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Domestic Annals of Scotland
Reign of James VI. 1603 - 1625 Part G


In the summer of this year, Scotland received a visit from the famous Ben Jonson. The burly laureate walked all the way, notwithstanding a previous hint from Lord Bacon, that ‘he loved not to see Poesy go on other feet than poetical Dactylus and Spondicus.’ Among the motives for a journey then undertaken by few Englishmen, might be curiosity regarding a country from which he knew that his family was derived, his grandfather having been one of the Johnstons of Annandale. He had many friends, too, particularly among the connections of the Lennox family, whom he might be glad to see at their own houses. Indeed, his biographer, Gifford, expressly says he had received from some of these friends an invitation to spend some time amongst them in the north. In September, he was found by Taylor the water-poet, residing with one Mr John Stuart in Leith; and Taylor speaks of him generally as being then ‘among noblemen and gentlemen who knew his true worth and their own honours, where with much respective love he is entertained.’

Among those with whom he had amicable intercourse, was William Drummond, the poet, then in the prime of life, and living as a bachelor in his romantic mansion of Hawthornden, on the Esk, seven miles from Edinburgh. It is probable that Drummond and Jonson had met before in London, and indulged together in the ‘wit-combats’ at the Mermaid and similar scenes. Indeed, there is a prevalent belief in Scotland that it was mainly to see Drummond at Hawthornden that Jonson came so far from home. The story is, that the pilgrim came first to Hawthornden, and was received by Drummond with wonted ceremony, under the Covine Tree—that is, company tree—which still stands on the lawn in front of the house, when their greetings very appropriately took the form of a couplet:

D. Welcome, welcome, royal Ben!
J. Thank ye, thank ye, Hawthornden—

the laureate having already learned to address a Scottish laird by what Scott calls ‘his territorial appellation.’ Be this as it may, we have no authentic notice of any intercourse between the two poets till the commencement of the ensuing year, when they undoubtedly spent a considerable time together, as it was then that they had those Conversations, which, being noted down by Drummond, and published many years after in his Works, have furnished so much food for modern controversy. These memoranda partly relate facts regarding Jonson himself but chiefly report his opinions of his poetical contemporaries, which are generally of a censorious character. Added to them, however, is Drummond’s report on Jonson himself, in these terms: ‘Ben Jonson was a great lover and praiser of himself, a contemner and scorner of others, given rather to lose a friend than a jest; jealous of every word and action of those about him, especially after drink, which is one of the elements in which he lived; a dissembler of the parts which reign in him; a bragger of some good that he wanted; thinketh nothing well done but what either he himself or some of his friends have said or done. He is passionately kind and angry, careless either to gain or keep; vindictive, but if he be well answered, at himself; interprets best sayings and deeds often to the worst. He was for any religion, as being versed in both; oppressed with fancy, which hath overmastered his reason, a general disease in many poets,’ &c. Drummond has been severely blamed for stating so much, even privately, regarding a man whom he treated with all the external marks of friendship; but the censure seems scarcely just. It is not necessarily to be supposed that he was the less sensible of the merits of Jonson, that he also observed his being marked by that vanity, impulsiveness, and irritability which have been remarked in so many poets. Neither may he have loved him the less—possibly he only loved him the more—because of his faults. As to the act of taking such notes, some allowance may be made for a man of literary tastes, living at a distance from the centre of the world of letters, in an age when there were no periodicals to prattle about literary celebrities, or an opportunity occurring of hearing a famous poet talk of his poetical brethren, and of seeing that eminent person revealing his own character.

A letter written by Drummond to Jonson in this very month, and probably only a few days after their conversation, has been preserved :

‘TO HIS WORTHY FRIEND, MR BENJAMIN JONSON.

‘SIR—Here you have that epigram you desired, with another of the like argument. If there be any other thing in this country (unto which my power can reach), command it; there is nothing I wish more than to be in the calendar of them who love you. I have heard from court that the late masque was not so much approved of the king as in former times, and that your absence was regretted—such applause hath true worth, even of those who otherwise are not for it. Thus, to the next occasion taking my leave, I remain

Your loving friend,

WILLIAM DRUMMOND.

January 17, 1619.’

From a consideration of the whole circumstances, it is most likely that Jonson had spent some time in autumn with his Lennox friends, and thus been introduced to the romantic beauties of Loch Lomond, and perhaps also to the romantic sports indulged in by the gentry of its neighbourhood. Certain it is, from Drummond’s report of his conversations, that he designed ‘to write a Fisher or Pastoral Play, and make the stage of it on the Lomond Lake.’ And after he had returned to London, Drummond sent him ‘a description of Loch Lomond, with a map of Inch Merinoch,’ which, he says, ‘may by your book be made most famous.’ It is possible, however, that this description of Loch Lomond and map of Inch Merinoch—one of the many isles in the lake—may have been intended for a prose work, which he also contemplated writing—namely, his ‘Foot Pilgrimage’ to Scotland, which, with a feeling very natural in one who found so much to admire where so little had been known, he spoke of entitling A Discovery. Unfortunately, this work, as well as a poem in which he called Edinburgh

‘The Heart of Scotland, Britain’s other eye;

has not been preserved to us. We can readily see that the work contemplated must have been of a general character, for Jonson wrote to Drummond (London, May 10, 1619), not merely for ‘some things concerning the Loch of Lomond,’ but for copies of. ‘the inscriptions at Pinkie,’ referring probably to the Roman antiquities which had been found in Queen Mary’s time at Inveresk, and also bids him ‘urge Mr James Scott,’ and send ‘what else you can procure for me with all speed.’ The king, he adds, was ‘pleased to hear of the purpose of my book.’ How much to be regretted that we have not the Scotland of that day delineated by so vigorous a pen as that of the author of Sejanus!

The last visit Jonson paid in Scotland was to Drummond at Hawthornden in the month of April, just before his return to London, which, as we see, he had reached before the 10th of May. He lived with Drummond on that occasion three weeks, enjoying, doubtless, the vernal beauties of that romantic spot, as well as the converse of his friend, and the more substantial hospitalities for which, if Drummond be right, he had only too keen a relish. Their parting—which, by Scottish use and wont, would be under the Covine Tree, when royal Ben set out on foot as before to return to London—who but wishes he could picture as it really was! Jonson’s letter of the 10th May, written soon after his arrival in London, and breathing of the feelings which his excursion had excited, may aptly conclude this notice:

‘TO MY WORTHY, HONOURED, AND BELOVED FRIEND,
MR W. DRUMMOND.

‘MOST LOVING AND BELOVED SIR—against which titles I should most knowingly offend, if I made you not some account of myself to come even with your friendship—I am arrived safely, with a most Catholic welcome, and my reports not unacceptable to his majesty. He professed, thank God, some joy to see me, and is pleased to hear of the purpose of my book; to which I most earnestly solicit you for your promise of the inscriptions at Pinkie, some things concerning the Loch of Lomond, touching the government of Edinburgh, to urge Mr James Scott, and what else you can procure for me with all speed. Though these requests be full of trouble, I hope they shall neither burthen nor weary such a friendship, whose commands to me I shall ever interpret a pleasure. News we have none here, but what is making against the queen’s funeral, whereof I have somewhat in hand, that shall look upon you with the next. Salute the beloved Fenton; the Nisbets, the Scott; the Livingstones, and all the honest and honoured names with you, especially Mr James Wroth, your sister, &c. And if you forget yourself, you believe not in

Your most true friend and lover,

BEN JONSON.

LONDON, May 10, 1619.

At the very time when Ben Jonson and John Taylor had the pleasant experiences of the Highlands which are above described and adverted to, sundry parts of that province of Scotland were the scene of lawless violence; which these English poets could not have heard of without horror. M’Ronald of Gargarach, ‘with a band of lawless limmers his assisters and accomplice;’ went about ‘committing murder; slaughters, treasonable fire-raisings, and other insolencies in all parts where they had any mastery or command.’ It was necessary to give his rival and antagonist, Sir Lachlan MacIntosh, a commission "to pursue him to the deid with fire and sword." At the same time, several men of the Clan Campbell, taking advantage of the absence of their chief, the Earl of Argyle, ‘has lately broken louss and goes athort the country, in companies, sorning [upon] and oppressing his majesty’s guid subjects, in all parts where they may be masters.’ The earl, it appeared, had nominated none in his absence ‘to have the charge and burden to retein his clan and country under obedience.’ To, supply this defect, the Council (July 9, 1618) summoned the chief men of the name—the Lairds of Glenurchy, Caddell, Lawers, Auchinbreck, and Glenlyon—to give information about the delinquents, and surety for the future peace of the country. Contemporaneously with these outrages, were others of the like nature committed by ‘a number of vagabonds and broken men of the Clan Donochie (Robertsons),’ particularly in the lands of Simon Lord Fraser of Lovat.—P. C. R.

It may be remarked that the Earl of Argyle had gone abroad, either from dissatisfaction with the rewards assigned him for his putting down of the Macgregors and MacConnel of Kintyre, or because of troubles on account of his debts. To the surprise of his countrymen, he entered the service of Philip III. against the people of the Low Countries, and, by the persuasion of his wife, joined the Church of Rome. The poet Craig thus satirised him:

‘Now, Earl of Guile and Lord Forlorn, thou goes,
Quitting thy prince to serve his Spanish foes:
No faith in plaids, no trust in Highland trews,
Chameleon-like, they change so many hues.’

The king felt as indignant as any, and on the 4th of February 1619, the Privy Council had this ‘shameful defection’ under its notice. It was alleged that the apostate earl not only goes openly to mass, but has associated with ‘auld M’Ranald’ and sundry other exiled rebels. Sundry charges against him having been slighted, the Council now ‘do repute him as a traitor,’ and ordain him to be pursued as such. The earl, who, before leaving his country, had handed over his estates to his son, did not return till he was enabled to do so by the grace of Charles I. in 1638.

Aug 20
Thomas Ross, a man of good family, formerly minister of Cargill, in Perthshire, had gone to Oxford to study; but in a moment of partial lunacy—for the act can be accounted for in no other way—he wrote a libel on the Scottish nation, and affixed it to the door of St Mary’s Church. It spoke in scurrilous terms of the people of Scotland, excepting only the king and a few others, and counselled that the king should banish all Scots from his court. James took the matter in high dudgeon, and had Ross sent down to Scotland, with strict orders to bring him to condign punishment. He was accordingly tried at the date marginally noted, for an act of which the design was assumed to be to have stirred up the people of England ‘to the cruel, barbarous, and unmerciful murdering, massacring, and assassine of the haill Scots people, as well noblemen and councillors as others, attendants about his highness’s royal person in court.’ The unfortunate
satirist professed penitence, and craved mercy, averring that he had been inops mentis at the time of his committing the act. Nothing could avail to save him. His right hand was first struck off, and then he was beheaded and quartered, his head being fixed on a prick at the Nether Bow Port, and his hand at the West Port.—Pit.

Aug 29
Mr John Guthrie, minister of Perth, ‘on ane Sunday after the afternoon’s sermon, married the Master of Sanquhar with Sir Robert Swift’s daughter, ane English knight in Yorkshire. Neither of the parties exceeded thirteen years of age.’—Chron. Perth.

Nov 18
‘About the midst of November, there appeared a prodigious comet in the morning, in the north-east, broad, and stretching with a large tail towards the north-west. It appeared fine and clear some few days in the beginning, and after became more dim and obscure, and vanished away at last in the north. This comet by appearance portended the wars of Germany, which began not long after, and continueth yet to this hour.’—Cal.

Dr Bembridge, ‘a very profound and learned mathematician,’ obliged the king with an account of this comet. He told him it was as far above the moon as the moon is above the earth, and not less than 2,300,000 English miles! Rushworth speaks of it as followed by, first, the Bohemian wars, then the German and Swedish, &c. ‘Dr Bembridge observed it to be vertical to London, and to pass over it in the morning; so it gave England and Scotland in their civil wars a sad wipe with its tail.’ —Foun. Hut. Ob.

This notable comet was observed in Silesia, Rome, and Ispahan. From Skipton’s observations, Halley afterwards computed its orbit. It passed its perihelion on the 8th of November, at little more than a third of the earth’s distance from the sun. On the 9th of December, its tail was 70° in length, being, according to Kepler, the longest that had been seen for a hundred and fifty years.

This comet is also remarkable as the only one, besides another in 1607, which was observable by the naked eye in the first half of the seventeenth century; whereas in other spaces of time of the same extent, as many as thirteen have been detected. The comet of 1607, which is the same with that seen in 1682, 1759, and 1835, and usually known as Halley’s comet, is not mentioned by any of our contemporary chroniclers as having been visible in Scottish skies.

1618, Dec 25
Christmas was observed in Edinburgh at the command of the king, and two churches opened for service; but the attendance was scant. ‘The Great Kirk was not half filled, notwithstanding the provost, bailies, and council’s travels.... The dogs were playing in the flure of the Little Kirk, for rarity of people, and these were of the meaner sort. .. . . Mr Patrick [Galloway] denounced judgments . . . . famine of the word, deafness, blindness, lameness, inability to come to the kirk to hear and see, to fall upon those who came not to his Christmas sermon .‘—Cal.

A few weeks afterwards, Richard Lawson, James Cathkin, and John Mean, merchants, were obliged to appear before the Court of High Commission, accused of ‘not coming to the kirk on Christmas-day, for opening of their booth-doors, walking before them in time of sermon, dissuading others from going to the kirk, and reasoning against preaching on that day. They answered they did nothing of contempt; they reasoned to receive instruction, and to try what warrant others had. They were dismissed, with an admonition to be modest in their speeches and behaviour in time coming.’—Cal.

On Christmas-day 1621, there was service in the Old Kirk in St Giles, which the magistrates and state officials attended; but no other church was open, and Calderwood informs us that ‘one hundred and six booth-doors or thereby stood open ‘—a proof of the general disregard of the festival.

Patrick Anderson, doctor of physic, and who is usually said to have been physician to Charles I., published a tract on the ‘Cold spring of Kinghorn,’ its admirable properties for the cure of sundry diseases. He took care to draw a distinction between the simply natural efficacy of this well and ‘the superstitious mud-earth wells of Menteith, or our Lady Well of Strathern, and our Lady Well of Ruthven, with a number of others in this country, all tapestried about with old rags, as certain signs and sacraments, wherewith they arle the devil.’ He further assured the public that the ‘clear and delicate cauld water’ of this spring, being drunk in great quantity, ‘is never for all that felt in the belly.’ Modern physiologists, it may be remarked, admit the rapid absorption of saline waters by the stomach; and the drinking of nine tumblers before breakfast is at this day not uncommon at Airthry.

Dr Patrick Anderson was the inventor of a pill of aloetic character, which long had a great celebrity in Scotland, and is still in such repute that an agency-office for its sale may be found in both Edinburgh and London. He is the more entitled to some notice here, as our work has been somewhat indebted to a History of Scotland by him, to be found in manuscript in the Advocates’ Library.

At this time, one Thomas Milne was a maker of virginals in Aberdeen—a calling, however, ‘but lately put in practice in the burgh.’ The trade must have been tolerably encouraged, as John Davidson, who had served an apprenticeship under Milne, now proposed to set up for himself. On his exhibiting a pair of virginals of his own making as his ‘master-stick’ before the Council, they gave him the freedom of the burgh without a fee, which he was too poor to pay.—Ab. C. R.

1619, Feb 15
Died, ‘Mr William Cowper, Bishop of Galloway, a very holy and good [man], if he had not been corrupted with superior powers and warldly cares of a bishopric and other such things. He was buried at the south door of the new kirk callit the South Kirk, in the Greyfriars’ Yard, or common burial-place of Edinburgh, whilk kirk was newly completed, and at the funeral sermon consecrated by Mr John Spottiswoode, archbishop of Sanctandrews.’—Jo. H.

Cowper was an eloquent and able man, and had been conspicuous for his zeal against bishops, ‘appearing to all men to hate very much that lordly dignity in a kirkman, comparing them and their godless followers to snuffs of candles, whilk not only is destitute of light, but also casts out a filthy flewrish stink in man’s noses.’ To a former friend, who had accepted a bishopric, he wrote a despiteful letter, telling him he had fallen away and apostatised, and while he still loved himself, he hated his way. Afterwards, ‘perceiving the courses of the bishops daily going forward, and being a proud ambitious man, glorying in his gifts, he began first privately to be social and homely with the bishops, and then, after the Golden Assembly at Glasgow in 1610, perceiving that the bishops had gotten all their intent, he also embraced a bishopric, and (1612) was created Bishop of Galloway.’

Feeling that his conduct had been inconsistent, Cowper wrote an apology, which mainly came to this, that he had got more light than he had before. ‘One answered merrily: "It is true; for now he has upon his table two great candles, whereas before he had but one small candle—other more light I know none."’

In the end, he announced from the pulpit, he would give full satisfaction to all who would come and confer with him. ‘Upon whilk invitation, so many came to him, both in the fields and in his own house, that he was wearied with them.’ [According to the Chronicle of Perth—’ The wives of Edinburgh came in to him, and shewed to him his awn books against friers’ books.’] One person went so far as to charge him with apostasy, and call upon him to prepare an answer shortly to the Judge of all the world. It would appear from what followed that the bishop was by this time out of health. ‘Within a day or two after, being at his pastime [golf?] in the Links of Leith, he was terrified with a vision, or an apprehension; for he said to his playfellows, after he had in an affrighted and commoved way cast away his play-instruments: "I vow to be about with these two men, who have now come upon me with drawn swords!" When his playfellows replied: "My lord, it is a dream: we saw no such thing," he was silent, went home trembling, took bed instantly, and died.’—Row.

Mar 23
It had been a custom of the congregations in Edinburgh to hold a meeting on the Tuesday before the administration of the communion. ‘If anything was amiss in the lives, doctrines, or any part of the office of their pastors, every man had liberty to shew wherein they were offended; and if anything was found amiss, the pastors promised to amend it. If they had anything likewise to object against the congregation, it was likewise heard, and amendment was promised. If there was any variance among neighbours, pains were taken to make reconciliation, that so both pastors and people might communicate in love at the banquet of love.’ On the present occasion, the affair had much the character of a modern public meeting, and the people stood boldly up to their pastors, arguing against the innovations of worship now about to be introduced, particularly kneeling at the sacrament.—Cal.

‘At various times in the year 1621, there were private meetings of ministers and other good Christians in Edinburgh, setting apart days for fasting, praying, and humiliation, crying to God for help in such a needful time; whilk exercises, joined with handling of Scripture, resolving of questions, clearing doubts, and tossing of cases of conscience, were very comfortable. . . . Thir meetings the bishops and their followers, enemies still to the power of godliness and life of religion, hated to the death; and sundry ministers of Edinburgh inveighed against them, under the name of unlawful conventicles, candle-light congregations (because sometimes they continued their exercises for a great part of the night), persecuting them with odious names of Puritans, Separatists, Brownists, &c.’ —Row.

One of the Edinburgh clergy ‘sent to Nicolas Balfour, daughter of umwhile Mr James Balfour, minister of Edinburgh, to advertise her that she was to be banished the town, for entertaining such meetings in her house; and reviled her despitefully, when she came to confer with him.’—Cal.

Mar 28
This day, being Easter Sunday, the communion was administered in the Edinburgh churches for the first time after it had been arranged that the people should kneel on receiving the elements. There being a general disrelish for this new form, the people left the town in great numbers to communicate at country churches where the order was not yet appointed. Of those who attended in town, few willingly knelt besides government officials and pauper dependents on the church contributions. ‘Some were dashed and kneeled, but with shedding of tears for grief.’ In some churches throughout the country, certain persons told the ministers: ‘The dangers, if any be, light upon your soul, not on ours!’ Some departed, ‘beseeking God to judge between them and the minister.’ ‘it is not to be passed over, how that when John Lauder, minister at Cockburnspath, was reaching the bread to one kneeling, a black dog started up to snatch it out of his hand.’—Cal.

On next Easter Sunday, the like disinclination to kneeling was shewn. In the College Kirk, where sixteen hundred people communicated, only about twenty kneeled, and it was thought that none would have done so, ‘if they had not brought the poor out of the hospital, to begin, and give a good example.’ These, ‘being aged, poor, and ignorant persons, durst not refuse;’ yet even of them, some, ‘when they were kneeling, knocked on their breasts and lifted up their hands and eyes.’

While the officers of the government and many others joined cordially in the new arrangements, the bulk of the people revolted from them. Whenever they heard of a church in the country where they might be allowed to communicate sitting, they resorted to it in great numbers; ‘whereupon the auditory of the kirks of Edinburgh became rare and thin.’

On Easter Sunday, 1622, at the communion in the Old Kirk, Edinburgh, ‘among all the two hundred and fifty [communicants] there was not a man of honest countenance but the President, Sir William Oliphant, the Advocate, Sir Henry Wardlaw, the Provost, the Dean of Guild, Dame Dick, the Master of Works’ wife, and two bailies, who communicate not: plaids, gray cloaks, and blue bonnets made the greatest show.’

At the same time, ‘many of the profaner sort were drawn out upon the sixth of May, to May-games in Gilmerton and Roslin; so profanity began to accompany superstition and idolatry, as it had done in former times. Upon the first of May, the weavers in Paul’s Work, English and Dutch, set up a high May-pole, with their garlands and bells hanging at them, whereat was great concourse of people.’— Cal.

Apr 2
John Maxwell of Garrarie—’ane landed gentleman, in the rank of ane baron, worth three thousand merks of yearly rent, and above‘—was, with his son, George Maxwell, tried for the crime of treason. Garrarie had, in a crafty manner, possessed himself of the estate and whole worldly means of John M’Kie of Glashock, who thus became a miserable dependent upon him, almost constantly living in his house. At length, tiring of the company, and probably also of the complaints of the unfortunate Glashock, Garrarie and his son resolved to be rid of him. On the 8th of July 1618, when Glashock was coming by night to the place of Garrarie, the two Maxwells, attended by an armed band of servants, fell upon him, tied his hands and feet, strangled him, and flung his body into a peat-moss.

The accused protested their innocence, and it was necessary twice to postpone proceedings against them, apparently for lack of evidence. Another remarkable circumstance was, that no fewer than seventeen gentlemen of the district incurred fines by failing to appear as jury-men. Notwithstanding these and other impediments, justice asserted its claims, and Garrarie and his son had their heads stricken off at the Cross of Edinburgh, with forfeiture of lands and goods.—Pit.

The period at which we have now arrived, being one of internal peace, is distinguished as the time when the practice of several of the useful arts was first introduced into Scotland. Sir George Hay, the Clerk Registrar—ancestor of the Earls of Kinuoul—a man of talent and intelligence, had set up, at the village of Wemyss, in Fife, a small glasswork, being the first known to have existed amongst us. An ironwork, of what nature we are not informed, was also originated by Sir George.

1619, July 22
The Privy Council informed the king that Sir George Hay had enterprisingly set up works for iron and glass, which for some years he supported at high charges, in hopes of being remunerated by profits. ‘But now he has found, by experience, that all the country dispatch of his glass in ane haill year will not uphold his glassworks the space of ane month.’ It was entreated that the king would allow of Sir George’s glass being sold unrestrainedly in England, and at the same time restrict the exportation of coal into that country. By such means he admitted he had a hope of thriving.—M. S. P.

It would appear that the native manufacture, after all, prospered; for in February 1621, the Privy Council appointed a commission, including Sir George Hay, to meet and confer anent the glassworks, to examine and try the glass, and see that measures were taken for the full supply of the country, so as to save the introduction of foreign glass.

The commission soon after reported that the glassworks at Wemyss were going on satisfactorily. The cradles or cases contained fifteen wisps, each wisp having three tables, three-quarters of a Scots ell and a nail in depth. The glass was fully as good as Danskine glass, though they could wish it to be ‘thicker and tewcher.’ Being less sure of the character of the drinking-glasses produced, they recommended patterns of English glass of that kind to be established in Edinburgh Castle, for trying the sufficiency of Scots glass in all time coming. On the strength of this report, the Council granted the desired monopoly as against foreign glassmakers, on certain conditions, one of which was, that the price of ‘braid glass’ should not exceed ‘twelve punds the cradle.’—P. C. R.

Oct 20
Before this time, soap was imported into Scotland from foreign countries, chiefly from Flanders. It was estimated that the entire quantity brought in was about a hundred and twenty lasts. The king now gave a patent to Mr Nathaniel Uddart for the manufacture of soap within the country, and Mr Nathaniel accordingly raised a goodly work at Leith, furnishing it with all matters pertaining to the business. Before he had been at work two years (June 21, 1621), he petitioned the Privy Council that foreign soap should be prohibited, professing to be able himself to furnish all that was required for the use of the country people, and thus save money from being sent out of the country—a piece of false political economy much in favour, as we have seen, in those days. The Privy Council, after taking some pains to ascertain the character of ‘Mr Nathaniel his soap,’ and becoming convinced that he could furnish the quantity needful, granted the prohibition requested, but not without fixing down the native manufacturer at a maximum price. This was decreed to be £24 per barrel for ‘green soap,’ and £32 per barrel for ‘white soap,’ each barrel to contain sixteen stone.

If we are right in considering the stone at 17.19 pounds avoirdupois, and the last as containing twelve barrels, the estimated amount of regularly manufactured soap annually used in Scotland at that time might be approximately 400,880 pounds. In 1845, taking its consumption of the same article as one-seventh of that of Great Britain, Scotland consumed about twenty-seven million pounds!

Matters had not proceeded upon the footing of protection for above two years, when complaints became rife as to the inconveniences sustained by the lieges. The merchants of Edinburgh felt it as a grievance that their traffic for soap with the Low Countries was interrupted; They also complained of the quality of the article produced at Leith. The merchants of Dumfries and other distant ports groaned at being obliged to carry soap a long land-journey from Leith, when they could have it brought by ships direct to their doors. In short, it was not to be borne.

The Lords of Council took pains to inform themselves of the whole matter. They also had a letter from the king testifying his ‘dislike of this and others the like restraints, as being a mean to overthrow traffic and to destroy commerce.’ Being now satisfied that Uddart’s privilege was ‘hurtful to. the commonweal,’ and that ‘the subjects has not been so commodiously furnist with the soap made by the said Mr Nathaniel as formerly they were with foreign soap,’ they decreed (July 1623) that the restraint should terminate in a year, or sooner, if he should produce an inferior or dearer article.—P. C. B.

1620, Mar 30
While the struggle was going on between the Episcopalian and Presbyterian principles, there was a small group of Edinburgh citizens, including the booksellers Cathkin and Lawson, who took a lead in opposing the new practices, and standing up against the dictates of the High Commission. Deeply impressed with evangelical doctrine, and viewing all ceremonies as tending to the corruption of pure religion, they were disposed to venture a good way in the course they entered upon. Their wranglings in the kirk-session against ministers of the court fashion, and their earnest private exercises, were fully known to the king; but he bore with them till they began to lend countenance and active help to the few refractory ministers who fell under the ban of the bishops. He then, at the date noted, ordered them to be removed as ‘evil weeds’ from Edinburgh—William Rig, merchant, and James Cathkin, bookseller, to Caithness; Richard Lawson, to Aberdeen; Robert Meiklejohn, skinner, to Dunkeld; John Mean, to Wigton in Galloway; and Thomas Inglis, skinner, to Montrose. This was a great stretch of power in a country professedly under regular laws; and even the state-officers felt it to be so. After some dealings, in the course of which the clergy were eager to negative a suspicion of their having sent the names of the men to the king, the archbishop of St Andrews said he would intercede for them, and meanwhile stayed further proceedings. In the end, the offence of the Edinburgh patriots was passed over for this occasion .—Cal.

The Edinburgh pulpits were at this time filled with men wholly devoted to the Episcopalian system, and such of the people as were strenuous for the Presbyterian model, had to act not merely without clerical leaders, but in despite of clerical opposition. As a specimen of the spirit of these metropolitan clergy—’ Mr William Struthers (January 9, 1619) made a sermon in the Little East Kirk, whilk, by all the holy divines in Scotland, was judged rather to have been a discourse of hateful passion nor a sermon of a charitable divine or loving theologue. For the most part of his haill discourse consisted in calling Christ’s flock of Edinburgh a pack of cruel people, seeking the overthrow of their ministry; calling them also the authors of the Seventeenth of December.’ . .. He also alleged the doings of the good town of that day till be in all histories a foul blot to them for ever. He alleged the people were bund to follow him and the rest of his brethren the ministers, and to do all things that they bade them do, calling the ministers the heid, and the people the tail, and whatever the ministers as the heid spak, it was good and savoury, and whatever, the tail or the people spak was unsavoury, adding thereto that the language of the tail was deir of the hearing This sermon made me and all the hearers thereof tremble for fear to behold fit untruth spoken in the chair of verity ‘—Jo. H.

May 3
It has been seen that horse-racing was, from an early time, practised as a public amusement at various places in Scotland. One of these, not formerly noticed, was Paisley. A silver bell of four ounce weight was made in 1608 to serve as a prize for the Paisley race: such was in those days the accustomed prize at a race, giving rise to the proverbial expression—’He bore off the bell.’ It may be remarked, however, that the winner of a silver bell at a race did not obtain it as permanent property, but only for a year’s keeping, as is customary with the silver arrows and silver clubs now played for by archery and golfing societies.

At the date noted, the Town Council of Paisley, under the guidance of their provost, the Earl of Abercorn, arranged that their annual horse-race should be run on the 6th of May, ‘to be start at the gray stane called St Cormel’s Stane, and frae that richt east to the little house at the causeyend of Renfrew, and frae that the king’s highway to the Wall-neuk of Paisley; and what horse first comes over the score at . . . . Renfrew, sall have ane double angel; and the horse and master thereof that first comes over the score at the Wall-neuk of Paisley, sall have the said bell with the said burgh’s arms thereon, for that year, together with the rest of the gold that sall be given with the said bell . . . . except ane double angel that sall be given to the second horse and his master that comes next over the score to the foremost. . . .‘ The horses and their owners to gather at Paisley in good time before the race, and the riders to be weighed at the Tron of the burgh. It was also arranged that there should be ‘an aftershot race . . . . frae ane score at the slates of Eilerslie to ane other score at the causeyhead of the burgh of Paisley, by horse of the price of ane hundred merks. . . . for ane furnished saddle, whilk sall be presented by the said bailies of Paisley present and to come at the score of the said causey-head.’

Patrick Anderson, a native of Ross-shire, and nephew of the celebrated Bishop Lesly, had risen by learning and talent to be head of the Scots College at Rome. This situation he left in order to add his exertions to those which a number of his co-religionists were making, at the hazard of their lives, for the recovery of Scotland from what they called the Calvinistic heresy. Dempster speaks of him as ‘moribus innocens ac fide integer,’ and tells us he had no superior in mathematics and theology. Such as he was, he threw himself into this mission with a zeal and gallantry which no generous opponent could now dispute, but which was regarded in the Scotland of his own day as only a diabolic mania for the turning of living souls to death and perdition.

May 18
Poor Patrick had not practised long, when he was apprehended with his mass-clothes, books, and papers, and committed to prison as a trafficking Romish priest. He owned to the fact of his having performed mass sundry times, but would not tell in whose houses. In the ensuing October, a brother-missionary, an Irishman, named Edmund Cana, was apprehended, along with a younger brother, ‘who carried his mass-clothes, a portable altar, a flagon of wine, and other requisites necessar for the mass.’—Cal.

Possibly, King James had heard of the merits of Father Anderson as a man of learning, and felt some sympathy for him; perhaps the French ambassador made friendly intercession in his behalf. However it was, after the Father had suffered nine months’ imprisonment, the king came to the resolution to shew him some mercy. At his command, the Privy Council liberated the Father from prison, with a suit of good clothes, and some money in his pocket, on condition that he should leave Scotland, and return no more; otherwise, he would be liable to capital punishment. It was enjoined upon the provost and bailies of Edinburgh that they should ‘try and speir out some ship bown from the port of Leith towards France or Flanders; and when the ship is ready to lowse, that they tak the said Patrick Anderson furth of their Tolbooth, carry him to the ship, and deliver him to the skipper, and see him put aboard of the ship; and that they give a strait command and direction to the skipper that the said Anderson be not sufferit to come ashore again till their arrival at their port in France or Flanders, where they sall put him a-land, and sall report a certificate from the magistrates of the town or port where they land, that the said Anderson was set ashore there.’ ‘—P. C. B.

The Catholic Church was at this time anxiously set upon the recovery of Scotland; and many were they who devoted themselves to the work. We are now disposed to wonder, not merely how so many men were induced to risk their lives in this mission, but how they should have expected to produce conversions in a field so inveterately Protestant. There were, however, some encouraging precedents. It was but recently that St Francis of Sales had brought thousands of the Swiss Calvinists back to the bosom of the church. He and his cousin, Lewis de Sales, entered a Protestant canton in September 1594, amidst the tears and remonstrances of their friends, who believed their task impracticable, as well as dangerous. In the course of a very few years, says Alban Butler, ‘his patience, zeal, and eminent virtue wrought upon the most obdurate, and insensibly wore away their prejudices. It is incredible what fatigues and hardships he underwent in this mission; with what devotion and tears he daily recommended the work of God; with what invincible courage he braved the greatest dangers; with what meekness and patience he bore all manner of affronts and calumnies. In 1596, he celebrated mass on Christmas-day in the church of St Hippolytus at Thonon, and had then made seven or eight hundred converts. In 1598, the public exercise of the Catholic religion was restored, and Calvinism banished by the duke’s orders, over all Chablais and the two bailiwicks of Teni and Guillard.’ At the same time, ‘his extraordinary sweetness, in conjunction with his eminent piety, reclaimed as many vicious Catholics as it converted heretics. The Calvinists ascribe principally to his meekness the wonderful conversions he made amongst them. They were certainly the most obstinate of people at that time near Geneva; yet St Francis converted no fewer than seventy-two thousand of them." Such success in the great stronghold of Calvinism might well engender hopes regarding Scotland, whose determined adherence to the reformed faith had not then been so much tried as we now know it to have been.

June
The tanning of leather may be said to have been introduced into Scotland at this time. About a dozen tanners from Durham, Morpeth, and Chester-le-Street, were brought in, under royal patronage, in order ‘to instruct the tanners and barkers of the kingdom in the true and perfect form of tanning.’ They were invested with certain privileges, and distributed to various parts of the kingdom. It was hoped through this means that much money, which was usually spent on foreign leather, would now be kept within the kingdom.

Unfortunately for the success of this reformation, a tax was put upon the leather—four shillings Scots per hide for the first twenty-one years, and thereafter one penny. The consequence was a grievous discontent among the cordwainers, who everywhere did what in them lay to thwart his majesty’s design. ‘To steir the people up to exclaim against it, they have very extraordinarily raised the prices of boots and shoon, to twenty shillings or thereby the pair of boots, and six shillings or thereby the pair of shoon, more nor was paid before;’ thus oppressing the whole country, and particularly the poorer sort of people, besides slandering the king and his Council. In January 1622, the Privy Council dealt with a complaint that many of the tanners throughout the country, disregarding the obvious benefit to themselves and the commonwealth from the new modes, continued the old practice of letting their leather remain but a short time in the pots, and then bringing it to market in a raw state. By way of a stimulus to these persons, a certain number of them were proclaimed rebels.

Oct
At this time, the Earl of Sutherland being a minor, and the family resources much reduced, the inhabitants of the district ‘did shew themselves exceeding loving and thankful to their Master and superior; for not only did they give a general contribution—every one according to his estate and ability—for defraying of his sister’s portion, who was now to be married to the Laird of Pitfoddels, but also they yielded a voluntary yearly support to the earl and his two brothers’ fitter maintenance at the university for the space of five years. So much did they value and regard the education and good-breeding of him who was to govern and command them, knowing how much it doth concern every state and country to have weel-bred and wise superiors; which good-will and course of theirs was exceedingly weel thought of by the Earl of Sutherland and his greatest friends.’—G. H. S.

We find it noted that in this year a pearl was found in the burn of Kellie, a tributary of the Ythan, Aberdeenshire, so large and beautiful that it was esteemed the best that had at any time been found in Scotland. Sir Thomas Menzies, provost of Aberdeen, obtaining this precious jewel, went to London to present it to the king, who, in requital, ‘gave him twelve or fourteen chalder of victual about Dunfermline, and the custom of merchant goods in Aberdeen during his life." It has been reported that this pearl was inserted in the apex of the crown of Scotland.

Apparently this circumstance called the king’s attention to the old repute of certain Scottish rivers for the production of pearls. In January 1621, we find the Privy Council adverting to the fact, that the seeking for pearls had for many years been left to interlopers, who pursued their vocation at unseasonable times, and thus damaged the fishery, to the hurt of his majesty’s interest, he having an undoubted right to all pearls, as he had to all precious metals found in his dominions. Being now inclined to take up pearl-seeking on his own account, he issued a proclamation for the preservation of ‘the waters wherein the pearls do breed;’ and, took measures to have the fishery conducted on a regular plan ‘no pearls to be socht or taken but at such times and seasons of the year when they are at their chief perfection both of colour and quality, whilk will be in the months of July and August yearly.’ The Privy Council commissioned three gentlemen to protect the rivers, and ‘nominat expert and skilful men to fish for pearls at convenient seasons;’ one gentleman for the rivers of Sutherland, another for those of Ross, and another (Mr Patrick Maitland of Auchincroch) for the waters Ythan and Don. The gentleman just named was further made commissioner ‘for receiving to his majesty’s use, of the haill pearls that sall be gotten in the waters within the bounds above written, and who will give reasonable prices for the same; the best of the whilk pearls for bigness and colour he sall reserve to his majesty’s awn use.’

Patrick Maitland gave up his commission in July 1622, and it was then conferred on Robert Buchan, merchant in Aberdeen, who was reputed to be skilful in fishing for pearls, and ‘hath not only taken divers of good value, but hath found some to be in divers waters where none were expected.’—P. C. B.

Among the acts of the first parliament of Charles I. was one for the ‘discharge of Robert Buchan’s patent of the pearl and other monopolies.’ Since then, there has occasionally been successful fishing for pearls in this river; it is said that ‘about the middle of the last century, a gentleman in Aberdeen got £100 for a lot of pearls found in the Ythan.’ The mouth of the river has a great muscle and cockle fishery, and is accordingly the haunt of an extraordinary variety and quantity of sea-fowl. In summer, when the water is low, school-boys often amuse themselves by going in search of pearls, feeling with their toes for the shell, which is distinguished by its curved shape, and griping it when found with a kind of forceps at the end of a long stick.

1621, Feb 6
The church historian Calderwood notes the occurrence of three fires in Edinburgh in one day as being regarded by the people as ‘foretokenings of some mischief.’ ‘About the same time,’ he adds, ‘there came in a great whale at Montrose; which was also apprehendit to be a forerunner of some trouble.’

Mar 1
On a complaint that coal had risen to eight shillings the load, the Privy Council had interfered in the usual rash manner, and dictated a certain maximum price to be exacted for the article; namely, seven shillings the load—that is, horse-load; for coal was borne at this time, and for a long time after, on horseback. Certain coal-proprietors—Alexander, Master of Elphinstone; Samuel Johnston of Elphinstone; Sir James Richardson of Smeaton; Robert Richardson of Pencaitland; Jonet Lawson, Lady Pawside; and David Preston of Whitehill—now petitioned, setting forth that the cost of mining coal had greatly risen of late years, and that the dearth of the article to the public was much owing to the base fellows who act as carriers of coals. It was represented that some of the proprietors of ‘coal-heughs’ were £10,000, and some even £20,000 out of pocket. The Master of Elphinstone’s coal of Little Pawside had been on fire for several years; another mine of the same owner had caused an outlay of £8000. The Smeaton pits had been so unproductive for some years as scarcely to supply the laird’s house. The coal of Elphinstone had proved for nine years barren, and 20,000 merks had been sunk upon it, being more than it promised ever to repay. The coal of Mickle Pawside bad undone the late bird’s estate, and ‘made him to sell ane part of his auld heritage:’ what with fire on the one hand and water on the other, it was a hopeless case. As for the coal of Pencaitland, it was wasted and decayed, past hope of recovery, but at such extraordinary charges as it was not worth having bestowed upon it. The basis of the evils complained of lay with the coal-carriers, who dealt fraudulently with the public. Had the particulars been rightly known, the lords, it was assumed, would never have given a decreet against the complainers, ‘who are gentlemen of grit charge and burden,’ overlooking the faults of those base fellows who carry coals.

The lords appointed a commission to inquire into the matter, and report what prices they thought ought to be fixed for this necessary article. In consequence of a report soon after given in by this commission, it was ordained that the price of coal at ‘the hill’ should be 7s. 8d. (7 2/3d. sterling) per load; and it was at the same time agreed that a measure for the load and a charge for carriage should afterwards be appointed.—P. C. R.


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