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  III:
JAMES THE SIXTH
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.1
LIVES
OF
EMINENT SCOTSMEN.

Poets.

JAMES THE SIXTH.

1

It is doubtful whether there ever was a prince to whom, while living, the press was more lavish of fulsome adulation, than James the Sixth of Scotland and First of Great Britain. [note] Even language itself appears to have been at a loss for epithets to shew forth the matchless qualities ascribed to him. The senate house of the planets was said to have been convened at his birth, to bestow upon him all possible perfections; his government was rarely spoken of but as the quintessence of skill in ruling; and whenever he moved abroad, it was to refresh the hills and groves with the dew of his presence. Nor was this heathenish incense confined to needy men of little minds. Writers of the greatest genius and writers of none, were equally extravagant and profuse in their praises.
2LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
The most profound philosopher [note] that England ever perhaps produced, has, in his Essay on the Advancement of Learning, spoken of James in terms which the meanest pretender to letters of the present day would be ashamed to father.

2

It is probably true, as the Jesuit Gratian [note] remarks, that “there is no prince, however contemptible or vicious, who will not find flatterers to extol him as one of the first of men, nay, almost to revere him as a God.” It is not always, however, that men, whose praise is worth regarding, are to be prevailed upon to play the flatterer's part. When we do find individuals, eminent for their genius and discernment, sacrificing their honor and sincerity at the shrine of royalty, it is a proof of something more than personal meanness. The fact is a type of a degraded age. It marks a time, when, even to the ablest of men, the only way to preferment was to cringe and flatter; when truth and liberty had as yet little or nothing to do with the direction of national concerns; when hereditary wisdom and divine right were the only acknowledged sources of a people's prosperity. It is, as Apollonius [note] saith, “for slaves to lie, and for freemen to speak truth.”

3

The period when James flourished may indeed be regarded as the twilight state of British freedom. The beautiful image of Milton [note] had still to be realized. The eagle had still to “kindle her undazzled eyes at the full mid-day beam; to purge and unscale her long abused sight at the fountain of heavenly radiance.”


* “Reflexions Politiques.”
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.3
4

Although the contemporary flatterers of James had their apology in the spirit of the age in which they lived, here have been others, who, without any such apology have been nearly as partial to his character. The acute, but faithless, Hume, [note] has, in our own day of just and liberal notions, had the boldness to declare that a reign “more unspotted and unblemished” than that of James does not adorn the British annals.

5

It would be more singular to share in such an opinion, than to differ from it. The spots and blemishes in James's character will be found to be numerous, and, like the stains of Rizzio's [note] blood in his mother's chamber, not to be washed out.

6

James was the son of Queen Mary, [note] by her ill-fated husband and cousin, Henry Lord Darnley, and was born in Edinburgh Castle on the 19th June, 1566.

7

In the following year, his mother being forced to resign the crown, James was proclaimed king, and the Earl of Morton, [note] who was at the head of the insurgents, was appointed regent. The infant prince was sent to Stirling Castle, to be brought up under the charge of the Earl and Countess of Mar. [note] As he grew in years, the Earl of Mar's brother, Alexander Erskine, became the chief superintendant of his education; and under him four preceptors were employed, the celebrated George Buchanan, Peter Young, [note] (afterwards knighted) and the two abbots of Cambuskenneth and Dryburgh, both related to the noble family of Mar. “Alexander Erskine,” says Sir James Melvil, [note] “was a gallant well-natured gentleman, loved and honoured by all men, for his good qualities and great discretion; no ways factious nor envious; a lover of all honest men, and desirous ever to see men of good
4LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
conversation about the prince, rather than his own nearer friends, if he found them not so meet. The two abbots were wise and modest. My lady Mar was wise and sharp, and held the king in great awe; and so did Mr. George Buchanan. Mr. Peter Young was more gentle, and was loath to offend the king at any time; carrying himself warily, as a man who had a mind to his own weal, by keeping of his majesty's favour; but Mr. George was a stoic philosopher, who looked not far beforehand; a man of notable endowments for his learning and knowledge of Latin poesy; much honoured in other countries, pleasant in conversation, rehearsing at all occasions moralities short and instructive, whereof he had abundance, inventing where he wanted.”

8

James appears to have been, in his youth, of a very docile but timid disposition: he was an apt scholar, and soon acquired a proficiency in letters which reflected no discredit on his instructors. Buchanan, in a manly dedication to the young monarch, of his treatise, De Jure Regni, written when James was in his thirteenth year, speaks of him in the following favorable terms: “I have deemed its publication,” he says, “expedient, that it may at once testify my zeal for your service, and admonish you of your duty to the community. Many circumstances tend to convince see that my present exertions will not prove fruitless; especially your age, yet uncorrupted by perverse opinions; a disposition above your years, spontaneously urging you to every noble pursuit; a facility in obeying not only your preceptors, but all prudent monitors; a judgment and dexterity in disquisition, which prevent you from paying much re-
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.5
gard to authority, unless it be confirmed by solid argument. I likewise perceive, that, by a kind of natural instinct, you so abhor flattery, the nurse of tyranny, and the most grievous pest of a legitimate monarchy, that you as heartily hate the courtly solecisms and barbarisms, as they are relished and affected by those who consider themselves the arbiters of every elegance, and who, by way of seasoning their conversation, are perpetually sprinkling it with majesties, lordships, excellencies, and, if possible, with other expressions still more nauseous. Although the bounty of nature and the instruction of your governors, may, at present, secure you against this error, yet am I compelled to entertain some slight degree of suspicion, lest evil communication, the alluring nurse of the vices, should lend an unhappy impulse to your still tender mind; especially as I am not ignorant with what facility the external senses yield to seduction. I have, therefore, sent you this treatise, not only as a monitor, but even as an importunate and sometimes impudent dun, who, in this turn of life, may convey you beyond the rocks of adulation, and may not merely offer you advice, but confine you to the path which you have entered; and if you should chance to deviate, may reprehend you and recall your steps. If you obey this monitor, you will ensure tranquillity to yourself and your family, and will transmit your glory to the most remote posterity.”

9

It is easy to perceive, under all this tone of comfortable anticipation, some strong misgivings on the part of his venerable preceptor. The very pointed manner in which he applauds the prince's instinctive
6LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
abhorrence of flattery, and dwells on the many risks which he runs of being seduced by it, was in fact only a subtle way of instilling that sort of sentiment in which James was most deficient. Instead of hating adulation, one of the earliest propensities which James evinced was an exceeding avidity for it; and far from requiring that “authority should always be confirmed by solid argument,” it was in general enough, that some favorite or minion solicited the acquiescence of his judgment. His facility in complying with requests had early alarmed the sagacity of
Buchanan; and hence the patriotic anxiety with which he expresses his fears that it may give an unhappy impulse to his future character. Chytræus [note] has, on the authority of Buchanan's nephew, recorded a curious expedient which he adopted for the purpose of correcting this foible in his pupil's character. He presented the king with two papers, which he requested him to sign; and James, after having slightly interrogated him respecting their contents, readily affixed his signature to each, without the precaution of even a cursory perusal. One of them was a formal transfer of the regal authority to Buchanan for the space of fifteen days. After Buchanan, had quitted the royal presence, one of the courtiers accosted him by his usual title; but Buchanan reproving him, announced the new dignity which had been conferred upon him, and, with that humour for which he was distinguished, began to act the sovereign. He afterwards preserved the same deportment towards the king himself; and when James expressed his surprise at such extraordinary conduct, Buchanan reminded him of having resigned
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.7
the crown. This reply did not tend to lessen the confusion of James, who demanding some farther explanation, Buchanan produced the instrument by which he was formally invested with the sovereignty. Resuming the character of tutor, he then seriously admonished the young prince on the folly of assenting to the petitions of any person in so rash a manner.

10

The impression which the salutary lessons of Buchanan might have made, was probably much lessened by “the awe” in which, as Melvil [note] tells us, he kept his royal pupil. Buchanan appears to have cared little about the sort of regard for himself which he inspired; and in this surely he shewed nothing of the philosopher. “The honourable task,” says one of his biographers, “which the voice of his country had assigned to his old age, he discharged with simple integrity, and was little solicitous what impression the strictness of his discipline might leave on the mind of his royal pupil.” Nothing can well be conceived more ridiculous than integrity like this; it is like beating and hardening a soil before the seed is sown. In estimating the merit of the discipline which he imposed, the impression which it was to leave on the mind of the pupil was the first and last thing to be considered. To give his precepts effect, he should have used every effort to make the preceptor revered and loved. Buchanan appears, on the contrary, to have demeaned himself so as to be most heartily detested by the young prince. James used, in after life, to say of some person high in office about him, “that he ever trembled at his approach, it minded him so of his pedagogue Buchanan. ” Of the rude sort of discipline to which he was subjected,
8LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
two remarkable instances have been recorded; neither of which is at all to Buchanan's credit. The king having coveted a tame sparrow which belonged to his play-fellow, the master of Mar, solicited him without effect to transfer his right; and, in attempting to wrest it out of his hand, he deprived the poor little animal of life. Erskine loudly lamented its fate, and the circumstances were reported to Buchanan, who lent his young sovereign a box on the ear, and told him that he was himself a true bird of the bloody nest to which he belonged. The incident was one from which a more judicious tutor, a Fenelon [note] or a Lindsay, would have taken an opportunity of inculcating a most affecting moral and political lesson; but in the blow and sarcasm of Buchanan, we see nothing but another of those exertions of mere brutal force, which he was at the moment affecting to condemn; and a want of liberality, alike unworthy of him as a man and as preceptor. The other instance of Buchanan's discipline does him still less honour; it shows that he could act as passionately from motives of personal resentment, as from any pretended desire to vindicate the rights of humanity. A theme which had been prescribed to the royal pupil, was the conspiracy of the Earl of Angus and other noblemen during the reign of James the Third. After finishing it, James was diverting himself with the master of Mar. Buchanan, who was in the mean time, intent on reading, finding himself annoyed by their mirth, requested the king to desist; but as no attention was paid to the hint, he threatened to accompany his next injunction with something more impressive than words. James, whose ear had been tickled by the quaint application of the
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.9
apologue mentioned in his theme, archly replied, that he should be glad to see who would bell the cat. Buchanan immediately threw aside his book with indignation, and bestowed upon the delinquent that species of discipline which is deemed most ignominious. The Countess of Mar being attracted by the wailing which ensued, rushed into the room, and demanded of Buchanan, “how he presumed to lay his hand upon the Lord's anointed?” To this interrogation he is said to have returned the coarsest possible answer; desiring her ladyship to kiss what he had whipped.

11

The regent, Morton, [note] having rendered himself unpopular by various acts of rapacity and cruelty, so strong an opposition was raised against him, that in 1577 he was under the necessity of resigning the government into the hands of the young king. The resignation, nevertheless, was but temporary. In less than a year after, Morton, repairing to Stirling, contrived to gain over the garrison to his interest, and then seizing his majesty's person, resumed his former authority. James, however, found means to despatch a letter secretly to Edinburgh, complaining of this treatment, when great commotions were instantly excited. The citizens threatened to march to his relief, and Morton, to avert the storm, found it necessary to convey the king to Edinburgh.

12

The entrance of James into his capital was celebrated by a splendid pageant; the style of which probably contributed not a little to give a fixed ascendancy to that inherent vanity of character, of the effects of which Buchanan was so justly apprehensive. As he entered the West Port, a party of masks, representing a deputation of the wise men of the east,
10LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
hailed him as a second Solomon come to bless the nations. The story of the two women striving for the child was then represented, to signify to the people the surpassing wisdom which they might expect to find in the decrees of their young sovereign. As he advanced, Love presented him with the keys of the city; Peace harangued him in the language of Arcadia; Plenty offered her congratulations in that of Campania; and Justice, as a more home-bred deity, told him in plain Scotch, “how unco glad was to see him.” His majesty then repaired to St. Giles's Church, where Religion made a solemn address to him in Hebrew; after which, a worthy divine expounded, in a short sermon of two hours and a half, the causes, circumstances, and consequences of the distressed state of the kingdom of Israel, that is say, the modern kingdom of Israel, inhabited by the chosen people of God, the Scotch. After sermon, his majesty repaired to the market cross, where he found Bacchus bestriding a hogshead, and distributing bumpers of wine among the people; while trumpets sounded, and the multitude helped to rend the air with their shouts. The king then descended the High Street, towards the ancient palace of Holyrood; as he entered which, the shades of all the Scottish kings from Fergus I., appeared to welcome him as the living representative of their manifold virtues.

13

James, who was as yet only in his twelfth year, made but a boy's use of his liberty. He was no sooner released from the stern controul of Morton, than gave himself up to the guidance of two favorites, the Duke of Lennox [note] and the Earl of Arran, [note] who, with the policy usual to favorites, made it their study to occu-
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.11
py the young monarch's attention with a constant round of amusements and to fill him with disgust for such as presumed to hint that a king jure divino ought to have any thing more serious to attend to. They contrived, by these means, to arrogate to themselves the whole exercise of the regal authority; and exercising it only for private ends of the worst description, soon brought the administration of their royal master into the greatest odium and contempt.

14

A party of the nobles, headed by the Earl of Gowrie, [note] entered into a combination to rescue their young sovereign from this degrading state of subserviency. “As the king,” says Crawford, “was returning from stag hunting in Athole, in his way towards Dunfermling, he was invited by the Earl of Gowrie to his house of Ruthven, near Perth. The earl, who was at the head of the conspiracy, instantly sent to advertise his friends of what had happened. Whereupon, several of the discontented nobility, and all those that were in the English interest at hand, repaired to Ruthven, where, without any ceremony, they resolved to detain the king and keep him prisoner. The next day, when the king was essaying to go out, they stopt him; wherefore, growing into a passion and weeping, Sir Thomas Lyon boldly, though rudely, told him, ‘it was no matter for his tears—better that bairns greet than bearded men.’”

15

The conspirators went through the form of presenting a remonstrance to their royal captive, stating “the false accusations, calumnies, oppressions, and persecution which they had suffered for two years, by means of the Duke of Lennox and the Earl of Arran, the like whereof were never heretofore borne in Scot-
12LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
land.” James, yielding to the necessity of his situation, sent an order to Lennox
[note] to quit the kingdom and another for the imprisonment of Arran; [note] and, at the same time, issued a proclamation discharging all commissions which he had given to either of them, and declaring that in so doing he acted not from compulsion, but from a view to the good of the commonwealth.

16

The party who had now got James into their power, had certainly the good of their country at heart; but it must be confessed that they employed their ascendancy in a way little calculated to win over the young prince to a cordial approbation of the course which had been forcibly imposed upon him. Disciples of the reformed religion, they suffered its ministers to have a degree of influence over them in matters pertaining to the civil administration, which to no priesthood can ever be conceded with safety. Instead of endeavoring to moderate the fiery zeal of presbyterianism, they rather encouraged it to wander into excesses, not only personally offensive to the king, but subversive of the most important attributes of the sovereign authority. It was a zeal without knowledge; which, left to itself, did not disdain to descend to acts of the pettiest hostility. When Henry the Third of France sent over an ambassador to James, the Presbyterian preachers refused to believe, that the envoy of a Catholic king could come for any other purpose than with some secret design to restore the Catholic religion; and, acting on this shrewd suspicion alone, they proceeded to inveigh against him by name from their pulpits, in a manner which set all propriety and decency at defiance. And when the
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.13
magistrates of Edinburgh had, at the request of the king, appointed a day for publicly entertaining the ambassador and his suite, the clergy thought it a right cunning trick of their craft, to order a general fast to he observed on the occasion, and, that there might be no evasion of it, they took care to keep the people all day in church by the length of their sermons!

17

The reign of the Gowrie [note] administration did not however last long. James contrived to escape out of the hands of his keepers; and calling his old favorite, Arran, and others of like disposition around him, issued a proclamation declaring his majesty's detention at Ruthven to be an act of treason on the part of all concerned in it; and promising pardon only on condition of their making the most prompt and abject submission. An attempt by Gowrie and his friends to protect themselves from the effects of this re-action was unsuccessful; and Gowrie, being taken, was tried, condemned, and executed for treason.

18

Arran now ruled with undivided sway; James gave himself up entirely to his direction, and was in fact only king in name. The most important offices of the state were conferred on the favorite, and he “so ruled,” says Crawford, “as to make the whole subjects tremble under him, and every man to depend upon him.”

19

The sagacious, though austere, Buchanan thus beheld all his worst fears respecting his royal pupil realized. He saw him the confirmed slave of that propensity to flattery and favouritism, which he had early marked in his disposition, and against which he had so assiduously but vainly endeavoured to fortify his mind. The treatise which Buchanan had written, for a
14LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
perpetual admonition to James, of the reciprocal rights of kings and their subjects, he had now the mortification to find not only proscribed at court, but, through the influence of the court, solemnly condemned by the legislature. Buchanan had ventured to maintain that all power is derived from the people; that it is more safe to entrust our liberties to the definite protection of the laws, than to the precarious discretion of the king; that the king is bound by those conditions, under which the supreme power was originally committed to his hands; that it is lawful to resist, and even to punish, tyrants.* Such doctrines as these were little palatable to the sort of persons who had now the direction of James's conduct, and in a parliament, which they called in the year 1584, they procured an act, condemning the Dialogue De Jure Regni, as also the History of Scotland, which Buchanan had written in the same spirit, as unfit to remain for a record of truth to posterity; and commanding every person who possessed copies of them, to surrender them


* During the earlier part of James's minority, and when Buchanan was supposed to have some influence over the young king's proceedings, several coins were struck, with a remarkable inscription borrowed from the Emperor Trajan. One side presented a naked sword, supporting a crown on its point, and surrounded with this legend, Pro Me. Si Merear. In Me. “I give you this sword to use for me, but if I deserve it, to plunge into me.” “Hoc lemma,” says Ruddiman, [note] “(quo et suum adversus reges ingenium prodit) Georgium Buchananum Jacobi VI. præceptorem subministrasse omnes consentiunt.” A. S.
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.15
within forty days, under a penalty of two hundred pounds, in order that they might be purged of the “offensive and extraordinary matters” which they contain.

20

The severity with which Buchanan speaks, in his History, of the conduct of Queen Mary, [note] is said to have been one considerable cause of its thus sharing


* So slow was the progress of rational liberty, that for a century after, the Dialogue De Jure Regni continued an object of legislative proscription. In 1664, the privy council of Scotland issued a proclamation, prohibiting all subjects, of whatever degree, quality, or rank, from transcribing or circulating any copies of a manuscript translation of the Dialogue De Jure Regni. And in 1683, the university of Oxford doomed the work to the flames, along with those of Milton, [note] Languet, [note] and several other political heretics! It may not be out of place to add the character which has been given of this once proscribed work, by one of the ablest political writers of our own day. “Buchanan,” says Sir James Mackintosh, [note] in his Defence of the French Revolution, “seems to have been the first scholar who caught from the ancients the noble flame of republican enthusiasm. This praise is merited by his neglected, though incomparable tract De Jure Regni, in which the principles of popular politics, and the maxims of a free government, are delivered with a precision and enforced with an energy which no former age had equalled, and no succeeding one has surpassed.” A. S.
16LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
the fate of the Dialogue De Jure Regni. Nor can it be denied, that much ought to be conceded to the warmth of a son's resentment for a mother's wrongs. But James had never hitherto shewn any thing of the feelings of a son towards his unhappy parent, and has therefore no claim to apology on that account. He had never as yet evinced more than a passing concern for her misfortunes; nor, though rising into manhood had he taken any step to rescue her from the afflicting captivity to which a treacherous and cruel rival had consigned her. A generous gallantry had, time after time, given birth to schemes for her release; but the world had long waited in vain for the hour, when filial duty and national honour were to arm a son and sovereign in the ill-fated Mary's
[note] behalf.

21

When Elizabeth [note] was, at length, on the eve of consummating her cruelty to Mary, by an act of atrocity as wicked as any recorded in the annals of time,—when death on the scaffold was the threatened termination of Mary's sufferings,— James did, from a regard to decency, what affection would probably never have prompted. He sent a remonstrance to Elizabeth protesting against the illegality of the proceeding against his mother, and pledging his credit both at home and abroad, to revenge any injury offered her person. Elizabeth, however, paid no attention to his remonstrance; and the murder of Mary was perpetrated.

22

The King of France too remonstrated against the bloody deed; but, if Rapin [note] may be credited, Bellievre, the French ambassador, had, at the same time, orders to solicit privately the execution of Mary. Had the Scotch envoy orders of the same kind? The
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.17
supposition shocks belief; yet Rapin does add, that Gray, [note] the Scotch envoy, also advised in private the making her away, saying, “a dead woman bites not.” Ambassadors may, at times, act without orders; but it is seldom that they hazard what they are not quite sure will be agreeable to their masters.

23

When the tidings of his mother's fate reached James, he exhibited every outward sign of grief and indignation. Elizabeth, in writing to him on the subject, had the impious effrontery to appeal to the supreme Judge of Heaven and Earth, that she was innocent of Mary's death; but James seemed to reject, with proper disdain, her hypocritical excuses, and even set about preparations for war.

24

There, however, his wrath ended; for no war ensued. James soon resumed his friendly correspondence with the English court, and even descended to become a pensioner on the bounty of his mother's destroyer.

25

The pusillanimity of James, on this occasion, met soon after with a reproof, which, though not very generally known, is sufficiently remarkable. An English ship happened to be seized upon the west coast by Roderick Macneil, Laird of Barray, surnamed Roy the Turbulent. Queen Elizabeth [note] complained of it to James, as an act of piracy, committed upon her subjects, and insisted on redress. The Laird of Barray was accordingly brought to trial, at Edinburgh, for the offence. He was interrogated, why he treated Queen Elizabeth's subjects with such injustice? Macneil replied, that he thought himself bound by his loyalty to retaliate, as much as lay in his power, the unpardonable injury
18LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
done by the Queen of England to his own sovereign, and his majesty's mother. Macneil was, notwithstanding, found guilty, and his life and estate forfeited. James, however, felt too sensibly the force of the defence set up, to allow the sentence to be carried into execution. He not only granted Macneil his life, but so ordered matters, that the forfeiture of property was rendered merely nominal. The crown gave a grant of the property to the tutor of Kintail, who conveyed it back to Macneil, on condition of an annual payment of the trifling amount of sixty merks Scots, or 3 l. 6 s. 8 d. sterling. This was giving Elizabeth satisfaction after her own dissembling fashion, and is perhaps the only incident connected with this dark passage of Scotch and English history on which a Scotsman can look back with satisfaction.

26

In the year 1589, James contracted a matrimonial alliance with Ann, [note] second daughter of Frederick King of Denmark. The lady, on her way to Scotland, being driven back by contrary winds, James, impatient at the detention of his bride, crossed the seas in quest of her, and, after a winter passed in feasting and revelry at Copenhagen, returned with his queen to Scotland in May, 1590.

27

“The solemnity of the queen's coronation,” says Robertson, [note] “was conducted with great magnificence; but so low had the order of bishops fallen in the opinion of the public, that none of them were present on that occasion; and Mr. Robert Bruce, a presbyterian minister of great reputation, set the crown on her head, administered the sacred unction, and performed the other customary ceremonies.”

28

James, to shew his attachment to what was now
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.19
become the prevailing religion of the people, took an opportunity of proclaiming it in a very remarkable manner, in a general assembly of the presbyterian clergy, held at Edinburgh shortly after his arrival from Denmark. “He stood up,” says Calderwood,
[note] “with his bonnet off, and his hands lifted up to heaven, and said, he praised God that he was born in the time of the light of the gospel, and in such a place, as to be king of such a church, the sincerest kirk in the world. The church of Geneva keep Pasche and Yule (Easter and Christmas). What have they for them? They have no institution. As for our neighbour kirk of England, their service is an evil said mass in English; they want nothing of the mass but the liftings. I charge you, my good ministers, doctors, elders, nobles, gentlemen, and barons, to stand to your purity, and to exhort the people to do the same, and I forsooth as long as I brook life, shall maintain the same.”

29

Notwithstanding the warmth of this protestation, the presbyterian clergy appear to have placed no faith in its sincerity; and the old warfare between the pulpit and throne was speedily revived. They suspected James of a secret inclination to popery; and there is sufficient evidence extant to shew, that he was, at least, no friend at heart to that presbyterian church, which he publicly pretended to regard as “the sincerest kirk in the world.”

30

A deputation from another general assembly, which met in May, 1592, drew from James a very different sort of harangue from that which we have just quoted. He expressed to the deputation, in terms of great vehemence, his indignation against the clergy for
20LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
speaking with so much freedom from the pulpit against him and his nobility, and defending the conduct of the Earl of Murray,
[note] Buchanan, and Knox; [note] who, added his majesty, “could only be defended by traitors and seditious theologues.” The deputation seem, at first, to have replied with some degree of reserve; but the audience being renewed in the afternoon, Andrew Melvin spoke out with such unmeasured boldness in defence of the objects of his majesty's resentment, that the Chancellor (Arran) [note] told him, that he had appeared to have forgotten “the errand he came for.” Melvin undauntedly replied, that he would not be silenced by him or any other subject. The king renewed his censure of the good regent, (as Murray was called,) and his two adherents; and particularly objected to Buchanan's book, De Jure Regni. “These men,” said Melvin, “place the crown on your majesty's head.” “No,” replied James, “the crown came to me by succession, and not through the favour of any man.” Melvin joined, that “they were, however, the instruments, and whoever has prejudiced your mind against them is neither true to your majesty, nor to the common-wealth.” The king afterwards remarked, that Knox had called his mother a —, and had approved “the slaughter of David” in her presence. “If a king or queen,” said Patrick Galloway, “be he a murderer, why should they not be called so?”

31

The jealousy with which the clergy regarded James, never slept. Some new circumstance of suspicion was constantly arising to wake it into phrenzy. When the Spanish armada invaded England, some nobles of Scotland, who still adhered to the ancient
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.21
faith, had entered into a conspiracy in its favour; and, on being detected, were banished the country. After a short absence, James was prevailed on to suffer their return. The clergy immediately sounded the alarm of the danger from popery, and railed against the king for his clemency in the bitterest terms. In particular, one Black, a minister of St. Andrew's, in a sermon, declared, that the king, by permitting the return of the popish lords, had demonstrated the treachery of his heart; he said, that all kings were the devil's children; that Satan ruled the Scottish court; that Queen Elizabeth
[note] was an atheist; that the nobility were enemies to the church; and the Lords of Session a set of miscreants and bribers.

32

Black was summoned to answer for this extravagant abuse before the privy council; but he insisted, that the conduct or language of a clergyman in the pulpit could only be tried before the ecclesiastical courts. The king found himself too weak to inflict any punishment upon the “seditious theologue;” and his brethren, the clergy, instead of censuring his conduct, ordained a solemn fast to be kept, to avert impending judgments, on account of the ill-treatment of the faithful pastors of the church. The ministers of Edinburgh shewed especial zeal on the occasion; stirred to it, we are told, by an anonymous letter, which intimated that the king had some dangerous scheme on foot against them. Walter Balcauqual, after a long invective from the pulpit against the treachery of the king and his ministers, addressed himself to the nobility then present, and called on them to imitate the conduct of their ancestors in zealously supporting their religion; and requested
22LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
the principal persons present to meet at the end of the service, to assist himself and his colleagues with their advice. At this conference, a petition was prepared and ordered to be presented to the king by two noblemen, two gentlemen, and two ministers. The persons who presented the petition treated his majesty with little ceremony; and a multitude of people crowding into the presence after them, the king became alarmed, and withdrew suddenly into another room, the doors of which he ordered to be made fast. When the people learned that the king had thus evaded giving an ear to their complaints, they became quite outrageous, and, if they had not been restrained by the deacon convener, to whom it belonged to unfurl the blue blanket,* there was great danger that they would have forced open the doors, and destroyed the king and all that were with him.

33

James, to avoid a second petition, withdrew from Edinburgh to Linlithgow, from which he issued a proclamation, reciting the “treasonable uproar” which had driven him from the capital, and commanding the Lords of Session to remove from it as “an unsafe place for the ministration of justice,” and “all noble men and barons to despatch them to their homes, and not presume to convene either in that or any other place, without his majesty's licence, under the pain of his highness's displeasure.”

34

The obedience shewn to this proclamation was more general and implicit than might have been ex-


* The ancient banner; the unfurling of which was a signal of danger, on which all the citizens of Edinburgh were bound to rally around it.
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.23
pected. The rage of the people subsided wonderfully and their ministers, after attempting in vain to procure an association of the nobility and gentry in their defence, were under the necessity of flying to England. A meeting of parliament was called by and the tumult having been declared high treason, a resolution was adopted to commence a process against the incorporation of Edinburgh. The affair, however, was finally hushed up, by the city's agreeing to pay to the king a fine of 20,000 merks.

35

The attention of the people was now drawn to an event which has been justly termed one of the most problematical in Scottish history—the celebrated Gowrie Conspiracy. James shall himself be the relater of the story of this extraordinary transaction.

36

On the 5th of August, 1600, says the authentic account which his majesty published, when James was residing at Falkland, going out to hunt in the morning, he was accosted by Alexander Ruthven, [note] who informed him, that on the preceding evening he had seized a stranger, who had under his cloak a pot filled with a vast quantity of foreign gold; that he had secured the stranger, and thought it his duty to inform the king. James suspected him to be a foreign priest, come to excite commotions in the kingdom, and wished to send authority to the magistrates of Perth to enquire into the matter; but Ruthven eagerly persuaded the king to go in person for that purpose. The king accordingly went to Perth, with only twenty persons in his train, and was met by the Earl of Gowrie [note] and several citizens. The king was invited to a repast at the earl's house, during which the earl is said to have looked pensive and embarrassed. When the repast
24LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
was over, and his majesty's attendants had retired to dine in another room, Ruthven whispered James, that now was the time to go to the chamber where stranger was kept. James assenting, Ruthven conducted him up a staircase, and then through seven apartments, the doors of which he locked behind him, till he came to a small study, in which there stood a man clad in armour, with a sword and a dagger by his side. The king, who expected to have found one disarmed and bound, started, and inquired if this was the person? On this, Ruthven snatching the dagger from the girdle of the man in armour, holding it to the king's breast, “Remember,” said he, “how unjustly my father suffered by your command; you are now my prisoner; submit to my disposal without resistance or outcry; or this dagger shall avenge his blood.” James expostulated with Ruthven; entreated and flattered him. The man in armour stood all the while motionless. Ruthven protested, that if the king raised no outcry his life should be safe; and then, moved by some unknown reason, retired from the closet to call his brother, leaving to the man in armour the care of the king, whom he bound by oath not to make any noise in his absence.

37

While the king was in this critical situation, attendants growing impatient to know whether he had retired, one of Gowrie's servants entered has and told them the king had just rode away to Falkland. All of them rushed out into the street, and Gowrie seconding their hurry, called for their horses to be got ready. By this time, his brother, Alexander Ruthven, [note] had joined the king, and swearing that there was no alternative, but that he must die, offered
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.25
to bind his hands. Unarmed as James was, he scorned to submit to that indignity, and closing with the assassin, a fierce struggle ensued. The man in armour still stood as before, amazed and motionless; and the king, dragging Ruthven towards a window, which, during his absence, he had persuaded the person with whom he was left to open, cried, with a wild and affrighted voice, “Treason! Treason! Help! I am murdered.”

38

His attendants heard and knew the voice, and saw at the window a hand which grasped the king's neck with violence. They flew to his assistance. The Duke of Lennox [note] and Earl of Mar, [note] with the greater number, ran up the principal staircase, but found all the doors shut. Sir John Ramsay, [note] with a few others, entering by a back staircase which led to the apartment where the king was, found the door open, and rushing upon Ruthven, who was still struggling with the king, struck him twice with his dagger, and thrust him towards the staircase, where Sir Thomas Erskine and Sir Hugh Herries met and killed him; Ruthven crying with his last breath, “Alas! I am not to blame for this action.” During this scuffle, the man in armour, who had been concealed in the study, escaped unobserved. Along with Ramsay, Erskine, and Herries, one Wilson, a footman, returned into the room where the king was; but before they had time to close the door, Gowrie rushed in with a drawn sword in each hand, followed by seven of his attendants well armed, and, with a loud voice, threatened them all with instant death. Ramsay and his party, though so unequal in numbers, faced the earl, and a smart encounter ensued; Ramsay pierced
26LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
Gowrie through the heart, who fell down dead without uttering a word; and his followers having received several wounds, immediately fled. A great noise still continued at the door opening from the principal staircase, where many persons were labouring in vain to force a passage. The king, being assured that they were Lennox, Mar, and his other friends, ordered them to be admitted. On their rushing forward and finding the king unexpectedly safe, nothing could exceed the warmth of their congratulations; and James falling on his knees with all his attendants around him, offered solemn thanks to God for so wonderful a deliverance.

39

The danger, however, was not yet over. The habitants of the town, whose Provost Gowrie was, and by whom he was extremely beloved, hearing the fate of the two brothers, ran to arms and surrounded the house, threatening revenge and making use of many insolent and opprobrious expressions against the king. James endeavoured to pacify the enraged multitude by speaking to them from the window; he admitted their magistrates into house, and related to them the whole circumstances as they had occurred; these being repeated to the people, their fury subsided and they dispersed. The bodies of the two brothers were committed to the custody the magistrates of Perth, and the king returned in evening to Falkland.

40

Diligent search was made for the man in armour, from whom great discoveries were expected; but Henderson, the Earl of Gowrie's steward, who, upon a promise of pardon, confessed himself to be the man, declared he was quite a stranger to the designs of his
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.27
master, and though placed in the closet by his command, he did not even know for what end that station had been assigned him. Three other attendants of the earl being convicted of assisting him in his assault upon the king's servants, were executed at Perth; but they could throw no light on the particular object which their master had in view.

41

A violent dispute on the subject of this conspiracy ensued between the king and the clergy. The latter asserted, that the minute detail published by the court was a mere fabrication to cover a plan which James had formed and executed for destroying two popular characters who were favorable to the presbyterian interest, and whose family was odious to James. They, therefore, refused to return public thanks to God for the king's escape, and some of them, on this account, were banished. Nor was it at home alone that the story of the conspiracy was discredited. Osborn [note] tells us, that not a Scotsman could be met with beyond sea who did not laugh at it, and agree that the relation murdered all possibility of credit.

42

It was, indeed, a strange story. Two brothers conceive the design of murdering the king in revenge for their father's death; and the mode which they devise as the fittest for the bloody purpose, is to wile the king to their own castle, so that there may be no doubt who committed the deed, nor any chance of escaping the punishment which it merited. James is conducted into a closet to be murdered, in the presence of a man in armour, who, though in armour, is placed there for no other purpose than to look on; the assassins being careful that the foul deed should
28LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
not be committed without some person to witness, and, if necessary, to swear afterwards which of the brothers struck the deadly blow. Gowrie has not heart enough for the job, and throws the execution of it on his brother Alexander, who, instead of poignarding James at once, as he might have done, and as any ordinary assassin would have done, first proceeds with all the decent formality of a public execution to apprise James that his last hour is now come, a that he must, for quietness sake, suffer his hands to be tied! James, animated by the desperation of the moment, with a courage which nature had denied to him constitutionally, struggles with Ruthven, and, in spite of the odds against him, succeeds in dragging the assassin to the window; which window, by the way, James, as if he foresaw what was to happen, cunningly taken care to prevail on the man in armour to open, while Gowrie had gone out for his brother! Minutes elapse before Sir John Ramsay, alarmed by the cries of the king, can reach the closet; and James is all this while struggling for his life against a man armed with a dagger, and escapes without a single wound or even scratch to swear by! Ruthven, though so hard pressed, though on the brink of exposure and destruction, never asks his man in armour to lend a hand; and the man in armour as unaccountably stands by and never offers to take his master's part! Gowrie rushes in to his brother's aid, and not content with one trusty rapier, comes armed with sword in each hand! In short it would be endless to recapitulate all the absurdities with which the story is fraught. It is from beginning to end a mass of palpable invention. We may well say with Mr. Robert
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.29
Bruce, one of the clergymen who demurred at thanking the Almighty for the discomfiture of this pretended conspiracy “if we must, on pain of death, reverence his majesty's reports of this transaction, we will reverence them; but we cannot say we are persuaded of the truth of them.”

43

The only part of this mysterious proceeding, of which, unfortunately, there is no reason to doubt, is that the two brothers were violently put to death by the king's followers, when, if they had done any thing to merit death, they might have been as easily seized and brought to a legal trial. It is shocking to suppose, that James could have been accessary to a plot far taking away the lives of two innocent men beloved for their virtues; but he has left us no alternative between believing so, or believing another story which sets all credibility at defiance. It was the duty of James, as he regarded his character, to shew that a tragical event, in which he played so principal a part, was justifiably brought about; and since he has failed—miserably failed, in doing so, the world cannot be to blame that doth accuse him.

44

In 1603, the death of Queen Elizabeth opened, for James, the way to the English throne. On the sunday previous to his departure for England, he went to the church of Saint Giles, as if to take a solemn farewell of the subjects of his native kingdom. The minister preached an appropriate discourse; and, the people seeming to be much moved, the king addressed them, at the end of the service;—expressed his great attachment to them; requested them not to be dejected on account of his departure; and promised, that as his power of serving them was now increased,
30LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
they should derive a proportionable advantage from his liberality.

45

It was thought by some individuals of consideration in England, particularly Lord Cobham, [note] Sir Walter Raleigh, [note] and Sir John Fortescue, [note] that the accession of a stranger to the English throne, afforded a favorable opportunity for fixing, in a more precise manner than had yet been done, the bounds of the royal prerogative; and they were, therefore, desirous of having a declaration of rights prepared for James's assent, in the same manner as was afterwards done with respect to William, [note] at the revolution of 1688. In this wise and patriotic design, however, they were overruled by Cecil, [note] Northumberland, [note] and others of greater influence who wished to curry favour with the new monarch; and James was allowed to ascend the English throne, unfettered by a single stipulation.

46

The opinions which James was known to entertain, on the subject of kingly power, made this want of a compact the more to be lamented. The flatterers with whom he had, from his boyhood, been surrounded had completely eradicated all that respect for popular rights, which his early preceptor, Buchanan, had laboured to instil into his mind; and by his solemn proscription of the Dialogue De Jure Regni, he had proclaimed to the world, that it was by the tenure divine and hereditary right alone, he held the sovereignty of one kingdom, and aspired to that of another. When, accordingly, he was allowed to take possession, without ceremony, of the vacant throne of England, he did so with an idea that he succeeded to the same nearly unlimited power, which, for upwards of century, had been exercised by the English sovereigns.
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.31
The able conduct and peculiar conjunctures of circumstances to which his predecessors were so much indebted for the preservation of the sceptre, he seems to have entirely overlooked; and to one who could imagine that they had reigned so long by the mere force of their divine right, it was a matter of natural inference, that there could be no danger or difficulty in trusting to the same convenient sanction for whatever he should please to do; no matter, how imprudent, unjust, intolerant, or capricious.

47

That this is no exaggerated picture of James's real sentiments, is proved by his public declarations on more than one occasion. In a speech to parliament in 1621, he was pleased to reprove them in very sharp terms, for not saying “that their privileges were derived from the grace and permission of him and his ancestors.” And when the same parliament protested that “the liberties, franchises, privileges, and jurisdictions of parliament are the ancient and undoubted birthright and inheritance of the subjects of England;” he was so enraged, that, sending for the journals of the Commons, he, with his own hand, before the council, tore out this protestation, and ordered his reprobation of such extraordinary doctrine to be recorded in the Council book.

48

Had James been a prince of ability and virtue, it would have been a matter of indifference what his speculative opinions were, respecting the relationship between kings and their subjects. He would have ruled well in spite of them; nor would the want of a constitutional compact have been greatly felt. But being of a weak mind and corrupt disposition, the extravagant notion which he entertained of the royal
32LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
prerogative, could only be expected to serve as apology for unbounded folly and great wickedness.

49

To the interested policy of Cecil [note] and his party, we may, therefore, in a great measure ascribe the calamities which were brought upon the English and Scottish nations, by the arbitrary pretensions of the Stuart race. They might have established the rights of people on a sure basis, and they did not; for the sake of sharing in the first spoils of despotism, they gave up their country into its hands for ages.

50

One of the first uses which James made of his newly-acquired power, was of a nature peculiarly calculated to give offence to the English nation. He was followed to England as to another Canaan, overflowing with milk and honey, by numbers of the needier and least worthy of his countrymen; and, true to the promise which he made when leaving Edinburgh, was not sparing to them of the good things which he had it now in his power to bestow. Wealth and honors were showered upon them with the most indecent profusion; nay, so public did the reproach become that James was under the necessity of making some apology for it to parliament. The manner which he excused himself presents a curious specimen of ingenuous assurance. “Had I been oversparing to them,” said he, “they might have thought Joseph had forgotten his brethren, or that the king had been drunk with his new kingdom. If I did respect the English when I came first—what might the Scotch have justly said, if I had not in some measure dealt bountifully with them that so long had served me, so far adventured themselves with me, and been so faithful to me? Such particular persons of the Scottish
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.33
nation as might claim any extraordinary merit at my hands, I have already seasonably rewarded; and I can assure yon that there is none left for whom I mean extraordinarily to strain myself farther.”

51

It is true, that, bountiful as James was to his own countrymen, he was still more so to some of his new subjects. Sir Anthony Weldon [note] tells us, that “they that then lived at court, and were curious observers of every man's actions, could have affirmed that Salisbury, [note] Suffolk, [note] and Northampton, [note] and their friends did get more than the whole nation of Scotland, Dunbar [note] excepted. All the Scots in general scarce got the tythe of these English getters.”

52

The English nation had doubtless great reason to complain of the prodigality of their new monarch; but, not because he shewed more favour to the natives of the one kingdom, than those of the other; they had to lament a prince intoxicated by his exaltation; a prince whose ear was to be gained by any one, whether Scotch or English, who could minister to his vanity or amusement; a prince, unable to appreciate either the value of what he gave away, or the merit of those on whom it was bestowed. “Merit, as such,” Harris [note] says very truly, “was always neglected or overlooked by him; he knew it not, or regarded it not, but referred his flatterers to all others.”

53

James, in a speech to parliament, Anno 1609, owned that “at his entrance into England, they saw him make knights by hundreds, and barons in great number.” Osborn [note] assures us, that in the first two years of his reign, he made the amazing number of one thousand and twenty-two knights; and from Torbuck's Parliamentary Debates, [note] we learn that he
34LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
added no less than sixty-two members to the peerage!—Such a prostitution of honors and preferments would have been of pernicious example, on whomsoever conferred; but to the English nation it was certainly no small aggravation of the evil, that any large portion of them should have been borne off by individuals, who were aliens to the country at whose expense they took place. It is impossible not to subscribe to the justice of what Harris [note] says on this head. “Had there been an union of the two kingdoms, it had doubtless been good policy; but as there was not, these preferments could serve no other end, but to create jealousies among the English, and excite complaints. For why should men of another country have the power of legislation? Why should they whose property lay elsewhere, and whose connections were at a distance, have a power of enacting laws which they themselves might easily get out of reach of, and their families be free from? But such was the will of James, who, though he seldom considered himself, cared not to be counselled, and therefor generally acted unwisely.”

54

The attachment which James had professed while in Scotland, for the Presbyterian church, “the sincerest church in the world,” as he was pleased call it, led the Puritans in England, a sect of kindred spirit and doctrines, to indulge strong hopes of favour, in the sight of their new sovereign. An address signed by no less than seven hundred and fifty ministers of this persuasion, was presented to James, congratulating him on his accession to the throne. James, however, quickly convinced them, that they had fallen into a very unscriptural delusion in “putting their
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.35
faith in princes.” The celebrated conference at Hampton-court was summoned, for the professed purpose of examining into the objections of the puritans, against the doctrine, government, and discipline of the established church; but in reality to afford James an opportunity of publicly recanting all he had ever said in their favour, and of shewing with what kingly decency he could abuse and laugh at men, among whom he had before blessed heaven, it was his lot to be cast. “I will tell you,” said he, to the lords and bishops; “I have lived among this sort of men ever since I was ten years old; but I may say of myself, as Christ said of himself, though I have lived among them, yet since I had ability to judge, I was never of them.” Speaking of Scotch Presbyterianism, he added, that “it agreed with a monarchy as God, and the Devil. That Jack and Tom, and Will and Dick, shall meet, and at their pleasure censure me and my council, and all our proceedings. Then Will shall stand up and say, it must be thus; then Dick shall reply, and say, ‘Nay, marry, but we will have it thus.’”—If this, concluded he, addressing himself to the puritan delegates, was all they aimed at, “he would make them conform, or would hurry them out of the land, or else do worse.”* We may see from this, that it was not without abundant reason the Scottish clergy distrusted James's professions of attachment to their religion; and those who may be


* Barlow's Account of the Conference at Hampton Court. [note]
36LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
disposed to condemn the acrimonious style of warfare which they waged against him from their pulpits, ought to make considerable allowance for the fact that it was against an enemy who would have destroyed them if he could, that they contended.

55

The English puritans, so far from having the laws against them relaxed, found them, throughout whole of James's reign, enforced with greater severity than ever. The consequence, as Oldcastle well remarks, was, that “those sects who were not dangerous at first, became so at last; for nothing is found more true in nature and experience than this, that they who are oppressed by governments will endeavour to change them; and that he who makes himself terrible to multitudes will have multitudes to fear.”

56

The decided part which James took against the puritans gained him, of course, boundless praise from their prelatical opponents. Archbishop Whitgift, [note] complimenting James on the part he took in the Conference, said, that “undoubtedly his majesty spake by the special assistance of God's spirit?” And Bishop Bancroft [note] (who had a step to gain the archbishop had not) falling on his knees, tested that, “his heart melted with joy, and in haste to acknowledge unto Almighty God his singular mercy in giving them such a king, as since Christ's time the like had not been.”* What can we think of the honesty of men who could descend to such pious flattery as this, or of the understanding prince who could listen to it with satisfaction?


* Barlow. [note]
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.37
57

James, not content with thus abjuring the religion which he had been brought up, and which he had sworn “as long as he brooked life to maintain,” resolved to exert all the increased authority and power which he possessed to force his countrymen to abjure it also. “I will have one doctrine,” said he at the conference, “and one discipline; one religion in substance and in ceremony.” That religion he resolved should be episcopacy; asserting, that it was as much divinæ ordinationis as royalty itself. “No bishop, no king,” was an aphorism for ever in his mouth. James, however, over-rated his power prodigiously, in supposing that he could force back this rejected dogma on the Scottish people. The doctrines of presbyterianism had gained an acceptance among them which nothing could weaken; and James saw all his efforts to produce a change absolutely abortive. He even paid a visit to Scotland, (A. D. 1617,) with the express design of restoring episcopacy; but it was only to have the mortification of being personally convinced of the possibility of a king's being so foolish as to attempt what was impossible.

58

Although the fires of persecution were not re-lighted in Scotland, it must have been rather from a want of power than will on the part of James, that they were not. He gave proofs in England, that there was no extremity, however cruel, to which his despotic spirit would not carry him. In 1611, he caused two of his English subjects, Bartholomew Legate and Edward Wightman, to be burnt for heresy; the one at Smithfield, and the other at Litchfield. And what can any one imagine were their heresies? Legate was a Ma-
38LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
nichean, and Wightman thought he was the prophet spoken of in the eighteenth of Deuteronomy!

59

The history of James's life in England was stained by but too many similar acts of arbitrary cruelty. The whole of his internal government consisted, indeed, of little else than acts of aggression on the rights and liberties of his people, frequently aggravated by peculiar features of wantonness and rigour. The murder of Sir Walter Raleigh, [note] the glory of his and nation, to please the court of Spain; the pardon of his majesty's favorite, the Duke of Somerset, [note] and his lady, for poisoning Sir Thomas Overbury, [note] after having invoked, on his knees, the vengeance of heaven on himself and his posterity, if he did not yield them up to justice; the imprisonment of the Earl of Northumberland [note] for fourteen years, in addition to an exaction of thirty thousand pounds, on a mere suspicion, unsupported by the least proof, of his being privy to the gunpowder plot; the committal to the tower of several members of the House of Commons, and the banishment of others for presuming to assert that the people of England possessed any right which did not flow entirely from the grace and favour their sovereigns:—such were a few of those acts, which gave a character of oppression and profligacy to the domestic administration of James, seldom before exceeded in the history of England.

60

Nor did James confine himself to conduct, the evil of which might perish with him. In the sufficiency of his self-conceit, he must needs become a legislator, and confer on England a law, which was to do the work of ignorance and inhumanity long after he should be no more. It is painful to be obliged to
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.39
speak thus severely of a prince of our native line; but, can less be said of that law which first made witchcraft a crime in England, and has been the cause of consigning hundreds and thousands to an ignominious death, for an impossible offence? James had, before leaving Scotland, written and published a
“Treatise on Dæmonologie,” in which he had endeavoured, with great shew of learning, to “resolve the doubting hearts of many,” as to the “fearful abounding of those detestable slaves of the devil, witches or enchanters,” and established, to his own satisfaction, that “witches ought to be put to death according to the law of God, the civil and imperial law, and the municipal law of all Christian nations.” He now resolved to let his English subjects have the benefit of this sensible discovery; and found the parliament foolish enough to concur with him in passing that law, on which so many capital convictions have taken place for witchcraft, and which remained, for upwards of a century, a disgrace to the statute book, and to the national character.

61

A tyrant at home, James was a truckler abroad; and though England enjoyed an unwonted length of peace during his reign, it was a blessing gained by a sacrifice of character and advantages, for which it ill compensated. He had scarcely seized the sceptre, when he gave peace to Spain without being asked for it; and thus lost, as Cornwallis, [note] the ambassador whom he sent to Madrid, says in a letter to Cecil, [note] “such an opportunity of winning honor and wealth,” as England never before possessed. He afterwards allowed the Spaniards, whom he had thus foolishly favoured, to ill-treat, defraud, and even mas-
40LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
sacre* British subjects with impunity. He beheld his son-in-law, the Elector Palatine, [note] and in him the protestant cause, about to be overwhelmed by a coalition of enemies; and to save both, sent over—an aid of one regiment of foot! He saw the Palatinate lost through his pusillanimity, and then weakly imagined that he could reason princes, flushed with victory, out of their conquest. He allowed his unfortunate daughter, her husband, and her children, to drag a long exile in a foreign land, without affording them any of those helps which duty and humanity required at his hands. He suffered the British flag, which had never before known dishonor, to be grossly insulted, and our merchant ships to be pillaged, by the Dutch; contenting himself with sending a remonstrance, which the Dutch, viewing it as it deserved, passed over unheeded. Nay, as if there had no fitter way for an independent prince to resent injuries, than to heap favours on his enemies; notwithstanding all the Dutch had done, he consented to deliver up to them the cautionary towns which had they deposited in the hands of Queen Elizabeth, on their paying five millions less than the sum for which they stood pledged; and thus relieved them besides from that state of dependance on Britain, which had


* Sir Walter Raleigh [note] speaks of it as a known that “the Spaniards murthered twenty-six English men, tying them back to back, and then cutting their throats, when they had traded with them a whole month, and came to them on the land without so much as one sword.”
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.41
been hitherto regarded as the right arm of our continental policy. The massacre at Amboyna was now all that was wanted to place beyond doubt, whether it was possible to rouse a spark of the man or sovereign in him. He submitted to this unexampled injury, even without requiring satisfaction, and contented himself with whiningly telling the Dutch ambassador, “that he had never heard nor read a more cruel and impious act than that of Amboyna. But,” continued he, “I do forgive them, and I hope God will; but my son's son* shall revenge this blood, and punish this horrid massacre.”

62

Need we be surprised that such a course of conduct should have made James an object of ridicule among foreign nations, and of contempt with his own? All over the continent, caricatures of him were to be seen, exhibiting him in the most ludicrous situations. In one place, he was represented with a scabbard without a sword; in another, with a sword stuck so fast in the scabbard, that no body could draw it; and in a third, carrying a cradle after his poor daughter, the Electress Palatine, [note] who, with dishevelled hair and tattered garments, was trudging along with a child on her back. The French had their epigram too on the occasion, the point of which is, with some loss of elegance, preserved in the following old version.


* James proved a false prophet. It was left to Cromwell [note] to obtain satisfaction for this, as well as other wrongs, which Britain had endured during the reigns of his legitimate predecessors. A. S.
42LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
While Elizabeth was England's king,
That dreadful name through Spain did ring;
How alter'd is the case—ad sa' me!
These jugling days of gude Queen Jamie. *
63

But although the sword of James was truly one which nobody could draw,† he had a pen which was at almost every one's service, and which, if goose quills could do the work of armies, would have done wonders. In a speech delivered at Whitehall 1609, he was pleased to say, that “with his own pen he had brought the pope's quarrel upon him, and proclaimed public defiance to Babylon.” His majesty alluded to an Apology, which he had written, for the Oath of Allegiance, (appointed to be taken after detection of the gunpowder plot,) in answer to


* Tandis qu' Elizabeth fut Roy,
L'Anglois fut d'Espagne l'effroy;
Maintenant, devise et coquette
Regi par la Reine Jaquette.
† He is said to have had, from infancy, an unconquerable aversion to the sight of a naked sword, derived, it is supposed, from the shock which his mother, when pregnant with him, received from the assassination, in her presence, of David Rizzio. [note] When conferring the honor of knighthood, it was as much as he could do to hold the sword for the moment, and he always lessened the terror by turning away his head. It is curious to observe, how completely this physical peculiarity had transferred itself to his moral character. A. S.
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.43
attack made on it by two briefs of Pope Paulus Quintus,
[note] and a letter from Cardinal Bellarmine. [note] According to Bishop Montague, [note] his majesty had, at first, merely intended to write instructions to the Bishop of Winchester, how an answer ought to be drawn up; “but it fell out true, as the poet saith,
———amphora cœpit
Institui: currente rota urceus exit,
for the king's pen ran so fast, that in the compass of six days his majesty had accomplished that which he now calleth his Apology; which when my lord of Canterbury that then was, (Bancroft,) [note] and my lord of Ely, (Andrews,) [note] had perused, they thought it so sufficient an answer both to the pope and cardinal, as needed no other.” This Apology soon drew forth a number of replies, which induced James to follow it up with a “ Premonition to all most mighty monarchs, kings, free princes, and states of Christendom;” copies of which were transmitted through his ambassadors to every court in Europe. It met, however, with but an indifferent reception; there were some courts even uncivil enough to refuse to have any thing to do with it. From Winwood, [note] it appears, that there was as much manoeuvring to get a copy of the book put into the King of Spain's hands, as would have sufficed to conclude half a dozen treaties. It ended in the Duke of Lerma's apprizing the English ambassador, that “the King of Spain would never receive, much less give reading to, any book containing matter derogatory to his religion and obedience to the see of Rome.” This silenced our am-
44LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
bassador; he did not dare to present the book; and brought it back with him to England. This, as Harris [note] observes, must have been a provoking affront “to one so full of his own abilities as James! He thought doubtless, that his fellow kings, with attention, would have read his works, applauded his talents, and magnified his art and dexterity in controversy. But he was mistaken; few foreigners spoke well of his writings.” His pen appears, in short, to have been about as impotent as his sword.

64

Are there, then, no fair points in James's character on which one may, for a moment, rest with satisfaction? Vain of learning in himself, he respected a patronized it in others; but in return, he required a degree of adulation which put the sincerity of genius to the blush. Even the master spirit of Bacon [note] was forced to descend to the most disgusting flatteries to secure some share in his favour. Ben Jonson [note] was thrown into prison for daring to say just what he thought; and the learned Vorstius, [note] though a foreigner, was, through his influence, (for he could crush a poor author, when he durst not look the pettiest potentate in the face,) persecuted to destruction, for differing with him in opinion. He promoted arts, but without being able to appreciate their merits: desirous of employing Inigo Jones, [note] but not exactly knowing how, he set him upon discovering that is, guessing, who were the founders of Stonehenge! He sought to encourage trade; but it was by privileges and monopolies, the greatest enemies to successful trade which power ever devised. These were, it is true, in the spirit of the age, but they were still more according to the spirit of James, who de-
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.45
lighted in conferring benefits only in as far as they shewed an exertion of power. One good only did England owe to James, of which we may venture to speak with unqualified praise. He was the means of accomplishing that translation of the Holy Scriptures which we still use, which not only exceeded all that went before it in purity, but still remains, and will probably long remain, without a rival.

65

The portion of his dominions which he governed best, was that with which he had the least to do. Ireland made a greater stride in civilization during his reign, than for a whole century preceding. The measures taken for its improvement were marked by great sagacity, comprehension, and energy; a praise in which it is scarcely necessary to say, James could personally have little share. He was fortunate in the choice of his viceroys; and that is perhaps the extent of the praise which belongs to him in regard to Ireland.

66

The same attachment to favorites, which distinguished James before his arrival in England, continued with him to the last. Arran [note] was succeeded by Somerset, [note] and Somerset by Villiers, [note] who, with no other recommendations than a fine person and insinuating manners, gained so strong a hold on the king's affections, as to be raised, within the space of a few years, from the rank of a private gentleman to be Duke of Buckingham and Admiral of England. The ascendancy which all his favorites, especially Buckingham, acquired over him, was of the most degrading description. He could refuse them nothing; and there was nothing, however insulting, which he would not bear at their hands. Clarendon [note] tells us, that
46LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
when James once attempted to dissuade Buckingham from a step to which he had before thoughtlessly given his consent, the haughty minion had the rudeness to tell his majesty, that “ Nobody could believe any thing he said; that he plainly discerned that he had been communicating with some rascal, who had furnished him with those pitiful reasons he had alleged (in apology for his breach of promise,) and that he doubted not, but he should hereafter know who his counsellor had been.”

67

James, at the same time, was not without some persons about him who could speak to him in the language of disinterestedness and truth. Mention is particularly made of one Ferguson, who had been his play-fellow when young, and had accompanied him into England, who, availing himself of the rights of friendship, frequently took the liberty of advising, sometimes admonishing, or rather reproving, his sovereign. He was a man truly honest; he inherited from his ancestors an independent patrimony, had no ambition to be wealthier than they had left him. The king was, however, often vexed by his freedoms, and, at length, said to him, between jest and earnest, “You are perpetually censuring my conduct: I'll make you a king some time or other, and let us see what sort of a king you will be.” Accordingly, one day the company at court being very jovial, it came into his majesty's head to execute this project; and so, calling Ferguson, he ordered him into the chair of state, bidding him “there play the king,” while, for his part, he would personate “Johnny Ferguson.” This farce was, in the beginning, very agreeable to the whole company. The mock
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.47
sovereign put on the airs of royalty, and talked to those about him in a strain much like that of the real one, only with less pedantry. All were infinitely pleased with the joke, and it was quite a comedy, till the unlucky knave turned the tables, and began, all of a sudden, to moralize on the vanity of honour, wealth, and pleasure; to talk of the insincerity, venality, and corruption, of courtiers and servants of the crown; to shew how entirely they had their own interests at heart, and how generally their pretended zeal and assiduity were the disguise of falsehood and flattery. This discourse produced a change in some of the countenances of the listeners, and even the real monarch did not relish it altogether. But the monitor did not stop here; he proceeded to level a particular satire at the king, which made his majesty more seriously repent that he had introduced the entertainment, for it painted him in his true colours, as one that never “loved a wise man, nor rewarded an honest one, unless they sacrificed to his vanity; while he loaded those, who prostituted themselves to his will, with wealth and honours.” The mimic king, pointing directly to James, (who had agreed to personate Ferguson,) and raising his voice, “There (said he) stands a man, whom I would have you imitate.—The honest creature was the comrade of my childhood, and regards me with a most cordial affection to this very moment. He has testified his friendship by all the means in his power, studying my welfare, guarding me from evil counsellors, prompting me to princely actions, and warning me of every danger; for all which, however, he never asked me for any thing; and by Jove, though I squandered
48LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
thousands upon several of you, yet in the whole course of my life I never gave him a farthing.” The king, nettled by this sarcasm, cried out to Ferguson “Augh! you pawky loon, what wad ye be at? Awa' aff my thrane, and let's hae nae mair o' your nonsense.”

68

In the spring of 1625, James was seized with ague, which baffled the power of medicine; and on the 27th of March, he expired, being then in the 59th year of his age.

69

His remains were interred, with great magnificence at Westminster. The funeral oration, or sermon, was delivered by William, Bishop of Lincoln [note] and keeper of the seals, and was afterwards published under the title of “Great Britain's Solomon.” A grosser piece of flattery never perhaps fell from the pulpit; yet is amusing for its ingenuity, and is important, as shewing the light in which the friends of the departed monarch were willing he should appear. The text from which it was preached was 1 Kings, xi. 41. 42. 43. And the rest of the words of Solomon, and all he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the of the acts of Solomon, &c. “For the bulke or the mould,” said the worthy bishop, “I dare presume to say, you never read in your lives of two kings more fully paralleled amongst themselves, and better distinguished from all other kings, besides themselves. King Solomon is said to be unigenitus coram matre sua, the only sonne of his mother,—Prov. 4. 3. So was King James. Solomon was of a complexion white and ruddy,—Canticles, v. 10. So was James. Solomon was an infant king, puer parvulus, a little child,—1 Chron. xxii. 5. So was King James,
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.49
a king at the age of thirteen months. Solomon began his reign in the life of his predecessor,—1 Kings, 1. 32. So, by the force and compulsion of that state, did our late sovereigne King James. Solomon as twice crowned and anoynted a king,—1 Chron. 22. So was King James. Solomon's minority was rough, through the quarrels of the former sovereigne. So was that of King James. Solomon was learned above all the princes of the east,—1 Kings, iv. 20. So was King James above all the princes in the universal world. Solomon was a writer in prose and verse,—1 Kings, iv. 32. So, in a very pure and exquisite manner, was our sweet sovereigne King James. Solomon was the greatest patron we ever read of to church and churchmen, and yet no greater (let the house of Aaron now confess) than King James. Solomon was honoured with ambassadors from all the kings of the earth,—1 Kings, iv. last verse; and so you know was King James. Solomon was a main improver of his home commodities, as you may see in his trading with Hiram,—1 Kings, v. 9.; and, God knows, it was the daily study of King James. Solomon was a great maintainer of shipping and navigation,—1 Kings, x. 14; a most proper attribute to King James. Solomon beautified very much his capital city with buildings and waterworks,—1 Kings, ix. 15. So did King James. Every man lived in peace under his vine and his fig-tree in the days of Solomon, —1 Kings, iv. 35. And so they did in the blessed days of King James. And yet towards his end, King Solomon had secret enemies, Razan, Hadad, and Jeroboam; and prepared for a war upon his going to his grave; so had and so
50LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
did King James. Lastly, before any hostile act that we read of in the history, King Solomon died in peace, when he had lived about sixty years; so you know did King James. ”*

70

Not satisfied with the praise conveyed by this parallel, which was, in many respects, curious enough, the right reverend preacher proceeded to insist, more at large, on the matchless perfections of his departed majesty. “Every action,” he said, “of his sacred majesty was a virtue and a miracle, to exempt him from any parallel amongst the modern kings and princes.” “He was,” in short, “unto his people to the hour of his death another cherubim, with a flaming sword to keep out enemies from this paradise of ours.”

71

Such was the glowing eologium which a prelate who knew James well, thought it not unbecoming in him, as a minister of truth, to pronounce over his remains; but, as Harris [note] quaintly remarks, “for court bishops, by some fate or other, from the time of Constantine, down at least, to the death of James, and little after, they have had the character of flatter and are therefore always to have great abatements made in their accounts of those who have been their benefactors.” The believers in this pious fable could never have been many; and, in modern times, it has


* Scandal might have supplied the bishop with additional coincidence, as striking as any he mentioned. When Henry IV. of France [note] was told, that James delighted to be compared to another Solomon. “What!” replied he, “and is he really the son of David? ” (Rizzio.) [note] A. S.
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.51
only to boast of the respect of Mr. Hume,
[note] who could believe in this when he could believe in nothing else.

72

What Bolingbroke [note] says of James appears extremely just. “He had no virtues to set off, but he had failings and vices to conceal. He could not conceal the latter, and, void of the former, he could not compensate for them. His failings and his vices therefore stand in full view; he passed for a weak prince and an ill man, and fell into all the contempt wherein his memory remains to this day.”

73

The mode by which Hume [note] has contrived to arrive at so different a conclusion does credit to his ingenuity; but there is no other character, which, put through the same process, would not come out quite as “unspotted and unblemished.” He allows, that James's failings and his vices stand in full view, but assumes, out of a peculiar tenderness, that they were all the natural offspring of so many excellent qualities. James was pusillanimous—it arose from a love of peace; he was cunning—it was the failing of wisdom; he was profuse—it was the excess of generosity; he was pliable and childish—it was the overflowing of good nature; he was pedantic—it was the foible of a man overlearned: whereas, the naked truth, separated from all assumption, is, that he had benefited little by all he had learned; was no more good-natured than the froward child who is allowed its own way in every thing; wholly without generosity; wholly without wisdom; and lamentably destitute of the stuff which warlike men are made of.

74

The whole course of his life was in accordance with these deficiencies of the head and heart. It was made up of threats and compliances, of fondnesses
52LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
and treacheries, of sacrifices and aggressions. He admitted of no limits to his will, but want of power; no hold upon his affections, but unabated adulation. He was submissive only when he could not help it, or what is the same thing, when he had not the courage to be otherwise; faithful only as long as it suited his interest or his pleasure. When he deprecated violence, it was only because he was afraid to resort to it; for when he could play the tyrant with impunity, none could delight in the part more. With princes at the head of armies, he would use words only; but when he met with a poor heretic, whom all his word, could not persuade, he threw him into the fire. Malignity in power could do no worse.

75

As an author, James is distinguished beyond most kings; but had he been only an author, his name would probably have long ere now sunk into oblivion. Beside the works which have been before incidentally mentioned,—his Dæmonology, —his Apology for the Oath of Allegiance, —his Premonition to all most Mighty Monarchs, and his Remonstrance for the Rights of Kings, —he wrote the “Essayes of A Prentise on the Divine Art of Poesie.” “Poetical Exercises at Vacant Hours, containing the Furies and the Lepanto;” “the Trew Law of Free Monarchy;” some paraphrases on different passages of scripture; the “ΒΑΣΙΛΙΚΟΝ ΔΩΡΟΝ;” a Declaration concerning Vorstius; a “Counterblast to Tobacco;” and part of a “Translation of the Psalms of King David.”

76

The “ΒΑΣΙΛΙΚΟΝ ΔΩΡΟΝ,” the most important of these works, was addressed to his “dearest son and natural successor, Prince Henry,” and was divided into three parts; “The first teacheth your duty to
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.53
wards God as a Christian; the next, your duty in office as a king; and the third informeth you, how to behave yourself in indifferent things.” “Notwithstanding,” says a high authority, “the great alterations and refinements in national taste since that time, we must allow this to be no contemptible performance, and not to be inferior to the works of most contemporary writers, either in purity of style, or justness of composition.”* Viewed merely as a literary exercise, it may be entitled to this commendation; but, if we regard it as a serious compendium of the duties of sovereigns, it has faults for which no elegance of composition can atone. It abounds in despotic sentiments, in partial recollections of history, and in most pernicious advice.

77

The “Trew Law of Free Monarchy,” which was published about the same time as the “ΒΑΣΙΛΙΚΟΝ ΔΩΡΟΝ, seems to have been intended as a companion to it. “The bent of it,” says Calderwood, [note] “was directed against the course of God's work, in the reformation of our kirk, and elsewhere, as rebellious to kings.” It affirms the strange doctrine, that “the king is above the law, and that he is not bound thereto but of his good will, and for good example giving to his subjects.” This was what James was pleased to consider as “ Free Monarchy”! Need we be surprised, that from such doctrines there “gushed forth,” to use the words of Lord Orrery, [note] “a torrent of misery, which not only bore down his son, but overwhelmed the three kingdoms?”


* Dr. Robertson. [note]
54LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
78

The “Counterblast to Tobacco” may take place along with the Treatise on Witches.

79

The poetical portion of James's works, if it has no great merit, is, at least, the freest from censure.

80

The “Essayes of a Prentice,” published when James was in his 18th year, include twelve sonnets to the gods.—“The Uranie or Heavenly Muse translated;” “The Metaphorical Invention of a Tragedy callit Phœnix;” “A Paraphrastical Translation out of the Poete Lucane;” “A Treatise of the Art of Scottis Poesie;” “The 103rd Psalm of David translated out of Tremellius;” and “A Poeme of Tyme.”

81

The Phœnix is supposed, by Sibbald, [note] to relate to Queen Mary. [note] “Under the semblance of that fabulous bird,” he observes, “if I mistake not, the author attempts to exhibit the matchless beauty and sufferings of his unfortunate mother, whom he represents as dead; but performs his task with so much caution, and with such a timid and trembling hand, that one can scarcely recognize the resemblance.” Mr. Sibbald certainly is mistaken. James never saw his mother, to remember her person, and can scarcely therefore be supposed to have spoken of her even allegorically, as one whose

———death maks lyfe to greif in me,
She whom I rew my eyes did ever see.
82

And, besides, the Phœnix was published, in 1584, two years before Mary's tragical end.

83

The “Poetical Exercises” consisted of “the Furies,” a translation from Du Bartas; [note] and of the
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.55
“Lepanto,” an original poem, descriptive of the battle of Lepanto. The preface to this publication deserves quotation for its modesty; it would have been well for James and his posterity, had he remained always in as humble an opinion of his own fallibility.

84

“Receive here, beloved reader, a short poetique discours which I have selected and translated from amongst the rest of the works of Du Bartas, as a vive mirror of this last and most decreeped age. Heere shalt thou see clearlie, as in a glass, the miseries of this wavering world,” &c. &c. “And in case thou find, as wel in this work as in my Lepanto following, many incorect errors both of the dytement and orthography, I must pray thee to accept this reasonable excuse, which is this.—Thou considers, I doubt not, that upon the one part I composed those things in my verie young and tender yeares, wherein Nature, except she were a monster, can admit of no perfection. And now, on the other part, being of riper yeares, my burden is so great and contiunall without any intermission, that quhen ingyne and age could, my affairs and fasherie will not permit me to remark the wrong orthography committed by the copies of my unlegible and ragged hand, far les to amend my proper errours. Yea, scarslie but at stolen moments, have I the lesure to blenk upon any paper, and yet not that with free and unvexed spirit. Albeit rough and unpolished as they are, I offer them unto thee, which being well accepted, will move me to haste the presenting unto thee of my Apocalyps, and also such number of the psalms as I have perfitted, and incourage me to the ending out of the rest. And thus, beloved reader, recommending these labours to thy
56LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
friendlie acceptation, I bid thee hartelie farewell.”

85

Du Bartas [note] returned the compliment which James had paid him, by translating, in return, the Battle of Lepanto into French heroic verse. This translation was published at Edinburgh in 1591; and among the commendatory copies of verses which accompanied it, was the following sonnet from James himself, which may be taken as a favorable specimen of his poetic talent.

Sonnet.
The azure vaulte, the crystall circles bright,
The gleaming fyrie torches powdered there,
The changing round, the shining beamie light,
The sad and bearded fyres, the monsters faire,
The prodiges appearing in the aire,
The rearding thunders and the blustering winds,
The foules in hue and shape, and nature raire,
The prettie notes that winged musicians finds
In earth, the savrie flouris, the metalled mines,
The wholsum herbes, the hautie pleasant trees,
The silver streams, the beasts of sundrie kinds,
The bounded waves and fishes of the seas:
All these for teaching man the Lord did frame,
To do his will, whose glory shines in thame.
86

The personal habits of James are thus very happily described by Mr. Irving: [note] —“ King James was of a middle stature, but possessed of none of these attractions which arise from external elegance; his shape was without symmetry; his deportment destitute of ease and dignity. As his legs were hardly able to support the weight of his body, he proceeded in
POETS — JAMES THE SIXTH.57
his walk by a kind of circular motion. His eyes, which were remarkably large, he was accustomed to fix on strangers with a broad uninterrupted stare, which frequently compelled the more bashful to a precipitate retreat from his presence. His skin is said to have been as soft as sarsnet. He was of a ruddy complexion; his hair of a light brown was but towards the close of his life interspersed with white. His beard was thinly scattered on his chin. His tongue exceeded the due proportion; a circumstance which caused him to manage his cup in a manner sufficiently disgusting. He was somewhat inclined to corpulency; but more in appearance than reality; for his extreme timidity induced him constantly to wear a quilted doublet, of stilletto proof. The fashion of his clothes he could not be persuaded to vary; and it was not without some reluctance that he ever laid aside any of his old suits. So little subject to change was his mode of life, that one of his courtiers was wont to declare, that if he himself were to awake after a sleep of seven years’ continuance, he would undertake to enumerate the whole of his majesty's occupations, and every dish which had been placed on his table during that interval. His natural temperament is said to have disposed him to moderation in eating and drinking; but during the last years of his life, his compliance with Buckingham's [note] frolicsome humour frequently immersed him in riotous excess, and at an earlier period he is known to have been engaged in scenes of low dissipation.” “James became immoderately addicted to drinking, and his beverage was generally the strongest which could be procured. This course of life rendered him,
58LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
at last, torpid and unwieldy; and although he pursued the amusement of hunting, of which he excessively fond, yet when he was trussed on horse back, he maintained his posture like a lump of inanimate matter. When his hat was placed on his head he suffered it to remain in whatever position it happened to occupy.”

87

James, by his queen, Anne of Denmark, had issue, Henry, [note] who died in his 20th year, a prince celebrated for his virtues, and the darling of the people while living; Charles, [note] who succeeded to the throne; Elizabeth, [note] who was married to the unfortunate Fredrick, Prince Palatine of the Rhine. [note]

D. S.