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Title: In Byways of Scottish History

Author: Louis A. Barbé

Release date: May 26, 2014 [eBook #45766]

Language: English

Credits: E-text prepared by Paul Marshall, sp1nd, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team ( from page images generously made available by Internet Archive (



E-text prepared by Paul Marshall, sp1nd,
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
Internet Archive


Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive. See



Cover for Byways of Scottish History






Mary, Queen of Scots Portrait










Officier d'Académie
Author of "The Tragedy of Gowrie House" "Viscount Dundee"
"Kirkcaldy of Grange" etc.


Blackie and Sons Logo




[Pg v]






When the author of the following papers came to Scotland, many years ago, he knew nothing of the country that was to become his home, and was hardly less ignorant of its history. To acquire some acquaintance with both he followed the same plan: he began with the highways, as indicated, in the one case, by the advertisements of the railway and steamboat companies, and, in the other, by the works of Tytler and Hill Burton. Before long, however, he learned that the knowledge thus obtained might be pleasantly supplemented by independent excursions off the beaten track. Topographically the result was the discovery of charming bits of scenery, of which he still recalls the picturesque beauty with delight. Historically, too, he found his way into interesting nooks and corners which his early guides had either ignored entirely or contented themselves with referring to in the briefest words. The outcome of some of his explorations—if it be not presumptuous to apply such a term to them—is set forth in the present volume. In venturing to publish it, he is not without a hope that the interest which he has felt in his rambles through some of the byways of Scottish history may, to some extent, be shared by others. If he should be disappointed in this, he will have to admit that he has done less than justice to subjects that had it in them to be made pleasant and attractive.

Those subjects are varied, but, as regards most of them, not wholly unconnected. Dealing, as they mainly do, with the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, they have, at least, a certain chronological unity, and may, in [Pg vi] some slight degree, help to supplement the general knowledge of one of the most picturesque periods in the history of Scotland.

What has so far been said does not, it must be allowed, apply very directly to one of the papers contained in the present collection. It cannot be claimed for the "Longtail" myth, of which the story is here given, that it is essentially Scottish. It may, however, be urged in support of its right to appear here, that it was French at a time when, as regards antipathy against England, the agreement between France and Scotland was a very close one. And, if further justification be needed, it may be found in the fact that some of the Scottish chroniclers are amongst those who supply the most valuable information concerning both the prevalence and the alleged origin of the quaint medieval belief that Englishmen had tails inflicted on them in punishment of the impiety of some of their pagan forefathers.

In connection with this paper the author has the pleasant duty of expressing his thanks to Dr. George Neilson, to whom he is indebted for several illustrative passages; and also to Mr. Barwick, of the British Museum, without whose ready help a number of others would have remained inaccessible.

Some of the papers have appeared, mostly in a condensed form, in the Glasgow Herald and the Evening Times, and thankful acknowledgment is made of the permission readily granted to make further use of them.

Responsibility is admitted, at the same time that indulgence is craved, for the translations of old French poetry and medieval Latin verse which occur in some of the sketches.

In the case of the latter, more particularly, it has not always proved an easy task to supply English versions of the monkish doggerel. It is hoped, however, that if the letter has been freely dealt with, the spirit has been preserved.

[Pg vii]





Mary, Queen of Scots   1
The Four Marys  25
Mary Fleming  35
Mary Livingston  49
Mary Beton  61
Mary Seton  69
The Song of Mary Stuart  79
Maister Randolphe's Fantasie  91
The First "Stuart" Tragedy and its Author 129
Loretto 141
The Isle of May 153
Edinburgh and Her Patron Saint 191
The Rock of Dumbarton 199
James VI as Statesman and Poet 209
The Invasion of Ailsa Craig 225
The Story of a Ballad—"Kinmont Willie" 237
A Raid on the Wee Cumbrae 247
Riotous Glasgow 253
The Old Scottish Army 267
The Story of the "Long-tail" Myth 291
Index 361


[Pg 1]




A Brilliant Personality

More than three hundred years have elapsed since Mary Stuart was sent to the scaffold by Elizabeth, and met death with that noble fortitude which awed her enemies and which has half redeemed her fame in the eyes even of those who regard the tragedy of Fotheringay as an act no less of justice than of expediency. But even at the present time interest in her memory has not died away; nor can the question of her innocence or of her guilt be yet said to have been definitely settled by all that has been written about her in the interval. It hardly seems probable that it ever will be, for it is still a question of politics with some and of religion with many. And even in the rare instances where judgment is not blinded by the prejudice or the partiality of party or of creed, it is affected by an influence, nobler and more excusable [Pg 2] indeed, but not less powerful nor less misleading—by unreasoning sentiment, by the sympathy which the romance of the unfortunate Queen's chequered career, her legendary beauty, her long captivity, and her heroic death awaken.

In the controversy which has now raged for three centuries, and in the course of which every incident of Mary's life has repeatedly been submitted to the closest scrutiny, anxiety to get at facts, to add to the weight of evidence, to discover fresh witnesses, to unearth new documents bearing on the points at issue, has led to a disregard of her personality more complete, perhaps, than in the case of any of her contemporaries, and contrasting strangely with the abundance of intimate details which go to make up our knowledge of her great rival. To most of us Elizabeth is as distinctly, almost tangibly, present as though she had reigned in our day. She moves through the pages of history surrounded by a train of courtiers scarcely less familiar to us than those of our own generation. The Queen of Scots, on the contrary, seems to be but little more than an historical abstraction. It is scarcely too much to say that many for whom it would be an easy task to follow her, step by step, from Linlithgow to Fotheringay, to recall all the events of which she was the central figure, to discuss all the problems which her name suggests, would be at a loss to furnish such details as could bring before us the features of the woman whose beauty doubtless finds frequent mention in their discourses, or bring together such particulars as would [Pg 3] justify all that they are ready to admit, and perhaps even to assert, concerning her talents and her accomplishments. It may, therefore, be neither inopportune nor uninteresting if, forgetting for a while the history of the Queen, we give our attention to the individuality of the woman; if, turning to the "treasures of antiquity laid up in old historic rolls", we endeavour, not to clear up the mystery of Darnley's murder, nor to explain the fatal marriage with Bothwell; not to pronounce on the authenticity of the sonnets, nor to solve the enigma of the famous letters; but to present a picture of the first lady of the land as she appeared to the crowds that had hurried to Leith to welcome her return, or that lined the Canongate as she rode to the Parliament House; to show her at her sports with her attendant Marys at Stirling or at St. Andrews; to listen to the conversation with which she entertained the courtiers of Amboise and of Holyrood, and to glance at the pages of the volumes over which she mused in the retirement of her library or the solitude of her prison.

The historians of Mary Stuart all agree in telling us that she was the most beautiful woman of her age; and it must be admitted that this is fully borne out by all that can be gathered from contemporary writers. It is not only such poetic enthusiasts as Michel de l'Hôpital, Du Bellay, and Ronsard, or such courtly flatterers as Brantôme and Castelnau, who pronounce her beauty to have been matchless—far exceeding "all that is, shall be, or has ever been", but the serious and dignified chroniclers [Pg 4] whom Jebb has brought together in his valuable folios—Strada, Blackwood, and even de Thou—also grow eloquent in praise of her charms. But perhaps the most convincing testimony that can be adduced is contained in a poem,[1] composed by an Englishman who was confessedly hostile to Mary, and whose satire was so keenly felt by her that she made it the subject of a formal complaint to Elizabeth. The words attributed to her—for the passage in which they occur is in the form of a confession on her part—are scarcely less forcible than those of her avowed partisans and admirers:

But I could boast of beauty with the best, In skilful points of princely attire And of the golden gifts of nature's behest, Who filled my face of favor fresh and fair. My beauty shines like Phœbus in the air, And nature formed my features beside In such proport as advanceth my pride. Thus fame affatethe (proclaims) my state to the stars, Enfeoft with the gifts of nature's device That sound the retreat to other princes' ears, Wholly to resign to me the chiefest prize.

It is most remarkable, however, that no extant portrait justifies the praises so lavishly bestowed on Mary. As to this, the courtesy of the late Mr. Wylie Guild, of Glasgow, afforded us an opportunity of forming an opinion based on the evidence of his remarkable collection of portraits of the Queen of [Pg 5] Scots—a collection which comprised, besides reproductions of most of the paintings claiming to be authentic, a series of over four hundred engravings, many of them by Clouet, and dating from the period of Mary's stay in France. We were compelled to agree with the possessor of that unique iconography that none of them showed the dazzling charms which poets and chroniclers have celebrated. And the portraits which various exhibitions have since then enabled us to examine, have only confirmed that earlier judgment. To reconcile this very striking contradiction seems difficult. Possibly the truth may be that the fascination of Mary's face consisted less in the regularity of outline or the striking beauty of any one feature than in the expression by which it was animated.[2] Her complexion, though likened by [Pg 6] Ronsard to alabaster and ivory,[3] does not seem to have possessed the clearness and brilliancy which the comparison implies; for Sir James Melville, though anxious to vindicate his Queen's claim to be considered "very lovely" and "the fairest lady in her country", acknowledged that she was less "white" than Elizabeth.[4] The brightness of her eyes, which Ronsard likened to stars, and Chastelard to beacons,[5] has not been questioned; but their colour is a point about which there is less unanimity, opinions varying between hazel and dark grey. As regards her hair the discrepancy of contemporary authorities is even greater. Brantôme and Ronsard describe a wealth of golden hair, and this is to a certain extent confirmed by Sir James Melville, who, when called upon by Elizabeth to pronounce whether his Queen's hair was fairer than her own, [Pg 7] answered that "the fairnes of them baith was not their worst faltes".[6] To this, however, must be opposed the testimony of Nicholas White, who, writing to Cecil in 1563, described the Queen as black-haired. The explanation of this may possibly lie in Mary's compliance with the fashion, introduced about this time, of wearing wigs. Indeed, Knollys informed White that she wore "hair of sundry colours",[7] and, in a letter to Cecil, praised the skill with which Mary Seton—"the finest busker of hair to be seen in any country"—"did set such a curled hair upon the Queen, that was said to be a perewyke, that showed very delicately".[8]

According to one account, the Queen of Scots wore black, according to another, auburn ringlets on the morning of her execution. Both, however, agree in this, that when the false covering fell she "appeared as grey as if she had been sixty and ten years old".

Mary's hand was white, but not small, the long, tapering fingers mentioned by Ronsard[9] being, indeed, a characteristic of some of her portraits. She was of tall stature, taller than Elizabeth, which made the Queen of England pronounce her cousin to be too tall, she herself being, according to her own standard, "neither too high nor too low".[10] Her voice was irresistibly soft and sweet. Not only [Pg 8] does Brantôme extol it as "trés douce et trés bonne",[11] and Ronsard poetically celebrate it as capable of moving rocks and woods,[12] but Knox, although ungraciously and unwillingly, also testifies to its charm. He informs us that, at one of her Parliaments, the Queen made a "paynted orisoun", and that, on this occasion, "thair mycht have been hard among hir flatteraris, 'Vox Dianæ!' The voice of a goddess (for it could not be Dei) and not of a woman! God save the sweet face! Was thair ever oratour spack so properlie and so sweitlie!"[13]

When, to this description, we have added that Mary Stuart was of a full figure[14] and became actually stout in later life; that she is described in the report of her execution and represented in several portraits as having a double chin, we shall have given a picture of her which, though wanting in some details, is as complete as it is possible to sketch at this length of time.

Mary Stuart is not infrequently mentioned as one of the precocious children of history. But the legend of her scholarly acquirements originates with Brantôme, an authority not always above suspicion when the glorification of princes is his theme, and it is not unnecessary to look more closely into the matter before we accept his glowing panegyric of the youthful prodigy. He informs us that Mary was "very learned in Latin",[15] and that, when only [Pg 9] thirteen or fourteen years of age, she publicly delivered at the Louvre, in the presence of King Henry II, Catherine de' Medici, his Queen, and the whole French Court, a Latin discourse which she had composed in justification of her own course of studies, and in support of the view that it is befitting in women to devote themselves to letters and to the liberal arts. This speech is also referred to by Antoine Fouquelin in the dedication of a textbook of Rhetoric which he composed for the young Princess.[16] He records the admiration with which Mary had been listened to by the noble company, and the high hopes which the elegant oration had awakened. That she herself set some value on this production may be assumed from the fact that she was at the pains of translating it into French; and the mention of it in the inventory of books delivered by the Earl of Morton to James VI in 1578, where it appears as "ane Oratioun to the King of Franche of the Quenis awin hand write", would seem to imply that she looked back with pride upon her youthful triumph. This interesting manuscript has now disappeared; nevertheless, it is not impossible to obtain from another source a fairly accurate idea of the speech which called forth such high praise from the French courtiers. It happens that the National Library in Paris possesses the Latin themes written by Mary Stuart in 1554, the year before the oratorical performance at the Louvre. Amongst the exercises contained in the [Pg 10] morocco-bound volume, fifteen refer to the same subject as the speech, and, it is fair to suppose, were intended as a preparation for the princely pupil's "speech-day".[17] Disappointing as it may be to ardent admirers of the Queen of Scots, it must be admitted that her themes do not bear out the praises bestowed on her Latinity, but contain such solecisms as would probably have been fraught with unpleasant consequences to a less noble and less fair scholar. Neither need the substance of Mary's apology for learned women excite our enthusiasm. To string together, with a few commonplace remarks, lists of names evidently supplied by her tutor and taken by him from Politian's Epistles, was no very remarkable achievement on the part of a child who, if she began her classical studies as early as her fellow pupil and sister-in-law Elizabeth did, had already devoted fully five years to Latin at the date of her famous speech.

But, though the Queen's early proficiency may have been overrated, there can be no doubt that, in later life, she possessed considerable familiarity with the language of Virgil and of Cicero. We know from contemporary letters that, after her return to Scotland, she continued her studies under Buchanan[18] and that, faithful to the habit which she had acquired in France, of devoting two hours a day to her books,[19] she regularly read "somewhat of Livy" with him "after her dinner".

[Pg 11] The catalogue of the books[20] contained in the royal library affords further information as to the nature and extent of her acquaintance with Latin literature. In it we find mention, amongst others of lesser note, of Horace, Virgil and Cicero, of Æmilius Probus and Columella, of Vegetius and Boethius. Neither did she neglect the Latinity of the Middle Ages. In prose it is represented by such forgotten names as those of Bertram of Corvey, of Ludolph of Saxony, of Joannes de Sacrobosco, and of Nicolaus de Clamangiis, the authors of ponderous treatises on science and on theology; the latter subject being one which her interest in the great ecclesiastical revolution of the age rendered particularly attractive to her. Amongst contemporary Latin poets her favourites seem to have been Petrus Bargæus, Louis Leroy, Sir Thomas Craig of Riccarton, and George Buchanan, whose dedication to her of his translation of the Psalms has not unjustly been pronounced to stand "unsurpassed by all the verses that have been lavished upon her during three hundred years by poets of almost every nation and language of Europe".[21]

Whether the Queen of Scots was acquainted with Greek cannot be determined with certainty. Neither Brantôme nor Con nor Blackwood has given information on this head. If, on the one hand, her numerous Latin and French translations of Greek authors do not point to a great familiarity with it, [Pg 12] on the other, the knowledge that she used such versions for the purpose of linguistic study, and the presence on her shelves of Homer and Herodotus, of Sophocles and Euripides, of Socrates and Plato, of Demosthenes and Lucian in the original tongue, justify the supposition that, even though she may not have rivalled the fair pupils of Ascham and of Aylmer, the productions of Athenian genius were not sealed books to her.

Amongst modern languages Spanish was that with which Mary had the slightest acquaintance, and so far as may be judged from the works which she possessed, her reading in it was limited to a book of chronicles and a collection of ballads.[22] As might be expected from her early surroundings, she was more familiar with Italian. She could both speak and write it. Indeed, among the verses attributed to her there is an Italian sonnet addressed to Elizabeth. It is scarcely credible that she had not read Dante; nevertheless, it is worthy of notice that his "Divine Comedy" does not appear in the catalogue of her library[23] where, however, Petrarch, Boccaccio, and Ariosto figure by the side of the less-known Bembo.

Though born in Scotland, Mary Stuart never possessed great fluency in the language of the country over which she was called to rule. Her knowledge of it was acquired chiefly, if not wholly, after her return from France. Her father, from [Pg 13] whom she might have learnt it in childhood, she never knew. For her mother the northern Doric remained through life a foreign tongue. The attendants with whom she was surrounded in her earliest infancy were either French or had been educated in France. It is therefore questionable whether she could express herself in what was nominally her native tongue, even when she sailed from Dumbarton on her journey to the court of the Valois. That she forgot whatever she may then have known of it is beyond doubt. Seven years after she had left France she was still making efforts to learn English, using translations—amongst others an English version of the Psalms—for the purpose, but not meeting with signal success. Conversing with Nicholas White, in 1569, she began with excuses for "her ill English, declaring herself more willing than apt to learn the language".[24] It was on the 1st of September of the preceding year that she wrote what she herself describes as her first letter in English. This circumstance may warrant its reproduction, though as an historical document merely, it possesses no importance. It is addressed to Sir Francis Knollys: "Mester Knollis, y heuu har sum neus from Scotland; y send zou the double off them y vreit to the quin my gud sister, and pres zou to du the lyk, conforme to that y spak zesternicht vnto zou, and sut hesti ansur y refer all to zour discretion, and wil lipne beter in zour gud delin for mi, nor y kan persuad zou, nemli in this langasg; excus my iuel [Pg 14] vreitin for y neuuer vsed it afor, and am hestet.... Excus my iuel vreitin thes furst tym."[25]

The testimony of Mary's library,[26] to which we have already appealed, and which is the more valuable and the more trustworthy that the books which it contained were undoubtedly collected by herself and for her own use, bears out what has been so often stated with regard to her love of French literature. In history it shows her to have been acquainted not only with the foremost chroniclers; not only with Froissart, in whose picturesque narrative her native Scotland is mentioned with such grateful remembrance of the hospitality shown him; not only with Monstrelet, from whose ungenerous treatment of the heroic Joan of Arc she may have learnt, even before her own experience taught her the hard lesson, how the animosity of party can blunt all better feeling; but also with the lesser writers, with those whose works never reached celebrity even in their own day and whose names have long ceased to interest posterity, with Aubert and Bouchet, Sauvage and Paradin.

It may be regarded as a proof of her good taste that she set but little store on the dreary romances of the time, written either in imitation or in continuation of "Amadis de Gaul", whilst to Rabelais,[27] on the contrary, she accorded the place of honour which he deserved.

[Pg 15] As regards the poets of France, all that Brantôme has told us of her partiality for them finds its justification in the almost complete collection of their works which she brought to Scotland with her. Amongst all others, however, Du Bellay, Maison-Fleur, and Ronsard were her special favourites. For the last, in particular, her enthusiasm was unbounded. It was to the verses in which he embodies the love of a whole nation that she turned for solace when the fresh sorrow of her departure from France was her heaviest burthen; it was over his pages that her tears flowed in the bitterness which knew no comfort as she sat a lonely captive in the castles of Elizabeth. As a token of her admiration she sent him from her prison a costly service of plate with the flattering inscription: "A Ronsard, l'Apollon des Français".[28]

It has been asserted by Brantôme, and repeated ever since on his authority, that Mary Stuart herself excelled in French verse. The elegiac stanzas quoted by him have been admired in all good faith by succeeding generations "for the tender pathos of the sentiments and the original beauty of the metaphors". It is painful to throw discredit on the time-honoured tradition, but the late discovery of a manuscript once in Brantôme's possession has proved, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that the "Elegy on the Death of Francis II" was not composed by his wife. This was at once established by Dr. Galy of Périgueux, the possessor of the manuscript. [Pg 16] Having since then been favoured by him with a copy of other poems contained in it and acknowledged by Brantôme as his own productions, and having compared them carefully with the "pathetic sentiments" and "original metaphors", as well as with the expressions and even the rhymes of the Elegy, we have no hesitation in going a step further, and pronouncing that the latter is from the pen of the unscrupulous Lord Abbot himself.[29] Apart from this, there still remain a few poems attributed to Mary, and authenticated, not indeed by her signature, but by what is almost as authoritative, her anagrams: "Sa vertu m'atire", or "Va, tu meriteras".[30] However interesting these poetical effusions may be as relics, their literary merit is of no high order, and they are assuredly not such as to deserve for the author a place amongst the poets of her century.

Before closing our remarks on Mary Stuart's scholarship and literary acquirements we would dwell for a moment on the subject of her handwriting, for that too has been made the subject of admiring comment by some of her biographers. Con has recorded that "she formed her letters elegantly and, what is rare in a woman, wrote swiftly".[31] [Pg 17] Some reason for his admiration may be found in the fact that Mary had adopted what Shakespeare styles "the sweet Roman hand", which at that time was only beginning to take the place of the old Gothic, and, in Scotland particularly, had all the charm of a fashionable novelty. The specimen now before us shows a bold, rather masculine hand, of such size that five short words—"mon linge entre mes fammes"—fill a line six inches long. The letters are seldom joined together, and the words are scattered over the page with untutored irregularity and disregard for straight lines. On the whole we cannot but allow the force of Pepys' exclamation on being shown some of the Queen's letters: "Lord! How poorly methinks they wrote in those days, and on what plain uncut paper!"[32]

Our sketch of Mary Stuart would not be complete if we limited ourselves to the more serious side of her character merely. If she did not deserve the reputation for utter thoughtlessness and frivolity which some of her puritanical contemporaries have given her, she was undoubtedly fond of amusements. The memoirs and correspondence of the time often show her seeking recreation in popular sports and pastimes; indeed, Randolph describes life at the Scottish Court for the first two years after her return from France as one continual round of "feasts, banquetting, masking, and running at the ring, and such like".[33] It was to Mary, as Knox testifies, that [Pg 18] the introduction into Scotland of those primitive dramatic performances known as Masques or Triumphs was due. They soon became so popular that they formed the chief entertainment at every festival. The Queen herself and her attendants, particularly the four Marys, often took part in them, either acting in mere dumb show or reciting the verses which the elegant pen of Buchanan supplied, and singing the songs which Rizzio composed, and of which the melodies may very possibly be those which, wedded to more modern verse, are still popular amongst the Scottish peasantry. Not only were these masques performed in the large halls of the feudal castles, but in the open air also, near the little lake at the foot of Arthur's Seat. It may cause some astonishment at the present day to find not only the maids of honour, but even the Queen herself, assuming the dress of the other sex in these masquerades. Yet the Diurnal of Occurrents[34] records, without expressing either indignation or even astonishment at the fact, that "the Queen's Grace and all her Maries and ladies were all clad in men's apparel" at the "Maskery or mumschance" given one Sunday evening in honour of the French Ambassador.

Like her cousin of England, Mary was fond of dancing, and, as her Latin biography informs us, showed to great advantage in it.[35] From a passage quaintly noted as "full of diversion" in Sir James Melville's Memoirs, we learn that the knight being [Pg 19] pressed by Queen Elizabeth to declare whether she or his own sovereign danced best, answered her with courtly ambiguity that "the Queen dancit not so hich and so disposedly as she did".[36] In reply to the same royal enquirer he also stated that Mary "sometimes recreated herself in playing upon the lute and virginals", and that she played "reasonably for a queen", not so well, however, as Elizabeth herself.[37] We gather from Con[38] and Brantôme that her voice was well trained, and that she sang well.

The indoor amusements in favour at Holyrood were chess, which James VI condemned as "over wise and philosophic a folly",[39] tables, a game probably resembling backgammon, and cards. That these last were not played for "love" merely, is shown by an entry in the Lord Treasurer's accounts of "fyftie pundis" for Her Majesty "to play at the cartis".[40] Puppets or marionettes were also in great vogue. A set of thirty-eight, together with a complete outfit of "vardingaills", "gownis", "kirtillis", "sairkis slevis", and "hois", is mentioned in an inventory of the time, where we see these "pippenis"—an old Scottish corruption of the French "poupine"—dressed in such costly stuffs as damask brocaded with gold, cloth of silver, and white silk.[41]

[Pg 20] Quieter employment for the leisure hours of the Queen and her ladies was supplied by various kinds of fancy-work, amongst which knitting and tapestry are particularly mentioned. To the latter she devoted much of her time, both at Lochleven, where she requested to be allowed "an imbroiderer, to draw forth such work as she would be occupied about",[42] and in England. Whilst she was at Tutbury, Nicholas White once asked her how she passed her time within doors when the weather cut off all exercises abroad. She replied "that all that day she wrought with her needle, and that the diversity of the colours made the work seem less tedious, and continued so long at it till very pain made her to give over.... Upon this occasion she entered into a pretty disputable comparison between carving, painting, and working with the needle, affirming painting, in her own opinion, for the most commendable quality."[43]

At his interview with Elizabeth, Sir James Melville was asked what kind of exercises his Queen used. He answered, that when he received his dispatch, the Queen was lately come from the Highland hunting. Her undaunted behaviour on this occasion is recorded by an eyewitness, Dr. William Barclay of Gartley, who tells us that she herself gave the signal for letting the hounds loose upon a wolf, and that in one day's hunting three hundred and sixty deer, five wolves, and some wild goats were slain.[44]

[Pg 21] In common with her father, who took great pains to introduce "ratches" or greyhounds and bloodhounds into Scotland, and with her great-grandson, Charles II, who gave his name to a breed of spaniels, Mary Stuart shared a great fondness for dogs. In her happier days she always possessed several, which she entrusted to the keeping of one Anthone Guedio and a boy. These canine pets were provided with a daily ration of two loaves, and wore blue velvet collars as a distinguishing badge.[45] During her captivity, her dogs were amongst her most faithful companions. Writing from Sheffield to Beton, Archbishop of Glasgow, she said: "If my uncle, the Cardinal of Guise, has gone to Lyons, I am sure he will send me a couple of pretty little dogs, and you will buy me as many more; for, except reading and working, my only pleasure is in all the little animals that I can get. They must be sent in baskets well-packed, so as to keep them warm."[46] The fidelity of one of these dumb friends adds to the pathos of the last scene of her sad history. "One of the executioners," says a contemporary report, "pulling off her clothes, espied her little dog which was crept under her clothes, which would not be gotten forth but by force, and afterwards would not depart from the dead body, but came and lay betwixt her head and shoulders, a thing diligently noted."[47]

[Pg 22] In recording one of his interviews with Queen Mary, Knox gives us information concerning another of the sports with which she beguiled her time, for he tells us that it was at the hawking near Kinross that she appointed him to meet her.[48] Archery, too, seems to have been a favourite amusement. She had butts both at Holyrood and St. Andrews. Writing to Cecil in 1562, and again in 1567, Randolph informs him that the Queen and the Master of Lindsay shot against Mary Livingston and the Earl of Murray; and that, in another match, the Queen and Bothwell won a dinner at Tranent from the Earl of Huntley and Lord Seton.[49] Neither did she neglect the "royal game", for one of the charges brought against her and embodied in the articles given in by the Earl of Murray to Queen Elizabeth's commissioners at Westminster, stated that a few days after Darnley's murder "she past to Seytoun, exercing hir one day richt oppinlie at the feildis with the pallmall and goif".

To sketch Mary's character further would be trenching on debatable ground and overstepping the limits which we have imposed upon ourselves. There is one trait, however, which may be recorded on the authority even of her enemies—her personal courage. Randolph represents her as riding at the head of her troops "with a steel bonnet on her head, and a pistol at her saddle-bow; regretting that she was not a man to know what life it was to lie all night in the fields, or to walk upon the causeway with a jack and a knapscull, a Glasgow buckler, [Pg 23] and a broadsword". The author of the poem preserved in the Record Office, to which we have already made reference, allows that "no enemy could appal her, no travail daunt her intent", that she "dreaded no danger of death", that "no stormy blasts could make her retire", and he likens her to Tomiris:

Tomiris hir selffe Who dreaded (awed) great hosts with her tyrannye Cold not showe hir selffe more valiant.

But never, surely, was her fortitude shown more clearly to the world than when, three hundred years ago, "she laid herself upon the block most quietly, trying her chin over it, stretching out her hands, and crying out: 'In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum'".

[Pg 24]
[Pg 25]



Reference is seldom made to the Queen's Marys, the four Maids of Honour whose romantic attachment to their royal mistress and namesake, the ill-fated Queen of Scots, has thrown such a halo of popularity and sympathy about their memory, without calling forth the well-known lines:

Yestreen the Queen had four Maries, The night she'll hae but three; There was Marie Seton, and Marie Beton, And Marie Carmichael and me.

To those who are acquainted with the whole of the ballad, which records the sad fate of the guilty Mary Hamilton, it must have occurred that there is a striking incongruity between the traditional loyalty of the Queen's Marys and the alleged execution of one of their number, on the denunciation of the offended Queen herself, for the murder of an illegitimate child, the reputed offspring of a criminal intrigue with Darnley. Yet a closer investigation of the facts assumed in the ballad leads to a discovery more unexpected than even this. It establishes, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that, of the four family-names given in the stanza as those of [Pg 26] the four Marys, two only are authentic. Mary Carmichael and Mary Hamilton herself are mere poetical myths. Not only does no mention of them occur in any of the lists still extant of the Queen's personal attendants, but there also exist documents of all kinds, from serious historical narrative and authoritative charter to gossiping correspondence and polished epigram, to prove that the colleagues of Mary Beton and Mary Seton were Mary Fleming and Mary Livingston. How the apocryphal names have found their way into the ballad, or how the ballad itself has come to be connected with the Maids of Honour, cannot be determined. There is, however, in Knox's History of the Reformation, a passage which has been looked upon as furnishing a possible foundation of truth to the whole fiction. It is that in which he records the commission and the punishment of a crime similar to that for which Mary Hamilton is represented as about to die on the gallows. "In the very time of the General Assembly there comes to public knowledge a haynous murther, committed in the Court; yea, not far from the queen's lap: for a French woman, that served in the queen's chamber, had played the whore with the queen's own apothecary. The woman conceived and bare a child, whom with common consent, the father and mother murthered; yet were the cries of a new-borne childe hearde, searche was made, the childe and the mother were both apprehended, and so was the man and the woman condemned to be hanged in the publicke [Pg 27] street of Edinburgh. The punishment was suitable, because the crime was haynous."[50] Between this historical fact—for the authenticity of which we have also the testimony of Randolph[51] —and the ballad, which substitutes Darnley and one of the Maids of Honour for the queen's apothecary and a nameless waiting-woman, the connection is not very close. Indeed, there is but one point on which both accounts are in agreement, though that, it is true, is an important one. The unnatural mother whose crime, with its condign punishment, is mentioned by the historian, was, he says, a French woman. The Mary Hamilton of the ballad, in spite of a name which certainly does not point to a foreign origin, is also made to come from over the seas:

I charge ye all, ye mariners, When ye sail ower the faem; Let neither my father nor my mother get wit But that I'm coming hame.
O, little did my mother ken, The day she cradled me, The lands I was to travel in, Or the death I was to dee.

[Pg 28] It does not, however, come within the scope of the present paper to examine more closely into the ballad of Mary Hamilton. It suffices to have made it clear that, whatever be their origin, the well-known verses have no historical worth or significance, and no real claim to the title of "The Queen's Marie" prefixed to them in the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.[52] Except for the purpose of correcting the erroneous, but general belief, which has been propagated by the singular and altogether unwarranted mention of the "Four Marys", and the introduction of the names of two of them in the oft-quoted stanza, there would, in reality, be no necessity for any allusion to the popular poem in a sketch of the career of the fair Maids of Honour, whose touching fidelity through good and evil fortune has won for them a greater share of interest than is enjoyed by any of the subordinate characters in the great historical drama of which their royal mistress is the central figure.

The first historical and authoritative mention of the four Marys is from the pen of one who was personally and intimately acquainted with them—John Leslie, Bishop of Ross. It occurs in his description of the departure of the infant Mary Stuart from the small harbour at the foot of the beetling, castle-crowned rock of Dumbarton, on that memorable voyage which so nearly resembled a flight. "All things being reddy for the jornay," writes the chronicler, in his quaint northern idiom, "the Quene being as than betuix fyve and sax yearis of aige, wes delivered [Pg 29] to the quene dowarier hir moder, and wes embarqued in the Kingis awin gallay, and with her the Lord Erskyn and Lord Levingstoun quha had bene hir keparis, and the Lady Fleming her fadir sister, with sindre gentilwemen and nobill mennis sonnes and dochteres, almoist of hir awin age; of the quhilkes thair wes four in speciall, of whom everie one of thame buir the samin name of Marie, being of four syndre honorable houses, to wyt, Fleming, Levingstoun, Seton and Betoun of Creich; quho remainit all foure with the Quene in France, during her residens thair, and returned agane in Scotland with her Majestie in the yeir of our Lord ImVclxi yeris."[53] Of the education and early training of the four Marys, as companions and playmates of the youthful queen, we have no special record. The deficiency is one which our knowledge of the wild doings of the gayest court of the age makes it easy to supply. For the Scottish maidens, as for their mistress, intercourse with the frivolous company that gathered about Catherine de' Medici was but indifferent preparation for the serious business of life. Looking back on "those French years", doubtless they too, like her, "only seemed to see—

A light of swords and singing, only hear Laughter of love and lovely stress of lutes, And in between the passion of them borne Sound of swords crossing ever, as of feet Dancing, and life and death still equally Blithe and bright-eyed from battle."

[Pg 30] Brantôme, to whom we are indebted for so much personal description of Mary Stuart, and so many intimate details concerning her character, tastes, and acquirements, is less communicative with respect to her four fair attendants. He merely mentions them amongst the court beauties as "Mesdamoiselles de Flammin, de Ceton, Beton, Leviston, escoissaises".[54] He makes no allusion to them in the pathetic description of the young queen's departure from her "sweet France" on the fateful 24th of August, a date which subsequent events were destined to mark with a fearful stain of blood, in the family to which she was allied. Yet, doubtless they, too, were gazing with tearful eyes at the receding shore, blessing the calm which retarded their course, trembling with vague fears as their voyage began amidst the cries of drowning men, and half wishing that the English ships of the jealous Elizabeth might prevent them from reaching their dreary destination. That they were with their royal namesake, we know. Leslie, who, with Brantôme and the unfortunate Chastelard, accompanied the idol of France to her unsympathetic northern home, again makes special note of "the four maidis of honour quha passit with hir Hienes in France, of her awin aige, bering the name everie ane of Marie, as is befoir mencioned".

During the first years of Mary Stuart's stay in her capital, the four maids of honour played conspicuous parts in all the amusements and festivities of the court, and were amongst those who incurred [Pg 31] the censure of the austere Reformers for introducing into Holyrood the "balling, and dancing, and banquetting"[55] of Amboise and Fontainbleau. Were our information about the masques acted at the Scottish Court less scanty, we should, doubtless, often find the names of the four Marys amongst the performers. Who more fit than they to figure in the first masque represented at Holyrood, in October, 1561, at the Queen's farewell banquet to her uncle, the Grand Prior of the Knights of St. John, and to take their places amongst the Muses who marched in procession before the throne, reciting Buchanan's flattering verses in praise of the lettered court of the Queen of Scots?

Banished by War, to thee we take our flight, Who still dost worship at the Muses' shrine, And, solaced by thy presence, day and night, Nor murmur at our exile, nor repine.

Had Marioreybanks given us the names of those who took part in the festivities which he describes as having taken place on the occasion of Lord Fleming's marriage, can we doubt that the Marys would have been found actively engaged in the open-air performance "in the Parke of Holyroudhous, under Arthur's Seatt, at the end of the loche"?[56] Indeed, it is not matter of mere conjecture, but of authentic historical record, that on more than one occasion Buchanan did actually introduce the Queen's namesakes amongst the dramatis personæ of the masques [Pg 32] which, as virtual laureate of the Scottish Court, he was called upon to supply. The Diurnal of Occurrents mentions that "upoun the ellevint day of the said moneth (February) the King and Quene in lyik manner bankettit the samin (French) Ambassatour; and at evin our Soveranis maid the maskrie and mumschance, in the quhilk the Queenis Grace and all hir Maries and ladies were all cled in men's apperell; and everie ane of thame presentit ane quhingar, bravelie and maist artificiallie made and embroiderit with gold, to the said Ambassatour and his gentilmen, everie ane of thame according to his estate".[57] That this, moreover, was not the first appearance of the fair performers we also know, for it was they who bore the chief parts in the third masque acted during the festivities which attended the Queen's marriage with Darnley; and it was one of them, perhaps Mary Beton, the scholar of the court, who recited the verses which Buchanan had introduced in allusion to their royal mistress's recovery from some illness otherwise unrecorded in history:

Kind Goddess, Health, four Nymphs their voices raise To welcome thy return and sing thy praise, To beg as suppliants that thou wouldst deign To smile benignly on their Queen again, And make her royal breast thy hallowed shrine, Where best and worthiest worship shall be thine.

That the four Nymphs mentioned in this, the only fragment of the masque which has been preserved, [Pg 33] were the four Marys, is explained by Buchanan's commentator, Ruddiman: "Nymphas his vocat quatuor Mariæ Scotæ corporis ministras, quæ etiam omnes Mariæ nominabantur". It is more than probable, too, that the Marys were not merely spectators of the masque which formed a part of the first day's amusements, and of which they themselves were the subject-matter. It may still be read under the title of "Pompa Deorum in Nuptiis Mariæ", in Buchanan's Latin poems. Diana opens the masque, which is but a short mythological dialogue, with a complaint to the ruler of Olympus that one of her five Marys—the Queen herself is here included—has been taken from her by the envious arts of Venus and of Juno:

Five Marys erst my boast and glory were, Each one in youthful beauty passing fair; Whilst these enhanced the splendour of my state To all the gods I seemed too fortunate, Till Venus, urged by Juno in her ire, Stole one away and marred my comely quire, Whereof the other four now grieve that they Must, like the Pleiads, shine with lessened ray.

In the dialogue which follows, and in which five goddesses and five gods take part, Apollo chimes in with a prophecy which was only partially accomplished:

Fear not, Diana, cast away thy care, And hear the tidings which I prescient bear; Juno decrees thy Marys shall be wed, And in all state to Hymen's altar led, But each to fill its lessened ranks again, Will add her offspring to thy beauteous train.

[Pg 34] In his summing up, which, as may be imagined, is not very favourable to the complainant, the Olympian judge also introduces a prettily turned compliment to the Marys:

Five Marys erst were thine and each one meet With goddesses in beauty to compete; Each worthy of a god, if iron fate Allowed the gods to choose a mortal mate.

The whole pageant closes with an epilogue spoken by the herald Talthybius, who also foretells further defections from Diana's maidens:

Another marriage! Hear the joyful cry: Another Mary joined in nuptial tie!

As was but natural, the Queen's favourite attendants possessed considerable influence with their royal lady, and the sequel will show, in the case of each of them, how eagerly their good offices were sought after by courtiers and ambassadors anxious for the success of their several suits and missions. In a letter which Randolph wrote to Cecil on the 24th of October, 1564, and which, as applying to the Marys collectively, may be quoted here, we are shown the haughty Lennox himself condescending to make pretty presents to the maids with a view to ingratiating himself with the mistress. "He presented also each of the Marys with such pretty things as he thought fittest for them, such good means he hath to win their hearts, and to make his way to further effect."[58]

[Pg 35]


It is scarcely the result of mere chance that, in the chronicles which make mention of the four Marys, Mary Fleming's name usually takes precedence of those of her three colleagues. She seems to have been tacitly recognized as "prima inter pares". This was, doubtless, less in consequence of her belonging to one of the first houses in Scotland, for the Livingstons, the Betons, and the Setons might well claim equality with the Flemings, than of her being closely related to Mary Stuart herself, though the relationship, it is true, was only on the side of the distaff, and though there was, moreover, a bar sinister on the royal quarterings which it added to the escutcheon of the Flemings. Mary Fleming—Marie Flemyng, as she signed herself, or Flamy, as she was called in the Queen's broken English—was the fourth daughter of Malcolm, third Lord Fleming. Her mother, Janet Stuart, was a natural daughter of King James IV. Mary Fleming and her royal mistress were consequently first cousins. This may sufficiently account for the greater intimacy which existed between them. Thus, after Chastelard's outrage, it was Mary Fleming whom the Queen, dreading the loneliness which had rendered the wild attempt possible, called in to sleep with her, for protection.

[Pg 36] Amongst the various festivities and celebrations which were revived in Holyrood by Mary and the suite which she had brought with her from the gay court of France, that of Twelfth Night seems to have been in high favour, as, indeed, it still is in some provinces of France at the present day. In the "gâteau des Rois", or Twelfth Night Cake, it was customary to hide a bean, and when the cake was cut up and distributed, the person to whom chance—or not infrequently design—brought the piece containing the bean, was recognized sole monarch of the revels until the stroke of midnight. On the 6th of January, 1563, Mary Fleming was elected queen by favour of the bean. Her mistress, entering into the spirit of the festivities, with her characteristic considerateness for even the amusement of those about her, abdicated her state in favour of the mimic monarch of the night. A letter written by Randolph to Lord Dudley, and bearing the date of the 15th of January, gives an interesting and vivid picture of the fair maid of honour decked out in her royal mistress's jewels: "You should have seen here upon Tuesday the great solemnity and royall estate of the Queen of the Beene. Fortune was so favourable to faire Flemyng, that, if shee could have seen to have judged of her vertue and beauty, as blindly she went to work and chose her at adventure, shee would sooner have made her Queen for ever, then for one night only, to exalt her so [Pg 37] high and the nixt to leave her in the state she found her.... That day yt was to be seen, by her princely pomp, how fite a match she would be, wer she to contend ether with Venus in beauty, Minerva in witt, or Juno in worldly wealth, haveing the two former by nature, and of the third so much as is contained in this realme at her command and free disposition. The treasure of Solomon, I trowe, was not to be compared unto that which hanged upon her back.... The Queen of the Beene was in a gowne of cloath of silver; her head, her neck, her shoulders, the rest of her whole body, so besett with stones, that more in our whole jewell house wer not to be found. The Queen herself was apparelled in collours whyt and black, no other jewell or gold about her bot the ring that I brought her from the Queen's Majestie hanging at her breast, with a lace of whyt and black about her neck." In another part of the same letter the writer becomes even more enthusiastic: "Happy was it unto this realm," he says, "that her reign endured no longer. Two such nights in one state, in so good accord, I believe was never seen, as to behold two worthy queens possess, without envy, one kingdom, both upon a day. I leave the rest to your lordship to be judged of. My pen staggereth, my hand faileth, further to write.... The cheer was great. I never found myself so happy, nor so well treated, until that it came to the point that the old queen herself, to show her mighty power, contrary unto the assurance granted me by the younger queen, drew me [Pg 38] into the dance, which part of the play I could with good will have spared to your lordship, as much fitter for the purpose."[59]

The queen of this Twelfth-Tide pageant was also celebrated by the court poet Buchanan. Amongst his epigrams there is one bearing the title: "Ad Mariam Flaminiam sorte Reginam":

Could worth or high descent a crown bestow, Thou hadst been Queen, fair Fleming, long ago; Were grace and beauty titles to the throne, No grace or beauty had outshone thine own; Did vows of mortal men avail with Fate, Our vows had raised thee to the royal state. The fickle Deity that rules mankind, Though blind and deaf and foolish in her mind, Seemed neither foolish, deaf, nor blind to be When regal honours she accorded thee; Or, if she were, then 'twas by Virtue led She placed the diadem upon thy head.[60]

The "Faire Flemyng" found an admirer amongst the English gentlemen whom political business had brought to the Scotch Court. This was Sir Henry Sidney, of whom Naunton reports that he was a statesman "of great parts". As Sir Henry was born in 1519, and consequently over twenty years older than the youthful maid of honour, his choice cannot be considered to have been a very judicious one, nor can the ill-success of his suit appear greatly astonishing. And yet, as the sequel was to show, [Pg 39] Mary Fleming had no insuperable objection to an advantageous match on the score of disparity of age. In the year following that in which she figured as Queen of the Bean at Holyrood, the gossiping correspondence of the time expatiates irreverently enough on Secretary Maitland's wooing of the maid of honour. He was about forty at the time, and it was not very long since his first wife, Janet Monteith, had died. Mary Fleming was about two-and-twenty. There was, consequently, some show of reason for the remark made by Kirkcaldy of Grange, in communicating to Randolph the new matrimonial project in which Maitland was embarked: "The Secretary's wife is dead, and he is a suitor to Mary Fleming, who is as meet for him as I am to be a page".[61] Cecil appears to have been taken into the Laird of Lethington's confidence, and doubtless found amusement in the enamoured statesman's extravagance. "The common affairs do never so much trouble me but that at least I have one merry hour of the four-and-twenty.... Those that be in love are ever set upon a merry pin; yet I take this to be a most singular remedy for all diseases in all persons."[62] Two of the keenest politicians of their age laying aside their diplomatic gravity and forgetting the jealousies and the rivalry of their respective courts to discuss the charms of the Queen's youthful maid of honour: it is a charming historical vignette not without interest and humour even at this length of [Pg 40] time. We may judge to what extent the Secretary was "set on a merry pin", from Randolph's description of the courtship. In a letter dated 31 March, 1565, and addressed to Sir Henry Sidney, Mary Fleming's old admirer, he writes: "She neither remembereth you, nor scarcely acknowledgeth that you are her man. Your lordship, therefore, need not to pride you of any such mistress in this court; she hath found another whom she doth love better. Lethington now serveth her alone, and is like, for her sake, to run beside himself. Both night and day he attendeth, he watcheth, he wooeth—his folly never more apparent than in loving her, where he may be assured that, how much soever he make of her, she will always love another better. This much I have written for the worthy praise of your noble mistress, who, now being neither much worth in beauty, nor greatly to be praised in virtue, is content, in place of lords and earls, to accept to her service a poor pen clerk."[63] We have not to reconcile the ill-natured and slanderous remarks of Randolph's letter with the glowing panegyric penned by him some two years previously. That he intended to comfort the rejected suitor, and to tone down the disappointment and the jealousy which he might feel at the success of a rival not greatly younger than himself, would be too charitable a supposition. It is not improbable that he may have had more personal reasons for his spite, and that when, in the same letter, he describes "Fleming that once was so fair", [Pg 41] wishing "with many a sigh that Randolph had served her", he is giving a distorted and unscrupulous version of an episode not unlike that between Mary Fleming and Sir Henry himself. To give even the not very high-minded Randolph his due, however, it is but fair to add that his later letters, whilst fully bearing out what he had previously stated with regard to Maitland's lovemaking, throw no doubt on Mary's sincerity: "Lethington hath now leave and time to court his mistress, Mary Fleming";[64] and, again, "My old friend, Lethington, hath leisure to make love; and, in the end, I believe, as wise as he is, will show himself a very fool, or stark, staring mad".[65] This "leisure to make love" is attributed to Rizzio, then in high favour with the Queen. This was about the end of 1565. Early in 1566, however, the unfortunate Italian was murdered under circumstances too familiar to need repetition, and for his share in the unwarrantable transaction, Secretary Maitland was banished from the royal presence. The lovers were, in consequence, parted for some six months, from March to September. It was about this time that Queen Mary, dreading the hour of her approaching travail, and haunted by a presentiment that it would prove fatal to her, caused inventories of her private effects to be drawn up, and made legacies to her personal friends and attendants. The four Marys were not forgotten. They were each to receive a diamond; "Aux [Pg 42] quatre Maries, quatre autres petis diamants de diverse façon",[66] besides a portion of the Queen's needlework and linen: "tous mes ouurasges, manches et collets aux quatre Maries".[67] In addition to this, there was set down for "Flamy", two pieces of gold lace with ornaments of white and red enamel, a dress, a necklace, and a chain to be used as a girdle. We may infer that red and white were the maid of honour's favourite colours, for "blancq et rouge" appear in some form or another in all the items of the intended legacy.[68]

As we have said, the Secretary's disgrace was not of long duration. About September he was reinstated in the Queen's favour, and in December received from her a dress of cloth of gold trimmed with silver lace: "Une vasquyne de toille d'or plaine auecq le corps de mesme fait a bourletz borde dung passement dargent".[69]

[Pg 43] On the 6th of January, 1567, William Maitland of Lethington and Mary Fleming were married at Stirling, where the Queen was keeping her court, and where she spent the last Twelfth-Tide she was to see outside the walls of a prison. The Secretary's wife, as Mary was frequently styled after her marriage, did not cease to be in attendance upon her royal cousin, and we get occasional glimpses of her in the troubled times which were to follow. Thus, on the eventful morning on which Bothwell's trial began, Mary Fleming stood with the Queen at the window from which the latter, after having imprudently refused an audience to the Provost-Marshal of Berwick, Elizabeth's messenger, still more imprudently watched the bold Earl's departure and, it was reported, smiled and nodded encouragement. Again, in the enquiry which followed the Queen's escape from Lochleven, it appeared that her cousin had been privy to the plot for her release, and had found the means of conveying to the royal captive the assurance that her friends were working for her deliverance: "The Queen", so ran the evidence of one of the attendants examined after the flight, "said scho gat ane ring and three wordis in Italianis in it. I iudget it cam fra the Secretar, because of the language. Scho said, 'Na, ... it was ane woman. All the place saw hir weyr it. Cursall show me the Secretaris wiff send it, and the vreting of it was ane fable of Isop betuix the Mouss and the Lioune, hou the Mouss for ane plesour done to hir be the Lioune, efter that, the Lioune being bound with ane corde, the Mouss schuyr the corde and let the Lioune louss.'"[70]

During her long captivity in England, the unfortunate Queen was not unmindful of the love and devotion of her faithful attendant. Long [Pg 44] years after she had been separated from her, whilst in prison at Sheffield, she gives expression to her longing for the presence of Mary Fleming, and in a letter written "du manoir de Sheffield", on the 1st of May, 1581, to Monsieur de Mauvissiére, the French ambassador, she begs him to renew her request to Elizabeth that the Lady of Lethington should be allowed to tend her in "the valetudinary state into which she has fallen, of late years, owing to the bad treatment to which she has been subjected".[71]

But the Secretary's wife had had her own trials and her own sorrows. On the 9th of June, 1573, her husband died at Leith, "not without suspicion of poison", according to Killigrew. Whether he died by his own hand, or by the act of his enemies, is a question which we are not called upon to discuss. The evidence of contemporaries is conflicting, "some supponyng he tak a drink and died as the auld Romans wer wont to do", as Sir James Melville reports;[72] others, and amongst these Queen Mary herself, that he had been foully dealt with. Writing to Elizabeth, she openly gives expression to this belief: "the principal (of the rebel lords) were besieged by your forces in the Castle of Edinburgh, and one of the first among them poisoned".

Maitland was to have been tried "for art and part of the treason, conspiracy, consultation, and treating of the King's murder". According to the law of [Pg 45] Scotland, a traitor's guilt was not cancelled by death. The corpse might be arraigned and submitted to all the indignities which the barbarous code of the age recognized as the punishment of treason. It was intended to inflict the fullest penalty upon Maitland's corpse, and it remained unburied "till the vermin came from his corpse, creeping out under the door of the room in which he was lying".[73] In her distress the widow applied to Burleigh, in a touching letter which is still preserved. It bears the date of the 21st of June, 1573.

My very good Lord,—After my humble commendations, it may please your Lordship that the causes of the sorrowful widow, and orphants, by Almighty God recommended to the superior powers, together with the firm confidence my late husband, the Laird of Ledington, put in your Lordship's only help is the occasion, that I his desolat wife (though unknown to your Lordship), takes the boldness by these few lines, to humblie request your Lordship, that as my said husband being alive expected no small benefit at your hands, so now I may find such comfort, that the Queen's Majestie, your Sovereign, may by your travell and means be moved to write to my Lord Regent of Scotland, that the body of my husband, which when alive has not been spared in her hieness' service, may now, after his death, receive no shame, or ignominy, and that his heritage taken from him during his lifetime, now belonging to me and his children, that have not offended, by a disposition made a long time ago, may be restored, which is aggreeable both to equity and the laws of this realme; and also your Lordship will not forget my husband's brother, the Lord of Coldingham, ane innocent gentleman, who was never engaged in these quarrels, but for his love [Pg 46] to his brother, accompanied him, and is now a prisoner with the rest, that by your good means, and procurement, he may be restored to his own, by doing whereof, beside the blessing of God, your lordship will also win the goodwill of many noblemen and gentlemen.[74]

Burleigh lost no time in laying the widow's petition before Elizabeth, and on the 19th of July a letter written at Croydon was dispatched to the Regent Morton: "For the bodie of Liddington, who died before he was convict in judgment, and before any answer by him made to the crymes objected to him, it is not our maner in this contrey to show crueltey upon the dead bodies so unconvicted, but to suffer them streight to be buried, and put in the earth. And so suerly we think it mete to be done in this case, for (as we take it) it was God's pleasure he should be taken away from the execucion of judgment, so we think consequently that it was His divine pleasure that the bodie now dead should not be lacerated, nor pullid in pieces, but be buried like to one who died in his bed, and by sicknes, as he did."[75]

Such a petitioner as the Queen of England was not to be denied, and Maitland's body was allowed the rites of burial. The other penalties which he had incurred by his treason—real or supposed—were not remitted. An Act of Parliament was passed "for rendering the children, both lawful and natural, of Sir William Maitland of Lethington, the younger, and of several others, who had been convicted of the [Pg 47] murder of the King's father, incapable of enjoying, or claiming, any heritages, lands, or possessions in Scotland".

The widow herself was also subjected to petty annoyances at the instigation of Morton. She was called upon to restore the jewels which her royal mistress had given her as a free gift, and in particular, "one chayn of rubeis with twelf markes of dyamontis and rubeis, and ane mark with twa rubeis".[76] Even her own relatives seemed to have turned against her in her distress. In a letter written in French to her sister-in-law, Isabel, wife of James Heriot of Trabroun, she refers to some accusation brought against her by her husband's brother, Coldingham—the same for whom she had interceded in her letter to Burleigh—and begs to be informed as to the nature of the charge made to the Regent, "car ace que jantans il me charge de quelque chose, je ne say que cest".[77] The letter bears no date, but seems to have been penned when the writer's misery was at its sorest, for it concludes with an earnest prayer that patience may be given her to bear the weight of her misfortunes.

Better days, however, were yet in store for the much-tried Mary Fleming, for in February, 1584, the "relict of umquhill William Maitland, younger of Lethington, Secretare to our Soverane Lord", [Pg 48] succeeded in obtaining a reversion of her husband's forfeiture. In May of the same year,[78] the Parliament allowed "Marie Flemyng and hir bairns to have bruik and inioy the same and like fauour, grace and priuilege and conditioun as is contenit in the pacificatioun maid and accordit at Perthe, the xxiii day of Februar, the yeir of God Im Vc lxxxij yeiris".

With this document one of the four Marys disappears from the scene. Of her later life we have no record. That it was thoroughly happy we can scarcely assume, for we know that her only son James died in poverty and exile.


[Pg 49]


Mary Livingston, or, as she signed herself, Marie Leuiston, was the daughter of Alexander, fifth Lord Livingston. She was a cousin of Mary Fleming's, and, like her, related, though more distantly, to the sovereign. When she sailed from Scotland in 1548, as one of the playmates of the infant Mary Stuart, she was accompanied by both her father and her mother. Within a few years, however, she was left to the sole care of the latter, Lord Livingston having died in France in 1553. Of her life at the French Court we have no record. Her first appearance in the pages of contemporary chroniclers is on the 22nd of April, 1562, the year after her return to Scotland. On that date, the young Queen, who delighted in the sport of archery, shot off a match in her private gardens at St. Andrews. Her own partner was the Master of Lindsay.[79] Their opponents were the Earl of Moray, then only Earl of Mar, and Mary Livingston, whose skill is reported to have been—when courtesy allowed it—quite equal to that of her royal mistress.

The next item of information is to be found in the matter-of-fact columns of an account book, in [Pg 50] which we find it entered that the Queen gave Mary Livingston some grey damask for a gown, in September, 1563,[80] and some black velvet for the same purpose in the following February.[81] Shortly after this, however, there occurred an event of greater importance, which supplied the letter-writers of the day with material for their correspondence. On the 5th of March, 1564, Mary Livingston was married to James Sempill, of Beltreis. It was the first marriage amongst the Marys, and consequently attracted considerable attention for months before the celebration. As early as January, Paul de Foix, the French Ambassador, makes allusion to the approaching event: "Elle a commencé à marier ses quatre Maries", he writes to Catharine de' Medici, "et dict qu'elle veult estre de la bande".[82] In a letter, dated the 9th of the same month, Randolph, faithful to his habit of communicating all the gossip of the Court in his reports to England, informs Bedford of the intended marriage: "I learned yesterday that there is a conspiracy here framed against you. The matter is this: the Lord Sempill's son, being an Englishman born, shall be married between this and Shrovetide to the Lord Livingston's sister. The Queen, willing him well, both maketh the marriage and indoweth the parties with land. To do them honour she will have them marry in the Court. The thing intended against your lordship is this, that Sempill himself shall come to Berwicke within these fourteen days, and desire [Pg 51] you to be at the bridal."[83] Writing to Leicester, he repeats his information: "It will not be above 6 or 7 days before the Queen (returning from her progress into Fifeshire) will be in this town. Immediately after that ensueth the great marriage of this happy Englishman that shall marry lovely Livingston."[84] Finally, on the 4th of March, he again writes: "Divers of the noblemen have come to this great marriage, which to-morrow shall be celebrated".[85] Randolph's epistolary garrulity has, in this instance, served one good purpose, of which he probably little dreamt when he filled his correspondence with the small talk of the Court circle. It enables us to refute a calumnious assertion made by John Knox with reference to the marriage of the Queen's maid of honour. "It was weill knawin that schame haistit mariage betwix John Sempill, callit the Danser, and Marie Levingstoune, surnameit the Lustie."[86] Randolph's first letter, showing, as it does, that preparations for the wedding were in progress as early as the beginning of January, summarily dismisses the charge of "haste" in its celebration, whilst, for those who are familiar with the style of the English envoy's correspondence, his very silence will appear the strongest proof that Mary's fair fame was tarnished by no breath of scandal. The birth of her first child in 1566, a fact to which the family records of the house of Sempill bear witness, establishes more irrefutably than any argument the utter falsity of Knox's unscrupulous assertion.

[Pg 52]

John Sempill, whose grace in dancing had acquired for him the surname which seems to have lain so heavily on Knox's conscience, and whose good fortune in finding favour with lovely Mary Livingston called forth Randolph's congratulations, was the eldest son of the third lord, by his second wife Elizabeth Carlyle of Torthorwold. At Court, as may have been gathered from Randolph's letters, he was known as the "Englishman", owing to the fact of his having been born in Newcastle. Although of good family himself, and in high favour at Court, being but a younger son he does not seem to have been considered on all hands as a fitting match for Mary Livingston. This the Queen, of whose making the marriage was, herself confesses in a letter to the Archbishop of Glasgow, reminding him that, "in a country where these formalities were looked to", exception had been taken to the marriage both of Mary and Magdalene Livingston on the score that they had taken as husbands "the younger sons of their peers—les puînés de leurs semblables".[87] Mary Stuart seems to have been above such prejudices, and showed how heartily she approved of the alliance between the two families by her liberality to the bride. Shortly before the marriage she gave her a band covered with pearls, a basquina of grey satin, a mantle of black taffety made in the Spanish fashion [Pg 53] with silver buttons, and also a gown of black taffety. It was she, too, who furnished the bridal dress, which cost £30, as entered in the accounts under date of the 10th of March:—

Item: Ane pund xiii unce of silver to ane gown of Marie Levingstoune's to her mariage, the unce xxv s. Summa xxx li.

The "Inuentair of the Quenis movables quhilkis ar in the handes of Seruais de Condy vallett of chalmer to hir Grace", records, further, that there was "deliueret in Merche 1564, to Johnne Semples wiff, ane bed of scarlett veluot bordit with broderie of black veluot, furnisit with ruif heidpece, thre pandis, twa vnderpandis, thre curtenis of taffetie of the same cullour without freingis. The bed is furnisit with freingis of the same cullour." To make her gift complete, the Queen, as another household document, her wardrobe book, testifies, added the following items:—

Item: Be the said precept to Marie Levingstoun xxxi elnis ii quarters of quhite fustiane to be ane marterass, the eln viii s. Summa xii li xii s.
Item: xvi elnis of cammes to be palzeass, the eln vi s. Summa iiij li xvj s.
Item: For nappes and fedders; v li.
Item: Ane elne of lane; xxx s.
Item: ij unce of silk; xx s.

The wedding for which such elaborate preparation had been made, and for which the Queen herself named the day, took place, in the presence of [Pg 54] the whole Court and all the foreign ambassadors, on Shrove Tuesday, which, as has already been mentioned, was on the 5th of March. In the evening the wedding guests were entertained at a masque, which was supplied by the Queen, but of which we know nothing further than may be gathered from the following entry:—

Item: To the painter for the mask on Fastionis evin to Marie Levingstoun's marriage; xij li.[88]

The marriage contract, which was signed at Edinburgh on the Sunday preceding the wedding, bears the names of the Queen, of John Lord Erskine, Patrick Lord Ruthven, and of Secretary Maitland of Lethington. The bride's dowry consisted of £500 a year in land, the gift of the Queen, to which Lord Livingston added 100 merks a year in land, or 1000 merks in money. As a jointure she received the Barony of Beltreis near Castle Semple, in Renfrewshire, the lands of Auchimanes and Calderhaugh, with the rights of fisheries in the Calder, taxed to the Crown at £18, 16s. 8d. a year.[89]

A few days after the marriage, on the 9th of March, a grant from the Queen to Mary Livingston and John Sempill passed the great seal. In this official document she styles the bride "her familiar servatrice", and the bridegroom "her daily and familiar serviter, during all the youthheid and minority of the said serviters". In recognition of their services both to herself and the Queen Regent, [Pg 55] she infeofs them in her town and lands of Auchtermuchty, part of her royal demesne in Fifeshire, the lands and lordships of Stewarton in Ayr, and the isle of Little Cumbrae in the Firth of Clyde.

After her marriage "Madamoiselle de Semple" was appointed lady of the bedchamber, an office for which she received £200 a year. Her husband also seems to have retained some office which required his personal attendance on the Queen, for we know that both husband and wife were in waiting at Holyrood on the memorable evening of David Rizzio's murder. The shock which this tragic event produced on Mary was very great, and filled her with the darkest forebodings. She more than once expressed her fear that she would not survive her approaching confinement. About the end of May or the beginning of June, shortly before the solemn ceremony of "taking her chamber", she caused an inventory of her personal effects to be drawn up by Mary Livingston and Margaret Carwod, the bedchamber woman in charge of her cabinet, and with her own hand wrote, on the margin opposite to each of the several articles, the name of the person for whom it was intended, in the event of her death and of that of her infant. Mary Livingston's name appears by the side of the following objects in the original document, which was discovered among some unassorted law papers in the Register House, in August, 1854:—

[Pg 56] Quatre vingtz deux esguillettes xliiij petittes de mesme facon esmaillez de blancq. Une brodure du toure contenante xxv pieces esmaille de blanc et noir facon de godrons. Vne brodeure doreillette de pareille facon contenante xxvij pieces esmaillees de blanc et noir. Vne cottouere de semblable facon contenante lx pieces de pareille facon esmaillee de blanc et noir. Vng carcan esmaille de blanc et noir contenant dixsept pieces et a chacune piece y a vng petit pandant. Vne chesne a saindre de semblable facon contenante liiij pieces esmaillees de blanc et noir et vng vaze au bout. Vne corde de coural contenante lxiij pieces faictes en vaze. Vne aultre corde de coural contenante treize grosses pieces aussy en vaze. Vne aultre corde de coural contenante xxxviij pieches plus petittes aussy en vaze. Vng reste de patenostres ou il a neuf meures de perles et des grains dargent entredeux. Vne saincture et cottouere de perles garnie bleu et grains noir faict a roisteau. Item: haill acoustrement of gold of couter carcan and chesne of 66 pyecis.

Only on one occasion after this do we find mention of Mary Livingston in connection with her royal mistress. It is on the day following the Queen's surrender at Carberry, when she was brought back a prisoner to Edinburgh. The scene is described by Du Croc, the French Ambassador. "On the evening of the next day," he writes in the official report forwarded to his court, "at eight o'clock, the Queen was brought back to the castle of Holyrood, escorted by three hundred arquebusiers, the Earl of Morton on the one side, and the Earl of Athole on the other; she was on foot, though two hacks [Pg 57] were led in front of her; she was accompanied at the time by Mademoiselle de Sempel and Seton, with others of her chamber, and was dressed in a night-gown of various colours."[90]

After the Queen's removal from Edinburgh the Sempills also left it to reside sometimes at Beltreis, and sometimes at Auchtermuchty, but chiefly in Paisley, where they built a house which was still to be seen but a few years ago, near what is now the Cross. Their retirement from the capital did not, however, secure for them the quietness which they expected to enjoy. They had stood too high in favour with the captive Queen to be overlooked by her enemies. The Regent Lennox, remembering that Mary Livingston had been entrusted with the care of the royal jewels and wardrobe, accused her of having some of the Queen's effects in her possession. Notwithstanding her denial, her husband was arrested and cast into prison, and she herself brought before the Lords of the Privy Council. Their cross-questioning and brow-beating failed to elicit any information from her, and it was only when Lennox threatened to "put her to the horn", and to inflict the torture of the "boot" on her husband, that she confessed to the possession of "three lang-tailit gowns garnished with fur of martrix and fur of sables". She protested, however, that, as was indeed highly probable, these had been given to her, and were but cast-off garments, of little value or use to anyone. In spite of this, she was[Pg 58] not allowed to depart until she had given surety "that she would compear in the council-chamber on the morrow and surrender the gear".

Lennox's death, which occurred shortly after this, did not put an end to the persecution to which the Sempills were subjected. Morton was as little friendly to them as his predecessor had been. He soon gave proof of this by calling upon John Sempill to leave his family and to proceed to England, as one of the hostages demanded as security for the return of the army and implements of war, sent, under Sir William Drury, to lay siege to Edinburgh Castle.

On his return home, Sempill found new and worse troubles awaiting him. It happened that of the lands conferred upon Mary Livingston on her marriage some portion lay near one of Morton's estates. Not only had the Queen's gift been made by a special grant under the Great and Privy Seals, but the charter of infeofment had also been ratified by a further Act of Parliament in 1567, when it was found that the proposal to annul the forfeiture of George Earl of Huntly would affect it. It seemed difficult, therefore, to find even a legal flaw that would avail to deprive the Sempills of their lands and afford the Regent an opportunity of appropriating them to himself. He was probably too powerful, however, to care greatly for the justice of his plea. He brought the matter before the Court of Session, urging that the gift made by the Queen to Mary Livingston and her husband was null and [Pg 59] void, on the ground that it was illegal to alienate the lands of the Crown. It was in vain that Sempill brought forward the deed of gift under the Great and Privy Seals, the judges would not allow his plea. Thereupon Sempill burst into a violent passion, declaring that if he lost his suit, it would cost him his life as well. Whiteford of Milntoune, a near relative of Sempill's, who was with him at the time, likewise allowed his temper to get the better of his discretion, and exclaimed "that Nero was but a dwarf compared to Morton". This remark, all the more stinging that it was looked upon as a sneer at the Regent's low stature, was never forgiven. Not long after the conclusion of the lawsuit, both Sempill and Whiteford were thrown into prison on a charge "of having conspired against the Regent's life, and of having laid in wait by the Kirk, within the Kirkland of Paisley, to have shot him, in the month of January, 1575, at the instigation of the Lords Claud and John Hamilton". After having been detained in prison till 1577, John Sempill was brought up for trial on this capital charge. His alleged crime being of such a nature that it was probably found impossible to prove it by the testimony of witnesses, he was put to the torture of the boot, with which he had been threatened on a former occasion. By this means sufficient was extorted from him to give at least a semblance of justice to the sentence of death which was passed on him. In consideration of this confession, however, the sentence was not carried out. Ultimately he was set [Pg 60] at liberty and restored to his family. His health had completely broken down under the terrible ordeal through which he had gone, and he only lingered on till the 25th of April, 1579.

Of Mary Livingston's life after the death of her husband but little is known. From an Act of Parliament passed in November, 1581, it appears that tardy justice was done her by James VI, who caused the grants formerly made to "umquhile John Semple, of Butress, and his spouse, to be ratified". Her eldest son, James, was brought up with James VI, and in later life was sent as ambassador to England. He was knighted in 1601. There were three other children—two boys, Arthur and John, and one girl, Dorothie.

The exact date of Mary Livingston's death is not known, but she appears to have been living in 1592.

[Pg 61]


The family to which Mary Beton, or, as she herself signed her name, Marie Bethune, belonged, seems to have been peculiarly devoted to the service of the house of Stuart. Her father, Robert Beton, of Creich, is mentioned amongst the noblemen and gentlemen who sailed from Dumbarton with the infant Queen, in 1548, and who accompanied her in 1561, when she returned to take possession of the Scottish throne. His office was that of one of the Masters of the Household, and, as such, he was in attendance at Holyrood when the murderers of Rizzio burst into the Queen's chamber and stabbed him before her eyes. He also appears under the style of Keeper of the Royal Palace of Falkland, and Steward of the Queen's Rents in Fife. At his death, which occurred in 1567, he recommends his wife and children to the care of the Queen, "that scho be haill mantenare of my hous as my houpe is in hir Maiestie under God". His grandfather, the founder of the house, was comptroller and treasurer to King James IV. His aunt was one of the ladies of the court of King James V, by whom she was the mother of the Countess of Argyll. One of his sisters, the wife of Arthur Forbes of Reres, stood high in favour with Queen [Pg 62] Mary, and was wet-nurse to James VI. His French wife, Jehanne de la Runuelle, and two of his daughters, were ladies of honour.

Of the four Marys, Mary Beton has left least trace in the history of the time. It seems to have been her good fortune to be wholly unconnected with the political events which, in one way or another, dragged her fair colleagues into their vortex, and it may be looked upon as a proof of the happiness of her life, as compared with their eventful careers, that she has but little history.

Though but few materials remain to enable us to reconstruct the story of Mary Beton's life, a fortunate chance gives us the means of judging of the truth of the high-flown compliments paid to her beauty by both Randolph and Buchanan. A portrait of her is still shown at Balfour House, in Fife. It represents, we are told, "a very fair beauty, with dark eyes and yellow hair", and is said to justify all that has been written in praise of her personal charms.[91] The first to fall a victim to these was the English envoy, Randolph. A letter of his to the Earl of Bedford, written in April, 1565, mentions, as an important fact, that Mistress Beton and he had lately played a game at biles against the Queen and Darnley, that they had been successful against their royal opponents, and that Darnley had paid the stakes.[92] In another letter, written to Leicester, he thinks it worthy of special record that for four [Pg 63] days he had sat next her at the Queen's table, at St. Andrews. "I was willed to be at my ordinary table, and being placed the next person, saving worthy Beton, to the Queen herself." Writing to the same nobleman he makes a comparison between her and Mary Fleming, of whom, as we have seen, he had drawn so glowing a description, and declares that, "if Beton had lyked so short a time, so worthie a rowme, Flemyng to her by good right should have given place".[93] Knowing, as we do, from the testimony of other letters, how prone Randolph was to overrate his personal influence, and with what amusing self-conceit he claimed for himself the special favours of the ladies of the Scottish Court, there is every reason to suspect the veracity of the statement contained in the following extract from a letter to Sir Henry Sidney: "I doubt myself whether I be the self-same man that now will be content with the name of your countryman, that have the whole guiding, the giving, and bestowing, not only of the Queen, and her kingdom, but of the most worthy Beton, to be ordered and ruled at mine own will".

Like her colleague, Mary Fleming, "the most worthy Beton" had her hour of mock royalty, as we learn from three sets of verses in which Buchanan extols her beauty, worth, and accomplishments, and which are inscribed: "Ad Mariam Betonam pridie Regalium Reginam sorte ductam". In the first of these, which bears some resemblance to that addressed to Mary Fleming on a similar occasion, he [Pg 64] asserts, with poetical enthusiasm, the mimic sovereign's real claims to the high dignity which Fortune has tardily conferred upon her:—

Princely in mind and virtue, and so fair, You've long seemed fit a diadem to wear; And Fortune, blushing to have stood aloof, Now lavishes her gifts to your behoof; Deeming atonement for her tardiness Demands in justice she should do no less, She brings the Queen whom all the rest obey A willing subject to your sovereign sway.

In his next effusion the poet rises to a more passionate height in his admiration. It is such as we might imagine Randolph to have penned in his enthusiasm, could we, by any flight of fancy, suppose him capable of such scholarly verses as those of Buchanan:—

Should I rejoice, or should my heart despair, That Beton's yoke the Fates have made me bear? O, Comeliness, what need have I of thee, When hope of mutual love is dead for me? For favours such as these, in life's young day, E'en life had seemed no heavy price to pay; And though my earthly bliss had been but brief, Its fulness would have soothed my dying grief; Now, ling'ring fires consume; I lack life's joy, And death would bring me comfort, not annoy; In life, in death, be this my comfort still, That life and death are at my Lady's will.

[Pg 65] The third epigram is more particularly interesting, as bearing reference, we think, to Mary Beton's literary tastes:—

Beneath cold Winter's blast the fields are bare, Nor yield a posy for my Lady fair; E'en so my Muse, luxuriant in her prime, Has felt the chill and numbing grip of time; Could lovely Beton's spirit but inspire, 'Twere Spring again, with all its life and fire.

The will drawn up by Mary Stuart, in 1556, which, it is true, never took effect, seems to point to Mary Beton as the most scholarly amongst the maids of honour. It is to her that the French, English, and Italian books in the royal collection are bequeathed; the classical authors being reserved for the University of St. Andrews, where they were intended to form the nucleus of a library: "Je laysse mes liuures qui y sont en Grec ou Latin à l'université de Sintandre, pour y commencer une bible. Les aultres ie les laysse à Beton."[94]

This is further borne out by the fact that, many years later, William Fowler, secretary to Queen Anne of Denmark, wife of James VI, dedicated his "Lamentatioun of the desolat Olympia, furth of the tenth cantt of Ariosto" "to the right honourable ladye Marye Betoun, Ladye Boine". Of the literary accomplishments which may fairly be inferred from these circumstances, we have, however, no further proof. Nothing of Mary Beton's has come down to us, except a letter, addressed by [Pg 66] her in June, 1563, to the wife of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, whose acquaintance she may have made either in France or in Scotland, Sir Nicholas having been English Ambassador in both countries. In this short document the writer acknowledges the receipt of a ring, assures the giver that she will endeavour to return her love by making her commendations to the Queen, and begs her acceptance in return, and as a token of their good love and amity, of a little ring which she has been accustomed to wear daily.[95]

In the month of May, 1566, Mary Beton married Alexander Ogilvie, of Boyne. But little is known of this marriage beyond the fact that the Queen named the day, and beyond such circumstances of a purely legal and technical nature as may be gathered from the marriage contract, which is still extant, and has been published in the Miscellany of the Maitland Club. It sets forth that the bride was to have a dowry from her father of 3000 merks, and a jointure from her husband of lands yielding 150 merks and 30 chalders of grain yearly. This legal document derives its chief interest from bringing together in a friendly transaction persons who played important and hostile parts in the most interesting period of Scottish history. It bears the signatures of the Queen and Henry Darnley, together with those of the Earls of Huntly, Argyll, Bothwell, Murray, and Atholl, as cautioners for the bridegroom, that of Alexander Ogilvie himself, who [Pg 67] subscribes his territorial style of "Boyne" and that of "Marie Bethune". The signature of the bride's father, and that of Michael Balfour, of Burleigh, his cautioner for payment of his daughter's tocher, are wanting.

It would appear that Mary Beton, or, as she was usually called after her marriage, "the Lady Boyn", or "Madame de Boyn", did not immediately retire from the Court. In what capacity, however, she kept up her connection with it, cannot be ascertained. All that we have been able to discover is that after her marriage she received several gifts of ornaments and robes from the Queen. Amongst the latter we notice a dress which was scarcely calculated to suit the fair beauty: "Une robbe de satin jeaulne dore toute goffree faicte a manches longues toute chamaree de bisette d'argent bordee dung passement geaulne goffre d'argent!"[96]

Both Mary Beton and Alexander Ogilvie are said to have been living as late as 1606. All that is known as to the date of her death is that it occurred before that of her husband, who, in his old age, married the divorced wife of Bothwell, the Countess Dowager of Sutherland.

It is interesting to note the contrast between the comparatively uneventful reality of Mary Beton's life and the romantic career assigned to her in one of the best-known works of fiction that introduces her in connection with her royal and ill-fated mistress. In Mr. Swinburne's Mary Stuart, the catastrophe is [Pg 68] brought about by Mary Beton. For some score of years, from that day forth when she beheld the execution of him on whom she is supposed to have bestowed her unrequited love, of the chivalrous, impetuous Chastelard, when her eyes "beheld fall the most faithful head in all the world", Mary Beton, "dumb as death", has been waiting for the expiation, waiting

Even with long suffering eagerness of heart And a most hungry patience.

It is by her action in forwarding to Elizabeth the letter in which Mary Stuart summed up all the charges brought against her rival, that the royal captive's doom is hastened, that Chastelard's death is avenged. It would be the height of hypercritical absurdity to find fault with the poet for the use which he has made of a character which can scarcely be called historical. Nevertheless, as it is often from fiction alone that we gather our knowledge of the minor characters of history—of those upon which more serious records, engrossed with the jealousies of crowned heads, with the intrigues of diplomatists and the wrangles of theologians, have no attention to bestow—it does not seem altogether useless at least to point out how little resemblance there is between the Mary Beton of real life and the Nemesis of the drama.

[Pg 69]


"The secund wyf of the said Lord George (Marie Pieris, ane Frenche woman, quha come in Scotland with Quene Marie, dochter to the Duik of Gweis) bair to him tua sonnis and ane dochter ... the dochter Marie." This extract from Sir Richard Maitland's History of the House of Seton gives us the parentage of the fourth of the Maries.[97] She was the daughter of a house in which loyalty and devotion to the Stuarts was traditional. In the darkest pages of their history the name of the Setons is always found amongst those of the few faithful friends whom danger could not frighten nor promises tempt from their allegiance. In this respect Mary Seton's French mother was worthy of the family into which she was received. At the death of Marie de Guise, Dame Pieris transferred not only her services, but her love also, to the infant Queen, and stood by her with blind devotion under some of the most trying circumstances of her short career as reigning sovereign. The deposition of French Paris gives us a glimpse of her, attending on Mary and conferring secretly with Bothwell on the morning after the King's murder. At a later [Pg 70] date we find her conspiring with the Queen's friends at what was known as the council "of the witches of Atholl", and subsequently imprisoned, with her son, for having too freely expressed her loyalty to her mistress.[98] We may, therefore, almost look upon it as the natural result of Mary Seton's training, and of her family associations, that she is pre-eminently the Queen's companion in adversity. It seems characteristic of this that no individual mention occurs of her as bearing any part in the festivities of the Court, or sharing her mistress's amusements. Her first appearance coincides with the last appearance of Mary Livingston in connection with Mary Stuart. When the Queen, after her surrender at Carberry, was ignominiously dragged in her nightdress through the streets of her capital, her faltering steps were supported by Mary Livingston and Mary Seton. At Lochleven, Mary Seton, still in attendance on her mistress, bore an important part in her memorable flight, a part more dangerous, perhaps, than Jane Kennedy's traditional leap from the window, for it consisted in personating the Queen within the castle, whilst the flight was taking place, and left her at the mercy of the disappointed jailers when faithful Willie Douglas had brought it to a successful issue.[99] How she fared at this critical moment, or how she herself contrived to regain her liberty, is not recorded; but it is certain that before long she had resumed her honourable but [Pg 71] perilous place by the side of her royal mistress. It is scarcely open to doubt that the one maid of honour who stood with the Queen on the eminence whence she beheld the fatal battle of Langside was the faithful Mary Seton.

Although, so far as we have been able to ascertain, Mary Seton's name does not occur amongst those of the faithful few who fled with the Queen from the field of Langside to Sanquhar and Dundrennan, and although the latter actually states in the letter which she wrote to the Cardinal de Lorraine, on the 21st of June, that for three nights after the battle she had fled across country, without being accompanied by any female attendant, we need have no hesitation in stating that Mary Seton must have been amongst the eighteen who, when the infatuated Mary resolved on trusting herself to the protection of Elizabeth, embarked with her in a fishing smack at Dundrennan, and landed at Workington. A letter written by Sir Francis Knollys to Cecil, on the 28th of June, makes particular mention of Mary Seton as one of the waiting-women in attendance on the Queen, adding further particulars which clearly point to the fact that she had been so for at least several days:— [Pg 72]

Now here are six waiting-women, although none of reputation, but Mistress Mary Seton, who is praised by this Queen to be the finest busker, that is to say, the finest dresser of a woman's head of hair, that is to be seen in any country whereof we have seen divers experiences, since her coming hither. And, among other pretty devices, yesterday and this day, she did set such a curled hair upon the Queen, that was said to be a perewyke, that showed very delicately. And every other day she hath a new device of head-dressing, without any cost, and yet setteth forth a woman gaylie well.[100]

For the next nine years Mary Seton disappears almost entirely in the monotony of her self-imposed exile and captivity. A casual reference to her, from time to time, in the Queen's correspondence, is the only sign we have of her existence. Thus, in a letter written from Chatsworth, in 1570, to the Archbishop of Glasgow, to inform him of the death of his brother, John Beton, laird of Creich, and to request him to send over Andrew Beton to act as Master of the Household, Mary Stuart incidentally mentions her maid of honour in terms which, however, convey but little information concerning her, beyond that of her continued devotion to her mistress and her affection for her mistress's friends. "Vous avez une amye en Seton," so the Queen writes, "qui sera aussi satisfayte, en votre absence, de vous servir de bonne amye que parente ou aultre que puissiez avoir aupres de moy, pour l'affection qu'elle porte à tous ceulx qu'elle connait m'avoyr esté fidéles serviteurs."

The royal prisoner's correspondence for the year 1574 gives us another glimpse of her faithful attendant, "qui tous les jours me fayct service tres agreable," and for whom the Archbishop is requested to send over from Paris a watch and alarum. "La monstre que je demande est pour Seton. Si n'en [Pg 73] pouvez trouver une faite, faites la faire, simple et juste, suyvant mon premier mémoyre, avec le reveil-matin à part."[101]

Three years must again elapse before Mary Seton's next appearance. On this occasion, however, in 1577, she assumes special importance, and figures as the chief character in a romantic little drama which Mary Stuart herself has sketched for us in two letters written from her prison in Sheffield to Archbishop Beton.

It will be remembered that when, in 1570, death deprived Queen Mary of the services of John Beton, her Master of the Household, she requested that his younger brother should be sent over from Paris to supply his place. In due time Andrew Beton appeared at Sheffield and entered upon his honourable but profitless duties. He was necessarily brought into daily contact with Mary Seton, for whom he soon formed a strong affection, and whom he sought in marriage. The maid of honour, a daughter of the proud house of Winton, does not appear to have felt flattered by the attentions of Beton, who, though, "de fort bonne maison", according to Brantôme,[102] was but the younger son of a younger son. Despairing of success on his own merits, Andrew Beton at last wrote to his brother, the Archbishop, requesting him to engage their royal mistress's influence in furtherance of his suit. The Queen, with whom, as we know, match-making was an amiable weakness, [Pg 74] accepted the part offered her, and the result of her negotiations is best explained by her own letter to the Archbishop:—

According to the promise conveyed to you in my last letter, I have, on three several occasions, spoken to my maid. After raising several objections based on the respect due to the honour of her house—according to the custom of my country—but more particularly on the vow which she alleges, and which she maintains, can neither licitly nor honourably be broken, she has at last yielded to my remonstrances and earnest persuasions, and dutifully submitted to my commands, as being those of a good mistress and of one who stands to her in the place of a mother, trusting that I shall have due consideration both for her reputation and for the confidence which she has placed in me. Therefore, being anxious to gratify you in so good an object, I have taken it upon myself to obtain for her a dispensation from her alleged vow, which I hold to be null. If the opinion of theologians should prove to coincide with mine in this matter, it shall be my care to see to the rest. In doing so, however, I shall change characters, for, as she has confidently placed herself in my hands, I shall have to represent not your interests, but hers. Now, as regards the first point, our man, whom I called into our presence, volunteered a little rashly, considering the difficulties which will arise, to undertake the journey himself, to bring back the dispensation, after having consulted with you as to the proper steps to be taken, and to be with us again within three months, bringing you with him. I shall request a passport for him; do you, on your part, use your best endeavours for him; they will be needed, considering the circumstances under which I am placed. Furthermore, it will be necessary to write to the damsel's brother, to know how far he thinks I may go without appearing to give too little weight to the difference of degree and title.[103]

[Pg 75] After having penned this interesting and well-meaning epistle, the Queen communicated it to Mary Seton, to whom, however, it did not appear a fair statement of the case, and for whose satisfaction a postscript was added:—

I have shown the above to the maiden, and she accuses me of over-partiality in this, that for shortness' sake, I have omitted some of the circumstances of her dutiful submission to me, in making which she still entertained a hope that some regard should be had for her vow, even though it prove to be null, and that her inclination should also be consulted, which has long been, and more especially since our captivity, rather in favour of remaining in her present state than of entering that of marriage. I have promised her to set this before you, and to give it, myself, that consideration which is due to her confidence in me. Furthermore, I have assured her that, should I be led to persuade her to enter into that state which is least agreeable to her, it would only be because my conscience told me that it was the better for her, and that there was no danger of the least blame being attached to her. She makes a great point of the disparity of rank and titles, and mentions in support of this that she heard fault found with the marriage of the sisters Livingston, merely for having wedded the younger sons of their peers, and she fears that, in a country where such formalities are observed, her own friends may have a similar opinion of her. But, as the Queen of both of them, I have undertaken to assume the whole responsibility, and to do all that my present circumstances will allow, to make matters smooth. You need, therefore, take no further trouble about this, beyond getting her brother to let us know his candid opinion.

[Pg 76] With his mistress's good wishes, and with innumerable commissions from her ladies, Andrew Beton set out on his mission. Whether the dispensation was less easy to obtain than he at first fancied, or whether other circumstances, perhaps of a political nature, arose to delay him, twice the three months within which he had undertaken to return to Sheffield had elapsed before information of his homeward journey was received. He had been successful in obtaining a theological opinion favourable to his suit, but it appeared that Mary Seton's objections to matrimony were not to be removed with her vow. This seems to be the meaning of a letter written to Beton by Mary Stuart, in which, after telling him that she will postpone the discussion of his affairs till his return, she pointedly adds that Mary Seton's letters to him must have sufficiently informed him as to her decision, and that she herself, though willing to help him by showing her hearty approval of the match, could give no actual commands in the matter. A similar letter to the Archbishop seems to point to a belief on Mary's part that, in spite of the dispensation, the match would never be concluded, and that Beton would meet with a bitter disappointment on his return to Sheffield. It was destined, however, that he should never again behold either his royal lady or her for whom he had undertaken the journey. He died on his way homewards; but [Pg 77] we have no knowledge where or under what circumstances. The first intimation of the event is contained, as are, indeed, most of the details belonging to this period, in the Queen's correspondence. In a letter bearing the date of the 5th of November she expresses to the Archbishop her regret at the failure of her project to unite the Betons and the Setons, as well as at the personal loss she had sustained by the death of a faithful subject and servant.[104]

With this episode our knowledge of Mary Seton's history is nearly exhausted. There is no further reference to her in the correspondence of the next six years, during which she continued to share her Queen's captivity. About the year 1583, when her own health had broken down under the hardships to which she was subjected in the various prisons to which she followed Mary Stuart, she begged and obtained permission to retire to France. The remainder of her life was spent in the seclusion of the abbey of St. Peter's, at Rheims, over which Renée de Lorraine, the Queen's maternal aunt, presided.

The last memorial which we have of Mary Seton is a touching proof of the affection which she still bore her hapless Queen, and of the interest with which, from her convent cell, she still followed the course of events. It is a letter, written in October, 1586, to Courcelles, the new French Ambassador at Holyrood; it refers to her long absence from Scotland, and concludes with an expression of regret at [Pg 78] the fresh troubles which had befallen the captive Queen.

I cannot conclude without telling you the extreme pain and anxiety I feel at the distressing news which has been reported here, that some new trouble has befallen the Queen, my mistress. Time will not permit me to tell you more.[105]

It may be supposed that what the faithful maid of honour had heard was connected with Babington's conspiracy and its fateful failure.


[Pg 79]


An Undetected Forgery

Those who are acquainted with Brantôme's delightful collection of biographical sketches of Illustrious Ladies, will remember that one of the most noteworthy of them is devoted to Marie Stuart. In it, amongst many other interesting details, he states that the Queen used to compose verses, and that he had seen some "that were fine and well done, and in no wise similar to those which have been laid to her account, on the subject of her love for the Earl of Bothwell, and which are too coarse and ill-polished to have been of her making". In another passage he says that Mary "made a song herself upon her sorrows"; and he quotes it.[106] For close on two centuries and a half the "Chanson de Marie Stuart", as given by him, has been reproduced in biographies of the Queen of Scots, and has found its way into numberless albums and anthologies. That it should have been accepted without hesitation on Brantôme's authority is hardly surprising. Of those who have written from personal acquaintance with Mary, few were in a better position than was the French chronicler to know the truth about [Pg 80] her. He remembered her from her very childhood. He was familiar with all the circumstances of her training and education at Saint-Germain. He had witnessed the precocious development of the talents which excited the admiration of the courtiers that gathered about Henry II and Catharine de' Medici. He did not lose sight of her when, at a later date, her marriage with the heir to the crown of France gave her a household of her own in the stately residence of Villers-Côterets. He witnessed the enthusiasm which greeted her as Queen-Consort, as well as the deep and universal sympathy which her early bereavement called forth; and when the "White Queen", the dowager of seventeen, left the country of her affection to undertake the heavy task of governing her northern kingdom, he was amongst those who accompanied her on her fateful journey. In the circumstances, it did not occur, even to those who, knowing Brantôme's character, might feel that much allowance was to be made for the conventional enthusiasm of the courtier, to suspect that any of his statements concerning Mary Stuart was to be rejected as wholly devoid of foundation. And yet, we are in a position to prove that, in one instance, he asserted what he knew to be false; and we shall follow that up by producing the strongest evidence in support of the further charge that he was guilty of a literary forgery.

In his sketch of Mary Stuart, Brantôme does not place her "Song" where it would most naturally be looked for, that is, immediately after the passage [Pg 81] in which he refers to her poetical talent. He introduces it clumsily, and in a way which, though perhaps not sufficient of itself to justify suspicion, is, at least, calculated to strengthen it when once it has been aroused. He begins by giving a description of the Queen, as she appeared in her white widow's weeds. "It was", he says, "a beautiful sight to see her, for the whiteness of her face vied for pre-eminence with the whiteness of her veil. But, in the end, it was the artificial whiteness of her veil that had to yield, and the snow of her fair complexion effaced the other. And so there was written at Court a song about her in her mourning garments. It was thus:" and here the anonymous poem is quoted. It consists of two stanzas, each containing six short lines. They depict the Goddess of Beauty, attired in white, wandering about, with the shaft of her inhuman son in her hand, whilst Cupid himself is fluttering over her, with the bandage, which he has removed from his eyes, doing duty as a funereal veil on which are inscribed the words: "Mourir ou estre pris". These verses, in which it is difficult to discover any special application to the widowed Queen, are followed, though not immediately, by a reference to her bereavement: "Hers was a happiness of short duration, and one which evil fortune might well have respected on this occasion; but, spiteful as she is, she would not be deterred from thus cruelly treating the Princess, who herself composed the following song on her loss and affliction". The poem thus attributed to Mary is [Pg 82] then brought in. It consists of the eleven well-known stanzas, and begins with the line "En mon triste et doux chant"—"In my sad and sweet strains". Nobody ever thought of questioning its genuineness. The obviously fragmentary nature of the first poem, and the similarity of rhythm and metre in both did not suggest the possibility of a connection between them. Nor did it appear to be incongruous and in bad taste that, if the Queen undertook to write her own elegy, she should begin by praising its sweetness. A comparatively recent discovery, however, has placed it beyond doubt that Brantôme wittingly foisted on his readers verses which he very well knew had not been written by Mary Stuart.

Some years ago, whilst hunting through the dusty shelves of an old bookshop at Périgueux, Dr. E. Galy chanced upon a manuscript collection of poems of the sixteenth century. The gilt-edged and leather-bound folio was found to consist of two distinct parts. The first contained, together with a few anonymous poems, extracts from the works of Clément Marot, Pierre de Ronsard, and other writers of the period. The second, and, from the literary point of view, more interesting section was made up of a number of poems, chiefly sonnets, composed by Brantôme, and bearing the general title: Recueil d'aulcunes rymes de mes Jeunes Amours que j'ay d'aultres fois composées telles quelles, that is, "Collection of Certain Rhymes of my early loves, which I formerly composed, such as they are". [Pg 83] This portion of the manuscript was published for private circulation, by the fortunate finder, to whose kindness we were indebted for a copy of the first edition of the hitherto unsuspected poetical works of Pierre de Bourdeille, Lord Abbot of Brantôme, Baron of Richemont.[107]

In the first division of the collection a very interesting discovery was made. It was found to contain both the anonymous "Song" composed "at Court", in honour of Mary Stuart, and the "Song" attributed to the Queen herself. The two poems, it was now seen, were not originally distinct, the anonymous verses being merely an introduction to the longer "Song", and joined to it by three stanzas, which are neither quoted nor alluded to in Brantôme's sketch of Mary. In its new form, and as it was published in a very limited edition of one hundred copies by Dr. Galy, the Chanson pour la Royne d'Ecosse portant le dueil,[108] is by no means a masterpiece. It has, however, the merit of composing an harmonious whole. The "Complaint" is preceded by an introduction which, both as regards its length and the train of thought running through it, is not out of keeping with the subject. It is followed by a concluding stanza, which, though not absolutely necessary, gives fullness and completeness to the picture called up by the elegy. One advantage which the new version of the longer song possesses over the old is the modification of the first jarring line. "En mon triste et doux chant," becomes [Pg 84] "J'oy son triste et doux chant," that is, "I hear her sad and sweet strains". This reading adapts itself to the context, and connects the descriptive stanzas with those of the lament in a simple and natural manner.

As Dr. Galy pointed out, the new version of the "Song", to which, it should be stated, no author's name is attached, established, on the authority of Brantôme himself, that he had attributed to Mary Stuart verses which he knew were not hers. It did not, however, afford any clue to the real authorship, and the possibility that the whole poem was of Brantôme's own composition does not seem to have occurred to Dr. Galy. That such is the case is our firm belief. A careful comparison of the anonymous "Chanson" with the various poems avowedly by Brantôme has revealed such similarity, not only of thought and imagery, but even of expression, as convinces us that nobody but himself can be the author of The Song of Mary Stuart.

The 102nd sonnet in Brantôme's collection is one which he addressed to Mlle de Limeuil. Not only is the whole tone of it strikingly similar to that of the "Song", but it contains passages which cannot be explained away on the assumption of mere chance resemblance. Thus, in the thirteenth stanza of the "Song", Mary is represented as seeing her husband if she happens to look into the water: "Soudain le voy en l'eau". In the sonnet, Brantôme says; "Soudain il m'advise qu'en l'eau je voy Limeuil". In the first part of the same stanza, the mourning [Pg 85] Queen is supposed to behold in the clouds the features of her lost husband. The same idea, expressed in similar language, and with precisely the same rhymes, occurs in some stanzas which Brantôme addressed to a lady "Sur un ennuy qui luy survint". The main idea of the "Song"—that of the sorrowing lady followed by the image of her lost love, wherever she may wander—recurs repeatedly in the sonnets, of which, indeed, several may, without exaggeration, be described as mere expansions of some of the lines in the "Song". Altogether, we have noted distinct parallelisms to five of the stanzas in the alleged "Chanson". When it is remembered that, as Brantôme gives it, it consists of no more than eleven stanzas, the proportion must appear striking. In addition to this, it must also be noted that, in the eleven stanzas of the lament itself, there are a number of variants—we have counted nine altogether—which, not being attributable to inaccurate copying, or necessary for mere adaptation, testify to a deliberate revision, hardly likely to have been the work of anyone but the original author. In the face of such evidence it seems to us that no alternative is left, and that we must place Brantôme on the same level as Meunier de Querlon, who published the once popular song, "Adieu, plaisant pays de France," and attributed it to Mary Stuart, though he was himself the author of it. Indeed, of the two, Brantôme is the less excusable; for, in his case, it cannot be pleaded as an extenuating circumstance, as it can [Pg 86] in that of de Querlon, that he subsequently acknowledged his "mystification". In any case, there seems to be no reasonable doubt that we must diminish by one the number of poems hitherto believed to have been written by Mary Stuart.

Though the "Song" can no longer claim the authorship of Mary Stuart, it still retains some interest by reason of its strange story. To the best of our knowledge, the original and complete poem, of which, as we have stated, only 100 copies were published in France, for private circulation, has never been reproduced in this country. We therefore append it.



Je voy, sous blanc atour, En grand dueil et tristesse, Se pourmener maint tour De beauté la Déesse; Tenant le traict en main De son filz inhumain.
Et Amour, sans fronteau. Vollette à l'entour d'elle, Desguisant son bandeau En un funébre voelle Où sont ces mots escrits: "Mourir ou estre pris".
[Pg 87] III
Deux arcs victorieux Je voy sous blanche toyle, Et sous chacun d'iceux Une plus claire estoille Qu'au plus net et pur aër Du ciel l'astre plus clair.
Et du haut d'un rocher, Je voy singlant maint voile D'un fanal s'approcher, Dont la clarté est telle Que sans elle tous lieux Me semblent ténébreux.
Je voy, d'ordre marchant, Une troupe dolente Peu à peu s'approchant D'une Dame excellente, Qui de piteuse voix Fait retentir un bois.
J'oy son triste et doux chant, Qui, d'un ton lamentable, Jette un regret trenchant De perte incomparable, Et, en souspirs cuisants Passe ses meilleurs ans.
[Pg 88] VII
"Fut-il de tel malheur De dure destinée, Ne si juste douleur De Dame fortunée, Qui mon cœur et mon œil Voy en biére et cercueil!
"Qui, en mon doux printemps Et fleur de ma jeunesse, Toutes les peines sens D'une extrême tristesse, Et en rien n'ay plaisir Qu'en regret et désir.
"Ce qui m'estoit plaisant Ores m'est peine dure, Le jour le plus luisant M'est nuit noire et obscure, Et n'est rien si exquis. Qui de moi soit requis.
"J'ay au cœur et en l'œil Un portraict et image Qui figure mon dueil En mon pasle visage De violettes teint, Qui est l'amoureux teint.
[Pg 89] XI
"Pour mon mal estranger Je ne m'arreste en place, Mais j'ai beau lieu changer Si ma douleur j'efface, Car mon pis et mon mieux Sont les plus déserts lieux.
"Si en quelque séjour Suis, en bois ou en prée Soit sur l'aube du jour Ou soit sur la vesprée, Sans cesse mon cœur sent Le regret d'un absent.
"Si parfois vers les cieux Viens à dresser ma veüe, Le doux traict de ses yeux Je voy en une nue; Soudain le voy en l'eau Comme dans une tombeau.
"Si je suis en repos, Sommeillant sur ma couche, J'oy qu'il me tient propos, Je le sens qui me touche; En labeur ou requoy Toujours est prés de moi.
[Pg 90] XV
"Je ne voy autre object Pour beau qu'il se présente; A qui que soit subject Oncques mon cœur consente, Exempt de perfection A ceste affection.
"Mets, chanson, icy frain A si triste complainte, Dont sera le refrain: 'Amour vraye et non faincte Pour séparation N'a diminution'."
Tel estoit le doux chant De Dame souveraine, Qui, mon cœur arrachant D'une fuite soudaine, Me donna en ce lieu Coup mortel d'un Adieu.

We recall that the stanzas which we have numbered I and II constitute the Song which, according to Brantôme, was composed "at Court"; and that those from VI to XVI, inclusively, are, with an alteration of the first line, and some slight variations elsewhere, what he called the Song of Mary Stuart herself. The title, the three connecting stanzas III-V, and also the last, XVII, were discovered in the Périgueux manuscript


[Pg 91]



  - letters with macrons over them are shown as "y¯"
  - the letters vr with a tilde over them are shown as "vr~"


A Suppressed Satire

About the middle of May, 1566, Robert Melvill was dispatched by Mary, Queen of Scots, as a special envoy to the English Court. The ostensible purpose of his mission was to request Queen Elizabeth to stand godmother to the royal infant whose birth was shortly expected.[109] And it was, indeed, with this object that his journey had, in the first instance, been resolved upon. But, three or four days before the time originally fixed for his departure,[110] he had been hastily summoned to Holyrood and ordered to set out at once, and with all speed, on an errand of a very different kind. According to the tenor of his later instructions, he was the bearer not of a friendly message from Mary Stuart to her loving cousin, but of a bitter complaint from the Queen of Scotland to the English sovereign. Mary had been informed by one of her agents at Berwick that "there was a booke wrytten agaynst her, of her lyf and govermente".[111] [Pg 92] Though possessing no actual knowledge of the contents of the obnoxious libel and acquainted with its general tone and purport only, she had "taken it so grevouslye as nothy¯ge of longe time had come so near her hearte".[112] Not only did she resent the insult as a sovereign, but she also felt the outrage as a woman, and expressed her fear lest, having come to her so suddenly and at so critical a time, the unwelcome intelligence "sholde breed daynger to her byrthe or hurte to her selfe".[113] And Melvill had been hurried off to London to inform Elizabeth of the crime committed by one of her subjects, "that in tyme this worke mighte be suppressed and",[114] more important still, "condign punishment taken upon the wryter"; for by this means alone, the indignant Queen declared, could it be made apparent that he was not "mayntayned against her, not only by advise and counsell to move her subiects agaynste her, but also by defamations and falce reports mayke her odious to the werlde".[115]

The work at which such grievous offence had been taken was entitled Maister Randolphe's Fantasie, and the informant who had given Mary notice of its publication had also assured her that it was in reality what it purported to be, the production of the agent who, till within a short time previously, had represented England at the Scottish Court. She accepted the charge without question and without doubt. In her mind Thomas Randolph was associated [Pg 93] with all the intrigues which had culminated in the open defection and organized opposition of the most powerful of her nobles, and she felt conscious of having treated him with a harshness calculated to add an ardent desire for revenge to the malevolent intentions by which she believed him to be actuated. During the last six months of his residence in Edinburgh he had been subjected to a series of petty vexations, of personal attacks and of open accusations, which even his avowed partisanship could not justify, and which were not less discreditable to the instigators of them than insulting to the sovereign whom he represented. On the formation of the league to which Mary's marriage with Darnley had given rise he had been threatened with punishment "for practising with the Queen's rebels".[116] Mary herself had shown her displeasure in so marked a manner that Randolph had sent to England a formal complaint of the difficulties thrown into his way by her refusal to give him access to her presence, even on official business.[117] When at last she did grant him an audience, it was not for purposes of political negotiation, but solely to upbraid him "for his many evil offices" towards her.[118] The dread of immediate imprisonment,[119] and the personal violence to which he was actually subjected,[120] had rendered his position so intolerable that he petitioned [Pg 94] for permission to retire to Berwick.[121] His request was denied him; but the consequences of the refusal soon showed how ill-advised had been the action of those who had insisted upon his continuance in functions for which he now lacked the essential conditions of favour and security. In the beginning of the following year he was summoned before the Queen in Council, and publicly accused of abetting the Earl of Murray in his treasonable designs, and supplying him with funds to carry them out.[122] In spite of his direct and explicit denial of a charge which was in reality without foundation, he was ignominiously ordered to leave the country.[123] Anxious as he had been to be relieved from duties which had become as dangerous as they were difficult, Randolph nevertheless refused to obey. He appealed from Mary and her Lords to Elizabeth, to the sovereign to whom he owed his allegiance, and was answerable for his conduct, by whose favour he had been appointed to a position of confidence and honour, and at whose command alone he would consent to surrender his trust. On hearing the slight which had been put upon her accredited representative, the Queen of England took up his cause with characteristic promptitude and energy. She at once dispatched a letter to the Queen of Scots complaining "of her strange and uncourteous treatment of Mr. Randolph",[124] [Pg 95] and informing her that his departure from Edinburgh would be the signal for the dismissal of the Scottish agent from the English Court. In spite of Elizabeth's remonstrances, and in the face of a threat which was so far from being idly meant that it was peremptorily carried out less than a fortnight later,[125] Randolph's expulsion was insisted upon. After having twice again received orders from the Lords,[126] he at length yielded to necessity and retired across the Border to Berwick.

That Randolph, smarting under such treatment, should have made use of his enforced leisure and of the knowledge which he had had special opportunities for acquiring to write a book by which he hoped to injure her cause and tarnish her reputation, doubtless seemed to Mary to be so natural that she deemed it unnecessary to institute further enquiries into the truth of the charge brought against him. His guilt was assumed as soon as the accusation was made, and, by a singular coincidence, if, indeed, it was not of set purpose, the same Minister whose dismissal had followed his own disgrace was sent back to Elizabeth to demand his punishment.

Randolph's reply was not delayed. He was at Berwick when Melvill passed through it on his way to London, and learnt directly from his own lips all the particulars of the alleged libel, of the Queen's anger, and of her determination to bring down [Pg 96] exemplary chastisement upon the offender's head. At once availing himself of the advantage which this early information afforded him, he drew up an emphatic and indignant denial of the whole indictment and a firm vindication of his conduct at the Scottish Court. He wrote with a manly frankness and dignity which are not always characteristic of his correspondence, adding considerable weight to his solemn protestations of innocence by the candid avowal of the suspicion with which he viewed the Queen's policy, and to which he had more than once given expression in his official communications to the home Government. "I coulde hardelye have beleved,"[127] he said, "that anye suche reporte coulde have come owte of this towne to that Q: or that her g. wolde upon so slender information so suddaynlie agayne gyve credit to anye such report, in specaill that she wolde so hastelye wthowte farther assurance thus grevouslye accuse me to my Soveraign. The reme¯brance hereof hathe some what greved me, but beinge so well hable to purge my selfe of anye suche crime, and knowinge before whom I shal be accused and hearde, with suche indifferencie as I neade not to dowte of any partialitie, and pardoned to stond stiflye in defence of my honestie, I condene my selfe that I sholde tayke anye such care as almoste to pass what is sayde of me by suche, as throughe blamynge of me wolde culler suche Iniuries as I have knowne and daylye see done to my mestres, to my Soveraign and Countrie, [Pg 97] to wch I am borne, wch I will serve wth boddie and lyf trewlye, and carles what becom¯ethe of me, more desierus to leave behynde me the name of a trewe servante then to possesse greate wealthe. I, therfore, in the presence of God and by my allegens to my Soveraign, affirme trewlye and advisedlye, that I never wrote booke agaynste her, or gave my consent or advise to anye that ever was wrytten, nor at this hower do knowe of anye that ever was set forthe to her defamation or dyshonour, or yet ever lyked of anye suche that ever dyd the lyke. And that this is trewe, yt shalbe mayntayned and defended as becom¯ethe one that oughte to have greater regarde of his honestie and trothe then he doth regarde what becom¯ethe of his lyf. I knowe that vnto your h: I have wrytten divers times maynie thynges straynge to be hearde of in a princesse that boore so greate a brute and fame of honour and vertu, as longe tyme she dyd. I confesse a mislykinge of her doings towards my mestres. I feared ever that wch still I stonde in dowte of, les over myche credit sholde be given whear lyttle is mente that is spoken. I wolde not that anye waye my mestres sholde be abused, wch made me wryte in greater vehemencie and more ernestlye then in matters of les consequence; but yf yt be ever provyd that I ever falcelye imagined anye thinge agaynste her, or untrewlye reported yt wch I have hearde willinglye, or dyd reveele that wch I do knowe to anye man, savinge to suche as I am bounde ether for deuties sake, or by comandemente, [Pg 98] I am contente to tayke this crime upon me, and to be defamed for a villayne, never to be better thought of then as mover of sedition and breeder of dyscorde betwene princes, as her g: hathe termed me. Of that wch I have wrytten to yor h: I am sure ther is nothynge come to her eares; wch was so farre from my mynde to put in a booke, that I have byne maynie tymes sorrie to wryte yt vnto yor h: from whome I knowe that I ought to keape nothynge whearby the Q. Matie myght vnderstonde this Q: state, or be assured what is her mynde towards her. Yf in this accusation I be founde giltles bothe in deade and thoughte (thoughe more be to be desyered of a gentleman that livethe onlye by the princes credit, and seekethe no other estimation then is wone by faythefull and trewe service) yet I will fynde my selfe satisfied, myche honered by the Q. Matie and bounde vnto yr h: that such triall maye be had of this matter that yt maye be knowne wch way and by whome in this towne anye suche reporte sholde come to her g: eares; wch I require more for the daynger that maye growe vnto this place to have suche persones in it, then I desyer my selfe anye revenge, or, in so falce matters do mayke greate accompte what anye man saythe or howe theis reporte of me, for that I am assured that more shame and dyshonor shalbe theirs in their falce accusations, then ther cane be blamed towards me in my well doynge."

[Pg 99] In the face of this unqualified disclaimer, it would have required not merely suspicion founded on the unsupported assertion of a nameless informer, but the most direct and irrefutable evidence, to substantiate the charge brought against Randolph. His letter bore its own confirmation on the face of it. It was not meant for the public, who might perhaps have been put off by high-sounding phrases and protestations; neither was it intended for the Scottish Queen, who, though better informed, had no special facilities for testing the statements which it contained. It was addressed to Cecil, to the Minister with whom Randolph had been in constant correspondence for years, to whom he had communicated the trifling events of each day—incidents of Court life and scraps of Court gossip—who knew the extent of his experience of Scottish affairs, and was as familiar with his views as with his peculiarities of style and diction in expressing them; to the last man, in short, whom it would have been possible to hoodwink as to the authorship of a work bearing traces of either the hand or the inspiration of his subordinate.

But, if Randolph had been the author of the poem bearing his name, besides being deterred from any attempt at deception by the almost certainty of failure, he would doubtless have remembered that Cecil was one of the bitterest enemies of the Queen of Scots, and that, at the pitch which party animosity had reached, even though, for the sake of appearances, some indignation might be simulated, no serious offence was likely to be taken at a work tending to vilify the rival with whom, in spite of [Pg 100] the hollow show of friendship still maintained, an open rupture was imminent, whose difficulties, far from calling forth sympathy, were the subject of thinly-veiled exultation, whose indiscretions were distorted into faults, and whose errors were magnified into crimes. Had he been concerned in the production of the Fantasie, he possessed sufficient shrewdness to know that his wisest and safest course did not lie in a denial of which the falsehood could not escape exposure, but in a confession which, whilst attended with no real danger, might actually tend to his credit.

Cecil accepted Randolph's disclaimer without demur, and in a manner which left no doubt that he was thoroughly convinced of its absolute truth. It was deemed of sufficient importance to be answered with no further delay than was rendered necessary by the slow means of communication of the time. To his letter of the 26th of May Randolph received a reply as early as the 6th of the following month. It has, unfortunately, not been preserved; but, though it is impossible to reproduce the language in which it was couched, it is easy to judge of its purport and of the tone which pervaded it. These may be gathered from the grateful acknowledgment which it called forth from Randolph. "Yt may please yor H:," he wrote in a letter dated from Berwick on the 7th of June, "that yesterdaye I receaved yor letter of the thyrde of this instant for wch I do most humblye thanke you and have therby receaved maynie thyngs to my co¯tentation. In speciall for [Pg 101] the wrytinge of that fantasie or dreame called by my name, that I am thought fawltles, as in deade I am, but still greeved that I am so charged, but that waye seeke no farther to please then with my deutie maye stonde. Yf Mr Melvill remayne so well satysfied that he thinke me cleare, I truste that he will performe no les then he promised, that the reporter bycawse he is in this towne shalbe knowne, at the leaste yf not to me, I wolde yr h: were warned of such."[128]

A few days after the receipt by Randolph of Cecil's letter, Elizabeth dispatched from Greenwich an answer to the complaints of which Melvill had been the bearer. It was a singular document in which words were skilfully used to veil the writer's meaning, and irony was disguised beneath the fairest show of sympathy. While seeming to promise complete satisfaction, it contained no expression but might be explained away, and it carefully refrained from putting forth any opinion with regard to Randolph's guilt or innocence. It began by assuring the Queen of Scots that she was not the only one who had been moved to anger on hearing of Randolphe's Fantasie, and by asserting, with feigned indignation, that even to dream treason was held to be a crime worthy of banishment from England, where subjects were required to be loyal not in their words merely, but in their very thoughts also; it bade her rest satisfied that, for the investigation of the subject complained of, such means should be used as would [Pg 102] let the whole world know in what esteem her reputation was held; and it concluded by hinting at no less a punishment than death when the truth was found out: "Mais quant je lisois la fascherye en quoy vous estiez pour avoir ouy du songe de Randolphe"—so ran the letter—"je vous prometz que nestiez seule en cholere. Sy est ce que l'opinion que les songes de la nuit sont les denonciations des pensées iournelles fussent verefyez en luy, s'il n'en eust que songé et non point escript, je ne le penserois digne de Logis en mon Royaulme. Car non seulement veul je que mes subiectz ne disent mal des princes, mais que moins est, de n'en penser sinon honorablement. Et sois asseurée que pense tellement traicter ceste cause, que tout le monde verra en quel estyme je tiens vr~e renom¯ée, et useray de telz moyens pour en cognoistre la vérité, qu'il ne tiendra a moy sy je ne la scache. Et la trouvant, je la laisseray a vr~e jugement si la pugnition ne soyt digne pour telle faulte, combien que je croy que la vye d'aulcun n'en pourra bonnement equivaller la cryme."[129]

Whatever may have been Mary's opinion as to the true spirit of this reply, she saw that its language left no ground for further remonstrance. Perhaps, too, doubts may have entered her own mind as to the authenticity of the obnoxious poem. At any rate she seems to have thought it wise to urge the matter no further. It dropped and died away; no reference to it again occurs in the correspondence of the period.

[Pg 103] It would be vain to search the literature of the sixteenth century for any trace of Maister Randolphe's Fantasie. No mention of it is to be found even in the most minute and detailed of contemporary chroniclers. In modern histories its very name is unknown. No copy of it is preserved in our great libraries, and if a stray one should have escaped the summary suppression which the angry Queen demanded of Elizabeth,[130] it must be lying hidden amongst pamphlets and broadsides on the shelves of some private collection. But, by some strange chance, though the printed work has disappeared, the manuscript has survived; and we are still able to satisfy our curiosity with regard to the contents of the obnoxious satire which gave such grave offence to the Queen of Scots.[131]

In the manuscript copy preserved amongst the documents of the Record Office,[132] Maister Randolphe's Fantasie—the sub-title of which conveys the information that it is "a breffe calgulacion of the procedinge in Scotlande from the first of Julie to the last of December"—is prefaced by an "Epistle dedicatorie" addressed "to the right worshipfull Mr Thomas Randolphe esquyre Resident for the Quenes Maties affaires in Scotlande". The author begins this quaint, diffuse, and at times obscure production by [Pg 104] setting forth the reasons which have led him to look for "some ripe and grave patronage" for his "small travell". He pleads the precedent of "eloquent wryters", who, "albeit there excellent works learnedlie compiled, needed no patronage, not onelie appeled to others learned, but sought th'awctorytie of the gravest men, to sheld them from th'arrogant curyous and impewdent reprehendors". With much rhetorical amplification he then proceeds to enumerate the qualifications which seem more particularly to designate Randolph as a fitting patron and protector. "Well may I, knowing yor zelous nature and inclynacion to letters attempt to royst under the protexion of yor name. Who can better judge of theis whole proceedings than you? Who can so well wyttnes it as yor dailie attendaunce? Who may better defende it then yor learned experience? Who so well deserves the memorye hereof then yor long and wearye service, especiallie sithence the troblesome broiles and monstrouous eschange in this transformed and blundered comon-weale? Who may so well auctoryshe the vnlearned auctor as yor w: to whom justlie awaytinge yor succor, simplie I retyre." From this apostrophe he passes on to a justification of his poem, in which he claims to have "delt franklie" and, "as God shall bee his judge, not pertiallie", and which he has produced solely in compliance with the earnest and repeated solicitations of influential friends. "I had not compiled this tragidye, as iustlie I may terme it", he writes, "yf some my contremen, resolved of muche better then [Pg 105] I can or ought conceyve of my selffe, by there sundrye letters and meanes entreated me to wryte what I sawe, wch chefflie by there procurement I have doen, who, havinge care of my well doinge, perswaded me howe profytable and necessarye it was to vse my terme and travell, and imploy that talent that might tend to my great comodytie and avale. Theis indenyable requestes and ffrendlie reasons did so charme me, albeit long deaffe at there enchantments, that I cold not refuse to susteane this charge, that nowe enforcethe my well meanynge to run post (I knowe) to some vnwelcome gwides, that wth twyned mynde will intercept my meanynge. Thus tranede and, as it were, bewytched wth this vnweldye charge of request, I pushe forthe this vnpolished phantasey, a breffe calgulacion of theis procedinges." Though confessedly anxious to reap any reward which his poetical venture may be thought to deserve, the author does not appear to be equally willing to monopolize the "blame and infayme, yf any there bee". On the contrary, he is careful to point out—"to make his blames more excusable for there importunytie"—that they who have urged him to write are "accessaryes yf not principalls in his unwillinge cryme", and that it would be a cruel hardship, indeed, were he doomed "to thole ignomynye" and "live a condempned byarde", for the sake of "cleringe others". It is with the evident intention of giving force to this plea that, whilst seeming to prefer a humble request that Randolph "will not refuse to surname" the offspring of his "restless [Pg 106] Mewse", he takes the opportunity of pointing him out "as the cheffe parent thereof". With what success this questionable device was attended Mary's complaint to Elizabeth has already set forth.

After having fenced himself round, in his dedication, with all these rhetorical safeguards, the author turns to the reader with a poetical appeal to "arrest his judgement", and then addresses himself to the task of recording the "proceedings" of the eventful six months which followed Mary's ill-advised marriage with Darnley.

The first part of the Fantasie opens with a poetical sketch, in which the author represents himself as sunk in melancholy meditation, and endeavouring to find relief from the heavy burthen which the intrigues and disappointments of Court life have cast upon him:—

fforweriéd[133] with cares and sorrowes source supprest, and worldlie woos of sharpe repulse that bredes vnquyet rest, confus'd with courtlie cares, a seate of slipper[134] stay, that yeldes the draught of bitter swete to such as drawes that way, in silent sort I sought unwist of any wight to attempt some meane howe well I cold my heavy burden light.

Whilst he is thus revolving "what fyttest were for feble myndes", his conflicting thoughts, personified as "Desire", "Tyme", "Fansye", and "Reason", appear before him and volunteer, in turn, such [Pg 107] advice as seems best suited to the situation. "Desire", whose opinion is naturally the first to find expression, suggests that he should seek "such rest as may revive his pensive thought, with sorrow so opprest". "Tyme", however, interposes with a reminder that "feldishe sports be now exempt", and that the season is not "mete" for the amusements that might delight his spirits. This affords "Fansye" an opportunity of making herself heard.

assay yf that thie Mevses trades may ought dissolve thie care, pervse[135] some pleasunte stile that may delight the brayne and prove by practyse of the pen to file thie wyttes agayne.

But this advice does not meet with the approval of "Reason". She points out to the poet that

Devyne Camenes never cold with Mavors' rage agree, Ne yet Minerva mewse with skill was depelie scande[136] When as[137] Bellona did decree[138]  with bloody sworde in hande;

and that, if he should allow himself to be hurried by his sympathies into championing every cause and "wrastling in eche wrong", the result must be as useless as though "he shold stope the streame, or sporne against the sone". Bidding him be ruled by her, she counsels him to "mesure by myrthe some meane that may his grieves disgest", to "solace the rage of hevmayne cares within a gladsome brest", and to follow the safer course of "sojourning with silence", unless, indeed, he should be able to find [Pg 108] "a frend on whom he may repose the secretes of his mynde". But "rareness of suche one" suggests moral reflections on the dangers of flattery, with its "sewgred speech", and on the fickleness of friendship, "a flyinge birde with wings of often change". These, and a further recommendation to prudent silence, which, though it "do allay no rage of stormy thoughte", is at least preferable to the "bankroote gest" distrust, bring Reason's harangue to a close.

In a passage of some merit, but so singularly out of place that it suggests an error of transcription, the poet proceeds to describe the dreary season to which Fancy has already made reference:—

It was when Awtum had fild full the barnes with corne, And he that eats and emtyes all away had Awtum worne, And wynter windes approcht that doth ibayre the trene, And Saturne's frosts, that steanes the earth had perst the tender grene, And dampishe mystes discendes when tempests work much harme, And force of stormes do make all cold that somer had made warme, whose lustie hewe dispoiled cold not possess the place, ne yet abide Boreas' blasts that althings dothe deface.

After this digression Reason's advice is taken into consideration. Recognizing its wisdom, the poet at first "seeks by solitarye meanes to recreate his minde". The attempt is not, however, crowned with success. He experiences that, "as the sowthfast sayen", "solytarynes" is but "hewe of dispaire, ffoo to his weale, and frendlie to ech payne", and [Pg 109] that slender indeed "are the greves that silence do unlade". In his solitude the evils of his own position crowd up before him, he "beats his branes with bitter bale and woos of worldlie force", he recalls the "painful years" which he has "lingered forth" in Scotland, with the sole reward of seeing "his credyt crak the string with those with whome in faythfull league he long before had bene", and himself "rolled out of Fortune's lappe". By a natural transition he passes from his own grievances to a consideration of the political events which have produced them; his "bewsye heade" calls up the "sowre change", the "sodaine fall" of the realme "from weale to woo, from welthe to wast, and worce if ought might be".

The cue for it being thus given, there follows a recapitulation of the "proceedings" which are the real subject of the Fantasie. "I saw", the poet says:

I saw the Quene whose will occurant with her yeres was wone[139] to worke oft that she wold by counsaile of her peres. It was the winged boy had perst[140] her tender thought, and Venus' joyes so tickled her that force avaled nought; on Darlie did she dote who equall in this mase[141] sought to assalt the forte of fame defenst with yeas and nayes, which for a while repulst and had no passage in: but still porsewt did rase the seige[142]  that might the fortresse wyne, who, stronglie thus beseiged with battry rounde aboute, at last was forst to yeld the keis, she cold not holde hym owte, [Pg 110] but rendered sacke and spoile unto the victor's grace, so ritch a pray did not the Greks by Helen's meanes possesse. To regall charge of rule she did advaunce his state, and gave the sworde into his hand that bred civill debate. This was affection force that blewe this gale of winde; this regestreth the found pretence[143]  within a woman's mynde this calls us to reporte[144]  and proves the proverbe trewe, that wemens wills are sonest wone in that they after rewe. This brede a brutyshe broile and causéd cankred spight to move the myndes of such as did envy a stranger's might; vnder wch shade was shrowde an other fyrme intente, and so, by color of that change to doe what he was bente, wch made much myserye and wrought this realme to wracke, and sturde[145] a stiveling sture[146]  amongst the muffled contre-packe[147] that mustréd eche where[148]  in forme and force of warre, and clapt on armor for the feld as the comannded warre.

Here the poet, who seems anxious to lose no opportunity of pointing a moral, interrupts for a while his sombre description of the state of Scotland under this "reckles rule", to introduce his own reflections upon "the slipper state of worldlie wealth that heare on earth we finde". Resuming his lamentation, he records the undeserved disgrace of "those whose grave advice in judgement semed vpright", and the unwise promotion to offices of trust of those "which grated[149] but for gayne and gropt for private pray", who presumptuously [Pg 111] attempted to "gwide a shipe against the storme", though they "had not the skill in calm to stire a barge".

Lest the application of the general statement should remain doubtful, it is illustrated by reference to the leading men of the Queen's party. To each of them a couplet is dedicated, the symmetry being broken in favour of Maxwell alone, who is thought worthy of a double share of satire. Unfortunately, however, the allusions are so vague and the language in many cases so obscure, that it is difficult to catch more than the drift of what is intended to characterize the conduct and unveil the motives of each individual:—

I sawe Adthole abridge with craft to conquere cost, and forge that fact by forraigne foos that his discent might bost; I sawe what Merton ment by shufflinge for his share, imbrasinge those that shrowdes the shame of his possessed care; I sawe howe Cassells crowcht affirmynge yea and na, as redyest when chaunce brings chang to drive and drawe that way; I sawe Crawforde encroche on slipperie renowne, that curre favell[150]  in the court might retche to higher rowme;[151] I sawe howe Lyddington did powder it[152] with pen, and fyled so his sewgred speche as wone the wills of men; I sawe howe Lyndsey lurkt vnconstant of his trade[153] alludinge[154] by his duble meanes that might his lust unlade;[155] [Pg 112] I sawe howe Hume in hope did hoist the sale aloft, and howe he anker weighed with those that most for credyt sought; I sawe howe Ruthven reigned as one of Gnator's kinde, and howe he first preffer'd his ple respondent to his mynde. I sawe what Maxwell mente in kindlinge the flame, and after howe he sought new meanes to choke the smoke agayne; whose dowble dealinge did argewe vnconstant fayth, and shamefull wayes blowes forthe the brute[156]  that may record his death; with feble force I sawe howe Leonox did entende, as thriftie of a princelie rewle to regestre his ende; I sawe the weake advise that Darlie did aforde, as yonge in wytt as fewe of yeres to weld the regall sworde; and sodainelie I saw howe Bulforde credyt sought, and howe from nought he start aloft to bear the freey in court.[157]

The political correspondence and historical records of the period allow us to remove, in some slight degree, the obscurity which veils this passage, and supply concerning the conduct of some of the characters alluded to in it such particulars as may help us to understand, if not the special point of the poet's satire, at least the general reasons which aroused his indignation and drew forth his censure.

It would have been difficult for the most bitter opponent of the royal cause to find in Athole's conduct during the period here referred to anything to justify an attack on his personal character. There [Pg 113] is consequently no matter for astonishment in the fact that the satirist—if our interpretation of the couplet be the correct one—has no more heinous offence to reproach him with than fidelity to his trust and loyalty to his Queen. These, it is true, he manifested on more than one critical occasion. It was to Athole's house in Dunkeld that Mary, knowing herself to be surrounded with spies in Perth, determined to retire after the memorable convention at which the intended marriage with Darnley was made known. When, a few days later, intelligence was brought by Lindsay of Dowhill of a plot formed by the confederate Lords to seize the Queen's person at Parenwell, to tear her intended husband and his father from her side, and to slay all who offered resistance to the deed of violence, it was with Athole that Mary concerted measures to frustrate the lawless attempt, and it was by his exertions that a body of two hundred gentlemen was raised to serve as an escort for her. At the public solemnization of the Queen's marriage it was Athole who, in recognition of his faithful service, led both bride and bridegroom to the altar, and who, at the banquet which followed, acted as her carver. That these marks of favour were not the only rewards bestowed upon his loyal attachment is shown by Randolph in a letter which he wrote to Cecil a few months later,[158] and in which he states the Earl of Athole's influence to be paramount, greater even than Bothwell's. If we be right [Pg 114] in interpreting the charge of "abridging with craft to conquer cost" to mean that Athole endeavoured to husband the resources of the kingdom, it was a course which the state of the Queen's finances more than justified. The pecuniary difficulties in which she was involved are repeatedly alluded to in Randolph's despatches. On the 4th of July we find him informing Cecil of the arrival of a chest supposed to contain supplies of money, and significantly adding that "if that way the Queen and Darnley have either means or credit, it is so much the worse".[159] A fortnight later[160] he refers more plainly still to the desperate condition of the royal exchequer, and states that Mary "is so poor at present that ready money she hath very little and credit none at all". In August[161] he announces that "she hath borrowed money of divers, and yet hath not wherewith to pay so many soldiers as are levied for two months". If, under these circumstances, Athole set himself the arduous and thankless task of narrowly watching over the expenditure of funds which it was so difficult to raise, and even if the allusion contained in the enigmatical accusation of "forging that fact by forrayne foos" should point to any part taken by him in obtaining "about fifteen hundred francs which had been sent out of France", no impartial judge can behold in this a proof of anything but loyalty to his kinswoman and Queen.

The charge of "shufflinge for his share", the only intelligible count in the indictment contained in the [Pg 115] couplet devoted to Morton, is fully justified by the able but unscrupulous statesman's conduct during the period of civil strife to which the Fantasie refers. On the formation of the league for which Mary's intentions towards her cousin had afforded a pretence, Morton had joined the ranks of the confederate Lords. Before long, however, his opposition to the marriage was overcome and his services secured for the royal cause by the sacrifice on the part of Lennox and Darnley of their claims to the honours and estates of Angus. Though his motives were very far from being disinterested, his conduct was for a while in strict conformity with the pledge which had been bought from him, and he successfully exerted his influence to conciliate some of the bitterest opponents to the royal marriage. Such as it was, however, his loyalty was but shortlived. He took umbrage at the part assigned to Lennox in the command of the army which marched out to encounter the confederates. In the month of October his treasonable designs were so far from being a secret that Randolph described him as "only making fair weather with the Queen till he could espy his time".[162] But by her prompt and energetic action in compelling him to surrender the Castle of Tantallon to the Earl of Athole,[163] the Queen obliged him to declare himself sooner than he had intended, and before his treachery could do any material injury to her cause.

[Pg 116] Like his kinsman Morton, Ruthven, though serving in the royal army, was in league with the rebels. Between him and Mary there had never existed any great sympathy, though, out of consideration for Lennox, whose intimate associate he was, she admitted him for a while to her favour and confidence. As early as the beginning of July, however, it was reported that "the Lord of Ruthven had entered into suspicion",[164] and three months later he was also mentioned amongst those who were "only making fair weather with the Queen".[165] His final defection took place at the same time and for the same cause as Morton's, the "plee" which he "preffered"—that is, the claim which he also laid to a part of the Angus estates, in right of Janet Douglas, his wife—having been set aside by the royal order which made over Tantallon to Athole.

The lines directed against Lennox and Darnley require neither explanation nor comment. The ambition of the one and the boyish weakness and vanity of the other are well known. In selecting these as the objects of his satirical allusions, the poet has not treated them with greater severity than they deserved, nor, indeed, than they have met with at the hands of both contemporary and subsequent historians.

As regards Maxwell, it is not difficult to account for the prominence given to him, nor for the "unconstant fayth and shamefull ways" with which he is reproached. At the outbreak of hostilities he held the office of Warden of the Western Border. The [Pg 117] confidence placed in him, however, he betrayed, not only by allowing the insurgents to remain unmolested within the district under his keeping, and actually giving them entertainment, but also by subscribing with them[166] and devoting a thousand pounds, which he had received from England, to the equipment of a troop of horse for service against his sovereign. Mary took his treason so greatly to heart that, in a letter to Beton, Archbishop of Glasgow, she inveighed in terms seldom to be met with in her correspondence against "the traitor Maxwell, who, to his great disgrace, had basely violated his faith to her, and sent his son as his pledge to England, undeterred by the remembrance of the treatment to which his other boy was exposed, of which he had told her himself".[167] After the Queen's bloodless victory over her rebellious nobles, and the retreat of Moray and his associates from their last city of refuge in Scotland, Maxwell, fearful of the consequences of his own treasonable conduct, begged to be allowed to return to his allegiance. Three days after Mary's arrival at Dumfries, he was brought before her by Bothwell and some of the loyal lords who offered to become sureties for his fidelity. He was received with generous kindness by his sovereign, who not only granted him a free pardon, but carried her magnanimity so far as to accept the hospitality of his castle of Lochmaben, where she remained until her return to Edinburgh.

[Pg 118] The couplet in which the satirist tells us how Ledington "did powder it with pen, and fyled so his sewgred speech as wone the wills of men", pithily characterizes the secretary's conduct, not merely on the special occasion to which allusion is here made, but throughout the whole of his eventful career. The other names introduced into the passage are known to be those of noblemen who embraced the Queen's cause, but the records of the period make no reference to any acts of theirs of sufficient importance to call for either praise or censure, though the subsequent defection of some of their number seems to justify the doubt cast on the sincerity of their motives. With regard to the last of these names, that of Bulford is probably a corrupted form of some more familiar appellation. It may possibly be intended to designate James Balfour, Parson of Fisk, who "at this time", according to John Knox, "had gottin all the guiding in the Court" and "was preferred before all others, save only the Erle of Athole".[168]

With this black list of those who "prowld for private pray", the poet contrasts the confederate Lords by whom "right was erect and wilfull wronge supprest", whose "judgements ever vncontrolde did floryshe with the best", who "sought by civill meanes for to advaunce the realme", but who were "chast away" because "the Quene wold not abide there grave advise that counsaled her to watch a better tide". The names held up for special reverence [Pg 119] are those of Murray, Hamilton, Argyle, Rothose, Glencairn, Boyd, Ochiltree, and Grange, and it is open to question whether their action, in revolting from their sovereign and entering into negotiations with Elizabeth and her agents, warrants the praise bestowed upon them in the following lines:—

ffor Murray's constant fayth and ardent zeale to truthe had not the grace to fordge and feane that worldlie wytts pursewthe; nor Hamilton cold have no hope to hold his seate; nor yet Argile to abide the court the pirrye[169] was to greate; Rothose might not resyst that stedfastnes profest; nor Glencarne cold averde with wrong that rigor had incest;[170] nor Boide wold not attempt the trades[171] of no mystrust; nor Ogletree concure with such as rewléd but for lust; Grange wold not grate for grace, no burden he wold beare whose horye head expert in warrs did bred the courtyers feare.

Having thus recorded the relative strength and merits of the contending parties, the poet completes his picture of the lamentable state to which the kingdom has been reduced by civil discord; then, with his natural inclination to give prominence to his own troubles, bewails the "unrest" which embitters his life and is "powdering the heires upon his head". For solace he "retyres unto his booke a space", there to contemplate, "with rufull eye, what bale is incident in everie estate where tirants do prevale", [Pg 120] and to gather "examples that bloodye feicts dothe aske vengiance and thrists for bloode againe". Cyrus, Tomiris, Cambyses, Brutus, Cassius, Bessus, Alexander, and Dionysius are called up "to represent the fine of tirants' force", and to show "howe the gwiltless bloode that is vniustlie shede dothe crave revenge". Sheer weariness, however, puts an end to the dismal meditation, and as the poet sinks into "swete slepe" it seems to him that a messenger is "thrust in at the doore" to inform him that the Queen herself is at hand. Hereupon Mary enters, and without further preface begins "her tale", to which the second part of the Fantasie is devoted.

The opening words of the Queen's confession, for such is the form into which her "complante" is thrown, assume that she is acquainted with Randolph's purpose of recording the events of which he has been a witness, and are a request that he will "inwrape her woos within his carefull clewe, that when the recorde is spread everywhere, the state of her comber first may appear". Her grief, however, as she at once explains, is not for herself—there is no cause why she should repine, for all things have succeeded according to her will—it is for the miserable state to which her headstrong resistance to the advice of those who counselled wise and moderate government has reduced her realm. But, before entering fully into her subject, by a clever paralepsy she digresses into an account of her birth and accomplishments. Written as it is by a professed enemy of Mary Stuart's the passage is [Pg 121] of considerable interest, and may help to settle the disputed question of her personal gifts:—

I hold it nedles to bragg of my birthe, by loyall dascent endowed a quene; my ffather doth wytness it even to his death, who in this weale most noblie did reigne; and that halffe a Gwyssian[172] by birth I bene, and howe the Frenshe Kinge in marag did endowe me with royall right, a madlie[173] widowe.
But I cold bost of bewtie with the best, in skilfull poincts of princelie attire, and of the golden gwiftes of nature's behest who filed my face of favor freshe and fayre; my bewtie shynes like Phebus in the ayre, and nature formed my feater beside in such proport[174] as advanseth my pride.
Thus fame affatethe[175] my state to the stares, enfeoft with the gwyftes of nature's devise, that soundes the retreat to others princes eares whollie to resigne to me the chefest price; but what doth it avale to vant in this wyse? for as the sowre sent the swete tast do spill so are the good gwyftes corrupted with ill.

Foremost amongst the defects that mar the high gifts of nature she mentions the "Gwyssian" temper which she has received from her mother, and by which she has been led to take the first false step "to wedd as she wold, suche a one as she demed wold serve her lust rather then might her weale well [Pg 122] upholde". The fatal marriage being thus introduced, she naturally refers to its results, to the opposition of those who, having "ever tendered her state, cold not abyde to see this myscheffe", and whom, in her ungovernable temper, in her "rigour and hate", she "sought to subject to the sword". This is followed by the names of her chief opponents, the list being augmented by a few names which do not appear in the first part. Here a passage of singular significance even at the present day is unexpectedly brought in, in connection with the Duke of Argyle. It is a description of the Irish. They are stigmatized "a bloody crewe that whoso they take they helples downe hewe", and their barbarous manner of carrying on war and inhuman treatment of the enemy is thus set forth:—

This savage kinde, they knowe no lawe of armes, they make not warrs as other do assay, they deale not deathe by [without] dredfull harmes, yeld or not yeld whoso they take they slay, they save no prysonners for ransome nor for pay, they hold it hopeles of the bodye dead except they see hym cut shorter by the heade.

From this point the Queen's "complante" becomes a narrative—interspersed with moral reflections on the dangers of despotic government and the horrors of civil wars—of the victorious though bloodless expedition against the confederate Lords. It is noteworthy that, however depreciatory the judgment which she is made to pass upon her own conduct, her energy and courage are repeatedly insisted [Pg 123] upon in terms of unqualified praise: "The dread of no enemy cold me appaile, nor yett no travell endaunte my entent; ... I dreaded no daunger of death to ensewe, no stormy blasts cold make me retyre". Indeed, in one stanza she actually likens herself to Tomiris, and though, from the fact that it appears to be made by herself, the comparison at first strikes us as unnatural and exaggerated, looked at in its proper light, as the testimony of an avowed enemy, it is undoubtedly a high tribute of admiration to her indomitable spirit:—

Amidde wch rowte, yf thou thie selffe had bene, and seen howe I my matters did contryve, thou woldest have reckened me the lustyest Quene that ever Europe fostred heare to live; yea, if Tomiris her selffe had bene alive, who dreaded great hosts with her tyrannye, cold not shewe herself more valiant then I.

The first episode referred to by the Queen is the pitching of her camp near Glasgow, for the purpose of intercepting the rebels who had taken up their position near Paisley, but who, dismayed at the rapid march of the royal army, hastily retired towards Edinburgh. This was on August 31. The poetical narrative is as follows:—

[Pg 124] In Glasco towne I entrenched my bandes, and they in Paselee, nor far distant from thence, where erelie on the morrowe, west by the sande,[176] they gave me larum with warlicke pretence; we were in armes but they were gone thence, to the ffeldes we marcht in battell array, expectinge our foos, but they were awaye.
when fame had brought that the Llords were gone to Edenbrough towne to wage[177] men of warre, to supplie there force, and make them more stronge of expert trayns[178] to joyne in this jarre, I hasted forwarde to interrupt them there, but by the way I harde they were gone from Edenbrough, and had clene left the towne.

In a stanza following immediately upon this, and descriptive of the course adopted by Mary on her arrival in Edinburgh, we find the confirmation of a statement made by Captain Cockburn,[179] but indignantly denied as a shameless fabrication by those historians whose aim it has been to clear the Queen from every imputation. He asserts, not only that she imposed a fine of £20,000 on certain of the burgesses of Edinburgh after the termination of the expedition, but also that previously to this she had extorted 14,000 marks from them for the support of her army. It is the latter part of this statement which has been challenged, but which undoubtedly receives strong support from the following verses:—

[Pg 125] And some that had incurred my blame, by worde or wronge or other like meane, for redye coigne I compounded with them, that I might better my soulgiers maynteyne, th'unwonted charge that I did susteane was thus considered in everie dome[180] to surpasse the yerelie revenue of my crowne.

Passing over the Queen's expedition into Fifeshire and the capture of Castle Campbell, "the castle of gloom", a formidable stronghold belonging to her rebel brother-in-law, the Duke of Argyle, the historical part of the narrative hastens on to the final act, the march to Dumfries and the Lords' retreat across the Border. The inglorious termination of the rebellion has been pithily summed up by Sir James Melville in his Memoirs: "Her Majesty again convened forces to pursue the rebels, till at length they were compelled to flee into England for refuge, to her who promised by her ambassadors to wear her crown in their defence, in case they were driven to any strait for their opposition unto the marriage".[181] The poet is scarcely less concise in his record of an event which he could neither hide nor gloss over, but upon which he evidently had no wish to dwell:—

We came to Domfreis to attempt our might, but all was in vane, our foos were awaie; there was none there that wold us resiste, nor yett affirme that I did gainesaye.
[Pg 126] They unable to abide or resist my might entred perforce into th'inglishe pale. In Carlile they all were constrayned to light, where the Lord Scrowpe entreated them all; and th'Erle of Bedforde leivetenante generall of th'inglish northe, whose fervent affection I ever dreaded to deale in this action, whose noble hart enflamed with ruthe to see theis Llords driven to dystresse, sought the meanes he could to advance the truthe.
What racke, Randolphe? Thou thie selffe knowes I retorned a victore without any blows.

Though this seemed to indicate a point where the Fantasie might come to a fitting close, it is drawn out for fully a hundred lines in order that the moral of the whole narrative may be duly brought home to the reader. So far as Mary herself is concerned, the gist of her long homily may be given in her concluding words:—

'Tis fittest for a prince, and such as have the regyments of realmes, there subjects hartes with myldnes to convince, and justice mixt, avoydinge all extremes; ffor like as Phebus with his cherefull beames do freshlie force the fragrant flowers to floryshe, so rulers' mildness subjects love do noryshe.

The poet's own moralizing, with which, as with an epilogue, the whole poem is brought to an end, is wider in its application. The dangers which beset greatness and the advantages which accompany "golden mediocrity" are its leading theme, and are set forth in a passage which brings together a number [Pg 127] of familiar illustrations drawn from inanimate nature:—

I then said to myself methinkes this may assure all those that clyme to honor's seate there state may not endure; the hills of highest hight are sonest perskt with sone, the silver streames with somer's drowght are letten oft to rone, the loftiest trees and groves are ryfest rent with winde, the brushe and breres that thickest grow the flame will sonest finde, the loftie rerynge towers there fall the ffeller bee, most ferse dothe fulgent lyghtnyng lyght where furthest we may see, the gorgyous pallace deckt and reared vp to the skye are sonner shokt with wynter stormes then meaner buildings bee, vpon the highest mounts the stormy wynds do blowe, the sewer seate and quyet lief is in the vale belowe; by reason I regawrde the mean estate most sure, that wayteth on the golden meane & harmles may endure; the man that wyselie works in welthe doth feare no tide, when fortune failes dispeareth not but stedfastlie abide, for He that sendeth stormes with windes and wynter blasts, and steanes with hale the wynter face & fils ech soile with frosts He slaks the force of cold he sends the somer hote, he causethe bayle to stormy harts of joy the spring & rote. Reader regawrde this well as I of force nowe must, appoinct thie mewse to merke my verse thus ruffled up in rust, [Pg 128] and lerne this last of me: Imbrace thie porpose prest, and lett no storme to blowe the blasts to lose the port of rest; and tho the gale be great & frowarde fortune fayle, againe when wynde do serve at will hoist not to hye the saile ffor prowffe may toche the stone to prove this firme and plaine, that no estate may countervale the gyld or golden meane.

Both the poem and the Epistle Dedicatory bear the signature of Thomas Jenye. It is the name of an unscrupulous adventurer who held some subordinate position in the service of Thomas Randolph, whilst he was in Scotland, and afterwards of Sir Henry Norris, in the Netherlands. From the literary point of view, the most noteworthy feature of his Fantasie is the barefacedness with which he pilfered, not only the ideas, but the actual words of others. Indeed, in its introduction and conclusion, which consist, for the most part, of moral reflections, Jenye's satire is little better than a patchwork, rather cleverly made up, it is true, of lines purloined from Surrey, Grimsald, Sackville, and the other writers who figure with them in Tottell's Miscellany. But besides being a curiosity in plagiarism, the Fantasie is a valuable historical document, by reason of the accuracy with which it describes the various incidents of Murray's revolt, of which Jenye was practically an eyewitness.


[Pg 129]


Mary, Queen of Scots, was beheaded in 1587. Fourteen years later there was published in Rouen a play which bore the title of Tragédie de la Reine d'Escosse, and which had for its subject the condemnation and death of Elizabeth's unfortunate prisoner. The author styled himself Anthoine de Montchrestien sieur de Vasteville; but it was alleged by his enemies that he was nothing more aristocratic than the son of an apothecary of Falaise called Mauchrestien. He had, however, the good fortune to be brought up, though in what connection is uncertain, with two lads belonging to a family of authentic nobility; and by the time he reached his twentieth year, he had the training and education of a gentleman of the period. With the sword which he assumed as the emblem of the class to which he claimed to belong, he adopted the fashionable readiness to draw it on the slightest provocation. His first recorded encounter, however, very nearly proved his last. With the odds of three to one against him, he was grievously wounded and left for dead on the highway. But he recovered, and, in the true spirit of a Norman, consoled himself for his defeat and his injuries by suing the chief of his [Pg 130] adversaries, the Baron de Gouville. That he obtained damages to the amount of 12,000 livres may be taken as a proof that all the blame was not on his side. The success of this legal action encouraged him to take proceedings against one of his trustees, who had failed to do his duty by him. A further indemnity of 1000 livres was the result. About this time, too, he married a rich widow whose good graces he had previously secured by helping her to win a lawsuit in which her husband had been the defender.

As early as 1596, Montchrestien had published the tragedy of Sophonisbe. Five years later there appeared a volume bearing his name, and containing a miscellaneous collection of prose and verse, including five tragedies, of which one was the Mary Stuart play, with the running title of l'Escossoise. In the midst of a literary success to which numerous sets of complimentary verses testify, a real tragedy changed the whole course of the Norman adventurer's career. In a duel with a young nobleman, he killed his adversary. Whether he did so in fair fight or, as his detractors alleged, by means of a disloyal stratagem, he was equally amenable to the severe law against single combat which Henry IV had lately promulgated. To no purpose did the poet appeal to the king in some eloquent verses in which he begged to be allowed to expiate his offence by dying for his sovereign on the field of honour:—

"Armé sur un cheval, en tenant une pique, Non sur un échafaud en vergogne publique."[182]

[Pg 131] He was obliged to seek safety in exile, and retired to England. There his "Stuart" tragedy was of service to him. He presented it to James, who showed his appreciation of the work by interceding with the King of France on behalf of the author. The result was favourable, but not immediate; and several years had to elapse before the outlawry was reversed.

Montchrestien had gone to England in the character of a poet and a gentleman. He returned to France to become an economist and manufacturer. In 1615 he published a volume entitled, Traicté de l'Œconomie Politique. Never before had the term been used; and the subject dealt with was as novel as its name. Shortly after this, the founder of the science for which such great destinies were in store, established a cutlery on the banks of the Loire. That his venture was successful seems hardly probable, for less than four years later he was engaged in the shipping trade. The story that he endeavoured to better his financial position by the desperate expedient of counterfeiting the coin of the realm rests on no trustworthy authority, and may be dismissed as one of the many calumnies by which his enemies sought to blacken his memory after his tragic death. That event took place in 1621; and the various incidents that led up to it might well be shaped into a novel of adventure, though they must here be summarized in a few brief sentences. When religious troubles again broke out in France, after the Assembly of La Rochelle, Montchrestien threw [Pg 132] in his lot with the Protestant party. He went about for some months in his native province of Normandy, endeavouring to organize an insurrection. On the 7th of October he, together with his servant and six Huguenot captains, was taken by surprise in an inn. In the scuffle that followed, a pistol shot through the head put an end to his adventurous career. According to the barbarous custom which then prevailed in France, as it did in Scotland also, sentence was pronounced over his dead body. It was burnt and the ashes were scattered to the winds.

When Montchrestien wrote l'Escossoise, six years before the birth of Corneille, tragedy made no attempt to depict the conflict of antagonistic passions, but contented itself with the exposition of a pathetic situation, considered from various points of view. When this had been set forth with sufficient detail, the dénouement, instead of being enacted before the spectators, was indicated in a concluding narrative. All Montchrestien's tragedies are drawn up on this plan; and he is so faithful to the old classic form that he retains even the chorus. It is worthy of notice, however, that what has been called "dialogue cornélien", that quick alternation of antithetical couplets and even single lines, suggestive of the sharp clashing of swords in the hands of two well-matched opponents, is one of the characteristics of his manner, and is handled by him with considerable skill and vigour.

[Pg 133] In the Stuart tragedy the "entreparleurs" are the Queen of Scots, the Queen of England, an anonymous Councillor, Davison, a Master of the Household, a Messenger, a Page, and two Choruses, one composed of Mary's female attendants, and another consisting of the "Estates" of England. The first act is opened by Elizabeth, who, in a long speech which she addresses to her Councillor, bewails her hard fate and her precarious tenure of both crown and life. She is particularly hurt at the ingratitude of the Queen of Scots, whom she has deprived of her liberty, it is true, but otherwise treated right royally. And apostrophizing the rival whose fair face hides so much disloyalty, envy, and spite, so much fury and so much daring, she asks her whether her heart is not touched at the thought of the countless ills to which England must become a prey if it should lose its lawful Sovereign.

"Une Reine exilée, errante, fugitive, Se degageant des siens qui la tenoient captive, Vint surgir à nos bords contre sa volonté: Car son cours malheureux tendoit d'autre costé. Je l'ay bien voirement dés ce temps arrestée, Mais, hors la liberté Royalement traitée; Et voulant mille fois sa chaine relascher, Je ne sçay quel destin est venu m'empescher.
O cœur trop inhumain pour si douce beauté, Puis que tu peux couver tant de desloyauté, D'envie et de despit, de fureur et d'audace, Pourquoy tant de douceur fais-tu lire en ta face? Tes yeux qui tous les cœurs prennent à leurs appas, Sans en estre troublez, verront-ils mon trespas? Ces beaux Astres luisans au ciel de ton visage, De ma funeste mort seront-ils le présage? [Pg 134]
N'auras-tu point le cœur touché d'affliction, Voyant ceste belle Isle en desolation, En proye à la discorde en guerres allumée, Au meurtre de ses fils par ses fils animée? Verras-tu sans douleur les soldats enragez, Massacrer à leurs pieds les vieillards outragez, Egorger les enfants presence de leurs peres Les pucelles forcer au giron de leurs meres, Et les fleuves encor regorger sur leurs bords Par les pleurs des vivans et par le sang des morts?"[183]

Enlarging on this idea, the Councillor urges the Queen to put her prisoner to death:—It is a pious deed to kill a murderess; it cannot be displeasing to a just God that punishment should be inflicted on the wicked; and, moreover, has not the impunity of vice often brought ruin and death on kingdoms and on kings? To such arguments as these, Elizabeth replies that kings and queens are answerable to God alone; that Sovereigns who put their enemies to death increase instead of diminishing their number; and that severity only engenders hatred. And her last words contain the half-expressed resolve to try what clemency will do to disarm her rival. This the Councillor meets with the significant question—

"d'un ingrat obligé Que peut-on espérer que d'en être outragé?"[184]

To close the act the Chorus then appears and sings the delights of the golden age and the simple life, as compared with the troubles and anxieties that embitter the existence of princes.

[Pg 135] When the short second act opens, sentence of death has been passed on Mary Stuart, and the Estates of England appear before their Queen to demand that, for their safety, the sentence shall be carried out. Elizabeth accedes so far as to promise that she will leave the matter in their hands. But that is only a device to gain time. As soon as she is by herself, she calls up a vivid picture of what foreign nations and posterity will think of her if she allows the blood of a Sovereign to stain the scaffold, and is so horrified at it that she determines to interfere. She leaves the stage and disappears from the tragedy with the words:

"Je rompray cependant le coup de l'entreprise".[185]

In spite of the hopes inspired by Elizabeth, the next act introduces Davison, who has been dispatched to notify her sentence to the royal prisoner, and who, in an effective monologue, expresses his sense of the responsibility which he is incurring and of the odium which he will be made to bear:

"La charge qu'on m'impose est certes bien fascheuse, Mais je crains qu'elle soit encor plus perilleuse: Je vay fraper un coup, mais soudain je le voy, Je le voy, malheureux, retomber dessus moy.
Justement poursuivi de rancune et d'envie, Pour m'estre à ce forfait ainsi tost resolu, De tous également je seray mal voulu.
[Pg 136] Sur moy seul tout de mesme on voudra desormais Prendre vengeance d'elle, et je n'en pourray mais: Où ceux qui sont auteurs du mal de ceste Reine, Au milieu de mes pleurs se riront de ma peine. Le sort est bien cruel qui me donne la loy! Je ne le veux point faire et faire je le doy: Il faut bien le vouloir; car c'est force forcée; Tremblant je m'y resous."[186]

Davison is followed by Mary, whom her attendants accompany. In a touching speech she tells the sad story of her life—her unhappy childhood, her brief reign in France, her return to her Scottish kingdom, of which the distracted state is described in a few vigorous lines:

"Ayant laissé glisser dedans la fantaisie La folle opinion d'une rance hérésie, Ayant pour un erreur fardé de nouveauté Abreuvé son esprit de la déloyauté, Il esmeut furieux des querelles civiles, Il révolte les champs, il mutine les villes, Il conjure ma honte et me recherche à tort Croyant qu'à mon espoux j'eusse brassé la mort."[187]

To this accusation of having plotted the death of her husband she replies with an impassioned apostrophe to him, calling upon him to rise from the dead and bear witness to her innocence. Then she recalls her flight from Scotland, and, forgetful of historical fact, attributes it to adverse fate and a furious storm that she was obliged to land on the inhospitable shores of the barbarous English:

[Pg 137] "Peuple double et cruel, dont les suprêmes loix Sont les loix de la force et de la tyrannie, Dont le cœur est couvé de rage et félonie Dont l'œil se paist de meutre et n'a rien de plus cher Que voir le sang humain sur la terre espancher."[188]

And now that no hope of liberty remains, the royal captive longs for the death which she believes to have already been prepared for her. At this point there is a really dramatic situation. The sorrowing Queen has scarcely been assured by the Chorus that her enemies will not dare proceed to such extremes, when a page announces the approach of a royal messenger. It is Davison. He has come to make her death sentence known to the prisoner, who welcomes it as the news of her speedy deliverance.

The fourth act is a lofty elegy—Mary's farewell to the world. The tender and touching lines with which it opens indicate the spirit with which it is animated throughout.

"Voici l'heure derniére en mes vœux désirée Où je suis de longtemps constamment préparée; Je quitte sans regret ce limon vitieux Pour luire pure et nette en la clarté des Cieux, Où l'esprit se radopte à sa tige éternelle, Afin d'y refleurir d'une vie immortelle. Ouvre-toi, Paradis!... Et vous anges tuteurs des bienheureux fidéles, Déployez dans le vent les cerceaux de vos ailes, Pour recevoir mon âme entre vos bras, alors Qu'elle et ce chef royal voleront de mon corps ... Humble et dévotieuse, à Dieu je me présente [Pg 138] Au nom de son cher fils, qui sur la croix fiché Dompta pour moi l'Enfer, la mort et le péché ... Tous ont failli, Seigneur, devant ta sainte face; Si par là nous étions exilés de ta grâce, A qui serait enfin ton salut réservé? Qu'aurait servi le bois de tant de sang lavé?"[189]

In the fifth act, devoted to the usual narrative of the catastrophe, a messenger tells the Master of the Household how nobly and bravely his mistress met her death:

"Comme elle est parvenue au milieu de la salle, Sa face paroist belle encor qu'elle soit palle, Non de la mort hastée en sa jeune saison, Mais de l'ennuy souffert en si longue prison.
Comme tous demeuroient attachez à sa veue De mille traits d'amour mesme en la mort pourveue, D'un aussi libre pied que son cœur estoit haut, Elle monte au coupeau du funebre eschaffaut, Puis sousriant un peu de l'œil et de la bouche: Je ne pensois mourir en cette belle couche; Mais puis qu'il plaist à Dieu user ainsi de moi, Je mourray pour sa gloire en deffendant ma foy. Je conqueste une Palme en ce honteux supplice, Où je fay de ma vie à son nom sacrifice, Qui sera celebrée en langages divers; Une seule couronne en la terre je pers, Pour en posseder deux en l'eternel Empire, La Couronne de vie, et celle du Martyre.
[Pg 139] Ce dit sur l'eschaffaut ployant les deux genoux, Se confesse elle mesme, et refrappe trois coups Sa poitrine dolente et baigne ses lumieres De pleurs devotieux qui suivent ses prieres.
Puis tournant au Bourreau sa face glorieuse: Arme quand tu voudras ta main injurieuse, Frappe le coup mortel, et d'un bras furieux Fay tomber le chef bas et voler l'âme aux cieux. Il court oyant ces mots se saisir de la hache; Un, deux, trois, quatre coups sur son col il delasche; Car le fer aceré moins cruel que son bras Vouloit d'un si beau corps differer le trespas. Le tronc tombe à la fin, et sa mourante face Par trois ou quatre fois bondit dessus la place."[190]

The lamentations of the Chorus close the pathetic scene. This is not yet tragedy; but it is not far from being splendid in parts. It is the work, if not of a dramatist, at least of an eloquent rhetorician combined with a lyric poet of high gifts. And when it is remembered that the play was written before his twenty-fifth year, by the man who afterwards showed his keen power of analysis and his psychological insight in his treatise on political economy, it is justifiable to regret that the circumstances of his adventurous life induced him to abandon the literary career which had opened so auspiciously for him.

[Pg 140]


[Pg 141]


The original Loretto—or, as it should more correctly be spelt, Loreto—is an Italian town situated in the province of Ancona, and only a few miles from the shores of the Adriatic. Its four to five thousand inhabitants consist mainly of dealers in objects of piety and in beggars, and its only importance lies in the fame of its shrine, to which many thousands of pilgrims resort yearly.

The cult of Our Lady of Loreto is based on one of the most marvellous, not to say the most daring, of medieval legends. According to the traditional account, St. Helena, the mother of Constantine, had caused a church to be built at Nazareth, over the cottage which the Blessed Virgin had once inhabited. That church the Saracens overthrew. They were preparing to destroy the Santa Casa itself when, on the night of May 12, 1291, angels, anticipating and surpassing the feats of modern engineering, transported it into Dalmatia. For various reasons it was again removed three successive times from one locality to another, until it finally took its stand on the high road between Recanati and the sea. There is a divergence of opinions as to the origin of the name by which the magnificent shrine which shelters [Pg 142] the Santa Casa has become known through the whole world. Some authorities attribute it to the fact that the Holy House was deposited in a field belonging to a widow called Lauretta, whilst others connect it with the existence of a laurel grove on the site chosen by the carrier angels. In addition to the cottage, and within it, there is a statue of the Madonna. It is attributed to St. Luke, whom medieval legends commonly regarded as portraitist-in-ordinary to the Virgin Mary. Another relic consists of the dish out of which the Virgin ate. The popularity which the shrine of Loreto acquired through the ages may be estimated from the fact that towards the end of the eighteenth century its wealth was valued at more than a million sterling. In 1797 Pius VI was obliged to draw on its treasury in order to fulfil the conditions imposed on him by the Treaty of Tolentino. War having again broken out, the French occupied Loreto and took possession of the miraculous statue, which was relegated to a shelf beneath that occupied by a mummy in the Cabinet des Médailles of the Bibliothéque Nationale. Napoleon restored it to the Pope in 1802.

The fame acquired by the Italian Loreto led to the establishment, in other countries, of similar shrines—branch establishments for the granting of indulgences and the performance of miracles. Of such Scotland possessed at least two. One of them, which does not seem to have acquired more than a local reputation, was in Perth. The other stood "beyond the eastern gate of Musselburgh and on [Pg 143] the margin of the links". The date and circumstances of its foundation are set forth by the Diurnal of Remarkable Occurrents, which, amongst the entries for 1533, has the following:—"In this mene tyme thair came ane heremeit, callit Thomas Douchtie, in Scotland, quha haid bein lang capitane (?captive) before the Turk, as was allegit, and brocht ane ymage of our Lady with him, and foundit the Chappel of Laureit, besyid Musselburgh". In addition to this evidence there is a charter of James V, dated July 29, 1534, and confirming the grant by the Bailies, of a "petra" of land in the territory of Musselburgh, to Thomas Duthy, of the Order of St. Paul, first hermit of Mount Sinai, for the erection of a chapel in honour of Almighty God and of Blessed Mary of Laureto.[191]

Beside sanctioning the foundation of the shrine, James gave it a tangible proof of his patronage. In August, 1534, as is shown by the Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer, he spent £22, 13s. 2d. in purchasing the materials and paying for the making and ornamenting of albs, amices, stoles, chasubles, and altar towels.[192] [Pg 144] We learn from John Lesley, Bishop of Ross, that, in 1536, before setting out on his voyage to France for the purpose of bringing home the Lady Magdalene as his bride, the King, being in Stirling, "passit thairfra on his feitt, in pilgrimag to the Chappell of Lorrett, besid Mussilburgh". This statement is borne out by an entry in the Liber Emptorum: "Hodie (9th August), soluto disjunio, rex pedestre peregrinavit de Stirling versus Sanctam Mariam de Laureit et pernoctabat in Edinburgh".[193] The Accounts supply the further information that on this occasion he made a gift of four altar towels, two of "Dornik", that is, of the diapered linen cloth manufactured at Tournay, and two of bleached Breton canvas. Including twenty shillings "for sewing of XX crocis upoun the saidis towellis", the expense incurred amounted to £6, 11s. 6d. The sum of fourteen shillings was left with the "chapellanis of Lawrete to pray for the Kingis Grace"; and a further offering of two crowns was made after the actual embarkation at Newhaven.[194]

[Pg 145] Thomas Duthie's foundation throve under the influence of royal favour, and from all parts of the country, pilgrimages to the shrine were performed, as Sir David Lyndsay testifies:

"I have seen pass ane marvellous multitude Young men and women flingand on thair feit, Under the forme of feinzeit sanctitude, For till adore ane image in Laureit."[195]

The satirist taxes the pilgrims with licentiousness, and alleges that

"Mony came with thair marrowis for to meit".[196]

Against the "Heremeit of Lawreit" himself he brings the charge that

"He pat the common peple in beleve That blynd gat seycht and crukit gat their feit, The quhilk that palyard no way can appreve".[197]

According to Row's History of the Kirk of Scotland, the popularity of the Musselburgh shrine was enhanced by the claim that it possessed, in addition to its general healing powers, a special obstetrical virtue, of which women secured the benefits by sending handsome presents to the priest and friars.[198]

[Pg 146] That Duthie was a personage of some importance in his day may be gathered from the fact that the Earl of Glencairn wrote a "pasquinal" which Knox and Calderwood have preserved and which was entitled "Ane Epistill direct frae the halie Hermeit of Alareit to his Brethren the Gray Friars". But the success of his venture engendered envy, and Calderwood tells, with many caustic comments, how John Scott, "a landed man", having failed to get himself accepted as a partner in the Loretto concern, set up in competition with it. This John Scott had had a strange career, of which the sketch given by the historian, in his quaint language, is interesting enough to be reproduced. "Before his departure out of this country, he had succumbed in an action of law, and because he was not able to pay the sum which the other party had evicted, he took sanctuary at Holyroodhouse. There he abstained from meat and drink certain days. The bruit of his abstinence coming to the King's ears, the King caused put him into David's tower, in the Castle of Edinburgh, and bread and water to be set beside him. He abstained from eating and drinking thirty-two days. When he was let forth, the people came flocking to him. He uttered many idle speeches, and among the rest, that by the help of the Blessed Virgin, he could fast suppose never so long time. He went to Rome, where he was committed to prison, by Pope Clement, till trial was taken of his abstinence. He is set at liberty, and a sealed testimonial granted to him, with a seal of lead, and some mass clothes. After he had given the like proof at Venice, he got fifty ducats to supply his charges to Jerusalem. He brought with him from Jerusalem some date-tree leaves, and a pocke full of stones, which he fained were taken out of the pillar to which Christ was bound when he was scourged. By the way, when he was at London, he made an harangue against King Henry's divorce, and shaking off the Pope's authority, at Paul's Cross. [Pg 147] He was thereupon committed to prison, but was set at liberty, after he had been keeped fifty days, all which space he abstained from meat and drink." It was on his return to Scotland, shortly after this, that Scott tried to get himself associated to Duthie. His overtures having been rejected, he "erected an altar in a chamber near Edinburgh, whereon he set his daughter, a young maid, and wax candles about her burning, to be worshipped in place of the Virgin Mary".[199] But the fame of Loretto was proof against such competition, and Scott had to retire from the unequal contest with Duthie.

In 1544, the Chapel of Our Lady of Lauret, together with a part of Musselburgh, was "brennt and desolated" by the English army under the Earl of Hertford. The shrine was rebuilt, however, and continued to attract devotees till the Restoration closed it. Very shortly before this, its prestige is said to have suffered greatly from the alleged discovery of a fraud practised by its priests in pretending to have restored the sight of a boy whom they falsely affirmed to have been born blind.

[Pg 148] The whole incident is set forth at great length in Row's History. The hero of the story is Robert Colvill, Laird of Cleishe, who was commonly known as Squire Meldrum, and who, on that account, has sometimes been mistaken for the character celebrated by Lyndsay. He is described as "a gentleman of good understanding and knowledge, sound in the Reformed religion, and most zealous and stoute for the Reformation". But his wife, one of the Colquhouns of Luss, was a Catholic, and finding herself in need of such help as "the Ladie and Saints of Allarite" were supposed to have it in their power to give, she posted off her servant "with ane offering of gold, with her sarke (according to the custome), that shee might get easie delyverie". Her husband learning this, also hurried off, with the intention of hindering such a superstitious use of his money. He rode all the way to Loretto, however, without overtaking the messenger; and, on his arrival at the shrine, he was no less scandalized than surprised to find "the whole adjacent countrey of Mers, Tweedale, East, Middle, and West Lothians, convened to see ane miracle", the performance of which had been announced for that very day. "For the Papists, perceiving the Reformation to goe on quicklie, and fearing that their [Pg 149] religion should be abandoned, the kirkmen, the Archbishops, Bishops, Preists, Freires, &c., consulted and advysed, and, after deliberation, resolved, that the best wayes to maintaine and uphold their Religion, wes to worke some miracle to confirme the people, (as they thought) that Poperie wes the true religion; and, therefore, they caused proclame in Edinburgh that on such a day there wes a great miracle to be wrought at St. Allerite's Chapell, for a man that wes borne blind, and had begged all his dayes, being a blind man, wes to be cured and receive his sight."

Such was the performance for which Squire Meldrum had arrived in time. And, indeed, he saw how an apparently blind beggar was brought forward on to a platform, and how, after certain ceremonies had been gone through, he seemed to recover the use of his eyes, and came down rejoicing amongst the people, who gave him money. But the Squire was not to be so easily convinced. On the contrary, he determined "to doe his best to find out the lurking deceit whereby the people were miserablie deceived". With this object in view, when the beggar, in whose way he contrived to put himself, asked him for a dole, he gave him not only an exceptionally large sum of money, but sympathetic words as well. "You are a verie remarkable man," he said, "on whom such a miracle has been wrought, I will have you to goe with me to be my servant." The beggar readily agreed, and mounting on horseback behind the Squire's attendant, rode off with his new master [Pg 150] to Edinburgh. When the party reached Meldrum's lodgings, matters took a new turn. Locking the door upon himself and his new servant, drawing his sword, and assuming "a fierce countenance", the Squire said to the man: "Thou villane and deceiver of the people of God, either tell me the treuth of these things that I am to aske of you now presentlie, or els I will take upon me, with my sword, to cutt off thy head; for I am ane magistrate appointed by God to doe justice; and I am assured that all the preists and freirs, all the saints, nor the Pope himselfe, cannot work a miracle such as they pretend to do, namely, to cure a blind man. Therefor thou and they are but deceivers of the people; and either tell me the veritie, or els with this sword I will presentlie—as ane magistrate in this case—put ye to death." The poor wretch, thus taken unawares and terrified out of all thought of resistance, consented to do and to say whatever might be required of him. And the remarkable story which he told is reported in what professes to be his own language:—

"When I wes a young lad I wes a herd, and keeped the Sisters of the Sheines's sheep, and in my wantonness and pastime I used often to flype up the lids of my eyes, so that any bodie wold have trewed that I wes blind. I using often to play this pavie, the nunnes, the Sisters of the Sheines (so they were commonly called), did sometymes see me doe it and laugh at me. Then the Sisters send in word to Edinburgh that their sheppeard lad could play such a pavie. The kirkmen in Edinburgh hearing of such [Pg 151] a thing, came out to the Sheines, and desired to see that sheppeard lad. I being brought and playing this pavie befor them, walking up and doune with my eyelids up, and the whyte of my eyes turned up as if I had been blind. The kirkmen that conveened there to see me, advised the Sisters, the Nunnes of the Sheines, to get another lad to keep their sheep, and to keep me hid in one of their volts or cellars for some years, ay till they thought meet to bring me out, and to make use of me as they pleased, and so, Sir, I wes keeped and fed in one of the volts, no bodie knowing that I wes there but the kirkmen and the Nunnes of the Sheines, for the space of seven or eight years. Then, Sir, they conveened me againe, and brought me befor them, and caused me sweare a great oath that I sould faine my selfe to be a blind man, and they put one to lead me through the countrey that I might beg as a blind man in the day tyme; but in the night, and also when I pleased, I put doune my eyelids and saw well enough, and I to this houre never revealed this to any; yea, my leader knew not but I wes blind indeed."

Next morning Squire Meldrum and the detected impostor, in accordance with a plan carefully devised by the former, betook themselves to the Mercat Crosse. There, after having attracted the attention of the public by thrice repeating the accustomed cry of "O yes!" the erstwhile blind beggar recited a speech which Meldrum had prepared for him, and in which he gave those who had seen the miraculous cure of the day before all the details of the fraud [Pg 152] which he had helped to practise on them. Then, springing on to horses that were held in readiness for them, Meldrum and he galloped away towards Queensferry, on their way to Fifeshire, where they could depend on the protection of the Lords of the Congregation, and where they might defy "the preists, freiers, and the rest of that deceiving rabble".[200] And with this incident there is an end to the story of Loretto as a wonder-working shrine.

There is a charter which shows that, in 1569, Gavin Walker, "Chapline of the Chaplainerie of Loretto",[201] restored to the town the ground originally granted by it to Thomas Duthie. According to the brief notice contributed by "Jupiter" Carlyle to the old Statistical Account, the Chapel was demolished in 1590, and the materials were utilized for the building of a new tolbooth. He states that "this is said to have been the first religious house in Scotland whose ruins were applied to an unhallowed use". That is not improbable. But when "Jupiter" goes on to record that for this act "the good people of Musselburgh are said to have been annually excommunicated, till very lately, at Rome", he helps to perpetuate a tradition of which his own common sense might have shown him the improbability—not to use a harsher term.


[Pg 153]



The May, situated at the entrance to the Firth of Forth, is the largest of the islets that stud the waters of the estuary between the coast of Fife and that of the Lothians. It lies ten miles to the north-east of Dunbar, and five to the south-west of Fifeness. Its greatest length is from east to west, and measures about a mile. Its width is greatest at the western extremity, and may be estimated at rather more than half a mile. The shape of the island is exceedingly irregular. At the south-western point a mass of precipitous rock gives it an imposing and picturesque appearance, but to the east and to the north the cliffs terminate abruptly, and are flanked by stretches of comparatively low-lying coast. Between their respective extremities the seaboard, which faces the north-east, is rugged and difficult of access, but does not otherwise present a striking outline.

In former days there were four landing-places, known as Tarpithol, Altarstanes, Pilgrims-haven, and Kirk-haven. At present there are but two. One of them is on the western side, where a gully, forming a kind of natural harbour, has been provided with a ladder, which is not, however, always [Pg 154] available to large boats, and at certain states of the tide access to the island involves a considerable amount of clambering over the rocks. The other is situated on the north-east shore. It consists of a wharf, or rather slip, built at the head of one of the many coves. Its depth of water is less than that of the western harbour, but it has the advantage of being more sheltered.

The surface of May Island is uneven, but covered in most parts with excellent turf; and, according to Sibbald, its name, "which in the ancient Gothic signifieth a green island", was given to it "because of its commodiousness for pasture, for it is all green grass". According to the same writer, it was supposed to afford ample sustenance for a hundred sheep and some twenty cows, and was let as a grazing ground for £26 per annum. In the Statistical Account of Scotland, published in 1792, the Reverend James Forrester states, on the authority of a "very intelligent farmer", who had dealt in sheep for above thirty years, and who had had them from all the different corners of Scotland, that there is no place so well adapted for improving wool as the Island of May; that the fleeces of the coarsest-woolled sheep that ever came from the worst pasture in Scotland, when put on the island, became as fine as satin in the course of one season; that their flesh had also a superior flavour; and that rabbits bred on the May had a finer fur than those which were reared on the mainland.[202] The waters in the neighbourhood [Pg 155] of the isle were long famous for their abundance of fish; and an old writer states that, in his time, many seals were slain on the east side of it.[203] At the present day the seals have wholly disappeared, and the fishing grounds are practically deserted. In a few of the more sheltered spots some attempt at cultivation has been made, but the result hardly seems to repay the labour. One feature which has always been considered of special importance is the possession of fresh water. The names of five wells are given—the Lady's Well, the Pilgrim's Well, St. John's Well, St. Andrew's Well, and the Sheep Well; but the water is not equally good in all. The most accessible is not far from the western landing-place, and by the side of the cart road that runs through the length of the island. A small lake mentioned by Sibbald is still to be seen, and is utilized.

Ecclesiastically the Isle of May belongs to the parish of Anstruther-Wester; and in the days when it was inhabited by fourteen or fifteen families, the minister of the mother church was supposed to visit them once every year.

The earliest description of the Isle of May is given by Jean de Beaugué, a French gentleman who came to Scotland in 1548 in the company of Monsieur de Dessé, the leader of the forces sent over by Henry II in support of the party that opposed the aggressive policy of England. His account represents the island as possessing coal [Pg 156] mines, stone quarries, excellent pasturage, and abundant springs of fresh water, and as being admirably suited to afford safe anchorage to thirty or forty ships. If it were fortified and inhabited, he says, the Scotch and those foreigners who traded with them might navigate freely, without being reduced to the necessity of waiting for favourable winds to enable them to sail from Leith or Burntisland. By this means the whole country would derive immediate benefit from the proximity of an island that had hitherto served no better purpose than that of affording a convenient retreat to all the pirates who infested the coast, and who not only interfered with the fisheries and with the trade, but also harassed the armaments of the Scotch and of their allies.[204]

In Hector Boece's account of Scotland there is but a brief reference to the Isle of May "amang mony uther ilis" in the Firth of Forth. He mentions, as a natural curiosity, that, "in the middis of this Ile there springis ane fontane of fresche and purifyit water outhrow ane roche crag, to the gret admiratioun of peple, considerin it lyis in the middis of the seis". But its chief distinction, in his eyes, is that it was "decorit with the blude and martirdome of Sanct Adriane and his fallowis".[205]

The history, or, as it is perhaps more correct to call it, the legend of Adrian the Martyr of the May, is to be found in the Breviary of Aberdeen. It is there stated that he was born in the parts of Hungary [Pg 157] and in the province of Pannonia, that he was of royal descent and of episcopal rank, and that his diligence in the sacred order was testified by the many clerics and seculars who were his companions. Desiring to benefit other nations, and inflamed with zeal for the Christian religion, Adrian betook himself to the eastern parts of Scotia, then occupied by the Picts, having along with him six thousand six hundred and six companions, among whom the most noteworthy were Glodiarus, who was crowned with martyrdom; Gayus and Monarus, white-robed confessors; Stobrandus, and other bishops adorned with the mitre. The names of the rest are written in purple blood in the Book of Life.

These holy men wrought many signs and wonders in the midst of the Picts; but at length, desiring a habitation of their own, they expelled the demons and wild beasts from the Island of May, and there made a place of prayer. They gave themselves up to devotion until the Danes, after devastating all Britannia, which is now called Anglia, landed on the island, when the holy confessors of God opposed them with the spiritual weapons of heavenly warfare. The enemy, not brooking their zealous preaching and their increasing confession of the most glorious name of Christ, rushed with their swords on the Blessed Adrian, the victim of the Lord, and crowned him with a glorious martyrdom. And in order that, concerning them, the words of the prophet should be verified anew, where the disconsolate Rachel is said to have bewailed her children, those most cruel [Pg 158] executioners fell upon the holy and heavenly multitude who persevered in confessing Christ, and who, like sheep, fell under their swords in the Isle of May, where the martyrs of God, who, in this life, loved to serve him together, in death were not separated. There was one spirit in them and one faith. In that Isle of May there was anciently erected a monastery of well-hewn stone, which was destroyed by the Angles. But the church remains to this day, much visited for its miracles by the people, and women who go thither in the hope of offspring are not disappointed. There is also a famous cemetery, where the bodies of the martyrs repose. Such is the account of the Breviary.[206] The date ascribed to the event narrated in it is the fourth day of March, in the year 875.

In his Cronykil of Scotland Andrew Wyntoun sums up the legend in the following lines:

"This Constantyne than regnand, Oure the Scottis in Scotland, Saynt Adriane wyth hys cumpany Came off the land off Hyrkany, And arrywyd in to Fyffe, Quhare that thai chesyd to led thar lyff. At the Kyng than askyd thai Leve to preche the Crystyn fay. That he granted wyth gud will, And thaire lykyng to fulfille, And [leif] to dwell in to his land, Quhare thai couth ches it mayst plesand. Than Adriane wyth hys cumpany Togydder come tyl Caplaweby. Thare sum in to the Ile off May Chesyd to byde to thare euday.
[Pg 159] ——————
Hwb, Haldane, and Hyngare Off Denmark this tyme cummyn ware In Scotland wyth gret multitude, And wyth thare powere it oure-yhude (over-ran). In hethynes all levyd thai; And in dispyte off Crystyn fay In to the land thai slwe mony, And put to dede by martyry. And upon Haly Thurysday Saynt Adriane thai slwe in May Wyth mony off hys cumpany; In to that haly Ile thai ly."[207]

It may be incidentally mentioned that another saint, Mungo, the patron of Glasgow, is slightly and indirectly connected with the May. According to legend, St. Thenaw's father ordered her to be stoned and cast in a chariot from the top of Taprain Law, in punishment of her supposed sin. Having been miraculously preserved from destruction, she was then accused of witchcraft, and the father was urged by his heathen subjects to expose her in a boat made of twigs and pitch and covered with leather. In this coracle she was carried out to the Ile of May, whence, attended by a company of fishes, she was wafted to Culross, where she gave birth to St. Mungo.[208] There may not impossibly be some [Pg 160] connection between this legend and the efficacity subsequently attributed to pilgrimages to the May when performed by women; and it is said to be from St. Thenaw that various spots in the island—the Lady's Well, the Lady's Bed, the Maiden Rocks, and the Maiden's Hair—are called.

It is usually stated that the monastery to which the Breviary of Aberdeen makes reference was founded by King David, and that he bestowed it upon the monks of Reading, in England, as a "cell", or dependency of their great abbey. But, as Dugdale points out, there is no actual proof of this in that monarch's charters. By the first of them he merely gives to the Church of May, and to the Prior and monks of the same place, a certain toft in Berwick in perpetual alms for the sake of his soul and the souls of his ancestors and successors; and by the second he enlarges his donation by gifts in Balegallin and other places, to hold, indeed, of him and of his heirs, but without any indication that he was the founder. At the same time, it must be admitted that the silence of the charters is no convincing proof of the contrary.

King William, grandson of David, confirmed to God and the Church of All Saints of May, and to William, the Prior, and to his successors, brethren of the Cluniac order, in free and perpetual alms, the donations made by his grandfather David, of pious memory, and by his predecessor and brother, King Malcolm. The contribution of the latter sovereign to these benefactions appears to have been the [Pg 161] grant of a toll of five marks by the year from ships arriving at Perth. King William also enjoins all persons fishing round the Island of May to pay their due tithes to God and the aforesaid church without reserve. He also commands that no one shall unjustly detain from them the tithes to which they were entitled in the time of King David, on pain of forfeiture; nor shall anyone presume to fish in their waters, to construct buildings on the Isle of May, to dig land, or to cut grass there, without their licence. He moreover grants and confirms to them one mansion, with a toft in Dunbar, and the use of a vessel for transporting the necessaries of their household, as Earl Gospatric had granted, and King Malcolm confirmed to them. By later charters he bestows upon the Priory a grant of fourpence from all ships having four hawsers, coming to the ports of Pittenweem and Anstruther for the purpose of catching or selling fish, and also from boats with fixed helms. Of the "can" or duty collected at those ports he enjoins that the tenth penny shall be paid to the monks, but reserves the bulk for himself. He also gives them the lands of Petother, and further shows his goodwill towards them by exempting the men dwelling on their lands from military service—de exercitu et expeditione—and also from the payment of can and toll, and by extending the latter privilege to all who come to fish in their waters.[209]

[Pg 162] It was not only to the liberality of their kings that the Monks of the May were indebted for the extensive and valuable lands which they owned on both sides of the firth. From Gospatric, the powerful Border Earl, they received a toft near his harbour of Bele. To this his successor, Patrick, Earl of Dunbar, added five acres of land near the same harbour. He also made over to them all the land "from Windydure to Kingissete, and so by the footpath coming down to Kingsburn, and from thence up by the high road which goes by the Rede Stane and by that road to Windydure, with common pasture". In addition to this he released them from the annual payment of a cow, which they had made till then for the lands which they held from him in Lambermor.[210]

Another benefactor, whose liberality is recorded in the Registry of the Priory of St. Andrews, was John Fitz-Michael. From him the monks got the lands of Mayschelis, in the Lambermor, on the south side of Calwerburne, together with an acre of meadow, and with pasture sufficient for three hundred mother sheep, thirty bearing cows, and twenty-four brood mares with their young. They were, further, to have ten sows with their brood in Fitz-Michael's pasture; and the men living on the land were allowed the privilege of taking as much peat and turf as was necessary for use in their own houses. To complete this handsome donation, it was declared free from all hosting, service, exaction, and multure.[211] The lands of Ardarie, in Fife, consisting [Pg 163] of a carucate and a bovate, were made over to the prior and monks of May by William of Beaueyr, in perpetual alms, for the salvation of Countess Ada, of Malcolm the King, her son, and of William, the reigning sovereign. The island community was also to have the reversion of two bovates which William had given in dowry to his wife, and of one bovate which he had granted in life tenure to his sergeant, Ralph.[212] From Eggou Ruffus the monks received some land adjoining his own property of Lingoch; whilst Alexander Cumyn, Earl of Buchan, made a yearly donation of a stone of wax, or forty shillings, to be received at Rossy, at the fair of St. Andrew. Finally, a part of the Moor of Barewe, extending westwards from the foot of the hill of Whitelawe, was gifted to the priory by Gilbert of Saint Martin.[213]

But, besides the records which thus testify to the esteem in which the Monks of May were held, and to the substantial marks of favour granted them by munificent patrons, there also exist documents which tell of less friendly relations between them and other landowners on the mainland, and of protracted litigation with rival claimants. Thus, an agreement arrived at in the year 1260, between the community on the one side and Sir John de Dundemore on the other, with regard to the ownership of the lands of Turbrech, in Fife, refers to the "many altercations" to which the question had given rise, and sets forth the terms of settlement arrived at by the contending [Pg 164] parties. Sir John was to make over to the monks the contested property, in "free and perpetual alms, for the weal of his soul and the souls of his predecessors and of his successors". In return for this substantial concession, the Prior and Brethren undertook to grant him and his heirs in perpetuity a monk to perform divine service for them in the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In addition to this, they bound themselves to pay him, at their own option, either half a mark of silver yearly, or sixty "mulwelli"—probably haddock. If they chose to make payment in kind, the fish were to be supplied in two instalments—thirty at Whitsuntide and thirty at Martinmas. They further granted him and his heirs a glass lamp in the church of Ceres, with two gallons of oil, or twelve pence, yearly, for feeding it. The Lairds of Dundemore do not appear to have been altogether satisfied with the terms of a compromise which, so far as material interests were concerned, was obviously one-sided. As a protest against the total alienation of the lands of Turbrech, Henry de Dundemore demanded that the Prior of the May should swear fealty to him on account of them. The claim, which nothing in the charter formerly granted by Sir John seems to have justified, was resisted, whereupon Henry, compensating himself in a high-handed and tangible manner, distrained a horse belonging to the monks. The matter was referred to William, Bishop of St. Andrews. His decision is contained in a document dated in Cupar, on the first Monday after the [Pg 165] Purification of the Blessed Virgin, in the year of the Lord 1285. It is wholly adverse to the layman, whom it orders to restore the horse, within eight days, to its rightful owners.[214]


In the year 1242 we find the House of May appealing to the Court of the Archdeaconry of Lothian against the encroachment of an ecclesiastic. The case for the monks was that Adam Black, of Dunbar, had bequeathed to them a house and croft, together with two "perticates" of arable land, but that, at his death, the property in question had been occupied and unjustly detained by Patrick, Chaplain of Dunbar. When the matter came before the authorities, Patrick could not deny the justice of the claim put forward. That he himself was not without some justification for the course he had taken is suggested by the decision of the Court. It was that he should remain in possession of the house and grounds, but should make to the Priory a payment of three shillings a year for them. This settlement was made by William Mortimer as representing the Bishop of St. Andrews, and by Baldred, Dean of Lothian, within the parish church of Haddington, in presence of the incumbent and of the vicar of North Berwick.[215]

[Pg 166] When David I conveyed the Priory of May to the Monks of Reading, he also granted them the lands of Rindalgros, in Perthshire, where another cell for monks was erected, subject to the House of May. Here, too, questions of property and privilege brought the monks into conflict with their neighbours. Thus, between them and Duncan of Inchesiryth a dispute arose with regard to their respective fishing rights. The matter was so adjusted that both parties should be entitled to cast their nets in the contested waters, as it might suit them, and with no further restriction than the common use of the country.[216]

The records of the Priory also furnish details of disputes that arose between the Monks of May and other religious houses. Thus, in 1231, a case in which they were the pursuers came before a commission appointed by the Pope, and consisting of the Prior and of the Archdeacon of St. Andrews, together with the Dean of Fife. They complained that, although the church of Rind, with the teinds of the whole parish, belonged in property to them, the Brethren of Scone detained from them the tithes of four fishings—namely, of Sleples, Elpenslau, Chingil, and Inchesiryth—all situated within the bounds of the parish. After hearing the pleadings, allegations, and exceptions of both parties, the judges and their legal assessors decided that, for the sake of peace, the Monks of Scone should pay two merks of silver yearly to the House of May, and should, in return, be held free from all claims for the tithes.[217]

[Pg 167] A few years before this, in 1225, the Prior and Brethren of the May were themselves the defendants in an action raised by the House of Dryburgh. From the official statement of the case it appears that the Parish Church of Anstruther belonged to the former and that of Kilrenny to the latter, and that the two parishes were separated from each other by a stream. In view of the fact that the boats which fished in this stream were moored on the Kilrenny side and that their anchors were fixed within the bounds of the parish, where they remained for the night, the Canons of Dryburgh maintained that they were entitled to one-half of the tithes arising from such boats, whilst the Monks of May levied the whole. The Abbot and the Prior of Melrose and the Dean of Teviotdale, acting as Papal Commissioners, decided that, "for the sake of peace, the Monks of May should pay yearly one merk of silver within the Parish Church of Kilrenny to the Canons of Dryburgh, for which payment the monks were to be free of all claim on the part of the canons, providing the latter should receive full tithes from their proper parishioners—that is, from the parishioners receiving spiritual benefits in the church of Kilrenny and using the said part of the shore; and that the monks should receive full tithes from all coming from other quarters, and using the said part of the shore".[218]

Amongst the documents relating to the May there is one which records an agreement arrived at between the Prior and Convent on the one hand and [Pg 168] Malcolm, the King's Cupbearer, on the other, with regard to the Chapel of Ricardestone. The monks authorized the celebration of mass in the chapel by a chaplain from the House of Rindalgros, or some other in his stead, on every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday, as well as on the principal feast days, such being Christmas and the three days after it, the Purification, Easter, the Ascension, Pentecost, the Assumption, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, and All Saints. They also permitted that the holy bread—that is to say, the loaf offered by the people, blessed by the priest before the beginning of the mass, and distributed amongst the congregation—should be given there, but only by the men of the vill. There, too, the women of the vill—but they alone—might be churched, and also be heard in confession; but they were to pay the offering for wax to the Mother Church of Rindalgros, and there, too, were to receive communion at Easter. The Cupbearer himself and all his successors were to be at liberty to communicate either in the chapel or in the Mother Church. Malcolm might also have a priest attached to his chapel, provided such priest acknowledged submission to the Church of Rindalgros. In return for these concessions and privileges, the Cupbearer not only confirmed the gifts of land made by his father to the chapel, but also added a grant of other four acres in pure and perpetual alms.[219]

[Pg 169] Apart from such incidents as the Records of the Priory of May indicate, there seems to have been only one event of importance in connection with it for more than a century from the time when King David conveyed it to the Monks of Reading, on condition that they should maintain in it nine priests of their brethren, to offer up the Mass for the benefit of his soul and of the souls of his predecessors and successors, Kings of Scotland. It is briefly referred to by the chronicler Torfæus in his account of one of Swein Asleif's expeditions. Steering southwards, he says, Swein and his followers arrived at the Isle of May. In that island there was a monastery, the abbot of which was named Baldwin. Being detained there for seven days, they professed to be ambassadors from Earl Ronald to the King of Scotland. The monks, suspecting them to be robbers, sent to the mainland for help. On this, Swein plundered the monastery, and took much booty. As a strangely inconsistent sequel to this story, Torfæus adds that Swein then sailed up the Firth of Forth, and found King David in Edinburgh; that the King received Swein with much honour, and entreated him to remain; and that Swein told David all that had occurred between him and Earl Ronald, and how he had plundered the Isle of May. The same historian also states that on another occasion Swein anchored at the Isle of May, from which he dispatched messengers to the King at Edinburgh.[220]

[Pg 170] Spottswood states, in his List of Religious Houses in Scotland, that the Priory of the May, originally put under the patronage of All Saints, was subsequently consecrated to the memory of St. Adrian. He does not, however, mention on what occasion. He adds that William Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrews, purchased it from the Abbot of Reading, and notwithstanding the complaints made thereupon by Edward Longshanks, King of England, bestowed it upon the canons regular of his cathedral. Fordun and Prynne both give details of the transaction; but from documents discovered at a later date and published in the Records of the Priory of the Isle of May,[221] it appears that neither of them states the case quite fully nor quite correctly. It is to be gathered from the proceedings relative to the claim of the Abbot and Convent of Reading on the Priory, that it was Robert de Burghgate, Abbot of Reading, who sold the Scottish "cell" to William, Bishop of St. Andrews, and that he received from him 1100 merks on account of the price. It would seem, however, that he effected this transaction contrary to the wish of the majority of his monks; and, on this ground, his successor, Abbot William, attempted to overturn it. In the Parliament of John Baliol, held at Scone on the 10th of February, 1292, John Sutton and Hugh Stanford, appearing as his representatives, demanded either possession of the Priory of May or payment of the balance of the price agreed to be paid for it, together with the fruits and [Pg 171] rents accruing from it during the preceding four years. Failing recognition of their claims, they were empowered to appeal to the judgment of the King of England—a significant instruction which shows that Edward intended to turn the dispute to account in the prosecution of his designs against the independence of Scotland.

When the English representatives presented their abbot's petition they were asked whether he was prepared to repay to the Bishop of St. Andrews the 1100 merks already received on account. They cautiously replied that they had not been sent to make any payment, and could not undertake to do so; and they requested that the case, which had been brought to a deadlock by reason of the Scottish counterclaim, might be adjourned to the next, or to some subsequent Parliament, so that they might have time to consult both the Abbot of Reading and the English King. To escape from the necessity of either recognizing or challenging the sovereign authority which Edward claimed, and by virtue of which it was intended to get the dispute settled in favour of the Monks of Reading, the Bishop of St. Andrews, on his side, appealed to the Roman See. The case being thus removed from the Scottish Court, Baliol had a plausible reason for refusing to proceed further in the matter. The English abbot's attorneys were not, however, satisfied with this move on the part of their opponents. Alleging a denial of justice in the Scottish Court, they appealed to King Edward as Lord Superior of the Kingdom [Pg 172] of Scotland. He consequently issued a writ, dated at Dunton on the 2nd of September, 1293, by which he cited John Baliol to appear before him within a fortnight of the feast of St. Martin. Baliol disregarded not only this first summons, but also two others, which respectively called upon him to appear within the octave of the feast of the Holy Trinity, and within a month after Easter. A fourth writ was then forwarded to the Sheriff of Northumberland. It was to be served by him in person on the Scottish King, whom it commanded to appear before his suzerain within a month after Michaelmas, and to bring with him the record of the proceedings in the Scottish Court prior to the appeal to the Holy See. In the absence of further documents bearing on the case, it may be assumed that "the final overthrow of the paramount claims of England, which was one of the happy results of Bannockburn, of course precluded any further English interference with the agreement which had rescued the Priory of May from an alien mother".[222]

The first extant document subsequent to the severance of the connection between the Scottish cell and the English monastery is dated the 1st of July, 1318, and is a deed of gift by which William, Bishop of St. Andrews, makes over to the Canons of the Monastery of St. Andrews an annual pension of sixteen merks formerly due by the Priory of May to the Monastery of Reading.[223] In 1415 there is an obligation by Henry, Bishop of St. Andrews, [Pg 173] for payment to the same canons of twenty pounds Scots out of the sequestrated revenues of the Priory of May. About the middle of the century the "Priory of Pittenweem or May" was annexed by Pope Paul II to the See of St. Andrews, as a mensal possession of the bishop's, during his lifetime. In 1472 this annexation was made perpetual by Pope Sixtus IV.[224]

In this deed of annexation, and in others anterior to it, from 1318 onwards, the alternative appellation "May or Pittenweem" occurs. According to the editor of the Records, the explanation seems to be "that the Monks of May had, from the first, erected an establishment of some sort on their manor of Pittenweem, on the mainland of Fife, which, after the priory was dissevered from the House of Reading and annexed to that of St. Andrews, became their chief seat, and that thereafter the monastery on the island was deserted in favour of Pittenweem, which was less exposed to the incursions of the English, nearer to the superior house at St. Andrews, and could be reached without the necessity of a precarious passage by sea".[225]

By a charter bearing the date of the 30th of January, 1549, John Roull, Prior of Pittenweem, feued the Isle of May to Patrick Learmonth of Dairsy, Provost of St. Andrews. The deed of conveyance describes the island as waste and spoiled by rabbits, which had once been an important source of revenue, but of which the warrens were now completely [Pg 174] destroyed. As reasons justifying the alienation of the May, Roull referred to its remoteness and to the consequent difficulty of access to it, to its unprofitableness, and to its liability to invasion by those ancient enemies, the English, who on the outbreak of hostilities were wont to take possession of it, thus rendering it a useless adjunct to his monastery. Amongst the rights ceded to Learmonth was that of patronage of the church, which was to be maintained, and to which he was to appoint a chaplain, for the purpose of continuing divine service therein, out of reverence for the relics and sepulchres of the saints interred in the island, and for the reception of pilgrims and their offerings, according to the custom of old times, and even within memory of man.[226]

Numerous records testify to the reverence in which the island shrine of St. Adrian was held during the fifteenth and the sixteenth century. Thus, it is stated that when Mary of Gueldres was on her way to Scotland in June, 1449, to become the wife of James II, she anchored near the May, and performed her devotions in the chapel before proceeding on her voyage to Leith.[227] It may be seen from entries in the Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer for Scotland that King James IV was a very assiduous pilgrim to the island, and a liberal patron of the hermit who had established his cell there. They record a visit which he paid in 1503. It [Pg 175] was not his first, as there is a brief notice of his having landed in 1490; but it is the earliest of which any details are supplied. He sailed from Leith, accompanied by a considerable retinue, amongst whom were the clerks of the Chapel Royal, who sang mass in the chapel on the island. After the celebration the Royal party took boat again, and, safely piloted in "the litill bark callit the Columb" by Robert Barton's mariners, who got fourteen shillings for their trouble, landed at Anstruther. On that occasion the hermit of May received nine shillings by the King's command. In the beginning of July, 1505, John Merchamestoun was commissioned to pass to Kinghorn, Dysart, and Kirkcaldy to seek mariners against the King's passing to May. Previous to the voyage, the King himself drew a hundred French crowns for his own purse. The men that rowed him to the ship received six shillings, and next day, those "that rowit the King fra his schippes to Maij, and to the schippes agane", got seven. Nine shillings were paid "to the botemen that brocht the Kingis stuf, and the maister cuke with the Kingis souper fra the schip to Maij, and fra Maij to the schip agane". The donation to the hermit amounted to five shillings and fourpence. Similar entries occur in 1506 and 1507; but those of the former of these years show additional sums for offerings of candles and of bread, and for a donation on behalf of the Queen. They also show that the royal ship was provided with nine cross-bows. In 1508 there is evidence of a shooting party [Pg 176] on the May. On the last day of June in that year sixteen pence were paid "to ane row bote that hed the King about the Isle of Maij to schut at fowlis with the culveryn". There were other three boats "that hed in the Kingis folkis and chanounis, with pairt of lardis of the contree". It was in the Lion that James came over from the mainland; and amongst the provisions with which she was supplied for the voyage mention is made of one puncheon of wine, three barrels of ale, and one hundred and four score "breid of wheat". It is not unworthy of notice that a charter, dated only a few days before the death of James IV at Flodden, makes special mention of the May.[228] It erects certain lands into a free barony in favour of Sir Andrew Wood of Largo on condition that he or his heirs should accompany the King and his Consort, or their successors, on their pilgrimages to the island.


An entry in the Register of the Privy Council for the year 1577 not only bears out de Beaugué's statement with regard to the presence of pirates about the May, but it also suggests the complicity of the people on the neighbouring coast. It sets forth that "the Council has thought convenient that the persons, buyers, and intromettors with the goods taken in piracy by a French ship of war lately frequenting about the May, shall be called before my [Pg 177] Lord Admiral and his deputies, as well to make surety that the same shall be forthcoming to the just owners, friends, and confederates of this realm, as to underlie punishment for buying and resset of unlawful gudis upon the stream, according to the laws and justice".

A peculiar use to which the May was put in 1580 is recorded in the same Register. Certain persons "infectit with the pest" having arrived within the waters and river of Tay, on board a ship of which John Anderson was master, charge had been given them to withdraw themselves, together with their ship and goods, with all possible diligence, to the Isle of May, and to remain there, under pain of death, till they were cleansed and had obtained licence to depart. In spite of that, they had gone farther up the Tay, with the intention of landing and selling their goods. They were consequently ordered a second time, under the same penalty, to be rigidly executed, to repair to the Isle of May; and the lieges were commanded, by open proclamation, at all places needful, not to suffer any of them to come to land or harbour, under the same penalty of death. If any of the infected persons violated the order, the Provost and Magistrates within whose bounds the transgression had taken place were to cause them and those who harboured them to be apprehended and executed; the infected houses were to be closed, and the ship, boats, and goods to be burnt.

[Pg 178] The first lay proprietor of the May, Patrick Learmonth, retained possession of the island for only two years. In 1551, it was conferred on Andrew Balfour of Monquhannie. Seven years later, it was again granted to John Forret of Fyngask, with the proviso that, in view of the exposed situation of the isle, he should not be bound to pay the feu duty at any time when there was war between Scotland and any foreign nation. A still later owner of the May was Allan Lamont, by whom it was sold to Alexander Cunningham, Laird of Barnes. Cunningham built on it "a convenient house, with accommodation for a family". It was he, too, who, at the request and for the benefit of the seafaring population of the towns situated on the northern coast of the firth, set up a lighthouse, the first on the Scottish seaboard, on the Isle of May. The Register of the Privy Council enables us to follow some of the negotiations entered upon with a view to its erection. In January, 1631, the Lords of the Privy Council, in consequence of Cunningham's application, ordered letters to be directed, charging the Provosts and Bailies of Edinburgh, Dundee, St. Andrews, Crail, Anstruther, Pittenweem, Dysart, Kirkcaldy, Kinghorn, and Burntisland to send commissioners to represent them before the Council, and to give their advice and opinion "anent ane propositioun made to the Kingis Majestie for erecting of lichts upon the Isle of May, as ane thing thought to be most necessarie and expedient for the saulfetie of shippes arryving within the Firth". The question of the costs which the upkeep of the light [Pg 179] would entail appears to have presented considerable difficulty at first. In spite of petitions from skippers and others most directly interested in the scheme, "the Lords of the Secret Council having heard and considered the report made by the commissioners for the burghs touching the lights craved by Alexander Cunningham of Barnes to be erected on the Isle of May, and being well advised therewith, and with the reasons and grounds of the same", found "no reason for imposing any duty to be uplifted towards the maintenance of the said lights". The matter was not, however, allowed to drop; and on the 22nd of April, 1636, the King at length acceding to the request of the coast towns, authorized Cunningham to build a lighthouse and to keep it up for nineteen years. Funds for its maintenance were to be obtained directly from those most benefited by it, by the imposition of a duty of two shillings Scots—that is, two pence sterling—per ton, on all ships sailing between St. Abb's Head and Dunottar. Cunningham erected in the same year, "a tower forty feet high, vaulted to the top and covered with flagstones, whereon all the year over, there burned in the night-time a fire of coals for a light". Sibbald states that the coals employed were from Wemyss, and that these were preferred on account of their hardness and of the clearness of their light, that about three hundred and eighty tons were consumed annually, and that three men were employed in keeping the beacon, two of whom were always on watch during the night. In the edition of Sibbald's [Pg 180] work published in 1803, it is mentioned that prior to 1790, but subsequently to the time when the dues had been fixed at three-halfpence per ton for Scottish ships, and threepence for foreign—including English—vessels, the revenue of the lighthouse was farmed at £280 per annum, that it then rose to £960, and that in 1800 it was further augmented to £1500—"a striking proof of the increase of trade in this country". To commemorate the erection of this earliest of the Northern Lights, and to indicate—not absolutely correctly, however—the date, a scholar of St. Andrews composed these two lines of Latin doggerel:

Flumina ne noceant neu flumina lumina Maia PrebVIt et MeDIIs InsVLa LVX et aqVIS.

There is a tradition that the architect who planned and built the tower perished, on his voyage to the mainland, in a storm which some old women, then supposed to be witches, were burnt for raising.

In the description of the May contributed to the Statistical Account of Scotland published in 1792, the Rev. James Forrester reports a very melancholy accident which happened whilst he was employed in drawing up his notice, and which he thinks ought to be recorded as a warning for future times. "The keeper of the lighthouse, his wife, and five children were suffocated. One child, an infant, is still alive, who was found sucking at the breast of its dead mother. Two men, who were assistants to the keeper, were senseless, but got out alive. This [Pg 181] truly mournful event was owing to the cinders having been allowed to accumulate for more than ten years. The cinders reached up to the window of the apartments where these unfortunate people slept. They were set on fire by live coals falling from the lighthouse, and the wind blowing the smoke into the windows, and the door below being shut, the consequences were inevitable. These persons were the only inhabitants, and all of them lodged in the lighthouse. The families who formerly resided there lodged in houses detached from it. The old plan is to be again adopted, and houses are preparing for lodging the keeper and a boat's crew, which will be of advantage to all the coast, as they will be ready to give intelligence when the herrings come into the Firth."

After the Union the unequal incidence of the duties leviable for the light of May—English and Irish vessels being charged double rates as foreigners—gave rise to much dissatisfaction. In addition to this, there was a general feeling that anything that was payable in the form of a tax ought not to be held as private property. With regard to the light itself, it gradually became more evident that a coal fire, exposed in an open choffer to the vicissitudes of the weather, was altogether inadequate to the requirements of the shipping trade. After the appointment of a Lighthouse Board in Scotland in the year 1786, those most directly affected often expressed a wish that the light of May should be included as one of the Northern Lights; that it [Pg 182] should get the benefit of the most recent improvements; that, in accordance with the spirit and conditions of the Act for the regulation of the Northern Lighthouses, the invidious distinction between the shipping of the three kingdoms should be done away with; and, further, that there should be some prospect of the duties being modified and ultimately ceasing altogether. Moved by these various considerations, the shipping trade of the Firth of Forth repeatedly approached the family of Scotstarvit, into whose hands the property and light of May had come by purchase, in 1714, with a view to the improvement of the old beacon. In consequence of representations from the Chamber of Commerce of Edinburgh, which visited the island in 1786, the choffer was enlarged to the capacity of a square of three feet, and the quantity of fuel annually consumed increased to about 400 tons. The Chamber further recommended that the stock of coals, hitherto exposed to the open air on the island, should in future be kept under cover, and that the supply should invariably be obtained from the collieries of Wemyss, of which the coal was considered fittest for maintaining a steady light, and was consequently employed at Heligoland and other coal lights on the Continent. All these conditions were complied with by Miss Scott of Scotstarvit's tutors, and from that time the May beacon became the most powerful coal light in the kingdom, the capacity of its choffer being double that of any other. But even these improvements could not prevent it from being unsteady [Pg 183] in bad weather, and there still remained the great disadvantage that limekilns and other accidental open fires upon the neighbouring coast were apt to be mistaken for the May light. To obviate the possibility of such mistakes, the Trinity House of Leith, in 1790, presented a memorial to the Duke of Portland, who, through his marriage with Miss Scott, had become proprietor of the May, and requested him to replace the coal-beacon by an oil-light with reflectors, enclosed in a glazed light-room. In spite of this application and of many others from various quarters, no further improvements were introduced at the time.

In the year 1809, Robert Stevenson, engineer to the Northern Lights Board, foreseeing that, notwithstanding the recent erection of the Bell Rock Lighthouse, the navigation of this part of the coast would still be very dangerous unless the light of May were improved, took an opportunity of bringing the matter under the notice of the Commissioners, who were not of opinion, however, that it could be taken up by them except at the instance of the proprietor. In the following year the question was brought into prominence by an event of serious importance. Early in the morning of the 19th of December two of His Majesty's ships, the frigates Nymphen and Pallas, were wrecked near Dunbar, in consequence, it was believed, of the fire of a limekiln on the Haddingtonshire coast having been mistaken for the May light. The ships were completely lost, but, the weather being moderate, [Pg 184] only nine men were drowned out of the joint crews of some 600. It was a remarkable circumstance attending the catastrophe, that, although the two ships had sailed in company, and had struck within a few miles of each other, their similar fate was perfectly unknown to the respective crews till late in the day.

This loss of £100,000 roused the Government to action. Lord Viscount Melville, who was First Lord of the Admiralty at the time, applied to the Lighthouse Board to take over the light of May as one of the Northern Lights. In the negotiations that ensued, the Duke of Portland proposed a scheme, in accordance with which he was to carry out the suggested alterations, and the Commissioners were to become his lessees. This proposal did not, however, meet with the approval of the latter, their opinion being that the only position they could assume in the transaction was that of purchasers for the public. The ultimate result was the acquisition of the Isle of May, together with the light duties, for the sum of £60,000—£3000 less than the Duke of Portland had originally demanded. This was in 1814. That same year an Act was passed reducing the light duty to one penny per ton for all British ships. Immediate measures were also taken for carrying out the necessary improvements. In the course of the following summer, a new lighthouse was erected, and a light from oil, with reflectors, was exhibited on the 1st of February, 1816. The following official description of the new light of May was published at the time:—

[Pg 185] "The lighthouse on the Isle of May is situate at the entrance of the Firth of Forth, in North lat. 56° 12´, and long. 2° 36´ west of London. From the lighthouse Fifeness bears by compass N. by E. 1/2 E., distant five miles; and the Staples Rocks, lying off Dunbar, S. by W. 1/2 W., distant ten miles. The light, being formerly from coal, exposed to the weather in an open grate or choffer, was discontinued on the night of the 1st of February, 1816, when a light from oil, with reflectors, known to mariners as a Stationary Light, was exhibited. The new lighthouse tower upon the Isle of May is contiguous to the side of the old one, and is elevated 240 feet above the medium level of the sea, of which the masonry forms 57 feet, and is therefore similar to the old tower in point of height. The new light is defended from the weather in a glazed light-room, and has a uniform steady appearance, resembling a star of the first magnitude, and is seen from all points of the compass, at the distance of about 7 leagues, and intermediately, according to the state of the atmosphere."

In the summer of 1814, shortly after the May had been acquired by the Northern Lights Board, Sir Walter Scott accompanied the Commissioners on their visit of inspection. In the Diary which he kept during the cruise, the following entry occurs under date of the 29th of July, the day on which the lighthouse yacht sailed from Leith:—"Reached the Isle of May in the evening, went ashore, and saw the light—an old tower, and much in the form [Pg 186] of a border-keep, with a beacon-grate on the top. It is to be abolished for an oil revolving-light, the grate-fire only being ignited upon the leeward side when the wind is very high.... The isle had once a cell or two upon it. The vestiges of the chapel are still visible. Mr. Stevenson proposed demolishing the old tower, and I recommended 'ruining' it 'à la picturesque', i.e., demolishing it partially. The island might make a delightful residence for bathers."[229] Scott's romantic suggestion was not, however, adopted. The old lighthouse tower on the Isle of May was reduced in height to about 20 feet, and by direction of the Board was converted into a guardroom for the convenience of pilots and fishermen. The square, battlemented, white building is still standing at the present day. Above the door there is a tablet with a figure of the rising sun over the date 1636. It is surmounted by a lion holding an escutcheon, on which the armorial bearings—probably those of the builder—are no longer decipherable. In the vaulted room within the tower there is an old iron grate with the initials A. C., which suit Alexander Cunningham, and are doubtless his.

The ruins mentioned by Sir Walter are also visible at the present day, though in an even more dilapidated state than when he saw them. They are situated in a hollow, towards the south-east end of the island, probably near the spot where the monastery stood. They are doubtless the remains of [Pg 187] St. Adrian's Chapel, which continued to be visited by pilgrims long after the destruction of the monastery itself. The space within the walls measures about 32 feet in length and 15 feet in breadth. In the west wall are two windows, of which the semi-circular interior openings seem to indicate Norman work, and suggest the thirteenth century as the date of the building. There are also remnants of windows both in the south and in the north wall. A shapeless gap near the southern extremity shows the position of the door. Just within it there may still be seen what is perhaps a fragment of the holy-water stoup. From the fact that the ruins lie north and south, it has been thought that the chapel occupied only a part of the building, and duly lay east and west within it. If such were the case, it must have been of exceptionally small dimensions, and have contained a very diminutive altar. At the present time no attempt seems to be made to prevent the venerable relic from falling further into decay; and the rough enclosure within which it stands is used as a sheep-pen.

The lighthouse now on the May is situated close to the old tower. It is a massive quadrangular stone building surmounted by a square tower which at a distance gives it the appearance of a church. It first came into use on the 1st of December, 1886. For fifteen years previously the Commissioners of the Northern Lights had been anxious to establish an electric light on the Scottish coast; but it was not till 1883 that the Board of Trade was able to [Pg 188] sanction the expenditure, and suggested its introduction at the Isle of May, on the ground that "there was no more important station on the Scottish shores, whether considered as a landfall, as a light for the guidance of the extensive or important trade of the neighbouring coast, or as a light to lead into the refuge of the Forth". The new buildings, engines, electric machines and lamps cost £15,835; but, including old material which it was found possible to utilize, the total installation was estimated at £22,435. As to technical details, it may suffice to mention that the generators are two of De Meritens's alternate-current magneto-electric machines, weighing about four and a half tons each. The engines are a pair of horizontal surface-condensing steam engines, each with two cylinders 9 inches in diameter and 18 inches stroke, making 140 revolutions per minute. There are two steam boilers, of which only one is in use at a time. Each of them is 20 feet long and 5 feet 6 inches in diameter. Only one of the three electric lamps is used at a time, and is changed once an hour to allow it to cool. The light is about 25,000 candle-power, but when seen from the water gives a flash equal to 3,000,000 candles, which can be increased to 6,000,000. The May apparatus is so designed as to give a group of four flashes in quick succession, followed by an interval of darkness lasting thirty seconds. The highest recorded distance at which the reflection of the light has been observed is 61 nautical miles. The May is also provided with [Pg 189] a powerful horn, of which the sound serves as a guide during the frequent "haars" or sea-fogs that rise from the North Sea. In addition to this, it has a smaller fixed light which serves as a leading light for ships coming down from Fifeness. It is visible on one side of the island only.

Owing to the increased cost of maintenance of the May light—it is estimated at more than £1000 a year—an Order in Council was issued in 1886, authorizing the collection of two-sixteenths of a penny per ton, as light dues, from vessels carrying cargo or passengers, which may pass or derive benefit from the light when on a coasting or home-trade voyage, and of one penny per ton when on an oversea voyage, subject to the usual deductions.

The May light is served by seven keepers, the chief of whom does not, however, share the watches. Their quarters, which are neat and commodious, and sufficiently large for the accommodation of such of them as have families, are situated at some distance from the lighthouse, between two hills that afford protection from the prevalent gales. Close to them is the engine-house, with its tall chimney-stalk. The necessary supply of water for it is drawn from the little lake, of which early descriptions of the island make mention, and which has now been turned into a reservoir.


[Pg 190]


[Pg 191]


Although Edinburgh does not appear to manifest any consciousness of the fact, the 1st of September is the feast of her patron saint. There was a time when solemn celebrations marked the event. But centuries have passed since then; and it would not be very rash to assume that, at the present day, for every thousand of its Presbyterian population, at any rate, the city does not contain one man, woman, or child who knows of any connection between St. Giles and any special day in the year.

In this respect, it is true, Edinburgh is not more indifferent than Glasgow. Every year the 13th of January passes by without the slightest official recognition on the part of the commercial metropolis. In spite of that, however, St. Mungo and St. Giles stand on a very different footing in their respective cities. All Glaswegians know something of their saint. Indeed, their municipal coat of arms makes it impossible for them to be wholly ignorant of his story. The very children amongst them are familiar with the incidents which the bird, the tree, and the ring commemorate; and reference to the capital of the West as the city of St. Mungo is by no [Pg 192] means uncommon. But whoever heard Edinburgh call herself the city of St. Giles? Nor is this difference in the esteem in which the two patrons are held unnatural or unaccountable. For, whilst Glasgow's tutelar saint was a true Scot, he under whose special protection the capital chose to put itself was simply an alien. Not but what he was a well-born and eminently venerable person. We are told that St. Giles, or, to give him his Latin name, Egidius, was born in Greece in the seventh century. According to the Roman Breviary, he was of royal lineage. The same authority states that from his youth he showed a great love for sacred learning and for works of charity, and that, at the death of his parents, he bestowed his whole inheritance on the poor. The miracles which he was reported to have wrought brought him a fame which was distasteful to him. To escape from it he retired to Arles, in France. He remained there but a short time, however, having determined to lead the life of a hermit. For this purpose he betook himself to a forest near Gards, in the diocese of Nîmes. There he lived for a long time upon the roots and herbs and the milk of a hind which came to him at regular hours—an act of kindness for which the charitable and faithful animal was not to go unrewarded, and to which, indeed, she owes the honour of figuring in the arms of the city of Edinburgh, of which she is the sinister supporter. One day the hind was chased by the King's hounds, and took refuge in Giles's cave. "Thereby," says the Breviary, "the King of [Pg 193] France was moved earnestly to entreat that Giles would allow a monastery to be built in the place where the cave was. Yielding to the pressing solicitations of the King, he took the rule of this monastery, although himself unwilling, and discharged this duty in a wise and godly manner for some years, until he passed away to heaven."[230]

The biographical sketch supplied by the Breviary suggests no connection between Giles and any part of Britain—north or south; neither does there seem to be anything extant to account for his being chosen as the tutelar saint of Edinburgh. There are, however, documents which prove that, as far back as the thirteenth century, the parish church was dedicated to him. Arnot states, on the authority of a charter in the Advocates' Library, that, in the reign of James II, Preston of Gortoun, having got possession of a relic which was alleged to be an arm-bone of St. Giles, bequeathed it to the mother kirk.[231] In gratitude for this gift, the magistrates of the city granted a charter in favour of the heirs of Preston, entitling the nearest heir of the donor, being of the name of Preston, to carry this sacred relic in all processions. The magistrates, at the same time, obliged themselves to found in this church an altar, and to appoint a chaplain, for celebrating an annual mass of requiem for the soul of the donor. They also ordered that a tablet, displaying his arms and describing his pious donation, should be put in the chapel. The relic, enshrined in silver, was kept [Pg 194] amongst the treasures of the church till the Reformation.[232]

The outburst of iconoclasm which is chronicled by John Knox as one of the marks of progress of the Reformation in Scotland proved fatal to St. Giles. "The images were stolen away in all parts of the country," says the historian, "and in Edinburgh was that great idol called St. Giles first drowned in the North Loch, and after burned, which raised no small trouble in the town." This was in 1557. But twelve months later there occurred what may be looked upon as the public and formal denial by Edinburgh of her patron saint, and his violent and shameful deposition by his whilom devotees. This "tragedy of St. Giles" is recorded by Knox with that grim humour which is characteristic of him. He relates that, on the approach of St. Giles's day, the bishops gave charge to the Provost, Bailies, and Council of Edinburgh, either to get the old St. Giles again, or else to provide a new image at their expense. To this the Council answered, in words that breathe the very spirit of the reformer himself, "That to them the charge appeared very unjust. They understood that God, in some places, had commanded idols and images to be destroyed, but where He had commanded images to be set up, they had not read; and they desired the Archbishop of St. Andrews to find a warrant for his commandment."

[Pg 195] In spite of this refusal, the priests and friars determined to have "that great solemnity and manifest abomination which they accustomably had upon St. Giles's day", or, in other words, to hold the annual procession. To replace the statue that had come to grief the year before, "a marmoset idol" was borrowed from the Grey Friars; who, as security for its safe return, required the deposit of "a silver piece". It was made fast with iron nails to a feretory, or portable shrine. "There assembled priests, friars, canons, and rotten Papists, with tabours and trumpets, banners and bagpipes. And who was there to lead the ring but the Queen Regent herself, with all her shavelings, for honour of that feast?" For all her unpopularity, Mary exercised a restraining influence on the mob. But that day she was to dine "in Sandie Carpetyne's house, betwixt the Bows"—that is to say, between the West Bow and the Nether Bow; and so when, after going down the High Street and as far as the foot of the Canongate, "the idol returned back again, she left it and passed in to her dinner".

The Regent's withdrawal from the procession was the signal for the outbreak of the riot which Knox dignifies with the title of "the enterprise". They that were of it at once approached to the statue, and pretended they were anxious to help in bearing it. Having got the feretory upon their shoulders, they began to shake it roughly, thinking that this would bring down the "idol". But the iron nails resisted such slight efforts, and, casting aside all pretence, they pulled it down violently to the cry of "Down with the idol! down with it!" "Some brag made [Pg 196] the priests' patrons at the first," records Knox; "but they soon saw the feebleness of their god, for one took him by the heels, and dadding his head to the causeway, left Dagon without head or hands, and said, 'Fie upon thee, thou young St. Giles, thy father would have tarried for such!' This considered, the priests and friars fled faster than they did at Pinkie Cleuch! Down go the crosses, off go the surplices, and the round caps corner with the crowns. The Grey Friars gaped, the Black Friars blew, the priests panted and fled, and happy was he that first go into the house; for such a sudden fray came never among the generation of Antichrist within this realm before."[233]

These riotous proceedings chanced to be witnessed by a "merry Englishman", who, seeing that there was more noise and confusion than hurt or injury, and that the discomfiture was bloodless, thought he would add some merriment to the matter. And the gibes in which he indulged so tickled Knox's sense of humour that he duly records them: "Fie upon you, why have ye broken order? Down the street ye passed in great array and with great mirth. Why fly ye, villains, now without order? Turn and strike every man a stroke, for the honour of his god! Fie, cowards, fie, ye shall never be judged worthy of your wages again!" "But," adds the chronicler, "exhortations were then unprofitable; for after Baal had broken his neck there was no comfort to his confused army."

[Pg 197] From that memorable fall of his, on September 1, 1558, St. Giles has never recovered. His name, indeed, is not wholly forgotten, and cannot be, so long as Edinburgh's venerable cathedral bears it; but if he be in honour anywhere, it is not in the city which once chose him for its patron, even in preference to any in the respectable company of home-bred saints that lay ready at hand in the calendar.


[Pg 198]


[Pg 199]


Some Incidents in its History

The Castle of Dumbarton is one of the Scottish fortresses for the maintenance of which special provision was made in the Treaty of Union. In its case, however, little more than the mere letter of the law has been observed. For years past its sole garrison has consisted of a caretaker; and, in so far as any practical purpose is concerned, it has ceased to be a stronghold at all. But, though no longer possessing any military importance, the old "Fort of the Britons" is still interesting and noteworthy for the part that it played, through so many centuries, in the national history.

There is no evidence to prove that the wall built across the country by the Roman invaders extended quite as far as Dumbarton. It cannot be supposed, however, that they ignored the strategic importance of the Rock, and failed to occupy a position which was practically the key to the West of Scotland. As to the existence of a fort during the period that followed the evacuation of Britain by the Romans, there can be no doubt. The Welsh chronicles refer to it under the name of Alclud, or Alcluid, that is, [Pg 200] "the Rock of the Clyde". Further, it is recorded in the Historia Britonum "that, as the result of a battle fought between the Britons and the sons of Ida, in 573, the greater part of the North Country fell into the hands of a king called Ryderchen, who chose as his seat the stronghold known to the Gaels by the name of Dunbraton," or the fort of the Britons—the original form of the modern Dumbarton. In confirmation of this sixth-century occupation of the Rock, there is a passage in the life of Columba where Adamnan states that the saint was consulted by King Rodorcus, son of Totail, who reigned on the Rock of the Clyde.[234] Under the date of 870, the Annals of Ulster and other Irish chronicles record that the Norse leaders Amlaiph and Imhar laid siege to Strathclyde, in Britain. Besides cutting off all provisions, they were able to draw off, "in a wonderful manner", the water of the well within the fortress. By reducing the defenders to such a state of weakness that they could not repulse their assailants, hunger and thirst gave the Norsemen possession of the fortress.[235]

At the time of the dispute between Bruce and Baliol, the Castle of Dumbarton was in the keeping of Nicholas de Segrave. By virtue of the right that he claimed as feudal superior, Edward I commanded the fortress to be handed over to the competitor in whose favour he had pronounced. It was not till 1296, however, that the English King was able to [Pg 201] enforce his order, and to appoint a Governor of his own choosing. This was Alexander de Ledes, whom he also made Sheriff of the County. De Ledes was succeeded by Sir John Menteith, who earned an unenviable notoriety by the betrayal and capture of Wallace, and to whose keeping the illustrious prisoner was entrusted prior to his being removed to London. The Scottish hero's sword was long preserved as an historical relic in the Castle. An entry in the Accounts of the Lord Treasurer shows that it was there at the time of James IV's visit, in 1505, and that the King paid for "binding of Wallass sword with cordis of silk, and new hilt, and plomet, new skabbard, and new belt to the said sword".[236] It was not till 1888 that this interesting memorial of the patriot was transferred to Stirling.

On the doubtful authority of a passage to be found in some of the manuscript versions of Bower's continuation of Fordun, Dumbarton is made the scene of one of Bruce's many narrow escapes from falling into the hands of his enemies. The account given is to the effect that the Scottish King, wishing to obtain possession of the Castle, entered into negotiations with Menteith, by whom it was still held for the English, and that the treacherous Governor, on the understanding that he should receive the Earldom of Lennox as his reward, consented to deliver the fortress. As Bruce, with a number of followers, was on his way to enter into possession, [Pg 202] in accordance with the agreement, he was met by a carpenter whom Bower calls Roland, who warned him that Menteith meant to capture or kill him. Being thus forewarned, the King was able to turn the tables on his intending captor, who was himself confined in the Castle till shortly before Bannockburn, when he was released on condition that he should fight against the English.[237]

Another romantic episode, to which no date can be assigned, is related by Sir William Fraser, on the authority of "tradition". The sovereign that occupied the throne of Scotland at the time, he says, had lost Dumbarton Castle, and was anxious to recover it. Having applied to one of the Colquhouns for assistance, the answer he got from the Laird of Luss was, "If I can". "Colquhoun let a stag loose on the level ground within sight of the Castle, and got up a mock hunt after it, with great blowing of horns, and other noises, to attract the attention of the garrison, hoping that they might be induced to join in the sport and leave the fortress undefended. Everything happened as Colquhoun had wished. Nearly the whole of the garrison went forth to take part in the pastime. During their absence, Colquhoun and the men that he had selected hastened into the Castle, overpowered the feeble remainder of its defenders, and made themselves its masters."[238] This incident of "early times" may possibly be authentic; but it looks rather suspiciously like an ingenious attempt to find a plausible and picturesque origin for the Colquhoun motto, "Si je puis".

[Pg 203] At the beginning of the fifteenth century, the Castle of Dumbarton was made to serve a very singular purpose. In circumstances of which no explanation is given, an individual whom Wyntoun describes as

"Mastere Waltere off Danyelstoune, Off Kyncardyn in Nele Persowne",[239]

took possession of the fortress, and, as Fordun adds, held it "with a large military force, to the great annoyance of the King and the kingdom". The Government being unable to drive him out, was obliged to accept the condition on which he offered to surrender his capture. It was nothing less than his appointment to the See of St. Andrews; and he had his way, being elected Bishop in 1402. He did not, however, long enjoy the dignity with which he had got himself clothed,

"Agane conscience of mony men,"


"Sone efftyre, at the Yule deit he; Swa litill mare than a halff yere Lestyt he in his powere."[240]

The latter years of the same century witnessed one of the most important events in the history of Dumbarton Castle. In 1488, it was entrusted to the keeping of the Earl of Lennox and his eldest son, Matthew Stuart, who, in the course of the [Pg 204] following year, engaged, with Lord Lyle and others, in a conspiracy for the overthrow of the Government, and fortified the stronghold accordingly. Repeated summons to surrender having been disregarded, messengers were dispatched through the whole county to convoke the militia; and it was arranged that, whilst James proceeded in person to Crookston and Duchal, Colin, first Earl of Argyle, should lay siege to Dumbarton Castle; and elaborate preparation was made for the transport of the most powerful artillery of the day, including the famous Mons Meg, into the rebellious West. The smaller strongholds were soon reduced, but the Rock held out, and the defenders, making a vigorous sally, dislodged their assailants by burning the town, and so raised the siege. The Royal forces, on being thus driven off, fell back upon Dunglas, where new materials were quickly collected, another great gun, "callit Duchal", being brought from Arkil, near Paisley, the boats conveyed overland from Daldres—the present Grangemouth—and from Blackness. With all this, it was not till the second week in December, fully seven months after the commencement of operations, that the stronghold was obliged to surrender. A formal sentence of forfeiture and death was passed on Lennox and his son, but annulled on their appeal by reason of some technical flaw.

Passing over the lesser siege of 1513-14, the occupation of 1543 in the interest of Henry VIII, the departure of the child-queen Mary, in 1548, [Pg 205] and other events of slighter importance, we come to the most sensational episode of all. It was after Langside. Lord Fleming had returned from accompanying Queen Mary to England, and had resumed his governorship of the fortress which he held for her. The Regent Murray was desirous of obtaining possession of so important a position, and, negotiations having failed, went down in person to open the siege. So strict was the blockade that Fleming was on the point of surrendering when the assassination of Murray brought him some respite. Lennox, who succeeded as Regent, was equally bent on the capture of the Castle, and endeavoured to obtain help from England. But Elizabeth was opposed to hostile measures, and sent Drury to reopen negotiations with Lord Fleming and John Hamilton, Bishop of St. Andrews, who was with him. The mission nearly proved fatal to the English ambassador. He was enticed within gunshot and deliberately, though unsuccessfully, fired upon.[241] This dastardly attempt is the subject of a contemporary poem entitled The Tressoun of Dunbartane.

The siege continued to drag on slowly, when about the end of March, 1571, a man named Robertson, who had formerly belonged to the garrison, but who wished to be revenged for some punishment inflicted on his wife, suggested a plan for taking the Castle by surprise. It was adopted, and Captain Thomas Crawfurd of Jordanhill was entrusted with the desperate enterprise. On the [Pg 206] evening of the 31st, Crawfurd sent forward some horsemen to intercept all communication with Dumbarton, he himself following about midnight with a body of resolute men. After a short halt at Dumbuck, the party, provided with ropes and ladders, proceeded to the foot of the Rock, which was to be scaled at the "Beik", for although this was the highest point, it offered the advantage of being unguarded, by reason of its supposed inaccessibility. At the first attempt the ladder slipped back with the weight of the climbers. On the second it was found that it did not reach within twenty feet of a tree to which it was intended to make it fast. The difficulty was overcome by Crawfurd, who, crawling up to the tree, threw a rope around it, and thus enabled his party to reach this first stage. The operation was being repeated for a further ascent when an accident nearly brought disaster on the whole undertaking. One of the men fell into a kind of fit whilst on the ladder, and remained clinging desperately to the rungs and blocking the way. But, even for this, Crawfurd's readiness devised a remedy. Lashing the man to the ladder, he turned it round, so that the remainder of the party could mount over their comrade's upturned body. Owing to the delay caused by these untoward occurrences, it was nearly daylight when the first of the assailants reached the top. They were seen by the sentries through the fog, which had so far favoured them, and the alarm was given. The resistance offered was, however, but feeble. [Pg 207] Three men of the garrison were killed. Many of the others, including Fleming himself, succeeded in escaping. Amongst those that were taken prisoners was the Bishop of St. Andrews. He was subsequently hanged for complicity in the murders of Darnley and of Murray.[242]

Another noteworthy capture of Dumbarton Castle occurred in 1639. At that time the fortress was held for the king by Sir William Stewart. On the last Sunday in March, having gone to the Communion service in Dumbarton, he was invited to dinner by Provost Sempill, a zealous Covenanter. To his refusal Sempill replied, "I require you to go with me." Thereupon the Governor and his party were surrounded by forty armed men and hurried off to the Provost's house, where, under threats of death, Stewart was obliged to send for the keys and to hand them over to his captor. The sequel is told by Spalding. "Stewart," he says, "was compelled to cast off his clothes, which were shortly put upon another gentleman of his shape and quantity, and he put on his clothes upon him again. Thus, apparel interchanged, they commanded the Captain, under pain of death, to tell the watchword, which, for fear of his life, he truly told. Then they go in the night quietly, unseen by the Castilians, and had this counterfeit captain with them, who cried and called by the watchword, which heard, yetts are cast open, in go these Covenanters with greater power than was within to defend it, [Pg 208] take in this strong strength, man and fortify the same to their mind."[243]

The further vicissitudes of Dumbarton Castle—its alternate occupation by Royalists and Parliamentarians during the Civil War, its use at various periods as a place of confinement for such different prisoners as Ogilvie the Jesuit, Carstairs and his fellow Covenanters, the Marquis of Tullibardine and other Jacobites—would require to be recorded in detail in a more complete sketch of the history of the Rock. They may be passed over without further mention in what lays no claim to do more than to recall some of the leading incidents in its chequered story.


[Pg 209]



Those who accept the traditional estimate of James VI's character may deem it little short of preposterous to connect his name with the idea of statesmanship. To them he appears as a garrulous pedant and a coarse buffoon, whose rickety walk was the outward sign of a feeble, vacillating temper; as a would-be autocrat who, whilst constantly obtruding his despotic theories on his subjects, lacked the strength of mind and the energy to put them into practice; and, to express it briefly and bluntly in the words of Macaulay, as "a drivelling idiot" and "a finished specimen of all that a king ought not to be".[244] But there is another portrait that may be drawn of him. Materials for it will be found not in the rhetorical descriptions of writers whose aim was literary effect or political denunciation, but in those absolutely trustworthy, if most prosaic and unimaginative documents, the Acts of the Privy Council. And it was Professor Masson, the editor of those records, who asserted that it is impossible [Pg 210] for anyone duly acquainted with them "to think of James as other than a man of a very remarkable measure of political ability and inventiveness, with a tenacity and pertinacity of purpose that could show itself in a savage glitter of the eye whenever he was offended or thwarted, and in a merciless rigour in hunting down and crushing his ascertained opponents".[245] It is worth going to the same sources of information for the purpose of determining to what extent this view is justified.

In any attempt at a survey of the administration of James VI it is important to remember that, although he became nominal sovereign at an early age, it was not until he had reached his thirtieth year that he got the reins of government fully into his own hands. That occurred towards the close of 1595, at the death of Lord Maitland of Thirlstane, after a Chancellorship and Premiership of over eight years. It was then that on being asked how he intended to fill up the vacant office, James replied that he was resolved no more to use great men as Chancellors in his affairs, but only such as he could correct and were hangable.[246]

The peculiar idea of kingship or sovereign authority which the enfranchised monarch thus expressed, and which he took every opportunity of repeating in both his speeches and his writings, is the more noteworthy that it was opposed to the principles which must have been inculcated upon [Pg 211] him in his early years. For it must be remembered that his tutor, Buchanan, was a politician as well as a scholar, and that it was he who wrote the famous treatise, De Jure Regni apud Scotos, that vigorous exposition of liberal and constitutional monarchy which justifies the description of its author as "the first Whig". It is certainly not to him that James's training in autocracy is to be attributed, but rather to Thirlstane. That statesman, it is true, ruled the Court and the country for years with a fixity of purpose and a firmness of hand that bore down opposition, and did not allow the King himself any opportunity of asserting his independence. At the same time, however, he did not fail to urge upon him the necessity for dealing energetically with the abuses which had arisen owing to the turbulent insolence and the intolerable oppression of the arrogant nobility. James had not been deaf to advice so conformable with his character and disposition. He had taken it so thoroughly to heart that, although he could not shake himself free from his Minister's despotism, it had become irksome and galling to him. When Maitland lay on his deathbed his Sovereign refused repeated requests to visit him, and it was even said that he had whispered in a courtier's ear that "it would be a small matter if the Chancellor were hanged".[247] The years that intervened between Maitland's death and James's departure from Scotland at length gave the King his opportunity, and not only did he at [Pg 212] once show his determination of becoming master within his own kingdom, but he also succeeded in actually carrying it out to a very noteworthy degree. And of the qualifications that enabled him to do so none was more conspicuously displayed than his ability to extract power to shape things according to his mind from the very incidents that the opposition to his royal will and pleasure evoked. An instance of this was afforded by his energetic conduct when the Edinburgh riot of December, 1596, originating in a demonstration in favour of the rights of Presbytery, as championed by Mr. David Black, of St. Andrews, gave him a chance of striking at the antagonists to his notion of supremacy. And the same inflexibility of purpose and dexterous management of circumstances appeared, four years later, in the use which he made of the Gowrie tragedy as an instrument for the subjection of the Scottish clergy. The monarch who could turn such occurrences as those to political profit had some right to boast of his "kingcraft". We may not approve of the system which he followed of marking out individual opponents and of striking them down with a strong and merciless hand, but we must admit that it proved effectual, and acknowledge that the man whose conduct of the bitter struggle it characterized cannot be contemptuously dismissed as "a nervous, drivelling idiot".

One of the special points with regard to which James has a claim to recognition is the zeal with which he undertook and consistently performed the [Pg 213] task of checking the lawlessness and rebellion that had been rampant in Scotland during his minority. The Royal Declaration in which he announced his intention of bestowing his "haill travellis, moyane, and diligens" on the work of reform was not allowed to remain a dead letter. Page after page of the records testify to the resoluteness with which he enforced the laws which had for their object the restoration of order throughout the kingdom, and which were directed more particularly against two classes of offenders—the "horners" and the members of families at hereditary feud. Horners, as they were called in Scotland, were all persons who stood out in denounced disobedience to the decrees of any law court, for any kind of offence from simple debt to murder and treason. At one time the country was full of such. Mere proclamations against them having proved of little avail, James at length had recourse to a measure which proved more effectual. He established a flying police, consisting of a body of forty well-equipped horsemen, "to be in reddiness at all occasiounis to hunt, follow and perseu all and quhatsumevir rebellis within this countrie, without respect of persones, quhither thair rebellioun be for civill or criminall caussis, and to tak thair houssis and uplift thair eschaitis as thai salbe directit and commandit".[248] The beneficial result of these stringent disciplinary measures was soonest and most distinctly apparent in the Borders, or, as James desired them to be called after his [Pg 214] accession to the English throne, "the Midland Shires of Britain", which, within the space of four or five years, were so thoroughly subdued that they ceased to be a sanctuary for rough-riding reivers, and entered upon that more peaceful era of their existence which has now lasted for three hundred years.

In an Act "anent deidly feidis", evidently emanating from James himself, the Council reminded the lieges that "The Kingis most gratious Majestie, ever since his first cuming to yeiris of perfectioun", had displayed "ain maist ernest and ardent zaill and desyer to have removit frome amange his subjectis of the cuntrey of Scotland all sic custumis, faschiounnis, and behaviouris as did in ony weyis smell of barbarity and sevegnes", and had been unremitting in his endeavours to suppress the "barbarous and detestable consuetud of deidly feids".[249] Nothing could be better founded than the claim thus put forward on the King's behalf, for one of the most commendable features in his administration is to be found in the perseverance with which he strove to put an end to this characteristically Scottish form of disorder by means both of preventive and punitive legislation. He did not succeed in wholly rooting out the "weid of deidly feid", but there is abundant evidence to prove that, thanks to vigilant care and vigorous action, he was able to check its baneful growth.

[Pg 215] In taking the measure of James VI as a statesman, it is important not to overlook the method which he adopted to carry on the government of Scotland as an absentee king. It is assuredly no sign of weakness or incapacity that the nearest approach to that absolutism that he had set up as his ideal was made by him after his departure to take possession of the crown left him by Elizabeth. What he achieved in this respect was once set forth by him in a speech to his refractory English Parliament. "This I must say for Scotland, and may truly vaunt it: here I sit and govern it with my pen; I write and it is done; and by a Clerk of the Council I govern Scotland now—which others could not do by the sword."[250] That such was literally the case, that he kept himself fully acquainted with everything that went on in his northern kingdom, and that the measures adopted by his Ministers for its control and management were nothing but the embodiment of his Royal will, is established beyond dispute by the letters which he periodically sent to Edinburgh from his palace in the capital or one of his hunting seats in the shires.

Even the most hostile of James VI's critics give him credit for having endeavoured to promote one excellent measure—the union of England and Scotland. To what negotiations the scheme gave rise, how it was discussed in both Parliaments, what eloquent testimony Sir Francis Bacon bore to the statesmanlike character of the King's views and intentions, and in what circumstances the projected [Pg 216] treaty broke down under the weight of English prejudice and jealousy—those are the details of a story which cannot be told now. It must suffice to recall that, if James had had his way, history would have been anticipated by a whole century.


The "bagage littéraire" of James VI is but slight, and if the profound indifference of all and the absolute ignorance of most as to its very existence be taken as representing a fair estimate of its merit it must in truth be worthless. But if, on the other hand, we consult his contemporaries we must, unless we are prepared to dismiss them all as more shamelessly fulsome in their adulation than the average of courtly flatterers, at least recognize the possibility of his having been a little better than posterity has been taught to believe. Long before James VI became James I his reputation as a poet had reached England, and helped to swell the chorus of welcome that greeted him on his arrival. In 1598 Barnfield made the King's love of poetry the point of one of his sonnets:—

And you, that discommend sweet Poesie, (So that the Subject of the same be good) Here may you see your fond simplicitie, Sith Kings have favored it, of royal Blood. The King of Scots—now living—is a poet, As his "Lepanto" and his "Furies" show it.[251]

[Pg 217] Before this, Harvey in his Pierce's Supererogation, had already proclaimed the poetical merit of "Lepanto", declaring it, in his high-flown style, to be "a short, but heroicall worke, in meeter, but royall meeter, fitt for a David's harpe".[252] Two years later the judgment of Vaughan was that "James is a notable Poet, and daily setteth out most learned poems, to the admiration of all his subjects".[253] In 1600 Allott gave ten quotations from James in his England's Parnassus, and Bodenham claims that in "The Garden of the Muses", from "what workes of Poetrie have been put to the world's eye by that learned and right royall King and Poet, James King of Scotland, no one sentence of worth has escaped".[254] After the accession to the English throne, Jonson addressed "To King James" an epigram of ten lines, in which he expanded the idea of the monarch's excellence as both prince and poet:—

"How, best of kings, dost thou a scepter bear? How, best of poets, dost thou the laurel wear? But two things rare the Fates had in their store, And gave thee both, to show they could no more. For such a poet, while thy days were green, Thou wert, as chief of them are said t'have been. And such a prince thou art, we daily see, As chief of those still promise they will be. Whom should my Muse then fly to, but the best Of Kings, for grace; of poets, for my test?"[255]

[Pg 218] And Sir John Beaumont, in a carefully polished poem written before, but published after James's death, and entitled "To His late Maiesty, concerning the True Forme of English Poetry", bestowed upon him the more subtle flattery of calling him the Master whose "judicious rules" have been his guide.[256] Here the reference is to James, not only as a poet but as a critic also. For one of his early prose treatises was entitled Reulis and Cautelis to be Observit and Eschewit in Scottis Poesie. This was the manifesto of a group of poets, amongst whom were, in addition to the King himself, Alexander Montgomerie, the author of The Cherry and the Slae; Fowler, and the Hudsons, and whose aim was to found a school of Scottish poetry. This document contained a passage which is interesting enough to be quoted. Setting forth the "twa caussis" that have induced him to compose his treatise, the Royal lawgiver of Parnassus says: "The ane is; as for thame that wrait of auld, lyke as the tyme is changeit sinsyne, so is the ordour of poesie changeit. The other cause is; that as for thame that has written in it of late, there has never ane of thame written in our (Scottis) languag. For albeit sindrie hes written of it in English, quhilk is lykest to our language, zit we differ from thame in sindrie reulis of poesie, as ze will find be experience."[257] And we believe there are Scotsmen who will account it to James for righteousness that he at least made an attempt, abortive though it proved, to maintain Scotland's autonomy in language and in poetry.

[Pg 219] In forming an estimate of the King's poetical productions, it is but fair to bear in mind that "all of his poems, save three or four sonnets and the revisions of his early paraphrases of the Psalms, belong to the period of his reign in Scotland", and that "the greater portion of them were composed either before the publication of the first volume of his poems in his nineteenth year or in the time of romantic enthusiasm excited by his marriage".[258] We have "The First Verses that ever the King Made". They are written in a sententious vein which might be looked upon as characteristic of the author, were it not that this special feature "is one of the commonest in Scottish poetry of the Chaucerian tradition". And if, on the one hand, it cannot be claimed for them that they bear evidence of exceptional talent, on the other it must be admitted that, as the production of a lad of fifteen, they were quite creditable:—

Since thought is free, thinke what thow will, O troubled heart, to ease thy paine! Thought unreveeled can doe no ill, But words past out turne not again. Be cairfull, ay, for to invent The way to gett thyne owne intent.
To play thyself with thy conceate, And lett none know what thow doth meane; Hope ay at last, though it be lait, To thy intent for to atteane: Whiles, lett it breake furth in effect, By ay lett witt thy will correct.
[Pg 220] Since fool-haste is not greatest speed, I would thou shouldest learne to know How to make vertue of a need, Since that necessitie hath no law. With patience, then, see thow attend, And hope to vanquishe in the end.[259]

James was still, as he puts it himself, in his "verie young and tender yeares: wherein nature (except shee were a monster) can admit no perfection", when he wrote his "Lepanto", which his contemporaries seem to have looked upon as the best of his poems, and to which Du Bartas paid the compliment of translating it into French. It is no masterpiece, but Mr. Westcott, the editor of the New Poems by James I of England, does not exaggerate the author's merit when he says that "his style in the description of the battle between the Christian and the Turkish navies is concrete and lively, and at times achieves an almost ballad-like simplicity". This seems to us to be justified by such lines as those which describe the gathering of the Christian forces:—

[Pg 221] There came eight thousand Spaniards brave From hotte and barren Spaine, Good order kepars, cold in fight, With proud disdainfull braine. From pleasant, fertill Italie There came twelve thousand als, With subtill spreites bent to revenge, By craftie meanes and fals. Three thousande Almans also came, From Countries colde and wide; These monney men with awfull cheare The chok will dourelie bide.[260]

James did not make frequent use of this metre, but he adopted it for another poem of a very different kind, "A Dreame on his Mistris my Ladie Glammes", in which he displays some ingenuity and inventive skill. Interpreting one of the tokens that have been left him—an amethyst—he says:

The secret vertues that are hidd Into this pretious stone Indues me with meete qualities For serving such a one; For as this stone by secret force Can soveraignlie remeade These daizeled braines whome Bacchus' strength Ou'rcomes as they were deade, And can preserve us from the harme Of the envenomed sting, Of poysoned cuppes, that to our tombe Untymelie does us bring, So shall my hart be still preserved By vertue from above, From staggering like a drunken man Or wavering into love: Bot by this soveraigne antidote Of her whom still I serve, In spite of all the poysoned lookes, Of Dames I shall not swerve.[261]

[Pg 222] There are 268 lines altogether, and the discovery of them ought to contribute in some degree to the poetical rehabilitation of the author.

As a knowledge of James's character would suggest, his interest in the art of poetry was mainly directed to the details of verse making and diction, and it seems natural in such a stickler for metrical propriety that in his shorter poems his favourite form should have been the sonnet. His highest achievement in this department has always been considered to be the sonnet to his son Henry, at the beginning of the Basilicon Doron:—

God gives not Kings the stile of Gods in vaine, For on his Throne his Scepter doe they swey: And as their subjects ought them to obey, So Kings should feare and serve their God againe: If then ye would enjoy a happie raigne, Observe the Statutes of your heavenly King, And from his Law make all your Lawes to spring: Since his Lieutenant here ye should remaine, Reward the just, be stedfast, true and plaine, Represse the proud, maintayning aye the right, Walk alwayes so, as ever in his sight, Who guardes the godly, plaguing the prophane; And so ye shall in Princely virtues shine, Resembling right your mightie King Divine.

Of this poem Bishop Percy said that it would not dishonour any writer of that time, and a later critic has pronounced that it is by far James's best performance, "which just misses being really fine". By the side of it there may now be placed, by reason of their "sustained music, conformity to the [Pg 223] technique of the sonnet, and prettiness of fancy, if not elevation", at least three others which figure amongst the twenty-six hitherto unpublished poems included in the manuscript which Mr. Westcott has discovered. One of them refers to a lady, probably the daughter of Sir John Wemyss, whose name was Cicely:—

Faire famous Isle, where Agathocles rang; Where sometymes, statly Siracusa stood; Whos fertill feelds were bathed in bangster's blood When Rome and ryvall Carthage strave so lang: Great Ladie Mistriss, all the Isles amang, Which standes in Neptune's, circle mouving, flood; No, nather for thy frutefull ground nor good; I chuse the, for the subject of my sang: Nor for the ould report, of scarce trew fame; Nor heeretofore, for farelies in the found; But, for the sweet resemblance of that Name, To whom thou seemest, so sibb, at least, in sound; If then, for seeming so, thy prays bee such, Sweet She herselfe, dothe merit more than much.[262]

On the strength of this, or of anything we have quoted from James's poems, it would be supremely unreasonable to claim for him a place on the same level as that of the authors either of "The King's Quhair" or of "The Gaberlunzie Man". But it may be less unjustifiable to suggest that he is not absolutely undeserving of a corner in anthologies of the Scottish poems of the sixteenth and of the early seventeenth century. That he is altogether contemptible [Pg 224] is an opinion that might be maintained if we had nothing better of his than the string of punning rhymes quoted in the notes to Walpole's Royal and Noble Authors, for the purpose of making him appear ridiculous.[263]


[Pg 225]


Although in the possession of the historic family of Kennedy, to the head of which it gives his title, Ailsa Craig, the imposing "ocean pyramid" that rises in solitary grandeur to a height of over 1100 feet above the waters of the Firth of Clyde, does not figure prominently in the annals of the country, nor in the special records of the district to which it belongs. Its whole story consists of a single episode, which, though hardly noticed by modern historians, created some excitement, both in Scotland and in England, at the time of its occurrence, and may be read with interest at the present day. That incident, the invasion of Ailsa Craig, which it is here intended to relate on the authority of contemporary documents, takes us back to the year 1597. The chief actors in it were Hugh Barclay, Laird of Ladylands, an Ayrshire gentleman of good family, whose estate was situated in the neighbourhood of Irvine, and Andrew Knox, "minister of God's worde at Paselye".

Though originally a member of the Presbyterian Church, Ladylands had made "defectioun and apostacie fra the said trewe religioun". In the correspondence [Pg 226] of the time he is usually to be found figuring in the lists of those whom it was customary to describe as "practising Papists", a designation not undeserved in his case, for amongst the religious enthusiasts who devoted themselves to the restoration of the old religion none displayed a greater fixity of purpose, a more unscrupulous contempt for the law, or a more reckless disregard of personal danger. Andrew Knox, on the other hand, in spite of his peaceful calling, gave proof of equal determination and equal audacity in the fulfilment of the self-imposed mission of hunting down "Jesuitis, seminarie preistis, and suspect trafficquaris with the King of Spain, and utheris foreynaris". The plotting of the laird and the counter-plotting of the minister had more than once brought the two men into personal conflict. Indeed, so far as extant documents go, the career of the one is practically identified with the career of the other.

In 1592, which seems to be the year in which he abandoned Presbyterianism, Ladylands was "excommunicated for Papistrye", but granted "a licence to departe out of the realme". Before his departure, however, it was discovered that he and "twoe Inglishmen of the worst sorte haunted togither" at Irvine and other places in the west.[264] In consequence of this, it was at once resolved to take him and his accomplices "quietlie", and to bring them back to Edinburgh. The difficult task of apprehending [Pg 227] him was undertaken by Andrew Knox, and successfully carried out, though at "no little paines and perill". He pursued the conspirators through Glasgow and towards Irvine, and pressed them so closely that Ladylands was driven to the necessity of giving himself up to James Hamilton, the eldest son of Lord Claude, though not till, by some means which are unfortunately not recorded, he had provided for the safety of his confederates. Under the charge of Andrew Knox and Captain Hamilton he was led back to Edinburgh, and handed over to the Provost's keeping. On being examined he "confessed himselfe excommunicated and to be of the Catholique Romaine Church and not of the Church established in Scotlande, and he agreed to answer to any interrogatorye charginge him in cryme of treason wherein he pleaded his inocencye, but he derectlie refused to answere to anye question touchinge matter of religion, or as micht accuse or charge anye person other than himselfe onlye".

The object of the conspiracy in which Ladylands had been engaged soon became apparent. Towards the end of December, George Ker, brother to Mark Lord Newbottle, came down to Fairlie, intending to set sail from the "West Sea Bank". His presence in the neighbourhood and his frequent visits to the Island of Cumbrae having aroused suspicion, he was narrowly watched, and "his speeches taken heed to", with the result that, as Calderwood states it, "he was perceaved to be a Papist passing to Spaine, to traffique betwixt the King of Spaine and some [Pg 228] Scottish noblemen". Andrew Knox, to whom the information was brought, lost no time in setting himself upon the track of the suspected conspirator. Accompanied by a number of Glasgow students, he proceeded to Fairlie, where he found, however, that Ker had already crossed over to the Cumbrae. Following him to the island, he succeeded in apprehending him just as he was ready to embark. On being searched, his coffers were found to contain "diverse letters and blankes directed from George Erle of Huntlie, Francis Erle of Erroll, and William Erle of Angus, the Lairds of Auchindoun and Fintrie, and other practisers, some in Latine, some in Frenche, together with their caschets and signets".[265]

There could be no reasonable doubt that Ladylands was connected with the plot, which, though treasonable as to the means to be employed, aimed at nothing more criminal, even on the showing of Calderwood, than the "procuring libertie of conscience". Fortunately for him, however, nothing was found in the intercepted letters or extorted from those of the conspirators who had been arrested that could be turned into legal evidence against him. Two months after his apprehension it was reported by the English agent in Edinburgh that "the arraignement of the Larde of Ladilands was differed in regarde that the cause and evidence against him were not rype and sufficient to proove him gilty of treason".[266] [Pg 229] On Sunday, the 25th of March, 1593, he was "lett free out of the Tolbuith of Edinburgh, at the King's command, foure sureties being taikin for his re-entering in ward at Glasgow at the King's pleasure". It was at first intended that he should be kept in "straite warde", but, by the influence of the Duke of Athole, from whom he brought letters with him, he obtained the privileges of "free warde within the Castle". During his confinement he was visited by his captor, Andrew Knox, and it was reported that he had been "wonne, and was contented bothe to subscribe to the articles of religion, and also to discover manye practizes and practisers not yet revealed". The Paisley minister, however, had but little cause to congratulate himself on his theological triumph. As soon as Ladylands had succeeded, by his pretended conversion, in allaying his jailers' suspicions, and inducing them to relax their vigilance, he escaped out of the Castle and fled to the Isle of Bute, whence he subsequently made his way to the Continent.[267]

For the next four years both Ladylands and Andrew Knox disappear from contemporary records. But in the month of February, 1596, Robert Bowes, writing to England, informs Lord Burghley that the plotting Laird had returned to Scotland, and "was lurking about his own house and in parts near Glasgow". He was said to have offered "uppon twoe or three lynes of the King's hand to come and reveale to him great secrets". Though urged to give these "lynes", James refused to comply, but appeared [Pg 230] willing "ether to send one of his owne servants to attache him or else to derect the Provost of Glasgow to inclose his house and take him". To those who knew how little the King sympathized with the coercive measures enforced by the Presbyterians against their Catholic fellow subjects, his sincerity was the subject of considerable doubt. The suspicion expressed by Bowes that the apprehension of Ladylands was not likely to be effected by his means appears to have been justified, for three months later, in May, 1597—it is well to remember that at this time the year began in March—the "buissy negociator with the King of Spayne and the Pope" was still at large, and "banded with some of the Montgomeries, Stewarts, Murrays, and others, beinge Papists".[268]

On this occasion the object of the conspirators was "to take and surpryse the island and house of Aylsaie, in the mouth of the Clyde, a place of good strength which mycht much annoye the west parts of Scotland, and to keipe the same for the benifyt of ther Catholique freinds, domesticall and forraigne".[269] To accomplish their purpose they were reported "to have prepared and rigged a shipp, furnished with armour, weapons, powder, lead, and other requesyts for warr". Still the King seemed disinclined to adopt stringent measures. But whilst he was hesitating Andrew Knox solved the difficulty by taking [Pg 231] possession of Ailsa Craig, at the head of a small body of nineteen men, with whom he stationed himself on the solitary rock to await the course of events. Before long, Ladylands, ignorant of Knox's movements and wholly unconscious of the ambush laid for him, sailed to Ailsa with thirteen of his fellow conspirators, intending "to have fortefeit and victuallit the same for the ressett and comforte of the Spanishe armey, luiked for be him to have cum and arryvit". On reaching the spit of shingle on the east side, which affords the only landing-place, he found himself suddenly opposed by a band of determined men, who at once "forgadderit with him and his compliceis, tuke some of his associates and desireit himselfe to rander and be takin with thame, quha wer his awne freindis, meaning nawayis his hurte nor drawinge of his blude". Though taken at a disadvantage, the Laird was not of a temper to yield without a struggle; "withdrawing himself within the sey cant", he resolutely defended himself against his opponents till, having been forced to retreat step by step to the very edge of the cliff, he was thrust "backwart in the deip, drownit and perisheit in his awne wilfull and disperat resolution".

In the heat of the struggle no attention had been given to the mooring of the boat in which Ladylands and his accomplices had come across. Not till the skirmish had ceased was it discovered that it had drifted out to sea, bearing with it the Laird's "coffers" and the important documents that they were believed to contain. This untoward accident, [Pg 232] however, delayed the clearing up of the plot for but a short time. A few days later the masterless craft was picked up off South Annan. In Ladylands' coffers were found, as had been expected, letters which revealed the whole extent and importance of the treasonable scheme in which he had been engaged.

It appeared "that the conspiracye to have been accomplished by the takinge and forcinge of Ailsa was devysed by the larde of Ladylands, Corronall (Colonel) Hakerson, and the Spanish Ambassador".

On the previous October the three conspirators had met at the town of Nantes, in France, for the purpose of considering the details of their bold undertaking of enlisting the men, and raising the funds necessary for carrying it out. In order to secure the co-operation of those who, had they known the size and position of Ailsa Craig, might have felt considerable doubt as to the advantages to be derived by obtaining possession of it, the rock "was termed the island of Guyanna, and given out as very fertile and commodious for fishinge, but inhabited by barbarous people, and ance possessed, not recoverable be noe enemy out of the hands of men of warr".

To meet the expenses of the enterprise "ther was contribution promised by sondry noblemen of Fraunce, and of Englande, and of Scotland". The agents to whom the task of levying the "contribution" was entrusted were Hakerson in France, Richard Skeldon in England, and in Scotland Ladylands [Pg 233] himself. It was arranged that Ladylands should, in the first place, get possession of the island, and then send William Liddell to Spain "with message of their interpryse, and to crave mony and furnishing".

The papers also gave further details of the special objects which the conspirators had in view. In the first place, it was intended to "sett upp and manteyne ane publique masse in this Islande, quhilk should be patent (open) to all distressed papists, where fra so ever they should come". Next to this, there was to be "ane place of releife and refreshment to the Spanyart, or rather a porte to them, at ther arryvall in Ireland". Finally, it was a part of the plan to establish "ane storehouse to keip furnishing and all things profytable to the use of the Erle of Tyrone, with the quhilk Erle, Ladylands, by his commissioners, had been buissy sen his last coming to Scotland".

It may be incidentally mentioned that amongst those who lent their support to Barclay's wild scheme, there was one who possesses another and a better claim to be remembered. It was the author of The Cherrie and the Slae. In the Acts of the Privy Council[270] it is recorded that Alexander Montgomerie, brother of the Laird of Heslott (Hasilhead), having failed to appear to answer for being art and part with the late Hew Barclay of Ladylands in the treasonable enterprise for the taking of Hisha for the use of the Spanish army, [Pg 234] was denounced as a rebel, on the 14th of July, 1597.

Even after the failure of the first part of the plot and the death of Ladylands, it was deemed advisable to provide against the possibility of further surprise on the part of "some practysers for Ireland whose eyes were espyed to be sett uppon the place". But, singular as it must appear, the Scottish Government, or rather the Scottish King, still remained inactive. It was through English influence that the necessary measures of safety were adopted. Bowes, the English agent, "spoke with and moved the Erle of Cassilis", obtaining from him a vague promise "to gyve regarde to yt". As this, however, only resulted in entrusting the custody of Ailsa to Thomas Hamilton, whom Bowes considered "not very fytt for the charge", recourse was again had to the indefatigable Andrew Knox. He readily undertook "both to awayte uppon the further progress of the surpryse, and also to prevent the interpryse in dewe tyme and sorte as before had been performed". It does not appear, however, that the Paisley minister had further occasion to sally forth hurriedly from his residence, at No. 25 in the High Street, and to display his energy for the protection of Ailsa. The whole plot had really collapsed with the death of the prime mover, the bold and unscrupulous Laird of Ladylands.

Not the least singular part of the whole episode is the treatment of Andrew Knox. Far from securing for him the favour of the Court, his "action against [Pg 235] the papists and practysers for Spayne" brought upon him the ill will of some of the most influential nobles in the realm. It was officially reported by Bowes, who acknowledged that he himself had been "alwayes privye with him in these affayres", that he had "entred into dangerous feuds by his commendable behaviour", and that "his lyfe was gredely sought by many and strong persons". The agent's recommendation that he "should be tymelye and favorablie comforted" was doubtless acted upon, and it may be looked upon as the result of the interference of the English Government that the Privy Council, "by direction given by His Majesty in his letter from Striveling upon the 6th of June", issued a proclamation which recognized Knox's conduct "to have been loyal and good service done to His Majesty and the country", and warned all persons, under pain of treason, against "troubling" any of those concerned in the expedition which had resulted in the death of the Laird of Ladylands.[271]

With this one episode the history of Ailsa Craig seems to have begun and ended. There is no trace of its connection with the political events of any previous or subsequent period.


[Pg 236]


[Pg 237]


The ballad of "Kinmont Willie", as to the genuineness of which we are not among those who entertain doubts that reflect on the good faith of Sir Walter Scott, is not only one of the most spirited to be found in all the Border minstrelsy, it is also noteworthy as being in the number of the comparatively few popular poems that have a real historical event as their foundation. And a further interest attaches to it from the circumstance that the incident which it sets forth was of sufficient importance to give rise to a diplomatic correspondence between the Ministers of James VI and those of Elizabeth, and, indeed, to be the subject of an indignant letter from the Queen herself. The actual facts of the capture and rescue of William Armstrong, commonly known as Kinmont Willie, are in the main such as they are related in the ballad.

In 1596, on one of those customary "days of truce" agreed upon by the officials on both sides of the Border for the purpose of discussing and, if it were possible, of settling in a friendly manner any quarrels that might have arisen between the turbulent inhabitants of the respective marches, Thomas [Pg 238] Salkeld, the "fause Sakelde" of the ballad, as deputy for the English Warden, Lord Scroope, had met Robert Scott of Haning, the representative of Sir Walter Scott, "the Bauld Buccleuch", Keeper of Liddisdale. The conference had taken place at a spot where the Kershope, a small tributary of the Liddel, formed the boundary line between the two countries. Nothing untoward had happened. The two officials had parted on friendly terms, and the Scots Borderers, of whom Robert Scott's escort consisted, had set out for their respective homes. One of these happened to be William Armstrong of Kinmont. He was well known to the Englishmen as a "bauld reiver", against whom they had many a complaint of long standing.

It was well understood that the "days of truce" lasted until sunrise on the morning after the breaking up of the meeting, so that all who had been present at it might have ample time to perform the return journey homewards without being exposed to molestation. Trusting to this, Armstrong, whose way lay in the same direction as that of the English Borderers, rode on unconcernedly on his own side of the Liddel and in full sight of them. Their sense of honour was not proof against the temptation of availing themselves of so favourable an opportunity. Making it an excuse for their violation of Border law that at one point Armstrong was obliged to pass out of the territory included in Buccleuch jurisdiction, they crossed the stream, thus committing an act of invasion, fell upon him at such odds [Pg 239] as made resistance vain, took him prisoner and carried him off to Carlisle, where he was lodged in the Castle. The indignation aroused by this unwarrantable breach of faith was all the greater from the fact that Willie was popular amongst his kinsmen and neighbours for the daring and resourcefulness which had often ensured the success of the raids on which they had sallied out together. Buccleuch protested against the violation of the truce and demanded Kinmont's liberation; but his remonstrances produced no result. Neither was the Scottish Government itself more successful with Scroope when the general outcry obliged it to interfere.

Buccleuch then resolved to take the law into his own hands. As a first step towards the execution of the bold plan which he had conceived, he got his signet ring conveyed to the prisoner. This he contrived to do through the agency of one of the Grames, who, though English Borderers themselves, appear, from Scroope's repeated complaints against them, to have been in league with the Scottish Warden. A horse race promoted by him afforded him an opportunity of communicating with Kinmont's kinsmen and friends without exciting suspicion. He had no difficulty in enlisting recruits, mainly from amongst the Scotts, the Elliots, the Bells, and, as a matter of course, the Armstrongs, including Willie's sons. Before Kinmont, whose capture had been effected on March 17, had been a month in Carlisle Castle, where, after promising that he would make no attempt at escape, he appears to have been [Pg 240] treated with some consideration, everything was ready for a dash into England.

On the evening of April 13, a troop of horsemen numbering five hundred, according to Scroope's estimate of them, crossed the Border in a storm of wind and rain. They were led by Buccleuch, who, before passing into English territory, left one detachment under the Laird of Johnston, and another with the Goodman of Bonshawe, to lie in ambush close to the frontier line in order to check pursuit if, as might well happen, the raiders should return with the English at their heels. Those that rode on towards Carlisle were provided with gavelocks, crowbars, pickaxes, axes, and scaling ladders. They reached the Castle at dead of night, and, making for the postern, set about undermining it. The guards had either fallen asleep or got under cover to protect themselves from the violence of the weather; moreover, the howling of the storm covered the noise unavoidably made by the sappers, quietly as they tried to work, and nothing happened to give either Scroope or Salkeld, both of whom were within the walls, the least warning of what was going on. In a short time the Scots had penetrated into the courtyard. Buccleuch was the fifth to pass through the trench. When he had the rescuing party about him he encouraged them to "Stand to it", as he had vowed to God and his Prince to fetch Kinmont out of England dead or alive; and assured them that, when it was done, he would maintain his action "with fire and sword against all resisters". With this he led them to the room [Pg 241] where Will Armstrong was confined. Here one of Scroope's servants, who had been stationed as a guard, had to be overpowered, and sustained some slight injuries. The door was broken open and Armstrong was carried off. As the rescuers were retiring they encountered two men of the outer watch. These were promptly prevented from giving the alarm, but escaped with their lives, Buccleuch having given strict orders that no unnecessary violence should be used and no wanton damage done, lest their enterprise should appear to have had other objects in view than the rescue for which it was solely planned. Then the whole party galloped back to Scotland with their prize.

Even in those days news of so startling an occurrence spread fast. Within a few weeks the daring exploit had aroused the keenest excitement in both North and South Britain. In Scotland Buccleuch's action "was greatly commended by the great people". In England there was a feeling of intense indignation at the "outrageous fact". Robert Bowes, the Ambassador at the Court of King James, gave expression to it at a Convention of the Estates. He had been commissioned to "aggravate the heinousness" of the aggression, and did so in a long oration, "concluding that peace could no longer continue betwixt the two realms unless Buccleuch was delivered into England, to be punished at the Queen's pleasure".[272] The Keeper of Liddisdale was present, and spoke in his own defence. He maintained that, [Pg 242] in rescuing a Scottish subject who had been wrongfully captured, he had done nothing but what honour dictated and duty required. He declared, however, that he was willing to submit the case to Commissioners appointed by the English Queen on the one hand, and by the Scottish King on the other, and to abide by their decision. This suggestion met with the approval of the Estates, who accordingly proposed that, "conform to the ancient treaties of peace, and custom observed between the two realms, Scottish and English Commissioners should meet on the Borders to decide upon the said complaint".

The Estates had come to this decision on the 25th of May. A few days later, on the 4th of June, James himself wrote to Elizabeth in regard to the "late attempt of Buccleuch". He begged her to bear in mind that all the information she had so far received proceeded from her own officer who, as a direct party in the matter, might reasonably be suspected of partiality. And he urged this as a reason for her consenting to the appointment of a Commission, in accordance with the proposal made by Buccleuch and adopted by the Convention. Before the end of the same month, both the Privy Council of England and Queen Elizabeth had dispatched replies to Edinburgh. The former, after communicating her Majesty's dissatisfaction at what had taken place and at the turn which matters were taking, confined itself to the expression of a hope that the King, in his own princely judgment, would reverse the Act of his Council, and not show favour [Pg 243] to a person so notoriously reported to be factious, seditious, and a favourer of the King's rebels.

The Queen's letter was far more uncompromising in its tone. It contained an emphatic refusal to entertain any thought of a Commission, and it prefaced this vigorously-worded decision with a rebuke such as might have been administered to a naughty child. She told James that she looked upon him as a rare example of a king seduced by evil information. Was it ever seen that a prince, from his cradle preserved from slaughter, upheld in Royal dignity, preserved from many treasons, maintained in all sorts of kindness, should remunerate with so hard measure such dear deservings, and hesitate to yield a just reply to a friend's lawful demand? Ought there to be any question as to whether a King should act rightfully by his equal, and should his Councillors be asked their pleasure as to what he might do? Had this occurred in the nonage of the Prince, it might have some colour; but in a "fatherage" it seemed strange, and, she dared say, was without example. However little regard her "dear Brother" might have for herself, yet she would grieve much to see him neglectful of his own dignity, as the English, whose good opinion she doubted not but he had in some esteem, would measure his love by his deeds, and not by his words on paper. In so far as she was concerned, she told him plainly that she considered herself as ill treated by her professed friend as she could be by her declared foe. Was any castle of hers to be assailed [Pg 244] by a night-prowler and her ally not send the offender to his due punisher? Should a friend stick at a demand that he ought rather to anticipate? For other doubtful and litigious Border cases she was willing to appoint Commissioners, if she found it needful, but never in a matter of such villainous usage as this.[273] Nor was this the worst. James was further informed, and that not in a private letter, but through Bowes, that Elizabeth had resolved to stop his yearly gratuity if he did not satisfy her in the redress demanded against Buccleuch.

The correspondence of the time shows that of all who were variously affected by Buccleuch's raid, it was James who, all along, found himself in the most difficult and delicate position. Whilst willing to conciliate Elizabeth, he hesitated to condemn an action of which his subjects were proud as of a triumph over England. He now began to understand that he would have to yield to the imperious Queen. But he was still anxious to delay the inevitable surrender, knowing that amongst the people generally the feeling of opposition to the delivery of Buccleuch was as keen as ever. As a means of gaining time, he raised a new issue, by writing a strong letter of indignation at the Queen of England's threat to stay the payment of his annuity, and at her treatment of him as if he were her pensioner, whereas the money that he received was in return for concessions he had made. This, he thought, was a greater breach of the alliance [Pg 245] between them than his not giving up Buccleuch; and to prove that he, for his part, had always been faithful to it, he recapitulated the various acts by which he had always shown his attachment to England.

This led to a prolongation of the correspondence and negotiations between the two countries; and matters dragged on in this way till the month of August, when Bowes was at length able to inform Lord Burghley that Buccleuch had been commanded to ward by the King, and that the place of his detention was St. Andrews. Recognizing this as a step in the right direction, Elizabeth wrote to James to express her satisfaction at his having done what beseemed him. At the same time she gave him to understand that she would not consider herself fairly dealt with until Buccleuch was delivered up to herself. This was again followed by a long exchange of communications, of which the tone, however, marked a gradual approach towards a settlement of the dispute. Before that was reached, James found an opportunity of retaliating in a characteristically petty manner. As Elizabeth insisted that Buccleuch should be delivered over to her for punishment because of his attack on Carlisle Castle, so he demanded that Edmund Spenser should be called to account for his reflections on the character of Mary Stuart. What we know about this new and singular development is contained in a dispatch from Bowes to Burghley. "The King," writes the English agent in Edinburgh, "has conceived [Pg 246] great offence against Edmund Spenser, for publishing in print, in the second part of the Faerie Queen, chapter IX, some dishonourable effects, as the King deemeth, against himself and his mother deceased. I have satisfied the King about the privilege under which the book is published, yet he still desireth that Edmund Spenser, for this fault, may be duly tried and punished." It does not appear from anything to be found in the State Papers that this frivolous matter received serious attention on the part of Elizabeth, or was further insisted upon by James himself.[274]

As for the Border incident, after all these negotiations, enquiries, and recriminations, it was brought to a close by Buccleuch's surrendering himself into English custody at Berwick. His captivity lasted from October 6th, 1597, till March 21st following. On his release his ten-year-old child took his place as a hostage. It is noteworthy that the redoubtable Borderer not only ceased to give trouble, but even co-operated with the English Wardens in maintaining peace in the marches. There is said to be a tradition in the Buccleuch family that he was presented to Elizabeth, who admired him for his daring, in spite of the annoyance which it had caused her.


[Pg 247]


Just off the east side of that southern part of the Little Cumbrae which is included in the parish of West Kilbride, and on a low-lying turf and weed-covered rock, which, according to the ebb and the flood of the tide, is itself alternately a peninsula or an islet, there stands the ruin of an ancient castle. It is still a massive pile of masonry, the ground plan of which nearly forms a square, the difference between length and breadth being less than ten feet. Its distance from the Ayrshire coast and from Millport, on the Great Cumbrae, is about the same; and owing to the comparative inaccessibility which the two or three miles of sea give it, its interior is somewhat less dilapidated than is usually the case with similar relics of the past to be met with on the mainland. The partition walls of the several rooms have, it is true, almost disappeared, so that, for instance, the storey immediately above the vaults on the ground floor would appear to have consisted of one hall, if it were not for the fact that it contains two large chimneys. The ceilings are arched throughout, and it is doubtless due to this architectural peculiarity that each of them is still intact [Pg 248] and supplies a solid floor for the storey immediately above. The narrow stone staircase is still practicable in its first flight, but fragmentary and rather unsafe beyond that. In its general appearance the Cumbrae castle is very similar to that of Portencross, over the water. It is probable that they both date from the same period, and are the work of the same builder. Both belonged to the Boyd family.

At the present day the Wee Cumbrae, as it is popularly called, is practically uninhabited. At its westermost point it has a lighthouse with the usual staff, and opposite the castle itself there are two houses serving, the one as a shooting-box, the other as a dwelling for the present tenant's gamekeeper. Closer examination of the island, particularly in winter, when the ground is free from bracken, reveals the remains of a dozen or more cottages, which tell of the existence in former days of a small colony on the less exposed half of it.

In the last year of the sixteenth century several of the families that composed the small population were of the name of Montgomery. The castle itself was inhabited by Robert Boyd of Badinhaith. He was a man of some initiative, and had formed a plan for the building of a harbour for "the commone welle and benefite of the haill liegeis of this realme haveing ony trade and handling in the west seyis". In the year 1599, as a first step towards the accomplishment of this praiseworthy scheme, he had purchased "eleven score of joists of oak of twenty-four foot long and a foot and a half of the [Pg 249] square". The cost of each joist was £8, and the whole outlay amounted to £1760. Although this, being in Scots currency, represented less than £150 sterling, the sum in view of the value of money in those days was not inconsiderable.

Whatever may have been the relation in which Robert Boyd stood to the other inhabitants of the Little Cumbrae, their attitude towards him was distinctly hostile. There is good reason to believe that these immediate neighbours of his were not all respectable, peace-abiding folk, but that the island served as a convenient refuge for "rebels, fugitives, and ex-communicates". And it is quite intelligible that these outlaws did not approve of the laird's enterprise, one of the results of which would be to bring their sea-girt asylum into closer touch with the outer world and its justice. Whether for this reason or for the mere sake of plunder, it happened that one day, in 1599, some thirty men, with half a dozen of the Montgomerys as their leaders, came to the fortalice with hagbuts, pistols, culverins, swords, and other weapons, and violently, "with engyne of smythis", broke up the doors and gates, and, after having destroyed the glass windows, boards, and ironwork, "spuilzied" the furniture, together with the materials intended for the construction of the harbour. The perpetration of this outrage was followed by the forcible occupation of the castle by four of the Montgomerys, who fortified it "with men, ammunition, and armour", and "resetted within it not only the [Pg 250] disorderit thevis and lymmaris of the Ilis, but also such other malefactors as, for eschewing punishment, resorted towards them".

The document[275] which contains the narrative of the "spulzie" on the Little Cumbrae is interesting, not only because of the glimpse which it affords of the state of the country three hundred years ago, but also, and even more, because of the minute inventory which it includes of the articles either "spulzied" or destroyed in the various parts and chambers of Boyd's castle, together with the value put upon each article or set of articles. In the first place the list indicates the internal structural arrangement of such a dwelling. It consisted of a hall, a kitchen, a chamber, a lower wester chamber and a high wester chamber, a low easter chamber, a wardrobe, a brew-house, and vaults. The contents of the several apartments do not point to luxurious appointment, even in what may be taken as a fair specimen of an ancient Scottish house of the larger and better sort.

The distinction between public rooms and bedrooms does not appear to have existed. There were two or three "stand beds", that is to say, beds with posts, as distinguished from beds that might be folded up, in each of the "chambers". Most of them were of "fir", or plain deal, and valued at £8 Scots, or 13s. 4d. sterling, each. The oak bedsteads, of which there were only two, were set down at 20 marks, or about 23s. sterling apiece. According [Pg 251] to the same difference of wood, the "chalmer buirds", as distinct from the "fauldand buird", or dining-table of the kitchen, were worth £4 or £5 respectively. Three beds and a table constituted the sole furniture of the "low easter chalmer" and of the "high wester chalmer". The "lower wester chalmer" was the room which yielded most loot to the raiders. In a cupboard within it they found a "silver piece" of 17 oz. in weight and a cup with a silver foot weighing 7 oz., at £3, that is to say, 5s. an ounce, besides "contracts, obligations, evidents, and books, worth £2000." The same room contained a lockfast chest, which served as a repository for "a doublet and breiks of dun fustian cut out on tawny taffety, a pair of tawny worsted stockings, two linen shirts, two pairs of linen sheets, four pillowslips, two pairs of tablecloths, two broad cloths of linen of five ells in length, two broad towels, and two dozen serviettes".

In the kitchen the utensils were on a scale as moderate as that of the furniture through the whole house. The items which it supplies in the inventory are: Two brass pots, two pans, two spits, a pair of andirons, an iron ladle, a dozen and a half of plates, knives, forks, and spoons for six people, a dozen trenchers, and a folding table. The only engines of war contained in Boyd's fortalice consisted of two "cut-throat guns of iron". They were located in the hall. The whole damage done by the plunder of all the movables and the destruction of such fixtures as doors and windows is estimated [Pg 252] at £4776, 10s. 6d. Scots, that is, well under £400 sterling. By no stretch of the imagination can the raid of the Little Cumbrae be considered an event of historical importance. It is rescued from insignificance, however, by virtue of the valuable data which it has been the indirect means of preserving for the information of posterity.


[Pg 253]


In 1605 Glasgow could lay no claim to the position of second city of the kingdom that had virtually, though not yet legally, become United by reason of the accession of James VI of Scotland to the English throne. It was not in the first rank, even on its own side of the Tweed, and in a gracious and flattering reference to its condition and estate His Majesty could not go beyond the qualified statement that, "in quantitie and number of trafficquers and others inhabitants", it was inferior to few of the cities and burghs in his northern dominions.[276] There was, indeed, one matter with regard to which it stood on a lower municipal level than either Edinburgh or Perth, Stirling or Dundee. In the choice of its Provost and Magistrates it did not enjoy the full freedom that was the privilege of those more important centres of population.

Prior to the Reformation, and as late after it as the closing year of the sixteenth century, the nomination of the Provost and the selection of the Bailies lay with the Archbishops as temporal, no less than spiritual, superiors of Glasgow. In 1600, however, the King, by a charter dated November 17th, [Pg 254] granted to Ludovic, Duke of Lennox, the castle of Glasgow and the heritable right of appointing the civic rulers.

On September 30th of the same year, Sir George Elphinstone of Blythswood appeared before the Town Council, and presented a letter from Duke Ludovic nominating him Provost for the ensuing year. He was also the bearer of an official communication from the King himself, whose friend and favourite he was, and who warmly recommended him for the dignity. The nomination of Sir George, a clever lawyer, who subsequently rose to the rank of Lord Justice-Clerk, appears to have been popular, and he was duly accepted.

With regard to the election of Bailies, the Council was less accommodating. The letter brought by Elphinstone directed that the leet from which a selection was to be made should be submitted, not to himself, but to the Sheriff, to whom he delegated his authority. Such a course was objected to as being both derogatory and contrary to use and wont; and the Council firmly refused to present the leet to any substitute, or to recognize any nomination but such as came from his Lordship's own mouth. In accordance with the resolution arrived at in vindication of their dignity, the Corporation sent Thomas Pettigrew, as its commissioner, to Brechin, where the Duke was staying at the time, and, through him, submitted a list of eight names from which Lennox was to select three.

[Pg 255] Unprepared as was Duke Ludovic for such prompt and resolute action on the part of the Glasgow Municipality, he adopted the judicious course of yielding temporary acquiescence to its claims, and on October 7th, Pettigrew was able to report, as the successful result of his mission, that Robert Rowat, James Forett, and Alexander Baillie had been chosen to fill the vacant magisterial seats. Owing to a regrettable gap of nearly four years in the Burgh Records, it is impossible to ascertain what further steps were taken by either side during the period extending from October 27th, 1601, to June 13th, 1605. The only available information bearing on this point is to be gathered from the Register of the Privy Council of Scotland. From a statement to be found there, it appears that Lennox had not maintained his conciliatory attitude towards the Town Council, but that, persisting in his original course, he had devised a means by which the Stewarts of Minto had, under him, "the exercise of the officeis of the said town in their personis".[277]

By August 3rd, 1605, the Municipal Authorities had realized that a greater power than theirs was required to secure for them the free exercise of what they claimed to be rights and privileges sanctioned by the King. On that day a deputation, headed by Sir George Elphinstone and consisting of the Dean of Guild, of one of the Bailies, and of four Councillors, was appointed to go to Edinburgh [Pg 256] to settle and end the matter by an appeal to the Privy Council. This further step having proved unavailing, the Corporation, on the 27th of the same month, "ernestlie requestit and desyrit" their Provost to undertake a journey to London, in order to invoke the intervention and aid of James himself. Thanks to Sir George's personal influence and to the favour in which he stood with his sovereign, as much, perhaps, as to the justice of his cause, Lennox was at length prevailed upon to grant the persistent petitioners "the full libertie, fredome, and priviledge of the electioun of thair Magistrattis", without, however, renouncing in any other respect his right of justiciary and bailliary of regality within and around the city.

Sir George Elphinstone's colleagues were not slow to give practical expression to the gratitude that they felt for his public-spirited conduct and to the value that they set on the success of his efforts on their behalf. On October 2nd, 1665, after he had been "removeit of Counsall", they all, with one voice, in respect of the singular care, great zeal and love had and borne by him to the weal and liberty of the Burgh, nominated, elected, and chose him for their Provost. On the same day and in the further exercise of the freedom which he had secured, a list of nine names, including those of three of the "auld Bailies", was submitted to the remainder of the Council, who, by plurality of votes, chose William Anderson, Mathew Turnbull, and Robert Rowat. In recognition of the honour conferred upon them, [Pg 257] the new Provost and Magistrates renounced the right which the custom of the time appears to have given them, to the fines levied for certain offences.

Amongst the citizens of Glasgow there was a minority which, looking at the extension of municipal liberty from the point of view of personal interest, felt deeply aggrieved by the new system of magisterial election. It consisted of the members and friends of the house of Minto, a family which had for many generations possessed considerable local influence, and of which the head, Sir Mathew Stewart, had himself filled the position of Provost. It was plain to them, however, that as long as the Council remained united, resistance would be futile, and that their only hope of worsting their opponents lay in dividing them.

For the attainment of this object the means that suggested itself as most feasible was the formation of a faction amongst the craftsmen of the city, "for the most part rude and ignorant men", of whom plausible arguments might make blind and determined partisans. The deacons of some of the numerous crafts or incorporations were first approached. The Stewarts represented to them that the liberty newly acquired by the Council was "nothing else but a manifest thraldom and tyranny against the crafts, a dissolution of the estate of the town, and an heritable establishing of the offices and jurisdiction of the town in the persons of a small number". So widely and successfully did the agitators propagate their "subtile and fals informatioun" [Pg 258] that in the end it was "embraced for a treuth be the haill ignorant multitude".

Encouraged by these results, Sir Mathew Stewart saw his way to give more definite and formal shape to his opposition. Shortly before the time when the Provost and his fellow Magistrates were to apply to Parliament for the ratification of their liberty and freedom of election he convoked a meeting, which was held at seven o'clock in the morning, in the house of John Ross, a Town Councillor whom he had won over to his side, and at which between forty and fifty prominent citizens were present. The malcontents drew up a petition against the ratification craved by the Town Council, and, after having appended their several signatures to it, entrusted it to John Ross, James Braidwood, deacon-general, and Ninian Anderson, deacon of the Cordwainers, to be presented to the Lords of the Articles, by whom its prayer was duly granted.

To protect themselves from the consequences of proceedings that might be made to appear factious and seditious, seeing that the meeting had taken place without the presence, knowledge, or consent of the Magistrates, the Stewarts procured from the Lords of Council and Session an exemption in favour of all who had subscribed the application.

Of the sequel there is only one detailed account. It is contained in the complaint subsequently brought before the Privy Council by the Provost and Magistrates, and embodying what is essentially the official view of the case. Whilst it would be unjustifiable [Pg 259] to impugn the veracity of this document, there can be no doubt that it places facts in the light least favourable to the agitators; and that in the motives and intentions which it imputes to them it goes further than those facts seem to warrant. It sets forth that, the further to irritate and incense the common multitude against the Magistrates, and to make it appear that they had credit and power to overthrow these at their pleasure, Minto and his accomplices, accompanied by a crowd of some three or four score, all in arms, with targets, swords, and other invasive weapons, came in a very tumultuous and unseemly manner to the Market Cross, whilst the Magistrates were sitting in Council close by; and that, disdaining to ask for the key of the Cross, although it was lying in the Tolbooth ready to be delivered to them, they clambered in, and proclaimed their exemption, "quhilk in effect importit a liberty to thame to do quhat they pleasit, without controlment".

It is alleged that the object of this "tumultuous and barbarous" demonstration was to draw the Magistrates from the Council chamber, and to tempt them to find fault with the proceedings, which would have supplied a pretence for fastening a quarrel upon them and "persewing them of their liveis". If such a design really existed, it was frustrated by the conciliatory attitude assumed by the Provost and his colleagues. Seeing the wisdom of coming to terms with the malcontents, they made arrangements for a conference with the deacons, who, [Pg 260] next to the Stewarts themselves, appear to have taken the most prominent part in the movement. The meeting was to take place on July 24th, 1606; and all the ministers in the city, together with the regents of the College, were summoned to attend it.

According to the official account, the Stewarts were apprehensive of the result of the appointed conference, and resolved "to procure some trouble and unquietness in the citie", for the purpose of preventing it from being held. Three of them, it is alleged—Sir Walter, John, and Alexander—knowing that Sir George Elphinstone had arranged to shoot off an archery match at the Castle butts, on the evening of July 23, lay in wait for him near the Drygate with a band of some forty men close at hand at the Wyndhead—all "bodin in feir of weir", that is, equipped for a warlike expedition, with steel bonnets, secret armour, plait sleeves, longstaffs, and other weapons. As the Provost and his friends, who were but five in number and bore no arms but their unbended bows, reached the Drygate, one of them, James Forrett, left the party for the purpose of fetching some arrows from his house. Before he could reach it, Sir Walter, uttering insulting language, attacked him with drawn sword. By this time Sir George had reached the Castle gate, but hearing the altercation, he turned back and endeavoured to pacify the assailant with "fair and gentle" words. "Sir," he said, "I pray you to go youre way; no man sal offend you." His request was unheeded; and then, by the authority of his office, [Pg 261] as Provost of the city, he commanded Sir Walter, in His Majesty's name, to go his way.

At this moment the alleged accomplices made their appearance on the scene, and "concurring together, maist cruelli and feirslie set upoun Sir George, and be force and violence drave him and his company back to the Castell porte, quhair he was fred and relevit of the present danger". Thereupon the Stewarts and their party retired to the Wyndhead, where they remained, whilst James Braidwood, by their direction, ran down the High Street, crying: "Arme you! arme you! They are yokit!" This brought up a reinforcement of some two score "airmed men of the seditious faction", headed by Sir Mathew Stewart. With united forces and "with grite furie", the rioters made an onset on the Castle gate, where the Provost was still in shelter. They were checked by the Earl of Wigtown, the Master of Montrose, and the Laird of Kilsyth, three of His Majesty's Privy Councillors, who happened to be at hand.

Being unable to get at Sir George with their longstaffs and weapons, they spitefully threw a volley of stones at him, then rushed tumultuously and apparently aimlessly, "doun the gait to the Barras yet, far beneth the Croce". The tumult, however, was not yet over. Once again the crowd made for the Castle gate, swollen by the accession of some 300 of the "rascall multitude", whom the prospect of plunder had attracted, and who, as they trooped on, indicated their intentions by calling out to each [Pg 262] other, "I sall have this buith and thou sall have that buith". Before their arrival the Provost had been removed to the shelter of the Earl of Wigtown's mansion. An attempt was made to storm it; but the Privy Councillors again intervened, and succeeded in dispersing the rioters.

The Privy Councillors, to whose opportune intervention the quelling of the disturbance was mainly due, at once took vigorous measures to prevent the recurrence of outbreaks. The Lairds of Minto were confined by them to the Castle of Dumbarton, whilst Sir George Elphinstone and James Forrett were interned in that of Glasgow. On August 9th, the ward was changed in both cases to the town of Stirling, where the several parties were bound to remain under caution in sums ranging from 5000 merks to £5000, to keep the king's peace. Of the other persons implicated, some were charged to enter ward in Perth, others in Dundee. The 28th of the same month was appointed for the meeting of the Council in Stirling, "to tak tryell in this commotion of Glasgow". The venue was, however, subsequently changed owing to the breaking out of the plague.

It happened that a fortnight before the Minto riots, on July 9th, 1606, Parliament had passed an "Act for Staying of Unlawful Conventions within Burgh". The Glasgow disturbance was the first occurrence that called for the application of this Act. It was embodied in a "proclamation about Glasgow", issued by the Privy Council on July 31st. The [Pg 263] preamble referred to the many good Acts of Parliament made by the king and his predecessors, with regard to the modest, good, and peaceable behaviour of the inhabitants within burgh, and to the staying of all tumults, unlawful meetings and convocations, "quhairby it is expressly prohibite and forbidden that all manner of persons within burgh, of quhatsumever rank, qualitie, or condition thai be of, presume or take upon hand, under quhatsumever cullor or pretext, to convein or assemble thaimselffis upon any occasion, except thai make due intimation of the lawfull causes of thair meittings to the Provost and Baillies of the burgh, and obtain thair licence thairto, and that nothing salbe done be thaim in thair saids meittings quhilk may tend to the derogation or violation of the Acts of Parliament, lawis and constitutions made for the wele and quietness of the said burghs"; and whereby also, "the saids unlawfull meittings, and the persons present thereat, are by the saids Acts of Parliament declairit to be factious and seditious; and all thair proceidings thairin to be null and of non availl, and the saids persons ordained to be punished in thair bodies and gear with all rigour". This was followed by a narrative of the recent disturbance between the citizens and the Magistrates—"A thing very undecent and unseamlie and without ony preceiding example in ony burgh within this kingdome". Then came instructions to the officers of arms to pass to the Mercat Cross of Glasgow and there, by open proclamation, "to command and charge the haill [Pg 264] inhabitants of the said citie to lay asyde thair armour immediatelie after the publication heirof, conteyne thaimselfis in quietness, and behave them as modest, quiet, and peaceable citizens, forbearing to convocat or assemble upon ony occasion thaimselfis togidder fra this tyme furth, under quhatsumever cullor or pretext, without the knowledge, consent, and licence of the saids Magistrates, nor yit to do, practize nor attempt anything hurtfull or prejudiciall to the saids Acts of Parliament, lawis and constitutions of the said citie: certifying thaim that sall do in the contrair, that thai salbe repute, haldin, esteimit, perseuit and punisht as factious and seditious persons, perturbers of the peace and quiet of the said citie, with all rigour and extreamitie, conforme to his Hienes laws and Acts of Parliament made thairanent".

Complaints had been laid before the Privy Council, on the one side by the Provost and Magistrates of the City of Glasgow against the Stewarts and their abettors, on the other by Sir Walter Stewart of Arthurlie against Sir George Elphinstone and the friends who accompanied him on the eventful evening of July 23rd. Both cases were heard in Edinburgh on August 27th, 1606. With respect to that in which the opponents of the Corporation were the defenders, it was declared that those persons had committed a "verie grite insolence and ryot". For this they were condemned to be warded in the burgh of Linlithgow till His Majesty's will was made known concerning them. At the same time the Lords "assoilzed simpliciter" the Lairds of Minto, [Pg 265] elder and younger, and all the other defenders, from forethought felony intended against the pursuers, and from the charge of "thair lying at await" for the Provost at the Wyndhead of the city, the pursuers having failed to prove that part of their complaint. On similar grounds, decree of absolvitor was pronounced in favour of Sir George Elphinstone and his fellow defenders in the suit brought against them at the instance of Sir Walter Stewart.

The King's pleasure was made known to his Privy Council in a letter dated from Hampton Court on October 1st, 1606. After expressing his astonishment that the information communicated to him was so scant as to render it impossible for him to "mak ony distinctioun of offendouris in that ryotte, that, according to the difference of thair faultis, directioun micht haif bene gevin for inflicting upoun several personis the moir mylde and moir hard punishment", His Majesty directed that the meaner offenders should be released, after being bound in "greate pecunnial sowmes for their due obedience to the Magistrates", but that the Lairds of Minto, elder and younger, should both be "fynned in great sowmes", and retained in ward until these were paid.

Such is the information to be gathered concerning an incident which is of sufficient importance in itself to be recorded with greater detail than is given in the local histories written before the publication of the Register of the Privy Council. Another circumstance that lends interest to the happily unique collision [Pg 266] between the municipal authorities and the citizens, is the coincidence that it was the first occasion for the application of an Act to which, exactly three hundred years later, the Magistrates of Glasgow found it expedient to appeal for the staying of such "unlawfull conventions within burgh" as the mustering and parading of street bands.


[Pg 267]


One of the earliest, if indeed it be not actually the most ancient of extant enactments for the organization of the national forces of Scotland, is a Latin document drawn up in the form and style of a proclamation and purporting to be based on "the Book of Wyntoun laws". It is undated, but this reference to Edward I's Statute of Winchester shows it to have been subsequent to the year 1285. This Scottish adaptation of the English system required every man between sixteen and sixty years of age to be provided with defensive and offensive armour in proportion to the quantity of lands and chattels which he possessed. The owner of chattels to the value of 40 marks was to have a horse; an habergeon, or sleeveless coat of mail; a chaplet, that is to say, an iron skull-cap without vizor; a sword, and "a knife called dagger". The equipment of such as held land worth 40s. or upwards, but less than 100s., was to consist of a bow and arrows, a dagger, and a knife; and, in their case, the absence of defensive armour suggests that they were intended as light infantry. The lesser people, with an income under 40s. were expected to have a hand-axe, bow and arrows. All others, whose [Pg 268] means allowed of it, were to be armed with a bow and arrows if they dwelt outside forest lands, or a bow and "pyles" if within them. These pyles being square-headed quarrels or bolts, it may be supposed that the use of them was prescribed because they were looked upon as less suitable for the purposes of poaching. The same ordinance also enjoined that there should be two wapenshaws or inspections every year.[278]

Earlier, though more incidental indication of a system of military service, is to be found, however, in an enactment which is ascribed to William the Lion, who began his reign in 1165, and which set forth that if a man borrowed a horse to join the King's army and the horse were challenged as stolen, he was to be allowed respite until his return to the county within which he alleged that the horse had been lent him. And, rather more than half a century later, in 1220, under Alexander II, further evidence of military obligation is supplied by a statute fixing the fines to be imposed on men of various ranks for remaining away from the King's host in Inverness. A thane was to forfeit six cows and a heifer; an "ochtyern", which is interpreted as meaning "one equal in rank to a thane's son", was liable to be mulcted in the amount of fifteen sheep and 6s., and a yeoman in that of a cow and a sheep.

In 1318, under Robert Bruce, it was ordained that, in time of war, every layman in the realm who [Pg 269] had £10 in goods, should have for his body, in the defence of the country, a sufficient acton—a kind of padded and quilted coat, which protected not only the breast but the lower part of the body also; a bascinet or light unvizored helmet; and gloves of plate, with a spear and a sword. The acton and bascinet might, however, be replaced by an habergeon and "a hat of iron". Whoever failed to comply with the requirements of the statute was to forfeit all his goods, of which one-half was to go to his immediate superior, the laird on whose lands he dwelt, and the other half to the King. It was also decreed that every man having in goods the value of a cow should have a stout spear or a serviceable bow, with a sheaf of twenty-four arrows. In the same year another Act ordained that men on their way to join the army should pay for what they took, but enjoined, at the same time, that they should be supplied at moderate rates.

When James I returned from his captivity in England, he lost no time in putting into practice the lesson which he had learnt there as to the efficiency of the bow. Amongst the enactments of his first Parliament there was one which ordained that every male person should, from his twelfth year, busk himself to be an archer; that, near every parish church, "bow marks should be made, at which, on holidays, men might come and shoot, at least thrice about", and have usage of archery; and that whoever did not use the said archery, the laird of the land or the sheriff should raise of him a [Pg 270] wedder.[279] This was in 1424. In the same year it was also enacted that, in every sheriffdom, four musters should be held every year for the inspection of arms.[280]

Following closely upon this, there were issued supplementary instructions of a somewhat more comprehensive nature than hitherto. Gentlemen having £10 worth of land, or more, were to provide themselves with a bascinet with whole legharness, that is to say, complete coverings which came up to the hips, and with spear, sword, and dagger. Gentlemen owning less land, or no land at all, were to be accoutred "at their goodly power", subject to the oversight and discretion of the sheriff. Honest yeomen, "having sufficient power", and willing to serve as men-at-arms, were to be "harnessed sufficiently" to the satisfaction of the same official; whilst all other yeomen in the realm, within the statutory limits of age, that is, between sixteen and sixty, were to be "sufficiently bowit and schaffit", or, in other words, adequately equipped with a good bow and a suitable supply of arrows, and were also to have a sword, buckler, and knife. All burgesses and indwellers in the burghs of the realm were to be similarly armed. Failure to attend the four wapenshaws involved fines ranging from 40s. to £10, according to the number of [Pg 271] absences, in the case of a gentleman; and from 10s. to 40s. in that of a bowman.[281]

Four years later, in 1429, "by the advice of the whole Parliament", further modifications were made, both in the outfit and in the valuation according to which it was regulated. Every man who disposed of a yearly rent of £20, or who possessed £100 in movable goods, was required to be well horsed and "haill enarmyt", which meant completely armed from head to foot, as a gentleman ought to be. The man of lower standing, with no more than £10 of rent, or £50 of movable goods, was to provide himself with a gorget—a piece of armour which protected the throat and upper part of the chest; with rearbraces and vambraces, as the coverings for the upper arm and the forearm were respectively called; with gloves of plate, breastplate, leg-splints, and knee-pieces, "at the least, or better, if he liked". The yeomen were divided into three classes, of which the highest, consisting of those whose property amounted to £20 in goods, was to be equipped with a good "doublet of fence", an iron hat, bow and sheaf of arrows, sword, buckler, and knife. Yeomen possessing no more than £10 in goods formed the second class. They were required to have a bow and arrows, sword, buckler, and knife; but though no defensive armour was mentioned in their case, it may be assumed that they were not expected to be less protected than the yeoman of the third class, who was no archer and could not [Pg 272] deal with a bow, but for whom a good "suir" hat and a "doublet of fence" were prescribed, in addition to a sword, a buckler, and a good axe, or else a staff with a sharp iron point. Every citizen having £50 in goods was placed on the same level as a gentleman, and was required to be armed in the same manner as one. The burgess of lower degree, whose property was not valued at more than £20, was to provide a "suir" hat and doublet, an habergeon, sword, and buckler; a bow with the necessary sheaf of arrows; and a knife. Barons and bailies were required to see that these enactments were duly complied with in their respective districts, under certain pains and penalties which the sheriff was empowered to impose.

During the fifteenth and the sixteenth century there were several other Acts of Parliament and of the Privy Council dealing with wapenshaws. It may be gathered from the preambles to some of them that these periodical inspections were occasionally discontinued for years together; whilst the repeated injunctions to the various local authorities and officials to use their utmost diligence in enforcing the law afford proof that the burden of military service was irksome to those on whom it fell. But the special interest of those enactments lies in the information which they supply both as to the variations in the assessment on which that service was based and as to the changes which took place in the outfit of the several classes of fighting men.

[Pg 273] In 1456 it was made obligatory on every man whose goods amounted to 20 marks to be provided at least with a jack having sleeves to the hands, or, failing that, with a pair of "splints" encasing the arms; with a sallet—a light helmet, of which the characteristic feature was a projection behind—or with a spiked hat; and with a sword, buckler, and bow together with a sheaf of arrows. Such as could not shoot were to be armed with an axe, and with a targe either of leather or of deal, with two bands on the back.[282] In the following year steps were taken to organize a system of military training. As a preliminary measure, golf and football were to be "utterly cried down". "Bow marks" were to be set up. The smaller parishes were not required to have more than a pair of these butts; but, in the larger, according to their size, there were to be three, four, and even five. All the male inhabitants, from twelve to fifty years of age, were expected to practise every Sunday, and to shoot at least six shots. Defaulters were liable to a fine of not less than 2d.; and the money thus raised was to be given to those who were more regular in their attendance "to drink". This archery practice was to be kept up from Easter to Allhallowmas. As a necessary supplement to these ordinances, every county town was to have a bowyer and a fletcher, otherwise a maker of bows and a maker of arrows, and was to furnish them "with stuff and graith that they might serve the country [Pg 274] with".[283] But as Scotland was not self-sufficing in the matter of either weapons or accoutrements, there was a further enactment which required all merchants of the realm passing over the sea for merchandise to bring home at each voyage as they might "goodly thole" harness and armours, spear-shafts and bow staves "after the quantity of their merchandise".

No further Act of Parliament concerning the equipment of the Scots fighting men was passed till 1471. In that year it was found necessary to fix the length of the spear, or rather, to forbid either the importation or the making of any that fell short of the six ells that had always constituted the regulation size. For those yeomen who could not handle the bow, the substitution of a good axe and a targe of leather was authorized, as it had been in 1456. With regard to the latter, a suggestive standard of toughness and strength was indicated. It was to be sufficiently stout "to resist the shot of England". And a characteristic remark concerning it was, that it would entail "no cost but the value of a hide".[284]

There was practically no change in arms and accoutrement during the fifteenth century; and an Act passed in 1491 is almost verbally identical with that of 1425. More than forty years were yet to elapse before James V, realizing the advantage which other nations had secured for themselves by the adoption of "small artillery", and the consequent [Pg 275] necessity of providing himself with similar "instruments of war and battle", caused an Act to be passed with a view to bringing Scotland's armament abreast of that "commonly used in all countries both by sea and land". This was in 1535.[285]

Hand-guns, or hand-cannon as they were called, had been introduced into England in the year 1471, when Edward IV, landing at Ravenspur, in Yorkshire, brought with him, amongst other forces, three hundred Flemings armed with those new weapons. They are also said to have been used at the siege of Berwick in 1521. These portable firearms soon got to be known under the names of culverins and hagbuts. The culverin was originally a small tube of half or three-quarters of an inch internal diameter, fixed to a straight piece of wood or welded to an iron handle. The smallest were about four feet long and weighed some fifteen pounds, and the management of them was as complicated as the weapons themselves were unwieldy. The culveriner had, in addition to his cumbrous piece, "his coarse powder, for loading, in a flask; his fine powder, for priming, in a touch-box; his bullets in a leathern bag, with strings to draw to get at them; whilst in his hand were his musket rest and his burning match". The hagbut was a smaller and improved culverin. At their first introduction into Scotland these firearms appear to have been used mainly for purposes of sport; but it is suggestive of a lack of [Pg 276] familiarity with them to find James V paying 40s. to "Walter Cunynghame's wife in Stirling" for a cow which he had slain with a culverin.

By the Act of 1535, which was repeated in 1540, it was ordained that every landed man should have a hagbut of cast-iron, called "hagbut of crochert", together with the mould, bullets, and "pelloks" of lead or iron, and with the powder convenient thereto for every £100 of land that he owned. He that had but 100 marks of land was to supply two culverins; whilst only one was required of the smaller landowner whose valuation did not exceed £40. These pieces were to be furnished with all the necessary accessories. Those who supplied the weapons were also called upon to provide men, not only to fire them, but also to teach others to do so. Neither the clergy nor even women were exempted from the general obligation; and the fine to be imposed on all who neglected to comply with the requirements of the Act was fixed at twice the price that would buy "each piece of the said artillery". As to the burghs, a commission was to be appointed for the purpose of deciding in what proportion each of them was to contribute. And, as a corollary to this enactment, it was further ordained that, because neither artillery nor harness could be furnished nor made ready unless the same were imported into the country, every merchant sailing forth of the realm or exporting goods amounting to a last, that is to twelve tons, should bring home two hagbuts or more, in proportion to the quantity of [Pg 277] merchandise shipped, with powder and moulds, or else as much metal as would make the hagbuts.

From another Act passed in the same year it appears to have been anticipated that, in spite of these ordinances, the number of men that could be armed with hand-guns would be but slight as compared with those who would still have to retain the older weapons, for no alteration was prescribed in the matter of defensive armour. This statute is noteworthy, however, by reason of a paragraph bearing the heading, "That the army of Scotland be unhorsed, except great Barons".[286] It was introduced by a reference to the great hurt, scaith, and damage done by the coming, in multitude, of horsemen, through the destruction of cornfields and meadows and the harrying of poor folk, and also to the great impediment made by them in the host, where all men had to fight on foot. It then went [Pg 278] on to ordain that no manner of men should have horses with them, but should be ready to march on foot from the first meeting-place it might please the King to assign. For the journey to that meeting-place, however, the use of palfreys was authorized. And if any man came on horseback, or brought horses with him, he was to send them home again immediately, but only with a riding-boy, and not with anyone able to bear arms. The matter was considered to be of such importance that no less a penalty than death was to be imposed for disobedience of the order. A proviso was, however, added, excepting earls, lords, barons, and great landed men from the operation of the Act.

There is a further clause to which also special interest attaches from the fact that it supplies the first evidence to be met with in Parliamentary records of an attempt at organizing a system of military drill. It ordained that a board consisting of the local authorities, the most able persons in the shire, and the commissioners appointed by the King, should, in every parish, choose a suitable man for each company levied within it, and should assign to him the duties of Captain. It was to be his special office to teach the men to march together and to bear their weapons, so that they might be "the more expert to put themselves in order hastily and keep the same in time of need". The companies were to muster for drill before noon on at least two of the most suitable holidays during each of the three summer months, and as often as could [Pg 279] be conveniently arranged for during the other nine.

Such efforts were well meant; but perseverance, the first of the conditions necessary to ensure their success, appears to have been wanting. In 1546, a special wapenshaw was ordered to be held on Low Sunday, and the reason given for this step was, that the lieges were out of use of armour and weapons because such inspections had been neglected.[287] The accoutrements mentioned as requiring to be produced on this occasion were practically the same as formerly. In so far as evidence can be found in Acts of either Parliament or Privy Council, this was one of the last occasions on which specific mention was made of the armour and weapons to be borne by the respective classes of fighting men. In the closing years of the sixteenth century, however, the periodical complaint of laxity in the performance of military duties in time of peace again appears in an Act which, besides appointing a general wapenshaw to be held on the 1st of May, 1599, specifies the arms with which persons of various ranks were to be furnished, and thus affords material for an estimate of the change which had taken place in the equipment of the Scots forces, as well as on the obligations which military service now entailed. Earls, lords, barons, and gentlemen were to be armed with corslet of proof, headpiece, vambraces, teslets or coverings for the thighs, and a Spanish pike. In addition to this, every earl was to have [Pg 280] twenty stands of similar armour for his household; every lord, ten; and every baron, one, for every 15 chalders of corn. Every baron and gentleman whose living did not depend upon "victual"[288] was to provide a complete stand for every 1000 marks of his yearly rent; every gentleman worth 300 marks in yearly rent was to be furnished with a light corslet and pike, or else with a musket, together with rest and bandoleer, and a headpiece. The regulation was to extend to the burghs; and the local authorities were to see that every burgess worth £500 of free gear should have a light corslet, a pike and halbard, or a two-handed sword, or else a musket, with its accessories, and a headpiece. But they were also to arrange in such a way that, for every light corslet and pike within the burgh, there should be two muskets. The penalties with which defaulters were threatened afford evidence that, although the country was still far from rich, it had made considerable progress since the days when fines were levied in kind. They were graded as follows: Every earl, 2000 marks; every lord, 1000 marks; every baron, for every 15 chalders of victual that he could spend, 100 marks; and every other person of the rank and substance indicated, £40.

It was one thing to require all ranks, degrees, and qualities to provide themselves with arms on this liberal scale, but it was another to put it into the power even of the most willing, to comply with the order. As a subsequent Act frankly admitted, there [Pg 281] was "no such quantity of armour made within the realm as anywise might furnish the lieges thereof", and there consequently arose "a great necessity of bringing of the same home, forth of other countries". It was Sir Michael Balfour of Burleigh who, "not upon any respect of gain and profit that he might reap thereby, but upon the earnest affection and great regard he had to his Majesty's service and to the benefit of the realm", suggested a way out of the difficulty. He undertook to bring home 10,000 stands of armour, of which 2000 were to be for horsemen—figures which, in default of more precise data, are of some assistance towards forming an estimate of the military strength of the country.[289]

Sir Michael Balfour's offer was accepted; and the conditions of the contract duly fixed. The outfit for horsemen was to be complete in all pieces, and was to be supplied in two qualities: lance and sword proof, and hagbut proof. The former was to cost £50, and the latter £10 more. A complete suit of armour for a footman was to be charged £18, and was to be of one quality only—lance and sword proof. The price of a hagbut, with flask or bandoleer, was set at £6, 13s. 4d.

From the long list of defaulters that might be made up from the records of the Privy Council, and in which the names of all sorts and conditions of the lieges, of earls and of yeomen alike, would figure side by side, as well as from the legal proceedings which were taken by Sir Michael Balfour, on the [Pg 282] one hand, and, on the other, by those who, on various grounds, claimed to be exempted from the operation of the Act, it appears that there was but little military enthusiasm in the country at this time. And this is borne out by an Act of Privy Council passed in July, 1607. It set forth that, notwithstanding the Act of 1599 for general arming and wapenshawing, there had been no inspection within the kingdom for several years past, and that the "lovable custom, which of old was very precisely kept and was very necessary and expedient for the good of the kingdom", had fallen into desuetude by reason of the negligence of the sheriffs and other officials; and it required these "to charge all and sundry, by open proclamation at the market crosses of the head burghs, to give and make their musters and wapenshawing" on the 4th of the following month. A few days later, however, the order was prorogated, for no more urgent reason than the meeting of Parliament; and with that, the periodical inspection of arms appears to have been finally abandoned for the remainder of the reign of James VI, who, by this time, had become James I of England also, a circumstance which goes far to explain the general indifference on the subject.

The first and main object that was always kept in view, and towards which Scotland's military dispositions were directed, was the protection of the country against the attacks of the "old enemy", as England was repeatedly styled. In more than one of the ordinances it was expressly set forth, that all [Pg 283] manner of men were to hold themselves in readiness "to come to the Border for the defence of the land when any wittering came of the incoming of a great English host". And if the ever-present danger assumed more definite form and an invasion was actually expected, letters were sent throughout the country, charging all the lieges to be prepared to take the field in all possible haste, well equipped and duly supplied with provisions for a fixed number of days, usually forty, as soon as they were summoned. Warning of the approach of an invading army was signalled round the country by means of bale-fires which were lighted on certain specified hills.

For the purpose of defraying the expenses entailed by a campaign, recourse was had to extraordinary taxation. In 1550, for instance, the Privy Council ordained that "for resisting of our auld ynemyis of Ingland, the defence of the West Borders, and the repairing of a fort of strength in the town of Annan, the sum of £4000 should be raised and uplifted of the prelates and clergy of the realm. If the amount were "thankfullie payit and debursit", exemption from further taxation for the next year was promised.

To meet the requirements of the transport service, certain districts were laid under requisition. Thus, for the same campaign, the sheriffs of Edinburgh principal, Edinburgh lying within the constabulary of Haddington, Selkirk, and Lauderdale, were called upon to assist and concur with the Lairds of Lethington, Whittingham, Elphinstone, [Pg 284] Trabroun, and Wauchton, in devising measures for furnishing the oxen and pioneers required for the forthbringing of the munition and artillery to the host and army which was to assemble in Edinburgh.

It was not solely for the defence of their own country that Scotsmen were obliged to bear arms. Occasion might arise when, in conformity with the "old leagues, bands, amity and alliance" which were supposed to have been entered upon by King Achaus and the Emperor Charlemagne, and to have been renewed and confirmed by every king and prince since that time, Scotland was obliged to furnish a contingent for the support of the Most Christian King. Such was the case in 1552. In the month of November of that year, the Regent Arran and the Lords of the Secret Council ordained that every 40-mark land, whether it were royal, temporal, or spiritual, should supply "one able, sufficient footman, well furnished, clad in new hose and a new doublet of canvas at the least, with a jack of plate, steel bonnet, splint sleeves of mail or plate, with a spear of six ells long or thereby". Every burgh within the realm was to provide a company consisting of 300 men, who were, as far as possible, to be hagbutters, furnished with powder flask, morsing horn, and all other gear belonging thereto. Two further companies of footmen were likewise to be raised in the highland parts of the realm, within the bounds of Lord Huntly's lieutenancy. Horsemen to the number of 400, each having "ane dowbill horse", were to be supplied by the bishops, abbots, [Pg 285] priors, and prelates, earls, lords, and barons of the Borders and Lowlands. Gilbert, Earl of Cassillis, was appointed Lieutenant-General of the army, and Patrick, Lord Ruthven, Colonel of the footmen. The subordinate officers numbered fifty-five. The expense of the expedition was to be borne by the King of France.[290]

It was not only when Scotland was engaged in actual warfare, either on her own account or as the ally of France, that she required to call out her fighting men. The state of the country was such that the "fencibles" of some district might, at any moment, be required to take the field. Within less than a decade—between 1569 and 1578—there were at least twelve local levies. The first and five others of them, that is to say, a full half of the whole number, were raised for purposes similar to those indicated by an Act of Privy Council, in September, 1569, "to pass forthward for pursuit and invasion of the thieves, traitors, and rebellious subjects, inhabitants of the bounds of the Middle and West Wardencies". For such an expedition as that, there were called out "all and sundry his Majesty's lieges betwixt 40 and 16 years, and other fencible persons" dwelling in 12 sheriffdoms, 2 stewartries, and 3 bailliries. And they were required to assemble, not only "weill bodin in feir of weir"—the current phrase for complete fighting equipment—but also to bring with them twenty days' victuals and provisions, and to provide themselves with tents to lie in the fields.

[Pg 286] As it was impossible for every man to carry with him twenty days' provisions otherwise than in the shape of money wherewith to buy them, a commissariat of some kind became a matter of necessity. To provide it, the inhabitants of some town might be required, as was the case with those of Glasgow, in 1572, "to follow the army where it shall repair, with bread, ale, and all other kinds of vivers for men and horse, which shall be bought from them with ready money and thankful payment". If circumstances made it more convenient, a number of burghs, towns, and other places where "hostelry was used" were informed beforehand, by public proclamation, that they would have to "prepare and have in readiness, baked bread, brewed ale, wine, and all other manner of horse meat and men's meat, and address them to transport and carry the same, by land or sea, to the camp, where it shall happen to be, there to be sold upon sufficient and good prices". If, as might be the case in the "countries most ewest of the Borders", lochs or rivers should have to be crossed or otherwise utilized for the purpose of the expedition, commandment and direction was given to all and sundry owners, masters, and skippers of ships, barks, "birlingis", boats, and other vessels meet for ferrying, to have their craft prepared and in full readiness to receive, carry, and transport men, munition, horses, victuals, or other warlike provisions to such place as should be specially appointed. For disobedience to any of the orders issued for the purpose of levying [Pg 287] an expeditionary force or of furthering its movements and operations, the penalty to be imposed was always the same, "forfeiture of life, lands, and goods".

The last phase in the development of the old Scots army began at the death of James VI. Shortly after the accession of his successor, the Estates issued a proclamation which had for its object the revival of "that lovable custom of wapenshawings" which "the laziness of the people themselves", but "specially the sloth and careless negligence" of the magistrates whose office it was to make arrangements for those inspections, had allowed to lapse. And the reason given for this renewal of interest in the ancient institution was contained in a reference to the "universal combustion and bruittis, and rumours of foreign preparation throughout Christendom". But nothing more practical was yet to come of it than an order for the holding of a muster. Nearly twenty years were to elapse before the same Estates were moved to give "their most serious consideration" to the reorganization of the national forces. This had become necessary by reason of "the great and imminent danger of the true Protestant religion and of the peace of the kingdom from the treacherous and bloodie plots, conspiracies, attempts, and practices of papists, prelates, malignants, and their adherents". In order to put the kingdom, with all possible speed, in a posture of defence, order was given that all fencible persons within sixty and sixteen years of age, should provide [Pg 288] themselves with forty days' provisions of all sorts, in the most substantious manner, for horse and foot, with tents and all other furnishing requisite; that horsemen should be armed with pistols, broadswords, and steel caps; that where those arms could not be had, jacks or secrets, lances, and steel bonnets, and swords should be substituted for them. Footmen were to be armed with musket and sword, or pike and sword; but, failing these, they were to be furnished with halbards, Lochaber axes, or Jedburgh staffs, and swords. Colonels of horse and foot, and Committees of War were appointed in each sheriffdom, and were enjoined to form "their whole fencible persons into regiments, foot companies, and horse troops". The men were to be "drilled and exercised in managing their arms—every regiment once in the month, every company and troop once in the week". The captains of each company were to be provided with colours and drums, and the "rootmasters", or captains of horse, with trumpets and cornets. For the purpose of enforcing this Act, another was passed in the following year, again requiring all to arm, under a penalty of £20 to be paid by those who, being in a position to buy a musket and sword, should yet be found unprovided with them. Those who, though able to purchase a pike, neglected to do so, were to be fined 10 marks. Yeomen or servants lacking the means to provide themselves with the weapons prescribed by the Act were to be equipped by their respective heritors or masters. Further, the Committees of War in each [Pg 289] shire were called upon to acquire and store, two pounds weight of powder and four pounds weight of match and ball, for every fencible person within their district.

It was at this time, too, that the first Act dealing with desertion from the army was passed. It gave strict injunctions to the Colonels and Committees of War to apprehend all those, both of horse and foot, who ran away from their colours, and empowered them, if they thought it expedient for the good of the army, to "decimate the fugitives, and cause hang the tenth man". If there were less than ten offenders, one might still be put to death, "for terrifying others"; and if there were only one, he might be made to suffer the extreme penalty.

Milder legislation originated at this time, too. It was in 1645 that an Act "in favour of lamed soldiers" promised maintenance upon the public charges to all who were so hurt and wounded in the defence of the public cause as to be unfit for their ordinary employment; and that another appointed a Committee to devise measures for the relief of the widows and orphans of those who fell. And so anxious were the Estates that their good faith should not be doubted, that they pledged the honour of the kingdom in proof of it.

From this point, the story of the Scots army merges into that of the civil wars of the period. And to relate it further would be to recapitulate what general histories of Scotland have already made more or less familiar to all.


[Pg 290]

[Pg 291]


The 17th of December, 1566, was the christening day of Mary Stuart's infant son. Amongst the festivities arranged in celebration of the event, there was a "great banquet", to which the representatives of foreign sovereigns had been invited, and at which a foremost place had been assigned to Hatton and the Englishmen who had accompanied him to Scotland. To enliven the entertainment, George Buchanan had written a masque, in which the actors were satyrs who, whilst reciting his complimentary verses, were to bring various symbolical gifts to the royal infant. The performance of this interlude had been entrusted to a Frenchman named Bastien. As the meat was being brought through the great hall, on a "trim engine", that seemed to move of itself, he made his appearance with a band of men disguised to represent the mythological monsters, and wearing long tails, in keeping with their assumed character. But he and his associates "were not content only to red roun". Whether merely acting on a mischievous impulse or deliberately carrying out a preconcerted joke, the mummers, as they passed near the English guests, put their [Pg 292] hands to their tails and began wagging them. Hatton and his party "daftly apprehending that which they should not seem to have understood", and placing the worst construction on the silly and unseemly trick, chose to believe that it had been planned in derision of them and out of spiteful jealousy "that the Queen made more of them than of the Frenchmen". To mark their sense of the insult offered them, "they all set down upon the bare floor behind the back of the board, that they should not see themselves scorned, as they thought". In relating the incident to Sir James Melville, who records it in his Memoirs, Hatton added that, if it had not taken place in the Royal palace and in presence of the Queen herself, he would "have put a dagger to the heart of the French knave Bastien".[291]

Coarse and unmannerly as was the satyrs' by-play, it would hardly seem to have deserved to be taken so seriously and so ill by the English guests, if it were not remembered that it expressed in dumb show what had for centuries been looked upon by Englishmen as a deadly insult—a reference to the popular belief that they were distinguished from the natives of other countries by the physical monstrosity of bearing tails. That this was accepted as an actual and disgraceful fact there is abundant evidence to prove. In a medieval Latin poem[292] devoted to an enumeration of the distinctive characteristics of the [Pg 293] various nations of Europe, the unflattering lines that fall to the share of the English, jeer at them for this deformity, whilst not omitting to denounce the treachery so commonly and so spitefully attributed to them by their enemies:

A brute beast is the Englishman, For he doth bear a tail; Beware, and treat him as a foe, E'en when he bids thee "Hail!"[293]

The anonymous satirist, however, was not original. He had not the merit, such as it might be, of having invented the slander which he flung as an insult at the people against whom he obviously entertained a bitter animosity. If, as there is reason to believe, he was a Frenchman, he merely repeated a gibe which had long been one of the commonplaces of vulgar vituperation amongst his compatriots. In the description which the thirteenth-century chronicler, Jacques de Vitry, gives of the depraved state of Paris in his day, and more particularly of the rude behaviour and coarse jests of the students who flocked to its famous university, he states that diversity of nationality aroused amongst them dissensions, hatred and violent animosities, to which they gave vent by indulging in all kinds of invectives against each other. As an example of their scurrility, he mentions that they called the [Pg 294] English drunkards and "tailards".[294] To suppose, from the very absurdity of the imputation, that it was merely cast as a taunt, and that no actual belief lay behind it, would be to ignore all that medieval credulity was capable of. Moreover, the attitude taken up by the English themselves, implied shame at an alleged deformity fully as much as anger at a wanton insult. On this point evidence is supplied by the Dominican monk Etienne de Bourbon, a moralist who flourished about the middle of the thirteenth century. In a treatise which is devoted to the exposition of subjects suitable for the pulpit, and which abounds in quaint stories as well as in caustic commentaries on contemporary manners, he does not omit to deal with the inordinate love of dress displayed by women, and to denounce the prevailing fashion of wearing extravagantly long trains to their gowns. He rebukes them for impiously presuming to better God's work, for doing away with the honourable distinction conferred upon them as human beings, and for deliberately assuming that which brings them down to the same level as brute beasts. As a climax, he inveighs against their shamelessness in making themselves what the English blush to be called—"tailards".[295]

[Pg 295] The events that were chiefly instrumental in bringing the English into either contact or conflict with Continental nations, during the Middle Ages, were the Crusades and the Hundred Years' War. The chronicles that deal with these are not wanting in instances from which it may be gathered how readily the obnoxious gibe came to the lips of those that wished to show their contempt for the islanders. Richard of Devizes, who wrote one of the earliest and most authentic narratives of the reign of Richard I, with whom he was contemporary, describes how, in 1190, the inhabitants of Messina manifested their hatred for the strangers whom the King had brought to their shores, and how they tried to wreak vengeance on him and his "tailards"; for, explains the chronicler, the Greeks and the Sicilians gave the name of "tailards" to all who followed the English monarch.[296]

Another very early reference to the use of the term "tailard" as an opprobrious synonym for "Englishmen" is that which occurs in a metrical romance dealing with the same period and also recording, but with poetical freedom, the life and exploits of Richard Cœur de Lion. The exact date of the poem is unknown; but the fact of its being mentioned in the Chronicles of Richard of Gloucester [Pg 296] and in those of Robert de Brunne, supplies evidence of its having been written earlier than the year 1300. It is confessedly a translation from the French; and that may account for the appearance in it of an insulting epithet which an English writer might have hesitated to use, even as an invective in the mouth of an enemy. The Second Book of this romance is devoted to a journey to the Holy Land, which the English King is supposed to have undertaken prior to the actual crusade, but which is, however, made to include the well-known incident of his capture. The poet tells how, when returning from Palestine, with "Sir Foulke Doyly of renown, and Sir Thomas of Multoun", Richard was betrayed, captured, and brought as a prisoner before the King of Allemayne; and how, when he represented himself and his companions as pilgrims,

"The Kyng callid Rychard be name, And clepyd him 'taylard', and sayde him schame."[297]

In the Sixth Book of the same poem, it is related how the English King, on his way to Acre, put in at Cyprus and sent messengers to the Emperor, and how that monarch "began to rage", threw a knife at one of them, and followed this up by peremptorily ordering them out of his presence, with the words:—

"Out, 'taylards', of my paleys! Now go and say your 'tayled' King That I owe him no thing."[298]

[Pg 297] When the Emperor's steward ventured to represent to his master that such treatment of honourable knights who came to him in the character of ambassadors was not justifiable, the furious but apocryphal potentate

"Carved off his nose by the grusle, And said: Traytour, thief, steward, Go, playne to English 'taylarde'."[299]

There is a further account of Richard's journey to the Holy Land in a poem by a writer of whom we know that his name was Ambrose, and that he witnessed various historical events between 1188 and 1196. It would also appear from his narrative that he actually accompanied the Crusaders on the expedition which he records. He, too, refers to the hostile attitude assumed by the inhabitants of Messina towards the English King's followers, and states that they jeered at the foreigners and called them "foul dogs", an epithet which, in the light of the parallel texts, may be looked upon as an allusion to the tails which the English were commonly believed to bear.[300]

[Pg 298] At the beginning of the thirteenth century, there is an instance of the use of the offensive gibe which shows to what purpose it was beginning to be turned by the literate class of the day. During the minority of Henry III, Louis VIII, continuing the aggressive policy inaugurated by his father, Philip Augustus, against the incapable administration of King John, made a vigorous effort to wrest Poitou from the English. Amongst the most noteworthy achievements of this campaign, was the capture of La Rochelle, in 1224. In celebration of this event, a poetaster of the day wrote some doggerel verses, which the Chronicle of Lanercost[301] has preserved:—

'Tis our own native King, 'tis a stranger no more, Who reigns in Rochelle, by the fortune of war; And the fear of the English no longer prevails, For he's made them all harmless by breaking their tails.[302]

On the other side, however, it was not forgotten that, a few years earlier, in 1217, the same Louis, after being deserted by the discontented barons who had called him over, had suffered a crushing defeat at Lincoln. This supplied fair material for a retort in the same style:—

We have dragged our French foes, Strung like larks in long rows, And made fast to our tails with a rope; [Pg 299]
That it really was so, Why, there's Lincoln to show, And that won't be questioned, I hope.[303]

The circumstances in which we next hear the contemptuous appellation of "tailards" applied to the English are particularly dramatic. It is in the course of the seventh crusade, that which was undertaken, in 1248, by Louis IX with an English contingent, and of which Matthew of Paris is one of the chroniclers. This time, however, it is not from the enemy that the insult comes. It is from an impetuous and overbearing ally, from the French King's brother, Count Robert of Artois. The Count was jealous of William Longsword; and on one occasion, when the leader of the English was returning from a successful but unauthorized raid, he was arbitrarily deprived by his arrogant rival of the booty which he was bringing back to the camp. Having in vain appealed to Louis, who appears to have been quite powerless against his brother's presumption, the English chief retired to Acre, with his two hundred knights; and the news of their departure drew from Artois the scornful exclamation that the army of the noble French was well purged of those "tailards".[304] Longsword was ultimately prevailed upon by the king to return; but it was not long before he had again to bear the [Pg 300] brunt of Artois' overweening pride and insolence. A difference of opinion had arisen between the rash and headstrong Count and the more cautious Master of the Templars, as to the advisability of following up a successful attack that had just been made on the infidels. Longsword was present and attempted to intervene as a peacemaker between the disputants; but he only succeeded in drawing on himself the anger of the hot-headed Frenchman, who put a climax to his violent invectives by insultingly referring to the pusillanimity of the timid "tailards", and expressing a wish that the army might, once for all, be purged of tails and "tailards".[305] Even the dignified self-possession of Longsword was not proof against such jeers. "Count Robert," he replied, "I shall certainly proceed, undismayed by any peril of impending death. We shall, I fancy, be to-day where you will not dare to touch my horse's tail."[306] In the engagement thus recklessly forced on—it was the battle of Mansourah—both Artois and Longsword perished. But whilst the French prince lost his life when trying to swim his horse across a river, after ignominiously turning tail,[307] the English knight fell fighting valiantly with his face to the overwhelming foe.

[Pg 301] The chronicles which record the events that marked the closing years of the thirteenth century supply a grim illustration of the ignominious treatment which their reputation as "tailards" sometimes brought upon the English. The war which broke out about this time between Edward I and Philip IV of France had for its cause, or, perhaps more correctly, for its pretext, one of the brawls which frequently arose when the sailors of the two countries met in the ports on either side of the Channel. Whether rightly or wrongly, the Frenchmen represented the English as the aggressors. They brought the matter under the notice of their own king, and represented it as an insult to him and to the whole nation that they should have been so wantonly ill-used by the "tailards". In the reprisals which followed, Philip's brother, Charles, took a conspicuous part. Having a previous and personal grievance against the English, he vented his spite even on unoffending pilgrims and students. He hanged several of the poor wretches who fell into his hands; and, adding insult to injury, strung up dogs side by side with them, to intimate, says the Chronicle of Lanercost, the resemblance which he thought to exist between the two, or, as another record even more plainly puts it, to show that he made no difference between a dog and an Englishman. Amongst the State Papers relative to the history of Edward I, there is a document which very strikingly confirms the truth of this barbarous incident. It consists of a long roll containing an [Pg 302] account of the various outrages committed by the French on English mariners and on inhabitants of the Cinque Ports. One of the charges brought against the Norman seamen is illustrated in the margin by a contemporaneous sketch representing a row of Englishmen hanging up, with a dog between each two.[308]

It is suggestive of the annoyance which the English felt at their opprobrious nickname that, when we find their writers noticing it, it is almost invariably under provocation and in a tone of indignant protest. One noteworthy exception to this is to be met with in a curious, half-literary, half-historical production, attributed to John of Bridlington. It is a political retrospect of the reign of Edward III, and consists of a supposed ancient text, in Latin verse, with a recent commentary on it. The poem itself purports to be a prophecy, whilst the notes indicate in what manner the predictions were fulfilled. As the leading event for the year [Pg 303] 1356, the date of the battle of Poitiers, it is foretold that,

"The four cockrels shall learn what defeat is, that day When the French meet the English in battle array, And the big-buttocked bullies are shamefully routed By the men whom as 'tailards' their ribaldry flouted".[309]

The imaginary scholiast explains the meaning of this to be, that the brood of the Gallic cock, or, in other words, the French, will be vanquished by the English, whom they jeeringly call "tailards"; that the appellation which is here applied to them and which has been somewhat euphemistically translated by "big-buttocked", is intended as a set-off against the ignominious term by which they commonly designate the English; and that the four cockrels especially referred to, are the king and his three sons. "And, indeed, these four," it is added, "were actually vanquished in that battle, the King himself being captured with one of his sons, whilst the other two fled from the field."[310]

After Poitiers, the invasion of France by Henry V is chronologically the next important event in the long medieval struggle between England and France. The initial success of the English, whilst embittering the animosity of their enemies, inspired a restraining respect; and there is an expression of those mingled feelings of aversion and of fear in the lines which a poetaster of the day addressed to [Pg 304] the invaders, partly as a reproach, partly as an appeal:

"Perfidious race that perjured England breeds, Whose evil nature shows in all your deeds, Why must you still, with baneful purpose, seek Your spite on righteous Frenchmen thus to wreak? Christ's servants they, and constant to the faith Which twice from you has suffered wanton scathe; Your words are fair, but yet in all you do, The crooked paths of falsehood you pursue; Cut off that poisonous tail you long have worn, A byword to the nations, and their scorn! For thee, their king, be not my warning vain, And, in thy mem'ry let this truth remain: That God who willed thou shouldst a 'tailard' be Has not denied his hallowing grace to thee."[311]

But the fortune of war began to turn against the English on the death of Henry V in 1422; and the exultation caused by that event is voiced by Olivier Basselin, in one of his popular poems:—

"The King who sat upon the English throne The crown of France claimed also for his own; He strove to drive as outcasts from their land The men that dared to stem the invading tide; But, when death dashed the sceptre from his hand, [Pg 305] The alien host was scattered far and wide, And France is now from English 'tailards' freed; May curses light on all the recreant breed!"[312]

A few years later, possibly about 1430, a popular ballade, in which an unknown writer celebrated the exploits of Jeanne d'Arc, opened with a repetition of the old insult:—

"Back, English 'tailards', back!"[313]

And Enguerrand de Monstrelet, the Burgundian chronicler of the events that marked the latter half of the Hundred Years' War, records another historical occasion on which the French gave utterance to their triumph in the traditional gibe at the alleged monstrosity of their old enemies. In his account of the evacuation of Paris, in 1436, he relates that, as the English retired from the city which they had held for sixteen years, the inhabitants hooted them with great cries of "Tails!"[314]

Coming down to the sixteenth century, we find that, in the early years of it, when hostilities broke out between Louis XII and Henry VIII, the old [Pg 306] insult fell readily from the pen of the French versifiers who found subjects for their rhymes in the military incidents of the time. Thus, in the Dépucellage de la ville de Tournay, the town, referring to its ill-advised refusal of help when the English laid siege to it, is made to say:—

"To guard my ramparts from the foe's attack A ready offer from the King was brought; But, I refused, and sent the answer back: 'With men for watch and ward, no means I lack To bring the "tailards'" enterprise to nought'".[315]

But pride went before a fall. Tournay was occupied by the English in 1513.

In Anatole de Montaiglon's collection of fifteenth and sixteenth century verse, there is a poem which bears the title of Courroux de la Mort contre les Anglois, and which is in substance a bitter invective against the English generally. It is undated; but an allusion to the porcupine, the well-known emblem of Louis XII, points to its having also been written at this same period. In an apostrophe, the poet promises his countrymen an easy victory over the English:—

"In war your arms will speedily prevail Against your foe, the King 'that wears a tail'".[316]

[Pg 307] The fight of Guinegate, commonly known as the battle of the Spurs, can hardly have been looked upon by him as a fulfilment of his prophecy. It may rather, if that were still possible, have increased the animosity which inspired the two scurrilous lines in which he strung together as many opprobrious epithets as the measure of his verse would admit, and which duly included the traditional slander, linked, in this instance, with the equally popular nickname of "godon", supposed to have originated in the frequent and profane use which the English made of God's name:—

"Ye noisome, greedy, fetid braggarts, go! Ye 'tailard' godons, rid me of your sight!"[317]

So far, the use of the abusive term "tailard", in French coué and in Latin caudatus, has been traced in immediate connection with events that brought the English into direct conflict with their enemies. There are not wanting instances, however, to show that no special provocation was required, and that from century to century it currently served the purpose of those whom national antipathy prompted to revile the English, or to hold them up to ridicule. To begin with Eustache Deschamps, the most prolific and versatile versifier of the late fourteenth and the early fifteenth centuries, we find him giving Englishmen and their tails a conspicuous place in his satirical verses. In a poem of which only a fragment remains, he describes how [Pg 308]

"They swagger grandly down the street, An awsome sight to all they meet";

but how, in order not to mar the effect of the imposing appearance which they assume,

"Between their legs they hide with care The tail which rumour says they wear".[318]

The Englishmen's tails also supply the subject of a rondeau in which Deschamps mockingly compares the strength of the French with that of the English, ironically proclaiming the superiority of the latter as proved by the greater mass of flesh they have to carry, and the additional appendage they are obliged to drag about with them:—

The English are more stout, 'tis clear, Than any Frenchman you can meet.
Slight burdens only Frenchmen bear; The English are more stout, 'tis clear.
Two butts they carry everywhere, And eke a tail, so trig and neat, The English are more stout, 'tis clear, Than any Frenchman you can meet.[319]

[Pg 309] In addition to this, Deschamps has a satirical ballade, in which he again drags in the English by the tail, professing concern for the inconvenience which it must cause them, and earnestly advising them to hold it up. "Billy", the predecessor of John Bull, as a typical Englishman, opens the poem with a gibe at the "French dogs", who "do nothing but drink wine". "Frenchy" does not deny the soft impeachment, but retorts that he considers it better to indulge in the juice of the grape than to swill beer. Then, by an abrupt transition and, if with rhyme, without any special reason, he compares red-haired Englishmen to mastiffs. On the strength of that canine similitude, he impresses upon them the necessity for holding up their tails. He commiserates them on the additional burden which they have to carry, though not endowed with the physical vigour of Jacques Thommelin, the strong man of the day. He warns them against walking abroad in dirty weather; and if, in spite of the rain, they must take their corn to the mill or gather grapes in the vineyard, he bids them imitate their four-footed neighbours the dogs, and hold up their tails to prevent their trailing in the mud. The satire is not keen, nor is the humour brilliant; and the whole point lies in the rather scurrilous than apt refrain: [Pg 310]


BALLADE (Sur les Anglais)
"Franche dogue," dist un Anglois, "Vous ne faites que boire vin." "Si faisons bien," dist le François, "Mais vous buvez le henequin; Roux estes com pel de mastin, Vuillequot, de moy aprenez, Quant vous yrez par le chemin: Levez vostre queue, levez!
Vous n'estes pas de membres fais Si comme est Jaques Thommelin Qui porte si merveilleus fais Que vous n'y pourriez mettre fin: Ce sont deux tonneaulx de sapin, C'est voir, et la queue delez. Advisez-vous, dit Franchequin; Levez vostre queue, levez!
N'alez a piet, par le temps frais, Porter vostre blé au moulin; S'il pluet, troussez vo queue prés, Autel facent vostre voisin; Et si vous pinciez le raisin, Afin que vous ne vous crotez, Soit en France ou en Limosin, Levez vostre queue, levez!"[320]

Another ballade records an incident which is supposed to have happened in Calais. In company with Granson, a mercenary captain in English pay, but without the necessary safe-conduct, the poet entered [Pg 311] the town, which was then in possession of the English. He was at once pulled up by two men-at-arms who addressed him in language of which he quotes such scraps as "dogue" and "goday", "ride" and "commidre". He, on his side, intimated his recognition of their nationality by exclaiming: "Oh yes! I see your tail!" Whilst Granson, who had led him into the trap, made off laughing and calling out that he had no wish to stand surety for him, Deschamps was told that he would be kept in durance, an announcement which again drew from him the taunt, "Oil, je voy vo queue!" Though confessedly blue with fright, he nevertheless summoned up enough courage to make a dash for liberty. Digging his heels vigorously into his cob, he made it rear with a suddenness that sent his captors sprawling; and whilst they lay helplessly on the ground, he hastily betook himself out of their reach, uttering the inevitable refrain:—


BALLADE (Récit d'une Aventure à Calais)
Je fu l'autrier trop mal venuz Quant j'alay pour veir Calays; J'entray dedenz comme cornuz, Sanz congié; lors vint deux Anglois, Granson devant et moy aprés, Qui me prindrent parmi la bride: L'un me dist: "dogue", l'autre: "ride"; Lors me devint la coulour bleue: "Goday", fait l'un, l'autre: "commidre". Lors dis: "Oil, je voy vo queue."
[Pg 312] Pour mal content s'en est tenuz L'un d'eulx, qui estoit le plus lays, Et dist: "Vous seres retenuz Prinsonnier, vous estes forfais." Mais Granson s'en aloit adés Qui en riant faisait la vuide: A eulx m'avoit trahi, ce cuide, En anglois dist: "Pas ne l'adveue." Passer me font de Dieu l'espite; Lors dis: "Oil, je voy vo queue."
Puis ay mes talons estenduz De mon roucin, le serray prés, Lors sault, si furent espanduz; Delez Granson fut mes retrais Là ne me vault treves ne pais, De paour la face me ride, De tel amour ma mort me cuide; Au derrain leur dist: "Je l'adveue." "Chien, faisoit l'un, vez vous vo guide?" Lors dis: "Oil, je voy vo queue!"[321]

Another writer of the same period, Olivier Basselin, refers to the Englishmen's tails in a satirical poem, in which he alleges this physical deformity as his reason for not wishing to live in their country:—

"Do you think it's a joke that I never would dwell 'Mongst the English, as oft I declare? Nay, believe me, my friend, 'tis the truth that I tell, For I hate the long tails that they wear."[322]

[Pg 313] In one of his minor poems, Jean Molinet, part-author of the Roman de la Rose, who also belongs to the fifteenth century, humorously goes one step further than his fellow satirists, and gives even animals of English race a share in the distinctive peculiarity which birth in England entailed on the human Islanders. Of a certain tom-cat he says:—

"This Cat for his mother had Cathau the Blue, To Calais he does not belong; There's something about him of English breed, too, And that's why his tail is so long."[323]

About the beginning of the sixteenth century, Crétin, a Norman poet, combines encouragement of the French with the usual abuse of the English:—

"Praise shall reward the doughty deeds you do, And store of crowns, and golden angels, too; And, in the ransom of the 'long-tailed' crew, Their flesh and bone shall be as gold to you."[324]

As late as the seventeenth century, an echo of the gibe may still be heard. Larivey, in one of his comedies, Les Tromperies, makes a swaggering captain boast of the reputation which he has acquired by valiantly charging the English "tailards" when [Pg 314] they attempted to land at Dieppe.[325] Still nearer our own day, Saint-Amant, who, indeed, is so modern that he was one of the original members of the French Academy and figures in Boileau's satires, has a reference to the English longtails in his Rome Ridicule. He incidentally claims for the French the strange merit of having rid their country of the goitre and of the king's evil by making carrion of the English invaders:—

"The goitre now we never see, And cruels, too, have ceased to be, E'er since we slew our 'tailard' foes And made them food to gorge the crows".[326]

By this time, however, the tradition had ceased to be popular; for in a note on this passage, Saint-Amant's contemporary, Conrart, thought it necessary to give an explanation of the epithet "quouez". According to him, it was justified by the fact that, in the case of the majority of Englishmen, the end of the os sacrum, called coccyx, actually protrudes and forms a tail![327]

[Pg 315] But, even yet, the old cry has not wholly died out. In the Island of Guernsey, that genuine bit of Normandy, where it was once so frequently heard, it is perpetuated by the country children. They have a custom of slyly throwing at passers-by a hairy, clinging weed, which grows abundantly by the wayside. If any of it catches on to the victims of their childish trick, these are made aware of it by hearing themselves jeered at with cries of "la Coue!" The words are the very same as those recorded by Monstrelet; and this identity seems to justify the belief that they are a survival of the medieval scoff.



The Scots, sharing as they did the feeling of animosity entertained by the French against their English foes, were no less ready than they to give it expression; and the insulting taunt which they had learnt from their continental allies was adopted as an effective means to that end. It is not, however, amidst the excitement of international strife that the cry is first heard. The earliest instance of its use in the North Country is given by Bower. Under the date of 1217, he has an account of the mission to Scotland, undertaken by the Prior of Durham and the Archdeacon of York, in connection with the interdict under which the kingdom had been laid. These two prelates made themselves very unpopular by the mercenary spirit which they displayed; and a monkish satirist voiced the irritation which they aroused, in a strongly worded Latin poem, containing amongst other terms of reproach and invective, a denunciation of them as "tailards": [Pg 316]

"Those clerics, both in treach'rous England born, Are of the breed by whom long tails are worn".[328]

As regards the other instances supplied by the chroniclers, it is noteworthy that the insult was, in each case, avenged by the defeat of those who flung it at their enemies. The first occasion on which this is reported to have occurred was the battle of Dunbar, in 1296. The Castle, at that time one of the most important in Scotland, had been delivered over to the Scottish leaders by the Countess of Dunbar. Edward I at once sent John Plantagenet, Earl of Warrenne and Surrey, to recapture it. The garrison, conscious of its inability to hold out against the ten thousand foot and the thousand heavy-armed horse which the English leader commanded, agreed to surrender to him if it were not relieved within three days. In the meantime, John Baliol, anxious to retain so important a stronghold, sent his whole army of forty thousand foot and fifteen hundred horse to its succour. When the besieged saw this formidable force encamped on the heights above Spot, they felt confident of success; and in their premature exultation, they jeered at the English, calling them "tailed dogs", and threatening not only to kill them, but also to cut off their tails. Their boasts were not justified by the result. In the engagement that followed, the rashness of the Scots in abandoning their favourable position proved disastrous. Ten thousand of them fell on the field or [Pg 317] during the pursuit; and next day the Castle surrendered at discretion to Edward, who came up from Berwick with the remainder of his army.[329]

In the following year, Lord Robert Clifford made an incursion into Annandale, at the head of twenty thousand infantry, preceded by a body of only one hundred cavalry. On passing the Solway, it was proclaimed by sound of trumpet that every soldier might plunder for himself and keep his own booty. On hearing this welcome announcement, the infantry dispersed over the country, and the horse alone remained together and marched on Annan, where the Scots, thinking they had to do with a mere handful, received them with jeers and insults, as a pack of "tailed" dogs. But when it came to actual fighting, the heavy-armed cavalry proved too much for the dalesmen. They were driven into marshy ground, where they were easily overpowered by the infantry that had hurried up to reinforce the vanguard. Over three hundred of the Scots were slain, many prisoners were taken; and before the Englishmen returned to Carlisle with their booty, the destruction of ten villages had given the scoffers good reason to think less contemptuously of the "tailards".[330]

[Pg 318] At least once again the ill-omened cry was heard. It was on the eve of the battle of Dupplin, which was fought on the 12th of August, 1332, between Edward Baliol, with his English supporters, and the army of David II, under the Earl of Mar. Trusting to their superior numbers and to their advantageous position, the Scots were confident of success. They spent a part of the night in drinking and in singing songs that contained insulting reference to

"The English 'tailards', jeered at for their tails",

and they bragged that they would turn those same tails to practical use, by binding their wearers, and dragging them to the gallows with them.[331] But the boastful Scots were beaten, and one of the chroniclers who record their defeat, reminds them of Seneca's saying, that never did proud joy stand on a sure footing. "Now," he adds, by way of moral, "you who, but the day before, declared you would make ropes of the Englishmen's tails to bind them with, are yourselves bound in real fetters."[332]

[Pg 319] In Wright's collection of medieval political songs, there are some doggerel verses, which are ascribed to this same half of the fourteenth century, and which probably refer to the driving out of the English from some of the strongholds which they had occupied. In his crabbed Latin, the writer, doubtless some monkish patriot, bids Scotland rejoice at the happy deliverance:

"The 'tails' appeared, a while they held their sway, But now, at last, they've all been lopped away; The 'tails' have gone, and fearlessly we may Proclaim 'O Scotland, hail the happy day!'"[333]

Those lines, such as they are, may serve as a connecting link between the historical instances of the use of the derogatory appellation and those which refer to no special incident, but are merely adaptations of the old scoff for the purpose of literary invective. The latter are not numerous; but one of them is interesting from the fact that it introduces the familiar "tails" under a new name. It occurs in The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedy, that remarkable production which, though probably nothing more than a jeu d'esprit, a kind of friendly sparring-match between two adversaries "who give each other plaguy knocks with all the love and fondness of a brother", is assuredly one of the most astonishing instances of verbal scurrility to be found in literature. In this wordy tournament the two poets allude in uncomplimentary language to [Pg 320] each other's family history, and Kennedy reproaches Dunbar, who was a native of Lothian, with being descended from a traitor, from Corspatrick, who,

"Throu his tressoun brocht Inglis 'rumpillis' in".[334]

John Skelton, a satirist of the late fifteenth and the early sixteenth century, has preserved three Latin hexameters in which a Scottish scholar, George Dundas, at one time a professor at the University of Aberdeen, scoffs at the English in the familiar way, by alluding to their tails. The Englishman himself, after the battle of Flodden, had written against the Scots, with the scurrility which characterized him and which made him obnoxious even to his own countrymen; and it seems probable that Dundas's lines occurred in a poem written as a retort. The only connection between them, however, consists in the repetition of the same idea in a slightly different form; and it is hardly possible to assume that they stood together, and are to be taken as an epigram. It may also be noted that the first of them is almost identical with one that is known to have been current at a much earlier date:

"An Englishman's a dog, because we find That, like a dog he bears a tail behind".
"Thou English 'tailard', hold thy tail with care, For fear it drop from thee, at unaware."
"By reason of their tails, the English race Must bear about a burden of disgrace."[335]

[Pg 321] In whatever connection the lines may have appeared, they provoked "the noble poet Skelton", as he styles himself, to a reply which has for its heading the statement that, "The most vile Scot, Dundas, alleges that Englishmen have tails". Apostrophizing him as a "shameless, noxious, foul-mouthed, lying Scot", he asks him how he dares utter such a slander. Then, dropping into macaronic verses, he adorns them with such flowers of vituperation as these:

This Dundas, This Scottishe as, He rymes and railes That Englishmen have tailes.
Skelton Laureat After this rate Defendeth with his pen All Englishmen Agayn Dundas The Scottishe as. Shake thy tayle, Scot, like a cur, For thou beggest at every mannes dur. Tut, Scot, I sey, Go, shake the, dog, hey! Dundas of Galaway With thy versyfyeng rayles How they have tayles.[336]

Though recalled, some half a century later, by the insulting piece of by-play which it suggested to Mary Stuart's French courtiers, and at which, as we have already recorded, Hatton and his countrymen [Pg 322] waxed so wroth, the "tailard" taunt is not again heard in the story of the old feud between England and Scotland. From the sixteenth century to its final disappearance from use and even from memory, it seems to have remained as exclusively French as it doubtless was in its origin.


The use which some of the Latin chroniclers and verse-makers make of the words caudatus and cauda suggests that the former of these may have been intended to bear the sense of "cowed" or "coward", and the latter to symbolize the evil qualities, more particularly, perhaps, the treachery ascribed to the English. Thus, in Matthew of Paris, one, at least, of Count Robert's insulting outbursts, though hardly both, remains perfectly intelligible even if a figurative rather than a literal meaning be given to the epithet.[337] And, again, when John Oxenedes, in his account of the battle of Lewes, fought, in 1264, between Henry III and the Barons, under Simon of Montfort, places it in immediate juxtaposition to "full of guile", "false", "unstable", and "dispirited", it seems more natural to interpret it as a reference to a moral defect than to take it as a taunt at a physical deformity.[338] As regards the substantive, a symbolical sense, not, indeed, excluding the [Pg 323] primary meaning, but rather taken in combination with it, is obviously consistent with the anonymous poetaster's advice to "cut off that poisonous tail".[339] And the Annales Gandenses, the most noteworthy chronicle of the closing years of the thirteenth and the beginning of the fourteenth century, whilst doubtless alluding to the popular belief in a real caudal appendage worn by Englishmen, seem to employ the word metaphorically in the passage which records the incendiarism and the looting by which the troops of Edward I disgraced themselves in Ghent, where they had been cordially received and hospitably entertained by the inhabitants in 1298. "The English, like the most ungrateful men that they were," says the Minorite author, "dragging after them their habitual tail, and eager to plunder the town of Ghent and to slay those that resisted them, set fire to it in four places, at the four corners, so to speak, in order that the people of Ghent, whilst endeavouring to extinguish the conflagration, should be less careful about the custody of their property."[340] In the Eulogium Historiarum, too, there is a passage where the word cauda occurs in such a connection as to make it quite clear that the literal acceptation would be out of place, the more so, indeed, from the circumstance [Pg 324] that the "tail" is bestowed, not on an Englishman, but on a Scot, and on a Scot no less genuine than Robert the Bruce. Referring to the capture and punishment of the Scottish King's adherents, the chronicler adds that Bruce himself found safety in flight and concealment, but that this did not in the least trouble Edward, who, now that his enemy's tail was completely cut off, was quite willing that he should wander about, wherever he found it easiest to save his life.[341] And if, in this instance, the amputation of the tail is a figure of speech intended to convey the notion of reducing to powerlessness, it might be argued, with some show of reason, that, even when applied to Englishmen, as in the lines which exultingly proclaim how the French King made them harmless by submitting them to similar treatment, the expression does not necessarily imply the actual possession of a real tail. This would add yet another passage to those which, if they stood by themselves, would justify some hesitation in accepting them as proofs of a serious conviction as to the alleged anatomical peculiarity of Englishmen. But when the fullest allowance has been made for all of them, they do not appreciably affect the evidence of the many witnesses who not only testify to the general acceptance of the phenomenon as an actual fact, but are also ready [Pg 325] with a reason for its cause and an explanation of its origin. The first of these in age, and by no means the least in point of standing and respectability, is the biographer Goscelin. He is said to have been born at or near Terouanne, and was originally a monk in the monastery of St. Bertin, but was brought over to England, possibly as early as 1053, by Hermann, Bishop of Salisbury. Being a monk at Canterbury, he became interested in the founder of the see, and not only drew up an account of the translation of Augustine, a ceremony at which he was present, but also wrote a life of the Saint. He professes to have based this work on older records; and it may be assumed that it embodied local tradition as it existed prior to the Norman Conquest. It consists of two versions of the story of the life of the Apostle of England. One of them, known as the Historia Minor Sancti Augustini, is brief and compendious. The other, or Historia Major as it is called, which enjoys the distinction of having been selected by the Bollandists for inclusion in their Acta Sanctorum, whilst identical with it in substance, has that greater fulness of details which its title suggests.

Both texts relate an incident which is said to have taken place in the province of Dorset, in a little village which, for its heathenish impiety, is likened to the nether regions themselves. There, the devil-inspired inhabitants not only refused to give the messenger of the Gospel a hearing, but also raised a very storm of mocking and contumely [Pg 326] against the Saint and his companions. In their shameless audacity, they fastened the tails of sea-fish to the garments of the holy men. Indignant at this sacrilegious outrage, the Spirit of the Lord, through the mouth of Augustine, condemned those who had committed it to perpetuate in themselves and in all their posterity the ignominy to which they had submitted the saints of God.[342]

Shorn of its miraculous and spiteful sequel, and presented in a form to which critical history is not compelled to raise objection, the same episode reappears about the middle of the twelfth century, [Pg 327] that is, approximatively, a hundred years later, in the Gesta Pontificum of William of Malmesbury. The chronicler narrates how, at Cerne, in Dorsetshire, the infuriated inhabitants, at the instigation of the Evil One, attacked Augustine and his brethren, and expelled them from their midst, after having heaped insults upon them, and how they carried the indignity of their conduct so far as to fasten the tails of ray-fish, or skate, to the clothes of the holy missionaries. The attitude which William of Malmesbury credits Augustine with assuming in the circumstances seems less in keeping with what we elsewhere read of the Saint's temper than does the vengeful sentence which Goscelin makes him pronounce against the offenders. William says of him that, for Christ's sake, he bore their affronts patiently, modestly, and even joyfully, and shaking against them the dust of his feet, retired a distance of some three miles, as a precaution against further irritating the insane anger of the poor people.[343]

When next the story of the insult offered to Augustine reappears, the Divine vengeance, which Goscelin hardly does more than suggest, is unhesitatingly asserted, and is recorded with a fullness of details such as medieval credulity would readily accept as evidence of a genuine miracle. The writer [Pg 328] to whom we owe the legend in this complete form is Robert Wace, of Jersey, the Anglo-Norman poet and author of the Brut, a rhymed chronicle written but a few years, probably not more than a decade, after William of Malmesbury's Gesta Pontificum. Differing from his predecessors who referred to a small village as the scene of the incident, Wace lays it in Dorchester itself, although the conduct which he attributes to its inhabitants seems in keeping with rural coarseness rather than with the more refined civilization of a county town:

"Saint Austine came and to the heathen folk He preached God's law. Full earnestly he spoke; But they, as men by nature vile and naught, Were careless of the holy truths he taught; And even as he stood before them, there, —One sent by God, God's precepts to declare— They fastened to his garments tails of ray, And with those tails they drove the Saint away. Then Austine prayed that, for His servant's sake, The judgment of the Lord might overtake The impious scoffers and His wrath proclaim Against the men who did the deed of shame. And so it was and shall be through all time, In punishment of their detested crime: For, sooth to say, to every man among The rabble rout by whom the tails were hung There grew a tail; and thus, for evermore This token of disgrace the tailards bore; And all their progeny, from sire to son, Have suffered for the deed which then was done; And so 'tis now, for all the kith and kin [Pg 329] Are tailards, too, in memory of the sin Incurred by those who, lewd and reprobate, Defiled the friend of God with tails of skate."[344]

Some fifty years after Robert Wace wrote his Brut, Layamon translated, or rather, paraphrased and expanded the poem. In this Old English version of it, St. Augustine's adventure is enriched by the addition of further details. Layamon's most interesting contribution to the history of the development of the legend consists of the information that an exaggerated notion as to the extent of the Saint's vengeance had, by this time, got abroad, and that foreigners now credited all Englishmen indiscriminately [Pg 330] with the tails which the transgressors themselves and their posterity had alone been condemned to bear. That those tails were called "muggles", and that the men whom they disgraced were nicknamed "mugglings", are further circumstances for the knowledge of which we are indebted to Layamon. And the fact that, whilst one manuscript of his poem follows Wace with regard to the locality of the incident, another transfers it from Dorchester to Rochester, suggests a desire on the part of the scribe to exonerate the West Country, with which he may possibly have been connected.[345] In Sir F. Madden's prose rendering of the old English Brut, the whole episode is thus given:

"And so St. Austin drew southward, so that he came to Dorchester; there he found the worst men that dwelt in the land. He told them God's lore, and they had him in derision; he taught them Christendom, and they grinned at him. Where the Saint stood, and his clerks with him, and spake of Christ, as was ever their custom, there they approached to their injury, and took tails of rays and hanged them on his cope, on each side. And they ran beside, and threw at him with the bones, and afterwards attacked him with grievous stones. And so they did him shame and drove him out of the place. To St. Austin they were odious, and he [Pg 331] became exceeding wroth; and he proceeded five miles from Dorchester, and came to a mount that was mickle and fair; there he lay on his knees in prayer and called ever toward God, that he should avenge him of the cursed folk, who had dishonoured him with their evil deeds. Our Lord heard him, in heaven, and sent his vengeance on the wretched folk that hanged the rays' tails on the clerks. The tails came on them—therefore they be tailed! Disgraced was all the race, for muggles they had; and in each company men call them mugglings, and every freeman speaketh foul of them, and English freemen in foreign lands have a red face for the same deed, and many a good man's son, in strange lands, who never came there nigh, is called base."[346]

The same occurrence is related in the English prose version of the Brut, with the addition of aggravating circumstances of violence and contumely. But what imparts special interest to the passage is the mention of the ingenious means adopted for the purpose of evading the hereditary curse:

"And in the menewhile that the peple turnede ham to God, seynt Austyn came to Rochestre and there prechede Goddis worde. The paynnemys therefor him scornede and caste uppon hym reyghe tayles, so that al his mantel was hongede ful of reyghe tailes; and for more despite thai keste uppon hym the guttis of reyghes and of other fysshe, wherefore the good man seynt Austyn was sore anoyede and grevede, and prayede to God that alle [Pg 332] the childerne that shulde be borne afterward in that citee of Rochestre muste have tayles. And wherre the kyng herde and wiste of this vengaunce that was falle thurghe seynt Austynus praier, he lette make one howse in the honoure of God, wherein wymmen shulde have hire childerne, at the brugges ende: in whiche howse wymmen yette of the citee be delyveride of child."[347]

The Story of Inglande, written by Robert Manning of Brunne, in 1338, contains a section which has the marginal summary, "Qua de causa Anglici vocantur Caudati". In his explanation of the reason why Englishmen are called "tailards", Manning closely follows Wace, some of whose lines, indeed, he translates with literal accuracy. He closes his narrative of the incident, however, in the same manner as does Layamon, with a protest against the unfairness of attributing to all Englishmen indiscriminately the degrading stigma inflicted on a few only of his countrymen:

"But there he stod them to preche And ther savacion for to teche; Byhynd hym on his clothes they henge Righe taillis on a strenge. When they had don that vyleny They drof hym thenne wyth maistri; Fer weys they gan hym chace; Tailles they casten in hys face. Thys holy man God bisought, [Pg 333] For they hym that vileny wrought, That on them and on al their kynde Tailled alle men schulde hem fynde; And God graunted al that he bad, For alle that kynde tailles had— Taillis hadde and tailles have; Fro that vengaunce non may them save; For they wyth tailles the goodeman schamed, For tailles al Englische kynde ys blamed; In manie sere londes seyd Of tho tailles we have umbreyde."[348]

The Bibliothéque Nationale possesses a manuscript,[349] which is ascribed by experts to the fourteenth century, and in which the legend of St. Augustine and the tails—no longer those of ray-fish, however—supplies materials for a quaint satire against the inhabitants of Rochester. It begins with a mock-serious discussion as to the species of animals to which they belong. That they are not men is quite clear, for they have tails, and Aristotle has conclusively established that men have no tails. And yet those strange animals have something human about them, too—they reason and have laws. For all that, however, there remains the stern fact that they bear tails, and this quite precludes the possibility of classing them as perfect human beings. In the course of the satire reference is naturally made to the outrage of which St. Augustine was the victim. After giving an account of the saint's mission to England, the anonymous author continues: "As he went about from city to city, preaching, it happened that [Pg 334] he preached in the city which is called Rochester. But, whilst he was preaching, the inhabitants of the city flocked together about him, and, deeming his words to be lies, subjected him to many insults. After reviling him with opprobrious words, they fastened tails of swine and of cows to the skirt of his garments, spat into his face, and drove him out of the city."[350] The saint prayed that they who had insulted him might be punished, to the end that the divinity of his mission should be brought home to them. At the conclusion of his prayer, he wept bitterly, but was comforted by receiving the assurance that his petition would be granted. And so, God, wishing to avenge the insult done to Him and to his servant, ordained that all who, from that time, might be born in the city of Rochester, should have tails, after the fashion of swine. And nothing could be done to prevent their having tails. From that day to this, the natives of Rochester have been tailed, and they shall remain tailed for ever. It is consequently evident that they are not human beings. Amongst the inconveniences resulting from this peculiarity of theirs, is that of not being able to sit down when they are angry; for, at such a time, their tails stand erect, as is the case with other animals.[351]

[Pg 335] During the fourteenth century, too, the myth, in its restricted and local form, makes its appearance in Continental literature, other than that of France. It is referred to by Fazio degli Uberti, an Italian poet who lived between 1326 and 1360, and whom D. G. Rossetti deals with and translates in his work Italian Poets chiefly before Dante. In a description of England which Fazio gives in the Ditta Mondo, he says:

"Now this I saw not; but so strange a thing It was to hear, and by all men confirmed, That it is fit to note it as I heard, To wit, there is a certain islet here Among the rest where folk are born with tails,— Short as are found in stags and suchlike beasts".[352]

Fazio is probably Boccaccio's authority for the statement, unaccompanied with any further details, however, that "certain Englishmen were born with tails".[353]

[Pg 336] The chronicle which is commonly known as Alexander of Essebye's, and which exists in manuscript only, has been quoted as briefly stating that "when fish tails were despitefully thrown at him by certaine men of Dorsetshire", St. Augustine "was so furiously vexed therewith that he called upon God for revenge and He forthwith heard him and strake them with tails for their punishment". Greater interest attaches to the story as told in the English version of the Golden Legende. Though not less credulous than were his predecessors as to the punishment inflicted on the impious people who insulted the saint, the writer who interpolated the narrative—for it does not appear in the Latin original—prepares the way of the sceptic by limiting the duration of the penalty, and by testifying with an earnestness suggestive of personal knowledge to the immunity of some, at least, of those who were believed to be stricken for the transgression of their forefathers:

"After this Saynt Austyn entryd into Dorsetshyre and came into a towne whereas were wycked peple and refused his doctryne and prechyng utterly, and droof him out of the towne, castyng on him the tayles of thornback or like fisshes, wherefor he besought Almyghty God to shewe his jugement on them, and God sente to them a shameful token, for the children that were borne after in that place had tayles, as it is said, tyl they had repented them. It is sayd comynly that thys fyl at Strode in Kente; but, blessyd be God, at this day is no such deformyte."[354]

[Pg 337] By the middle of the fifteenth century, the legend of the tails had undergone important modifications. The original account of the outrage and of its punishment was still current; but, by the side of it, there existed several versions which affected not merely the circumstances of time and place, but also the individuality of the persons concerned in the incident. We are indebted to Walter Bower, who expanded and continued Fordun's Scotichronicon, for an interesting passage in which the old story and its subsequent variants are presented together. The Scottish chronicler, taking Wace's narrative as his starting-point, relates that when St. Augustine was preaching the word of life to the heathen, amongst the West Saxons, in the county of Dorset, he came to a certain town where no one would receive him or listen to his preaching. They opposed him rebelliously in everything, contradicted all he said, did their utmost to distort his actions, on which they put sinister interpretations, and, impious to relate, carried their audacity so far as to sew and hang fish tails to his garments. But what they intended as an insult to the holy father brought eternal disgrace on themselves and on their posterity, and opprobrium on their unoffending country. He smote them in the hinder parts and cast lasting shame upon them by causing similar tails to grow both on their own persons and on those of their offspring. And here the Abbot of Inchcolm becomes particularly interesting by reason of the wholly new information which he imparts. He states that there was [Pg 338] a special name for the punitive tail. "Such a tail," he says, "is called Mughel by the natives, in the language of their country; and because of this, the place where St. Augustine was thus insulted received the name of Muglington, that is, the town of the Muglings, and still bears it at the present day." It is to be regretted that the topographical indication is not more definite. The modern map of England knows no Muglington. Wherever it may have been, it would seem that it did not stand alone as a monument of St. Augustine's power and spite. According to Bower, it is also related that a similar indignity was done to him in the province of Mercia, by the inhabitants of a town called Thamewyth. But they were not allowed to go unpunished either; for, "as is known to all", they were put to shame by the infliction of the like opprobrious punishment.

It is from its concluding part, however, that Bower's account derives its chief importance and its value as a contribution to the history of the development of the myth. "Something similar," he says, "happened at a later period, during the exile of St. Thomas, Primate of England, when the people of Rochester, intending it as an insult to him, docked his horse's tail. But their iniquitous action was foiled of its purpose and recoiled on themselves; for it was found that thenceforth all the children born in that place were tailed."[355] From this we first[Pg 339] learn that a new character had by this time assumed a part in the story. Hitherto, the responsibility for having endowed Englishmen with tails had rested with St. Augustine alone. And his monopoly of the doubtful honour had endured through four centuries. Henceforth, though he was not to disappear altogether, he was to have a rival.

In the case of Becket, as in that of his predecessor, there was a basis of historical fact on which to build up a legend.

The chroniclers Ralph de Diceto, Roger de Hoveden, and both William and Gervase of Canterbury,[356] who record the murder of Becket, and whose proximity, in point of time, to the events that took place on those memorable December days of the year 1170, gives them indisputable authority, all agree [Pg 340] in narrating, with such slight variations in matters of detail as serve to show that they did not merely repeat each other, an incident which happened to the Archbishop shortly before his death. They state that Robert Broc, a groom of the royal bedchamber, who, together with Nigel de Sacheville, incumbent of Harrow, was solemnly excommunicated by the Primate, on Christmas day, had cut off the tail of Becket's horse, as an insult to its owner. According to the two brother-monks, the Archbishop made direct reference to this indignity in his interview with the four conspirators, Reginald Fitzurse, Hugh de Moreville, William de Tracy, and Richard le Breton. "The tail of a mare in my service," he said, "has been shamefully cut off, as if I could be disgraced by the docking of a brute beast."[357] It was not, however, for this cowardly and contemptible act of spite that Broc was excommunicated, but because, being a layman, he had appropriated ecclesiastical revenues. And, though William of Canterbury records that the very dogs refused to be fed by the hand of the man whom the Prelate had banned, neither he nor any of the other chroniclers refers to the infliction of tails on him or his posterity. It was only at a later date, and when Broc had been lost sight of, as the perpetrator of the outrage, that the miraculous punishment was thought of.

[Pg 341] Although there is the evidence of Bower to show that, in his day, Becket's name had already begun to be connected with the legend of the tails, Augustine still continues to hold his own through the whole of the first half of the sixteenth century. It is he who figures as the hero, or the victim, in the account given by John Major, an account which is noteworthy by reason of the very cautious spirit in which it is written. It may be said to mark the beginning of a transition from unquestioning credulity to uncompromising scepticism. It also seems to imply that, so far as the author's reading of the chroniclers extended, he found the English, if not yet ready to deny the supernatural punishment of the insult offered to the saint, at least convinced that it had not been perpetuated through the ages. The chapter in which Major recapitulates the old story, is mainly devoted to the outward form and appearance of the English, and contains a great deal about "skiey influence". Thus, it comes of "skiey influence" that close by the Arctic pole people are of foul aspect. And, if in some parts of Africa men are born with the head of a dog, "this, too, is a matter of skiey influence and carries with it no other influence". After this preamble the author proceeds to relate the conversion of Kent—how Augustine laboured so strenuously that, in a short space of time, he brought to the faith the king himself and almost the whole people; how, passing on to Rochester, he began there, too, to preach the word of God; and how the common people derided him, and threw fish tails at the holy man. "Wherefore [Pg 342] Augustine made his prayer to God that, for punishment of this sin, their infants should be born with tails, to the end they might be warned not to contemn the teachers of divine things. And, for this reason, as the English chroniclers relate, the infants were born with tails; but for a time only, and to the end that an unbelieving race might give credence to their teacher, was this punishment inflicted." The Scots and the Gauls, it is true, "assert the opposite". But, Major "cannot agree with them". And, further, the phenomenon having been only temporary, he gives it as his opinion that it had "very little to do with the skiey influence".[358]

Nicole Gilles whose "very elegant and copious annals of Gaul" were published in 1531, being a French chronicler, is one of those who believe that the divine anger has not ceased to manifest itself, and that the descendants of the men of Dorchester, who mocked and derided St. Augustine, still have "tails behind, like brute beasts, and are therefore called tailed Englishmen". It is worthy of notice that, owing, doubtless, to the misreading of some Latin text and to the intelligible confusion of raia or raria, both of which are used to translate "rayfish", with the more familiar rana, Gilles makes the impious Dorchestrians hang frogs—"des raynes ou grenouilles"—to St. Augustine's garments.[359]

[Pg 343] Bellenden, who belonged to the next generation, took the liberty of introducing the Augustinian myth into his Scottish prose rendering of Hector Boece, although there was nothing in the Latin original to justify him in doing so.

"Quhen this haly man, Sanct Austine, wes precheand to the Saxonis in Miglintoun," he says, "thay wer nocht onlie rebelland to his precheing, but in his contemptioun thay sewit fische talis on his abilyements. Otheris alliegis thay dang him with skait rumpillis. Nochtheless, this derisioun succedit to thair gret displesoure: for God tuke on thaim sic vengeance, that thay and thair posteritie had lang talis mony yeris eftir. In memorie heirof, the barnis that are yit borne in Miglintoun hes the samin deformite, but the wemen havand experience thairof fleis out of this toun in the time of thair birth and eschapis this malediction be that way."[360]

Bower and the prose Brut are obviously the authorities for Bellenden's statements, and it is not without interest to note that whilst drawing from the latter his knowledge of the subterfuge by means of which cunning mothers might secure for their children immunity from the consequences of the saint's vindictiveness, it is from his Scottish predecessor that he takes the name of the town which [Pg 344] witnessed the affront, and in which the punishment was perpetuated. And the question arises whether the chronicler's apparently deliberate choice of Miglinton is to be taken as evidence that a place bearing that name, or rather nickname, really existed.

Though Dunbar's brief reference to the insult offered to St. Augustine proves nothing beyond his acquaintance with the legend, it may be quoted, for the sake of completeness. It occurs in the Flyting with Kennedy, at whom his adversary flings the jeer,

"he that dang Sanct Augustine with an rumple Thy fowll front had".[361]

The Frenchman Génébrard is the last of those who, as long as the story continued to be accepted or, at least, not openly scouted, connected it with Augustine. He confines himself to recording the outrage, and to stating, with due caution, that, because of it, the people of Dorchester "are said to have had tails like beasts". His own belief in the prodigy does not appear to have been very firm.[362]

Of those who, after Bower, present St. Thomas as the central figure in the incident, the first in date is a foreigner, Wilwolt of Schaumburg. This German gentleman errant visited England about the end of the fifteenth century, and an account of his travels was published in 1507. He appears to have been greatly impressed by the story of St. Thomas [Pg 345] of Candlwerg, as he calls him, and relates how "he left behind him a wonderful token which will perhaps endure to the day of judgment". On one occasion, he says, riding like a pious and upright man, on his little ass, the holy man came to a certain village where he stopped to take some food. Here the country folk made fun of his lowly mount, and cut off the poor ass's tail. Thereupon, the dear saint complained to Almighty God, and prayed to such purpose that, even to this very day, all the boys that are born in that village bring with them into the world little tails rooted to their hinder parts. From this circumstance has arisen the byword which so greatly annoys the English: "Englishman, show your tail!" And continues Wilwolt, "I should like to see the foolhardy man who dared to call out, 'English tailard' in that same village. He would have to take himself off very quickly if he did not wish to be beaten to death." The German traveller also learnt how, at the right moment, women could avert from the expected child the grievous consequences of its forefathers' fault. They only had to cross the water and go into the next village.[363]

[Pg 346] Another and better known foreigner, no less a personage, indeed, than Polydore Vergil, continues, at the same time that he considerably restricts, the legend of the tails. As narrated by him in the Anglica Historia, published in 1534, Becket's misadventure appears to have been one of the minor incidents in the quarrel between him and the king. It had become known that Henry had been moved to exclaim, "Wretched me! Can I not have peace in my own kingdom because of one priest? Is there none of all my subjects who will rid me of that annoyance?" And there were not wanting evil men who understood this to mean that, in his heart, he desired the death of the Archbishop who, in consequence, began to be generally neglected, despised, and hated. Such was the position of affairs when Thomas one day came to Stroud, on the Medway, near Rochester. There, the inhabitants, anxious to inflict some insult on the good father, now that he was in disgrace, did not hesitate to cut off the tail of the horse on which he was riding. By this act, however, it was on themselves that they brought lasting shame. For, by the judgment of God, it happened that the descendants of the men who had perpetrated this outrage were born with [Pg 347] tails, like brute beasts. But if the learned Italian was superstitious enough to believe in the miraculous punishment of an offence which, at its worst, involved far less moral guilt than was incurred by the murderers of Becket, against whom no divine retribution was recorded, he was too intelligent not to see the absurdity of making it perpetual, and of inflicting it on the community at large, as earlier chroniclers had done. He admitted that the mark of infamy had not survived the family of the immediate offenders.[364]

The next and last writer of what may be called the period of credulity, though that credulity had begun to wane long before it reached its vanishing phase in him, was Guillaume Paradin, of Cuiseaux. He confesses to a suspicion that what tradition has handed down concerning the tails of Englishmen is mere nonsense, and apologizes for reproducing it, on the score that English chroniclers themselves report it quite seriously. The Becket legend which he thus introduces affords him an opportunity of [Pg 348] adapting to the English the words of the Royal prophet, "He smote them in the hinder parts and put them to a perpetual shame"; and of perpetrating, at their expense, some doggerel lines of which he has the good sense not to acknowledge the authorship:—

Of old, some Britons docked the tail Of Becket's nag, they say, And that is why all Englishmen Have short tails to this day.[365]

By the middle of the sixteenth century, saints had ceased to command the same popular reverence as before, and their alleged miracles were put by many on the same level as the myths of antiquity. There is, consequently, from that date onwards an absolute change in the tone and temper of those who allude to the legend of the tails. Most of them, indeed, do so for the sole purpose of denying the miracle and of sneering at those who superstitiously [Pg 349] gave it credence. The first and not least indignant of the denunciators is John Bale, Bishop of Ossory. After indicating the discrepancy between John Capgrave and Alexander of Esseby—that is, Ashby—who record that, "for castynge of fyshe tayles at thys Augustine, Dorsett shyre men had tayles ever after", and Polydore Vergil, who "applyeth it unto Kentysh men at Stroude, by Rochester, for cuttynge of Thomas Beckett's horse's tayle", the author of the Actes of Englysh Votaryes says: "Thus hath England, in all other landes, a perpetual dyffamy of tayles by their wrytten legendes of lyes, yet can they not wele tell where to bestowe them trulye".[366] In another passage he inveighs still more bitterly against "the Spiritual Sodomytes" who "in the legends of their sanctyfied sorcerers", have "dyffamed the Englyshe posteryte with tayles", and to whom it is due "that an Englishman now cannot travayle in any other lande by way of merchandyce or anye other honest occupyenge, but yt ys most contumelyousslye throwne in his teeth, that all Englishmen have tayles". And concludes the Bishop in his wrath, "that uncomlye note and report have the nacyon gotten without recover, by these laysye and idell lubbers, the munkes and the prestes, whiche coulde fynde no matters to advance their canonysed Cayns by, or their Sayntes (as they call them) but manyfest lyes and knaveryes".[367]

Bale's Actes appeared in 1546. Seventy years later, William Lambarde published a Perambulation of Kent. [Pg 350] Coming to Stroud, in this topographical and historical account of his native county, he eagerly avails himself of the opportunity offered him to record his protest against the attribution of tails, not only to the natives of that locality, but to the Kentish men generally, and that—unkindest cut of all—by their own fellow countrymen. He is evidently acquainted with several versions of the story; but whilst denouncing the authors of all of them, he is particularly incensed against Polydore, whom he quite unjustly accuses of "lashing out further" than his authorities, and of endeavouring "to outly the lowdest Legendaries". It is bad enough that "the whole English nation should be earnestly flowted" with the "dishonourable note" of having tails; but what Lambarde obviously finds it more difficult to bear, and makes Polydore responsible for, is that "Kentish men be heere at home merily mocked". In his most entertaining contribution to the history of the legend, the Kentish apologist says:

"A name, or family of men, sometime inhabiting Stroude (saith Polydore) had tailes clapped to their breeches by Thomas Becket, for revenge and punishment of a dispite done to him, in cutting of the taile of his horse. The author of the new Legend saith, that after St. Thomas had excommunicated two Brothers (called Brockes) for the same cause, that the Dogges under the table would not once take bread at their hands. Such (belike) was the vertue of his curse, that it gave to brute beasts, a discretion and knowledge of the persons, that [Pg 351] were in danger of it. Boetius (the Scotishe chronicler) writeth, that the lyke plague lighted upon the men of Midleton in Dorsetshire: who because they threwe Fish tailes in great contempt at Saint Augustine, were bothe themselves and their posteritie, stricken with tailis, to their perpetual infamy and punishment. All whiche their reportes (no doubt) be as true, as Ovides Historie of Diana, that in great angre bestowed on Actæon a Deares head with mighty anthlers.

"Much are the Western men bound (as you see) to Polydore, who taking the miracle from Augustine, applieth it to S. Thomas, and removing the infamous revenge from Dorsetshire, laieth it upon our men of Kent. But little is Kent, or the whole English nation beholding, either to him, or his fellowes, who (amongst them) have brought upon us this ignominie and note with other nations abrode, that many of them believe as verity, that we have long tailes and be monsters by nature, as other men have their due partes and members in usual number. Polydore (the wisest of the companye) fearing that issue might be taken upon the matter, ascribeth it to one speciall stocke and family, which he nameth not, and yet (to leave it the more uncertain) he saith, that, that family is worne out long since, and sheweth not when; he goeth about in great earnest (as in sundrie other things) to make the world beleave he cannot tell what: he had forgotten the Lawe whereunto an Hystorian is bound, 'Ne quid falsi audeat, ne quid veri non [Pg 352] audeat'. That he should be bold as to tell the trueth, and yet not so bolde as to tell a lye."

To his credit, however, Lambarde does Polydore the justice of admitting that his history, "without all doubt", is "a worthy work", in places not blemished with such follies. But, seeing that he does insert them often and without discretion, he must be read with great suspicion and wariness. "For, as he was by office Collector of the Peter pence to the Popes gaine and lucre, so sheweth he himselfe throughout by profession, a coveteous gatherer of lying fables, fained to advance the Popish religion, kingdome and myter."[368]

In the seventeenth century, the story of the tails, which, by that time, however, had ceased to be attributed to Englishmen at large and were humorously regarded as distinctive of Kentish men alone, was incidentally referred to by several poets. It supplied Sir John Mennis, the author of Musarum Deliceæ, with a coarse joke. Andrew Marvel, in his Loyal Scot, cites it in illustration of the danger incurred by provoking the anger of a prelate:—

"There's no 'Deliver us' from a Bishop's wrath: Never shall Calvin pardoned be for sales, Never, for Burnet's sake, the Lauderdales; For Becket's sake, Kent always shall have tails."[369]

In Drayton's Polyolbion, the "Blazons of the Shires", as set forth by Helidon, open with the lines: [Pg 353]

"Kent first in our account, doth to itself apply (Quoth he) this Blazon first, 'Long tails and Liberty!'"[370]

Butler, in his Hudibras, has a couplet which declares that:

tails by nature sure were meant As well as beards, for ornament.

According to an annotator, "Mr. Butler here alludes to Dr. Bulwer's Artificial Changeling", where, besides the story of the Kentish men, near Rochester, who had tails clapped to their breeches by Thomas à Becket, he gives an account, on the authority of "an honest young man of Captain Morris's company in Lieutenant-General Ireton's company", of how "at Cashell in the County of Tipperary, in the province of Munster, in Carrick Patrick church, seated on a hill or rock, stormed by the Lord Inchequine, and where were neare 700 put to the sword and none saved but the Mayor's wife and his son, there were found among the slain of the Irish, when they were stript, divers with tailes near a quarter of a yard long. The relator being very diffident of the truth of this story, after enquiry was ensured of the certainty thereof by forty souldiers, that testified upon their oaths that they were eyewitnesses, being present at the action." With such testimony in support of his assertion that "the rump bone among brutish and strong-docht nations doth often spread out with such an excrescence or beastly emanation", Dr. Bulwer [Pg 354] is not disinclined to believe in the possession of tails by the inhabitants of Stroud.

In the Church History of Britain by Dr. Bulwer's contemporary, Thomas Fuller, modern scepticism again asserts itself. Quoting from Hierome Porter, in the Flowers of the Lives of the Saints, to the effect that when the villagers in Dorsetshire beat Augustine and his fellows, and in mockery fastened fish tails at their backs, in punishment hereof, "all that generation had that given them by nature, which so contemptibly they fastened on the backs of these holy men", Fuller adduces this to show that "most of the miracles assigned unto Augustine, intended with their strangeness to raise and heighten, with their levity and absurdity do depress and offend, true devotion". In equal contempt of those who relate such a story as that of the Dorsetshire folk and of those who accept it, the author exclaims, "Fie for shame! He needs an hard plate on his face that reports it, and a soft place in his head that believes it".[371]

In his Worthies of England, the same writer discusses at some length the origin of the nickname applied to the Kentish men. "Let me premise," he says, "that those are much mistaken, who first found the proverb on a miracle of Austin the Monk, for the scene of this lying wonder was not laied in any part of Kent, but pretended many miles off, nigh Cerne in Dorsetshire." His own opinion is that the saying is "first of outlandish [Pg 355] extraction and cast by Forrainers as a note of disgrace on all the English, though it chanceth to stick only on the Kentish men at this day". In support of this view, Fuller relates the incident of the quarrel "betwixt Robert, Brother of Saint Louis, King of France and our William Longspee, Earle of Salisbury". Continuing his disquisition he says:—

"Some will have the English so-called from wearing a pouch or poake (a bag to carry their baggage in) behind their backs, whilst probably the proud Monsieurs had their lacquies for that purpose; in proof whereof, they produce ancient Pictures of the English Drapery and Armory, wherein such conveyances doe appear. If so, it was neither sin nor shame for the common sorte of people to carry their own necessaries; and it matters not much whether the pocket be made on either side, or wholly behind. If any demand how this nickname (cut off from the rest of England) continues still entailed on Kent. The best conjecture is, because that County lieth nearest to France, and the French are beheld as the first founders of this aspersion. But if any will have the Kentish men so-called from drawing and dragging boughs of trees behind them, which afterwards they advanced above their heads, and so partly cozened, partly threatened, King William the Conqueror to continue their ancient customes; I say, if any will impute it to this original, I will not oppose."[372]

[Pg 356] The incident upon which Fuller bases the explanation which he considers most plausible, without, however, expressing himself dogmatically with regard to it, is related by the chronicler Willam Thorne, and also forms the subject of an old ballad quoted by Thierry. So modern an historian as Lappenberg thinks that "perhaps the tradition is not unfounded, that the Kentish army, advancing under the covering of branches from the trees, might have appeared to the enemy as a wood, until, standing in face of them and casting down their leafy screen, they at once appeared threatening with sword and spear". Freeman rejects the story altogether. But even its truth, which Fuller may be excused for accepting, would hardly support his theory. The only credit which it deserves is perhaps the negative one of being a little less fanciful than that put forward by Fynes Moryson, who states that "the Kentish men of old were said to have tayles, because trafficking in the Low Countries, they never paid full payments of what they did owe, but still left some part unpaid".[373]

The author of the early sixteenth-century Mad Pranks and Merry Jests of Robin Goodfellow, contributes no less than three other explanations, of which one bears considerable resemblance to that favoured by Fuller. After relating how he dropped into an alehouse, whilst travelling in "that noble county of Kent", he continues:—

[Pg 357] "The ale being good, and I in good company, I lapt in so much of this nappy liquor, that it begot in mee a boldnesse to talk and desire of them to know what was the reason that the people of that country were called Long-tayles. The hoast said, all the reason that ever he could heare was, because the people of that country did use to goe in side-skirted coates. There is (sayd an old man that sat by) another reason that I have heard: that is this. In the time of the Saxons' conquest of England there were divers of our countrymen slaine by treachery, which made those that survived more carefull in dealing with their enemies, as you shall heare. After many overthrowes that our countrymen had received by the Saxons, they dispersed themselves into divers companies into the woods, and so did much damage by their suddaine assaults to the Saxons, that Hengist, their king, hearing the damage that they did (and not knowing how to subdue them by force) used this policy. Hee sent to a company of them and gave them his word for their liberty and safe returne, if they would come unarmed and speake with him. This they seemed to grant unto, but for their more security (knowing how little hee esteemed oaths or promises) they went every one of them armed with a shorte sword, hanging just behind under their garments, so that the Saxons thought not of any weapons they had: but it proved otherwise, for when Hengist his men (that were placed to cut them off) fell all upon them, they found such unlooked a resistance that most of the Saxons were slain, and they that escaped, [Pg 358] wond'ring how they could do that hurt, having no weapons (as they saw), reported that they strucke downe men like lyons with their tayles; and so they, ever after, were called Kentish Long-tayles. I told them this was strange, if true, and that their countries honor bound them more to believe in this, than it did me. Truly, Sir, said my hoastesse, I thinke we are called Long-tayles, by reason our tales are long, that we use to passe the time withall, and make ourselves merry."

Du Cange considered the problem more seriously, without, however, being able to find a satisfactory solution. He suggests that the epithet "tailed" may have been applied to Englishmen because of the excess to which they carried the fashion of wearing toes of extravagant length to their shoes, but admits that the explanation does not greatly appeal to him. With still more diffidence he hints at the possibility of considering the Latin "caudatus" as equivalent to either "foppish" or "cowardly". But whilst none of the cited instances of its use justifies the former of these interpretations, there are only a very few of them that can be strained into imparting even slight plausibility to the latter. Neither does there appear to be anything to support Professor Wattenbach's suggestion that Englishmen may have been called "tailed" because of the way in which they wore their hair. Finally, a work entitled England under the Normans has a chapter on the measurement of land, in which the author states that "there was a mile peculiar to Kent, as well as [Pg 359] a customary field admeasurement", and that "these 'long tales' are possibly the 'long tails' of which the county used to be so proud". The history of the medieval myth does not lead to the belief that either Englishmen generally, or, as here stated, Kentishmen in particular, ever looked upon the nickname otherwise than as an insult.

The attempts that have been made to fix upon some actual fact as originating the attribution of tails to Englishmen seem as uncalled for as most of them are fanciful and absurd.[374] They are all based on the hypothesis that the epithet "caudatus", "coué", and "tailard" was first applied for some reason other than the belief in the existence of a tail, and that only subsequently, if, indeed, ever, was it taken literally. But our investigation has proved that there is nothing to warrant this assumption. It has been shown that, on the contrary, the actual monstrosity was accepted as a fact from the outset. Nor does it seem impossible to explain how this came about. Given the insult offered to St. Augustine, about which there is no room for scepticism, it only requires a knowledge of the [Pg 360] medieval spirit to account for the sequel. Impressed by the sanctity of the apostle of England and by the greatness, or, indeed, the divinity of his mission, the early biographer looked upon it as inevitable that the sacrilege of those who dishonoured him should draw down upon them the wrath of Heaven. Was not the disrespect of the children who called the Prophet "bald head" visited upon them? The conviction that this should be the case easily led to the assumption that it was. And a very slight effort of imagination sufficed to devise a punishment suited to the offence. It was suggested by the very nature of the impious deed. And what, to the chronicler, seemed the application of an obvious principle—that the transgression should fall back upon the transgressor—was accepted by the credulity of the age. Then there was the animosity of other nations, of France in particular, and of Scotland, her ally. If, at home, the manifestation of divine anger and of saintly power was thought to be limited to the kith and kin of the offenders, such nicety of distinction was ignored abroad. It suited the enemies of England that all Englishmen should be "tailards", and "tailards" they were universally and indiscriminately called.


[Pg 361]



Act for Staying of Unlawful Conventions within Burgh first applied in Glasgow,  262.
Adrian, St., Martyr of the May, 156-8.
Ailsa Craig, invasion of, 225-35.
Alexander II, imposes fines for abstention from military service,  268.
Amlaiph and Imhar, lay siege to Strathclyde,  200.
Archbishops of Glasgow, temporal superiors,  253.
Army, the old Scottish,  267-89.
 – earliest enactment for organization of,  267.
 – statute fixing fines for remaining away from King's host,  268.
 – Robert Bruce's statute concerning military service,  268-9.
 – James I encourages archery,  269.
 – his enactments concerning military equipment,  270-1.
 – military training organized,  273.
 – hand-guns introduced,  274-5.
 – Act concerning,  276.
 – army of Scotland to be unhorsed,  277-8.
 – military drill organized,  278.
 – arms and accoutrement at close of 16th century,  279-80.
 – main object of Scottish army,  282.
 – expenses of campaign, how defrayed,  283.
 – transport service,  283-4.
 – foreign service,  284-5.
 – military service on the Border,  285.
 – Commissariat,  286.
 – military service under Charles I,  287.
 – Act dealing with desertion,  289.
 – Act establishing pensions,  289.
Artois, Count Robert of, and English "tailards",  299-300.
Augustine, St., and "Longtail" myth,  325-38, 341, 342, 343.
Balfour, Andrew, proprietor of May Island,  178.
Balfour, Sir Michael, obtains monopoly for supply of arms,  281-2.
Barclay, Hugh, Laird of Ladylands,  225-31.
 – abandons Presbyterianism,  225.
 – excommunicated,  226.
 – apprehended by Andrew Knox,  226-7.
 – taken to Edinburgh,  227.
 – no evidence against him,  228.
 – transferred to Glasgow,  229.
 – escapes to the Continent,  229.
 – reported to be lurking in Glasgow,  229.
 – banded with Papists,  230.
 – his plot to capture Ailsa Craig,  230.
[Pg 362] – lands on the Craig,  231-2.
 – his death,  231.
Beaueyr, William of, his gift to Monks of May,  163.
Beaugué, Jean de, his description of May Island,  154.
Becket, his connection with "Longtail" myth,  339, 348.
 – insulted by Robert Broc,  340.
Beton, Andrew, romance of his courtship of Mary Seton,  73-7.
Beton, Mary,  61-8.
 – parentage,  61.
 – her portrait,  62.
 – Thomas Randolph in love with her,  62-3.
 – as Queen of the Bean,  63.
 – Buchanan's verses in praise of her,  64-5.
 – most scholarly of four Marys,  65.
 – Mary Stuart's intended bequest of books to her,  65.
 – married to Ogilvie, of Boyne,  66.
 – marriage contract,  66-7.
 – gifts to her from Queen,  67.
Black, David, and James VI,  212.
Boece, Hector, his description of May Island,  156.
Borders, pacified by James VI,  213-4.
Boyd, Robert, of Badinhaith, inhabits Castle on Little Cumbrae,  248.
 – projects a harbour,  248.
 – inhabitants of Little Cumbrae hostile to him,  249.
Bruce, Robert, at Dumbarton Castle,  201-2.
 – enactment of, concerning military service,  268-9.
 – "testament" of,  277 n.
Buccleuch meets Salkeld on a day of truce,  238.
 – protests against violation of truce,  239.
 – gets his signet ring conveyed to Will Armstrong,  239.
 – communicates with Armstrong's friends at a horse-race,  239.
 – organizes and heads an attack on Carlisle Castle,  240-1.
 – his action popular in Scotland,  241.
 – Robert Bowes demands that he should be delivered over to England,  241.
 – defends himself at Convention of Estates,  241.
 – offers to submit his case to Commissioners,  242.
 – commanded to ward by James VI,  245.
 – surrenders into English custody,  246.
 – presented to Elizabeth,  246.
Buchan, Earl of, his donation to Monks of May,  163.
Buchanan, reads Livy with Mary Stuart,  10.
 – verses in praise of Mary's lettered Court,  31.
 – his verses on the Four Marys,  31, 32, 33, 34.
 – to Mary Fleming,  38.
 – to Mary Beton,  64, 65.
 – tutor to James VI,  211.
 – his De Jure Regni apud Scotos,  211.
Carlyle, "Jupiter", his account of destruction of Chapel of Loretto,  152.
Carstairs and Covenanters imprisoned in Dumbarton Castle,  208.
Christening of James VI, practical joke at,  290.
Clifford, Lord Robert, devastates Annandale,  317.
[Pg 363]Colquhoun, stratagem of Laird of, to recover Dumbarton Castle,  202.
 – origin of family motto,  202.
Colville, Robert, exposes sham miracle at Loretto,  148-9.
Commissariat of Scottish Army,  286.
Crawfurd, Thomas, of Jordanhill, captures Dumbarton Castle,  205-7.
Cumbrae, raid on the Smaller,  247-52.
 – Castle built by the Boyds,  248.
 – inhabited by Robert Boyd of Badinhaith,  248.
 – looted by the Montgomerys,  249.
 – inventory of articles in several rooms of Castle,  250-1.
 – gifted by Mary Stuart to Mary Livingston,  55.
Cunningham, proprietor of May Island, sets up first lighthouse,  178.
David, King, founds monastery on May Island,  160.
 – said to have granted monastery to monks of Reading,  160.
Days of truce on the Border,  238.
Desertion, Act dealing with,  289.
Douchtie (Duthie) founds the Chapel of Laureit,  143.
 – charter confirming grant of land to him,  143.
Dryburgh, House of, and Monks of May,  167.
Dues for upkeep of May light,  179-82.
Dumbarton, rock of,  199-208.
 – and Treaty of Union,  199.
 – early fort on,  199-200.
 – besieged by Norsemen,  200.
 – and Edward I,  200-1.
 – Wallace's sword kept in Castle,  201.
Dumbarton recaptured with the help of Laird of Colquhoun,  202.
 – held by the Parson of Kincardine,  203.
 – held by Earl of Lennox,  204.
 – besieged and taken by Royal forces,  204.
 – besieged by Regent Murray,  205.
 – captured by Thomas Crawfurd of Jordanhill,  205-7.
 – captured for Covenanters by Provost Sempill,  207.
 – used as a prison,  208.
Dunbar, Castle taken by English,  316-7.
Dundemore, Sir John de, and Monks of the May,  164.
Dupplin, Battle of,  318.
Edinburgh and St. Giles,  190-7.
Eggou Ruffus, gives land to Monks of May Island,  163.
Elizabeth, Queen, and Mary Stuart,  1, 6, 7, 20.
 – writes to Morton concerning burial of Secretary Maitland,  46-7.
 – replies to Queen of Scots concerning Maister Randolphe's Fantasie,  101-2.
 – writes to James VI demanding the delivery of Buccleuch,  241.
Elphinstone, Sir George, nominated Provost of Glasgow by Lennox,  254.
 – appeals to the King,  256.
 – elected Provost by colleagues,  256.
 –attacked by Stewarts of Minto,  260-2.
 –warded in Glasgow Castle,  262.
 –suit brought against him by Stewarts of Minto,  265.
Enactments concerning archery,  269, 273, 274.
[Pg 364]Englishmen as "tailards" (longtails, coués, caudati), references to, at christening of James VI,  290.
 –in anonymous medieval poem descriptive of national characteristics,  293.
 –in Jacques de Vitry,  293.
 –in Etienne de Bourbon,  294.
 –in Richard of Devizes,  295.
 – in romance of Richard Coer de Leon,  296-7.
 – in Monument. Germ.297 and n.
 – in Chronicle of Lanercost,  288-9, 302.
 – in Matthew of Paris,  299-300.
 – in Rishanger,  302.
 – in Henry Knighton,  302.
 – in John of Bridlington,  302-3.
 – in connection with invasion of France by Henry V,  304.
 – in Olivier Basselin,  304-5, 312.
 – in Ballade on Jeanne d'Arc,  305.
 – in Monstrelet,  305.
 – in Dépucellage de la ville de Tournay,  306.
 – in Courroux de la Mort contre les Anglois,  306, 307.
 – in Eustache Deschamps's works,  307-12.
 – in Jean Molinet's poems,  313.
 – in Crétin,  313.
 – in Larivey's Les Tromperies,  313.
 – in Saint-Amant's Rome Ridicule,  314.
 – in Conrart,  314.
 – in Bower,  315-16.
 – in Hemingburgh,  316-17, 318.
 – in Bower,  318.
 – in anonymous political song,  319.
 – in Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedy,  319-20, 344.
 – in Skelton,  320-1.
 – in John Oxenedes,  322.
 – in Annales Gandenses,  323.
Feuds, measures against them taken by James VI,  214.
Fitz-Michael, John, his liberality to Monks of May,  162.
Fleming, Lord, besieged in Dumbarton Castle,  205.
Fleming, Mary,  35-48.
 – related to Mary Stuart,  35.
 – as Queen of the Bean,  36-8.
 – courted by Sir Henry Sidney,  38.
 – courtship of, by Secretary Maitland,  39-41.
 – marries Maitland,  42.
 – with Mary Stuart on morning of Bothwell's trial,  43.
 – sends ring to Mary at Lochleven,  43.
 – is asked for by Mary at Sheffield,  44.
 – death of her husband,  44.
 – appeals to Elizabeth for burial of husband's body,  45-6.
 – subjected to petty annoyances by Morton,  47.
 – obtains reversion of husband's forfeiture,  48.
Football and golf cried down to encourage archery,  273.
Forret, John, proprietor of May Island,  178.
Ghent, looted by English,  323.
Gilbert of St. Martin, his gift of land to Monastery on May Island,  163.
Giles, St., feast of,  190.
 – history of,  192-3.
 – parish church of Edinburgh dedicated to,  193.
 – relic of,  193-4.
 – statue of, destroyed,  194-6.
[Pg 365] Glasgow, Riotous,  235-266.
 – position of, amongst Scottish burghs at beginning of 17th century  253.
 – nomination of its Provost and selection of Bailies,  253-4.
 – Sir George Elphinstone of Blythswood appointed Provost of,  254.
 – Ludovic, Duke of Lennox, and Town Council of,  254-5.
 – appeal of Town Council to Privy Council,  256.
 – full liberty in election of Magistrates secured,  256.
 – Sir George Elphinstone elected Provost by Town Council,  256.
 –Stewarts of Minto oppose new system of election,  257-8.
 – riotous proceedings of partisans of Stewarts of Minto,  259.
 – Sir George Elphinstone attacked,  260-2.
 – Act for Staying of Unlawful Conventions within Burgh first applied,  263.
 – decision of Privy Council in the matter of issue between Sir George Elphinstone and the Stewarts,  264-5.
Golf and football "cried down" to encourage archery,  273.
Gospatric, Earl, his liberality to Monks of May,  161.
Grames, the, act as Buccleuch's agents,  239.
Guernsey, medieval cry of "la Coue" still heard in,  315.
Guinegate, Battle of,  307.
Hand-guns (hagbuts and culverins) introduced in Scottish army,  274-6.
Helena, St., builds church at Nazareth,  141.
Henry V, invasion of France by,  304.
Hind, as sinister supporter in Edinburgh coat of arms, origin of,  192.
"Horners", measures against them taken by James VI,  213.
James I and archery,  269.
 – and military equipment,  270-1.
James IV, visits May Island,  174-6.
James V, sanctions foundation of shrine of Loretto,  143.
 – his pilgrimages and gifts to the shrine,  143-4.
 – introduces "small artillery",  274.
James VI, as statesman,  209-16.
 – Macaulay's estimate of,  209.
 – Professor Masson's,  209-10.
 – and Maitland of Thirlstane,  210.
 – his idea of kingship,  210-211.
 – and Buchanan,  211.
 – dexterous management of circumstances and inflexibility of purpose,  212.
 – checks lawlessness and rebellion,  213.
 – enforces the law against "horners",  213.
 – puts down hereditary feuds,  213.
 – establishes flying police,  213.
 – pacifies the Border,  213.
 – as absentee King,  215.
 – and the Union of England and Scotland,  215.
 – Bacon's estimate of,  215.
 – as poet,  216-24.
 – Barnfield on,  216.
 – Harvey on his Lepanto,  217.
 – Vaughan on,  217.
 – quoted in Allott's England's Parnassus,  217.
 – in Bodenham's Garden of the Muses,  217.
[Pg 366] – Jonson's epigram on,  217.
 – Sir John Beaumont's estimate of,  218.
 – his Reulis and Cautelis to be Observit and Eschewit in Scottis Poesie,  218.
 – his first verses,  219-20.
 – his Lepanto quoted,  220-1.
 – his Dreame on his Mistris my Ladie Glammes quoted,  221.
 – his sonnet to his son Henry,  222.
 – his sonnet on Sicily,  223.
 – his punning rhymes,  224.
 – his objection to chess,  19.
 – writes to Elizabeth complaining of Will Armstrong's capture,  242.
 – complains to Elizabeth of Spenser's reflections on his mother,  245.
Jenye, Thomas, author of Maister Randolphe's Fantasie,  128.
Ker, George, apprehended by Andrew Knox,  228.
Kinmont Willie, story of Ballad of,  237-46.
 – taken prisoner by Thomas Salkeld,  238-9.
 – rescued by Buccleuch,  240.
Knox, Andrew, hunts down "practising Papists",  226.
 – apprehends Ladylands,  226-7.
 – apprehends George Ker,  228.
 – occupies Ailsa Craig,  231.
 – incurs ill-will by his action,  235.
 – proclamation on his behalf,  235.
Knox, John, his reference to Mary Stuart's voice,  8.
 – records introduction of Masques at Court,  17.
 – his account of Court scandal,  26-27.
 – his calumnious charge against Mary Livingston,  51.
 – his account of destruction of statue of St. Giles,  194-6.
Lamberton, William, purchases priory of May from Abbot of Reading,  170.
Lamont, Allan, proprietor of May Island,  178.
Learmonth, Patrick, first lay proprietor of May Island,  177-8.
Ledes, Alexander de, Governor of Dumbarton Castle,  200.
Lepanto, poem by James VI,  216, 217, 220-1
Lewes, Battle of,  322.
Life at Scottish Court,  17-18.
Lighthouse on Isle of May,  187-9.
Lincoln, epigram on Battle of,  298-9.
Livingston, Mary,  49-60.
 – parentage,  49.
 – Mary Stuart's gifts to her,  50, 53.
 – married to James Sempill of Beltreis,  50.
 – Knox's calumnious assertion concerning her,  51.
 – wedding,  53-5.
 – Queen's wedding gifts to her,  55.
 – at Holyrood on night of Rizzio's murder,  55.
 – Queen's intended bequests to her,  55-6.
 – enters Edinburgh with Mary, after Carberry,  56-7.
 – accused by Lennox of having royal jewels in her possession,  57-8.
Longsword, William, and "tailard" gibe,  299-300.
[Pg 367] "Longtail Myth", Story of the,  290-360.
 – origin of, as given by Goscelin,  325-6.
 – in William of Malmesbury's Gesta Pontificum,  327.
 – in Robert Wace's Brut,  328-9.
 – in Layamon,  329-331.
 – in English prose version of Brut,  331-2.
 – in Robert Manning's Story of Inglande,  332-3.
 – in Latin satire against inhabitants of Rochester,  333-4.
 – in Fazio degli Uberti's Ditta Mondo,  335.
 – in Boccaccio,  335.
 – in Alexander of Essebye (Ashby),  336.
 – in English version of Golden Legende,  336.
 – in Walter Bower,  337-9.
 – in John Major,  341-2.
 – in Nicole Gilles,  342.
 – in Bellenden,  343.
 – in Dunbar,  344.
 – in Génébrard,  344.
 – in Wilwolt of Schaumburg,  344.
 – in Polydore Vergil's Anglica Historia,  346-7.
 – in Guillaume Paradin,  347-8.
 – denounced as ridiculous by John Bale,  349.
 – by William Lambarde,  349-352.
 – by Thomas Fuller,  354.
 – explanation of, suggested by Fuller,  355.
 – by Fynes Moryson,  356.
 – by the author of Mad Pranks and Merry Jests of Robin Goodfellow,  356-7.
 – by Du Cange,  358.
 – by Professor Wattenbach,  358.
 – by the author of England under the Normans,  358.
 – further suggestion as to origin of,  359-60.
Loreto in Italy,  141.
 – Legend and Cult of our Lady of,  141-2.
 – origin of name,  142.
 – wealth of,  142.
 – statue of Our Lady of, carried off by the French,  142.
Loretto (Laureto, Laureit), chapel of, founded by Thomas Douchtie,  143.
 – patronized by James V,  143-4.
 – healing power attributed to,  145.
 – alleged imposture at,  148-52.
 – destruction of,  147, 152.
Ludovic, Duke of Lennox, heritable right of appointing Provost and Bailies of Glasgow granted to,  254.
 – nominates Sir George Elphinstone Provost,  254.
 – delegates his authority to Sheriff,  254.
 – grants "exercise of the offices" of Glasgow to Stewarts of Minto,  255.
Lyndsay, Sir David, his lines on shrine and hermit of Loretto,  144-5.
Maister Randolphe's Fantasie,  91-128.
 – analysis of poem,  103-128.
 – authorship of,  128.
Maitland, Secretary, courts and marries Mary Fleming,  39-42.
 – death of,  44.
Maitland of Thirlstane and James VI,  210-11.
Malcolm, the King's Cupbearer, and Monks of May,  167-8.
Marie, Ballad of the Queen's, question of its authenticity,  26-7.
Mary, Queen of Scots,  1-23.
 – her beauty,  3-4.
[Pg 368] – her portraits,  4-5.
 – her complexion,  5.
 – her eyes,  6.
 – her hair,  6-7.
 – wears wigs,  7.
 – her hands,  7.
 – her voice,  7-8, 19.
 – her stature,  7.
 – her figure,  8.
 – a precocious child,  8.
 – her Latin discourse,  9.
 – her books,  11, 14.
 – her knowledge of Greek,  11.
 – of Spanish and Italian,  12.
 – of English,  12-13.
 – her love of French poetry,  15.
 – as a writer of French poetry,  15-16.
 – anagrams on her name,  16.
 – handwriting,  16-17.
 – fond of amusements,  17-18.
 – dancing,  18.
 – plays the lute and virginals,  19.
 – plays chess, tables, and cards,  19.
 – her puppets,  19.
 – fond of fancy-work,  19-20.
 – as a sportswoman,  20.
 – fond of dogs,  20-21.
 – hawking, archery, pallmall, and golf amongst her pastimes,  21-2.
 – her courage,  22-3.
 – sails from Dumbarton,  28-9.
 – makes her will,  41, 55.
 – bequests to her Marys,  41-2.
 – enters Edinburgh after Carberry,  56-7.
 – favours Andrew Beton's courtship of Mary Seton,  73-6.
 – complains to Queen Elizabeth of a book written against her,  91-2.
Marys, the four,  25-34.
 – their popularity,  25.
 – their family names,  25-6.
 – sail from Dumbarton with Mary Stuart,  28-9.
 – Leslie's mention of them,  28, 30.
 – figure in masques,  31-2.
 – Buchanan's verses to them,  32-4.
 – courted for their influence with Mary Stuart,  34.
May, the Isle of,  153-89.
 – description of,  153-6.
 – and St. Adrian,  156-9.
 – monastery on,  160.
 – grants and donations to monks,  160-3.
 – litigations of monks with rival claimants,  163-7.
 – plundered by Swein,  169.
 – monastery sold to Bishop of St. Andrews,  170-2.
 – severance of connection between Scottish "cell" of, and English monastery of Reading,  172.
 – Mary of Gueldres at,  174.
 – royal visits to,  174-6.
 – pirates about,  176.
 – used for quarantine,  177.
 – lay proprietors of,  177-8.
 – first lighthouse on Scottish seaboard,  178-80.
 – new lighthouse built in 1816,  184-5.
 – visited by Sir Walter Scott,  185-6.
 – modern lighthouse,  187-9.
Menteith, Sir John, Governor of Dumbarton Castle,  201.
Military training organized in Scotland,  273.
Montchrestien, Anthoine de, of doubtful nobility,  129.
 – his education,  129.
 – encounter with Baron de Gouville,  130.
 – marries a rich widow,  130.
[Pg 369]  – publishes tragedy of Sophonisbe,  130.
 – publishes his "Stuart" tragedy, l'Escossoise,  130.
 – kills his adversary in a duel,  130.
 – retires to England,  131.
 – presents his tragedy to James VI,  131.
 – returns to France,  131.
 – writes the first treatise on political economy,  131.
 – joins Protestant party,  131-2.
 – is shot in encounter with Catholics,  132.
Mungo, St., and Glasgow,  191.
"Ochtyern", meaning of,  268.
 – fine imposed on, for neglect of military service,  268.
Œconomie Politique, Traicté de l', published by Montchrestien,  131.
Ogilvie, Alexander, of Boyne, marries Mary Beton,  66-7.
 – the Jesuit, imprisoned in Dumbarton Castle,  208.
Oman, Mr., his estimate of Bruce's "Testament",  277.
Origin, traditional, of "Longtail" myth,
   325-6, 327, 328-9, 329-31, 331-2, 332-3, 333-4, 335, 336,
   337-9, 341-2, 343, 344, 345, 346-7, 348-9, 349-52, 354.
 –suggested,  355, 356, 356-7, 358, 359-60.
Paris, evacuated by English, in 1436,  305.
Patrick, chaplain of Dunbar, action raised against, by Monks of May,  165.
Pensions established in Scottish army,  289.
Poitiers, Battle of,  303.
Preston of Gortoun gives relic of St. Giles to Edinburgh Parish Church,  193-4.
Priory of Pittenweem or May,  173.
Randolph, Thomas, his description of life at Scottish Court,  17.
 – account of Court scandal,  27.
 – account of Maitland's courtship of Mary Fleming,  39-41.
 – reports intended marriage of Mary Livingston,  50-51.
 – in love with Mary Beton,  62-3.
 – at Scottish Court,  92-5.
 – accused of writing a satire against Queen Mary,  95.
 – his denial,  95-8.
Reading, monks of, and May Island,  160, 166, 170-2.
Richard I, his followers jeered at as "tailards",  295, 296-7.
Rochelle, la, epigram against "tailards" on taking of,  298.
Rodorcus, King, reigns on the Rock of Clyde,  200.
Roland, a carpenter, warns Bruce of Menteith's intended treachery,  202.
Ronsard, Mary Stuart's admiration of,  15.
Row, reference to shrine of Loretto in his history,  145.
 – his account of alleged sham miracle at Loretto,  148-9.
Ryderchen, obtains possession of stronghold of Dumbarton,  200.
Salkeld, Thomas, takes Willie Armstrong of Kinmont prisoner,  238-9.
Santa Casa removed by angels from Nazareth into Dalmatia,  141.
Scone, Brethren of Scone and Monks of May,  166.
Scott, John, the Fasting Man,  146-7.
Scott, Miss, of Scotstarvit, improves May light,  182.
[Pg 370]Scott, Sir Walter, visits May Island,  185-6.
Segrave, Nicholas de, Governor of Dumbarton Castle,  200.
Sempill, James, of Beltreis, marries Mary Livingston,  50.
 – his parentage,  52.
 – imprisoned by Lennox,  57.
 – sent to England as hostage,  58.
 – incurs enmity of Morton,  59.
 – put to the boot,  59.
 – death,  60.
Sempill, Provost of Dumbarton, gets possession of Castle for Covenanters,  207.
Seton, Mary,  69-78.
 – finest busker of hair,  7, 71.
 – parentage,  69.
 – enters Edinburgh with Mary Stuart after Carberry,  70.
 – at Lochleven,  70.
 – with Mary Stuart during captivity,  71-2.
 – romance of Andrew Beton's courtship of her,  73-7.
 – retires to Abbey of St. Peter's, Rheims,  77.
 – last memorial of her,  77-8.
Sheep, on May Island,  154.
Sibbald, his account of May Island,  154.
Song of Mary Stuart,  79-90.
 – attributed to Mary by Brantôme,  79-81.
 – discovery of manuscript copy by Dr. Galy,  82.
 – "Song" composed at Court in honour of Mary Stuart,part of the original poem,  83.
 – additional stanzas,  83.
 – internal evidence of Brantôme's authorship,  84-6.
 – the whole poem restored,  86-90.
Stevenson, Robert, suggests improvement of May light,  183.
Stewarts of Minto and Town Council of Glasgow,  257.
 – organize opposition to extension of municipal liberty,  257-8.
 – head a tumultuous demonstration,  259.
 – attack Sir George Elphinstone,  260-2.
 – charged to enter ward in Dumbarton,  262.
 – ward changed to Perth and Dundee,  262.
 – suit brought against them by Sir George Elphinstone,  264.
"Stuart" tragedy, the first,  129-140.
 – published in 1601,  130.
 – presented to James VI,  131.
 – analysis of tragedy,  132-40.
Students, English, at Paris university jeered at as "tailards",  293.
Swave, Peder, his account of John Scott, the Fasting Man,  147 n..
Swein, Asleif, plunders Monastery of May,  169.
Thenaw, St., legend of,  159.
Tournay, besieged by English in 1513,  306.
Transport service in old Scottish army,  283-4.
Treason of Dumbarton,  205.
Tullibardine, Marquis of, and Jacobites imprisoned in Dumbarton Castle,  208.
Twelfth-night or Feast of the Bean at Scottish Court,  36.
Ulster, Annals of, record siege of Dumbarton,  200.
Union of England and Scotland projected by James VI,  215.
[Pg 371]University of Paris, students of in 13th century,  255.
University of St. Andrews, Mary's intended bequest of books to,  65.
Value of furniture in Castle on Little Cumbrae,  250-2.
"Victual", meaning of,  280.
Vuillequot ("Billy"), name applied by French to Englishmen generally,  272.
Walker, Gavin, Chaplain of Loretto, restores ground granted for shrine,  152.
Wapenshaws, established,  267.
 – James I's enactment concerning,  270.
 – during 15th and 16th centuries,  272.
 – evidence of their unpopularity,  272, 279.
Wells on May Island,  155.
William, King, confirms grants to Monks of May Island,  160.
 – and military service,  268.
Wreck of frigates Nymphen and Pallas,  183.
Wyntoun, Andrew, his account of martyrdom of St. Adrian,  158-9.
 – his lines referring to the Parson of Kincardine's seizure of Dumbarton Castle,  203.
Yeomen, equipment of in old Scottish army,  274.
 – divided into three classes,  271.






[1] For an account of this poem, Maister Randolphe's Fantasie, see pages 91-98.

[2] As bearing on the subject of Mary's personal appearance and the fidelity of her portraits, the following passages from an article contributed to the Glasgow Herald, as a review of Mr. J. J. Foster's work, Concerning the True Portraiture of Mary Queen of Scots, may here be reproduced: "Mr. Foster points out 'in some cases a slight but perceptible squint'. We have noticed this in one or two instances only, and in portraits which, though they may be authentic, are technically inferior; and we are consequently more inclined to attribute the defect to the artist than to nature. The majority of the most trustworthy portraits agree in making the upper eyelids thick, with an uninterrupted curve, in setting the arched, well-marked eyebrows wide apart, and in giving an exceptionally broad space between the eyes and the ears. The oval face, the high cheek-bones, the round, well-proportioned and capacious forehead, the long but shapely Greek nose, are features with regard to which there is practical unanimity. Even if Sir George Scharf had not pointed it out, it would hardly be possible to overlook the peculiarity of the compressed lips. They are not thin, however, though, on the other hand, they are very far from possessing that fulness which physiognomists look upon as an indication of sensuality. Another feature, so often reproduced as to be almost characteristic and distinctive, is the strongly-marked V depression in the middle of the upper lip. The cheek is full in its lower part, but not unduly so. The chin is well-developed, but is neither cloven nor dimpled.... Prince Labanoff declared that, with the exception of one portrait—and that of dubious authenticity—none renders even youth or average beauty. Quite recently Major Martin Hume wrote of Mary that 'a contemplation of her known authentic portraits, even those taken in the best years of her youth and happiness, does not carry conviction that her physical beauty alone can have been the cause of the extraordinary influence she exercised over the men who came within the sphere of her attraction'. And now we have Mr. Foster admitting that 'scarcely any of the so-called portraits of Mary Stuart bear out the reputation of her beauty'; and that 'all her pictures entirely lack that indefinable charm which captivated everyone brought in contact with her'. He seems to attribute this, in some measure, at least, to the imperfections of the artists of the time. He might perhaps have added, to the unfavourable circumstances under which they worked. For, as M. Dimier tells us, 'the oil-painting was never attempted from life. The artist brought away from his model nothing but the crayon and some written notes concerning the complexion, colour of hair, and of the eyes; he handled the colours only in his studio, and finished the work at his leisure'. We know, too, of Mary Stuart, in particular, that she ordered portraits of herself to be painted in France, fourteen years after leaving the country."

[3] Œuvres, vol. ii, p. 1172.

[4] Memoirs, p. 124.

[5] Brantôme, t. v, p. 94.

[6] Memoirs, p. 123.

[7] T. Wright's Queen Elizabeth and her Time, vol. i, p. 311.

[8] G. Chalmers, Life of Queen Mary, vol. i, pp. 443-4.

[9] Œuvres, vol. ii, pp. 1172-4.

[10] Melville's Memoirs, p. 124.

[11] T. v, p. 86.

[12] Œuvres, l. c.

[13] History of the Reformation, vol. ii, p. 381.

[14] Teulet, Papiers d'État, t. ii, p. 883.

[15] T. v, pp. 83-4.

[16] Rhétorique Françoise, Paris, 1555.

[17] Latin Themes of Mary Stuart, published by Anatole de Montaiglon.

[18] Letter from Randolph to Cecil, 7 April, 1562.

[19] Brantôme, t. v., p. 84.

[20] Inventories of Mary Queen of Scots. Bannatyne Club, p. 179 et seq.

[21] Inventories, p. cv.

[22] "Concionero de Romances", Inventories, p. cxlvi.

[23] Unless it be he that is meant in the entry: "Danies Vgieri in Italian", Inventories, p. cxliv.

[24] Haynes's Collection of State Papers, p. 509.

[25] Sir H. Ellis's Original Letters Illustrative of English History, First Series, vol. ii, p. 252.

[26] Inventories, p. 179.

[27] "Pantagruell in Frenche", Inventories, p. cxlvi.

[28] Œuvres de Ronsard, vol. ii, p. 1171.

[29] For a full account of this literary forgery, see below, pp. 79-90.

[30] The following scheme shows how these anagrams were formed:—


[31] "G. Conaei vita Mariae Stuartae, 1624", in Jebb, vol. ii, p. 15.

[32] Diary, 24 Nov., 1665.

[33] Letter from Randolph to Cecil, 15 May, 1563.

[34] P. 87.

[35] Con, in Jebb, vol. ii, p. 15.

[36] P. 125.

[37] Ibid.

[38] In Jebb, l. c.

[39] Basilikon Doron, p. 125, edit. 1603.

[40] Compotum Thesaurarii Reginæ Scotorum, 30 Nov., 1565.

[41] Thomson's Collection of Inventories, pp. 238-40.

[42] Inventories, p. cxxi.

[43] Letter to Cecil, in Haynes's State Papers, pp. 509-10.

[44] De Regno et Regali Potestate, edit. 1612, pp. 279-80.

[45] Inventories, pp. xc, 141, 148.

[46] Prince Labanoff, Lettres de Marie Stuart, t. iv, pp. 228-9.

[47] Cf. "Le Vray Rapport de l'exécution faicte sur la personne de la Royne d'Escosse", published by Teulet, Papiers d'Etat, &c., p. 884.

[48] History of the Reformation, vol. ii, p. 373.

[49] Inventories, p. lxix.


[50] Knox's History of the Reformation, pp. 373, 374.

[51] Writing to Cecil on the 31st of December, 1563, Randolph reports: "The frenche potticarie and the woman he gotte with chylde were bothe hanged thys present Fridaye".

[52] In Mr. Andrew Lang's book, The Valet's Tragedy and other Studies, pp. 291-311, there is an exhaustive discussion of the various points that arise in connection with the ballad of "The Queen's Marie".

[53] Bishop Lesley's History of Scotland, p. 209.

[54] Brantôme, t. v, p. 74.

[55] Knox's History of the Reformation, book v, vol. ii, p. 495.

[56] Annals of Scotland, p. 14.

[57] Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 87.

[58] Calendar of State Papers, Eliz., vol. ix.


[59] Miscellany of the Maitland Club, vol. ii, pp. 390-3.

[60] Epigrammatum, lib. iii.

[61] Calendar of State Papers, Eliz., vol. ix, No. 47 B.

[62] Calendar of State Papers, Eliz., vol. x, Feb. 28, 1565.

[63] Calendar of State Papers, Eliz., vol. x, 31 March, 1565.

[64] Calendar of State Papers, Eliz., vol. x, 3 June, 1565.

[65] Calendar of State Papers, Eliz., vol. xi, 31 Oct., 1565.

[66] Inventories, p. 113.

[67] Inventories, p. 124.

[68] "A Flamy. Vne brodure dor esmaille de blancq et rouge contenante xxxvij pieces.
Vne brodure dorelette de mesme façon garnye de lj piece esmaille de blancq et rouge.
Vne cottouere de mesme façon contenante soixante piece esmaille de blanc et rouge.
Vng quarquan esmaille aussy de blancq et rouge garny de vingt une piece.
Vne chesne a saindre en semblable façon contenante lij pieces esmaillez de blanc et rouge et vng vaze pandant au bout."—Inventories, p. 116.

[69] Inventories, p. 69.

[70] MS. Fragment in the Register House; cf. Inventories, p. 1.

[71] Prince Labanoff, Lettres de Marie Stuart, t. v, p. 222.

[72] Memoirs, p. 256.

[73] Calderwood, History of the Kirk of Scotland, vol. iii, p. 285.

[74] G. Chalmers, Life of Mary Queen of Scots, vol. iii, p. 615.

[75] Calendar of State Papers, vol. iv, p. 599.

[76] Thomson's Collection of Inventories, p. 193; cf. Calendar of State Papers, vol. iv, Oct. 19, 1573; and Inventories of Mary, p. clvii.

[77] Printed in Letters from Lady Margaret Burnet to John, Duke of Lauderdale, p. 83. Bannatyne Club.

[78] Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. iii, p. 313.


[79] G. Chalmers' Life of Queen Mary, vol. i, p. 109.

[80] Inventories, p. 139.

[81] Ibid., p. 145.

[82] Teulet, Papiers d'Etat relatifs à l'Histoire de l'Ecoss, t. ii, p. 32.

[83] Miss Strickland's Lives of the Queens of Scotland, vol. iv, p. 95.

[84] Calendar of State Papers relating to Scotland, vol. i, p. 204.

[85] Ibid., p. 207.

[86] History of the Reformation, vol. ii, p. 415.

[87] Prince Labanoff, Lettres de Marie Stuart, t. iv, p. 341.

[88] Inventories, pp. xlvii, 31, 65, 68, 70.

[89] Ibid., p. xlvii.

[90] Teulet, op. cit., p. 167.


[91] Inventories, xlviii.

[92] Calendar of State Papers relating to Scotland, vol. i, p. 208.

[93] Inventories, p. xlviii.

[94] Inventories, p. 124.

[95] Calendar of State Papers relating to Scotland, vol. ii, p. 825.

[96] Inventories, p. 63.


[97] P. 42.

[98] Inventories, p. lii.

[99] Miss Strickland's Lives of the Queens of Scotland, vol. vii, pp. 266, 271, 441.

[100] G. Chalmers' Life of Queen Mary, vol. i, pp. 443-4.

[101] Labanoff, op. cit., t. vii, p. 123; t. iii, p. 116; t. iv, p. 215.

[102] T. v, p. 98.

[103] The original is written in French.

[104] Labanoff, op. cit., t. iv, pp. 341-4, 377-81, 389, 390, 401, 402.

[105] Calendar of State Papers relating to Scotland, vol. ii, p. 1014.


[106] T. v, pp. 84, 85, 88-90, 123.

[107] Périgueux, Cassard fréres.

[108] Ibid.


[109] Earl of Morton to the Earl of Bedford, 24 May, 1566.

[110] Thomas Randolph to Sir William Cecil, 26 May, 1566.

[111] Ibid.

[112] Thomas Randolph to Sir William Cecil, 26 May, 1566.

[113] Ibid.

[114] Ibid.

[115] Ibid.

[116] Thomas Randolph to Sir William Cecil, 20 Aug., 1565.

[117] Ibid. 9 Sept., 1565.

[118] Ibid. 15 Dec., 1565.

[119] Thomas Randolph to the Earl of Bedford, 30 Sept., 1565.

[120] "Instructions for certain persons to be sent into Scotland to commune respecting ... assaults upon Thomas Randolph."—State Papers.

[121] Thomas Randolph to the Earl of Leicester, 18 Oct., 1565.

[122] Thomas Randolph to Sir W. Cecil, 19 Feb., 1566; the Queen of Scots to Queen Elizabeth, 20 Feb., 1566.

[123] Ibid.

[124] Queen Elizabeth to the Queen of Scots, 3 March, 1566.

[125] Queen Elizabeth to the Queen of Scots, 15 March, 1566.

[126] Thomas Randolph to Sir W. Cecil, 6 March, 1566.

[127] Thomas Randolph to Sir William Cecil, 26 May, 1566.

[128] Thomas Randolph to Sir William Cecil, Berwick, 7 June, 1566.

[129] Queen Elizabeth to the Queen of Scots, Greenwich, 13 June, 1566.

[130] Randolph to Cecil, 26 May, 1566.

[131] Several years after this was written, the Fantasie was published in one of the volumes of the "Scottish Texts Society". It has not, however, been thought necessary to alter the present, or any other, reference to the poem, or the documents bearing on it, as inedited.

[132] State Papers. Scotland—Elizabeth, vol xi., 31 Dec., 1565.

[133] fforweriéd, wearied out.

[134] slipper, slippery.

[135] pervse, employ, have recourse to.

[136] scande, attended to.

[137] When as, whilst.

[138] decree, hold sway.

[139] wone, wont.

[140] perst, pierced.

[141] mase, wild fancy.

[142] rase the seige, carry on the siege with increased vigour.

[143] regestreth the found pretence, shows the infatuation.

[144] reporte, quote.

[145] sturde, stirred up.

[146] stiveling sture, stifling passion.

[147] mufflled contre-packe, secret opposition party.

[148] eche where, everywhere.

[149] grated, sought with importunity.

[150] curre favell, curried favour.

[151] rowme, position.

[152] powder it, create bustle or pother.

[153] trade, course.

[154] alludinge, deceiving.

[155] vnlade, give free scope to.

[156] brute, report.

[157] to bear the freey in court—this expression, which is evidently intended to convey the idea of influence or exalted position, may be connected with the French faire les frais.

[158] Randolph to Cecil, 31 Oct., 1565.

[159] Randolph to Cecil, 4 July, 1565.

[160] Ibid., 19 July, 1565.

[161] Cecil's Journal.

[162] Randolph to Cecil, 12 Oct., 1565.

[163] Diurnal of Occurrents.

[164] Randolph to Cecil, 2 July, 1565.

[165] Diurnal of Occurrents.

[166] Knox's History of the Reformation.

[167] Queen Mary to Archbishop Beton, 1 Oct., 1565.

[168] History of the Reformation, p. 383.

[169] pirrye, peril.

[170] incest, given rise to.

[171] trades, course of action.

[172] Gwyssian, belonging to the Guise family.

[173] madlie, maidenly.

[174] proport, proportion.

[175] affatethe, proclaims.

[176] Probably Sandyford, close to the river Cart, between Paisley and Renfrew. A tradition, still current in the neighbourhood, asserts that Mary once slept at Crookston Castle then belonging to the Lennox family. It may have been on this occasion, documentary evidence of any other opportunity for a visit to the Castle not being extant.

[177] to wage, to raise.

[178] trayns, bands.

[179] Capt. Cokbourn to Cecil.

[180] dome, judgment, opinion.

[181] P. 135.


[182] Les Tragédies de Montchrestien, Paris, 1891, p. xxij.

[183] Op. cit., pp. 72-3.

[184] Op. cit., p. 80.

[185] Op. cit., p. 87.

[186] Op. cit., pp. 88, 89.

[187] Op. cit., p. 92.

[188] Op. cit., p. 93.

[189] Op. cit., pp. 101, 102.

[190] Op. cit., pp. 109, 110.


[191] History of the Regality of Musselburgh, p. 95.

[192] Item, for xxxvj elnis and ane quarter blechit bertane canwes to be thre albis, thre ametis, and thre altar towellis to oure Lady Chapell of Laureit, price of the elne iijs. iiijd.; summa . . . . . . . . . vjli. xd.

Item, to be thre croces to the chesabillis and to paill the fruntale, v-1/2 elnis quhite satyne, price of the elne xxxijs.; summa . . . . . . . . . viijli. xvjs.

Item, to be armes apoun the thre chesabillis and fruntell, ane quarter yallow satyne, price . . . . . . . . . viijs.

Item, to be frenzeis to the fruntell, ij unces silk, price thairof . . . . . . . . . xs.

Item, for bukrem, rubanis, making and uthir furnessing of the thre vestimentis, fruntell, stoill and parolis . . . . . . . . . iiijli. vs.

Item, to the broidstar for brodering of the Kingis armes apoun the saidis thre vestimentis and fruntell . . . . . . . . . xxvjs. viijd.

Item, for weving of the frenzeis to the fruntell, sewing of the albis, and croces to the towellis . . . . . . . . . xxvjs. viijd.
—Vol. vi, pp. 200-1.

[193] Accounts, vol. vi, p. lxij.

[194] Accounts, p. 299.

[195] Ane Dialog betuix Experience and ane Courteour, ll. 2661, et seq.

[196] Ibid., l. 2665.

[197] Ibid., ll. 2690-2.

[198] "In these tymes there was besyde Mussilburgh, St. Allarit's chapell, and in these tymes of ignorance and superstition, it was believed that if women that were in hard labour did sent ane offering to the Preist and Freirs there, they wold get easy delyverance."—History of the Regality of Musselburgh, p. 101.

[199] Calderwood, History of the Kirk of Scotland, vol. i, pp. 101-2. Another and less prejudiced account of this John Scott is given by Peder Swave, who visited Scotland in 1535, as Ambassador from Christian II of Denmark to James V: "On the 11th of May I met with a hermit, named John Scott, a person of noble rank, who had quitted a beautiful wife, and children, and all his household, and determined to live by himself in solitude. He ate nothing but bread, and drank nothing save water or milk. He is believed to have endured a fast of forty days and nights in Scotland, England, and Italy. He also says that, when impelled by a higher power, he could not perish by fasting, as by the kindness of the Holy Virgin he has already been able to prove; if he should wish to do this by way of wager or bargain, that he would fail. He declares that he has no sensation of hunger when he fasts, that he loses neither his strength nor his flesh, feels neither heat nor cold, goes about with head and feet naked equally in summer and winter, and that his manner of life does not induce the approaches of age. Asked by me why he left such a beautiful wife, he replied that he wished to be a soldier of Heaven, and that whether his wife determined to serve God or the world was a matter of indifference to him. By chance there was amongst us a canon regular who said that he had been asked by the hermit's wife to reconcile them, but had taken the task upon him to no purpose."—Hume Brown, Early Travellers in Scotland, p. 56.

[200] Row, History of the Kirk of Scotland, Woodrow Society's edition.

[201] History of the Regality of Musselburgh, p. 106.


[202] Statistical Account of Scotland, vol. iii, p. 84.

[203] Sibbald, History of Fife, p. 101.

[204] Hume Brown, Early Travellers in Scotland, pp. 68-69.

[205] Hume Brown, Scotland before 1700, p. 78.

[206] Breviar. Aberdonen., Pars Hyemalis, fol. lxii.

[207] Book vi, c. 8.

[208] Vita S. Kentigerni, pp. lxxxiii-iv.

[209] Carte Prioratus Insule de May, Charters 12-18.

[210] Records of the Priory of the Isle of May, p. xiv.

[211] Carte Prioratus, Charter 24.

[212] Carte Prioratus, Charter 25.

[213] Charters 26, 27, 33.

[214] Carte Prioratus, Charters 29, 30.

[215] Charter 35.

[216] Carte Prioratus, Charter 38.

[217] Charter 39.

[218] Records of the Priory of the Isle of May, p. xx and Charter 40.

[219] Records of the Priory of the Isle of May, p. xxi and Charter 41.

[220] Records of the Priory of the Isle of May, p. ix.

[221] "Proceedings Relative to the Claim of the Abbot and Convent of Reading on the Priory of the Isle of May", op. cit., p. lxxxv, et seq.

[222] Op. cit., p. xxv.

[223] Op. cit., p. lxxxiij.

[224] Op. cit., p. xxviij.

[225] Op. cit., p. xxvi.

[226] Op. cit., pp. xcvij, et seq.

[227] Pinkerton, History of Scotland, vol. i, p. 208.

[228] Records of the Priory of the Isle of May, p. lxxvi, et seq.

[229] Lockhart, Life of Sir Walter Scott, chap. xxviii.


[230] Pars Estiva, Folio xcvi.

[231] History of Edinburgh, pp. 267-8.

[232] History of Edinburgh, pp. 267-8.

[233] History of the Reformation, pp. 95-6.


[234] Sir W. Fraser, The Lennox, vol. i, p. 43.

[235] Ware, Irish Antiquities, p. 108.

[236] Sir W. Fraser, op. cit., p. 76.

[237] Sir W. Fraser, op. cit., pp. 78 and 236.

[238] Ibid., p. 77.

[239] Wyntoun's Orygynale Cronykil, vol. ii, p. 397.

[240] Ibid., p. 398.

[241] State Papers, Scotland: Elizabeth, vol. xviii, No. 45.

[242] Bannatyne's Memoriales, p. 196.

[243] History of the Troubles in Scotland and England, vol. i, pp. 157, 158.


[244] Essay on John Hampden.

[245] Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, vol. vii, p. xxvii.

[246] Tytler, History of Scotland, p. 238.

[247] Tytler, History of Scotland, p. 238.

[248] Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, vol. vi, pp. 581-2.

[249] Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, vol. vi, p. 594.

[250] Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, vol. vii, p. xxv.

[251] Westcott, New Poems by James I of England.

[252] Westcott, New Poems by James I of England.

[253] Ibid.

[254] Ibid.

[255] Op. cit., p. lxxx.

[256] Op. cit., p. lxxxi.

[257] Edited by R. P. Gillies, Edin., 1814; The Authour to the Reader.

[258] Westcott, op. cit., p. xlv.

[259] Calderwood, Historie of the Kirk of Scotland, vol. iii, Appendix, p. 784.

[260] Op. cit., p. lxix.

[261] Ibid., p. 15-16.

[262] Op. cit., p. 39.

[263] "In the Muses' Welcome to King James, printed at Edinburgh in 1618, folio, the royal visitor greeted his Scottish subjects with a string of punning rhymes on the names of certain learned professors, which some of them were sagacious enough to turn into Latin. As a sample of the literary taste which prevailed at this academic visitation, these quibbling verses on the name of the college disputants are here subjoined:—

As Adam was the first of men, whence all beginning tak So Adam-son was president, and first man in this act. The theses Fair-lie did defend, which though they lies contain, Yet were fair-lies and he the same right fairlie did maintain. The field first entred master Sands, and there he made me see That not all Sands are barren sands, but that some fertile bee. Then master Young most subtilie the theses did impugne, And kythed old in Aristotle, although his name bee Young. To him succeeded master Reid, who though reid be his name Neids neither for his disput blush, nor of his speach think shame. Last entred master King the lists, and dispute like a King How reason reigning as a queene should anger underbring. To their deserved praise have I thus played upon their names; And wills their colledge hence be called the Colledge of King James." —Horace Walpole, Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors, Edit. 1806, vol. i, p. 125.


[264] State Papers, Scotland: Elizabeth, vol. xlix, No. 51. Robert Bowes to Lord Burghley.

[265] Calderwood, Historie of the Kirk of Scotland, vol. v, pp. 192, 193.

[266] State Papers, Scotland: Elizabeth, vol. l, No. 30. Bowes to Burghley.

[267] State Papers, Scotland: Elizabeth, vol. i, No. 62.

[268] State Papers, Scotland: Elizabeth, vol. lx, Nos. 34, 80.

[269] Ibid., vol. lxi, Nos. 12, i; 17; Register of the Privy Council, vol. v, pp. 393, 394.

[270] Vol. v, p. 402.

[271] Register of the Privy Council, vol. v, p. 394.


[272] Spottswood, p. 415.

[273] Register of the Privy Council, vol. v, p. 761-2.

[274] Register of the Privy Council, pp. 323, 324.


[275] Register of the Privy Council, vol. vi, pp. 279-281.


[276] Register of the Privy Council, vol. vii, p. 141.

[277] The official records bearing on "this commotioun of Glasgow" are to be found in the Register of the Privy Council, pp. 230-1, 233, 235, 240-7, 500, 501-2.


[278] Act Parl., vol. i, Coll. Frag., p. 752.

[279] It has been suggested that Christis Kirk of the Grene, being "a jocund skit upon the ludicrous incapacity of the Scottish rustic to handle a bow", may have been intended "to fortify the statutes of law by the aids of ridicule and satire" (Ross, Early Scottish History and Literature).

[280] Act Parl., vol. ii, p. 8.

[281] Act Parl., vol. ii, p. 10.

[282] Act Parl., vol. ii, p. 45.

[283] Act Parl., vol. ii, p. 48.

[284] Act Parl., vol. ii, p. 100.

[285] Act Parl., vol. ii, p. 346.

[286] This was in accordance with the very first of the instructions embodied in the Bruce's "Testamnt", those fourteen lines of which Mr. Oman says that they "contain all the principles on which the Scots, when well advised, acted for the next two hundred and fifty years".

"On fut suld be all Scottis weire, By hyll and mosse themselff to reare. Lat woods for wallis be bow and speire, That innymeis do them na deire. In strait placis gar keip all store, And byrnen ye planeland thaim before. Thane sall thai pass away in haist When that thai find na thing but waist. With wyles and waykings of the nyght And mekill noyis maid on hytht, Thaim sall ye turnen with gret affrai, As thai ware chassit with swerd away. This is the consall and intent Of gud King Robert's testiment."

[287] Reg. Priv. Coun., vol. i, p. 62.

[288] "Victual" is the old Scots term for grain of any kind.

[289] Reg. Priv. Coun., sub. ann. cit.

[290] Reg. Priv. Coun., sub. ann. cit.


[291] Sir James Melville's Memoirs, pp. 171-2.

[292] Communicated by Professor Wattenbach, of Berlin, to the Anzeiger für Kunde der Deutschen Vorzeit, 1874.

Anglicus a tergo caudam gerit: est pecus ergo; Cum tibi dicit "Ave", sicut ab hoste cave.

[294] La diversité des contrées excitait entre eux des dissensions, des haines et des animosités virulentes, et ils se faisaient impudemment les uns aux autres toutes sortes d'affronts et d'insultes. Ils affirmaient que les Anglais étaient buveurs et coués.—Jacques de Vitry, Traduction Guizot, p. 292.

[295] Mirum est quomodo non erubescunt fieri similes jumentis insipientibus, ut videantur animalia caudata; nec sufficit eis honor creacionis, quod est quod inter cetera animalia eas Deus fecit sine cauda. In hoc caudatae contumeliam Deo faciunt, cujus opus imperfectum et insufficiens, quantum in ipsis est ostendunt, dum creacioni suae caudas addunt. Item, mirum est quod non erubescunt esse caudatae, cum Anglici erubescunt caudati vocari.—Tractatus de Diversis Materiis praedicalibus, Société de l'Histoire de France, vol. 60, p. 234.

[296] Tota injuriarum de rege Anglorum et caudatis suis ultio quaeritur; Graeculi enim et Siculi omnes hunc regem sequentes Anglos et caudatos nominabant.—Richard of Devizes, English History Society, p. 20.

[297] Richard Coer de Leon, Weber's Metrical Romances, vol. ii, 31.

[298] P. 83.

[299] Ibid.

. . . la Grifonaille De la vile et la garçonaille, Gent estraite de Sarazins, Ramponouent noz pelerins; Lor deiz es oilz nos aportouent E chiens pudneis nus apelouent E chascon jor nos laidissouent E nos pelerins mordrissouent E les jetouent es privees Dont les oevres furent provees. —Monument. Germ., vol. xxvii, p. 535.

[301] P. 95.

Rex in Rupella regnat, et amodo bella Non timet Anglorum, quia caudas fregit eorum.
Ad nostras caudas Francos, ductos ut alaudas Perstrinxit restis, superest Lincolnia testis.

[304] Fertur etiam comes Atrabatensis super his dixisse cum cachinno, "Nunc bene mundatur magnificorum exercitus Francorum a caudatis".—Matthew Paris, vol. v, 134.

[305] Comes Atrabatensis rapiens verbum ab ore ejus, more Gallico reboans et indecenter jurans, audientibus multis, os in haec convitia resolvit, dicens, "O timidorum caudatorum formidolositas, quam beatus, quam mundus praesens foret exercitus, si a caudis purgaretur et caudatis".—Id., vol. v, p. 151.

[306] Erimus, credo, hodie, ubi non audebis caudam equi attingere.—Ibid.

[307] According to another account, based on Joinville's narrative, Artois "was slain in the town, and his surcoat with the royal French lilies was exhibited to the Moslems as a proof that the King of the Franks had fallen".—Oman, The Art of War in the Middle Ages, p. 346.

[308] The authorities for this incident are:—

(I) Rishanger, "Tunc accesserunt ad Philippum, Regem Franciae, quibus grata fuit regni turbatio; et ejus bilem contra Anglicos commoverunt, dicentes turpe fore sibi, gentique suae, ut a caudatis taliter tractarentur", p. 130-1.

(II) The Chronicle of Lanercost, "Hoc anno orta est guerra in Neustria inter Francos et Anglos, apud Depe, dum cives illius loci inhumane Portuenses nostros caede et rapina afficiunt, occasione unius rudentis, quinimmo elatione sui principis provocati, videlicet, Karoli fratris Regis Franciae, qui odium conceperat gentis nostrae, eo quod non potuit fratrem proprium regno supplantare, Regis Edwardi consilio fulcitum in hoc parte. Nam, ut virus conceptum evidentius evomeret, multas peregrinis et scholasticis irrogavit molestias, quosdam etiam pauperes suspendio trucidavit, et canes vivos, eorum ut reputabat similes, lateribus eorum appendit", p. 150.

(III) Henri Knighton, "Et cum (Normanni) die quadam sex naves anglicanas obvias habuissent, easdem hostiliter aggressi, duas ex ipsis continuo perimerunt, suspendentes homines in navibus ad trabes navium suarum, et sic per mare navigantes, nullam faciebant differentiam inter canem et Anglicum", vol. i, p. 336.

Hoc quatuor cullos Gallorum tempore pullos Vincent caudati, pro caudis improperati.

[310] Wright, Political Poems and Songs (Rolls Series), vol. i.

O gens Anglorum, morum flos gesta tuorum, Cur tu Francorum procuras damna bonorum, Servorum Christi, quos tractas crimine tristi? Et servant isti fidem quam bis renuisti; Sub specie casti fraudem tu semper amasti. Scindas annosam caudam quam fers venenosam, Exaudi praesto tu praesul et memor esto: Qui te caudavit Deus ipsum sanctificavit. —Wright, op. cit. vol. ii, p. 127-8.
Le Roy Engloys se faisoyt appeler Le roy de France, par s'appellation; A voulu hors du pays mener Les bons Françoys horz de leur natyon. Or est il mort à Sainct Fiacre en Brye. Du pays de France ils sont tous deboutez: Il n'est plus mot de ces Engloys couez. Mauldicte en soyt tres toute la lignye. —Chanson xiv, Edit. L. Du Bois, p. 173.

[313] "Arriére, Englois coués, arriére." The poem was discovered by M. Paul Meyer, and published in Romania, 1892, p. 51.


(Les Anglais) s'en alérent à Rouen par eaue et par terre. Et a leur département, firent lesdiz Parisiens grand huée, en criant: "A la Keuwe!"—Chap. 198: De l'an 1436.

Le noble roy me voulut bailler garde, Pour me garder que point ne fusse prise, Que refusay, disant que n'avoye guarde, Et que j'avois guect et arriére garde, Pour desrompre des couez l'entreprise. —Arch. du Nord de la France, nouv. ser., i, 376.
Incontinant vous gaignerez la guerre Contre le roy coué, vostre adversaire. Poés. fr. des XVe et XVIe Siécles, vol. ii, p. 80.
Allez, infectz, gloutons, puans, punais, Godons couez, que jamais ne vous voye. Ibid., p. 82.
Car leur grandeur est droite orribleté Quant on les voit aler par le chemin, Mais leur queue mettent comme un mastin Soubz leur jambes, que rumeur leur commande. Œuvres complétes (Société des Anciens Textes), vol. v, p. 20.
  RONDEL (Les Anglais out une queue)
Certres plus fors sont les Anglés Que les Françoiz communement.
Les Françoiz portent petit fés; Certres plus fors sont les Anglés.
Car deux tonneaux portent adés Et une queue proprement.
Certres plus fort sont les Anglés Que les Françoiz communement. Œuvres, vol. iv, p. 130.

[320] Œuvres, vol. v, p. 48.

[321] Œuvres, vol. v, p. 80.

Hé! cuidez vous que je me joue, Et que je voulsisse aller En Engleterre demourer? Ils ont une longue coue.—Chanson xviii, p. 177.
  Ce Cat nonne vient de Calais, Sa mére fut Cathau la Bleue; C'est du lignage des Anglois, Car il porte trés longue queue.
—Du Cange, sub voce caudatus.
  Si acquerrez loz, Rides, angelotz, L'or, la chair, et l'os Des Angloys couez.

[325] Je scay que je suis monstré au doigt par les rues depuis que je chargeay si bien les Anglois couez qui descendoient et prenoient terre à Dieppe.
 —Act II, sc. 6.

Les goîtres et les écrouelles, Aprés que des Anglois quouez Nos corbeaux furent engouez, Ont été mis par rouelles. Rome Rid., st. xcvi.

[327] La plupart des Anglais ont le bout de l'os sacrum, que l'on nomme coccyx, qui leur avance, ce qui fait une espéce de queue.—Quoted by Godefroy sub voce coé.

Sunt praedicti clerici nuncii caudati, De terra perfidiae falsa procreati.—Lib. ix, cap. 32.

[329] Venit exercitus multus a rege Scotorum missus, mille quingenti equitantium et XL millia peditum, per clivum montis descendens ex opposito de Dunbar, praeparatus ad bellum per turmas suas. Quod cum vidissent novi castrenses, et ex visione tali jam laeti effecti, mox eorum vexilla in propugnasculis castri erexerunt, clamantes ad nostras et eos probrose vocantes canes caudatos et talia quaeque, insuper comminantes in mortem et caudarum abscisionem.
 —Hemingburgh, II, 103.

[330] Cumque venissent in mora juxta Anandiam, ecce incolae ejusdem provinciae adunati venientes improperabant eis, vocantes eos canes caudatos, et prae paucitate eos contemnentes, eo quod pedestres sui longe fuerant ab eis separati.
 —Id., II, 146-7.

[331] (Scoti) quasi securi, non posuerunt de nocte vigiles, sed cum jocunditate vinum bibentes, propter paucitatem partis adversae eam parvipendio habuerunt, depromentes cantus et dicentes quod—

Anglici caudati pro caudis vituperati.

De caudis eorum, ut dixerunt, funes sibi facerent ad seipsos Anglos in crastino vinciendos.—Bower, II, 304-5. The Book of Pluscarden represents the Scots as saying "quod Anglicos caudatos per eorum caudas ad suspendium traherent".—Lib. ix. cxxvii.

[332] Bower, loc. cit.

Caude causantur, regnarunt, apocopantur, Privantur caude, fas fandi, "Scotia plaude". —Wright, Political Songs, p. 375.

[334] Ross, The Book of Scottish Poems, vol. i, p. 173.

Anglicus a tergo caudam gerit; est pecus ergo. Anglice caudate, cape caudam, ne cadat a te. Ex causa caudae manet Anglica gens sine laude.

[336] Skelton, vol. iii, p. 186 et seq.

[337] See above, p. 262.

[338] Illo tempore baronibus illuxerat dies sanctificatus, ibi quicunque fugerat Anglicus est caudatus, plenus versutiis, fallax et instabilis et exanimatus.—P. 223.

[339] See above, p. 266.

[340] Anglici enim, sicut ingratissimi homines, ... consuetam trahentes caudam, et villam dictam spoliare cupientes et sibi resistentes trucidare, eam in quatuor locis, quasi in quatuor angulis, incenderunt, ut sic Gandenses nitentes ignem exstinguere, circa custodiam bonorum suorum essent minus cauti.—P. 7.

[341] Prostrati sunt autem omnes Scotti et per undique sparsi ac desolati, decollati, incarcerati, suspensi, distracti, destructi, membratim separati, nisi ille solus fugitivus Robertus le Bruys, qui in latibulis circumvagat, sicut latro vel vispilio. Rex vero de eo nihil curans ipsum permittit errare ubicumque melius vitam suam possit salvare, quia cauda sua penitus amputatur.—Vol. iii, p. 191.

[342] As Goscelin is the first writer in whom there occurs mention of the insult offered to St. Augustine and of its punishment, and as it consequently seems to be with him that the "tail" myth originated, both his versions of the incident are here given:—"Hinc divertens dux verbi Domini, successit tandem cuidam profanae villulae in Provincia quae dicitur Dorseta; ubi daemoniaca plebicola Sanctos Dei omnibus opprobriis ac ludibriis dedecoravere; adeo ut (quod etiam referri injuria est) productas piscium caudas ingererent. Unde indignatus Spiritus Domini in hujus auctores sceleris et in omnem progeniem illorum suum dedecus per os Augustini vatis perpetualiter sententiavit; et pravis propriam ignominiam, Sanctis vero perennem gloriam refudit" (Anglia Sacra, II, p. 67).—"Cumque (Augustinus) provinciam quae Dorsete appellatur, attigisset, et ubique ut Angelus Domini reciperetur, simulque auditorum fide quos pasceret pasceretur, incidit in quamdam villam, velut in tartaream Plutonis sedem. Ibi plebs impia, tenebris suis excaecata, et divinam lucem exosa, non solum audire nequibat vivifica documenta, verum tota ludibriorum et opprobriorum tempestate in Sanctos Dei debacchata, longe proturbat eos ab omni possessione sua; nec manu pepercisse creditur effraenis audacia. At Dei nuntius, juxta Dominicum praeceptum et apostolorum exemplum, excusso etiam pulvere pedum in eos, dignam suis meritis sententiam (non maledicentis voto, quia omnium salutem optabat; sed divino judicio et Eliae typo) atrocibus injecit, quatenus Sanctorum contemptores tam in ipsis quam in omnibus posteris suis, debita poena redargueret, qui vitae mandata repulissent. Fama est, illos effulminandos, prominentes marinorum piscium caudas Sanctis appendisse; et illis quidem gloriam sempiternam peperisse, in se vero ignominiam perennem retorsisse, ut hoc dedecus degeneranti generi, non innocenti et generosae imputetur patriae" (Bollandists, Acta Sanctorum, vol. for May, p. 375).

[343] "Aggrediuntur ergo virum et sotios furiatis mentibus incolae, et magnis dehonestatum injuriis, ita ut etiam caudas racharum vestibus ejus affigerent, impellunt, propellunt, expellunt. Patienter ille et modeste gaudensque pro nomine Jhesu contumeliam tulit, et, ne magis miserorum irritaret insaniam, excusso pedum in eos pulvere, longe quasi miliariis tribus recessit."
 —De Gestis Pontificum, lib. ii, § 84.

Sains Augustins les sermona Et la loi Deu lor preeça. Cil furent de male nature Que de lor sermon n'orent qure. La ou li sains lor sermonoit Et la loi Deu lor anonçoit, A ses dras de tries lor pendoient Keues de raies qu'il avoient; Od les keues l'on envoiérent Et bien longement le cachiérent. Et il proia nostre signor Que d'icele grant deshonor Et de cele grant avilance Ait en ax s'ire et demostrance. Et il si orent voirement Et aront pardurablement, Car trestot cil qui l'escarnirent Et qui les keues li pendirent Furent coë et coës orent, Ne onques puis perdre ne's porent. Tot cil ont puis esté coé, Qui furent de tel parenté; Keues ont de tries en la car, En ramanbrance de l'escar Qu'il firent al Deu ami Qui des keues l'orent laidi. —Wace, Brut, ll. 14165 et seq., B. M. copy, vol. ii, p. 251.

[345] The obnoxious tail appears to have been passed on to Cornwall. In his Curious Myths of the Middle Ages, Mr. Baring Gould states that, as a child, he firmly believed, on the authority of his nurse, that all Cornishmen were born with tails. It required the solemn assurance of a native to convince him of the contrary.

[346] Lines 29,544 et seq.

[347] Early English Text Society, Part I, p. 97.

[348] Lines 15,193-15,212.

[349] Printed by Wright in his Reliquiae Antiquae.

[350] "Cumque de civitate in civitatem praedicando transiret, contigit ut in civitate quae Roucestria dicitur semel praedicaret. Ipso autem praedicante, concives civitatis accesserunt, et verba ejus mendacia reputantes, multa ei obprobria intulerunt. Post multorum vere obprobriorum angustiam, caudas porcorum et vaccarum fimbreis vestimentorum ejus alligantes, in faciemque ejus conspuentes, ipsum de civitate ejicerunt."

[351] "Volens igitur Deus de obprobrio sibi servoque suo illato
vindictam assumere, instituit ut omnes qui ex tunc in civitate Roucestriae nascerentur caudas ad
modum porcorum haberent.... Non tamen potuit auferri quin caudas haberent; ex tunc enim et adhuc et in aeternum existent caudati.... Quod autem univoce homines non sunt, ex quo caudas habent manifestum est.... Cum igitur caudas habent, contigit ut cum irascuntur caudas erigunt, quapropter cum irascuntur sedere nequeunt."

I' nol vidi, ma tanto mi fu nova Cosa ad udir, e per tutti si avvera, Che di notar, come l'udii, mi giova, Che fra le altre una isoletta v'era, Dove con coda la gente vi nasce Corta, qual l'ha un cervo o simil fera. —Lib. iv, cap. 23.

[353] Quoted by Godefroy, Dictionnaire de l'ancienne langue française, from Boccace, Nobles malh., vi, 9, f. 153, ed. 1515.

[354] The Lyf of Saynt Austyn, Golden Legende, clxxxiiii, ed. 1483.

[355] "Cum apud occidentales Saxones, in pago Dorsetensi, beatus Augustinus verbum vitae gentilibus praedicaret, venit in vicum quendam, ubi eum nemo suscipere vel ejus praedicationem audire voluit. Sed cùm in omnibus ei rebelles existerent, et cunctis quae ab eo dicebantur contradicerent, et omnia sinistrâ interpretatione obnubilare conarentur, quod dictu nefandum est, caudas piscium in ejus vestibus suere et supendere non timuerunt. Sed quod ipsi in Sancti patris injuriam facere crediderunt, sibi et suis posteris in dedecus sempiternum, et innocenti patriae verterunt in opprobrium. Nam percussit eos in posteriora, opprobrium sempiternum dans illis, ita ut in partibus pudendis, tam in ipsis quàm eorum successoribus, similes caudae nascerentur. Vocatur autem hujusmodi cauda ab indigenis patriâ linguâ Mughel; unde et villa, in qua beato Augustino hujusmodi irrogata est injuria, nomen sortita est Muglington, id est villa Muglingorum, usque in praesentem diem. Fertur etiam quòd, eorum exemplo, in provincia Merciorum, in villa quae Thamewyth dicitur, beato viro ab incolis loci simile dedecus factum fuerit; sed non impune: quia tam ipsi quam eorum posteri, sicut omnibus notum est, pari poena et opprobrio verecundati sunt. Simile postea accidit tempore exilii beati Thomae primatis Angliae, quod ad ejus opprobrium, ut aestimabant, sed mentita est iniquitas sibi, illi de Rocestria deturpaverunt et absciderunt caudam caballi ejus; unde et posteri eorum illic nati inventi sunt caudati."—Joannis Forduni Scotichronicon cum Supplementis et Continuatione Walteri Boweri, lib. ix, cap. 32; ed. Edin., 1747.

[356] Ralph de Diceto, i, 342; Roger de Hoveden, ii, 14; Gervase of Canterbury, i, 225; William of Canterbury, Materials for History of Thomas Becket, i, 130.

[357] Jumentum in nominis mei contemptum, tanquam in diminutione bestiae dehonestari possim, cauda truncatum est.

[358] B. ii, c. ix.

[359] "En l'an cinq cens iiiixxxix, Sainct Augustin fut par Saint Grégoire, lors pape de Romme, envoyé en Angleterre pour prescher et publier la foy de Jesu-christ, et à sa prédication se firent baptizer Eldret, roy d'Angleterre, et sa gent. Et advint que ledit Sainct Augustin alla pour prescher en ung territoire qu'on appelle Dorocestre, auquel lieu les gens d'icelluy territoire, par mocquerie et dérision luy attachérent à ses habillemens des raynes ou grenouilles. Et depuis ce temps, par pugnition divine, ceulx qui naissoient audit territoire out des queues par derriére comme bestes brutes, et les appelle on Anglois couez."—Les trés élégantes et copieuses Annales ... des Gaules; ed. 1531, fol. 27.

[360] Bellenden's Boece, B. ix, c. 17.

[361] Dunbar's Poems, ii, p. 15.

[362] "Cum Augustinus juxta Dorocaestriam predicaret, gentes illius loci caudas Rariarum vestibus illius appendebant. Hinc ipsi et eorum posteri caudas sicut pecudes referuntur habuisse."—Ed. 1609, B. M. copy.

[363] "Nit unbillich wirt der selbig lib heilig (Sant Thomas von Candlwerg) wert gehalten, zu dem das man in seiner heiligen legend, lumpartica historia, wie eins reines säligen lebens er gewesen, hat er auch ein merklich zaichen, das vielleicht bis an den jüngsten tag wert, hinter im verlassen; den in seinem leben reit er auf ein zeit als ein gerechter, frommer man, auf seinem eslein, auf ein dorf zu essen. In dem spotteten die baurn seiner reuterei und schnitten seinem esl den schwanz ab. Darumb beklagt sich der lib heilig, das noch auf den heutigen tag alle die knaben, die in dem dorf geboren werden, schwenzlein, das sie zegelein nennen, ob dem hindern an der wurzln an die welt bringen. Daraus ist das sprichwort entsprungen, das die Englosen hoch vertreust: Engelman, den sterz her! Und ich wolt den fraidigen gern sehen, der in dem selben dorf 'Englsterz' schreien dörft. Er müst sich kurz austreen, wolt er nit erschlagen werden. Wölicher frauen aber, der lust oder zeit in irer geberung wirdet, das sie nit mer, dan über das wasser, in das ander dorflein kumbt, gebürt ir kint an (ohne) schwanz."—Die Geschichten und Taten Wilwolts von Schaumburg, in the Publications of the Stuttgart Literary Society, vol. for 1859, p. 78.

[364] "Haec et talia eiusmodi ita regem Henricum moverunt, ut ira vehementer accensus, aliquando exclamavit: 'Me miserum, non possum in meo regno pacem cum uno sacerdoti habere? Nec quisquam meorum omnium est, qui hac molestia liberare velit?' Ex huiusmodi vocibus, fuerunt improbi nonnulli, quibus visa est occulta voluntas regis esse, ut Thomas é medio tolleretur, qui propterca velut hostis regis habitus, jam tum coepit sic vulgo negligi, contemni, ac odio haberi, ut cum venisset aliquando Strodum, qui vicus situs est ad ripam Medueiae fluminis, quod flumen Rocestriam alluit, eius loci incolae cupidi bonum patrem ita despectum ignominia aliqua afficiendi, non dubitarint amputare caudam equi, quem ille equitaret, seipsos perpetuo probro obligantes; nam postea, nutu Dei, ita accidit, ut omnes ex eo hominum genere, qui id facinus fecissent, nati sint instar brutorum animalium caudati. Sed ea infamiae nota jampridem una cum gente illa eorum hominum, qui peccarint, deleta est."—Ed. 1610, p. 214.

[365] "Anglos quosdam caudatos esse. Suspicabar quod de Anglorum caudis traditur, nugatorium esse, nec hoc meminissem loco, nisi ipsi Anglicarum rerum conditores id serio traderent: nasci videlicet homines, instar brutorum animalium caudatos apud Strodum Angliae vicum, ad ripam fluvii Medueiae, qui Roffensem, sive Rocestrensem agrum alluit. Narrantque ejus vici incolas, jumento quod D. Thomas Canthuariensis episcopus insideret, per ludibrium caudam amputasse, ob idque divina ultione adnatas incolis ejus loci caudas, ut in hos fatidici regis carmen torqueri possit: 'Percussit eos (inquit) in posteriora eorum, opprobrium sempiternum dedit illis'. De hujusmodi caudis quidam in hunc modum lusit:—

Fertur equo Thomae caudam obtruncasse Britannos, Hinc Anglos caudas constat habere breveis."

 —Angliae Descriptionis Compendium, per Gulielmum Paradinum Cuiselliensem, 1545, p. 69.

[366] Ed. 1546, pp. 29-30.

[367] Pp. 76-77.

[368] Ed. 1576.

[369] P. 91.

[370] Song 23.

[371] Church History, p. 67.

[372] P. 63.

[373] Itinerary, vol. iii, p. 53.

[374] As bearing out this opinion, the following passage from Tylor's Primitive Culture may be quoted: "But these apparently silly myths have often a real ethnological significance. When an ethnologist meets, in any district, with the story of tailed men, he ought to look for a despised tribe of aborigines, outcasts, or heretics, living near or among a dominant population who look upon them as beasts, and furnish them with tails accordingly.... The outcast race of Cagots, about the Pyrenees, were said to be born with tails; and in Spain the medieval superstition still survives, that the Jews have tails, like the devil, as they say. In England the notion was turned to theological profit by being claimed as a judgment on wretches who insulted St. Augustine and St. Thomas of Canterbury."—Vol. i, pp. 346-7.