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Domestic Life in Scotland, 1488 - 1688
Lecture III - The Rise of the Burghers; A Cloth Merchant's House; and Some Decorative Arts


"THE Scottis peple," says Bishop Leslie, writing towards the end of the sixteenth century, "is diuidet in thrie ordouris; ane, of thame quhais pietie and hett studdie of religione had addicted themselves planelie to serue the Kirke; the secunde, of thame quhais nobilitie and hienes of blude hes placed (them) in the secunde degrie of the commoune weil; the thrid, of thame quhome the tounes accnawleges among thame to be frank and frie." In the political development of the country each of these orders, or estates, exercised in turn a predominating influence. It was the nobility whom the earlier Jameses had to conciliate, and whose support had to be secured when a national policy was to be carried out. But so heavy were the losses sustained by the nobility at Flodden that from that time the balance of power passed into the hands of the Church. This position of influence the Church made use of to encourage James V in his adhesion to the French Alliance and the Catholic religion. As time went on, however, the popular revolt against the abuses and exactions of the Church was reinforced by a growing recognition of the fact that England, rather than France, was designed by nature to be Scotland's ally. The pressure of such great questions as these on the minds of the people, and the groping for practical methods of settling them, helped to train and educate them for the influence and responsibilities to which they were destined in turn to succeed when the Reformation deprived the Church of Rome of her temporal power in Scotland. It was in 1572 that Sir Henry Killigrew, the English Agent in Scotland, recorded his often-quoted observarion as to the nobles and burgesses "taking more on them," and from this time forward it was with the "Estaite of the Commoune Peple" that the Scottish monarchs had to reckon.

In the preceding lectures we have considered the homes of the first two of these three orders, examining the castle of a feudal lord in the fifteenth century, and the manse of a Pre-Reformation priest in the sixteenth. It is fitting that we should now turn to the homes of the burgesses, of whose rise to influence and of whose advance in domestic comfort the records of the time supply clear evidence. Let us glance, therefore, for a few moments at the domestic surroundings of Frances Spottiswood, a cloth merchant who died in Edinburgh about 1540. One incident of his career is recorded, and is worth mentioning because of the picture it calls up of a sight which often met the eyes of townsmen in those unsettled times. He is named in the Edinburgh Burgh Records as one of a small group of citizens who, in 1521, appeared before a notary and formally protested against the "takin doun of the ii heids of the chalmerlane and his brother of the tolbuth end," and refused to be responsible for the consequences of the removal of those ghastly trophies.

The merchant's booth, where he plies his trade wearing a brown doublet with scarlet hose, and girt with a silken belt from which hangs a purse with gold tassels, occupies the ground-floor of his house, and the entrance to the dwelling-house above is by an outside fore-stair. Ascending these steps we find ourself in the hall or principal room, where an arras "hingar" or hanging covers one wall, and the long table has a covering which is also of tapestry. The lower half of the two small windows is shuttered instead of glazed, and in the shutters oval holes are cut to allow the occupants to thrust their heads through and watch the street life below. The merchant's own chair stands at one end of the table, while there is a form for his wife and young son. At one side stands a double counter, and on this may be set out some of the larger tin dishes and, more prominently placed, a silver maser, a silver "piece" or cup, and a silver salt-cellar enriched with gold. These and a set of a dozen silver spoons testify to the burgess' prosperity. The smaller trenchers and other tin dishes are kept in a vessel-aumrie, where also are folded away the dornick tablecloth, napkins and towels. The furniture is not of a merely rough and utilitarian kind, for there is a carved oak meat-aumrie and an oak settle also richly carved. Here too is kept his "stand of harness" or suit of armour, with a jack and steel bonnet and a two-handed sword; for a merchant or craftsman had to be a good man at arms, and was required to be ready to take his part in defending the community from violence. Belongings of a more personal kind are an ivory stamp or seal tipped with silver, a gold signet ring, an ivory rosary and a gold pendant in the form of a head of St. John.

Adjoining the hall is the bedchamber, where there is a large stand bed fitted with curtains of, "say," a serge-like cloth sometimes containing a little silk, and a bedcover of arras; while a "futegang " or step was arranged by the side of the bed. There is also a press containing two closed receptacles in which clothes can be laid, and, as further provision for clothes and bed-linen, a large "schryne" or box, and a travelling chest which may have accompanied the cloth-merchant on his visits to Flanders. A sponge and comb are mentioned, the sponge here meaning a brush, and a towel hung on a pin on the wall; the only basin mentioned is "ane hali waster fat" or holy water basin. Along with these there is a mirror—perhaps the earliest mention of a mirror as a piece of bedroom furniture in Scottish records. A spinning-wheel and implements for wool carding tell us of the home employments of the merchant's wife, who seems to have been considerably younger than her husband, for after his death at a good old age she married again.

Among other significant possessions of Spottiswood were a horse with a plough, "ane par of harrowis," a cart and sledge and other agricultural implements. These remind us that the towns were still rural communities largely dependent on the cultivation of the "town acres" on their outskirts, and the cloth-merchant had no doubt an allotment of the common land on the usual nineteen years' lease.

In the booth below there is a low curtain of arras used to partition off part of the room, a "burd till lay claith apone" and other suitable provision for his trade, including a wardaumrie and several chests for storing goods. There are also three items of more artistic interest. The first of these is a painted and gilded image of Our Lady. The second is described as "Sanct James Staf with ane slap." A slap, or slop, ordinarily means a riddle or sieve, but seems here to be applied to the reticulated form of wallet associated with the staff which is the emblem of St. James the Greater. The patron saints of the various gilds varied in different towns, but St. James does not seem to have been associated with any of the Edinburgh trades, St. John the Baptist, whose head Spottiswood wore as a pendant, being the patron of the tailzeours. There was, however, an altar to St. James in St. Giles' Cathedral, and this was under the charge of the Provost, Bailies and Council of Edinburgh, and the emblem may have been carried by Spottiswood in the town processions.

The third, and most interesting, item is ane hingand brod of oley cullouris."This cannot have been a signboard, as though trade signs of various sorts were in use even in the fifteenth century, boards with signs painted on them were unknown till early in the seventeenth. "Brod" is the word regularly used for a picture. We read, for instance, in the royal inventories, of the "brod of the pictour of the Quene Regent brocht out of France," and of "aucht paintit broddis, Doctouris of Almaine " (1561). The "brod of oley cullouris," then, seems to have been a picture, and it is interesting as a very early instance of the possession of an oil painting in a private house in Scotland. The portraits of James III, still in Holyrood, of James IV, attributed to Holbein, and even that of James V, in the possession of the Duke of Devonshire, were all, of course, painted before this date; and there are many early references to painting. On examination, however, these will be found to apply to something other than pictures in oil colour. Thus, in 1450, St. Salvador's College at St. Andrew's had a "new paynted clayth of Sant Lorans, abwn St. Michaellys alter," and many similar entries might be quoted. But these were painted hangings intended as substitutes for tapestry, and they were painted not in oils but with pigments soluble in water. Such hangings are referred to in Shakespeare's Henry IV, where he speaks of "Slaves as ragged as Lazarus in the painted cloth." Another set of early references, such as that to David Pratt, who painted the altar at Stirling in 1497, and another which speaks of "ane ymage of St. Katryn, new pantyt be the Prouest" in 1450, may also be set aside. It would be pleasant to conceive a Scottish Provost spending cloistral hours in executing a primitif portrait of St. Catherine, but it is likely that his actual work consisted in recoating with rather gaudy colours a carved figure of the saint. But Spottiswood's brod was a picture in the modern sense, and it is likely that he may have acquired it himself in Flanders, and may thus have been one of the earliest, if not actually the first, private patron of the art of painting in Scotland. The interest that the early merchants had in the fine arts may be traced in Wedderburn's Compt Buik, where we find him noting that "John Meill has promyttit a fyn gilt brod with a pictour, how sone he passes to France," and, on another occasion, that "Thomas Young is awin me z payntit brodis ouergilt at his hame-cuming from Flanders." The taste for pictorial art soon began to diffuse itself, and in 1585 a Dutch painter called Adrian Vanyone was made a burgess of Edinburgh "to be employed in his craft in the town and to instruct apprentices."

Such a house as we have been examining is interesting because it affords a glimpse of the home life of the burgher class which was to produce such men as Robert Gourlay and George Heriot. It enables us to see why it was in the homes of the burgesses, rather than in the castles of the nobles, that the way was being prepared for the great changes in domestic life that were to be introduced in the reign of James VI. The burgess lived in a comparatively small house with his own family, and only one or two servants or apprentices to complete the household. In these conditions the transition towards the modern conception of a life of domestic privacy was easier and more natural than among the nobles, living with considerable retinues in their mediaeval castles, and maintaining a certain state which tended to perpetuate the feudal tradition. Spottiswood's house, consisting of only two or three rooms, is furnished with a sense of the artistic value of furniture in adding a beauty and dignity to home life; and such a sense is not often found in the castles of the time. The silver spoons and vessels, the napery and toilet accessories, all point to a certain fastidiousness in the details of indoor life, and an exacting standard in these matters was more easily acquired in the towns than in the country. The burgesses too were in closer touch with the refinements introduced by foreign trade, and had opportunities of picking up novelties and improvements in the equipment and arrangement of the house which were slower in reaching the nobles in their country homes ; while the freer intercourse of town life led to the circulation of new ideas and the rapid adoption of new fashions. Finally, the prosperous tradesman had this advantage over the nobles, that he had a command of money which enabled him to indulge and cultivate his tastes and so, thanks to his foreign connections, to become a pioneer in introducing works of art and other products of countries whose civilisation was more advanced.

The mirror already spoken of is probably an instance of the additions to domestic convenience introduced by the burgesses. Mirrors are mentioned as having been bought for the King in 1503, but one of these was "bocht at the cremare," that is from a pedlar, and another picked up in Dumfries for eightpence, so that they appear to have been cheap trifles hawked about the country. They were probably curious toys rather than satisfactory reflectors. It is not till 1578 that we find mirrors mentioned in the royal inventories, Queen Mary having "ane fair steill glas" and a small faceted mirror described as "ane uther less, schawing monie faces in the visie." In the following century, when they came into more general use, they were known as "keiking glasses"—a name which suggests that they were still only of small size and perhaps that their use was still rather furtive and occasional than established by custom. The old song says

Sweet Sir, of your courtesie,
When ye come by the Bass then,
For the love ye bear to me
By me a keiking glass then!

The use of clocks in the house is also due to the middle-class townsmen, who were the first to feel the need of punctuality in keeping appointments and in regulating their business. Even the alarm clock existed in Scotland as early as 1564, when the good ship Neptune arrived at Burntisland, having on board, among other goods said to have been taken "in piracie," "ane litill knok with ane walknar (wakener) ouregilt." Other novelties which appeared about that time were introduced through the Court, whose relations with France kept it in touch with the latest developments there. Fans, for instance, were used by Queen Mary, and they are described as "culing fannis of litle wandis," while a forerunner of the modern parasol may perhaps be found in "ane Title cannabie of crammasie satyne of thrie quarter lang, furnisit with freinyes and fassis (fringes and tassels) made of gold and crammasie silk ; monie litle paintit buttons; all seruing to bear to mak schadow befoir the Queen." Other familiar articles that first came into use in the sixteenth century include shoehorns, then called shoeing horns, which are mentioned in 1522; and glass vessels and cups, which, though still a rarity, are referred to in1526. Among certain small gear in a great box belonging to a burgess of the "nobill burgh of Abirdene" we find "spectikyllis" named in 1546, but these were probably in use a hundred years earlier, as we know them to have been in England.

An inventory of the possessions of Sir David Lyndsay, of the Mount, is preserved in the Register of Acts and Decreets, and it has some interesting features. Among his silver, for instance, we find "ane dusoun of silver spunis havand the armis of the said umquhile Schir David thairon," perhaps the earliest record of a private owner having his silver so marked. Heraldic zeal, however, need not surprise us in one who was Lyon King of Arms and author of the Register of Scottish Arms. Even more interesting is the fact that he left "ane byble in Inglis," for Lyndsay, though a reformer with a singularly unbridled tongue, died within the communion of the Church. Many English versions of the Bible had been published before Lyndsay's death in 1555, but it was not till twenty-four years later that the first version printed in Scotland, by Bassendyne and Arbuthnott, was issued. And though the Edinburgh Town Council decreed in the following year that all "substantious houshalderis" must have a Bible in their houses, it is not till early in the seventeenth century that we find them appearing as usual family possessions.

That native wood-carvers were to be found in Scotland even before the close of the fifteenth century is shown by the accounts for the work done at Stirling Castle. Payments are entered as made "to Dauid, kervour, in erlis for the gallory quhilk he suld mak for x merkis" and "to the kervour that took in task the siling of the chapel." The fact that the panelling or "siling" was entrusted to a carver seems to show that it was definitely artistic work and not mere carpentry. But such work was confined for the most part to ecclesiastical interiors. The scarcity of oak, apart from other causes, made domestic panelling much less common than in England. "Syllit chalmers" were often rooms whose walls or roofs were merely faced with boarding. Even as late as 1622, when the standard of domestic decoration had advanced considerably, the Englishman, John Ray, wrote,

"In the most stately and fashionable houses, in great towns, instead of ceiling, they cover the chambers with firr boards, nailed on the roof within side." And, indeed, this squalid fashion may be seen to this day in some of our important Scottish Castles.

In many a church, however, there was woodcarving of a more or less ambitious kind, which kept a certain technical standard before the eyes of the people. The screen and stalls of King's College, Aberdeen, and the stalls in Dunblane, to name two instances which have survived the iconoclasm of the Reformers, and the elaborate gallery in Pitsligo Parish Church, erected in 1634, show that both before and after the Reformation there was no difficulty in providing Scottish buildings with woodwork which was both capably designed and competently executed.

The principal example of a Scottish domestic ceiling panelled in oak is the gallery at Crathes Castle. Of panelled walls there are naturally more frequent examples, but early specimens have often been mutilated as a result of their having been moved from one house to another, and ruthlessly cut to adapt them to their new situation. One fine piece of early panelling latterly formed the partition of a cowhouse; and at Inverugie Castle a carved and gilded heraldic panel was found serving as part of a pig-trough!

Panels decorated with the "linen-fold" and the "parchment" patterns, both late Gothic types of ornament, are not unusual in Scotland. We also find examples of a type of panel carved with a floral design, a good specimen of which is the set of panels from an old house in Montrose, and now the property of Mr. P. W. Campbell, W.S. (Plate IV). The panels are believed to be the remains of a set of twenty-two, and they are supposed to be part of the fittings of Abbot Panter's Hospital, which was built in Montrose in 1516. The designing of the various subjects is well done and shows a certain resource in adapting the plant forms to the spaces to be filled. Yet the work has a somewhat sturdy and heavy-handed quality which suggests that they are rather the work of some honest Scot, discovering and, on the whole, surmounting the difficulties of design, than of a foreign workman with all the experience of the Flemish gilds at his finger ends. As to the date, the carving might pass for fifteenth-century work, but the panels in which monks are satirically represented as foxes and swine probably point to a date nearer that of the Reformation. The mouldings, cut in the solid wood of the framework, and intersecting so as to form mitres at the upper corners, but abutting on the rail at the bottom, support the later date, and suggest that the work may not be earlier than the second quarter of the sixteenth century.

Along with these panels there was found a door containing panels of similar design and workmanship, but separated by stiles ornamented with niches and representations of traceried windows. The mouldings are treated in the same way as in the panelling, and it is evident that doors and panelling were originally in the same room.

At Ethic Castle there is a cabinet associated with the name of Cardinal Beaton, who is said to have lived there after succeeding to the Abbacy of Arbroath ; the doors forming the front contain panels of very elaborate Gothic tracery. This is similar to the tracery found in French furniture of the end of the 'fifteenth century, though the horizontal openings in the upper panels of the right hand door are very unusual.

Of a totally different type are some panels which belong to Mrs. Dunn, Castledouglas, whose father, the late Mr. Joseph Train, F.S.A. (Scot.), left a MS. note in which he says that these panels were part of a "massy oaken bedstead well authenticated to have been the principal one of the Castle of Threave, and said to have been that of the Black Douglas himself. It is one of the old closet kind of bed." As the figures wear costume of the sixteenth century, the association with the Black Douglas may be dismissed. Unfortunately the carved work has been made up into a piece of furniture which is altogether incongruous with the age to which the carving belongs. These figures, however, though of a rather rude type, are extremely spirited, and they show us performers on the bagpipes and the fiddle, as well as archers, dancers and other types of the time, all represented with a certain alertness of observation and with considerable humour. The door from Amisfield Castle is said to be of the same type of work, but this cannot be verified till the National Museum of Antiquities has its exhibits restored to it. If true it seems to point to the existence of an untrained native artist in Dumfries and Galloway in the sixteenth century, whose work was highly unconventional and whose verve and animal spirits we can still appreciate.

At Balfour House, in Fife, there is a set of panels, which is of greater artistic and historical interest than any of these. There are eight large panels, extending across the end of a large room, where they have been placed above the level of the doors. They are evidently of Flemish workmanship of the end of the first quarter of the sixteenth century, and they are excellent specimens of medieval woodcarving of a very rich and accomplished kind. The first panel, on the left, shows the Annunciation, the Virgin kneeling at a "lettron" (lutrin), overwhelmed by the angel's message ; the pot of lilies, the descending dove, and some Gothic scroll and canopy work complete the decoration of the panel. Next comes a panel whose subject is the "Jesse tree." Jesse is shown recumbent below, while from him springs the tree bearing his descendants and culminating in the Virgin and Child at the top. The third is a sacred heraldic panel, the shield being charged with the emblems of the Passion, while two angels act as supporters; on the helm is the crown of thorns; the scourge, the crowing cock and other emblems occur in the crest. After this we have a panel with the arms of Cardinal Beaton and a pastoral staff; and below are the arms of the Cardinal's father, John Beaton, and his mother, Elizabeth Monipenny, of Kinkell, the whole surrounded with a beautiful design of pomegranates. The fifth panel is carved with the Scottish arms, beneath which a thistle is introduced between the supporters. The sixth and seventh have decorative designs of various plant forms, among which the rose and the thistle are employed; while the eighth panel is ornamented with an arrangement of carved bosses with heraldic and other motives.

The wood carving, as well as the designing, is of a high standard, such as was secured by the strict control exercised by the Flemish gilds over the work turned out by their members. The work, has of course, been executed in accordance with specifications supplied by Beatoun, and the heraldic details and the Scottish emblems employed in the decoration give it a personal and national character.

The use of the pastoral staff in the fourth panel shows that the panels were executed before 1537, when, as Bishop of Mirepoix, Beatoun became entitled to display the crozier instead of the humbler emblem. As Abbot of Arbroath he had the right to the pastoral staff from 1524, and it is probable that the work was commissioned by him shortly after his appointment. The tradition in the family was that the panels had been " in the form of a canopy," and that they had formed part of the Cardinal's stall at Rome, though it was evident to the later descendants that the connection with Rome could not be seriously maintained. There can be little doubt that they were part of the decoration of a series of stalls in Arbroath Abbey, and were originally surmounted in the usual way with overhanging canopies. The bosses on the eighth panel, which is not one of the original set, have probably been taken from the carved canopies which formerly topped the stalls. It is worth noting that there are seven of these bosses, corresponding to the number of the other panels, and the larger size of the central boss may imply that the panel bearing the Scottish arms occupied the central position in the original arrangement. The present arrangement is that which was made about 1670, when the panels were removed from their canopied setting and disposed on the wall so that the more interesting panels are next the light. Even as we see them to-day they are a most interesting survival of the "excellent work" which beautified the sacred buildings of Scotland, and of which so little survived the latter half of the sixteenth century, when they "broke down the carved work thereof at once with axes and hammers."

The art of ornamental needlework, or embroidery, is of very early origin, and it was no doubt in use in Scotland, though in comparatively rude forms, long before we have any record of it. By the fifteenth century it was a well-matured art, employed in decorating costume, curtains and draperies of all sorts. An embroiderer, called a browdstar, brusoure or brodinster, was one of the regular servants of the royal retinue,rand many noble families also had their own embroiderers. The royal browdstar's duties included keeping the chapel vestments in order, making good the wear and tear of the tapestry hangings, and doing such odd jobs as "making a chamlot bag to the King," for which "Gely brousoure" was paid six shillings by the Lord High Treasurer in 14'74. His services were valued at twenty pounds for three terms, and he was supplied besides with the necessary materials for his work. In the inventory made in 1488 of the effects of King James III, particulars are given of the drapery of a bed, consisting of covering, roof and pendicles, or curtains, all made of "variand purpur tartar, browdin with thrissillis and a unicorne" which by the way is perhaps the earliest reference to the thistle as the Scottish national badge or emblem. Such work as this no doubt fell to the royal embroiderer, with occasional trained assistance for special work; and the enrichment of such bed-hangings, cloths of estate, and the royal robes and chapel vestments must have called for a high standard of workmanship as well as for untiring industry.

It was in ecclesiastical ornament, however, that needlework found its most elaborate development, and it was probably in it that "ymagerie," or pictorial representation, was first employed. In 1450 the High Altar at St. Salvador's College, St. Andrews, had a "blew claith wellowis (velvet) browdyn with ymagis abuff the altar," and a similar cloth under the altar (a nether frontal), "brusyt with thre ymages of gold"; while among other "claythis for the kyrk" there was "ane frontale of clayth of gold contenand the xii Appostilis."

When, in the sixteenth century, it became usual to panel the principal rooms in important houses, and tapestry passed into temporary eclipse, the change soon led to a new development of the embroiderer's art. The occupants of such rooms, we may conjecture, began to find that, with all the practical advantages of panelling, rooms so treated were somewhat dull and cheerless to live in. Tapestrie chambers had not only been rich in colour, but they had appealed to the imagination of those who lived in them by the romantic suggestion of the stories that they pictured. All this was gone, and people looked back to the brightness and poetry of the fashion that had been displaced. No doubt when the Reformation led to the churches being despoiled of their richly embroidered cloths and vestments, many of these found their way into private houses and were used to relieve the sombre austerity of panelled rooms. The same movement, however, had deprived the professional embroiderers of the principal outlet for their most important work. And it is hardly fanciful to suppose that these conditions explain the introduction of pictures stitched in coloured wools and silks, and representing biblical and romantic stories, which came into fashion towards the end of the sixteenth century. 'These pictures are generally small in scale, being often worked on horizontal lengths of canvas measuring about 22 inches in height. The length of the various pieces composing a set often varies considerably, and this suggests that they were hung in sequence, as a sort of running frieze, at a suitable level on the wall, and that the length of the separate pieces may have been determined by the width, of the wall-spaces they were intended to occupy. The work is done in petit point, consisting of small diagonal stitches corresponding to the mesh of the canvas on which they are sewn. In most cases there are about seventeen or eighteen stitches to the vertical linear inch, and rather fewer, say fourteen to seventeen, to the horizontal inch. An interesting fact has been noted by Mr. C. E. C. Tatersall, that where two members of the design are intended to be of the same size, they correspond in actual size rather than in the number of stitches ; from which it would seem that the design has been drawn on the canvas, not copied by a count from squared paper, as is done to-day.

It was probably by women, who spent so much of their time indoors, that the want of such pictures was most felt, and much of the work itself was well fitted to appeal to the taste and domestic industry of women, even if they had not the trained capacity of the professional embroiderers. Catherine de Medici in France, Queen Elizabeth in England and Queen Mary in Scotland were all accomplished workers at embroidery. Whether any one of them was capable of producing petit point panels of romantic figure-subjects with backgrounds rich with ornamental gardens, architecture and every kind of animal life, is questionable. Certainly from the point of view of design, these panels were beyond the capacity of even talented amateurs. But Catherine de Medici, who, as Brantome tells us, used to work at her silk embroidery after dinner, had her work designed, and probably supervised, by Frederic de Vinciolo, who is described as "dessinateur des plus renommes pour broderie." As for Queen Mary, a letter (July, 1557) from Sir Nicholas Throkmorton to Queen Elizabeth, whose emissary he was, describes a visit to the Queen of Scots shortly after her imprisonment in Loch Leven, and mentions that she had applied for "an imbroderer to drawe furthe such works as she would be occupied about." Whether this request was granted does not seem to be recorded. The request shows her dependence on a professional designer. We learn from a French source, however, that among the servants who were taken from her by Sir Amyas Poulet in 1587 was "son brodeur, Charles Plouvart." And looking for confirmation of this to the list preserved in the State Papers concerning Queen Mary (No. 378) of the servants to whom passports were issued on their repatriation, we find the name of Charles "Plonart," probably a mistake for Plouart, the nature of whose service however is not there specified.

So deeply has the popular imagination been impressed by the romantic story of Queen Mary spending the bitter hours of imprisonment at her embroidery, that there is a tendency to attribute to her, or at least to associate with her, any piece of early embroidery that has come down through several generations of a Scottish family. One piece of work which has been exhibited more than once as belonging to, if not worked by her, is plainly of the time of Charles I; and even much later pieces than this have been attributed to her. All such attributions should be suspected, and the intrinsic and documentary evidence carefully examined.

One specimen of her work whose authenticity can hardly be doubted is preserved at Hardwick Hall (Plate VII). The spaces formed by the interlacing design are filled with the Lily of France, the Thistle of Scotland and the Rose of England, while on the round panel in the centre the letters of the name Maria have been worked into a monogram and are surmounted with a crown. While the design is a simple one and hardly beyond the power of an amateur designer, there are one or two features—such as the little spiral which occurs between the reticulations—which may point to a more experienced hand, possibly that of Plouvart. Another panel in the possession of the Duke of Devonshire which is attributed to Queen Mary bears in the centre a scutcheon with the arms of Lady Shrewsbury, the well-known Bess of H-Iardwick, in the custody of whose fourth husband Mary was placed. Round the scutcheon, whose length seems to have been added to as if by an afterthought, there is a well-distributed verdure pattern, the leaves and flowers being comfortably adapted to the broken outline of the cartouche in which the scutcheon stands.

From embroidered work of this kind it is a far cry to the petit point hangings in which all the significant episodes of some romantic story are set forth, the figures wearing contemporary costume and decked with jewels and sumptuous patterned fabrics, and the whole drama set in a background in which every curiosity of nature and art is employed to enrich the effect of the whole. Such work must have taxed the skill of the most expert professional embroiderers. Consider the difficulty, for instance, of interpreting with the needle an intricately brocaded silk or velvet draped in folds on a figure in action, where the pattern is constantly broken and distorted by the folds of the drapery, and the colours of the materials have to be perpetually modified to express the light and shade of the puckered fabric. Work so complicated must have demanded not only a highly cultivated sense of drawing, but also an undivided and concentrated attention in carrying out the design, which could hardly have been expected of Queen Mary, with so many sad and anxious thoughts to muse over as she plied her needle.

Two petit point panels which were acquired by Sir Noel Paton at the Murthly Castle sale are now in the Royal Scottish Museum. They are said to represent (a) Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, and (b) Queen Elizabeth receiving an Embassy with a Proposal of Marriage from Philip II of Spain (1559); the two panels are of the same height, and though one is some eight inches longer than the other the composition is so similar that they appear to be intended as a pair, in which case the subjects are rather oddly assorted, and the smaller panel perhaps represents some sixteenth-century historical subject.

The panels mounted on a screen and representing the Story of Rehoboam have been exhibited on several occasions since they came into the possession of Mr. Scott Moncrieff's family. These hangings were very naturally identified with the set, illustrating the same unusual subject, which appears in the inventory made in 1561 of effects belonging to Mary of Guise, and also in the list of goods handed over to James VI in 1578. Investigation, however, showed that a Rehoboam set was recorded in the earlier inventories of 1539 and 1542, and Mr. Scott Moncrieff at once recognised the probability that Mary of Guise's set was the same as that mentioned in the earlier documents, as existing at a date clearly too early for the costume in his own set. He also made a detailed inquiry into the costume in his set, and reached the conclusion that it was probably of a date later, though not much later, than 1561. There is another point. The Rehoboam hangings in the royal inventories are grouped with many others as "Tapestryis," a term properly applied to woven hangings ; and it appears very unlikely that, especially in the Scottish Court, whose vocabulary in such matters closely followed the French usage, small embroideries sewn with the needle would be so described. No doubt the word tapestry was used with a certain latitude, for we read of "ellevin tapestrie of gilt ledder"; but where woven tapestry was not intended, I think the distinction would be clearly expressed. That the tapestries in the royal inventories were hangings of considerable size is further shown by the fact that many of them were eventually made down into bedcovers and bed-curtains, as appears in the list of beds handed over to James VI as "pertening to his hienes' derrest moder."

But though it would have added a historical interest if these hangings could have been identified with the tapestries which belonged to Mary of Guise, still their beauty and interest are inherent and do not depend on documentary evidence. They are undoubtedly of the period of Queen Mary. They came into the present owner's family in 1692, having previously belonged to another Scottish family, so that their early association with Scotland is undoubted, and is confirmed by the use of the thistle as a piece of decoration in the uppermost panel. The number of Scottish houses in the sixteenth century likely to have such finely wrought embroideries was limited, and when we reflect that the story of Rehoboam is one that deals with a royal house in its relations to changes in the national faith, it is by no means improbable that the hangings may have had some connection with Queen Mary, whom such questions of royal policy so closely affected.

Another set of petit point hangings traditionally attributed to Queen Mary is that belonging to the Earl of Morton; and its uninterrupted ownership, from the sixteenth century to the present day, by Regent Morton and his descendants might well seem to support the tradition. But, in the first place, it is impossible that work of such rare beauty and such intricate richness could have been produced by Mary and her ladies, and above all at Loch Leven where there was no artist to execute the design. Mary was only eleven months in Loch Leven. By June, 1568, she had left Scotland. Though it is extremely difficult to deduce an exact time from costume, still the costumes in these hangings appear to be later, rather than earlier, than 1568 ; and if this is so they are hardly likely, supposing them to have been worked by Queen Mary, to have come to Scotland and into the hands of Regent Morton. (Plate VIII).

But there is one line of investigation which might lead to interesting results. While most of the petit point hangings of the period have a strong resemblance to each other in their general character, one finds on comparison that the various examples differ from each other just as sharply as do, for instance, the drawings by different artists in Punch. After careful examination of a large number of such needlework hangings I have found none comparable in draughtsmanship, in the expressive grace and romantic dignity of the figures, and in the resourceful inventiveness of the garden background, with Lord Morton's set. So remarkable are these qualities that one asks who there was among contemporary artists who could have produced such work? And one .remembers the name of Nicholas Hilliard, goldsmith and portrait painter to Queen Elizabeth, of whom Donne wrote:

A hand or eye
By Hilliard drawn is worth a historye
By a worse painter made.

I do not know that there is any evidence that Hilliard designed for embroidery, but it is quite likely that the members of the Broderers' Company, incorporated by Queen Elizabeth in i61, may have applied to the leading artists of the time to supply designs for the petit point panels that just then came into fashion. Hilliard has left a considerable number of miniatures, and there is a couple of drawings by him at the British Museum, one of which is the design for the Great Seal of Ireland; but there is nothing in these to justify one in attributing the design of the Morton hangings to him. One of the best known of the miniatures is that representing George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland, as Queen's Champion; and in this the Champion's scutcheon bears a device consisting of a globe, representing the earth, between a sun "in his splendour"—that is surrounded with rays—in the upper part of the field, and a moon and stars in the lower part. This may be some flattering allusion to Elizabeth, and it is worth noting that the seated figure, which might well be a portrait of Queen Elizabeth, in the central panel of Lord Morton's hangings, wears shoulder pieces showing the device of a sun in his splendour. In connection with this figure and its garden surroundings we may recall Hilliard's description of how, when he "first came in her Highnes presence to drawe," the Queen, in order to avoid all shadows on the face "chosse her place to sit in . . . the open ally of a goodly garden, where no tree was neere, nor anye shadowe at all." If these hangings should represent a series of scenes in some masque written in honour of Elizabeth and perhaps acted at court, it might well have been depicted by Hilliard as painter to the Queen. There are passages in his Arte of Limning in which Hilliard makes it plain that designing of this kind was known to him, though he does not explicitly say that he practised it. He naturally, as a miniature painter, claims a higher place for that art "as a thing apart from all other painting or drawing, and tendeth not to comon mens vsse, either for furnishing of howsses or any patternes for tapistries"; and elsewhere he speaks of portraiture as a thing "which indeed one should not atempt vntill he weare metly good in story work." It is a fair inference that he had some experience in designing such story work as is exemplified in these hangings.

Hilliard devoted much attention to the rendering of jewellery, and in this respect and in all the opulent detail with which every inch of the hangings is covered, the design might very well be that of a goldsmith. But besides such general considerations there are historical facts which seem to support the hypothesis of his connection with this piece of needlework, or which at least make such a connection plausible. In the course of a search into the beginnings of industrial enterprise in Scotland I chanced on this curious and interesting fact, which seems to have escaped the notice of Hilliard's biographers. In the year 1580 a company of adventurers came to Scotland 'with the object of working gold mines in Crawfurd Muir, Lanarkshire, where alluvial gold had been found by earlier enthusiasts. The head of this company was Nicholas Hilliard, who had with him Arnold Bronkhorst, a Flemish painter, as his assistant. It was to Regent Morton that application had to be made for a patent to work the mines, and it seems probable that the applicants would come bearing gifts for those whose favour had to be won. What more likely than that Hilliard should bring a set of these hangings, which were the latest fashion in the great English houses, and which were easily packed up and carried?

Regent Morton refused to grant the concession, although we are told that "the said Bronkhorst became a suitor at least for the space of four months and did not prevail unto this day." Hilliard had meanwhile returned to England having " lost all his chardges and never since got any recompence, to Mr. Hilliard's great hinderance, as he saith, who yet liveth, and confirmeth the same." So Steven Atkirson tells us in his Discoverie and Historie of the Gold Mynes in Scotland, published in 1619, the year of Hilliard's death. Bronkhorst, he says, "was forced to become one of his Majestie's sworne servants at Ordinary in Scotland, to draw all the small and great pictures for his Majesty"; and an original precept at the Register House, signed by James VI, records payment to him for two portraits of the King and one of George Buchanan, with an additional one hundred marks "as an gratitude for his repairing to this countrey."

This story of the gold-mining adventurers at least suggests, as an alternative to the Loch Leven origin of the hangings, which is improbable on account of dates, how this romantic piece of needlework may have come into the possession of the family of Lord Morton. Whether it was designed by Hilliard himself cannot meanwhile be proved. The evidence of the miniatures does not support the ascription, though it is difficult to argue from portrait miniatures, where the artist is closely tied to the realities of his sitters, to storied design, where he is free to indulge his personal conceptions of ideal beauty. One clue that might lead to an identification of the designer is the treatment of the hands, which is very distinctive. The fingers are shown as curved and separated, each with its own action, and the forefinger having more upward spring from the knuckle than the others. There is a set of three small panels at the Victoria and Albert Museum where there is a somewhat similar treatment of the hands, and some of the men's heads are not unlike those in Lord Morton's panels. But the museum set lacks the elegance of drawing and the expressive beauty of the figures in the set we have been examining.


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