Lives of
Scottish Poets
edited by
DAVID HILL RADCLIFFE

Center for Applied Technologies
in the Humanities


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Part I. (Volume I.)
Front-matter
James the First
Thomas the Rhymer
John Barbour
Andrew Wyntoun
Gavin Douglas
Allan Ramsay
William Meston
John Home
James Beattie
Robert Burns

Part II. (Volume I.)
Front-matter
James the Fifth
William Dunbar
Sir James Inglis
Henry the Minstrel
Sir David Lyndsay
Alexander Barclay
Alexander Montgomerie
William Alexander
William Drummond
James Thomson
John Oswald

Part III. (Volume II.)
Front-matter
James the Sixth
Sir Richard Maitland
Arthur Johnston
Hamilton of Bangour
Hamilton of Gilbertfield
Samuel Colvil
Alexander Ross
John Armstrong
John Ogilvie
James Macpherson
Charles Salmon

Part IV. (Volume II.)
Front-matter
Alexander Hume
John Bellenden
Mark Alexander Boyd
Ninian Paterson
William Wilkie
Robert Fergusson
William Julius Mickle
Alexander Geddes
James Grahame

Part V. (Volume III.)
Front-matter
Robert Henryson
Alexander Scott
Walter Kennedy
John Ogilby
Alexander Pennecuik
Alexander Cunningham
David Mallet
William Falconer
Francis Garden
Robert Blair
James Moor
James Graeme
Caleb Whitefoord
James Grainger
Hector Macneill
John Wilson

Part VI. (Volume III.)
Front-matter
Robert Kerr
Richard Lord Maitland
Thomas Hamilton
Charles Hamilton
Michael Bruce
Thomas Blacklock
John Logan
Andrew Macdonald
James Mercer

Appendix. (Volume III.)
James I
Allan Ramsay
John Home
Robert Burns
William Drummond
Robert Fergusson
Alexander Scott
John Wilson
Index
Corrections

Part  II:
JAMES THE FIFTH
POETS — JAMES THE FIFTH.1
LIVES
OF
EMINENT SCOTSMEN.

Poets.

JAMES THE FIFTH.

Redoubted roy, your ragment* I have red,
Proclaiming you the prince of poetry.
sir dav. lindsay.
1

Prince of the roving eye, and winning tongue! most gallant and generous of knights! “gude man o' Ballangeigh!” “king of the poor!” Immortal honor to thy name! Although short was thy term of being, and melancholy its end, yet splendid as the meteors was its course; in life as in death thou wert all a Stuart.

2

When the fatal field of Flodden numbered among its victims the chivalrous James the Fourth, [note] his suc-


* Discourse.
2LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
cessor, James the Fifth,
[note] was but an infant of a year and half old. Among the persons who had the principal charge of his education, were the celebrated poet, Sir David Lindsay of the Mount, and the elegant translator of Boethius' [note] History, John Bellenden. The works of both authors abound with passages, referring to the share which they had in the formation of the young sovereign's character. It would seem, that to Lindsay the task had chiefly fallen of attending the prince in his hours of amusement.
And ay quhen thou came from the schule,
Than I behuift to play the fule.
On no man of his age could the superintendance of moments of such susceptibility have more providentially devolved. Lindsay was a man of elegant taste and grand ideas; as great a philosopher as he was a poet; a detester of abuses and prejudices; and the secret projector of some of the most important improvements which soon after took place in the condition of his country. How many a valuable precept, how many a striking lesson, most have imperceptibly mingled in those scenes of amusement, in which so enlightened a mentor was actor and guide! James parted from Lindsay too soon to have acquired from him much of that skill in the art of government which he subsequently displayed; but to his influence we may safely ascribe a large share of that regard for justice, that taste for literature and the arts, and that love of poetry, music, and romance, for which James V. became no less remarkable.

3

In 1524, when James was in his twelfth year, the
POETS — JAMES THE FIFTH.3
dissentions which prevailed among the nobles of the country, induced them to call, by common consent, upon the young king, to take the reins of government into his own hands. James, who developed at an unusually early age great intrepidity of character, eagerly embraced the proposition; but, on repairing from Stirling, where he had been educated, to the capital, he found that he was to be shackled in the exercise of the sovereign authority by four tutors or governors, in the persons of the Earl of Lennox,
[note] the Earl of Angus, [note] Lord Hamilton, [note] and Archbishop Beaton; [note] and that he must besides part with Sir David Lindsay, Bellenden, and others, who had been the preceptors and among the dearest friends of his youth. It was not for even a king of his years to quarrel with conditions; Lindsay was dismissed with a pension; Bellenden with a preferment in the church; James consented to all that his governors desired, and, for “the space of ane year,” says Pitscottie, [note] there was “great triumph and merriness” at the palace of Holyrood.

4

The division of “the loaves and fishes” produced, at length, a division among the king's governors, which ended in the ascendancy of Angus, [note] and the exile of the others from Court. The young prince, however, because speedily provoked at the state of nullity in which he was held by Angus; ere two years more had passed away, he had secretly stirred up two rebellions against the ostensible government, in order to get himself out of the earl's hands; and, at last, in a moment of intermitted watchfulness, he contrived, in his fifteenth year, to escape from his keepers, and fled to Stirling Castle. Shutting himself
4LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
up there, he sent for a number of the chief lords of the kingdom, to whom he laid forth the state of odious subjection in which he had been held by Angus and his kinsmen, and “vowed that Scotland sould not hold thame both.” At the recommendation of the lords, Angus and his kinsmen were regularly summoned to abide the result of a legal trial; and, having failed to make their appearance, an edict of perpetual banishment was passed against the whole Douglas race for treason to the king's majesty.

5

James, now that he was his own master, shewed that he stood in no need of instruction how to rule the rod of empire. The vigour and rapidity with which he proceeded to recover the country from the state of anarchy and oppression into which it had fallen during his boyhood; the wisdom of his measures, and the firmness of their execution; appear altogether astonishing, when we consider his extreme youth and the difficulties which he had to encounter. Collecting a large body of nobles and their followers around him, under the pretence of enjoying, in more kingly style, the pleasures of hunting and hawking, he made progresses into all the more unsettled parts of the kingdom; made many signal examples of local tyrants and plunderers; and, even to the most distant isles, spread the dominion of the law.

6

The most memorable victim, in the course of these progresses, was the famous freebooter Johnie Armstrong, [note] whose name is still so familiar to all the lovers of song in the south of Scotland. The story of his fate is affecting; nor is it in the power of all the moral reflection we can bring to the subject, to reconcile us to it entirely. “When he entered in before the
POETS — JAMES THE FIFTH.5
king,” says Pitscottie, [note] “he cam verrie reverentlie with xxiiij well horsed able gentlmen with him, very richlie apparelled, trusting that in respect he had cum to the kingis grace willinglie and vollutarilie, not being tain nor apprehendit be the king, he sould obtain the mair favour. Bot when the king saw him and his men so gorgeous in their apparell, and so many braw men under ane tirrantis commandement, throwardlie he turned about his face, and bad tak that tyrant out of his sight, saying ‘Quhat wants yon knave that a king sould have?’ Bot when Johne Armstrange perceaved that the king kindled in ane furie against him, and had no hop of his lyff, notwithstanding of many great and fair offerris quhelk he offered to the king, that is, that he should sustene himself with fourty gentlemen ever readie to awaitt upon his majesties service, and never to tak a pennie of Scotland nor Scottisman; secondlie, that thair was not ane subject in England, duik, earle, lord, or baron, bot within ane certain day he sould bring ony of thame to his majesty aither quick or dead; he, sieing no hope of the kingis favour towards him, said verrie proudlie, ‘I am but ane fool to seik grace at ane graceless face. But had I known, sir, that ye would have takin my lyff this day, I sould have leived upon the borderis in despyte of King Harrie and you baith; for I know King Harrie would doun weigh my best hors with gold to know that I war condemned to die this day.’ So he was led to the scaffold, and he and all his men hanged.” “Quhilk,” adds the same historian, “monie Scottisman heavilie lamented, for he was ane doubtit man and als guid
6LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
ane chieftain as evir was upon the borderis aither of Scotland or England. And albeit he was ane lous leivand man he nevir molested no Scottisman; bot tis said, that from the Scottis border to Newcastle of Ingland thair was not ane of quhatsoever estate bot payed to this John Armstrange ane tribut to be fre of his cumber, he was so doubtit in Ingland.”

7

In order the more effectually to discover existing abuses, and no doubt to gratify, at the same time, a strong passion for romantic adventure, James used often to travel through the country in disguise; and, on these occasions, when questioned who he was, always answered, “the gudeman of Ballengeigh,”* a name which he borrowed from a steep path, so called, which leads from the north-west of Stirling Castle down to the town. Of his adventures in this character, many instances are floating upon tradition.

8

It is related, that once before setting out on a progress into the southern counties, a widow, who lived on the water of Annan, complained to James, that, in a late incursion of the English, they had carried off her only son and two cows, which were her whole support and comfort on earth; that she immediately made complaint to Sir John Charters, of Amisfield, Warden of the West Marches, informing him, that the party were then ravaging a few miles distant, and praying him to send and retake her son and cows; but that Sir John refused her request, and treated her with the greatest rudeness and contempt. The king told her, he would shortly be in Annandale, and di-


* More properly, Ballochgeich.
POETS — JAMES THE FIFTH.7
rected her then to repeat her complaint to him; on this, the woman returned home. In a short time, James set out on his progress, and, when he arrived at the head of Nithsdale, remembered the poor woman's complaint. Leaving the greatest number of his guards and attendants behind him, he advanced, with great secrecy, to the village of Duncow; where, disguising himself and leaving all his attendants, except two or three favourite followers, he proceeded to the Castle of Amisfield, the seat of the warden. When he came to the small brook near the house, he left all his suite, and coming alone to Amisfield gate, requested the porter to tell Sir John Charters, he came express to inform him of an inroad then making by the English. The porter was loth to disturb his master, saying, he was gone to dinner; but the king bribing him with a silver groat, he went, and returned with an answer, that Sir John was going to dinner, and would not be disturbed. The king bribed the man again with two groats, and desired him to tell his master, that the general safety depended upon his immediately firing the beacons, and alarming the country. Sir John, upon this second message, flew into a great rage, and threatened to punish the importunate messenger for his temerity. The king now bribed another servant with gold, to go to Sir John and tell him, that the gude man of Ballangeigh had been waiting a considerable time at his gate for admittance, but in vain. At the same time, throwing off the mean garment that covered his rich attire, he sounded his bugle horn for his attendants to come up. Sir John appears to have been no stranger to the title of “gude man of Ballangeigh,” for, as soon as he
8LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
received the third message, he came in a great fright to the king, who harshly reprimanded him for this great abuse of the trust committed to his charge, and bringing to his recollection the case of the poor widow, commanded him to indemnify her for her loss tenfold, adding, that if her son was not ransomed within ten days, he, Sir John, should be hanged. As a farther token of his displeasure, the king billoted upon him his whole retinue, in number two thousand knights and barons, obliging him to find them in provender during their stay in Annandale. The heavy expense which was thus incurred, is said to have brought the Amisfield family under a load of incumbrance, which they never could afterwards entirely throw off.

9

The Amisfield family were not, however, singular in this last respect for what they incurred as a just punishment, many others were involved in from more generous motives of hospitality. Indeed, a progress-making king, like James, could not have been otherwise than an expensive one to a proud-spirited, yet poor nobility, like that of Scotland. Among other instances, which might be mentioned in illustration of this remark, there is that of Gilbert, the eighth Lord of Somerville, who is said to have reduced himself so much by the cost to which he went in entertaining James and his court at his Castle of Cauthally, * that


* Since called Cowdaily, a name bestowed upon it in consequence of the extravagancies of the last lord, of the name of Somerville, who possessed it, who had every day at his table a bullock dressed entire. A. S.
POETS — JAMES THE FIFTH.9
he was obliged to wadsett* the whole estate to the Lords of Marr and Buchan, and betake himself to a small property in Lothian, which was the patrimony of his eldest son's wife.†

10

It is due, however, to the Scottish nobility to mention, that however costly a guest James may have been to them, he seems never (if we except the cases of such delinquents as Sir John of Amisfield) to have been an unwelcome one. The hospitality with which they every where received him was as cordial as it was spontaneously magnificent. An example of this is preserved in some of the histories, of so splendid and romantic a description, that, but for historic authority, it would scarcely be believed. The king having announced his intention of going on a hunting excursion into the wilds of Athol, “the Earle of Atholl heiring of his coming, maid great and gorgeous prevision for him in all thingis pertaining to ane prince. He caused mak ane curious palace to the king, his mother, and the pope's ambassador (who accompanied his majesty.) Quhairby they wer als weill eised as if they had been in ony pallace either of Scotland or Ingland, and equivalent for the tyme


* To sell with power of redemption.
James the Sixth seems to have profited by his grandfather's experience in this respect, when he came to administer the affairs of England. There is a story, in the Percy Anecdotes of Hospitality, of an English nobleman whom his majesty was graciously pleased to ruin by the frequent visits which he paid him, and with no other intention. A. S.
10LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
of thair hunting; quhilk was biggit in the middle of ane greine medow, and the wallis thairof was of timber wovin with birkis and biggit in four quarteris as if it had been ane palace.” This palace “was hung with fyne tapistrie within, and weill lighted in all necessar pairtes with glassin windowis.” Here “the kyng was verrie weill intertained for the space of thrie dayes with all sik delicious and sumptuous meattes as was to be hade in Scotland for fleschis, fischis, and all kyndis of fyne wyne and spices requisit for ane prince. Fardder thair was no fisches that could leive in fresch watteris but war thair swimming in ane fossie about the palace (of sixteine fute deep and thirttie fute broad of water, over quhilk thair was ane great portcullis of trie.) It is said by the space of thir thrie dayes that his grace was thair the Erle of Atholl was everie day ane thousand pundis of expenss. The pope's ambassador seeing so great ane triumph in ane wilderness quhair thair was no toun neir be twentie myllis, he thought it ane great marvell that sik ane thing could be in Scotland, that is so court lyk and delicious intertainment in the highlandis of Scotland, quhaer he saw nothing but woodis and wilderness. Bot most of all did this ambassadoor when the king was coming back from the huntis marvel to see the highlanderis sett all this palace on fire, that the king and ambassadour might see it. Then the ambassadour said to the kyng, ‘I marvel, sir, yee late burne you palace quhairin ye war so weill eased.’ The kyng answerit, ‘It is the use of our highland men, that be they nevir an weill lodged all the nycht they will burne the same on the morne.’”

11

Ere James had attained the age at which other men
POETS — JAMES THE FIFTH.11
are expected to act the part of men, he had already, by as vigorous an administration as would have done honour to the maturest age, restored the country to a degree of peace and quiet to which it had long been a stranger. The people began to prosper and be happy under his care, and in the appellation by which they delighted to distinguish him, shewed how truly they estimated the worth of a patriotic king. Other princes have been called great, and bold, and mighty; but it was the far nobler pride of James V. to be styled the King of the Poor.

12

In 1535, James, being then in his twenty-third year, sent his old preceptor, Sir David Lindsay, and Sir John Campbell of Lowdon, as ambassadors, into Germany, to treat of a marriage with some princess of the imperial family. The ambassadors were shewn two ladies, nieces of the emperor, who are said to have been “both lustle, pleasant, beutiful, and guid lyk personages of women;” but, though they brought home with them portraits of the ladies, which were “veive lyk” (to the life) neither of them appears to have caught the fancy of the young king, whose attention had probably been drawn to the greater usefulness of a connection with France. The Duke of Vendome [note] had a daughter, of whose charms fame spoke highly; and on this lady, James now turned his matrimonial speculations. More serious, however, than kings usually are in such matters, he resolved not to wed on the faith of any canvass likeness, but to see with his own eyes the lady whom he should take for better and for worse. Having dispatched an ambassador to Vendome, to announce that he was coming “to woo,” James soon followed himself, at-
12LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
tended by a numerous and splendid retinue of lords and gentlemen. The landing of this gallant party at Dieppe was attended with a singular effect; shewing, beyond any thing perhaps ever heard or read of, how redoubtable the very name of Scotsmen was in ancient as in modern times. The Emperor and King of France were, at this time, at war; and their respective armies, of 80,000 and 60,000 men, were camped opposite each other in the neighbourhood of Calais. “Now word,” says Pitscottie, [note] “cam to the emperor, that the King of Scotland was landed at the Newheavin besyd Deip, with ane army to the number of twentie thousand warlyk men, and that to support the King of France contrair the emperor. The emperour heiring of this, he tuik sic fear of the King at Scotlandis cuming, that he lifted his armie and returned home againe!” Only think of eighty thousand heavy Germans flying helter-skelter across the Rhine, at the report of a “King of Scotlandis cuming”!!

13

From Dieppe, James hastened to the seat of the Duke of Vendome. [note] Wishing, however, to spy the fair expectants, “pulchritude and behaviour unkend be hir,” he had recourse to one of his favorite masquerade devices. Dressing himself in a plain suit, he made one of a small party who posted forward to the duke's castle, and presented themselves as sent to announce the King of Scotland's approach. The duke gave them welcome, and introduced them to his wife and daughter, seeming thus to afford James all the opportunity which he desired. The fair object of curiosity, however, had, by means of a miniature procured from Scotland, acquired so complete a know-
POETS — JAMES THE FIFTH.13
ledge of the features of her royal suitor—his oval face, aquiline nose, blue eyes, and yellow hair—that she almost immediately recognized him among the pretended squires of low degree, and, stepping up to him, took him by the hand, saying, “Sir, why stand you so far aside?—If it please your grace to show yourself, it will pride my father or me to do you honour.” James, finding to his no small confusion that his disguise had failed him, frankly avowed himself, embraced the duke, kissed the duchess, kissed the daughter, and then, as the chronicles tell, “thair was nothing bot mirriness, banqueting, and great cheir, and lovelie commoning betwixt the kingis grace and the fair ladies, with great musick and playing on instrumentis and all uther kynd of pastime for the feildis, with lutis, shalmes, trompettis, and organes, with all kynd of melodious instrumentis; with justing and runing of great horss; quhilkis pastimes were all to deliht the Kyng of Scotland.”

14

James passed eight days with the Duke of Vendome; but, though many love tokens passed between him and the duke's daughter, nothing was said of marriage. It was thought to be a mark of respect due to the King of France, to consult with his majesty before offering to deprive his dominions of so fair an ornament. James accordingly repaired to the court of the French king; but circumstances immediately arose there, to make him forget the purpose with which he had visited it. Magdalene, [note] the eldest daughter of the French monarch, a lovely but sickly maiden, in the last stage of an early decay, became, at first sight, deeply enamoured of the Scottish prince; her wishes were not concealed; the genero-
14LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
sity of James was appealed to in a manner which his love for another could not resist; the fair Vendome was sacrificed, and the Princess Magdalene became the Scottish queen.

15

The nuptials of the young pair were solemnized with great pomp at Paris, and celebrated throughout the kingdom by the most extravagant rejoicings. “Through all France that day thair was justing and runing of horss proclaimed with all uther manlie exercise, as also skirmisching of schippis through all the coastis and firthis; so that in tounes, landis, sees, firthis, villages, castles, and toures, thair was no man that might have hard for the reard and noyse of cannones and other munition, nor scarslie have seine for the vapouris thairof.”

16

With greetings equally general and enthusiastic were James and his bride welcomed home to Scotland; but ere a short month had elapsed, the joy of both king and people was turned into deepest mourning. In vain had the sickly Magdelene sought to escape in the arms of Hymen from the gripe of Death; she arrived in Scotland only to breathe her last. To aggravate the stroke of affliction to James, tidings arrived, almost at the same moment, from France, that the fair Vendome, rendered inconsolable by his desertion, had expired of a broken heart. Melancholy situation! The bride of his compassion, and the love of his choice, laid at the same instant in the grave!

17

It was some time before the grief of James, for this sorrowful termination to his first schemes of domestic happiness, would allow him to think of a second marriage; but he, at length, yielded to the
POETS — JAMES THE FIFTH.15
important consideration daily pressed upon him by his councellors, of providing an heir to his sceptre. His wishes still inclined him to a connection with France; but whether it was, that marriage was now less an affair of the heart with him than formerly, or that his recollections of the French court were sufficient to guide him in making a suitable choice, he did not think it necessary to make it a second visit on a lover's errand. He sent an ambassador to demand, as the object of his preference, Margaret,
[note] daughter of the Duke of Guise; and, in a few weeks after, he had the pleasure of saluting this lady as his bride.

18

James still continued to shew the same commanding firmness in the administration of his public duties which had marked his early career; but, at last, opposition began to thwart, and misfortunes to crowd in upon, him. His persistence in the religion of his ancestors, which was that of the majority of the nation, procured him the enmity of all who were favorers of the Reformed system, then spreading fast in Scotland, as it had already done in England; and hence, many calumnies with which his memory has been ungenerously loaded by some protestant historians. James is said to have fallen under the influence of a crafty and licentious priesthood, and to have been cajoled by them into a rupture with his uncle, Henry VIII. [note] contrary to the true interests of Scotland; and for no other purpose, but to prevent the spread of that ecclesiastical reformation of which Henry had set so signal an example, by the dissolution of the monasteries. The rupture with Henry was, indeed, unwise; but was a rupture with England so rare a thing in the antient history of Scotland,
16LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
that the present can he accounted for on no other supposition than that of priestly domination? Were other wars with England generally so consistent with sound policy, that this must be looked upon as so extraordinary an exception? And is the manly and intrepid James V. to be the only prince of Scotland who is not to be allowed the benefit of an error of judgment in this respect, but set down as acting under the despicable guidance of a worthless priesthood? Now that time may be supposed to have extinguished party prejudices, candour, I think, must allow, that James, in going to war with England, may have probably thought that he was only following out the same line of policy which had been observed by his predecessors for ages, and as uniformly commended by the nation, with whom hostility to England was, for a long time, a test of the purest patriotism. That the clergy may, from corrupt motives of their own, have been forward to stimulate and assist James in his enterprize against Henry, is likely enough; but every one must see, that all this may have easily occurred without the existence of any undue influence over the king's ideas of prudent government. The supposition, indeed, is strangely at variance with the whole tenor of James's character, the master feature of which was a dignity of self-will, which made him, even in boyhood, obeyed, respected, and feared. It is still more strangely at variance with some particular facts, which shew, beyond contradiction, that James, though certainly no friend to ecclesiastical innovation, was as little a friend to priestly degeneracy; and, far from being the blind instrument of his clergy, took an active part in the
POETS — JAMES THE FIFTH.17
exposure of their profligate and ungodly practices. He patronized and protected his early tutor, Sir David Lindsay, the John-the-Baptist of the Scottish Reformation, whose works were one continued succession of attacks on the vices of the clergy; and it was by James's special command, that the celebrated Buchanan wrote his Franciscanus, one of the severest satires ever written against the Romish priesthood, a fact proved by Buchanan's declaration, when afterwards thrown into prison on account of it by the Holy Tribunal at Lisbon. “Unum enim ejus exemplum regi Scotarum qui scribendi actor fuerat erat datum.” How absurd to imagine, that the patron of such authors as these could have been, at all, under priestly influence or controul!

19

It is certain, notwithstanding, that the emissaries of the Reformed religion, whose hopes of success all rested on the support of England, did contrive, by means of the injurious pretext—that the war against England was merely a war of the priests—to cause a degree of backwardness in its support, which James, left. for the first time in a state of partial alienation from his nobles and people, felt most severely. He was of too proud a spirit to give way, even when all but openly abandoned; and persisted in the contest, with means which could lead only to defeat and disgrace. The battle of Solway Moss, one of the most inglorious in our annals, formed the closing scene of this short and heartless adventure of warfare. When the tidings of it reached James, who had retired in disgust to Lochmaben, he was struck to the heart with mortification and grief; he hastened to Edinburgh, but only to shut himself up from all comfort
18LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
and consolation; after eight days, he passed over to the palace of Falkland, in Fife, where he became so ill, that he took to his bed. Life was now ebbing fast, when intelligence was brought him that Queen Margaret,
[note] by whom he had had two sons, both of whom died in infancy, but who had become again pregnant, was delivered at Linlithgow. James inquired, whether it was of a boy or a girl? The messenger answered, that it was a fair daughter. The king, on this, mournfully said, “Then farewell, it (the kingdom) cam (to the Stuarts) with ane lass, and it will pass with ane lass.” After this, he spoke little, but smiled on the lords who were standing around his bed, held out a hand to each of them to kiss, and then, clasping his hands as if in pious ejaculation to heaven, breathed his last. He died on the 14th December, 1542, being then only in the thirtieth year of his age.

20

The infant daughter, on whom his sceptre devolved, and of whom his dying words were, indeed, prophetic, was the celebrated and unfortunate Mary. [note]

21

The mere narrative of such a life as James's, makes any summary of his character unnecessary: there are no incongruities to reconcile, no great faults to be put in proper balance; it is throughout vigorous, splendid, and consistent. It still remains, however, to fill up the sketch, which a feeble hand has attempted to present, of the leading events of his history, with some traits, which, though not less interesting, rest, as it were, in shadow. It has been seen how inflexible James was in the administration of justice, but it has yet to be told, that he was the first of the Scottish monarchs who took care to make
POETS — JAMES THE FIFTH.19
known to the people what their rights were. In 1540, he ordered the whole Acts of Parliament of his reign to be printed in the vulgar tongue; a measure quite as hostile to the arbitrary claims of the feudal barons, as the more recent translation of the Scriptures into the same tongue was to the exclusive pretensions of the Romish clergy. It cannot be said, that James gave encouragement to the latter; but he set an example which essentially prepared the way for it. Although not possessed of any of that religious fervour which began to distinguish the age in which he lived, and apparently little sensible of the importance of religious liberty to the spread of knowledge, James was ardently desirous for the information of his subjects in all other respects. Of the elegant and useful arts, and of all branches of what was called profane learning, he was a liberal patron and active promoter. “He furnisched the countrie,” says Pitscottie,
[note] a writer not the most charitable to his memory, “with all kyndis of craftismen, sik as Frenchmen, Spainyardis, and Dutchmen, quhilk ever was the finest of thair professioun that culd be had; quhilk brought the countrie to great policie.” Lindsay, Buchanan, Bellenden, Maitland, Montgomery, Henryson, and many others of inferior fame, were among the men of letters who contributed to shed a lustre on his reign, and who, in an age when there was no reading public, could live on the patronage of the court alone. Bellenden he employed to translate, into the Scottish tongue, the History of Scotland by Hector Boëthius, [note] an author to whom Dr. Johnson [note] has done the justice of saying, that he “may be justly reverenced as one of the revivers of elegant learning;” and, sub-
20LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
sequently, he gave the same author a commission to execute a translation of Livy, [note] the first of Roman historians.* In a poetical prologue which Bellenden has prefixed to the latter version, he pays a just tribute of praise to James for his encouragement of our native literature, and farther speaks of him, as being himself distinguished for his literary productions.

And ye my soverane be lyne continewall
Ay cum of kyngis your progenitouris,
And writis in ornate style poeticall
Quick flowand vers of rethorik cuilouris,
Sa freschlie springand in youre lusty flouris,
To ye gret comforte of all trew Scotsmen;
Be now my muse and ledare of my pen!
Prologue, stanza 3.
22

The only reputed specimens of James's poetical talent, which have survived the wreck of time, are the two ballads of the Gaberlunzie Man and the Jollie Beggar. The former stands ascribed to him by universal tradition down to the present time; the latter, if really the production of James, has been, at all events, greatly modernized. That James was himself the hero of both ballads, there can be little doubt. The adventures they describe are precisely of that description in which this sprightly prince delighted; for it is not to be concealed, that James was a rover who sipped from many flowers. The following verses of the Jollie Beggar will bring forcibly to the recollec-


* Only five books of this translation were completed, and they still remain in MS. A. S.
POETS — JAMES THE FIFTH.21
tion of the reader the adventure at the Castle of Amisfield, which has been already related.

He tuik a horn frae his side, and blew baith loud and shrill,
And four-and-twenty belted knights came skipping our the hill.
And we'll gang nae mair a roving, &c.
And he tuik out his little knife, loot a' his duddies fa,
And he was the brawist gentleman that was among them a'.
And we'll gang, &c.
23

The Gaberlunzie Man, which is least unquestionably the production of James, is of such eminent merit in the class of poems to which it belongs, that there can be no risk of tiring even those who know it best, by reciting it at length. The truth of description, genuine humour, and ease of style, by which it is distinguished, have been rarely surpassed.

I.
The pauky auld Carle came o'er the lee,
Wi' mony gude eens and days to mee,
Saying, gudewife, for zour courtesie,
Will zee ludge a silly poor man.
The night was cauld, the carle was wat,
And down azont the ingle he sat;
My dochter's shouthers he 'gan to clap,
And cadgily ranted and sang.
II.
O Wow! quo' he, war I as free,
As first whan I saw this country,
22LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
How blythe and mirry wad I be!
And I wad never think lang.
He grew canty, and scho grew fain;
But little did her auld minny ken
What thir slee twa togidder war sayen,
Whan wooing they war sae thrang.
III.
And O quo' he, ann zee war as black,
As evir the crown o' your daddy's hat,
'Tis I wad lay thee be me bak,
And awa wi' thee I'd gang.
And O! quo' sho, ann I war as whyte
As er the snaw lay on the dyke,
I'd cleid me braw and lady like,
And awa wi' thee I'd gang.
IV.
Between the twa was made a plot,
They raise a wee befor the cock,
And wylily they shot the lock,
And fast to the bent ar they gane.
Upon the morn the auld wyf raise,
And at her leisure pat on her claise,
Syne to the servants’ bed scho gaes,
To speir for the silly poor man.
V.
She gaed to the bed whar the beggar lay,
The strae was cauld, he was away;
Scho clapt her hands, cry'd, dulefu-day!
For some o' our gier will be gane.
POETS — JAMES THE FIFTH.23
Some ran to coffers, and some to kists,
But nought was stown that cou'd be mist;
She dancid her lane, cry'd, Praise be blest!
I have ludg'd a leil poor man.
VI.
Since nathing's awa, as we can learn,
The kirn's to kirn, and milk to earn,
Gae butt the house, lass, and waken my bairn,
And bid her come quickly ben.
The servant gaed quhar the dochter lay,
The sheits war cauld, scho was away,
And fast to her gudewife 'gan say,
Scho's aff wi' the Gaberlunzie man.
VII.
O fy gar ride, and fy gar rin,
And haste ye find these traiters agen!
For scho's be burnt, and hee's be slean;
The weirifou' Gabemlunzie-man.
Some rade upo' horse, some ran a-fit,
The wife was wude, and out o' her wit;
Scho cou'd na gang, nor yet cou'd scho sit,
But ay scho curs't and scho bann'd.
VIII.
Mein tym far hind out ow'r the lee,
Fu' snug in a glen whar nane cou'd see,
Thir twa, wi' kindly sport and glee,
Cut frae a new cheese a whang.
The prieving was good, it pleas'd them baith,
To lo'e her for ay, he gae her his aith,
24LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
Quo' she, to leave thee I will be laith,
My winsom Gaberlunzie-man.
IX.
O kend my minny I war wi' you,
Ill-fardly wad she crook her mou',
Sic a pure man she'd nevir trow,
After the Gaberluuzie-man.
My dear, quod he, zere zet ow'r zoung,
An' hae na learn'd the beggar's tongue,
To fallow me frae toun to toun,
And carry the Gaberlunzie on.
X.
Wi' kauk and keel I'll win zour bread,
And spinnels and quhorles for them wha need,
Whilk is a gentle trade indeed,
To carry the Gaberlunzie on.
I'll bow my leg and crook my knee,
An' draw a black clout ow'r my eye,
A cripple or blind they will ca' me,
While we will sing and be merrie.
T. C.