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The Scot Abroad
Chapter 2 - Part 2


Passing from the great houses which were royal, or nearly so, the researches of M. Michel have brought out a vast number of Scotsmen of the more obscure families, whose condition was materially improved, to say the least of it, by migration to La Belle France. Conspicuous for his good fortune among those who had reason to lament the kindly King Charles VII., was Nicholas Chambers, écuyer d’ecurie du roi, who, in 1444, obtained the seigneury of Guerche, in Touraine, the district of the Douglases. Then follow certain Coninglants, Coigans, Coningans, Cogingands, and Conyghans, clustered together as variations on Cunningham; to these are set down certain gallant achievements, escapes, and fatalities, but nothing very specific for the genealogist, until one of them is run to earth in acquiring the lands of Arcenay, in Burgundy, by union with the heiress, Martha of Louvois. After this the family is traced through many distinguished members to the first Revolution, when it disappears; but it reappeared, it seems, in 1814, and is supposed still to exist.

In tracing the alliances of the Lords of Arcenay, another Scots family of like origin turns up in the marriage of one of them to Marguerite de Humes, daughter of Jean de Humes, Seigneur de Chérisy. This Jean’s mother was the daughter of a Guillauine Stuart, supposed to be of Scots origin; and his grandmother, before her marriage to his grandfather Humes, had been the widow of a George de Ramsay, "probablement Ecossais mi-memo," as M. Michel says.

Next come the Quinemonts or Kinninmonds, also established in Burgundy and Touraine. Their estate in Touraine alone may stand as a sample of the lists, long to tediousness, of the domains attached to the names of Scots families by the French heralds. They were Seigneurs "de Saint-Senoch, de la Roche-Aymer, de Varennes, des Cantelleries, de Baugé, de la Guénerie, de la Houssière, de Vauguétin, de Paviers," &c.

Next in order comes La Famille Gohory. To them L’Hermite-Souliers dedicates a chapter of his ‘History of the Nobility of Touraine,’ wherein he derives them from the Gori of Florence; but M. Michel triumphantly restores them to their true distinction as Scots Gorrys or Gowries. Among the noble houses of Touraine, follows that of Helye Preston de la Roche Preston, married to Dame Eleanor Desquartes, eminent in its own province from its nobility, and illustrious as the stock of the great Descartes. It is questioned whether the husband was a son of Edward Preston, who took to wife Pregente d’Erian, or of Laurent Preston, married to another daughter of the same house. These Erians seem to have had a decided partiality for the bonny Scots, since the widow of Edward Preston married the Seigneur of Poncesu and La Menegauderie, who, having been an archer of the Scots Guard under the name of De Glais, is with reasonable probability supposed to have been a Douglas from Scotland; while another daughter is allied to the Seigneur de la Guenaudière, named Mauriçon, supposed to be a form of Morrison. There are still among other branches of the D’Erian race "plusieurs alliances avec des gentilshommes Ecossais de la garde du roi." One falls to Guillaume Dromont or Drummond, another to Guillaume le Vincton—.the nearest approach which French spelling and pronunciation can make to Swinton, though one might think it more akin to Livingston. Another is destined to Henri de Crafort or Craufurd, Sieur de Longchamp et de la Voyerie.

Passing from the husbands of the D’Erians, the next Scot endowed by marriage is André Gray, a name that speaks for itself. There are two noble archers of the Guard called Bourtic—probably they were Bourties, the difference being a clerical error rather than a corruption; and these are followed by a group of distinguished Livingstons converted into Lévistons.

Passing into Champagne, we have the coats armorial and some genealogical particulars of the houses of Berey, D’Handresson, Locart, Tournebulle, and Montcrif—the origin of these is obvious. The last was probably an ancestor of that Moncriff who shines so brilliantly among the wits of the Grimm and Diderot school—one of the forty immortals of the Academy, and a popular dramatist. The next name does not so obviously belong to us—Val-Dampierre — and one can only take M. Michel’s word for it. It may perhaps be resolved into its familiar original by a process such as that applied to its owner’s neighbour as a great territorial lord in the land of vineyards—namely, the Sieur Devillençon. When we go back a step to Vullençori, and then to Villamson, something not unfamiliar dawns upon us, and at last we are landed in the homely surname of Williamson—very respectable in many instances, but distinguished among ourselves by no greater celebrity than that of poor Peter Williamson, who was kidnapped and sold as a slave in the plantations, whence he escaped to tell his adventures to the world.

It is quite delightful to see how this ordinary plant flourishes and blooms in Champagne. According to traditions of the family, collected by La Chenaye-Desbois, Thomas Williamson, second of the name, archer of the Guard in the reign of Charles VIII., was allied to the royal house of Stewart. This may be true, but it was a current mot among the French of old that every Scotsman was cousin to the king. Whatever they may have been, however, the Williamsons or D’Oillençons, with many territorial branches, clustered round "les terres de Saint-German-Langot, de Lonlai-le-Tesson, et de la Nocherie." They preserved their highly characteristic native motto, "Venture and win," which had, no doubt, been their guiding principle from generation to generation. Their blazon, too, is ambitious, and strange to behold: a double-headed eagle, like the Austrian, grasping in its claws something like a small beer-barrel; in scientific language—a spread eagle argent, membered and beaked, poised on a casquet of the same, hooped argent.

It would be easy to cull similar particulars about the house of Maxuel, Herisson, or Henryson, metsmorphosing itself into D’Arson; Doddes or Dods; Estud from Stud, a name now scarcely known among us; the De Lisles, viscounts of Fussy, who are identified with our northern Leslies; Vaucoys, which is identified with Vauxe or Vans; Lawson, which turns itself into De Lauzun; D’Espences or Spences, who further decorate their simple native surnames with the territorial titles, De Nettancourt, de Bettancourt, de Vroil and de Villiers-le-Sec, de Launoy-Renault, de Pomblain, de Vile Franche, de St Sever, and many others. Surely the Spences, left behind in cloudy, sterile Scotland, ploughing sour moorlands, or drawing meagre profits from the retail counter behind the half-door of the burgh town, would have found it hard to recognise their foreign cousins fluttering thus among the brilliant noblesse of sunny France.

The changes, indeed, which our harsh, angular surnames undergo to suit them to the lazy liquid flow of the French utterance, are such as to give tough and tantalising work to the genealogical investigator; and it is difficult to appreciate the industry which M. Michel has bestowed in the excavation of separate families and names from the great mass of French genealogical history. We all know the lubricity of the French language at this day in the matter of names, and how difficult it is to recognise the syllables of one’s own name even where it is read off from one’s own visiting-card, if the reader be a Frenchman. Such a name as Halliday is easily reclaimable, even though its owner may flame in the territorial patronymic of Vicomte de Pontaudemer. Folcart and Le Clerk are resolvable into Flockhart and Clerk. In deriving D’Anglars from Inglis, however, as others have done, M. Michel acknowledges that the circuit is considerable, if not impracticable: "La distance nous parait trop grande pour qu’un rapprochement soit possible." The name of William Stuyers, too, puts him at defiance, although in an old writ he is mentioned as an officer of the Guard, and designed a "natif du royaume d’Escosse." Sinson is, without much stretching, traced to Simpson. The name Blair appears in its native simplicity, only attaching itself to the titles Fayolles and L’Estrange, in preference to the territorial titles of Pittendriech or Balthayock enjoyed by the most eminent members of the house in Scotland. Wauchop transposes itself into Vaucop and Vulcob. Perhaps, however, the respectable but not dignified name of Monypenny owes the greatest obligation to change of climate. Even in its own original shape, when transferred to a country where it does not signify a large store of copper coinage, it floats down the mellifluous flood of the noblesse quite naturally in company with the territorial titles of Varennes and Concressant; but when altered into Menypeny, it might return home, as indeed it did, in the possession of a French ambassador, without risk of detection. The change is but slight, and shows how much may be accomplished by the mere alteration of a letter in removing vulgar and sordid associations.

Another remarkable type of the Scots emigrant families is that of Blackwood. It suffers little more by transference than the necessary remedy for the want of the w, in which it partakes with the royal house of Stewart. The French Blackwoods were of the later Scots emigrants fleeing from the Reformation, and their rewards in the country of their adoption were rather from offices than from lands. It would be difficult to find the distinction between the territorial aristocracy and the noblesse of the Robe better exemplified than in comparing the fortunes of the Blackwoods with those of the other families just spoken of. Adam Blackwood, the head of the house, held a judicial office which gave him the title of Conseiller au siege de Poitiers. His grandfather fell at Flodden. His father had been killed in the wars of Henry VIII., probably at Pinkie, when he was ten years old, and his mother died soon after, a widow broken-hearted. The boy, tended by relations whose religion gave them more influence in other countries than at home, was sent early abroad. He became a thorough Frenchman, studying at Paris, and spending his days at Poitiers. He was a champion of the old Church and the divine right of kings, and wrote with the controversial vehemence of the age against the opinions promulgated by Buchanan in his ‘De Jure Regni apud Scotos.’ But that for which he chiefly claims remembrance is his ‘Martyre de la Royne d'Escosse, Douairiere de France,’ &c., with an account of the "mensonges, calomnies, et faulses accusations dressées contre ceste tresvertueuse, trescatholiqne et tresillustre princesse." It is most easily to be found in the reprint of tracts on Queen Mary, by Jebb. Blackwood hit the key-note of that kind of chivalrous rejection of sublunary testimony, and deification of the accused, which have characterised the subsequent vindicators of Queen Mary’s innocence; and there is in his resolute singleness of purpose, and energy of championship, the charm which, when one can forget the facts, pervades the writings of this class. Blackwood married Catherine Courtinier, daughter of the Procureur du Roi of Poitiers. She bore to him four sons and seven daughters—a progeny so abnormal in France, that it induces M. Michel to express admiration at his continuing the pursuit of letters, "malgré ses devoirs de magistrat, d’époux, et de père." He published a collection of pious meditations in prose and verse, of which M. Michel tells us that, paying a visit to London, where he was presented at court, King James showed him a copy of his ‘Meditations’ in the royal library. One of Blackwood’s sons became a judge at Poitiers. His son-in-law, George Crichton, was professor of Greek "an college de France." His brother Henry taught philosophy in the University of Paris; another brother, George, "fit un chemin assez brillant dans l’église de France."

This was a method of enrichment which could not give a territorial hold to a family; and whether it was from a distaste towards acquisitions which could not be made hereditary, or to difficulties in the way of a foreigner rising in the Church, it is observable that the ecclesiastical is the department in which the Scots took the least portion of the good things going in France. Yet some of them drew considerable temporal prizes in the profession which deals with our eternal destiny. A certain priest named John Kirkmichael, or Carmichael, seems to have had an eventful history, of which but the outline remains. As he is said to have escaped from the carnage of Verneuil, it is to be presumed that he fought there, and was not in orders. But he afterwards became Bishop of Orleans, and is known in French ecclesiastical history as Jean de St Michel. It is a question whether it is he who established in his cathedral church the messe écossaise for his countrymen slain at Verneuil. The great Cardinal Beaton, Bishop of Mirepaux, was an ecclesiastical prince in France, whence great portion of his lustre was reflected on his own poor country. His nephew James, a far worthier man, had a different career, spending his old age in peace among his French endowments, instead of coming home to fall in the wild contests of his native land. He was employed as Queen Mary’s ambassador in France, and continued ever faithful to her cause. He saw, as the shadow of the change of rule and religion in his own country, a like change come over the fortunes of the Scot in France. His countrymen were now no longer adventurers seeking the region best fitted for pushing their fortunes, but poor refugees seeking bread or a place of hiding and refuge. Yet a gleam of patriotic feeling came over the old man when he heard from his retirement that the son of his old mistress—heretic though he was—had succeeded to the broad empire of Britain; and he caused fire on the occasion certain feux de joie at St Jean de Lateran.

Several of the Kennedys, predominant among the hard-fighting clans near the Border, obtained distinctions in France, where the sharp contour of their name was smoothened into Cenedy. Thomas de Houston is pleased to accept from Louis XL the seigneury of Torcy in Brie, in place of the châtellenie of Gournay, which he resigns. Robert Pittillocb, a Dundee man, seems to have first entered the service in the humblest rank, and to have worked his way up to be captain of the Guard, and to enjoy the nickname of Petit Roi de Gascogne, along with a more substantial reward in the lordships of Sauveterre. One could go on at great length with such an enumeration, but it is apt to be tiresome. This is not intended as a work of reference or a compendium of useful knowledge, and I must refer the reader who, either for historical or genealogical purposes, wishes to find all that is known about the settlements of the Scots families in France, to go to M. Michel’s book.

The names and titles thus casually brought together, will serve to show how thoroughly reviving France was impregnated with good Scots blood. The thorough French aristocratic ton characterising the numerous territorial titles enjoyed by the adventurers, may strike one who meets the whole affair for the first time as mightily resembling the flimsy titles by which men of pretension beyond their caste try to pass themselves off for somebodies. But everything about these Scots was real and substantial, in as far as the fortunes they achieved were the fruit of their courage and counsel, their energy and learning. The terrible slaughter among the French aristocracy in the English battles made vacancies which came aptly to hand for the benefit of the enterprising strangers, and of course they could not do otherwise than adopt the custom of the country, with its complex system of territorial titles, in which men’s proper names got swamped and buried, in so far that half-a-dozen Frenchmen, all brothers born of the same father and mother will be commemorated under names totally distinct.

It was during the hundred years’ war that this colony, as it might almost be termed, of Scots settled in France. The affair bears a striking resemblance to the influx of Northmen, or Normans, five hundred years earlier, with this grand distinction, that these came as enemies and depredators, seizing upon their prey, while the Scots came as friends and champions, to be thankfully rewarded. The great similarity of the two migrations is in the readiness with which both sets of men settled down, assimilating themselves with the people. The assimilation, however, was not that of slave or follower in the land of adoption—not even that of equal, but partook of leadership and guidance. Both were received as a sort of aristocracy by race and caste; and hence it came to be a common practice for those who were at a loss for a pedigree to find their way to some adventurous Scot, and stop there, just as both in France and England it was sufficient to say that one’s ancestors came in with the Normans.

Colbert, who has left his mark on history as the most powerful of financiers, when he became great, got the genealogists to trace his family back to the Scots, as many a man in England, on rising to distinction, has spanned over intervening obscurities and attached his pedigree to a follower of the Norman. The inscription, indeed, on his Scottish ancestor’s tomb will be found in. Moreri—

"En Escosse j’eus le berceau,
Et Rheims m’a donné le tombeau."

Molière professed Scots descent, to cover, as the invidious maintained, the vulgarity of the sound of his paternal name of Poquelin. A mystery worth clearing up surrounds a suggestion sometimes made about the great Sully, that he professed relationship with the Beatons of Scotland to bring him rank. What makes such hints appear rather invidious is, that he claimed for his own family of Bethune a lustre which could get no aid from Scotland. He arrogated descent for it from the house of Austria, and specifically warned the public against the supposition that he meant the existing imperial house of Hapsburg, whose ancestors were but private gentlemen a century or two ago—his ancestors were of the old reigning house. There seems, however, to have been some hitch in his pedigree; for, in the notes to the common editions of his memoirs, allusion is made to a process "unjustly" disputing his right to bear the name of Bethune, in which a writer on his side mentions his connection with the Beatons of Scotland; and M. Michel cites from a standard genealogical and heraldic authority the dictum that the Bethunes were of Scottish origin. So little, by the way, did Sully know of the geographical relations of the archbishop, that he speaks of his diocese of Glasgow as a place in Ireland.

To return to the comparison with the Normans. Sir Francis Palgrave set all his learning to work with sedulous diligence to find out some of the antecedents, in their own northern land, of the illustrious houses of Normandy and England, but without success; all was utter darkness, as if one had passed from the unsetting sun into the arctic winter. The failure was more instructive than many a success. It showed emphatically how those brilliant adventurers, the Frenchest of the French, had cast their chrysalis when they spread their wings in the new land of their adoption. And somewhat similar it seems to have been with our Scots, who at once take their place with all proper national characteristics in the fastidious aristocracy of the most polished people in the world, preserving no traces of the influence of their native bogs and heaths and hard upbringing, and equally hard uncouth phraseology.

On one point, however, the Scots must have differed from their Scandinavian prototypes—they must have owned to pedigrees, whether fairly obtained or not The specialty of the Northmen, on the other hand, at the commencement of their career, appears to have been to abjure pedigree with all its vanities, and start as a new race in competition with the old worn-out aristocratic Roman world. The old world professed to despise the rough barbarians of the new; but these gave scorn for scorn, and stood absolutely on their strength, their daring, and their marvellous capacity to govern men. It is among the most singular of social and historical caprices, that the highest source to which, in common estimation, a family can be traced, is that which is sure to come to a stop at no very distant date. Of families not Norman it may be difficult to trace any pedigree beyond the era of the Norman migrations; but of all Norman houses we know that the pedigree stops there absolutely and on principle. The illimitable superiority assumed over the rugged adventurers by the great families of the old world seems not to have rested so much on the specific pedigree of each, as on the fact that they were of the old world—that their roots were in the Roman empire—that they belonged to civilisation. But so utterly had the historical conditions here referred to been inverted in popular opinion, that it was usual to speak of the house of Hanover as in some way inferior to the Stewarts, who, in reality, were mere mushrooms beside the descendants of the Guelphs.

It would be too heavy a responsibility for the most patriotic among us to guarantee the unexceptionable respectability and good conduct of all those countrymen of ours who built up their fortunes under the auspices of our munificent ally. It would be especially perilous to guarantee that they all held that social position at home which they asserted and maintained abroad. All the world knows how difficult it is to adjust the equivalents of rank between nations, and to transfer any person from one social hierarchy into his exact place in another. There are specialties social, hereditary, and official, to be dealt with, some of them having nothing equivalent in the other hierarchy,—some with the same name, but a totally different meaning,—others fictitious or casual in the one, while they have a fixed, distinctive, even legal meaning in the other. To interpret, but far oftener to confuse, these difficult and distracting elements of identification, there are the variations in etiquette, in domestic usage, in costume, in physical condition and appearance, which would all teach towards a certain conclusion were men omniscient and infallible, but lead rather to distraction and blunder in the present state of our faculties. It was one of Hajji Baba’s sage observations, that in England the great personages were stuck on the backs of the carriages, while their slaves or followers were shut inside to prevent their escape. How many people, supposing that in a solemn, bearded, turbaned, and robed Oriental, they have had the honour of an interview with some one of princely rank, have been disgusted with the discovery that they have been doing the honours of society to a barber or a cook!

There are some Eastern titles of mysterious grandeur which are yet far from impressing the auditor with any sense of dignity in their mere sound—as, for instance, Baboo, Fudky, Maulvee, and the like. There is the great Sakibobo, too, of tropical Africa; how would his title sound at a presentation? and how can we translate it into English? To come to Europe, what notion of feudal greatness do we imbibe by hearing of the Captal of Buch, the Vidam of Athens, the Ban of Croatia, and the Stavost of Olxstern? To come nearer home still, what can Garter or Lion make of the Captain of Clanranald, the Knight of Kerry, The O’Grady, and The O’Donoghue? Is it not on record that a great Highland potentate, having in Paris presented a card bearing that he was Le Chef de Clandonochie, was put in communication with the chief of the culinary department of the hotel where he visited? Even some of the best established and most respectable titles have difficulty in franking themselves through all parts of the country. Has not an Archbishop of York been suspected of imposture on presenting his check on a Scotch bank with the signature of Eborac? and have not his countrymen had their revenge on the Scots Judges and their wives, when Mrs Home travelled in charge of Lord Kames, and Lord Auchinleck retired with Mrs Boswell? We may see, in the totally different uses of the same term, how subtle a thing titles are. The Sheriff of Mecca, the Sheriff of London, and the Sheriff of Lanarkshire, are three totally different sorts of personage, and would be troubled how to act if they were to change places with each other for a while. It is said to depend on niceties in its use whether the Persian Mirza expresses a Prince or a mere Mister. But, after all, where can we go for a greater social puzzle within the compass of three letters than in our own Sir, which is at once the distinctive form of addressing royalty, the exclusive title of knightship, the common term which every man gives another in distant polite communication, and an especial form of expressing haughty contempt, when communications are not intended to be polite?

There being thus, in fact, in titles of all sorts, considerable room to come and go upon, it is probable that the Scots adventurers made the best of the very considerable number of rather empty titles scattered over their barren acres. An instance of their assumption has been recorded as a flagrancy. A certain Monteith of obscure origin having got access to Richelieu, the Cardinal asked him which family of Monteiths he belonged to. As the story goes, remembering that his father was a fisherman on the Forth, he said he was "Monteith de Salmonnet;" and the anecdote is verified by the existence of a solid folio volume, first printed in French and afterwards translated into English, being a history of the civil wars of Britain in the seventeenth century, by Robert Monteith de Salmonet—a title as emphatic and distinct as that of the proudest De Chateau Rouge or De la Tremouille. But even this audacious case is not entirely beyond vindication. The right to a cast of a net was a feudal privilege or servitude inheritable by the head of the family, like any seignorial right; and, in a country where people spoke of the succession to the hereditary gardener-ship of the lordship of Monteith, it was not necessarily an act of flagrant imposition to make something dignified out of the piscatory privilege.

The history of almost every man’s rise in the world consists of a succession of graspings and holdings—of positions taken up timidly and uncertainly, and made by degrees secure and durable. In the development of this tendency, it will be the policy of the immigrant to find, for any social title of a dubious or fugitive character which be may enjoy in his own country, some seeming equivalent, but of fixed character and established value, in the land of his adoption. Scotland, with its mixed and indefinite nomenclature of ranks, would thus afford good opportunities for the ingenuous youth transferring himself from his dubious home-rank into something more specific in the symmetrical and scientifically adjusted court precedency of France. The practice of the Lairds and Goodmen of presenting themselves by the territorial names of their estates, with or without their family patronymics, gave an opportunity for rendering the possession something equivalent to the French De and the German Von. The families that had lost their estates adhered to the old title with the mournful pride of deposed monarchs. If these had often the sympathy of their peculiar world with them, yet no one could, with a shadow of justice, blame the actual possessors of the solid acres for also claiming the honours attached to them. John Law of Lauriston, who ruled France for a few months with the capricious haughtiness of an Eastern despot, among the many strange chances which led to his giddy elevation, owed much to that which gave uniformity and consistency to the others—namely, that, although he was an Edinburgh tradesman, his possession of a small estate, happily named, in the neighbourhood of his business, enabled him to take rank in the noblesse. History affords one very flagrant case of the potent uses of the territorial Of. In Galloway there long existed a worshipful family called the Murrays of Broughton. They were not ennobled by a peerage, but belonged to the opulent and proud class of territorial aristocracy who often do not consider the peerage any distinction, and so they were thoroughly entitled to consider themselves within the category of noble in France and Germany. There happened also to be a small croft or paddock on the wayside between Noblehouse and Dumfries called Broughton, and its owner, some say its tenant only, being named Murray, took on himself very naturally and fairly the style and title of Murray of Broughton. Having found his uses in this title, he left it dedicated to perpetual infamy; for he it was who, having incited poor Prince Charles Edward to the Scottish expedition, and by his zeal obtained the office of "Secretary to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales," afterwards used the information he had thus obtained to buy his own personal safety, by bringing his companions in rebellion to the block. So thoroughly had his notoriety impressed on the contemporary mind the notion of his representing the old Galwegian house of Murray of Broughton, that it is believed even by local antiquaries.

It will not do too rigidly to sift the pretensions by which men, young, poor, obscure, and struggling, have sought notice in early life, and found their way to honours and possessions which they have worthily and honourably enjoyed. Imagination is strong and criticism weak in matters of genealogy, and doubtless many of the adventurers who planned and built their fortunes in France, as fully believed themselves cadets of the noblest family bearing their name, as if they had carried with them the certificate of the Lion Office.

Whatever social position the Scottish adventurer might assume, there is little doubt that his claim to be somebody would be pretty substantially maintained by the proud reserve which naturally belongs to his race. We can, in fact, see at the present day the qualities which made the fortunes of these men. These qualities are now exercised in another sphere—in England, in the colonies, and especially in our Indian empire, where Scotsmen are continually rising from obscurity into eminence. On the brow of the industrious crofter on the slopes of the Grampians we may yet see the well-becoming pride and self-respecting gravity that, in the fifteenth century, took the honours and distinctions of France as a natural right. Whence comes his pride? He has no rank—he is poor—and he is no representative of an illustrious house. No, but he is founding a house. He rises up early, and late takes rest, that his son may go to college and be a gentleman; and when he reads contemporary history in the public press, he knows that the grandfather of the eminent law lord, or of the great party leader, or of the illustrious Eastern conqueror, whose name fills the ear of fame, laboured like himself in the fields close at hand.

It may be surely counted not without significance among ethnical phenomena, that though France has all along shown in her language the predominance of the Latin race, three infusions of northern blood had been successively poured into the country; first, the Franks—next, the Normans—and, lastly, the Scots. It seems not unreasonable that these helped to communicate to the vivacity and impetuosity of the original race those qualities of enterprise and endurance which were needed to make up the illustrious history of France. The more, however, that the standard of national character was raised by the new element, the more would it revolt at a continued accession of foreign blood. A country, the highest distinctions and offices of which were given by the despotic monarch to strangers, to enable him to keep down the native people, could not be sound at heart; and one hails it as the appearance of a healthy tone of nationality when murmurs arise against the aggrandising strangers.

It was not, indeed, in human nature, either that the French should not murmur at the distinctions and substantial rewards bestowed on the strangers, or that they themselves should not become domineering and exacting. M. Michel quotes some very suggestive murmurs of the time, in which it is questioned whether the slaughter of the Scots at Verneuil was not to be set down as a piece of good fortune to France in breaking the power of a set of masters likely to be more formidable even than the English. But of some of the characteristic blemishes of a mercenary foreign force the Scots were free. They did not go to France to act the mendicant or marauder, but to be teachers and leaders; and the evil of their presence was not that their wretchedness made them a nuisance, but that their ambition and haughtiness made them a reproach to the native French. Hence there were occasional disagreeables and bickerings between the favoured foreigners and the natives, especially when these began to gain heart and recover from the abjectness they lay under during the great war. The following is a little incident connected with these affairs so very like the beginning of ‘Quentin Durward,’ that it surely must have been running in Scott's mind when he framed the events of that romance:-

"Michael Hamilton, who had a share in the affair, relates that in Holy Week of the year 1429, he and several of his companions-in-arms were lodged in a village named Vallet, not far from Clisson, and threatened by the Bretons, who held the country in considerable number. A spy sent to report on the Scots having fallen into their hands, they made him inform them, and then hanged him. They then took to flight, but not without leaving some of their people in the power of the peasants. Amongst the prisoners was Hamilton, the weight of whose cuirass had prevented his flight; he was brought to Clisson and hanged by the very hand of the son of the spy, eager to avenge his father. From the moment that he had seen himself taken he had invoked St Catherine, and made a vow to go to thank her in her Chapel of Fierbois, if she would preserve him from death. He was successful; for, he having been hanged, on the following night the curate of the town heard a voice which told him to go and save Hamilton.

"He paid little attention to it, and it was only on a reiterated, order that he made up his mind to bid one of his parishioners go to the gibbet and look whether the wretch was dead or not. After having turned him again and again, the messenger, to assure himself fully, bared the right foot of the culprit, and pricked the little toe in such a manner as to make a large wound, from whence blood sprang. Feeling himself wounded, Hamilton drew up his leg and moved. At this sight terror took possession of the messenger; he fled, and in all haste bore to the curate an account of what had passed. He perceiving in the whole affair an interposition from on high, related the facts to the people who were present; then having arrayed himself and his clergy in sacerdotal vestments, they went in procession to the place of execution, and cut down Hamilton. All this passed in the presence of him who had hanged him: furious at seeing that his victim was on the point of escaping him, he struck him on the ear with a sword, and gave him a great wound—an act of barbarity which is not to be commended.

"Then Hamilton is laid upon a horse and taken to a house and given into care; soon after the Abbess of the Regrippière, having heard of what had taken place, sent in quest of our Scot to have him treated in her convent: he is taken there; and as he was ignorant of French, the charitable lady gives him a fellow-countryman for his sick-nurse. He had just related his adventures to him when a voice reminded him that he had a vow to fulfil. Unable then to walk, he waited a fortnight, then set off for Fierbois, but not without finding by the way companions, with whom he remained some days to recover his strength. In this history, as in another of the year 1423, in which we find Scots in Berry hanging eight poor peasants to revenge themselves for having been robbed not far from there, and as also in the history of Captain Boyce Glauny, I see the faithful picture of the miseries which, during the Hundred Years’ War, desolated our central provinces, become the prey of undisciplined hordes; but I find also that the Scots figure there in great numbers."


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