying it waste. For this purpose, they built a very long wall between the one side of the island and the other, so that none of the Scots or Picts should come into the country on the south side of the wall; and they made towers on the wall, and camps, with soldiers, from place to place; so that, at the least alarm, the soldiers might hasten to defend any part of the wall which was attacked. This first Roman wall was built between the two great Friths of the Clyde and the Forth, just where the island of Britain is at the narrowest, and some parts of it are to be seen at this day. You can see it on the map.

This wall defended the Britons for a time, and the Scots and Picts were shut out from the fine rich land, and enclosed within their own mountains. But they were very much displeased with this, and assembled themselves in great numbers, and climbed over the wall, in spite of all that the Romans could do to oppose them. A man, named Grahame, is said to have been the first soldier who got over; and the common people still call the remains of the wall Grahame’s dike.

Now the Romans, finding that this first wall could not keep out the Barbarians (for so they termed the Picts and the Scots), thought they would give up a large portion of the country to them, and perhaps it might make them quiet. So they built a new wall, and a much stronger one than the first, sixty miles farther back from the Picts and Scots.

Yet the Barbarians made as many furious attacks to get over this second wall, as ever they had done to break through the former. But the Roman soldiers defended the second wall so well, that the Scots and Picts could not break through it; though they often came round the end of the wall by sea, in boats made of ox hides, stretched upon hoops, landed on the other side, and did very much mischief. In the mean time, the poor Britons led a very unhappy life; for the Romans, when they subdued their country, having taken away all their arms, they lost the habit of using them, or of defending themselves, and trusted entirely to the protection of their conquerors. But at this time great quarrels, and confusion, and civil wars, took place at Rome. So the Roman Emperor sent to the soldiers whom he had maintained in Britain, and ordered that they should immediately return to their own country, and leave the Britons to defend their wall as well as they could, against their unruly and warlike neighbours the Picts and Scots. The Roman soldiers were very sorry for the poor Britons, but they could do no more to help them than by repairing the wall of defence. They therefore built it all up, and made it as strong as if it were quite new. And then they took to their ships, and left the island. After the departure of the Romans, the Britons were quite unable to protect the wall against the Barbarians; for, since their conquest by the Romans, they had become a weak and cowardly people. So the Picts and the Scots broke through the wall at several points, wasted and destroyed the country, and took away the boys and girls to be slaves, seized upon the sheep, and upon the cattle, and burnt the houses, and did the inhabitants every sort of mischief. Thus at last the Britons, finding themselves no longer able to resist these barbarous people, invited into Britain to their assistance a number of men from the North of Germany, who were called Anglo–Saxons. Now, these were a very brave and warlike people, and they came in their ships from Germany, and landed in the south part of Britain, and helped the Britons to fight with the Scots and Picts, [A.D.449.] and drove these nations again into the hills and fastnesses of their own country, to the north of the wall which the Romans built; and they were never afterwards so troublesome to their neighbours. But the Britons were not much the better for the defeat of their northern enemies; for the Saxons, when they had come into Britain, and saw what a beautiful rich country it was, and that the people were not able to defend it, resolved to take the land to themselves, and to make the Britons their slaves and servants. The Britons were very unwilling to have their country taken from them by the people they had called in to help them, and so strove to oppose them; but the Saxons were stronger and more warlike than they, and defeated them so often, that they at last got possession of all the level and flat land in the south part of Britain. However, the bravest part of the Britons fled into a very hilly part of the country, which is called Wales, and there they defended themselves against the Saxons for a great many years; and their descendants still speak the ancient British language, called Welsh. In the mean time, the Anglo–Saxons spread themselves throughout all the south part of Britain, and the name of the country was changed, and it was no longer called Britain, but England; which means the land of the Anglo–Saxons who had conquered it. While the Saxons and Britons were thus fighting together, the Scots and the Picts, after they had been driven back behind the Roman wall, also quarrelled and fought between themselves; and at last, after a great many battles, the Scots got completely the better of the Picts. The common people say that the Scots destroyed them entirely; but I think it is not likely that they could kill such great number of people. Yet it is certain they must have slain many, and driven others out of the country, and made the rest their servants and slaves; at least the Picts were never heard of in history after these great defeats, and the Scots gave their own name to the north part of Britain, as the Angles, or Anglo–Saxons, did to the south part; and so came the name of Scotland, the land of the Scots; and England, the land of the English. The two kingdoms were divided from each other, on the east by the river Tweed; then, as you proceed westward, by a great range of hills and wildernesses, and at length by a branch of the sea called the Frith of Solway. The division is not very far from the old Roman wall. The wall itself has been long suffered to go to ruins; but, as I have already said, there are some parts of it still standing, and it is curious to see how it runs as straight as an arrow over high hills, and through great bogs and morasses.

You see, therefore, that Britain was divided between three different nations, who were enemies the richest and best part of the island, and which was inhabited by the English. Then there was Scotland, full of hills and great lakes, and difficult and dangerous precipices, wild heaths, and great morasses. This country was inhabited by the Scots, or Scottish men. And there was Wales, also a very wild and mountainous country, whither the remains of the ancient Britons had fled, to obtain safety from the Saxons.

The Welsh defended their country for a long time, and lived under their own government and laws; yet the English got possession of it at last. But they were not able to become masters of Scotland, though they tried it frequently. The two countries were under different kings, who fought together very often and very desperate1y; and thus you see the reason why England and Scotland, though making parts of the same island, were for a long time great enemies to each other. Papa will show you the two countries on the map, and you must take notice that Scotland is all full of hills, and wild moors covered with heather. — But now I think upon it, Mr Hugh Littlejohn is a traveller, and has seen Scotland, and England too, with his own eyes. However, it will do no harm to look at the map.

The English are very fond of their fine country; they call it “Old England,” and “Merry England,” and think it the finest land that the sun shines upon. And the Scots are also very proud of their own country, with its great lakes and mountains; and, in the old language of the country, they call it “The land of the lakes and mountains; and of the brave men;” and often, also, “ The Land of Cakes,” because the people live a good deal upon cakes made of oatmeal, instead of wheaten bread. But both England and Scotland are now parts of the same kingdom, and there is no use in asking which is the best country, or has the bravest men. This is but a dull chapter, Mr Littlejohn. But as we are to tell many stories about Scotland and England, it is best to learn what sort of countries we are talking about. The next story shall be more entertaining.

Chapter 2

Soon after the Scots and Picts had become one people, as I told you before, there was a king of Scotland called Duncan, a very good old man. He had two sons; one was called Malcolm, and the other Donaldbane. But King Duncan was too old to lead out his army to battle, and his sons were too young to help him.

At this time Scotland, and indeed France and England, and all the other countries of Europe, were much harassed by the Danes. These were a very fierce, warlike people, who sailed from one place to another, and landed their armies on the coast, burning and destroying every thing wherever they came. They were heathens, and did not believe in the Bible, but thought of nothing but battle and slaughter, and making plunder. When they came to countries where the inhabitants were cowardly, they took possession of the land, as I told you the Saxons took possession of Britain. At other times, they landed with soldiers, took what spoil they could find, burned the houses, and then got on board, hoisted sails, and away again. They did so much mischief, that people put up prayers to God in the churches, to deliver them from the rage of the Danes.

Now, it happened in King Duncan’s time, that a great fleet of these Danes came to Scotland and landed their men in Fife, and threatened to take possession of that province. So a numerous Scottish army was levied to go to fight against them. The King, as I told you, was too old to command his army, and his sons were too young. He therefore sent out one of his near relations, who was called Macbeth; he was son of Finel, who was Thane, as it was called, of Glamis. The governors of provinces were at that time, in Scotland, called Thanes; they were afterwards termed Earls. This Macbeth, who was a brave soldier, put himself at the head of the Scottish army, and marched against the Danes. And he carried with him a relation of his own, called Banquo, who was Thane of Lochaber and was also a very brave man. So there was a great battle fought between the Danes and the Scots; and Macbeth and Banquo, the Scottish generals, defeated the Danes, and drove them back to their ships, leaving a great many of their soldiers both killed and wounded. Then Macbeth and his army marched back to a town in the North or Scotland, called Forres, rejoicing on account of their victory.

Now there lived at this time three old women in the town of Forres, whom people looked upon as witches, and supposed they could tell what was to come to pass. Nobody would believe such folly now-a-days, except low and ignorant creatures, such as those who consult gipsies in order to have their fortunes told; but in those early times the people wore much more ignorant, and even great men, like Macbeth, believed that such persons as these witches of Forres could tell what was to come to pass afterwards, and listened to the nonsense they told them, as if the old women had really been prophetesses. The old women saw that they were respected and feared, so that they were tempted to impose upon people, by pretending to tell what was to happen to them; and they got presents for doing so.

So the three old women went and stood by the wayside, in a great moor or heath near Forres, and waited till Macbeth came up. And then, stepping before him as he was marching at the head of his soldiers, the first woman said, “All hail, Macbeth — hail to thee, Thane of Glamis.” The second said, “All hail, Macbeth — hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor.” Then the third, wishing to pay him a higher compliment than the other two, said, “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be King of Scotland.” Macbeth was very much surprised to hear them give him these titles; and while he was wondering what they could mean, Banquo stepped forward, and asked them whether they had nothing to tell about him as well as about Macbeth. And they said that he should not be so great as Macbeth, but that, though he himself should never be a king, yet his children should succeed to the throne of Scotland, and be kings for a great number of years.

Before Macbeth was recovered from his surprise, there came a messenger to tell him that his father was dead, so that he was become Thane of Glamis by inheritance. And there came a second messenger, from the King, to thank Macbeth for the great victory over the Danes, and tell him that the Thane of Cawdor had rebelled against the King, and that the King had taken his office from him, and had sent to make Macbeth Thane of Cawdor as well as of Glamis. Thus the two first old women seemed to be right in giving him those two titles. I dare say they knew something of the death of Macbeth’s father, and that the government of Cawdor was intended for Macbeth, though he had not heard of it. However, Macbeth, seeing a part of their words come to be true, began to think how he was to bring the rest to pass, and make himself King, as well as Thane of Glamis and Cawdor. Now Macbeth had a wife, who was a very ambitious, wicked woman, and when she found out that her husband thought of raising himself up to be King of Scotland, she encouraged him in his wicked purpose, by all the means in her power, and persuaded him that the only way to get possession of the crown was to kill the good old King, Duncan. Macbeth was very unwilling to commit so great a crime, for he knew what a good sovereign Duncan had been; and he recollected that he was his relation, and had been always very kind to him, and had intrusted him with the command of his army, and had bestowed on him the government or Thanedom of Cawdor. But his wife continued telling him what a foolish, cowardly thing it was in him not to take the opportunity of making himself King, when it was in his power to gain what the witches promised him. So the wicked advice of his wife, and the prophecy of these wretched old women, at last brought Macbeth to think of murdering his King and his friend. The way in which he accomplished his crime, made it still more abominable. Macbeth invited Duncan to come to visit him at a great castle near Inverness; and the good King, who had no suspicions of his kinsman, accepted the invitation very willingly. Macbeth and his lady received the King and all his retinue with much appearance of joy, and made a great feast, as a subject would do to make his King welcome. About the middle of the night, the King desired to go to his apartment, and Macbeth conducted him to a fine room, which had been prepared for him. Now, it was the custom, in those barbarous times, that wherever the King slept, two armed men slept in the same chamber, in order to defend his person in case he should be attacked by any one during the night. But the wicked Lady Macbeth had made these two watchmen drink a great deal of wine, and had besides put some drugs into the liquor; so that when they went to the King’s apartment they both fell asleep, and slept so soundly that nothing could awaken them.

Then the cruel Macbeth came into King Duncan’s bedroom about two in the morning. It was a terrible stormy night; but the noise of the wind and of the thunder did not awaken the King, for he was old, and weary with his journey; neither could it awaken the two sentinels, who were stupified with the liquor and the drugs they had swallowed. They all slept soundly. So Macbeth having come into the room, and stepped gently over the floor, he took the two dirks which belonged to the sentinels, and stabbed poor old King Duncan to the heart, and that so effectually, that he died without giving even a groan. Then Macbeth put the bloody daggers into the hands of the sentinels, and daubed their faces over with blood, that it might appear as if they had committed the murder. Macbeth was, however, greatly frightened at what he had done, but his wife made him wash his hands and go to bed.

Early in the morning, the nobles and gentlemen who attended on the King assembled in the great hall of the castle, and there they began to talk of what a dreadful storm it had been the night before. But Macbeth could scarcely understand what they said, for he was thinking on something much worse and more frightful than the storm, and was wondering what would be said when they heard of the murder. They waited for some time, but finding the King did not come from his apartment, one of the noblemen went to see whether he was well or not. But when he came into the room, he found poor King Duncan lying stiff, and cold, and bloody, and the two sentinels both fast asleep, with their dirks or daggers covered with blood. As soon as the Scottish nobles saw this terrible sight, they were greatly astonished and enraged; and Macbeth made believe as if he were more enraged than any of them, and, drawing his sword, before any one could prevent him, he killed the two attendants of the King who slept in the bedchamber, pretending to think they had been guilty of murdering King Duncan.

When Malcolm and Donaldbane, the two sons of the good King, saw their father slain in this strange manner within Macbeth’s castle, they became afraid that they might be put to death likewise, and fled away out of Scotland; for, notwithstanding all the excuses which he could make, they still believed that Macbeth had killed their father. Donaldbane fled into some distant islands, but Malcolm, the eldest son of Duncan, went to the Court of England, where he begged for assistance from the English King, to place him on the throne of Scotland as his father’s successor. In the mean time, Macbeth took possession of the kingdom of Scotland, and thus all his wicked wishes seemed to be fulfilled. But he was not happy. He began to reflect how wicked he had been in killing his friend and benefactor, and how some other person, as ambitious as he was himself might do the same thing to him. He remembered, too, that the old women had said, that the children of Banquo should succeed to the throne after his death, and therefore he concluded that Banquo might be tempted to conspire against him, as all had himself done against King Duncan. The wicked always think other people are as bad as themselves. In order to prevent this supposed danger, Macbeth hired ruffians to watch in a wood, where Banquo and his son Fleance sometimes used to walk in the evening, with instructions to attack them, and kill both father and son. The villains did as they were ordered by Macbeth; but while they were killing Banquo, the boy Fleance made his escape from their wicked hands, and fled from Scotland into Wales. And it is said that long afterwards, his children came to possess the Scottish crown.

Macbeth was not the more happy that he had slain his brave friend and cousin, Banquo. He knew that men began to suspect the wicked deeds which he had done, and he was constantly afraid that some one would put him to death as he had done his old sovereign, or that Malcolm would obtain assistance from the King of England, and come to make war against him, and take from him the Scottish kingdom. So, in this great perplexity of mind, he thought he would go to the old women, whose words had first put into his mind the desire of becoming a king. It is to be supposed that he offered them presents, and that they were cunning enough to study how to give him some answer, which should make him continue in the belief that they could prophesy what was to happen in future times. So they answered to him that he should not be conquered, or lose the crown of Scotland, until a great forest, called Birnam Wood, should come to attack a strong castle situated on a high hill called Dunsinane, in which castle Macbeth commonly resided. Now, the hill of Dunsinane is upon the one side of a great valley, and the forest of Birnam is upon the other. There are twelve miles’ distance betwixt them; and besides that, Macbeth thought it was impossible that the trees could ever come to the assault of the castle. He therefore resolved to fortify his castle on the Hill of Dunsinane very strongly, as being a place in which he would always be sure to be safe. For this purpose he caused all his great nobility and Thanes to send in stones, and wood, and other things wanted in building, and to drag them with oxen up to the top of the steep hill where he was building the castle.

Now, among other nobles who were obliged to send oxen, and horses, and materials to this laborious work, was one called Macduff, the Thane of Fife. Macbeth was afraid of this Thane, for he was very powerful, and was accounted both brave and wise; and Macbeth thought he would most probably join with Prince Malcolm, if ever he should come from England with an army. The King, therefore had a private hatred against the Thane of Fife, which he kept concealed from all men, until he should have some opportunity of putting him to death, as he had done Duncan and Banquo. Macduff, on his part, kept upon his guard and went to the King’s court as seldom as he could, thinking himself never safe unless while in his own castle of Kennoway, which is on the coast of Fife, near to the mouth of the Frith of Forth.

It happened, however, that the King had summoned several of his nobles, and Macduff, the Thane of Fife, amongst others, to attend him at his new castle of Dunsinane; and they were all obliged to come — none dared stay behind. Now, the King was to give the nobles a great entertainment, and preparations were made for it. In the mean time, Macbeth rode out with a few attendants, to see the oxen drag the wood and the stones up the hill, for enlarging and strengthening the castle. So they saw most of the oxen trudging up the hill with great difficulty (for the ascent is very steep), and the burthens were heavy, and the weather was extremely hot. At length Macbeth saw a pair of oxen so tired that they could go no farther up the hill, but fell down under their load. Then the King was very angry, and demanded to know who it was among his Thanes that had sent oxen so weak and so unfit for labour, when he had so much work for them to do. Some one replied that the oxen belonged to Macduff, the Thane of Fife. “Then,” said the King, in great anger, “since the Thane of Fife sends such worthless cattle as these to do my labour, I will put his own neck into the yoke, and make him drag the burdens himself.”

There was a friend of Macduff who heard these angry expressions of the King, and hastened to communicate them to the Thane of Fife, who was walking in the hall of the King’s castle while dinner was preparing. The instant that Macduff heard what the King had said, he knew he had no time to lose in making his escape; for whenever Macbeth threatened to do mischief to any one, he was sure to keep his word.

So Macduff snatched up from the table a loaf of bread, called for his horses and his servants, and was galloping back to his own province of Fife, before Macbeth and the rest of the nobility were returned to the castle. The first question which the King asked was, what had become of Macduff? and being informed that he had fled from Dunsinane, he ordered a body of his guards to attend him, and mounted on horseback himself to pursue the Thane, with the purpose of putting him to death.

Macduff, in the mean time, fled as fast as horses’ feet could carry him; but he was so ill provided with money for his expenses, that, when he came to the great ferry over the river Tay, he had nothing to give to the boatmen who took him across, excepting the loaf of bread which he had taken from the King’s table. The place was called, for a long time afterwards, the Ferry of the Loaf. When Macduff got into his province of Fife, which is on the other side of the Tay, he rode on faster than before, towards his own castle of Kennoway, which, as I told you, stands close by the seaside; and when he reached it, the King and his guards were not far behind him. Macduff ordered his wife to shut the gates of the castle, draw up the drawbridge, and on no account to permit the King of any of his soldiers to enter. In the mean time, he went to the small harbour belonging to the castle, and caused a ship which was lying there to be fitted out for sea in all haste, and got on board himself, in order to escape from Macbeth.

In the mean time, Macbeth summoned the lady to surrender the castle, and to deliver up her husband. But Lady Macduff, who was a wise and a brave woman, made many excuses and delays, until she knew that her husband was safely on board the ship, and had sailed from the harbour. Then she spoke boldly from the wall of the castle to the King, who was standing before the gate still demanding entrance, with many threats of what he would do if Macduff was not given up to him. “Do you see,” she said, “yon white sail upon the sea? Yonder goes Macduff to the Court of England. You will never see him again, till he comes back with young Prince Malcolm, to pull you down from the throne, and to put you to death. You will never be able to put your yoke, as you threatened, on the Thane of Fife’s neck.” Some say that Macbeth was so much incensed at this bold answer, that he and his guards attacked the castle and took it, killing the brave lady and all whom they found there. But others say, and I believe more truly, that the King, seeing that the fortress of Kennoway was very strong, and that Macduff had escaped from him, and was embarked for England, departed back to Dunsinane without attempting to take the castle. The ruins are still to be seen, and are called the Thane’s Castle.

There reigned at that time in England a very good King, called Edward the Confessor. I told you that Prince Malcolm, the son of Duncan, was at his court, soliciting assistance to recover the Scottish throne. The arrival of Macduff greatly aided the success of his petition; for the English King knew that Macduff was a brave and a wise man. As he assured Edward that the Scots were tired of the cruel Macbeth, and would join Prince Malcolm if he were to return to his country at the head of an army, the King ordered a great warrior, called Siward, Earl of Northumberland, to enter Scotland with a large force [A.D. lO54 ], and assist Prince Malcolm in the recovery of his father’s crown.

Then it happened just as Macduff had said; for the Scottish Thanes and nobles would not fight for Macbeth, but joined Prince Malcolm and Macduff against him; so that at length he shut himself up in his castle of Dunsinane, where he thought himself safe, according to the old women’s prophecy, until Birnam Wood should come against him. He boasted of this to his followers, and encouraged them to make a valiant defence, assuring them of certain victory. At this time Malcolm and Macduff were come as far as Birnam Wood, and lay encamped there with their army. The next morning, when they were to march across the broad valley to attack the castle of Dunsinane, Macduff advised that every soldier should cut down a bough of a tree and carry it in his hand, that the enemy might not be able to see how many men were coming against them.

Now, the sentinel who stood on Macbeth’s castlewall, when he saw all these branches, which the soldiers of Prince Malcolm carried, ran to the King, and informed him that the wood of Birnam was moving towards the castle of Dunsinane. The King at first called him a liar, and threatened to put him to death; but when he looked from the walls himself, and saw the appearance of a forest approaching from Birnam, he knew the hour of his destruction was come. His followers, too, began to be disheartened and to fly from the castle, seeing their master had lost all hopes.

Macbeth, however, recollected his own bravery, and sallied desperately out at the head of the few followers who remained faithful to him. He was killed, after a furious resistance, fighting hand to hand with Macduff in the thick of the battle. Prince Malcolm mounted the throne of Scotland, and reigned long and prosperously. He rewarded Macduff by declaring that his descendants should lead the vanguard of the Scottish army in battle, and place the crown on the King’s head at the ceremony of coronation. King Malcolm also created the thanes of Scotland earls, after the title of dignity adopted in the court of England.

Chapter 3

The conduct of Edward the Confessor, King of England, in the story of Macbeth, was very generous and noble. He sent a large army and his General Siward to assist in dethroning the tyrant Macbeth, and placing Malcolm, the son of the murdered King Duncan, upon the throne; and we have seen how, with the assistance of Macduff, they fortunately succeeded. But King Edward never thought of taking any part of Scotland to himself in the confusion occasioned by the invasion; for he was a good man, and was not ambitious or covetous of what did not belong to him. It had been well both for England and Scotland that there had been more such good and moderate kings, as it would have prevented many great quarrels, long wars, and terrible bloodshed. But good King Edward the Confessor did not leave any children to succeed him on the throne. He was succeeded by a king called Harold, who was the last monarch of the Saxon race that ever reigned in England. The Saxons, you recollect, had conquered the Britons, and now there came a new enemy to attack the Saxons. These were the Normans, a people who came from France, but were not originally Frenchmen. Their forefathers were a colony of those Northern pirates, whom we mentioned before as plundering all the sea-coasts which promised them any booty. They were frequently called Northmen or Normans, as they came from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and the other Northern regions. A large body of them landed on the north part of France, and compelled the King of that country to yield up to them the possession of a large territory, or province, called Neustria, the name of which was changed to Normandy, when it became the property of these Northmen, or Normans. This province was governed by the Norman chief who was called a duke, from a Latin word signifying a general. He exercised all the powers of a king within his dominion of Normandy, but, in consideration of his being possessed of a part of the territories of France, he acknowledged the king of that country for his sovereign, and became what was called his vassal.

This connexion of a king as sovereign, with his princes and great men as vassals, must be attended to and understood, in order that you may comprehend the history which follows. A great king, or sovereign prince, gave large provinces, or grants of land, to his dukes, earls, and noblemen; and each of these possessed nearly as much power, within his own district, as the king did in the rest of his dominions. But then the vassal, whether duke, earl, or lord, or whatever he was, was obliged to come with a certain number of men to assist the sovereign, when he was engaged in war; and in time of peace, he was bound to attend on his court when summoned, and do homage to him — that is, acknowledge that he was his master and liege lord. In like manner, the vassals of the crown, as they were called, divided the lands which the king had given them into estates, which they bestowed on knights and gentlemen, whom they thought fitted to follow them in war, and to attend them in peace; for they, too, held courts, and administered justice, each in his own province. Then the knights and gentlemen, who had these estates from the great nobles, distributed the property among an inferior class of proprietors, some of whom cultivated the land themselves, and others by means of husbandmen and peasants, who were treated as a sort of slaves, being bought and sold like brute beasts, along with the farms which they laboured.

Thus, when a great king, like that of France or England, went to war, he summoned all his crown vassals to attend him, with the number of armed men corresponding to his Fief, as it was called; that is, the territory which had been granted to each of them. The prince, duke, or earl, in order to obey the summons, called upon all the gentlemen to whom he had given estates, to attend his standard with their followers in arms. The gentlemen, in their turn, called on the franklins, a lower order of gentry, and upon the peasants; and thus the whole force of the kingdom was assembled in one array. This system of holding lands for military service, that is, for fighting for the sovereign when called upon, was called the FEUDAL SYSTEM. It was general throughout all Europe for a great many ages.

But as many of these great crown vassals, as, for example, the Dukes of Normandy, became extremely powerful, they were in the custom of making peace and war at their own hand, without the knowledge or consent of the King of France their sovereign. In the same manner, the vassals of those great dukes and princes frequently made war on each other, for war was the business of every one; while the poor bondsman, who cultivated the ground, was subjected to the greatest hardships, and plundered and ill-treated by whichever side had the better. The nobles and gentlemen fought on horseback, arrayed in armour of steel, richly ornamented with gold and silver, and were called knights or squires. They used long lances, with which they rode fiercely against each other, and heavy swords, or clubs or maces, to fight hand to hand, when the lance was broken. Inferior persons fought on foot, and were armed with bows and arrows, which, according to their form, were called long-bows, or cross-bows, and served to kill men at a distance, instead of guns and cannon, which were not then invented. The poor husbandmen were obliged to come to the field of battle with such arms as they had: and it was no uncommon thing to see a few of these knights and squires ride over and put to flight many hundreds of them; for the gentry were clothed in complete armour, so that they could receive little hurt, and the poor peasants had scarce clothes sufficient to cover them. You may see coats of the ancient armour preserved in the Tower of London and elsewhere, as matters of curiosity.

It was not a very happy time this, when there was scarcely any law, but the strong took every thing from the weak at their pleasure; for as almost all the inhabitants of the country were obliged to be soldiers, it naturally followed that they were engaged in continual fighting.

The great crown-vassals, in particular, made constant war upon one another, and sometimes upon the sovereign himself, though to do so was to incur the forfeiture of their fiefs, or the territories which he had bestowed upon them, and which he was enabled by law to recall when they became his enemies. But they took the opportunity, when they were tolerably certain that their prince would not have strength sufficient to punish them. In short, no one could maintain his right longer than he had the power of defending it; and this induced the more poor and helpless to throw themselves under the protection of the brave and powerful — acknowledge themselves their vassals and subjects, and do homage to them, in order that they might obtain their safeguard and patronage.

While things were in this state, William, the Duke of Normandy, and the leader of that valiant people whose ancestors had conquered that province, began, upon the death of good King Edward the Confessor, to consider the time as favourable for an attempt to conquer the wealthy kingdom of England. He pretended King Edward had named him his heir; but his surest reliance was upon a strong army of his brave Normans, to whom were joined many knights and squires from distant countries, who hoped, by assisting this Duke William in his proposed conquest, to obtain from him good English estates, under the regulations which I have described.

The Duke of Normandy landed [on the 28th of September, at Pevensey] in Sussex, in the year one thousand and sixty-six, after the birth of our blessed Saviour. He had an army of sixty thousand chosen men, for accomplishing his bold enterprise. Many gallant knights, who were not his subjects, joined him, in the hope of obtaining fame in arms, and estates, if his enterprise should prosper. Harold, who had succeeded Edward the Confessor on the throne of England, had been just engaged in repelling an attack upon England by the Norwegians, and was now called upon to oppose this new and more formidable invasion. He was, therefore, taken at considerable disadvantage.

The armies of England and Normandy engaged in a desperate battle near Hastings, and the victory was long obstinately contested. The Normans had a great advantage, from having amongst them large bands of archers, who used the long-bow, and greatly annoyed the English, who had but few bow-men to oppose them, and only short darts called javelins, which they threw from their hands, and which could do little hurt at a distance. Yet the victory remained doubtful, though the battle had lasted from nine in the morning until the close of the day, when an arrow pierced through King Harold’s head, and he fell dead on the spot. The English then retreated from the field, and Duke William used his advantage with so much skill and dexterity, that he made himself master of all England, and reigned there under the title of William the Conqueror. He divided great part of the rich country of England among his Norman followers, who held lands of him for military service, according to the rules of the feudal system, of which I gave you some account. The Anglo–Saxons, you may well suppose, were angry at this, and attempted several times to rise against King William, and drive him and his soldiers back to Normandy. But they were always defeated; and so King William became more severe towards these Anglo–Saxons, and took away their lands, and their high rank and appointments, until he left scarce any of them in possession of great estates, or offices of rank, but put his Normans above them, as masters, in every situation.

Thus the Saxons who had conquered the British as you have before read, were in their turn conquered by the Normans, deprived of their property, and reduced to be the servants of those proud foreigners. To this day, though several of the ancient nobility of England claim to be descended from the Normans, there is scarcely a nobleman, and very few of the gentry, who can show that they are descended of the Saxon blood; William the Conqueror took so much care to deprive the conquered people of all power and importance.

It must have been a sad state of matters in England, when the Normans were turning the Saxons out of their estates and habitations, and degrading them from being freemen into slaves. But good came out of it in the end; for these Normans were not only one of the bravest people that ever lived, but they were possessed of more learning and skill in the arts than the Saxons. They brought with them the art of building large and beautiful castles and churches composed of stone, whereas the Saxons had only miserable houses made of wood. The Normans introduced the use of the long-bow also, which became so general, that the English were accounted the best archers in the world, and gained many battles by their superiority in that military art. Besides these advantages, the Normans lived in a more civilized manner than the Saxons, and observed among each other the rules of civility and good-breeding, of which the Saxons were ignorant. The Norman barons were also great friends to national liberty, and would not allow their kings to do any thing contrary to their privileges, but resisted them whenever they attempted any thing beyond the power which was given to them by law. Schools were set up in various places by the Norman princes, and learning was encouraged. Large towns were founded in different places of the kingdom, and received favour from the Norman kings, who desired to have the assistance of the townsmen, in case of any dispute with their nobility. Thus the Norman Conquest, though a most unhappy and disastrous event at the time it took place, rendered England, in the end, a more wise, more civilized, and more powerful country than it had been before; and you will find many such cases in history, my dear child, in which, it has pleased the providence of God to bring great good out of what seems, at first sight, to be unmixed evil.

Chapter 4

THE last chapter may seem to have little to do with Scottish history, yet the Norman Conquest of England produced a great effect upon their neighbours. In the first place, a very great number of the Saxons who fled from the cruelty of William the Conqueror, retired into Scotland, and this had a considerable effect in civilizing the southern parts of that country; for if the Saxons were inferior to the Normans in arts and in learning, they were, on the other hand, much superior to the Scots, who were a rude and very ignorant people. These exiles were headed and accompanied by what remained of the Saxon royal family, and particularly by a young prince named Edgar Etheling, who was a near kinsman of Edward the Confessor, and the heir of his throne, but dispossessed by the Norman conquerors.

This prince brought with him to Scotland two sisters, named Margaret bad Christian. They were received with much kindness by Malcolm III, called Canmore (or Great Head), who remembered the assistance which he had received from Edward the Confessor, and felt himself obliged to behave generously towards his family in their misfortunes. He himself married the Princess Margaret [1068], and made her the Queen of Scotland. She was an excellent woman, and of such a gentle, amiable disposition, that she often prevailed upon her husband, who was a fierce, passionate man, to lay aside his resentment, and forgive those who had offended him. When Malcolm King of Scotland was thus connected with the Saxon royal family of England, he began to think of chasing away the Normans, and of restoring Edgar Etheling to the English throne. This was an enterprise for which he had not sufficient strength; — but he made deep and bloody inroads into the northern parts of England, and brought away so many captives, that they were to be found for many years afterwards in every Scottish village, nay, in every Scottish hovel. No doubt, the number of the Saxons thus introduced into Scotland, tended much to improve and civilize the manners of the people: for, as I have already said, the Scots were inferior to the Saxons in all branches of useful knowledge. Not only the Saxons, but afterwards a number of the Normans themselves, came to settle in Scotland. King William could not satisfy the whole of them, and some, who were discontented, and thought they could mend their fortunes, repaired to the Scottish court, and were welcomed by King Malcolm. He was desirous to retain these brave men in his service, and for that purpose, he gave them great grants of land, to be held for military services; and most of the Scottish nobility are of Norman descent. And thus the Feudal System was introduced into Scotland as well as England, and went on gradually gaining strength, till it became the general law of the country, as indeed it was that of Europe at large.

Malcolm Canmore, thus increasing in power, and obtaining reinforcements of warlike and civilized subjects, began greatly to enlarge his dominions. At first he had resided almost entirely in the province of Fife, and at the town of Dunfermline, where there are still the ruins of a small tower which served him for a palace. But as he found his power increase, he ventured across the frith of Forth, and took possession of Edinburgh and the surrounding country, which had hitherto been accounted part of England. The great strength of the castle of Edinburgh, situated upon a lofty rock, led him to choose that town frequently for his residence, so that in time it became the metropolis or chief city of Scotland. This King Malcolm was a brave and wise prince, though without education. He often made war upon King William the Conqueror of England, and upon his son and successor William, who, from his complexion, was called William Rufus, that is, Red William. Malcolm was sometimes beaten in these wars, but he was more frequently successful; and not only made a complete conquest of Lothian, but threatened also to possess himself of the great English province of Northumberland, which he frequently invaded. In Cumberland, also, he held many possessions. But in the year 1093, having assembled a large army for the purpose, Malcolm besieged the border fortress of Alnwick, where he was unexpectedly attacked by a great Norman baron, called Robert de Moubray, who defeated the Scottish army completely. Malcolm Canmore was killed in the action, and his eldest son fell by his side.

There is a silly story told of Malcolm being killed by one of the garrison of Alnwick, who, pretending to surrender the keys of the castle on the point of a spear, thrust the lance-point into the eye of the King of Scotland, and so killed him. They pretend that this soldier took the name of Pierce-eye, and that the great family of the Percies of Northumberland were descended from him. But this is all a fable. The Percies are descended from a great Norman baron, who came over with William, and who took his name from his castle and estate in Normandy.

Queen Margaret of Scotland was extremely ill at the time her husband marched against England. When she was lying on her death-bed, she saw her second son, who had escaped from the fatal battle, approach her bed. “How fares it,” said the expiring Queen, “with your father, and with your brother Edward?”— The young man stood silent. — “I conjure you,” she added, “by the Holy Cross, and by the duty you owe me, to tell me the truth.”

“Your husband and your son are both slain.” “The will of God be done!” answered the Queen, and expired, with expressions of devout resignation to the pleasure of Heaven. This good princess was esteemed a Saint by those of the period in which she lived, and was called Saint Margaret.

After the death of Malcolm Canmore, the Scottish crown was occupied successively by three princes of little power or talent, who seized on the supreme authority because the children of the deceased sovereign were under age. After these had ended their short reigns, the sons of Malcolm came to the throne in succession, by name Edgar, — Alexander, called the First — and David, also called the First of that name. These two last princes were men of great ability. David, in particular, was a wise, religious, and powerful prince. He had many furious wars with England, and made dreadful incursions into the neighbouring provinces, which were the more easy that the country of England was then disunited by civil war. The cause was this:

Henry I., the youngest son of William the Conqueror, had died, leaving only one child, a daughter, named Matilda, or Maud, whose mother was a daughter of Malcolm Canmore, and a sister, consequently, of David, King of Scotland. During Henry’s life, all the English barons had agreed that his daughter should succeed him in the throne. Upon the King’s death [1135], however, Stephen, Earl of Mortagne, a great Norman lord, usurped the government, to the exclusion of the Empress Matilda (so called because she had married the Emperor of Germany), and caused himself to be proclaimed King. Many of the English barons took arms against Stephen, with the purpose of doing justice to the Empress Maud, and her son Henry. It was natural that David, King of Scotland, should join the party which favoured his niece. But he also took the opportunity to attempt an extension of his own dominions.

He assembled from the different provinces of Scotland a large but ill-disciplined army, consisting of troops of different nations and languages, who had only one common principle — the love of plunder. There were Normans, and Germans, and English; there were the Danes of Northumberland, and the British of Cumberland, and of the valley of Clyde; there were the men of Teviotdale, who were chiefly Britons, and those of Lothian, who were Saxons; and there were also the people of Galloway. These last were almost a separate and independent people, of peculiarly wild and ferocious habits. Some historians say they came of the race of the ancient Picts; some call them the wild Scots of Galloway; all agree that they were a fierce, ungovernable race of men, who fought half naked, and committed great cruelty upon the inhabitants of the invaded country. These men of Galloway were commanded by several chiefs. Amongst others, was a chief leader called William MacDonochy, that is, William the son of Duncan.

The barons of the northern parts of England, hearing that the King of Scotland was advancing at the head of this formidable army, resolved to assemble their forces to give him battle. Thurstan, the Archbishop of York, joined with them. They hoisted a banner, which they called that of Saint Peter, upon a carriage mounted on wheels; from which circumstance the war took the name of the Battle of the Standard. The two armies came in sight of each other at Cuton Moor, near Northallerton, and prepared to fight on the next morning. It was a contest of great importance; for if David should prove able to defeat the army now opposed to him, there seemed little to prevent him from conquering England as far as the Humber. There was in the English army an aged baron named Robert Bruce, father of a race afterwards very famous in Scottish history. He had great estates both in England and Scotland. He loved King David, because he bad been formerly his companion in arms, and he resolved to make an effort to preserve peace.

He went, therefore’ to the Scottish camp, and endeavoured to persuade King David to retreat, and to make peace — remonstrated with him on the excesses which his army had committed — exaggerated the danger in which he was placed; and finally burst into tears when he declared his own purpose of relinquishing his allegiance to the King of Scotland, and fighting against him in battle, if he persevered in his invasion. The King shed tears at this exhortation; but William MacDonochy exclaimed,” Bruce, thou art a false traitor!” Bruce, incensed at this insult, left the camp of the Scots, renouncing for ever all obedience to David, and giving up the lands he held of him in Scotland. A dispute arose in the Scottish council of war. The Galloway men, who had gained a considerable battle in their advance into England, were intoxicated with their own success, and demanded peremptorily that they should lead the van in the battle of the next day. King David would fain have eluded the request. He had more confidence in the disciplined valour of the men-at-arms in his service, than in those brave, but tumultuous barbarians.- A chief, called Malise, Earl of Strathearn, saw and was angry at David’s hesitation. “Why so much confidence in a plate of steel, or in rings of iron?” said he. “I who wear no armour, will go as far tomorrow with a bare breast, as any one who wears a cuirass.”

“Rude earl,” said Allan de Percy, a Norman knight,” you brag of what you dare not do.” The King interposed, and with difficulty appeased the dispute. He granted with reluctance the request of the men of Galloway. In the morning, David prepared for the eventful contest. He drew his army up in three lines. The first, according to his promise, consisted of the Galloway men, who were commanded by William MacDonochy, and Ulrick, and Dovenald. The second line consisted of the men-at-arms, the Borderers of Teviotdale, with the archers of Cumberland and Strathclyde. They were headed by Henry, Prince of Scotland, a brave and amiable youth. The King himself, surrounded by a guard consisting of English and Norman men-at-arms, commanded the third body of troops, who were the men of Lothian, with the Northern Scots, properly so called.

The English were formed into one compact and firm battalion, in the midst of which the consecrated Standard was displayed. The bishop of Orkney, as deputed by the aged Thurstan, mounted the carriage of Saint Peter’s Standard, and proclaiming the war was a holy one, assured each English soldier that those who fell should immediately pass into Paradise. The English barons grasped each other’s hands, and swore to be victorious, or die in the field.

The armies being now near each other, the men of Galloway charged, with cries which resembled the roar of a tempest. They fought for two hours with the greatest fury, and made such slaughter amongst the English spearmen that they began to give way. But the archers supported them, and showered their arrows so thick upon the Galloway men, that, having no defensive armour to resist the shot, they became dismayed, and began to retreat. Prince Henry of Scotland advanced to their support with the men-at-arms. He rushed at full gallop on that part of the English line which was opposed to him, and broke through it, says a historian, as if it had been a spider’s web. He then attacked the rear of the English; the men of Galloway rallied, and were about to renew the contest, when an English soldier showed the head of a slain man on a spear, and called out it was the King of Scots. The falsehood was believed by the Scottish army, who fell into confusion, and fled. The King in vain threw his helmet from his head, and rode barefaced among the soldiers, to show that he still lived. The alarm and panic were general, and the Scots lost a battle, which if they had won, must have given them a great part of England, and eventually, it may be, the whole of that kingdom, distracted as it was with civil war. Such was the famous battle of the Standard. It forced David to make peace with England, but it was upon the most favourable terms; since excepting the fortresses of Newcastle and Bamborough, the whole of Northumberland and Durham was surrendered by Stephen to the Scottish monarch. David died in the year 1153. His brave and amiable son, Henry, had died two or three years before his father. David was a most excellent sovereign. He would leave his sport of hunting, or any thing in which he was engaged at the time, if the meanest of his subjects came to complain of any wrong which he had received; nor would he resume his amusement till he had seen the poor man redressed. He is also much praised by historians, who, in those times, were chiefly clergymen, for his great bounty to the church. He founded bishoprics, and built and endowed many monasteries, which he vested with large grants of lands out of the patrimony of the kings. Amongst these were the Abbeys of Holyroodhouse, near Edinburgh; of Melrose, in Roxburghshire; of Dryburgh, in Berwickshire; of Newbattle, in Lothian; of Cambuskenneth, in Stirlingshire; also the Abbeys of Kelso and Jedburgh, and many ecclesiastical houses of less note.

It was, perhaps, as much from his munificence to the church, as from his private virtues and public deeds, that this monarch was received into the catalogue of holy persons, and called Saint David. One of his successors, James I., who esteemed his liberality to the church rather excessive, said, “St. David had proved a sore saint for the crown.” But we ought to recollect, that the church lands were frequently spared, out of veneration to religion, when, in those restless times, all the rest of the country was burned and plundered. David, therefore, by putting these large estates under the protection of the church, may be considered as having done his best to secure them against devastation; and we may observe that most of his monasteries were founded in provinces peculiarly exposed to the dangers of war. The monks, it must be also remembered, were the only persons possessed of the most ordinary branches of knowledge. They were able to read and write; they understood French and Latin; they were excellent architects, as their magnificent buildings still testify; they possessed the art of gardening, and of forming plantations; and it appears that the children of the gentry were often educated in these monasteries. It was, therefore, no wonder that David should have desired to encourage communities so nearly connected with arts and learning, although he certainly carried to excess the patronage which he was disposed to afford them.

It was during the reigns of Malcolm Canmore and his successors, that a dispute arose, grounded upon the feudal law, which occasioned a most dreadful quarrel between England and Scotland; and though Master Littlejohn be no great lawyer, it is necessary he should try all he can to understand it, for it is a very material point in history. While the English were fighting among themselves, and afterwards with the Normans, the Scottish Kings, as I have repeatedly told you, had been enlarging their dominions at the expense of their neighbours, and had possessed themselves, in a great measure, of the northern provinces of England, called Lothian, Northumberland, Cumberland, and Westmoreland. After much fighting and disputing. it was agreed that the King of Scotland should keep these English provinces, or such parts of them as he possessed, not as an independent sovereign, however, but as a vassal of the King of England; and that he should do homage for the same to the English King, and attend him to the field of battle when summoned. But this homage, and this military service, were not paid on account of the kingdom of Scotland, which had never since the beginning of the world been under the dominion of an English King, but was, and had always remained independent, a free state, having sovereigns and monarchs of its own. It may seem strange to Master Littlejohn, how a King of Scotland should be vassal for that part of his dominions which lay in England, and an independent prince when he was considered as King of Scotland; but this might easily happen, according to the regulations of the feudal system. William the Conqueror himself stood in the same situation; for he held his great dukedom of Normandy, and his other possessions in France, as a vassal of the King of France, by whom it had been granted as a fief to his ancestor Rollo; but he was, at the same time, the independent Sovereign of England, of which he had gained possession by his victory at Hastings. The English Kings, however, occasionally took opportunities to insinuate, that the homage paid by the Scottish Kings was not only for the provinces which they at this time possessed in England, but also for the kingdom of Scotland. The Scottish Kings, on the contrary, although they rendered the homage and services demanded, as holding large possessions within the boundaries of England, uniformly and positively refused to permit it to be said or supposed, that they were subject to any claim of homage on account of the kingdom of Scotland. This was one cause of the frequent wars which took place betwixt the countries, in which the Scots maintained their national independence, and though frequently defeated, were often victorious, and threatened, upon more than one occasion, to make extensive acquisitions of territory at the expense of their neighbours.

At the death of David the First of Scotland, that monarch was in full possession of Lothian, which began to be considered as a part of Scotland, and which still continues to be so; as also of Northumberland and of Cumberland, with great part of Westmoreland, of which his sovereignty was less secure.

David was succeeded by his grandson, named MALCOLM [1153, in his twelfth year], the eldest son of the brave and generous Prince Henry. Malcolm did homage to the King of England for the possessions which he had in England, He was so kind and gentle in his disposition, that he was usually called Malcolm the Maiden. Malcolm attached himself particularly to Henry II, King of England, who was indeed a very wise and able Prince. The Scottish King at one time went the length of resigning to Henry the possessions he held in the North of England; nay, he followed that prince into France, and acted as a volunteer in his army. This partiality to the English King disgusted the Scottish nation, who were afraid of the influence which Henry possessed over the mind of their youthful sovereign. They sent a message to France to upbraid Malcolm with his folly, and to declare they would not have Henry of England to rule over them. Malcolm returned to Scotland with all speed, and reconciled himself to his subjects. He died at Jedburgh in the year 1165. Malcolm the Maiden was succeeded by his brother WILLIAM [crowned 24th December, ll65], a son of Prince Henry, and grandson of the good King David. In his time, warriors and men of consequence began to assume what are called armorial bearings, which you may still see cut upon seals, engraved on silver plate, and painted upon gentlemen’s carriages. Now, Master Littlejohn, it is as well to know the meaning of this ancient custom. In the time of which I am speaking, the warriors went into battle clad in complete armour, which covered them from top to toe. On their head they wore iron caps, called helmets, with visors, which came down and protected the face, so that nothing could be seen of the countenance except the eyes peeping through bars of iron. You have seen such helmets in grandpapa’s entrance-hall. But as it was necessary that a king, lord, or knight, should be known to his followers in battle, they adopted two ways of distinguishing themselves. The one was by a crest, that is, a figure of some kind or other, as a lion, a wolf, a hand holding a sword, or some such decoration, which they wore on the top of the helmet, as we talk of a cock’s comb being the crest of that bird, But, besides this mark of distinction, these warriors were accustomed to paint emblematical figures, sometimes of a very whimsical kind, upon their shields. These emblems became general; and at length no one was permitted to bear any such armorial device, excepting he either had right to carry it by inheritance, or that such right had been conferred upon him by some sovereign prince. To assume the crest or armorial emblems of another man was a high offence, and often mortally resented; and to adopt armorial bearings for yourself, was punished as a misdemeanour by a peculiar court, composed of men called Heralds, who gave their name to the science called Heraldry. As men disused the wearing of armour, the original purpose of heraldry fell into neglect, but still persons of ancient descent remained tenacious of the armorial distinctions of their ancestors; and, as I told you before, they are now painted on carriages, or placed above the principal door of country-houses, or frequently engraved on seals. But there is much less attention paid to heraldry now than there was formerly, although the College of Heralds still exists.

Now, William King of Scotland having chosen for his armorial bearing a Red Lion, rampant (that is, standing on its hind legs, as if it were going to climb), he acquired the name of William the Lion. And this Rampant Lion still constitutes the arms of Scotland, and the President of the Heralds’ Court in that country, who is always a person of high rank, is called Lord Lion King-at-Arms. William, though a brave man, and though he had a lion for his emblem, was unfortunate in war. In the year 1174, he invaded England, for the purpose of demanding and compelling restoration of the portion of Northumberland, which had been possessed by his ancestors. He himself, with a small body of men, lay in careless security near Alnwick, while his numerous, but barbarous and undisciplined army, were spread throughout the country, burning and destroying wherever they came. Some gallant Yorkshire barons marched to the aid of their neighbours of Northumberland. They assembled four hundred men-at-arms, and made a forced march of twenty-four miles from Newcastle towards Alnwick, without being discovered. On the morning a thick mist fell — they became uncertain of their road-and some proposed to turn back. “If you should all turn back,” said one of their leaders, named Bernard de Baliol, “I would go forward alone.” The others adopted the same resolution, and, concealed by the mist, they rode forward towards Alnwick. In their way they suddenly encountered the Scottish King, at the head of a small party of only sixty men. William so little expected a sudden attack of this nature, that at first he thought the body of cavalry which he saw advancing was a part of his own army. When he was undeceived, he had too much of the lion about him to fear. “Now shall we see,” he said, “which of us are good knights;” and instantly charged the Yorkshire barons, with the handful of men who attended him. But sixty men-at-arms could make no impression on four hundred, and as the rest of William’s army were too distant to give him assistance, he was, after defending himself with the utmost gallantry, unhorsed and made prisoner. The English immediately retreated with their royal captive, after this bold and successful adventure. They carried William to Newcastle, and from that town to Northampton, where he was conducted to the presence of Henry II., King of England, with his legs tied under his horse’s belly, as if he had been a common malefactor or felon.

This was a great abuse of the advantage which fortune had given to Henry, and was in fact more disgraceful to himself than to his prisoner. But the English King’s subsequent conduct was equally harsh and ungenerous. He would not release his unfortunate captive until he had agreed to do homage to the King of England, not only for his English possessions, but also for Scotland, and all his other dominions. The Scottish Parliament were brought to acquiesce in this treaty; and thus, in order to recover the liberty of their King, they sacrificed the independence of their country, which remained for a time subject to the English claim of paramount sovereignty. This dishonourable treaty was made on the 8th of December. 1174. Thus the great national question of supremacy was for a time abandoned by the Scots; but this state of things did not last long. In 1189, Henry II died, and was succeeded by his son, Richard the First, one of the most remarkable men in English history. He was so brave, that he was generally known by the name of Coeur de Lion, that is, the Lion-hearted; and he was as generous as he was brave. Nothing was so much at his heart, as what was then called the Holy War, that is, a war undertaken to drive the Saracens out of Palestine. For this he resolved to go to Palestine with a large army; but it was first necessary that he should place his affairs at home in such a condition as might ensure the quiet of his dominions during his absence upon the expedition. This point could not be accomplished without his making a solid peace with Scotland; and in order to obtain it, King Richard resolved to renounce the claim for homage, which had been extorted from William the Lion. By a charter, dated 5th December of the same year (1189), he restored to the King of Scots the castles of Berwick and Roxburgh, and granted an acquittance to him of all obligations which Henry II had extorted from him in consequence of his captivity, reserving only Richard’s title to such homage as was anciently rendered by Malcolm Canmore. For this renunciation William paid ten thousand merks; a sum which probably assisted in furnishing the expenses of Richard’s expedition to Palestine.

Thus was Scotland again restored to the dignity of an independent nation, and her monarchs were declared liable only to the homage due for the lands which the King of Scotland held beyond the boundaries of his own kingdom, and within those of England. The period of Scottish subjection lasted only fifteen years.

This generous behaviour of Richard of England was attended with such good effects, that it almost put an end to all wars and quarrels betwixt England and Scotland for more than a hundred years, during which time, with one or two brief interruptions, the nations lived in great harmony together. This was much to the happiness of both, and might in time have led to their becoming one people, for which Nature, which placed them both in the same island, seemed to have designed them. Intercourse for the purpose of traffic became more frequent. Some of the Scottish and English families formed marriages and friendships together, and several powerful lords and barons had lands both in England and Scotland. All seemed to promise peace and tranquillity betwixt the two kingdoms, until a course of melancholy accidents having nearly extinguished the Scottish royal family, tempted the English monarch again to set up his unjust pretensions to be sovereign of Scotland, and gave occasion to a series of wars, fiercer and more bloody than any which had ever before taken place betwixt the countries.

Chapter 5

William the Lion died [at Stirling, in December 1214], and was succeeded by his son, Alexander II, a youth in years, but remarkable for prudence and for firmness. In his days there was some war with England, as he espoused the cause of the disaffected barons, against King John. But no disastrous consequences having arisen, the peace betwixt the two kingdoms was so effectually restored, that Henry III, of England, having occasion to visit his French dominions, committed the care of the northern frontiers of his kingdom to Alexander of Scotland, the prince who was most likely to have seized the opportunity of disturbing them. Alexander II repaid with fidelity the great and honourable trust which his brother sovereign had reposed in him.

Relieved from the cares of an English war, Alexander endeavoured to civilize the savage manners of his own people. These were disorderly to a great degree.

For example, one Adam, Bishop of Caithness, proved extremely rigorous in enforcing the demand of tithes — the tenth part, that is, of the produce of the ground, which the church claimed for support of the clergy. The people of Caithness assembled to consider what should be done in this dilemma, when one of them exclaimed, “Short rede, good rede, slay we the bishop!” which means, “Few words are best, let us kill the bishop.” They ran instantly to the bishop’s house, assaulted it with fury, set it on fire, and burned the prelate alive in his own palace. [A.D. 1222.] While this tragedy was going on, some of the bishop’s servants applied for protection for their master to the Earl of Orkney and Caithness. This nobleman, who probably favoured the conspiracy, answered hypocritically, that the bishop had only to come to him, and he would assure him of protection; — as if it had been possible for the unhappy bishop to escape from his blazing palace, and through his raging enemies, and to make his way to the earl’s residence.

The tidings of this cruel action were brought to Alexander II, when he was upon a journey towards England. He immediately turned back, marched into Caithness with an army, and put to death four hundred of those who had been concerned in the murder of the bishop. The hard-hearted earl was soon afterwards slain, and his castle burned, in revenge of that odious crime. By the prompt administration of justice, Alexander both became obeyed and dreaded. He was a sovereign of considerable power, beloved both by English and Scots. He had a brave and not ill-disciplined army; but his cavalry, which amounted only to a thousand spears, were not very well mounted, and bore no proportion to one hundred thousand of infantry, strong, good, and resolute men.

ALEXANDER III, then only in his eighth year, succeeded to his father in 1249. Yet, when only two years older, he went to York to meet with the English King, and to marry his daughter, the Princess Margaret. On this occasion Henry endeavoured to revive the old claim of homage, which he insisted should be rendered to him by the boy-bridegroom for all his dominions. Alexander answered, with wisdom beyond his years, that he was come to marry the Princess of England, and not to treat of affairs of state; and that he could not, and would not, enter upon the subject proposed, without advice of his Parliament. Upon another occasion, when visiting his father-in-law at London, Alexander made it a condition of his journey, that he should not be called upon to discuss any state affairs. In this, and on other occasions, Alexander showed great willingness to be on good terms with England, qualified by a sincere resolution that he would not sacrifice any part of the rights and independence of his own dominions.

In the days of Alexander III Scotland was threatened with a great danger, from the invasion of the Danes and the Norwegians. I have told you before, that these northern people were at this time wont to scour the seas with their vessels, and to make descents and conquests where it suited them to settle. England had been at one time conquered by them, and France had been compelled to yield up to them the fine provinces which, after their name, were called Normandy. The Scots, whose country was at once poor and mountainous, had hitherto held these rovers at defiance. But in the year 1263, Haco, King of Norway, at the head of a powerful fleet and army, came to invade and conquer the kingdom of Scotland. Alexander, on his part, lost no time in assembling a great army, and preparing for the defence of the country, in which he was zealously seconded by most of his nobles. They were not all, however, equally faithful, some of them had encouraged the attempt of the invaders, On the 1st October, 1263, Haco, having arrived on the western coast, commenced hostilities by making himself master of the Islands of Bute and Arran, lying in the mouth of the frith of Clyde, and then appeared with his great navy off the village of Largs, in Cunninghame. The Scots were in arms to defend the shore, but Haco disembarked a great part of his troops, and obtained some advantages over them. On the next day, more Scottish troops having come up, the battle was renewed with great fury. Alexander, fighting in person at the head of his troops, was wounded in the face by an arrow. Alexander, the Steward, a high officer in the Scottish court was killed. But the Danes lost the nephew of their King, one of the most renowned champions in their host. While the battle was still raging on shore, a furious tempest arose, which drove the ships of the Danes and Norwegians from their anchorage; many were shipwrecked on the coast, and the crews were destroyed by the Scots, when they attempted to get upon land. The soldiers, who had been disembarked, lost courage, and retired before the Scots, who were hourly reinforced by their countrymen, coming from all quarters. It was with the utmost difficulty that Haco got the remnant of his scattered forces on board of such vessels as remained. He retired to the Orkney islands, and there died, full of shame and sorrow for the loss of his army, and the inglorious conclusion of his formidable invasion. The consequence of this victory was, that the King of the island of Man, who had been tributary to Haco, now submitted himself to the King of Scotland; and negotiations took place betwixt Alexander III and Magnus, who had succeeded Haco in the throne of Norway, by which the latter resigned to the King of Scotland (1266) all right to the islands on the western side of Scotland, called the Hebrides.

The traces of the battle of Largs, a victory of so much consequence to Scotland, are still to be found on the shores where the action was fought. There are visible great rocks and heaps of stones, beneath which lie interred the remains of the slain. Human bones are found in great quantities, and also warlike weapons, particularly axes, and swords, which being made of brass, remain longer unconsumed than if they had been of iron or steel like those now used.

Thus you see, Master Littlejohn, that down to the period of which we speak, Scotland had been a powerful and victorious nation, maintaining a more equal rank with England than could have been expected from the different size and strength of the two kingdoms, and repelling by force of arms those Northern people who had so long been the terror of Europe.

Chapter 6

Seven kings of Scotland, omitting one or two temporary occupants of the throne, had reigned in succession, after Malcolm Canmore, the son of Duncan, who recovered the kingdom from Macbeth. Their reigns occupied a period of nearly two hundred years. Some of them were very able men; all of them were well-disposed, good sovereigns, and inclined to discharge their duty towards their subjects. They made good laws; and, considering the barbarous and ignorant times they lived in, they appear to have been men as deserving of praise as any race of kings who reigned in Europe during that period. Alexander, the third of that name, and the last of these seven princes, was an excellent sovereign. He married, as I told you in the last chapter, Margaret, daughter of Henry III. of England; but unhappily all the children who were born of that marriage died before their father. After the death of Queen Margaret, Alexander married another wife; but he did not live to have any family by her. As he was riding in the dusk of the evening, along the sea-coast of Fife, betwixt Burnt-island and Kinghorn, he approached too near the brink of the precipice, and his horse starting or stumbling, he was thrown over the rock, and killed on the spot. It is now no less than five hundred and forty-two years since Alexander’s death, yet the people of the country still point out the very spot where it happened, and which is called the King’s Crag. The very melancholy consequences which followed Alexander’s decease, made the manner of it long remembered. A sort of elegy is also preserved, in which his virtues, and the misfortunes that followed his death, are recorded. It is the oldest specimen of the Scottish language which is known to remain in existence; but as you would not understand it, I am obliged to alter it a little:

When Alexander our king was dead,

Who Scotland led in love and le,

Away was wealth of ale and bread,

Of wine and wax, of game and glee.

Then pray to God, since only he

Can succour Scotland in her need,

That placed is in perplexity!

Another legend says, that a wise man who is called Thomas the Rhymer, and about whom many stories are told, had said to a great Scottish noble man, called the Earl of March, that the sixteenth day of March should be the stormiest day that ever was witnessed in Scotland. The day came, and was remarkably clear, mild, and temperate. But while they were all laughing at Thomas the Rhymer on account of his false prophecy, an express brought the news of the King’s death. “There,” said Thomas, “that is the storm which I meant; and there was never tempest which will bring more ill luck to Scotland.” This story may very possibly be false; but the general belief in it serves to show, that the death of Alexander the Third was looked upon as an event of the most threatening and calamitous nature. The full consequences of the evil were not visible at first; for. although all Alexander’s children had, as we have already said, died before him, yet one of them, who had been married to Eric, King of Norway, had left a daughter named Margaret, upon whom, as the grand-daughter and nearest heir of the deceased prince, the crown of Scotland devolved. The young princess, called by our historians the Maid of Norway, was residing at her father’s court.

While the crown of Scotland thus passed to a young girl, the King of England began to consider by what means he could so avail himself of circumstances, as to unite it with his own. This King was Edward, called the First, because he was the first of the Norman line of princes so named. He was a very brave man, and a good soldier — wise, skilful, and prudent but unhappily very ambitious, and desirous of extending his royal authority, without caring much whether he did so by right means or by those which were unjust. And although it is a great sin to covet that which does not belong to you, and a still greater to endeavour to possess yourself of it by any unfair practices, yet his desire of adding the kingdom of Scotland to that of England was so great, that Edward was unable to resist it.

The mode by which the English King at first endeavoured to accomplish his object was a very just one. He proposed a marriage betwixt the Maiden of Norway, the young Queen of Scotland, and his own eldest son, called Edward, after himself. A treaty was entered into for this purpose; and had the marriage been effected, and been followed by children, the union of England and Scotland might have taken place more than three hundred years sooner than it did, and immeasurable quantity of money and bloodshed would probably have been saved. But it was not the will of Heaven that this desirable union should be accomplished till many long years of war and distress had afflicted both these nations. The young Queen of Scotland sickened and died, and the treaty for the marriage was ended with her life. The kingdom of Scotland was troubled, and its inhabitants sunk into despair, at the death of their young princess. There was not any descendant of [She landed in Orkney, on her way to take possession of her crown, and died there, Sep. 1290.] Alexander III remaining, who could be considered as his direct and undeniable heir: and many of the great nobles, who were more or less distantly related to the royal family, prepared each of them to assert a right to the crown, began to assemble forces and form parties, and threatened the country with a civil war, which is the greatest of all misfortunes. The number of persons who set up claims to the crown was no fewer than twelve, all of them forming pretensions on some relationship, more or less distant, to the royal family. These claimants were most of them powerful, from their rank and the number of their followers; and, if they should dispute the question of right by the sword, it was evident that the whole country would be at war from one sea to the other.

To prevent this great dilemma, it is said the Scottish nobility resolved to submit the question respecting the succession of their kingdom to Edward I of England, who was one of the wisest princes of his time, and to request of him to settle, as umpire, which of the persons claiming the throne of Scotland had best right to be preferred to the others. The people of Scotland are said to have sent ambassadors to Edward, to request his interference as judge; but he had already determined to regulate the succession of the kingdom, not as a mere umpire, having no authority but from the desire of the parties, but as himself a person principally concerned; and for this purpose he resolved to revive the old pretext of his having right to the feudal sovereignty of Scotland, which, as we have before seen, had been deliberately renounced by his generous predecessor Richard I. With this secret and unjust purpose, Edward of England summoned the nobility and clergy of Scotland to meet him at the castle of Norham, a large and strong fortress, which stands on the English side of the Tweed, on the line where that river divides England from Scotland. They met there on the lOth May, l291, and were presented to the King of England, who received them in great state, surrounded by the high officers of his court. He was a very handsome man, and so tall, that he was popularly known by the name of Longshanks, that is, long legs. The Justiciary of England then informed the nobility and clergy of Scotland, in King Edward’s name, that before he could proceed to decide who should be the vassal King of Scotland, it was necessary that they should acknowledge the King of England’s right as Lord Paramount, or Sovereign of that kingdom. The nobles and churchmen of Scotland were surprised to hear the King of England propose a claim which had never been admitted, except for a short time, in order to procure the freedom of King William the Lion, and which had been afterwards renounced for ever by Richard I. They refused to give any answer until they should consult together by themselves. “By St Edward!” said the King, “whose crown I wear, I will make good my just rights, or perish in the attempt!” He then dismissed the assembly, allowing the Scots a delay of three weeks, however, to accede to his terms.

The Scottish nobility being thus made aware of King Edward’s selfish and ambitious designs, ought to have assembled their forces together, and declared that they would defend the rights and independence of their country. But they were much divided among themselves, and without any leader; and the competitors who laid claim to the crown, were mean-spirited enough to desire to make favour with King Edward, in expectation that he would raise to the throne him whom he should find most willing to subscribe to his own claims of paramount superiority. Accordingly, the second assembly of the Scottish nobility and clergy took place without any one having dared to state any objection to what the King of England proposed, however unreasonable they knew his pretensions to be. They were assembled in a large open plain, called Upsettlington, opposite to the castle of Norham, but on the northern or Scottish side of the river. The Chancellor of England then demanded of such of the candidates as were present, whether they acknowledged the King of England as Lord Paramount of Scotland, and whether they were willing to receive and hold the crown of Scotland, as awarded by Edward in that character. They all answered that they were willing to do so; and thus, rather than hazard their own claims by offending King Edward, these unworthy candidates consented to resign the independence of their country, which had been so long and so bravely defended. Upon examining the claims of the candidates, the right of succession to the throne of Scotland was found to lie chiefly betwixt Robert Bruce, the Lord of Annandale, and John Baliol, who was the Lord of Galloway. Both were great and powerful barons; both were of Norman descent, and had great estates in England as well as Scotland; lastly, both were descended from the Scottish royal family, and each by a daughter of David, Earl of Huntingdon, brother of William the Lion. Edward, upon due consideration, declared Baliol to be King of Scotland, as being son of Margaret, the eldest of the two sisters. But he declared that the kingdom was always to be held under him as the lord paramount, or sovereign thereof. John Baliol closed the disgraceful scene by doing homage to the King of England, and acknowledging that he was his liege vassal and subject. This remarkable event took place on 20th November, 1292. Soon after this remarkable, and to Scotland most shameful transaction, King Edward began to show to Baliol that it was not his purpose to be satisfied with a bare acknowledgment of his right of sovereignty, but that he was determined to exercise it with severity on every possible occasion. He did this, no doubt, on purpose to provoke the dependent King to some act of resistance, which should give him a pretext for depriving him of the kingdom altogether as a disobedient subject, and taking it under his own government in his usurped character of lord paramount. The King of England, therefore, encouraged the Scottish subjects to appeal from the courts of Baliol to his own; and as Baliol declined making appearance in the English tribunals, or answering there for the sentences which he had pronounced in his capacity of King of Scotland, Edward insisted upon having possession of three principal fortresses of Scotland — Berwick, Roxburgh, and Jedburgh. Baliol surrendered, or at least agreed to surrender, these castles; but the people murmured against this base compliance, and Baliol himself, perceiving that it was Edward’s intention gradually to destroy his power, was stung at once with shame and fear, and entering into a league with France, raised a great army, for the purpose of invading England, the dominions of the prince whom he had so lately acknowledged his lord paramount, or sovereign. At the same time he sent a letter to Edward, formally renouncing his dependence upon him. Edward replied, in Norman French, “Ha! — dares this idiot commit such folly? Since he will not attend on us, as is his duty, we will go to him.”

The King of England accordingly assembled a powerful army, amongst which came Bruce, who had formerly contended for the crown of Scotland with Baliol, and who now hoped to gain it upon his forfeiture. Edward defeated the Scottish army in a great battle near Dunbar and Baliol, who appears to have been a mean-spirited man, gave up the contest. He came before Edward in the castle of Roxburgh, and there made a most humiliating submission. He appeared in a mean dress, without sword, royal robes, or arms of any kind, and bearing in his hand a white wand. He there confessed, that through bad counsel and folly he had rebelled against his liege lord, and, in atonement, he resigned the kingdom of Scotland, with the inhabitants, and all right which he possessed to their obedience and duty, to their liege lord King Edward. He was then permitted to retire uninjured.

Baliol being thus removed, Bruce expressed his hopes of being allowed to supply his place, as tributary or dependent King of Scotland. But Edward answered him sternly, “Have we nothing, think you, to do, but to conquer kingdoms for you?” By which words the English King plainly expressed, that he intended to keep Scotland to himself; and he proceeded to take such measures as made his purpose still more evident. Edward marched through Scotland at the head of a powerful army, compelling all ranks of people to submit to him. He removed to London the records of the kingdom of Scotland, and was at the pains to transport to the Abbey Church at Westminster a great stone, upon which it had been the national custom to place the King of Scotland when he was crowned for the first time. He did this to show that he was absolute master of Scotland, and that the country was in future to have no other king but himself, and his descendants the Kings of England. The stone is still preserved, and to this day the King’s throne is placed upon it at the time when he is crowned. Last of all, King Edward placed the government of Scotland in the hands of John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, a brave nobleman; of Hugh Cressingham, a clergyman, whom he named chief treasurer; and of William Ormesby, whom he appointed the chief judge of the kingdom. He placed English soldiers in all the castles and strongholds of Scotland, from the one end of the kingdom to the other; and not trusting the Scots themselves, he appointed English governors in most of the provinces of the kingdom.

We may here remark, my dear child, that a little before he thus subdued Scotland, this same Edward I. had made conquest of Wales, that mountainous part of the island of Britain into which the Britons had retreated from the Saxons, and where, until the reign of this artful and ambitious prince, they had been able to maintain their independence. In subduing Wales, Edward had acted as treacherously, and more cruelly, than he had done in Scotland; since he had hanged the last Prince of Wales, when he became his prisoner, for no other crime than because he defended his country against the English, who had no right to it. Perhaps Edward thought to himself, that, by uniting the whole island of Britain under one king and one government, he would do so much good by preventing future wars, as might be an excuse for the force and fraud which he made use of to bring about his purpose. But, my dear child, God, who sees into our hearts, will not bless those measures which are wicked in themselves, because they are used under a pretence of bringing about that which is good. We must not do evil even that good may come of it; and the happy prospect that England and Scotland would be united under one government, was so far from being brought nearer by Edward’s unprincipled usurpation, that the hatred and violence of national antipathy which arose betwixt the sister countries, removed to a distance almost incalculable, the prospect of their becoming one people, for which nature seemed to design them.

Chapter 7

I TOLD you, my dear Hugh, that Edward I of England had reduced Scotland almost entirely to the condition of a conquered country, although he had obtained possession of the kingdom less by his bravery, than by cunningly taking advantage of the disputes and divisions that followed amongst the Scots themselves after the death of Alexander III.

The English, however, had in point of fact obtained possession of the country, and governed it with much rigour. The Lord High Justice Ormesby called all men to account, who would not take the oath of allegiance to King Edward. Many of the Scots refused this, as what the English King had no right to demand from them. Such persons were called into the courts of justice, fined, deprived of their estates, and otherwise severely punished. Then Hugh Cressingham, the English Treasurer, tormented the Scottish nation, by collecting money from them under various pretexts. The Scots were always a poor people, and their native kings had treated them with much kindness, and seldom required them to pay any taxes. They were, therefore, extremely enraged at finding themselves obliged to pay to the English treasurer much larger sums of money than their own good kings had ever demanded from them; and they became exceedingly dissatisfied. Besides these modes of oppression, the English soldiers, who, I told you, had been placed in garrison in the different castles of Scotland, thought themselves masters of the country, treated the Scots with great contempt, took from them by main force whatever they had a fancy to, and if the owners offered to resist, abused them, beat and wounded and sometimes killed them; for which acts of violence the English officers did not check or punish their soldiers. Scotland was, therefore, in great distress, and the inhabitants, exceedingly enraged, only wanted some leader to command them, to rise up in a body against the English or Southern men, as they called them, and recover the liberty and independence of their country, Such a leader arose in the person of WILLIAM WALLACE, whose name is still so often mentioned exactly the history of this brave man; for at the that there was no person to write down the history of what took place; and afterwards, when there was more leisure for composition, the truths that were collected were greatly mingled with falsehood. What I shall tell you of him, is generally believed to be true.

William Wallace was none of the high nobles of Scotland, but the son of a private gentleman, called Wallace of Ellerslie, in Renfrewshire, near Paisley. He was very tall and handsome, and one of the strongest and bravest men that ever lived. He had a very fine countenance, with a quantity of fair hair, and was particularly dexterous in the use of all weapons which were then employed in battle. Wallace, like all Scotsmen of high spirit, had looked with great indignation upon the usurpation of the crown by Edward, and upon the insolences which the English soldiers committed on his countrymen. It is said, that when he was very young, he went a fishing for sport in the river of Irvine, near Ayr. He had caught a good many trouts, which were carried by a boy, who attended him with a fishing-basket, as is usual with anglers. Two or three English soldiers, who belonged to the garrison of Ayr, came up to Wallace, and insisted, with their usual insolence, on taking the fish from the boy. Wallace was contented to allow them a part of the trouts, but be refused to part with the whole basketful. The soldiers insisted, and from words came to blows. Wallace had no better weapon than the but-end of his fishing-rod; but he struck the foremost of the Englishmen so hard under the ear with it, that he killed him on the spot; and getting possession of the slain man’s sword, he fought with so much fury that he put the others to flight, and brought home his fish safe and sound. The English governor of Ayr sought for him, to punish him with death for this action; but Wallace lay concealed among the hills and great woods till the matter was forgotten, and then appeared in another part of the country. He is said to have had other adventures of the same kind, in which he gallantly defended himself, sometimes when alone, sometimes with very few companions, against superior numbers of the English, until at last his name became generally known as a terror to them. But the action which occasioned his finally rising in arms, is believed to have happened in the town of Lanark. Wallace was at this time married to a lady of that place, and residing there with his wife. It chanced, as he walked in the market-place, dressed in a green garment, with a rich dagger by his side, that an Englishman came up and insulted him on account of his finery, saying, a Scotsman had no business to wear so gay a dress, or carry so handsome a weapon. It soon came to a quarrel, as on many former occasions; and Wallace, having killed the Englishman, fled to his own house, which was speedily assaulted by all the English soldiers. While they were endeavouring to force their way in at the front of the house, Wallace escaped by a back-door, and got in safety to a rugged and rocky glen, near Lanark, called the Cartland crags, all covered with bushes and trees, and full of high precipices, where he knew he should be safe from the pursuit of the English soldiers. In the mean time, the governor of Lanark, whose name was Hazelrigg, burned Wallace’s house, and put his wife and servants to death; and by committing this cruelty increased to the highest pitch, as you may well believe, the hatred which the champion had always borne against the English usurper. Hazelrigg also proclaimed Wallace an outlaw, and offered a reward to any one who should bring him to an English garrison, alive, or dead. On the other hand, Wallace soon collected a body of men, outlawed like himself, or willing to become so, rather than any longer endure the oppression of the English. One of his earliest expeditions was directed against Hazelrigg, whom he killed, and thus avenged the death of his wife. He fought skirmishes with the soldiers who were sent against him, and often defeated them; and in time became so well known and so formidable, that multitudes began to resort to his standard, until at length he was at the head of a considerable army, with which he proposed to restore his country to independence.

About this time is said to have taken place a memorable event, which the Scottish people called the Barns of Ayr. It is alleged that the English governor of Ayr had invited the greater part of the Scottish nobility and gentry in the western parts, to meet him at some large buildings called the barns of Ayr, for the purpose of friendly conference upon the affairs of the nation. But the English earl entertained the treacherous purpose of putting the Scottish gentlemen to death. The English soldiers had halters with running nooses ready prepared, and hung upon the beams which supported the roof; and as the Scottish gentlemen were admitted by two and two at a time, the nooses were thrown over their heads, and they were pulled up by the neck, and thus hanged or strangled to death. Among those who were slain in this base and treacherous manner, was, it is said, Sir Reginald Crawford, Sheriff of the county of Ayr, and uncle to William Wallace.

When Wallace heard of what had befallen, he was dreadfully enraged, and collecting his men in a wood near the town of Ayr, he resolved to be revenged on the authors of this great crime. The English in the mean while made much feasting, and when they had eaten and drunk plentifully, they lay down to sleep in the same large barns in which they had. murdered the Scottish gentlemen. But Wallace, learning that they kept no guard or watch, not suspecting there were any enemies so near them, directed a woman who knew the place, to mark with chalk the doors of the lodgings where the Englishmen lay. Then he sent a party of men, who, with strong ropes, made all the doors so fast on the outside, that those within could not open them. On the outside the Scots had prepared heaps of straw, to which they set fire, and the barns of Ayr, being themselves made of wood, were soon burning in a bright flame. Then the English were awakened, and endeavoured to get out to save their lives. But the doors, as I told you, were secured on the outside, and bound fast with ropes; and, besides, the blazing houses were surrounded by the Scots, who forced those who got out to run back into the fire, or else put them to death on the spot; and thus great numbers perished miserably. Many of the English were lodged in a convent, but they had no better fortune than the others; for the prior of the convent caused all the friars to arm themselves, and, attacking the English guests, they put most of them to the sword. This was called the “Friar of Ayr’s Blessing.” — We cannot tell if this story of the Barns of Ayr be exactly true; but it is probable there is some foundation for it, as it is universally believed in that country. Thus Wallace’s party grew daily stronger and stronger, and many of the Scottish nobles joined with him. Among these were Sir William Douglas, the Lord of Douglas-dale, and the head of a great family often mentioned in Scottish history. There was also Sir John the Grahame, who became Wallace’s bosom friend and greatest confident. Many of these great noblemen, however, deserted the cause of the country on the approach of John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, the English governor, at the head of a numerous and well-appointed army. They thought that Wallace would be unable to withstand the attack of so many disciplined soldiers, and hastened to submit themselves to the English, for fear of losing their estates. Wallace, however, remained undismayed, and at the head of a considerable army. He had taken up his camp upon the northern side of the river Forth, near the town of Stirling. The river was there crossed by a long wooden bridge, about a mile above the spot where the present bridge is situated.

The English general approached the banks of the river on the southern side. He sent two clergymen to offer a pardon to Wallace and his followers, on condition that they should lay down their arms. But such was not the purpose of the high-minded champion of Scotland. “Go back to Warenne,” said Wallace, “and tell him we value not the pardon of the King of England. We are not here for the purpose of treating of peace, but of abiding battle, and restoring freedom to our country. Let the English come on; — we defy them to their very beards!” The English, upon hearing this haughty answer, called loudly to be led to the attack. Their leader, Sir Richard Lundin, a Scottish knight, who had gone over to the enemy at Irvine, hesitated, for he was a skilful soldier, and he saw that, to approach the Scottish army, his troops must pass over the long, narrow wooden bridge; so that those who should get over first might be attacked by Wallace with all his forces, before those who remained behind could possibly come to their assistance. He therefore inclined to delay the battle. But Cressingham the treasurer, who was ignorant and presumptuous, insisted that it was their duty to fight, and put an end to the war at once; and Lundin gave way to his opinion, although Cressingham, being a churchman, could not be so good a judge of what was fitting as he himself, an experienced officer.

The English army began to cross the bridge, Cressingham leading the van, or foremost division of the army; for, in those military days, even clergymen wore armour and fought in battle. That took place Which Sir Richard Lundin had foreseen. Wallace suffered a considerable part of the English army to pass the bridge, without offering any opposition; but when about one-half were over, and the bridge was crowded with those who were following, he charged those who had crossed with his whole strength, slew a very great number, and drove the rest into the river Forth, where the greater part were drowned. The remainder of the English army, who were left on the southern bank of the river, fled in great confusion, having first set fire to the wooden bridge, that the Scots might not pursue them. Cressingham was killed in the very beginning of the battle; and the Scots detested him so much that they flayed the skin from his dead body, and kept pieces of it, in memory of the revenge they had taken upon the English treasurer. Some say they made saddle-girths of this same skin; a purpose for which I do not think it could be very fit. It must be owned to have been a dishonourable thing of the Scots to insult thus the dead body of their enemy, and shows that they must have been then a ferocious and barbarous people.

The remains of Surrey’s great army fled out of Scotland after this defeat; and the Scots, taking arms on all sides, attacked the castles in which the English soldiers continued to shelter themselves, and took most of them by force or stratagem. Many wonderful stories are told of Wallace’s exploits on these occasions; some of which are no doubt true, while others are either invented, or very much exaggerated. It seems certain, however, that he defeated the English in several combats, chased them almost entirely out of Scotland, regained the towns and castles of which they had possessed themselves, and recovered for a time the complete freedom of the country. He even marched into England, and laid Cumberland and Northumberland waste, where the Scottish soldiers, in revenge for the mischief which the English had done in their country, committed great cruelties. Wallace did not approve of their killing the people who were not in arms, and he endeavoured to protect the clergymen and others, who were not able to defend themselves. “Remain with me,” he said to the priests of Hexham, a large town in Northumberland, “for I cannot protect you from my soldiers when you are out of my presence.” The troops who followed Wallace received no pay, because he had no money to give them; and that was one great reason why he could not keep them under restraint, or prevent their doing much harm to the defenceless country people. He remained in England more than three weeks, and did a great deal of mischief to the country. Indeed, it appears, that, though Wallace disapproved of slaying priests, women, and children, he partook of the ferocity of the times so much, as to put to death without quarter all whom he found in arms. In the north of Scotland, the English had placed a garrison in the strong castle of Dunnottar, which built on a large and precipitous rock, overhangs the raging sea. Though the place is almost inaccessible, Wallace and his followers found their way into the castle, while the garrison in great terror fled into the church or chapel, which was built on the very verge of the precipice. This did not save them, for Wallace caused the church to be set on fire. The terrified garrison, involved in the flames, ran some of them upon the points of the Scottish swords, while others threw themselves from the precipice into the sea, and swam along to the cliffs, where they hung like sea-fowl, screaming in vain for mercy and assistance. The followers of Wallace were frightened at this dreadful scene, and falling on their knees before the priests who chanced to be in the army, they asked forgiveness for having committed so much slaughter, within the limits of a church dedicated to the service of God. But Wallace had so deep a sense of the injuries which the English had done to his country, that he only laughed at the contrition of his soldiers — “I will absolve you all, myself,” he said. “Are you Scottish soldiers, and do you repent for a trifle like this, which is not half what the invaders deserved at our hands?” So deep-seated was Wallace’s feeling of national resentment, that it seems to have overcome, in such instances, the scruples of a temper which was naturally humane.

Edward I was in Flanders when all these events took place. You may suppose he was very angry when he learned that Scotland, which he thought completely subdued, had risen into a great insurrection against him, defeated his armies, killed his treasurer, chased his soldiers out of their country, and invaded England with a great force. He came back from Flanders in a mighty rage, and determined not to leave that rebellious country until it was finally conquered; for which purpose he assembled a very fine army, and marched into Scotland. In the mean time the Scots prepared to defend themselves, and chose Wallace to be Governor or Protector of the kingdom, because they had no King at the time. He was now titled Sir William Wallace, Protector, or Governor, of the Scottish nation. But although Wallace, as we have seen, was the best soldier and bravest man in Scotland, and therefore the most fit to be placed in command at this critical period, when the King of England was coming against them with such great forces, yet the nobles of Scotland envied him this important situation, because he was not a man born in high rank, or enjoying a large estate. So great was their jealousy of Sir William Wallace, that many of these great barons did not seem very willing to bring forward their forces, or fight against the English, because they would not have a man of inferior condition to be general. This was base and mean conduct, and it was attended with great disasters to Scotland. Yet, notwithstanding this unwillingness of the great nobility to support him, Wallace assembled a large army; for the middling, but especially the lower classes, were very much attached to him. He marched boldly against the King of England, and met him near the town of Falkirk. Most of the Scottish army were on foot, because, as I already told you, in those days only the nobility and great men of Scotland fought on horseback. The English King, on the contrary, had a very large body of the finest cavalry in the world, Normans and English, all clothed in complete armour. He had also the celebrated archers of England, each of whom was said to carry twelve Scotsmen’s lives under his girdle; because every archer had twelve arrows stuck in his belt, and was expected to kill a man with every arrow.

The Scots had some good archers from the Forest of Ettrick, who fought under command of Sir John Stewart of Bonkill; but they were not nearly equal in number to the English. The greater part of the Scottish army were on foot, armed with long spears; they were placed thick and close together, and laid all their spears so close, point over point, that it seemed as difficult to break through them, as through the wall of a strong castle. When the two armies were drawn up facing each other, Wallace said to his soldiers, “I have brought you to the ring, let me see how you can dance,” meaning, I have brought you to the decisive field of battle, let me see how bravely you can fight.

The English made the attack. King Edward, though he saw the close ranks, and undaunted appearance, of the Scottish infantry, resolved nevertheless to try whether he could not ride them down with his fine cavalry. He therefore gave his horsemen orders to advance. They charged accordingly, at full gallop. It must have been a terrible thing to have seen these fine horses riding as hard as they could against the long lances, which were held out by the Scots to keep them back; and a dreadful cry arose when they came against each other. The first line of cavalry was commanded by the Earl Marshal of England, whose progress was checked by a morass. The second line of English horse was commanded by Antony Beck, the Bishop of Durham, who’ nevertheless, wore armour, and fought like a lay baron. He wheeled round the morass; but when he saw the deep and firm order of the Scots, his heart failed, and he proposed to Sir Ralph Basset of Drayton, who commanded under him, to halt till Edward himself brought up the reserve. “Go say your mass, bishop,” answered Basset contemptuously, and advanced at full gallop with the second line. However, the Scots stood their ground with their long spears; many of the foremost of the English horses were thrown down, and the riders were killed as they lay rolling, unable to rise, owing to the weight of their heavy armour. But the Scottish horse did not come to the assistance of their infantry, but on the contrary, fled away from the battle. It is supposed that this was owing to the treachery or ill-will of the nobility, who were jealous of Wallace. )But it must be considered that the Scottish cavalry were few in number; and that they had much worse arms, and weaker horses, than their enemies. The English cavalry attempted again and again to disperse the deep and solid ranks in which Wallace had stationed his foot soldiers. But they were repeatedly beaten off with loss, nor could they make their way through that wood of spears, as it is called by one of the English historians. King Edward then commanded his archers to advance; and these approaching within arrow-shot of the Scottish ranks, poured on them such close and dreadful volleys of arrows, that it was impossible to sustain the discharge. It happened at the same time, that Sir John Stewart was killed by a fall from his horse; and the archers of Ettrick Forest, whom he was bringing forward to oppose those of King Edward, were slain in great numbers around him. Their bodies were afterwards distinguished among the slain, as being the tallest and handsomest men of the army.

The Scottish spearmen being thus thrown into some degree of confusion, by the loss of those who were slain by the arrows of the English, the heavy cavalry of Edward again charged with more success than formerly, and broke through the ranks, which were already disordered. Sir John Grahame, Wallace’s great friend and companion, was slain, with many other brave soldiers; and the Scots, having lost a very great number of men, were at length obliged to take to flight. This fatal battle was fought upon 22d July, 1298. Sir John the Grahame lies buried in the churchyard of Falkirk. A tombstone was laid over him, which has been three times renewed since his death. The inscription bears, “That Sir John the Grahame, equally remarkable for wisdom and courage, and the faithful friend of Wallace, being slain in battle by the English, lies buried in this place.” A large oak-tree in the adjoining forest was long shown as marking the spot where Wallace slept before the battle, or, as others said, in which he hid himself after the defeat. Nearly forty years ago Grandpapa saw some of its roots; but the body of the tree was even then entirely decayed, and there is not now, and has not been for many years, the least vestige of it to be seen. After this fatal defeat of Falkirk, Sir William Wallace seems to have resigned his office of Governor of Scotland. Several nobles were named guardians in his place, and continued to make resistance to the English armies; and they gained some advantages, particularly near Roslin, where a body of Scots, commanded by John Comyn of Badenoch, who was one of the guardians of the kingdom, and another distinguished commander, called Simon Fraser, defeated three armies, or detachments, of English in one day. Nevertheless, the King of England possessed so much wealth, and so many means of raising soldiers, that he sent army after army into the poor oppressed country of Scotland, and obliged all its nobles and great men, one after another, to submit themselves once more to his yoke. Sir William Wallace, alone, or with a very small band of followers, refused either to acknowledge the usurper Edward, or to lay down his arms. He continued to maintain himself among the woods and mountains of his native country for no less than seven years after his defeat at Falkirk, and for more than one year after all the other defenders of Scottish liberty had laid down their arms. Many proclamations were sent out against him by the English, and a great reward was set upon his head; for Edward did not think he could have any secure possession of his usurped kingdom of Scotland while Wallace lived. At length he was taken prisoner; and, shame it is to say, a Scotsman called Sir John Menteith, was the person by whom he was seized and delivered to the English. It is generally said that he was made prisoner at Robroyston, near Glasgow; and the tradition of the country bears, that the signal made for rushing upon him and taking him at unawares, was, when one of his pretended friends, who betrayed him, should turn a loaf, which was placed on the table, with its bottom or flat side uppermost. And in after times it was reckoned ill-breeding to turn a loaf in that manner, if there was a person named Menteith in company; since it was as much as to remind him, that his namesake had betrayed Sir William Wallace, the Champion of Scotland. Whether Sir John Menteith was actually the person by whom Wallace was betrayed, is not perfectly certain. He was, however, the individual by whom the patriot was made prisoner, and delivered up to the English, for which his name and his memory have been long loaded with disgrace.

Edward having thus obtained possession of the person whom he considered as the greatest obstacle to his complete conquest of Scotland, resolved to make Wallace an example to all Scottish patriots who should in future venture to oppose his ambitious projects. He caused this gallant defender of his country to be brought to trial in Westminster hall, before the English judges, and produced him there, crowned, in mockery, with a green garland, because they said he had been king of outlaws and robbers among the Scottish woods. Wallace was accused of having been a traitor to the English crown; to which he answered, “I could not be a traitor to Edward, for I was never his subject.” He was then charged with having taken and burnt towns and castles, with having killed many men and done much violence. He replied, with the same calm resolution, “that it was true he had killed very many Englishmen, but it was because they had come to subdue and oppress his native country of Scotland; and far from repenting what he had done, he declared he was only sorry that he had not put to death many more of them.” Notwithstanding that Wallace’s defence was a good one, both in law and in common sense (for surely every one has not only a right to fight in defence of his native country, but is bound in duty to do so), the English judges condemned him to be executed. So this brave patriot was dragged upon a sledge to the place of execution, where his head was struck off, and his body divided into four quarters, which, according to the cruel custom of the time, were exposed upon spikes of iron on London Bridge, and were termed the limbs of a traitor.

No doubt King Edward thought, that by exercising this great severity towards so distinguished a patriot as Sir William Wallace, he should terrify all the Scots into obedience, and so be able in future to reign over their country without resistance. But though Edward was a powerful, a brave, and a wise king, and though he took the most cautious, as well as the most strict measures, to preserve the obedience of Scotland, yet his claim being founded in injustice and usurpation, was not permitted by Providence to be established in security or peace. Sir William Wallace, that immortal supporter of the independence of his country, was no sooner deprived of his life, in the cruel and unjust manner I have told you, than other patriots arose to assert the cause of Scottish liberty.

Chapter 8

I HOPE, my dear child, that you have not forgotten that all the cruel wars in Scotland arose out of the debate between the great lords who claimed the throne after King Alexander the Third’s death, which induced the Scottish nobility rashly to submit the decision of that matter to King Edward of England, and thus opened the way to his endeavouring to seize the kingdom of Scotland to himself. You recollect also, that Edward had dethroned John Baliol, on account of his attempting to restore the independence of Scotland, and that Baliol had resigned the crown of Scotland into the hands of Edward as lord paramount. This John Baliol, therefore, was very little respected in Scotland; he had renounced the kingdom, and had been absent from it for fifteen years, during the greater part of which time he remained a prisoner in the hands of the King of England.

It was therefore natural that such of the people of Scotland as were still determined to fight for the deliverance of their country from the English yoke, should look around for some other king, under whom they might unite themselves, to combat the power of England. The feeling was universal in Scotland, that they would not any longer endure the English government; and therefore such great Scottish nobles as believed they had right to the crown, began to think of standing forward to claim it. Amongst these, the principal candidates (supposing John Baliol, by his renunciation and captivity, to have lost all right to the kingdom) were two powerful noblemen. The first was ROBERT BRUCE, Earl of Carrick, the grandson of that elder Robert Bruce, who, as you have heard, disputed the throne with John Baliol. The other was John Comyn, or Cuming, of Badenoch, usually called the Red Comyn, to distinguish him from his kinsman, the Black Comyn, so named from his swarthy complexion. These two great and powerful barons had taken part with Sir William Wallace in the wars against England; but, after the defeat of Falkirk, being fearful of losing their great estates, and considering the freedom of Scotland as beyond the possibility of being recovered, both Bruce and Comyn had not only submitted themselves to Edward, and acknowledged his title as King of Scotland, but even borne arms, along with the English, against such of their countrymen as still continued to resist the usurper. But the feelings of Bruce concerning the baseness of this conduct, are said, by the old traditions of Scotland, to have been awakened by the following incident. In one of the numerous battles, or skirmishes, which took place at the time between the English and their adherents on the one side, and the insurgent or patriotic Scots upon the other, Robert the Bruce was present, and assisted the English to gain the victory. After the battle was over, he sat down to dinner among his southern friends and allies without washing his hands, on which there still remained spots of the blood which he had shed during the action. The English lords, observing this, whispered to each other in mockery, “Look at that Scotsman, who is eating his own blood!” Bruce heard what they said, and began to reflect, that the blood upon his hands might be indeed called his own, since it was that of his brave countrymen, who were fighting for the independence of Scotland, whilst he was assisting its oppressors, who only laughed at and mocked him for his unnatural conduct. He was so much shocked and disgusted, that he arose from table, and, going into a neighbouring chapel, shed many tears, and asking pardon of God for the great crime he had been guilty of, made a solemn vow that he would atone for it, by doing all in his power to deliver Scotland from the foreign yoke. Accordingly, he left, it is said, the English army, and never joined it again, but remained watching all opportunity for restoring the freedom of his country. Now, this Robert the Bruce was a remarkably brave and strong man: there was no man in Scotland that was thought a match for him except Sir William Wallace; and now that Wallace was dead, Bruce was held the best warrior in Scotland. He was very wise and prudent, and an excellent general: that is, he knew how to conduct an army, and place them in order for battle, as well or better than any great man of his time. He was generous, too, and courteous by nature; but he had some faults, which perhaps belonged as much to the fierce period in which he lived as to his own character. He was rash and passionate, and in his passion, he was sometimes relentless and cruel. Robert the Bruce had fixed his purpose, as I told you, to attempt once again to drive the English out of Scotland, and he desired to prevail upon Sir John the Red Comyn, who was his rival in his pretensions to the throne, to join with him in expelling the foreign enemy by their common efforts. With this purpose, Bruce posted down from London to Dumfries, on the borders of Scotland, and requested an interview with John Comyn. They met in the church of the Minorites in that town, before the high altar. What passed betwixt them is not known with certainty; but they quarrelled, either concerning their mutual pretensions to the crown, or because Comyn refused to join Bruce in the proposed insurrection against the English; or, as many writers say, because Bruce charged Comyn with having betrayed to the English his purpose of rising up against King Edward. It is, however, certain, that these two haughty barons came to high and abusive words, until at length Bruce, who I told you was extremely passionate, forgot the sacred character of the place in which they stood, and struck Comyn a blow with his dagger. Having done this rash deed, he instantly ran out of the church and called for his horse. Two gentlemen of the country, Lindesay and Kirkpatrick, friends of Bruce, were then in attendance on him. Seeing him pale, bloody, and in much agitation, they eagerly enquired what was the matter. “I doubt,” said Bruce,” that I have slain the Red Comyn.”

“Do you leave such a matter in doubt?” said Kirkpatrick. “I will make sicker!”— that is, I will make certain.

Accordingly, he and his companion Lindesay rushed into the church, and made the matter certain with a vengeance, by despatching the wounded Comyn with their daggers. His uncle, Sir Robert Comyn, was slain at the same time. This slaughter of Comyn was a rash and cruel action; and the historian of Bruce observes, that it was followed by the displeasure of Heaven; for no man ever went through more misfortunes than Robert Bruce, although he at length rose to great honour.

After the deed was done, Bruce might be called desperate. He had committed an action which was sure to bring down upon him the vengeance of all Comyn’s relations, the resentment of the King of England, and the displeasure of the Church, on account of having slain his enemy within consecrated ground. He determined, therefore, to bid them all defiance at once, and to assert his pretensions to the throne of Scotland. He drew his own followers together, summoned to meet him such barons as still entertained hopes of the freedom of the country, and was crowned King at the Abbey of Scone, the usual place where the Kings of Scotland assumed their authority.

Every thing relating to the ceremony was hastily performed. A small circlet of gold was hurriedly made, to represent the ancient crown of Scotland, which Edward had carried off to England. The Earl of Fife, descendant of the brave Macduff, whose duty it was to have placed the crown on the King’s head, would not give his attendance. But the ceremonial was performed by his sister, Isabella, Countess of Buchan, though without the consent either of her brother or husband. A few barons, whose names ought to be dear to their country, joined Bruce in his attempt to vindicate the independence of Scotland.

Edward was dreadfully incensed when he heard that, after all the pains which he had taken, and all the blood which had been spilled, the Scots were making this new attempt to shake off his authority. Though now old, feeble, and sickly, he made a solemn vow, at a great festival, in presence of all his court, that he would take the most ample vengeance upon Robert the Bruce and his adherents; after which he would never again draw his sword upon a Christian, but would only fight against the unbelieving Saracens for the recovery of the Holy Land. He marched against Bruce accordingly, at the head of a powerful army.

The commencement of Bruce’s undertaking was most disastrous. He was crowned on 29th March, 1306. On the l8th May he was excommunicated by the Pope, on account of the murder of Comyn within consecrated ground, a sentence which excluded him from all the benefits of religion, and authorized any one to kill him. Finally, on the l9th June the new King was completely defeated near Methven by the English Earl of Pembroke. Robert’s horse was killed under him in the action, and he was for a moment a prisoner. But he had fallen into the power of a Scottish knight, who, though he served in the English army, did not choose to be the instrument of putting Bruce into their hands, and allowed him to escape. The conquerors executed their prisoners with their usual cruelty. Among these were some gallant young men of the first Scottish families — Hay, ancestor of the Earls of Errol, Somerville, Fraser, and others, who were mercilessly put to death. Bruce, with a few brave adherents, among whom was the young Lord of Douglas, who was afterwards called the Good Lord James, retired into the Highland mountains, where they were chased from one place of refuge to another, often in great danger, and suffering many hardships. The Bruce’s wife, now Queen of Scotland, with several other ladies, accompanied her husband and his few followers during their wanderings. There was no other way of providing for them save by hunting and fishing. It was remarked, that Douglas was the most active and successful in procuring for the unfortunate ladies such supplies, as his dexterity in fishing or in killing deer could furnish to them. Driven from one place in the Highlands to another, starved out of some districts, and forced from others by the opposition of the inhabitants, Bruce attempted to force his way into Lorn; but he found enemies every where. The M’Dougals, a powerful family, then called Lords of Lorn, were friendly to the English, and putting their men in arms, attacked Bruce and his wandering companions as soon as they attempted to enter their territory. The chief of these M’Dougals, called John of Lorn, hated Bruce on account of his having slain the Red Comyn in the church at Dumfries, to whom this M’Dougal was nearly related. Bruce was again defeated by this chief, through force of numbers, at a place called Dalry; but he showed, amidst his misfortunes, the greatness of his strength and courage. He directed his men to retreat through a narrow pass, and placing himself last of the party, he fought with and slew such of the enemy as attempted to press hard on them. Three followers of M’Dougal, a father and two sons, called M’Androsser, all very strong men, when they saw Bruce thus protecting the retreat of his followers, made a vow that they would either kill this redoubted champion, or make him prisoner. The whole three rushed on the King at once. Bruce was on horseback, in the strait pass we have described, betwixt a precipitous rock and a deep lake. He struck the first man who came up, and seized his horse’s rein, such a blow with his sword, as cut off his hand and freed the bridle. The man bled to death. The other brother had grasped Bruce in the mean time by the leg, and was attempting to throw him from horseback. The King, setting spurs to his horse, made the animal suddenly spring forward, so that the Highlander fell under the horse’s feet; and, as he was endeavouring to rise again, Bruce cleft his head in two with his sword. The father, seeing his two sons thus slain, flew desperately at the King, and grasped him by the mantle so close to his body, that he could not have room to wield his long sword. But with the heavy pommel of that weapon, or, as others say with an iron hammer which hung at his saddle-bow the King struck this third assailant so dreadful a blow, that he dashed out his brains. Still, however, the Highlander kept his dying grasp on the King’s mantle; so that, to be free of the dead body, Bruce was obliged to undo the brooch, or clasp, by which it was fastened, and leave that, and the mantle itself, behind him. The brooch, which fell thus into the possession of M’Dougal of Lorn, is still preserved in that ancient family, as a memorial that the celebrated Robert Bruce once narrowly escaped falling into the hands of their ancestor. Robert greatly resented this attack upon him; and when he was in happier circumstances, did not fail to take his revenge on M’Dougal, or, as he is usually called, John of Lorn.

The King met with many such encounters amidst his dangerous and dismal wanderings; yet, though almost always defeated by the superior numbers of the English, and of such Scots as sided with them, he still kept up his own spirits and those of his followers. He was a better scholar than was usual in those days, when, except clergymen, few people learned to read and write. But King Robert could do both very well; and we are told that he sometimes read aloud to his companions, to amuse them when they were crossing the great Highland lakes in such wretched leaky boats as they could find for that purpose. Loch Lomond, in particular, is said to have been the scene of such a lecture. You may see by this how useful it is to possess knowledge and accomplishments. If Bruce could not have read to his associates, and diverted their thoughts from their dangers and sufferings, he might not perhaps have been able to keep up their spirits, or secure their continued attachment.

At last dangers increased so much around the brave King Robert, that he was obliged to separate himself from his Queen and her ladies; for the winter was coming on, and it would be impossible for the women to endure this wandering sort of life when the frost and snow should set in. So Bruce left his queen with the Countess of Buchan and others, in the only castle which remained to him, which was called Kildrummie, and is situated near the head of the river Don in Aberdeenshire. The King also left his youngest brother, Nigel Bruce, to defend the castle against the English; and he himself, with his second brother Edward, who was a very brave man, but still more rash and passionate than Robert himself, went over to an island called Rachrin, on the coast of Ireland, where Bruce and the few men that followed his fortunes passed the winter of 1306. In the mean time, ill luck seemed to pursue all his friends in Scotland. The castle of Kildrummie was taken by the English, and Nigel Bruce, a beautiful and brave youth, was cruelly put to death by the victors. The ladies who had attended on Robert’s Queen, as well as the queen herself, and the Countess of Buchan, were thrown into strict confinement, and treated with the utmost severity.

The Countess of Buchan, as I before told you, had given Edward great offence by being the person who placed the crown on the head of Robert Bruce. She was imprisoned within the castle of Berwick, in a cage made on purpose. Some Scottish authors have pretended that this cage was hung over the walls with the poor countess, like a parrot’s cage out at a window. But this is their own ignorant idea. The cage of the Lady Buchan was a strong wooden and iron piece of frame-work, placed within an apartment, and resembling one of those places in which wild-beasts are confined. There were such cages in most old prisons to which captives were consigned, who, either for mutiny, or any other reason, were to be confined with peculiar rigour.

The news of the taking of Kildrummie, the captivity of his wife, and the execution of his brother, reached Bruce while he was residing in a miserable dwelling at Rachrin, and reduced him to the point of despair.

It was about this time that an incident took place, which, although it rests only on tradition in families of the name of Bruce, is rendered probable by the manners of the times. After receiving the last unpleasing intelligence from Scotland, Bruce was lying one morning on his wretched bed, and deliberating with himself whether he had not better resign all thoughts of again attempting to make good his right to the Scottish crown, and, dismissing his followers, transport himself and his brothers to the Holy Land, and spend the rest of his life in fighting against the Saracens; by which he thought, perhaps. He might deserve the forgiveness of Heaven for the great sin of stabbing Comyn in the church at Dumfries. But then, on the other hand, he thought it would be both criminal and cowardly to give up his attempts to restore freedom to Scotland, while there yet remained the least chance of his being successful in an undertaking which, rightly considered, was much more his duty than to drive the infidels out of Palestine, though the superstition of his age might think otherwise. While he was divided betwixt these reflections, and doubtful of what he should do, Bruce was looking upward to the roof of the cabin in which he lay; and his eye was attracted by a spider, which, hanging at the end of a long thread of its own spinning, was endeavouring, as is the fashion of that creature, to swing itself from one beam in the roof to another, for the purpose of fixing the line on which it meant to stretch its web. The insect made the attempt again and again without success; and at length Bruce counted that it had tried to carry its point six times, and been as often unable to do so. It came into his head that he had himself fought just six battles against the English and their allies, and that the poor persevering spider was exactly in the same situation with himself, having made as many trials, and been as often disappointed in what it aimed at. “Now,” thought Bruce,” as I have no means of knowing what is best to be done, I will be guided by the luck which shall attend this spider. If the insect shall make another effort to fix its thread, and shall be successful, I will venture a seventh time to try my fortune in Scotland; but if the spider shall fail I will go to the wars in Palestine, and never return to my native country more.”

While Bruce was forming this resolution, the spider made another exertion with all the force it could muster, and fairly succeeded in fastening its thread to the beam which it had so often in vain attempted to reach. Bruce, seeing the success of the spider, resolved to try his own fortune; and as he had never before gained a victory, so he never afterwards sustained any considerable or decisive check or defeat. I have often met with people of the name of Bruce, so completely persuaded of the truth of this story, that they would not on any account kill a spider; because it was that insect which had shown the example of perseverance, and given a signal of good luck to their great namesake. Having determined to renew his efforts to obtain possession of Scotland, notwithstanding the smallness of the means which he had for accomplishing so great a purpose, the Bruce removed himself and his followers from Rachrin to the island of Arran, which lies in the mouth of the Clyde. The King landed, and enquired of the first woman he met, what armed men were in the island. She returned for answer, that there had arrived there very lately a body of armed strangers, who had defeated an English officer, the governor of the castle of Brathwick, had killed him and most of his men, and were now amusing themselves with hunting about the island. The King, having caused himself to be guided to the woods which these strangers most frequented, there blew his horn repeatedly. Now, the chief of the strangers who had taken the castle, was James Douglas, whom we have already mentioned as one of the best of Bruce’s friends, and he was accompanied by some of the bravest of that patriotic band. When he heard Robert Bruce’s horn, he knew the sound well, and cried out, that yonder was the King, he knew by his manner of blowing. So he and his companions hastened to meet King Robert, and there was great joy on both sides; whilst at the same time they could not help weeping when they considered their own forlorn condition, and the great loss that had taken place among their friends since they had last parted. But they were stout-hearted men, and looked forward to freeing their country, in spite of all that had yet happened. The Bruce was now within sight of Scotland, and not distant from his own family possessions, where the people were most likely to be attached to him. He began immediately to form plans with Douglas, how they might best renew their enterprise against the English. The Douglas resolved to go disguised to his own country, and raise his followers, in order to begin their enterprise by taking revenge on an English nobleman called Lord Clifford, upon whom Edward had conferred his estates, and who had taken up his residence in the castle of Douglas. Bruce, on his part, opened a communication with the opposite coast of Carrick, by means of one of his followers called Cuthbert. This person had directions, that if he should find the countrymen in Carrick disposed to take up arms against the English, he was to make a fire on a headland, or lofty cape, called Turnberry, on the coast of Ayrshire, opposite to the island of Arran. The appearance of a fire on this place was to be a signal for Bruce to put to sea with such men as he had, who were not more than three hundred in number, for the purpose of landing in Carrick and joining the insurgents.

Bruce and his men watched eagerly for the signal, but for some time in vain. At length a fire on Turnberry-head became visible, and the King and his followers merrily betook themselves to their ships and galleys, concluding their Carrick friends were all in arms, and ready to join with them. They landed on the beach at midnight, where they found their spy Cuthbert alone in waiting for them, with very bad news. Lord Percy, he said, was in the country, with two or three hundred Englishmen, and had terrified the people so much, both by threats and actions, that none of them dared to think of rebelling against King Edward.

“Traitor!” said Bruce “why, then, did you make the signal?”

“Alas,” replied Cuthbert, “the fire was not made by me, but by some other person, for what purpose I know not; but as soon as I saw it burning, I knew that you would come over, thinking it my signal, and therefore l came down to wait for you on the beach, to tell you how the matter stood.”

King Robert’s first idea was to return to Arran after this disappointment; but his brother Edward refused to go back. He was, as I have told you, a man daring even to rashness.” I will not leave my native land.” He said, “now that I am so unexpectedly restored to it. I will give freedom to Scotland, or leave my carcass on the surface of the land which gave me birth.”

Bruce, also, after some hesitation, determined that since he had been thus brought to the mainland of Scotland, he would remain there, and take such adventure and fortune as Heaven should send him.

Accordingly, he began to skirmish with the English so successfully, as obliged the Lord Percy to quit Carrick. Bruce then dispersed his men upon various adventures against the enemy, in which they were generally successful. But then, on the other hand, the King, being left with small attendance, or sometimes almost alone, run great risk of losing his life by treachery, or by open violence. Several of these incidents are very interesting. I will tell you some of them.

At one time, a near relation of Bruce’s, in whom he entirely confided, was induced by the bribes of the English to attempt to put him to death. This villain, with his two sons, watched the King one morning, till he saw him separated from all his men, excepting a little boy, who waited on him as a page. The father had a sword in his hand, one of the sons had a sword and a spear, the other had a sword and a battle-axe. Now, when the King saw them so well armed, when there were no enemies near, he began to call to mind some hints which had been given to him, that these men intended to murder him. He had no weapons excepting his sword; but his page had a bow and arrow. He took them both from the little boy, and bade him stand at a distance; “for,” said the King, “if I overcome these traitors, thou shalt have enough of weapons; but if I am slain by them, you may make your escape, and tell Douglas and my brother to revenge my death,” The boy was very sorry, for he loved his master; but he was obliged to do as he was bidden.

In the mean time the traitors came forward upon Bruce, that they might assault him at once. The King called out to them, and commanded them to come no nearer, upon peril of their lives; but the father answered with flattering words, pretending great kindness, and still continuing to approach his person. Then the King again called to them to stand. “Traitors,” said he, “ye have sold my life for English gold; but you shall die if you come one foot nearer to me.” With that he bent the page’s bow; and as the old conspirator continued to advance, he let the arrow fly at him. Bruce was an excellent archer; he aimed his arrow so well, that it hit the father in the eye, and penetrated from that into his brain, so that he fell down dead. Then the two sons rushed on the King. One of them fetched a blow at him with an axe, but missed his stroke, and stumbled, so that the King with his great sword cut him down before he could recover his feet. The remaining traitor ran on Bruce with his spear; but the King, with a sweep of his sword, cut the steel head off the villain’s weapon, and then killed him before he had time to draw his sword. Then the little page came running, very joyful of his master’s victory; and the King wiped his bloody sword, and looking upon the dead bodies, said, “These might have been reputed three gallant men, if they could have resisted the temptation of covetousness.”

In the present day, it is not necessary that generals, or great officers, should fight with their own hand, because it is only their duty to direct the movements and exertions of their followers. The artillery and the soldiers shoot at the enemy; and men seldom mingle together, and fight hand to hand. But in ancient times, kings, and great lords were obliged to put themselves into the very front of the battle, and fight like ordinary men, with the lance and other weapons. It was, therefore, of great consequence that they should be strong men, and dexterous in the use of their arms. Robert Bruce was so remarkably active and powerful that he came through a great many personal dangers, in which he must otherwise have been slain. I will tell you another of his adventures, which I think will amuse you.

After the death of these three traitors, Robert the Bruce continued to keep himself concealed in his own earldom of Carrick, and in the neighbouring country of Galloway, until he should have matters ready for a general attack upon the English. He was obliged, in the mean time, to keep very few men with him, both for the sake of secrecy, and from the difficulty of finding provisions. Now, many of the people of Galloway were unfriendly to Bruce. They lived under the government of one M’Dougal, related to the Lord of Lorn, who, as I before told you, had defeated Bruce at Dalry, and very nearly killed or made him prisoner. These Galloway men had heard that Bruce was in their country, having no more than sixty men with him; so they resolved to attack him by surprise, and for this purpose they got two hundred men together, and brought with them two or three bloodhounds. These animals were trained to chase a man by the scent of his footsteps, as foxhounds chase a fox, or as beagles and harriers chase a hare. Although the dog does not see the person whose trace he is put upon, he follows him over every step he has taken. At that time these bloodhounds, or sleuth-hounds (so called from slot, or sleut, a word which signifies the scent left by an animal of chase), were used for the purpose of pursuing great criminals. The men of Galloway thought themselves secure, that if they missed taking Bruce, or killing him at the first onset, and if he should escape into the woods, they would find him out by means of these bloodhounds.

The good King Robert Bruce, who was always watchful and vigilant, had received some information of the intention of this party to come upon him suddenly and by night. Accordingly, he quartered his little troop of sixty men on the side of a deep and swift-running river, that had very steep and rocky banks. There was but one ford by which this river could be crossed in that neighbourhood, and that ford was deep and narrow, so that two men could scarcely get through abreast; the ground on which they were to land on the side where the King was, was steep, and the path which led upwards from the water’s edge to the top of the bank, extremely narrow and difficult. Bruce caused his men to lie down to take some sleep, at a place about half a mile distant from the river, while he himself, with two attendants, went down to watch the ford, through which the enemy must needs pass before they could come to the place where King Robert’s men were lying. He stood for some time looking at the ford, and thinking how easily the enemy might be kept from passing there, providing it was bravely defended, when he heard at a distance the baying of a hound, which was always coming nearer and nearer. This was the bloodhound which was tracing the King’s steps to the ford where he had crossed, and the two hundred Galloway men were along with the animal, and guided by it. Bruce at first thought of going back to awaken his men; but then he reflected that it might be only some shepherd’s dog. “My men,” he said, “are sorely tired; I will not disturb their sleep for the yelping of a cur, till I know something more of the matter.” So he stood and listened; and by and by, as the cry of the hound came nearer, he began to hear a trampling of horses, and the voices of men, and the ringing and clattering of armour, and then he was sure the enemy were coming to the river side. Then the King thought, “If I go back to give my men the alarm, these Galloway men will get through the ford without opposition; and that would be a pity, since it is a place so advantageous to make defence against them.” So he looked again at the steep path, and the deep river, and he thought that they gave him so much advantage, that he himself could defend the passage with his own hand, until his men came to assist him. His armour was so good and strong, that he had no fear of arrows, an therefore the combat was not so very unequal as it must have otherwise been. He therefore sent his followers to waken his men, and remained alone by the bank of the river, In the mean while, the noise and trampling of the horses increased; and the moon being bright, Bruce beheld the glancing arms of about two hundred men, who came down to the opposite bank of the river. The men of Galloway, on their part, saw but one solitary figure, guarding the ford, and the foremost of them plunged into the river without minding him. But as they could only pass the ford one by one, the Bruce, who stood high above them on the bank where they were to land, killed the foremost man with a thrust of his long spear, and with a second thrust stabbed the horse, which fell down, kicking and plunging in his agonies, on the narrow path, and so prevented the others who were following from getting out of the river. Bruce had thus an opportunity of dealing his blows at pleasure among them, while they could not strike at him again. In the confusion, five or six of the enemy were slain, or, having been borne down the current, were drowned in the river. The rest were terrified, and drew back. But when the Galloway men looked again, and saw they were opposed by only one man, they themselves being so many, they cried out, that their honour would be lost for ever if they did not force their way; and encouraged each other, with loud cries, to plunge through, and assault him. But by this time the King’s soldiers came up to his assistance, and the Galloway men retreated, and gave up their enterprise.

I will tell you another story of this brave Robert Bruce during his wanderings. His adventures are as curious and entertaining as those which men invent for story books, with this advantage, that they are all true.

About the time when the Bruce was yet at the head of but few men, Sir Aymer de Valence, who was Earl of Pembroke, together with John of Lorn, came into Galloway, each of them being at the head of a large body of men. John of Lorn had a bloodhound with him, which it was said had formerly belonged to Robert Bruce himself; and having been fed by the King with his own hands, it became attached to him, and would follow his footsteps any where, as dogs are well known to trace their master’s steps, whether they be blood-hounds or not. By means of this hound, John of Lorn thought he should certainly find out Bruce, and take revenge on him for the death of his relation Comyn.

When these two armies advanced upon King Robert, he at first thought of fighting with the English earl; but becoming aware that John of Lorn was moving round with another large body to attack him in the rear, he resolved to avoid fighting at that time, lest he should be oppressed by numbers. For this purpose, the King divided the men he had with him into three bodies, and commanded them to retreat by three different ways, thinking the enemy would not know which party to pursue. He also appointed a place at which they were to assemble again. But when John of Lorn came to the place where the army of Bruce had been thus divided, the bloodhound took his course after one of these divisions, neglecting the other two, and then John of Lorn knew that the King must be in that party; so he also made no pursuit after the two other divisions of the Scots, but followed that which the dog pointed out, with all his men.

The King again saw that he was followed by a large body, and being determined to escape from them, if possible, he made all the people who were with him disperse themselves different ways, thinking thus that the enemy must needs lose trace of him. He kept only one man along with him, and that was his own foster-brother, or the son of his nurse. When John of Lorn came to the place where Bruce’s companions had dispersed themselves, the bloodhound, after it had snuffed up and down for a little, quitted the footsteps of all the other fugitives, and ran barking upon the track of two men out of the whole number. Then John of Lorn knew that one of these two must needs be King Robert. Accordingly, he commanded five of his men that were speedy of foot to chase after him, and either make him prisoner, or slay him. The Highlanders started off accordingly, and ran so fast, that they gained sight of Robert and his foster-brother. The King asked his companion what help he could give him, and his foster-brother answered he was ready to do his best. So these two turned on the five men of John of Lorn, and killed them all. It is to be supposed they were better armed than the others were, as well as stronger and more desperate.

But by this time Bruce was very much fatigued, and yet they dared not sit down to take any rest; for whenever they stopt for an instant, they heard the cry of the blood-hound behind them, and knew by that, that their enemies were coming up fast after them. At length, they came to a wood, through which ran a small river. Then Bruce said to his foster-brother, “Let us wade down this stream for a great way, instead of going straight across, and so this unhappy hound will lose the scent; for if we were once clear of him, I should not be afraid of getting away from the pursuers.” Accordingly the King and his attendant walked a great way down the stream, taking care to keep their feet in the water, which could not retain any scent where they had stepped. Then they came ashore on the farther side from the enemy, and went deep into the wood before they stopped to rest themselves. In the mean while, the hound led John of Lorn straight to the place where the King went into the water, but there the dog began to be puzzled, not knowing where to go next; for you are well aware that the running water could not retain the scent of a man’s foot, like that which remains on turf. So, John of Lorn seeing the dog was at fault, as it is called, that is, had lost the track of that which he pursued, he gave up the chase, and returned to join with Aymer de Valance. But King Robert’s adventures were not yet ended. His foster-brother and he had rested themselves in the wood, but they had got no food, and were become extremely hungry. They walked on, however, in hopes of coming to some habitation. At length, in the midst of the forest, they met with three men who looked like thieves or ruffians. They were well armed, and one of them bore a sheep on his back, which it seemed as if they had just stolen. They saluted the King civilly; and he, replying to their salutation, asked them where they were going. The men answered, they were seeking for Robert Bruce, for that they intended to join with him. The King answered, that if they would go with him, he would conduct them where they would find the Scottish King. Then the man who had spoken, changed countenance, and Bruce, who looked sharply at him, began to suspect that the ruffian guessed who he was, and that he and his companions had some design against his person, in order to gain the reward which had been offered for his life.

So he said to them, “My good friends, as we are not well acquainted with each other, you must go before us, and we will follow near to you.” “You have no occasion to suspect any harm from us,” answered the man.

“Neither do I suspect any,” said Bruce; “but this is the way in which I choose to travel.” The men did as he commanded, and thus they travelled till they came together to a waste and ruinous cottage, where the men proposed to dress some part of the sheep, which their companion was carrying. The King was glad to hear of food; but he insisted that there should be two fires kindled, one for himself and his foster-brother, at one end of the house, the other at the other end for their three companions. The men did as he desired. They broiled a quarter of mutton for themselves, and gave another to the King and his attendant. They were obliged to eat it without bread or salt; but as they were very hungry, they were glad to get food in any shape, and partook of it very heartily. Then so heavy a drowsiness fell on King Robert, that, for all the danger he was in, he could not resist an inclination to sleep. But first, he desired his foster-brother to watch while he slept, for he had great suspicion of their new acquaintances. His foster-brother promised to keep awake, and did his best to keep his word. But the King had not been long asleep ere his foster-brother fell into a deep slumber also, for he had undergone as much fatigue as the King. When the three villains saw the King and his attendant asleep, they made signs to each other, and rising up at once, drew their swords with the purpose to kill them both. But the King slept but lightly, and for as little noise as the traitors made in rising, he was awakened by it, and starting up, drew his sword, and went to meet them. At the same moment he pushed his foster-brother with his foot, to awaken him, and he got on his feet; but ere he got his eyes cleared to see what was about to happen, one of the ruffians that were advancing to slay the King, killed him with a stroke of his sword. The King was now alone, one man against three, and in the greatest danger of his life; but his amazing strength, and the good armour which he wore, freed him once more from this great peril, and he killed the three men, one after another. He then left the cottage, very sorrowful for the death of his faithful foster-brother, and took his direction towards the place where he had appointed his men to assemble after their dispersion. It was now near night, and the place of meeting being a farm-house, he went boldly into it, where he found the mistress, an old true-hearted Scotswoman, sitting alone. Upon seeing a stranger enter, she asked him who and what he was. The King answered that he was a traveller, who was journeying through the country. “All travellers,” answered the good woman, are welcome here, for the sake of one.” “And who is that one,” said the King, “for whose sake you make all travellers welcome?” “It is our rightful king, Robert the Bruce,” answered the mistress, “who is the lawful lord of this country; and although he is now pursued and hunted after with hounds and horns, I hope to live to see him King over all Scotland.” “Since you love him so well, dame,” said the King, “know that you see him before you. I am Robert the Bruce.”

“You!” said the good woman, in great surprise; “and wherefore are you thus alone? — where are all your men?”

“I have none with me at this moment,” answered Bruce,” and therefore I must travel alone.” “But that shall not be,” said the brave old dame, “for I have two stout sons, gallant and trusty men, who shall be your servants for life and death.” So she brought her two sons, and though she well knew the dangers to which she exposed them, she made them swear fidelity to the King; and they afterwards became high officers in his service. Now, the loyal old woman was getting every thing ready for the King’s supper, when suddenly there was a great trampling of horses heard round the house. They thought it must be some of the English, or John of Lorn’s men, and the good wife called upon her sons to fight to the last for King Robert. But shortly after, they heard the voice of the Good Lord James of Douglas, and of Edward Bruce, the King’s brother, who had come with a hundred and fifty horsemen to this farm-house, according to the instructions that the King had left with them at parting.

Robert the Bruce was right joyful to meet his brother, and his faithful friend Lord James; and had no sooner found himself once more at the head of such a considerable body of followers, than, forgetting hunger and weariness, he began to enquire where the enemy who had pursued them so long had taken up their abode for the night; “for,” said he, “as they must suppose us totally scattered and fled, it is likely that they will think themselves quite secure, and disperse themselves into distant quarters, and keep careless watch.” “That is very true,” answered James of Douglas, “for I passed a village where there are two hundred of them quartered, who had placed no sentinels; and if you have a mind to make haste, we may surprise them this very night, and do them more mischief than they have been able to do us during all this day’s chase.”

Then there was nothing but mount and ride; and as the Scots came by surprise on the body of English whom Douglas had mentioned, and rushed suddenly into the village where they were quartered, they easily dispersed and cut them to pieces; thus, as Douglas had said, doing their pursuers more injury than they themselves had received during the long and severe pursuit of the preceding day.

consequence of these successes of King Robert was, that soldiers came to join him on all sides, and that he obtained several victories both over Sir Aymer de Valence, Lord Clifford, and other English commanders; until at length the English were afraid to venture into the open country as formerly, unless when they could assemble themselves in considerable bodies. They thought it safer to lie still in the towns and castles which they had garrisoned, and wait till the King of England should once more come to their assistance with a powerful army.

Chapter 9

When King Edward the First heard that Scotland was again in arms against him, he marched down to the Borders, as I have already told you, with many threats of what he would do to avenge himself on Bruce and his party, whom he called rebels. But he was now old and feeble, and while he was making his preparations, he was taken very ill, and after lingering a long time, at length died on the 6th July, 1307, at a place in Cumberland called Burgh upon the Sands, in full sight of Scotland, and not three miles from its frontier. His hatred to that country was so inveterate, that his thoughts of revenge seemed to occupy his mind on his deathbed. He made his son promise never to make peace with Scotland until the nation was subdued. He gave also very singular directions concerning the disposal of his dead body. He ordered that it should be boiled in a cauldron till the flesh parted from the bones, and that then the bones should be wrapped up in a bull’s hide, and carried at the head of the English army, as often as the Scots attempted to recover their freedom. He thought that he had inflicted such distresses on the Scots, and invaded and defeated them so often, that his very dead bones would terrify them. His son, Edward the Second, did not choose to execute this strange injunction, but caused his father to be buried in Westminster Abbey; where his tomb is still to be seen, bearing for an inscription, HERE LIES THE MANNER OF THE SCOTTISH NATION. And, indeed, it true, that during his life he did them as much injury as a hammer does to the substances which it dashes to pieces.

Edward the Second was neither so brave nor so wise as his father; on the contrary, he was a weak prince, fond of idle amusements, and worthless favourites. It was lucky for Scotland that such was his disposition. He marched a little way into Scotland with the large army which Edward the First had collected, but went back again without fighting; which gave great encouragement to Bruce’s party.

Several of the Scottish nobility now took arms in different parts of the country, declared for King Robert, and fought against the English troops and garrisons. The most distinguished of these was the Good Lord James of Douglas, whom we have often mentioned before. Some of his most memorable exploits respected his own castle of Douglas, in which, being an important fortress, and strongly situated, the English had placed a large garrison. James of Douglas saw, with great displeasure, his castle filled with English soldiers, and stored with great quantities of corn, and cattle, and wine, and ale, and other supplies which they were preparing, to enable them to assist the English army with provisions. So he resolved, if possible, to be revenged upon the captain of the garrison and his soldiers.

For this purpose, Douglas went in disguise to the house of one of his old servants, called Thomas Dickson, a strong, faithful, and bold man, and laid a scheme for taking the castle. A holiday was approaching, called Palm Sunday. Upon this day, it was common, in the Roman Catholic times, that the people went to church in procession, with green boughs in their hands. Just as the English soldiers, who had marched down from the castle, got into church, one of Lord James’s followers raised the cry of Douglas! Douglas!, which was the shout with which that family always began battle. Thomas Dickson, and some friends whom he had collected, instantly drew their swords, and killed the first Englishman whom they met. But as the signal had been given too soon, Dickson was borne down and slain. Douglas and his men presently after forced their way into the church. The English soldiers attempted to defend themselves; but, being taken by surprise and unprepared, they were, for the greater part, killed or made prisoners, and that so suddenly, and with so little noise, that their companions in the castle never heard of it. So that when Douglas and his men approached the castle gate, they found it open, and that part of the garrison which were left at home, busied cooking provisions for those that were at church. So Lord James got possession of his own castle without difficulty, and he and his men eat up all the good dinner which the English had made ready. But Douglas dared not stay there, lest the English should come in great force and besiege him; and therefore he resolved to destroy all the provisions which the English had stored up in the castle, and to render the place unavailing to them. It must be owned he executed this purpose in a very cruel and shocking manner, for he was much enraged at the death of Thomas Dickson. He caused all the barrels containing flour, meal, wheat, and malt, to be knocked in pieces, and their contents mixed on the floor; then he staved the great hogsheads of wine and ale, and mixed the liquor with the stores; and, last of all, he killed his prisoners, and flung the dead bodies among this disgusting heap, which his men called, in derision of the English, the Douglas Larder. Then he flung dead horses into the well to destroy it — after which he set fire to the castle; and finally marched away, and took refuge with his followers in the hills and forests. “He loved better,” he said, “to hear the lark sing than the mouse squeak.” That is, he loved better to keep in the open field with his men, than to shut himself and them up in castles. When Clifford, the English general, heard what had happened, he came to Douglas Castle with a great body of men, and rebuilt all the defences which Lord James had destroyed, and cleared out the well, and put a good soldier, named Thirlwall, to command the garrison, and desired him to be on his guard, for he suspected that Lord James would again attack him. And, indeed, Douglas, who did not like to see the English in his father’s castle, was resolved to take the first opportunity of destroying this garrison, as he had done the former. For this purpose he again had recourse to stratagem. He laid a part of his followers in ambush in the wood, and sent fourteen men, disguised like countrymen, driving cattle past the gates of the castle. As soon as Thirlwall saw this, he swore that he would plunder the Scots drovers of their cattle, and came out with a considerable part of his garrison, for that purpose. He had followed the cattle past the place where Douglas was lying concealed, when all of a sudden the Scotsmen threw off their carriers’ cloaks, and appearing in armour, cried the cry of Douglas, and, turning back suddenly, ran to meet the pursuers; and before Thirlwall could make any defence, he heard the same war-cry behind him, and saw Douglas coming up with those Scots who had been lying in ambush. Thirlwall himself was killed, fighting bravely in the middle of his enemies, and only a very few of his men found their way back to the castle. When Lord James had thus slain two English commanders or governors of his castle, and was known to have made a vow that he would be revenged on any one who should dare to take possession of his father’s house, men became afraid; and the fortress was called, both in England and Scotland, the Perilous Castle of Douglas, because it proved so dangerous to any Englishman who was stationed there. Now, in those warlike times, Master Littlejohn, you must know, that the ladies would not marry any man who was not very brave and valiant, so that a coward, let him be ever so rich or high-born, was held in universal contempt. And thus it became the fashion for the ladies to demand proofs of the courage of their lovers, and for those knights who desired to please the ladies, to try some extraordinary deed of arms, to show their bravery and deserve their favour. At this time we speak of, there was a young lady in England, whom many knights and noblemen asked in marriage, because she was extremely wealthy, and very beautiful. Once upon a holiday she made a great feast, to which she asked all her lovers, and numerous other gallant knights; and after the feast she arose, and told them that she was much obliged to them for their good opinion of her, but as she desired to have for her husband a man of the most incontestable bravery, she had formed her resolution not to marry any one, save one who should show his courage by defending the Perilous Castle of Douglas against the Scots for a year and a day. Now this made some silence among the gentlemen present; for although the lady was rich and beautiful, yet there was great danger in placing themselves within the reach of the Good Lord James of Douglas. At last a brave young knight started up and said, that for the love of that lady he was willing to keep the Perilous Castle for a year and a day, if the King pleased to give him leave. The King of England was satisfied, and well pleased to get a brave man to hold a place so dangerous. Sir John Wilton was the name of this gallant knight. He kept the castle very safely for some time; but Douglas at last, by a stratagem, induced him to venture out with a part of the garrison, and then set upon them and slew them. Sir John Wilton himself was killed, and a letter from the lady was found in his pocket. Douglas was sorry for his unhappy end, and did not put to death any of the prisoners as he had formerly done, but dismissed them in safety to the next English garrison.

Other great lords, besides Douglas, were now exerting themselves to attack and destroy the English. Amongst those was Sir Thomas Randolph, whose mother was a sister of King Robert. He had joined with the Bruce when he first took up arms. Afterwards being made prisoner by the English, when the King was defeated at Methven, as I told you, Sir Thomas Randolph was obliged to join the English to save his life. He remained so constant to them, that he was in company with Aymer de Valence and John of Lorn, when they forced the Bruce to disperse his little band; and he followed the pursuit so close, that he made his uncle’s standard-bearer prisoner, and took his banner. Afterwards, however, he was himself made prisoner, at a solitary house of Lyne-water, by the Good Lord James Douglas, who brought him captive to the King. Robert reproached his nephew for having deserted his cause; and Randolph, who was very hot-tempered, answered insolently, and was sent by King Robert to prison. Shortly after, the uncle and nephew were reconciled, and Sir Thomas Randolph, created Earl of Murray by the King, was ever afterwards one of Bruce’s best supporters. There was a sort of rivalry between Douglas and him, which should do the boldest and most hazardous actions. I will just mention one of two circumstances, which will show you what awful dangers were to be encountered by these brave men, in order to free Scotland from its enemies and invaders.

While Robert Bruce was gradually getting possession of the country, and driving out the English, Edinburgh, the principal town of Scotland, remained, with its strong castle, in possession of the invaders. Sir Thomas Randolph was extremely desirous to gain this important place; but, as you well know, the castle is situated on a very steep and lofty rock, so that it is difficult or almost impossible even to get up to the foot of the walls, much more to climb over them.

So while Randolph was considering what was to be done, there came to him a Scottish gentleman named Francis, who had joined Bruce’s standard, and asked to speak with him in private. He then told Randolph, that in his youth he had lived in the castle of Edinburgh, and that his father had then been keeper of the fortress. It happened at that time that Francis was much in love with a lady, who lived in a part of the town beneath the castle, which is called the Grassmarket. Now, as he could not get out of the castle by day to see his mistress, he had practiced a way of clambering by night down the castle rock on the south side, and returning at his pleasure; when he came to the foot of the wall, he made use of a ladder to get over it, as it was not very high at that point, those who built it having trusted to the steepness of the crag; and, for the same reason, no watch was placed there. Francis had gone and come so frequently in this dangerous manner, that, though it was now long ago, he told Randolph he knew the road so well, that he would undertake to guide a small party of men by night to the bottom of the wall; and as they might bring ladders with them, there would be no difficulty in scaling it. The great risk was, that of their being discovered by the watchmen while in the act of ascending the cliff, in which case every man of them must have perished.

Nevertheless, Randolph did not hesitate to attempt the adventure. He took with him only thirty men (you may be sure they were chosen for activity and courage), and came one dark night to the foot of the rock, which they began to ascend under the guidance of Francis, who went before them, upon his hands and feet, up one cliff, down another, and round another, where there was scarce room to support themselves. All the while, these thirty men were obliged to follow in a line, one after the other, by a path that was fitter for a cat than a man. The noise of a stone falling, or a word spoken from one to another, would have alarmed the watchmen. They were obliged, therefore, to move with the greatest precaution. When they were far up the crag, and near the foundation of the wall, they heard the guards going their rounds, to see that all was safe in and about the castle. Randolph and his party had nothing for it but to lie close and quiet each man under the crag, as he happened to be placed, and trust that the guards would pass by without noticing them. And while they were waiting in breathless alarm, they got a new cause of fright. One of the soldiers of the castle, willing to startle his comrades, suddenly threw a stone from the wall, and cried out, “Aha, I see you well!” The stone came thundering down over the heads of Randolph and his men, who naturally thought themselves discovered. If they had stirred, or made the slightest noise, they would have been entirely destroyed; for the soldiers above might have killed every man of them, merely by rolling down stones. But being courageous and chosen men, they remained quiet, and the English soldiers, who thought their comrade was merely playing them a trick (as, indeed, he had not other meaning in what he did and said), passed on, without farther examination. Then Randolph and his men got up, and came in haste to the foot of the wall, which was not above twice a man’s height in that place. They planted the ladders they had brought, and Francis mounted first to show them the way; Sir Andrew Grey, a brave knight, followed him, and Randolph himself was the third man who got over. Then the rest followed. When once they were within the walls, there was not so much to do, for the garrison were asleep and unarmed, excepting the watch, who were speedily destroyed. Thus was Edinburgh castle taken in March, 1312–13. It was not, however, only by the exertion of great and powerful barons, like Randolph and Douglas, that the freedom of Scotland was to be accomplished. The stout yeomanry, and the bold peasantry of the land, who were as desirous to enjoy their cottages in honourable independence, as the nobles were to reclaim their castles and estates from the English, contributed their full share in the efforts which were made to deliver their country from the invaders. I will give you one instance among many.

There was a strong castle near Linlithgow, or Lithgow, as the word is more generally pronounced, where an English governor, with a powerful garrison, lay in readiness to support the English cause, and used to exercise much severity upon the Scots in the neighbourhood. There lived at not great distance form this stronghold, a farmer, a bold and stout man, whose name was Binnock, or as it is now pronounced, Binning. This man saw with great joy the progress which the Scots were making in recovering their country from the English, and resolved to do something to help his countrymen, by getting possession, if it were possible, of the castle of Lithgow. But the place was very strong, situated by the side of a lake, defended not only by gates, which were usually kept shut against strangers, but also by a portcullis. A portcullis is a sort of door formed of cross-bars of iron, like a grate. It has not hinges like a door, but is drawn up by pulleys, and let down when any danger approaches. It may be let go in a moment, and then falls down into the door-way; and as it has great iron spikes at the bottom, it crushed all that it lights upon; thus in case of a sudden alarm, a portcullis may be let suddenly fall to defend the entrance, when it is not possible to shut the gates. Binnock knew this very well, but he resolved to be provided against this risk also when he attempted to surprise the castle. So he spoke with some bold courageous countrymen, and engaged them in his enterprise, which he accomplished thus. Binnock had been accustomed to supply the garrison of Linlithgow with hay, and he had been ordered by the English governor to furnish some cart-loads, of which they were in want. He promised to bring it accordingly; but the night before he drove the hay to the castle, he stationed a party of his friends, as well armed as possible, near the entrance, where they could not be seen by the garrison, and gave them directions that they should come to his assistance as soon as they should hear him cry a signal, which was to be, — “Call all, call all!” Then he loaded a great waggon with hay, but in the waggon he placed eight strong men, well armed, lying flat on their breasts, and covered over with hay, so that they could not be seen. He himself walked carelessly beside the waggon; and he chose the stoutest and bravest of his servants to be the driver, who carried at his belt a strong axe or hatchet. In this way Binnock approached the castle early in the morning; and the watchman, who only saw two men, Binnock being one of them, with a cart of hay, which they expected, opened the gates, and raised up the portcullis, to permit them to enter the castle. But as soon as the cart had gotten under the gateway, Binnock made a sign to his servant, who with his axe suddenly cut asunder the soam, that is, the yoke which fastens the horses to the cart, and the horses finding themselves free, naturally started forward, the cart remaining behind under the arch of the gate. At the same moment, Binnock cried as loud as he could, “Call all, call all!” and drawing the sword, which he had under his country habit, he killed the porter. The armed men then jumped up from under the hay where they lay concealed, and rushed on the English guard. The Englishmen tried to shut the gates, but they could not, because the cart of hay remained in the gateway, and prevented the folding-doors from being closed. The portcullis was also let fall, but the grating was caught on the cart, and so could not drop to the ground. The men who were in ambush near the gate, hearing the cry, “Call all, call all,” ran to assist those who had leaped out from among the hay; the castle was taken, and all the Englishmen killed or made prisoners. King Robert rewarded Binnock by bestowing on him an estate, which his posterity long afterwards enjoyed. Perhaps you may be tired, my dear child, of such stories; yet I will tell you how the great and important castle of Roxburgh was taken from the English, and then we will pass to other subjects. You must know Roxburgh was then a very large castle, situated near where two fine rivers, the Tweed and the Teviot, join each other. Being within five or six miles of England, the English were extremely desirous of retaining it, and the Scots equally eager to obtain possession of it. I will tell you how it was taken.

It was upon the night of what is called Shrovetide, a holiday which Roman Catholics paid great respect to, and solemnized with much gaiety and feasting. Most of the garrison of Roxburgh castle were drinking and carousing, but still they had set watches on the battlements of the castle, in case of any sudden attack; for, as the Scots had succeeded in so many enterprises of the kind, as Douglas was known to be in the neighbourhood, they conceived themselves obliged to keep a very strict guard.

An Englishwoman, the wife of one of the officers, was sitting on the battlements with her child in her arms; and looking out on the fields below, she saw some black objects, like a herd of cattle, straggling near the foot of the wall, and approaching the ditch or moat of the castle. She pointed them out to the sentinel, and asked him what they were. — “Pooh, pooh,” said the soldier, “it is farmer such a one’s cattle” (naming a man whose farm lay near to the castle); “the good man is keeping a jolly Shrovetide, and has forgot to shut up his bullocks in their yard; but if the Douglas come across them before morning, he is likely to rue his negligence.” Now these creeping objects which they saw from the castle wall were no real cattle, but Douglas himself and his soldiers, who had put black cloaks above their armour, and were creeping about on hands and feet, in order, without being observed, to get so near to the foot of the castle wall as to be able to set ladders to it. The poor woman, who knew nothing of this, sat quietly on the wall, and began to sing to her child. You must know that the name of Douglas had become so terrible to the English, that the women used to frighten their children with it, and say to them when they behaved ill, that they “would make the Black Douglas take them.” And this soldier’s wife was singing to her child,

“Hush ye, hush ye, little pet ye,

Hush ye, hush ye, do not fret ye,

The Black Douglas shall not get ye.”

“You are not so sure of that,” said a voice close beside her. She felt at the same time a heavy hand, with an iron glove, laid on her shoulder, and when she looked round, she saw the very Black Douglas she had been singing about, standing close beside her, a tall, swarthy, strong man. At the same time, another Scotsman was seen ascending the walls, near to the sentinel. The soldier gave the alarm, and rushed at the Scotsman, whose name was Simon Ledehouse, with his lance; but Simon parried the stroke, and closing with the sentinel, struck him a deadly blow with his dagger. The rest of the Scots followed up to assist Douglas and Ledehouse, and the castle was taken. Many of the soldiers were put to death, but Douglas protected the woman and the child. I dare say she made no more songs about the Black Douglas. While Douglas, Randolph, and other true-hearted patriots, were thus taking castles and strong-holds from the English, King Robert, who had now a considerable army under his command, marched through the country, beating and dispersing such bodies of English as he met on his way. He went to the north country, where he conquered the great and powerful family of Comyn, who retained strong ill-will against him for having slain their relation, the Red Comyn, in the church at Dumfries. They had joined the English with all their forces; but now, as the Scots began to get the upperhand, they were very much distressed. Bruce caused more than thirty of them to be beheaded in one day, and the place where they are buried is called “the Grave of the headless Comyns.”

Neither did Bruce forget or forgive John M’Dougal of Lorn, who had defeated him at Dalry, and very nearly made him prisoner, or slain him, by the hands of his vassals, the M’Androssers, and had afterwards pursued him with a blood-hound. When John of Lorn heard that Bruce was marching against him, he hoped to defend himself by taking possession of a very strong pass on the side of one of the largest mountains in Scotland, Cruachen Ben. The ground was very strait, having lofty rocks on the one hand, and on the other deep precipices, sinking down on a great lake called Lochawe; so that John of Lorn thought himself perfectly secure, as he could not be attacked except in front, and by a very difficult path. But King Robert, when he saw how his enemies were posted, sent a party of light-armed archers, under command of Douglas, with directions to go, by a distant and difficult road, around the northern side of the hill, and thus to attack the men of Lorn in the rear as well as in front; that is, behind, as well as before. He had signals made when Douglas arrived at the place appointed. The King then advanced upon the Lorn men in front, when they raised a shout of defiance, and began to shoot arrows and roll stones down the path, with great confidence in the security of their own position. But when they were attacked by the Douglas and his archers in the rear, the soldiers of M’Dougal lost courage and fled. Many were slain among the rocks and precipices, and many were drowned in the lake, and the great river which runs out of it. John of Lorn only escaped by means of his boat, which he had in readiness upon the lake. Thus King Robert had full revenge upon him, and deprived him of a great part of his territory. The English now possessed scarcely any place of importance in Scotland, excepting Stirling, which was besieged, or rather blockaded, by Edward Bruce, the King’s brother. To blockade a town or castle, is to quarter an army around it, so as to prevent those within from getting provisions. This was done by the Scots before Stirling, till Sir Philip Mowbray, who commanded the castle, finding that he was like to be reduced to extremity for want of provisions, made an agreement with Edward Bruce that he would surrender the place, providing he were not relieved by the king of England before midsummer. Sir Edward agreed to these terms, and allowed Mowbray to go to London, to tell King Edward of the conditions he had made. But when King Robert heard what his brother had done, he thought it was too great a risk, since it obliged him to venture a battle with the full strength of Edward II, who had under him England, Ireland, Wales, and great part of France, and could within the time allowed assemble a much more powerful army than the Scots could, even if all Scotland were fully under the King’s authority. Sir Edward answered his brother with his naturally audacious spirit, “Let Edward bring every man he has, we will fight them, were they more.” The King admired his courage, though it was mingled with rashness. —— “Since it is so, brother,” he said, “we will manfully abide battle, and assemble all who love us, and value the freedom of Scotland, to come with all the men they have, and help us to oppose King Edward, should he come with his army to rescue Stirling.”

Chapter 10

KING EDWARD II, as we have already said, was not a wise and brave man like his father, but a foolish prince, who was influenced by unworthy favourites, and thought more of pleasure than of governing his kingdom. His father Edward I. would have entered Scotland at the head of a large army before he had left Bruce time to conquer back so much of the country. But we have seen, that, very fortunately for the Scots, that wise and skilful, though ambitious King, died when he was on the point of marching into Scotland. His son Edward had afterwards neglected the Scottish war, and thus lost the opportunity of defeating Bruce, when his force was small. But now when Sir Philip Mowbray, the governor of Stirling, came to London, to tell the King, that Stirling, the last Scottish town of importance which remained in possession of the English, was to be surrendered if it were not relieved by force of arms before mid summer, then all the English nobles called out, it would be a sin and shame to permit the fair conquest which Edward I had made, to be forfeited to the Scots for want of fighting. It was, therefore, resolved, that the King should go himself to Scotland, with as great forces as he could possibly muster.

King Edward the Second, therefore, assembled one of the greatest armies which a King of England ever commanded. There were troops brought from all his dominions. Many brave soldiers from the French provinces which the King of England possessed in France, —— many Irish, many Welsh,- and all the great English nobles and barons, with their followers, were assembled in one great army. The number was not less than one hundred thousand men.

King Robert the Bruce summoned all his nobles and barons to join him, when he heard of the great preparation which the King of England was making. They were not so numerous as the English by many thousand men. In fact, his whole army did not very much exceed thirty thousand, and they were much worse armed than the wealthy Englishmen; but then, Robert, who was at their head, was one of the most expert generals of the time; and the officers he had under him, were his brother Edward, his nephew Randolph, his faithful follower the Douglas, and other brave and experienced leaders, who commanded the same men that had been accustomed to fight and gain victories under every disadvantage of situation and numbers. The King on his part, studied how he might supply, by address and stratagem, what he wanted in numbers and strength. He knew the superiority of the English, both in their heavy-armed cavalry, which were much better mounted and armed than that of the Scots, and in their archers, who were better trained than any others in the world. Both these advantages he resolved to provide against. With this purpose, he led his army down into a plain near Stirling, called the Park, near which, and beneath it, the English army must needs pass through a boggy country, broken with water-courses, while the Scots occupied hard dry ground. He then caused all the ground upon the front of his line of battle, where cavalry were likely to act, to be dug full of holes, about as deep as a man’s knee. They were filled with light brushwood, and the turf was laid on the top, so that it appeared a plain field, while in reality it was all full of these pits as a honeycomb is of holes. He also, it is said, caused steel spikes, called calthrops, to be scattered up and down in the plain, where the English cavalry were most likely to advance, trusting in that manner to lame and destroy their horses.

When the Scottish army was drawn up, the line stretched north and south. On the south, it was terminated by the banks of the brook called Bannockburn, which are so rocky, that no troops could attack them there. On the left, the Scottish line extended near to the town of Stirling. Bruce reviewed his troops very carefully; all the useless servants, drivers of carts, and such like, of whom there were very many, he ordered to go behind a height, afterwards, in memory of the event, called the Gillies’ hill, that is, the Servants’ hill. He then spoke to the soldiers, and expressed his determination to gain the victory, or to lose his life on the field of battle. He desired that all those who did not propose to fight to the last, should leave the field before the battle began, and that none should remain except those who were determined to take the issue of victory or death, as God should send it.

When the main body of his army was thus placed in order, the King posted Randolph, with a body of horse, near to the church of St Ninian’s, commanding him to use the utmost diligence to prevent any succours from being thrown into Stirling castle. He then despatched James of Douglas, and Sir Robert Keith, the Mareschal of the Scottish army, in order that they might survey, as nearly as they could, the English force, which was now approaching from Falkirk. They returned with information, that the approach of that vast host was one of the most beautiful and terrible sights which could be seen, — that the whole country seemed covered with men-at-arms on horse and foot, — that the number of standards, banners, and pennons (all flags of different kinds), made so gallant a show, that the bravest and most numerous host in Christendom might be alarmed to see King Edward moving against them.

It was upon the 23d of June (1314) the King of Scotland heard the news, that the English army were approaching Stirling. He drew out his army, therefore, in the order which he had before resolved on. After a short time, Bruce, who was looking out anxiously for the enemy, saw a body of English cavalry trying to get into Stirling from the eastward. This was the Lord Clifford, who, with a chosen body of eight hundred horse, had been detached to relieve the castle.

“See, Randolph,” said the King to his nephew, “there is a rose fallen from your chaplet.” By this he meant, that Randolph had lost some honour, by suffering the enemy to pass where he had been stationed to hinder them. Randolph made no reply, but rushed against Clifford with little more than half his number. The Scots were on foot. The English turned to charge them with their lances, and Randolph drew up his men in close order to receive the onset. He seemed to be in so much danger, that Douglas asked leave of the King to go and assist him. The King refused him permission. “Let Randolph,” he said, “redeem his own fault; I cannot break the order of battle for his sake.” Still the danger appeared greater, and the English horse seemed entirely to encompass the small handful of Scottish infantry. “So please you,” said Douglas to the King, “my heart will not suffer me to stand idle and see Randolph perish — I must go to his assistance.” He rode off accordingly; but long before they had reached the place of combat, they saw the English horses galloping off, many with empty saddles.

“Halt!” said Douglas to his men, “Randolph has gained the day; since we were not soon enough to help him in the battle, do not let us lessen his glory by approaching the field.” Now, that was nobly done; especially as Douglas and Randolph were always contending which should rise highest in the good opinion of the King and the nation. The van of the English army now came in sight, and a number of their bravest knights drew near to see what the Scots were doing. They saw King Robert dressed in his armour, and distinguished by a gold crown, which he wore over his helmet. He was not mounted on his great war-horse, because he did not expect to fight that evening. But he rode on a little pony up and down the ranks of his army, putting his men in order, and carried in his hand a sort of battle-axe made of steel. When the King saw the English horsemen draw near, he advanced a little before his own men, that he might look at them more nearly.

There was a knight among the English, called Sir Henry de Bohun, who thought this would be a good opportunity to gain great fame to himself, and put an end to the war, by killing King Robert. The King being poorly mounted, and having no lance, Bohun galloped on him suddenly and furiously, thinking, with his long spear, and his tall powerful horse, easily to bear him down to the ground. King Robert saw him, and permitted him to come very near, then suddenly turned his pony a little to one side, so that Sir Henry missed him with the lance-point, and was in the act of being carried past him by the career of his horse. But as he passed, King Robert rose up in his stirrups, and struck Sir Henry on the head with his battle-axe so terrible a blow, that it broke to pieces his iron helmet as if it had been a nut-shell, and hurled him from his saddle. He was dead before he reached the ground. This gallant action was blamed by the Scottish leaders, who thought Bruce ought not to have exposed himself to so much danger when the safety of the whole army depended on him. The King only kept looking at his weapon, which was injured by the force of the blow, and said, “I have broken my good battle-axe.” The next morning, being the 24th June, at break of day, the battle began in terrible earnest. The English as they advanced saw the Scots getting into line. The Abbot of Inchaffray walked through their ranks barefooted, and exhorted them to fight for their freedom. They kneeled down as he passed, and prayed to Heaven for victory. King Edward, who saw this, called out, “They kneel down — they are asking forgiveness.” “Yes,” said a celebrated English baron, called Ingelram de Umphraville, “but they ask it from God, not from us — these men will conquer, or die upon the field.”

The English King ordered his men to begin the battle. The archers then bent their bows, and began to shoot so closely together, that the arrows fell like flakes of snow on a Christmas day. They killed many of the Scots, and might, as at Falkirk, and other places, have decided the victory; but Bruce, as I told you before, was prepared for them. He had in readiness a body of men-at-arms, well mounted, who rode at full gallop among the archers, and as they had no weapons save their bows and arrows, which they could not use when they were attacked hand to hand, they were cut down in great numbers by the Scottish horsemen, and thrown into total confusion. The fine English cavalry then advanced to support their archers, and to attack the Scottish line. But coming over the ground which was dug full of pits, the horses fell into these holes, and the riders lay tumbling about, without any means of defence, and unable to rise, from the weight of their armour. The Englishmen began to fall into general disorder; and the Scottish King, bringing up more of his forces, attacked and pressed them still more closely.

On a sudden, while the battle was obstinately maintained on both sides, an event happened which decided the victory. The servants and attendants on the Scottish camp had, as I told you, been sent behind the army to a place afterwards called the Gillies’ hill. But when they saw that their masters were likely to gain the day, they rushed from their place of concealment with such weapons as they could get, that they might have their share in the victory and in the spoil. The English, seeing them come suddenly over the hill, mistook this disorderly rabble for a new army coming up to sustain the Scots, and, losing all heart, began to shift every man for himself. Edward himself left the field as fast as he could ride. A valiant knight, Sir Giles de Argentine, much renowned in the wars of Palestine, attended the King till he got him out of the press of the combat. But he would retreat no farther. “It is not my custom,” he said, “to fly.” With that he took leave of the King, set spurs to his horse, and calling out his war-cry of Argentine! Argentine! he rushed into the thickest of the Scottish ranks, and was killed. The young Earl of Gloucester was also slain, fighting valiantly. The Scots would have saved him, but as he had not put on his armorial bearings, they did not know him, and he was cut to pieces. Edward first fled to Stirling castle, and entreated admittance; but Sir Philip Mowbray, the governor, reminded the fugitive Sovereign that he was obliged to surrender the castle next day, so Edward was fain to fly through the Torwood, closely pursued by Douglas with a body of cavalry. An odd circumstance happened during the chase, which showed how loosely some of the Scottish Barons of that day held their political opinions. As Douglas was riding furiously after Edward, he met a Scottish knight, Sir Laurence Abernethy, with twenty horse. Sir Laurence had hitherto owned the English interest, and was bringing this band of followers to serve King Edward’s army. But learning from Douglas that the English King was entirely defeated, he changed sides on the spot and was easily prevailed upon to join Douglas in pursuing the unfortunate Edward, with the very followers whom he had been leading to join his standard.

Douglas and Abernethy continued the chase, not giving King Edward time to alight from horse-back even for an instant, and followed him as far as Dunbar, where the English had still a friend, in the governor, Patrick Earl of March. The earl received Edward in his forlorn condition, and furnished him with a fishing skiff, or small ship, in which he escaped to England, having entirely lost his fine army, and a great number of his bravest nobles.

The English never before or afterwards, whether in France or Scotland, lost so dreadful a battle as that of Bannockburn, nor did the Scots ever gain one of the same importance. Many of the best and bravest of the English nobility and gentry, as I have said, lay dead on the field; a great many more were made prisoners; and the whole of King Edward’s immense army was dispersed or destroyed. The English, after this great defeat, were no longer in a condition to support their pretensions to be masters of Scotland, or to continue, as they had done for nearly twenty years, to send armies into that country to overcome it. On the contrary, they became for a time scarce able to defend their own frontiers against King Robert and his soldiers. There were several battles fought within England itself, in which the English had greatly the worst. One of these took place near Mitton, in Yorkshire. So many priests took part in the fight, that the Scots called it the Chapter of Mitton, — a meeting of the clergymen belonging to a cathedral being called a Chapter. There was a great slaughter in and after the action. The Scots laid waste the country of England as far as the gates of York, and enjoyed a considerable superiority over their ancient enemies, who had so lately threatened to make them subjects of England. Thus did Robert Bruce arise from the condition of an exile, hunted with bloodhounds like a stag or beast of prey, to the rank of an independent sovereign, universally acknowledged to be one of the wisest and bravest kings who then lived. The nation of Scotland was also raised once more from the situation of a distressed and conquered province to that of a free and independent state, governed by its own laws, and subject to its own princes; and although the country was, after the Bruce’s death, often subjected to great loss and distress, both by the hostility of the English, and by the unhappy civil wars among the Scots themselves, yet they never afterwards lost the freedom for which Wallace had laid down his life, and which King Robert had recovered, not less by his wisdom than by his weapons. And therefore most just it is, that while the country of Scotland retains any recollection of its history, the memory of those brave warriors and faithful patriots should be remembered with honour and gratitude.

Chapter 11

You will be naturally curious to hear what became of Edward, the brother of Robert Bruce, who was so courageous, and at the same time so rash. You must know that the Irish, at that time, had been almost fully conquered by the English; but becoming weary of them, the Irish chiefs, or at least a great many of them, invited Edward Bruce to come over, drive out the English, and become their king. He was willing enough to go, for he had always a high courageous spirit, and desired to obtain fame and dominion by fighting. Edward Bruce was as good a soldier as his brother, but not so prudent and cautious; for, except in the affair of killing the Red Comyn, which was a wicked and violent action, Robert Bruce, in his latter days, showed himself as wise as he was courageous. However, he was well contented that his brother Edward, who had always fought so bravely for him, should be raised. up to be King of Ireland Therefore King Robert not only gave him an army to assist in making the conquest, but passed over the sea to Ireland himself in person, with a considerable body of troops to assist him. The Bruces gained several battles, and penetrated far into Ireland; but the English forces were too numerous and so many of the Irish joined with them rather than with Edward Bruce, that King Robert and his brother were obliged to retreat before them. The chief commander of the English was a great soldier, called Sir Edmund Butler, and he had assembled a much greater army than Edward Bruce and his brother King Robert had to oppose to him. The Scots were obliged to retreat every morning, that they might not be forced to battle by an army more numerous than their own. I have often told you, that King Robert the Bruce was a wise and a good prince. But a circumstance happened during this retreat, which showed he was also a kind and humane man. It was one morning, when the English, and their Irish auxiliaries, were pressing hard upon Bruce, who had given his army orders to continue a hasty retreat; for to have risked a battle with a much more numerous army, and in the midst of a country which favoured his enemies, would have been extremely imprudent. On a sudden, just as King Robert was about to mount his horse, he heard a woman shrieking in despair. “What is the matter?” said the King; and he was informed by his attendants, that a poor woman, a laundress, or washerwoman, mother of an infant who had just been born, was about to be left behind the army, as being too weak to travel. The mother was shrieking for fear of falling into the hands of the Irish, who were accounted very cruel, and there were no carriages nor means of sending the woman and her infant on in safety. They must needs be abandoned if the army retreated. King Robert was silent for a moment when he heard this story, being divided betwixt the feelings of humanity, occasioned by the poor woman’s distress, and the danger to which a halt would expose his army. At last be looked round on his officers, with eyes which kindled like fire. “Ah, gentlemen,” he said, “never let it be said that a man who was born of a woman, and nursed by a woman’s tenderness, should leave a mother and an infant to the mercy of barbarians! In the name of God, let the odds and the risk be what they will, I will fight Edmund Butler rather than leave these poor creatures behind me. Let the army, therefore, draw up in line of battle, instead of retreating.” The story had a singular conclusion; for the English general, seeing that Robert the Bruce halted and offered him battle, and knowing that the Scottish King was one of the best generals then living, conceived that he must have received some large supply of forces, and was afraid to attack him. And thus Bruce had an opportunity to send off the poor woman and her child, and then to retreat at his leisure, without suffering any inconvenience from the halt.

But Robert was obliged to leave the conquest of Ireland to his brother Edward, being reached by pressing affairs to his own country. Edward, who was rash as be was brave, engaged, against the advice of his best officers, in battle with an English general, called Sir Piers de Birmingham. The Scots were surrounded on all sides, but continued to defend themselves valiantly, and Edward Bruce showed the example by fighting in the very front of the battle. At length a strong English champion, called John Maupas, engaged Edward hand to hand; and they fought till they killed each other. Maupas was found lying after the battle upon the body of Bruce; both were dead men. After Edward Bruce’s death, the Scots gave up further attempts to conquer Ireland.

Robert Bruce continued to reign gloriously for several years, and was so constantly victorious over the English, that the Scots seemed during his government to have acquired a complete superiority over their neighbours. But then we must remember, that Edward II, who then reigned in England, was a foolish prince, and listened to bad counsels; so that it is no wonder that he was beaten by so wise and experienced a general as Robert Bruce, who had fought his way to the crown through so many disasters, and acquired in consequence so much renown, that, as I have often said, he was generally accounted one of the best soldiers and wisest sovereigns of his time. In the last year of Robert the Bruce’s reign, he became extremely sickly and infirm, chiefly owing to a disorder called the leprosy, which he had caught during the hardships and misfortunes of his youth, when he was so frequently obliged to hide himself in woods and morasses, without a roof to shelter him. He lived at a castle called Cardross, on the beautiful banks of the river Clyde, near to where it joins the sea; and his chief amusement was to go upon the river, and down to the sea in a ship, which he kept for his pleasure. He was no longer able to sit upon his war-horse, or to lead his army to the field.

While Bruce was in this feeble state, Edward II, King of England, died, and was succeeded by his son Edward III. He turned out, afterwards to be one of the wisest and bravest kings whom England ever had; but when he first mounted the throne he was very young, and under the entire management of his mother, who governed by means of a wicked favourite called Mortimer. The war between the English and the Scots still lasting at the time, Bruce sent his two great commanders, the Good Lord James Douglas, and Thomas Randolph Earl of Murray, to lay waste the counties of Northumberland and Durham, and distress the English as much as they could. Their soldiers were about twenty thousand in number, ah lightly armed, and mounted on horses that were but small in height, but excessively active. The men themselves carried no provision, except a bag of oatmeal; and each had at his saddle a small plate of iron called a girdle, on which, when they pleased, they could bake the oatmeal into cakes. They killed the cattle of the English, as they travelled through the country, roasted the flesh on wooden spits, or boiled it in the skins of the animals themselves, putting in a little water with the beef, to prevent the fire from burning the hide to pieces. This was rough cookery. They made their shoes, or rather sandals, in as coarse a way; cutting them out of the raw hides of the cattle, and fitting them to their ankles, like what are now called short gaiters. As this sort of buskin had the hairy side of the hide outermost, the English called those who wore them rough-footed Scots, and sometimes, from the colour of the hide, red-shanks.

As such forces needed to carry nothing with them, either for provisions or ammunition, the Scots moved with amazing speed, from mountain to mountain, and from glen to glen, pillaging and destroying the country wherever they came. In the mean while, the young King of England pursued them with a much larger army; but as it was encumbered by the necessity of carrying provisions in great quantities, and by the slow motions of men in heavy armour, they could not come up with the Scots, although they saw every day the smoke of the houses and villages which they were burning. The King of England was extremely angry; for, though only a boy of sixteen years old, he longed to fight the Scots, and to chastise them for the mischief they were doing to his country; and at length he grew so impatient, that he offered a large reward to any one who would show him where the Scottish army were. At length, after the English host had suffered severe hardships, from want of provisions, and fatiguing journeys through fords, and swamps, and morasses, a gentleman named Rokeby came into the camp, and claimed the reward which the King had offered. He told the King that he had been made prisoner by the Scots, and that they had said they should be as glad to meet the English King as he to see them. Accordingly, Rokeby guided the English army to the place where the Scots lay encamped.

But the English King was no nearer to the battle which he desired; for Douglas and Randolph, knowing the force and numbers of the English army, had taken up their camp on a steep hill, at the bottom of which ran a deep river, called the Wear, having a channel filled with large stones, so that there was no possibility for the English to attack the Scots without crossing the water, and then climbing up the steep hill in the very face of their enemy; a risk which was too great to be attempted.

Then the King sent a message of defiance to the Scottish generals, inviting them either to draw back their forces, allow him freedom to cross the river, and time to place his army in order of battle on the other side, that they might fight fairly, or offering, if they liked it better, to permit them to cross over to his side without opposition, that they might join battle on a fair field. Randolph and Douglas did nothing but laugh at this message. They said, that when they fought, it should be at their own pleasure, and not because the King of England chose to ask for a battle. They reminded him, insultingly, how they had been in his country for many days, burning, taking spoil, and doing what they thought fit. If the King was displeased with this, they said, he must find his way across the river to fight them, the best way he could. The English King, determined not to quit sight of the Scots, encamped on the opposite side of the river to watch their motions, thinking that want of provisions would oblige them to quit their strong position on the mountains. But the Scots once more showed Edward their dexterity in marching. by leaving their encampment, and taking up another post, even stronger and more difficult to approach than the first which they had occupied. King Edward followed, and again encamped opposite to his dexterous and troublesome enemies, desirous to bring them to a battle, when he might hope to gain an easy victory, having more than double the number of the Scottish army, all troops of the very best quality.

While the armies lay thus opposed to each other, Douglas resolved to give the young King of England a lesson in the art of war. At the dead of night, he left the Scottish camp with a small body of chosen horse, not above two hundred, well armed. He crossed the river in deep silence, and came to the English camp, which was but carelessly guarded. Seeing this, Douglas rode past the English sentinels as if he had been an officer of the English army, saying, — “Ha, Saint George! you keep bad watch here.” — In those days, you must know, the English used to swear by Saint George, as the Scots did by Saint Andrew. Presently after, Douglas heard an English soldier, who lay stretched by the fire, say to his comrade, —“I cannot tell what is to happen to us in this place; but, for my part, I have a great fear of the Black Douglas playing us some trick.”

“You shah have cause to say so,” said Douglas to himself.

When he had thus got into the midst of the English camp without being discovered, he drew his sword, and cut asunder the ropes of a tent, calling out his usual war-cry — “Douglas, Douglas! English thieves, you are all dead men.” His followers immediately began to cut down and overturn the tents, cutting and stabbing the English soldiers as they endeavoured to get to arms. Douglas forced his way to the pavilion of the King himself, and very nearly carried that young prince prisoner out of the middle of his great army. Edward’s chaplain’ however, and many of his household, stood to arms bravely in his defence, while the young King escaped by creeping away beneath the canvass of his tent. The chaplain and several of the King’s officers were slain; but the whole camp was now alarmed and in arms, so that Douglas was obliged to retreat, which he did by bursting through the English at the side of the camp opposite to that by which he had entered. Being separated from his men in the confusion, he was in great danger of being slain by an Englishman who encountered him with a huge club. This man he killed, but with considerable difficulty; and then blowing his horn to collect his soldiers, who soon gathered around him, he returned to the Scottish camp, having sustained very little loss.

Edward, much mortified at the insult which he had received, became still more desirous of chastising those audacious adversaries; and one of them at least was not unwilling to afford him an opportunity of revenge. This was Thomas Randolph, Earl of Murray. He asked Douglas when he returned to the Scottish camp, “What he had done?” — “We have drawn some blood.” —“Ah,” said the earl, “had we gone all together to the night attack, we should have discomfited them.” “It might well have been so,” said Doug1as, “but the risk would have been too great.” — “Then will we fight them in open battle,” said Randolph, “for if we remain here, we shall in time be famished for want of provisions.” — “Not so,” replied Douglas; “we will deal with this great army of the English as the fox did with the fisherman in the fable.”- “And how was that?” said the Earl of Murray. — Hereupon the Douglas told him this story:— “A fisherman,” he said, “had made a hut by a river side, that he might follow his occupation of fishing. Now, one night he had gone out to look after his nets, leaving a small fire in his hut; and when he came back, behold there was a fox in the cabin, taking the liberty to eat one of the finest salmon he had taken. ‘Ho, Mr Robber!’ said the fisherman, drawing his sword, and standing in the door-way to prevent the fox’s escape, ‘you shall presently die the death.’ The poor fox looked for some hole to get out at, but saw none; whereupon he pulled down with his teeth a mantle, which was lying on the bed, and dragged it across the fire. The fisherman ran to snatch his mantle from the fire-the fox flew out at the door with the salmon; — and so,” said Douglas, “shall we escape the great English army by subtilty, and without risking battle with so large a force.”

Randolph agreed to act by Douglas’s counsel, and the Scottish army kindled great fires through their encampment, and made a noise and shouting, and blowing of horns, as if they meant to remain all night there, as before. But in the mean time, Douglas had caused a road to be made through two miles of a great morass which lay in their rear. This was done by cutting down to the bottom of the bog, and, filling the trench with faggots of wood. Without this contrivance it would have been impossible that the army could have crossed; and through this passage, which the English never suspected, Douglas and Randolph, and all their men, moved at the dead of night. They did not leave so much as an errand-boy behind, and so bent their march towards Scotland, leaving the English disappointed and affronted. Great was their wonder in the morning, when they saw the Scottish camp empty, and found no living men in it, but two or three English prisoners tied to trees, whom they had left with an insulting message to the King of England, saying,” If he were displeased with what they had done, he might come and revenge himself in Scotland.”

The place where the Scots fixed this famous encampment, was in the forest of Weardale, in the bishopric of Durham; and the road which they cut for the purpose of their retreat, is still called the Shorn Moss.

After this a peace was concluded with Robert Bruce, on terms highly honourable to Scotland; for the English King renounced all pretensions to the sovereignty of the country, and, moreover, gave his sister, a princess called Joanna, to be wife to Robert Bruce’s son, called David. This treaty was very advantageous for the Scots. It was called the treaty of Northampton, because it was concluded at that town in the year 1328.

Good King Robert did not long survive this joyful event. He was not aged more than four and-fifty years, but, as I said before, his bad health was caused by the hardships which he sustained during his youth, and at length he became very ill. Finding that he could not recover, he assembled around his bedside the nobles and counsellors in whom he most trusted. He told them, that now, being on his deathbed, he sorely repented all his misdeeds, and particularly, that he had, in his passion, killed Comyn with his own hand, in the church and before the altar. He said that if he had lived, he had intended to go to Jerusalem, to make war upon the Saracens who held the Holy Land, as some expiation for the evil deeds he had done. But since he was about to die, he requested of his dearest friend and bravest warrior, and that was the good Lord James Douglas, that he should carry his heart to the Holy Land. To make you understand the meaning of this request, I must tell you, that at this time a people called Saracens, who believed in the false prophet Mahomet, had obtained by conquest possession of Jerusalem, and the other cities and places which are mentioned in the Holy Scripture; and the Christians of Europe, who went thither as pilgrims to worship at these places, where so many miracles had been wrought, were insulted by these heathen Saracens, Hence many armies of Christians went from their own countries out of every kingdom of Europe, to fight against these Saracens; and believed that they were doing a great service to religion, and that what sins they had committed would be pardoned by God Almighty, because they had taken a part in this which they called a holy warfare. You may remember that Bruce thought of going upon this expedition when he was in despair of recovering the crown of Scotland; and now he desired his heart to be carried to Jerusalem after his death, and requested Lord James of Douglas to take the charge of it. Douglas wept bitterly as he accepted this office, — the last mark of the Bruce’s confidence and friendship. The King soon afterwards expired [at Cardross]; and his heart was taken out from his body and embalmed, that is, prepared with spices and perfumes, that it might remain a long time fresh and uncorrupted. Then the Douglas caused a case of silver to be made, into which he put the Bruce’s heart, and wore it around his neck, by a string of silk and gold. And he set forward for the Holy Land, with a gallant train of the bravest men in Scotland, who, to show their value and sorrow for their brave King Robert Bruce, resolved to attend his heart to the city of Jerusalem. It had been much better for Scotland if the Douglas and his companions had staid at home to defend their own country, which was shortly afterwards in great want of their assistance. Neither did Douglas ever get to the end of his journey. In going to Palestine, he landed in Spain, where the Saracen King, or Sultan of Granada, called Osmyn, was invading the realms of Alphonso, the Spanish King of Castile. King Alphonso received Douglas with great honour and distinction, and people came from all parts to see the great soldier, whose fame was well known through every part of the Christian world. King Alphonso easily persuaded the Scottish earl, that he would do good service to the Christian cause, by assisting him to drive back the Saracens of Grenada, before proceeding on his voyage to Jerusalem. Lord Douglas and his followers went accordingly to a great battle against Osmyn, and had little difficulty in defeating the Saracens who were opposed to them. But being ignorant of the mode of fighting among the cavalry of the East, the Scots pursued the chase too far, and the Moors, when they saw them scattered and separated from each other, turned suddenly back, with a loud cry of Allah illah Allah, which is their shout of battle, and surrounded such of the Scottish knights and squires as had advanced too hastily, and were dispersed from each other.

In this new skirmish, Douglas saw Sir William St Clair of Roslyn fighting desperately, surrounded by many Moors, who were hewing at him with their sabres. “Yonder worthy knight will be slain,” Douglas said, “unless he have instant help.” With that he galloped to his rescue, but presently was himself also surrounded by many Moors. When he found the enemy press so thick round him, as to leave him no chance of escaping, the earl took from his neck the Bruce’s heart, and speaking to it, as he would have done to the King had he been alive, —“Pass first in fight,” he said, “as thou wert wont to do, and Douglas will follow thee, or die.” He then threw the King’s heart among the enemy, and rushing forward to the place where it fell, was there slain. His body was found lying above the silver case, as if it had been his last object to defend the Bruce’s heart. This Good Lord James of Douglas was one of the best and wisest soldiers that ever drew a sword. He was said to have fought in seventy battles, being beaten in thirteen, and victorious in fifty-seven. The English accused him of being cruel; and it is said that he had such a hatred of the English archers, that when he made one of them prisoner, he would not dismiss him until he was either blinded of his right eye, or had the first finger of his right hand struck off. The Douglas’s Larder also seems a very cruel story; but the hatred at that time betwixt the two countries was at a high pitch, and Lord James was much irritated at the death of his faithful servant Thomas Dickson; on ordinary occasions he was mild and gentle to his prisoners. The Scottish historians describe the Good Lord James as one who was never dejected by bad fortune, or unduly elated by that which was good. They say he was modest and gentle in time of peace, but had a very different countenance upon a day of battle. He was tall, strong, and well made, of a swarthy complexion, with dark hair, from which he was called the Black Douglas. He lisped a little in his speech, but in a manner which became him very much. Notwithstanding the many battles in which he had fought, his face had escaped without a wound. A brave Spanish knight at the court of King Alphonso, whose face was scarred by the marks of Moorish sabres, expressed wonder that Douglas’s countenance should be unmarked with wounds Douglas replied modestly, he thanked God, who had always enabled his hands to guard and protect his face.

Many of Douglas’s followers were slain in the battle in which he himself fell. The rest resolved not to proceed on their journey to Palestine, but to return to Scotland. Since the time of the good Lord James, the Douglasses have carried upon their shields a bloody heart, with a crown upon it, in memory of this expedition of Lord James to Spain with the Bruce’s heart. I formerly, when speaking of William the Lion, explained to you, that in ancient times men painted such emblems on their shields that they might be known by them in battle, for their helmet hid their face; and that now, as men no longer wear armour in battle, the devices, as they are called, belonging to particular families, are engraved upon their seals, or upon their silver plate, or painted upon their carriages. Thus, for example, there was one of the brave knights who was in the company of Douglas, and was appointed to take charge of the Bruce’s heart homewards again, who was called Sir Simon Lockhard of Lee. He took afterwards for his device, and painted on his shield, a man’s heart, with a padlock upon it, in memory of Bruce’s heart, which was padlocked in the silver case. For this reason, men changed Sir Simon’s name from Lockhard to Lockheart, and all who are descended from Sir Simon are called Lockhart to this day. Did you ever hear of such a name, Master Hugh Littlejohn? Well, such of the Scottish knights as remained alive returned to their own country. They brought back the heart of the Bruce, and the bones of the Good Lord James. These last were interred in the church of St Bride, where Thomas Dickson and Douglas held so terrible a Palm Sunday. The Bruce’s heart was buried below the high altar in Melrose Abbey. As for his body, it was laid in the sepulchre in the midst of the church of Dunfermline, under a marble stone. But the church becoming afterwards ruinous, and the roof falling down with age, the monument was broken to pieces, and nobody could tell where it stood. But a little while before Master Hugh Littlejohn was born, which I take to be six or seven years ago, when they were repairing the church at Dunfermline, and removing the rubbish, lo! they found fragments of the marble tomb of Robert Bruce. Then they began to dig farther, thinking to discover the body of this celebrated monarch; and at length they came to the skeleton of a tall man, and they knew it must be that of King Robert, both as he was known to have been buried in a winding sheet of cloth of gold, of which many fragments were found about this skeleton, and also because the breastbone appeared to have been sawed through, in order to take out the heart. So orders were sent from the King’s Court of Exchequer to guard the bones carefully, until a new tomb should be prepared, into which they were laid with profound respect. A great many gentlemen and ladies attended, and almost all the common people in the neighbourhood; and as the church could not hold half the numbers, the people were allowed to pass through it, one after another, that each one, the poorest as well as the richest, might see all that remained of the great King Robert Bruce, who restored the Scottish monarchy. Many people shed tears; for there was the wasted skull, which once was the head that thought so wisely and boldly for his country’s deliverance; and there was the dry bone, which had once been the sturdy arm that killed Sir Henry de Bohun, between the two armies, at a single blow, on the evening before the battle of Bannockburn.

It is more than five hundred years since the body of Bruce was first laid into the tomb; and how many many millions of men have died since that time, whose bones could not be recognised, nor their names known, any more than those of inferior animals! It was a great thing to see that the wisdom, courage, and patriotism of a King, could preserve him for such a long time in the memory of the people over whom he once reigned. But then, my dear child, you must remember, that it is only desirable to be remembered for praiseworthy and patriotic actions, such as those of Robert Bruce. It would be better for a prince to be forgotten like the meanest peasant, than to be recollected for actions of tyranny or oppression.

Chapter 12

I FEAR, my dear Hugh, that this will be rather a dull Chapter, and somewhat difficult to be understood; but if you do not quite comprehend it at the first reading, you may perhaps do so upon a second trial, and I will strive to be as plain and distinct as I can.

As Scotland was never so great nor so powerful as during the reign of Robert Bruce, it is a fit time to tell you the sort of laws by which the people were governed, and lived in society together.

And first you must observe, that there are two kinds of government; one called despotic or absolute, in which the king can do whatever he pleases with his subjects — seize upon their property, or deprive them of their lives at pleasure. This is the case of almost all the kingdoms of the East, where the kings, emperors, sultans, or whatever other name they bear, may do whatever they like to their subjects, without being controlled by any one. It is very unfortunate for the people who live under such a government, and the subjects can be considered as no better than slaves, having no life nor property safe as soon as the king chooses to take it. Some kings, it is true, are good men, and use the power which is put into their hands, only to do good to the people. But then others are thoughtless; and cunning and wicked persons contrive to get their confidence, by flattery and other base means, and lead them to do injustice, even when perhaps they themselves do not think of it. And, besides, there are bad kings, who, if they have the uncontrolled power of taking the money and the goods of their subjects, of throwing them into prison, or putting them to death at their pleasure, are apt to indulge their cruelty and their greediness at the expense of the people, and are called by the hateful name of Tyrants, Those states are therefore a thousand times more happy which have what is called a free government; that is, where the king himself is subject to the laws, and cannot rule otherwise than by means of them. In such governments, the king is controlled and directed by the laws, and can neither put a man to death, unless he has been found guilty of some crime for which the law condemns him to die, nor force him to pay any money beyond what the laws give the sovereign a right to collect for the general expenses of the state. Almost all the nations of modern Europe have been originally free governments; but, in several of them, the kings have acquired a great deal too much power, although not to such an unbounded degree as we find in the Eastern countries. But few countries, like that of Great Britain, have had the good fortune to retain a free constitution, which protects and preserves those who live under it from all oppression, or arbitrary power. We owe this blessing to our brave ancestors, who were at all times ready to defend these privileges with their lives; and we are, on our part, bound to hand them down, in as ample form as we received them, to the posterity who shall come after us. In Scotland, and through most countries of Europe, the principles of freedom were protected by the feudal system, which was now universally introduced. You recollect that the king, according to that system, bestowed large estates upon the nobles and great barons, who were called vassals for the fiefs, or possessions, which they thus received from the king, and were obliged to follow him when he summoned them to battle, and to attend upon his Great Council, in which all matters concerning the affairs of the kingdom were considered, and resolved upon. It was in this great council, now called a Parliament, that the laws of the kingdom were resolved upon, or altered, at the pleasure, not of the king alone, nor of the council alone, but as both the king and council should agree together. I must now tell you particularly how this great council was composed, and who had the privilege of sitting there.

At first, there is no doubt that every vassal who held lands directly of the crown had this privilege; and a baron, or royal vassal, not only had the right, but was obliged, to attend the great council of the kingdom. Accordingly, all the great nobility usually came on the king’s summons; but then it was very inconvenient and expensive for men of smaller estates to he making long journeys to the Parliament, and remaining, perhaps, for many days, or weeks, absent from their own families, and their own business. Besides, if all the royal vassals, or freeholders, as they began to be called, had chosen to attend, the number of the assembly would have been far too great for any purpose of deliberation-it would not have been possible to find a room large enough to hold such a meeting, nor could any one have spoken so as to have made himself understood by such an immense multitude. From this it happened, that, instead of attending all of them in their own persons, the lesser barons (as the smaller freeholders were called, to distinguish them from the great nobles) assembled in their different districts, or shires, as the divisions of the country are termed, and there made choice of one or two of the wisest and most experienced of their number to attend the Parliament, or great council, in the name, and to take care of the interest, of the whole body. Thus, the crown vassals who attended upon and composed the Parliament, or the National Council of Scotland, came to consist of two different bodies; namely, the peers, or great nobility, whom the king especially summoned, and such of the lesser barons as were sent to represent the crown vassals in the different shires or counties of Scotland. But besides these two different classes, the great council also contained the representatives of the clergy, and of the boroughs, or considerable towns.

In the times of the Roman Catholic religion, the churchmen exercised very great power and authority in every kingdom of Europe, and omitted no opportunity by which their importance could be magnified. It is therefore not wonderful, that the chief men of the clergy, such as the bishops, and those abbots of the great abbeys who were called mitred abbots, from their being entitled to wear mitres, like bishops, should have obtained seats in Parliament. They were admitted there for the purpose of looking after the affairs of the church, and ranked along with the peers or nobles having titles.

It remains to mention the boroughs. You must know, that in order to increase the commerce and industry of the country, and also to establish some balance against the immense power of the great lords, the kings of Scotland, from an early period, had been in the use of granting considerable privileges to many of the towns in their dominions, which, in consequence of the charters which they obtained from the crown, were termed royal boroughs. The citizens of these boroughs had the privilege of electing their own magistrates, and had considerable revenues, some from lands conferred on them by the king, others from tolls and taxes upon commodities brought into the town. These revenues were laid out by the magistrates (usually called the provost and bailies), for the use of the town. The same magistrates, in those warlike days, led out the burghers, or townsmen, to battle, either in defence of the town’s lands and privileges, which were often attacked by the great lords and barons in their neighbourhood, or for the purpose of fighting against the English. The burghers were all well trained to arms, and were obliged to attend the king’s army, or host, whenever they were summoned to do so. They were also bound to defend the town itself, which had in most cases walls and gates. This was called keeping watch and ward. Besides other privileges, the boroughs had the very important right of sending representatives or commissioners, who sat in Parliament, to look after the interests of the towns which they represented, as well as to assist in the general affairs of the nation.

You may here remark, that, so far as we have gone, the Scottish Parliament entirely resembled the English in the nature of its constitution. But there was this very material difference in the mode of transacting business, that in England, the peers, or great nobility, with the bishops and great abbots, sat, deliberated, and voted, in a body by themselves, which was called the House of Lords, or of Peers, and the representatives of the counties, or shires, together with those of the boroughs, occupied a different place of meeting, and were called the Lower House, or House of Commons. In Scotland, on the contrary, the nobles, prelates, representatives for the shires, and delegates for the boroughs, all sat in the same apartment, and debated and voted as members of the same assembly. Since the union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland, the Parliament, which represents both countries, sits and votes in two distinct bodies, called the two Houses of Parliament, and there are many advantages attending that form of conducting the national business.

You now have some idea of the nature of the Parliament, or grand council of the nation, and of the various classes of persons who had a right to sit there. I am next to tell you, that they were summoned together and dismissed by the king’s orders; and that all business belonging to the nation was transacted by their advice and opinion. Whatever measures they proposed passed into laws, on receiving the consent of the king, which was intimated by touching with the sceptre the bills that were passed by the Parliament. Thus you see that the laws by which the country was governed were, in a great measure, of the people’s own making, being agreed to by their representatives in Parliament. When, in particular, it was necessary to raise money for any public purpose, there was a necessity for obtaining the consent of Parliament, both as to the amount of the sum, and the manner in which it was to be collected; so that the king could not raise any money from the subjects, without the approbation of his grand council. It may he said, in general, of the Scotch laws, that they were as wisely adapted for the purpose of government as those of any state in Europe, at that early period; nay, more, that they exhibit the strongest marks of foresight and sagacity. But it was the great misfortune of Scotland, that the good laws which the kings and Parliaments agreed upon, were not carried steadily into execution; but, on the contrary, were broken through and neglected, just as if they had not existed at all. I will endeavour to explain some of the causes of this negligence. The principal evil was the great power of the nobility, which was such as to place them almost beyond the control of the king’s authority. The chief noblemen had obtained the right of administering justice each upon his own estate; and therefore the whole power of detecting, trying, and punishing crimes, rested in the first place with those great men. Now, most of those great lords were much more interested in maintaining their own authority, and extending their own power, within the provinces which they occupied, than in promoting general good order and tranquillity throughout the country at large. They were almost constantly engaged in quarrels with each other, and often with the king himself. Sometimes they fought amongst themselves, sometimes they united together against the sovereign. On all occasions they were disposed for war, rather than peace, and therefore took little care to punish the criminals who offended against public order. Instead of bringing to trial the persons who committed murder, robbery, and other violent actions, they often protected them, and enlisted them in their own immediate service; and frequently, from revenge or ambition, were actually the private encouragers of the mischief which these men perpetrated. The judges named by the king, and acting under his authority, had a right indeed to apprehend and to punish such offenders against the public peace when they could get hold of them; but then it was very difficult to seize upon the persons accused of such acts of violence, when the powerful lords in whose territory they lived were disposed to assist them in concealing themselves, or making their escape. And even when the king’s courts were able to seize such culprits, there was a law which permitted the lord on whose territory the crime had been committed, to demand that the accused persons should be delivered up to him, to be tried in his own court. A nobleman or baron making such a demand, was, indeed, obliged to give security that he would execute justice on the persons within a certain reasonable time. But such was the weakness of the royal government, and such the great power of the nobility, and the barons of high rank, that if they once got the person accused into their own hand, they might easily contrive either to let him escape, or to have him acquitted after a mock trial. Thus, it was always difficult, and often impossible, to put in execution the good laws which were made in the Scottish Parliament, on account of the great power possessed by the nobles, who, in order to preserve and extend their own authority, threw all manner of interruption in the way of public justice. Each of these nobles within the country which was subject to him, more resembled a king himself than a subject of the monarch of Scotland: and, in one or two instances, we shall see that some of them became so powerful as to threaten to dispossess the king of his throne and dominions. The very smallest of them often made war on each other without the king’s consent, and thus there was a universal scene of disorder and bloodshed through the whole country. These disorders seemed to be rendered perpetual, by a custom which was called by the name of deadly feud. When two men of different families quarrelled, and the one injured or slew the other, the relatives of the deceased, or wronged person, knowing that the laws could afford them no redress, set about obtaining revenge, by putting to death some relation of the individual who had done the injury, without regarding how innocent the subject of their vengeance might have been of the original cause of offence. Then the others, in their turn, endeavoured to execute a similar revenge upon some one of the family who had first received the injury; and thus the quarrel was carried on from father to son, and often lasted betwixt families that were neighbours and ought to have been good friends, for several generations, during which time they were said to be at deadly feud with each other.

From the want of due exercise of the laws, and from the revengeful disposition which led to such long and fatal quarrels, the greatest distresses ensued to the country. When, for example, the Kings of Scotland assembled their armies, in order to fight against the English, who were then the public enemy, they could bring together indeed a number of brave nobles, with their followers, but there always was great difficulty, and sometimes an absolute impossibility, of making them act together; each chief being jealous of his own authority, and many of them engaged in personal quarrels, either of their own making, or such as existed in consequence of this fatal and cruel custom of deadly feud, which, having been originally perhaps some quarrel of little importance, had become inveterate by the cruelties and crimes which had been committed on both sides, and was handed down from father to son. It is true, that under a wise and vigorous prince, like Robert the Bruce, those powerful barons were overawed by his wisdom and authority; but we shall see too often, that when kings and generals of inferior capacity were at their head, their quarrels amongst themselves often subjected them to defeat and to disgrace. And this accounts for a fact which we shall often have occasion to notice, that when the Scots engaged in great battles with large armies, in which, of course, many of those proud independent nobles were assembled, they were frequently defeated by the English; whereas, when they fought in smaller bodies with the same enemy, they were much more often victorious over them; because at such times the Scots were agreed among themselves, and obeyed the commands of one leader, without pretending to dispute his authority.

These causes of private crimes and public defeat, subsisted even in the midland counties of Scotland, such as the three Lothians, Fifeshire, and other provinces, where the king generally resided, and where he necessarily possessed most power to maintain his own authority, and enforce the execution of the laws. But there were two great divisions of the country, the Highlands namely, and the Borders, which were so much wilder and more barbarous than the others, that they might be said to be altogether without law; and although they were nominally subjected to the King of Scotland, yet when he desired to execute any justice in either of those great districts, he could not do so otherwise than by marching there in person, at the head of a strong body of forces, and seizing upon the offenders, and putting them to death with little or no form of trial. Such a rough course of justice, perhaps, made these disorderly countries quiet for a short time, but it rendered them still more averse to the royal government in their hearts, and disposed on the slightest occasion to break out, either into disorders amongst themselves, or into open rebellion. I must give you some more particular account of these wild and uncivilized districts of Scotland, and of the particular sort of people who were their inhabitants, that you may know what I mean when I speak of Highlanders and Borderers. The highlands of Scotland, so called from the rocky and mountainous character of the country, consist of a very large proportion of the northern parts of that kingdom. It was into these pathless wildernesses that the Romans drove the ancient inhabitants of Great Britain; and it was from these that they afterwards sallied to invade and distress that part of Britain which the Romans had conquered, and in some degree civilized. The inhabitants of the Highlands spoke, and still speak, a language totally different from the Lowland Scots. That last language does not greatly differ from English, and the inhabitants of both countries easily understand each other, though neither of them comprehend the Gaelic, which is the language of the Highlanders. The dress of these mountaineers was also different from that of the Lowlanders. They wore a plaid, or mantle of frieze, or of a striped stuff called tartan, one end of which being wrapt round the waist, formed a short petticoat, which descended to the knee, while the rest was folded round them like a sort of cloak. They had buskins made of raw hide; and those who could get a bonnet, had that covering for their heads, though many never wore one during their whole lives, but had only their own shaggy hair tied back by a leathern strap. They went always armed, carrying bows and arrows, large swords, which they wielded with both hands, called claymores, poleaxes, and daggers for close fight. For defence, they had a round wooden shield, or target, stuck full of nails; and their great men had shirts of mail, not unlike to the flannel shirts now worn, only composed of links of iron instead of threads of worsted; but the common men were so far from desiring armour, that they sometimes threw their plaids away, and fought in their shirts, which they wore very long and large, after the Irish fashion. This part of the Scottish nation was divided into clans, that is, tribes. The persons composing each of these clans believed themselves all to be descended, at some distant period, from the same common ancestor, whose name they usually bore. Thus, one tribe was called MacDonald, which signifies the sons of Donald; another MacGregor, or the sons of Gregor; MacNeil, the sons of Neil, and so on. Every one of these tribes had its own separate chief, or commander, whom they supposed to be the immediate representative of the great father of the tribe from whom they were all descended. To this chief they paid the most unlimited obedience, and willingly followed his commands in peace or war; not caring although, in doing so, they transgressed the laws of the King, or went into rebellion against the king himself. Each tribe lived in a valley, or district of the mountains, separated from the others; and they often made war upon, and fought desperately with each other. But with Lowlanders they were always at war. They differed from them in language, in dress, and in manners; and they believed that the richer grounds of the low country had formerly belonged to their ancestors, and therefore they made incursions upon it, and plundered it without mercy. The Lowlanders, on the other hand, equal in courage and superior in discipline, gave many severe checks to the Highlanders; and thus there was almost constant war or discord between them, though natives of the same country. Some of the most powerful of the Highland chiefs set themselves up as independent sovereigns. Such were the famous Lords of the Isles, called MacDonald, to whom the islands called the Hebrides, lying on the north-west of Scotland, might be said to belong in property. These petty sovereigns made alliances with the English in their own name. They took the part of Robert the Bruce in the wars, and joined him with their forces. We shall find, that after his time, they gave great disturbance to Scotland. The Lords of Lorn, Mac–Dougals by name, were also extremely powerful; and you have seen that they were able to give battle to Bruce, and to defeat him, and place him in the greatest jeopardy. He revenged himself afterwards by driving John of Lorn out of the country, and by giving great part of his possessions to his own nephew Sir Colin Campbell, who became the first of the great family of Argyll, which afterwards enjoyed such power in the Highlands. Upon the whole, you can easily understand, that these Highland clans, living among such high and inaccessible mountains, and paying obedience to no one save their own chiefs, should have been very instrumental in disturbing the tranquillity of the kingdom of Scotland. They had many virtues, being a kind, brave, and hospitable people, and remarkable for their fidelity to their chiefs; but they were restless, revengeful, fond of plunder, and delighting rather in war than in peace, in disorder than in repose.

The Border counties were in a state little more favourable to a quiet or peaceful government. In some respects the inhabitants of the counties of Scotland lying opposite to England, greatly resembled the Highlanders, and particularly in their being, like them, divided into clans, and having chiefs, whom they obeyed in preference to the King, or the officers whom he placed among them. How clanship came to prevail in the Highlands and Borders, and not in the provinces which separated them from each other, it is not easy to conjecture, but the fact was so. The Borders are not, indeed, so mountainous and inaccessible a country as the Highlands; but they also are full of hills, especially on the more western part of the frontier, and were in early times covered with forests, and divided by small rivers and morasses into dales and valleys, where the different clans lived, making war sometimes on the English, sometimes on each other, and sometimes on the more civilized country which lay behind them.

But though the Borderers resembled the Highlanders in their mode of government and habits of plundering, and, as it may be truly added, in their disobedience to the general government of Scotland, yet they differed in many particulars. The Highlanders fought always on foot, the Borderers were all horsemen. The Borderers spoke the same language with the Lowlanders, wore the same sort of dress, and carried the same arms. Being accustomed to fight against the English, they were also much better disciplined than the Highlanders. But in point of obedience to the Scottish government, they were not much different from the clans of the north.

Military officers, called Wardens, were appointed along the Borders, to keep these unruly people in order; but as these wardens were generally themselves chiefs of clans, they did not do much to mend the evil. Robert the Bruce committed great part of the charge of the Borders to the good Lord James of Douglas, who fulfilled his trust with great fidelity. But the power which the family of Douglas thus acquired, proved afterwards, in the hands of his successors, very dangerous to the crown of Scotland.

Thus you see how much the poor country of Scotland was torn to pieces by the quarrels of the nobles, the weakness of the laws, the disorders of the Highlands, and the restless incursions of the Borderers. If Robert the Bruce had lived, and preserved his health, he would have done much to bring the country to a more orderly state. But Providence had decreed, that in the time of his son and successor, Scotland was to fall back into a state almost as miserable as that from which this great prince rescued it.

Chapter 13

ROBERT BRUCE, the greatest king who ever wore the Scottish crown, being dead, as you have been told, the kingdom descended to his son David, who was called David the Second, to distinguish him from the first king of that name, who reigned about a hundred years before. This David the Second was only four years old at his father’s death; and although we have seen children who thought themselves very wise at that age, yet it is not usual to give them the management of kingdoms. So Randolph, Earl of Murray, of whom you have heard so much, became what is called Regent of the kingdom of Scotland; that is, he exercised the royal authority until the King should be old enough to take the charge upon himself. This wise provision had been made by Bruce, with consent of the Parliament of Scotland, and was very acceptable to the kingdom.

The Regent was very strict in administering justice. If a husbandman had the plough-irons stolen from his plough when he left them in the field, Randolph caused the sheriff of the county to pay the value; because it was the duty of that magistrate to protect property left in the open fields. A fellow tried to cheat under colour of this law: he hid his own plough-irons, and pretending that they had been stolen, claimed the price from the sheriff, and was paid accordingly the estimated value, which was two shillings. But the fraud being discovered, the Regent caused the man to be hanged.

Upon one occasion, a criminal who had slain a priest, and afterwards fled to Rome, and done penance there, was brought before the Regent. The culprit confessed the murder, but pleaded that he had obtained the Pope’s pardon. “The Pope,” said Randolph,” might pardon you for killing a priest, but his remission cannot avail you for murdering a subject of the King of Scotland,” and accordingly he caused the culprit to be executed. This was asserting a degree of independence of the Pope’s authority, which was very unusual among the princes and governors of that time. While the Regent was sitting in judgment at Wigton, in Galloway, a man stepped forward to complain, that at the very time he was speaking, a company of his enemies were lying in ambush in a neighbouring forest, to put him to death. Randolph sent a party of his attendants to seize the men, and bring them before him. “Is it you?” said he, “who lie in wait to kill the Kings liege subjects? — To the gallows with them instantly.” Randolph was to be praised for his justice, but not for his severity. He appears to have taken a positive pleasure in putting criminals to death, which marked the ferocity of the times and the turn of his own disposition. Having sent his coroner before him to Ellandonan castle in the Highlands, to execute certain thieves and robbers, that officer caused their heads to be hung round the walls of the castle, to the number of fifty. When Randolph came down the lake in a barge, and saw the castle adorned with these grim and bloody heads, he said, “He loved better to look upon them than on any garland of roses he had ever seen.” The efforts of the Regent to preserve the establishment of justice and order, were soon interrupted, and he was called upon to take measures for the defence of the country; for Robert Bruce was no sooner in his grave than the enemies of his family began to plot the means of destroying the government which he had established. The principal person concerned in these machinations was Edward Baliol, the son of that John Baliol who was formerly created King of Scotland by Edward I, and afterwards dethroned by him, and committed to prison, when Edward desired to seize upon the country for himself. After being long detained in prison, John Baliol was at length suffered to go to France, where he died in obscurity. But his son, Edward Baliol, seeing, as he thought, a favourable opportunity, resolved to renew the claim of his father to the Scottish throne. He came over to England with this purpose, and although Edward III, then King of England, remembering the late successes of the Scots, did not think it prudent to enter into a war with them, yet Baliol found a large party of powerful English barons well disposed to aid his enterprise. Their cause of resentment was as follows:— When Scotland was freed from the dominion of England, all the Englishmen to whom Edward the First, or his successors, had given lands within that kingdom, were of course deprived of them. But there was another class of English proprietors in Scotland, who claimed estates to which they succeeded, not by the grant of the English prince, but by inheritance from Scottish families, to whom they were related, and their pretensions were admitted by Robert Bruce himself, at the treaty of peace made at Northampton, in 1328, in which it was agreed that these English lords should receive back their Scottish inheritances. Notwithstanding this agreement, Bruce, who did not desire to see Englishmen enjoy land in Scotland, under what pretext soever, refused, or delayed at least, to fulfil this part of the treaty. Hence, upon the death of that monarch, the disinherited lords resolved to levy forces, and unite themselves with Edward Baliol, to recover their estates, and determined to invade Scotland for that purpose. But their united forces did not amount to more than four hundred men-at-arms, and about four thousand archers and soldiers of every description. This was a small army with which to invade a nation which had defended itself so well against the whole English forces; but Scotland was justly supposed to be much weakened by the death of her valiant King. A great misfortune befell the country, in the unexpected death of the Regent Randolph, whose experience and valour might have done so much for the protection of Scotland. He had assembled an army, and was busied with preparations for defence against the enterprise of Baliol and the disinherited lords, when, wasted by a painful and consuming disorder, he died at Musselburgh, July, 1332. The regret of the Scottish nation for the Regent’s death was so great, that it has occasioned their historians to allege that he was poisoned by the English; but for this there seems no foundation. Donald, Earl of Mar, nephew to Robert Bruce was appointed by the Scottish Parliament to be Regent in the room of the Earl of Murray; but he was without experience as a soldier, and of far inferior talents as a man.

Mean time, the King of England, still affecting to maintain peace with Scotland, prohibited the disinherited lords from invading that country from the English frontier. But he did not object to their equipping a small fleet in an obscure English seaport, for the purpose of accomplishing the same object by sea. They landed in Fife, with Baliol at their head, and defeated the Earl of Fife, who marched hastily to oppose them. They then advanced northward towards Dupplin, near which the Earl of Mar lay encamped with a large army, whilst another, under the Earl of March, was advancing from the southern counties of Scotland to attack the disinherited lords in the flank and in the rear. It seemed as if that small handful of men must have been inevitably destroyed by the numbers collected to oppose them. But Edward Baliol took the bold resolution of attacking the Regent’s army by night, and in their camp. With this purpose he crossed the Earn, which river divided the two hostile armies. The Earl of Mar had neither placed sentries, nor observed any other of the usual precautions against surprise, and the English came upon his army while the men were asleep and totally unprepared. They made a great slaughter amongst the Scots, whose numbers only served to increase the confusion. The Regent was himself slain, with the Earls of Carrick, of Murray, of Menteith, and many other men of eminence. Many thousands of the Scots were slain with the sword, smothered in the fight, or drowned in the river. The English were themselves surprised at gaining, with such inferior numbers, so great and decided a victory.

I said that the Earl of March was advancing with the southland forces to assist the Regent. But upon learning Mar’s defeat and death, March acted with so little activity or spirit, that he was not unjustly suspected of being favourably inclined to Baliol’s cause. That victorious general now assumed the crown of Scotland, which was placed upon his head at Scoon; a great part of Scotland surrendered to his authority, and it seemed as if the fatal battle of Dupplin fought 12th August, 1332, had destroyed all the Edward Baliol made an unworthy use of his success. He hastened again to acknowledge the King of England as his liege lord and superior, although every claim to such supremacy had been renounced, and the independence of Scotland explicitly acknowledged by the treaty of Northampton. He also surrendered to the King of England the strong town and castle of Berwick, and engaged to become his follower in all his wars at his own charges. Edward III. engaged on his part to maintain Baliol in possession of the crown of Scotland. Thus was the kingdom reduced pretty much to the same state of dependence and subjection to England, as when the grandfather of Edward placed the father of Baliol on the throne, in the year 1292, about forty years before. But the success of Baliol was rather apparent than real. The Scottish patriots were in possession of many of the strongholds of the country, and the person of the young King David was secured in Dumbarton castle, one of the strongest fortresses in Scotland, or perhaps in the world. At no period of her history was Scotland devoid of brave men, able and willing to defend her rights. When the scandalous treaty, by which Baliol had surrendered the independence of his country to Edward, came to be known in Scotland, the successors of Bruce’s companions were naturally among the first to assert the cause of freedom. John Randolph, second son of the Regent, had formed a secret union with Archibald Douglas, a younger brother of the Good Lord James, and they proceeded to imitate the actions of their relatives. They suddenly assembled a considerable force, and attacking Baliol, who was feasting near Annan, they cut his guards in pieces, killed his brother, and chased him out of Scotland in such haste, that he escaped on horseback without time to clothe himself, or even to saddle his horse. Archibald Douglas, who afterwards became Earl of Douglas, was a brave man like his father, but not so good a general, nor so fortunate in his undertakings.

There was another Douglas, called Sir William, a natural son of the Good Lord James, who made a great figure at this period. Although a bastard by birth, he had acquired a large fortune by marrying with the heiress of the Grahames of Dalkeith, and possessed the strong castle of the same name, with the still more important one called the Hermitage, a large and massive fortress situated in the wild country of Liddesdale, within three or four miles of the English Border. This Sir William Douglas, called usually the Knight of Liddesdale, was a very brave man and a valiant soldier, but he was fierce, cruel, and treacherous; so that he did not keep up the reputation of his father the Good Lord James, as a man of loyalty and honour, although he resembled him in military talents. Besides these champions, all of whom declared against Baliol, there was Sir Andrew Murray of Bothwell, who had married Christian, sister of Robert Bruce, and aunt of the young King David. He had so high a reputation, that the Scottish Parliament appointed him Regent, in room of the Earl of Mar, slain at Dupplin.

Edward III of England now formally declared war against Scotland, proposing to support the cause of Baliol, to the possession of Berwick, which that pretended King had yielded up to him, and to chastise the Scots for what he called their rebellion. He placed himself at the head of a great army, and marched towards the frontier. In the mean time, the war had begun in a manner most unfavourable for Scotland. Sir Andrew Murray, and the Knight of Liddesdale, were both made prisoners in separate skirmishes with the English, and their loss at the time was of the worst consequence to Scotland.

Archibald Douglas, the brother, as I have just said, of the Good Lord James, was hastily appointed Regent in the room of Sir Andrew Murray, and advanced with a large army to relieve the town of Berwick, then closely besieged by Edward III with all his host. The garrison made a determined defence, and the Regent endeavoured to relieve them by giving battle to the English, in which he showed more courage than military conduct. The Scottish army were drawn up on the side of an eminence called Halidon hill, within two miles of Berwick. King Edward moved with his whole host to attack them. The battle, like that of Falkirk and many others, was decided by that formidable force, the archers of England. They were posted in a marshy ground, from which they discharged their arrows in the most tremendous and irresistible volleys against the Scots, who, drawn up on the slope of the hill, were fully exposed to this destructive discharge, without having the means of answering it.

I have told you before, that these English archers were the best ever known in war. They were accustomed to the use of the bow from the time they were children of seven years old, when they were made to practice with a little bow suited to their size and strength, which was every year exchanged for one larger and stronger, till they were able to draw that of a full-grown man. Besides being thus familiarized with the weapon, the archers of England were taught to draw the bow string to their right ear, while other European nations only drew it to their breast. If you try the difference of the posture, you will find that a much longer arrow can be drawn to the ear than to the breast, because the right hand has more room.

While the Scots suffered under these practised and skilful archers, whose arrows fell like hail amongst them, throwing their ranks into disorder, and piercing the finest armour as if it had been pasteboard, they made desperate attempts to descend the hill, and come to close combat. The Earl of Ross advanced to the charge, and had he been seconded by a sufficient body of the Scottish cavalry, he might have changed the fate of the day; but as this was not the case, the Earls of Ross, Sutherland, and Menteith, were overpowered and slain, while their followers were dispersed by the English cavalry, who advanced to protect the archers. The defeat of the Scots was then complete (19/7/1333). A number of their best and bravest nobility were slain, and amongst them Archibald Douglas, the Regent; very many were made prisoners. Berwick surrendered in consequence of the defeat, and Scotland seemed again to be completely conquered by the English. Edward once more over-ran the kingdom, seized and garrisoned castles, extorted from Edward Baliol, the nominal king, the complete cession of great part of the southern districts, named governors of the castle and sheriff of the counties, and exercised complete authority, as over a conquered country. Baliol, on his part, assumed once more the rule of the northern and western part of Scotland, which he was permitted to retain under the vassalage of the English monarch. It was the opinion of most people that the Scottish wars were ended, and that there no longer remained a man of that nation who had influence to raise an army, or skill to conduct one.

Chapter 14

The English, a more powerful and richer nation, better able to furnish forth and maintain large armies, often gained great victories over the Scots; but, in return, the Scots had a determined love of independence, and hatred of foreign tyranny, which induced them always to maintain their resistance under the most unfavourable circumstances, and to repair, by slow, stubborn, and continued exertions, the losses which they sustained. Throughout the whole country of Scotland, only four castles and a small tower acknowledged the sovereignty of David Bruce, after the battle of Halidon; and it is wonderful to see how, by their efforts, the patriots soon afterwards changed for the better, that unfavourable and seemingly desperate state of things. In the several skirmishes and battles which were fought all over the kingdom, the Scots, knowing the country, and having the good-will of the inhabitants, were generally successful, as also in surprising castles and forts, cutting off convoys of provisions which were going to the English, and destroying scattered parties of the enemy; so that, by a long and incessant course of fighting, the patriots gradually regained what they lost in great battles. I will tell you one or two of the incidents which befell during this bloody war. Lochleven castle, situated on an island upon a large lake, was one of the four which held out in name of David the Bruce, and would not submit to Edward Baliol. The governor was a loyal Scotsman, called Alan Vipont, assisted by Jaques or James Lamby. The castle was besieged by Sir John Stirling, a follower of Baliol, with an army of English. As She besiegers dared not approach the island with boats, Stirling fell on a singular device to oblige the garrison to surrender. There is a small river, called the Leven, which runs out of the eastern extremity of the lake, or loch. Across this stream the besiegers reared a very strong and lofty mound, or barrier, so as to prevent the waters of the Leven from leaving the lake. They expected that the waters of the lake would rise in consequence of being thus confined, and that they would overflow the island, and oblige Vipont to surrender. But Vipont sending out at dead of night a small boat with four men, they made a breach in the mound; and the whole body of water, breaking forth with incredible fury, swept away the tents, baggage, and troops of the besiegers, and nearly destroyed their army. The remains of the English mound are shown to this day, though some doubt has been expressed as to the truth of the incident. It is certain the English were obliged to raise the siege with loss (19/6/1335).

While these wars were proceeding with increased fury, the Knight of Liddesdale, and Sir Andrew Murray of Bothwell, returned to Scotland, having been freed from their imprisonment, by paying a large ransom; the Earl of March also embraced the party of David Bruce. An equally brave champion was Sir Alexander Ramsay of Dalwolsy, who, placing himself at the head of a gallant troop of young Scotsmen, chose for his residence the large caves which are still to be seen in the glen of Roslin, from which he used to sally forth, and fight with Englishmen and their adherents. From this place of refuge he sometimes made excursions as far as Northumberland, and drove spoil from that country. No young Scottish soldier was thought entitled to make pretension to any renown in arms, unless he had served in Ramsay’s band. A considerable battle was fought in the North of Scotland, which turned to the advantage of the young King. Kildrummie castle was one of the four which held out for David Bruce. It was defended by King David’s aunt, a venerable matron, Christian Bruce, the wife of Sir Andrew Murray, and the sister of the brave King Robert; for in those warlike days women commanded castles, and sometimes fought in battle. This castle, which was one of the last places of refuge for the patriots, was besieged by David Hastings, the Earl of Athole, one of the disinherited lords, who, having changed sides more than once during the war, had at length turned entirely to the English party. Sir Andrew Murray of Bothwell, who had resumed his office of Regent, resolved to assemble the strongest force which the patriots could muster, and calling together the Knight of Liddesdale, Ramsay, and the Earl of March, he moved against the Earl of Athole, to compel him to raise the siege of Kildrummie, and relieve its heroic defender. All these great nobles were unable to raise above one thousand men, while Athole had three times that number under his command. But as the Scots approached the territory of Kildrummie, they were joined by one John Craig. This gentleman belonged to the royalists of Scotland, but having been made prisoner by the Earl of Athole, he had agreed to pay a large ransom, and the morrow was the time appointed for producing the money. He was, therefore, anxious to accomplish the defeat or death of Athole before the money was paid to him, and thus to save his ransom. With this purpose, he conducted the Scotsmen through the forest of Braemar, where they were joined by the natives of that territory, and thus came suddenly on the Earl of Athole, who lay encamped in the forest. Athole started up in surprise when he saw his enemies appear so unexpectedly; but he was a stout-hearted man, though fickle in his political attachments. He looked at a great rock which lay beside him, and swore an oath that he would not fly that day until that rock should show him the example. A small brook divided the two parties. The Knight of Liddesdale, who led the van of the Scots, advanced a little way down the bank on his side, then taking his spear by the middle, and keeping his own men back with it, he bade them halt, which occasioned some murmurs. The Earl of Athole, seeing this pause, exclaimed, “These men are half discomfited,” and rushed to charge them, followed by his men in some disorder. When they had passed the brook, and there ascending the bank on the other side, — “Now is our time,” said the Knight of Liddesdale, and charged down hill with levelled lances, bearing Athole’s followers backwards into the ford. The earl himself, disdaining quarter, was slain under a great oak-tree. This was the battle of Kilblene, fought on Saint Andrew’s day, 1335.

Among the warlike exploits of this period, we might not forget the defence of the castle of Dunbar by the celebrated Countess of March. Her lord, as we have seen, had embraced the side of David Bruce, and had taken the field with the Regent. The countess, who from her complexion was termed Black Agnes, by which name she is still familiarly remembered, was a high-spirited and courageous woman, the daughter of that Thomas Randolph, Earl of Murray, whom I have so often mentioned, and the heiress of his valour and patriotism. The castle of Dunbar itself was very strong, being built upon a chain of rocks stretching into the sea, and having only one passage to the mainland, which was well fortified. It was besieged by Montague, Earl of Salisbury, who employed to destroy its walls great military engines, constructed to throw huge stones, with which machines fortifications were attacked before the use of cannon. Black Agnes set all his attempts of defiance, and showed herself with her maids on the walls of the castle, wiping the places where the huge stones fell with a clean towel, as if they could do no ill to her castle, save raising a little dust, which a napkin could wipe away.

The Earl of Salisbury then commanded his engineers to bring forward to the assault an engine of another kind, being a sort of wooden shed, or house, rolled forward on wheels, with a roof of peculiar strength, which, from resembling the ridge of a hog’s back, occasioned the machine to be called a sow. This, according to the old mode of warfare, was thrust close up to the walls of a besieged castle or city, and served to protect from the arrows and stones or the besieged a party of soldiers placed within the sow, who, being thus defended, were in the mean while employed in undermining the wall, or breaking an entrance through it with pickaxes and mining tools. When the Countess of March saw this engine advanced to the walls of the castle, she called out to the Earl of Salisbury in derision and making a kind of rhyme, —

“Beware, Montagow,

For farrow shall thy sow.”

At the same time she made a signal, and a huge fragment of rock, which hung prepared for the purpose, was dropped down from the wall upon the sow, whose roof was thus dashed to pieces. As the English soldiers, who had been within it, were running as fast as they could to get out of the way of the arrows and stones which were discharged on them from the wall, Black Agnes called out, “Behold the litter of English pigs!”

The Earl of Salisbury could jest also on such serious occasions. One day he rode near the walls with a knight dressed in armour of proof, having three folds of mail over an acton, or leathern jacket; notwithstanding which, one William Spens shot an arrow from the battlements of the castle with such force, that it penetrated all these defences, and reached the heart of the wearer. “That is one of my lady’s love-tokens,” said the earl, as he saw the knight fall dead from his horse. “Black Agnes’s love-shafts pierce to the heart.” Upon another occasion, the Countess of March had wellnigh made the Earl of Salisbury her prisoner. She caused one of her people enter into treaty with the besiegers, pretending to betray the castle. Trusting to this agreement, the earl came at midnight before the gate, which he found open, and the portcullis drawn up. As Salisbury was about to enter, one John Copland, a squire of Northumberland, pressed on before him, and as soon as he passed the threshold, the portcullis was dropped, and thus the Scots missed their principal prey, and made prisoner only a person of inferior condition.

At length the castle of Dunbar was relieved by Alexander Ramsay of Dalwolsy, who brought the countess supplies by sea both of men and provisions. The Earl of Salisbury, learning this, despaired of success, and raised the siege, which had lasted nineteen weeks. The minstrels made songs in praise of the perseverance and courage of Black Agnes. The following lines are nearly the sense of what is preserved:

“She kept a stir in tower and trench, That brawling boisterous Scottish wench;

Came I early, came I late, I found Agnes at the gate.”

The brave Sir Andrew Murray of Bothwell, the Regent of Scotland, died in 1338, while the war was raging on all sides. He was a good patriot, and a great loss to his country, to which he had rendered the highest services. There is a story told of him, which shows how composed he could be in circumstances of great danger. He was in the Highlands with a small body of followers, when the King of England came upon him with an army of twenty thousand. The Regent learned the news, but, being then about to hear mass, did not permit his devotions to be interrupted. When mass was ended, the people around him pressed him to order a retreat. “There is no haste,” said Murray, composedly. At length his horse was brought out, he was about to mount, and all expected that the retreat was to commence. But the Regent observed that a strap of his armour had given way, and this interposed new delays. He sent for a particular coffer, out of which he took a piece of skin, and cut and formed with his own hand, and with much deliberation, the strap which he wanted. By this time the English were drawing very near, and as they were so many in number, some of the Scottish knights afterwards told the historian who relates the incident, that no space of time ever seemed so long to them as that which Sir Andrew employed in cutting the thong of leather. Now, if this had been done in a mere vaunting or bragging manner, it would have been the behaviour of a vainglorious fool. But Sir Andrew Murray had already fixed upon the mode of retiring, and he knew that every symptom of coolness and deliberation which he might show would render his men steady and composed in their turn, from beholding the confidence of their leader. He at length gave the word, and putting himself at the head of his followers, made a most masterly retreat, during which the English, notwithstanding their numbers, were unable to obtain any advantage over him, so well did the Regent avail himself of the nature of the ground. You may well imagine, my dear child, that during those long and terrible wars which were waged, when castles were defended and taken, prisoners made, many battles fought, and numbers of men wounded and slain, the state of the country of Scotland was most miserable. There was no finding refuge or protection in the law, at a time when every thing was decided by the strongest arm and the longest sword. There was no use in raising crops, when the man who sowed them was not, in all probability, permitted to reap the grain. There was little religious devotion where so much violence prevailed; and the hearts of the people became so much inclined to acts of blood and fury, that all laws of humanity and charity were transgressed without scruple. People were found starved to death in the woods with their families, while the country was so depopulated and void of cultivation, that the wild-deer came out of the remote forests, and approached near to cities and the dwellings of men. Whole families were reduced to eat grass, and others, it is said, found a more horrible aliment in the flesh of their fellow-creatures. One wretch used to set traps for human beings as if for wild beasts, and subsisted on their flesh. This cannibal was called Christian of the Cleek, from the cleek or hook which he used in his horrid traps. In the middle of all these horrors, the English and Scottish knights and nobles, when there was any truce between the countries, supplied the place of the wars in which they were commonly engaged, with tournaments and games of chivalry. These were meetings not for the express purpose of fighting, but for that of trying which was the best man at-arms. But instead of wrestling, leaping, or running races on foot or horse, the fashion then was that the gentlemen tilted together, that is, rode against each other in armour with their long lances, and tried which could bear the other out of the saddle, and throw him to the ground. Sometimes they fought on foot with swords and axes; and although all was meant in courtesy and fair play, yet lives were often lost in this idle manner as much as if the contest had been carried on with the purpose of armed battle and deadly hatred. In later days they fought with swords purposely blunted on the edge, and with lances which had no steel point; but in the times we speak of at present, they used in tilts and tournaments the same weapons which they employed in war.

A very noted entertainment of this kind was given to both Scottish and English champions by Henry of Lancaster, then called Earl of Derby, and afterwards King Henry IV of England. He invited the Knight of Liddesdale, the good Sir Alexander Ramsay, and about twenty other distinguished Scottish knights, to a tilting match, which was to take place near Berwick. After receiving and entertaining his Scottish guests nobly, the Earl of Derby began to enquire of Ramsay in what manner of armour the knights should tilt together. “With shields of plate,” said Ramsay, “such as men use in tournaments.”

This may be supposed a peculiarly weighty and strong kind of armour, intended merely for this species of encounter.

“Nay,” said the Earl of Derby, “we shall gain little praise if we tilt in such safety; let us rather use the lighter armour which we wear in battle.” “Content are we,” answered Sir Alexander Ramsay, “to fight in our silk doublets, if such be your lordship’s pleasure.”

The knight of Liddesdale was wounded on the wrist by the splinter of a spear, and was obliged to desist from the exercise. A Scottish knight called Sir Patrick Grahame tilted with a warlike English baron named Talbot, whose life was saved by his wearing two breastplates. The Scottish lance pierced through both, and sunk an inch into the breast. Had he been only armed as according to agreement, Talbot had been a dead man. Another English knight challenged the Grahame at supper time, to run three courses with him the next day. “Dost thou ask to tilt with me?” said the Grahame; “rise early in the morning, confess your sins, and make your peace with God, for you shall sup in paradise.” Accordingly, on the ensuing morning, Grahame ran him through the body with his lance, and he died on the spot. Another English knight was also slain, and one of the Scots mortally wounded. William Ramsay was borne through the helmet with a lance, the splinter of the broken spear remaining in his skull, and nailing his helmet to his head. As he was expected to die on the spot, a priest was sent for, who heard him confess his sins, without the helmet being removed. “Ah, it is a goodly sight,” quoth the good Earl of Derby, much edified by this spectacle, “to see a knight make his shrift” (that is, confession of his sins) “in his helmet. God send me such an ending!”

But when the shrift was over, Sir Alexander Ramsay, to whom the wounded knight was brother, or kinsman, made him lie down at full length, and, with surgery as rough as their pastime, held his friend’s head down with his foot, while, by main strength, he pulled the fragment of the spear out of the helmet, and out of the wound. Then William Ramsay started up, and said, “that he should do well enough.”

“Lo! what stout hearts men may bear!” said the Earl of Derby, as much admiring the surgical treatment as he had done the religious. Whether the patient lived or died, does not appear. In fixing the prizes, it was settled that the English knights should decide which of the Scots had done best, and the Scots should, in like manner, judge the valour of the English. Much equity was shown in the decision on both sides, and the Earl of Derby was munificent in distribution of gifts and prizes. This may serve to show you the amusements of this stirring period, of which war and danger were the sport as well as the serious occupation.

Chapter 15

Notwithstanding the valiant defence maintained by the Scots, their country was reduced to a most disastrous state, by the continued wars of Edward III, who was a wise and warlike King as ever lived. Could he have turned against Scotland the whole power of his kingdom, he might probably have effected the complete conquest, which had been so long attempted in vain. But while the wars in Scotland were at the hottest, Edward became also engaged in hostilities with France, having laid claim to the crown of that kingdom. Thus Edward was obliged to slacken his efforts in Scotland, and the patriots began to gain ground decisively in the dreadful contest which was so obstinately maintained on both sides. The Scots sent an embassy to obtain money and assistance from the French; and they received supplies of both, which enabled them to recover their castles and towns from the English. Edinburgh castle was taken from the invaders by a stratagem. The Knight of Liddesdale, with two hundred chosen men, embarked at Dundee, in a merchant vessel commanded by one William Curry. The shipmaster, on their arrival at Leith, went with a party of his sailors to the castle, carrying barrels of wine and hampers of provisions, which he pretended it was his desire to sell to the English governor and his garrison. But getting entrance at the gate under this pretext, they raised the war-shout of Douglas, and the Knight of Liddesdale rushed in which his soldiers, and secured the castle. Perth, and other important places, were also retaken by the Scots, and Edward Baliol retired out of the country, in despair of making good his pretensions to the crown. The nobles of Scotland, finding the affairs of the kingdom more prosperous, now came to the resolution of bringing back from France, where he had resided for safety, their young king, David II., and his consort, Queen Joanna. They arrived in 1341.

David II was still a youth, neither did he possess at any period of life the wisdom and talents of his father, the great King Robert. The nobles of Scotland had become each a petty prince on his own estates; they made war on each other as they had done upon the English, and the poor King possessed no power of restraining them. A most melancholy instance of this discord took place, short after David’s return from France. I have told you how Sir Alexander Ramsay and the knight of Liddesdale assisted each other in fighting against the English. They were great friends and companions in arms. But Ramsay, having taken by storm the strong castle of Roxburgh, the King bestowed on him the office of sheriff of that county, which was before enjoyed by the Knight of Liddesdale. As this was placing another person in his room, the Knight of Liddesdale altogether forgot his old friendship for Ramsay, and resolved to put him to death. He came suddenly upon him with a strong party of men, while he was administering justice at Hawick. Ramsay, having no suspicion of injury from the hand of his old comrade, and having few men with him, was easily overpowered, and being wounded, was hurried away to the lonely castle of the Hermitage, which stands in the middle of the morasses of Liddesdale. Here he was thrown into a dungeon, where he had no other sustenance than some grain which fell down from a granary above; and after lingering seventeen days in that dreadful condition, the brave Sir Alexander Ramsay died. This was in 1342. Nearly four hundred and fifty years afterwards, that is, about forty years ago, a mason, digging amongst the ruins of Hermitage castle, broke into a dungeon, where lay a quantity of chaff, some human bones, and a bridle bit, which were supposed to mark the vault as the placed of Ramsay’s death. The bridle bit was given to grandpapa, who presented it to the present gallant Earl of Dalhousie, a brave soldier, like his ancestor Sir Alexander Ramsay, from whom he is lineally descended.

The King was much displeased at the commission of so great a crime, on the person of so faithful a subject. He made some attempts to avenge the murder, but the Knight of Liddesdale was too powerful to be punished, and the King was obliged to receive him again into friendship and confidence. But God in his own good time revenged this cruel deed. About five years after the crime was committed, the Knight of Liddesdale was taken prisoner by the English at the battle of Neville’s Cross, near Durham, and is suspected of having obtained his liberty by entering into a treacherous league with the English monarch. He had no time to carry his treason, however, into effect; for, shortly after his liberation, he was slain whilst hunting in Ettrick Forest, by his near relation and godson, William Lord Douglas.(8/1353) The place where he fell was called from his name, William-hope. It is a pity that the Knight of Liddesdale committed that great crime of murdering Ramsay, and entered into the treasonable treaty with the King of England. In other respects, he was ranked so high in public esteem, that he was called the Flower of Chivalry; and an old writer has said of him, “He was terrible in arms, modest and gentle in peace, the scourge of England, and the buckler and wall of Scotland; one whom good success never made presumptuous, and whom evil fortune never discouraged.” We return to the state of Scotland at the time when the young King was restored. Battles and skirmishes were fought on all sides; but the Scots having gained back the whole of their own country, the war became less inveterate; and although no settled peace took place, yet truces, to endure for a certain number of months and years, were agreed upon from time to time; and the English historian allege that the Scottish nation were always ready to break them when a tempting opportunity occurred.

Such a truce was in existence about 1346, when, Edward the Third being absent in France, and in the act of besieging Calais, David was induced, by the pressing and urgent counsels of the French King, to renew the war, and profit by the King’s absence from England. The young King of Scotland raised, accordingly, a large army, and entering England on the west frontier, he marched eastward towards Durham, harassing and wasting the country with great severity; the Scots boasting, that, now the King and his nobles were absent, there were none in England to oppose them, save priests and base mechanics.

But they were greatly deceived. The lords of the northern counties of England, together with the Archbishop of York, assembled a gallant army. They defeated the vanguard of the Scots, and came upon the main body by surprise. The English army, in which there were many ecclesiastics, bore, as their standard, a crucifix, displayed amid the banners of the nobility. The Scots had taken post among some enclosures, which greatly embarrassed their movements, and their ranks remaining stationary, were, as on former occasions, destroyed by the English arrows. Here Sir John Grahame offered his services to disperse the bowmen, if he were intrusted with a body of cavalry. But although this was the movement which decided the battle of Bannockburn, Grahame could not obtain the means of attempting it. In the mean time the Scottish army fell fast into disorder. The King himself fought bravely in the midst of his nobles and was twice wounded with arrows. At length he was captured by John Copland, a Northumberland gentleman; the same who was made prisoner at Dunbar. He did not secure his royal captive without resistance; for in the struggle, the King dashed out two of Copland’s teeth with his dagger. The left wing of the Scottish army continued fighting long after the rest were routed, and at length made a safe retreat. It was commanded by the Steward of Scotland and the Earl of March. Very many of the Scottish nobility were slain; very many made prisoners. The King himself was led in triumph through the streets of London, and committed to the Tower a close prisoner. This battle was fought at Neville’s Cross, near Durham, on 17th October, 1346.

Thus was another great victory gained by the English over the Scots. It was followed by farther advantages, which gave the victors for a time possession of the country from the Scottish Border as far as the verge of Lothian. But the Scots, as usual, were no sooner compelled to momentary submission, than they began to consider the means of shaking off the yoke.

William Douglas, son to that Douglas who was killed at Halidon hill, near Berwick, now displayed his share of that courage and conduct which seemed the birthright of that extraordinary family. He recovered his own territories of Douglasdale, drove the English out of Ettrick forest, and assisted the inhabitants of Teviotdale in regaining their independence.

On this occasion, indeed, the invasion of the English was not attended with same extensively bad effects as on former victories obtained by them. The title of Baliol was not again set up, and that nominal sovereign surrendered to the English monarch all his right and interest in the kingdom of Scotland, in testimony of which he presented him a handful of earth belonging to the country, and crown of gold. Edward, in reward of this surrender of the Scottish crown, fixed a large annual income upon Baliol, who retired from public affairs, and lived ever afterwards in such obscurity, that historians do not even record the period of his death. Nothing which he afterwards did bore the same marks of courage and talent, as the enterprise in which he commanded the disinherited barons, and obtained the great victory at the battle of Dupplin. It seems therefore likely, that he had upon that occasion some assistance which he did not afterwards enjoy.

Edward III was not more fortunate in making wars on Scotland in his own name, than when he used the pretext of supporting Baliol. He marched into East–Lothian in spring 1355, and committed such ravages that the period was long marked by that name of the Burned Candlemas, because so many towns and villages were burned. But the Scots had removed every species of provisions which could be of use to the invaders, and avoided a general battle, while they engaged in a number of skirmishes. In this manner Edward was compelled to retreat out of Scotland, after sustaining much loss.

After the failure of this effort, Edward seems to have despaired of the conquest of Scotland, and entered into terms for a truce, and for setting the King at liberty.

Thus David II. at length obtained his freedom from the English, after he had been detained in prison eleven years. The Scots agreed to pay a ransom of one hundred thousand merks, a heavy charge on a country always poor, and exhausted by the late wars. The people were so delighted to see the King once more, that they followed him every where; and (which shows the rudeness of the times) rushed even into his private chamber, till, incensed at their troublesome and intrusive loyalty, the King snatched a mace from an officer, and broke with his own royal hand the head of the liegeman who was nearest to him. After this rebuke, saith the historian, he was permitted to be private in his apartment.

The latter years of this King’s life have nothing very remarkable, excepting that, after the death of Joanna of England, his first wife, he made an imprudent marriage with one Margaret Logie, a woman of great beauty, but of obscure family; he was afterwards divorced or separated from her. He had no children by either of his wives. )David the Second died at the age of forty-seven years, in the castle of Edinburgh, 22nd February, 1370–1. He had reigned forty-two years, of which eleven were spent in captivity.

Chapter 16

As David the Second died childless, the male line of his father, the great Robert Bruce, was at an end. But the attachment of the Scottish nation naturally turned to the family of that heroic prince, and they resolved to confer the crown on a grandson of his by the mother’s side. Marjory, the daughter of Robert Bruce, had married Walter, the Lord High Steward of Scotland, and the sixth of his family who had enjoyed that high dignity, in consequence of possessing which the family had acquired the surname of Stewart. This Walter Stewart, with his wife Marjory, were ancestors of the long line of Stewarts who afterwards ruled Scotland, and came at length to be Kings of England also. The last King of the Stewart family lost his kingdoms at the great national Revolution in 1688, and his son and grandsons died in exile. The female line have possession of the crown at this moment, in the person of our Sovereign, King George the Fourth. When, therefore, you hear of the line of Stewart, you will know that the descendants of Walter Stewart and Marjory Bruce are the family meant by that term. It is said, that the Stewarts were descended from Fleance, the son of Banquo, whose posterity the witches declared were to be Kings of Scotland, and who was murdered by Macbeth. But this seems a very doubtful tradition.

Walter, the Steward of Scotland, who married Bruce’s daughter, was a gallant man, and fought bravely at Bannockburn, where he had a high command. But he died young, and much regretted. Robert Stewart, his son by Marjory Bruce, grand son, of course, of King Robert, was the person now called to the throne. He was a good and kind-tempered prince. When young he had been a brave soldier; but he was now fifty-five years old, and subject to a violent inflammation in his eyes, which rendered them as red as blood. From these causes he lived a good deal retired, and was not active enough to be at the head of a fierce and unmanageable nation like the Scots. Robert Stewart’s ascent to the throne was not unopposed, for it was claimed by a formidable competitor. This was William Earl of Douglas. That family, in which so many great men had arisen, was now come to a great pitch of power and prosperity, and possessed almost a sovereign authority in the southern parts of Scotland. The Earl of Douglas was on the present occasion induced to depart from his claim, upon his son being married to Euphemia, the daughter of Robert II. Stewart therefore was crowned without farther opposition. But the extreme power of the Douglases, which raised them almost to a level with the crown, was afterwards the occasion of great national commotion and distress.

There were not many things of moment in the history of Robert II. But the wars with England were less frequent, and the Scots had learned a better way of conducting them. The following instances may be selected.

In 1385, the French, finding themselves hard pressed by the English in their own country, resolved to send an army into Scotland, to assist that nation in making war upon the English, and thus find work for the latter people at home. They sent, therefore, one thousand men-at-arms, — knights, and squires, that is, in full armour; and as each of these had four or five soldiers under him, the whole force was very considerable. They sent also twelve hundred suits of complete armour to the Scots, with a large sum of money, to assist them to make war. This great force was commanded by John de Vienne, High–Admiral of France, a brave and distinguished general. In the mean time, the King of England, Richard II, summoned together, on his side, a larger army perhaps than any King of England had ever before commanded, and moved towards the Scottish Border. The Scots also assembled large forces, and the French admiral expected there would be a great pitched battle. He said to the Scottish nobles, “You have always said, that if you had some hundreds of French men-at-arms to help you, you would give battle to the English. Now, here we are to give you aid — Let us give battle.” The Scottish nobles answered, that they would not run so great a hazard, as risk the fate of the country in one battle; and one of them, probably Douglas, conveyed John de Vienne to a narrow pass, where, unseen themselves, they might see the army of England march through. The Scot made the admiral remark at the great multitude of archers, the number and high discipline of the English men-at-arms, and then asked the Frenchman as a soldier, whether he could advise the Scots to oppose these clouds of archers with a few ill-trained Highland bowmen, or encounter with their small trotting nags the onset of the brilliant chivalry of England.

The Admiral de Vienne could not but own that the risk was too unequal. “But yet, if you do not fight,” he said, “what do you mean to do? If you do not oppose this great force, the English will destroy your country.”

“Let them do their worst,” said Douglas, smiling; “they will find but little to destroy. Our people are all retired into woods, hills, and morasses, and have driven off their cattle, which is their only property, along with them. The English will find nothing either to take away or to eat. The houses of the gentlemen are small towers, with thick walls, which even fire will not destroy; as for the common people, they dwell in mere huts, and if the English choose to burn them, a few trees from the wood is all that is necessary to build them up again.”

“But what will you do with your army if you do not fight?” said the Frenchman; “and how will your people endure the distress, and famine, and plunder, which must be the consequences of the invasion?”

“You shall see that our army will not lie idle,” said Douglas; “and as for our Scottish people, they will endure pillage, and they will endure famine, and every other extremity of war; but they will not endure an English master.” The event showed the truth of what Douglas had said. The great army of England entered Scotland on the eastern side of the frontier, and marched on, much embarrassed and distressed for want of provisions, laying waste the villages and what property they found, but finding very little to destroy, and nothing to subsist upon. On the contrary, no sooner did the Scottish nobles learn that the English were fairly engaged in Scotland, than, with a numerous army, consisting chiefly of light cavalry, like that led by Douglas and Randolph in 1327, they burst into the western counties of England, where they gained more spoil, and did more damage, in the course of a day or two’s march, than the English could have done in Scotland, had they burned the whole country from the Border to Aberdeen.

The English were quickly called back to the defence of their own country, and though there had been no battle, yet from bad roads, want of forage, scantiness of provisions, and similar causes, they had sustained a heavy loss of men and horses; while the Scottish army, on the contrary, had kept good cheer in a country so much richer than their own, and were grown wealthy by plunder. This wise scheme of defence had been recommended to his posterity by the Bruce, as the only effectual mode of defending the Scottish frontier. As to the French auxiliaries, they quarrelled very much with the reception they met with. They complained that the nation which they came to assist treated them with no kindness or good-will, and that they withheld from them forage, provisions, and other supplies. The Scots replied, on the other hand, that their allies were an expense to them, without being of any use; that their wants were many, and could not be supplied in so poor a country as Scotland; and, finally, that they insulted the inhabitants, and pillaged the country wherever they durst. Nor would the Scots permit the French to leave Scotland till they gave security that they would pay the expenses of their own maintenance. The French knights, who had hoped to acquire both wealth and fame, returned in very bad humour from a kingdom where the people were so wild and uncivilized, and the country so mountainous and poor; where the patches of cultivated land bore no proportion to the extended wastes, and the wild animals were much more numerous than those which were trained for the use of man. It was from prudence, not from want of courage, that the Scots avoided great battles with the English. They readily engaged in smaller actions, when they fought with the utmost valour on both sides, till, as an old historian expresses it, sword and lance could endure no longer, and then they would part from each other, saying, “Good day; and thanks for the sport you have shown.” A very remarkable instance of such a desperate battle occurred in the year 1388.

The Scottish nobles had determined upon an invasion of England on a large scale, and had assembled a great army for that purpose; but learning that the people of Northumberland were raising an army on the eastern frontier, they resolved to limit their incursion to that which might be achieved by the Earl of Douglas, with a chosen band of four or five thousand men. With this force he penetrated into the mountainous frontier of England, where an assault was least expected, and issuing forth near Newcastle, fell upon the flat and rich country around, slaying, plundering, burning, and loading his army with spoil.

Percy, Earl of Northumberland, an English noble of great power, and with whom the Douglas had frequently had encounters, sent his two sons, Sir Henry and Sir Ralph Percy, to stop the progress of this invasion. Both were gallant knights; but the first, who, from his impetuosity, was called Hotspur, was one of the most distinguished warriors in England, as Douglas was in Scotland. The brothers threw themselves hastily into Newcastle, to defend that important town; and as Douglas, in an insulting manner, drew up his followers before the walls, they came out to skirmish with the Scots. Douglas and Henry Percy encountered personally; and it so chanced, that Douglas in the struggle got possession of a small ornament of silk, embroidered with pearls, on which was represented a lion, the cognizance, as it is called, of the Percies. Douglas shook this trophy aloft, and declared that he would carry it into Scotland, and plant it on his castle of Dalkeith.

“That,” said Percy, “shalt thou never do. I will regain my lance ere thou canst get back into Scotland.”

“Then,” said Douglas, “come to seek it, and thou shalt find it before my tent.” The Scottish army, having completed the purpose of their expedition, began their retreat up the vale of the little river Reed, which afforded a tolerable road running north-westward towards their own frontier. They encamped at Otterburn, about twenty miles from the Scottish border, on the 19th August, 1388.

In the middle of the night, the alarm arose in the Scottish camp, that the English host were coming upon them, and the moonlight showed the approach of Sir Henry Percy, with a body of men superior in number to that of Douglas. He had already crossed the Reed water, and was advancing towards the left flank of the Scottish army. Douglas, not choosing to receive the assault in that position, drew his men out of the camp, and with a degree of military skill which could scarce have been expected when his forces were of such an undisciplined character, he altogether changed the position of the army, and presented his troops with their front to the advancing English. Hotspur, in the mean time, marched his squadrons through the deserted camp, where there were none left but a few servants and stragglers of the army. The interruptions which the English troops met with, threw them a little into disorder, when the moon arising showed them the Scottish army, which they had supposed to be retreating, drawn up in complete order, and prepared to fight. The battle commenced with the greatest fury; for Percy and Douglas were the two most distinguished soldiers of their time, and each army trusted in the courage and talents of their commanders, whose names were shouted on either side. The Scots, who were outnumbered, were at length about to give way, when Douglas, their leader, caused his banner to advance, attended by his best men. He himself, shouting his war-cry of “Douglas!” rushed forward, clearing his way with the blows of his battle-axe, and breaking into the very thickest of the enemy. He fell, at length, under three mortal wounds. Had his death been observed by the enemy, the event would probably have decided the battle against the Scots; but the English only knew that some brave man-at-arms had fallen. Mean time the other Scottish nobles pressed forward, and found their general dying among several of his faithful esquires and pages, who lay slain around. A stout priest, called William of North Berwick, the chaplain of Douglas, was protecting the body of his wounded patron with a long lance. “How fares it, cousin?” said Sinclair, the first Scottish knight who came up to the expiring leader. “Indifferently,” answered Douglas; “but blessed be God, my ancestors have died in fields of battle, not on down-beds. I sink fast; but let them still cry my war-cry, and conceal my death from my followers. There was a tradition in our family that a dead Douglas should win a field, and I trust it will be this day accomplished.” The nobles did as he had enjoined; they concealed the Earl’s body, and again rushed on to the battle, shouting “Douglas! Douglas!” louder than before. The English were weakened by the loss of the brave brothers, Henry and Ralph Percy, both of whom were made prisoners, fighting most gallantly, and almost no man of note amongst the English escaped death or captivity. Hence a Scottish poet has said of the name of Douglas,

“Hosts have been known at the dread sound to yield,

And, Douglas dead, his name hath won the field.”

Sir Henry Percy became the prisoner of Sir Hugh Montgomery, who obliged him for ransom to build a castle for him at Penoon in Ayrshire. The battle of Otterburn was disastrous to the leaders on both sides — Percy being made captive, and Douglas slain on the field. It has been the subject of many songs and poems, and the great historian Froissart says, that, one other action only excepted, it was the best fought battle of that warlike time. Robert II died at his castle of Dundonald in Kyle, after a short illness, in the seventy-fifth year of his age, on the 19th April, 1390. His reign of nineteen years did not approach in glory to that of his maternal grandfather, Robert Bruce; but it was far more fortunate than that of David II. The claims of Baliol to the crown were not revived; and though the English made more than one incursion into Scotland, they were never able to retain long possession of the country.

Chapter 17

THE eldest son of Robert II was originally called John. But it was a popular remark, that the kings named John, both of France and England, had been unfortunate, and the Scottish people were very partial to the name of Robert, from its having been borne by the great Bruce. John Stewart, therefore, on ascending the Scottish throne, changed his name to that of Robert III(14 Aug. 1390). We shall see, however, that this poor king remained as unfortunate as if his name had still be John.

The disturbances of the Highlands were one of the plagues of his reign. You must recollect that that extensive range of mountains was inhabited by a race of men different in language and manners from the Lowlanders, and divided into families called Clans. The English termed them the Wild Scots, and the French the Scottish Savages; and, in good truth, very wild and savage they seem to have been. The losses which the Low Country had sustained by the English wars had weakened the districts next to the Highlands so much, that they became unable to repress the incursions of the mountaineers, who descended from their hills, took spoil, burned and destroyed, as if in the country of an enemy.

In 1392, a large body of these highlanders broke down from the Grampian mountains. The chiefs were called Clan–Donnochy, or sons of Duncan, answering to the clan now called Robertson. A party of the Ogilvies and Lindsays, under Sir Walter Ogilvy, Sheriff of Angus, marched hastily against them, and charged them with their lances. But notwithstanding the advantage of their being mounted and completely sheathed in armour, the Highlanders defended themselves with such obstinacy, as to slay the sheriff and sixty of his followers, and repulse the Lowland gentlemen. To give some idea of their ferocity, it is told that Sir David Lindsay, having in the first encounter run his lance through the body of one of the Highlanders, bore him down and pinned him to the earth. In this condition, and in his dying agonies, the Highlander writhed himself upwards on the spear, and exerted his last strength in fetching a sweeping blow at the armed knight with his two-handed sword. The stroke, made with all the last energies of a dying man, cut through Lindsay’s stirrup and steel boot, and though it did Not sever his leg from his body, yet wounded him so severely as to oblige him to quit the field.

It happened, fortunately perhaps for the Lowlands, that the wild Highlanders were as much addicted to quarrel with each other as with their Lowland neighbours. Two clans, or rather two leagues or confederacies, composed each of several separate clans, fell into such deadly feud with each other, as filled the whole neighborhood with slaughter and discord.

When this feud or quarrel could be no other wise ended, it was resolved that the difference should be decided by a combat of thirty men of the Clan Chattan, against the same number of the Clan Kay; that the battle should take place on the North Inch of Perth, a beautiful and level meadow, in part surrounded by the river Tay; and that it should be fought in presence of the King and his nobles. Now, there was a cruel policy in this arrangement; for it was to be supposed that all the best and leading men of each clan would desire to be among the thirty which were to fight for their honour, and it was no less to be expected that the battle would be very. bloody and desperate. Thus, the probable event would be, that both clans, having lost very many of their best and bravest men, would be more easily managed in future. Such was probably the view of the King and his counsellors in permitting this desperate conflict, which however, was much in the spirit of the times. The parties on each side were drawn out, armed with sword and target, axe and dagger, and stood looking on each other with fierce and savage aspects, when, just as the signal for fight was expected, the commander of the Clan Chattan perceived that one of his men, whose heart had failed him, had deserted his standard. There was no time to seek another man from the clan, so the chieftain, as his only resource, was obliged to offer a reward to any one who would fight in the room of the fugitive. Perhaps you think it might be difficult to get a man, who, for a small hire, would undergo the perils of a battle which was likely to be so obstinate and deadly. But in that fighting age, men valued their lives lightly. One Henry Wynd, a citizen of Perth, and a saddler by trade, a little bandy-legged man, but of great strength and activity, and well accustomed to use the broadsword, offered himself, for half a French crown, to serve on the part of the Clan Chattan in the battle of that day. The signal was then given by sound of the royal trumpets, and of the great war-bagpipes of the Highlanders, and the two parties fell on each other with the utmost fury; their natural ferocity of temper being excited by feudal hatred against the hostile clan, zeal for the honour of their own, and a consciousness that they were fighting in presence of the King and nobles of Scotland. As they fought with the two-handed sword and axe, the wounds they inflicted on each other were of a ghastly size and character. Heads were cloven asunder, limbs were lopped from the trunk. The meadow was soon drenched with blood, and covered with dead and wounded men.

In the midst of the. deadly conflict, the chieftain of the Clan Chattan observed that Henry Wynd, after he had slain one of the clan Kay, drew aside, and did not seem willing to fight more. “How is this,” said he, “art thou afraid?” “Not I,” answered Henry; “but I have done enough of work for half-a-crown.” “Forward and fight,” said the Highland chief; “he that doth not grudge his day’s work, I will not stint him in his wages.”

Thus encouraged, Henry Wynd again plunged into the conflict, and, by his excellence as a swordsman, contributed a great deal to the victory, which at length fell to the Clan Chattan. Ten of the victors, with Henry Wynd, whom the Highlanders called the Gow Chrom (that is, the crooked or bandy-legged smith, for he was both a smith and saddler, war-saddles being then made of steel), were left alive, but they were all wounded. Only one of the clan Kay survived, and he was unhurt. But this single individual dared not oppose himself to eleven men, though all more or less injured, but, throwing himself into the Tay, swam to the other side, and went off to carry to the Highlands the news of his clan’s defeat. It is said, he was so ill received by his kinsmen that he put himself to death.

Some part of the above story is matter of tra-dition, but the general fact is certain. Henry Wynd was rewarded to the Highland chieftain’s best abilities; but it was remarked, that, when the battle was over, he was not able to tell the name of the clan he had fought for, replying, when asked on which side he had been, that he was fighting for his own hand. Hence the proverb, “Every man for his own hand, as Henry Wynd fought.” In the mean time troubles, to which we have formerly alluded, broke out in the family of Robert III. The King had been lamed in early youth by the kick of a horse, which had prevented his engaging in war. He was by disposition peaceful, religious, and just, but not firm of mind, and easily imposed on by those about him, and particularly by his brother the Duke of Albany, a man of an enterprising character, but crafty, ambitious, and cruel.

This prince, the next heir to the crown, if the king’s children could he displaced, continued to sow strife and animosity betwixt his father and the Duke of Rothsay, the eldest son of Robert III, and heir to his kingdom. Rothsay was young, gay, and irregular, his father old, and strict in his principles; occasions of quarrel easily arose betwixt them, and Albany represented the conduct of the son to the father in the worst light. The King and Queen seem to have been of opinion, that the marriage of the prince might put an end to his idle and licentious course of life. But Albany, whom they consulted, conducted this important affair in a manner disgraceful to the royal family. He proceeded upon the principle, that the prince should marry the daughter of such Scottish noble as was willing to pay the largest sum of money for the honour of connecting himself with the royal house. The powerful George, Earl of March, was at first the largest offerer. But although the prince was contracted to the daughter of that nobleman accordingly, yet the match was broken off by Albany, when a still larger sum was offered by the Earl of Douglas. His predecessor Earl James, killed at Otterburn, had married the King’s sister, and Earl Archibald was now desirous that his own daughter should be even more nearly connected with royalty, by wedding the heir of the throne. They were married accordingly, but in an evil hour.

The prince continued to give offence by the levity of his conduct; Albany continued to pour his complaints into the King’s ear, and Douglas became also the enemy of his royal son-in-law. The history of this reign being imperfect, we do not distinctly know what charges were brought against the Duke of Rothsay, or how far they were true or false. But it seems certain that he was delivered up by his father to the power of his uncle of Albany, and that of his father-in-law the Earl of Douglas, who treated him with the almost cruelty.

A villain named Ramorgny, with the assistance of Sir William Lindsay, was furnished with a warrant for apprehending and confining the person of the heir-apparent of Scotland. Armed with this authority they seized upon him as he was journeying in Fife, without any suspicion — placed him upon an ordinary work-horse, and conducted him to the strong tower, or castle, of Falkland, belonging to Albany. It was a heavy fall of rain, but the poor prince was allowed no other shelter than a peasant’s cloak. When in that gloomy fortress, he was thrown into a dungeon, and for fifteen days suffered to remain without food, under the charge of two ruffians named Wright and Selkirk, whose task it was to watch the agony of their victim till it terminated in death. It is said that one woman, touched with his lamentations, contrived to bring him from time to time thin barley cakes, concealed in her veil, which she passed through the bars of his prison; and that another woman supplied him with milk from her own bosom. Both were discovered, and what scanty resources their charity could afford were intercepted; and the unhappy prince died in the month of March 1402, of famine, — the most severe and lingering mode among the many by which life may be ended. There is no evidence that the old King, infirm and simple-minded as he was, suspected the foul play which his son had received; but vengeance of God seemed to menace the country in which such a tragedy had been acted. The Earl of March, incensed at the breach of the contract betwixt his daughter and the prince, deserted the Scottish cause, and embraced that of England. He fled to Northumberland, and from thence made repeated incursions upon the Scottish frontier. The Earl of Douglas, placing himself at the head of ten thousand men, made an incursion into England, with banner displayed, and took great spoil. But, in returning, he was waylaid by the celebrated Hotspur, who, with George of March and others, had assembled a numerous army. Douglas, with the same infatuation as had been displayed at so many other battles, took his ground on an eminence called Homildon, where his numerous ranks were exposed to the English arrows, the Scots suffering great loss, for which they were unable to repay the enemy (14 Sept. 1402). While they were thus sustaining a dreadfully unequal combat, a bold Scottish knight, named Sir John Swinton, called with a loud voice, “Why do we remain here on this hillside, to be shot like stags with arrows, when we might rush down upon the English, and dispute the combat hand to hand? Let those who will, descend with me, that we may gain victory, or fall like men.” There was a young nobleman in the host, called the Lord of Gordon. The person living whom he most detested was this same Sir John Swinton, because in some private quarrel he had slain Gordon’s father. But when he heard him give such resolute and brave advice in that dreadful extremity, he required to be made a knight at Swinton’s hand; “for,” said he, “from the hand of no wiser leader, or braver man, can I ask that honour.” Swinton granted his desire, and having hastily performed the ceremony by striking the young man on the neck with the flat of his sword, and bidding him arise a knight, he and Gordon rushed down side by side with their followers, and made considerable slaughter amongst the English. But not being supported by other chiefs, they were overpowered and cut to pieces. The Scots lost the battle, sustaining a total defeat; and Douglas, wounded, and having lost an eye, fell into the hands of the English as a prisoner. A singular train of events followed, which belong rather to English than Scottish history, but which it is proper you should know. The Earl of Northumberland, father to Hotspur, associated with other discontented nobles, had determined to rebel against Henry IV, then King of England. To strengthen their forces, they gave Douglas his liberty, and engaged him to assist them in the civil war which was impending. Douglas came accordingly with a band of his countrymen, and joined Henry Percy, called Hotspur. They marched together into England, and fought a memorable battle with the royal forces near Shrewsbury. As Henry IV was personally present in the battle, Douglas resolved to seek him out, and end the contest by killing or making him prisoner. The King had, however, several other champions in the field, armed and mounted exactly like himself. Of these, Douglas killed no less than three, as they appeared one after another; so that when at length he encountered the real king, he called out, with amazement, “Where the devil do all these kings come from?” The Scottish earl attacked Henry himself with the same fury with which he had assaulted those who represented him, overthrew the royal banner, slaying a valiant knight, Sir Thomas Blunt, to whose care it had been committed, and was about to kill the King. But numbers, and especially the brave Prince of Wales, his son, came to the King of England’s assistance; and before Douglas could fight his way forward to Henry, Hotspur was killed by a arrow-shot, and his party were obliged to fly. Douglas at length condescended to fly also, but his horse stumbling in ascending a hill, he was again wounded and taken.

We return to poor King Robert III, who was now exhausted by age, infirmities, and family calamity. He had still a remaining son, called James, about eleven years old, and he was probably afraid to intrust him to the keeping of Albany, as his death would have rendered that ambitious prince next heir to the throne. He resolved, therefore, to send the young prince to France, under pretence that he would receive a better education there than Scotland could afford him. An English vessel captured that on board of which the prince was sailing to France, and James was sent to London(13 March 1405). When Henry heard that the Prince of Scotland was in his power, he resolved to detain him a prisoner. This was very unjust, for the countries of England and Scotland were at peace together at the time. The King sent him to prison, however, saying, that “the prince would be as well educated at his court as at that of France, for that he understood French well.” This was said in mockery, but Henry kept his word in this point; and though the Scottish prince was confined unjustly, he received an excellent education at the expense of the English monarch.

This new misfortune, which placed the only remaining son of the poor old King in the hands of the English, seems to have broken the heart of Robert III, who died about a year afterwards, overwhelmed with calamities and infirmity(4 April 1406).

Chapter 18

ALBANY, the brother of Robert III, was now Regent of the kingdom, of which he had long actually possessed the supreme government. He was, it may be supposed, in no great hurry to obtain the release of his nephew Prince James, whose return to Scotland must have ended his own power. He was, as we have seen, a wicked, cruel, and ambitious man; yet he was regular in administering justice, and took great care not to lay any taxes on the people. Even in his time, it would seem that the extent of writings used for the transference of property, had become a subject of complaint. When upon this subject, Albany used often to praise the simplicity and brevity of an ancient charter by King Athelstane, a Saxon monarch. It had been granted to the ancient Northumbrian family called Roddam of Roddam, and had fallen into the hands of the Scots on some of their plundering parties.

Jedburgh castle, which the English had kept ever since the battle of Durham, had been taken by the Teviotdale Borderers, and it was proposed that it should be pulled down, in order that it might not again afford the enemy a stronghold on the frontiers. This was a common policy with the Scots, who considered their desert woods and mountains as better points of defence than walled castles, which the English understood how to attack or defend much better than they did. To defray the expense of maintaining the men engaged in demolishing this large and strong fortress, it was proposed to lay a small tax of two pennies on each hearth in Scotland. But the Regent determined to pay it out of his own and the King’s revenue, resolved, as he said, that he would not begin his regency by a measure which must afflict the poor.

In other respects, Albany was an unworthy character. He was not even brave, which was a failing uncommon in his age and family; and though he engaged in several wars with England, he did not gain either honour or success in any of them.

One of the most remarkable events during his government was the battle of Harlaw. This was fought by a prince, called Donald of the Isles, who possessed all the islands on the west side of Scotland. He was also the proprietor of great estates on the mainland, and aspired to the rank, and used the style, of an independent sovereign. This Donald, in the year 1411, laid claim to the earldom of Ross, then vacant, which the Regent had determined to bestow on a member of his own family. Donald of the Isles raised ten thousand men, all Highlanders like himself, and invading the north of Scotland, came as far as a place called Harlaw, about ten miles from Aberdeen. Here he was encountered by the Earl of Mar, at the head of an inferior army, but composed of Lowland gentlemen, better armed and disciplined than the followers of Donald. A most desperate battle ensued, in which both parties suffered great loss(24 July 1411). On that of Donald, the chiefs of the clans called MacIntosh and MacLean were both slain, with about a thousand men. Mar lost nearly five hundred brave gentlemen, amongst them Ogilvy, Scrymgeour, Irvine of Drum, and other men of rank. The Provost of Aberdeen, who had brought to the Earl of Mar’s host a detachment of the inhabitants of that city, was slain, fighting bravely. This loss was so much regretted by the citizens, that a resolution was adopted, that no Provost should in future go out in his official capacity beyond the limits of the immediate territory of the town. This rule is still observed.

But though the Lowlanders suffered severely, the Highlanders had the worst, and were obliged to retreat after the battle. This was fortunate for Scotland, since otherwise the Highlanders, at that time a wild and barbarous people, would have overrun, and perhaps actually conquered, a great part of the civilized country. The battle of Harlaw was long remembered, owing to the bravery with which the field was disputed, and the numbers which fell on both sides.

The Regent Albany, after having ruled Scotland for about thirty-four years, including the time under his father and brother, died at the castle of Stirling in the thirteenth year of his sole regency, aged upwards of eighty years, on the 3d September, 1419. He was succeeded in his high office by his son Murdac, Duke of Albany, a man who had neither the vices nor the virtues of his father. Duke Robert was active, crafty, suspicious, and, in one sense at least, wise. The son was indulgent, indolent, and at the same time simple and easy to be imposed upon. Many quarrels and feuds broke out in the country, and even in his own family, which had been suppressed by the strong hand of his father. Little memorable took place in the regency of Murdac, but it was remarkable for the great renown which the Scots won in the wars of France.

I have told you that a body of French knights came to Scotland to assist the Scots against the English; and you must now know bow the Scots repaid the obligation, by sending over a body of men to assist Charles, King of France, then in great danger of being completely conquered by Henry V of England, who seemed on the point of expelling him from the kingdom, and possessing himself of the crown of France. A small army of about six or seven thousand chosen Scots had gone to France, under the command of John Stewart, Earl of Buchan, the second son of the Regent Robert, Duke of Albany. He had under him Lindsay, Swinton, and other men of consequence and fame. They gained an important victory over the English, then under command of the Duke of Clarence, brother to Henry V. This prince, hearing that there was a body of Scots encamped at a town called Bauge, and enraged that this northern people should not only defend their own country from the English, but also come over to give them trouble in France, made a hasty march to surprise them. He left behind him those celebrated archers, who had usually afforded the English means of conquest over the enemy, because he relied upon the rapidity of his motions, and understood the Scots were observing indifferent discipline, and not keeping a vigilant watch. He arrived at Bauge, followed only by the knights and men-at-arms on horseback. Having forced the passage of a bridge, Clarence was pressing forward at the head of his cavalry, distinguished by the richness of his armour, and by a splendid golden coronet which he wore over his helmet. At this moment the Scottish knights charged the enemy. Sir John Swinton galloped against the Duke of Clarence, and unhorsed him with his lance, and the Earl of Buchan dashed out his brains with a battle-axe or mace. A great many English knights and nobles were slain at this rencounter(22 March 1421). The French King, to reward the valour of the Scots, created the Earl of Buchan Constable of France (one of the highest offices in the kingdom), and Count of Aubigny.

The Scots, incited by the renown and wealth which their countrymen had acquired, came over to France in greater numbers, and the Earl of Douglas himself was tempted to bring over a little army, in which the best and noblest of the gentlemen of the south of Scotland of course enrolled themselves. They who did not go themselves, but sent there sons and brothers. Sir Alexander Home of Home had intended to take this course; and his brother, David Home of Wedderburn, was equipped for the expedition. The chief himself came down to the vessel to see Douglas and his brother embark. But when the earl saw his old companion in arms about to take leave of him, he said, “Ah I Sir Alexander, who would have thought that thou and I should ever have parted!” “Neither will we part now, my lord,” said Sir Alexander; and suddenly changing his purpose, he sent back his brother David to take care of his castle, family, and estate, and going to France with his old friend, died with him at the battle of Verneuil. The Earl of Douglas, whose military fame was so great, received high honour from the King of France, and was created Duke of Touraine. The earl was used to ridicule the Duke of Bedford, who then acted as Regent for Henry VI in France, and gave him the nickname of John with the leaden sword. Upon the 17th August, 1424, Douglas received a message from the Duke of Bedford, that he intended to come and dine and drink wine with him. Douglas well understood the nature of the visit, and sent back word, that he should be welcome. The Scots and French prepared for battle, while their chiefs consulted together, and unfortunately differed in opinion. The Earl of Douglas, who considered their situation as favourable, recommended that they should receive the attack of the English, instead of advancing to meet them. The French Count de Narbonne, however, insisted that they should march forward to the attack; and putting the French in motion, declared he would move to the fight whether the Scots did so or not. Douglas was thus compelled to advance likewise, but it was in disorder. The English archers in the mean time showered their arrows on the French; their men-at-arms charged; and a total rout of the allied army was the consequence. Douglas and Buchan stood their ground, fought desperately, and died nobly. Home, Lindsay, Swinton, and far the greater part of that brave Scottish band of auxiliaries, were killed on the spot.

The great Earl of Douglas, who was slain at Verneuil, was distinguished from the rest of his family by the name of Tine-man, that is Lose-man, as he was defeated in the great battles of Homildon, Shrewsbury, and finally in that of Verneuil, where he lost his life. His contemporary and rival, George Earl of March, though not so celebrated a warrior, was as remarkable for being fortunate; for whether he fought on the Scottish or English side, his party was always victorious. The slender remains of the Scottish forces were adopted by Charles of France as a life-guard; an establishment which was continued by his successors for a great many years, We return now to Scotland, where the Regent Murdac of Albany was so far from being able to guide the affairs of the state, that he could not control his own sons. There were two of them, haughty, licentious young men, who respected neither the authority of God nor man, and that of their father least of all. Their misbehaviour was so great, that Murdac began to think of putting an end to their bad conduct and his own government at the same time, by obtaining the deliverance of the King from English captivity. A singular piece of insolence, on the part of his eldest son, is said to have determined him to this measure. At this time the amusement of hawking (that is, of taking birds of game by means of trained hawks) was a pastime greatly esteemed by the nobility. The Regent Murdac had one falcon of peculiar excellence, which he valued. His eldest son, Walter Stewart, had often asked this bird of his father, and been as often denied. At length one day when the Regent had the hawk sitting upon his wrist, in the way that falconers carry such birds, Walter renewed his importunity about the falcon; and when his father again refused it, he snatched it from his wrist, and wrung its neck round. His father, greatly offended at so gross an insult, said, in his anger, “Since thou wilt give me neither reverence nor obedience, I will fetch home one whom me must all obey.” From that moment, he began to bargain with the English in good earnest that they should restore James, now King of Scotland, to his own dominions.

The English government were not unwilling to deliver up James, the rather that he had fallen in love with Joan, the Earl of Somerset’s daughter, nearly related to the royal family of England. They considered that this alliance would incline the young prince to peace with England; and that the education which he had received, and the friendships which he had formed in that country, would incline him to be a good and peaceable neighbour. The Scots agreed to pay a considerable ransom; and upon these terms James, the first of that name, was set at liberty, and returned to become king in Scotland, after eighteen years’ captivity. He and his queen were crowned at Scone, 21st May, 1424.

Chapter 19

THIS King James, the first monarch of the name, was also the first of his unfortunate family who showed a high degree of talent. Robert II and Robert III, his father and grandfather, were both rather amiable as individuals than respected for their endowments as monarchs. But James had received an excellent education, of which his talents had enabled him to make the best use. He was also prudent and just, consulted the interests of his people, and endeavoured, as far as he could, to repress those evils, which had grown up through the partial government of Robert Duke of Albany, the rule of the feeble and slothful Duke Murdac, and the vicious and violent conduct of his sons. The first vengeance of the laws fell upon Murdac, who, with his two sons, was tried, and condemned at Stirling for abuse of the King’s authority, committed while Murdac was Regent. They were beheaded at the little eminence at Stirling, which is still shown on the Castle Hill. The Regent, from that elevated spot, might have a distant view of the magnificent castle of Doune, which he had built for his residence; and the sons had ample reason to regret their contempt of their father’s authority, and to judge the truth of his words, when he said he would bring in one who would rule them all (24, 25 May 1425). James afterwards turned his cares to the Highlands, which were in a state of terrible confusion. He marched into those disturbed districts with a strong army, and seized upon more than forty of the chiefs, by whom these broils and quarrels were countenanced, put many of them to death, and obliged others to find security that they would be quiet in future. Alaster Macdonald, Lord of the Isles, after more than a year’s captivity, and his mother retained in vain as a hostage for his fidelity, endeavoured to oppose the royal authority; but the measures taken against him by James reduced his power so much, that he was at last obliged to submit to the King’s mercy. For this purpose the humbled chief came to Edinburgh secretly, and suddenly appeared in the Cathedral Church, where the King was employed in his devotions upon Easter-day. He appeared without bonnet, armour, or ornaments, with his legs and arms bare, and his body only covered with a plaid. In this condition he delivered himself up to the King’s pleasure; and holding a naked sword in his hand by the point, he offered the hilt to the King, in token of unreserved submission. James forgave him his repeated offences, at the intercession of the Queen and nobles present, but he detained him a prisoner in the strong castle of Tantallon, in East Lothian. Yet, after this submission of their principal chief, the West Highlanders and people of the Isles again revolted, under the command of Donald Balloch, the kinsman of Alaster, who landed on the mainland with a considerable force, and defeated the Earls of Mar and of Caithness with great slaughter; but when he heard that James was coming against him, Donald thought it best to retreat to Ireland(1431). James put to death many of his followers. Donald himself was afterwards killed in Ireland, and his head sent to the King.

There is another story, which will show the cruelty and ferocity of these Highland robbers. Another MacDonald, head of a band in Ross-shire, had plundered a poor widow woman of two of her cows, and who, in her anger, exclaimed repeatedly that she would never wear shoes again till she had carried her complaint to the King for redress, should she travel to Edinburgh to seek him. “It is false,” answered the barbarian, “I will have you shod myself before you reach the court.” Accordingly, he caused a smith to nail shoes to the poor woman’s naked feet, as if they had been those of a horse; after which he thrust her forth, wounded and bleeding, on the highway. The widow, however, being a woman of high spirit, was determined to keep her word; and as soon as her wounds permitted her to travel, she did actually. go on foot to Edinburgh, and, throwing herself before James, acquainted him with the cruelty which had been exercised on her, and in evidence showed her feet, still seamed and scarred. James heard her with that mixture of pity, kindness, and uncontrollable indignation which marked his character, and, in great resentment, caused MacDonald, and twelve of his principal followers, to be seized, and to have their feet shod with iron shoes, in the same manner as had been done to the widow. In this condition they were exhibited to the public for three days, and then executed. Thus James I restored a considerable degree of tranquillity to the country, which he found in such a distracted state. He made wise laws for regulating the commerce of the nation, both at home and with other states, and strict regulations for the administration of justice betwixt those who had complaints against one another. But his greatest labour, and that which he found most difficult to accomplish, was to diminish the power of the great nobles, who ruled like so many kings, each on his own territory and estate, and made war on the King, or upon one another, whenever it was their pleasure to do so. These disorders he endeavoured to check, and had several of these great persons brought to trial, and, upon their being found guilty, deprived them of their estates. The nobles complained that this was done out of spite against them, and that they were treated with hardship and injustice; and thus discontents were cause of offence was, that to maintain justice, and support the authority of the throne, it was found necessary that some taxes for this purpose should be raised from the subjects; and the Scottish people being poor, and totally unaccustomed to pay any such contributions, they imputed this odious measure to the King’s avarice. And thus, though King James was so well-intentioned a king, and certainly the ablest who had reigned in Scotland since the days of Robert Bruce, yet both the high and the low murmured against him, which encouraged some wicked men amongst the nobility to conspire his death.

The chief person in the plot was one Sir Robert Graham, uncle to the Earl of Stratherne. He was bold and ambitious, and highly offended with the King on account of an imprisonment which he had sustained by the royal command. He drew into the plot the Earl of Athole, an old man of little talent, by promising to make his son, Sir Robert Stewart, King of Scotland, in place of James. Others were engaged in the conspiracy from different motives. To many of their attendants they pretended they only wished to carry away a lady out of the court. To prepare his scheme, Graham retreated into the remote Highlands, and from thence sent a defiance, renouncing his allegiance to the King, and threatening to put his sovereign to death with his own hand. A price was set upon his head, payable to any one who should deliver his up to justice; but he lay concealed in the wild mountains to prosecute his revenge against James.

The Christmas preceding his murder was appointed by the King for holding a feast at Perth. In his way to that town he was met by a Highland woman, calling herself a prophetess. She stood by the side of the ferry by which be was about to travel to the north, and cried with a loud voice, — “My Lord the King, if you pass this water, you will never return again alive.” The King was struck with this for a moment, because be had read in a book that a king should be slain that year in Scotland; for it often happens, that when a remarkable deed is in agitation, rumours of it get abroad, and are repeated under pretence of prophecies; but which are, in truth, only conjectures of that which seems likely to happen. There was a knight in the court, on whom the King had conferred the name of the King of Love, to whom the King said in jest, — “There is a prophecy that a king shall be killed in Scotland this year; now, Sir Alexander, that must concern either you or me, since we two are the only kings in Scotland.” Other circumstances occurred, which might have prevented the good King’s murder, but none of them were attended to. The King, while at Perth, took up his residence in an abbey of Black Friars, there being no castle or palace in the town convenient for his residence; and this made the execution of the conspiracy more easy, as his guards, and the officers of his household, were quartered among the citizens.

The day had been spent by the King in sport and feasting, and by the conspirators in preparing for their enterprise. They had destroyed the locks of the doors of the apartment, so that the keys could not be turned; and they had taken away the bars with which the gates were secured, and had provided planks by way of bridges, on which to cross the ditch which surrounded the monastery. At length, on the 20th February, 1437, all was prepared for carrying their treasonable purpose into execution, and Graham came from his hiding place in the neighbouring mountains, with a party of nigh three hundred men, and entered the gardens of the convent.

The King was in his night-gown and slippers. He had passed the evening gaily with the nobles and ladies of his court, in reading romances, and in singing and music, or playing at chess and tables. The Earl of Athole, and his son Sir Robert Stewart, who expected to succeed James on the throne, were among the last courtiers who retired. At this time James remained standing before the fire, and conversing gaily with the queen and her ladies before he went to rest. The Highland woman before mentioned again demanded permission to speak with the King, but was refused, on account of the untimeliness of the hour. All now were ordered to withdraw.

At this moment there was a noise and clashing heard, as of men in armour, and the torches in the garden cast up great flashes of light against the windows. The King then recollected his deadly enemy, Sir Robert Graham, and guessed that he was coming to murder him. He called to the ladies who were left in the chamber to keep the door as well as they could, in order to give him time to escape. He first tried to get out at the windows, but they were fast barred, and defied his strength. By help of the tongs, which were in the chimney, he raised, however, a plank of the flooring of the apartment, and let himself down into a narrow vault beneath, used as a common sewer. This vault had formerly had an opening into the court of the convent, by which he might have made his escape. But all things turned against the unfortunate James; for, only three days before, he had caused the opening to be built up, because when he played at ball in the court-yard, the ball used to roll into the vault through that hole. While the King was in this place of concealment, the conspirators were seeking him from chamber to chamber throughout the convent, and, at length, came to the room where the ladies were. The queen and her women endeavoured, as well as they might, to keep the door shut, and one of them, Catherine Douglas, boldly thrust her own arm across the door, instead of the bar, which had been taken away, as I told you. But the brave lady’s arm was soon broken, and the traitors rushed into the room with swords and daggers drawn, hurting and throwing down such of the women as opposed them. The poor Queen stood half undressed, shrieking aloud; and one of the brutal assassins attacked, wounded, and would have slain her, had it not been for a son of Sir Robert Graham, who said to him, “What would you do to the Queen? She is but a woman — Let us seek the King.” They accordingly commenced a minute search, but without any success; so they left the apartment, and sought elsewhere about the monastery. In the mean while the King turned impatient, and desired the ladies to bring sheets and draw him up out of the inconvenient lurking place. In the attempt Elizabeth Douglas fell down beside the King, and at this unlucky moment the conspirators returned. One of them now recollected that there was such a vault, and that they had not searched it. And when they tore up the plank, and saw the King and the lady beneath in the vault, one of them called, with savage merriment, to his followers, “Sirs, I have found the bride for whom we have sought and carolled all night.” Then, first one, and then another of the villains, brethren of the name of Hall, descended into the vault, with daggers drawn, to despatch the unfortunate King, who was standing there in his shirt, without weapons of any kind. But James, who was an active and strong man, threw them both down beneath his feet, and struggled to wrest the dagger from one or other of them, in which attempt him hands were severely cut and mangled. The murderers also were so vigorously handled, that the marks of the King’s gripe were visible on their throats for weeks afterwards. Then Sir Robert Graham himself sprung down on the King, who, finding no further defence possible, asked him for mercy, and for leisure to confess his sins to a priest. But Graham replied fiercely, “Thou never hadst mercy on those of thine own blood, nor on any one else, therefore thou shalt find no mercy here; and as for a confessor, thou shalt have none but this sword.” So speaking, he thrust the sword through the Kings body. And yet it is said, that when he saw his prince lying bleeding under his feet, he was desirous to have left the enterprise unfinished; but the other conspirators called on Graham to kill the King, otherwise he should himself die by their hands; upon which Graham, with the two men who had descended into the vault before him. fell on the unhappy Prince with their daggers, and slew him by many stabs. There were sixteen wounds in his breast alone.

By this time, but too late, news of this outrage had reached the town, and the household servants of the King, with the people inhabiting the town of Perth, were hastening to the rescue, with torches and weapons. The traitors accordingly caught the alarm, and retreated into the Highlands, losing in their flight only one or two, taken or slain by the pursuers. When they spoke about their enterprise among themselves, they greatly regretted that they had not killed the Queen along with her husband, fearing that she would be active and inexorable in her vengeance.

Indeed their apprehensions were justified by the event, for Queen Joanna made so strict search after the villainous assassins, that in the course of a month most of them were thrown into prison, and being tried and condemned, they were put to death with new and hideous tortures. The flesh of Robert Stewart, and of a private chamberlain of the King, was torn from their bodies with pincers, while, even in the midst of these horrible agonies, they confessed the justice of their sentence. The Earl of Athole was beheaded, denying at his death that he had consented to the conspiracy, though he admitted that his son had told him of it; to which he had replied, by enjoining him to have no concern in so great a crime. Sir Robert Graham, who was the person with whom the cruel scheme had origin, spoke in defence of it to the last. He had a right to slay the King, he said, for he had renounced his allegiance, and declared war against him; and he expressed his belief, that his memory would be honoured for putting to death so cruel a tyrant. He was tortured in the most dreadful manner before his final execution, and, whilst he was yet living, his son was slain before his eyes. Notwithstanding the greatness of their crime, it was barbarous cruelty to torture these wretched murderers in the manner we have mentioned, and the historian says justly, that it was a cruel deed cruelly revenged. But the people were much incensed against them; for, although they had murmured against King James while he lived, yet the dismal manner of his death, and the sense that his intentions towards his people were kind and just, caused him to be much regretted. He had also many popular qualities. His face was handsome, and his person strong and active. His mind was well cultivated with ornamental and elegant accomplishments, as well as stored with useful information. He understood music and poetry, and wrote verses, both serious and comic. Two of his compositions are still preserved, and read with interest and entertainment by those who understand the ancient language in which they are written. One of these is called “The King’s Quhair,” that is, the King’s Book. It is a love poem, composed when be was prisoner in England, and addressed to the Princess Joan of Somerset, whom he afterwards married. The other is a comic poem, called “Christ’s Kirk on the Green,” in which the author gives an account of a merry making of the country people, held for the purpose of sport, where they danced, revelled, drank, and finally quarrelled and fought. There is much humour shown in this piece, though one would think the subject a strange one for a king to write upon. He particularly ridicules the Scots for want of acquaintance with archery. One man breaks his bow, another shoots his arrow wide of the mark, a third hits the man’s body at whom he took aim, but with so little effect that he cannot pierce his leathern doublet. There is a meaning in this raillery. James I, seeing the advantage which the English possessed by their archery, was desirous to introduce that exercise more generally into Scotland, and ordered regular meetings to be held for this purpose. Perhaps he might hope to enforce these orders, by employing a little wholesome raillery on the awkwardness of the Scottish bowmen. On the whole, James I. was much and deservedly lamented. The murderer Graham was so far from being remembered with honour, as he had expected, for the assassination which he had committed, that his memory was execrated in a popular rhyme, then generally current:

“Robert Graham,

That slew our King,

God give him shame!”

Chapter 20

WHEN James I was murdered, his son and heir, James II, was only six years old; so that Scotland was once more plunged into all the discord and confusions of a regency, which were sure to reach their height in a country where even the disputed sway of a sovereign of mature age was not held in due respect, and was often disturbed by treason and rebellion.

The affairs of the kingdom, during the minority of James II., were chiefly managed by two statesmen, who seem to have been men of considerable personal talent, but very little principle or integrity. Sir Alexander Livingstone was guardian of the King’s person; Sir William Crichton was Chancellor of the kingdom. They debated betwixt themselves the degree of authority attached to their respective offices, and at once engaged in quarrels with each other and with one who was more powerful than either of them — the great Earl of Douglas.

That mighty house was now at the highest pitch of its greatness. The earl possessed Galloway, Annan-dale, and other extensive properties in the south of Scotland, where almost all the inferior nobility and gentry acknowledged him as their patron and lord. Thus the Douglasses had at their disposal that part of Scotland, which from its constant wars with England, was most disciplined and accustomed to arms. They possessed the duchy of Touraine and lordship of Longueville in France, and they were connected by intermarriage with the Scottish royal family.

The Douglasses were not only powerful from the extent of lands and territories, but also from possession of great military talents, which seemed to pass from father to son, and occasioned a proverb, still remembered in Scotland. —

“So many, so good, as of the Douglasses have been,

Of one sirname in Scotland never yet were seen.”

Unfortunately, their power, courage, and military skill, were attended with arrogance and ambition, and the Douglasses seemed to have claimed to themselves the rank and authority of sovereign princes, independent of the laws of the country, and of the allegiance due to the monarch. It was a common thing for them to ride with a retinue of a thousand horse; and as Archibald, the Earl of Douglas of the time, rendered but an imperfect allegiance even to the severe rule of James I, it might be imagined that his power could not be easily restrained by such men as Crichton and Livingston — great indeed, through the high offices which they held, but otherwise of a degree far inferior to that of Douglas.

But when this powerful nobleman died, in 1439, and was succeeded by his son William, a youth of only sixteen years old, the wily Crichton began to spy an occasion to crush the Douglasses, as he hoped, for ever, by the destruction of the youthful earl and his brother, and for abating, by this cruel and unmerited punishment, the power and pride of this great family. Crichton proposed to Livingston to join him in this meditated treachery; and, though enemies to each other, the guardian of the King and the chancellor of the Kingdom united in the vile project of cutting off two boys, whose age alone showed their innocence of the guilt charged upon them. For this purpose flattery and fair words were used to induce the young earl, and his brother David, with some of their nearest friends, to come to court, where it was pretended that they would be suitable companions and intimates for the young King. An old adherent of the family greatly dissuaded the earl from accepting this invitation, and exhorted him, if he went to Edinburgh in person, to leave at least his brother David behind him. But the unhappy youth, thinking that no treachery was intended, could not be diverted from the fatal journey. The Chancellor Crichton received the Earl of Douglas and his brother on their journey, at his own castle of Crichton, and with the utmost appearance of hospitality and kindness. After remaining a day or two at this place, the two brothers were inveigled to Edinburgh castle, and introduced to the young King, who, not knowing the further purpose of his guardians, received them with affability, and seemed delighted with the prospect of enjoying their society.

On a sudden the scene began to change. At an entertainment which was served up to the earl and his brother, the head of a black bull was placed on the table. The Douglasses knew this, according to a custom which prevailed in Scotland, to be the sign of death, and leaped from the table in great dismay. But they were seized by armed men who entered the apartment. They underwent a mock trial, in which all the insolences of their ancestors were charged against them, and were condemned to immediate execution. The young King wept, and implored Livingston and Crichton to show mercy to the young noblemen, but in vain. These cruel men only reproved him for weeping at the death of those whom they called his enemies. The brethren were led out to the court of the castle, and beheaded without delay. Malcolm Fleming of Cumbernauld, a faithful adherent of their house, shared the same fate with the two brothers. This barbarous proceeding was as unwise as it was unjust. It did not reduce the power of the Douglasses, but only raised general detestation against those who managed the affairs of James II. A fat, quiet, peaceable person, called James the Gross, indolent from habit of body and temper of mind, next became Earl of Douglas, which was probably the reason that no public commotion immediately attended on the murder of the hapless brothers. But this corpulent dignitary lived only two years, and was in his turn succeeded by his son William, who was as active and turbulent as any of his ambitious predecessors, and engaged in various civil broils for the purpose of revenging the death of his kinsmen.

James the Second, in the mean while, came to man’s estate, and entered on the management of public affairs. He was a handsome man, but his countenance was marked on one side with a broad red spot, which gained him the surname of James with the Fiery Face. They might have called him James with the fiery temper, in like manner; for, with many good qualities, be had a hot and impetuous disposition, of which we shall presently see a remarkable instance.

William, who had succeeded to the earldom of Douglas, was enormously wealthy and powerful. The family had gradually added to their original patrimony the lordship of Galloway, the lordship of Bothwell, the dukedom of Touraine, and lordship of Longueville, in France, the lordship of Annandale, and the earldom of Wigton. So that, in personal wealth and power, the Earl of Douglas not only approached to, but greatly exceeded the King himself. The Douglasses, however, though ambitious and unruly subjects in time of peace, were always gallant defenders of the liberties of Scotland during the time of war; and if they were sometimes formidable to their own sovereigns, they were not less so to their English enemies. In 1448, war broke out betwixt England and Scotland, and the incursions on both sides became severe and destructive. The English, under young Percy, destroyed Dumfries, and in return the Scots, led by Lord Balveny, the youngest brother of Douglas, burnt the town of Alnwick. The Lord Percy of Northumberland, with the Earl of Huntingdon, advanced into Scotland with an army, said by the French historians to amount to fifteen thousand men. The Earl of Douglas, to whom the King had intrusted the defence of the frontiers, met him with a much inferior force, defeated the invaders, and made their leaders prisoners.

Incensed at this defeat, the English assembled an army of fifty thousand men, under the command of the Earl of Northumberland, who had under him a celebrated general, called Sir Magnus Redmain, long governor of the town of Berwick; Sir John Pennington, ancestor of the family of Muncaster, and other leaders of high reputation. The task of encountering this mighty host fell upon Hugh, Earl of Ormond, brother also of the Earl of Douglas, who assembled an army of thirty thousand men, and marched to meet the invaders. The English had entered the Scottish border, and advanced beyond the small river Sark, when the armies came in presence of each other. The English began the battle, as usual, with a fatal discharge of arrows. But William Wallace of Craigie, well worthy of the heroic name he bore, called out to the left wing of the Scots, which he commanded, “Why stand ye still, to be shot from a distance? Follow me, and we shall soon come to handstrokes.” Accordingly, they rushed furiously against the right wing of the English, who, commanded by Sir Magnus Redmain, advanced boldly to meet them. They encountered with great fury, and both leaders fell, Magnus Redmain being slain on the spot, and the Knight of Craigie–Wallace mortally wounded. The English, disconcerted by the loss of their great champion, Magnus, at length gave way. The Scots pressed furiously upon them, and as the little river Sark, which the English had passed at low water, was now filled by the advancing tide, many of the fugitives lost their lives. The victory, together with the spoils of the field, remained in possession of the Scots. The Earl of Northumberland escaped with difficulty, through the gallantry of one of his sons, who was made prisoner in covering his father’s retreat. The King, much pleased with this victory, gave great praise to the Earl of Douglas, and continued to employ his services as lieutenant-general of the kingdom.

This martial family of Douglas were as remarkable for the address with which they sustained the honour of their country in the tournaments and military sports of the age, as in the field of battle. In 1449, a grand combat took place at the barriers, betwixt three renowned champions of Flanders, namely, Jacques de Lalain, Simon de Lalain, and Herve Meriadet, and three Scottish knights, namely, James, brother of the Earl of Douglas, another James Douglas, brother to the Lord of Lochleven, and Sir John Ross of Halket. They fought in the presence of the King at Stirling, with lance, battle-axe, sword, and dagger. The Earl of Douglas himself attended his brother and kinsman with five thousand followers. The combat was to be waged to extremity; that is, the persons engaged were to kill each other if they could, although there was no personal enmity betwixt them, but, on the contrary, much mutual esteem and good-will. They only fought to show which of them was the bravest, and most skilful in the use of arms.

There was a space under the castle rock at Stirling, which was used for such purposes. It was surrounded with a strong enclosure of wooden pales, and rich tents were pitched at each end for the convenience of the champions putting on their armour. Galleries were erected for the accommodation of the King and his nobles, while the ladies of the court in great numbers, and dressed as if for a theatre or ball-room, occupied a crag which commanded a view of the lists, still called the Ladies’ Rock.

The combatants appeared at first in rich velvet dresses, and after having made their dutiful obeisances to the King, retired to their pavilions. They then sallied out in complete armour, and were knighted by the King. James Douglas and Jaques de Lalain rushed upon each other, and fought till all their weapons were broken, saving Douglas’s dagger. The Flemish knight closing with his antagonist, and seizing his arm, Douglas could not strike; but they continued to wrestle fiercely together. The fight was also equal betwixt Simon de Lalain and Sir John Ross; they were neither of them skilful in warding blows, but struck at each other with great fury, till armour and weapons gave way, without either champion obtaining the advantage. James Douglas of Lochleven was less fortunate; Meriadet parried a thrust of the Scotsman’s lance, and before Douglas could get his axe in hand, his antagonist struck him to the ground. Douglas, however, instantly sprung to his feet and renewed the conflict. But Meriadet, one of the most skilful and redoubted champions of his time, struck his antagonist a second time to the earth; and then, as the combat had become unequal, the King cast down his warder or truncheon, as a signal that the battle should cease. All the parties were highly praised for their valour, and nobly entertained by the King of Scotland.

Thus you see how gallantly the Douglasses behaved themselves, both in war and in the military exercises of the time. It was unhappy for the country and themselves, that their ambition and insubordination were at least equal to their courage and talents.

Chapter 21

We mentioned that James II, in the early part of his reign, conferred on the Earl of Douglas the important post of lieutenant-general of Scotland. But that ambitious nobleman was soon disposed to extend his authority to independent power, and the King found it necessary to take from him the dangerous office with which he had intrusted him. Douglas retired to his own castle meditating revenge; whilst the King, on the other hand, looked around him for some fitting opportunity of diminishing the power of so formidable a rival. Douglas was not long of showing his total contempt of the King’s authority, and his power of acting for himself. — One of his friends and followers, named Auchinleck, had been slain by the Lord Colville. The criminal certainly deserved punishment, but it ought to have been inflicted by the regular magistrates of the crown, not by the arbitrary pleasure of a private baron, however great and powerful. Douglas, however, took up the matter as a wrong done to himself, and revenged it by his own authority. He marched a large body of his forces against the Lord Colville, stormed his castle, and put every person within it to death. The King was unable to avenge this insult to his authority.

In like manner, Douglas connived at and encouraged some of his followers in Annandale to ravage and plunder the lands of Sir John Herries, a person of that country, eminently attached to the King. Herries, a man of high spirit and considerable power, retaliated, by wasting the lands of those who had thus injured him. He was defeated and made prisoner by Douglas, who caused him to be executed, although the King sent a positive order, enjoining him to forbear any injury to Herries’s person(1451). Soon after this, another audacious transaction occurred in the murder of Sir John Sandilands of Calder, a kinsman of the King, by Sir Patrick Thornton, a dependant of the house of Douglas; along with them were slain two knights, Sir James and Sir Allan Stewart, both of whom enjoyed the friendship and intimacy of the sovereign.

But a still more flagrant breach of law, and violation of all respect to the King’s authority, happened in the case of Maclellan, the tutor, or guardian of the young lord of Bomby, ancestor of the Earls of Kirkcudbright (1452). This was one of the few men of consequence in Galloway, who, defying the threats of the Earl of Douglas, had refused to join with him against the King. The earl, incensed at his opposition, suddenly assaulted his castle, made him prisoner, and carried him to the strong fortress of Thrieve, in Galloway, situated on an island in the river Dee. The King took a particular interest in Maclellan’s fate, the rather that he was petitioned to interfere in his favour by a personal favourite of his own. This was Sir Patrick Gray, the commander of the royal guard, a gentleman much in James’s confidence, and constantly attending on his person, and who was Maclellan’s near relative, being his uncle on the mother’s side. In order to prevent Maclellan from sharing the fate of Colville and Herries, the King wrote a letter to the Earl of Douglas, entreating as a favour, rather than urging as a command, that he would deliver the person of the Tutor of Bomby, as Maclellan was usually entitled, into the hands of his relative, Sir Patrick Gray. Sir Patrick himself went with the letter to the castle of Thrieve. Douglas received him just as he had arisen from dinner, and, with much apparent civility, declined to speak with Gray, on the occasion of his coming, until Sir Patrick also had dined, saying, “It was ill talking between a full man and a fasting.” But this courtesy was only a pretence to gain time to do a very cruel and lawless action. Guessing that Sir Patrick Gray’s visit respected the life of Maclellan, he resolved to hasten his execution before opening the King’s letter. Thus, while be was feasting Sir Patrick, with every appearance of hospitality, he caused his unhappy kinsman to be led out, and beheaded in the courtyard of the castle.

When dinner was over, Gray presented the King’s letter, which Douglas received and read over with every testimony of profound respect. He then thanked Sir Patrick for the trouble he had taken in bringing him so gracious a letter from his sovereign, especially considering he was not at present on good terms with his Majesty. “And,” he added, “the King’s demand shall instantly be granted, the rather for your sake.” The earl then took Sir Patrick by the hand, and led him to the castleyard, where the body of Maclellan was still lying.

“Sir Patrick,” said he, as his servants removed the bloody cloth which covered the body, “you have come a little too late. There lies your sister’s son-but he wants the head. The body is, however, at your service.”

“My lord,” said Gray, suppressing his indignation, “If you have taken his head, you may dispose of the body as you will.”

But, when he had mounted his horse, which he instantly called for, his resentment broke out, in spite of the dangerous situation in which he was placed:— “My lord,” said he, “if I live, you shall bitterly pay for this day’s work.”

So saying, he turned his horse and galloped off. “To horse, and chase him!” said Douglas; and if Gray had not been well mounted, he would, in all probability, have shared the fate of his nephew. He was closely pursued till near Edinburgh, a space of fifty or sixty miles.

Besides these daring and open instances of con tempt of the King’s authority, Douglas entered into such alliances as plainly showed his determination to destroy entirely the royal government. He formed a league with the Earl of Crawford, called Earl Beardie, and sometimes, from the ferocity of his temper, the Tiger–Earl, who had great power in the counties of Angus, Perth, and Kincardine, and with the Earl of Ross, who possessed extensive and almost royal authority in the north of Scotland, by which these three powerful earls agreed that they should take each other’s part in every quarrel, and against every man, the King himself not excepted.

James then plainly saw that some strong measures must be taken, yet it was not easy to determine what was to be done. The league between the three earls enabled them, if open war was attempted, to assemble a force superior to that of the crown. The King, therefore, dissembled his resentment, and, under pretext of desiring an amicable conference and reconciliation, requested Douglas to come to the royal court at Stirling (January, 1452). The haughty earl hesitated not to accept of this invitation, but before he actually did so, he demanded and obtained a protection, or safe conduct, under the great seal, pledging the King’s promise that he should he permitted to come to the court and to return in safety. And the earl was more confirmed in his purpose of waiting on the King, because he was given to understand that the Chancellor Crichton had retired from court in some disgrace; so that he imagined himself secure from the plots of that great enemy of his family. Thus protected, as he thought, against personal danger, Douglas came to Stirling in the end of February, 1452, where he found the King lodged in the castle of that place, which is situated upon a rock rising abruptly from the plain, at the upper end of the town, and only accessible by one gate, which is strongly defended. The numerous followers of Douglas were quartered in the town, but the earl himself was admitted into the castle. One of his nearest confidents, and most powerful allies, was James Hamilton of Cadyow, the head of the great house of Hamilton. This gentleman pressed forward to follow Douglas, as he entered the gate. But Livingston, who was in the castle, with the King, thrust back Hamilton, who was his near relation, and struck him upon the face; and when Hamilton, greatly incensed, rushed on him, sword in hand, he repulsed him with a long lance, till the gates were shut against him. Sir James Hamilton was very angry at this usage at the time, but afterwards knew that Livingston acted a friendly part in excluding him from the danger into which Douglas was throwing himself.

The King received Douglas kindly, and, after some amicable expostulation with him upon his late conduct, all seemed friendship and cordiality betwixt James and his too powerful subject. By invitation of James, Douglas dined with him on the day following. Supper was presented at seven o’clock, and after it was over, the King having led Douglas into another apartment, where only some of the privy council and of his body guard were in attendance, he introduced the subject of the earl’s bond with Ross and Crawford, and exhorted him to give up the engagement, as inconsistent with his allegiance and the quiet of the kingdom. Douglas declined to relinquish the treaty which he had formed. The King urged him more imperiously, and the earl returned a haughty and positive refusal, upbraiding the King, at the same time, with mal-administration of the public affairs. Then the King burst into a rage at his obstinacy, and exclaimed, “ By Heaven, my lord, if you will not break the league, this shall.” So saying, he stabbed the earl with his dagger first in the throat, and instantly after in the lower part of the body. Sir Patrick Gray, who had sworn revenge on Douglas for the execution of Maclellan, then struck the earl on the head with a battle-axe; and others of the King’s retinue showed their zeal by stabbing at the dying man with their knives and daggers. He expired without uttering a word, covered with twenty-six wounds. The corpse did not receive any Christian burial. At least, about forty years since, a skeleton was found buried in the garden, just below the fatal window, which was, with much probability, conjectured to be the remains of the Earl of Douglas, who died thus strangely and unhappily by the hand of his sovereign. This was a wicked and cruel action on the King’s part; bad if it were done in hasty passion, and yet worse if James meditated the possibility of this violence from the beginning, and had determined to use force if Douglas should not yield to persuasion. The earl had deserved punishment, perhaps even that of death, for many crimes against the state; but the King ought not to have slain him without form of trial, and in his own chamber, after decoying him thither under assurance that his person should be safe. Yet this assassination, like that of the Red Comyn at Dumfries, turned to the good of Scotland; for God, my dearest child, who is often pleased to bring good out of the follies) and even the crimes of men, rendered the death of Comyn the road to the freedom of Scotland, and that of this ambitious earl the cause of the downfall of the Douglas family, which had become too powerful for the peace of the kingdom.

The scene, however, opened very differently from the manner in which it was to end. There were in the town of Stirling four brethren of the murdered Douglas, who had come to wait on him to court. Upon hearing that their elder brother had died in the manner l have told you, they immediately acknowledged James, the eldest of the four, as his successor in the earldom. They then hastened each to the county where he had interest (for they were all great lords) and, collecting their friends and vassals, they returned to Stirling, dragging the safe-conduct, or passport which had been granted to the Earl of Douglas, at the tail of a miserable cart-jade, in order to show their contempt for the King. They next, with the sound of five hundred horns and trumpets, proclaimed King James a false and perjured man. Afterwards they pillaged the town of Stirling, and, not thinking that enough, they sent back Hamilton of Cadyow to burn it to the ground. But the strength of the castle defied all their efforts; and after this bravado, the Douglasses dispersed themselves to assemble a still larger body of forces. So many great barons were engaged in alliance with the house of Douglas, that it is said to have been a question in the King’s mind, whether he should abide the conflict, or fly to France, and leave the throne to the earl. At this moment of extreme need, James found a trusty counsellor in his cousin german, Kennedy, Archbishop of St Andrews, one of the wisest men of his time. The archbishop showed his advice in a sort of emblem or parable. He gave the King a bunch of arrows tied together with a thong of leather, and asked him to break them. The King said it was beyond his strength. “That may be the case, bound together as they are,” replied the archbishop; “but if you undo the strap, and take the arrows one by one, you may easily break them all in succession. And thus, my liege, you ought in wisdom to deal with the insurgent nobility. If you attack them while they are united in one mind and purpose, they will be too strong for you; but if you can, by dealing with them separately, prevail on them to abandon their union, you may as easily master them one after the other, as you can break these arrows if you take each singly.”

Acting upon this principle, the King made private representations to several of the nobility, to whom his agents found access, showing them that the rebellion of the Douglasses would, if successful, render that family superior to all others in Scotland, and sink the rest of the peers into men of little consequence. Large gifts of lands, treasures, and honours, were liberally promised to those who, in this moment of extremity, should desert the Douglasses and join the King’s party. These large promises, and the secret dread of the great predominance of the Douglas family, drew to the King’s side many of the nobles who had hitherto wavered betwixt their allegiance and their fear of the earl. Among these, the most distinguished was the Earl of Angus, who although himself a Douglas, being a younger branch of that family, joined on this memorable occasion with the King against his kinsman, and gave rise to the saying, that “the Red Douglas (such was the complexion of the Angus family) had put down the Black.” The great family of Gordon also declaring for the King, their chief, the Earl of Huntly, collected an army in the north, and marched south as far as Brechin to support the royal authority. Here he was encountered by the Tiger–Earl of Crawford, who had taken arms for the Douglas party, according to the fatal bond which had cost the Earl William his life. One of the chief leaders in Crawford’s army was John Collasse of Bonnymoon (of Balnamoon), who commanded a gallant body or men, armed with bills and battle-axes, on whom the earl greatly relied. But before the action, this John Collasse had asked Crawford to grant him certain lands, that lay convenient for him, and near his house, which the earl refused to do. Collasse, incensed at the refusal, took an opportunity, when the battle was at the closest, to withdraw from the conflict; upon which Crawford’s men, who bad been on the point of gaining the victory, lost heart, and were defeated. Other battles were fought in different parts of Scotland between the Douglasses and their allies, and those noblemen and gentlemen who favoured the King(18 May 1452). Much blood was spilt, and great mischief done to the country. Among other instances of the desolation of these civil wars, the Earl of Huntly burned one half of the town of Elgin, being that part which inclined to the Douglasses, while he left standing the opposite part of the same street, which was inhabited by citizens attached to his own family. Hence the proverb, when a thing is imperfectly finished, that it is “Half done, as Elgin was burned.”

Huntly, however, was afterwards surprised, and lost a considerable number of his followers in a morass, called Dunkinty, where they were attacked by Douglas, Earl of Murray. This gave rise to a jeering song, which ran thus:—

“Where did you leave your men,

Thou Gordon so gay?

In the bog of Dunkinty,

Mowing the hay.”

In this period of calamity, famine and pestilence came to add to the desolation of the country, wasted by a civil war, which occasioned skirmishes, conflagrations, and slaughters, almost in every province of Scotland.

The royal party at length began to gain ground; for the present Earl of Douglas seems to have been a man of less action and decision than was usual with those of his name and family. The Earl of Crawford was one of those who first deserted him, and applied to the King for forgiveness and restoration to favour. He appeared before James in the most humble guise, in poor apparel, bareheaded and barefooted, like a condemned criminal; and throwing himself at the King’s feet, he confessed his treasons, and entreated the royal mercy, on account of the loyalty of his ancestors, and the sincerity of his repentance. The King, though he had many subjects of complaint against this powerful lord, and notwithstanding he had made a vow to destroy the earl’s castle of Finhaven, and to make the highest stone the lowest, nevertheless granted him a full pardon, and made him a visit at Finhaven, where he accomplished his vow, by getting to the top of the battlements, and throwing a small stone, which was lying loose there, down into the moat; thus, in one sense, making the highest stone in the house the lowest, though not by the demolition of the place. By this clemency the minds of the hostile nobles were conciliated, and many began to enter into terms of submission. But the power of the Douglasses remained unbroken, and it was so great that there appeared little hope of the struggle being ended without a desperate battle (1454). At length such an event seemed near approaching. The Earls of Orkney and Angus, acting for the King, had besieged Abercorn, a strong castle on the frith of Forth, belonging to the Earl of Douglas. Douglas collected the whole strength which his family and allies could raise, amounting, it is said, to nearly forty thousand men, with which he advanced to raise the siege. The King, on the other hand, having assembled the whole forces of the north of Scotland, marched to meet Douglas, at the head of an army somewhat superior in numbers to that of the earl, but inferior in military discipline. Thus every thing seemed to render a combat inevitable, the issue of which must have shown whether James Stewart or James Douglas was to wear the crown of Scotland. The small river of Carron divided the two armies.

But the intrigues of the Archbishop of St Andrews had made a powerful impression upon many of the nobles who acted with Douglas, and there was a party among his followers who obeyed him more from fear than affection. Others, seeing a certain degree of hesitation in the earl’s resolutions, and a want of decision in his actions, began to doubt whether he was a leader fit to conduct so perilous an enterprise. Amongst these last was Sir James Hamilton of Cadyow, already mentioned, who commanded in Douglas’s army three hundred horse, and as many infantry, all men of tried discipline and courage. The Archbishop Kennedy was Hamilton’s kinsman, and took advantage of their relationship to send a secret messenger to inform him that the King was well disposed to pardon his rebellion, and to show him great favour provided that he would, at that critical moment, set an example to the insurgent nobility, by renouncing the cause of Douglas, and returning to the King’s obedience. These arguments made considerable impression on Hamilton, who, nevertheless, having been long the friend and follower of the Earl of Douglas, was loath to desert his old friend in such an extremity.

On the next morning after this secret conference, the King sent a herald to the camp of Douglas, charging the earl to disperse his followers, on pain that he and his accomplices should be proclaimed traitors, but at the same time promising forgiveness and rewards to all who should leave the rebellious standard of Douglas. Douglas made a mock of this summons; and sounding his trumpets, and placing his men in order, marched stoutly forward to encounter the King’s army, who on their side left their camp, and advanced with displayed banners, as if to instant battle. It seems, however, that the message of the herald had made some impression on the followers of Douglas, and perhaps on the earl himself, by rendering him doubtful of their adherence. He saw, or thought he saw, that his troops were discouraged, and led them back into his camp, hoping to inspire them with more confidence and zeal. But the movement had a different effect; for no sooner had the earl returned to his tent, than Sir James Hamilton came to expostulate with him, and to require him to say, whether he meant to fight or not, assuring him that every delay was in favour of the King, and that the longer the earl put off the day of battle, the fewer men he would have to fight it with. Douglas answered contemptuously to Hamilton, “that if he was afraid to stay, he was welcome to go home.” Hamilton took the earl at his word, and, leaving the camp of Douglas, went over to the King that very night.

The example was so generally followed, that the army of Douglas seemed suddenly to disperse, like a dissolving snowball; and in the morning the earl had not a hundred men left in his silent and deserted camp, excepting his own immediate followers. He was obliged to fly to the West Border, where his brothers and followers sustained a severe defeat from the Scotts and other Borderers, near a place called Arkinholme, in the valley of Esk (1 May 1455). Archibald Douglas, Earl of Murray, one of the earl’s’ brothers, falling in the battle, his head was cut off, and sent to the King, then before Abercorn; another, Hugh, Earl of Ormond, was wounded and made prisoner, and immediately executed, notwithstanding his services at the battle of Sark. John, Lord Balvenie, the third brother, escaped into England, where the earl also found a retreat. Thus the power of this great and predominant family, which seemed to stand so fair for possessing the crown, fell at length without any decisive struggle; and their greatness, which had been founded upon the loyalty and bravery of the Good Lord James, was destroyed by the rebellious and wavering conduct of the last earl. That unfortunate nobleman remained nearly twenty years a banished man in England, and was almost forgotten in his own country, until the subsequent reign, when, in 1484, he was defeated and made prisoner, in a small incursion which he had attempted to male upon the frontiers of Annandale. He surrendered to a brother of Kirkpatrick of Closeburn, who, in the earl’s better days, had been his own vassal, and who shed tears at seeing his old master in such a lamentable situation. Kirkpatrick even proposed to set him at liberty, and fly with him into England; but Douglas rejected this offer. “I am tired,” he said, “of exile; and as there is a reward offered by the King for my head, I had rather it were conferred on you, who were always faithful to me while l was faithful to myself, than on any one else.” Kirkpatrick, however, acted kindly and generously. He secured the earl in some secret abode, and did not deliver him up to the King until he had a promise of his life. Douglas was then ordained to be put into the abbey of Lindores, to which sentence he submitted calmly, only using a popular proverb, “ He that cannot do better must be a monk.” He lived in that convent only for four years, and with him, as the last of his family, expired the principal branch of these tremendous Earls of Douglas. Other Scottish families arose upon the ruins of this mighty house, in consequence of the distribution made of their immense forfeited estates, to those who had assisted the King in suppressing their power. Amongst these the Earl of Angus, who, although kinsman to the Earl of Douglas, had sided with the King, received by far the greater share; to an amount, indeed, which enabled the family, as we shall see, to pursue the same ambitious course as that of their kinsfolk of the elder branch, although they neither rose to such high elevation, nor sunk into the same irreparable ruin, which was the lot of the original family.

Hamilton also rose into power on the fall of the Douglas. His opportune desertion of his kinsman at Abercorn was accounted good service, and was rewarded with large grants of land, and at last with the hand of the King’s eldest daughter in marriage.

Sir Walter Scott of Kirkurd and Buccleuch likewise obtained great gifts of land for his clan’s service and his own, at the battle of Arkinholme, and began that course of greatness which raised his family to the ducal dignity. Such, my dear child, is the course of the world, in which the downfall of one great man or family is the means of advancing others; as a falling tree throws its seed upon the ground, and causes young plants to arise in its room.

The English did not make much war upon Scotland during this reign, being engaged at home with their dreadful civil quarrels of York and Lancaster. For the same reason, perhaps, the Scots had the advantage in such actions as took place.

Relieved from the rivalship of the Douglas, and from the pressure of constant war with England, James II governed Scotland firmly. The kingdom enjoyed considerable tranquillity during his reign; and his last Parliament was able to recommend to him the regular and firm execution of the laws, as to a prince who possessed the full means of discharging his kingly office, without resistance from evil-doers or infringers of justice. This was in 1458. But only two years afterwards all these fair hopes were blighted.

The strong Border castle of Roxburgh had remained in the hands of the English ever since the fatal battle of Durham. The King was determined to recover this bulwark of the kingdom. Breaking through a truce which existed with England at the time, James summoned together the full force of his kingdom to accomplish this great enterprise. The nobles attended in numbers, and well accompanied, at the summons of a prince who was always respected, and generally successful in his military undertakings. Even Donald of the Isles proved himself a loyal and submissive vassal; and while he came with a force which showed his great authority, he placed it submissively at the disposal of his sovereign. His men were arrayed in the Highland fashion, with shirts of mail, two handed swords, axes, and bows and arrows; and Donald offered, when the Scots should enter England, that he would march a mile in front of the King’s host, and take upon himself the danger of the first onset. But James’s first object was the siege of Roxburgh.

This strong castle was situated on an eminence near the junction of the Tweed and the Teviot; the waters of the Teviot, raised by a damhead or wear, flowed round the fortress, and its walls were as strong as the engineers of the time could raise. On former occasions it had been taken by stratagem, but James was now to proceed by a regular siege.

With this purpose he established a battery of such large clumsy cannon as were constructed at that time, upon the north side of the river Tweed. The siege had lasted some time, and the army began to be weary of the undertaking, when they received new spirit from the arrival of the Earl of Huntly with a gallant body of fresh troops. The King, out of joy at these succours, commanded his artillery to fire a volley upon the castle, and stood near the cannon himself, to mark the effect of the shot. The great guns of that period were awkwardly framed out of bars of iron, fastened together by hoops of the same metal, somewhat in the same manner in which barrels are now made. They were, therefore, far more liable to accidents than modern cannon, which are cast in one entire solid piece, and then bored hollow by a machine. One of these ill-made guns burst in going off. A fragment of iron broke James’s thigh-bone, and killed him on the spot. Another splinter wounded the Earl of Angus. No other person sustained injury, though many stood around. Thus died James the Second of Scotland, in the twenty ninth year of his life, after reigning twenty-four years (3 Aug. 1460). This King did not possess the elegant accomplishments of his father; and the manner in which he slew the Earl of Douglas must be admitted as a stain upon his reputation. Yet he was, upon the whole, a good prince, and was greatly lamented by his subjects. A thorn-tree, in the Duke of Roxburghe’s park at Fleurs, still shows the spot where he died.

Chapter 22

Upon the lamentable death of James II, the army which lay before Roxburgh was greatly discouraged, and seemed about to raise the siege. But Margaret, the widow of their slain Monarch, appeared in their council of war, leading her eldest son, a child of eight years old, who was the successor to the crown, and spoke to them these gallant words: “Fy, my noble lords! think not now shamefully to give up an enterprise which is so bravely begun, or to abandon the revenge of this unhappy accident which has befallen before this ill-omened castle. Forward, my brave lords, and persevere in your undertaking; and never turn your backs till this siege is victoriously ended. Let it not be said that such brave champions needed to hear from a woman, and a widowed one, the courageous advice and comfort which she ought rather to receive from you!” The Scottish nobles received this heroic address with shouts of applause, and persevered in the siege of Roxburgh castle, until the garrison, receiving no relief, were obliged to surrender the place through famine. The governor is stated to have been put to death, and in the animosity of the Scots against every thing concerned with the death of their King, they levelled the walls of the castle with the ground, and returned victorious from an enterprise which had cost them so dear.

The minority of James III was more prosperous than that of his father and grandfather. The affairs of state were guided by the experienced wisdom of Bishop Kennedy. Roxburgh was, as we have said, taken and destroyed. Berwick, during the dissensions of the civil wars of England, was surrendered to the Scots; and the dominions of the Islands of Orkney and Zetland, which had hitherto belonged to the Kings of Norway, were acquired as the marriage portion of a Princess of Denmark and Norway, who was united in marriage to the King of Scotland.

These favourable circumstances were first interrupted by the death of Archbishop Kennedy; after which event, one family that of the Boyds, started into such a degree of temporary power as seemed to threaten the public tranquility (10 May 1466). The tutor of James III was Gilbert Kennedy, a wise and grave man, who continued to regulate the studies of the King after the death of his brother the prelate, but unadvisedly called in to his assistance Sir Alexander, the brother of Lord Boyd, as one who was younger and fitter than himself to teach James military exercises. By means of this appointment, Sir Alexander, his brother Lord Boyd, and two of his sons, became so intimate with the King, that they resolved to take him from under the management of Kennedy entirely. The court was then residing at Linlithgow, and the King, while abroad on a hunting party, was persuaded to direct his horse’s head to Edinburgh, instead of returning. Kennedy, the tutor, hastened to oppose the King’s desire, and seizing his horse by the bridle, wished to lead him back to Linlithgow. Alexander Boyd rushed forward, and striking with a hunting-staff the old man, who had deserved better usage at his hand, forced him to quit the King’s rein, and accomplished his purpose of carrying James to Edinburgh, where he entered upon the administration of affairs, and having granted a solemn pardon to the Boyds for whatever violence had occurred in their proceedings, he employed them for a time, as his chief ministers and favourites. Sir Thomas, one of Lord Boyd’s sons, was honoured with the hand of the Princess Margaret, the King’s eldest sister, and was created Earl of Arran. He deserved even this elevation by his personal accomplishments, if he approached the character given of him by an English gentleman. He is described as “the most courteous, gentle, wise, kind, companionable, and bounteous Earl of Arran; — and again, as “a light, able-bodied, well-spoken man, a goodly archer, and a knight most devout, most perfect, and most true to his lady.”

Notwithstanding the new Earl of Arran’s accomplishments, the sudden rise of his family was followed by as sudden a fall. The King, either resenting the use which the Boyds had made of his favour, or changing his opinion of them from other causes, suddenly deprived the whole family of their offices, and caused them to be tried for the violence committed at Linlithgow, notwithstanding the pardon which he himself had granted. Sir Alexander Boyd was condemned and executed. Lord Boyd and his sons escaped, and died in exile. After the death of Sir Thomas (the Earl of Arran,” the Princess Margaret was married to the Lord Hamilton, to whom she carried the estate and title of Arran.

It was after the fall of the Boyds that the King came to administer the government in person, and that the defects of his character began to appear. He was timorous, a great failing in a warlike age; and his cowardice made him suspicious of his nobility, and particularly of his two brothers. He was fond of money, and therefore did not use that generosity towards his powerful subjects which was necessary to secure their attachment; but, on the contrary, endeavoured to increase his private hoards of wealth by encroaching upon the rights both of clergy and laity, and thus made himself at once hated and contemptible. He was a lover of the fine arts, as they are called, of music and architecture; a disposition graceful in a monarch, if exhibited with due regard to his dignity. But he made architects and musicians his principal companions, excluding his nobility from the personal familiarity to which he admitted those whom the haughty barons of Scotland termed masons and fiddlers. Cochran, an architect, Rogers, a musician, Leonard, a smith, Hommel, a tailor, and Torphichen, a fencing-master, were his counsellors and companions. These habits of low society excited the hatred of the nobility, who began to make comparisons betwixt the King and his two brothers, the Dukes of Albany and Mar, greatly to the disadvantage of James.

These younger sons of James the Second were of appearance and manners such as were then thought most suited to their royal birth. This is the description of the Duke of Albany by an ancient Scottish author: He was well-proportioned, and tall in stature, and comely in his countenance; that is to say, broad-faced, red-nosed, large-eared, and leaving a very awful countenance when it pleased him to speak with those who had displeased him. Mar was of a less stern temper, and gave great satisfaction to all who approached his person, by the mildness and gentleness of his manners. Both princes excelled in the military exercises of tilting, hunting, hawking, and other personal accomplishments, for which their brother, the King, was unfit, by taste, or from timidity, although they were in those times reckoned indispensable to a man of rank.

Perhaps some excuse for the King’s fears may be found in the turbulent disposition of the Scottish nobles, who like the Douglasses and Boyds, often nourished schemes of ambition, which they endeavoured to gratify by exercising a control over the King’s person. The following incident may serve to amuse you, among so many melancholy tales, and at the same time to show you the manners of the Scottish Kings, and the fears which James entertained for the enterprises of the nobility. About the year 1474, Lord Somerville being in attendance upon the King’s court, James III offered to come and visit him at his castle of Cowthally, near the town of Carnwath, where he then lived in all the rude hospitality of the time, for which this nobleman was peculiarly remarkable. It was his custom, when, being from home, he intended to return to the castle with a party of guests, merely to write the words, Speates and raxes; that is, spits and ranges; meaning by this hint that there should be a great quantity of food prepared, and that the spits and ranges, or framework on which they turn, should be put into employment. Even the visit of the King himself did not induce Lord Somerville to send any other than his usual intimation; only he repeated it three times, and despatched it to his castle by a special messenger. The paper was delivered to the Lady Somerville, who, having been lately married, was not quite accustomed to read her husband’s hand writing, which probably was not very good; for in those times noblemen used the sword more than the pen. So the lady sent for the steward, and, after laying their heads together, instead of reading Speates and raxes, speates and raxes, speates and raxes, they made out the writing to be Spears and jacks, spears and jacks, spears and jacks. Jacks were a sort of leathern doublet, covered with plates of iron, worn as armour by horsemen of inferior rank. They concluded the meaning of these terrible words to be, that Lord Somerville was in some distress, or engaged in some quarrel in Edinburgh, and wanted assistance; so that, instead of killing cattle and preparing for a feast, they collected armed men together, and got ready for a fray. A party of two hundred horsemen were speedily assembled, and were trotting over the moors towards Edinburgh, when they observed a large company of gentlemen employed in the sport of hawking, on the side of Corsett-hill. This was the King and Lord Somerville, who were on their road to Cowthally, taking their sport as they went along. The appearance of a numerous body of armed men soon turned their game to earnest; and the King, who saw the Lord Somerville’s banner at the head of the troop, concluded it was some rebellious enterprise against his person, and charged the baron with treason. Lord Somerville declared his innocence. “Yonder,” said he, “are indeed my men and my banner, but l have no knowledge whatever of the cause that has brought them here. But if your grace will permit me to ride forward, I will soon see the cause of this disturbance. In the mean time, let my eldest son and heir remain as an hostage in your grace’s power, and let him lose his head if I prove false to my duty.” The King accordingly permitted Lord Somerville to ride towards his followers, when the matter was soon explained by those who commanded them. The mistake was then only subject of merriment; for the King, looking at the letter, protested he himself would have read it Spears and jacks, rather than Speates and raxes. When they came to Cowthally, the lady was much out of countenance at the mistake. But the King greatly praised her for the despatch which she had used in raising men to assist her husband, and said he hoped she would always have as brave a band at his service, when the King and kingdom required them. And thus every thing went happily off.

It was natural that a prince of a timid, and at the same time a severe disposition, such as James III seems to have had, should see with anxiety the hold which his brothers possessed over the hearts of his subjects; and the insinuations of the unworthy familiars of his private hours turned that anxiety and suspicion into deadly and implacable hatred. Various causes combined to induce the mean and obscure favourites of James to sow enmity betwixt him and his brothers. The Homes and Hepburns, families which had risen into additional power after the fall of the Douglasses, had several private disputes with Albany concerning privileges and property belonging to the earldom of March, which had been conferred on him by his father. Albany was also Lord Warden of the east frontiers, and in that capacity had restrained and disobliged those powerful clans. To be revenged, they made interest with Robert Cochran, the King’s principal adviser, and gave him, it is said, large bribes to put Albany out of credit with the King. Cochran’s own interest suggested the same vile course; for he must have been sensible that Albany and Mar disapproved of the King’s intimacy with him and his companions.

These unworthy favourites, therefore, set themselves to fill the King’s mind with apprehensions of dangers which were to arise to him from his brothers. They informed him that the Earl of Mar had consulted witches when and how the King should die, and that it had been answered that he should fall by means of his nearest relations. They brought to James also an astrologer, that is, a man who pretended to calculate future events by the motion of the stars, who told him, that in Scotland a Lion should be killed by his own whelps. All these things wrought on the jealous and timid disposition of the King, so that he seized upon both his brethren. Albany was imprisoned in the castle of Edinburgh, but Mar’s fate was instantly decided; the King caused him to be murdered by stifling him in a bath, or, as other historians say, by causing him to be bled to death. James committed this horrid crime, in order to avoid dangers which were in a great measure imaginary; but we shall find that the death of his brother Mar rather endangered than added to his safety.

Albany was in danger of the same fate, but some of his friends in France or Scotland had formed a plan of rescuing him. A small sloop came into the road-stead of Leith, loaded with wine of Gascony, and two small barrels were sent up as a present to the imprisoned prince. The guard having suffered the casks to be carried to Albany’s chamber, the duke, examining them in private, found that one of them contained a roll of wax, enclosing a letter, exhorting him to make his escape, and promising that the little vessel which brought the wine should be ready to receive him if he could gain the water-side. The letter conjured him to be speedy, as there was a purpose to behead him on the day following. A coil of ropes was also enclosed in the same cask, in order to enable him to effect his descent from the castle wall, and the precipice upon which it as built There was a faithful attendant, his chamberlain, imprisoned with him in the same apartment, who promised to assist his master in this perilous undertaking. The first point was to secure the captain of the guard; for which purpose Albany invited that officer to sup with him, in order, as the duke pretended, to taste the good wine which had been presented to him in the two casks. The captain accordingly, having placed his watches where he thought there was danger, came to the duke’s chamber, attended by three of his soldiers, and partook of a collation. After supper, the duke engaged him in playing at tables and dice, until the captain, seated beside a hot fire, and plied with wine by the chamberlain, began to grow drowsy, as did his attendants, on whom the liquor had not been spared. Then the Duke of Albany, a strong man and desperate, leapt from table, and stabbed the captain with a whinger or dagger, so that he died on the spot. The like he did to two of the captain’s men, and the chamberlain despatched the other, and threw their bodies on the fire. This was the more easily accomplished that the soldiers were intoxicated and stupified. They then took the keys from the captain’s pocket, and, getting out upon the walls, chose a retired corner, out of the watchmen’s sight, to make their perilous descent. The chamberlain tried to go down the rope first, but it was too short, so that he fell and broke his thigh-bone. He then called to his master to make the rope longer. Albany returned to his apartment, and took the sheets from the bed, with which he lengthened the rope, so that he descended the precipice in safety. He then got his chamberlain on his back, and conveyed him to a place of security, where he might remain concealed till his hurt was cured, and went himself to the sea-side, when, upon the appointed signal, a boat came ashore and took him off to the vessel, in which he sailed for France. During the night, the guards, who knew that their officer was in the duke’s apartment with three men, could not but suppose that all was safe; hut when daylight showed them the rope hanging from the walls, they became alarmed, and hastened to the duke’s lodgings. Here they found the body of one man stretched near the door, and the corpses of the captain and other two lying upon the fire. The King was much surprised at so strange an escape, and would give no credit to it till he had examined the place with his own eyes. The death of Mar, and the flight of Albany, increased the insolence of King James’s unworthy favourites Robert Cochran, the mason, rose into great power, and as every man’s petition to the King came through his hands, and he expected and received bribes to give his countenance, he amassed so much wealth, that he was able in his turn to bribe the King to confer on him the earldom of Mar, with the lands and revenues of the deceased prince. All men were filled with indignation to see the inheritance of the murdered earl, the son of the King of Scotland, conferred upon a mean upstart, like this Cochran. This unworthy favourite was guilty of another piece of mal-administration, by mixing the silver coin of the kingdom with brass and lead, and thereby decreasing its real value, while orders were given by proclamation to take it at the same rate as if it were composed of pure silver. The people refused to sell their corn and other commodities for this debased coin, which introduced great distress, confusion, and scarcity. Some one told Cochran, that this money should be called in, and good coin issued in its stead; but be was so confident of the currency of the Cochran-placks, as the people called them, that he said, — “The day I am hanged they may be called in; not sooner. “This speech, which he made in jest, proved true in reality.

In the year 1482, the disputes with England had come to a great height, and Edward IV made preparations to invade Scotland, principally in the hope of recovering the town of Berwick. He invited the Duke of Albany from France to join him in this undertaking, promising to place him on the Scottish throne instead of his brother. This was held out in order to take advantage of the unpopularity of King James, and the general disposition which manifested itself in Scotland in favour of Albany.

But, however discontented with their sovereign, the Scottish nation showed themselves in no way disposed to receive another king from the hands of the English. The Parliament assembled, and unanimously determined on war against Edward the Robber, for so they termed the King of England. To support this violent language, James ordered the whole array of the kingdom, that is, all the men who were bound to discharge military service, to assemble at the Borough-moor of Edinburgh, from whence they marched to Lauder, and encamped between the river Leader and the town, to the amount of fifty thousand men. But the great barons, who had there assembled with their followers, were less disposed to advance against the English, than to correct the abuses of King James’s administration.

Many of the nobility and barons held a secret council in the church of Lauder, where they enlarged upon the evils which Scotland sustained through the insolence and corruption of Cochran and his associates. While they were thus declaiming, Lord Gray requested their attention to a fable. “The mice,” he said, “being much annoyed by the persecution of the cat, resolved that a bell should be hung about puss’s neck, to give notice when she was coming. But though the measure was agreed to in full council, it could not be carried into effect because no mouse had courage enough to undertake to tie the bell to the neck of the formidable enemy.” This was as much as to intimate his opinion, that though the discontented nobles might make bold resolutions against the King’s ministers, yet it would be difficult to find any one courageous enough to act upon them.

Archibald, Earl of Angus, a man of gigantic strength and intrepid courage, and head of that second family of Douglas whom I before mentioned, started up when Gray had done speaking. “I am he,” he said, “who will bell the cat;” from which expression he was distinguished by the name of Bell-the-Cat to his dying day. While thus engaged, a loud authoritative knocking was heard at the door of the church. This announced the arrival of Cochran, attended by a guard of three hundred men, attached to his own person, and all gaily dressed in his livery of white, with black facings, and armed with partisans. His own personal appearance corresponded with this magnificent attendance. He was attired in a riding suit of black velvet, and had round his neck a fine chain of gold, whilst a bugle-horn, tipped and mounted with gold, hung down by his sides. His helmet was borne before him, richly inlaid with the same precious metal; even his tent and tent-cords were of silk, instead of ordinary materials. In this gallant guise, having learned there was some council holding among the nobility, he came to see what they were doing, and it was with this purpose that he knocked furiously at the door of the church. Sir Robert Douglas of Lochleven, who had the charge of watching the door, demanded who was there. When Cochran answered, “The Earl of Mar,” the nobles greatly rejoiced at hearing he was come, to deliver himself, as it were, into their hands.

As Cochran entered the church, Angus, to make good his promise to bell the cat, met him, and rudely pulled the gold chain from his neck, saying, “A halter would better become him.” Sir Robert Douglas, at the same time, snatched away his bugle horn, saying, “Thou hast been a hunter of mischief too long.

“Is this jest or earnest, my lords?” said Cochran, more astonished than alarmed at this rude reception.

“It is sad earnest,” said they, “and that thou and thy accomplices shall feel; for you have abused the King’s favour towards you, and now you shall have your reward according to your deserts.” It does not appear that Cochran or his guards offered any resistance. A part of the nobility went next to the King’s pavilion, and, while some engaged him in conversation, others seized upon Leonard, Hommel, Torphichen, and the rest, with Preston, one of the only two gentlemen amongst King James’s minions, and hastily condemned them to instant death, as having misled the King, and misgoverned the kingdom. The only person who escaped was John Ramsay of Balmain, a youth of honourable birth, who clasped the King round the waist when he saw the others seized upon. Him the nobles spared, in respect of his youth, for he was not above sixteen years, and of the King’s earnest intercession in his behalf. There was a loud acclamation among the troops, who contended with each other in offering their tent-ropes, and the halters of their horses, to be the means of executing these obnoxious ministers. Cochran, who was a man of audacity, and had first attracted the King’s attention by his behaviour in a duel, did not lose his courage, though he displayed it in an absurd manner. He had the vanity to request that his hands might not be tied with a hempen rope, but with a silk cord, which he ordered to furnish from the ropes of his pavilion; but this was only teaching his enemies bow to give his feelings additional pain. They told him he was but a false thief, and should die with all manner of shame; and they were at pains to procure a hair-tether, or halter, as still more ignominious than a rope of hemp. With this they hanged Cochran over the centre of the bridge of Lauder (now demolished) in the middle of his companions, who were suspended on each side of him. When the execution was finished, the lords returned to Edinburgh, where they resolved that the King should remain in the castle, under a gentle and respectful degree of restraint.

In the mean time, the English obtained possession of Berwick, which important place was never again recovered by the Scots, though they continued to assert their claim to that bulwark of the eastern Marches. The English seemed disposed to prosecute their advantages; but the Scottish army having moved to Haddington to fight them, a peace was conclude, partly by the mediation of the Duke of Albany, who had seen the vanity of any hopes which the English had given him, and, laying aside his views upon the crown, appeared desirous to become the means of restoring peace to the country.

The Duke of Albany, and the celebrated Richard Duke of Gloucester (afterwards Richard the Third), are said to have negotiated the terms of peace, as well between the King and his nobility, as between France and England. They had a personal meeting at Edinburgh with the council of Scottish lords who had managed the affairs of the kingdom since the King’s imprisonment. The council would pay no respect to the Duke of Gloucester, who, as an Englishman, they justly thought, had no right to interfere in the affairs of Scotland; but to the Duke of Albany they showed much reverence, requesting to know what he required at their hands.

“First of all,” he said, “I desire that the King, my brother, be set at liberty.”

“My lord,” said Archibald–Bell-the-Cat, who was chancellor, “that shall be presently done, and the rather that you desire it. As to the person who is with yon (meaning the Duke of Gloucester), we know him not; neither will we grant any thing at his asking. But we know you to be the King’s brother, and nearest heir to his Grace after his infant son. Therefore, we put the King’s person at your disposal, trusting that he will act by your advice in future, and govern the kingdom, so as not to excite the discontent of the people, or render it necessary for us, who are the nobles of Scotland, to act contrary to his pleasure.” James, being thus set at liberty, became, to appearance, so perfectly reconciled with his brother, the Duke of Albany, that the two royal brothers used the same chamber, the same table, and the same bed. While the King attended to the buildings and amusements in which he took pleasure, Albany administered the affairs of the kingdom, and, for some time, with applause. But the ambition of his temper began again to show itself; the nation became suspicious of his intimate connexion with the English, and just apprehensions were entertained that the duke aimed still at obtaining the crown by assistance of Richard III, now king of England. The duke was, therefore, once more obliged to fly into England, where he remained for some time, assisting the English against his countrymen. He was present at that skirmish in 1484, where the old Earl of Douglas was made prisoner, and only escaped by the speed of his horse, Albany soon after retired into France, where he formed a marriage with a daughter of the Earl of Boulogne, by whom he had a son, John, afterwards Regent of Scotland in the days of James V. Albany himself was wounded severely by the splinter of a lance at one of the tournaments, or tilting-matches, which I have described to you, and died in consequence. The fickleness with which he changed from one side to another, disappointed the high ideas which had been formed of his character in youth.

Freed from his brother’s superintendence, the King gradually sunk back into those practices which had formerly cost him so dear. To prevent a renewal of the force put on his person, he made a rule that none should appear armed in the royal presence, except the King’s Guard, who were placed under the command of that same John Ramsay of Balmain, the only one of his former favourites who had been spared by Bell-the-Cat, and the other nobles, at the insurrection of Lauder bridge. This gave high offence in a country, where to be without arms was accounted both unsafe and dishonourable, The King’s love of money also grew, as is often the case, more excessive as he advanced in years. He would hardly grant any thing, whether as matter of favour or of right, without receiving some gift or gratuity. By this means he accumulated a quantity of treasure, which considering the poverty of his kingdom, is absolutely marvellous. His “black chest,” as his strong-box was popularly called, was brimful of gold and silver coins, besides quantities of plate and jewels. But while he hoarded these treasures, he was augmenting the discontent of both the nobility and people; and amid the universal sense of the King’s weakness, and hatred of his avarice, a general rebellion was at length excited against him.

The King, among other magnificent establishments, had built a great hall, and a royal chapel,

within the castle of Stirling, both of them specimens of finely ornamented Gothic architecture(1485). He had also established a double choir of musicians and singing men in the chapel, designing that one complete band should attend him wherever he went, to perform Divine service before his person, while the other, as complete in every respect, should remain in daily attendance in the royal chapel.

As this establishment necessarily incurred considerable expense, James proposed to annex to the royal chapel the revenues of the priory of Coldinghame, in Berwickshire. This rich priory had its lands amongst the possessions of the Homes and the Hepburns, who had established it as a kind of right that the prior should be of one or other of these two families, in order to insure their being favourably treated in such bargains as either of them might have to make with the Church. When therefore, these powerful clans understood that, instead of a Home or a Hepburn being named prior, the King intended to bestow the revenues of Coldinghame to maintain his royal chapel at Stirling, they became extremely indignant, and began to hold a secret correspondence, and form alliances, with all the discontented men in Scotland, and especially with Angus, and such other lords as, having been engaged in the affair of Lauder bridge, naturally entertained apprehensions that the King would, one day or other, find a means of avenging himself for the slaughter of his favourites, and the restraint which had been imposed on his own person. By the time that the King heard of this league against him, it had reached so great a head that every thing seemed to he prepared for war, since the whole lords of the south of Scotland, who could collect their forces with a rapidity unknown elsewhere, were all in the field, and ready to act(1488). The King, naturally timid, was induced to fly to the North. He fortified the castle of Stirling, commanded by Shaw of Fintrie, to whom he committed the custody of the prince his son, and heir-apparent, charging the governor neither to let any one enter the castle, nor permit any one to leave it, as he loved his honour and his life. Especially he commanded him to let no one have access to his son. His treasures James deposited in Edinburgh castle; and having thus placed in safety, as he thought, the two things he loved best in the world, he hastened to the north country, where he was joined by the great lords and gentlemen on that side of the Forth; so that it seemed as if the south and the north parts of Scotland were about to fight against each other. The King, in passing through Fife, visited James, the last Earl of Douglas, who had been compelled, as I have before told you, to become a monk in the abbey of Lindores. He offered his full reconciliation and forgiveness, if he would once more come out into the world, place himself at the head of his vassals, and, by the terror of his former authority, withdraw from the banners of the rebel peers such of the southland-men, as might still remember the fame of Douglas. But the views of the old earl were turned towards another world, and he replied to the King — “Ah, sir, your grace has kept me and your black casket so long under lock and key, that the time in which we might have done you good service is past and gone.” In saying this, he alluded to the King’s hoard of treasure, which, if he had spent in time, might have attached many to his person, as he, Douglas, when younger, could have raised men in his behalf; but now the period of getting aid from either source was passed away.

Mean while, Angus, Home, Bothwell, and others of the insurgent nobility, determined, if possible, to get into their hands the person of the prince, resolving that, notwithstanding his being a child, they would avail themselves of his authority to oppose that of his father. Accordingly, they bribed, with a large sum of money, Shaw, the governor of Stirling castle, to deliver the prince (afterwards James IV) into their keeping. When they had thus obtained possession of Prince James’s person, they collected their army, and published proclamations in his name, intimating that King James III was bringing Englishmen into the country to assist in overturning its liberties, — that he had sold the frontiers of Scotland to the Earl of Northumberland, and to the governor of Berwick, and declaring that they were united to dethrone a king whose intentions were so unkingly, and to place his son in his stead. These allegations were false; but the King was so unpopular, that they were listened to and believed. James, in the mean time, arrived before Stirling at the head of a considerable army, and passing to the gate of the castle, demanded entrance. But the governor refused to admit him. The King then eagerly asked for his son; to which the treacherous governor replied, that the lords had taken the prince from him against his will. Then the poor King saw that he was deceived, and said in wrath, “False villain, thou hast betrayed me; but if I live, thou shalt be rewarded according to thy deserts!” If the King had not been thus treacherously deprived of the power of retiring into Stirling castle, be might, by means of that fortress, have avoided a battle until more forces had come up to his assistance; and, in that case, might have overpowered the rebel lords, as his father did the Douglasses before Abercorn. Yet having with him an army of nearly thirty thousand men, he moved boldly towards the insurgents. The Lord David Lindsay of the Byres, in particular, encouraged the King to advance. He had joined him with a thousand horse and three thousand footmen from the counties of Fife and Kinross; and now riding up to the King on a fiery grey horse, he lighted down, and entreated the King’s acceptance of that noble animal, which, whether he had occasion to advance or retreat, would beat every other horse in Scotland, provided the King could keep his saddle.

The King upon this took courage, and advanced against the rebels, confident in his great superiority of numbers. The field of battle was not above a mile or two distant from that where Bruce had defeated the English on the glorious day of Bannockburn; but the fate of his descendant and successor was widely different.

The King’s army was divided into three great bodies. Ten thousand Highlanders, under Huntly and Athole, led the van; ten thousand more, from the westland counties, were led by the Lords of Erskine, Graham, and Menteith. The King was to command the rear, in which the burghers sent by the different towns were stationed. The Earl of Crawford and Lord David Lindsay, with the men of Fife and Angus, had the right wing; Lord Ruthven commanded the left, with the people of Strathearn and Stormont.

The King, thus moving forward in order of battle, called for the horse which Lord David Lindsay had given him, that he might ride forward and observe the motions of the enemy. He saw them from an eminence advancing in three divisions, having about six thousand men in each. The Homes and Hepburns had the first division, with the men of the East Borders and of East Lothian. The next was composed of the Western Borderers, or men of Liddesdale and Annandale, with many from Galloway. The third division consisted of the rebel lords and their choicest followers, bringing with them the young Prince James, and displaying the broad banner of Scotland. When the King beheld his own ensign unfurled against him, and knew that his son was in the hostile ranks, his heart, never very courageous, began altogether to fail him; for he remembered the prophecy, that he was to fall by his nearest of kin, and also what the astrologer had told him of the Scottish lion which was to be strangled by his own whelps. These idle fears so preyed on James’s mind, that his alarm became visible to those around him, who conjured him to retire to a place of safety. But at that moment the battle began, The Homes and Hepburns attacked the King’s vanguard, but were repulsed by the Highlanders with volleys of arrows, On this the Borderers of Liddesdale and Annandale, who bore spears longer than those used in the other parts of Scotland, charged with the wild and furious cries, which they called their slogan, and bore down the royal forces opposed to them.

Surrounded by sights and sounds to which he was so little accustomed, James lost his remaining presence of mind, and turning his back, fled towards Stirling. But he was unable to manage the grey horse given him by Lord Lindsay, which, taking the bit in his teeth, ran full gallop downhill into a little hamlet, where was a mill, called Beaton’s mill. A woman had come out to draw water at the mill-dam, but, terrified at seeing a man in complete armour coming down towards her at full speed, she left her pitcher, and fled back into the mill. The sight of the pitcher frightened the King’s horse, so that he swerved as he was about to leap the brook, and James, losing his seat, fell to the ground, where, being heavily armed and sorely bruised, he remained motionless. The people came out, took him into the mill, and laid him on a bed. Some time afterwards he recovered his senses; but feeling himself much hurt and very weak, he demanded the assistance of a priest. The miller’s wife asked who he was, and he imprudently replied, “I was your King this morning.” With equal imprudence the poor woman ran to the door, and called with loud exclamations for a priest to confess the King. “I am a priest,” said an unknown person, who, had just come up; “lead me to the King.” When the stranger was brought into the presence of the unhappy monarch, he kneeled with apparent humility, and asked him, “Whether he was mortally wounded?” James replied, that his hurts were not mortal, if they were carefully looked to; but that, in the mean time, he desired to be confessed, and receive pardon of his sins from a priest, according to the fashion of the Catholic church. “This shall presently give thee pardon!” answered the assassin; and, drawing a poniard, he stabbed the King four or five times to the very heart; then took the body on his back and departed, no man opposing him, and no man knowing what he did with the body.

Who this murderer was has never been discovered, nor whether he was really a priest or not. There were three persons, Lord Gray, Stirling of Keir, and one Borthwick, a priest, observed to pursue the King closely, and it was supposed that one or other of them did the bloody deed. It is remarkable that Gray was the son of that Sir Patrick, commonly called Cowe Gray, who assisted James II to despatch Douglas in Stirling castle. It would be a singular coincidence if the son of this active agent in Douglas’s death should have been the actor in that of King James’s son. The battle did not last long after the King left the field, the royal party drawing off towards Stirling, and the victors returning to their camp. It is usually called the battle of Sauchie burn, and was fought upon the 18th of June, 1488. Thus died King James the Third, an unwise and unwarlike prince; although, setting aside the murder of his brother the Earl of Mar, his character is rather that of a weak and avaricious man than of a cruel and criminal King. His taste for the fine arts would have been becoming in a private person, though it was carried to a pitch which interfered with his duties as a sovereign. He fell, like most of his family, in the flower of his age, being only thirty-six years old.

Chapter 23

The fate of James III was not known for some time. He had been a patron of naval affairs; and on the great revolt in which he perished, a brave sea officer, Sir Andrew Wood of Largo, was lying with a small squadron in the frith of Forth, not far distant from the coast where the battle was fought. He had sent ashore his boats, and brought off several wounded men of the King’s party, amongst whom it was supposed might be the King himself.

Anxious to ascertain this important point, the lords sent to Sir Andrew Wood to come on shore, and appear before their council. Wood agreed, on condition that two noblemen of distinction, Lords Seton and Fleming, should go on board his ships, and remain there as hostages for his safe return. The brave seaman presented himself before the Council and the young King, in the town of Leith. As soon as the prince saw Sir Andrew, who was a goodly person, and richly dressed, he went towards him, and said, “Sir, are you my father?” “I am not your father,” answered Wood, the tears falling from his eyes; “but I was your father’s servant while he lived, and shall be so to lawful authority until the day I die.” The lords then asked what men they were who had come out of his ships, and again returned to them on the day of the battle of Sauchie. “It was I and my brother,” said Sir Andrew, undauntedly, “who were desirous to have bestowed our lives in the King’s defence.” They then directly demanded of him, whether the King was on board his ships? To which Sir Andrew replied, with the same firmness, “He is not on board my vessels. I wish he had been there, as I should have taken care to have kept him safe from the traitors who have murdered him, and whom I trust to see hanged and drawn for their demerits.”

These were bitter answers; but the lords were obliged to endure them, without attempting any revenge, for fear the seamen had retaliated upon Fleming and Seton. But when the gallant commander had returned on board his ship, they sent for the best officers in the town of Leith, and offered them a reward if they would attack Sir Andrew Wood and his two ships, and make him prisoner, to answer for his insolent conduct to the Council. But Captain Barton, one of the best mariners in Leith, replied to the proposal by informing the Council, that though Sir Andrew had but two vessels, yet they were so well furnished with artillery, and he himself was so brave and skilful, that no ten ships in Scotland would be a match for him.

James IV afterwards received Sir Andrew Wood into high favour; and he deserved it by his exploits. In 1490, a squadron of five English vessels came into the Forth, and plundered some Scottish merchant-ships. Sir Andrew sailed against them with his two ships, the Flower, and the Yellow Carvel, took the fire English vessels, and making their crews and commander prisoners, presented them to the King at Leith. Henry VII of England was so much incensed at this defeat, that he sent a stout sea-captain, called Stephen Bull, with three strong ships, equipped on purpose, to take Sir Andrew Wood. They met him near the mouth of the Frith, and fought with the utmost courage on both sides, attending so much to the battle, and so little to any thing else, that they let their ships drift with the tide; so that the action, which began off Saint Abb’s Head, ended in the Frith of Tay. At length Stephen Bull and his three ships were taken. Sir Andrew again presented the prisoners to the King, who sent them back to England, with a message to Henry VII, that he had as manly men in Scotland, as there were in England, and therefore he desired he would send no more captains on such errands. To return to the lords who had gained the victory at Sauchie. They took a resolution, which appears an act of daring effrontery. They resolved to try some of the principal persons who had assisted King James III in the late civil commotion, as if in so doing they had committed treason against James IV, although the last was not, and could not be king, till after his father’s death. They determined to begin with Lord David Lindsay of the Byres, a man well acquainted with military matters, but otherwise blunt and ignorant; so they thought it would be ho difficult matter to get him to submit himself to the King’s pleasure, when they proposed to take a fine in money from him, or perhaps confiscate some part of his lands. This they thought would encourage others to submit in like manner; and thus the conspirators proposed to enrich themselves, and to impoverish those who had been their enemies.

It was on the 10th of May, 1489, that Lord David Lindsay was called upon before the Parliament, then sitting at Edinburgh, to defend himself against a charge of treason, which stated, “that he had come in arms to Sauchie with the King’s father against the King himself, and had given the King’s father a sword and good horse, counselling him to devour the King’s Grace here present.” Lord Lindsay knew nothing about the form of law affairs, but hearing himself repeatedly called upon to answer to this accusation, he started up, and told the nobles of the Parliament they were all villains and traitors themselves, and that he would prove them to be such with his sword. The late King, he said, had been cruelly murdered by villains, who had brought the prince with them to be a pretext and colour for their enterprise, and that if he punish not you hastily for that murder, you will murder him when you think time, as you did his father. “And,” said the stout old lord, addressing himself personally to the King, who was present in Parliament, “if your grace’s father were still living, I would fight for him to the death, and stand in no awe of these false lurdans” (that is villains). “Or, if your grace had a son who should come in arms against you, I would take your part against his abettors’ and fight in your cause against them, three men against six. Trust me, that though they cause your grace to believe ill of me, I will prove in the end more faithful than any of them.”

The Lord Chancellor, who felt the force of these words, tried to turn off their effect, by saying to the King, that Lord Lindsay was an old-fashioned man, ignorant of legal forms, and not able to speak reverently in his grace’s presence. “But,” said he, “he will submit himself to your grace’s pleasure, and you must not be severe with him; “and, turning to the Lord David, he said, “It is best for you to submit to the King’s will, and his grace will be good to you,”

Now you must know, that the Lord David had a brother-germain, named Patrick Lindsay, who was as good a lawyer as Lord Lindsay was a soldier. The two brothers had been long upon bad terms; but when this Mr Patrick saw the chancellor’s drift, he trode upon his elder brother’s foot, to make him understand that be ought not to follow the advice given ham, nor come into the King’s will, which would be in fact confessing himself guilty. The Lord David, however, did not understand the hint. On the contrary, as he chanced to have a sore toe, the tread of his brother’s foot was painful to him, so that he looked fiercely at him, and said, “Thou art too pert, thou loon, to stamp upon my foot-if it were out of the King’s presence, I would strike thee upon the face.”

But Mr Patrick, without regarding his brother’s causeless anger, fell on his knees before the assembled nobles, and bethought that he might have leave to plead for his brother; “for,” said he, “I see no man of law will undertake his cause for fear of displeasing the King’s grace; and though my lord my brother and I have not been friends for many years, yet my heart will not suffer me to see the native house from which I am descended perish for want of assistance.”

The King having granted Mr Patrick Lindsay liberty of speech in his brother’s behalf, he began by objecting to the King’s sitting in judgment in a case, in which he was himself a party, and had been an actor. “Wherefore,” said Mr Patrick, “we object to his presence to try this cause, in which, being a party, he ought not to be a judge. Therefore we require his Majesty, in God’s name, to rise and leave the court, till the question be considered and decided.” The lord chancellor and the lords, having conversed together, found that this request was reasonable. So the young King was obliged to retire into an inner apartment, which he resented as a species of public affront. Mr Patrick next endeavoured to procure favour, by entreating the lords, who were about to hear the cause, to judge it with impartiality, and as they could wish to be dealt with themselves, were they in misfortune, and some party adverse to them possessed of power.

“Proceed and answer to the accusation,” said the chancellor. “You shall have justice at our hands.”

Then Mr Patrick brought forward a defence in point of legal form, stating that the summons required that the Lord Lindsay should appear forty days after citation, whereas the forty days were now expired; so that he could not be legally compelled to answer to the accusation until summoned anew.

This was found good law; and Lord David Lindsay, and the other persons accused, were dismissed for the time, nor were any proceedings ever resumed against them.

Lord David, who had listened to the defences without understanding their meaning, was so delighted with the unexpected consequences of his brother’s eloquence, that he broke out into the following rapturous acknowledgment of gratitude:—“Verily, brother, but you have fine piet words” (that is, magpie words). I could not have believed, by Saint Mary, that ye had such words. Ye shall have the Mains of Kirkfother for your day’s wage.”

The King, on his side, threatened Mr Patrick with a reward of a different kind, saying, “he would set him where he should not see his feet for twelve months.” Accordingly, he was as good as his word, sending the successful advocate to be prisoner in the dungeon of the castle of Rothsay, in the island of Bute, where he lay for a whole year.

It is curious to find that the King’s authority was so limited in one respect, and so arbitrary in another. For it appears, that he was obliged to comply with Patrick Lindsay’s remonstrance, and leave the seat of regal justice, when his jurisdiction was declined as that of a partial judge; whilst, on the other hand, he had the right, or at least the power, to inflict upon the objecting party a long and rigorous imprisonment, for discharging his duty towards his client.

James IV was not long upon the throne ere his own reflections, and the remonstrances of some of the clergy, made him sensible, that his accompanying the rebel lords against his father in the field of Sauchie was a very sinful action. He did not consider his own youth, nor the enticements of the lords, who had obtained possession of his person, as any sufficient excuse for having been, in some degree, accessory to his father’s death, by appearing in arms against him. He deeply repented the crime, and, according to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic religion, endeavoured to atone for it by various acts of penance. Amongst other tokens of repentance, he caused to be made an iron belt, or girdle, which he wore constantly under his clothes; and every year of his life he added another link of an ounce or two to the weight of it, as if he desired that his penance should not be relaxed, but rather should increase during all the days of his life. It was, perhaps, in consequence of these feelings of remorse, that the King not only forgave that part of the nobility which had appeared on his father’s side, and abstained from all further persecution against Lord Lindsay and others, but did all in his power to conciliate their affections, without losing those of the other party. The wealth of his father enabled him to be liberal to the nobles on both sides, and at the same time to maintain at more splendid appearance in his court and royal state than had been practised by any of his predecessors. He was himself expert in all feats of exercise and arms, and encouraged the use of them, and the practice of tilts and tournaments in his presence, wherein he often took part himself. It was his frequent custom to make proclamation through his kingdom, that all lords and gentlemen who might desire to win honour, should come to Edinburgh or Stirling, and exercise themselves in tilting with the lance, fighting with the battle axe, the two-handed sword, shooting with the long bow, or any other warlike contention. He who did best in these encounters had his adversary’s weapon delivered up to him; and the best tilter with the spear received from the King a lance with a head of pure gold.

The fame of these warlike sports — for sports they were accounted, though they often ended in sad and bloody earnest-brought knights from other parts of Europe to contend with those of Scotland; but, says the historian, with laudable partiality, there were none of them went unmatched, and few that were not overthrown. We may mention as an example, the combat in the lists betwixt a celebrated German knight, who came to Scotland in search of champions with whom to match himself in single fight, and whose challenge was accepted by Sir Patrick Hamilton, a brother of the Earl of Arran, and near kinsman to the King. They met gallantly with their lances at full gallop, and broke their spears without doing each other further injury. When they were furnished with fresh lances, they took a second course; but the Scottish knight’s horse, being indifferently trained, swerved, and could by no endeavours of the rider be brought to encounter his adversary. Then Sir Patrick sprung from his saddle, and called to the German knight to do the same, saying, “A horse was a weak warrant to trust to when men had most to do.” Then the German dismounted, and fought stoutly with Sir Patrick for the best part of an hour. At length Hamilton, by a blow of his sword, brought the foreigner on his knees, whereupon the King threw his hat into the lists, as a sign that the combat should cease. But the honour of the day remained with Sir Patrick Hamilton.

Besides being fond of martial exercises, James encouraged the arts, and prosecuted science, as it was then understood. He studied medicine and surgery, and appears to have been something of a chemist.

An experiment made under his direction, shows at least the interest which James took in science, although he used a whimsical mode of gratifying his curiosity. Being desirous to know which was the primitive or original language, he caused a deaf and dumb woman to be transported to the solitary island of Inchkeith, with two infant children, devising thus to discover what language they would talk when they came to the age of speech. A Scottish historian, who tells the story, adds, with great simplicity, “Some say they spoke good Hebrew; for my part I know not, but from report.” It is more likely they would scream like their dumb nurse, or bleat like the goats and sheep on the island.

The same historian gives a very pleasing picture of James IV.

There was great love, he says, betwixt the subjects and their sovereign, for the King was free from the vice of avarice, which was his father’s failing. Neither would he endure flatterers, cowards, or sycophants about his person, but ruled by the counsel of the most eminent nobles, and thus won the hearts of all men. He often went disguised among the common people, and asked them questions about the King and his measures, and thus learned the opinion which was entertained of him by his subjects.

He was also active in the discharge of his royal duties. His authority, as it was greater than that of any king who had reigned since the time of James I, was employed for the administration of justice, and the protection of every rank of his subjects, so that he was reverenced as we11 as beloved by all classes of his people. Scotland obtained, under his administration, a greater share of prosperity than she had yet enjoyed. She possessed some share of foreign trade, and the success of Sir Andrew Wood, together with the King’s exertions in building vessels, made the country be respected, as having a considerable naval power. These advantages were greatly increased by the unusually long continuance of the peace, or rather the truce, with England. Henry VII had succeeded to the crown of that kingdom, after a dreadful series of civil strife; and being himself a wise and sagacious monarch, he was desirous to repair, by a long interval of repose and quiet, the great damage which the country had sustained by the wars of York and Lancaster. He was the more disposed to peace with Scotland, that his own title to the throne of England was keenly disputed, and exposed him more than once to the risk of invasion and insurrection.

On the most memorable of those occasions, Scotland was for a short time engaged in the quarrel. A certain personage, calling himself Richard duke of York, second son of Edward IV, supposed to have been murdered in the Tower of London, laid claim to the crown which Henry VII wore. On the part of Henry, this pretended prince was said to be a low-born Fleming, named Perkin Warbeck, trained up by the Duchess of Burgundy (sister of King Edward IV), to play the part which he now assumed. But it is not, perhaps, even yet certain, whether he was the real person he called himself, or an impostor. In 1498, he came to Scotland at the head of a gallant train of foreigners, and accompanied by about fifteen hundred men, and made the greatest offers to James IV, providing he would assist him in his claims against England. James does not appear to have doubted the adventurer’s pretensions to the character which he assumed. He received him with favour and distinction, conferred on him the hand of Lady Catharine Gordon, daughter of the Earl of Huntly, the most beautiful woman in Scotland, and disposed himself to lend him assistance to ascend the English throne.

The Scottish King with this view entered Northumberland, and invited the people of that warlike country to join the ranks of the supposed prince. But the Northumbrians paid no attention to this invitation, and when the adventurer besought James to spare the country, the Scottish monarch answered with a sneer, that it was very kind of him to interfere in behalf of a people who did not seem at all disposed to acknowledge him. The English in 1497 revenged his inroad by an invasion of Berwickshire, in which they took a small castle, called Ayton. No other mischief was done on either side, for James gave up the cause of Perkin Warbeck, satisfied either that he had no right to the throne, or that he had not a hold on the affections of any considerable party sufficient to make such a right good. The adventurer, abandoned by James, made afterwards no attempt to invade England from Cornwall, and, being made prisoner, was executed at Tyburn. His wife, who had faithfully attended him through all his misfortunes, fell into the hands of Henry VII, who assigned her a pension, and recommended her to the protection of his Queen. She was commonly called, from her grace and beauty, the White Rose of Scotland.

After this short war had been made up by a truce of seven years, Henry’s wisdom was employed in converting that truce into a stable and lasting peace, which might, for a length of time at least, unite two nations, whose mutual interest it was to remain friends, although circumstances had so long made them enemies. The grounds of the inveterate hostility between England and Scotland had been that unhappy claim of supremacy set up by Edward I, and persevered in by all his successors. This was a right which England would not abandon, and to which the Scots, by so many instances of determined resistance, had shown they would never submit. For more than a hundred years there had been no regular treaty of peace betwixt England and Scotland, except for the few years which succeeded the treaty of Northampton. During this long period, the kindred nations had been either engaged in the most inveterate wars, or reposing themselves under the protection of short and doubtful truces. The wisdom of Henry VII endeavoured to find a remedy for such great evils by trying what the effects of gentle and friendly influence would avail, where the extremity of force had been employed without effect. The King of England agreed to give his daughter Margaret, a beautiful and accomplished princess, to James IV in marriage. He offered to endow her with an ample fortune, and on that alliance was to be founded a close league of friendship between England and Scotland, the Kings obliging themselves to assist each other against all the rest of the world. Unfortunately for both countries, but particularly so for Scotland, this peace, designed to be perpetual, did not last above ten years. Yet the good policy of Henry VII bore fruit after a hundred years had passed away; and in consequence of the marriage of James IV and the Princess Margaret, an end was put to all future national wars, by their great grandson, James VI of Scotland and I of England, becoming King of the whole island of Great Britain.

The claim of supremacy, asserted by England, is not mentioned in this treaty, which was signed on the 4th of January, 1502; but as the monarchs treated with each other on equal terms, that claim, which had cost such oceans of Scottish and English blood, must be considered as having been then virtually abandoned.

This important marriage was celebrated with great pomp. The Earl of Surrey, a gallant English nobleman, had the charge to conduct the Princess Margaret to her new kingdom of Scotland. The King came to meet her at Newbattle Abbey, within six miles of Edinburgh. He was gallantly dressed in a jacket of crimson velvet, bordered with cloth of gold, and had hanging at his back his lure, as it is called, an implement which is used in hawking. He was distinguished by his strength and agility, leaping on his horse without putting his toe in the stirrup, and always riding full gallop, follow who could. When he was about to enter Edinburgh with his new bride, he wished her to ride behind him, and made a gentleman mount to see whether his horse would carry double. But as his spirited charger was not broken for that purpose, the King got up before his bride on her palfrey, which was quieter, and so they rode through the town of Edinburgh in procession, in the same manner as you may now see a good farmer and his wife riding to church. There were shows prepared to receive them, all in the romantic taste of the age. Thus they found in their way a tent pitched, out of which came a knight armed at all points, with a lady bearing his bugle-horn. Suddenly another knight came up, and took away the lady. Then the first knight followed him, and challenged him to fight. They drew swords accordingly, and fought before the King and Queen for their amusement, till the one struck the sword out of the other’s hands, and then the King commanded the battle to cease. In this representation all was sport except the blows, and these were serious enough. Many other military spectacles were exhibited, tilts and tournaments in particular. James, calling himself the Savage Knight, appeared in a wild dress, accompanied by the fierce chiefs from the Borders and Highlands, who fought with each other till several were wounded and slain in these ferocious entertainments. It is said the King was not very sorry to see himself thus rid of these turbulent leaders, whose feuds and depredations contributed so often to the public disturbance. The sports on occasion of the Queen’s marriage, and indeed the whole festivities of King James’s reign, and the style of living at his court, showed that the Scots, in his time, were a wealthier and a more elegant people than they had formerly been. James IV was renowned, as we have seen, among foreign nations, for the splendour of his court, and for the honourable reception which he gave to strangers who visited his kingdom. And we shall see in the next chapter, that his leisure was not entirely bestowed on sport and pastime, but that he also made wise laws for the benefit of the kingdom.

Chapter 24

During the season of tranquillity which followed the marriage of James and Margaret, we find that the King, with his Parliament, enacted many good laws for the improvement of the country. The Highlands and Islands were particularly attended to, because, as one of the acts of Parliament expressed it, they had become almost savage for want of justices and sheriffs. Magistrates were therefore appointed, and laws made for the government of those wild and unruly people. Another most important act of Parliament permitted the King, and his nobles and barons, to let their land, not only for military service, but for a payment in money or in grain; a regulation which tended to introduce quiet peaceful farmers into lands occupied, but left uncultivated, by tenants of a military character. Regulations also took place for attendance on Parliament, and the representation of the different orders of society in that assembly. The possessors of lands were likewise called on to plant wood, and make enclosures, fish ponds, and other improvements.

All these regulations show, that the King entertained a sincere wish to benefit his subjects, and entertained liberal views of the mode of accomplishing that object. But the unfortunate country of Scotland was destined never to remain any long time in a state of peace or improvement; and accordingly, towards the end of James’s reign, events occurred which brought on a defeat still more calamitous than any which the kingdom had yet received.

While Henry VII, the father-in-law of James, continued to live, his wisdom made him very attentive to preserve the peace which had been established betwixt the two countries. His character was, indeed, far from being that of a generous prince, but he was a sagacious politician, and granted, from an enlightened view of his own interest, what perhaps he would otherwise have been illiberal enough to refuse. On this principle, he made some allowance for the irritable pride of his son inlaw and his subjects, who were as proud as they were poor, and made it his study to remove all the petty causes of quarrel which arose from time to time. But when this wise and cautious monarch died, he was succeeded by his son Henry VIII, a prince of a bold, haughty, and furious disposition, impatient of control or contradiction, and rather desirous of war than willing to make any concessions for the sake of peace. James IV and he resembled each other perhaps too nearly in temper, to admit of their continuing intimate friends. The military disposition of Henry chiefly directed him to an enterprise against France; and the King of France, on his part, desired much to renew the old alliance with Scotland, in order that the apprehension of an invasion from the Scottish frontiers might induce Henry to abandon his scheme of attacking France. He knew, that the splendour in which King James lived had exhausted the treasures which his father had left behind him, and he concluded that the readiest way to make him his friend, was to supply him with sums of money, which he could not otherwise have raised. Gold was also freely distributed amongst the counsellors and favourites of the Scottish King. This liberality showed to great advantage, when compared with the very opposite conduct of the King of England, who delayed even to pay a legacy, which had been left by Henry his father to his sister the Queen of Scotland.

Other circumstances of a different kind tended to create disagreements between England and Scotland. James had been extremely desirous to increase the strength of his kingdom by sea, and its commerce; and Scotland presenting a great extent of sea-coast, and numerous harbours, had at this time a considerable trade. The royal navy, besides one vessel called the Great Michael, supposed to be the largest in the world, and which, as an old author says, “cumbered all Scotland to get her fitted out for sea,” consisted, it is said, of sixteen ships of war. The King paid particular attention to naval affairs, and seemed never more happy than when inspecting and exercising his little navy. It chanced that one John Barton, a Scottish mariner, had been captured by the Portuguese, as far back as the year 1476. As the King of Portugal refused to make any amends, James granted the family of Barton letters of reprisals, that is, a warrant empowering them to take all Portuguese vessels which should come in their way, until their loss was made up. There were three brothers, all daring men, but especially the eldest, whose name was Andrew Barton. He had two strong ships, the larger called the Lion, the lesser the Jenny Pirwen, with which it would appear he cruized in the British Channel, stopping not only Portuguese vessels, but also English ships bound for Portugal. Complaints being made to King Henry, he fitted out two vessels, which were filled with chosen men, and placed under the command of Lord Thomas Howard and Sir Edward Howard, both, sons to the Earl of Surrey. They found Barton and his vessels cruizing in the Downs, being guided to the place by the captain of a merchant vessel, whom Barton had plundered on the preceding day. On approaching the enemy, the noble brothers showed no ensign of war, but put up a willow wand on their masts, as being the emblem of a trading vessel(July 1511). But when the Scotsman attempted to make them bring to, the English threw out their flags and pennons, and fired a broadside of their ordnance. Barton then knew that he was engaged with the King of England’s ships of war. Far from being dismayed at this, he engaged boldly, and, distinguished by his rich dress and bright armour, appeared on deck with a whistle of gold about his neck, suspended by a chain of the same precious metal, and encouraged his men to fight valiantly.

The fight was very obstinate. If we may believe a ballad of the time, Barton’s ship was furnished with a peculiar contrivance, suspending large weights, or beams, from his yard-arms, to be dropped down upon the enemy when they should come alongside. To make use of this contrivance; it was necessary that a person should ascend the mainmast, or in naval language, go aloft. As the English apprehended much mischief from the consequences of this manoeuvre, Howard had stationed a Yorkshire gentleman, named Hustler, the best archer in the ship, with strict injunctions to shoot every one who should attempt to go aloft to let fall the beams of Barton’s vessel. Two men were successively killed in the attempt, and Andrew Barton himself, confiding in the strong armour which he wore, began to ascend the mast. Lord Thomas Howard called out to the archer to shoot true, on peril of his life, “Were I to die for it,” said Hustler, “ I have but two arrows left.” The first which he shot bounded from Barton’s armour without hurting him; but as the Scottish mariner raised his arm to climb higher, the archer took aim where the armour afforded him no protection, and wounded him mortally through the arm-pit. Barton descended from the mast. “Fight on,” he said, “my brave hearts; I am a little wounded, but not slain. I will but rest a while, and then rise and fight again; mean time, stand fast by Saint Andrew’s Cross,” meaning the Scottish flag, or ensign. He encouraged his men with his whistle, while the breath of life remained. At length the whistle was heard no longer, and the Howards, boarding the Scottish vessel, found that her daring captain was dead. They carried the Lion into the Thames, and it is remarkable that Barton’s ship became the second man-of-war in the English navy. When the Kings wanted to equip a fleet, they hired or pressed into their service merchant vessels, and put soldiers on board of them. The ship called the Great Henry was the first built especially for war, by the King, as his own property, — this captured vessel was the second. James lV was highly incensed at this insult, as be termed it, on the flag of Scotland, and sent a herald to demand satisfaction. The king of England justified his conduct on the ground of Barton’s being a pirate, — a charge which James could not justly deny; but he remained not the less heated and incensed against his brother-in-law. Another misfortune aggravated his resentment, though the subject of misunderstanding was of ancient date. While Henry VII was yet alive, Sir Robert Ker of Fairniehirst, chief of one branch of the clan of Ker, an officer of James’s household, and a favourite of that monarch, held the office of warden on the Middle Marches of Scotland. In exercising this office with rather unusual strictness, he had given offence to some of the more turbulent English Borderers, who resolved to assassinate him. Three of these, namely Heron, called the Bastard, because a natural brother of Heron of Ford, with Starhed and Lilburn, surrounded the Scottish warden, at a meeting upon a day of truce, and killed him with their lances.

Henry VII, with the pacific policy which marked his proceedings towards Scotland; agreed to surrender the guilty persons. Lilburn was given up to King James, and died in captivity; Starhed escaped for a time, by flying into the interior parts of England; the Bastard Heron caused it to be rumoured that he was dead of the plague, and made himself be transported in a coffin, so that he passed unsuspected through the party sent to arrest him, and skulked on the Borders, waiting for a quarrel between the kingdoms, which might make it safe for him to show himself. Henry VII, anxious to satisfy James, arrested his legitimate brother, and Heron of Ford was delivered up instead of the Bastard. But when Henry VIII and James were about to disagree, both the Bastard Heron and Starhed began to show themselves more publicly. Starhed was soon disposed of, for Sir Andrew, commonly called Dand Ker, the son of the murdered Sir Robert, sent two of his dependents, called Tait, to accomplish his vengeance upon the English Borderer. They surprised and put him to death accordingly, and brought his head to their patron, who exposed it publicly at the cross of Edinburgh, exulting in the revenge he had taken. But the Bastard Heron continued to rove about the Border, and James lV made the public appearance of this criminal a subject of complaint against Henry VIII, who perhaps was not justly responsible for it.

While James was thus on bad terms with his brother-in-law, France left no measures unattempted which could attach Scotland to her side. Great sums of money were sent to secure the good-will of those courtiers in whom James most confided. The Queen of France, a young and beautiful princess, flattered James’s taste for romantic gallantry, by calling herself his mistress and lady-love, and conjuring him to march three miles upon English ground for her sake. She sent him, at the same time, a ring from her own finger; and her intercession was so powerful, that James thought he could not in honour dispense with her request. This fantastical spirit of chivalry was his own ruin, and very nearly that of the kingdom also. At length, in June or July, 1513, Henry VIII sailed to France with a gallant army, where he formed the siege of Terouenne. James IV now took a decided step. He sent over his principal herald to the camp of King Henry before Terouenne, summoning him in haughty terms to abstain from aggressions against James’s ally, the King of France, and upbraiding him, at the same time, with the death of Barton, the impunity of the Bastard Heron, the detention of the legacy of Henry VII to his daughter the Scottish Queen, and all the subjects of quarrel which had occurred since the death of that monarch. Henry VIII answered this letter, which he justly considered as a declaration of war, with equal bitterness, treating the King of Scots as a perjured man, because he was about to break the peace which he had solemnly sworn to observe. His summons he rejected with scorn. “The King of Scotland was not,” he said, “of sufficient importance to determine the quarrel between England and France.” The Scottish herald returned with this message, but not in time to find his master alive. James had not awaited the return of his embassy to commence hostilities. Lord Home, his lord high chamberlain, had made an incursion into England with an army of about three or four thousand men. They collected great booty; but marching carelessly and without order, fell into an ambush of the English Borderers, concealed among the tall broom, by which Millfield plain, near Wooler, was then covered. The Scots sustained a total defeat, and lost near a third of their numbers in slain and wounded. This was a bad commencement of the war.

Mean while James, contrary to the advice of his wisest counsellors, determined to invade England with a royal army. The Parliament were unwilling to go into the King’s measures. The tranquillity of the country, ever since the peace with England, was recollected, and as the impolitic claim of the supremacy seemed to be abandoned, little remained to stir up the old animosity between the kingdoms. The King, however, was personally so much liked, that he obtained the consent of the Parliament to this fatal and unjust war; and orders were given to assemble all the array of the kingdom of Scotland upon the Borough-moor of Edinburgh, a wide common, in the midst of which the royal standard was displayed from a large stone, or fragment of rock, called the Hare-stone. Various measures were even in this extremity resorted to for preventing the war. One or two of them seem to have been founded upon a knowledge, that the King’s temper was tinged with a superstitious melancholy, partly arising from constitutional habits, partly from the remorse which he always entertained for his accession to his father’s death. It was to these feelings that the following scene was doubtless addressed:— As the King was at his devotions in the church of Linlithgow, a figure, dressed in an azure-coloured robe, girt with a girdle, or sash of linen, having sandals on his feet, with long yellow hair, and a grave commanding countenance, suddenly appeared before him. This singular-looking person paid little or no respect to the royal presence, but pressing up to the desk at which the King was seated, leaned down on it with his arms, and addressed him with little reverence. He declared, that “his Mother laid her commands on James to forbear the journey which he purposed, seeing that neither he, nor any who went with him, would thrive in the undertaking.” He also cautioned the King against frequenting the society of women, and using their counsel; “If thou dost,” said he, “thou shalt be confounded and brought to shame.” These words spoken, the messenger escaped from among the courtiers so suddenly, that he seemed to disappear. There is no doubt that this person had been dressed up to represent Saint John, called in Scripture the adopted son of the Virgin Mary. The Roman Catholics believed in the possibility of the souls of departed saints and apostles appearing on earth, and many impostures are recorded in history of the same sort with that I have just told you.

Another story, not so well authenticated, says, that a proclamation was heard at the market-cross of Edinburgh, at the dead of night, summoning the King, by his name and titles, and many of his nobles and principal leaders, to appear before the tribunal of Pluto within the space of forty days. This also has the appearance of a stratagem, invented to deter the King from his expedition. But neither these artifices, nor the advice and entreaty of Margaret, the Queen of Scotland, could deter James from his unhappy expedition. He was so well beloved, that he soon assembled a great army, and placing himself at their head, he entered England near the castle of Twisell, on the 22d of August, 1513. He speedily obtained possession of the Border fortresses of Norham, Wark, Etall, Ford, and others of less note, and collected a great spoil. Instead, however, of advancing with his army upon the country of England, which lay defenceless before him, the King is said to have trifled away his time in an intercourse of gallantry with Lady Heron of Ford, a beautiful woman, who contrived to divert him from the prosecution of his expedition until the approach of an English army. While James lay thus idle on the frontier, the Earl of Surrey, that same noble and gallant knight who had formerly escorted Queen Margaret to Scotland, now advanced at the head of an army of twenty-six thousand men. The earl was joined by his son Thomas, the lord high admiral, with a large body of soldiers who had been disembarked at Newcastle. As the warlike inhabitants of the northern counties gathered fast to Surrey’s standard, so, on the other hand, the Scots began to return home in great numbers; because, though, according to the feudal laws, each man had brought with him provisions for forty days, these being now nearly expended, a scarcity began to be felt in James’s host. Others went home to place their booty in safety.

Surrey, feeling himself the stronger party, became desirous to provoke the Scottish King to fight. He therefore sent James a message, defying him to battle; and the Lord Thomas Howard, at the same time, added a message, that as King James had often complained of the death of Andrew Barton, he, Lord Thomas, by whom that deed was done, was now ready to maintain it with his sword in the front of the fight. James returned for answer, that to meet the English in battle was so much his wish, that had the message of the earl found him at Edinburgh, he would have laid aside all other business to have met him on a pitched field.

But the Scottish nobles entertained a very different opinion from their King. They held a council, at which Lord Patrick Lindsay was made president, or chancellor. This was the same person, who, in the beginning of the King’s reign, had pleaded so well for his brother, to whose titles and estate he afterwards succeeded. He opened the discussion, by telling the council a parable of a rich merchant, who would needs go to play at dice with a common hazarder, or sharper, and stake a rose-noble of gold against a crooked halfpenny. “You, my lords,” he said, “ will be as unwise as the merchant, if you risk your King, whom I compare to a precious rose-noble, against the English general, who is but an old crooked churl, lying in a chariot. Though the English lose the day, they lose nothing but this old churl and a parcel of mechanics; whereas so many of our common people have gone home, that few are left with us but the prime of our nobility.” He therefore gave it as his advice, that the King should withdraw from the army, for safety of his person, and that some brave nobleman should he named by the council, to command in the action. The council agreed to recommend this plan to the King. But James, who desired to gain fame by his own military skill and prowess, suddenly broke in on the council, and told them, with much heat, that they should not put such a disgrace upon him. “I will fight with the English,” he said, “though you had all sworn the contrary. You may shame yourselves by flight, but you shall not shame me; and as for Lord Patrick Lindsay, who has got the first vote, I vow, that when I return to Scotland, I will cause him to be hanged over his own gate.” In this rash and precipitate resolution to fight at all risks, the King was much supported by the French ambassador, De la Motte. This was remarked by one of our old acquaintances, the Earl of Angus, called Bell-the-Cat, who, though very old, had come out to the field with his sovereign. He charged the Frenchman with being willing to sacrifice the interests of Scotland to those of his own country, which required that the Scots and English should fight at all hazards; and Angus, like Lord Lindsay, alleged the difference between the parties, the English being many of them men but of mean rank, and the Scottish army being the flower of their nobility and gentry. Incensed at his opposition, James said to him scornfully, “Angus, if you are afraid, you may go home.” The earl, on receiving such an insult, left the camp that night; but his two sons remained, and fell in the fatal battle, with two hundred of the name of Douglas.

While King James was in this stubborn humour, the Earl of Surrey had advanced as far as Wooler, so that only four or five miles divided the armies. The English leader enquired anxiously for some guide, who was acquainted with the country, which is intersected and divided by one or two large brooks, which unite to form the river Till, and is, besides, in part mountainous. A person well mounted, and completely armed, but having the visor of his helmet lowered, to conceal his face, rode up, and then dismounting, knelt down before the earl, and offered to be his guide, if he might obtain pardon of an offence of which he had been guilty. The earl assured him of his forgiveness, providing he had not committed treason against the King of England, or personally wronged any lady — crimes which Surrey declared he would not pardon. “God forbid,” said the cavalier, “that I should have been guilty of such shameful sin; I did but assist in killing a Scotsman who ruled our Borders too strictly, and often did wrong to Englishmen.” So saying, he raised the visor of his helmet, which hid his face, and showed the countenance of the Bastard Heron, who had been a partner in the assassination of Sir Robert Ker, as you were told before. His appearance was most welcome to the Earl of Surrey, who readily pardoned him the death of a Scotsman at that moment, especially since he knew him to be as well acquainted with every pass and path on the eastern frontier, as a life of constant incursion and depredation could make him.

The Scottish army had fixed their camp upon a hill called Flodden, which rises to close in, as it were, the extensive flat called Millfield Plain (6 Sept.). This eminence slopes steeply towards the plain, and there is an extended piece of level ground on the top, where the Scots might have drawn up their army, and awaited at great advantage the attack of the English. Surrey liked the idea of venturing an assault on that position so ill, that he resolved to try whether he could not prevail on the King to abandon it. He sent a herald to invite James to come down from the height, and join battle in the open plain of Millfield below — reminded him of the readiness with which be had accepted his former challenge — and hinted, that it was the opinion of the English chivalry assembled for battle, that any delay of the encounter would sound to the King’s dishonour. We have seen that James was sufficiently rash and imprudent, but his impetuosity did not reach to the pitch Surrey perhaps expected. He refused to receive the messenger into his presence, and returned for answer to the message, that it was not such as it became an earl to send to a king. Surrey, therefore, distressed for provision, was obliged to resort to another mode of bringing the Scots to action (9 Sept.). He moved northward, sweeping round the hill of Flodden, keeping out of the reach of the Scottish artillery, until, crossing the Till near Twisell castle, he placed himself, with his whole army, betwixt James and his own kingdom. The King suffered him to make this flank movement without interruption, though it must have afforded repeated and advantageous opportunities for attack. But when he saw the English army interposed betwixt him and his dominions, he became alarmed lest he should be cut off from Scotland. In this apprehension he was confirmed by one Giles Musgrave, an Englishman, whose counsel he used upon the occasion, and who assured him, that if he did not descend and fight with the English army, the Earl of Surrey would enter Scotland, and lay waste the whole country. Stimulated by this apprehension, the King resolved to give signal for the fatal battle. With this view the Scots set fire to their huts, and the other refuse and litter of their camp. The smoke spread along the side of the hill, and under its cover the army of King James descended the eminence, which is much less steep on the northern than the southern side, while the English advanced to meet them, both concealed from each other by the clouds of smoke.

The Scots descended in four strong columns, all marching parallel to each other, having a reserve of the Lothian men commanded by Earl Bothwell. The English were also divided into four bodies with a reserve of cavalry led by Dacre. The battle commenced at the hour of four in the afternoon. The first which encountered was the left wing of the Scots, commanded by the Earl of Huntly and Lord Home, which overpowered and threw into disorder the right wing of the English, under Sir Edmund Howard. Sir Edmund was beaten down, his standard taken, and he himself in danger of instant death, when he was relieved by the Bastard Heron, who came up at the head of a band of determined outlaws like himself, and extricated Howard. It is objected to the Lord Home by many Scottish writers, that be ought to have improved his advantage, by hastening to the support of the next division of the Scottish army. It is even pretended, that he replied to those who urged him to go to the assistance of the King, that “the man did well that day who stood and saved himself.” But this seems invented, partly to criminate Home, and partly to account for the loss of the battle in some other way than by the superiority of the English. In reality, the English cavalry, under Dacre, which acted as a reserve, appear to have kept the victors in check; while Thomas Howard, the lord high admiral, who commanded the second division of the English, bore down, and routed the Scottish division commanded by Crawford and Montrose, who were both slain. Thus matters went on the Scottish left. Upon the extreme right of James’s army, a division of Highlanders, consisting of the clans of MacKenzie, MacLean, and others, commanded by the Earls of Lennox and Argyle, were so insufferably annoyed by the volleys of the English arrows, that they broke their ranks, and, in despite of the cries, entreaties, and signals of De la Motte, the French ambassador, who endeavoured to stop them, rushed tumultuously down hill, and being attacked at once in flank and rear by Sir Edward Stanley, with the men of Cheshire und Lancashire, were routed with great slaughter. The only Scottish division which remains to be mentioned, was commanded by James in person, and consisted of the choicest of his nobles and gentry, whose armour was so good, that the arrows made but slight impression upon them. They were all on foot — the King himself had parted with his horse. They engaged the Earl of Surrey, who opposed to them the division which he personally commanded. The Scots attacked with the greatest fury, and, for a time, had the better. Surrey’s squadrons were disordered, his standard in great danger, Bothwell and the Scottish reserve were advancing, and the English seemed in some risk of losing the battle. But Stanley, who had defeated the Highlanders, came up on one flank of the King’s division; the admiral, who had conquered Crawford and Montrose, assailed them on the other. The Scots showed the most undaunted courage. Uniting themselves with the reserve under Bothwell, they formed into a circle, with their spears extended on every side, and fought obstinately. Bows being now useless, the English advanced on all sides with their bills, a huge weapon which made ghastly wounds. But they could not force the Scots either to break or retire, although the carnage among them was dreadful. James himself died amid his warlike peers and loyal gentry. He was twice wounded with arrows, and at length despatched with a bill. Night fell without the battle being absolutely decided, for the Scottish centre kept their ground, and Home and Dacre held each other at bay. But during the night, the remainder of the Scottish army drew off in silent despair from the bloody field; on which they left their King, and their choicest nobles and gentlemen.

This great and decisive victory was gained by the Earl of Surrey on 9th September, 1513. The victors had about five thousand men slain, the Scots twice that number at least. But the loss lay not so much in the number of the slain, as in their rank and quality. The English lost very few men of distinction. The Scots left on the field the King, two bishops, two mitred Abbots, twelve earls, thirteen lords, and five eldest sons of peers. The number of gentlemen slain was beyond calculation; — there is scarcely a family of name in Scottish history who did not lose a relative there. The Scots were much disposed to dispute the fact, that James IV. had fallen on Flodden Field. Some said, he had retired from the kingdom, and made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Others pretended, that in the twilight, when the fight was nigh ended, four tall horsemen came into the field, having each a bunch of straw on the point of their spears, as a token for them to know each other by. They said these men mounted the King on a dun hackney, and that he was seen to cross the Tweed with them at night-fall. Nobody pretended to say what they did with him, but it was believed he was murdered in Home castle; and I recollect, about forty years since, that there was a report, that in cleaning the draw-well of that ruinous fortress, the workmen found a skeleton wrapt in a bull’s hide, and having a belt of iron round the waist. There was, however, no truth in this rumour. It was the absence of this belt of iron which the Scots founded upon to prove, that the body of James could not have fallen into the hands of the English, since they either had not that token to show, or did not produce it. They contended, therefore, that the body over which the enemy triumphed, was not that of James himself, but of one of his attendants, several of whom, they said, were dressed in his armour.

But all these are idle fables, invented and believed because the vulgar love what is mysterious, and the Scots readily gave credit to what tended to deprive their enemies of so signal a trophy of victory. The reports are contrary to common sense. Lord Home was the chamberlain of James IV, and high in his confidence. He had nothing whatever to gain by the King’s death, and therefore we must acquit him of a great crime, for which there could be no adequate motive. The consequence of James’s death proved, in fact, to be the earl’s ruin, as we shall see presently. It seems true, that the King usually wore the belt of iron in token of his repentance, for his father’s death, and the share he had in it. But it is not unlikely that he would lay aside such a cumbrous article of penance in a day of battle; or the English, when they despoiled his person, may have thrown it aside as of no value. The body which the English affirm to have been that of James, was found on the field by Lord Dacre, and carried by him to Berwick, and presented to Surrey. Both of these lords knew James’s person too well to be mistaken. The body was also acknowledged by his two favourite attendants, Sir William Scott and Sir John Forman. who wept at beholding it. The fate of these relics was singular and degrading. They were not committed to the tomb, for the Pope, being at that time in alliance with England against France, had laid James under a sentence of excommunication, so that no priest dared pronounce the funeral-service over them. The royal corpse was therefore embalmed, and sent to the Monastery of Sheen, in Surrey. It lay there till the Reformation, when the monastery was given to the Duke of Suffolk; and after that period, the body, which was lapped up in a sheet of lead, was suffered to toss about the house like a piece of useless lumber. Stow, the historian, saw it flung into a waste room among old pieces of wood, lead, and other rubbish. Some idle workmen, “for their foolish pleasure,” says the same writer, “hewed off the head; and one Lancelot Young, master-glazier to Queen Elizabeth, finding a sweet smell come from thence, owing, doubtless, to the spices used for embalming the body, carried the head home, and kept it for some time; but in the end, caused the sexton of Saint Michael’s, Wood street, to bury it in the charnel-house.” Such was the end of that King once so proud and powerful. The fatal battle of Flodden, in which he was slain, and his army destroyed, is justly considered as one of the most calamitous events in Scottish history.

Chapter 25

THE event of the defeat at Flodden threw all Scotland into a degree of mourning and despair, which is not yet forgotten in the southern counties, on whom a great part of the loss fell, as their inhabitants, soldiers from situation and disposition, composed a considerable portion of the forces which remained with the King’s army, and suffered, of course, a great share in the slaughter which took place. The inhabitants of the smaller towns on the Border, as Selkirk, Hawick, Jedburgh, and others, were almost entirely cut off, and their songs and traditions preserve to this day the recollection of their sufferings and losses.

Not only a large proportion of the nobility and of the baronage, who had by right of birth the important task of distributing justice and maintaining order in their domains, but also the magistrates of the burghs, who, in general, had remained with the army, had fallen on the field; so that the country seemed to be left open to invasion and conquest, such as had taken place after the loss of the battles of Dunbar and Halidon–Hill. Yet the firm courage of the Scottish people was displayed in its noblest colours in this formidable crisis; — all were ready to combat, and more disposed, even from the excess of the calamity, to resist, than to yield to the fearful consequences which might have been expected.

Edinburgh, the metropolis, or capital city of Scotland, set a noble example of the conduct which should be adopted under a great national calamity. The provost, bailies, and magistracy of that city, had been carried by their duty to the battle, in which most of them, with the burghers and citizens who followed their standard, had fallen with the King. A certain number of persons called Presidents, at the head of whom was George Towrs of Inverleith, had been left with a commission to discharge the duty of magistrates during the absence of those to whom the office actually belonged. The battle was fought, as we have said, on the 9th of September. On the 10th, being the succeeding day, the news reached Edinburgh, and George Towrs, and the other presidents, published on that day a proclamation, which would do honour to the annals of any country in Europe. The presidents must have known that all was lost; but they took every necessary precaution to prevent the public from yielding to a hasty and panic alarm, and to prepare with firmness the means of public defence.

“Whereas,” says this remarkable proclamation, “news have arrived, which are yet uncertain, of misfortune which hath befallen the King and his army, we strictly command and charge all persons within the city to have their arms in readiness, and to be ready to assemble at the tolling of the common bell of the town, to repel any enemy who may seek to attack the city. We also discharge all women of the lower class, and vagabonds of every description, from appearing on the street to cry and make lamentations; and we command women of honest fame and character to pass to the churches, and pray for the King and his army, and for our neighbours who are with the King’s host.” In this way the gallant George Towrs took measures at once for preventing the spreading of terror and confusion by frantic and useless lamentation, and for defence of the city, if need should arise. The simplicity of the order showed the courage and firmness of those who issued it, under the astounding national calamity which had been sustained.

The Earl of Surrey did not, however, make any endeavour to invade Scotland, or to take any advantage of the great victory he had obtained, by attempting the conquest of that country. Experience had taught the English, that though it might be easy for them to overrun their northern neighbours, to ravage provinces, and to take castles and cities, yet that the obstinate valour of the Scots, and their love of independence, had always, in the long run, found means of expelling the invaders. With great moderation and wisdom, Henry, or his ministers, therefore, resolved rather to conciliate the friendship of the Scots, by foregoing the immediate advantages which the victory of Flodden afforded them, than to commence another invasion, which, however distressing to Scotland, was likely, as in the Bruce and Baliol wars, to terminate in the English also sustaining great loss, and ultimately being again driven out of the kingdom. The English counsellors remembered that Margaret, the widow of James, was the sister of the King of England — that she must become Regent of the kingdom, and would naturally be a friend to her native country. They knew that the late war had been undertaken by the King of Scotland against the wish of his people; and with noble as well as wise policy, they endeavoured rather to render Scotland once more a friendly power, than, by invasion and violence, to convert her into an irreconcilable enemy. The incursions which followed the battle of FLODDEN extended only to the Borders; no great attempt against Scotland was made, or apparently meditated.

Margaret, the Queen Dowager, became Regent of Scotland, and guardian of the young King, James V, who, as had been too often the case on former similar occasions, ascended the throne when a child of not two years old.

But the authority of Margaret was greatly diminished, and her character injured, by a hasty and imprudent marriage which she formed with Douglas, Earl of Angus, the grandson of old Bell-the-Cat(6 Aug. 1514). That celebrated person had not long survived the fatal battle of Flodden, in which both his sons had fallen. His grandson, the inheritor of his great name, was a handsome youth, brave, high-born, and with all the ambition of the old Douglasses, as well as with much of their military talents. He was, however, young, rash, and inexperienced; and his elevation to be the husband of the Queen Regent excited the jealousy and emulation of all the other nobles of Scotland, who dreaded the name and the power of the Douglas.

A peace now took place betwixt France and England, and Scotland was included in the treaty; but this could hardly be termed fortunate, considering the distracted state of the country, which, freed from English ravages, and no longer restrained by the royal authority, was left to prosecute its domestic feuds and quarrels with the usual bloody animosity. The nation, or rather the nobles, disgusted with Margaret’s regency, chiefly on account of her marriage with Angus, and that young lord’s love of personal power, now thought of calling back into Scotland John Duke of Albany, son of that Robert who, was banished during the reign of James III. This nobleman was the nearest male relation of the King, being the cousin-german of his father. The Queen was by many considered as having forfeited the right of regency by her marriage, and Albany on his arrival from France, was generally accepted in that character(18 May 1515).

John Duke of Albany had been born and bred in France, where he had large estates by his mother, a daughter of the Earl of Boulogne; and he seems always to have preferred the interests of that kingdom to those of Scotland, with which he was only connected by hereditary descent. He was a weak and passionate man, taking up opinions too slightly, and driven out of his resolutions too easily. His courage may justly be suspected; and, if not quite a fool, he was certainly not the wise man whom Scotland required for a governor. He brought over with him, however, a large sum of money from France; and as his manners were pleasing, his birth high, and his pretensions great, he easily got the advantage over Queen Margaret, her husband the Earl of Angus, and other lords who favoured her interest.

After much internal disturbance, Queen Margaret was obliged altogether to retire from Scotland and to seek refuge at her brother’s court, where she bore a daughter, Lady Margaret Douglas, of whom you will hear more hereafter(18 Oct. 1515). In the mean time, her party in Scotland was still farther weakened. Lord Home was one of her warmest supporters; this was the same nobleman who commanded the left wing at the battle of Flodden, and was victorious on that day, but exposed himself to suspicion by not giving assistance to the other divisions of the Scottish army. He and his brethren were enticed to Edinburgh, and seized upon, tried, and beheaded, upon accusations which are not known (8 Oct. 1516). This severity, however, was so far from confirming Albany’s power, that it only excited terror and hatred; and his situation became so difficult, that to his friends in secret he expressed nothing but despair, and wished that he had broken his limbs when he first left his easy and quiet situation in France, to undertake the government of so distracted and unruly a country as Scotland. In fact, he accomplished a retreat to France, and, during his absence, committed the wardenry of the Scottish frontiers to a brave French knight, the Chevalier de la Bastie, remarkable for the beauty of his person, the gallantry of his achievements, but destined, as we shall see, to a tragical fate (8 June 1517). The office of warden had belonged to the Lord Home; and his friends, numerous, powerful, and inhabiting the eastern frontier, to which the office belonged, were equally desirous to avenge the death of their chief, and to be freed from the dominion of a stranger like De la Bastie, the favourite of Albany, by whose authority Lord Home had been executed. Sir David Home of Wedderburn, one of the fiercest of the name, laid an ambush for the unfortunate warden, near Langton, in Berwickshire. De la Bastie, seeing his life aimed at, was compelled to fly, in the hope of gaining the castle of Dunbar; but near the town of Dunse, his horse stuck fast in a morass. The pursuers came up and put him to death. Sir David Home knitted the head, by the long locks which the deceased wore, to the mane of his horse, rode with it in triumph to Home castle, and placed it on a spear on the highest turret (19 Sept. 1517). The hair is said to be yet preserved in the charter chest of the family. By this cruel deed, Wedderburn considered himself as doing a brave and gallant action in avenging the death of his chief and kinsman, by putting to death a friend and favourite of the Regent, although it does not appear that De la Bastie had the least concern in Lord Home’s execution.

The decline of Albany’s power enabled Queen Margaret and her husband to return to Scotland, leaving their infant daughter in the charge of her maternal uncle, King Henry. But after their return to their own country, the Queen Dowager quarrelled, to an irreconcilable pitch, with her husband Angus, who had seized upon her revenues, and paid her little attention or respect, associating with other women, and giving her much cause for uneasiness. She at length separated from him, and endeavoured to procure a divorce, which she afterwards obtained. By this domestic discord, the power of Angus was considerably diminished; but he was still one of the first men in Scotland, and might have gained the complete government of the kingdom, had not his power been counterbalanced by that of the Earl of Arran. This nobleman was the head of the great family of Hamilton; he was connected with the royal family by blood, and had such extensive possessions and lordships as enabled him, though inferior in personal qualities to the Earl of Angus, to dispute with that chief of the more modern Douglasses the supreme administration. All, or almost all, the great men of Scotland were in league with one or other of these powerful earls; each of whom supported those who followed him, in right or wrong, and oppressed those who opposed him, without any form of justice, but merely at his own pleasure. In this distracted state of things, it was impossible for the meanest man in Scotland to obtain success in the best-founded suit, unless he was under the protection either of Angus or Arran; and to which ever he might attach himself, he was sure to become an object of hatred and suspicion to the other. Under pretence, also, of taking a side, and acting for the interests of their party, wicked and lawless men committed violences of every kind, burned, murdered, and plundered, and pretended that they did so in the cause of the Earl of Angus, or of his rival the Earl of Arran. At length, on the 30th of April, 1520, these two great factions of the Douglasses and the Hamiltons came both to Edinburgh to attend a parliament, in which it was expected that the western noblemen would in general take part with Arran, while those of the east would side with Angus. One of the strongest supporters of Arran was the Archbishop of Glasgow, James Beaton, a man remarkable for talents, but unfortunately also for profligacy. He was at this time Chancellor of Scotland; and the Hamiltons met within his palace, situated at the bottom of Blackfriars–Wynd, one of those narrow lanes which run down from the High Street of Edinburgh to the Cowgate. The Hamiltons, finding themselves far the more numerous party, were deliberating upon a scheme of attacking the Douglasses, and apprehending Angus. That earl heard of their intentions, and sent his uncle, Gawain Douglas, Bishop of Dunkeld (a scholar and a poet), to remonstrate with Beaton, and to remind him, that it was his business as a churchman to preserve peace; Angus offering at the same time to withdraw out of the town, if he and his friends should be permitted to do so in safety. The chancellor had, however, already assumed armour, which he wore under his rochet, or bishop’s dress. As he laid his hand on his heart, and said, “Upon my conscience, I cannot help what is about to happen,” the mail which he were was heard to rattle. “Ha, my lord!” said the Bishop of Dunkeld, “I perceive that your conscience is not sound, as appears from its clatters!” And leaving him after this rebuke, he hastened back to his nephew, the Earl of Angus, to bid him defend himself like a man. “For me,” he said, “I will go to my chamber and pray for you.”

Angus collected his followers, and hastened, like a sagacious soldier, to occupy the High Street of the city. The inhabitants were his friends, and spears were handed out to such of the Douglasses as had them not; which proved a great advantage, the Hamiltons having no weapons longer than their swords.

In the mean time Sir Patrick Hamilton, a wise and moderate man, brother to the Earl of Arran, advised his brother strongly not to come to blows; but a natural son of the earl, Sir James Hamilton of Draphane, notorious for his fierce and cruel nature, exclaimed that Sir Patrick only spoke this “because he was afraid to fight in his friend’s quarrel.”

“Thou liest, false bastard!” said Sir Patrick; “I will fight this day where thou darest not be seen.”

Immediately they all rushed towards the street, where the Douglasses stood drawn up to receive them.

Now the Hamiltons, though very numerous, could only come at their enemies by thronging out of the little steep lanes which open into the High Street, the entrance of which the Douglasses had barricaded with carts, barrels, and suchlike lumber. As the Hamiltons endeavoured to force their way, they were fiercely attacked by the Douglasses with pikes and spears. A few who got out on the street were killed or routed. The Earl of Arran, and his son the bastard, were glad to mount upon a coal-horse, from which they threw the load, and escaped by flight. Sir Patrick Hamilton was killed, with many others; thus dying in a scuffle, which he had done all in his power to prevent. The confusion occasioned by this skirmish was greatly increased by the sudden appearance of Sir David Home of Wedderburn, the fierce Border leader who slew De la Bastie. He came with a band of eight hundred horse to assist Angus, and finding the skirmish begun, made his way into the city by bursting open one of the gates with sledge-hammers. The Hamiltons fled out of the town in great confusion; and the consequences of this skirmish were such, that the citizens of Edinburgh called it Clean-the-Causeway, because the faction of Arran was, as it were, swept from the streets. This broil gave Angus a great advantage in his future disputes with Arran; but it exhibits a wild picture of the times, when such a conflict could be fought in the midst of a populous city.

A year after this battle, the Duke of Albany returned from France, again to assume the Regency. He appears to have been encouraged to take this step by the King of France, who was desirous of recovering his influence in the Scottish councils, and who justly considered Angus as a friend of England. The Regent being successful in again taking up the reins of government, Angus was in his turn obliged to retire to France, where he spent his time so well, that he returned much wiser and more experienced than he had been esteemed before his banishment. Albany, on the contrary, showed himself neither more prudent nor more prosperous than during his first government. He threatened much, and did little. He broke the peace with England, and invaded that country with a large army; then made a dishonourable truce with Lord Dacre, who commanded on the English frontier, and finally retired without fighting, or doing any thing to support the boasts which he had made. This mean and poor-spirited conduct excited the contempt of the Scottish nation, and the duke found it necessary to retreat once more to France, that he might obtain money and forces to maintain himself in the Regency, which he seemed to occupy rather for the advantage of that country than of Scotland.

The English, in the mean while, maintained the war which Albany had rekindled, by destructive and dangerous incursions on the Scottish frontiers; and that you may know how this fearful kind of warfare was conducted, I will give you some account of the storming of Jedburgh, which happened at this time.

Jedburgh was, after the castle and town of Roxburgh had, been demolished, the principal town of the county. It was strongly walled, and inhabited by a class of citizens, whom their neighbourhood to the English frontier made familiar with war. The town Was also situated near those mountains in which the boldest of the Scottish Border clans had their abode.

The Earl of Surrey (son of him who had vanquished the Scots at Flodden, and who was now Duke of Norfolk) advanced from Berwick to Jedburgh in September 1523, with an army of about ten thousand men. The Border chieftains, on the Scottish frontier, could only oppose to this well-appointed army about fifteen or eighteen hundred of their followers; but they were such gallant soldiers, and so willing to engage in battle, that the brave English general, who had served in foreign countries as well as at home, declared he had never met their equal. “Could forty thousand such men be assembled,” said Surrey, “it would be a dreadful enterprise to withstand them.” But the force of numbers prevailed, and the English carried the place by assault. There were six strong towers within the town, which continued their defence after the walls were surmounted. These were the residences of persons of rank, walled round, and capable of strong resistance. The Abbey also was occupied by the Scots, and most fiercely defended. The battle continued till late in the night, and the English had no way of completing the victory, but by setting fire to the town; and even in this extremity, those who manned the towers and the Abbey continued their defence. The next day Lord Dacre was despatched to attack the castle of Fairniehirst, within about three miles of Jedburgh, the feudal fortress of Sir Andrew Ker, a border chief, formerly mentioned. It was taken, but with great loss to the besiegers. In the evening; Lord Dacre, contrary to Surrey’s commands, chose to encamp with his cavalry without the limits of the camp which the latter had chosen. About eight at night, when the English leaders were at supper, and concluded all resistance over Dacre’s quarters were attacked, and his horses all cut loose. The terrified animals, upwards of fifteen hundred in number, came galloping down to Surrey’s camp, where they were received with showers of arrows and volleys of musketry; for the English soldiers, alarmed by the noise, thought the Scots were storming their intrenchments, and shot off their shafts at a hazard. Many of the horses ran into Jedburgh, which was still in flames, and were seized and carried off by the Scottish women, accustomed like their husbands to the management of horses. The tumult was so great, that the English imputed it to supernatural interference, and Surrey alleged that the devil was seen visibly six times during the confusion. Such was the credulity of the times; but the whole narrative may give you some notion of the obstinate defence of the Scots, and the horrors of a Border foray. The Scots, on their side, were victorious in several severe actions, in one of which the Bastard Heron, who had contributed so much to Surrey’s success at Flodden, was slain on the field. The young King of Scotland, though yet a boy, began to show tokens of ill-will towards the French and Albany. Some nobles asked him what should be done with the French, whom the Regent had left behind. “Give them,” said James, “to Davie Home’s keeping.” Sir David Home, you must recollect, was the chieftain who put to death Albany’s friend, De la Bastie, and knitted his head by the hair to his saddlebow.

Albany, however, returned again from France with great supplies of money, artillery, arms, and other provisions for continuing the war. These were furnished by France, because it was the interest of that country at all hazards to maintain the hostility between Scotland and England. The Regent, once more, with a fine army, made an attack upon Norham, a castle on the English frontier; but when he had nearly gained this fortress, he suddenly, with his usual cowardice, left off the assault, on learning that Surrey was advancing to its relief. After this second dishonourable retreat, Albany left Scotland, detested and despised alike by the nobles and the common people, who felt that all his undertakings had ended in retreat and disgrace. In the month of May, 1524, he took leave of Scotland, never to return.

Chapter 26

QUEEN Margaret, who hated her husband Angus, as I have told you, now combined with his enemy Arran, to call James V, her son (though then only twelve years old), to the management of the public affairs; but the Earl of Angus, returning at this crisis from France, speedily obtained a superiority in the Scottish councils, and became the head of those nobles who desired to maintain a friendly alliance with England rather than to continue that league with France, which had so often involved Scotland in quarrels with their powerful neighbour. Margaret might have maintained her authority, for she was personally much beloved; but it was the fate or the folly of that Queen to form rash marriages. Like her brother Henry of England, who tired of his wives, Margaret seems to have been addicted to tire of her husbands; but she had not the power of cutting the heads from the spouses whom she desired to be rid of. Having obtained a divorce from Angus, she married a young man of little power and inferior rank, named Henry Stewart, a younger son of Lord Evandale. She lost her influence by that ill-advised measure. Angus, therefore, rose to the supreme authority in Scotland, obtained possession of the person of the King, transacted every thing in the name of James, but by his own authority, and became in all respects the regent of Scotland, though without assuming the name.

The talents of the Earl of Angus were equal to the charge he had assumed, and as he reconciled himself to his old rival the Earl of Arran, his power seemed founded on a sure basis. He was able to accomplish a treaty of peace with England, which was of great advantage to the kingdom. But, according to the fashion of the times, Angus was much too desirous to confer all the great offices, lands, and other advantages in the disposal of the crown, upon his own friends and adherents, to the exclusion of all the nobles and gentry, who had either taken part against him in the late struggle for power, or were not decidedly his partisans. The course of justice also was shamefully perverted, by the partiality of Angus for his friends, kinsmen, and adherents.

An old historian says, “that there dared no man strive at law with a Douglas, or yet with the adherent of a Douglas; for if he did, he was sure to get the worst of his lawsuits. And,” he adds, “although Angus travelled through the country under the pretence of punishing thieves, robbers, and murderers, there were no malefactors so great as those which rode in his own company.” The King, who was now fourteen years old, became disgusted with the sort of restraint in which Angus detained him, and desirous to free himself from his tutelage. His mother had doubtless a natural influence over him, and that likewise was exerted to the earl’s prejudice. The Earl of Lennox, a wise and intelligent nobleman, near in blood to the King, was also active in fostering his displeasure against the Douglasses, and schemes began to be agitated for taking the person of the King out of the hands of Angus. But Angus was so well established in the government, that his authority could not be destroyed except by military force; and it was not easy to bring such to bear against a man so powerful, and of such a martial character.

At length it seems to have been determined to employ the agency of Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch, a man of great courage and military talent, head of a numerous and powerful clan, and possessed of much influence on the Border. He had been once the friend of Angus, and had even scaled the walls of Edinburgh with a great body of his clan, in order to render the party of the Earl uppermost in that city. But of late he had attached himself to Lennox, by whose counsel he seems to have been guided in the enterprise which I am about to give you an account of. Some excesses had taken place on the Border, probably by the connivance of Buccleuch, which induced Angus to march to Jedburgh, bringing the King in his company, lest he should have made his escape during his absence. He was joined by the clans of Home and Ker, both in league with him, and he had, besides, a considerable body of chosen attendants. Angus was returning from this expedition, and had passed the night at Melrose. The Kers and Homes had taken leave of the Earl, who with the King and his retinue had left Melrose, when a band of a thousand horsemen suddenly appeared on the side of an eminence called Halidonhill, and, descending into the valley, interposed between the Earl and the bridge, by which he must pass the Tweed on his return northward. “Sir,” said Angus to the King, “yonder comes Buccleuch, with the Border thieves of Teviotdale and Liddesdale, to interrupt your grace’s passage. I vow to God they shall either flight or fly. You shall halt upon this knoll with my brother George, while we drive off these banditti, and clear the road for your grace.”

The King made no answer, for in his heart he desired that Buccleuch’s undertaking might be successful; but he dared not say so. Angus, mean time, despatched a herald to charge Buccleuch to withdraw with his forces. Scott replied, “that he was come, according to the custom of the Borders, to show the King his clan and followers, and invite his grace to dine at his house.” To which he added, “that he knew the King’s mind as well as Angus.” The Earl advanced, and the Borderers, shouting their war-cry of Bellenden, immediately joined battle, and fought stoutly; but the Homes and Kers, who were at no great distance, returned on hearing the alarm, and coming through the little village of Darnick, set upon Buccleuch’s men, and decided the fate of the day. The Border riders fled, but Buccleuch and his followers fought bravely in their retreat, and turning upon the Kers, slew several of them; in particular, Ker of Cessford, a chief of the name, who was killed by the lance of one of the Elliots, a retainer of Buccleuch. His death occasioned a deadly feud between the clans of Scott and Ker, which lasted for a century, and cost much blood. This skirmish took place on the 25th of July, 1526. About eighty Scotts were slain on the field of battle, and a sentence was pronounced against Buccleuch and many of his clan, as guilty of high treason. But after the King had shaken off the yoke of the Douglasses, he went in person to Parliament to obtain the restoration of Buccleuch, who, he declared on his kingly word, had come to Melrose without any purpose of quarrel, but merely to pay his duty to his prince, and show him the number of his followers. In evidence of which the King said that the said Wat was not clad in armour, but in a leathern coat (a buff-coat, I suppose), with a black bonnet on his head. The family were restored to their estates accordingly; but Sir Walter Scott was long afterwards murdered by the Kers, at Edinburgh, in revenge of the death of the Laird of Cessford.

The Earl of Lennox, being disappointed in procuring the King’s release by means of Buccleuch, now resolved to attempt it in person. He received much encouragement from the Chancellor Beaton (distinguished at the skirmish called Clean-the Causeway), from the Earl of Glencairn, and other noblemen, who saw with displeasure the Earl of Angus confining the young King like a prisoner, and that all the administration of the kingdom centered in the Douglasses. Lennox assembled an army of ten or twelve thousand men, and advanced upon Edinburgh from Stirling. Angus and Arran, who were still closely leagued together, encountered Lennox, with an inferior force, near the village of Newliston. The rumour that a battle was about to commence soon reached Edinburgh, when Sir George Douglas hastened to call out the citizens in arms, to support his brother, the Earl of Angus. The city bells were rung, trumpets were sounded, and the King himself was obliged to mount on horseback, to give countenance to the measures of the Douglasses, whom in his soul he detested. James was so sensible of his situation, that he tried, by every means in his power, to delay the march of the forces which were mustered at Edinburgh. When they reached the village of Corstorphine, they heard the thunder of the guns; which inflamed the fierce impatience of George Douglas to reach the field of battle, and also increased the delays of the young King, who was in hopes Angus might be defeated before his brother could come up. Douglas, perceiving this, addressed the King in language which James never forgot nor forgave; —“Your grace need not think to escape us,” said this fierce warrior; “if our enemies had hold of you on one side, and we on the other, we would tear you to pieces ere we would let you go.”

Tidings now came from the field of battle that Lennox had been defeated, and that Angus had gained the victory. The young King, dismayed at the news, now urged his attendants to gallop forward, as much as he had formerly desired them to hang back. He charged them to prevent slaughter, and save lives, especially that of Lennox. Sir Andrew Wood, one of the King’s cup-bearers, arrived in the field of battle time enough to save the Earl of Glencairn, who was still fighting gallantly by assistance of some strong ground, though he had scarce thirty men left alive; and Wood contrived to convey him safe out of the field. But Lennox, about whose safety the King was so anxious, was already no more. He had been slain, in cold blood, by that bloodthirsty man, Sir James Hamilton of Draphane, who took him from the Laird of Pardivan, to whom he had surrendered himself. This deed seemed to flow from the brutal nature of the perpetrator, who took such a pleasure in shedding blood, that he slashed with his own hand the faces of many of the prisoners. Arran, the father of this ferocious man, bitterly lamented the fate of Lennox, who was his nephew. He was found mourning beside the body, over which he had spread his scarlet cloak. “The hardiest, stoutest, and wisest man that Scotland bore,” he said, “lies here slain.”

After these two victories, the Earl of Angus seemed to be so firmly established in power, that his followers set no bounds to their presumption, and his enemies were obliged to fly and hide themselves. Chancellor Beaton, disguised as a shepherd, fed sheep on Bogrian-knowe, until he made his peace with the Earls of Angus and Arran, by great gifts, both in money and in church lands. Angus established around the King’s person a guard of a hundred men of his own choice, commanded by Douglas of Parkhead; he made his brother George, whom James detested, Master of the Royal Household; and Archibald of Kilspindie, his uncle, Lord Treasurer of the Realm. But the close restraint in which the King found himself, only increased his eager desire to be rid of all the Douglasses together. Force having failed in two instances, James had recourse to stratagem. He prevailed on his mother, Queen Margaret, to yield up to him the castle of Stirling, which was her jointure-house, and secretly to put in into the hands of a governor whom he could trust. This was done with much caution. Thus prepared with a place of refuge, James watched with anxiety an opportunity of flying to it; and he conducted himself with such apparent confidence towards Angus, that the Douglasses were lulled into security, and concluded that the King was reconciled to his state of bondage, and had despaired of making his escape.

James was then residing at Falkland, a royal palace conveniently situated for hunting and hawking, in which he seemed to take great pleasure. The Earl of Angus at this period left the court for Lothian, where he had some urgent business — Archibald Douglas of Kilspindie went to Dundee, to visit a lady to whom he attached — and George Douglas had gone to St Andrews, to extort some farther advantages from Chancellor Beaton, who was now archbishop of that see, and primate of Scotland. There was thus none of the Douglasses left about the King’s person, except Parkhead, with his guard of one hundred men, in whose vigilance the others confided. The King thought the time favourable for his escape. To lay all suspicion asleep, he pretended he was to rise next morning at an early hour, for the purpose of hunting the stag. Douglas of Parkhead, suspecting nothing, retired to bed after placing his watch. But the King was no sooner in his private chamber, than he called a trusty page, named John Hart:— “Jockie,” said he, “dost thou love me?”

“Better than myself,” answered the domestic. “And will you risk any thing for me?” “My life, with pleasure,” said John Hart. The King then explained his purpose, and dressing himself in the attire of a groom, he went with Hart to the stable, as if for the purpose of getting the horses ready for the next day’s hunt. The guards, deceived by their appearance, gave them no interruption. At the stables three good horses were saddled and in readiness, under charge of a yeoman, or groom, whom the King had intrusted with his design.

James mounted with his two servants, and galloped, during the whole night, as eager as a bird just escaped from a cage. At daylight he reached the bridge of Stirling, which was the only mode of passing the river Forth, except by boats. It was defended by gates, which the King, after passing through them, ordered to be closed, and directed the passage to be watched. He was a weary man when he reached Stirling castle, where he was joyfully received by the governor, whom his mother had placed in that strong fortress. The drawbridges were raised, the portcullises dropt, guards set, and every measure of defence and precaution resorted to. But the King was so much afraid of again falling into the hands of Douglasses, that, tired as he was, he would not go to sleep until the keys of the castle were placed in his own keeping, and laid underneath his pillow.

In the morning there was a great alarm at Falkland. Sir George Douglas had returned thither, on the night of the King’s departure, about eleven o’clock. On his arrival, he enquired after the King, and was answered by the porter as well as the watchmen upon guard, that he was sleeping in his chamber, as he intended to hunt early in the morning. Sir George therefore retired to rest in full security. But the next morning he learned different tidings. One Peter Carmichael, bailie of Abernethy, knocked at the door of his chamber, and asked him if he knew “what the King was doing that morning?”

“He is in his chamber asleep,” said Sir George. “You are mistaken,” answered Carmichael; “he passed the bridge of Stirling this last night.” On hearing this, Douglas started up in haste, went to the King’s chamber, and knocked for admittance. When no answer was returned, he caused the door to be forced, and when he found the apartment empty, he cried, “Treason! — The King is gone, and none knows whither.” Then he sent post to his brother, the Earl of Angus, and despatched messengers in every direction, to seek the King, and to assemble the Douglasses. When the truth became known, the adherents of Angus rode in a body of Stirling; but the King was so far from desiring to receive them, that he threatened, by sound of trumpet, to declare any of the name of Douglas a traitor who should approach within twelve miles of his person, or who should presume to meddle with the administration of government. Some of the Douglasses inclined to resist this proclamation; but the Earl of Angus and his brother resolved to obey it, and withdrew to Linlithgow.

Soon afterwards, the King assembled around him the numerous nobility, who envied the power of Angus and Arran, or had suffered injuries at their hands; and, in open parliament, accused them of treason, declaring, that he had never been sure of his life all the while that he was in their power. A sentence of forfeiture was, therefore, passed against the Earl of Angus, and he was driven into exile, with all his friends and kinsmen. And thus the Red Douglasses, of the house of Angus, shared almost the same fate with the Black Douglasses, of the elder branch of that mighty house; with this difference, that as they had never risen so high, so they did not fall so irretrievably; for the Earl of Angus lived to return and enjoy his estates in Scotland, where he again played a distinguished part. But this was not till after the death of James V, who retained, during his whole life, an implacable resentment against the Douglasses, and never permitted one of the name to settle in Scotland. James persevered in this resolution even under circumstances which rendered his unrelenting resentment ungenerous. Archibald Douglas of Kilspindie, the Earl of Angus’s uncle, had been a personal favourite of the King before the disgrace of his family. He was so much recommended to James by his great strength, manly appearance, and skill in every kind of warlike exercise, that he was wont to call him his Graysteil, after the name of a champion in a romance then popular. Archibald, becoming rather an old man, and tired of his exile in England, resolved to try the King’s mercy. He thought that as they had been so well acquainted formerly, and as he had never offended James personally, he might find favour from their old intimacy. He, therefore, threw himself in the King’s way one day as he returned from hunting in the park at Stirling. It was several years since James had seen him, but he knew him at a great distance, by his firm and stately step, and said, “Yonder is my Graysteil, Archibald of Kilspindie.” But when they met, he showed no appearance of recognising his old servant. Douglas turned, and still hoping to obtain a glance of favourable recollection, ran along by the King’s side; and although James trotted his horse hard against the hill, and Douglas wore a heavy shirt of mail under his clothes, for fear of assassination, yet Graysteil was at the castle gate as soon as the King. James passed him, and entered the castle; but Douglas, exhausted with exertion, sat down at the gate, and asked for a cup of wine. The hatred of the King against the name of Douglas was so well known, that no domestic about the court dared procure for the old warrior even this trifling refreshment. The King blamed, indeed, his servants for their discourtesy, and even said, that but for his oath never to employ a Douglas, he would have received Archibald of Kilspindie into his service, as he had formerly known him a man of great ability. Yet he sent his commands to his poor Graysteil to retire to France, where he died heart-broken soon afterwards. Even Henry VIII of England, himself of an unforgiving temper, blamed the implacability of James on this occasion, and quoted an old proverb,

“ A King’s face

Should give grace.”

Chapter 27

FREED from the stern control of the Douglas family, James V now began to exercise the government in person, and displayed most of the qualities of a wise and good prince. He was a handsome in his person, and resembled his father in the fondness for military exercises, and the spirit of chivalrous honour which James VI loved to display. He also inherited his father’s love of justice, and his desire to establish and enforce wise and equal laws, which should protect the weak against the oppression of the great. It was easy enough to make laws, but to put them in vigorous exercise was of much greater difficulty; and in his attempt to accomplish this laudable purpose, James often incurred the ill-will of the more powerful nobles. He was a well-educated and accomplished man; and like his ancestor, James I, was a poet and a musician. He had, however, his defects. He avoided his father’s failing of profusion, having no hoarded treasures to employ on pomp and show; but he rather fell into the opposite fault, being of a temper too parsimonious; and though he loved state and display, he endeavoured to gratify that taste as economically as possible, so that he has been censured as rather close and covetous. He was also, though the foibles seem inconsistent, fond of pleasure, and disposed to too much indulgence. It must be added, that when provoked, he was unrelenting even to cruelty; for which he had some apology, considering the ferocity of the subjects over whom he reigned. But, on the whole, James V was an amiable man, and a good sovereign. His first care was to bring the Borders of Scotland to some degree of order. These, as you were formerly told, were inhabited by tribes of men, forming each a different clan, as they were called, and obeying no orders, save those which were given by their chiefs. These chiefs were supposed to represent the first founder of the name, or family. The attachment of the clansmen to the chief was very great: indeed, they paid respect to no one else. In this the Borderers agreed with the Highlanders, as also in their love of plunder, and neglect of the general laws of the country. But the Border men wore no tartan dress, and served almost always on horseback, whereas the Highlanders acted always on foot. You will also remember that the Borderers spoke the Scottish language, and not the Gaelic tongue used by the mountaineers.

The situation of these clans on the frontiers exposed them to constant war; so that they thought of nothing else but of collecting bands of their followers together, and making incursions, without much distinction, on the English, on the Lowland (or inland) Scots, or upon each other. They paid little respect either to times of truce or treaties of peace, but exercised their depredations without regard to either, and often occasioned wars betwixt England and Scotland which would not otherwise have taken place.

It is said of a considerable family on the Borders, that when they had consumed all the cattle about the castle, a pair of spurs was placed on the table in a covered dish, as a hint that they must ride out and fetch more. The chiefs and leading men told down their daughters’ portions according to the plunder which they were able to collect in the course of a Michaelmas moon, when its prolonged light allowed them opportunity for their freebooting excursions. They were very brave in battle, but in time of peace they were a pest to their Scottish neighbours. As their insolence had risen to a high pitch after the field of Flodden had thrown the country into confusion, James V resolved to take very severe measures against them. His first step was to secure the persons of the principal chieftains by whom these disorders were privately encouraged. The Earl of Bothwell, the Lord Home, Lord Maxwell, Scott of Buccleuch, Ker of Fairniehirst, and other powerful chiefs, who might have opposed the King’s purposes, were seized, and imprisoned in separate fortresses in the inland country.

James then assembled an army, in which warlike purposes were united with those of silvan sport; for he ordered all the gentlemen in the wild districts which he intended to visit, to bring in their best dogs, as if his only purpose had been to hunt the deer in those desolate regions. This was intended to prevent the Borderers from taking the alarm, in which case they would have retreated into their mountains and fastnesses, from whence it would have been difficult to dislodge them.

These men had indeed no distinct idea of the offences which they had committed, and consequently no apprehension of the King’s displeasure against them. The laws had been so long silent in that remote and disorderly country, that the outrages which were practised by the strong against the weak, seemed to the perpetrators the natural course of society, and to present nothing that was worthy of punishment.

Thus, as the King, in the beginning of his expedition, suddenly approached the castle of Piers Cockburn of Henderland, that baron was in the act of providing a great entertainment to welcome him, when James caused him to be suddenly seized on, and executed. Adam Scott of Tushielaw, called the King of the Border, met the same fate. But an event of greater importance, was the fate of John Armstrong of Gilnockie, near Langholm.

This freebooting chief had risen to great consequence, and the whole neighbouring district of England paid him black mail, that is, a sort of tribute, in consideration of which he forbore plundering them. He had a high idea of his own importance, and seems to have been unconscious of having merited any severe usage at the King’s hands. On the contrary, he came to meet his sovereign at a place about ten miles from Hawick, called Carlinrigg chapel, richly dressed, and having with him twenty-four gentlemen, his constant retinue, as well attired as himself. The King, incensed to see a freebooter so gallantly equipped, commanded him instantly to be led to execution, saying, “What wants this knave, save a crown, to be as magnificent as a king?” John Armstrong made great offers for his life, offering to maintain himself, with forty men ready to serve the King at a moment’s notice, at his own expense; engaging never to hurt or injure any Scottish subject, as indeed had never been his practice; and undertaking, that there was not a man in England, of whatever degree, duke, earl, lord, or baron, but he would engage, within a short time, to present him to the King, dead or alive. But when the King would listen to none of his offers, the robber-chief said, very proudly, “I am but a fool to ask grace at a graceless face; but had I guessed you would have used me thus, I would have kept the Border-side, in despite of the King of England and you both; for I well know that King Henry would give the weight of my best horse in gold to know that I am sentenced to die this day.”

John Armstrong was led to execution, with all his men, and hanged without mercy. The people of the inland counties were glad to be rid of him; but on the Borders he was both missed and mourned, as a brave warrior, and a stout man-at-arms against England.

Such were the effects of the terror struck by these general executions, that James was said to have made “the rush bush keep the cow;” that is to say, that even in this lawless part of the country, men dared no longer make free with property, and cattle might remain on their pastures unwatched. James was also enabled to draw profit from the lands which the crown possessed near the Borders, and is said to have had ten thousands sheep at one time grazing in Ettrick Forest, under the keeping of one Andrew Bell, who gave the King as good an account of the profits of the flock, as if they had been grazing in the bounds of Fife, then the most civilized part of Scotland. On the other hand, the Borders of Scotland were greatly weakened by the destruction of so many brave men, who, notwithstanding their lawless course of life, were true defenders of their country; and there is reason to censure the extent to which James carried his severity, as being to a certain degree impolitic, and beyond doubt cruel and excessive.

In the like manner James proceeded against the Highland chiefs; and by executions, forfeitures, and other severe measures, he brought the Northern mountaineers, as he had already done those of the South, into comparative subjection. He then set at liberty the Border chiefs, and others whom he had imprisoned, lest they should have offered any hinderance to the course of his justice. As these fiery chieftains, after this severe chastisement, could no longer as formerly attack each other’s castles and lands, they were forced to vent their deadly animosities in duels, which were frequently fought in the King’s presence, his royal permission being first obtained. Thus, Douglas of Drumlanrig and Charteris of Amisfield did battle together in presence of the King, each having accused the other of high treason. They fought on foot with huge two-handed swords. Drumlanrig was somewhat blind, or shortsighted, and being in great fury, struck about him without seeing where he hit, and the Laird of Amisfield was not more successful, for his sword broke in the encounter; upon this, the King caused the battle to cease, and the combatants were with difficulty separated. Thus the King gratified these unruly barons, by permitting them to fight in his own presence, in order to induce them to remain at peace elsewhere. James V, like his father James IV, had a custom of going about the country disguised as a private person, in order that he might hear complaints which might not otherwise reach his ears, and, perhaps, that he might enjoy amusements which he could not have partaken of in his avowed royal character. This is also said to have been a custom of James IV, his father, and several adventures are related of what befell them on such occasions. One or two of these narratives may help to enliven our story.

When James V travelled in disguise, he used a name which was known only to some of his principal nobility and attendants. He was called the Goodman (the tenant, that is) of Ballengiech. Ballengiech is a steep pass which leads down behind the castle of Stirling. Once upon a time, when the court was feasting on Stirling, the King sent for some venison from the neighbouring hills. The deer was killed, and put on horses’ backs to be transported to Stirling. Unluckily they had to pass the castle gate of Arnpryor, belonging to a chief of the Buchanans, who chanced to have a considerable number of guests with him. It was late, and the company were rather short of victuals, though they had more than enough of liquor. The chief, seeing so much fat venison passing his very door, seized on it; and to the expostulations of the keepers, who told him it belonged to King James, he answered insolently, that if James was King in Scotland, he, Buchanan, was king in Kippen; being the name of the district in which the castle of Arnpryor lay. On hearing what had happened, the King got on horseback, and rode instantly from Stirling to Buchanan’s house, where he found a strong fierce-looking Highlander, with an axe on his shoulder, standing sentinel at the door. This grim warder refused the King admittance, saying, that the laird of Arnpryor was at dinner, and would not be disturbed. “Yet go up to the company, my good friend,” said the King, “and tell him that the Goodman of Ballengiech is come to feast with the King of Kippen.” The porter went grumbling into the house, and told his master that there was a fellow with a red beard at the gate, who called himself the Goodman of Ballengiech, who said he was come to dine with the King of Kippen. As soon as Buchanan heard these words, he knew that the King was come in person, and hastened down to kneel at James’s feet, and to ask forgiveness for his insolent behaviour. But the King, who only meant to give him a fright, forgave him freely, and, going into the castle, feasted on his venison which Buchanan had intercepted. Buchanan of Arnpryor was ever afterwards called the King of Kippen.

Upon another occasion, King James, being alone and in disguise, fell into a quarrel with some gypsies, or other vagrants, and was assaulted by four or five of them. This chanced to be very near the bridge of Cramond; so the King got on the bridge, which, as it was high and narrow, enabled him to defend himself with his sword against the number of persons by whom he was attacked. There was a poor man thrashing corn in a barn near by, who came out on hearing the noise of the scuffle, and seeing one man defending himself against numbers, gallantly took the King’s part with his flail, to such good purpose, that the gypsies were obliged to fly. The husbandman then took the King into the barn, brought him a towel and water to wash the blood from his face and hands, and finally walked with him a little way towards Edinburgh, in case he should be again attacked. On the way, the King asked his companion what and who he was. The labourer answered, that his name was John Howieson, and that he was a bondsman on the farm of Braehead, near Cramond, which belonged to the King of Scotland. James then asked the poor man, if there was any wish in the world which he would particularly desire should be gratified; and honest John confessed, he should think himself the happiest man in Scotland were he but proprietor of the farm on which he wrought as a labourer. He then asked the King, in turn, who he was; and James replied, as usual, that he was the Goodman of Ballengiech, a poor man who had a small appointment about the palace; but he added, that if John Howieson would come to see him on the next Sunday, he would endeavour to repay his manful assistance, and, at least, give him the pleasure of seeing the royal apartments.

John put on his best clothes, as you may suppose, and appearing at a postern gate of the palace, enquired for the Goodman of Ballengiech. The King had given orders that he should be admitted; and John found his friend, the goodman, in the same disguise which he had formerly worn. The King, still preserving the character of an inferior officer of the household, conducted John Howieson from one apartment of the palace to another, and was amused with his wonder and his remarks. At length, James asked his visitor if he should like to see the King; to which John replied, nothing would delight him so much, if he could do so without giving offence. The Goodman of Ballengiech, of course, undertook that the King would not be angry. “But,” said John, “how am I to know his grace from the nobles who will be all about him?”—“Easily,” replied his companion; “all the others will be uncovered the King alone will wear his hat or bonnet.” So speaking, King James introduced the countryman into a great hall, which was filled by the nobility and officers of the crown. John was a little frightened, and drew close to his attendant; but was still unable to distinguish the King. “I told you that you should know him by his wearing his hat,” said the conductor. “Then,” said John, after he had again looked around the room, “it must be either you or me, for all but us two are bare-headed.”

The King laughed at John’s fancy; and that the good yeoman might have occasion for mirth also, he made him a present of the farm of Braehead, which he had wished so much to possess, on condition that John Howieson, or his successors, should be ready to present an ewer and basin for the King to wash his hands, when his Majesty should come to Holyrood palace, or should pass the bridge of Cramond. Accordingly, in the year 1822, when George IV came to Scotland, the descendant of John Howieson of Braehead, who still possesses the estate which was given to his ancestor, appeared at a solemn festival, and offered his Majesty water from a silver ewer, that he might perform the service by which he held his lands. James V was very fond of hunting, and, when he pursued that amusement in the Highlands, he used to wear the peculiar dress of that country, having a long and wide Highland shirt, and a jacket of tartan velvet, with plaid hose, and every thing else corresponding. The accounts for these are in the books of his chamberlain, still preserved. On one occasion, when the King had an ambassador of the Pope along with him, with various foreigners of distinction, they were splendidly entertained by the Earl of Athole in a huge and singular rustic palace. It was built of timber, in the midst of a great meadow, and surrounded by moats, or fosses, full of the most delicate fish. It was enclosed and defended by towers, as if it had been a regular castle, and had within it many apartments, which were decked with flowers and branches, so that in treading them one seemed to be in a garden. Here were all kinds of game, and other provisions in abundance, with many cooks to make them ready, and plenty of the most costly spices and wines. The Italian ambassador was greatly surprised to see, amongst rocks and wildnesses, which seemed to be the very extremity of the world, such good lodging and so magnificent an entertainment. But what surprised him most of all, was to see the Highlanders set fire to the wooden castle as soon as the hunting was over, and the King in the act of departing. “Such is the constant practice of our Highlanders,” said James to the ambassador; “however well they may be lodged over night, they always burn their lodging before they leave it.” By this the King intimated the predatory and lawless habits displayed by these mountaineers. .The reign of James V was not alone distinguished by his personal adventures and pastimes, but is honourably remembered on account of wise laws made for the government of his people, and for restraining the crimes and violence which were frequently practised among them; especially those of assassination, burning of houses, and driving of cattle, the usual and ready means by which powerful chiefs avenged themselves of their feudal enemies. .For the decision of civil questions, James V invented and instituted what is called the College of Justice, being the Supreme Court of Scotland in civil affairs. It consisted of fourteen judges (half clergy, half laity) and a president, who heard and decided causes. A certain number of learned men, trained to understand laws, were appointed to the task of pleading the causes of such as had lawsuits before these judges, who constituted what is popularly termed the Court of Session. These men were called advocates; and this was the first establishment of a body, regularly educated to the law, which has ever since been regarded in Scotland as an honourable profession, and has produced many great men.

James V used great diligence in improving his navy, and undertook what was, at the time, rather a perilous task, to sail in person round Scotland, and cause an accurate survey to be made of the various coasts, bays, and islands, harbours, and roadsteads of his kingdom, many of which had been unknown to his predecessors, even by name.

This active and patriotic Prince ordered the mineral wealth of Scotland to be also enquired into. He obtained miners from Germany, who extracted both silver and gold from the mines of Leadhills, in the upper part of Clydesdale. The gold was of fine quality, and found in quantity sufficient to supply metal for a very elegant gold coin, which, bearing on one side the head of James V wearing a bonnet, has been thence called the Bonnet-piece. It is said, that upon one occasion the King invited the ambassadors of Spain, France, and other foreign countries, to hunt with him in Crawford Moor, the district in which lie the mines I have just mentioned. They dined in the castle of Crawford, a rude old fortress. The King made some apology for the dinner, which was composed of the game they had killed during the hunting and hawking of the day, but he assured his guests that the dessert would make them some amends, as he had given directions that it should consist of the finest fruits which the country afforded. The foreigners looked at each other in surprise, on hearing the King talk of fruits being produced amidst the black moors and barren mountains around them. But the dessert made its appearance in the shape of a number of covered saucers, one of which was placed before each guest, and being examined was found full of gold bonnet-pieces, which they were desired to accept as the fruit produced by the mountains of Crawford Moor. This new sort of dessert was no doubt as acceptable as the most delicate fruits of a southern climate. The mines of the country are now wrought only for leads, of which they produce still a very large quantity. Although, as we have mentioned, James was a good economist, he did not neglect the cultivation of the fine arts. He rebuilt the palace of Linlithgow, which is on a most magnificent plan, and made additions to that of Stirling. He encouraged several excellent poets and learned men, and his usual course of life appears to have been joyous and happy. He was himself a poet of some skill, and he permitted great freedom to the rhymers of his time, in addressing verses to him, some of which conveyed severe censure of his government, and others satires on his foibles.

James also encouraged the sciences, but was deceived by a foreigner, who pretended to have knowledge of the art of making gold. This person, however, who was either crack-brained or an impostor, destroyed his own credit by the fabrication of a pair of wings, with which he proposed to fly from the top of Stirling castle. He actually made the attempt, but as his pinions would not work easily, he fell down the precipice, and broke his thigh-bone.

As the kingdom of Scotland, except during a very short and indecisive war with England, remained at peace till near the end of James’s reign, and as that monarch was a wise and active prince, it might have been hoped that he at least would have escaped the misfortunes which seemed to haunt the name of Stewart. But a great change, which took place at this period, led James V into a predicament, as unhappy as attended any of his ancestors.

Chapter 28

YOU remember, my dear child, that James V. was nephew to Henry VIII. of England, being a son of Margaret, sister of that monarch. This connexion, and perhaps the policy of Henry, who was aware that it was better for both countries that they should remain at peace together, prevented for several years the renewal of the destructive wars between the two divisions of the island. The good understanding would probably have been still more complete, had it not been for the great and general change in religious matters, called in history the Reformation. I must give you some idea of the nature of this alteration, otherwise you cannot understand the consequences to which it led. After the death of our blessed Saviour Jesus Christ, the doctrine which he preached was planted in Rome, the principal city of the great Roman empire, by the Apostle Peter, as it is said, whom the Catholics, therefore, term the first bishop of Rome. In process of time, the bishops of Rome, who succeeded, as they said, the apostle in his office, claimed an authority over all others in Christendom. Good and well-meaning persons, in their reverence for the religion which they had adopted, admitted these pretensions without much scrutiny. As the Christian religion was more widely received, the emperors and kings who embraced it, thought to distinguish their piety by heaping benefits on the church, and on the bishops of Rome in particular, who at length obtained great lands and demesnes as temporal princes; while, in their character of clergymen, they assumed the title of Popes, and the full and exclusive authority over all other clergymen in the Christian world. As the people of those times were extremely ignorant, any little knowledge which remained was to be found among the clergy, who had some leisure to study; while the laity, that is, all men who were not clergymen, learned little, excepting to tilt, fight, and feast. The Popes of Rome, having established themselves as heads of the church, went on, by degrees, introducing into the simple and beautiful system delivered to us in the gospel, other doctrines, many of them inconsistent with, or contradictory of, pure Christianity, and all of them tending to extend the power of the priests over the minds and consciences of other men. It was not difficult for the popes to make these alterations. For as they asserted that they were the visible successors of Saint Peter, they pretended that they were as infallible as the apostle himself, and that all that they published in their ordinances, which they called Bulls, must be believed by all Christian men, as much as if the same had been enjoined in the Holy Scripture itself. We shall notice two or three of these innovations. Some good men, in an early age of Christianity, had withdrawn from the world to worship God in desert and desolate places. They wrought for their bread, gave alms to the poor, spent their leisure in the exercise of devotion, and were justly respected. But by degrees, as well-meaning persons bestowed great sums to support associations of such holy men, bequeathed lands to the monasteries or convents in which they lived, and made them wealthy, the Monks, as they were called, departed from the simplicity of their order, and neglected the virtues which they undertook to practise. Besides, by the extravagant endowments of these convents, great sums of money and large estates were employed in maintaining a useless set of men, who, under pretence of performing devotional exercises, withdrew themselves from the business of the world, and from all domestic duties. Hence, though there continued to be amongst the monks many good, pious, and learned men, idleness and luxury invaded many of the institutions, and corrupted both their doctrines and their morals.

•@The worship also of saints, for which Scripture gives us no warrant whatever, was introduced in those ignorant times. It is natural we should respect the memory of any remarkably good man, and that we should value any thing which has belonged to him. The error lay in carrying this natural veneration to extremity — in worshipping the relics of a saintly character, such as locks of hair, bones, articles of clothing, and other trumpery, and in believing that such things are capable of curing sickness, or of working other miracles shocking to common sense. Yet the Roman Church opened the way to this absurdity, and imputed to these relics, which were often mere imposture, the power, which God alone possesses, of altering those laws of nature which his wisdom has appointed. The popes also encouraged and enjoined the worship of saints, that is, the souls of holy men deceased, as a sort of subordinate deities, whose intercession may avail us before the throne of God, although the Gospel has expressly declared that our Lord Jesus Christ is our only Mediator. And in virtue of this opinion, not only were the Virgin Mary, the apostles, and almost every other person mentioned in the Gospels, erected by the Roman Catholics into the office of intercessors with the Deity, but numerous others, some of them mere names, who never existed as men, were canonized, as it was called, that is, declared by the pope to be saints, and had altars and churches dedicated to them. Pictures also and statues, representing these alleged holy persons, were exhibited in churches, and received the worship, which ought not, according to the second commandment, to be rendered to any idol or graven image. •@Other doctrines there were, about fasting on particular days, and abstaining from particular kinds of food, all of which were gradually introduced into the Roman Catholic faith, though contrary to the gospel.

•@But the most important innovation, and that by which the priests made most money, was the belief, that the church, or, in other words, the priest, had the power of pardoning such sins as were confessed to him, upon the culprit’s discharging such penance as the priest imposed on him. Every person was, therefore, obliged to confess himself to a priest, if he hoped to have his sins pardoned; and the priest enjoined certain kinds of penance, more or less severe, according to the circumstances of the offence. But, in general, these penances might be excused, providing a corresponding sum of money were paid to the church, which possessed thus a perpetual and most lucrative source of income, which was yet more increased by the belief in Purgatory. •@We have no right, from Scripture, to believe in the existence of any intermediate state betwixt that of happiness, which we call Heaven, to which good men have access immediately after death, or that called Hell, being the place of eternal punishment, to which the wicked are consigned with the devil and his angels. But the Catholic priests imagined the intervention of an intermediate state, called Purgatory. They supposed that many, or indeed that most people, were not of such piety as to deserve immediate admission into a state of eternal happiness, until they should have sustained a certain portion of punishment; but yet were not so wicked as to deserve instant and eternal condemnation. For the benefit of these, they invented the intermediate situation of Purgatory, a place of punishment, to which almost every one, not doomed to Hell itself, was consigned for a greater or less period, in proportion to his sins, before admission into a state of happiness. But here lay the stress of the doctrine. The power was in the church to obtain pardon, by prayer, for the souls who were in Purgatory, and to have the gates of that place of torture opened for their departure sooner than would otherwise have taken place. Men, therefore, whose consciences told them that they deserved a long abode in this place of punishment, left liberal sums to the church to have prayers said for the behoof of their souls. Children, in like manner, procured masses (that is, a particular sort of devotional worship practised by Catholics) to be said for the souls of their deceased parents. Widows did the same for their departed husbands — husbands for their wives. All these masses and prayers could only be obtained by money, and all this money went to the priests.

But the pope and his clergy carried the matter still farther; and not only sold, as they pretended, the forgiveness of Heaven, to those who had committed sins, but also granted them (always for money) a liberty to break through the laws of God and the church. These licenses were called indulgences, because those who purchased them were indulged in the privilege of committing irregularities and vices, without being supposed answerable to the divine wrath.

To support this extraordinary fabric of superstition, the pope assumed the most extensive powers, even to the length of depriving kings of their thrones, by his sentence of excommunication, which declared their subjects free from their oath of allegiance, and at liberty to rise up against their sovereign and put him to death. At other times the pope took it upon him to give the kingdoms of the excommunicated prince to some ambitious neighbour. The rule of the church of Rome was as severe over inferior persons as over princes. If a layman read the Bible, he was accounted guilty of a great offence; for the priests well knew that a perusal of the sacred Scriptures would open men’s eyes to their extravagant pretensions. If an individual presumed to disbelieve any of the doctrines which the church of Rome taught, or to entertain any which were inconsistent with these doctrines, he was tried as a heretic, and subjected to the horrid punishment of being burnt alive; and this penalty was inflicted without mercy for the slightest expressions approaching to what the Papists called heresy.

This extraordinary and tyrannical power over men’s consciences was usurped during those ages of European history which were called dark, because men were at that period without the light of learning and information. But the discovery of the art of printing began, in the fifteenth century, to open men’s mind. The Bible, which had been locked up in the hands of the clergy, then became common, and was generally read; and wise and good men in Germany and Switzerland made it their study to expose the errors and corruptions of the see of Rome. The doctrine of saint-worship was shown to be idolatrous — that of pardons and indulgences, a foul encouragement to vice — that of Purgatory, a cunning means of extorting money — and the pretensions of the Pope to infallibilities, a blasphemous assumption of the attributes proper to God alone. These new opinions were termed the doctrines of the Reformers, and those who embraced them became gradually more and more numerous. The Roman Catholic priests attempted to defend the tenets of their church by argument; but as that was found difficult, they endeavoured, in most countries of Europe, to enforce them by violence. But the Reformers found protection in various parts of Germany. Their numbers seemed to increase rather than diminish, and to promise a great revolution in the Christian world. •@Henry VIII., the King of England, was possessed of some learning, and had a great disposition to show it in this controversy. Being, in the earlier part of his reign, sincerely attached to the church of Rome, he wrote a book in defence of its doctrines, against Martin Luther, one of the principal reformers. The Pope was so much gratified by this display of zeal, that he conferred on the King the appellation of Defender of the Faith; a title which Henry’s successors continue to retain, although in a very different sense from that in which it was granted.

•@Now Henry, you must know, was m arried to a very good princess, named Catherine, who was a daughter of the King of Spain, and sister to the Emperor of Germany. She had been, in her youth, contracted to Henry’s elder brother Arthur; but the prince dying, and Henry becoming heir of the throne, his union with Catherine had taken place. They had lived long together, and Catherine had borne a daughter, Mary, who was the natural heir apparent of the English crown. But at length Henry VIII. fell deeply in love with a beautiful young woman, named Ann Bullen, a maid of honour in the Queen’s retinue, and he became extremely desirous to get rid of Queen Catherine, and marry this young lady. For this purpose he applied to the Pope, in order to obtain a divorce from the good Queen, under pretence of her having been contracted to his elder brother before he was married to her. This, he alleged, seemed to him like marrying his brother’s wife, and therefore he desired that the Pope would dissolve a marriage, which, as he alleged, gave much pain to his conscience. The truth was, that his conscience would have given him very little disturbance, had he not wanted to marry another, a younger and more beautiful woman.

The Pope would have, probably, been willing enough to gratify Henry’s desire, at least his predecessors had granted greater favours to men of less consequence; but then Catherine was the sister of Charles V., who was at once Emperor of Germany and King of Spain, and one of the wisest as well as the most powerful, princes in Christendom. The Pope, who depended much on Charles’ assistance for checking the Reformation, dared not give him the great offence, which would have been occasioned by encouraging his sister’s divorce. His holiness, therefore, evaded giving a precise answer to the King of England from day to day, week to week, and year to year. But this led to a danger which the Pope had not foreseen. •@Henry VIII., a hot, fiery, and impatient prince as ever lived, finding that the Pope trifling with him, resolved to shake off his authority entirely. For this purpose he denied the authority of the Pope in England, and declared, that he himself was the only Head of the English Church, and that the Bishop of Rome had nothing to do with him, or his dominions. Many of the bishops and clergymen of the English church adopted the reformed doctrines, and all disowned the supreme rule, hitherto ascribed to the Pope. But the greatest blow to the papal authority was the dissolution of the monasteries, or religious houses, as they were called. The King seized on the convents, and the lands granted for their endowment, and, distributing the wealth of the convents among the great men of his court, broke up for ever those great establishments, and placed an insurmountable obstacle in the way of the Catholic religion being restored, after the interest of so many persons had been concerned in its being excluded.

The motive of Henry VIII.‘s conduct was by no means praiseworthy, but it produced the most important and salutary consequences; as England was for ever afterwards, except during the short reign of his eldest daughter, freed from all dependence upon the Pope, and from the superstitious doctrines of the Roman Catholic religion. Now here, returning to Scottish history, you must understand that one of Henry’s principal wishes was to prevail upon his nephew, the young King of Scotland, to make the same alteration of religion in his country, which had been introduced into England. Henry, if we can believe the Scottish historians, made James the most splendid offers, to induce him to follow this course. He proposed to give him the hand of his daughter Mary in marriage, and to create him Duke of York; and, with a view to the establishment of a lasting peace between the countries, he earnestly desired a personal meeting with his nephew in the North of England.

There is reason to believe that James was, at one period, somewhat inclined to the Reformed doctrines; at least, he encouraged a Scottish poet, called Sir David Lindsay of the Mount, and also the celebrated scholar, George Buchanan, in composing some severe satires against the corruptions of the Roman Catholic religion; but the King was, notwithstanding, by no means disposed altogether to fall off from the Church of Rome. He dreaded the power of England, and the rough, violent, and boisterous manners of Henry, who disgusted his nephew by the imprudent violence with which he pressed him to imitate his steps. But, in particular, James found the necessity of adhering to the Roman Catholic faith, from the skill, intelligence, and learning of the clergy, which rendered them far more fit to hold offices of state, and to assist him in administering the public business, than the Scottish nobility, who were at once profoundly ignorant, and fierce, arrogant, and ambitious in the highest degree.

The Archbishop Beaton, already mentioned, and his nephew David Beaton, who was afterwards made a cardinal, rose high in James’s favour; and, no doubt, the influence which they possessed over the King’s mind was exerted to prevent his following the example of his uncle Henry in religious affairs.

•@The same influence might also induce him to seek an alliance with France, rather than with England; for it was natural that the Catholic clergy, with whom James advised, should discountenance, by every means in their power, any approaches to an intimate alliance with Henry, the mortal enemy of the Papal See. James V. accordingly visited France, and obtained the hand of Magdalen, the daughter of Francis I., with a large portion. Much joy was expressed at the landing of this princess at Leith, and she was received with as great splendour and demonstration of welcome, as the poverty of the country would permit. But the young Queen was in a bad state of health, and died within forty days after her marriage.

After the death of this princess, the King, still inclining to the French alliance, married Mary of Guise, daughter of the Duke of Guise, thus connecting himself with a family, proud, ambitious, and attached, in the most bigoted degree, to the Catholic cause. This connexion served, no doubt, to increase James’s disinclination to any changes in the established Church.

But whatever were the sentiments of the Sovereign, those of the subjects were gradually tending more and more towards a reformation of religion. Scotland at this time possessed several men of learning who had studied abroad, and had there learned and embraced the doctrines of the great reformer Calvin. They brought with them, on their return, copies of the Holy Scripture, and could give a full account of the controversy between the protestants, as they are now called, and the Roman Catholic Church. Many among the Scots, both of higher and lower rank, became converts to the new faith.

The Popish ministers and counsellors of the King ventured to have recourse to violence, in order to counteract these results. Several persons were seized upon, tried before the Spiritual Courts of the Bishop of St Andrews, and condemned to the flames. The modesty and decency with which these men behaved on their trials, and the patience with which they underwent the tortures of a cruel death, protesting at the same time their belief in the doctrines for which they had been condemned to the stake, made the strongest impression on the beholders, and increased the confidence of those who had embraced the tenets of the Reformers. Stricter and more cruel laws were made against heresy. Even the disputing the power of the Pope was punished with death; yet the Reformation seemed to gain ground in proportion to every effort to check it.

•@The favours which the King extended to the Catholic clergy, led the Scottish nobility to look upon them with jealousy, and increased their inclination towards the Protestant doctrines. The wealth of the abbeys and convents, also, tempted many of the nobles and gentry, who hoped to have a share of the church-lands, in case of these institutions being dissolved, as in England. And although there were, doubtless, good men as well as bad among the monks, yet the indolent, and even debauched lives of many of the order, rendered them, generally, odious and contemptible to the common people.

The popular discontent was increased by an accident which took place in the year 1537. A matron of the highest rank, Jane Douglas, sister of the banished Earl of Angus, widow of John Lyon Lord of Glamis, and wife of Archibald Campbell of Kepneith, was accused of having practised against the life of James, by imaginary crime of witchcraft, and the more formidable means of poison. Her purpose was alleged to be the restoration of the Douglasses to Scotland, and to their estates and influence in that country. This lady was burnt alive on the Castle-hill of Edinburgh; and the spectators, filled with pity for her youth and beauty, and surprised at the courage with which she endured the sentence, did not fail to impute her execution less to any real crime, than to the King’s deep-rooted hatred against the house of Douglas. Another capital punishment, though inflicted on an object of general dislike, served to confirm the opinion entertained of James’s severity, not to say cruelty, of disposition. We have mentioned Sir James Hamilton of Draphane, called the Bastard of Arran, as distinguished on account of the ferocity of his disposition, and the murders which he committed on cold blood. This man had been made Sheriff of Ayr, and had received other favours from the King’s hand. Notwithstanding, he was suddenly accused of treason by a cousin and namesake of his own; and on that sole testimony, condemned and executed. Upon this occasion also, public opinion charged James with having proceeded without sufficient evidence of guilt.

In the mean time, Henry continued to press the King of Scotland, by letters and negotiations, to enter into common measures with him against the Catholic clergy. He remonstrated with his nephew upon his preferring to improve his royal revenue by means of herds and flocks, which he represented as an unprincely practice, saying, that if he wanted money, he, his kind uncle, would let him have what sums he pleased; or, that the wealth of the Catholic convents and monasteries was a fund which lay at his command whenever he liked to seize it. Lastly, the English ambassador, Sir Ralph Sadler, insisted, as directed by his instructions, upon the evil doctrines and vicious lives of the clergy, against whom he urged the King to take violent measures.

Much of this message was calculated to affront James, yet he answered temperately. He acknowledged that he preferred living on his own revenue, such as it was, to becoming dependent upon another king, even though that king was his uncle. He had no pretext or motive, he said, to seize the possessions of the clergy, because they were always ready to advance him money when he had need of it. Those among them who led vicious lives, he would not fail, he added, to correct severely; but he did not consider it as just to punish the whole body for the faults of a few. In conclusion, King James suffered a doubtful promise to be extracted from him that he would meet Henry at York, if the affairs of his kingdom would permit.

The King of Scotland was now brought to a puzzling alternative, being either obliged to comply with his uncle’s wishes, break off his alliance with France, and introduce the Reformed religion into his dominions, or, by adhering to France and to the Catholic faith, to run all the hazards of a war with England. The churchmen exercised their full authority over the mind of James at this crisis. The gold of France was not spared to determine his resolution; and it may be supposed that the young Queen, so nearly connected with the Catholic house of Guise, gave her influence to the same party. James at length determined to disappoint his uncle; and after the haughty Henry had remained six days at York, on the expectation of meeting him, he excused himself by some frivolous apology. Henry was, as might have been expected, mortally offended, and prepared for war.

A fierce and ruinous was immediately commenced. Henry sent numerous forces to ravage the Scottish Border. James obtained success in the first considerable action, to his unutterable satisfaction, and prepared for more decisive hostility. He assembled the array of his kingdom, and marched from Edinburgh as far as Fala, on his way to the Border, when tidings arrived, 1st November, 1542, that the English general had withdrawn his forces within the English frontier. On this news, the Scottish nobles, who, with their vassals, had joined the royal standard, intimated to their sovereign, that though they had taken up arms to save the country from invasion, yet they considered the war with England as an impolitic measure, and only undertaken to gratify the clergy; and that, therefore, the English having retired, they were determined not to advance one foot into the enemy’s country. One Border chieftain alone offered with his retinue to follow the King wherever he chose to lead. This was John Scott of Thirlstane, whom James rewarded with an addition to his paternal coat-of-arms, with a bunch of spears for the crest, and the motto, “Ready, aye Ready.”

•@James, finding himself thus generally thwarted and deserted by the nobility, returned to Edinburgh, dishonoured before his people, and in the deepest dejection of mind.

To retaliate the inroads of the English, and wipe out the memory of Fala moss, the King resolved that an army of ten thousand men should invade England on the Western Border; and he imprudently sent with them his peculiar favourite, Oliver Sinclair, who shared with the priests the unpopularity of the English war, and was highly obnoxious to the nobility, as one of those who engrossed the royal favour to their prejudice.

The army had just entered English ground, at a place called Solway moss, when this Oliver Sinclair was raised upon the soldiers’ shields to read to the army a commission, which, it was afterwards said, named Lord Maxwell commander of the expedition. But no one doubted at the time that Oliver Sinclair had himself been proclaimed commander-inchief; and as he was generally disliked and despised, the army instantly fell into a state of extreme confusion. Four or five hundred English Borderers, commanded by Thomas Dacre and John Musgrave, perceived this fluctuation, and charged the numerous squadrons of the invading army. The Scots fled without even attempting to fight. Numbers of noblemen and gentlemen suffered themselves to be made prisoners, rather than face the displeasure of their disappointed sovereign.

The unfortunate James had lately been assaulted by various calamities. The death of his two sons, and the disgrace of the defection at Fala, had made a deep impression on his mind, and haunted him even in the visions of the night. He dreamed he saw the fierce Sir James Hamilton, whom he had caused to be put to death upon slight evidence. The bloody shade approached him with a sword, and said, “Cruel tyrant, thou hast unjustly murdered me, who was indeed barbarous to other men, but always faithful and true to thee; wherefore now shalt thou have thy deserved punishment.” So saying, it seemed to him as if Sir James Hamilton cut off first one arm and then another, and then left him, threatening to come back soon and cut his head off. Such a dream was very likely to arise in the King’s mind, perturbed as it was by misfortunes, and even perhaps internally reproaching himself for Sir James Hamilton’s death. But to James the striking off his arms appeared to allude to the death of his two sons, and he became convinced that the ultimate threats of the vision presaged his own death.

The disgraceful news of the battle, or rather the rout of Solway, filled up the measure of the King’s despair and desolation. He shut himself up in the palace of Falkland, and refused to listen to any consolation. A burning fever, the consequence of his grief and shame, seized on the unfortunate monarch. They brought him tidings that his wife had given birth to a daughter; but he only replied, “Is it so?” reflecting on the alliance which had placed the Stewart family on the throne; “then God’s will be done. It came with a lass, and it will go with a lass.” With these words, presaging the extinction of his house, he made a signal of adieu to his courtiers, spoke little more, but turned his face to the wall, and died of the most melancholy of all diseases, a broken heart. He was scarcely thirty-one years old; in the very prime, therefore, of life. If he had not suffered the counsels of the Catholic priests to hurry him into a war with England, James V. might have been as fortunate a prince as his many good qualities and talents deserved.

Chapter 29

THE evil fortunes of Mary Stewart, who succeeded her father in the crown of Scotland, commenced at he very birth, and could scarce be considered as ceasing during the whole period of her life. Of all the unhappy princes of the line of Stewart, she was the most uniformly unfortunate. She was born 7th December, 1542, and, in a few days after, became, by her father’s death, the infant queen of a distracted country.

Two parties strove, as is usual in minorities, to obtain the supreme power. Mary of Guise, the Queen–Mother, with Cardinal David Beaton, were at the head of that which favoured the alliance with France. Hamilton, Earl of Arran, the nearest male relation of the infant Queen, was chief of the other, and possessed more extended popularity; for the nobles dreaded the bold and ambitious character of the cardinal, and the common people detested him, on account of his cruel persecution of the Reformers. The Earl of Arran, however, was but a fickle and timid man, with little, it would seem, to recommend him, besides his high birth. He was, however, preferred to the office of Regent.

Henry VIII is said to have expressed much concern for the death of his nephew, saying, there would never again reign a King in Scotland so nearly related to him, or so dear to him, and blaming, not the late James V., but his evil counsellors, for the unfortunate dispute between them. At the same time, Henry formed a plan of uniting the kingdoms of England and Scotland, by a marriage betwixt the infant Queen of Scotland and his only son, Edward VI, then a child. He took into his counsels the Earl of Glencairn and other Scottish nobles, made prisoners in the rout of Solway, and offered to set them at liberty, provided, on their return to Scotland, they would undertake to forward the match which he proposed. They were released accordingly, upon giving pledges that they would return in case the treaty should not be accomplished.

Archibald, Earl of Angus, with his brother, Sir George Douglas, took the same opportunity of returning into Scotland, after fifteen years’ exile. They had been indebted to Henry for support and protection during that long space of time. He had even admitted them to be members of his Privy Council, and by the countenance he afforded them, had given great offence to the late King James. When, therefore, the influence of the Douglasses, naturally attached to him by gratitude, was added to that of Glencairn and the others, who had been made prisoners at Solway, and to the general weight of the Protestants, favourable, of course, to an alliance with England, Henry must be considered as having a party in Scotland in every way favourable to his views.

But the impatient temper of the English monarch ruined his own scheme. He demanded the custody of the young Queen of Scotland till she should be of age to complete the marriage to be contracted by the present league, and he insisted that some of the strongest forts in the kingdom should be put into his hands. These proposals alarmed the national jealousy of the Scots, and the characteristic love of independence and liberty which we find that people have always displayed. The nation at large became persuaded that Henry VIII, under pretence of a union by marriage, nourished, like Edward I. in similar circumstances, the purpose of subduing the country. The exiled lords who had agreed to assist Henry’s views, could be of no use to him, in consequence of the extravagance of his propositions. They told Sir Ralph Sadler, the English ambassador, frankly, that the nation could not endure the surrender of the Queen’s person to Henry’s charge — that their own vassals would not take arms for them in such a cause — that the old women of Scotland, with their distaffs, nay, the very stones in the streets, would arise and fight against it.

Henry was with difficulty prevailed upon to defer the time for giving to him the custody of Queen Mary’s person, until she should be ten years old. But even this modified proposition excited the greatest jealousy; and Sir George Douglas, Henry’s chief advocate, only ventured to recommend acquiescence in the King’s proposal, as a means of gaining time. He told the Scottish nobles of a certain king, who was so fond of an ass, that he insisted his chief physician should teach the animal to speak, upon pain of being himself put to death. The physician consented to undertake the case, but gave the King to understand that it would be ten years before the operation of his medicines could take effect. The king permitted him to set to work accordingly. Now, one of the physician’s friends seeing him busy about the animal, expressed his wonder that so wise a man should undertake what was contrary to nature; to which the physician replied — “Do you not see I have gained ten years’ advantage? If I had refused the King’s orders, I must have been instantly put to death; but as it is, I have the advantage of a long delay, during which the king may die, the ass may die, or I may die myself. In either of the three cases, I am freed from my trouble.”—“Even so,” said Sir George Douglas, “if we agree to this treaty we avoid a bloody and destructive war, and have a long period before us, during which the King of England, his son Prince Edward, or the infant Queen Mary, may one of them die, so that the treaty will be broken off.” Moved by such reasons, a Parliament, which consisted almost entirely of the lords of the English party, consented to the match with England, and the Regent Arran also agreed to it.

But while one part of the Scottish nobles adopted the solution to treat with King Henry on his own terms, the Queen–Mother and Cardinal Beaton were at the head of another and still more numerous faction, who adhered to the old religion, and to the ancient alliance with France, and were, of course, directly opposed to the English match. The fickle temper of the Regent contributed to break off the treaty which he had subscribed. Within a fortnight after he had ratified the conditions of the match with England, he reconciled himself to the cardinal and Queen–Mother, and joined in putting a stop to the proposed marriage.

The English King, if he could have been watchful and patient, might perhaps have brought the measure, which was alike important to both countries, once more to bear. But Henry, incensed at the Regent’s double dealing, determined for immediate war. He sent a fleet and army into the frith of Forth, which landed, and, finding no opposition, burnt the capital of Scotland, and its seaport, and plundered the country around. Sir Ralph Evers, and Sir Brian Latoun, were, at the same time, employed in making inroads on the Border, which were of the fiercest and most wasteful description. The account of the ravage is tremendous. In one foray they numbered 192 towers, or houses of defence, burnt or razed; 403 Scots slain, and 816 made prisoners; 10,386 cattle, 12,492 sheep, 1296 horses, and 850 bolls of corn, driven away as spoil. Another list gives an account of the destruction of seven monasteries, or religious houses; sixteen castles or towers; five market-towns, two hundred and forty-three villages, thirteen mills, and three hospitals, all pulled down or burnt.

The exploits of the English leaders might gratify Henry’s resentment, but they greatly injured his interest in Scotland, for the whole kingdom became united to repel the invaders; and even those who liked the proposed match with England best, were, to use an expression of the time, disgusted with so rough a mode of wooing. The Douglasses themselves, bound to Henry by so many ties, were obliged, on seeing the distress and devastation of the country, to take part in the war against him, and soon found an opportunity to do so.

It seems Henry had conferred upon his two successful leaders, Evers and Latoun, all the lands which they had conquered, or should be able to conquer upon the Border, and, in particular, the fine countries of Merse and Teviotdale. “I will write the instrument of possession upon their own bodies, with sharp pens, and in blood-red ink,” said the Earl of Angus, “because they destroyed the tombs of my ancestors at the abbey of Melrose.” He accordingly urged Arran, the regent, or governor, as he was called, to move towards the frontiers, to protect them. Arran was with difficulty prevailed on to advance southward to Melrose, with scarce so many as five hundred men in his company. The English leaders were lying at Jedburgh with five thousand men. Three thousand of these were many Scottish clans who had taken the red cross, and submitted themselves to the dominion of England. With these forces Evers and Latoun made a sudden march, to surprise the governor and his handful of men; but they failed, for the Scots retreated beyond the Tweed, to the hills near Galashiels.

The English then prepared to retire to Jedburgh, and the governor, acting by Angus’s advice, followed them, and watched their motions. In the mean time, succours began to come in to the Scottish army. A bold young man, Norman Leslie, the master of Rothes, was the first to come up with three hundred horses, from Fife, gallantly armed. Afterwards the Lord Buccleuch joined them with a few of his clan, who arrived at full speed, and assured them that the rest of the Scotts would be presently on the field. This Border chieftain was a man of great military sagacity, and knew the ground well. He advised the governor and Angus to draw up their men at the foot of a small eminence, and to send their horses to the rear. The English, seeing the horses of the Scots ascend the hill, concluded they were in flight, and turned hastily back to attack them, hurrying in confusion, as to an assured conquest. Thus they came in front of the Scottish army, who were closely and firmly drawn up, at the very moment when they themselves were in confusion from their hasty advance. As the Scots began to charge, the Earl of Angus, seeing a heron arise out of the marsh, cried out, “Oh, that O had my white hawk here, that we might all join battle at once!” The English, surprised and out of breath — (and having besides, the wind in their face, which blew the smoke of the gunpowder — and the sun in their eyes, were completely defeated, and compelled to take to flight.) The Scottish Borderers, who had joined them during their prosperity, perceiving their own countrymen to be victorious, threw away their red crosses (the distinction which they had assumed as subjects of England), and fell upon the English, for the purpose of helping those against whom they had come to the field, and making amends for their desertion of the Scottish cause. These renegades made a pitiful slaughter, and the Scots in general, provoked, probably, by the late ravages of the English, showed themselves so cruel to the vanquished, that they seemed to deserve the severe blow which the nation soon afterwards received. Tradition says, that a beautiful young maiden, called Lillyard, followed her lover from the little village of Maxton, and when she saw him fall in battle, rushed herself into the heat of the fight, and was killed, after slaying several of the English. From this female, they call the field of battle Lillyard’s Edge to this day.

This battle was fought in 1545. A thousand Englishmen were killed, together with their two leaders, of whom Evers was buried in the abbey of Melrose, which he had repeatedly plundered, and finally burnt. A great many prisoners were made. One was Thomas Read, an alderman of the city of London, whom we are surprised to meet with in such a predicament. This worthy citizen had, we are informed, refused to pay his share of a benevolence, as it was called, that is, of a sum of money, which Henry demanded from the citizens of London. It seems that though the power of the King could not throw the alderman into jail until he paid the money, yet he could force him to serve as a soldier; and there is a letter to Lord Evers, directing that Read should be subjected to all the rigours and hardships of the service, that he might know what soldiers suffered when in the field, and be more ready another time to assist the King with money to pay them. It is to be supposed that the alderman had a large ransom to pay to the Scotsman who had the good luck to get him for a prisoner.

Henry VIII was extremely offended at this defeat of Lillyard’s Edge, or Ancram-moor, as it is frequently called, and vented his displeasure in menaces against the Earl of Angus, notwithstanding their connexion by the earl’s marriage with the King’s sister. Angus treated the threats of the English monarch with contempt. “Is our royal brother-in-law,” he said, “angry with me for being a good Scotsman, and for revenging upon Ralph Evers the destruction of my ancestors’ tombs at Melrose? They were better men than Evers, and I could in honour do no less. And will my royal brother-in-law take my life for that? Little does King Henry know the skirts of Cairntable” (a mountain near Douglas castle); “I can keep myself there against all his English host.”

The truth is, that at no period of their history had the Scottish people ever been more attached to France, and more alienated from England, than now; the proposed match between the young Queen and the English Prince of Wales being generally regarded with an abhorrence, which was chiefly owing to the vindictive and furious manner in which Henry conducted the war. Of all the Scottish nobles who had originally belonged to the English party, Lennox alone continued friendly to Henry; and he being obliged to fly into England, the King caused him to marry Lady Margaret Douglas, daughter of his sister Margaret, by her second husband the Earl of Angus, and of course the King’s niece. Their son was the unhappy Henry Lord Darnley, of whom we shall have much to say hereafter.

•@The King of France now sent a powerful body of auxiliary troops to the assistance of the Scots, besides considerable supplies of money, which enabled them to retaliate the English ravages, so that the Borders on both sides were fearfully wasted. A peace at length, in June 1546, ended a war in which both countries suffered severely, without either attaining any decisive advantage. •@The Scottish affairs were now managed almost entirely by Cardinal Beaton, a statesman, as we before observed, of great abilities, but a bigoted Catholic, and a man of a severe and cruel temper. He had gained entire influence over the Regent Arran, and had prevailed upon that fickle nobleman to abandon the Protestant doctrines, reconcile himself to the church of Rome, and consent to the persecution of the heretics, as the Protestants were still called. Many cruelties were exercised; but that which excited public feeling to the highest degree, was the barbarous death of George Wishart.

This martyr to the cause of Reformation was a man of honourable birth, great wisdom and eloquence, and of primitive piety. He preached the doctrines of the Reformed religion with zeal and with success, and was for some time protected against the efforts of the vengeful Catholics by the barons who had become converts to the Protestant faith. At length, however, he fell into the hands of the cardinal, being surrendered to him by Lord Bothwell, and was conveyed to the castle of St Andrews, a strong fortress and palace belonging to the cardinal as archbishop, and there thrown into a dungeon. Wishart was then brought to a public trial, for heresy, before the Spiritual Court, where the cardinal presided. He was accused of preaching heretical doctrine, by two priests, called Lauder and Oliphant, whose outrageous violence was strongly contrasted with the patience and presence of mind shown by the prisoner. He appealed to the authority of the Bible against that of the church of Rome; but his judges were little disposed to listen to his arguments, and he was condemned to be burnt alive. The place of execution was opposite to the stately castle of the cardinal, and Beaton himself sat upon the walls, which were hung with tapestry, to behold the death of his heretical prisoner. The spot was also carefully chosen, that the smoke of the pile might be seen as far as possible, to spread the greater terror. Wishart was then brought out, and fastened to a stake with iron chains. He was clad in a buckram garment, and several bags of gunpowder were tied round his body, to hasten the operation of the fire. A quantity of fagots were disposed around the pile. While he stood in expectation of his cruel death, he cast his eyes towards his enemy the cardinal, as he sat on the battlements of the castle enjoying the dreadful scene.

“Captain,” he said to him who commanded the guard, “may God forgive yonder man, who lies so proudly on the wall — within a few days he shall be seen lying there in as much shame as he now shows pomp and vanity.”

The pile was then fired, the powder exploded the flames arose, and Wishart was dismissed by a painful death to a blessed immortality in the next world.

Perhaps the last words of Wishart, which seemed to contain a prophetic spirit, incited some men to revenge his death. At any rate, the burning of that excellent person greatly increased the public detestation against the cardinal, and a daring man stood forth to gratify the general desire, by putting him to death. This was Norman Leslie, called the Master of Rothes, the same who led the men of Fife at the battle of Ancram-moor. It appears, that besides his share of the common hatred to the cardinal as a persecutor, he had some private feud or cause of quarrel with him. With no more than sixteen men, Leslie undertook to assault the cardinal in his own castle, amongst his numerous guards and domestics. It chanced that, as many workmen were still employed in labouring upon the fortifications of the castle, the wicket of the castle-gate was open early in the morning, to admit them to their work. The conspirators took advantage of this, and obtained possession of the entrance. Having thus gained admittance, they seized upon the domestics of the cardinal, and turned them one by one out of the castle, then hastened to the cardinal’s chamber, who had fastened the door. He refused them entrance, until they threatened to apply fire, when, learning that Norman Leslie was without, the despairing prelate at length undid the door, and asked for mercy. Melville, one of the conspirators, told him he should only have such mercy as he had extended to George Wishart, and the other servants of God, who had been slain by his orders. He then, with his sword pointed to his breast, bid the cardinal say his prayers to God, for his last hour was come. The conspirators now proceeded to stab their victim, and afterwards dragged the dead body to the walls, to show it to the citizens of St Andrews, his clients and dependents, who came in fury to demand what had become of their bishop. Thus his dead body really came to lie with open shame upon the very battlements of his own castle, where he had sat in triumph to behold Wishart’s execution.

Many persons who disapproved of this most unjustifiable action, were yet glad that this proud cardinal, who had sold the country in some measure to France, was at length removed. Some individuals, who assuredly would not have assisted in the slaughter, joined those who had slain the cardinal, in the defence of the castle. The Regent hastened to besiege the place, which, supplied by England with money, engineers, and provisions, was able to resist the Scottish army for five months. France, however, sent to Scotland a fleet and an army, with engineers better acquainted with the art of attacking strong places than those of the Scottish nation. The castle was, therefore, surrendered. The principal defenders of it were sent to France, and there for some time employed as galley-slaves. The common people made a song upon the event, of which the burden was —

“Priests, content ye now,

And, priests, content ye now,

Since Norman and his company

Have fill’d the galleys fou.”

Shortly after this tragical incident, King Henry VIII of England died. But his impatient and angry spirit continued to influence the counsels of the nation under the Lord Protector Somerset, who resolved to take the same violent measures to compel the Scots to give their young Queen in marriage to Edward VI., of which Henry had set an example. A chosen and well-disciplined army of eighteen thousand men, well supplied with all necessaries, and supported by an armed fleet, invaded Scotland on the eastern frontier. The Scots assembled a force of almost double the number of the invaders, but, as usual, unaccustomed to act in union together, or to follow the commands of a single general. Nevertheless, the Scottish leaders displayed at the commencement of the campaign some military skill. They posted their army behind the river Esk, near Musselburgh, a village about six miles from Edinburgh, and there seemed determined to await the advance of the English.

The Duke of Somerset, Regent of England, and general of the invading army, was now in a state of difficulty. The Scots were too strongly posted to be attached with hope of success, and it is probable the English must have retreated with dishonour, had not their enemies, in one of those fits of impatience which caused so many national calamities, abandoned their advantageous position.

Confiding in the numbers of his army, the Scottish Regent (Earl of Arran) crossed the Esk, and thus gave the English the advantage of the ground, they being drawn up on the top of a sloping eminence. The Scots formed in their usual order, a close phalanx. They were armed with broadswords of an admirable form and temper, and a coarse handkerchief was worn in double and triple folds round each man’s neck, — “not for cold,” says an old historian, “but for cutting.” Especially, each man carried a spear eighteen feet long. When drawn up, they stood close together, the first rank kneeling on one knee, and pointing their spears towards the enemy. The ranks immediately behind stooped a little, and the others stood upright, presenting their lances over the heads of their comrades, and holding them with the but-end placed against their foot, the point opposed to the breast of the enemy. So that the Scottish ranks were so completely defended by the close order in which they stood, and by the length of their lances, that to charge them seemed to be as rash as to oppose your bare hand to a hedgehog’s bristles.

The battle began by the English cavalry, under the Lord Gray, rushing upon the close array of the Scots. They stood fast, menacing the horsemen with their pikes, and calling, “Come on, ye heretics!” The charge was dreadful; but as the spears of the English horse were much shorter than those of the Scottish infantry, they had greatly the worst of the encounter, and were beaten off with the loss of many men. The Duke of Somerset commanded Lord Gray to renew the charge, but Gray replied, he might as well bid him charge a castle-wall. By the advice of the Earl of Warwick, a body of archers and musketeers was employed instead of horsemen. The thick order of the Scots exposed them to insufferable loss from the missiles now employed against them, so that the Earl of Angus, who commanded the vanguard, made an oblique movement to avoid the shot; but the main body of the Scots unhappily mistook this movement for a flight, and were thrown into confusion. The van then fled also, and the English horse returning to the attack, and their infantry pressing forward, the victory was gained with very little trouble. The Scots attempted no farther resistance, and the slaughter was very great, because the river Esk lay between the fugitives and any place of safety. Their loss was excessive. For more than five miles the fields were covered with the dead, and with the spears, shields, and swords, which the flying soldiers had cast away, that they might run the faster. The day was equally disgraceful and disastrous; so that the field of Pinkie, as it was the last great defeat which the Scots received from the English, was also one of the most calamitous. It was fought on 10th September, 1547.

It seemed to be decreed in those unhappy national wars, that the English should often be able to win great victories over the Scots, but that they should never derive any permanent advantage from their successes. The battle of Pinkie, far from paving the way to a marriage between Queen Mary and Edward VI, which was the object of Somerset’s expedition, irritated and alarmed the Scots to such a degree, that they resolved to prevent the possibility of such a union, by marrying their young mistress with the Dauphin, that is, the eldest son of the King of France, and sending her to be bred up at the French court. A hasty assent of the Scottish Parliament was obtained to this, partly by the influence of gold, partly by the appearance of the French soldiers, partly, according to the reformer Knox, by the menaces of the Lord of Buccleuch, whom he describes as “a bloody man, who swore, with many deadly oaths, that they who would not consent should do what they would like worse.”

By the match with France the great object of the English government was rendered unattainable: But the Scots had little occasion for triumph. The union with France, which they so hastily and rashly adopted, brought a new and long series of ruinous consequences upon the country.

Scotland, however, enjoyed the immediate advantages of a considerable auxiliary force of French soldiers, under an officer named D’Esse, who rendered material assistance in recovering several forts and castles which had fallen into the hands of the English after the battle of Pinkie, and in which they had left garrisons. The presence of these armed strangers gave great facilities for carrying into accomplishment the treaty with France. The Regent was gratified by the Dukedom of Chatelherault, conferred on him by the French King, with a considerable pension, in order to induce him to consent to the match. The young Queen was embarked on board the French galleys in July 1548, accompanied by four young ladies of quality of her own age, destined to be her play-fellows in childhood, and her companions when she grew up. They all bore the same name with their mistress, and were called the Queen’s Maries.

The infant Queen being thus transferred to France, her mother, Mary of Guise, the widow of James V., had the address to get herself placed at the head of affairs in Scotland. The Duke of Chatelherault, as we must now term the Earl of Arran, always flexible in his disposition, was prevailed upon to resign the office of Regent, which was occupied by the Queen Dowager, who displayed a considerable degree of wisdom and caution in the administration of the kingdom. Most men wondered at the facility with which the Duke of Chatelherault, himself so near in relation to the throne, had given place to Mary of Guise; but none was so much offended as the duke’s natural brother, who had succeeded Beaton as archbishop of St Andrews. He exclaimed with open indecency against the mean spirit of his brother, who had thus given away the power of Regent, when there was but a “squalling girl” betwixt him and the crown.

The Queen Regent, thus placed in authority, endeavoured to secure herself by diminishing the power of the Scottish nobles, and increasing that of the crown. For this purpose, she proposed that a tax should be levied on the country at large, to pay hired soldiers to fight, instead of trusting the defence of the country to the noblemen and their retainers. This proposal was exceedingly ill received by the Scottish Parliament. “We will fight for our families and our country,” they said, “better than any hirelings can do — Our fathers did so, and we will follow their example.” The Earl of Angus being checked for coming to Parliament with a thousand horse, contrary to a proclamation of the Queen Regent, that none should travel with more than their usual household train, answered jestingly, “That the knaves would not leave him; and that he would be obliged to the Queen, if she could put him on the way of being rid of them, for they consumed his beef and his ale.” She had equally bad success, when she endeavoured to persuade the earl to give her up his strong castle of Tantallon, under pretence of putting a garrison there to defend it against the English. At first he answered indirectly, as if he spoke to a hawk which he held on his wrist, and was feeding at the time, “The devil,” said he, “is in the greedy gled [kite!] Will she never be full?” The Queen, not choosing to take this hint, continued to urge her request about the garrison. “The castle, madam,” he replied, “is yours at command; but, by St Bride of Douglas, I must be the captain, and I will keep it for you as well as any one you will put into it.” The other nobles held similar opinions to those of Angus, and would by no means yield to the proposal of levying any hired troops, who, as they feared, might be employed at the pleasure of the kingdom.

The prevalence of the Protestant doctrines in Scotland strengthened the Scottish nobles in their disposition to make a stand against the Queen Regent’s desire to augment her power. Many great nobles, and a still greater proportion of the smaller barons, had embraced the Reformed opinions; and the preaching of John Knox, a man of great courage, zeal, and talents, made converts daily from the Catholic faith.

The Queen Regent, though herself a zealous Catholic, had for some time tolerated, and even encouraged, the Protestant party, because they supported her interest against that of the Hamiltons; but a course of politics had been adopted in France, by her brothers of the House of Guise, which occasioned her to change her conduct in this respect.

You may remember, that Edward VI of England succeeded by his father Henry. He adopted the Protestant faith, and completed the Reformation which his father began. But he died early, and was succeeded by his sister Mary of England, daughter of Henry VIII by his first wife, Catherine of Arragon, whom he divorced under pretext of scruples of conscience. This Mary endeavoured to bring back the Catholic religion, and enforced the laws against heresy with the utmost rigour. Many persons were burnt in her reign, and hence she has been called the Bloody Queen Mary. She died, however, after a short and unhappy reign, and her sister Elizabeth ascended the throne, with the general assent of all the people of England. The Catholics of foreign countries, however, and particularly those of France, objected to Elizabeth’s title to the crown. Elizabeth was Henry’s daughter by his second wife, Anne Bullen. Now, as the Pope had never consented either to the divorce of Queen Catherine, or to the marriage of Anne Bullen, the Catholic urged, that Elizabeth must be considered as illegitimate, and as having, therefore, no lawful right to succeed to the throne, which, as Henry VIII had no other child, must, they contended, descend upon Queen Mary of Scotland, as the grand-daughter of Margaret, Henry’s sister, wife of James IV. of Scotland, and the next lawful heir, according to their argument, to her deceased grand-uncle.

The court of France, not considering that the English themselves were to be held the best judges of the title of their own Queen, resolved, in an evil hour, to put forward this claim of the Scottish Queen to the English crown. Money was coined, and plate wrought, in which Mary, with her husband Francis the Dauphin, assumed the style, title, and armorial bearings of England, as well as Scotland; and thus laid the first foundation for that deadly hatred between Elizabeth and Mary, which, as you will hear by and by, led to such fatal consequences.

Queen Elizabeth, finding France was disposed to challenge her title to the crown of England, prepared to support it with all the bravery and wisdom of her character. Her first labour was to reestablish the Reformed religion upon the same footing that Edward VI. had assigned to it, and to destroy the Roman Catholic establishments, which her predecessor Mary had endeavoured to replace. As the Catholics of France and Scotland were her natural enemies, and attempted to set up the right of Queen Mary as preferable to her own, so she was sure to find friends in the Protestants of Scotland, who could not fail to entertain respect, and even affection, for a Princess, who was justly regarded as the protectress of the Protestant cause throughout all Europe. When, therefore, these changes took place in England, the Queen Regent, at the instigation of her brothers of the House of Guise, began once more to persecute the Protestants in Scotland; while their leaders turned their eyes to Elizabeth for protection, counsel, and assistance; all of which she was easily disposed to render to a party whose cause rested on the same grounds with her own. Thus, while France made a vain pretence of claiming the kingdom of England in the name of Mary, and appealed for assistance to the English Catholics, Elizabeth far more effectually increased the internal dissensions of Scotland, by espousing the cause of the Protestants of that country.

These Scottish Protestants no longer consisted solely of a few studious or reflecting men, whose indulgence in speculation had led them to adopt peculiar opinions in religion, and who could be dragged before the spiritual courts, fined, imprisoned, plundered, banished, or burnt, at pleasure. The Reformed cause had now been adopted by many of the principal nobility; and being the cause, at once, of rational religion and legitimate freedom, it was generally embraced by those who were most distinguished for wisdom and public spirit.

Among the converts to the Protestant faith, was a natural son of the late King James V., who, being designed for the Church, was at this time called Lord James Stewart, the Prior of St Andrews, but was afterwards better known by the title of the Earl of Murray. He was a young nobleman of great parts, brave and skilful in war, and in peace a lover of justice, and a friend to the liberties of his country. His wisdom, good moral conduct, and the zeal he expressed for the reformed religion, occasioned his being the most active person amongst the Lords of the Congregation, as the leaders of the Protestant party were mow called.

The Queen Regent, more in compliance with the wishes of her brothers than he own inclination, which was gentle and moderate, began the quarrel by commanding the Protestant preachers to be summoned to a court of justice at Stirling, on 10th May, 1559; but such a concourse of friends and favourers attended them, that the Queen was glad to put a stop to the trial, on condition that they should not enter the town. Yet she broke this promise, and had them proclaimed outlaws for not appearing, although they had been stopped by her own command. Both parties then prepared for hostilities; and an incident happened, which heightened their animosity, while it gave to the course of the Reformation a peculiar colour of zealous passion.

The Protestants had made their headquarters at Perth, where they had already commenced the public exercise of their religion. John Knox, whose eloquence gave him great influence with the people, had pronounced a vehement sermon against the sin of idolatry, in which he did not spare those reproached which the Queen Regent deserved for her late breach of faith. When his discourse was finished, and while the minds of the hearers were still agitated by its effects, a friar produced a little glass case, or tabernacle, containing the images of saints, which he required the bystanders to worship. A boy who was present exclaimed, “That was gross and sinful idolatry!” The priest, as incautious in his passion as ill-timed in his devotion, struck the boy a blow; and the lad, in revenge, threw a stone, which broke one of the images. Immediately all the people began to cast stones, not only at the images, but at the fine painted windows, and, finally, pulled down the altars, defaced the ornaments of the church, and nearly destroyed the whole building.

The multitude next resolved to attack the splendid convent of the Carthusians. The prior had prepared for defence his garrison, consisting of the Highland tenants belonging to some lands which the convent possessed in the district of Athole. These men were determined to make the most of the occasion, and demanded of the prior, that since they were asked to expose their lives for the good of the Church, they should be assured, that if they were killed, their families should retain possession of the lands which they themselves enjoyed. The prior impolitically refused their request. They next demanded refreshments and good liquor, to encourage them to fight. But nothing was served out to them by the sordid churchman, excepting salted salmon and thin drink; so that they had neither heart nor will to fight when it came to the push, and made little defence against the multitude, by whom the stately convent was entirely destroyed.

The example of the Reformers in Perth was followed in St Andrews and other places; and we have to regret that many beautiful buildings fell a sacrifice to the fury of the lower orders, and were either totally destroyed, or reduced to piles of shapeless ruins.

The Reformers of the better class did not countenance these extremities, although the common people had some reason for the line of violence they pursued, besides their own natural inclination to tumultuary proceedings. One great point in which the Catholics and Protestants differed was, that the former reckoned the churches as places hallowed and sacred in their own character, which it was a highly meritorious duty to ornament and adorn with every species of studied beauty of architecture. The Scottish Protestants, on the contrary, regarded them as mere buildings of stone and lime, having no especial claim to respect when the divine service was finished. The defacing, therefore, and even destroying, the splendid Catholic churches, seemed to the early Reformers the readiest mode of testifying their zeal against the superstitions of Popery. There was a degree of policy in pulling down the abbeys and monasteries, with the cells and lodgings made for the accommodation of the monks. “The true way to banish the rooks,” said John Knox, “is to pull down their nests, and the rooks will fly off.” But this maxim did not apply to the buildings used for public worship. Respecting these at least, it would have been better to have followed the example of the citizens of Glasgow, who drew out in arms, when the multitude were about to destroy the High Church of that city, and, while they agreed with the more zealous in removing all the emblems of Popish worship, insisted that the building itself should remain uninjured, and be applied to the uses of a Protestant church.

On the whole, however, though many fine buildings were destroyed in Scotland, in the first fury of the Reformation, it is better that the country should have lost these ornaments, than they should have been preserved entire, with the retention of the corrupt and superstitious doctrines which had been taught in them.

The demolition of the churched and sacred buildings augmented the Queen Regent’s displeasure against the Lords of the Congregation, and at length both parties took the field. The Protestant nobles were at the head of their numerous followers; the Queen chiefly relied upon a small but select body of French troops. The war was not very violently carried on, for the side of the Reformers became every day stronger. The Duke of Castelherault, the first nobleman in Scotland, a second time espoused the cause of the Congregation; and Maitland of Lethington, one of the wisest statesmen in the kingdom, took the same course. At the same time, although the Lords found it easy to bring together large bodies of men, yet they had not the money or means necessary to keep them together for a long time, while the French veteran soldiers were always ready to take advantage when the Reformed leaders were obliged to diminish their forces. Their difficulties became greater when the Queen Regent showed her design to fortify strongly the town of Leith and the adjacent island of Inch–Keith, and placed her French soldiers in garrison there; so that, being in possession of that seaport, she might at all times, when she saw occasion, introduce an additional number of foreigners.

•@Unskilled in the art of conducting sieges, and totally without money, the Lords of the Congregation had recourse to the assistance of England: and for the first time an English fleet and army approached the territories of Scotland by sea and land, not with the purpose of invasion, as used to be the case of old, but to assist the nation in its resistance to the arms of France, and the religion of Rome.

The English army was soon joined by the Scottish Lords of the Congregation, and advancing to Leith, laid siege to the town, which was most valorously defended by the French soldiers, who displayed a degree of ingenuity in their defence which for a long time resisted every effort of the besiegers. They were, however, blockaded by the English fleet, so that no provisions could be received by sea; and as on land they were surrounded by a considerable army, provisions became so scarce, that they were obliged to feed upon horse-flesh.

In the mean time, their mistress, the Queen Regent, had retired into the castle of Edinburgh, where grief, fatigue, and disappointed expectations, threw her into an illness, of which she died on 10th of June, 1560. The French troops in Leith were now reduced to extremity, and Francis and Mary determined upon making peace in Scotland at the expense of most important concessions to the Reformed party. All foreign troops, on both sides, were to be withdrawn accordingly.

England, and especially Queen Elizabeth, gained a great point by this treaty, for it recognized, in express terms, the title of that Princess to the throne of England; and Francis and Mary bound themselves to lay aside all claim to that kingdom, together with the arms and emblems of English sovereignty which they had assumed and borne.

The parliament of Scotland being assembled, it was soon seen that the Reformers possessed the power and inclination to direct all its resolutions upon the subject of religion. They condemned unanimously the whole fabric of Popery, and adopted, instead of the doctrines of the Church of Rome, the tenets contained in a confession, or avowal, of Faith, drawn up by the most popular of the Protestant divines. Thus the whole religious constitution of the Church was at once altered.

There was one particular in which the Scottish reformers greatly differed from those of England. The English monarch, who abolished the power of the Pope, had established that of the crown as the visible Head of the Church of England. The meaning of this phrase is, not that the King has the power of altering the religious doctrines of the church, but only that he should be the chief of the government in church affairs, as he was always in those of the State. On the contrary, the Reformed ministers of Scotland renounced the authority of any interference of the civil magistrate, whether subject or sovereign, in the affairs of the Church, declaring it should be under the exclusive direction of a court of delegates chosen from its own members, assisted by a certain number of the laity, forming what is called a General Assembly of the Church. The Scottish Reformers disclaimed also the division of the clergy into the various ranks of bishops, deans, prebendaries, and other classes of the clerical order. They discarded this subordination of ranks, though retained in the English Protestant Church, maintaining that each clergyman intrusted with a charge of souls was upon a level in every respect with the rest of his brethren. They reprobated, in particular, the order of bishop, as holding a place in the National Council, or Parliament; and asserted, that meddling in secular affairs was in itself improper for their office, and naturally led to the usurpation over men’s consciences, which had been the chief abomination of the Church of Rome. The laity of Scotland, and particularly the great nobility, saw with pleasure the readiness of the ministers to resign all those pretensions to worldly rank and consequence, which had been insisted upon by the Roman Catholic clergy, and made their self-denying abjuration of titles and worldly business a reason for limiting the subsistence which they were to derive from the funds of the Church, to the smallest possible sum of annual stipend, whilst they appropriated the rest to themselves without scruple.

It remained to dispose of the wealth lately enjoyed by the Catholic clergy, who were supposed to be possessed of half of the revenue of Scotland, so far as it arose from land. Knox and the other Reformed clergy had formed a plan for the decent maintenance of a National Church out of these extensive funds, and proposed, that what might be deemed more than sufficient for this purpose should be expended upon hospitals, schools, universities, and places of education. But the Lords, who had seized the revenues of the church, were determined not to part with the spoil they had obtained; and those whom the preachers had found most active in destroying Popery, were wonderfully cold when it was proposed to them to surrender the lands they had seized upon for their own use. The plan of John Knox was, they said, a “devout imagination,” a visionary scheme, which showed the goodness of the preacher’s intentions, but which it was impossible to carry into practice. In short, they retained by force the greater part of the church revenues for their own advantage.

When Francis and Mary, who had now become King and Queen of France, heard that the Scottish Parliament had totally altered the religion, and changed the forms of the National Church from Catholic to Protestant, they were extremely angry; and had the King lived, it is most likely they would have refused to consent to this great innovation, and preferred rekindling the war by sending a new army of French into Scotland. But if they meditated such a measure, it was entirely prevented by the death of Francis II., on the 5th of December, 1560.

During her husband’s life, Mary had exercised a great authority in France, for she possessed unbounded influence over his mind. After his death, and the accession of Charles his brother, that influence and authority were totally ended. It must have been painful to a lofty mind like Mary’s thus to endure coldness and neglect in the place where she had met with honour and obedience. She retired, therefore, from the Court of France, and determined to return to her native kingdom of Scotland; a resolution most natural in itself, but which became the introduction to a long and melancholy tale of misfortunes.

Chapter 30

Mary Stewart, the Queen Dowager of France and hereditary Queen of Scotland, was without any exception, the most beautiful and accomplished woman of her time. Her countenance was lovely; she was tall, well-formed, elegant in all her motions, skilled in the exercises of riding and dancing, and possessed of all the female accomplishments which were in fashion at that period. Her education in France had been carefully attended to, and she had profited by the opportunities of instruction she enjoyed. She was mistress of several languages, and understood state-affairs, in which her husband had often used her advice. The beauty of Mary was enhanced by her great condescension, and by the good-humour and gaiety which she sometimes carried to the verge of excess. Her youth, for she was only eighteen when she returned to Scotland, increased the liveliness of her disposition. The Catholic religion, in which she had been strictly educated, was a great blemish in the eyes of her people; but on the whole the nation expected her return with more hope and joy, than Mary herself entertained at the thought of exchanging the fine climate of France and the gaieties of its court, for the rough tempests and turbulent politics of her native country.

Mary set sail from France 15th August, 1561. The English fleet were at sea, and there is great reason to believe that they had a purpose of intercepting the Queen of Scots, as a neighbour whose return was dreaded by Elizabeth. Occupied with anxious forebodings, the Queen remained on the deck of her galley, gazing on the coasts of France. Morning found her in the same occupation; and when they vanished from her eyes, she exclaimed in sorrow, “Farewell, farewell, happy France; I shall never see thee more!”

She passed the English fleet under cover of a mist, and arrived at Leith on the 19th August, where little or no preparation had been made for her honourable reception. Such of the nobles as were in the capital hastened, however, to wait upon their young Queen, and convey her to Holyrood, the palace of her ancestors. Horses were provided to bring her and her train to Edinburgh; but they were wretched ponies, and had such tattered furniture and accoutrements, that poor Mary, when she thought of the splendid palfreys and rich appointments at the court of France, could not forbear shedding tears. The people were, however, in their way, rejoiced to see her; and about two hundred citizens of Edinburgh, each doing his best upon a three-stringed fiddle, played under her window all night, by way of welcome — a noisy serenade, which deprived her of sleep after her fatigue. She took it as it was meant, nevertheless, and expressed her thanks to the perpetrators of this mistuned and mistimed concert. Mary had immediately after her arrival a specimen of the religious zeal of her Reformed subjects. She had ordered mass to be performed by a Popish ecclesiastic in her own chapel, but the popular indignation was so much excited, that but for the interference of her natural brother, the Prior of St. Andrews, the priest would have been murdered on his own altar.

Mary behaved with admirable prudence at this early period of her reign. She enchanted the common people by her grace and condescension, and while she sate in council, usually employed in some female work, she gained credit for her wisdom among the statesmen whom she consulted. She was cautious of attempting any thing contrary to the religion of her subjects, though different from her own; and using the assistance of the Prior of St. Andrews, and of the sagacious Maitland, she made a rapid progress in the affections of her people. She conferred on the Prior of St. Andrews, ho had given up thoughts of the church, the title and the earldom of Mar, which had been frequently bestowed on branches of the royal family.

With similar prudence, the Queen maintained all the usual intercourse of civility with Elizabeth; and while she refused to abandon her title to the crown of England, in the case of Elizabeth dying without heirs of her body, she expressed her anxious wish to live on the best terms with her sister sovereign, and her readiness to relinquish, during the life of the English Queen, any right of inheritance to the English crown which she might possess to her prejudice. Elizabeth was silenced, if not satisfied; and there continued to be a constant communication of apparent friendship between the two sovereigns, and an exchange of letters, compliments, and occasionally of presents, becoming their rank, with much profession of mutual kindness.

But there was one important class of persons to whom Mary’s form of religion was so obnoxious, that they could not be gained to any favourable thoughts of her. These were the preachers of the Reformed faith, who, recollecting Mary’s descent from the family of Guise, always hostile to the Protestant cause, exclaimed against the Queen even in the pulpit, with an indecent violent unfitting that place, and never spoke of her but as one hardened in resistance to the voice of true Christian instruction. John Knox himself introduced such severe expressions into his sermons, that Queen Mary condescended to expostulate with him personally, and to exhort him to use more mild language in the discharge of his duty. Nevertheless, though the language of these rough Reformers was impolitic, as tending unnecessarily to increase the Queen’s dislike of them and their form of religion, it must be owned that their suspicions of Mary’s sincerity were natural, and in all probability well founded. The Queen uniformly declined to ratify the religious system adopted by the Parliament in 1560, or the confiscation of the church lands. She always seemed to consider the present state of things as a temporary arrangement, to which she was indeed willing to submit for the present, but with the reservation, that it should be subjected to alterations when there was opportunity for them. Her brother, the newly created Earl of Mar, however, who was at this time her principal counsellor, and her best friend, used his influence with the Protestant clergy in her behalf, and some coldness arose between him and John Knox, on the subject, which continued for more than a year.

The first troublesome affair in Queen Mary’s reign seems to have arisen from her attachment to this brother and his interest. She had created him Earl of Mar, as we have said; but it was her purpose to confer on him, instead of this title, that of Earl of Murray, and with it great part of the large estates belonging to that northern earldom, which had become vested in the crown after the extinction of the heirs of the celebrated Thomas Randolph, who enjoyed it in the reign of the great Robert Bruce. The earldom of Murray had afterwards been held by a brother of the Earl of Douglas, but had again been forfeited to the crown on the fall of that great family in James the Second’s time.

This exchange, however, could not be made, without giving offence to the Earl of Huntly, often mentioned as head of the most powerful family in the North, who had possessed himself of a considerable part of those domains which had belonged to the earldom of Murray. This Earl of Huntly was a brave man, and possessed of very great power in the Northern counties. He was one of the few remaining peers who continued attached to the Catholic religion, and, after the family of Hamilton, was the nearest in connexion to the royal family

It was believed, that if the Queen, instead of coming to Leith, had chosen to have landed at Aberdeen, and declared herself determined to reinstate the Catholic religion, the earl had offered to join her with twenty thousand men for accomplishing that purpose. Mary, however, had declined his proposal, which must have had the immediate consequence of producing a great civil war. The Earl of Huntly was, therefore, considered as hostile to the present government, and to the Earl of Mar, who had the principal management of affairs; and it was to be supposed, that possessed as Huntly was of great power, and a very numerous body of dependents and retainers, he would not willingly surrender to his political enemy any part of the domains which he possessed belonging to the earldom of Murray.

The Earl of Mar was, on his part, determined to break the strength of this great opponent; and Queen Mary, who appears also to have feared Huntly’s power, and the use which he seemed disposed to make of it, undertook a personal journey to the North of Scotland, to enforce obedience to her commands. About the same time, Sir John Gordon, the Earl of Huntly’s son, committed some feudal outrage, for which he was sentenced to temporary confinement. This punishment, though slight, was felt as another mark of disfavour to the house of Gordon, and increased the probability of their meditating resistance. It is difficult, or rather impossible, to say whether there were good grounds for suspecting Huntly of entertaining serious views to take arms against the Crown. But his conduct was, to say the least, incautious and suspicious.

The young Queen advanced northward at the head of a small army, encamping in the fields, or accepting such miserable lodgings as the houses of the smaller gentry afforded. It was, however, a scene which awake her natural courage, and, marching at the head of her soldiery, such was her spirit, that she publicly wished she had been a man, to sleep all night in the fields, and to walk armed with a jack and skull-cap of steel, a good Glasgow buckler at her back, and a broadsword by her side.

Huntly seems to have been surprised by the arrival of his sovereign, and undecided what to do. While he made all offers of submission, and endeavoured to prevail on the Queen to visit his house as that of a dutiful subject, a party of his followers refused her admission into the royal castle of Inverness, and attempted to defend that fortress against her. They were, however, compelled to surrender, and the governor was executed for treason.

Mean time, Sir John Gordon escaped from the prison to which the Queen had sentenced him, and placed himself at the head of vassals of his house, who were now rising in every direction; while his father, the Earl of Huntly, considering the Queen as guided entirely by his enemy, the Earl of Mar, at length assumed arms in person.

Huntly easily assembled a considerable host, and advanced towards Aberdeen. The purpose of his enterprise was, perhaps, such as Buccleuch had entertained at the field of Melrose, — an attack rather upon the Queen’s counsellors than on her person. But her brother, who had now exchanged his title of Mar for that Murray, was as brave and as successful as Angus upon the former occasion, with the advantage, that he enjoyed the confidence of his sovereign. He was, however, in a state of great difficulty. The men on whom he could with certainty rely were few, being only those whom he had brought from the midland counties. He summoned, indeed, the northern barons in his neighbourhood, and they came; but with doubtful intentions, full of awe for the house of Gordon, and probably with the private resolution of being guided by circumstances.

Murray, who was an excellent soldier, drew up the men he could trust on an eminence called the hill of Fare, near Corrichie. He did not allow the northern clans to mix their doubtful succours with this resolute battalion, and the event showed the wisdom of his precaution. Huntly approached, and encountered the northern troops, his allies and neighbours, who offered little or no resistance. They fled tumultuously towards Murray’s main body, pursued by the Gordons, who threw away their spears, drew their swords, and advanced in disorder, as to an assured victory. In this tumult they encountered the resistance of Murray’s firm batallion of spearmen, who received the attack in close order, and with determined resolution. The Gordons were repulsed in their turn; and those clans who had before fled, seeing they were about to lose the day, returned with sprigs of heather in their caps, which they used to distinguish them, fell upon the Gordons, and completed Murray’s victory. Huntly, a bulky man, and heavily armed, fell from horseback in the flight, and was trodden to death, or, as others say, died afterwards of a broken heart. This battle was fought 28th October, 1562. The body of Huntly, a man lately esteemed one of the bravest, wisest, and most powerful in Scotland, was afterwards brought into a court of justice, meanly arrayed in a doublet of coarse canvass, that the sentence of a traitor might be pronounced over the senseless corpse.

Sir John Gordon, the son of the vanquished Earl, was beheaded at Aberdeen, three days after the battle. Murray was placed in possession of the estates belonging to his new earldom, and the Queen returned, after having struck general terror into the minds of such barons as might be thought refractory, by the activity of her measures, and the success of her arms.

Thus far the reign of Mary had been eminently prosperous; but a fatal crisis approached, which was eventually to plunge her into the utmost misery. She had no children by her deceased husband, the King of France, and her subjects were desirous that she should marry a second husband, a purpose which she herself entertained and encouraged. It was necessary, or politic at least, to consult Queen Elizabeth on the subject. That Princess had declared her own resolution never to marry, and if she should keep this determination, Mary of Scotland was the next heir to the English crown. In expectation of this rich and splendid inheritance, it was both prudent and natural, that in forming a new marriage, Mary should desire to have the advice and approbation of the Princess to whose realm she or her children might hope to succeed, especially if she could retain her favour.

Elizabeth of England was one of the wisest and most sagacious Queen that ever wore a crown, and the English to this day cherish her memory with well-deserved respect and attachment. But her conduct towards her kinswoman Mary, from beginning to end, indicated a degree of envy and deceit totally unworthy of her general character. Determined herself not to marry, it seems to have been Elizabeth’s desire to prevent Mary also from doing so, lest she should see before her a lineage, no her own, ready to occupy her throne immediately after her death. She therefore adopted a mean and shuffling policy, recommending one match after another to her kinswoman, but throwing in obstacles whenever any of them seemed likely to take place. At first she appeared desirous that Mary should marry the Earl of Leicester, a nobleman whom, though by no means distinguished by talents or character, she herself admired so much for his personal beauty, as to say, that except for her vow never to marry, she would have chosen him for her own husband. It may be readily believed, that she had no design such a match as she hinted at should ever take place, and that if Mary had expressed any readiness to accept of Leicester, Elizabeth would have found ready means to break off the marriage.

This proposal, however, was not at all agreeable to Queen Mary. Leicester, if his personal merit had been much greater, was of too low a rank to pretend to the hand of a Queen of Scotland, and Queen Dowager of France, to whom the most powerful monarchs in Europe were at the same time paying suit.

The Archduke Charles, third son of the Emperor of Germany, was proposed on one side; the hereditary Prince of Spain was offered on another; the Duke of Anjou, who became afterwards Henry II of France, also presented himself. But if Mary had accepted the hand of a foreign prince, she would in so doing have resigned her chance of succeeding to the English crown: nay, considering the jealousy of her Protestant subjects, she might have endangered her possession of that of Scotland. She was so much impressed by these considerations, that she went so far as to intimate that she might consent to the match with the Earl of Leicester, provided that Elizabeth would recognise her as next heir to the English crown, in case of her own decease without children. This, however, did not suit Elizabeth’s policy. She did not desire Mary to be wedded to any one, far less to Leicester, her own personal favourite; and was therefore extremely unlikely to declare her sentiments upon the succession (a subject on which she always observed the most mysterious silence), in order to bring about the union of her rival with the man she herself preferred.

Mean time, the vies of Queen Mary turned towards a young nobleman of high birth, nearly connected both with her own family and that of Elizabeth. This was Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, eldest son of the Earl of Lennox. You may recollect, that after the battle of Flodden, the Earl of Angus married the Queen Dowager of Scotland; and, in the tumults which followed, was compelled to retire for a season to London. While Angus resided in England, his wife fore him a daughter, called Lady Margaret Douglas, who, when her parents returned to Scotland, continued to remain at the English court, under the protection of her uncle, King Henry. Again you must remember, that during the regency of the Duke of Chatelherault, the Earl of Lennox attempted to place himself at the head of the English party in Scotland; but his efforts failing through want of power or of conduct, he also was compelled to retire to England, where Henry VIII, in acknowledgment of his niece, Lady Margaret Douglas, who, in right of her mother Margaret, had a claim of inheritance to the English crown.

The young Lord Darnley’s father being of such high rank, and his parents having such pretensions, Mary imagined that in marrying him she would gratify the wishes of Elizabeth, who seemed to point out, though ambiguously, a native of Britain, and one not of royal rank, as her safest choice, and as that which would be most agreeable to herself. Elizabeth seemed to receive the proposal favourably, and suffered the young man, and his father Lennox, to visit the court of Scotland, in the hope that their presence might embroil matters farther; and thinking that, in case the match should be likely to take place, she might easily break it off by recalling them as her subjects; a command which she supposed they would not dare to disobey, as enjoying all their lands and means of living in England.

Young Darnley was remarkably tall and handsome, perfect in all external and showy accomplishments, but unhappily destitute of sagacity, prudence, steadiness of character, and exhibiting only doubtful courage, though extremely violent in his passions. Had this young man possessed a very moderate portion of sense, or even of gratitude, we might have had a different story to tell of Mary’s reign — as it was, you will hear a very melancholy one. Mary had the misfortune to look upon this young nobleman with partiality, and was the more willing to gratify her own inclinations in his favour, that she longed to put an end to the intrigues by which Queen Elizabeth had endeavoured to impose upon her, and prevent her marriage. Indeed, while the two Queens used towards each other the language of the most affectionate cordiality, there was betwixt them neither plain dealing nor upright meaning, but great dissimulation, envy, and fear.

Darnley, in the mean time, endeavouring to strengthen the interest which he had acquired in the Queen’s affections, had recourse to the friendship of a man, of low rank, indeed, but who was understood to possess particular influence over the mind of Mary. This was an Italian of humble origin, called David Rizzio, who had been promoted from being a menial in the Queen’s family, to the confidential office of French secretary. His talents for music gave him frequent admission to Mary’s presence, as she delighted in that art; and his address, and arts of insinuation, gained him a considerable influence over her mind. It was almost necessary that the Queen should have near her person some confidential officer, skilled at once in languages and in business, through whom she might communicate with foreign states, and with her friends in France in particular. No such agent was likely to be found in Scotland, unless she had chosen a Catholic priest, which would have given more offence to her Protestant subjects, than even the elevation of this person, a stranger, a Catholic, and a man of mean origin, to the rank of a minister of the crown — and, yet more, the personal familiarity to which the queen condescended to admit him, and the airs of importance which this low-born foreigner pretended to assume, became the subject of offence to the proud Scottish nobles, and of vulgar scandal among the common people.

Darnley, anxious to strengthen his interest with the Queen on every hand, formed an intimacy with Rizzio, who employed all the arts of flattery and observance to gain possession of his favour, and unquestionably was serviceable to him in advancing his suit. The Queen, in the mean while, exerted herself to remove the obstacles to her union with Darnley, and with such success, that, with the approbation of far the greater part of her subjects, they were married at Edinburgh on the 29th July, 1565.

Chapter 31

When Elizabeth received news that this union was determined upon, she gave way to all the weakness of an envious woman. She remonstrated against the match, though, in fact, Mary could scarcely have made a choice less dangerous to England. She called Lennox and his son Darnley from Scotland — a mandate which they refused, or delayed, to obey. She committed the Countess of Lennox, the only one of the family within her reach, a prisoner to the Tower of London. Above all, she endeavoured to disturb the peace of Scotland, by stirring up to insurrection those among the Scottish nobility to whom the match with Darnley was distasteful.

The Queen’s brother, the Earl of Murray, was by far the most able and powerful of those who were displeased by Mary’s marriage. Darnley and he were personal enemies; and besides, Murray was the principal of the Lords of the Congregation, who affected to see danger to the Protestant religion in Mary’s choice of Darnley for a husband, and in the disunion which it was likely to create betwixt Scotland and England. Murray even laid a plan to intercept Darnley, seize his person, and either put him to death, or send him prisoner to England. a body of horse was for this purpose stationed at a pass under the hill of Bennartey, near Kinross, called the Parrot-well, to intercept the Queen and Darnley as they returned from a Convention of Estates held at Perth; and they only escaped the danger by a hasty march, commenced early in the morning.

After the marriage, Murray and his confederates, who were the Duke of Chatelherault, Glencairn, Argyle, Rothes, and others, actually took up arms. The Queen, in this emergency, assembled her subjects around her. They came in such numbers as showed her popularity. Darnley rode at their head in gilded armour, accompanied by the Queen herself, having loaded pistols at her saddle-bow. Unable to stand their ground, Murray and his accomplices eluded the pursuit of the royal army, and made a sudden march on Edinburgh, where they hoped to find friends. But the citizens not adopting their cause, and the castle threatening to fire on them, the insurgents were compelled to retreat, first to Hamilton, then to Dumfries, until they finally disbanded their forces in despair, and the leaders fled into England. Thus ended an insurrection, which, from the hasty and uncertain manner in which the conspirators posted from one part of the kingdom to another, obtained the popular name of the Run-about Raid (or ride).

Elizabeth, who had encouraged Murray and his associates to rise against Mary, was by no means desirous to have the discredit of having done so, when she saw their attempt was unsuccessful. She caused Murray and the Abbot of Kilwinning to appear before her in presence of the ambassadors of France and Spain, who, interfering in Mary’s behalf, had accused Elizabeth of fomenting the Scottish disturbances. “How say you,” she exclaimed, “my Lord of Murray, and you his companion? Have you had advice or encouragement from me in your late undertaking?” The exiles, afraid to tell the truth, were contented to say, however falsely, that they had received no advice or assistance at her hands. “There you indeed speak truth,” replied Elizabeth; “for neither did I, nor any in my name, stir you up against your Queen; your abominable treason may serve for example to my own subjects to rebel against me. Therefore get out of my presence; you are but unworthy traitors!” Mortified and disgraced, Murray and his companions again retired to the Border, where Queen Elizabeth, notwithstanding her pretended resentment, allowed them privately means of support, until times should permit them to return into Scotland, and renew disturbances there.

Mary had thus overcome her refractory subjects, but she soon found that she had a more formidable enemy in the foolish and passionate husband whom she had chosen. This headstrong young man behaved to his wife with great disrespect, both as a woman and as a queen, and habitually indulged himself in intoxication, and other disgraceful vices. Although already possessed of more power than fitted his capacity or age, for he was but nineteen, he was importunate in his demands for obtaining what was called in Scotland the Crown Matrimonial; that is, the full equality of royal right in the crown with his consort. Until he obtained this eminence he was not held to be King, though called so in courtesy. He was only the husband of the Queen.

This crown matrimonial had been bestowed on Mary’s first husband, Francis, and Darnley was determined to be possessed of the same rank. But Mary, whose bounty had already far exceeded his deserts, as well as his gratitude, was resolved not to make this last concession, at least without the advice and consent of the Parliament.

The childish impatience of Darnley made him regard with mortal hatred whatever interfered with the instant execution of his wishes; and his animosity on this occasion turned against the Italian secretary, once his friend, but whom he now esteemed his deadly foe, because he supposed that Rizzio encouraged the Queen in resisting his hasty ambition. His resentment against the unhappy stranger arose to such a height, that he threatened to poniard him with his own hand; and as Rizzio had many enemies, and no friend save his mistress, Darnley easily procured instruments, and those of no mean rank, to take the execution of his revenge on themselves.

The chief of Darnley’s accomplices, on this unhappy occasion, was James Douglas, Earl of Morton, chancellor of the kingdom, tutor and uncle to the Earl of Angus (who chanced then to be a minor), and administrator, therefore, of all the power of the great house of Douglas. He was a nobleman of high military talent and political wisdom; but although a pretender to sanctity of life, his actions show him to have been a wicked and unscrupulous man. Although chancellor of the kingdom, and therefore bound peculiarly to respect the laws, he did not hesitate to enter into the young King’s cruel and unlawful purpose. Lord Ruthven, a man whose frame was exhausted by illness, nevertheless undertook to buckle on his armour for the enterprise; and they had no difficulty in finding other agents.

It would have been easy to have seized of Rizzio, and disposed of him as the Scottish peers at the bridge of Lauder used the favourites of James III. But this would not have accomplished the revenge of Darnley, who complained that the Queen showed this mean Italian more civility than she did to himself, and therefore took the barbarous resolution of seizing him in her very presence. This plan was the more atrocious, as Mary was at this time with child; and the alarm of agitation which such an act of violence was likely to produce, might endanger her life, or that of her unborn offspring.

While this savage plot was forming, Rizzio received several hints of what was likely to happen. Sir James Melville was at pains to explain to him the danger that was incurred by a stranger in any country, who rose so high in the favour of the prince, as to excite the disgust of the natives of the land. A French priest, who was something of an astrologer, warned the secretary to beware of a bastard. To such counsels, he replied, “that the Scots were more given to threaten than to stride; and as for the bastard (by whom he supposed the Earl of Murray to be meant), he would take care that he should never possess power enough in Scotland to do him any harm.” Thus securely confident, he continued at court, to abide his fate.

Those lords who engaged in the conspiracy did not agree to gratify Darnley’s resentment against Rizzio for nothing. They stipulated, as the price of their assistance, that he should in turn aid them in obtaining pardon and restoration to favour for Murray, and his accomplices in the Run-about Raid; and intimation was despatched to these noblemen, apprizing them of the whole undertaking, and desiring them to be at Edinburgh on the night appointed for doing the deed.

Queen Mary, like her father, James V, was fond of laying aside the state of a sovereign, and indulging in small private parties, quiet, as she as she termed them, and merry. On these occasions, she admitted her favourite domestics to her table, and and Rizzio seems frequently to have had that honour. On the 9th of March, 1566, six persons had partaken of supper in a small cabinet adjoining to the Queen’s bedchamber, and having no entrance save through it. Rizzio was of the number. About seven in the evening, the gates of the palace were occupied by Morton, with a party of two hundred men; and a select band of the conspirators, headed by Darnley himself, came into the Queen’s apartment by a secret staircase. Darnley first entered the cabinet, and stood for an instant in silence, gloomily eyeing his victim. Lord Ruthven followed in complete armour, looking pale and ghastly, as one scarcely recovered from long sickness. Others crowded in after them, till the little closet was full of armed men. While the Queen demanded the purpose of their coming, Rizzio, who saw that his life was aimed at, got behind her, and clasped the folds of her gown, that the respect due to her person might protect him. The assassins threw down the table, and seized on the unfortunate object of their vengeance, while Darnley himself took hold of the Queen, and forced Rizzio and her asunder. It was their intention, doubtless, to have dragged Rizzio out of Mary’s presence, and to have killed him elsewhere; but their fierce impatience hurried them into instant murder. George Douglas, called the postulate of Arbroath, a natural brother of the Earl of Morton, set the example, by snatching Darnley’s dagger from his belt, and striking Rizzio with it. He received many other blows. They dragged him through the bedroom and antechamber, and despatched him at the head of the staircase, with no less than fifty-six wounds. Ruthven, after all was over, fatigued with his exertions, sate down in the Queen’s presence, and, begging her pardon for the liberty, called for a drink to refresh him, as if he had been doing the most harmless thing in the world.

The witnesses, the actors, and the scene of this cruel tragedy, render it one of the most extraordinary which history records. The cabinet and the bedroom still remain in the same condition in which they were at the time; and the floor near the head of the stair bears visible marks of the blood of the unhappy Rizzio. The Queen continued to beg his his life with prayers and tears; but when she learned that he was dead, she dried her tears. —— “I will now,” she said, “study revenge.”

The conspirators, who had committed the cruel action entirely or chiefly to gratify Darnley, reckoned themselves, of course, secure of his protection. They united themselves with Murray and his associates, who were just returned from England according to the appointment, and agreed upon a course of joint measure. The Queen, it was agreed, should be put under restraint in Edinburgh castle, or elsewhere; and Murray and Morton were to rule the state under the name of Darnley, who was to obtain the crown matrimonial, which he had so anxiously desired. But all this scheme was ruined by the defection of Darnley himself. As fickle as was vehement, and as timorous as he had shown himself cruel, Rizzio was no sooner slain than Darnley became terrified at what had been done, and seemed much disposed to deny having given any authority for the crime.

Finding her weak-minded husband in a state between remorse and fear, Mary prevailed on him to take part against the very persons whom he had instigated to the late atrocious proceeding. Darnley and Mary escaped together out of Holyrood-house, and fled to Dunbar, where the Queen issued a proclamation which soon drew many faithful followers around her. It was now the turn of the conspirators to tremble. That the Queen’s conquest over them might be more certain, she pardoned the Earl of Murray, and those concerned in the Run-about Raid, as guilty of more venial offences than the assassins of Rizzio; and thus Murray, Glencairn, and others, were received into favour, while Morton, Ruthven, and his comrades, fled in their turn to England. No Scottish subject, whatever his crime, could take refuge there without finding secret support, if not an open welcome. Such was Elizabeth’s constant policy.

Queen Mary was now once more in possession of authority, but much disturbed and vexed by the silly conduct of her husband, who absurdities and insolences were not abated by the consequences of Rizzio’s death; so that the royal pair continued to be upon the worst terms with each other, though disguised under a species of reconciliation.

On the 19th of June, 1566, Mary was delivered of a son, afterwards James VI. When news of this even reached London, Queen Elizabeth was merrily engaged in dancing; but upon hearing what had happened, she left the dance, and sate down, leaning her head on her hand, and exclaiming passionately to her ladies, “Do you not hear how the Queen of Scots is mother of a fair son, while I am but barren stock!” But next morning she had recovered herself sufficiently to maintain her usual appearance of outward civility, received the Scottish ambassador with much seeming favour, and accepted with thanks the office of god-mother to the young Prince, which he proffered to her in the Queen Mary’s name.

After a splendid solemnity at christening the heir of Scotland, Queen Mary seems to have turned her mind towards settling the disorders of her nobility; and, sacrificing her own justifiable resentment, she yielded so far as to grant pardon to all those concerned in the murder of Rizzio. Two men of low rank, and no more, had been executed for that crime. Lord Ruthven, the principal actor, had died in England, taking and writing as composedly of “the slaughter of David,” as if it had been the most indifferent, if not meritorious, action possible. George Douglas, who struck the first blow, and Ker of Faldonside, another ruffian who offered his pistol at the Queen’s bosom in the fray, were exempted from the general pardon. Morton and all the others were permitted to return, to plan new treasons and murders.

We are now come, my dear child, to a very difficult period in history. The subsequent events, in the reign of Queen Mary, are well known; but neither the names of the principal agents in those events, nor the motives upon which they acted, are at all agreed upon by historians. It has, in particular, been warmly disputed, and will probably long continue to be so, how far Queen Mary is to be considered as a voluntary party or actor in the tragical and criminal events of which I am about to tell you; or how far, being innocent of any foreknowledge of these violent actions, she was an innocent victim of the villany of others. Leaving you, my dear child, when you come to a more advanced age, to study this historical point for yourself, I shall endeavour to give you an outline of the facts, as they are admitted and proved on all sides.

James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, a man in middle age, had for several years played a conspicuous part in those troubled times. He had sided with the Queen Regent against the Reformed party, and was in general supposed to be attached rather to the reigning Queen, than to any of the factions who opposed her. He was head of the powerful family of Hepburn, and possessed great influence in East–Lothian and Berwickshire, where excellent soldiers could always be obtained. In his morals Bothwell was wild and licentious, irregular and daring in his ambition; and although his history does not show many instances of personal courage, yet in his early life he had the reputation of possessing it. He had been in danger on the occasion of Rizzio’s murder, being supposed, from his regard for the Queen, to have been desirous of preventing that cruel insult to her person and authority. As this nobleman displayed great zeal for Mary’s cause, she was naturally led to advance him at court, until many persons, and particularly the preachers of the Reformed religion, thought that she admitted to too great intimacy a man of so fierce and profligate a character; and a numerous part among her subjects accused the Queen as being fonder of Bothwell than she ought to have been, he being a married man, and herself a married woman.

A thoughtless action of Mary’s seemed to confirm this suspicion. Bothwell, among other offices of authority, held that of Lord Warden of all the Marches, and was residing at the castle of Hermitage, a royal fortress which belonged to that office, in order to suppress some disorders on the Border. In October 1566, attempting with his own hand to seize a Border freebooter called John Elliot of the Park, he was severely wounded in the hand. That Queen, who was then at Jedburgh holding a court of justice, hastened through woods, morasses, and waters, to pay a visit to the wounded warden; and though the distance was twenty English miles, she went and returned from Hermitage castle in the same day. This excursion might arise solely from Mary’s desire to learn the cause and particulars of a great outrage on her lieutenant; but all those who wished ill to her, who were a numerous body, represented it as expressing her anxiety for the safety of her lover.

In the mean time, the dissension between Darnley and the Queen continued to increase; and while he must have been disliked by Mary from their numerous quarrels, and the affronts he put upon her, as well as from his share in the murder of Rizzio, those who had been concerned with him in that last crime, considered him as a poor mean-spirited wretch, who, having engaged his associates in so daring an act, had afterwards betrayed and deserted them. His latter conduct showed no improvement in either sense or spirit. He pretended he would leave the kingdom, and by this and other capricious resolutions, hastily adopted and abandoned, he so far alienated the affections of the Queen, that many of the unscrupulous and plotting nobles by whom she was surrounded, formed the idea, that it would be very agreeable to Mary if she could be freed from her union with this unreasonable and ill-tempered young man.

The first proposal made to her was, that she should be separated from Darnley by a divorce. Bothwell, Maitland, Morton, and Murray, are said to have joined in pressing such a proposal upon Queen Mary, who was then residing at Craigmillar castle, near Edinburgh; but she rejected it steadily. A conspiracy of a darker kind was then agitated, for the murder of the unhappy Darnley; and Bothwell seems to have entertained little doubt that Mary, thus rid of an unacceptable husband, would choose himself for his successor. He spoke with the Earl of Morton on the subject of despatching Darnley, and represented it as an enterprise which had the approbation of the Queen. Morton refused to stir in a matter of so great consequence, unless he received a mandate under the Queen’s hand. Bothwell undertook to procure him such a warrant, but he never kept his word. This was confessed by Morton at his death. When it was asked of him by the clergyman who received his confession, why he had not prevented the conspiracy, by making it public? he replied, that there was no one to whom he could confess it with safety. “The Queen,” he said, “was herself in the plot; and if I had told Darnley, his folly was so great that I am certain he would have betrayed it to his wife, and so my own destruction would have been assured.” But though he did not acknowledge more than I have told you, Morton was always supposed to have been one of the active conspirators; and it was universally believed that a daring and profligate relation of his, called Archibald Douglas, parson of Glasgow, was one of the actual murderers. While these suspicions hung over Morton himself, he seems to have had no reason for believing Mary’s guilt, excepting what Bothwell told him; while he admits that Bothwell never showed him any warrant under the Queen’s hand, though he promised to do so. It seems probable that Maitland of Lethington also knew the fatal and guilty secret. Morton and he, however, were both men of deep sagacity. They foresaw that Bothwell would render himself, and perhaps the Queen also, odious to the nation by the dark and bloody action which he meditated; and therefore they resolved to let him run on his course, in the hope that he would come to a speedy fall, and that they themselves might succeed to the supreme power.

While these schemes were in agitation against his life, Darnley fell ill at Glasgow, and his indisposition proved to be the small-pox. The Queen sent her physician, and after an interval went herself to wait upon him, and an apparent reconciliation was effected between them. They came together to Edinburgh on the 31st January, 1566–67. The King was lodged in a religious house called the Kirk of Field, just without the walls of the city. The Queen and the infant Prince were accommodated in the palace of Holyrood. The reason assigned for their living separate was the danger of the child catching the small-pox. But the Queen showed much attention to her husband, visiting him frequently; and they never seemed to have been on better terms than when the conspiracy against Darnley’s life was on the eve of being executed. Mean while Darnley and his groom of the chamber were alone during the night time, and separated from any other persons, when measures were taken for his destruction in the following horrible manner:—

On the evening of the 9th February, several persons, kinsmen, retainers, and servants of the Earl of Bothwell, came in secret to the Kirk of Field. They had with them a great quantity of gunpowder; and by means of false keys they obtained entrance into the cellars of the building, where they disposed the powder in the vaults under Darnley’s apartment, and especially beneath the spot where his bed was placed. About two hours after midnight upon the ensuing morning, Bothwell himself came disguised in a riding-cloak, to see the execution of the cruel project. Two of his ruffians went in and took means of firing the powder, by lighting a piece of slow-burning match at one end, and placing the other amongst the gunpowder. They remained for some time watching the event, and Bothwell became so impatient, that it was with difficulty he was prevented from entering the house, to see whether the light had not been extinguished by some accident. One of his accomplices, by looking through a window, ascertained that it was still burning. The explosion presently took place, blew up the Kirk of Field, and alarmed the whole city. The body of Darnley was found in the adjoining orchard. The bed in which he lay had preserved him from all action of the fire, which occasioned a general belief that he and his chamber-groom, who was found in the same situation, had been strangled and removed before the house was blown up. But this was a mistake. It is clearly proved, by the evidence of those who were present at the event, that there were no means employed but the gunpowder — a mode of destruction sufficiently powerful to have rendered any other unnecessary.

Chapter 32

The horrible murder of the unhappy Darnley excited the strongest suspicions, and the greatest discontent, in the city of Edinburgh, and through the whole kingdom. Bothwell was pointed out by the general voice as the author of the murder; and as he still continued to enjoy the favour of Mary, her reputation was not spared. To have brought this powerful criminal to an open and impartial trial, would have been the only way for the Queen to recover her popularity; and Mary made a show of doing this public justice, but under circumstances which favoured the criminal.

Lennox, father of the murdered Darnley, had, as was his natural duty, accused Bothwell of the murder of his son. But he received little countenance in prosecuting the accused. Every thing seemed to be done as hastily as if it were determined to defeat the operations of justice. Lennox received information on the 28th of March, that the 12th of April was appointed for the day of trial; and, at so short warning as fourteen days, he was summoned, as nearest relation of the murdered monarch, to appear as accuser, and to support the charge he had made against Bothwell. The Earl of Lennox complained that the time allowed him to prepare the charge and evidence necessary for convicting to powerful a criminal, was great too short; but he could not prevail to have it extended.

It was a usual thing in Scotland for persons accused of crimes, to come to the bar of a court of justice attended by all their friends, retainers, and dependents, the number of whom was frequently so great, that the judges and accusers were over-awed, and became afraid to proceed in the investigation; so that the purposes of justice were for the time frustrated. Bothwell, conscious of guilt, was desirous to use this means of protection to the utmost. He appeared in Edinburgh with full five thousand attendants. Two hundred chosen musketeers kept close by his side, and guarded the doors of the court as soon as the criminal had entered. In such circumstances, there could be no chance of a fair trial. Lennox did not appear, saving by one of his vassals, who protested against the proceedings of the day. No charge was made, — no proof of innocence, of course, was required, — and a jury, consisting of nobles and gentlemen of the first rank, acquitted Bothwell of a crime of which all the world believed him to be guilty.

The public mind remained dissatisfied with this mockery of justice; but Bothwell, without regarding the murmurs of the people, hurried forward to possess himself of the situation which he had made vacant by the murder of Darnley. He convened a number of the principal nobility, at a feast given in a tavern, and prevailed on them to sign a bond, in which they not only declared Bothwell altogether innocent of the King’s death, but recommended him as the fittest person whom her Majesty could choose for a husband. Morton, Maitland, and others, who afterwards were Mary’s bitter enemies and accusers, subscribed this remarkable deed; either because they were afraid of the consequences of a refusal, or that they thought it the readiest and safest course for accomplishing their own purposes, to encourage Bothwell and the Queen to run headlong to their ruin, by completing a marriage which must be disgustful to the whole kingdom.

Murray, the most important person in Scotland, had kept aloof from all these proceedings. He was in Fife when the King was murdered, and, about three days before Bothwell’s trial, he obtained leave of his sister the Queen to travel to France. Probably he did not consider that his own person would be safe, should Bothwell rise to be King.

The Earl of Bothwell, thus authorized by the apparent consent of the nobility, and, no doubt, thinking himself secure of the Queen’s approbation, suddenly appeared at the bridge of Cramond, with a thousand horse, as Mary arrived there on her return from Stirling to Edinburgh. Bothwell took the Queen’s horse by the bridle, and surrounding and disarming her attendants, he led her, as if by an appearance of force, to the strong castle of Dunbar, of which he was governor. On this occasion Mary seems neither to have attempted to resist, nor to have expressed that feeling of anger and shame which would have been proper to her character as a queen or as a woman. Her attendants were assured by the officers of Bothwell, that she was carried off in consequence of her own consent; and considering that such an outrage was offered to a sovereign of her high rank and bold spirit, her tame submission and silence under it seem otherwise to be accounted for. They remained at Dunbar ten days, after which they again appeared in Edinburgh, apparently reconciled; the earl carefully leading the Queen’s palfrey, and conducting her up to the castle of Edinburgh, the government of which was held by one of his adherents.

Whilst these strange proceedings took place, Bothwell had been able to procure a sentence of divorce against his wife, a sister of the Earl of Huntly. On the 12th of May, the Queen made a public declaration, that she forgave Bothwell the late violence which he had committed, and that, although she was at first highly displeased with him, she was now resolved not only to grant him her pardon, but also to promote him to further honours. She was as good as her word, for she created him Duke of Orkney; and, on the 15th of the same month, did Mary, with unpardonable indiscretion, commit the great folly of marrying this ambitious and profligate man, stained as he was with the blood of her husband.

The Queen was not long in discovering that by this unhappy marriage she had gotten a more ruthless and wicked husband, than she had in the flexible Darnley. Bothwell used her grossly ill, and being disappointed in his plans of getting the young Prince into his keeping, used such upbraiding language to Mary, that she prayed for a knife with which to stab herself, rather than endure his ill treatment.

In the mean time, the public discontent rose high, and Morton, Maitland, and others, who had been themselves privy to the murder of Darnley, placed themselves, notwithstanding, at the head of a numerous party of the nobility, who resolved to revenge his death, and remove Bothwell from his usurped power. They took arms hastily, and had nearly surprised the Queen and Bothwell, while feasting in the castle of the Lord Borthwick, from whence they fled to Dunbar, the Queen being concealed in the disguise of a page.

The confederated lords marched towards Dunbar, and the Queen and Bothwell, having assembled an army, advanced to the encounter, and met them on Carberry hill, not far from the place where the battle of Pinkie was fought. This was on the 15th of June, 1567. Mary would have acted more wisely in postponing the threatened action, for the Hamiltons, in great force, were on their way to join her. But she had been accustomed to gain advantages by rapid and ready movements, and was not at first sufficiently aware what an unfavourable impression existed against her even in her own army. Many, if not most, of those troops who had joined the Queen, had little inclination to fight in Bothwell’s cause. He himself, in a bravado, offered to prove his innocence of Darnley’s murder, by a duel in the lists with any of the opposite lords who should affirm his guilt. The valiant Kirkaldy of Grange, Murray of Tullibardin, and Lord Lindsay of the Byres, successively undertook the combat; but Bothwell found exceptions to each of them, and, finally, it appeared that this wicked man had not courage to fight with any one in that quarrel. In the mean time, the Queen’s army began to disband, and it became obvious that they would not fight in her cause, while they considered it as the same with that of Bothwell. She therefore recommended to him to fly from the field of action; and advice which he was not slow in following, riding to Dunbar as fast as he could, and from thence escaping by sea.

Mary surrendered herself, upon promise of respect and kind treatment, to the Laird of grange, and was conducted by him to the headquarters of the confederate army. When she arrived there, the lords received her with silent respect; but some of the common soldiers hooted at and insulted her, until Grange, drawing his sword, compelled them to be silent. The lords adopted the resolution of returning to the capital, and conveying Mary thither, surrounded by their troops.

As the unhappy Queen approached Edinburgh, led as it were in triumph by the victors, the most coarse and insulting behaviour was used towards her by the lower classes. There was a banner prepared for the insurrection, displaying, on the one side, the portrait of Darnley, as he lay murdered under a tree in the fatal orchard, with these words embroidered, “Judge, and avenge my cause, O Lord!” and on the other side, the little Prince on his knees, holding up his hands, as if praying to Heaven to punish his father’s murderers. As the Queen rode through the streets, with her hair loose, her garments disordered, covered with dust, and overpowered with grief, shame, and fatigue, this fatal flag was displayed before her eyes, while the voices of the rude multitude upbraided her with having been an accomplice in Darnley’s murder. The same cries were repeated, and the same insulting banner displayed, before the windows of the Lord Provost’s house, to which she was for a few hours committed as if a prisoner. The better class of craftsmen and citizens were at length moved by her sorrows, and showed such a desire to take her part, that the lords determined to remove her from the city, where respects to her birth and misfortunes seemed likely to create partisans, in spite of her own indiscretions, and the resentment of her enemies. Accordingly, on the next evening, being 16th June, 1567, Mary, in disguised apparel, and escorted by a strong armed force, was conveyed from Holyrood to the castle of Lochleven, which stands on a little island, surrounded by the lake of the same name, and was there detained a prisoner.

The insurgent Lords now formed themselves into a Secret Council, for managing the affairs of the nation. Their first attention was turned to securing Bothwell, although, perhaps, there may have been some even among their own number, — Morton, for example, and Maitland, — who had been participant with him in the murder of Darnley, who could not be very desirous that he should be produced on a public trial. But it was necessary to make a show of pursuing him, and many were sincerely desirous that he should be taken.

Kirkaldy of Grange followed Bothwell with two vessels, and had nearly surprised him in the harbour of Lerwick, the fugitive making his escape at one issue of the bay, while Grange entered at another; and Bothwell might even then have been captured, but that Grange’s ship ran upon a rock, and was wrecked, though the crew escaped. Bothwell was only saved for a more melancholy fate. He took to piracy in the Northern Seas, in order to support himself and his sailors. He was in consequence assaulted and taken by some Danish ships of war. The Danes threw him into the dungeons of the castle of Malmay, where he died in captivity, about the end of the year 1576. It is said, that this atrocious criminal confessed at his death, that he had conducted the murder of Darnley, by the assistance of Murray, Maitland, and Morton, and that Mary was altogether guiltless of that crime. But there is little reliance to be placed on the declaration of so wicked a man, even if it were certain he had made it.

Mean time, poor Mary reaped the full consequences of Bothwell’s guilt, and of her own infatuated attachment to him. She was imprisoned in a rude and inconvenient tower, on a small islet, where there was scarce room to walk fifty yards; and not even the intercession of Queen Elizabeth, who seems for the time to have been alarmed at the successful insurrection of subjects against their sovereign, could procure any mitigation of her captivity. There was a proposal to proceed against the Queen as an accomplice in Darnley’s murder, and to take her life under that pretence. But the lords of the Secret Council resolved to adopt somewhat of a gentler course, by compelling Mary to surrender her crown to her son, then an infant, and to make the Earl of Murray regent during the child’s minority. Deeds to this purpose were drawn up, and sent to the castle of Lochleven, to be signed by the Queen. Lord Lindsay, the rudest, most bigoted, and fiercest of the confederated lords, was deputed to enforce Mary’s compliance with the commands of the council. He behaved with such peremptory brutality as had perhaps been expected, and was so unmanly as to pinch with his iron glove the arm of the poor Queen, to compel her to subscribe the deeds.

If Mary had any quarter to which, in her disastrous condition, she might look for love and favour, it was to her brother Murray. She may have been criminal — she had certainly been grossly infatuated — yet she deserved her brother’s kindness and compassion. She had loaded him with favours, and pardoned him considerable offences. Unquestionably she expected more favour from him than she met with. But Murray was ambition; and ambition breaks through the ties of blood, and forgets the obligations of gratitude. He visited his imprisoned sister and benefactress in Lochleven castle, but it was not to bring her comfort: on the contrary, he pressed all her errors on her with such hardhearted severity, that she burst into floods of tears, and abandoned herself to despair. •@Murray accepted of the regency, and in doing so broke all remaining ties of tenderness betwixt himself and his sister. He was now at the head of the ruling faction, consisting of what were called the King’s Lords; while such of the nobility as desired that Mary, being now freed from the society of Bothwell, should be placed at liberty, and restored to the administration of the kingdom, were termed the Queen’s Party. The strict and sagacious government of Murray imposed silence and submission for a time upon this last-named faction; but a singular incident changed the face of things for a moment, and gave a gleam of hope to the unfortunate captive.

Sir William Douglas, the Laid of Lochleven, owner of the castle where Mary was imprisoned, was a half-brother by the mother’s side of the Regent Murray. This baron discharged with severe fidelity the task of Mary’s jailer; but his youngest brother, George Douglas, became more sensible to the Queen’s distress, and perhaps to her beauty, than to the interests of the Regent, or of his own family. A plot laid by him for the Queen’s deliverance was discovered, and he was expelled from the island in consequence. But he kept up a correspondence with a kinsman of his own, called Little Douglas, a boy of fifteen or sixteen, who had remained in the castle. On Sunday, the 2nd May, 1568, this little William Douglas contrive to steal the keys of the castle while the family were at supper. He let Mary and her attendant out of the tower when all had gone to rest — locked the gates of the castle to prevent pursuit — placed the Queen and her waiting-woman in a little skiff, and rowed them to the shore, throwing the keys of the castle into the lake in the course of their passage. Just when they were about to set out on this adventurous voyage, the youthful pilot had made a signal, by a light in a particular window visible at the upper end of the lake, to intimate that all was safe. Lord Seaton and a party of the Hamiltons were waiting at the landing-place. The Queen instantly mounted, and hurried off to Niddry, in West Lothian, from which place she went next day to Hamilton. The news flew like lightning throughout the country, and spread enthusiasm every where. The people remembered Mary’s gentleness, grace, and beauty — they remembered her misfortunes also — and if they reflected on her errors, they though they had been punished with sufficient severity. On Sunday, Mary was a sad and helpless captive in a lonely tower. On the Saturday following, she was at the head of a powerful confederacy, by which nine earls, nine bishops, eighteen lords, and many gentlemen of high rank, engaged to defend her person and restore her power. But this gleam of success was only temporary.

It was the Queen’s purpose to place her person in security in the castle of Dunbarton, and her army, under the Earl of Argyle, proposed to carry her thither in a species of triumph. The Regent was lying at Glasgow with much inferior forces; but, with just confidence in his own military skill, as well as the talents of Morton, and the valour of Kirkaldy and other experienced soldiers, he determined to meet the Queen’s Lords in their proposed march, and to give them battle.

On 13th May, 1568, Murray occupied the village of Langside, which lay full in the march of the Queen’s army. The Hamiltons, and other gentlemen of Mary’s troop, rushed forth with ill-considered valour to dispute the pass. They fought, however, with obstinacy, after the Scottish manner; that is, they pressed on each other front to front, each fixing his spear in his opponent’s target, and then endeavouring to bear him down, as two bulls do when they encounter each other. Morton decided the battle, by attacking the flank of the Hamiltons, while their column was closely engaged in the front. The measure was decisive, and the Queen’s army was completely routed.

Queen Mary beheld this final and fatal defeat from a castle called Crookstane, about four miles from Paisley, where she and Darnley had spent some happy days after their marriage, and which, therefore, must have been the scene of bitter recollections. It was soon evident that there was no resource but in flight, and, escorted by Lord Herries and a few faithful followers, she rode sixty miles before she stopped at the Abbey of Dundrennan, in Galloway. From this place she had the means of retreating either to France or England, as she should ultimately determine. In France she was sure to have been well received; but England afforded a nearer, and, as she thought, an equally safe place of refuge.

Forgetting, therefore, the various causes of emulation which existed betwixt Elizabeth and herself, and remembering only the smooth and flattering words which she had received from her sister sovereign, it did not occur to the Scottish Queen that she could incur any risk by throwing herself upon the hospitality of England. It may also be supposed, that poor Mary, amongst whose faults want generosity could not be reckoned, judged of Elizabeth according to the manner in which she would herself have treated the Queen of England in the same situation. She therefore resolved to take refuge in Elizabeth’s kingdom, in spite of the opposition of her wiser attendants. They kneeled and entreated in vain. She entered the fatal boat, crossed the Solway, and delivered herself up to a gentleman named Lowther, the English deputy-warden. Much surprised, doubtless, at the incident, he sent express to inform Queen Elizabeth; and receiving the Scottish Queen with as much respect as he had the means of showing, lodged her in Carlisle Castle.

Queen Elizabeth had two courses in her power, which might be more less generous, but were alike just and lawful. She might have received Queen Mary honourably, and afforded her the succour she petitioned for; or, if she did not think that expedient, she might have allowed her to remain in her dominions, at liberty to depart from them freely, as she had entered them voluntarily.

But Elizabeth, great as she was upon other occasions of her reign, acted on the present from mean and envious motives. She saw in the fugitive who implored her protection, a princess who possessed a right of succession to the crown of England, which, by the Catholic part of her subjects at least, was held superior to her own. She remembered that Mary had been led to assume the arms and titles of the English monarchy, or rather, that the French had assumed them in her name, when she was in childhood. She recollected, that Mary had been her rival in accomplishments; and certainly she did not forget that she was her superior in youth and beauty; and had the advantage, as she had expressed it herself, to the mother of fair son, while she remained a barren stock. Elizabeth, therefore, considered the Scottish Queen not as a sister and friend in distress, but as an enemy, over whom circumstances had given her power, and determined upon reducing her to the condition of a captive.

In pursuance of the line of conduct to which this mean train of reasoning led, the unfortunate Mary was surrounded by English guards; and, as Elizabeth reasonably doubted that if she were left upon the Border, the fugitive Queen might obtain aid from her adherents in Scotland, she was removed to Bolton castle, in Yorkshire. But some pretext was wanting for a conduct so violent, so ungenerous, and so unjust, and Elizabeth contrived to find one.

The Regent Murray, upon Mary’s flight to England, had endeavoured to vindicate his conduct in the eyes of Queen Elizabeth, by alleging that his sister had been accessory to the murder of her husband Darnley, in order that she might marry her paramour Bothwell. Now, although this, supposing it to be true, was very criminal conduct, yet Elizabeth had not the least title to constitute herself judge in the matter. Mary was no subject of hers, nor, according to the law of nations, had the English Queen any right to act as umpire in the quarrel between the Scottish sovereign and her subjects. But she extorted, in the following manner, a sort of acquiescence in her right to decide, from the Scottish Queen.

The messengers of Queen Elizabeth informed Mary, that their mistress regretted extremely that she could not at once admit her to her presence, no give her the affectionate reception which she longed to afford her, until her visiter stood clear, in the eyes of the world, of the scandalous accusations of her Scottish subjects. Mary at once undertook to make her innocence evident to Elizabeth’s satisfaction; and this the Queen of England pretended to consider as a call upon herself to act as umpire in the quarrel betwixt Mary and the part by which she had been deposed and exiled. It was in vain that Mary remonstrated, that in agreeing to remove Elizabeth’s scruples, she acted merely out of respect to her opinion, and a desire to conciliate her favour, but not with the purpose of constituting the English Queen her judge in a formal trial. Elizabeth was determined to keep the advantage which she had attained, and to act as if Mary had, of her full free will, rendered her rival the sole arbiter of her fate.

The Queen of England accordingly appointed commissioners to hear the parties, and consider the evidence which was to be laid before them by both sides. The Regent Murray appeared in person before these commissioners, in the odious character of the accuser of his sister, benefactress, and sovereign. Queen Mary also sent the most able of her adherents, the Bishop of Ross, Lord Herries, and others, to plead the case on her side.

The Commission met at York in October 1568. The proceedings commenced with a singular attempt to establish the obsolete question of the alleged supremacy of England over Scotland. “You come hither,” said the English commissioners to the Regent sand his assistants, “to submit the differences which divide the kingdom of Scotland to the Queen of England, and therefore I first require of you to pay her grace the homage due to her.” The Earl of Murray blushed and was silent. But Maitland of Lethington answered with spirit — “When Elizabeth restores to Scotland the earldom of Huntingdon, with Cumberland, Northumberland, and such other lands as Scotland did of old possess in England, we will do such homage for these territories as was done by the ancient sovereigns of Scotland who enjoyed them. As to the crown and kingdom Scotland, they are more free than those of England, which lately paid Peter-pence to Rome.”

This question being waved, they entered on the proper business of the Commission. It was not without hesitation that Murray was induced to state his accusation in explicit terms, and there was still greater difficulty in obtaining from him any evidence in support of the odious charges of matrimonial infidelity, and accession to the murder of her husband, with which that accusation charged Mary. It is true, the Queen’s conduct had been unguarded and imprudent, but there was no arguing from thence that she was guilty of the foul crime charged. Something like proof was wanted, and at length a box of letters and papers was produced, stated to have been taken from a servant of Bothwell, called Dalgleish. These letters, if genuine, certainly proved that Mary was a paramour of Bothwell while Darnley was yet alive, and that she knew and approved of the murder of that ill-fated young man. But the letters were alleged by the Queen’s commissioners to be gross forgeries, devised for the purpose of slandering their mistress. It is most remarkable, that Dalgleish had been condemned and executed without a word being asked him about these letters, even if it had been only to prove that they had been found in his possession. Lord Herries and the Bishop of Ross did not rest satisfied with defending the Queen; they charged Murray himself with having confederating with Bothwell for the destruction of Darnley.

At the end of five months’ investigation, the Queen of England informed both parties that she had, on the one hand, seen nothing which induced her to doubt the worth and honour of the Earl of Murray, while, on the other hand, he had, in her opinion, proved nothing of the criminal charges which he had brought against his Sovereign. She was therefore, she said, determined to leave the affairs of Scotland as she had found them.

To have treated both parties impartially, as her sentence seemed intended to imply her desire to do, the Queen ought to have restored Mary to liberty. But while Murray was sent down with the loan of a large sum of money, Mary was retained in that captivity which was only to end with her life.

Murray returned to Scotland, having had all the advantage of the conference at York. His coffers were replenished, and his power confirmed, by the favour of Queen Elizabeth; and he had little difficulty in scattering the remains of the Queen’s Lords, who, in fact, had never been able to make head since the battle of Langside, and the fight of their mistress.

In the mean time some extraordinary events took place in England. The Duke of Norfolk had formed a plan to restore Queen Mary to liberty, and was in recompense to be rewarded with her hand in marriage. The Regent Murray had been admitted into the secret of this plot, although it may be supposed the object was not very acceptable to him. Many of the great nobles had agreed to join in the undertaking, particularly the powerful Earls of Westmoreland and Northumberland. The plot of Norfolk was discovered and proved against him, chiefly by the declarations of Murray, who meanly betrayed the secret intrusted to him; and he was seized upon, committed to confinement, and, a few months afterwards, upon the discovery of some new intrigues, was tried and executed.

But before this catastrophe, Northumberland and Westmoreland rushed into a hasty rebellion, which they were unable to conduct with sufficient vigour. Their troops dispersed without a battle before the army which Queen Elizabeth sent against them. Westmoreland found a secure refuge among the Scottish Borderers, who were favourable to the cause of Mary. They assisted him in his escape to the sea-coast, and he finally his way to Flanders, and died in exile. Northumberland was less fortunate. A Borderer, named Hector Armstrong of Harlaw, treacherously betrayed him to the Regent Murray, who refused indeed to deliver him up to Queen Elizabeth, but detained him prisoner in that same lonely castle of Lochleven, which had been lately the scene of Mary’s captivity.

All these successive events tended to establish the power of Murray, and to diminish the courage of such lords as remained attached to the opposite party. But it happens frequently, that when men appear most secure of the object they have been toiling for, their views are suddenly and strangely disappointed. A blow was impending over Murray from a quarter, which, if named to the haughty Regent, he would probably have despised, since if originated in the resentment of a private man.

After the battle of Langside, six or the Hamiltons, who had been most active on that occasion, were sentenced to die, as being guilty of treason against James VI, in having espoused his mother’s cause. In this doom there was little justice, considering how the country was divided between the claims of the mother and the son. But the decree was not acted upon, and the persons condemned received their pardon through the mediation of John Knox with the Regent.

One of the individuals thus pardoned was Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, a man of a fierce and vindictive character. Like others in his condition, he was punished by the forfeiture of his property, although his life was spared. His wife had brought him, as her portion, the lands of Woodhouselee, near Roslin, and these were bestowed by Murray upon one of his favourites. This person exercised the right so rudely, as to turn Hamilton’s wife out of her own house undressed, and unprotected from the fury of the weather. In consequence of this brutal treatment, she became insane, and died. Her husband vowed revenge, not on the actual author of his misfortune, but upon the Regent Murray, whom he considered as the original cause of it, and whom his family prejudices induced him to regard as the usurper of the sovereign power, and the oppressor of the name and house of Hamilton. There is little doubt that the Archbishop of Saint Andrews, and some others of his name, encouraged Bothwellhaugh in this desperate resolution.

The assassin took his measures with every mark of deliberation. Having leaned that the Regent was to pass through Linlithgow on a certain day, he secretly introduced himself into an empty house belonging to the Archbishop of St Andrews, which had in front a wooden balcony looking upon the street. Bothwellhaugh hung a black cloth on the wall of the apartment where he lay, that his shadow might not be seen from without, and spread a mattress on the floor, that the sound of his feet might not be heard from beneath. To secure his escape he fastened a fleet horse in the garden behind the house, and pulled down the lintel stones from the posts of the garden door, so that he might be able to pass through it on horseback. He also strongly barricaded the front door of the house, which opened to the street of the town. Having thus prepared all for concealment until the deed was done, and for escape afterwards, he armed himself with a loaded carabine, shut himself up in the lonely chamber, and waited the arrival of his victim.

Some friend of Murray transmitted to him a hint of the danger which he might incur, in passing through the street of a place in which he was known to have enemies, and advised that he should avoid it by going round on the outside of the town; or, at least, by riding hastily past the lodging which was more particularly suspected, as belonging to the Hamiltons. But the Regent, thinking that the step recommended would have an appearance of timidity, held on his way through the crowded street. As he came opposite the fatal balcony, his horse being somewhat retarded by the number of spectators, Bothwellhaugh had time to take a deliberate aim. He fired the carabine, and the Regent fell, mortally wounded. The ball, after passing through his body, killed the horse of a gentleman who rode on his right hand. His attendants rushed furiously at the door of the house from which the shot had issued; but Bothwellhaugh’s precautions had been so securely taken that they were unable to force their entrance till he had mounted his good horse, and escaped through the garden gate. He was notwithstanding pursued so closely, that he had very nearly been taken; but after spur and whip had both failed, he pricked his horse with his dagger, compelled him to take a desperate leap over a ditch, which his pursuers were unable to cross, and thus made his escape.

The Regent died in the course of the night, leaving a character, which has been, perhaps, too highly extolled by one class of authors, and too much depreciated by another, according as his conduct to his sister was approved or condemned.

The murderer escaped to France. In the civil wars of the country, an attempt was made to engage him, as a known desperado, in the assassination of the Admiral Coligni; but he resented it as a deadly insult. He had slain a man in Scotland, he said, from whom he had sustained a mortal injury; but the world could not engage him to attempt the life of one against whom he had no personal cause of quarrel.

The death of Murray had been a an event expected by many of Queen Mary’s adherents. The very night after it happened, Scott of Buccleuch and Ker of Fairniehirst broke into England, and ravaged the frontier with more than their wonted severity. When it was objected by one of the sufferers under this foray, that the Regent would punish the party concerned in such illegal violence, the Borderer replied contemptuously, that the Regent was as cold as his bridle-bit. This served to show that their leaders had been privy to Bothwellhaugh’s action, and now desired to take advantage of it, in order to give grounds for war between the countries. But Queen Elizabeth was contented to send a small army to the frontier, to burn the castles and ravage the estates of the two clans which had been engaged in the hostile inroad; a service which they executed with much severity on the clans of Scott and Ker, without doing injury to those other Borderers against whom their mistress had no complaint.

Upon the death of Murray, Lennox was chosen Regent. He was the father of the murdered Darnley, yet showed no excessive thirst of vengeance. He endeavoured to procure a union of parties, for the purpose of domestic peace. But men’s minds on both sides had become too much exasperated against each other. The Queen’s party was strengthened by Maitland of Lethington and Kirkaldy of Grange joining that faction, after having been long the boast of that of the King. Lethington we have often mentioned as one of the ablest men in Scotland, and Kirkaldy was certainly one of the bravest. He was, besides, Governor of Edinburgh castle, and his declaring that he held that important place for the Queen gave great spirit to Mary’s adherents. At the same time, they were deprived of a stronghold of scarcely inferior consequence, by the loss of Dunbarton castle in the following extraordinary manner. This fortress is one of the strongest places in the world. It is situated on a rock, which rises almost perpendicularly from a level plain to the height of several hundred feet. On the summit of this rock the buildings are situated, and as there is only one access from below, which rises by steps, and is strongly guarded and fortified, the fort might be almost held to be impregnable, that is, impossible to be taken. One Captain Crawford of Jordan-hill, a distinguished adherent of the King’s party, resolved, nevertheless, to make an attempt on this formidable castle.

He took advantage of a misty and moonless night to bring to the foot of the castle-rock the scaling-ladders which he had provided, choosing for his terrible experiment the place where the rock was highest, and where, of course, less pains were taken to keep a regular guard. This choice was fortunate; for the first ladder broke with the weight of the men who attempted to mount, and the noise of the fall must have betrayed them, had there been any sentinel within hearing. Crawford, assisted by a soldier who had deserted from the castle, and was acting as his guide, renewed the attempt in person, having scrambled up to a projecting ledge of rock where there was some footing, contrived to make fast the ladder, by tying it to the roots of a tree, which grew about midway up the rock. Here they found a small flat surface, sufficient, however, to afford footing to the whole party, which was, of course, very few in number. In scaling the second precipice, another accident took place:— One of the party, subject to epileptic fits, was seized by one of these attacks, brought on perhaps by terror, while he was in the act of climbing up the ladder. His illness made it impossible for him either to ascend or descend. To have slain the man would have been a cruel expedient, besides that the fall of his body from the ladder might have alarmed the garrison. Crawford caused him, therefore, to be tied to the ladder; then all the rest descending, they turned the ladder, and thus mounted with ease over the belly of the epileptic person. When the party gained the summit, they slew the sentinel ere he had time to give the alarm, and easily surprised the slumbering garrison, who had trusted too much to the security of their castle to keep good watch. This exploit of Crawford may compare with any thing of the kind which we read of in history.

Hamilton, the Archbishop of Saint Andrews, was made prisoner in Dunbarton, where he had taken refuge, as he was particularly hated by the King’s party. He was now in their hands, and, as they had formerly proclaimed him a traitor, they now without scruple put him to death as such. This cruel deed occasioned other violences, by way of retaliation, which, in turn, led to fresh acts of bloodshed. All natural ties were forgotten in the distinction of Kingsmen and Queensmen; and, as neither party gave quarter to their opponents, the civil war assumed a most horrible aspect. Fathers, and sons, and brother, took opposite sides, and fought against each other. The very children of the towns and villages formed themselves into bands for King James or Queen Mary, and fought inveterately with stones, sticks, and knives.

In the midst of this confusion, each party called a Parliament, which was attended, only by the Lords of their own side. The Queen’s Parliament met at Edinburgh, under protection of the castle, and its governor Kirkaldy. The King’s faction had much more numerous assembly, assuming the same denomination, at Stirling, where they produced the young King, to give authority to their proceedings. The boy, with natural childishness, taking notice of a rent in the carpet which covered the table at which the clerks sate, observed, “there was a hole in the Parliament.” These words were remarked afterwards, is if they had contained a sort of prophecy of the following singular event:—

Kirkaldy devised an enterprise, by which, if successful, he would have put a complete stop to the proceedings of the King’s Parliament, nay, to the civil war itself. He sent for Buccleuch and Fairniehirst, already noticed as zealous partisan of Mary, desiring them to bring a large party of their best horsemen, and joined with the Lord Claud Hamilton, with a detachment of infantry. The whole was guided by a man of the name of Bell, who knew the town of Stirling, being a native of that place. On the 4th of September, 1571, he introduced the party, consisting of about five hundred men, into the middle of the town, at four in the morning, without even a dog barking at them.. They then raised the alarm, crying out, “God and the Queen! think on the Archbishop of Saint Andrews! all is our own!” According to the directions they had received, they sent parties to the different houses of which the King’s lords had taken possession, and made them prisoners without resistance, except on the part of Morton, whose obstinate valour obliged them to set fire to his lodgings. He then reluctantly surrendered himself to Buccleuch, who was his near connexion. But his resistance had gained some time, and the assailants had scattered themselves in quest of plunder. At this moment, Mar brought a party of musketeers out of the castle, and placing them behind the walls of a house which he had commenced building on the castle-hill, he opened a heavy and unexpected fire upon the Queensmen. These being already in disorder, were struck with panic in the moment of victory, and began to fly. The scene was now completely changed, and they who had been triumphant the moment before, were glad to surrender to their own captives. Lennox the Regent had been mounted behind Spens of Wormeston, who had made him captive. He was a particular object of vengeance to the Hamiltons, who longed to requite the death of the Archbishop of Saint Andrews. He was killed, as was believed, by Lord Claud Hamilton’s orders, and Spens, who most honourably endeavoured to his prisoner, was slain at the same time. The Queen’s party retreated out of Stirling without much loss, for the Borderers carried off all the horses, upon which the opposite party might have followed the chase. Kirkaldy received the news of the Regent’s death with much dissatisfaction, abusing those who commanded the party as disorderly beasts, who neither knew how to gain a victory, nor how to use it. Had he placed himself at the head of the detachment, as he had earnestly desired to do, it is probable that the Raid of Stirling might have ended the war. As it fell out, the quarrel was only embittered, if possible, by the death of Lennox.

The Earl of Mar was named Regent on the King’s side. He was a man of fair and moderate views, and so honourably desirous of restoring the blessing of peace to his country, that the impossibility of attaining his object is said to have shortened his life. He died 29th October, 1572, having been Regent little more than one year.

The Earl of Morton was next made Regent. We have seen that this nobleman, however respectable for courage and talents, was nevertheless of a fierce, treacherous, and cruel disposition. He had been concerned in Rizzio’s murder, and was at least acquainted with that of Darnley. It was to be expected that he would continue the war with the same ferocious cruelty by which it had been distinguished, instead of labouring, like Mar, to diminish its violence. This fell out accordingly. Each party continued to execute their prisoners; and as skirmishes were daily fought, the number of persons who fell by the sword, or died upon the gibbet, was fearfully great. From the family name of Morton, these were called the Douglasses’ wars.

After these hostilities had existed for about five years, the Duke of Chatelherault, and the Earl of Huntly, the two principal nobles who had supported the Queen’s cause, submitted themselves to the King’s authority, and to the sway of the Regents Kirkaldy of Grange, assisted by the counsels of Maitland of Lethington, continued to maintain the castle of Edinburgh against Morton. But Queen Elizabeth, who became now desirous of ending the Scottish dissensions, sent Sir William Drury from Berwick with a considerable number [1500]of regular forces, and, what was still more needful, a large train of artillery, which formed a close siege around the castle of Edinburgh. The garrison were, however, much more distress for provisions than by the shot of the English batteries. It was not till after a valiant defence, in the course of which one of the springs which supplied the fortress with water was dried up, and the other became choked with ruins, that the gallant Kirkaldy was compelled to capitulate.

After a siege of thirty-three days he surrendered to the English general, who promised that his mistress should intercede with the Regent for favourable treatment to the governor and his adherents. This might the rather have been expected, because Morton and Kirkaldy had been at one time great friends. But the Regent was earnest in demanding the life of his valorous opponent; and Elizabeth, with little regard to her general’s honour or her own, abandoned the prisoners to Morton’s vengeance. Kirkaldy and his brother were publicly executed, to the great regret even of many of the King’s party themselves. Maitland of Lethington, more famed for talents than integrity, despaired of obtaining mercy where none had been extended to Kirkaldy, and put a period to his existence by taking poison. Thus ended the civil wars of Queen Mary’s reign, with the death of the bravest soldier, and of the ablest statesman, in Scotland; for such were Kirkaldy and Maitland.

From the time of the surrender of Edinburgh castle, 29th May, 1573, the Regent Morton was in complete possession of the supreme power in Scotland. As Queen Elizabeth had been his constant friend during the civil wars, he paid devoted attention to her wishes when he became the undisputed ruler of the kingdom.

•@Morton even went so far as to yield up to the justice, or the revenge, of the English Queen, that unfortunate Earl of Northumberland, who, as I formerly mentioned, had raised a rebellion in England, and flying into Scotland, had been confined by the Regent Murray in Lochleven castle. The surrender of this unfortunate nobleman to England was a great stain, not only on the character of Morton, but on that of Scotland in general, which had hitherto been accounted a safe and hospitable place of refuge for those whom misfortune or political faction had exiled from their own country. It was the more particularly noticed, because when Morton himself had been forced to fly to England, on account of his share in Rizzio’s murder, he had been courteously received and protected by the unhappy nobleman whom he had now delivered up to his fate. It was an additional and aggravating circumstance, that it was a Douglas who betrayed a Percy; and when the annals of their ancestors were considered, it was found that while they presented many acts of open hostility, many instances of close and firm alliance, they never till now had afforded an example of any act of treachery exercised by the one family against the other. To complete the infamy of the transaction, a sum of money was paid to the Regent on this occasion, which he divided with Douglas of Lochleven. Northumberland was beheaded at York, 1572.

In other respects, Scotland derived great advantage from the peace with England, as some degree of repose was highly necessary to this distracted country. The peace now made continued, with little interruption, for thirty years and upwards.

On one occasion, however, a smart action took place betwixt the Scots and English, which, though of little consequence, I may here tell you of, chiefly because it was the last considerable skirmish — with the exception of a deed of bold daring, of which I shall speak by and by — which the two nations had, or, it is to be hoped, ever will have, with each other.

It was the course adopted for preserving peace upon the Border, that the wardens on each side used to meet on days appointed, and deliver up to each other the malefactors who had committed aggressions upon either country, or else make pecuniary reparation for the trespasses which they had done. On the 7th July, 1575, Carmichael, as warden for the Scottish Middle Marches, met Sir John Foster, the English officer on the opposite frontier, each being, as usual, accompanied by the guards belonging to their office, as well as by the armed clans inhabiting their jurisdiction. Foster was attended by the men of Tyndale, in greater numbers than those of the Scottish Borderers, all well armed with jack and spear, as well as bows arrows. The meeting was at first peaceful. The wardens commenced their usual business of settling delinquencies; and their attendants began to traffic with each other, and to engage in sports and gaming. For, notwithstanding their habitual incursions, a sort of acquaintance was always kept up between the Borderers on both sides, like that which takes place betwixt the outposts of two contending armies.

During this mutual friendly intercourse, a dispute arose between the two wardens, Carmichael desiring delivery of an English depredator, for whom Foster, on the other hand, refused to be responsible. They both arose from their seats as the debate grew warm, and Sir John Foster told Carmichael, contemptuously, he ought to match himself with his equals. The English Borderers immediately raised their war-cry of “To it, Tynedale!” and without further ceremony, shot a flight of arrows among the Scots, who, few in number, and surprised, were with difficulty able to keep their ground. A band of the citizens of Jedburgh arrived just in time to support their countrymen, and turn the fate of the day; for most of them having fire-arms, the old English long-bow no more possessed its ancient superiority. After a smart action, the English were driven from the field; Sir John Foster, with many of the English gentlemen, being made prisoners, were sent to be at the Regent Morton’s disposal. Sir George Heron of Chipchase, and other persons of condition, were slain on the English side. The Scots lost but one gentleman of name.

Morton, afraid of Queen Elizabeth’s displeasure, thought the offence had been given by the English, treated the prisoners with distinction, and dismissed them, not only without ransom, but with presents of falcons, and other tokens of respect. “Are you not well treated?” said a Scotsman to one of these liberated prisoners, “since we give you live hawks for dead herons?”

This skirmish, called the Raid of the Redswair, took place on the mountainous ridge of the Carter. It produced no interruption of concord between the two countries, being passed over as a casual affray. Scotland, therefore, enjoyed the blessings of peace and tranquillity during the greater part of Morton’s regency.

But the advantages which the kingdom derived from peace, were in some measure destroyed by the corrupt and oppressive government of Morton, who turned his thoughts almost entirely to amassing treasure, by every means in his power. The extensive property, which formerly belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, was a mine out of which the Regent and the other great nobles contrived to work for themselves a great deal of wealth. This they did chiefly by dealing with those who were placed in the room of the abbots and priors as commendators, by which word the Scots distinguished a layman who obtained possession of an ecclesiastical benefice. To these commendators the nobles applied, and, by fair means or force, compelled them to make over and transfer to them the property of the abbacies, or at least to grant it to them in long leases for a trifling rent. That you may understand how this sort of business was managed, I will give you a curious instance of it:—

In August, 1570, Allan Stewart, commendator of the abbacy of Crossraguel, in Ayrshire, was prevailed on to visit the Earl of Cassilis, who conveyed him, partly against his will, to a lonely tower, which overhangs the sea, called the Black Vault of Denure, the ruins of which are yet visible. He was treated for some time kindly; but as his arms and servants were removed from him, he soon saw reason to consider himself less as a friendly guest than as a prisoner, to whom some foul play was intended. At length, the earl conveyed his guest into a private chamber, in which there was no furniture of any kind excepting a huge clumsy iron grate or gridiron, beneath which was a fire of charcoal. “And now, my lord abbot,” said the Earl of Cassilis, “will you be pleased to sign these deeds?” And so saying, he laid before him leases and other papers, transferring the whole lands of the abbacy of Crossraguel to the earl himself. The commendator refused to yield up the property or to subscribe the deeds. A party of ruffians then entered, and seizing the unhappy man, stripped him of his clothes, and forcibly stretched him on the iron bars, where he lay, scorched by the fire beneath, while they basted him with oil, as a cook bastes the joint of meat which she roasts upon a spit. The agony of such torture was not to be endured. The poor man cried pitifully, begging they would put him to instant death, rather than subject him to this lingering misery, and offered his purse, with the money it contained, to any who would in mercy shoot him through the head. At length he was obliged to promise to subscribe whatever the earl wished, rather than endure the excessive torture any longer. The letters and leases being then presented to him he signed them with his half-roasted hand, while the earl all the while exclaimed, with the most impudent hypocrisy, “Benedicte! you are the most obstinate man I ever saw, to oblige me to use you thus: I never thought to have treated any one as your stubbornness has made me treat you.” The commendator was afterwards delivered by a party commanded by Hamilton of Bargany, who attacked the Black Vault of Denure for the purpose of his liberation. But the wild, savage, and ferocious conduct of the earl shows in what manner the nobles obtained grants of the church lands from those who had possession of them for the time.

The Earl of Morton, however, set the example of another and less violent mode of appropriating church revenues to his own purposes. This was by reviving the order of bishops, which had been discarded from the Presbyterian form of church government. For example, on the execution of the Archbishop of Saint Andrews, he caused Douglas, Rector of Saint Andrews, to be made archbishop in his place; but then he allowed this nominal prelate only a small pension out of the large revenues of the bishopric, and retained possession of all the rest of the income for his own advantage, though the rents were levied in the bishop’s name.

These and other innovations gave great distress to John Knox, the bold and inflexible father of the Scottish Reformation. He saw with pain that the Protestant nobles were likely to diminish even the scanty subsistence which had hitherto been supplied to the Scottish clergy, out of the ample funds belonging originally to the Church of Rome. He was also jealous of the republican equality of the clergy, when he beheld the Church of Scotland innovated upon by this new introduction of bishops, though with limited incomes and diminished power. For these and other reasons he had more than once bitterly rebuked the Regent Morton; but when this remarkable man died, the Regent who attended his funeral, pronounced over his coffin an eulogium never to be forgotten. — “There lies he,” said Morton, “who never feared the face of man.”

In the state as in the church, the Regent displayed symptoms of a vindictive, avaricious, and corrupt disposition. Although the civil wars were ended, he resolved to avenge upon the Hamiltons the continued support which that powerful family had given to the Queen’s party, and the obstacles which they had thrown in the way of his own exaltation. He proceeded to act against them as public enemies, drove them out of Scotland, and seized upon their estates. The Earl of Arran, eldest brother of the family, to whom the estates actually belonged, was insane, and in a state of confinement; but this did not prevent Morton from declaring that the earldom and the lands belonging to it were forfeited, — an abuse of law which scandalized all honest men.

It was not only by confiscation that Morton endeavoured to amass wealth. He took money for the offices which he had it in his power to bestow. Even in administering justice, his hands were not pure from bribes; although to dispense the behests of law from favour or love of gain, is one of the greatest crimes of which a public man can be guilty.

It is told of Earl Morton, in a history of the family of Somerville, that a nobleman of that house having a great and important cause to be decided, in which the influence of the Regent might assuredly occasion it to be determined as he himself should thin fit, he followed, by the advice of an ancient and experienced acquaintance of the Regent, the following singular course; — Lord Somerville waited on the Earl of Morton, and recommended his case to his favourable opinion, — a kind of personal solicitation which was then much in use. Having spoken with the Regent for a short time, he turned to depart, and, opening his purse, as if to take out some money to give to the ushers and attendants, as was the custom upon such occasions, he left the purse on the table as though he had forgot it. Morton called after him, — “My lord, your purse — you have forgotten your purse!” — but Lord Somerville hastened away without turning back. He heard nothing more of the purse, which he had taken care should be pretty full of gold; but Lord Morton that day decided the cause in his favour.

Instances of such greedy profligacy by degrees alienated from Morton even the affection and inclination of his best friends, and his government at length became so unpopular, that a universal wish was entertained that the King would put an end to the Regency by assuming the government into his own hands.

These opinions prevailed so generally, that Morton, on the 12th March, 1578, resigned his office of Regent, and retired to reside in the castle of Dalkeith, as a private man, leaving the government to be administered by a council of nobles, twelve in number. But accustomed to be at the head of the government, he could not long remain inactive. He burst from his seclusion in the gloomy fortress, which the people called the Lion’s Den, and using a mixture of craft and force, expelled the new counsellors; and once more, after the old Douglas’ fashion, obtained the supreme management of public affairs. But the sovereign was no longer a child. He was now beginning to think and act for himself; and it is necessary you should know something of his character.

James VI was but an infant when he was placed of the throne of his mother. He was now only a boy of fourteen, very good-natured, and with as much learning as two excellent schoolmasters could cram him with. In fact, he had more learning than wisdom; and yet, in the course of his future life, it did not appear that he was without good sense so much, as that he was destitute of the power to form manly purposes, and the firmness necessary to maintain them. A certain childishness and meanness of mind rendered his good sense useless, and his learning ridiculous. Even from his infancy he was passionately addicted to favourites, and already, in his thirteenth or fourteenth year, there were two persons so high in his good graces that they could bring him to do any thing they pleased.

The first was Esme Stewart of Aubigny, a nephew of the late Earl of Lennox, and his heir. The King not only restored this young man to the honours of his family, but created him Duke of Lennox, and raised him with too prodigal generosity to a high situation in the state. There was nothing in the character of this favourite, either to deserve such extreme preferment, or to make him unworthy of it. He was a gallant young gentleman, who was deeply grateful to the King for his bounty, and appears to have been disposed to enjoy it without injuring any one.

Very different was the character of the other favourite of James VI. This was Captain James Stewart, a second son of the family of Ochiltree. He was an unprincipled, abandoned man, without any wisdom except cunning, and only distinguished by the audacity of his ambition and the boldness of his character.

The counsels of these two favourites increased the King’s natural desire to put an end to the sway of Morton, and Stewart resolved that the pretext for his removal should also be one which should bring him to the block. The grounds of accusation were artfully chosen. The Earl of Morton, when he resigned the regency, had obtained a pardon under the great seal for all crimes and offences which he had or might have committed against the King; but there was no mention, in that pardon, of the murder of Henry Darnley, the King’s father; and in counselling, if not in committing that murder, the Earl of Morton had certainly participated. The favourite Stewart took the office of accuser upon himself; and entering the King’s chamber suddenly when the Privy Council were assembled, he dropped on his knees before James, and accused the Earl of Morton of having been concerned in the murder of the King’s father. To this Morton, with a haughty smile, replied, that he had prosecuted the perpetrators of that offence too severely to make it probable that he himself was one of them. All he demanded was a fair enquiry.

Upon this public accusation, the earl, so lately the most powerful man in Scotland, was made prisoner, and appointed to abide a trial. The friends he had left earnestly exhorted him to fly. His nephew, the Earl of Angus, offered to raise his men, and protect him by force. Morton refused both offers, alleging he would wait the event of a fair investigation. The Queen of England interfered in Morton’s behalf with such partial eagerness, as perhaps prejudiced James still more against the prisoner, whom he was led to believe to be more attached to Elizabeth’s service than to his own.

Mean time the accuser, Stewart, was promoted to the earldom of Arran, vacant by the forfeiture of the Hamiltons. Morton, who had no knowledge of this preferment, was astonished when he heard that the charge ran against him in the name of James, Earl of Arran. When it was explained to him who it was that now enjoyed the title, he observed, “Is it ever so? then I know what I have to expect.” It was supposed that he recollected an old prophecy, which foretold “that the Bloody Heart” (the cognizance of the Douglasses) “should fall by the mouth of Arran;” and it was conjectured that the fear of some of the Hamiltons accomplishing that prophecy had made him the more actively violent in destroying that family. If so, his own tyrannical oppression only opened the way for the creation of an Arran different from those whom he had thought of.

The trial of Morton appears to have been conducted with no attention to the rules of impartial justice; for the servants of the accused person were apprehended, and put to the torture, in order to extort from them confessions which might be fatal to their master. Morton protested against two or three persons who were placed upon his jury, as being his mortal enemies; but they were nevertheless retained. They brought in a verdict, finding that he was guilty, art and part, of the murder of Henry Darnley. A man is said to be art and part of a crime, when he contrives the manner of the deed, and concurs with and encourages those who commit the crime, although he does not put his own hand to the actual execution. Morton heard the verdict with indignation, and struck his staff against the ground as he repeated the words, “Art and part! art and part! God knoweth the contrary.” On the morning after his sentence he awoke from a profound sleep — “On former nights,” he said, “I used to lie awake, thinking how I might defend myself; but now my mind is relieved of its burden.” Being conjured by the clergymen who attended him to confess all he knew of Henry Darnley’s murder, he told them, as we have noticed elsewhere, that a proposal had been made to him by Bothwell to be accessary to the deed, but that he had refused to assent to it without an order under the Queen’s hand, which Bothwell promised to procure, but could not, or at least did not, do so. Morton admitted that he had kept the secret, no knowing, he said, to whom to discover it: For if he had told it to Queen Mary, she was herself one of the conspirators; if to Darnley, he was of a disposition so fickle that the Queen would work it out of him, and then he, Morton, was equally undone. He also admitted, that he knew that his friend, dependent, and kinsman, Archibald Douglas, was present at the murder, whom, notwithstanding, he never brought to justice, but, on the contrary, continued to favour. Upon the whole, he seems to allow, that he suffered justly for concealing the crime, though he denied having given counsel or assistance to its actual execution. “But it is all the same,” he said; “I should have had the same doom, whether I were as innocent as St Stephen, or guilty as Judas.”

As they were about to lead the earl to execution, Captain Stewart, his accuser, now Earl of Arran, come to urge his subscribing a paper containing the purport of his confession. Morton replied, “I pray you trouble me not; I am now to prepare for death, and cannot write in the state in which I am.” Arran then desired to be reconciled to him, pretending he had only acted from public and conscientious motives. “It is no time to count quarrels now;” said the earl — “I forgive you and all others.”

This celebrated man died by a machined called the Maiden, which he himself had introduced into Scotland from Halifax, in Yorkshire. The criminal who suffered by this engine, was adjusted upon planks, in a prostrate state, his neck being placed beneath a sharp axe, heavily loaded with lead, which was suspended by a rope brought over a pulley. When the signal was given, the rope was cast loose, and the axe, descending on the neck of the condemned person, severed, of course, the head from the body. Morton submitted to his fate with the most Christian fortitude; and in him died the last those terrible Douglasses, whose talents and courage rendered them the pride of their country, but whose ambition was often it scourge. No one could tell what became of the treasures he had amassed, and for the sake of which he sacrificed his popularity as a liberal, and his conscience as an honest, man. He was, or seemed to be, so poor, that, when going to the scaffold, he borrowed money from a friend, that he might bestow a parting alms upon the mendicants who solicited his charity. Some have thought that his mass of wealth lies still concealed among the secret vaults of his castle of Dalkeith, now belonging to the Duke of Buccleuch. But Hume of Godscroft, who writes the history of the Douglas family, says that large sums were expended by the Earl of Angus, the nephew of Morton, in maintaining a number of exiles, who, like the earl himself, were banished from Scotland, and at length, when paying away some money for this purpose, he was heard to say, “The last of it is now gone, and I never looked that it should have done so much good.” This Godscroft believed to allude to the final expenditure of the treasures of the Regent Morton.

After the death of Morton, his faults and crimes were in a great measure forgotten, when it was observed that Arran (that is, Captain Stewart) possessed all the late Regent’s vices of corruption and oppression, without his wisdom or his talents. Lennox, the King’s other favourite, was also unpopular, chiefly because he was unacceptable to the clergy, who, although he avowedly professed the Protestant religion, were jealous of his retaining an attachment to the Catholic faith. This suspicion arose from his having been educated in France. They publicly preached against him as “a great Champion called his Grace, who, if he continued to oppose himself to religion, should have little grace in the end.”

A plot was formed among the discontented nobles to remove the King’s favourites from the court; and this was to be accomplished by forcibly seizing on the person of the King himself, which, during the minority of the prince, was the ordinary mode of changing an administration in the kingdom of Scotland.

On the 23rd August, 1582, the Earl of Gowrie invited the King to his castle at Ruthven, under pretext of hunting; he was joined by the Earl of Mar, Lord Lindsay, the Tutor of Glamis, and other noblemen, chiefly such as had been friendly to the Regent Morton, and who were, like him, attached to Queen Elizabeth’s faction. When the King saw so many persons gather round him who he knew to be of one way of thinking, and that hostile to his present measures, he became apprehensive of their intentions, and expressed himself desirous of leaving the castle.

The nobles gave him to understand that he would not be permitted to do so; and when James rose and went towards the door of the apartment, the Tutor of Glamis, a rude stern man, placed his back against it, and compelled him to return. Affronted at this act of personal restraint and violence, the King burst into tears. “Let him weep on,” said the Tutor of Glamis, fiercely; “better that bairns (children) weep, that bearded men.” These words sank deep into the King’s heart, nor did he ever forget or forgive them.

The insurgent lords took possession of the government, and banished the Duke of Lennox to France, where he died broken-hearted at the fall of his fortunes. James afterwards recalled his son to Scotland, and invested him with his father’s fortune and dignities. Arran, the King’s much less worthy favourite, was thrown into prison, and closely guarded. The King himself, reduced to a state of captivity, like his grandfather, James V, when in the hands of the Douglasses, temporized, and watched an opportunity of escape. His guards consisted of a hundred gentlemen, and their commander, Colonel Stewart, a relation of the disgraced and imprisoned Arran, was easily engaged to do what the King wished.

James, with the purpose of recovering his freedom, made a visit to Saint Andrews, and, when there, affected some curiosity to see the castle. But no sooner had he entered it than he caused the gates to be shut, and excluded from his presence the nobles who had been accessary to what was called the Raid of Ruthven.

The Earl of Gowrie and his accomplices, being thus thrust out of office, and deprived of the custody of the King’s person, united in a fresh plot for regaining the power they had lost, by a new insurrection. In this, however, they were unsuccessful. The King advanced against them with considerable forces; Gowrie was made prisoner, tried and executed at Stirling, 4th May, 1584. Angus and the the other insurgents fled to England, the ordinary refuge of Scottish exiles. The execution of Gowrie gave rise long afterwards to that extraordinary event in Scottish history, called the Gowrie Conspiracy, of which I shall give you an account by and by.

The upstart Earl of Arran was now restored to power, and indeed raised higher than ever, by that indiscriminate affection which on this and other occasions induced James to heap wealth and rank without bounds upon his favourites. This worthless minister governed every thing at court and throughout the kingdom; and, though ignorant as well as venal and profligate, he was raised to the dignity of Lord Chancellor, the highest law-office in the state, and that in which sagacity, learning, and integrity, were chiefly required.

One day when the favourite was bustling into the Court of Justice, at the head of his numerous retinue, an old man, rather meanly dressed, chanced to stand in his way. As Arran pushed rudely past him, the man stopped him, and said, “Look at me, my lord, — I am Oliver Sinclair!” Oliver Sinclair, you remember, was the favourite of James V, and had exercised during his reign as absolute a sway in Scotland as Arran now enjoyed under his grandson, James VI. In presenting himself before the present favourite in his neglected condition, he gave Arran an example of the changeful character of court favour. The lesson was a striking one; but Arran did not profit by it.

The favourite’s government became so utterly intolerable, that, in the year 1585, the banished lords found a welcome reception in Scotland, and marching to Stirling at the head of then thousand men, compelled James to receive them into his counsels; and, by using their victory with moderation, were enabled to maintain the power which they had thus gained. Arran, stripped of his earldom and ill-gotten gains, and banished from the court, was fain to live privately and miserably among the wilds of the north-west of Ayrshire, afraid of the vengeance of his numerous enemies.

The fate which he apprehended from their enmity befell him at length; for, in 1596, seeing, or thinking he saw, some chance of regaining the King’s favour, and listening, as is said, to the words of some idle soothsayer, who pretended that his head was about to be raised higher than ever, Stewart (for he was an earl no longer) ventured into the southern county of Dumfries. He received a hint to take care of his safety, since he was now in the neighbourhood of the Douglasses, who great leader, the Earl of Morton, he had been the means of destroying; and in particular, he was advised to beware of James Douglas of Torthorwald, the earl’s near kinsman [nephew]. Stewart replied haughtily, he would not go out of his road for him or all of the name of Douglas. This was reported to Torthorwald, who, considering the expression as a defiance, immediately mounted, with three servants, and pursued the disgraced favourite. When they overtook him, they thrust a spear through his body, and killed him on the spot, without resistance. His head was cut off, placed on the point of a lance, and exposed from the battlements of the tower of Torthorwald, and thus, in some sense, the soothsayer’s prophecy was made good, as his head was raised higher than before, though not in the way he had been made to hope. His body was left for several days on the placed where he was killed, and was mangled by dogs and swine. So ended this worthless minion, by a death at once bloody and obscure.

Chapter 33

I dare say you are wondering all this time what became of Queen Mary.

We left her, you know, in the hands of Queen Elizabeth, who had refused to decide any thing on the question of her guilt or innocence. This was in 1568 — 9, and undoubtedly, by every rule of law or justice, Mary ought then to have been set at liberty. She had been accused of matters which Elizabeth herself had admitted were not brought home to her by proof, and of which, even if they had been prove, the Queen of England had no right to take cognizance. Nevertheless, Elizabeth continued to treat Mary as guilty, though she declined to pronounce her so, and to use her as her subject, though she was an independent sovereign, who had chosen England for a retreat, in the hope of experiencing that hospitable protection which would have been given to the meanest Scottish subject, who, flying from the laws of his own country, sought refuge in the sister kingdom. When you read English history, you will see that Elizabeth was a great and glorious Queen and well deserved the title of the Mother of her country; but her conduct towards Queen Mary casts a deep shade over her virtues, and leads us to reflect what poor frail creatures even the wisest of mortals are, and of what imperfect materials that which we call human virtue is found to consist.

Always demanding her liberty, and always having her demand evaded or refused, Mary was transported from castle to castle, and placed under the charge of various keepers, who incurred Elizabeth’s most severe resentment, when they manifested any of that attention to soften the rigours of the poor Queen’s captivity, which mere courtesy, and compassion for fallen greatness, sometimes prompted.

The very furniture and accommodations of her apartments were miserably neglected, and the expenses of her household were supplied as grudgingly as if she had been an unwelcome guest, who could depart at pleasure, and whom, therefore, the entertainer endeavours to get rid of by the coldness and discomfort of the reception afforded. It was, upon on occasion, with difficulty that the Queen Dowager of France, and actual Queen of Scotland, obtained the accommodation of a down bed, which a complaint in her limbs, the consequence of damp and confinement, rendered a matter of needful accommodation rather than of luxury. When she was permitted to take exercise, she was always strongly guarded, as if she had been a criminal; and if any one offered her a compliment, or token of respect, or any word of comfort, Queen Elizabeth, who had her spies everywhere, was sure to reproach those who were Mary’s guardians for the time, with great neglect of their duty, in permitting such intercourse.

During this severe captivity on the one part, and the greatest anxiety, doubt, and jealousy, on the other, the two Queens still kept up a sort of correspondence. In the commencement of this intercourse, Mary endeavoured, by the force of argument, by the seductions of flattery, and by appeals to the feelings of humanity, to soften towards her the heart of Elizabeth. She tried also to bribe her rival into a more humane conduct towards her, by offering to surrender her Crown and reside abroad, if she could but be restored to her personal freedom.

But Elizabeth had injured the Queen of Scotland too deeply to venture the consequences of her resentment, and thought herself, perhaps, compelled to continue the course she had commenced, from the fear, that, once at liberty, Mary might have pursued measures of revenge and that she herself would find it impossible to devise any mode of binding the Scottish Queen to perform, when at large, such articles as she might consent to when in bondage.

Despairing at length of making any favourable impression upon Elizabeth, Mary, with more wit than prudence, used her means of communicating with the Queen of England, to irritate and provoke her; yielding to the not unnatural, though certainly the rash and impolitic purpose, of retaliating some part of the pain to which she was herself subjected, upon the person whom she justly considered as the authoress of her calamities.

Being for a long time under the charge of the Earl of Shrewsbury, who lady was a woman of a shrewish disposition, Mary used to report to Elizabeth, that the countess had called her old and ugly; and said she was grown as crooked in her temper as in her body, with many other scandalous and abusive expressions, which must have given exquisite pain to any woman, and more especially to a Queen so proud as Elizabeth, and desirous, even in old age, of being still esteemed beautiful. Unquestionably, these reproaches added poignancy to the hatred with which the English Sovereign regarded Queen Mary.

But besides these female reasons for detesting her prisoner, Elizabeth had cause to regard the Queen of Scots with fear as well as envy and hatred. The Catholic party in England were still very strong, and they considered the claim of Mary to the throne of England as descended from the Princess Margaret, daughter of Henry VII, to be preferable to that of the existing Queen, who was, in their judgment, illegitimate, as being the heir of an illegal marriage betwixt Henry VIII and Anne Bullen. The Popes also, by whom Elizabeth was justly regarded as the great prop of the Reformed religion, endeavoured to excite against her such of her subjects as still owned obedience to the See of Rome. At length, in 1570–71, Pius V, then the reigning Pope, published a bull, or sentence of excommunication, by which he deprived Queen Elizabeth (as far as his sentence could) of her hopes of heaven, and of her kingdom upon earth, excluded her from the privileges of Christians, and delivered her over as a criminal to whomsoever should step forth to vindicate the Church, by putting to death its greatest enemy. The zeal of the English Catholics was kindled by this warrant from the Head of their Church. One of them [named Felton] was found bold enough to fix a copy of the sentence of excommunication upon the door of the Bishop of London, and various plots were entered into among the Papists for dethroning Elizabeth, and transferring the kingdom of England to Mary, a sovereign of their own religion, and in their eyes the lawful successor to the crown. As fast as one these conspiracies was discovered, another seemed to form itself; and as the Catholics were promised powerful assistance from the King of Spain, and were urged forward by the impulse of enthusiasm, the danger appeared every day more and more imminent. It cannot be doubted that several of these plots were communicated to Mary in her imprisonment; and, considering what grounds she had to complain of Elizabeth, it would have been wonderful if she had betrayed to her jailer the schemes which were formed to set her at liberty. But these conspiracies coming so closely the one after the other, produced one of the most extraordinary laws that was ever passed in England; declaring, that if any rebellion, or any attempt against Queen Elizabeth’s person, should be meditated by, or for, any person pretending a right to the crown, the Queen might grant a commission to twenty-five persons, who should have power to examine into, and pass sentence upon, such offences; and after judgment given, a proclamation was to be issued, depriving the persons in whose behalf the plots or rebellion had been made, of all right to the throne; and it was enacted, that they might be prosecuted to the death. The hardship of this enactment consisted in its rendering Mary, against whom it was levelled, responsible for the deeds of others, as well as for her own actions; so that if the Catholic arose in rebellion, although without warrant from Mary, or even against her inclination, she was nevertheless rendered liable to lose her right of succession to the crown, and indeed to forfeit her life. Nothing short of the zeal of the English Government for the Reformed religion, and for the personal safety of Elizabeth, could have induced them to consent to a law so unjust and so oppressive.

This act was passed in 1585, and in the following year, a pretext was found for making it the ground of proceedings against Mary. Anthony Babington, a young gentleman of fortune and of talent, but a zealous Catholic, and a fanatical enthusiast for the cause of the Scottish Queen, had associated with himself five resolute friends and adherents, all men of condition, in the desperate enterprise of assassinating Queen Elizabeth, and setting Mary at liberty. But their schemes were secretly betrayed to Walsingham, the celebrated minister of the Queen of England. They were suffered to proceed as far as was thought safe, then seized, tried and executed.

It was next resolved upon, that Mary should be brought to trial for her life, under pretence of her having encouraged Babington and his companions in their desperate purpose. She was removed to the castle of Fotheringay, and placed under two keepers, Sir Amias Paulet and Sir Drew Drury, whose well-known hatred of the Catholic religion was supposed to render them inclined to treat their unfortunate captive with the utmost rigour. Her private cabinet was broken open and stripped of its contents, her most secret papers were seized upon and examined, her principal domestics were removed from her person, her money and her jewels were taken from her. Queen Elizabeth then proceeded to name Commissioners, in terms of the Act of Parliament which I have told you of. They were forty in number, of the most distinguished of her statesmen and nobility, and were directed to proceed to the trial of Mary for her alleged accession to Babington’s conspiracy.

On the 14th October, 1586, these Commissioners held their court in the great hall of Fotheringay castle. Mary, left to herself, and having counsel of no friend, advocate, or lawyer, made, nevertheless, a defence becoming her high birth and distinguished talents. She refused to plead before a court composed of person who were of a degree inferior to her own; and when at length she agreed to hear and answer the accusation brought against her, she made her protest that shi did so, not as owning the authority of the court, but purely in vindication of her own character. The attorney and solicitor for Queen Elizabeth stated the conspiracy of Babington, as it unquestionably existed, and produced copies of letters which Mary was alleged to have written, approving the insurrection, and even the assassination of Elizabeth. The declarations of Naue and Curle, two of Mary’s secretaries, went to confirm the fact of her having had correspondence with Babington, by intervention of a priest called Ballard. The confessions of Babington and his associates were then read, avowing Mary’s share in their criminal undertaking.

To these charges Mary answered, by denying that she ever had any correspondence with Ballard, or that she had ever written such letters as those produced against her. She insisted that she could only be affected by such writings as bore her own hand and seal, and not by copies. She urged that the declarations of her secretaries were given in private, and probably under the influence of fear of torture, or hope of reward, of which, indeed, there is every probability. Lastly, she pleaded that the confessions of the conspirators could not affect her, since they were infamous persons, dying for an infamous crime. It their evidence was designed to be used, they ought to have been pardoned, and brought forward in person, to bear witness against her. Mary admitted that, having for many years despaired of relief or favour from Queen Elizabeth, she had, in her distress, applied to other sovereigns, and that she had also endeavoured to procure some favour for the persecuted Catholics of England; but she denied that she had endeavoured to purchase liberty for herself, or advantage for the Catholics, at the expense of shedding the blood of any one; and declared, that if she had given consent in word, or even in thought, to the murder of Elizabeth, she was willing, not only to submit to the doom of men, but even to renounce the mercy of God.

The evidence which was brought to convict the Queen of Scotland was such as would not now affect the life of the meanest criminal; yet the Commission had the cruelty and meanness to declare Mary guilty of having been accessary to Babington’s conspiracy, and of having contrived and endeavoured the death of Queen Elizabeth, contrary to the statute made for security of the Queen’s life. And the Parliament of England approved of and ratified this iniquitous sentence. It was not perhaps to be expected that James VI should have had much natural affection for his mother, whom he had never seen since his infancy, and who had, doubtless, been represented to him as a very bad woman, and one desirous, if she could have obtained her liberty, of dispossessing him of the crown which he wore, and resuming it herself. He had, therefore, seen Mary’s captivity with little of the sympathy which a child ought to feel for a parent. But, upon learning these proceedings against her life, he must have been destitute of the most ordinary feelings of human nature, and would have made himself a reproach and scandal throughout all Europe, if he had not interfered in her behalf. He therefore sent ambassadors, first, Sir William Keith, and after him the Master of Gray, to intercede with Queen Elizabeth, and to use both persuasion and threats to preserve the life of his mother. The friendship of Scotland was at this moment of much greater importance to England than at any previous period of her history. The King of Spain was in the act of assembling a vast navy and army (boastingly called the Invincible Armada), by which he proposed to invade and conquer England; and if James VI had been disposed to open the ports and harbours of Scotland to the Spanish fleets and armies, he might have greatly facilitated this formidable invasion, by diminishing the risk which the Armada might incur from the English fleet. It therefore seems probable, that had James himself been very serious in his interposition, or had his ambassador been disposed to urge the interference committed to his charge with due firmness and vigour, it could scarce have failed in being successful, at least for a time. But the Master of Gray, as is now admitted, privately encouraged Elizabeth and her ministers to proceed in the cruel path they had chosen, and treacherously gave them reason to believe, that though, for the sake of decency, James found it necessary to interfere in his mother’s behalf, yet, in his secret mind, he would not be very sorry that Mary, who, in the eyes of a part of his subjects, was still regarded as sovereign of Scotland, should be quietly removed out of the way. From the intrigues of this treacherous ambassador, Elizabeth was led to trust that the resentment of the King for his mother’s death would neither be long nor violent; and, knowing her own influence with a great part of the Scottish nobility, and the zeal of the Scots in general for the Reformed religion, she concluded that the motives arising out of these circumstances would prevent James from making common cause against England with the King of Spain.

At any other period in the English history, it is probable that a sovereign attempting such an action as Elizabeth meditated, might have been interrupted by the generous and manly sense of justice and humanity peculiar to a free and high-minded people, like those of England. But the despotic reign of Henry VIII had too much familiarized the English with the sight of the blood of great persons, and even of Queens, poured forth by the blow of the executioner, upon the slightest pretexts; and the idea that Elizabeth’s life could not be in safety while Mary existed, was, in the deep sentiment of loyalty and affection which they entertained for their Queen (and which the general tenour of her reign well deserved), strong enough to render them blind to the gross injustice exercised upon a stranger and a Catholic.

Yet with all the prejudices of her subjects in her own favour, Elizabeth would fain have had Mary’s death take place in such a way as that she herself should not appear to have any hand in it. Her ministers were employed to write letters to Mary’s keepers, insinuating what a good service they would do to Elizabeth and the Protestant religion, if Mary could be privately assassinated. But these stern guardians, though strict and severe in their conduct towards the Queen, would not listen to such persuasions; and well was it for them that they did not, for Elizabeth would certainly have thrown the whole blame of the deed upon their shoulders, and left them to answer it with their lives and fortunes. She was angry with them, nevertheless, for their refusal, and called Paulet a precise fellow, loud in boasting of his fidelity, but slack in giving proof of it. As, however, it was necessary, from the scruples of Paulet and Drury, to proceed in all form, Elizabeth signed a warrant for the execution of the sentence pronounced on Queen Mary, and gave it to Davison, her secretary of state, commanding that it should be sealed with the great seal of England. Davison laid the warrant, signed by Elizabeth, before the Privy Council, and next day the great seal was placed upon it. Elizabeth, upon hearing this, affected some displeasure that the warrant had been so speedily prepared, and told the secretary that it was the opinion of wise men that some other course might be taken with Queen Mary. Davison, in this pretended change of mind, saw some danger that his mistress might throw the fault of the execution upon him after it had taken place. He therefore informed the Keeper of the Seals what the Queen had said, protesting he would not venture farther in the matter. The Privy Council, having met together, and conceiving themselves certain what were the Queen’s real wishes, determined to save her the pain of expressing them more broadly, and resolving that the blame, if any might arise, should common to them all, sent off the warrant for execution with their clerk Beale. The Earls of Kent and Shrewsbury, with the High Sheriff of the county, were empowered and commanded to see the fatal mandate carried into effect without delay. Mary received the melancholy intelligence with the utmost firmness. “The soul,” she said, “was undeserving of the joys of Heaven, which would shrink from the blow of an executioner. She had not,” she added, “expected that her kinswoman would have consented to her death, but submitted not the less willingly to her fate.” She earnestly requested the assistance of a priest; but this favour, which is granted to the worst criminals, and upon which Catholics lay particular weight, was cruelly refused. The Queen then wrote her last will, and short and affectionate letters of farewell to her relations in France. She distributed among her attendants such valuables as had been left her, and desired them to keep them for her sake. This occupied the evening before the day appointed for the fatal execution.

On the 8th February, 1587, the Queen, still maintaining the same calm and undisturbed appearance which she had displayed at her pretended trial, was brought down to the great hall of the castle, where a scaffold was erected, on which were placed a block and a chair, the whole being covered with black cloth. The Master of her Household, Sir Andrew Melville, was permitted to take a last leave of the mistress whom he had served long and faithfully. He burst into loud lamentations, bewailing her fate, and deploring his own in being destined to carry such news to Scotland. “Weep not, my good Melville,” said the Queen, “but rather rejoice; for thou shalt this day see Mary Stewart relieved from all her sorrows.” She obtained permission, with some difficulty, that her maids should be allowed to attend her on the scaffold. It was objected to, that the extravagance of their grief might disturb the proceedings; she engaged for them that they would be silent. When the Queen was seated in the fatal chair, she heard the death warrant read by Beale, the clerk to the Privy Council, with an appearance of indifference; nor did she seem more attentive to the devotional exercises of the Dean of Peterborough, in which, as a Catholic, she could not conscientiously join. She implored the mercy of Heaven, after the form prescribed by her own church. She then prepared herself for execution, taking off such parts of her dress as might interfere with the deadly blow. The executioners offered their assistance, but she modestly refused it, saying, she had neither been accustomed to undress before so many spectators, not to be served by such grooms of the chamber. She quietly chid her maids, who were unable to withhold their cries of lamentation, and reminded them that she had engaged for their silence. Last of all, Mary laid her head on the block, which the executioner severed from her body with two strokes of his axe. The headsman held it up in his hand, and the Dean of Peterborough cried out, “So perish all Queen Elizabeth’s enemies!” No voice, save that of the Earl Kent, could answer Amen: the rest were choked with sobs and tears.

Thus died Queen Mary, aged a little above forty-four years. She was eminent for beauty, for talents, and accomplishments, nor is there reason to doubt her natural goodness of heart, and courageous manliness of disposition. Yet she was, in every sense, one of he most unhappy Princesses that ever lived, from the moment when she came into the world, in an hour of defeat and danger, to that in which a bloody and violent death closed a weary captivity of eighteen years.

Queen Elizabeth, in the same spirit of hypocrisy which had characterised all her proceedings towards Mary, no sooner knew that the deed was done, than she hastened to deny her own share in it. She pretended, that Davison had acted positively against her command in laying the warrant before the Privy Council; and that she might seem the more serious in her charge, she caused him to be fined in a large sum of money, and deprived him of his office, and of her favour for ever. She sent a special ambassador to King James, to apologize for “this unhappy accident,” as she chose to term the execution of Queen Mary.

James at first testified high indignation, with which the Scottish nation was well disposed to sympathize. He refused to admit the English envoy to his presence, and uttered menaces of revenge. When a general mourning was ordered for the departed Queen, the Earl of Argyle appeared at the court in armour, as if that were the proper way of showing the national sense of the treatment which Mary had received. But James’s hopes and fears were now fixed upon the succession to the English crown, which would have been forfeited by engaging in a war with Elizabeth. Most of his ancestors, indeed, would have set that objection at defiance, and have broken into the English frontier at the head of as large an army as Scotland could raise; but James was by nature timorous and unwarlike. He was conscious, that the poor and divided country of Scotland was not fit, in its own strength, to encounter a kingdom so wealthy and so unanimous as England. On the other hand, if James formed an alliance with the Spanish monarch, he considered that he would probably have been deserted by the Reformed part of his subjects; and, besides, he was aware the Philip of Spain himself laid claim to the Crown of England; so that to assist that prince in his meditated invasion, would have been to rear up and important obstacle to the accomplishment of his own hopes of the English succession. James, therefore, gradually softening towards Queen Elizabeth, affected to believe the excuses which she offered; and in a short time, they were upon as friendly a footing as they had been before the death of the unfortunate Mary.

James was now in full possession of the Scottish kingdom, and showed himself to as much, or greater advantage, than at any subsequent period of his life. After the removal of the vile James Stewart from his counsels, he acted chiefly by the advice of Sir John Maitland, the Chancellor, a brother of that Maitland of Lethington whom we have so often mentioned. He was a prudent and good minister; and as it was James’s nature, in which there was a strange mixture of wisdom and of weakness, to act with sagacity, or otherwise, according to the counsels which he received, there now arose in Britain, and even in Europe, a more general respect for his character, than was afterwards entertained when it became better known. Besides, James’s reign in Scotland was marked with so many circumstances of difficulty, and even of danger, that he was placed upon his guard, and compelled to conduct himself with the strictest attention to the rules of prudence; for he had little chance of overawing his turbulent nobility, but by maintaining the dignity of the royal character. If the King had possessed the ability of distributing largesses among his powerful subjects, his influence would have been greater; but this was so far from being the case, that his means of supporting his royal state, excepting an annuity allowed to him by Elizabeth of five thousand pounds yearly, were in the last degree precarious. This was owing in a great measure to the plundering of the revenue of the crown during the civil wars of his minority, and the Regency of the Earl of Morton. The king was so dependent, that he could not even give an entertainment without begging poultry and venison from some of his more wealthy subjects; and his wardrobe was so ill furnished, that he was obliged to request the loan of a pair of silk hose from the Earl of Mar, that he might be suitably appareled to receive the Spanish ambassador. There were also peculiarities in James’s situation which rendered it embarrassing. He had extreme difficulty in his necessary intercourse with the Scottish clergy, who possessed a strong influence over the minds of the people, and sometimes used it in interference with publish affairs. Although they had not, like the bishops of England and other countries, a seat in Parliament, yet they did not the less intermeddle with politics, and often preached from the pulpit against the king and his measures. They used this freedom the more boldly, because they asserted that they were not answerable to any civil court for what they might say in their sermons, but only to the spiritual courts, as they were called; that is, the Synods and General Assemblies of the Church, composed chiefly of clergymen like themselves, and who, therefore, were not likely to put a check upon the freedom of speech used by their brethren. Upon one occasion, which occurred 17th December, 1596, disputes of this kind between of the King and the Church came to such a height, that the rabble of the city, inflamed by the violence of some of the sermons which they heard, broke out into tumult, and besieged the door of the Tolbooth, where James was sitting in the administration of justice, and threatened to break it open. The King was saved by the intervention of the better disposed part of the inhabitants, who rose in arms for his protection. Nevertheless he left Edinburgh the next day in great anger, and prepared to take away the privileges of the city, as a punishment for the insolence of the rioters. He was appeased with much difficulty, and, as it seemed, was by no means entirely satisfied; for he caused the High Street to be occupied by a great number of the Border and Highland clans. The citizens, terrified by the appearance of these formidable and lawless men, concluded that the town was to be plundered, and the alarm was very great. But the King, who only desired to frighten them, made the magistrates a long harangue upon the excesses of which he complained, and admitted them to pardon upon their submission.

Another great plague of James the Sixth’s reign, was the repeated insurrections of a turbulent nobleman, called Francis Stewart, Earl of Bothwell, — a different person, of course, from James Hepburn, who bore that title in the reign of Queen Mary. This second Earl of Bothwell was a relation of the King’s, and made several violent attempts to get possession of his person, with the purpose of governing the state, as the Douglasses of old, by keeping the King prisoner. But although he nearly succeeded on one or two occasions, yet James was always rescued from his hands, and was finally powerful enough to banish Bothwell altogether from the country. He died in contempt and exile.

But by far the greatest pest of Scotland at that time, was the deadly feuds among the nobility and gentry, which eventually led to the most bloody consequences, and were perpetuated from father to son; while the King’s good-nature, which rendered him very ready to grant pardons to those who had committed such inhuman outrages, made the evil still more frequent. The following is a remarkable instance:— The Earl of Huntly, head of the powerful family of Gordon, and the man of greatest consequence in the North of Scotland, had chanced to have some feudal differences with the Earl of Murray, son-in-law of the Regent-earl of the same name, in the course of which, John Gordon, a brother of Gordon of Cluny, was killed by a shot from Murray’s castle of Darnoway. This was enough to make the two families irreconcilable enemies, even if they had been otherwise on friendly terms. Murray was so handsome and personable a man, that he was generally known by the name of the Bonnie Earl of Murray. About 1561–2, an accusation was brought against Murray, for having given some countenance or assistance to Stewart, Earl of Bothwell, in a recent treasonable exploit. James, without recollecting, perhaps, the hostility between the two earls, sent Huntly with a commission to bring the Earl of Murray to his presence. Huntly probably rejoiced in the errand, as giving him an opportunity of avenging himself on his feudal enemy. He beset the house of Dunnibirsel, on the northern side of the Forth, and summoned Murray to surrender. In reply, a gun was fired, which mortally wounded one of the Gordons. The assailants proceeded to set fire to the house; when Dunbar, Sheriff of the county of Moray, said to the earl, “Let us not stay to be burned in the flaming house; I will go out foremost, and the Gordons, taking me for your lordship, will kill me, while you escape in the confusion.” They rushed out among their enemies accordingly, and Dunbar was slain. But his death did not save his friend, as he had generously intended. Murray indeed escaped for the moment, but as he fled towards the rocks by the sea-shore, he was traced by the silken tassels attached to his headpiece, which had taken fore as he broke out from among the flames. By this means the pursuers followed him down amongst the cliffs near the sea, and Gordon of Buckie, who is said to have been the first that overtook him, wounded him mortally. As Murray was gasping in the last agony, Huntly came up; and it is alleged by tradition, that Gordon pointed his dirk against the person of his chief, saying, “By Heaven, my lord, you shall be as deep in as I,” and so compelled him to wound Murray whilst he was dying. Huntly, with a wavering hand, struck the expiring earl on the face. Thinking of his superior beauty, even in that moment of parting life, Murray stammered out the dying words, “You have spoiled a better face than your own.” After this deed of violence, Huntly did not choose to return to Edinburgh, but departed for the North. He took refuge for the moment in the castle of Ravenscraig, belonging to the Lord Sinclair, who told him, with a mixture of Scottish caution and Scottish hospitality, that he was welcome to come in, but would have been twice as welcome to have passed by. Gordon of Buckie, when a long period had elapsed, avowed his contrition for the guilt he had incurred.

Soon afterwards, three lords, the Earls of Huntly and Errol, who had always professed the Catholic religion, and the young Earl of Angus, who had become a convert to that faith, were accused of corresponding with the King of Spain, and of designing to introduce Spanish troops into Scotland for the restoration of the Catholic religion. The story which was told of this conspiracy does not seem very probable. However, the King ordered the Earl of Argyle to march against the Popish lords, with the northern forces of Lord Forbes and others, who were chiefly Protestants, and entered into the war with the religious emulation which divided the Reformers from the Catholics. Argyle likewise levied great bands of the Western Highlanders, who cared but little about religion, but were extremely desirous of plunder. The army of Argyle, about ten thousand strong, encountered the forces of Huntly and Errol at Glenlivat, on the 3d of October, 1594. The shock was very smart. But the Gordons and Hays, though far inferior in numbers, were gentlemen, well mounted, and completely armed, and the followers of Argyle had only their plaids and bonnets. Besides, the two earls had two or three pieces of cannon, of which the Highlanders, unaccustomed to any thing of the kind, were very apprehensive. The consequence of the encounter was, that though the cavalry had to charge up a hill, encumbered with rocks and stones, and although the Highlanders fought with great courage, the small body of Huntly and Errol, not amounting to above fifteen hundred horse, broke, and dispersed with great loss, the numerous host opposed to them. On the side of Argyle there was some treachery; the Grants, it is said, near neighbours, and some of them dependents, of the Gordons, joined their old friends in the midst of the fray. The Chief of MacLean and his followers defended themselves with great courage, but were at length completely routed. This was one of the occasions on which the Highland irregular infantry were found inferior to the compact charge of the cavaliers of the Lowland counties, with their long lances, who beat them down, and scattered them in every direction. Upon learning Argyle’s defeat, the King himself advanced into the north with a small army, and restored tranquillity by punishing the insurgent earls.

We have before mentioned, that in those wild days the very children had their deadly feuds, carried weapons, and followed the bloody example of their fathers. The following instance of their early ferocity occurred in September, 1595. The scholars of the High School of Edinburgh, having a dispute with their masters about the length of their holidays, resolved to stand out for a longer vacation. Accordingly, they took possession of the school in that sort of mutinous manner, which in England is called Barring-out, and resisted the admission of the masters. Such foolish things have often occurred in public schools elsewhere; but what was peculiar to the High School boys of Edinburgh was, that they defended the school with sword and pistol, and when Bailie MacMorran, one of the magistrates, gave directions to force the entrance, three of the boys fired, and killed him on the spot. There were none of them punished, because it was alleged that it could not be known which of them did the deed; but rather because two of them were gentlemen’s sons. So you see the bloodthirsty spirit of the times descended even to children.

To do justice to James VI, he adopted every measure in his power to put an end to these fatal scenes of strife and bloodshed. Wise laws were made for preventing the outrages which had been so general; and in order to compose the feuds amongst the nobles, James invited the principal lords, who had quarrels, to a great banquet, where he endeavoured to make them agree together, and caused them to take each other’s hands and become friends on the spot. They obeyed him; and proceeding himself at their head, he made them walk in procession to the Cross of Edinburgh, still hand in hand, in token of perfect reconciliation, whilst the provost and magistrates danced before them for joy, to see such a prospect of peace and concord. Perhaps this reconciliation was too hasty to last long in every instance; but upon the whole, the authority of the law gradually gained strength, and the passions of men grew less fierce as it became more unsafe to indulge them.

I must now fulfil my promise, and in this place, tell you of another exploit on the Borderers, the last that was performed there, but certainly not the least remarkable for valour and conduct.

The English and Scottish Wardens, or their deputies, had held a day of truce for settling Border disputes, and, having parted friends, both, with their followers, were returning home. At every such meeting it was the general rule on the Borders that there should be an absolute truce for twenty-four hours, and that all men who attended the Warden on either side to the field should have permission to ride home again undisturbed. Now, there had come to the meeting, with other Border men, a notorious depredator, called William Armstrong, but more commonly known by the name of Kinmont Willie. This man was riding home on the north or Scottish side of the Liddell, where the stream divides England and Scotland, when some of the English who had enmity against him, or had suffered by his incursions, were unable to resist the temptation to attack him. They accordingly dashed across the river, pursued Kinmont Willie more than a mile within Scotland, made him prisoner, and brought him to Carlisle castle.

As the man talked boldly and resolutely about the breach of truce in his person, and demanded peremptorily to be set at liberty, Lord Scrope told him, scoffingly, that before he left the castle he should bid him “farewell,” meaning, that he should not go without his leave. The prisoner boldly answered, “that he would not go without bidding him good-night.”

The Lord of Buccleuch, who was Warden, or Keeper, of Liddesdale, demanded the restoration of Kinmont Willie to liberty, and complained of his being taken and imprisoned as a breach of the Border-laws, and an insult done to himself. Lord Scrope refused, or at least evaded, giving up his prisoner. Buccleuch then sent him a challenge, which Lord Scrope declined to accept, on the ground of his employment in the public service. The Scottish chief, therefore, resolved to redress by force the insult which his country, as well as himself, had sustained on the occasion. He collected about three hundred of his best men, and made a sight march to Carlisle castle. A small party of chosen men dismounted, while the rest remained on horseback, to repel any attack from the town. The night being misty and rainy, the party to whom that duty was committed approached the foot of the walls, and tried to scale them by means of ladders which they had brought with them for the purpose. But the ladders were found too short. They then, with mining instruments which they had provided, burst open a postern, or wicket-door, and entered the castle. Their chief had given them strict orders to do no harm save to those who opposed them, so that the few guards, whom the alarm brought together, were driven back without much injuring. Being masters of the castle, the trumpets of the Scottish Warden were then blown, to the no small terror of the inhabitants of Carlisle, surprised out of their quiet sleep by the sounds of invasion at so early an hour. The bells of the castle rang out; those of the Cathedral and Moot-hall answered; drums beat to arms; and beacons were lighted, to alarm the warlike country around. In the meanwhile, the Scottish party had done the errand they came for. They had freed Kinmont Willie from his dungeon. The first thing Armstrong did was to shout a good-night to Lord Scrope, asking him, at the same time, if he had any news for Scotland. The Borderers strictly obeyed the commands of their chief, in forbearing to take any booty. They returned from the castle, bringing with them their rescued countryman, and a gentleman named Spenser, an attendant on the constable of the castle. Buccleuch dismissed him with his commendations to Salkeld the constable, whom he esteemed, he said, a better gentleman than Lord Scrope, bidding him say it was the Warden of Liddesdale who had done the exploit, and praying the constable, if he desired the name of a man of honour, to issue forth and seek a revenge. Buccleuch then ordered the retreat, which he performed with great leisure, and reentered Scotland at sunrise in honour and safety. “There had never been a more gallant deed of vassalage done in Scotland,” says an old historian, “no, not in Wallace’s days.” Queen Elizabeth, as you may imagine, was dreadfully angry at this insult, and demanded that Buccleuch should be delivered up to the English, as he had committed so great an aggression upon their frontier during the time of peace. The matter was laid before the Scottish Parliament. King James himself pleaded the question on the part of Elizabeth, willing, it may be supposed, to recommend himself to that Princess by his tameness and docility. The Secretary of State replied in defence of Buccleuch; and the Scottish Parliament finally voted that they would refer the question to commissioners, to be chosen for both nations, and would abide by their decision. But concerning the proposed surrender of Buccleuch to England, the President declared, with a loud voice, that it would be time enough for Buccleuch to go to England when the King should pass there in person. Buccleuch finally ended the discussion by going to England at the King’s personal request, and on the understanding that no evil was to be done to him. Queen Elizabeth desired to see him personally, and demanded of him how he dared commit such aggression on her territory. He answered undauntedly, that he knew not that thing which a man dared not do. Elizabeth admired the answer, and treated this powerful Border chief with distinction during the time he remained in England, which was not long.

But the strangest adventure of James’s reign was the event called the Gowrie Conspiracy, over which there hangs a sort of mystery, which time has not even yet completely dispelled. You must recollect that there was an Earl of Gowrie condemned and executed, when James was but a boy. This nobleman left two sons, bearing the family name of Ruthven, who were well educated abroad, and accounted hopeful young men. The King restored to the eldest the title and estate of Gowrie, and favoured them both very much. Now, it chanced in the month of August, 1600, that Alexander Ruthven, the younger of the two brothers, came early one morning to the King, who was then hunting in the Park of Falkland, and told him a story of his having seized a suspicious-looking man, a Jesuit, as he supposed, with a large pot of gold under his cloak. This man Ruthven said he had detained prisoner at his brother’s house, in Perth, till the King should examine him, and take possession of the treasure. With this story he decoyed James from the hunting-field, and persuaded him to ride with him to Perth, without any other company than a few noblemen and attendants, who followed the King without orders. When they arrived at Perth, they entered Gowrie-house, the mansion of the Earl, a large massive building, having gardens which stretched down to the river Tay. The Earl of Gowrie was, or seemed surprised, to see the King arrive so unexpectedly, and caused some entertainment to be hastily prepared for his Majesty’s refreshment. After the King had dined, Alexander Ruthven pressed him to come with him to see the prisoner in private; and James, curious by nature, and sufficiently indigent to be inquisitive after money, followed him from one apartment to another, until Ruthven led him into a little turret, where there stood — not a prisoner with a pot of gold — but an armed man, prepared, as it seemed, for some violent enterprise.

The King started back, but Ruthven snatched the dagger which the man wore, and pointing it to James’s breast, reminded him of his father the Earl of Gowrie’s death, and commanded him, upon pain of death, to submit to his pleasure. The King replied that he was but a boy when the Earl of Gowrie suffered, and upbraided Ruthven with ingratitude. The conspirator, moved by remorse or some other reason, assured the King that his life should be safe, and left him in the turret with the armed man, who, not very well selected to aid in a purpose so desperate, stood shaking in his armour, without assisting either his master or the King.

Let us now see what was passing below, during this strange scene betwixt the King and Ruthven. The attendants of James had begun to wonder at his absence, when they were suddenly informed by a servant of the Earl of Gowrie, that the King had mounted his horse, and had set out on his return to Falkland. The noblemen and attendants rushed into the courtyard of the mansion, and called for their horses, the Earl of Gowrie at the same time hurrying them away. Here the porter interfered, and said the King could not have left the house, since he had not passed the gate, of which he had the keys. Gowrie, on the other hand, called the man a liar, and insisted that the King had departed. While the attendants of James knew not what to think, a half smothered, yet terrified voice, was heard to scream from the window of a turret above their heads, — “Help! Treason! Help! my Lord of Mar!” They looked upwards, and beheld James’s face in great agitation pushed through the window, while a hand was seen grasping his throat, as if some one behind endeavoured by violence to draw him back.

The explanation was as follows:— The King, when left alone with the armed man, had, it seems, prevailed upon him to open the lattice window. This was just done when Alexander Ruthven again entered the turret, and, swearing that there was no remedy, but the King must needs die, he seized on him, and endeavoured by main force to tie his hands with a garter. James resisted, in the extremity of despair, and dragging Ruthven to the window, now open, called out to his attendants in the manner was have described. His retinue hastened to his assistance. The greater part ran to the principal staircase, of which they found the doors shut, and immediately endeavoured to force them open. Mean time a page of the King’s, called Sir John Ramsay, discovered a back stair which led him to the turret, where Ruthven and the King were still struggling. Ramsay stabbed Ruthven twice with his dagger, James calling to him to strike light, as he had a doublet of proof on him. Ramsay then thrust Ruthven, now mortally wounded, towards the private staircase, where he was met by Sir Thomas Erskine and Sir Hugh Herries, two of the royal attendants, who despatched him with their swords. His last words were, — “Alas! I am not to blame for this action.” This danger was scarcely over, when the Earl of Gowrie entered the outer chamber, with a drawn sword in each hand, followed by seven attendants, demanding vengeance for the death of his brother. The King’s followers, only four in number, thrust James, for the safety of his person, back into the turret-closet, and shut the door; and then engaged in a conflict, which was the more desperate, that they fought four to eight, and Herries was a lame and disabled man. But Sir John Ramsay having run the Earl of Gowrie through the heart, he dropped dead without speaking a word, and his servants fled. The doors of the great staircase were now opened to the nobles, who were endeavouring to force their way to the King’s assistance.

In the mean time a new peril threatened the King and his few attendants. The slain Earl of Gowrie was provost of the town of Perth, and much beloved by the citizens. On hearing what had happened, they ran to arms, and surrounded the mansion house, where this tragedy had been acted, threatening, that if their provost were not delivered to them safe and sound, the King’s green coat should pay for it. Their violence was at last quieted by the magistrates of the town, and the mob were prevailed on to disperse.

The object of this strange conspiracy is one of the darkest in history, and what made it stranger, the armed man who was stationed in the turret could throw no light upon it. He proved to be one Henderson, steward to the Earl of Gowrie, who had been ordered to arm himself for the purpose of taking a Highland thief, and was posted in the turret by Alexander Ruthven, without any intimation what he was to do; so that the whole scene came upon him by surprise. The mystery seemed to impenetrable, and so much of the narrative rested upon James’s own testimony, that many persons of that period, and even some historians of our own day, have thought that it was not a conspiracy of the brothers against the King, but of the King against the brothers; and that James, having taken a dislike to them, had contrived the bloody scene, and then thrown the blame on the Ruthvens, who suffered in it. But, besides the placability and gentleness of James’s disposition, and besides the consideration that no adequate motive can be assigned, or even conjectured, for his perpetrating such an inhospitable murder, it ought to be remembered that the King was naturally timorous, and could not even look at a drawn sword without shuddering; so that it is contrary to all reason and probability to suppose that he could be the deviser of a scheme, in which his life was repeatedly exposed to the most imminent danger. However, many of the clergy refused to obey James’s order to keep a day of solemn thanksgiving for the King’s deliverance, intimating, without hesitation, that they greatly doubted the truth of his story. One of them being pressed by the King very hard, said —— “That doubtless he must believe it, since his majesty said he had seen it; but that, had he seen it himself, he would not have believed his own eyes.” James was much vexed with this incredulity, for it was hard not to obtain credit after having been in so much danger.

Nine years after the affair, some light was thrown upon the transaction by one Sprot, a notary-public, who, out of mere curiosity, had possessed himself of certain letters, said to have been written to the Earl of Gowrie by Robert Logan of Restalrig, a scheming, turbulent, and profligate man. In these papers, allusion was repeatedly made to the death of Gowrie’s father, to the revenge which was meditated, and to the execution of some great and perilous enterprise. Lastly, there was intimation that the Ruthvens were to bring a prisoner by sea to Logan’s fortress of Fastcastle, a very strong and inaccessible tower, overhanging the sea, on the coast of Berwickshire. This place he recommends as suitable for keeping some important prisoner in safety and concealment, and adds, he had kept Bothwell there in his utmost distresses, let the King and his council say what they would.

All these expressions seem to point at a plot, not affecting the King’s life, but his personal liberty, and make it probable, that when Alexander Ruthven had frightened the King into silence and compliance, the brothers intended to carry him through the gardens, and put him on board of a boat, and so conveying him down the frith of Tay, might, after making a private signal, which Logan alludes to, place their royal prisoner in security at Fastcastle. The seizing upon the person of the King was a common enterprise among the Scottish nobles, and the father of the Ruthvens had lost his life for such an attempt. Adopting this as their intention, it is probable that Queen Elizabeth was privy to the attempt; and perhaps having found so much conveniency from detaining the person of Mary in captivity, she might have formed some similar plan for obtaining the custody of her son. I must not conclude this story without observing, that Logan’s bones were brought into a court of justice, for the purpose of being tried after death, and that he was declared guilty, and a sentence of forfeiture pronounced against him. But it has not been noticed that Logan, a dissolute and extravagant man, was deprived of great part of his estate before his death, and that the King, therefore, could have no lucrative object in following out this ancient and barbarous form of process. The fate of Sprot, the notary, was singular enough. He was condemned to be hanged for keeping these treasonable letters in his possession, without communicating them to the government; and he suffered death accordingly, asserting to the last that the letters were genuine, and that he had only preserved them from curiosity. This fact he testified even in the agonies of death; for, being desired to give a sign of the truth and sincerity of his confession, after he was thrown off from the ladder, he is said to have clapped his hands three times. Yet some persons continued to think, that what Sprot told was untrue, and that the letters were forgeries; but it seems great incredulity to doubt the truth of a confession, which brought to the gallows the who made it; and, of late years, the letters produced by Sprot are regarded as genuine by the best judges of these matters. When so admitted, they render it evident that the purpose of the Gowrie conspiracy was to make King James a prisoner in the remote and inaccessible tower of Fastcastle, and perhaps ultimately to deliver him up to Queen Elizabeth.

We now approach the end of this collection of Tales. King James VI of Scotland married the daughter of the King of Denmark, called Anne of Denmark. They had a family, which recommended them very much to the English people, who were tired of seeing their crown pass from one female to another, without any prospect of male succession. They began, therefore, to turn their eyes towards James as the nearest heir of King Henry VIII, and the rightful successor, when Queen Elizabeth should fail. She was now old, her health broken, and her feelings painfully agitated by the death of Essex, her principal favourite. After his execution, she could scarcely be said ever to enjoy either health or reason. She sat on a pile of cushions, with her finger in her mouth, attending, as it seemed, to nothing, saving to the prayers which were from time to time read in her chamber. While the Queen of England was thus struggling out the last moments of life, her subjects were making interest with her successor, James, with whom even Cecil himself, the Prime Minister of England, had long kept up a secret correspondence. The breath had no sooner left Elizabeth’s body, than the near relation and godson of the late Queen, Sir Robert Carey, got on horseback, and, travelling with a rapidity which almost equalled that of the modern mail-coach, carried to the Palace of Holyrood the news, that James was King of England, France, and Ireland, as well as of his native dominions of Scotland. James arrived in London on the 7th of May, 1603, and took possession of his new realms without the slightest opposition; and thus the island of Great Britain, so long divided into the separate kingdoms of England and Scotland, became subject to the same prince. Here, therefore, must end the Tales of your Grandfather, so far as they relate to the History of Scotland, considered as a distinct and separate kingdom.

Chapter 34

The kind reception which the former Tales, written for your amusement and edification, have met with, induces me, my dear little boy, to make an attempt to bring down my historical narrative to a period, when the union of England and Scotland became as complete, in the intimacy of feelings and interests, as law had declared and intended them to be, and as the mutual advantage of both countries had long, though in vain, required. The importance of events, however, and the desire to state them clearly, have induced me for the present to stop short as the period of the Union of the Kingdoms.

We left off, you may recollect, when James, the sixth of that name who reigned in Scotland, succeeded, by the death of Queen Elizabeth, to the throne of England, and thus became Sovereign of the whole Island of Britain. Ireland also belonged to his dominions, having been partly subdued by the arms of the English, and partly surrendered to them by the submission of the natives. There had been, during Elizabeth’s time, many wars with the native lords and chiefs of the country; but the English finally obtained the undisturbed and undisputed possession of that rich and beautiful island. Thus the three kingdoms, formed by the Britannic Islands, came into the possession of one Sovereign, who was thus fixed in a situation of strength and security, which was at that time the lot of few monarchs in Europe.

King James’s power was the greater, that the progress of human society had greatly augmented the wisdom of statesmen and counsellors, and given strength and stability to those laws which preserve the poor and helpless against the encroachments of the wealthy and the powerful.

But Master Littlejohn may ask me what I mean by the Progress of Human Society; and it is my duty to explain it as intelligibly as I can. If you consider the lower order of animals, such as birds, dogs, cattle, or any class of the brute creation, you will find that they are, to every useful purpose, deprived of the means of communicating their ideas to each other. They have cries, indeed, by which they express pleasure or pain — fear or hope — but they have no formed speech, by which, like men, they can converse together. God Almighty, who called all creatures into existence in such manner as best pleased him, has imparted to those inferior animals no power of improving their situation, or of communicating with each other. There is, no doubt, a difference in the capacity of these inferior classes of creation. But though one bird may build her nest more neatly than one of a different class, or one dog may be more clever and more capable of learning tricks than another, yet, as it wants language to explain to its comrades the advantages which it may possess, its knowledge dies with it; thus birds and dogs continue to use the same general habits proper to the species, which they have done since the creation of the world. In other words, animals have a certain limited degree of sense termed instinct, which teaches the present race to seek their food, and provide for their safety and comfort, in nearly the same manner as their parents did before them since the beginning of time, but does not enable them to communicate to their successors any improvements, or to derive any increase of knowledge from the practice of their predecessors. Thus you may remark, that the example of the swallow, the wren, and other birds, which cover their nests with a roof to protect them against the rain, is never imitated by other classes, who continue to construct theirs in the same exposed and imperfect manner since the beginning of the world.

Another circumstance, which is calculated to prevent the inferior animals from rising above the rank in nature which they are destined to hold, is the short time during which they remain under the care of their parents. A few weeks gives the young nestlings of every season, strength and inclination to leave the protection of the parents; the tender attachment which has subsisted while the young bird was unable to provide for itself without assistance is entirely broken off, and in a week or two more they probably do not know each other. The young of the sheep, the cow, and the horse, attend and feed by the mother’s side for a certain short period, during which they are protected by her care, and supported by her milk; but they have no sooner attained the strength necessary to defend themselves, and the sense to provide for their wants, than they separate from the mother, and all intercourse between the parent and her offspring is closed for ever.

Thus each separate tribe of animals retains exactly the same station in the general order of the universe which was occupied by its predecessors; and no existing generation either is, or can be, much better instructed, or more ignorant, than that which preceded or that which is to come after it. It is widely different with mankind. God, as we are told in Scripture, was pleased to make man after his own image. By this you are not to understand that the Creator of heaven and earth has any visible form or shape, to which the human body bears a resemblance; but the meaning is, that as the God who created the world is a spirit invisible and incomprehensible, so he joined to the human frame some portion of an essence resembling his own, which is called the human soul, and which, while the body lives, continues to animate and direct its motions, and on the dissolution of the bodily form which it has occupied, returns to the spiritual world, to be answerable for the good and evil of its works upon earth. It is therefore impossible, that man, possessing this knowledge of right and wrong, proper to a spiritual essence resembling those higher orders of creation whom we call angels, and having some affinity, though at an incalculable distance, to the essence of the Deity himself, should have been placed under the same limitations in point of progressive improvement with the inferior tribes, who are neither responsible for the actions which they perform under directions of their instinct, nor capable, by any exertion of their own, of altering or improving their condition in the scale of creation. So far is this from being the case with man, that the bodily organs of the human frame bear such a correspondence with the properties of his soul, as to give him the means, when they are properly used, of enlarging his powers, and becoming wiser and more skilful from hour to hour, as long as his life permits; and not only is this the case, but tribes and nations of men assembled together for the purpose of mutual protection and defence, have the same power of alteration and improvement, and may, if circumstances are favourable, go on by gradual steps from being a wild horde of naked barbarians, till they become a powerful and civilized people.

The capacity of amending our condition by increase of knowledge, which, in fact affords the means by which man rises to be the lord of creation, is grounded on the peculiar advantages possessed by the human race. Let us look somewhat closely into this, my dear boy, for it involves some truths equally curious and important. If man, though possessed of the same immortal essence or soul, which enables him to choose and refuse, to judge and condemn, to reason and conclude, were to be without the power of communicating to his fellow-men the conclusions to which his reasoning had conducted him, it is clear that the progress of each individual in knowledge, could be only in proportion to his own observation and his own powers of reasoning. But the gift of speech enables any one to communicate to others whatever idea of improvement occurs to him, and thus, instead of dying in the bosom of the individual by whom it was first thought of, it becomes a part of the stock of knowledge proper to the whole community, which is increased and rendered generally and effectually useful by the accession of further information, as opportunities occur, or men of reflecting and inventive minds arise in the state. This use of spoken language, therefore, which so gloriously distinguishes man from the beasts that perish, is the primary means of introducing and increasing knowledge in infant communities.

Another early cause of the improvement in human society is the incapacity of children to act for themselves, rendering the attention and protection of parents to their offspring necessary for so long a period. Even where the food which the earth affords without cultivation, such as fruits and herbs, is most plentifully supplied, children remain too helpless for many years to be capable of gathering it, and providing for their own support. This is still more the case where food must be procured by hunting, fishing, or cultivating the soil, occupations requiring a degree of skill and personal strength, which children cannot possess until they are twelve or fourteen years old. It follows, as a law of nature, that instead of leaving their parents at an early age, like the young of birds or quadrupeds, the youth of the human species necessarily remain under the protection of their father and mother for many years, during which they have time to acquire all the knowledge the parents are capable of teaching. It arises also from this wise arrangement, that the love and affection between the offspring and the parents, which among the brute creation is the produce of mere instinct, and continues for a very short time, becomes in the human race a deep and permanent feeling, founded on the attachment of the parents, the gratitude of the children, and the effect of long habit on both.

For these reasons, it usually happens, that children feel no desire to desert their parents, but remain inhabitants of the same huts in which they were born, and take up the task of labouring for subsistence in their turn, when their fathers and mothers are disabled by age. One or two such families gradually unites together, and avail themselves of each other’s company for mutual defence and assistance. This is the earliest stage of human society; and some savages have been found in this condition so very rude and ignorant, that they may be said to be little wiser or better than a herd of animals. The natives of New South Wales, for example, are, even at present, in the very lowest scale of humanity, and ignorant of every art which can add comfort or decency to human life. These unfortunate savages use no clothes, construct no cabins or huts, and are ignorant even of the manner of chasing animals or catching fish, unless such of the latter as are left by the tide, or which are found on the rocks; they feed upon the most disgusting substances, snakes, worms, maggots, and whatever trash falls in their way. They know indeed how to kindle a fire — in that respect only they have stepped beyond the deepest ignorance to which man can be subjected — but they have not learned how to boil water; and when they see Europeans perform this ordinary operation, they have been known to run away in great terror. Voyages tell us of other savages who are even ignorant of the use of fire, and who maintain a miserable existence by subsisting on shell-fish eaten raw.

And yet, my dear boy, out of this miserable and degraded state, which seems worse than that of the animals, man has the means and power to rise into the high place for which Providence hath destined him. In proportion as opportunities occur, these savage tribes acquire the arts of civilized life; they construct huts to shelter them against the weather; they invent arms for destroying the wild beasts by which they are annoyed, and for killing those whose flesh in adapted for food; they domesticate others, and use at pleasure their mild, flesh, and skins; and they plant fruit-trees and sow grain as soon as they discover that the productions of nature most necessary for their comfort may be increased by labour and industry. Thus, the progress of human society, unless it is interrupted by some unfortunate circumstances, continues to advance, and every new generation, without losing any of the advantages already attained, goes on to acquire others which were unknown to the preceding one.

For instance, when three or four wandering families of savages have settled in one place, and begun to cultivate the ground, and collect their huts into a hamlet or village, they usually agree in choosing some chief to be their judge, and the arbiter of their disputes in time of peace, their leader and captain when they go to war with other tribes. This is the foundation of a monarchial government. Or, perhaps, their public affairs are directed by a council, or senate, of the oldest and wisest of the bribe — this is the origin of a republican state. At all events, in one way or other, they put themselves under something resembling a regular government, and obtain the protection of such laws as may prevent them from quarrelling with one another. Other important alterations are introduced by time. At first, no doubt, the members of the community store their fruits and the produce of the chase in common. But shortly after, reason teaches them that the individual who has bestowed labour and trouble upon any thing so as to render it productive, acquires a right of property, as it is called, in the produce, which his efforts have in a manner called into existence. Thus, it is soon acknowledged, that he who has planted a tree has the sole right of consuming its fruit; and that he who has sown a field of corn has the exclusive title to gather in the grain. Without the labour of the planter and husbandman, there would have been no apples or wheat, and therefore, these are justly entitled to the fruit of their labour. In like manner, the state itself is conceived to acquire a right of property in the fields cultivated by its members, and in the forests and waters where they have of old practised the rights of hunting and fishing. If men of a different tribe enter on the territory of a neighbouring nation, war ensues between them, and peace is made by agreeing on both sides to reasonable conditions. Thus a young state extends its possessions; and by its communications with other tribes lays the foundation of public laws for the regulation of their behaviour to each other in pace and in war. Other arrangements arise not less important, tending to increase the difference between mankind in their wild and original state, and that which they assume in the progress of civilisation. One of the most remarkable is the separation of the citizens into different classes of society, and the introduction of the use of money. I will try to render these great changes intelligible to you. In the earlier stages of society, every member of the community may be said to supply all his wants by his own personal labour. He acquires his food by the chase — he sows and reaps his own grain — he gathers his own fruit — he cuts the skin which forms his dress so as to fit his own person — he makes the sandals or buskins which protect his feet. He is, therefore, better or worse accommodated exactly in proportion to the personal skill and industry which he can apply to that purpose. But it is discovered in process of time, that one man has particular dexterity in hunting, being, we shall suppose, young, active, and enterprising; another, older and of a more staid character, has peculiar skill in tilling the ground, or in managing cattle and flocks; a third, lame perhaps, or infirm, has a happy talent for cutting out and stitching together garments, or for shaping and sewing shoes. It becomes, therefore, for the advantage of all, that the first man shall attend to nothing but hunting, the second confine himself to the cultivation of the land, and the third remain at home to make clothes and shoes. But then it follows as a necessary consequence, that the huntsman must give to the man who cultivates the land a part of his venison and skins, if he desires to have grain of which to make bread, or a cow to furnish his family with milk; and that both the hunter and the agriculturist must give a share of the produce of the chase, and a proportion of the grain, to the third man, to obtain from him clothes and shoes. Each is thus accommodated with what he wants a great deal better, and more easily, by every one following a separate occupation, than they could possibly have been, had each of the three been hunter, farmer, and tailor, in his own person, practising two of the trades awkwardly and unwillingly, instead of confining himself to that which he perfectly understands, and pursues with success. This mode of accommodation, is called barter, and is the earliest kind of traffic by which men exchange their property with each other, and satisfy their wants by parting with their superfluities.

But in process of time, barter is found inconvenient. The husbandman, perhaps, has no use for shoes when the shoemaker is in need of corn, or the shoemaker may not want furs or venison when the hunter desires to have shoes. To remedy this, almost all nations have introduced the use of what is called money; that is to say, they have fixed on some particular substance capable of being divided into small portions, which, having itself little intrinsic value applicable to human use, is nevertheless received as a representative of the value of all commodities. Particular kinds of shells are used as money in some countries; in others, leather, cloth, or iron, are employed; but gold and silver, divided into small portions, are used for this important purpose almost all over the world.

That you may understand the use of this circulating representative of the value of commodities, and comprehend the convenience which it affords, let us suppose that the hunter, as we formerly said, wanted a pair of shoes, and the shoemaker had no occasion for venison, but wanted some corn, while the husbandman, not desiring to have shoes, stood in need of some other commodity. Here are three men, each desirous of some article of necessity, or convenience, which he cannot obtain by barter, because the party whom he has to deal with does not want the commodity which he has to offer in exchange. But supposing the use of money introduced, and its value acknowledged, these three persons are accommodated by means of it in the amplest manner possible. The shoemaker does not want the venison which the hunter offers for sale, but some other man in the village is willing to purchase it for five pieces of silver — the hunter sells his commodity, and goes to the shoemaker, who, though he would not barter the shoes for the venison which he did not want, readily sells them for the money, and, going with it to the farmer, buys from him the quantity of corn he needs; while the farmer, in his turn, purchases whatever he is in want of, or if he requires nothing at the time, lays the pieces of money aside, to use when he had occasion.

The invention of money is followed by the gradual rise of trade. There are men who make it their business to buy various articles, and sell them again for profit; that is, they sell them somewhat dearer than they bought them. This is convenient for all parties; since the original proprietors are willing to sell their commodities to those store-keepers, or shopkeepers, at a low rate, to be saved the trouble of hawking them about in search of a customer; while the public in general are equally willing to buy from such intermediate dealers, because they are sure to be immediately supplied with what they want.

The numerous transactions occasioned by the introduction of money, together with other circumstances, soon destroy the equality of ranks which prevails in an early stage of society. Some men hoard up quantities of gold and silver, become rich, and hire the assistance of others to do their work; some waste or spend their earnings, become poor, and sink into the capacity of servants. Some men are wise and skilful, and, distinguishing themselves by their exploits in battle and their counsels in peace, rise to the management of public affairs. Others, and much greater numbers, have no more valour than to follow where they are led, and no more talent than to act as they are commanded. These last sink, as a mater of course, into obscurity, while the others become generals and statesmen. The attainment of learning tends also to increase the difference of ranks. Those who receive a good education by the care of their parents, or possess so much strength of mind and readiness of talent as to educate themselves, become separated from the more ignorant of the community, and form a distinct class and condition of their own; holding no more communication with the others than is absolutely necessary. In this way the whole order of society is changed, and instead of presenting the uniform appearance of one large family, each member of which has nearly the same rights, it seems to resemble a confederacy or association of different ranks, classes, and conditions of men, each rank filling up a certain department in society, and discharging a class of duties totally distinct from those of the others. The steps by which a nation advances, from the natural and simple state which we have just described, into the more complicated system in which ranks are distinguished from each other, are called the progress of society, or of civilisation. It is attended, like all things human, with much of evil as well as good; but it seems to be a law of our moral nature, that faster or slower, such alterations must take place, in consequence of the inventions and improvements of succeeding generations of mankind.

Another alteration, productive of consequences not less important, arises out of the gradual progress towards civilisation. In the early state of society, every man in the tribe is a warrior, and liable to serve as such when the country requires his assistance; but in progress of time the pursuit of the military art is, at least on all ordinary occasions, confined to bands of professional soldiers, whose business it is to fight the battles of the state, when required, in consideration of which they are paid by the community, the other members of which are thus left to the uninterrupted pursuit of their own peaceful occupations. This alteration is attended with more important consequences than we can at present pause to enumerate.

We have said that those mighty changes which bring men to dwell in castles and cities instead of huts and caves, and enable them to cultivate the sciences and subdue the elements, instead of being plunged in ignorance and superstition, are owing primarily to the reason with which God has graciously endowed the human race; and in a second degree to the power of speech, by which we enjoy the faculty of communicating to each other the result of our own reflections.

But it is evident that society, when its advance is dependent upon oral tradition alone, must be liable to many interruptions. The imagination of the speaker, and the dullness or want of comprehension of the hearer, may lead to many errors: and it is generally found that knowledge makes but very slow progress until the art of writing is discovered, by which a fixed, accurate, and substantial form can be given to the wisdom of past ages. When this noble art is attained, there is a sure foundation laid for the preservation and increase of knowledge. The record is removed from the inaccurate recollection of the aged, and placed in a safe, tangible, and imperishable form, which may be subjected to the inspection of various persons, until the sense is completely explained and comprehended, with the least possible chance of doubt or uncertainty.

By the art of writing, a barrier is fixed against those violent changes so apt to take place in the early stages of society, by which all the fruits of knowledge are frequently destroyed, as those of the earth are by a hurricane. Suppose, for example, a case, which frequently happens in he early history of mankind, that some nation which has made considerable progress in the arts, is invaded and subdued by another which is more powerful and numerous, though more ignorant than themselves. It is clear, that in this case, as the rude and ignorant victors would set no value on the knowledge of the vanquished, it would, if intrusted only to the memory of the individuals of the conquered people, be gradually lost and forgotten. But if the useful discoveries made by the ancestors of the vanquished people were recorded in writing, the manuscripts in which they were described, though they might be neglected for a season, would, if preserved at all, probably attract attention at some more fortunate period. It was thus, when the empire of Rome, having reached the utmost height of its grandeur, was broken down and conquered by numerous bribes of ignorant though brave barbarians, that those admirable works of classical learning, on which such value is justly placed in the present day, were rescued from total destruction and oblivion by manuscript copies preserved by chance in the old libraries of churches and convents. It may indeed be taken as an almost infallible maxim, that no nation can make any great progress in useful knowledge or civilisation, until their improvement can be rendered stable and permanent by the invention of writing.

Another discovery, however, almost as important as that of writing, was made during the fifteenth century. I mean the invention of printing. Writing with the hand must be always a slow, difficult, and expensive operation; and when the manuscript is finished, it is perhaps laid aside among the stores of some great library, where it may be neglected by students, and must, at any rate, be accessible to very few persons, and subject to be destroyed by numerous accidents. But the admirable invention of printing enables the artist to make a thousand copies from the original manuscripts, by having them stamped upon paper, in far less time and with less expense than it would cost to make half a dozen such copies with the pen. From the period of this glorious discovery, knowledge of every kind may be said to have been brought out of the darkness of cloisters and universities, where it was known only to a few scholars, into the broad light of day, where its treasures were accessible to all men.

The Bible itself, in which we find the rules of eternal life, as well as a thousand invaluable lessons for our conduct in this world, was, before the invention of printing, totally inaccessible to all, save the priests of Rome, who found it their interest to discourage the perusal of the Scriptures by any except their own order, and thus screened from discovery those alterations and corruptions, which the inventions of ignorant and designing men had introduced into the beautiful simplicity of the gospel. But when, by means of printing, the copies of the Bible became so numerous, that every one above the most wretched poverty, could, at a cheap price, possess himself of a copy of the blessed rule of life, there was a general appeal from the errors and encroachments of the Church of Rome, to the Divine Word on which they professed to be founded; a treasure formerly concealed from the public, but now placed within the reach of every man, whether of the clergy or laity. The consequence of these enquires, which printing alone could have rendered practicable, was the rise of the happy Reformation of the Christian church. The same noble art made knowledge of a temporal kind as accessible as that which concerned religion. Whatever works of history, science, morality, or entertainment, seemed likely to instruct or amuse the reader, were printed and distributed among the people at large by printers and booksellers, who had a profit by doing so. Thus, the possibility of important discoveries being forgotten in the course of years, or of the destruction of useful arts, or elegant literature, by the loss of the records in which they are preserved, was in a great measure removed.

In a word, the printing-press is a contrivance which empowers any one individual to address his whole fellow-subjects on any topic which he thinks important, and which enables a whole nation to listen to the voice of such individual, however obscure the may be, with the same ease, and greater certainty, of understanding what he says, than if a chief of Indians were haranguing the tribe at his council-fire. Nor is the important difference to be forgotten, that the orator can only speak to the persons present, while the author of a book addresses himself, not only to the race now in existence, but to all succeeding generations, while his work shall be held in estimation. I have thus endeavoured to trace the steps by which a general civilisation is found to take place in nations with more or less rapidity, as laws and institutions, or external circumstances, favourable or other wise, advance or retard the increase of knowledge, and by the course of which man, endowed with reason, and destined for immortality, gradually improves the condition in which Providence has placed him; while the inferior animals continue to live by means of the same, or nearly the same, instincts of self-preservation, which have directed their species in all its descents since the creation.

I have called your attention at some length to this matter, because you will now have to remark, that a material change had gradually and slowly taken place, both in the kingdom of England, and in that of Scotland, when their long quarrels were at length, in appearance, ended, by the accession of James the Sixth of Scotland to the English crown, which he held under the title of James the First of that powerful kingdom.

Chapter 35

The whole island of Great Britain was now united under one king, though it remained in effect two separate kingdoms, governed by their own separate constitutions, and their own distinct codes of laws, and liable again to be separated, in case, by the death of King James without issue, the kingdoms might have been claimed by different heirs. For although James had two sons, yet there was a possibility that they might have both died before their father, in which case the sceptres of England and Scotland must have passed once more into different hands. The Hamilton family would, in that case, have succeeded to the kingdom of Scotland, and the next heir of Elizabeth to that of England. Who that heir was, it might have been found difficult to determine.

It was in these circumstances to be apprehended, that James, the sovereign of a poor and barren kingdom, which had for so many ages maintained an almost perpetual war with England, would have met with a prejudiced and unpleasant reception form a nation long accustomed to despise the Scotch for their poverty, and to regard them with enmity on account of their constant hostility to the English blood and name. It might have been supposed also, that a people so proud as the English, and having so many justifiable reasons for their pride, would have regarded with an evil eye the transference of the sceptre from the hand of the Tudors, who had swayed it during five successive reigns, to those of a Stewart, descended from the ancient and determined enemies of the English nation. But it was the wise and gracious pleasure Providence, that while so many reasons existed to render the accession of James, and, in consequence, the union of the two crowns, obnoxious to the English people, others should occur, which not only balanced, but for a time completely overpowered that objections, as well in the minds of men of sense and education, as in the judgment of the populace, who are usually averse to foreign rules, for no other reason than that they are such. Queen Elizabeth, after a long and glorious reign, had, in her latter days, become much more cross and uncertain in her temper than had been the case in her youth, more wilful also, and more inclined to exert her arbitrary power on slight occasions. One peculiar cause of offence given to her people was her obstinate refusal to gratify their anxiety, by making, as the nation earnestly desired, some arrangement for the succession to the throne after her own death. On this subject, indeed, she nursed so much suspicion and jealousy, as gave rise to more than one extraordinary scene. The following is a whimsical instance, among others, of her unwillingness to hear of any thing respecting old age and its consequences.

The Bishop of St David’s, preaching in her Majesty’s presence, took occasion from his text, which was Psalm xc. v. 12, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom,” to allude to the Queen’s advanced period of life, she being then sixty-three, and to the consequent infirmities attending upon old age; as, for example, when the grinders shall be few in number, and they wax dark who look out at windows — when they daughters of singing shall be abased, and more to the like purpose. With the tone of these admonitions the Queen was so ill satisfied, that she flung open the window of the closet in which she sate, and told the preacher to keep his admonitions to himself, since she plainly saw the greatest clerks (meaning scholars) were not the wisest men. Nor did her displeasure end here. The bishop was commanded to confine himself to his house for a time, and the Queen, referring to the circumstance some time afterwards, told her courtiers how much the prelate was mistaken in supposing her to be as much decayed as perhaps he might feel himself to be. As for her, she thanked God, neither her stomach nor her strength — her voice for singing, nor her art of fingering instruments, were any whit decayed. And to prove the goodness of her eyes, she produced a little jewel, with an inscription in very small letters, which she offered to Lord Worcester and Sir James Crofts to read. They had too much tact to be sharp-sighted on the occasion, she, therefore, read it herself with apparent ease, and laughed at the error of the good bishop.

The faults of Elizabeth, though arising chiefly from age and ill-temper, were noticed and resented by her subjects, who began openly to show themselves weary of a female reign, forgetting how glorious it had been, and manifested a general desire to have a king to rule over them. With this almost universal feeling, all eyes, even those of Elizabeth’s most confidential statesman and counsellor, Sir Robert Cecil, afterwards Earl of Salisbury, were turned to the King of Scotland as next heir to the crown. He was a Protestant prince, which assured him the favour of the Church of England, and of the numerous and strong adherents to the Protestant religion. As such, Cecil entered into a secret correspondence with him, in which he pointed out the line of conduct proper on James’s part to secure his interest in England. On the other hand, the English Catholics, on whom Queen Elizabeth’s government had imposed many severe penal laws, were equally friendly to the succession of King James, since from that prince, whose mother had been a strict Catholic, they might hope for favour, to the extent at least of some release from the various hardships which the laws of England imposed on them. The Earl of Northumberland conducted a correspondence with James on the part of the Catholics, in which he held high language, and offered to assert the Scottish King’s right of succession by force of arms.

These intrigues were dept by James as secret as was in his power. If Elizabeth had discovered either the one or the other, neither the services of Cecil, nor the high birth and power of the great Earl of Northumberland, could have saved them from experiencing the extremity of her indignation. Cecil, in particular, was at one time on the point of ruin. A post from Scotland delivered into his hands a private packet from the Scottish King, when the secretary was in attendance on Elizabeth. “Open your despatches,” said Elizabeth, “and let us hear the news from Scotland.” A man of less presence of mind would have been ruined; for if the Queen had seen the least hesitation in her minister’s manner, her suspicions would have been instantly awakened, and detection must have followed. But Cecil recollected the Queen’s sensitive aversion to any disagreeable smell, which was strengthened by the belief of the time, that infectious diseases and subtile poisons could be communicated by means of scent alone. The artful secretary availed himself of this, and while he seemed to be cutting the strings which held the packet, he observed it had a singular and unpleasant odour; on which Elizabeth desired it might be taken from her presence, and opened elsewhere with due precaution. Thus Cecil got an opportunity to withdraw from the packet whatever could have betrayed his correspondence with King James. Cecil’s policy and inclinations were very generally followed in the English Court; indeed, there appeared no heir to the crown, male or female, whose right could be placed in competition with that of James. It may be added to this general inclination in James’s favour, that the defects of his character were of a kind which did not attract much attention while he occupied the throne of Scotland. The delicacy of his situation was then so great, and he was exposed to so many dangers from the dislike of the clergy, the feuds of the nobles, and the tumultuous disposition of the common people, that he dared not indulge in any of those childish freaks of which he was found capable when his motions were more completely at his own disposal. On the contrary, he was compelled to seek out the sagest counsellors, to listen to the wisest advice, and to put a restraint on his own natural disposition for encouraging idle favourites, parasites, and flatterers, as well as to suppress his inward desire to extend the limits of his authority farther than the constitution of the country permitted. At time period James governed by the advice of such ministers as the Chancellor Maitland, and afterwards of Home, Earl of Dunbar, men of thought and action, of whose steady measures and prudent laws the King naturally obtained the credit. Neither was James himself deficient in a certain degree of sagacity. He possessed all that could be derived from learning alloyed by pedantry, and from a natural shrewdness of wit, which enabled him to play the part of a man of sense, when either acting under the influence of constraint and fear, or where no temptation occurred to induce him to be guilty of some folly. It was by these specious accomplishments that he acquired in his youth the character of an able and wise monarch, although when he was afterwards brought on a more conspicuous stage, and his character better understood, he was found entitled to no better epithet than that conferred on him by an able French politician, who called him, “the wisest fool in Christendom.” Such, however, as King James was, England now received him with more universal acclamation than had attended any of her princes on their ascent to the throne. Multitudes, of every description, hastened to accompany him on his journey through England to the capital city. The wealthy placed their gold at his disposal, the powerful opened their halls for the mast magnificent entertainments, the clergy hailed him as the head of the Church, and the poor, who had nothing to offer but their lives, seemed ready to devote them to his service. Some of the Scottish retinue, who were acquainted with James’s character, saw and feared the unfavourable effect which such a change of circumstances was likely to work on him. “A plague of these people!” said one of his oldest domestics; “they will spoil a good king.”

Another Scot made an equally shrewd answer to an Englishman, who desired to know from him the King’s real character. “Did you ever see a jackanapes?” said the Scotchman, meaning a tame monkey; “if you have, you must be aware that if you hold the creature in your hands you can make him bite me, and if I hold him in my hands, I can make him bite you.”

Both these sayings were shown to be true in course of time. King James, brought from poverty to wealth, became thoughtless and prodigal, indolent, and addicted to idle pleasures. From hearing the smooth flatteries of the clergy of England, who recognised him as head of the church, instead of the rude attacks of the Presbyterian ministers of Scotland, who had hardly admitted his claim to be one of its inferior members, he entertained new and more lofty pretension to divine right. Finally, brought from a country where his personal liberty and the freedom of his government were frequently placed under restraint, and his life sometimes in danger, he was overjoyed to find himself in a condition where his own will was not only unfettered, as far as he himself was concerned, but appeared to be the model by which all loyal subjects were desirous to accommodate theirs; and he seemed readily enough disposed to stretch to its utmost limits the power thus presented to him. Thus, from being a just and equitable monarch, he was inspired with a love of arbitrary power; and from attending, as had been his custom, to state business, he now minded little save hunting and festivals.

In this manner James, though possessing a large stock of pedantic wisdom, came to place himself under the management of a succession of unworthy favourites, and although particularly good-natured, and naturally a lover of justice, was often hurried into actions and measures, which, if they could not be termed absolutely tyrannical, were nevertheless illegal and unjust. It is, however, of his Scottish government that we are now to treat, and therefore I am to explain to you, as well as I can, the consequences of the union with England to the people and country of Scotland. If the English nation were at first delighted to receive King James as their sovereign, the Scottish people were no less enchanted by the prospect of their monarch’s ascent to this wealthy and preeminent situation. They considered the promotion of their countryman and prince as an omen of good fortune to their nation; each individual Scotchman expected to secure some part of the good things with which England was supposed to abound, and multitudes harried to court, to put themselves in the way of obtaining their share. James was shocked at the greediness and importunity of his hungry countrymen, and scandalized besides at the poor and miserable appearance which many of them made among the rich Englishmen, which brought discredit on the country to which he himself, as well as they, belonged. He sent instructions to the Scottish Privy Council to prevent such intruders from leaving their country, complaining of their manners and appearance, as calculated to bring disgrace upon all the natives of Scotland. A proclamation was accordingly issued at Edinburgh, setting forth that great numbers of men and women of base sort and condition, and without any certain trade, calling, or dependence, repaired from Scotland to court, which was almost filled with them, to the great annoyance of his Majesty, and to the heavy disgrace of the Scottish nation; for these suitors being, in the judgment of all who saw them, but “idle rascals, and poor miserable bodies,” their importunity and numbers raised an opinion that there were no persons of good rank, comeliness, or credit in the country which sent forth such a flight of locusts. Further, it was complained that these unseemly supplicants usually alleged that the cause of their repairing to court was to desire payment of old debts due by the King, “which, of all kinds of importunity,” says the proclamation, with great simplicity, “is the most unpleasing to his Majesty.” Therefore, general proclamation was directed to be made at all the market crosses in Scotland, that no Scottish person should be permitted to travel to England without leave of the Privy Council; and that vessels transporting individuals, who had not obtained due license, should be liable to confiscation. But although the King did all that was in his power to prevent these uncouth suitors from repairing to his court, yet there were many other natives of Scotland of a higher description, the sons of men of rank and quality, who, by birth and condition, had the right of attending his court, and approaching his presence, whom he could not prohibit from doing so, without positively disowning all former affections, national feeling, and sympathy or gratitude for past services. The benefits which he conferred on these were ill construed by the English, who seem to have accounted every thing as taken from themselves which was bestowed on a Scotchman. The King, though it does not appear that he acted with any unjust purpose, was hardly judged, both by his own countrymen and the English. The Scots, who had been his friends in his inferior situation, and, as it might be called, his adversity, naturally expected a share of his bounty, when he was advanced to such high prosperity; while the English, with a jealousy for which much allowance is also to be made, regarded these northern suitors with an evil eye. In short, the Scottish courtiers though that their claims of ancient services, of allegiance tried under difficult circumstances, of favour due to countrymen, and perhaps even to kindred, with no people carry so far, entitled them to all the advantages which the King might have to bestow; while the English, on the other hand, considered every thing given to the Scots as conferred at their expense, and used many rhymes and satirical expressions to that purpose, such as occur in the old song:

Bonny Scot, all witness can,

England has made thee a gentleman.

Thy blue bonnet, when thou came hither,

Would scarcely keep out the wind or weather;

But now it is turn’d to a hat and a feather —

The bonnet is blown the devil knows whither.

The sword at thy haunch was a huge black blade,

With a great basket-hilt, of iron made;

But now a long rapier doth hand by his side,

And huffingly doth this bonny Scot ride.

Another rhyme, to the same purpose, described a Scottish courtier thus:—

In Scotland he was born and bred,

And, though a beggar, must be fed.

It is said, that when the Scots complained to the King of this last aspersion, James replied, “Hold your peace, for I will soon make the English as poor as yourselves, and so end that controversy.” But as it was not in the power of wit to appease the feud betwixt the nobility and gentry of two proud nations, so lately enemies, all the efforts of the King were unequal to prevent bloody and desperate quarrels between his countrymen and his new subjects, to the great disquiet of the court, and the distress of the good-natured monarch, who, averse to war in all its shapes, and even to the sight of a drawn sword, suffered grievously on such occasions.

There was one of those incidents which assumed a character so formidable, that it threatened the destruction of all the Scots at the court and in the capital, and, in consequence, a breach between the kingdoms so lately and happily brought into alliance. As a public horse-race at Croydon, Philip Herbert, an Englishman of high birth, though, as it fortunately chanced, of no degree of corresponding spirit, received, an a quarrel, a blow in the face by a switch or horse-whip, from one Ramsay, a Scottish gentleman, in attendance on the court. The rashness and violence of Ramsay was construed into a national point of quarrel by the English present, who proposed revenging themselves on the spot by a general attack upon all the Scots on the race-ground. One gentleman, named Pinchbeck, although ill fitted for such a strife, for he had but the use of two fingers on his right hand, rode furiously through the multitude, with his dagger ready drawn, exhorting all the English to imitate him in an immediate attack on the Scots, exclaiming, “Let us breakfast with those that are here, and dine with the rest in London.” But as Herbert did not return the blow, no scuffle or assault actually took place; otherwise, it is probable, a dreadful scene must have ensued. James, with whom Herbert was a particular favourite, rewarded his moderation or timidity by raising him to the rank of Knight, Baron, Viscount, and Earl of Montgomery, all in one day. Ramsay was banished the court for a season; and thus the immediate affront was in some degree alleviated. But the new Earl Montgomery remained, in the opinion of his countrymen, a dishonoured man; and it is said his mother, the sister of Sir Philip Sidney, wept and tore her hair when she heard of his having endured with patience the insult offered by Ramsay. This is the lady whom, in a beautiful epitaph, Ben Jonson has described as

Sidney’s sister, Pembroke’s mother;

Death, ere thou has slain another

Wise, and good, and learn’d as she,

Time shall throw a dart at thee.

Yet the patience of Herbert under the insult was the fortunate prevention of a great national misfortune, for which, if his after conduct had not given tokens of an abject spirit, he might have been praised as a patriot, who had preferred the good of his country to the gratification of his own immediate resentment.

Another offence given by the haughty and irascible temper of a Scotchman, was also likely to have produced disastrous consequences. The Inns of Court are the places of resort and study appointed for those young men who are destined to the profession of the law in England, and they are filled with students, men often of high family and accomplishments, and who, living together in the sort of colleges set apart for their residence, have always kept up the ideas of privilege and distinction, to which their destination to a highly honourable profession, as well as their won birth and condition, entitles them. One of these gentlemen, by name Edward Hawley, appeared at court on a public occasion, and probably intruded farther than his rank authorized; so that Maxwell, a Scotchman, much favoured by James, and an usher of his chamber, not only thrust him back, but actually pulled him out of the presence-chamber by a black ribband, which, like other gallants of the time, Hawley wore at his ear. Hawley, who was a man of spirit, instantly challenged Maxwell to fight; and his second, who carried the challenge, informed him, that if he declined such meeting, Hawley would assault him wherever they should meet, and either kill him or be killed on the spot. James, by his royal interference, was able to solder up this quarrel also. He compelled Maxwell to make an apology to Hawley; and for the more full accommodation of the dispute, accepted of a splendid masque and entertainment offered on the occasion by the students of Gray’s Inn Lane, the society to which the injured gentleman belonged.

We may here remark a great change in the manners of the gallants of the time, which had taken place in the progress of civilisation, to which I formerly alluded. The ancient practice of trial by combat, which made a principal part of the feudal law, and which was resorted to in so many cases, had now fallen into disuse. The progress of reason, and the principles of justice, concurred to prove that a combat in the lists might indeed show which of two knights was the best rider and the stoutest swordsman, but that such an encounter could afford no evidence which of the two was innocent or guilty; since it can only be believed in a very ignorant age that Providence is to work a miracle in case of every chance combat, and award success to the party whose virtue best deserves it. The trial by combat, therefore, though it was not actually removed from the statute-book, was in fact only once appealed to after the accession of James, and even then the combat, as a mode of trial unsuited to enlightened times, did not take place.

For the same reason the other sovereigns of Europe discountenanced these challenges and combats, undertaken for pure honour or in revenge of some injury, which it used to be their custom to encourage, and to sanction with their own presence. Such rencounters were now generally accounted by all sensible persons an inexcusable waste of gallant men’s lives for matters of mere punctilio; and were strictly forbidden, under the highest penalties, by the Kings both of England and France, and, generally speaking, throughout the civilized world. But the royal command could not change the hearts of those to whom it was addressed, nor could the penalties annexed to the breach of the law intimidate men, whom a sense of honour, though a false one, had already induced to hold life cheap. Men fought as many, perhaps even more, single combats than formerly; and although such meetings took place without the publicity and formal show of lists, armour, horses, and the attendance of heralds and judges of the field, yet they were not less bloody than those which had been formerly fought with the observance of every point of chivalry.

According to the more modern practice, combatants met in some solitary place, alone, or each accompanied by a single friend called a second, who were supposed to see fair play. The combat was generally fought with the rapier or small swords, a peculiarly deadly weapon, and the combatants, to show they wore no defensive armour under their clothes, threw off their coats and waistcoats, and fought in their shirts. The duty of the seconds, properly interpreted, was only to see fair play; but as these hot-spirited young men felt it difficult to remain cool and inactive when they saw their friends engaged, it was very common for them, though without even the shadow of a quarrel, to fight also; and, in that case, whoever first despatched his antagonist, or rendered him incapable of further resistance, came without hesitation to the assistance of his comrade, and thus the decisive superiority was brought on by odds of numbers, which contradicts all our modern ideas of honour or of gallantry.

Such were the rules of the duel, as these single combats were called. The fashion came from France to England, and was adopted by the Scots and English as the readiest way of settling their national quarrels, which became very numerous.

One of the most noted of these was the bloody and fatal conflict between Sir James Stewart, eldest son of the first Lord Blantyre, a Scottish Knight of the Bath, and Sir George Wharton, an Englishman, eldest son of Lord Wharton, a Knight of the same order. These gentlemen were friends; and, if family report speaks truth, Sir James Stewart was one of the most accomplished young men of his time. A trifling dispute at play led to uncivil expressions on the part of Wharton, to which Stewart answered by a blow. A defiance was exchanged on the spot, and they resolved to fight next day t an appointed place near Waltham. This fatal appointment made, they carried their resentment with a show of friendship, and drank some wine together; after finishing which, Wharton observed to his opponent, “Our next meeting will not part so easily.” The fatal rencounter took place; both gentlemen fought with the most determined courage, and both fell with many wounds, and died on the field of battle.

Sometimes the rage and passion of the gallants of the day did not take the fairest, but the shortest, road to revenge; and the courtiers of James I, men of honourable birth and title, were, in some instances, known to attack an enemy by surprise, without regard to the previous appointment of a place of meeting, or any regulation as to the number of the combatants. Nay, it seems as if, on occasions of special provocation, the English did not disdain to use the swords of hired assassins in aid of their revenge, and all punctilios of equality of arms or numbers were set aside as idle ceremonies.

Sir John Ayres, a man of rank and fortune, entertained jealousy of Lord Herbert of Cherbury, celebrated as a soldier and philosopher, from having discovered that his wife, Lady Ayres, wore around her neck the picture of that high-spirited and accomplished nobleman. Incensed by the suspicions thus excited, Sir John watched Lord Herbert, and, meeting him on his return from court, attended by only two servants, he attacked him furiously, backed by four of his followers with drawn weapons, and accompanied by many others, who, though they did not directly unsheath their swords, yet served to lend countenance to the assault. Lord Herbert was thrown down under his horse; his swords, with which he endeavoured to defend himself, was broken in his hand; and the weight of the horse prevented him from rising. One of his lacqueys ran away on seeing his master attacked by such odds; the other stood by him, and released his foot, which was entangled in the stirrup. At this moment Sir John Ayres was standing over him, and in the act of attempting to plunge his sword in his body; but Lord Herbert, catching him by the legs, brought him also to the ground; and, although the young lord had but a fragment of his sword remaining, he struck his unmanly antagonist on the stomach with such force as deprived him of the power to prosecute his bloody purpose; and some of Lord Herbert’s friends coming up, the assassin thought it prudent to withdraw, vomiting blood in consequence of the blow he had received.

This scuffle lasted for some time in the streets of London, without any person feeling himself called upon to interfere in behalf of the weaker party; and Sir John Ayres seems to have entertained no shame for the enterprise, but only regret that it had not succeeded. Lord Herbert sent him a challenge as soon as his wounds were in the way of being cured; and the gentleman who bore it, placed the letter on the point of his sword, and in that manner delivered it publicly to the person whom he addressed. Sir John Ayres replied, that the injury he had received from Lord Herbert was of such a nature, that he would not consent to any terms of fair play, but would shoot him from a window with a musket, if he could find an opportunity. Lord Herbert protests, in his Memoirs, that there was no cause given on his part for the jealousy which drove Sir John Ayres to such desperate measures of revenge.

A still more noted case of cruel vengeance, and which served to embitter the general hatred against the Scots, was a crime committed by Lord Sanquhar, a nobleman of that country, the representative of the ancient family of Creichton. This young lord, in fencing with a man called Turner, a teacher of the science of defence, had the misfortune to be deprived of an eye by the accidental thrust of a foil. The mishap was, doubtless, both distressing and provoking; but there was no room to blame Turner, by whom no injury had been intended, and who greatly regretted the accident. One or two years after this, Lord Sanquhar being at the court of France, Henry IV, then king, asked him how he had lost his eye. Lord Sanquhar, not wishing to dwell on the subject, answered in general terms, that it was by the thrust of a sword. “Does the man who did the injury still live?” asked the King; and the unhappy question impressed it indelibly upon the heart of the infatuated Lord Sanquhar that his honour required the death of the poor fencing-master. Accordingly, he despatched his page and another of his followers, who pistolled Turner in his own school. The murderers were taken, and acknowledged they had been employed to do the deed by their lord, whose commands, they said, they had been bred up to hold as indisputable warrants for the execution of whatever he might enjoin. All the culprits being brought to trial and condemned, much interest was made for Lord Sanquhar, who was a young man, it is said, of eminent parts. But to have pardoned him would have argued too gross a partiality in James towards his countrymen and original subjects. He was hanged, therefore, along with his two associates; which Lord Bacon termed the most exemplary piece of justice in any king’s reign.

To sum up the account of these acts of violence, they gave occasion to a severe law, called the statute of stabbing. Hitherto, in the mild spirit of English jurisprudence, the crime of a person slaying another without premeditation only amounted to the lesser denomination of murder which the law calls manslaughter, and which had been only punishable by fine and imprisonment. But, to check the use of short swords and poniards, weapons easily concealed, and capable of being suddenly produced, it was provided, that if any one, though without forethought or premeditation, with sword or dagger, attacked and wounded another whose weapon was not drawn, of which would the party should die within six months after receiving it, the crime should not be accounted homicide, but rise into the higher class of murder, and be as such punished with death accordingly.

Chapter 36

While the quarrels of the English and Scottish nobility disturbed the comfort of James the First’s reign, it must be admitted that the monarch applied himself with some diligence to cement as much as possible the union of the two kingdoms, and to impart to each such advantages as they might be found capable of borrowing from the other. The love of power, natural to him as a sovereign, combined with a sincere wish for what would be most advantageous to both countries — for James, when not carried off by his love of idle pleasures, and the influence of unworthy favourites, possessed the power of seeing, and the disposition to advance, the interests of his subjects — alike induced him to accelerate, by every means, the uniting the two separate portions of Britain into one solid and inseparable state, for which nature designed the inhabitants of the same island. He was not negligent in adopting measures to attain so desirable an object, though circumstances deferred the accomplishment of his wishes till the lapse of a century. To explain the nature of his attempt, and the causes of its failure, we must consider the respective condition of England and Scotland as regarded their political institutions.

The long and bloody wars between the houses of York and Lancaster, who, for more than thirty years, contended for the throne of England, had, by slaughter in numerous battles, by repeated proscriptions, public executions, and forfeitures, reduced to a comparatively inconsiderable number, and to a much greater state of disability and weakness, the nobility and great gentry of the kingdom, by whom the crown had been alternately bestowed on one of other of the contending parties. Henry the Seventh, a wise and subtle prince, had, by his success in the decisive battle of Bosworth, attained a secure seat upon the English throne. He availed himself of the weak state of the peers and barons, and the rising power of the cities and boroughs, to undermine and destroy the influence which the feudal system had formerly given to the aristocracy over their vassals; and they submitted to this diminution of their authority, as men who felt that the stormy independence possessed by their ancestors had cost them very dear, and that it was better to live at ease under the king, as a common head of the state, than to possess, each on his own domains, the ruinous power of petty sovereigns, making war upon, and ruining others, and incurring destruction themselves. They therefore relinquished, without much open discontent, most of their oppressive rights of sovereignty over their vassals, and were satisfied to be honoured and respected masters of their own lands, without retaining the power of princes over those who cultivated them. They exacted rents from their tenants instead of service in battle, and attendance in peace, and became peaceful and wealthy, instead of being great and turbulent.

As the nobles sunk in political consideration, the citizens of the towns and seaports, and the smaller gentry and cultivators of the soil, increased in importance as well as in prosperity and happiness. These commoners felt, indeed, and sometimes murmured against, the ascendance acquired by the King, but were conscious, at the same time, that it was the power of the crown which had relieved them from the far more vexatious and frequent exactions of their late feudal lords; and as the burden fell equally on all, they were better contented to live under the sway of one king, who imposed the national burdens on the people at large, than under that of a number of proud lords. Henry VII availed himself of these favourable dispositions, to raise large taxes, which he partly hoarded up for occasions of emergency, and partly expended on levying bands of soldiers, both foreign and domestic, by whom he carried on such wars as he engaged in, without finding any necessity to call out the feudal array of the kingdom. In this manner he avoided rendering himself dependent on his nobles.

Henry VIII was a prince of a very different temper, and yet his reign contributed greatly to extend and confirm the power of the English crown. He expended, indeed, lavishly, the treasures of his father; but he replenished them, in a great measure, by the spoils of the Roman Catholic Church, and he confirmed the usurpation of arbitrary authority, by the vigour with which he wielded it. The tyranny which he exercised in his family and court, was unfelt by the citizens and common people, with whom he continued to be rather popular from his splendour, than dreaded for his violence. His power wrested from them, in the shape of compulsory loans and benevolences, large sums of money which he was not entitled to by the grant of Parliament; but though he could not directly compel them to pay such exactions, yet he could exert, as in the case of Alderman Read, the power of sending the refusing party to undergo the dangers and hardships of foreign service, which most wealthy citizens though still harder than the alternative of paying a sum of money.

The reign of the English Queen Mary was short and inglorious, but she pursued the arbitrary steps of her father, and in no degree relaxed the power which the crown had acquired since the accession of Henry VII. That of Elizabeth tended considerably to increase it. The success of the wise measures which she adopted for maintaining the Protestant religion, and making the power of England respected by foreign states, flattered the vanity, and conciliated the affection, of her subjects. The wisdom and economy with which she distributed the treasures of the state, added to the general disposition of her subjects to place them at her command; and the arbitrary authority which her grandfather acquired by subtlety, which he father maintained by violence, and which her sister, preserved by bigotry, was readily conceded to Elizabeth by the love and esteem of her people. It was moreover, to be considered, that, like the rest of the Tudor family, the Queen nourished high ideas of royal prerogative; and, when thwarted in her wishes by any opposition, not unfrequently called to lively recollection, both by expression and action, whose daughter she was.

In a word, the almost absolute authority of the House of Tudor may be understood from the single circumstance, that although religion is the point on which men do, and ought to think their individual feelings and sentiments particularly at liberty, yet, at the arbitrary will of the sovereign, the Church of England was disjoined from that of Rome by Henry the Eighth, was restored to the Roman Catholic faith by Queen Mary, and again declared Protestant by Elizabeth; and on each occasion the change was effected without any commotion or resistance, beyond such temporary tumults as were soon put down by the power of the Crown.

Thus, on succeeding to the English throne, James found himself at the head of a nobility who had lost both the habit and power of contesting the pleasure of the sovereign, and of a wealthy body of commons, who, satisfied with being liberated from the power of the aristocracy, were little disposed to resist the exaction of the Crown.

His ancient kingdom of Scotland was in a directly different situation. The feudal nobility had retained their territorial jurisdictions, and their signorial privileges, in as full extent as their ancestors had possessed them, and therefore had at once the power and the inclination to resist the arbitrary will of the sovereign, as James himself had felt on more occasions than one. Thus, though the body of the Scottish people had not the same protection from just and equal laws, as was the happy lot of the inhabitants of England, and were much less wealthy and independent, yet the spirit of the constitution possessed all the freedom which was inherent in the ancient feudal institutions, and it was impossible for the monarch of Scotland so to influence the parliament of the country, as to accomplish any considerable encroachment on the privileges of the nation.

It was therefore obvious, that besides the numerous reasons of a public nature for uniting South and North Britain under a similar system of government, James saw a strong personal interest for reducing the turbulent nobles and people of Scotland to the same submissive and quiet state in which he found England, but in which it was not his good fortune to leave it. With this view he proposed, that the Legislature of each nation should appoint Commissioners, to consider of the terms on which it might be possible to unite both under the same constitution. With some difficulty on both sides, the Parliament of England was prevailed on to name forty-four Commissioners, while the Scottish Parliament appointed thirty-six, to consider this important subject.

The very first conferences showed how impossible it was to accomplish the desired object, until time should have removed or softened those prejudices, which had existed during the long state of separation and hostility betwixt the two nations. The English Commissioners demanded, as a preliminary stipulation, that the whole system of English law should be at once extended to Scotland. The Scots rejected the proposal with disdain, justly alleging, that nothing less than absolute conquest by force of arms could authorize the subjection of an independent nation to the customs hand laws of a foreign country. The treaty, therefore, was in a great degree shipwrecked at the very commencement — the proposal for the union was suffered to fall asleep, and the King only reaped from his attempt the disadvantage of having excited the suspicions and fears of the Scottish lawyers, who had been threatened with the total destruction of their national system of Jurisprudence. This impression was the deeper, as the profession of the law, which must be influential in every government, was particularly so in Scotland, it being chiefly practised in that kingdom by the sons of the higher class of gentry.

Though in a great measure disappointed in his efforts for effecting a general union and correspondence of laws between the two nation, James remained extremely desirous to obtain at least an ecclesiastical conformity of opinion, by bringing the form and constitution of the Scottish Church as near as possible to that England. What he attempted and accomplished in this respect, constitutes an important part of the history of his reign, and gave occasion to some of the most remarkable and calamitous events in that of his successor.

I must remind you, my dear child, that the Reformation was effected by very different agency in England, from the causes which produced a similar change in Scotland. The new plans of church government adopted in the two nations did not in the least resemble each other, although the doctrines which they teach are so nearly alike, that little distinction can be traced, save what is of a very subtle and metaphysical character. But the outward forms of the two churches are totally different.

You must remember that the Reformation of the Church of England was originally brought about by Henry VIII, whose principal object was to destroy the dependence of the clergy upon the Pope, and transfer to himself, whom he declared head of the Church in his own regal right, all the authority and influence which had formerly been enjoyed by the Papal See. When, therefore, Henry had destroyed the monastic establishments, and confiscated their possessions, and had reformed such doctrines of the church as he judged to require amendment, it became his object to preserve the general constitution and hierarchy, that is the gradation of superior and inferior clergy, by whom her functions were administered. The chief difference therefore was, that the patronage exercised by the Pope was, in a great measure, transferred to the Crown, and distributed by the hands of the King himself, to whom, therefore, the inferior clergy must naturally be attached by hope of preferment, and the superior orders by gratitude for past favours, and the expectation of farther advancement. The order of bishops, in particular, raised to that rank by the crown, and enjoying seats in the House of Lords, must be supposed, on most occasions, willing to espouse the cause, and forward the views of the King, in such debates as might occur in the assembly.

The Reformation in Scotland had taken place by a sudden popular impulse, and the form of church government adopted by Knox, and the other preachers under whose influence it had been accomplished, was studiously rendered as different as possible from the Roman hierarchy. The Presbyterian system, as I said in a former chapter, was upon the model of the purest republican simplicity; the brethren who served the altar claimed and allowed of no superiority of ranks, and of no influence but what individuals might attach to themselves by superior worth or superior talent. The representatives who formed their church courts, were selected by plurality of votes, and no other Head of the church, visible or invisible, was acknowledged, save the blessed Founder of the Christian Religion, in whose name the church courts of Scotland were and still are convoked and dismissed.

Over a body so constituted, the King could have little influence or power; nor did James acquire any by his personal conduct. It was, indeed, partly by the influence of the clergy that he had been in infancy placed upon the throne; but, as their conduct in this was regarded by James, in his secret soul, as an act of rebellion against his mother’s authority, he gave the Kirk of Scotland little thanks for what they had done. It must be owned the preachers made no attempt to conciliate his favour; for, although they had no legal call to speak their sentiments upon public and political affairs, they yet entered into them without ceremony, whenever they could show that the interest of the church gave a specious apology for interference. The Scottish pulpits rang with invectives against the King’s ministers, and sometimes against the King himself; and the more hot-headed among the clergy were disposed not only to thwart James’s inclinations, and put the worst construction upon his intentions, but even publicly to insult him in their sermons, and favour the insurrections attempted by Stewart Earl of Bothwell, and others, against his authority. They often entertained him with violent invectives against his mother’s memory; and it is said, that on one occasion, when the King, losing patience, commanded one of these zealots either to speak sense or come down from the pulpit, the preacher replied to this request, which one would have thought a very reasonable one, “I tell thee, man, I will neither speak sense nor come down.”

James did not see that these acts of petulance and contumacy arose, in a great measure, from the suspicions which the Scottish clergy justly entertained of his desiring to innovate upon the Presbyterian model; and hastily concluded, that their refractory conduct, which was the result of mutual jealousies, was essential to the character of the peculiar form of church government, and that the spirit of Presbytery was in itself inimical to a monarchial establishment.

As soon, therefore, as the King obtained the high increase of power which arose from his accession to the English throne, he set himself gradually to new-model the Scottish Church, so as to bring it nearer to that England, and to obtain for the crown some preponderating influence in its councils. But the suspicions of the Presbyterian clergy were constantly alive to their sovereign’s intentions. It was in vain he endeavoured to avail himself of the institution of an order of man called Superintendents, to whom the Book of Discipline, drawn up by Knox himself, had assigned a sort of presidency in certain cases, with power of inspecting the merits of the clergy. By reestablishing superior offices among the clergy, James endeavoured to introduce a sort of permanent presidents into the several presbyteries. But the ministers clearly saw his ultimate object. “Busk (dress), busk him as bonnily as you can,” cried Mr John Davidson, “bring him in as fairly as you will, we see the horns of his mitre weel enough;” and the horns of the mitre were, to their apprehension, as odious as the horns of the Pope’s tiara, or those of Satan himself. At last the King ventured on a decisive stroke. He named thirteen bishops, and obtained the consent of Parliament for restoring them to the small remains of their dilapidated bishoprics. The other bishoprics, seventeen in number, were converted into temporal lordships.

It cannot be denied that leaders of the Presbyterian clergy showed the utmost skill and courage in the defence of the immunities of their church. They were endeared to the people by the purity of their lives, by the depth of learning possessed by some, and the powerful talents exhibited by others; above all, perhaps, by the willingness with which they submitted to deprivation of office, accompanied by poverty, penalties, and banishment, rather than betray the cause which they considered as sacred. The King had in 1605 openly asserted his right to call and to dissolve the General Assemblies of the Church. Several of the clergy, however, in contempt of the monarch, summoned and attended a General Assembly at Aberdeen independent of his authority. This opportunity was taken to chastise the refractory clergymen. Five of their number were punished with banishment. In 1606, the two celebrated preachers named Melville were summoned before the Council, and upbraided by the King with their resistance to his will. They defended themselves with courage, and claimed the right of being tried by the laws of Scotland, a free kingdom, having laws and privileges of its own. But the elder Melville furnished a handle against them by his own imprudence.

In a debate before the Privy Council, concerning a Latin copy of verses, which Andrew Melville had written in derision of the ceremonies of the Church of England, the old man gave way to indecent violence, seized the Archbishop of Canterbury by the lawn sleeves, which he shook, calling them Romish rags, and charged the prelate as breaker of the Sabbath, the maintainer of an anti-christian hierarchy, the persecutor of true preachers, the enemy of reformed churches, and proclaimed himself his mortal enemy to the last drop of his blood. This indiscretion and violence afforded a pretext for committing the hot old Presbyterian divine to the Tower; and he was afterwards exiled, and died at Sedan. The younger Melville was confined to Berwick, several other clergymen were banished from their parishes to remote parts, and the Kirk of Scotland was for the time reduced to reluctant submission to the King’s will. Thus the order of bishops was once more introduced into the Scottish Church.

James’s projects of innovation were not entirely accomplished by the introduction of prelacy. The Church of England, at the Reformation, had retained some particular rites in observance, which had decency at least to recommend them, but which the headlong opposition of the Presbyterians to every thing approaching to the Popish ritual induced them to reject with horror. Five of these were introduced in Scotland, by an enactment passed by a parliament held at Perth [1618], and thence distinguished as the Five Articles of Perth. In modern times, when the mere ceremonial part of divine worship is supposed to be of little consequence, compared with the temper and spirit in which we approach the Deity, the Five Articles of Perth seem to involve matters which might be dispensed or complied with, without being considered as essential to salvation. They were as follows:— I. It was ordained that the communion should be received in a kneeling posture, and not sitting, as hitherto practised in the Scottish churches. II. That, in extreme cases, the communion might be administered in private. III. That baptism also might, when necessary, be administered in private. IV. That youth, as they grew up, should be confirmed, as it is termed, by the bishop; being a kind of personal avowal of the engagements entered into by godfathers and godmothers at the time of baptism. V. That four days, distinguished by events of the utmost importance to the Christian religion, should be observed as holidays. These were — Christmas, on which day our Saviour was born; Good Friday, when he suffered death; Easter, when he arose from the dead; and Pentecost, when the Holy spirit descended on the apostles.

But, notwithstanding the moderate character of these innovations, the utmost difficulty was found in persuading even those of the Scottish clergy who were most favourable to the King to receive them into the church, and they only did no on the assurance that they should not be required to adopt any additional changes. The main body of the churchmen, though terrified into sullen acquiescence, were unanimous in opinion that the new regulations indicated a manifest return towards Popery. The common people held the same opinion; and a thunder-storm, of unusual violence, which took place at the time the Parliament was sitting in debate upon the adoption of these obnoxious articles, was considered as a declaration of the wrath of Heaven against those, who were again introducing the rites and festivals of the Roman Church into the pure and reformed Kirk of Scotland. In short, this attempt to infuse into the Presbyterian model something of the principles of a moderate prelacy, and to bring it, in a few particulars, into conformity with that of the sister kingdom, was generally unacceptable to the church and to the nation; and it will be hereafter shown, that an endeavour to extend and heighten the edifice which his father had commenced, led the way to those acts of violence which cost Charles I his throne and life.

Chapter 37

We are nest to examine the effect which James’s accession to the throne of England had upon those lawless parts of his kingdom, the Borders and the Highlands, as well as on the more civilized provinces of Scotland — of which I shall take notice in their order.

The consequences of the union of the crowns were more immediately felt on the Borders, which, from being the extremity of both countries, were now converted into the centre of the kingdom. But it was not easy to see, how the restless and violent inhabitants, who had been for so many centuries accustomed to a lawless and military life, were to conduct themselves, when the general peace around left them no enemies either to fight with or plunder.

These Borderers were, as I have elsewhere told you, divided into families, or clans, who followed a leader supposed to be descended from the original father of the tribe. They lived in a great measure by the rapine which they exercised indiscriminately on the English, or their own countrymen, the inhabitants of the more inland districts, or by the or by the protection-money which they exacted for leaving them undisturbed. This kind of plundering was esteemed by them in the highest degree honourable and praiseworthy; and the following, as well as many other curious stories, is an example of this:—

A young gentleman, of a distinguished family belonging to one of these Border tribes, or clans, made, either from the desire of plunder, or from revenge, a raid, or incursion, upon the lands of Sir Gideon Murray of Elibank, afterwards deputy-treasurer of Scotland, and a great favourite of James VI. The Laird of Elibank, having got his people under arms, engaged the invaders, and, encountering them when they were encumbered with spoil defeated them, and made the leader of the band prisoner. He was brought to the castle of his conqueror, when the lady enquired of her victorious husband, “what he intended to do with his captive?” —“I design,” said the fierce baron, “to hang him instantly, dame, as a man taken red-hand in the act of robbery and violence.” — “That is not like your wisdom, Sir Gideon,” answered his more considerate lady. “If you put to death this young gentleman, you will enter into deadly feud with his numerous and powerful clan. You must therefore do a wiser thing, and, instead of hanging him, we will cause him to marry our youngest daughter, Meg with the meikle mouth, without any tocher”(that is, without any portion). The laird joyfully consented; for this Meg with the large mouth was so ugly, that there was very little chance of her getting a husband in any other circumstances; and, in fact, when the alternative of such a marriage, or death by the gallows, was proposed to the poor prisoner, he was for some time disposed to choose the latter; nor was it without difficulty that he could be persuaded to save his life at the expense of marrying Meg Murray. He did so at last, however; and it is said, that Meg, thus forced upon him, made an excellent and affectionate wife; but the unusual size of mouth was supposed to remain discernible tin their descendants for several generations. I mention this anecdote, because it occurred during James the Sixth’s reign, and shows, in a striking manner, how little the Borderers had improved in their sense of morality, or distinctions between right and wrong.

A more important, but not more characteristic event, which happened no long afterwards, shows, in its progress, the utter lawlessness and contempt of legal authority which prevailed on the Borders in the commencement of this reign, and, in its conclusion, the increased power of the monarch after the Union of the Crowns.

There had been long and deadly feud, on the West Borders, betwixt the two great families of Maxwell and Johnstone. The former house was the most wealthy and powerful family in Dumfriesshire and its vicinity, and had great influence among the families inhabiting the more level part of that county. Their chieftain had the title of Lord Maxwell, and claimed that of Earl of Morton. The Johnstones, on the other hand, were neither equal to the Maxwells in numbers nor in power; but they were a race of uncommon hardihood, much attached to each other and their chieftain, and who, residing in the strong and mountainous district of Annandale, used to sally from thence as from a fortress, and return to its fastnesses after having accomplished their inroads. They were, therefore, able to maintain their ground against the Maxwells, though more numerous than themselves.

So well was this known to be the case, that when, in 1585, the Lord Maxwell was declared to be a rebel, a commission was given to the Laird of Johnstone to pursue and apprehend him. In this, however, Johnstone was unsuccessful. Two bands of hired soldiers, whom the Government had sent to his assistance, were destroyed by the Maxwells; and Lochwood, the chief house of the laird, was taken and wantonly burnt, in order, as the Maxwells expressed it, that Lady Johnstone might have light to put on her hood. Johnstone himself was subsequently defeated and made prisoner. Being a man of a proud and haughty temper, he is said to have died of grief at the disgrace which he incurred; and thus there commenced a long series of mutual injuries between the hostile clans.

Shortly after this catastrophe, Maxwell, being restored to the King’s favour, was once more placed in the situation of Warden of the West Borders, and an alliance was made betwixt him and Sir James Johnstone, in which they and their two clans agreed to stand by each other against all the world. This agreement being entered into, the clan of Johnstone concluded they had little to apprehend from the justice of the new Lord Warden, so long as they did not plunder any of the name of Maxwell. They accordingly descended into the valley of the Nith, and committed great spoil on the lands belonging to Douglas of Drumlanrig, Creichton Lord Sanquhar, Grierson of Lagg, and Kirkpatrick of Closeburn, all of them independent barons of high birth and great power. The injured parties pursued the depredators with forces hastily assembled, but were defeated with slaughter in their attempt to recover the prey. The despoiled and injured barons next carried their complaints to Maxwell the warden, who alleged his late alliance with Johnstone as a reason why he could not yield them the redress which his office entitled them to expect at his hands. But when, to make up for such risk as he might incur by renewing his enmity with the Johnstones, the barons of Nithsdale offered to bind themselves by a bond of manrent, as it was called, to become the favourers and followers of Lord Maxwell in all his quarrels, excepting against the King, the temptation became too strong to be overcome, and the ambitious warden resolved to sacrifice his newly formed friendship with Johnstone to the desire of extending his authority over so powerful a confederacy.

The secret of this association did not long remain concealed from Johnstone, who saw that his own destruction and the ruin of his clan were the objects aimed at, and hastened to apply to his neighbours in the east and south for assistance. Buccleuch, the relative of Johnstone, and by far his most powerful ally, was then in foreign parts. But the Laird of Elibank, mentioned in the last story, bore the banner of Buccleuch in person, and assembled five hundred men of the clan of Scott, whom our historians term the greatest robbers and fiercest fighters among the Border clans. The Elliots of Liddesdale also assisted Johnstone; and his neighbours on the southern parts, the Grahams of the Debateable Land, from hopes of plunder and ancient enmity to the Maxwells, sent also a considerable number of spears.

Thus prepared for war, Johnstone took the field with activity, while Maxwell, on the other part, hastily assembling his own forces, and those of his new followers, the Nithsdale barons, Drumlanrig, Lagg, Closeburn, the Creichtons, and others, invaded Annandale with the royal banner displayed, and a force of upwards of two thousand men. Johnstone, unequal in numbers, stood on the defensive, and kept possession of the woods and strong ground; waiting an opportunity of fighting to advantage; while Maxwell, in contempt of him, formed the siege of the castle or tower of Lockerby, the fortress of a Johnstone, who was then in arms with his chief. His wife, a woman of a masculine disposition, the sister or daughter of the laird who had died in Maxwell’s prison, defended his place of residence. While Maxwell endeavoured to storm the castle, and while it was bravely defended by its female captain, the chief received information that the Laird of Johnstone was advancing to its relief. He drew off from the siege, marched towards his feudal enemy, and caused it to be published through his little army that he would give a “ten-pound land,” that is, land rated in the cess-books at that yearly amount, “to any one who would bring him the head or hand of the Laird of Johnstone.” When this was reported to Johnstone, he said he had not ten-pound lands to offer, but that he would bestow a five-merk land upon the man who should bring him the head or hand of Lord Maxwell.

The conflict took place close by the river Dryfe near Lochmaber, and is called the Battle of Dryfe Sands. It was managed by Johnstone with considerable military skill. He showed at first only a handful of horsemen, who made a hasty attack upon Maxwell’s army, and then retired in a manner which induced the enemy to consider them as defeated, and led them to pursue in disorder with loud acclamations of victory. The Maxwells and their confederates were thus exposed to a sudden and desperate charge from the main body of the Johnstones and their allies, who fell upon them while their ranks were broken, and compelled them to take to flight. The Maxwells and the confederated barons suffered grievously in the retreat — many were overtaken in the streets of Lockerby, and cut down or slashed in the face by the pursuers; and kind of blow, which to this day is called in that country a “Lockerby lick.”

Maxwell himself, an elderly man and heavily armed, was borne down from his horse in the beginning of the conflict; and, as he named his name and offered to surrender, his right hand, which he stretched out for mercy, was cut from his body. Thus far history; but family tradition adds the following circumstance: The Lady of Lockerby, who was besieged in her tower as already mentioned, had witnessed from the battlements the approach of the Laird of Johnstone, and as soon as the enemy withdrew from the blockade of the fortress, had sent to the assistance of her chief the few servants who had assisted in the defence. After this she heard the tumult of battle, but as she could not from the tower see the place where it was fought, she remained in an agony of suspense, until, as the noise seemed to pass away in a westerly direction, she could endure the uncertainty no longer, but sallied out from the tower, with only one female attendant, to see how the day had gone. As a measure of precaution, she locked the strong oaken door and the iron-grate with which a Border fortress was commonly secured, and knitting the large keys on a thong, took them with her, hanging on her arm.

When the Lady of Lockerby entered on the field of battle, she found all the relics of a bloody fight; the little valley was covered with slain men and horses, and broken armour, besides many wounded, who were incapable of further effort for saving themselves. Amongst others, she saw lying beneath a thorn-tree a tall, grey-haired, noble-looking man, arrayed in bright armour, but bare-headed, and bleeding to death from the loss of his right hand. He asked her for mercy and help with a faltering voice; but the idea of deadly feud in that time and country closed all access to compassion even in the female bosom. She saw before her on the enemy of her clan, and the cause of her father’s captivity and death; and raising the ponderous keys which she bore along with her, the Lady of Lockerby is commonly reported to have dashed out the brains of the vanquished Lord Maxwell.

The battle of Dryfe Sands was remarkable as the last great clan battle fought on the Borders, and it led to the renewal of the strife betwixt the Maxwells and Johnstones, with every circumstance of ferocity which could add horror to civil war. The last distinguished act of the tragedy took place thus:—

The son of the slain Lord Maxwell invited Sir James Johnstone to a friendly conference, to which each chieftain engaged to bring one friend only. They met at a place called Auchmanhill, on the 6th August, 1608, when the attendant of Lord Maxwell, after falling into bitter and reproachful language with Johnstone of Gunmanlie, who was in attendance on his chief, at length fired his pistol. Sir James Johnstone turning round to see what had happened, Lord Maxwell treacherously shot him through the back with a pistol charged with a brace of poisoned bullets. While the gallant old knight lay dying on the ground, Maxwell rode round him with the view of completing his crime, but Johnstone defended himself with his sword till strength and life failed him.

This final catastrophe of such a succession of bloody acts of revenge, took place several years after the union of the crowns, and the consequences, so different from whose which ensued on former occasions, show how effectually the King’s authority, and the power of enforcing the course of equal justice, had increased in consequence of that desirable event. You may observe, from the incidents mentioned, that in 1585, when Lord Maxwell assaulted and made prisoner the Laird of Johnstone, then the King’s warden, and acting in his name, and committed him to the captivity in which he died, James was totally unequal to the task of vindicating his royal authority, and saw himself compelled to receive Maxwell into favour and trusts, as if he had done nothing contrary to the laws. Nor was the royal authority more effectual in 1593, when Maxwell, acting as royal warden, and having the King’s banner displayed, was in his turn defeated and slain, in so melancholy and cruel a manner, at Dryfe Sands. On the contrary, Sir James Johnstone was not only pardoned, but restored to favour and trust by the King. But there was a conspicuous difference in the consequences of the murder which took place at Auchmanhill in 1608. Lord Maxwell, finding no refuge in the Border country, was obliged to escape to France, where he resided for two or three years; but afterwards venturing to return to Scotland, he was apprehended in the wilds of Caithness, and brought to trial at Edinburgh. James, desirous on this occasion to strike terror, by a salutary warning, into the factious nobility and disorderly Borderers, caused the criminal to be publicly beheaded on 21st May, 1613.

Many instances might be added to show that the course of justice on the Border began, after the accession of James to the English throne, to flow with a less interrupted stream, even where men of rank and power were concerned.

The inferior class of freebooters was treated with much less ceremony. Proclamations were made, that none of the inhabitants of either side of the Border (except noblemen and gentlemen of unsuspected character) should retain in their possession armour or weapons, offensive or defensive, or keep any horse above the value of fifty shillings. Particular clans, described as broken men, were especially forbid the use of weapons. The celebrated clan of Armstrong had, on the very night in which Queen Elizabeth’s death became public, concluding that a time of such misrule as that in which they had hitherto made their harvest was again approaching, and desirous of losing no time, made a fierce incursion into England, extending their ravages as far as Penrith, and done much mischief. But such a consequence had been foreseen and provided against. A strong body of soldiers, both English and Scots, swept along the Border, and severely punished to marauders, blowing up their fortresses with gunpowder, destroying their lands, and driving away their cattle and flocks. Several of the principal leaders were taken and executed at Carlisle. The Armstrongs appear never to have recovered their consequence after this severe chastisement; nor are there many of this celebrated clan now to be found among the landholders of Liddesdale, where they once possessed the whole district.

The Grahams, long the inhabitants of the Debateable Land which was claimed both by England and Scotland, were still more severely dealt with. They were very brave and active Borderers attached to England, for which country, and particularly in Edward VI’s time, they had often done good service. But they were also very lawless plunderers, and their incursions were as much dreaded by the inhabitants of Cumberland as by those of the Scottish frontier. Thus their conduct was equally the subject of complaint on both sides of the Border; and the poor Grahams, seeing no alternative, were compelled to sign a petition to the King, confessing themselves to be unfit persons to dwell in the country which they now inhabited, and praying that he would provide the means of transporting them elsewhere, where his paternal goodness should assign them the means of subsistence. The whole clan, a very few individuals excepted, were thus deprived of their lands and residences, and transported to the county of Ulster, in Ireland, where they were settled on lands which had been acquired from the conquered Irish. There is a list in existence, which shows the rate at which the county of Cumberland was taxed for the exportation of these poor Borderers, as if they had been so many bullocks.

Another efficient mode of getting rid of a warlike and disorderly population, who, though an admirable defence of a country in time of war, must have been great scourges in time of the profound peace to which the Border districts were consigned after the close of the English wars, was the levying a large body of soldiers to serve in foreign countries. The love of military adventure had already carried one legion of Scots to serve the Dutch in their defence against the Spaniards, and they had done great service in the Low Countries, and particularly at the battle of Mechline, in 1578; where, impatient of the head of the weather, to the astonishment of both friends and enemies, the Scottish auxiliaries flung off their upper garments, and fought like furies in their shirts. The circumstance is pointed out in the plan of the battle, which is to be found in Strada’s history, with the explanation, “Here the Scots fought naked.”

Buccleuch levied a large additional force from the Border, whose occupation in their native country was gone for ever. These also distinguished themselves in the wars of the Low Countries. It may be supposed that very many of them perished in the field, and the descendants of others still survive in the Netherlands and in Germany.

In addition to the relief afforded by such an outlet for a superfluous military population, whose numbers greatly exceeded what the land could have supplied with food, and who, in fact, had only lived upon plunder, bonds were entered into by the men of substance and family on the Borders, not only obliging themselves to abstain from depredations, but to stand by each other in putting down and preventing such evil doings at the hand of others, and in making common cause against any clan, branch, or surname, who might take offence at any individual for acting in prosecution of this engagement. They engaged also to the King and to each other, not only to seize and deliver to justice such thieves as should take refuge in their grounds, but to discharge from their families or estates all persons, domestics, tenants, or others, who could be suspected of such offences, and to supply their place with honest and peaceable subjects. I am possessed of such a bond, dated in the year 1612, and subscribed by about twenty landholders, chiefly of the name of Scott.

Finally, an unusually severe and keen prosecution of all who were convicted, accused, or even suspected, of offence against the peace of the Border, was set on foot by George Home, Earl of Dunbar, James’s able but not very scrupulous minister; and these judicial measures were conducted so severely as to give rise to the proverb of Jeddart (or Jedburgh) justice, by which it is said a criminal was hanged first and tried afterwards: the truth of which is affirmed by historians as a well-known fact, occurring in numerous instances.

Cruel as these measures were, they tended to remedy a disease which seemed almost desperate. Rent, the very name of which had till that period scarcely been heard on the Border, began to be paid for property, and the proprietors of land turned their thoughts to rural industry, instead of the arts of predatory warfare. But it was more than a century ere the country, so long a harassed and disputed frontier, gained the undisturbed appearance of the civilized land.

Before leaving the subject of the Borders, I ought to explain to you, that as the possession of the strong and important town of Berwick had been long and fiercely disputed between England and Scotland, and as the latter country had never surrendered or abandoned her claim to the place, though it had so long remained as English possession, James, to avoid giving offence to either nation, left the question undecided; and since the union of the Crown the city is never spoken of as part England or Scotland, but as the King’s Good Town of Berwick-upon-Tweed; and when a law is made for North and South Britain, without special and distinct mention of this ancient town, that law is of no force or avail within its precincts.

Chapter 38

The Highlands and Western Islands were in no respect so much affected by the union of the Crowns as the inhabitants of the Borders. The accession of James to the English throne was of little consequence to them, unless in so far as it rendered the King more powerful, and gave him the means of occasionally sending bodies of troops into their fortresses to compel them t order; and this was a measure of unusual rigour, which was but seldom resorted to.

The Highland tribes, therefore, remained in the same state as before, using the same dress, wielding the same arms, divided into the same clans, each governed by its own patriarch, and living in all respects as their ancestors had lived for many centuries before them. Or if there were some marks of softened manners among those Gaelic tribes who resided on the mainland, the inhabitants of the Hebrides or Western Isles, adjacent to the coast of Scotland, are described to us as utterly barbarous. A historian of the period says, “that the Highlanders who dwell on the mainland, though sufficiently wild, show some shade of civilisation; but those in the islands are without laws or morals, and totally destitute of religion and humanity.” Some stories of their feuds are indeed preserved, which go far to support this general accusation. I will tell you one or two of them.

The principal possessors of the Hebrides were originally of the name of MacDonald, the whole being under the government of a succession of chiefs, who bore the name of Donald of the Isles, as we have already mentioned, and were possessed of authority almost independent of the Kings of Scotland. But this great family becoming divided into two or three branches, other chiefs settled in some of the islands, and disputed the property of the original proprietors. Thus, the MacLeods, a powerful and numerous clan, who had extensive estates on the mainland, made themselves masters, at a very early period, of a great part of the large island of Skye, seized upon much of the Long Island, as the Isles of Lewis and Harris are called, and fought fiercely with the MacDonalds, and other tribes of the islands. The following is an example of the mode in which these feuds were conducted.

About the end of the sixteenth century, a boat, manned by one or two of the MacLeods, landed in Eigg, a small island, peopled by the MacDonalds. They were at first hospitably received but having been guilty of some incivility to the young women on the island, it was so much resented by the inhabitants, that they tied the MacLeods hand and foot, and putting them on board of their own boat, towed it to sea, and set it adrift, leaving the wretched man, bound as they were, to perish by famine, or by the winds and waves, as chance should determine. But fate so ordered it, that a boat belonging to the Laird of MacLeod fell in with that which had the captives on board, and brought them in safety to the laird’s castle of Dunvegan in Skye, where they complained of the injury which they had sustained from the MacDonalds of Eigg. MacLeod, in a great rage, put to sea with his galleys, manned by a large body of his people, which the men of Eigg could not entertain any rational hope resisting. Learning that their incensed enemy was approaching with superior forces, and deep vows of revenge, the inhabitants, who knew they had no mercy to expect at MacLeod’s hands, resolved, as the best change of safety in their power, to conceal themselves in a large cavern on the seashore.

This place was particularly well calculated for that purpose. The entrance resembles that of a fox-earth, being an opening so small that a man cannot enter save by creeping on hands and knees. A rill of water falls from the top of the rock, and serves, or rather served at the period we speak of, wholly to conceal the aperture. A stranger, even when apprized of the existence of such a cave, would find the greatest difficulty in discovering the entrance. Within, the cavern rises to a great height, and the floor is covered with white dray sand. It is extensive enough to contain a great number of people. The whole inhabitants of Eigg, who, with their wives and families, amounted to nearly two hundred souls, took refuge within its precincts.

MacLeod arrive with his armament, and landed on the island, but could discover no one on whom to wreak his vengeance — all was desert. The MacLeods destroyed the huts of the islanders, and plundered what property they could discover; but the vengeance of the chieftain could not be satisfied with such petty injuries. He knew that the inhabitants must either have fled in their boats to one of the islands possessed by the MacDonalds, or that they must be concealed somewhere in Eigg. After making a strict but unsuccessful search for two days, MacLeod had appointed the third to leave his anchorage, when, in the grey of the morning, one of the seamen beheld from the deck of his galley the figure of a man on the island. This was a spy whom the MacDonalds, impatient of their confinement in the cavern, had imprudently sent out to see whether MacLeod had retired or no. The poor fellow, when he saw himself discovered, endeavoured, by doubling, after the manner of a hare or fox, to obliterate the track of his footsteps on the snow, and prevent its being discovered where he had reentered the cavern. But all the arts he could use were fruitless, the invaders again landed, and tracked him to the entrance of the den.

MacLeod then summoned those who were within it, and called upon them to deliver up the individuals who had maltreated his men, to be disposed of at his pleasure. The MacDonalds, still confident in the strength of their fastness, which no assailant could enter but on hands and knees, refused to surrender their clansmen.

MacLeod next commenced a dreadful work of indiscriminate vengeance. He caused his people, by means of a ditch cut above the top of the rock, to turn away the stream of water which fell over the entrance of the cavern. This being done, the MacLeods collected all the combustibles which could be found on the island, particularly turf and quantities of dry heather, piled them up against the aperture, and maintained an immense fire for many hours, until the smoke, penetrating into the inmost recesses of the cavern, stifled to death every creature within. There is no doubt of the truth of this story, dreadful as it is. The cavern is often visited by strangers; and I have myself seen the place where the bones of the murdered MacDonalds still remain, lying as thick on the floor of the cave as in the charnel-house of a church.

The MacLeans, in like manner, a bold and hardy race, who, originally followers of the Lords of the Isles, had assumed independence, seized upon great part both of the isle of Mull and the still more valuable island of Ilay, and made war on the MacDonalds with various success. There is a story belonging to this clan, which I may tell you, as giving another striking picture of the manners of the Hebrideans.

The chief of the clan, MacLean of Duart, in the isle of Mull, had an intrigue with a beautiful young woman of his own clan, who bore a son to him. In consequence of the child’s being, by some accident, born on a heap of straw, he received the name of Allan-a-Sop, or Allan of the Straw, by which he was distinguished from others of his clan. As his father and mother were not married, Allan was of course a bastard, or natural son, and had no inheritance to look for, save that which he might win for himself.

But the beauty of the boy’s mother having captivated a man of rank in the clan, called MacLean of Torloisk, he married her, and took her to reside with him at his castle of Torloisk, situated on the shores of the sound, or small strait of the sea, which divides the smaller island of Ulva from that of Mull. Allan-a-Sop paid his mother frequent visits at her new residence, and she was naturally glad to see the poor boy, both from affection, and on account of his personal strength and beauty, which distinguished him above other youths of his age. But she was obliged to confer marks of her attachment on him as privately as she could, for Allan’s visits were by no means so acceptable to her husband as to herself. Indeed, Torloisk like so little to see the lad, that he determined to put some affront on him, which should prevent his returning to the castle for some time. An opportunity for executing his purpose soon occurred.

The lady one morning, looking from the window, saw her son coming wandering down the hill, and hastened to put a girdle cake upon the fire, that he might have hot bread for breakfast. Something called her out of the apartment after making this preparation, and her husband, entering at the same time, saw at once what she had been about, and determined to give the boy such a reception as should disgust him for the future. He snatched the cake from the girdle, thrust it into his step-son’s hands, which he forcibly closed on the scalding bread, saying, “Here, Allan — here is a cake which your mother has got ready for your breakfast.” Allan’s hands were severely burnt; and being a sharp-witted and proud boy, he resented this mark of his step-father’s ill-will, and came not again to Torloisk.

At this time the western seas were covered with the vessels of pirates, who, not unlike the Sea–Kings of Denmark at an early period, sometimes settled and made conquests on the islands. Allan-a-Sop was young, strong, and brave to desperation. He entered as a mariner on board of one of these ships, and in process of time obtained the command, first of one galley, then of a small flotilla, with which he sailed round the seas and collected considerable plunder, until his name became both feared and famous. At length he proposed to himself to pay a visit to his mother, whom he had not seen for many years; and setting sail for this purpose, he anchored one morning in the sound of Ulva, and in front of the house of Torloisk. His mother was dead, but his step-father, to whom he was now as much an object of fear as he had been formerly of aversion, hastened to the shore to receive his formidable step-son, with great affectation of kindness and interest in his prosperity; while Allan-a-Sop, who, though very rough and hasty, does not appear to have been sullen or vindictive, seemed to take his kind reception in good part.

The crafty old man succeeded so well, as he thought, in securing Allan’s friendship, and obliterating all recollections of the former affront put on him, that he began to think it possible to employ his step-son in executing his own private revenge upon MacQuarrie of Ulva, with whom, as was usual between such neighbours, he had some feud. With this purpose, he offered what he called the following good advice to his son-in-law: “My dear Allan, you have now wandered over the seas long enough; it is time you should have some footing upon land, a castle to protect yourself in winter, a village and cattle for your men, and a harbour to lay up your galleys. Now, here is the island of Ulva, near at hand, which lies ready for your occupation, and it will cost you no trouble, save that of putting to death the present proprietor, the Laird of MacQuarrie, a useless old carle, who has cumbered the world long enough.”

Allan-a-Sop thanked his step-father for so happy a suggestion, which he declared he would put in execution forthwith. Accordingly, setting sail the next morning, he appeared before MacQuarrie’s house an hour before noon. The old chief of Ulva was much alarmed at the menacing apparition of so many galleys, and his anxiety was not lessened by the news that they were commanded by the redoubted Allan-a-Sop. Having no effectual means of resistance, MacQuarrie, who was a man of shrewd sense, saw no alternative save that of receiving the invaders, whatever might be their purpose, with all outward demonstrations of joy and satisfaction; the more especially as he recollected having taken some occasional notice of Allan during his early youth, which he now resolved to make the most of. Accordingly, MacQuarrie caused immediate preparations to be made for a banquet as splendid as circumstances admitted, hastened down to the shore to meet the rover, and welcomed him to Ulva with such a appearance of sincerity, that the pirate found it impossible to pick any quarrel, which might afford a pretence for executing the violent purpose which he had been led to meditate.

They feasted together the whole day; and, in the evening, as Allan-a-Sop was about to retire to his ships, he thanked the laird for his hospitality, but remarked, with a sigh, that it had cost him very dear. “How can that be,” said MacQuarrie, “when I bestowed this entertainment upon you in free good-will?” — “It is true, my friend,” replied the pirate, “but then it has quite disconcerted the purpose for which I came hither; which was to put you to death, my good friend, and seize upon your house and island, and so settle myself in the world. It would have been very convenient for me this island of Ulva; but your friendly reception has rendered it impossible for me to execute my purpose: so that I must be a wanderer on the seas for some time longer.” Whatever MacQuarrie felt at learning he had been so near to destruction, he took care to show no emotion save surprise, and replied to his visitor, — “My dear Allan, who was it that put into your mind so unkind a purpose towards your old friend; for I am sure it never arose from your own generous nature? It must have been old Torloisk, who made such an indifferent husband to your mother, and such an unfriendly step-father to you when you were a helpless boy; but now, when he sees you a bold and powerful leader, he desires to make a quarrel betwixt you and those who were the friends of your youth. If you consider this matter rightly, Allan, you will see that the estate and harbour of Torloisk lie to the full as conveniently for you as those of Ulva, and that, if you are disposed (as is very natural) to make a settlement by force, it is much better it should be at the expense of the old churl, who never showed you kindness or countenance, than at that of a friend like me, who always loved and honoured you.”

Allan-a-Sop was struck with the justice of this reasoning; and the old offence of his scalded fingers was suddenly recalled to his mind. “It is very true what you say, MacQuarrie,” he replied, “and, besides, I have not forgotten what a hot breakfast my step-father treated me to one morning. Farewell for the present; you shall soon hear news of me from the other side of the sound.” Having said thus much, the pirate got on board, and, commanding his men to unmoor the galleys, sailed back to Torloisk, and prepared to land in arms. MacLean hastened to meet him, in expectation to hear of the death of his enemy, MacQuarrie. But Allan greeted him in a very different manner from what he expected. “You hoary old traitor,” he said, “you instigated my simple good-nature to murder a better man than yourself! But have you forgotten how you scorched my fingers twenty years ago, with a burning cake? The day is come that the breakfast must be paid for.” So saying, he dashed out the old man’s brains with a battle-axe, took possession of his castle and property, and established there a distinguished branch of the clan of MacLean.

It is told of another of these western chiefs, who is said, upon the whole, to have been a kind and good-natured man, that he was subjected to repeated risk and injury by the treachery of an ungrateful nephew, who attempted to surprise his castle, in order to put his uncle to death, and obtain for himself the command of the tribe. Being detected on the first occasion, and brought before his uncle as a prisoner, the chief dismissed him unharmed; with a warning, however, not to repeat the offence, since, if he did so, he would cause him to be put to a death so fearful that all Scotland should ring with it. The wicked young man persevered, and renewed his attempts against his uncle’s castle and life. Falling a second time into the hands of the offended chieftain, the prisoner had reason to term him as good as his word. He was confined in the pit, or dungeon of the castle, a deep dark vault, to which there was no access save through a hole in the roof. He was left without food, till his appetite grew voracious; the more so, as he had reason to apprehend that it was intended to starve him to death. But the vengeance of his uncle was of a more refined character. The stone which covered the aperture in the roof was lifted, and a quantity of salt beef let down to the prisoner, who devoured it eagerly. When he had glutted himself with this food, and expected to be supplied with liquor, to quench the raging thirst which the died had excited, a cup was slowly lowered down, which when he eagerly grasped it, he found to be empty! Then they rolled the stone on the opening in the vault, and left the captive to perish by thirst, the most dreadful of all death.

Many similar stories could be told you of the wild wars of the islanders; but these may suffice at present to give you some idea of the fierceness of their manners, the low value at which they held human life, the cruel manner in which wrongs were revenged, and the unscrupulous violence by which property was acquired.

The Hebrideans seem to have been accounted by King James a race whom it was impossible to subdue, conciliate, or improve by civilisation; and the only remedy which occurred to him was to settle Lowlanders in the islands, and drive away or extirpate the people by whom they were inhabited. For this purpose, the King authorized an association of many gentlemen in the county of Fife, then the wealthiest and most civilized part of Scotland, who undertook to make a settlement in the isles of Lewis and Harris. These undertakers, as they were called, levied many, assembled soldiers, and manned a fleet, with which they landed on the Lewis, and effected a settlement at Stornoway in that country, as they would have done in establishing a colony on the desert shores of a distant continent.

At this time the property of the Lewis was disputed between the sons of Rory MacLeod, the last lord, who had two families by separate wives. The undertakers, finding the natives thus quarrelling among themselves, had little difficulty in building a small town and fortifying it; and their enterprise in the beginning assumed a promising appearance. But the Lord of Kintail, chief of the numerous and powerful clan of MacKenzie, was little disposed to let this fair island fall into the possession of a company of Lowland adventurers. He had himself some vies of obtaining it in the name of Torquil Connaldagh MacLeod, one of the Hebridean claimants, who was closely connected with the family of MacKenzie, and disposed to act as his powerful ally desired. Thus privately encouraged, the islanders united themselves against the undertakers; and, after a war of various fortune, attacked their camp of Stornoway, took it by storm, burnt the fort, slew many of them, and made the rest prisoners. They were not expelled, you may be sure, without bloodshed and massacre. Some of the old persons still alive in the Lewis, talk of a very old woman, living in their youth, who used to say, that she had held the light while her countrymen were cutting the throats of the Fife adventurers.

A lady, the wife of one of the principal gentlemen in the expedition, fled from the scene of violence into a wild and pathless desert of rock and morass, called the Forest of Fanning. In this wilderness she became the mother of a child. A Hebridean, who chanced to pass on one of the ponies of the country, saw the mother and infant in the act of perishing with cold, and being struck with the misery of their condition, contrived a strange manner of preserving them. He killed his pony, and opening its belly, and removing the entrails, he put the new-born infant and the helpless mother into the inside of the carcass, to have the advantage of the warmth which this strange and shocking receptacle for some time afforded. In this manner, with or without assistance, he contrived to bear them to some place of security, where the lady remained till she could get back in safety to her own country.

The lady who experienced this remarkable deliverance, became afterwards, by a second marriage, the wife of a person of consequence and influence in Edinburgh, a judge, I believe, of the Court of Session. One evening, while she looked out of the window of her house in the Canongate, just as a heavy storm was coming on, she heard a man in the Highland dress say in the Gaelic language, to another with whom he was walking, “This would be a rough might for the forest of Fanning.” The lady’s attention was immediately attracted by the name of a place which she had such awful reasons for remembering, and, on looking attentively at the man who spoke, she recognised her preserver. She called him into the house, received him in the most cordial manner, and finding that he was come from the Western Islands on some law business of great importance to his family, she interested her husband in his favour, by whose influence it was speedily and successfully settled; and the Hebridean, loaded with kindness and presents, returned to his native island, with reason to congratulate himself on the humanity which he had shown in so singular a manner.

After the surprise of their fort, and the massacre of the defenders, the Fife gentlemen tired of their undertaking; and the Lord of Kintail had the whole advantage of the dispute, for he contrived to get possession of the Lewis for himself, and transmitted it to his family, with whom it still remain.

It appears, however, that King James did not utterly despair of improving the Hebrides, by means of colonization. It was supposed that powerful Marquis of Huntly might have been able to acquire the property, and had wealth enough to pay the Crown something for the grant. The whole archipelago was offered to him, with the exception of Skye and Lewis, at the cheap price of ten thousand pounds Scots, or about L.800; but the marquis would not give more than half the sum demanded, for what he justly considered as merely a permission to conquer a sterile region, inhabited by a warlike race.

Such was the ineffectual result of the efforts to introduce some civilisation into these islands. In the next chapter we shall show that the improvement of the Highlanders on the mainland was not much more satisfactory.

Chapter 39

The size and position of the Highlands of Scotland rendered them much less susceptible of improvement than the Border districts, which, far less extensive, and less difficult of access, were now placed between two civilized and peaceful countries, instead of being the frontier of two hostile lands.

The Highlanders, on the contrary, continued the same series of wars among themselves, and incursions upon their Lowland neighbours, which had distinguished them even since the dawn of their history. Military adventure, in one form or other, was their delight as well as their employment, and all works of industry were considered as unworthy the dignity of a mountaineer. Even the necessary task of raising a scanty crop of barley, was assigned to the aged, and to the women and children. The men thought of nothing but hunting and war. I will give you an account of a Highland chieftain, in character and practice not very different from that of Allan-a-Sop, the Hebridean.

The Stewarts, who inhabited the district of Appin, in the West Highlands, were a numerous and warlike clan. Appin is the title of the chief of the clan. The second branch of the family was that of Invernahyle. The founder, a second son of the house of Appin, was called by the uncommon epithet of Saioleach, or the Peaceful. One of his neighbours was the Lord of Dunstaffnage, called Cailen Uaine, or Green Colin, from the green colour which predominated in his tartan. This Green Colin surprised the peaceful Laird of Invernahyle, assassinated him, burnt his house, and destroyed his whole family, excepting an infant at the breast. This infant did not owe its safety to the mercy of Green Colin, but to the activity and presence of mind of its nurse. Finding she could not escape the pursuit of that chief’s attendants, the faithful nurse determined to provide for the safety of her foster-child, whose life she knew was aimed at, in the only manner which remained. She therefore hid the infant in a small fissure, or cave, of a rock, and, as the only means she had of supplying him with subsistence, hung by a string round his neck a large piece of lard, in the faint hope that instinct might induce the child to employ it as a means of subsistence. The poor woman had only time to get a little way from the place where she had concealed her charge, when she was made prisoner by the pursuers. As she denied any knowledge where the child was, they dismissed her as a person of no consequence, but not until they had kept her two or three days in close confinement, menacing her with death unless she would discover what she had done with the infant.

When she found herself at liberty and unobserved, she went to the hole in which she had concealed her charge, with little hope save of finding such relics as wolves, wild-cats, or birds of prey might have left after feasting upon its flesh, but still with the pious wish to consign the remains of her dault, or foster-child, to some place of Christian burial. But her joy and surprise were extreme to find the infant still alive and well, having lived during her absence by sucking the lard, which it had reduced to a very small morsel, scarce larger than a hazel nut. The delighted nurse made all haste to escape with her charge to the neighbouring district of Moidart, of which she was a native, being the wife of the smith of the clan of MacDonald, to whom that country belonged. The mother of the infant thus miraculously rescued had also been a daughter of this tribe.

To ensure the safety of her foster-child, the nurse persuaded her husband to bring it up as their own son. The smith, you must remark, of a Highland tribe, was a person of considerable consequence. His skill in forging armour and weapons was usually united with dexterity in using them, and with the strength of body which his profession required. If I recollect right, the smith usually ranked as third officer in the chief’s household. The young Donald Stewart, as he grew up, was distinguished for great personal strength. He became skilful in his foster-father’s art, and so powerful, that he could, it is said, wield two fore-hammers, one in each hand, for hours together. From this circumstance, he gained the name of Donuil nan Ord, that is, Donald of the Hammer, by which he was all his life distinguished.

When he attained the age of twenty-one, Donald’s foster-father, the smith, observing that his courage and enterprise equalled his personal strength, thought fit to discover to him the secret of his birth, the injuries which he had received from Green Colin of Dunstaffnage, and the pretensions which he had to the property of Invernahyle, now in the possession of the man who had slain his father, and usurped his inheritance. He concluded his discovery by presenting to his beloved foster-child his own six sons to be his followers and defenders for life and death, and his assistants in the recovery of his patrimony.

Law of every description was unknown in the Highlands. Young Donald proceeded in his enterprise by hostile measures. In addition to his six foster-brethren, he got some assistance from his mother’s kindred, and levied among the old adherents of his father, and his kinsmen of the house of Appin, such additional force, that he was able to give battle to Green Colin, whom he defeated and slew, regaining at the same time his father’s house and estate of Invernahyle. This success had its dangers; for it placed the young chief in feud with all the families of the powerful clan of Campbell, to which the slain Dunstaffnage belonged by alliance at least; for Green Colin and his ancestors had assumed the name, and ranked themselves under the banner, of this formidable clan, although originally they were chieftains of a different and independent race. The feud became more deadly, when, not satisfied with revenging himself on the immediate authors of his early misfortune, Donald made inroads on the Campbells in their own dominions; in evidence of which his historian quotes a verse to this purpose —

“Donald of the Smithy, the Son of the Hammer,

Filled the banks of Lochawe with mourning and clamour.”

At length the powerful Earl of Argyle resented the repeated injuries which were offered to his clansmen and kindred. The Stewarts of Appin refused to support the kinsman against an enemy so formidable, and insisted that he should seek for peace with the earl. So that Donald, left to himself, and sensible that he was unable to withstand the force which might be brought against him by this mighty chief, endeavoured to propitiate the earl’s favour by placing himself in his hands.

Stewart went, accordingly, with only a single attendant, towards Inverary, the castle of Argyle, and met with the earl himself at some distance in the open fields. Donald of the Hammer showed on this occasion that it was not fear which had induced him to this step. Being a man of ready wit, and a poet, which was an accomplishment high in the estimation of the Highlanders, he opened the conference with an extempore verse, which intimated a sort of defiance, rather like the language of a man that cared not what might befall him, than one who craved mercy or asked forgiveness.

“Son of dark Colin, thou dangerous earl,

Small is the boon that I crave at thy hand;

Enough, if in safety from bondage and peril,

Thou let’st me return to my kindred and land.”

The earl was too generous to avail himself of the advantage which Invernahyle’s confidence had afforded him, but he could not abstain from maintaining the conversation thus begun, in a gibing tone. Donuil nan Ord was harsh-featured, and had a custom, allied to his mode of education, and the haughtiness of his character, of throwing back his head, and laughing loudly with his mouth wide open. In ridicule of this peculiarity, in which Donald had indulged repeatedly, Argyle, or one of his attendants, pointed out to his observation a rock in the neighbourhood, which bore a singular resemblance to a human face, with a large mouth much thrown back, and open as if laughing a horse-laugh. “Do you see yonder crag?” said the earl to Donald of the Hammer; “it is called Gaire Granda, or the Ugly Laugh.” Donald felt this intended gibe, and as Argyle’s lady was a hard-favoured and haughty woman, he replied without hesitation, in a verse like the following:

“Ugly the sneer of yon cliff of the hill,

Nature has stamp’d the grim laugh on the place;

Would you seek for a grimmer and uglier still,

You will find it at home in your countess’s face.”

Argyle took the raillery of Donald in good part, but would not make peace with him, until he agreed to make two creaghs, or inroads, one on Moidart, and one on Athole. It seems probable that the purpose of Argyle was to engage his troublesome neighbour in a feud with other clans to whom he bore no good-will; for whether he of the Hammer fell or was successful, the earl, in either event, would gain a certain advantage. Donald accepted peace with the Campbells on these terms.

On his return home, Donald communicated to MacDonald of Moidart the engagement he had come under; and that chieftain, his mother’s kinsman and ally, concerted that Invernahyle and his band should plunder certain villages in Moidart, the inhabitants of which had offended him, and on whom he desired chastisement should be inflicted. The incursion of Donald the Hammerer punished them to some purpose, and so far he fulfilled his engagement to Argyle, without making an enemy of his own kinsman. With the Athole men, as more distant and unconnected with him Donald stood on less ceremony, and made more than one successful creagh upon them. His name was now established as one of the most formidable marauders known in the Highlands, and a very bloody action which he sustained against the family of the Grahams of the Monteith, made him still more dreaded.

The Earls of Monteith, you must know, had a castle situated upon an island in the lake, or loch, as it is called, of the same name. But though this residence, which occupied almost the whole of the islet upon which its ruins still exist, was a strong and safe place of abode, and adapted accordingly to such perilous times, it had this inconvenience, that the stables, cow-houses, poultry-yard, and other domestic offices, were necessarily separated from the castle, and situated on the mainland, as it would have been impossible to be constantly transporting the animals belonging to the establishment, to and fro from the shore to the island. These offices, therefore, were constructed on the banks of the lake, and in some sort defenceless.

It happened upon a time that there was to be a great entertainment in the castle, and a number of the Grahams were assembled. The occasion, it is said, was a marriage in the family. To prepare for this feast, much provision was got ready, and in particular a great deal of poultry had been collected. While the feast was preparing, an unhappy chance brought Donald of the Hammer to the side of the lake, returning at the head of a band of hungry followers, whom he was conducting homewards to the West Highlands, after some of his usual excursions into Stirlingshire. Seeing so much good victuals ready, and being possessed of an excellent appetite, the Western Highlanders neither asked questions, nor waited for an invitation, but devoured all the provisions that had been prepared for the Grahams, and then went on their way rejoicing, through the difficult and dangerous path, which leads from the banks of the Loch of Monteith, through the mountains, to the side of Loch Katrine.

The Grahams were filled with the highest indignation. No one in those fierce times was so contemptible as an individual who would suffer himself to be plundered without exacting satisfaction and revenge, and the loss of their dinner probably aggravated the sense of the insults entertained by the guests. The company who were assembled at the castle of Monteith, headed by the earl himself, hastily took to their boats, and, disembarking on the northern side of the lake, pursued with all speed the marauders and their leader. They came up with Donald’s party in the gorge of a pass, near a rock, called Craig–Vad, or the Wolf’s Cliff. Here the Grahams called, with loud insults, on the Appin men to stand, and one of them, in allusion to the execution which had been done amongst the poultry, exclaimed in verse —

“They’re brave gallants, these Appin men,

To twist the throat of cock and hen?” Donald instantly replied to the reproach —

“And if we be of Appin’s line,

We’ll twist a goose’s neck in thine.”

So saying, he shot the unlucky scoffer with an arrow. The battle then began, and was continued with much fury till night. The Earl of Monteith and many of his noble kinsmen fell, while Donald, favoured by darkness, escaped with a single attendant. The Grahams obtained, from the cause of the quarrel, the nickname of Gramoch an Garrigh, or Grahams of the Hens: although they certainly lost no honour in the encounter, having fought like game-cocks.

Donald of the Hammer was twice married. His second marriage was highly displeasing to his eldest son, whom he had by his first wife. This young man, whose name of Duncan, seems to have partaken rather of the disposition of his grandfather, Alister Saoileach, or the Peaceful, than of the turbulent spirit of his father the Hammerer. He quitted the family mansion in displeasure at his father’s second marriage, and went to a farm called Inverfalla, which his father had bestowed upon his nurse in reward for her eminent services. Duncan took up his abode with this valued connexion of the family, who was now in the extremity of old age, and amused himself with attempting to improve the cultivation of the farm; a task which not only was considered as below the dignity of a Highland gentleman, but even regarded as the last degree of degradation.

The idea of his son’s occupying himself with agricultural operations, struck so much shame and anger into the heart of Donald of Hammerer, that his resentment against him became ungovernable. At length, as he walked by his own side of the river, and looked towards Inverfalla, he saw, to his extreme displeasure, a number of men employed in digging and levelling the soil for some intended crop. Soon after, he had the additional mortification to see his son come out and mingle with the workmen, as if giving them directions; and, finally, beheld him take the spade out of an awkward fellow’s hand, and dig a little himself, to show him how to use it. This last act of degeneracy drove the Hammerer frantic; he seized a curragh, or boat covered with hides, which was near, jumped into it, and pushed across the stream, with the determination of destroying the son, who had, in his opinion, brought such unutterable disgrace upon his family. The poor agriculturist, seeing his father approach in such haste, and having a shrewd guess of the nature of his parental intentions, fled into the house and hid himself. Donald followed with his drawn weapon; but, deceived by passion and darkness, he plunged his sword into the body of one whom he saw lying on the bed-clothes. Instead of his son, for whom the blow was intended, it lighted on the old foster-mother, to whom he owed his life in infancy and education in youth, and slew her on the spot. After this misfortune, Donald became deeply affected with remorse; and giving up all his estates to his children, he retired to the Abbey of St. Columbus, in Iona, passed the remainder of his days as a monk, and died at the age of eighty-seven.

It may easily be believed, that there was little peace and quiet in a country abounding with such men as the Hammerer, who thought the practice of honest industry on the part of a gentleman was an act of degeneracy, for which nothing short of death was an adequate punishment; so that the disorderly state of the highlands was little short of that of the Isles. Still, however, many of the principal chiefs attended occasionally at the court of Scotland; others were frequently obliged to send their sons to be educated there, who were retained as hostages for the peaceable behaviour of the clan; so that by degrees they came to improve with the increasing civilisation of the times.

The authority also of the great nobles, who held estates in or adjacent to the Highlands, was a means, though a rough one, of making the district over which they exercised their power, submit, in a certain degree, to the occasional influence of the laws. It is true, that the great Earls of Huntly, Argyle, Sutherland, and other nobles, did not enforce the Lowland institutions upon their Highland vassals out of mere zeal for their civilisation, but rather because, by taking care to secure the power of the sovereign and the laws on their own side, they could make the infraction of them by the smaller chiefs the pretext for breaking down the independent clans, and making them submit to their own authority.

I will give you an example of the manner in which a noble lady chastised a Highland chief in the reign of James the Sixth. The head of the House of Gordon, then Marquis of Huntly, was by far the most powerful lord in the northern counties, and exercised great influence over the Highland clans who in habited the mountains of Badenoch, which lay behind his extensive domains. One of the most ancient bribes situated in and near that district is that of MacIntosh, a word which means Child of the Thane, as they boasts their descent from MacDuff, the celebrated Thane of Fife. This haughty race having fallen at variance with the Gordons, William MacIntosh, their chief, carried his enmity to so great a pitch, as to surprise and burn the castle of Auchindown, belonging to the Gordon family. The Marquis of Huntly vowed the severest vengeance. He moved against the MacIntoshes with his own followers; and he let loose upon the devoted tribe, al such neighbouring clans as would do any thing, as the old phrase was, for his love or for his fear. MacIntosh, after a short struggle, found himself unequal to sustain the conflict, and saw that he must either behold his clan totally exterminated, or contrive some mode of pacifying Huntly’s resentment. The idea of the first alternative was not to be endured, and of the last he saw no chance, save by surrendering himself into the power of the marquis, and thus personally atoning for the offence which he had committed. To perform this act of generous devotion with as much chance of safety as possible, he chose a time when the marquis himself was absent, and asking for the lady, whom he judged likely to prove less inexorable than her husband, he presented himself as the unhappy Laird of MacIntosh, who came to deliver himself up to the Gordon, to answer for his burning of Auchindown, and only desired that Huntly would spare his clan. The marchioness, a stern and haughty woman, had shared deeply in her husband’s resentment. She regarded MacIntosh with a keen eye, as the hawk or eagle contemplates the prey within its clutch, and having spoken a word aside to her attendants, replied to the suppliant chief in this manner:— “MacIntosh, you have offended the Gordon so deeply, that Huntly has sworn by his father’s soul, that he will never pardon you, till he has brought your neck to the block.” — “I will stoop even to that humiliation, to secure the safety of my father’s house,” said MacIntosh. And as this interview passed in the kitchen of the castle at Bog of Gicht, he undid the collar of his doublet, and kneeling down before the huge block on which, in the rude hospitality of the time, the slain bullocks and sheep were broken up for use, he laid his neck upon it, expecting, doubtless, that the lady would be satisfied with this token of unreserved submission. But the inexorable marchioness made a sign to the cook, who stepped forward with his hatchet raised, and struck MacIntosh’s head from his body.

Another story, and I will change the subject. It is also of the family of Gordon; not that they were by any means more hard-hearted then other Scottish barons, who had feuds with the Highlanders, but because it is the readiest which occurs to my recollection. The Farquharsons of Deeside, a bold and warlike people, inhabiting the dales of Braemar, had taken offence at, and slain, a gentleman of consequence, named Gordon of Brackley. The Marquis of Huntly summoned his forces, to take a bloody vengeance for the death of a Gordon; and that none of the guilty tribe might escape, communicated with the Laird of Grant, a very powerful chief, who was an ally of Huntly, and a relation, I believe, to the slain Baron of Brackley. — They agreed, that, on a day appointed, Grant, with his clan in arms, should occupy the upper end of the vale of Dee, and move from thence downwards, while the Gordons should ascent the river from beneath, each party killing, burning, and destroying, without mercy, whatever and whomever they found before them. A terrible massacre was made of the Farquharsons, taken at unawares, and placed betwixt two enemies. Almost all the men and women of the race were slain, and when the day was done, Huntly found himself encumbered with about two hundred orphan children, whose parents had been killed. What became of them you shall presently hear.

About a year after this foray, the Laird of Grant chanced to dine at the Marquis’s castle. He was, of course, received with kindness, and entertained with magnificence. After dinner was over, Huntly said to his guest, that he would show him some rare sport. Accordingly, he conducted Grant to a balcony, which, as was frequent in old mansions, overlooked the kitchen, perhaps to permit the lady to give an occasional eye to the operations there. The numerous servants of the marquis and his visitors had already dined, and Grant beheld the remains of the victuals which had furnished a plentiful meal, flung at random into a large trough, like that out of which swine feed. While Grant was wondering what this could mean, the master cook gave a signal with his silver whistle; on which a hatch, like that of a dog kennel, was raised, and there rushed into the kitchen, some shrieking, some shouting, some yelling — not a pack of hounds, which, in number, noise, and tumult, they greatly resembled, but a huge mob of children, half naked, and totally wild in their manners, who threw themselves on the contents of the trough, and fought, struggled, bit, scratched, and clamoured, each to get the largest share. Grant was a man of humanity, and did not see in that degrading scene all the amusement which his noble host had intended to afford him. “In the name of Heaven,” he said, “who are these unfortunate creatures that are fed like so many pigs?” — “They are the children of those Farquharsons whom we slew last year on Dee-side,” answered Huntly. The laird felt more shocked than it would have been prudent or polite to express. “My lord,” he said, “my sword helped to make these poor children orphans, and it is not fair that your lordship should be burdened with all the expense of maintaining them. You have supported them for a year and day — allow me now to take them to Castle–Grant, and keep them for the same period at my cost.” Huntly was tired of the joke of the pig-trough, and willingly consented to have the undisciplined rabble of children taken off his hands. He troubled himself no more about them; and the Laird of Grant, carrying them to his castle, had them dispersed among his clan, and brought up decently, giving them his own name of Grant; but it is said their descendants are still called the Race of the Trough, to distinguish them from the families of the tribe into which they were adopted.

These are instances of the severe authority exercised by the great barons over their Highland neighbours and vassals. Still that authority produced a regard to the laws, which they would not otherwise have received. These might lords, though possessed of great power in their jurisdictions, never effected entire independence, as had been done by the old Lords of the Isles, who made peace and war with England, without the consent of the King of Scotland. On the contrary, Argyle, Huntly, Murray, and others, always used at least the pretext of the King’s name and authority, and were, from habit and education, less apt to practise wild stretches of arbitrary power that the native chiefs of the Highlands. In proportion, therefore, as the influence of the nobles increased, the country approached more nearly to civilisation.

It must not here be forgotten, that the increase of power acquired by the sovereign, in the person of James VI, had been felt severely by one of his great feudal lords, for exercising violence and oppression, even in the most distant extremity of the empire. The Earl of Orkney, descended from a natural son of James V, and of course a cousin-german of the reigning monarch, had indulged himself in extravagant excesses of arbitrary authority amongst the wild recesses of the Orkney and Zetland islands. He had also, it was alleged, shown some token of a wish to assume sovereign power, and had caused his natural son to defend the castle of Kirkwall, by force of arms, against the King’s troops. Mr Littlejohn is now something of a Latin scholar, and he will understand, that this wicked Earl of Orkney’s ignorance of that language exposed him to two disgraceful blunders. When he had built the great tower of Scalloway in Zetland, he asked a clergyman for a motto, who supplied him with the following Latin words:—

“Cujus fundamen saxum est, domus illa manebit

Stabilis; et contra, si sit arena, perit.” The earl was highly pleased with this motto, not understanding that the secret meaning implied, that a house, raised by honourable and virtuous means, was as durable as if founded upon a rock; whereas one like his new castle of Scalloway, constructed by injustice and oppressive means, was like one founded on the faithless sands, and would soon perish. It is now a waste ruin, and bears the defaced inscription as if prophetic of the event.

A worse error was that which occurred in the motto over another castle on the island of Birasa, in Orkney, built by his father and repaired by himself. Here he was pleased to inscribe his father’s name and descent thus; — ROBERTUS STUARTUS, FILIUS JACOBI QUINTI, REX SCOTORUM, HOC EDIFICIUM INSTRUXIT. SIC FUIT, EST, ET ERIT. It was probably only the meaning of this inscription to intimate, that Earl Robert was the son of James V, King of Scotland, which was an undeniable truth; but putting Rex in the nominative instead of Regis, in the genitive, as the construction required, Earl Patrick seemed to state that his father had been the King of Scotland, and was gravely charged with high treason for asserting such a proposition.

If this was rather a severe punishment for false Latin, it must be allowed that Earl Patrick had deserved his condemnation by repeated acts of the greatest cruelty and oppression on the defenceless inhabitants of those remote islands. He was held in such terror by them, that one person who was brought as a witness against him, refused to answer any question till he had received a solemn assurance that the earl would never be permitted to return to Orkney. Being positively assured of this, he gave such a detail of his usurpation and crimes as made his guilt fully manifest.

For these offences the earl was tried and executed at Edinburgh; and his punishment struck such terror among the aristocracy, as made even those great lords, whose power lay in the most distant and inaccessible places of Scotland, disposed to be amenable to the royal authority. (6th February, 1614)

Having thus discussed the changes effected by the union of the crowns on the Borders, Highlands, and Isles, it remains to notice the effects produced in the Lowlands, or more civilized parts of the kingdom.

Chapter 40

The Scottish people were soon made sensible, that if their courtiers and great men made fortunes by King James’s favour, the nation at large was not enriched by the union of the crowns. Edinburgh was no longer the residence of a court, whose expenditure, though very moderate, was diffused among her merchants and citizens, and was so far of importance. The sons of the gentry and better classes, who sole trade had been war and battle, were deprived of employment by the general peace with England, and the nation was likely to feel all the distress arising from an excess of population.

To remedy the last evil, the wars on the Continent afforded a resource peculiarly fitted to the genius of the Scots, who have always had a disposition for visiting foreign parts. The celebrated Thirty Years’ War, as it was called, was now raging in Germany, and a large national brigade of Scots was engaged in the service of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, one of the most successful generals of the age. Their total numbers may be guessed from those of the superior officers, which amounted to thirty-four colonels, and fifty lieutenant-colonels. The similarity of the religion of the Scots with that of the Swedes, and some congenial resemblances betwixt the two nations, as well as the high fame of Gustavus, made most of the Scots prefer the service of Sweden; but there were others who went into that of the Emperor of Austria, of France, of the Italian States, — in short, they were dispersed as soldiers throughout all Europe. It was not uncommon, when a party of Scots was mounting a breach, for them to hear some of the defenders call out in the Scottish language, “Come on, gentlemen; this is not like gallanting it at the Cross of Edinburgh!” and thus learn that they were opposed to some of their countrymen engaged on the opposite side. The taste for foreign service was so universal, that young gentlemen of family, who wished to see the world, used to travel on the Continent from place to place, and from state to state, and defray their expenses by engaging for a few weeks or months in military service in the garrison or guards of the state in which they made their temporary residence. It is but doing the Scots justice to say, that while thus acting as mercenary soldiers, they acquired a high character for courage, military skill, and a faithful adherence to their engagements. The Scots regiments in the Swedish service were the first troops who employed platoon firing, by which they contributed greatly to achieve the victory in the decisive battle of Lutzen.

Besides the many thousand Scottish emigrants who pursued the trade of war on the Continent, there was another numerous class who undertook the toilsome and precarious task of travelling merchants, or to speak plainly, of pedlars, and were employed in conducting the petty inland commerce, which gave the inhabitants of Germany, Poland, and the northern parts of Europe in general, opportunities of purchasing articles of domestic convenience. There were at that time few towns, and in these towns there were few shops regularly open. When an inhabitant of the country, of high or low degree, wished to purchase any article of dress or domestic convenience which he did not manufacture himself, he was obliged to attend at the next fair, to which the travelling merchants flocked, in order to expose their goods to sale. Or if the buyer did not choose to take that trouble, he must wait till some pedlar, who carried his goods on horseback, in a small wain, or perhaps in a pack upon his shoulders, made his wandering journey through the country. It has been made matter of ridicule against the Scots, that this traffic fell into their hands, as a frugal, patient, provident, and laborious people, possessing some share of education, which we shall presently see was now becoming general among them. But we cannot think that the business which required such attributes to succeed in it, could be dishonourable to those who pursued it; and we believe that those Scots who, in honest commerce, supplied foreigners with the goods they required, were at least as well employed as those who assisted them in killing each other.

While the Scots thus continued to improve their condition by enterprise abroad, they gradually sunk into peaceful habits at home. In the wars of Queen Mary’s time, and those of King James’s minority, we have the authority of a great lawyer, the first Earl of Haddington, generally known by the name of Tom of the Cowgate, to assure us, that “the whole country was so miserably distracted, not only by the accustomed barbarity of the Highlands and Borders, which was greatly increased, but by the cruel dissensions arising from public factions and private feuds, that men of every rank daily wore steel-jacks, knapscaps or head-pieces, plate-sleeves, and pistols and poniards, being as necessary parts of their apparel as their doublets and breeches.” Their disposition was, of course, as warlike as their dress; and the same authority informs us, that whatever was the cause of their assemblies or meetings, fights and affrays were the necessary consequence before they separated; and this not at parliaments, conventions, trysts, and markets only, but likewise in church-yards, churches, and places appointed for the exercise of religion.

This universal state of disorder was not owing to any want of laws against such enormities; on the contrary, the Scottish legislature was more severe than that of England, accounting as murder the killing of any one in a sudden quarrel, without previous malice, which offence the law of England rated under the milder denomination of manslaughter. And this severity was introduced into the law, expressly to restrain the peculiarly furious temper of the Scottish nation. It was not, therefore, laws which were awanting to restrain violence, but the regular and due execution of such as existed. An ancient Scottish statesman and judge, who was also a poet, has alluded to the means used to save the guilty from deserved punishment. “We are allowed some skill,” he says, “in making good laws, but God knows how ill they are kept and enforced; since a man accused of a crime will frequently appear at the bar of the court to which he is summoned, with such a company of armed friends at his back, as if it were his purpose to defy and intimidate both judge and jury.” The interest of great men, moreover, obtained often by bribes, interposed between a criminal and justice, and saved by court favour the life which was forfeited to the laws.

James made great reformation in these particulars, as soon as his power, increased by the union of the two kingdoms, gave him the means of doing so. The laws, as we have seen in more cases than one, were enforced with greater severity; and the assistance of powerful friends, nay, the interposition of courtiers and favourites, was less successful in interfering with the course of justice, or obtaining remissions and pardons for condemned criminals. Thus the wholesome terror of justice gradually imposed a restraint on the general violence and disorder which had followed the civil wars of Scotland. Still, however, as the barons held, by means of their hereditary jurisdictions, the exclusive right to try and to punish such crimes as were committed on their own estates; and as they often did not choose to do so, either because the action had been committed by the baron’s own direction; or that the malefactor was a strong and active partisan, of whose service the lord might have need; or because the judge and criminal stood in some degree of relationship to each other; in all such cases, the culprit’s escape from justice was a necessary consequence. Nevertheless, viewing Scotland generally, the progress of public justice at the commencement of the seventeenth century was much purer, and less liable to interruption, than in former ages, and the disorders of the country were fewer in proportion.

The law and its terrors had its effect in preventing the frequency of crime; but it could not have been in the power of mere human laws, and the punishments which they enacted, to eradicate from the national feelings the proneness to violence, and the thirst of revenge, which had been so long a general characteristic of the Scottish people. The heathenish and accursed custom of deadly feud, or the duty, as it was thought, of exacting blood for blood, and perpetuating a chance quarrel, by handing it down to future generations, could only give place to those pure religious doctrines which teach men to practise, not the revenge, but the forgiveness in injuries, as the only means of acquiring the favour of Heaven.

The Presbyterian preachers, in throwing away the external pomp and ceremonial of religious worship, had inculcated, in its place, the most severe observation of morality. It was objected to them, indeed, that, as in their model of church government, the Scottish clergy claimed an undue influence over state affairs, so, in their professions of doctrine and practice, they verged towards an ascetic system, in which too much weight was laid on venial transgressing, and the opinions of other Christian churches were treated with too little liberality. But no one who considers their works, and their history, can deny to those respectable men the merit of practising, in most rigid extent, the strict doctrines of morality which they taught. They despised wealth, shunned even harmless pleasures, and acquired the love of their flocks, by attending to their temporal as well as spiritual diseases. They preached what they themselves seriously believed, and they were believed because they spoke with all the earnestness of conviction. They spared neither example nor precept to improve the more ignorant of their hearers, and often endangered their own lives in attempting to put a stop to the feuds and frays which daily occurred in their bounds. It is recorded of a worthy clergyman, whose parish was peculiarly distracted by the brawls of the quarrelsome inhabitants, that he used constantly to wear a stout steel head-piece, which bore an odd appearance contrasted with his clerical dress. The purpose was, that when he saw swords drawn in the street, which was almost daily, he might run between the combatants, and thus separate them, with less risk of being killed by a chance blow. So that his venturous and dauntless humanity was perpetually placing his life in danger.

The clergy of that day were frequently respectable from their birth and connexions, often from their learning, and at all times from their character. These qualities enabled them to interfere with effect, even in the feuds of the barons and gentry; and they often brought to milder and more peaceful thoughts, men who would not have listened to any other intercessors. There is no doubt, that these good men, and the Christianity which they taught, were one of the principal means of correcting the furious temper and revengeful habits of the Scottish nation, in whose eyes bloodshed and deadly vengeance had been till then a virtue.

Besides the precepts and examples of religion and morality, the encouragement of general information and knowledge is also an effectual mode of taming and subduing the wild habits of a military and barbarous people. For this also the Lowlands of Scotland were indebted to the Presbyterian ministers.

The Catholic clergy had been especially instrumental in the foundation of three universities in Scotland, namely, those of Glasgow, St Andrews and Aberdeen; but these places of education, from the very nature of their institutions, were only calculated for the education of students designed for the church, or of those youths from among the higher classes of the laity, whom their parents desired should receive such information as might qualify them for lawyers and statesmen. The more noble view of the Reformed Church, was to extend the blessings of knowledge to the lower, as well as the higher classes of society.

The preachers of the Reformation had appealed to the Scriptures as the rule of their doctrine, and it was their honourable and liberal wish, that the poorest, as well as the richest man, should have an opportunity of judging, by his own perusal of the sacred volume, whether they had interpreted the text truly and faithfully. The invention of printing had made the Scripture accessible to every one, and the clergy desired that the meanest peasant should be capable of reading them. John Knox, and other leaders of the Congregation, had, from the very era of the Reformation, pressed the duty of reserving from the confiscated revenues of the Romish Church the means of providing for the clergy with decency, and of establishing colleges and schools for the education of youth; but their wishes were for a long time disappointed by the avarice of the nobility and gentry, who were determined to retain for their own use the spoils of the Catholic establishment, and by the stormy complexion of the times, in which little was regarded save what belonged to politics and war.

At length the legislature, chiefly by the influence of the clergy, was induced to authorize the noble enactment, which appoints a school to be dept in every parish of Scotland, at a low rate of endowment indeed, but such as enables every poor man within the parish to procure for his children the knowledge of reading and writing; and affords an opportunity for those individuals who show a decided taste for learning, to obtain such progress in classical knowledge, as may fit them for college studies. There can be no doubt that the opportunity afforded of procuring instruction thus easily, tended, in the course of a generation, greatly to civilize and humanize the character of the Scottish nation; and it is equally certain, that this general access to useful knowledge has not only given rise to the success of many men of genius, who otherwise would never have aspired above the humble rank in which they were born, but has raised the common people of Scotland in general, in knowledge, sagacity, and intelligence, many degrees above those of most other countries.

The Highlands and Islands did not share the influence of religion and education, which so essentially benefited their Lowland countrymen, owing to their speaking a language different from the rest of Scotland, as well as to the difficulty, or rather at that time the impossibility, of establishing churches or schools in such a remote country, and amongst natives of such wild manners.

To the reign of James VI it is only necessary to add, that in 1617 he revisited his ancient kingdom of Scotland, for the same instinct, as his Majesty was pleased to express it, which induces salmon, after they have visited the sea, to return to the river in which they have been bred.

He was received with every appearance of affection by his Scottish subjects; and the only occasion of suspicious, doubt, or quarrel, betwixt the King and them, arose from the partiality he evinced to the form and ritual of the Church of England. The true Presbyterians groaned heavily at seeing choristers and singing boys arrayed in white surplices, and at hearing them chant the service of the Church of England; and they were in despair when they saw his Majesty’s private chapel adorned with pictures representing scriptural subjects. All this, and every thing like an established and prescribed form in prayer, in garb or decoration, was, in their idea, a greater or less approximation to the practices of the Church of Rome. This was, indeed, mere prejudice, but it was a prejudice of little consequence in itself, and James ought to have rather respected than combated feelings connected with much that was both moral and religious, and honoured the right which his Scottish subjects might justly claim to worship God after their own manner, and not according to the rules and ceremonies of a foreign country. His obstinacy on this point was, however, satisfied with carrying through the Articles of Perth, already mentioned, which were finally admitted in the year after his visit to Scotland. He left to his successor the task of endeavouring to accomplish a complete conformity, in ritual and doctrine, between the churches of South and North Britain — and very dear the attempt cost him.

James died at Theobalds on the 27th March, 1625, in the fifty-ninth year of his age, and the twenty-second after his accession to the throne of England. He was the least dignified and accomplished of all his family; but, at the same time, the most fortunate. Robert II, the first of the Stewart family, died, it is true, in peace; but Robert III had sunk under the family losses which he had sustained; James I was murdered; James II killed by the bursting of a cannon; James III (whom James VI chiefly resembled) was privately slain after the battle of Sauchie–Burn; James IV fell at Flodden; James V died of a broken heart; Henry Darnley, the father of James VI was treacherously murdered; and his mother, Queen Mary, was tyrannically beheaded. He himself alone, without courage, without sound sagacity, without that feeling of dignity which should restrain a prince from foolish indulgences became King of the great nation which had for ages threatened to subdue that of which he was born monarch; and the good fortune of the Stewart family, which seems to have existed in his person alone, declined and totally decayed in those of his successors.

James had lost his eldest son, Henry, a youth of extraordinary promise. His second, Charles I, succeeded him in the throne. He left also one daughter, Elizabeth, married to Frederick, the Elector Palatine of the German empire. He was an unfortunate prince, and with a view of obtaining the kingdom of Bohemia, engaged in a ruinous war with the Emperor, by which he lost his hereditary dominions. But the Elector’s evil fortune was redeemed in the person of his descendants, from whom sprung the royal family which now possess the British throne, in right of the Princess Elizabeth.

Chapter 41

Charles I, who succeeded his father James, was a prince whose personal qualities were excellent. It was said of him justly, that considered as a private gentleman, where was not a more honourable, virtuous, and religious man, in his dominions. He was a kind father, an indulgent master, and even too affectionate a husband, permitting the Queen Henrietta Maria, the beautiful daughter of Henry IV of France, to influence his government in a degree beyond her sphere. Charles possessed also the personal dignity which his father totally wanted; and there is no just occasion to question that so good a man as we have described him, had the intention to rule his people justly and mercifully, in place of enforcing the ancient feudal thraldom. But, on the other hand, he entertained extravagant ideas of the regal power, feelings which, being peculiarly unsuitable to the times in which he lived, occasioned his own total ruin, and, for a time, that of his posterity.

The English people had been now, for a century and more, relieved from the severe yoke of the nobles, and had forgotten how severely it had pressed upon their forefathers. What had galled them in the late reign, were the exactions of King James, who, to indulge his prodigal liberality to worthless favourites, had extorted from Parliament large supplies, and having misapplied these, had endeavoured to obtain others in an indirect and illegal manner by granting to individuals, for sums of money, exclusive rights to sell certain commodities, which the monopolist immediately raised to a high rate, and made a large fortune, while the King got little by the bribe which he had received, and the subjects suffered extremely by the price of articles, perhaps necessaries of life, being unduly advanced. Yet James, finding that a spirit of opposition had arisen within the House of Commons, and that pecuniary grants were obtained with difficulty, could not be induced to refrain from such indirect practices to obtain money from the people without the consent of their representatives in Parliament.

It was James’s object also to support the royal power in the full authority, which, by gradual encroachments, it had attained during the reign of the Tudors; and he was disposed to talk high of his prerogative, for which he stated himself to be accountable to God alone; whereas it was the just principle of the House of Commons, that the power of the King, like every other power in the constitution, was limited by the laws, and was liable to be legally resisted when it trespassed beyond them. Such were the disputes which James held with his subjects. His timidity prevented him from pushing his claims to extremity, and although courtly divines and ambitious lawyers were ready to have proved, as they pretended, his absolute and indefeasible right to obedience, even in unconstitutional commands, he shrunk from the contest, and left to his son the inheritance of much discontent which his conduct had excited, but which did not immediately break out in a flame.

Charles held the same opinions of his own rights as a monarch, which had been infused into him by his father’s instructions, and he was obstinate and persevering where James had been timid and flexible. Arbitrary courts of justice, particularly one termed the Star-chamber, afforded the King the means of punishing those who opposed themselves to the royal will; but the violent exertion of authority only increased the sense of the evil, and a general discontent against the King’s person and prerogative began to prevail throughout England.

These menacing appearances were much increased by religious motives. The Church of England had been since the Reformation gradually dividing into two parties, one of which, warmly approved of by King James, and yet more keenly patronised by Charles, was peculiarly attached to the rites and ceremonies of the church, the strict observance of particular forms of worship, and the use of certain pontifical dresses when divine service was performed. A numerous party, called the Puritans, although they complied with the model of the Church of England, considered these peculiar rites and formalities, on which the High Churchmen, as the opposite party began to be called, laid such stress, as remains of Popery, and things therefore to be abolished.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Laud, a man of talents and learning, was devotedly attached to the High Church interest, and, countenanced by Charles, he resolved to use all the powers, both of the civil and spiritual courts, to subdue the refractory spirit of the Puritans, and enforce their compliance with the ceremonies which he thought so essential to the well-being of the church. If men had been left to entertain calm and quiet thoughts on these points, they would in time have discovered, that, having chosen what was esteemed the most suitable rules for the national church, it would have been more wise and prudent to leave the consciences of the hearers to determine whether they would conform to them, or assemble for worship elsewhere. But prosecutions, fines, pillories, and imprisonments, employed to restrain religious opinions, only make them burn the more fiercely; and those who submitted to such suffering with patience, rather than renounce the doctrines they had espoused, were counted martyrs, and followed accordingly. These dissensions in church and state continued to agitate England from year to year;;but it was the disturbances in Scotland which brought them to a crisis.

The King had kept firmly in view his father’s favourite project of bringing the Church of Scotland, in point of church government and church ceremonies, to the same model with that of England. But to settle a national church, with a gradation of dignified clergy, required large funds, which Scotland could not afford for such a purpose. In this dilemma, the King and his counsellors resolved, by one sweeping act of revocation, to resume to the crown all the tithes and benefices which had been conferred upon laymen at the Reformation, and thus obtain the funds necessary to endow the projected bishoprics.

I must try to explain to you what tithes are: By the law delivered to the Hews, the tithes, that is the tenth part of the yearly produce of the land, whether in animals born on the soil, or in corn, fruit, and vegetable productions, were destined to the support of the priests, who performed the religious service in the Temple of Jerusalem. The same rule was adopted by the Christian Church, and the tithes were levied from the farmer or possessor of the land, for the maintainance of the ecclesiastical establishments. When the Reformation took place, the great nobles and gentry of Scotland got grants of these tithes from the crown, engaging to take upon themselves the support of the clergy, whom they paid at as low a rate as possible. Those nobles and gentry who held such gifts were called titulars of tithes, answering to the English phrase of impropriators. They used the privileges which they had acquired with great rigour. They would not suffer the farmer to lead a sheaf of corn from the field until the tithes had been selected and removed, and in this way exercised their right with far more severity than had been done by the Roman Catholic clergy, who usually accepted a certain reasonable sum of money, as a modification or composition for their claim, and thus left the proprietor of the crop to manage it as he would, instead of actually taking the tithes in kind. But the titulars, as they used their privilege with rigour and to the utmost, were equally tenacious in retaining it.

When assembled in Parliament, or, as it was termed, the Convention of Estates, the Scottish lords were possessed of grants of tithes determined that, rather than yield to the revocation proposed by the Earl of Nithsdale, who was the royal commissioner, they would massacre him and his adherents in the face of the assembly. This purpose was so decidedly entertained, that Lord Belhaven, and old blind man, placed himself close to the Earl of Dumfries, a supporter of the intended revocation, and keeping hold of his neighbour with one hand, for which he apologized, as being necessary to enable him to support himself, he held in the other the hilt of a dagger concealed in his bosom, that, as soon as the general signal should be given, hi might play his part in the tragedy by plunging it into Lord Dumfries’s heart. Nithsdale, learning something of this desperate resolution, gave the proposed measure of revocation up for the time, and returned to court.

The King, however, was at length able, by the assistance of a convention of the clergy summoned together by the bishops, and by the general clamour of the land-owners, who complained of the rigorous exactions of the titulars, to obtain a partial surrender of the tithes into the power of the crown. The power of the levying them in kind was suppressed; the landholder was invested with a right to retain every season’s tithe upon paying a modified sum, and to purchase the entire right from the titular (if he had the means to do so) at a rate of purchase restricted to seven years’ rent.

These alterations were attended with the greatest advantages to the country in process of time, but they were very offensive to the Scottish nobility, whom they deprived of valuable rights at an inadequate price.

Charles also made an attempt to reverse some of the attainders which had taken place in his father’s time, particularly that of Stewart, Earl of Bothwell. Much of this turbulent nobleman’s forfeited property had fallen to the lot of the Lords of Buccleuch and Cessford, who were compelled to surrender a part of their spoils. These proceedings, as well as the revocation of the grants of tithes, highly irritated the Scottish nobility, and some wild proposals were held among them for dethroning Charles, and placing the Marquis of Hamilton on the throne.

The only remarkable consequence of this intrigue, was a trial in the long forgotten Court of Chivalry, the last, it may be supposed, that will ever take place. Donald Lord Reay affirmed, that Mr David Ramsay had used certain treasonable expressions in his, the said Donald’s hearing. Both were summoned to appear before the High Constable of England. They appeared accordingly, in great pomp, attended by their friends.

“Lord Reay,” says an eyewitness, “was clothed in black velvet, embroidered with silver, carried his sword in a silver embroidered belt, and wore around his neck his badge as a Baronet of Nova Scotia. He was a tall, back, swarthy man, of a portly and stout demeanour.” The defender was next ushered in, a fair man, and having a head of ruddy hair so bushy and long, that he was usually termed Ramsay Redhead. He was dressed in scarlet so richly embroidered with gold, that the cloth could scarcely be discerned, but he was totally unarmed. While they fixed their eyes on each other sternly, the charge was read, stating that Ramsay, the defendant, had urged him, Lord Reay, to engage in a conspiracy for dethroning the King, and placing the Marquis of Hamilton upon the throne. He added, that if Ramsay should deny this, he would prove him a villain and a traitor by dint of sword. Ramsay, for answer, called Reay “a liar and a barbarous villain, and protested he should die for it.” They exchanged gloves. After many delays, the Court named a day of combat, assigning as the weapons to be used, a spear, a long sword, and a short sword or a dagger. The most minute circumstances were arranged, and provision was even made at what time the parties might have the assistance of armourers and tailors, with hammers, nails, files, scissors, bodkins, needles, and thread. But now, when you a re perhaps expecting, with curiosity, a tale of a bloody fight, I have to acquaint you that the King forbade the combat, and the affair was put to sleep. Times were greatly changed since the days when almost every species of accusation might be tried in this manner.

Charles visited his native country of Scotland in 1633, for the purpose of being crowned. He was received by the people at first with great apparent affection; but discontent arose on its being observed, that he omitted no opportunity of pressing upon the bishops, who had hitherto only worn plain black gowns, the use of the more splendid vestments of the English Church. This alteration of habit grievously offended the Presbyterians, who saw in it a farther approximation to the Romish ritual; while the nobility, remembering that they had been partly deprived of their tithes, sand that their possession of the church lands was in danger, saw with great pleasure the obnoxious prelates, for whose sake the revocation had been made, incur the odium of the people at large.

It was left for Archbishop Laud to bring all this slumbering discontent into action, by an attempt to introduce into the divine service of the Church of Scotland a Form of Common Prayer and Liturgy similar to that used in England. This, however reasonable an institution in itself, was at variance with the character of Presbyterian worship, in which the clergyman always addressed the Deity in extemporaneous prayer, and in no prescribed, or regular form of words. King James himself, when courting the favour of the Presbyterian party, had called the English service an ill-mumbled mass; forgetting that the objection to the mass applies, not to the prayers, which must be excellent, since they are chiefly extracted from Scripture, but to the worship of the Eucharist, which Protestants think idolatrous, and to the service being in a foreign language. Neither of these objections applies to the English form of prayer; but the expression of the King was not forgotten, and he was reminded of it far more frequently than was agreeable to him.

Upon the whole, this new and most obnoxious change in the form of public worship, throughout Scotland, where the nobility were known to be in a state of great discontent, was very ill-timed. Right or wrong, the people in general were prejudiced against this innovation, in a matter so serious as the form of devotion; and yet, such a change was to be attempted, without any other authority than that of the King and the bishops; while both the Parliament, and a General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, had a right to be consulted in a matter so important. Nor is it less extraordinary that the Government seems to have been totally unprovided with any sufficient force to overcome the opposition which was most certain to take place.

The rash and fatal experiment was made, 23rth July, 1637, in the High Church of St. Giles, Edinburgh, where the dean of the city prepared to read the new service before a numerous concourse of persons, none of whom seem to have been favourably disposed to its reception. As the reader of the prayers announced the Collect for the day, an old woman, named Jenny Geddes, who kept a green stall in the High Street, bawled out — “The deil colick in the wame of thee, thou false thief! dost thou say the mass at my lug?” With that she flung at the dean’s head the stool upon which she had been sitting, and a wild tumult instantly commenced. The women of lower condition [instigated, it is said, by their superiors] flew at the dean, tore the surplice from his shoulders, and drove him out of the church. The Bishop of Edinburgh mounted the pulpit, but he was also assailed with missiles, and with vehement exclamations of “A Pope! a Pope! Antichrist! pull him down, stone him!” while the windows were broken with stones flung by a disorderly multitude from without. This was not all: the prelates were assaulted in the street, and misused by the mob. The life of the bishop was with difficulty saved by Lord Roxburghe, who carried him home in his carriage, surrounded by his retinue with drawn swords.

This tumult, which has now something ludicrous in its details, was the signal for a general resistance to the reception of the Service-book throughout the whole country. The Privy Council of Scotland were lukewarm, or rather cold, in the cause. They wrote to Charles a detailed account of the tumults, and did not conceal, that the opposition to the measure was spreading far and wide.

Charles was inflexible in his purpose, and so greatly incensed that he showed his displeasure even in trifles. It was the ancient custom, to have a fool, or jester, maintained at court, privileged to break his satirical jests at random. The post was then held by one Archie Armstrong, who, as he saw the Archbishop of Canterbury posting to court, in consequence of the mortifying tidings from Scotland, could not help whispering in the prelate’s ear the sly question, “Who’s fool now, my lord?” For this jest, poor Archie, having been first severely whipped, was disgraced and dismissed from court, where no fool has again been admitted, at least in an avowed and official capacity.

But Archie was a more accessible object of punishment than the malecontents in Scotland. It was in vain that Charles sent down repeated and severe messages, blaming the Privy Council, the Magistrates, and all who did not punish the rioters, and enforce the reading of the Service-book. The resistance to the measure, which was at first tumultuous, and the work of the lower orders, had now assumed quality and consistency. More than thirty peers, and a very great proportion of the gentry of Scotland, together with the greater part of the royal burghs, had, before the month of December, agreed not merely to oppose the Service-book, but to act together in resisting the further intrusions of Prelacy. They were kept in union and directed by representatives appointed from among themselves, and forming separate Committees, or, as they were termed, Tables or Boards of management.

Under the auspices of these Tables, or Committees, a species of engagement, or declaration, was drawn up, the principal object of which was, the eradication of Prelacy in all its modifications, and the establishment of presbytery on its purest and most simple basis. This engagement was called the National Covenant, as resembling those covenants which, in the Old Testament, God is said to have made with the people of Israel. The terms of this memorable league professed the Reformed faith, and abjured the rites and doctrines of the Romish Church, with which were classed the newly imposed Liturgy and Canons. This covenant, which had for its object to annul all of prelatic innovation that James’s policy, and his son’s violence, had been able to introduce into the Presbyterian Church, was sworn to by hundreds, thousands, and hundreds of thousands, of every age and description, vowing, with uplifted hands and weeping eyes, that, with the Divine assistance, they would dedicate life and fortune to maintain the object of their solemn engagement. (1st March, 1638)

Undoubtedly, many persons who thus subscribed the National Covenant, did not seriously feel any apprehension that Prelacy would introduce Popery, or that the Book of Common Prayer was in itself a grievance which the people of Scotland did well or wisely to oppose; but they were convinced, that in thus forcing a matter of conscience upon a whole nation, the King disregarded the rights and liberties of his subjects, and foresaw, that if not now withstood, he was most likely to make himself absolute master of their rights and privileges in secular as well as religious affairs. They therefore joined in such measures as procured a general resistance to the arbitrary power so rashly assumed by King Charles.

Mean time, while King negotiated and procrastinated, Scotland, though still declaring attachment to his person, was nearly in a state of general resistance.

The Covenanters, as they began to be called, held a General Assembly of the Church, at which the Marquis of Hamilton attended as Lord Commissioner for the King. This important meeting was held at Glasgow.(21st Nov. 1638) There all the measures pointed at by the Covenant were carried fully into effect. Episcopacy was abolished, the existing bishops were deprived of their power, and eight of them excommunicated for divers alleged irregularities.

The Covenanters took arms to support these bold measures. They recalled to Scotland the numerous officers who had been trained in the wars of Germany, and committed the command of the whole to Alexander Lesley, a veteran general of skill and experience, who had possessed the friendship of Gustavus Adolphus. They soon ma