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Scotland in the Middle Ages
Chapter III - Scotland - Earliest History


Earliest Writing — Charters — Chronicles — Old Scotch collections of laws — The Berne MS. — The Ayr MS. — Materials of early history — State papers from Alexander III. — Records of Parliament from Robert I. — Barbour, Wyntoun, Fordun — Scotland in the twelfth century — Scots — Picts — Lothian — The Norse settlement — Strath-Clyde — Cumbria — Language of old Scotland, Celtic — After Malcolm Canmore, tendency to anglicize — Scotch princes anglicizing — The Scotch courtiers and settlers all Saxon or Teutonic — Northumberland under David I. — Walter Espec at the battle of the Standard — David's troops — The Galwegians — The Scots — Bruce at the battle of the Standard — Early Christianity — Saint Ninian — Columba — Iona — Conversion of Northumbria — The see of Lindis-farne founded — AEdan Bishop of Lindisfarne — St. Cuthbert—Iona the source of Christianity in Scotland — The Culdees — Their later irregularities — Ancient Bishoprics restored by David I. — Munificence to the Church — David I. — His character.

Perhaps it does not require much apology when I request your attention to that part of European policy, which was developed in our own country. I cannot think that even among strangers, the history of Scotland could be regarded as uninteresting. We know that it is not the mere size, or population, nor the actual power of a nation, that gives it a prominent place in the history of mankind, since the little provinces and single cities of Greece have made an impression on the history of the world, which nothing else can rival, and which time cannot efface.

An English writer — an English lady — speaking of her own country, has challenged a comparison even with the ancients:— "Nor is it only valour and generosity that renowne this nation. In arts wee have advanced equall to our neighbors, and in these that are most excellent, exceeded them. The world hath not yielded men more famous in navigation, nor ships better built or furnisht. Agriculture is as ingeniously practised. The English archery were the terror of Christendom, and their clothes the ornament. But these low things bounded not their I. great spirits. In all ages, it hath yielded men as famous in all kinds of learning as Greece or Italy can boast of." [Mrs. Lucy Hutchinson.]

I venture to claim a part of the same character for Scotland. If it has been denied to our country to create and perfect art, and to preserve immortal thoughts in language as immortal, we have yet been allowed to treasure up some associations with our bygone events, which have commanded a sympathy far beyond our political influence or the spread of our language. Our poor and narrow country has developed principles and feelings that know no limits of time or space; and our history and literature are regarded, if I am not mistaken, with a heartier sympathy over the civilised world, than those of many countries of the greatest political importance.

We have no extant Scotch writing, so early as the reign of Malcolm Canmore, who died in the . year 1093. That the art of writing was known and practised among us to a small extent before, we cannot doubt; but it was probably used only for books connected with the Church, its forms and service. At least there is no evidence of the existence, so early as that reign, of any charter, record, or chronicle. The oldest Scotch writing extant, is a charter by King Duncan (not "The gracious Duncan," murdered by Macbeth, but his grandson, who reigned in 1095), granted to the monks of St. Cuthbert of Durham. It is kept in the treasury of Durham, and is in perfect preservation. The rude pinning of a seal to it has raised some suspicion with regard to its genuineness; but I think without foundation. The appending of the seal is apparently a modern and clumsy attempt to add a sort of authentication, which the charter did not want. It is executed in the Anglo-Saxon manner, by the granter and the several witnesses affixing their crosses, and in most Anglo-Saxon charters, seals were not used. We have several charters still preserved of Edgar, the brother and successor of Duncan, who reigned till 1106, and who uses a seal after the Norman fashion, on which he takes the barbaric style of Basileus. From his time, that is, from the beginning of the twelfth century, we have charters of all the Scotch kings, in an unbroken series, as well as of numerous subjects, and derive from them more information for public and domestic history, than is at all generally known.

There is still preserved a poor fragment of a Scotch chronicle, which appears to have been written about the year 1165. It is a single leaf, now inserted in the MS. of the chronicle of Melros, in the Cottonian library. The rest of that venerable chronicle, written in the thirteenth century, in the Abbey of Melrose, is the most ancient Scotch writing I. of the nature of continuous history that is now extant. A few other fragments of chronicles of that century perhaps, but being for the most part bare lists of the Scotch and Pictish kings, are now deposited in the royal library at Paris. When used by Camden and other historians, they were in the library of Cecil, Lord Burleigh.

Of collections of the laws of Scotland, the oldest is one which has been lately restored to this country, from the public library at Berne. It is a fine and careful MS., written about 1270; and, what adds greatly to its interest, containing an English law treatise and English styles, as well as some of the most ancient laws of Scotland, particularly David I..'s venerable code of Burgh laws; and last of all, the ancient laws of the Marches, concerted by a grand assize of the borderers of the two kingdoms in 1249. This singular mixture of the laws of two countries (which might have served as the materials for the mysterious fabrication of a so-called Scotch code) excites our curiosity as to the owner of the book; but the only clue we find to guide us is a memorandum scribbled on the last leaf, of an account of sheep taken from John, the shepherd of Malkaris-ton, on Sunday next before the feast of St. Andrew, in the year 1306, when the flock is counted in ewes, dynmonts, and hogs. Next in interest to the Berne MS., is a book of Scotch laws, chiefly Burghal, which was picked up in a book-stall in Ayr in 1824, and its previous history cannot be traced. It is a fine MS., of the age of Robert T., or at least of the early half of the fourteenth century. After that period, there is no want of MS. collections of our laws; but all of the character of private and unauthentic compilations.

State papers, properly so called, few, but of great importance, begin in the reign of Alexander III., or the latter half of the thirteenth century; and there are still preserved imperfect records of parliamentary proceedings, from the age of Robert Bruce downwards. These are all the materials of the civil history of Scotland which we still possess, previous to the work of John Barbour, of which I shall have occasion to speak hereafter. Soon after his time, Andrew Wyntoun, prior of Loch Leven, wrote his rhyming chronicle, and John Fordun laid the foundation of Scotch history, in his Scoti-Chronicon. These two writers were engaged upon their works at the same time, about the latter years of the fourteenth century ; but neither seems to have been aware of the other's undertaking.

Looking at the kingdom of Scotland, then, at the beginning of the twelfth century, as the very earliest period for which we have any historical materials, the dominions of the Scotch king consisted of several states recently amalgamated. The Scots, properly so called, a people who seem to have [. come from Ireland as early as the fourth century, when they become known by name as the terror of the degenerate Romanized Britons, had their original seat on the west coast, and to the north of the Firth of Clyde. The Caledonians or Picts, whom Tacitus, and a better authority, the venerable Bede, describe as differing in their size, their red hair, [Rutilae comae, magni artus Germanicam originem asseverant. —Agric. II.] and in their language, from the Scots, possessed in the eighth century, and down to the end of it, all the Eastern Lowlands of modern Scotland, including Lothian; but the last probably only for a short period. At the end of that century, they possessed also Galloway and the Orkney islands.

In the middle of the ninth century, these two nations were joined under Kenneth Mac Alpine, and from that time the proper kingdom of the Scots extended from sea to sea, across Scotland; but it was confined on the south by the powerful kingdom of Northumbria, which extended to the Forth; and soon afterwards, on the north, the northern sea-kings, who had long ravaged the coasts, made good a settlement, which for two centuries, extended their power over the Orkney and Shetland islands, the Hebrides, and the northern peninsula of Scotland, reaching to the Moray Firth. The kingdom of the Scots continued in the line of Kenneth for many generations, though not succeeding according to the modern and feudal notions of inheritance. One of his descendants, Kenneth, the son of Malcolm, succeeded in wresting from Edgar of England the northern district of the province of Northumberland, which then began to be known by the name of Lothian. One of the fragments of chronicles, formerly mentioned, relates, that in the time of Indulfus, a king a few years earlier than Kenneth, Edinburgh (oppidum Eden) was given up to the Scots. I cannot but think that this was a part of the same transaction by which the English Saxons solemnly conceded to the Scots the northern district of Northumberland; and it is remarkable that the earliest historical fact precisely recorded in the chronicles of both countries, should relate to the accession of this rich province which Scotland has never since abandoned, and the city which was destined to become the capital of the kingdom.

To exhaust the map of Scotland, it is necessary to allude to the district on the south of Clyde; but I shall not at present open up the much vexed question of the kingdoms of Strath-Clyde and Cumbria. Of the ancient British kingdom, having Dumbarton for its capital, we know chiefly from notices of the Northmen, who for centuries reaped their harvest of plunder along the shores of the Clyde. Whether this kingdom were the same with that of Cumbria, or whether Cumbria included with modern Cumberland the whole or part of the south-western peninsula of Scotland, I shall not stop to examine; but it is necessary to mention the fact, that Malcolm I. of Scotland obtained from Edmund of England, a formal recognition of his rights to the kingdom of Cumbria, which evidently consisted, in part at least, of modern Cumberland, and it became from that time the usual appanage of the Tanist, presumptive heir or prince of Scotland.

The red hair and large limbs which Tacitus has bestowed on the inhabitants of Caledonia, and from which he argued a Germanic descent, have naturally enough led some of our historians to seek for a Teutonic origin for the Picts, whom they hold to be the same with the Caledonians; and the contest between them and their Celtic opponents has raged loud and fierce, with more of passion than one would at first sight imagine could be excited by such a subject. If you remember the animated discussion in the dining-parlour of Monkbarns, between Mr. Oldbuck and Sir Arthur Wardour, which was stopped at last by the baronet choking upon the hard names of the list of Pictish kings; you learn that the controversy rests upon the narrowest possible foundation— upon the etymology of a single word, found in Bede, [Bede, in describing the Roman wall, draws it from a place "qui sermone Pictorum Peanfa-hel appellatur" — to Dumbarton.] and which is said to be the only ascertained remnant of the ancient Pictish language. I would not wish to interpose, even as a mediator, in such a quarrel.

Long before the period of ascertained history in Scotland, all marks of two distinct aboriginal races had disappeared. The language of the hereditary natives of Scotland, from the Mull of Galloway to the Moray Firth, was a Celtic speech, which remained in Galloway until the fifteenth or sixteenth century, and which is still spoken over the Highlands. We cannot doubt that another tongue was spoken in the sea-ports and along the level shores of the eastern coast. If we consider what was going on along the eastern coast of England, from the time of the Romans and for centuries afterwards, we must be satisfied that the tribes who so eagerly sought for settlements along her coasts, were not likely to be limited by the Firths of Forth or Tay; and there are plain marks in the appearance and language of the people, and some indications in the names of places and families, of a Teutonic and sea-borne colonizing, along our eastern sea-bord from Tweed to Burghead.

Still, I think, it cannot be questioned that the language of Scotland,—king, court, and people. Highland and Lowland, except a narrow strip of sea coast, — in the reign of Malcolm Canmore, was Celtic or Gaelic. When the sainted Margaret, speaking the language of Saxon England, wished to convince the Scotch clergy of their error with regard to the times of Easter and Lent, her husband, Malcolm Canmore, was obliged to translate the discourses of the queen, even for the clergy, into Gaelic.

Even under Malcolm Canmore, there are sufficient proofs of a tendency in the rulers of Scotland towards southern manners and civilization. Malcolm recovered his father's kingdom, and slew Macbeth by the aid of Edward the son of Edmund Ironside, along with Siward, the giant Earl of Northumberland. Soon afterwards, he married the daughter of Edward, the last of the kingly line of the Anglo-Saxon monarchs, who exercised great influence over him, and made his court the object of all the affection and sympathy of the Saxons of England, after the death of Edward the Confessor. How many a poor follower of the AEtheling from Hungary, how many a Northumbrian thane and churl, would find a reward and resting place in the castles and glens that had belonged to the faction of Macbeth ! But if Malcolm, had motives for an English feeling, these were much increased in his family. Henry I. of England, upon his accession to the throne, feeling his doubtful title, and opposed by all the Normans, threw himself upon the favour of the Saxon population, and found no way better than to choose his wife from the line of their ancient kings. He married Maud, the daughter of Malcolm and Margaret of Scotland, who was so long and so affectionately remembered in England by the title, which was even inscribed upon her monument at Winchester, "Mold the god quen." [Angl. Sac, 1. 277.] She had much cause to use her influence with her oppressive husband, as a chronicler tells us she did, — "Mold the god quen gaf him conseile to luf his folc." [Robert of Brunne, p. 98.] The English connection was kept up by Alexander I., son of Malcolm Canmore, marrying a daughter of Henry T. of England. But the young David, the most distinguished of his race, was especially Anglicized. He was brought up in his youth at the court of his sister, the queen of England, and the seal which he used before his accession to the throne, sets forth his titles simply as "Earl David, brother of the queen of the English." He had some difficulty in obtaining possession of his appanage of Cumberland from his brother, king Alexander, and succeeded at last through his influence with Robert the Bruce and the great Norman barons, who afterwards boasted that the terror of their name had gained it for him without bloodshed. Thus we see that when he came to the throne, he had many bonds of attachment to England, even independent of his marriage with Maud, the coheiress of Northumberland and Huntingdon.

Long before this time, the high officers of state, the attendants of the court, were of the southern strangers. The witnesses to the charter of Duncan, besides the king's brothers, Malcolm and Edgar, are Aceard, Ulf, Hermer, AElfric, Hemming, Teodbald, Vinget, Earnulf, and Grenton the scribe, apparently all Saxon or Danish.

A charter of his brother Edgar, free from all suspicion of forgery, gives the following witnesses: AElfwyn, Oter, and Thor the long, and Aelfric the steward, and Algar the priest, and Osbern the priest, and Cnut Carl, and Ogga and Lesing, and Swein son of Ulf kill, and Ligulf of Bamburgh, and Uhtred, Eilav's son, and Uniaet hwite and Tigerne, — in all which list we do not find a name, unless perhaps the last, which the most zealous Celt can claim for a countryman.

The tide of English favourites and courtiers had now begun, and although we have no records during that time of their acquiring lands, that is probably for the simple reason, that there are no records of the acquisition of lands by laymen earlier than the reign of David. In that interval, the progress they had made is remarkable. The great family descended from the Earls of Northumberland, which afterwards took its name from its castle of Dunbar, had already obtained immense grants in the Merse and Teviot-dale. The De Umphravills, the De Morvills and Somervills; the Lindsays, the Avenels, the Bruces, the Balliols, the Cumins, the De Sulis, the De Vescis, the great family of Fitzalan, hereditary Stewards, had possession of immense territories in the south of Scotland, upon which they were rapidly settling their families, and the martial retainers to whom they owed so much of their consequence.

These were all Normans, and for the most part brought their territorial names from their castles in Normandy. But there were not wanting settlers, whose names speak their Saxon and Danish blood. Such were Alwin fitz Arkil, the progenitor of the race of Lennox; Swain and Thor, the ancestors of the Ruthvens; Oggu and Leising; Osolf, Maccus, the original of the Maxwells; Orm, Leving and Dodin, who have given names to Ormiston, Levingston, and Dodingston; Elfin, Edulf and Edmund, whose names remain in Elphinston, Edilston, and Edmun-ston; and many others, who had not yet given into the new fashion of surnames. Some had grants of forfeited lands or of the ancient demesne of the crown; some married heiresses; all obtained charters, and held their lands according to the most approved feudal form of England and Normandy; and in turn, their followers got grants from them, subject to the same conditions of service and profitable casualties.

David himself, attached as we have seen by many  ties to England, held for the greater part of his reign the Earldom of Northumberland, and made his favourite and frequent residence at Newcastle upon Tyne. He thus in a manner united once more the whole northern section of the ancient kingdom of Northumbria. Ruling Lothian as king, and Northumberland as earl, he had power and leisure during the distractions of the reign of Stephen, to introduce into his territories order and civilization, which were unknown in southern England. "In those days," says an old English chronicle, "England was foul with many sores; for the king was powerless and the law was weak. But the northern region, which had come into the power of David king of Scots, as far as the river Tees, enjoyed peace through his diligent care." [Newbr. and Brornpt.]

When David had been deprived of Northumberland, and endeavoured to recover it by force of arms, he led with him a motley army of his subjects; and their depredations soon roused the resistance of his old companions in arms, the Barons of Yorkshire and Northumberland. They gathered round the Standard of the Bishopric, few in number, but confident in the ascendancy of the gentle Norman blood. When some of the hastily-raised force were showing signs of panic, old Walter Espec, the leader of the English barons, climbed up on the waggon of the Standard and made a speech. He told the barons, that if they had as much experience as himself, he would willingly be silent and take his sleep; "or I should play at dice or chess, or if these games were unsuitable for my age, I would study legends and church histories, or after my own manner would listen to some bard, relating the high deeds of our forefathers." He pointed out the unreasonableness of their fear of the enemy, however numerous — "Why should we despair of victory, when victory has been given by the Most High as an inheritance to our race? Did not our forefathers with a few soldiers invade the greatest part of Gaul, and wipe out from it the nation and the very name of Gaul? How often have they routed the armies of the Franks! How often beaten, few against a multitude, the forces of Cenomania, Anjou, and Aquitaine ! Verily our fathers and we, have in brief space, subdued and brought under our laws, this island, which of old the victorious Julius scarcely conquered in many years, and with the slaughter of multitudes of his troops. . . . Who but our Normans have subdued Apulia, Sicily, and Calabria? . . . Who would not laugh then rather than fear, when against such warriors comes this vile Scot with his naked breech! To our lances, our swords, our arrows, they present a naked hide; for they use a calf-skin for a shield, animated by an unreasonable contempt of death, rather than I. by true courage. Why should that unwieldy length of spears, which we see so far off, frighten us? The wood is brittle, the point blunted as it strikes. It is destroyed when it clashes on our armour, scarcely enduring a single blow. Receive the thrust upon your staff, and the Scot will stand unarmed before you." ... He then tells of the goodness of their cause, fighting for their king, their country, their church, and their hearths, and relates the horrible barbarities perpetrated by the enemy, especially by the Galwegians. The chronicler puts in Espec's mouth a speech of the greatest spirit throughout, concluding with an oath, that this day he would either overcome the Scots or be killed by the Scots.

On the other side, the king of Scots called together his earls and nobles to consult on the order of battle. The majority were of opinion that the men-at-arms and the archers should lead the van. The Galwegians opposed this, and said that it was their right to form the first line, and to attack first. The others resisted the placing of unarmed men in front, and the king leant to that side. The historian makes the Galwegians remonstrate — "Why are you so much afraid, oh king ! of these iron coats? . . What the better were the Normans of their mail at the field of Clitherow? Did not these unarmed men oblige them to throw away their coats of mail, their shields and helmets? . . . We gained the victory over the mailed warriors at Clitherow, and, to-day, you will see us lay low those boasters with our lances, taking courage for our shield."

The king still resisting, Malis Earl of Strathern, representing the ancient Scotch nobility, addressed him in a rage; — "Why is it that you follow the wishes of the Frenchmen? Not one of them, with all his arms, shall be more forward in battle this day than myself." Alan de Percy, a Norman, took offence at these expressions. "These are proud words, but for your life, you shall not make them good this day." The king interposed to prevent a quarrel, and yielded to the demand of the Galwegians.

The king's son, Henry, commanded the second line of men-at-arms and archers, with the men of Cumbria and Teviotdale. The prince is painted in glowing colours — unrivalled for beauty, courage, modesty. With him was Eustace Fitz-John, lord of Alnwic, one of the great nobles of England, a favourite of the late king Henry I., a man of the greatest skill and prudence in civil affairs, who had retired from the English court, being offended that, contrary to the custom of his country, he had been seized in the king's court, and obliged to restore the castles which king Henry had committed to his charge.

The third brigade was composed of the men of Lothian, with the Isles-men and the Lavernans (a name which seems corrupt). In the fourth line, were the Scots or men of proper Scotland, and the Moray men; and as the king was there among them, he had a band of English and French men-at-arms for his body-guard.

When the armies were just joining battle, and the priests on either side in their white robes, with crosses and relics of saints, were shriving the soldiers, Robert de Brus, an aged baron of great possessions, grave in his demeanour, of few words, who spoke with a certain dignity and weight, stepped forward. He was a subject of England, but from his youth had been attached to the king of Scotland, and had been admitted to his greatest confidence and friendship. He then, a man of veteran service and great experience, seeing with his natural sagacity the danger that threatened the king, and prompted by his long friendship, asked leave from his comrades, and went to the king to dissuade him from fighting, or, according to the custom of his country, to take his leave and retire; for he was bound to the king, not only by his friendship, but by the bond of fealty. He told him to consider against whom he was about to fight, against English and Normans, in whom he had always found good counsel and ready aid and willing service. "How long is it," he asked, "that you have found so much faith in Scots, as to give up the English and Norman side, and take theirs instead ? . . . Think by whose assistance your brother Duncan routed the army of the usurping Donald. Who restored your more than brother Edgar to his kingdom? Who but our Normans? Remember only last year, when you called for our help against Malcolm, the heir of his father's hatred and rebellion. How cheerfully and readily this very Walter Espec and many other English nobles came to your assistance at Carlisle. . . . Whatever hatred the Scotch have against us, it is all on your account; for whom we have so often fought against them, repressed their rebellions, and subdued them to your will."

The whole speech is affectedly rhetorical, and unsuitable to the character given to the speaker; but I cannot refrain from giving the concluding sentence.

He tells the king that despair had given them courage, and that he had no doubt of victory. Hence," said he, "is my grief, hence my tears, that I shall see the death or the flight of my sweetest lord, my most loving friend, my old companion, in whose friendship I have grown grey, whose munificence I have experienced in gifts of all kinds, and grants of many lands and estates; and I grieve the more, when I remember the days when we played together as children, and the deeds of arms and perils that we have encountered, and the pleasant sport that we have enjoyed together, with our hawks and hounds." The king was moved to tears by the baron's friendly remonstrance; but evil counsellors interrupted their concord, and Bruce, renouncing his fealty (patrio more), returned to his own party.

The result of the battle is well known. The Galwegians rushed on with their three yells, but were beaten back by the English men-at-arms, and the archers, which had even then become a terrible arm of English war; and their flight occasioned the confusion and defeat of the rest of the army. Only the king's brigade stood firm, and formed, with its royal standard of the dragon (so says our author), a rallying point for the fugitives, and presented a formidable body in retreat.

I have given these details from the contemporary chronicler, Abbot Ailred, because they seem to me, not only to exhibit the fortune of that famous battle, but to give us a vivid glance of the situation of David, between his native subjects and the Norman and Saxon strangers.

Part of the great design of David, for the civilization of his subjects, was effected in planting everywhere those southern settlers, carrying with them the refinement and high feeling of Christian chivalry. Another channel, through which the great reformer prepared to attack the barbarism of his native people, was through the Church; and this leads me to speak of the ancient Scotch Church. I wish I had ability and time to do justice to the subject.

We have reason to believe that Palladius was the first who preached the gospel in Scotland, in the fifth century. We are told by the venerable Bede — you will notice that he lived and wrote about the year 700, and spent his life in the district of England, nearest to the Scotch border — that the Southern Picts — those seated to the south of the mountains — reported that they had received their Christianity from Ninian, who came from Rome in the fifth or sixth century, founded the See of Whithern (in Latin, Candida Casa), called so from a church which he built there, of stone, a practice unusual among the Britons. But this is only a preface of Bede to his history of the conversion of the northern Picts by St. Columba. He tells us, that Columba, a priest and abbot, came from Ireland to Britain, to preach the gospel to the northern Picts, those who are separated by steep and dreadful mountains from their southern provinces, and obtained as a site for his monastery the island of Hii, "which," says Bede, "is not large, but only about five families, according to the calculation of the English." Columba, by his preaching and example, converted that people to the faith of Christ, and after thirty-two years spent in his British ministry, he was buried there. "Of his life and preaching," says Bede, "there are said to be some accounts written by his disciples; but," he continues, " whatever he may have been, we know this of him for certain, that he left successors of great continence, and remarkable for their love of God and regular institution." Bede was reserved in his praise of the founder of that church which dared to celebrate Easter at an uncanonical season. He seems only to have heard of the lives of St. Columba, written by his disciples, Adomnan and Cumin. They are still preserved, and are now accessible to every student of history. They manifest the simplicity and credulity of a rude age; but it is impossible to charge them with any intention to deceive. From them, we learn the mode of life adopted in Iona. But it is not only what they have written — that was not an age of writing — it is from what they have done, that we learn the effects of the preaching of St. Columba and his disciples.

I do not know anything in the history of Christian Europe, that, if rightly considered, is more interesting than the island of Iona in the sixth century. Columba obtained a gift of the island from Conal, a king of the Scots, who then held the western shore of Scotland, and settled his followers there. The handful of Christian priests, who built their humble thatched church on that little island, could look out on one side on a boundless and tempestuous sea, on the other, on the mountains inhabited by Pagan savages. They might be carried in thought and in prayer to other regions of the earth and beyond it; but to the visual eye there was no support, no sympathy around. There was nothing of pomp to fascinate, nothing to tempt ambition. Praise and the approbation of man were shut out. We must not call them monks, those devoted men; at least those of us who think monk another name for a selfish, lazy fellow. But in truth, as each age of this globe is said to have its peculiar growth of plants and animals, every age of the world of man develops the institutions and forms that suit its progress. Religious men and preachers of the truth do not now retire into desert islands and weary heaven with prayer; but neither are whole nations won over now to the true faith by the preaching of a poor missionary, himself claiming no inspiration. The life of those monks of Iona was divided between prayer, reading or hearing the Scriptures, and works of needful labour, either of agriculture or fishing. Those qualified were employed in teaching the young, and in the important work of writing the books required for the service of the Church. Columba himself was a great penman, and some fine copies of the Psalter and Gos. pels in Ireland are still attributed to his hand, on better evidence than might be expected. He and his immediate followers, undoubtedly practised celibacy, and enforced penance and the most rigid asceticism. Without discussing the use of such mortification of the body, to the zealot who practises it, it has always been and always will be, a great engine for swaying a simple and uninformed people. They associate such self-denial with the absence of all the passions to which they feel themselves most addicted, and soon come to think the preacher, who can so subdue his human nature, as something raised above humanity.

Education soon became the great object to which the successors of St. Columba devoted themselves. Hither resorted the young from all the adjacent continents, from Scotland, from Ireland and England, and even from Scandinavia, to acquire the learning and study the discipline of the Columban church. From hence, for centuries, went forth priests and bishops to convert and instruct, to ordain, and to found similar establishments; and hither, as to a holy refuge, more than one, when their course of duty was run, retired to be at rest, and to lay their bones beside the blessed Columba.

The Columbites sent continual preachers among the rude people of the opposite continent. In the midst of war and plunder, they made their way through the fastnesses of that difficult land, converted the northern Picts, and penetrated Scotland from sea to sea. That was too near and too easy a task. The desire for new dangers and yet greater hardships, joined to some mystical love of retirement, led some of their number to dare the northern seas, in their boats of skins, and carry the cross into the extreme islands of the Orkneys, Shetland and Faroe. The Norsemen called these missionaries Papae; and many of the islands, on which they found some preacher from Iona, still bear the names of Papey and Papeyar. Even Iceland was not too remote or inhospitable. We do not know the daring and zealous man who carried Christianity thither. He is said to have been Aurlig, a Norwegian educated in the Hebrides. But we know that the first Christian church in Iceland, which was at Esinberg, was dedicated to St. Columba. The little colony of Columbites in Iceland sunk, perhaps, under the severity of the climate. Long afterwards, when the Norwegians went first thither, they found no . traces of civilization, but the crosses, bells and books in the Irish ritual, of the monks of Iona. [Arii scheda de Islandia, F. Joannis. The first constitutions by which Christianity was established in Iceland, are extremely curious, and partake even more than Pope Gregory's policy in Kent, of the nature of a compromise between Christianity and Paganism. After the assembly in which they had been voted, our historian tells us, all the people were signed with the cross immediately, and some baptized; but many refused baptism, on account of the coldness of the water, for which a remedy was found in the hot springs of the island. These proceedings, however, were long after the preaching of the Columbites of Iona. I must not omit to mention, that in the conversion of those northern peoples, there was something which throws a doubt upon their zeal for Christianity, whilst it shows at the same time perhaps, how lightly they held by the superstitions of their fathers. As soon as Christianity was preached among them, they seem to have turned an eager eye to the revenues of the new church, which arose at first from the offerings of the faithful, and afterwards, from tithes and other sources. The nobles, in many cases, became ecclesiastics, priests and even bishops, and retained both their civil and ecclesiastical dignities. They built churches, reserving the usufruct to themselves, and giving the property in heritage to their heirs.]

But nearer to us, and more interesting, is the conversion of Northumbria by the monks of Hy. In one of those commotions to which the petty kingdoms of the heptarchy of England were from their nature liable, Oswald, a pagan prince of the royal blood of Northumbria, was obliged to seek refuge in the court of the king of Scots, somewhere on our Argyllshire coast; and there, by the preaching of the Columbites, was converted to the Christian faith. Soon afterwards he succeeded to his kingdom, and having, in his wars with Kedwel, king of Cumbria, fought and conquered under the banner of the Cross, he vowed to establish Christianity in Bernicia, the northern province of his kingdom. For this purpose he solicited, and obtained one of the Columban family of lona. He was not fortunate in the first selection. The monk Corman was disgusted with c the rude Northumbrians, and soon returned to the shelter of his island cloister. But his place was taken by one more fitted for the task. AEdan was consecrated bishop, and was the first successful teacher of the faith in Northumberland. His taste in the site of his church was remarkable. With all Northumbria to choose, he built it and the humble dwellings of his followers, on the little island of Lindisfarne, destined to be the Iona of the eastern coast. The island is in sight of the castle of Bamburgh, where the kings of Northumbria had not long before fixed their dwelling. The church and cloisters were a merely temporary edifice, and in that lowly structure, AEdan and his brethren daily taught the assembled multitudes. Bede says, "It was a beautiful spectacle, when the bishop was preaching, and was not quite understood, from his imperfect English, and the king, who had learned Scotch in his exile, acted as his interpreter." With such assistance, Christianity spread fast. Churches were built in populous places; monasteries were endowed by the zealous king; and in each of these a school was established for qualifying a regular succession of ministers. AEdan and his monks conducted the education of twelve English youths, two of whom we are able to trace in after life; for AEta became successively Abbot of Melrose and Bishop of Lindisfarne, and Cedde became the Bishop of Mercia, and afterwards the patron saint of Lichfield — the popular St. Chad.

Bede, who did not approve AEdan's tenets in regard to Easter, may be trusted as free from prepossession in favour of the monks of Lindisfarne. "Among other rules of life," says that venerable authority, "he left the most wholesome example to his clergy of abstinence and continence; he taught nothing that he did not practise; he sought nothing, loved nothing, cared for nothing, of this world; whatever was bestowed upon him by kings or nobles, he loved to give to the poor. It was his custom to travel everywhere, in towns and through the country, not on horseback, but on foot, unless necessity compelled, that he might, wherever he went, invite rich and poor to the faith if they were unconverted, or comfort them if already Christians, and excite them to alms and good works by his preaching and his example. His daily work, and that of all who were with him, clerks or laics, travelling or stationary, was reading the Scriptures and repeating the Psalms. On the rare occasions, when he went to the king's banquet, he sat down with a single clerk or two, and hurried over his meal that he might go out with his attendants to read or to pray. Following his example, the religious men and women of that time practised fasting on the fourth and sixth days of the week to the ninth hour, except the remission of the fifty days of Easter. He never spared the offences of the rich, for honour or fear of any man, but corrected them with sharp reproof. He never made gifts to the great, except only their food if he received them as his guests, but rather employed what he received from them for the use of the poor, or for the redemption of those who were sold into slavery unjustly. Many slaves whom he had redeemed became his disciples, and he instructed them and gave some of them church ordination, even up to the rank of a priest. AEdan died on the 31st August 651, in the seventeenth year of his episcopacy, and was buried in the cemetery of his little church of Lindisfarne." He was succeeded in his bishopric by Finan, by Colman, by AEta, all monks of Iona, or educated in their school, and finally by Cuthbert, the shepherd boy of Lauderdale, brought up in the discipline of St. Columba at Melrose. The history of Cuthbert's earthly ministry, and of the wandering of his poor bones, when the monks, driven out of the island by the Danes, carried his body along with them, seeking a place of rest, is exceedingly picturesque and interesting; but I believe that it is pretty generally known. I will only say a word on the subject of his canonizing. At the end of the seventh century, when all the Saxon sees had canonized bishops of [. their own, and boasted of their patronage, it became necessary for the honour of the cathedral church of Lindisfarne to do the like. But Lindisfarne was peculiarly circumstanced. Its first four bishops were Columbites, and heterodox in the matter of the observance of Easter, as well as in the shape of the tonsure; and AEta, the fifth, had been called from the island see to the bishopric of Hexham, where he soon after died, in the odour of sanctity, and became the tutelar saint of that see. Cuthbert, therefore, was the first bishop of Lindisfarne, out of whom a patron saint could fairly be made. Upon the important subjects of Easter and the tonsure, though brought up in the opinions of the Church of Scotland, he had conformed to the Romish observance. This was plainly the reason of his being preferred over AEdan, the founder of the see.

From Lindisfarne flowed the christianizing of the midland English or Mercians, and of the east Saxons, the inhabitants of modern Essex.

Bede tells us that such was the reverence for St. Columba, that the whole province, and even the bishops within it, were subject to the authority of the Abbots of Hy.

From the settlement of St. Columba to the ruin of his monastery, two hundred years afterwards, by the invasions of the Danes, it would be possible to collect a tolerably complete list of the succession of the abbots. Iona had gone on, not perhaps with all its original humility; for kings and nobles sent their sons to be educated there, and the persecuted prince of Northumbria found a secure refuge among its monks; but still zealous and active, propagating the faith by its missionaries, and forming the centre of respect and reverence for a great part of Christendom. In the middle of that period lived Adomnan and Cumin, to whom we owe our chief information regarding Columba and his family of Hy. But their progress in the great work for which they were established is to be gathered from still better sources. The names of places are little liable to change; and churches over all Scotland, in the recesses of the mountains and in the open valleys, dedicated to the early disciples of St. Columba, and still bearing their names, though now forgotten by the people, mark the extent of their preaching, and the attachment of their followers.

From the circumstances of the Church and the time, the distinction had not yet arisen between the secular clergy and the regular monastic orders. In a pagan or lately converted country, I need not say there were no churches or church districts. Iona was the college, whence poured out streams of zealous missionaries, who founded chapels and oratories where they could obtain means and a body of hearers; and although sometimes looking to Iona as their support and place of rest, yet they often lived and died amongst their converts. Upon their rude foundations, in after times, rose the baptismal churches and the parish divisions of Scotland — the oldest of our existing institutions. Many of these — I believe I may say hundreds — can still be connected with their dedication to the preachers who first taught there the faith and doctrines they had received from St. Columba.

As the district of their ministry extended, it became necessary to found other houses for preserving the discipline and the education of the clergy. Other primeval religious orders no doubt participated in the work of organising a system of national instruction; but the order of the Culdees has left more traces of its establishments than any other, and they have had the undeserved fortune of being claimed as Protestants by the zealous opponents of Rome.

The first of these Culdee houses was Abernethy, a place of mysterious and unknown antiquity. Its foundation is placed as high as the middle of the fifth century, in the time when St. Columba was still alive. Fordun describes it as the principal seat of royalty and Episcopacy of the kingdom of the Picts, and gives three successions of bishops there when its bishop was as yet the only one in Scotland. The translation of the Pictish see from Abernethy to St. Andrews, soon after the union of the Picts and Scots, may have introduced the Culdees into St. Andrews, where they flourished so long.

Of the first foundation of St. Andrews, which is said to have taken place about the year 825, we have no details ; but some of the earliest records of its church are connected with its Culdees, who then formed the chapter of the bishop.

The Church tradition, and indeed somewhat better evidence, ascribes the first foundation of the church of Dunkeld to St. Columba himself; but its re-founding and dedication to St. Columba seem to have taken place about the middle of the ninth century. From that period, at least, the Culdees were established there; and we know that they were the chapter of the bishopric until they were outed by King David, in the beginning of his reign.

The church of Dunblane was in a different situation from the other bishoprics of Scotland. That diocese was dependent upon the great Earls of Stratherne; and among other indications, some of which we have already seen, that Malis Earl of Stratherne did not come willingly into the new notions of David I., it may perhaps be counted one, that the Culdees continued to act as the chapter of that cathedral for a century after they had been outed at St. Andrews and Dunkeld.

The same, however, happened in the church of Brechin, where the Culdees of the chapter appear acting with the bishop, and engaged in all the transactions of the time, down to the middle of the thirteenth century.

We have many other Culdee establishments, not connected with bishops' sees and cathedrals, as at Muthil, in Perthshire; the island of St. Servanus, in Loch Leven — a house that has left us a catalogue of its little library before the middle of the twelfth century — and Monymusk in Mar.

In the ninth century came the hordes of Northmen to ravage the coasts of Western Europe. Scotland in general suffered less from those pirates than the fertile plains of England; but it fared ill with her coasts and islands. Their island site and sanctity were no protection for the family of Columba against the heathen Vikingr, any more than Lindisfarne could defend the bones of St. Cuthbert. The Irish annals record, in quick succession, "the ravaging of Icolumkill," "the Hebrides laid waste by the Danes," "Icolumkill burnt by the Gentiles," "the family of Y slain by the Gentiles." That light was put out which had shed religion and civilization over Britain, and the harassed successors of Columba found uncertain shelter in the monasteries of Ireland. Then comes a period of thick darkness, and when we again become acquainted with Iona (in the reign of William the Lion), it is the seat of a convent of Cluniac monks of unknown foundation; and the memory of St. Columba and his family is gone.

Whatever may have been their original institution and discipline, the Culdees, in the time of David I., lived in a manner that must have been inconsistent with any monastic or collegiate discipline. They were generally married, which brought about the appropriation of the common property by the individual members of the house; and not less certainly led to a hereditary succession in the office of the priesthood, than which no greater mischief can befall a church and country. We are not to be surprised, then, that David, the friend of religion and civilization, endeavoured first to reform those irregular monks, and afterwards, finding them irreclaimable, everywhere superseded them, by the introduction of the strict monastic orders brought from France and England. For the most part, the canons regular of St. Augustine took the place of the Culdees. They became the chapters of St. Andrews, Dunkeld, and Brechin, and obtained possession of the property of many of the rural houses of Culdees. One of David's charters concerning them, is short and characteristic:— "I give to the canons of St. Andrews the island of Loch Leven, that they may there institute their :. order of canons; and the Culdees, who shall be found there, if they please to live regularly, let them remain in peace under the canons; but if any of them resist this rule, I will and command that he be turned out of the island." It is said by his biographer, AElred, that David found three bishoprics in Scotland and left nine. Several of these were restorations of Episcopal churches, fallen into decay and neglect, through the dreadful convulsions of the government and society in Scotland. In Glasgow, for instance, there was an old tradition, still fresh in memory, of a church founded by St. Kentigern in the middle of the sixth century, and endowed with ample possessions by the munificence of the early converts. In such a case, David appointed an assize, or great jury of the country to enquire what possessions of right belonged to the see of Glasgow, and the return of that inquest, the earliest title of the property of the Church, is still preserved to us. Much of this property, thus reclaimed to the Church, was then undoubtedly without lawful owner, from the changes of dynasty, and the continual forfeitures of the unsuccessful party.

This was still more the case in the wild Northern districts, where whole provinces had stood in arms against their sovereign, in favour of some claimant of the Crown, under the old Celtic custom of succession, and unwilling to be ruled by an innovating Norman. Whether the lands thus given or restored to the Church, were also waste and uncultivated, it is not now so easy to say. We know little of the cultivation of the soil, till it had got into the hands of those industrious agriculturists, the monks; but if there was upon them the usual agricultural population, they made no bad exchange, in being subjected to the unchanging and peaceful sway of the Church, instead of the fluctuating and lawless lay lords of the soil.

Many of the monasteries, which are said to owe their foundation to David, were restorations of decayed houses of the Culdees. Such was Melrose, which still preserved much of its old sanctity in the estimation of the people, though ruined and impoverished. Upon these the king bestowed partly the old possessions of the house, partly the estates forfeited by rebels, and in some few instances, portions of the demesne lands and property of the Crown. Even if he had given more of such property, I do not know that he would have deserved the character which his successor gave him, of "Ane soir sanct for the Crown." However it may have become the fashion in later times to censure or ridicule this sudden and magnificent endowment of a church, the poor natives of Scotland of the twelfth century had no cause to regret it. Before, they had nothing of the freedom of savage life, none of the picturesqueness of feudal society. For ages, they had enjoyed no settled government. Crushed by oppression, without security of life or property, knowing nothing of the law but its heavy gripe, alternately plundering and plundered; neglecting agriculture, and suffering the penalty of famine and disease; the churches venerated by their forefathers had gone to ruin, and religion was for the most part degraded and despised. At such a time, it was undoubtedly one great step in improvement to throw a vast mass of property into the hands of that class, whose duty and interest alike inculcated peace, and who had influence and power to command it. Repose was the one thing most wanted, and the people found it under the protection of the crozier.

The donations of Crown lands to monasteries were not altogether uncompensated; the greater abbeys were for many ages the dwellings of the court, in its frequent progresses; and in this way, they paid a return for the royal munificence. But if a sovereign is to look to something more than mere revenue from royal lands, it may be doubted whether they could be turned at that time, more to the benefit of the country, than in the administration of the religious houses.

That it was not merely as a priest-ridden king, that David augmented the power and possessions of the Church, we may judge from the equal attention which he bestowed upon the law. I shall have another opportunity of directing your attention to the law reforms of David. It is perhaps improper to use these words, for he was the founder of the law, still more than of the Church in Scotland. We cannot get beyond him. We owe to him all the civil institutions and structure of our present society. When any legislators of a later age wished to stamp their institutions with a name of authority, they founded them upon the laws and statutes of the good king David: and this was not a mere image magnified in the distance; I shall be able to show you hereafter, enough of the actual laws and institutions of David, to justify that impression. His life has been written by a companion and friend, and it is remarkable, that this has happened with three of the four great monarchs, whom I have had occasion to notice, as builders of the great fabric of civilization—Charlemagne, Alfred, and David. The others had a wider field; but none of them has left a character of greater usefulness, or more endearing than David. His biographer, AElred, writes of him with a hearty and fervent affection, that makes us overlook the affectation of his style. With one or two of his simple traits of character, I must conclude:—

"I have seen him," says the Abbot, "with his foot in the stirrup, going to hunt, at the prayer of a poor petitioner, leave his horse, return into the hall, give up his purpose for the day, and kindly and patiently hear the cause."

"He often used to sit at the door of the palace, hear the causes of the poor and old, who were warned upon certain days, as he came into each district."

"If it happened that a priest or a soldier, or a monk, rich or poor, foreigner or native, merchant or rustic, had audience of him, he conversed so condescendingly, and gave such attention to the affairs of each, that each thought he cared only for him, and so all went away happy and satisfied."

The improvement David effected, even in his own time, in the prosperity of his country, is described in the most absurd style of his panegyrist; but we can make allowance for his partiality and magniloquence, and we must not exclude the testimony of an eye-witness — "The land, which was uncultivated and barren, he has made productive and fertile. Thou Scotland, formerly the beggar from other countries, bore on thy own hard clod nothing but famine to thy inhabitants; now, softer and more fertile than other lands, thou relievest the wants of neighbouring countries from thy abundance. He it was who adorned thee with castles and cities, who filled thy ports with foreign merchandise, and brought the riches of other nations to mix with thy own. It was he who changed thy shaggy cloaks for costly robes, and covered thy former nakedness with fine linen and purple; he, who reformed thy barbarous manners with Christian religion, and taught thy priests a more becoming life!"


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