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Significant Scots
James V


JAMES V.of Scotland, son of James IV., and of Margaret, eldest daughter of Henry VII., king of England, was born at Linlithgow in the month of April, 1512. This prince, on the death of his father, was not more than a year and a half old. The nation had, therefore, to look forward to a long minority, and to dread all the evils which in these turbulent times were certain to attend a protracted regency.

Scarcely any event could have been more disastrous to Scotland, than the premature death of James IV. The loss of the battle of Flodden, the immense number of Scottish noblemen and gentlemen who fell in that fatal field, were calamities of no ordinary magnitude; but the death of James himself was more fatal to the peace and prosperity of the kingdom than all. By the latter event, Scotland was thrown open to foreign influence and intrigue, and left to the ferocious feuds of its own turbulent and warlike chieftains, who did not fail to avail themselves of the opportunity which the death of the monarch afforded them, of bringing their various private quarrels to the decision of the sword. It might have been expected, that the overwhelming disaster of Flodden field, which brought grief and mourning into almost every house of note in the land by the loss of some member of its family, would have extinguished, for a time at least, all personal animosities between them, and that a common sympathy would have prevented the few that were left from drawing their swords upon each other; but it had no such effect. Sanguinary contests and atrocious murders daily occurred throughout the whole country. They invaded each other’s territories with fire and sword, burned with indiscriminating vengeance the cottage as well as the castle; despoiled the lands of corn and cattle; and retired only when driven back by a superior force, or when there was nothing more left to destroy or carry away. For us, who live in so totally different and so much happier times, it is not easy to conceive the dreadful and extraordinary state of matters which prevailed in Scotland during such periods as that of the minority of James V., when there was no ruler in the land to curb the turbulence and ambition of its nobles. In their migrations from one place to another, these proud chieftains were constantly attended by large bodies of armed followers, whom they kept in regular pay, besides supplying them with arms and armour. Thus troops of armed men, their retainers being generally on horseback, were constantly traversing the country in all directions, headed by some stern chieftain clad in complete armour, and bent on some lawless expedition of revenge or aggression; but he came thus prepared as well to the feast as to the fray, for he did not know how soon the former might be converted into the latter. There existed always a mutual distrust of each other, which kept them in a constant dread of treachery, and no outward signs of friendship could throw them for a moment off their guard. Thus they were compelled to have frequent recourse to stratagem to destroy an enemy; and numerous instances of the basest and most cowardly assassinations, accomplished by such means, occur in the pages of Scottish history. The number of armed retainers by which the chieftain was attended, was proportioned to his means. The Douglases are said to have seldom gone abroad with fewer than fifteen hundred men at arms behind them; and Robertson of Strowan, a chief of no great note, in the year 1504, was attended by a band of no less than eight hundred followers when he went to ravage the lands of Athol. The earl of Angus on one occasion entered Edinburgh with five hundred men in his train, all "weil accompanied and arrayed with jack and spear," for which they found sufficient employment before they left the city. Angus had come to Edinburgh with this formidable force to prevent the success of an attempt which the earl of Arran, then also in the town, was at that instant making to deprive the queen dowager of the regency. So soon as Arran got notice that Angus was in the city, he ordered the gates to be shut to secure him, but unaware, that he had also shut up with him five hundred well-armed followers. In the morning some of Angus’s friends waited upon him, and informed him of the measures which Arran had taken for his apprehension, they also told him that if he did not instantly appear on the open street where he might defend himself, he would be taken prisoner.

Angus lost no time in buckling on his armour, and summoning his followers around him. He then formed in battle array, immediately above the Netherbow, and after a fruitless attempt on the part of Gavin Douglas, archbishop of St Andrews, to prevent bloodshed, the retainers of the two hostile noblemen encountered each other; and after a sanguinary conflict of long continuance, on the public street, in which great numbers were killed and wounded on both sides, Arran’s party gave way, and he himself with difficulty escaped through the North Loch. This encounter was afterwards distinguished by the name of Cleanse the Causey, from its having been fought upon the street or causey. Such was the condition of Scotland during nearly the whole period of the minority of James; and by merely substituting one noble name for another, and shifting from time to time the scene of their endless squabbles and skirmishes, adding an interminable and scarcely intelligible story of intrigues, duplicity, and deception, we have the history of the kingdom for the fifteen years immediately succeeding the battle of Flodden field. During this period, we occasionally find the queen and her second husband, the earl of Angus, and sometimes the duke of Albany, cousin of the late king, in possession of the nominal regency. At length the young monarch comes upon the stage; and it is not until that event occurs, that the interest of the story is resumed. It then becomes a connected and intelligible tale, and is at once relieved of the cumbrous and fatiguing narration of occurrences, digressive, episodical, and parenthetical, with which it was previously disfigured and obscured.

In the mean time, the young monarch, unconscious of the storm that was raging without, was pursuing his studies in the castle of Edinburgh, where he had been placed for safety, under the tuition of Gavin Dunbar. The apartments appropriated to the youthful sovereign in this ancient fortress, seem to have been in but a very indifferent condition; his master, Dunbar, though afterwards refunded, having been obliged to repair, at his own cost, in the first instance, the chamber in which the king received his lessons, one particular room having been set apart for that purpose. Indeed, during the whole of Albany’s regency, the wants of the young monarch seem to have been very little attended to: even his personal comfort was so much neglected, that it was with great difficulty he could procure a new doublet or a new pair of hose; and he at one time must have gone without even them, but for the kindness of his natural sister, the countess of Morton, who, from time to time, supplied him with articles of wearing apparel. The treasurer, too, frequently refused to pay the tailor for the making of his clothes, when the material instead of the dress happened to be sent him. Though placed in the castle for security, this consideration does not seem to have precluded the indulgence of going abroad occasionally. A mule was kept for him, on which he rode out during the intervals of his study, and when the town and surrounding country were reckoned sufficiently quiet and peaceful to admit of his doing so with safety. The appearance, character, and temper of the young monarch during his nonage, are spoken of in warm terms by his contemporaries. In personal appearance he is said to have borne a strong resemblance to his uncle Henry VIII. of England, who, tyrant though he was, had certainly a very noble and kingly presence. James’s countenance was oval, of a mild and sweet expression; his eyes blue, and beaming at once with gentleness and intelligence without effeminacy; a head of yellow hair completes the picture. He was of an exceedingly affectionate disposition, and of a generous though somewhat hasty temper. "There is not in the world," says the queen his mother, in a letter to Surrey, "a wiser child, or a better-hearted, or a more able." This is the language of a parent indeed; but, when corroborated as it is by other evidence, there is no occasion to suspect it of partiality. James was about this time in the eleventh or twelfth year of his age. With his other good qualities, he discovered a shrewdness and sagacity superior to his years. Surrey, speaking of him to Wolsey, says, "be speaks sure, for so young a thing." The young monarch was much addicted to all manly sports and exercises, and in all excelled. He rode gracefully, was passionately fond of the chase, and took much delight in hawks, hounds, and all the other appurtenances belonging to that amusement. He also sang and danced well, and even in his boyish years felt much of that "stern joy" which noble minds feel in possessing and handling implements of war. He was delighted with arms and armour; and could draw a sword a yard long before the hilt, when buckled to his side, as well as a full grown man. His own weapon was of this length when he was only twelve years of age. James was altogether at this period of his life a noble and princely boy. His amusements were all of a manly character. His mind was generous and elevated, his mein and carriage gallant and dignified. In short, imagination cannot conceive a more striking image of a youthful monarch in a rude and warlike age, than is presented to us in the person and character of James the V. of Scotland. There is some reason, however, to believe, that the royal colt was a little wild, and that he was fully as fond of tilting with the spear, or making the forest of Ettrick ring with his bugle notes, as of studying his humanities, for his Latinity was found to be sadly defective.

He seems to have kept Stirling castle, the place where he last resided before assuming the reins of government, in something like an uproar while he lived in it, with his sports and amusements. He was generally joined in these by his domestics; and as they were pretty numerous, we may readily conceive what a noise and turmoil they would create, led on in their wild and obstreperous frolics by their bold and lively young leader. Pelting each other with eggs is known to have been a favourite pastime, and it is one certainly, which must have given rise to many of the most ludicrous scenes. Although the estates of the kingdom had fixed the eighteenth year of his age as that which should terminate the minority of James, and put him in full and uncontrolled possession of the sovereignty of the kingdom, he was called upon to take his seat on the throne at a much earlier period of life.

The lords themselves, whose feuds and quarrels had filled the country with slaughter and rapine, saw no other way of terminating the frightful scene but by calling on the king, young as he was, to assume the royal dignity. The ambition of his mother, who hoped to possess herself of the real power and authority, also contributed to facilitate the event; and, accordingly, the boy king, for he was only twelve years of age, was brought, escorted by a numerous train of nobles, from Stirling castle to Holyrood house. On first learning the resolution which the lords had come to of investing him with the royal character, he expressed much delight, and seemed filled with the most joyful anticipations. "He was weill content," says Lindsay, "to leive correctioun at the scooles, and pas to his lordis at libertie."

Amongst the first things which the young monarch did on arriving at Holyrood, was to change all the officers of the royal household, from the treasurer down to the carvers. Three noblemen, the earl of Lennox, the lords Hamilton and Angus, and archbishop Beatoun, were appointed as his guardians and advisers. For a year after his arrival in Edinburgh and assumption of the royal dignity, the king and his guardians lived happily, and Lindsay says, merrily together; but, at the end of that period, a "benefice vaiket," a temptation came in the way, and destroyed the harmony of the association; each claimed it from the king, and each thought he had a better right to it than his fellow. Angus said, that he was always scarce of hay and horse corn when he came to Edinburgh, and that therefore it should be given to him. The vacant benefice was attached to Holyrood house. Whether it was the force of this appeal, or the superior influence of Angus over the royal mind that decided the point, is left unexplained; but that nobleman carried off the prize, to the great disappointment and displeasure of the other three, who shortly after retired in disgust from the court. Lennox, who had got nothing at all, returned, in despair of gaining any thing by the royal favour, to his own country; and Hamilton, though he had procured the abbacy of Paisley for his son, thinking that he had not got enough, followed his example. Beatoun, who lived then in a house of his own in the Friar’s Wynd, refrained afterwards from going near the court, but when expressly sent for.

Although James was now placed upon the throne, and surrounded with all the insignia of royalty, he neither of himself assumed nor was permitted to assume the functions of the royal state. He was much too young to be capable of holding the reins of government, and there were those around him who were not desirous that he should. Nor does it appear that the young monarch cared much about the matter, so long as he was permitted to enjoy himself; and there is no reason to believe that the defection of his grave guardians sank very deep into his mind. As the king advanced in years, however, this indifference to the power and authority of his elevated station gradually gave way to the natural ambition of enjoying them; and he at length determined to rid himself of the thraldom under which he was kept by the earl of Angus, who had for several years exercised the royal authority in his name. The house of Douglas, however, was too powerful, and their influence too extensive, to admit of his effecting his emancipation by any open effort, he therefore determined to have recourse to secret measures in the first instance.

The young king was now in the seventeenth year of his age, and when he carried his design into execution, was residing at Falkland, a favourite hunting place of the kings of Scotland. Here he was attended as usual by the earl of Angus and several of his kindred, all of whom were united in the design of keeping the king as it were to themselves. A Douglas was captain of his guard; a Douglas was treasurer; and a Douglas was guardian and adviser. Great numbers of that name, besides, filled subordinate situations in the royal household, and the king’s guard, consisting of a hundred gentlemen, were all in the interest of the earl of Angus and his family. Thus encompassed, the young monarch had no other resource than to endeavour to elude their vigilance. He was under no personal restraint, nor was he debarred from any enjoyment or amusement with which he chose to occupy himself. On the contrary, they all led an exceedingly merry and joyous life together; were almost daily out hunting and hawking and feasting with the neighbouring noblemen and gentlemen, and amongst the rest with the archbishop of St Andrews, who entertained the king and his attendants with great "mirrines" for several days together; but it was necessary that a Douglas should always be present on these occasions. Hunting, hawking, or feasting, still a Douglas must be there. An opportunity such as the young monarch had long and anxiously looked for of escaping from this annoying surveillance at length presented itself, and he availed himself of it. The earl of Angus left Falkland for a few days, to transact some private business of his own in the Lothians, leaving the king in charge of his uncle, Archibald Douglas, and his brother George. These two, however, availing themselves probably of the earl’s absence, also left the palace on different errands; the former, it is hinted, to visit a mistress in Dundee, and the latter to arrange some business with the archbishop of St Andrews. There was still, however, a fourth left, whom it was necessary the king should dispose of before he could effect his escape; this was James Douglas of Parkhead, the captain of the guard, to whom the absentees in the last resort had confided the safe keeping of the young monarch. In order to get rid of him, the king gave out that he intended to go a-hunting early on the following morning, and having sent for James Douglas to his bed-room, he called for liquor, and drinking to his guest, remarked that he should see good hunting on the morrow. Douglas, little dreaming of the equivoque, saw the king safely to bed, and retired to his own by the advice of his master, much earlier than usual, that he might be up betimes in the morning, the king having ordered dejeune to be served at four o’clock. It is not improbable that his majesty, moreover, had made him take an extra cup before they parted. As soon as all was quiet in the palace, the king got up, disguised himself by putting on the dress of one of his own grooms, and descended to the stables, where "Jockie Hart," a yeoman of the stable, with another trusty servant, also in the secret, were ready prepared with saddled horses for the intended flight.

They all three instantly mounted, and escaping all notice from the wardens, took the road for Stirling at full gallop. On reaching the castle, which he did by break of day, the king ordered the gates to be shut, and that no one should be permitted to enter without his special order. This done, he retired to bed, much fatigued with his long and rapid ride. His escape from Falkland was not discovered until the following morning. George Douglas had returned to the palace at eleven o’clock at night, about an hour after the king’s departure, but having learned from the porters that his majesty was asleep in his own apartment, he, without further inquiry, retired to bed; and it was not until he was roused at an early hour of the morning, by Patrick Carmichael, baillie of Abernethy, who had recognized the king in his flight, and who came with all manner of despatch to inform him of it, that he knew any thing at all about the matter. He would not at first believe it, but rushed in great alarm to the king’s chamber, which he found locked, and it was only when he had burst up the door and found the apartment unoccupied, that he felt assured of the dreadful truth. The king must have already acquired some little reputation for that gallantry amongst the ladies which afterwards so much distinguished him, for on this occasion he was at first suspected to have gone off on a nocturnal visit to a lady at Bambrigh, some miles distant from Falkland.

Immediately after his arrival in Stirling, the king summoned a great number of his lords to join him there, to assist him with their advice and counsel. The summons was readily obeyed, both from personal attachment to the king, and a jealousy and dislike of his late guardian the earl of Angus. In a few days, James was surrounded with nearly a score of the noblest names in the land, all ready to perish in his defence, and to assert and maintain his rights at the point of the sword.

He seems to have resented highly the restraint in which he had been kept by Angus and his kindred, for it was now, he said, addressing the assembled lords, "I avow that Scotland shall not hold us both till I be revenged on him and his." The earl of Angus and all his immediate friends were now put to the horn, and the former deprived of all his public offices. It is therefore at this period that the actual reign of James commences, and not before. He was flow freed from the influence of the Douglases, surrounded by his nobles, who paid him a ready and willing homage, and was in every respect an independent and absolute sovereign, capable and at liberty to judge and to act for himself.

James’s appearance and character were as interesting as his situation at this period of his life. He was now, as stated before, in the seventeenth year of his age, of a robust constitution, which enabled him to encounter any bodily fatigue. His speech and demeanour were mild and conciliating. His stature was of middling height, but handsomely formed, and "the fient a pride, nae pride had he." He spoke at all times affably to the meanest of his subjects, and would partake of the humblest repast of the humblest peasant in his dominions, with a glee and satisfaction which evinced the most amiable kindness of disposition. These qualities rendered him exceedingly beloved by the common people, of whom he was always besides so steady and effective a friend, as procured for him the enviable title of King of the Poor.

Amongst the first cares of James, after his becoming possessed of the actual sovereignty of the kingdom, was to subdue the border thieves and marauders, who were carrying matters with a high hand, and had so extended their business during the lawless period of his minority, and so systematized their proceedings, that Armstrong of Kilnockie—the celebrated Johnnie Armstrong of the well-known old ballad—one of the most noted leaders of these predatory bands, never travelled abroad, even on peaceful purposes, without a train of six and twenty gentlemen well mounted, well armed, and always handsomely dressed in the gayest and most chivalrous garb of the times. As James, however, knew that he would have little chance of laying hold of these desperadoes if he sought them with openly hostile intentions, their predatory habits and intimate knowledge of the localities of the country rendering it easy for them to evade any such attempt, he had recourse to stratagem. He gave out that he intended to have a great hunting match on the borders, and really did combine both sport and business in the expedition which followed. As was usual with the Scottish kings on hunting occasions, he summoned all the noblemen and gentlemen in the country, who could find it convenient, to attend him with their dogs on a certain day at Edinburgh, and, what was not so customary, to bring each a month’s victuals along with him. Such a provision was always required when an army of common men were called together, but not in the case of convocations of men above that rank. The expedition in this case, however, was to be both warlike and sportive; and the former might prevent the latter from affording them a sufficiency of game for their subsistence. The summons of the king for the border hunting was so willingly obeyed, that a host amounting to twelve thousand assembled in Edinburgh against the appointed time; and amongst these, some chieftains from very distant parts of the country, such as Huntly, Argyle, and Athol, all of whom brought their large, fierce Highland deer dogs along with them to assist in the chase. It was in the month of June, 1529, that this prodigious host of sportsmen, headed by the king in person, set out towards the borders. The greater part of them were well armed, and were thus prepared for any thing that might occur. On all such occasions pavilions, tents, bedding, &c. for the accommodation of the sportsmen, were despatched some days previous to the ground selected for the first day’s amusement, and were afterwards moved from place to place as the scene of action was shifted. The king’s pavilion was very splendid, and might readily be distinguished from all others by its superior richness and elegance. His dogs, too, were elevated above all the dogs of meaner men, as well by their extrinsic ornaments as by their intrinsic merits. Their collars were gilt, or were of purple velvet adorned with golden studs, while the royal hawks were provided with collars and bells of the same metal. The cavalcade having reached Meggotland, on the southern border of Peebleshire, a favourite hunting place of James’s, and which was always reserved exclusively for the king’s hunting--the sport began, and in a few days no less than three hundred and sixty deer were slain. Soon after this, Armstrong of Kilnockie, little dreaming of the fate that awaited him, made his appearance among the sportsmen, at a place called Caerlanrig, it is said by invitation, but whether it was so or not he seems to have calculated on at least a civil, if not a cordial reception from the king, being in total ignorance of the real object of the king’s visit to the borders. Armstrong was not altogether unreasonable in such an expectation, for his robberies had always been confined to England, and he was rather looked upon as a protector than otherwise by his own countrymen, none of whose property he was ever known to have meddled with. He always "quartered upon the enemy," and thought that by doing so he did good service to the state; but not being consulted in the various treaties of peace which occasionally took place between the sovereigns of the two kingdoms, he did not always feel himself called upon to recognize them, and accordingly continued to levy his black-mail from the borders, all the way, it is said, unto Newcastle. Though the king had made peace with England, Johnnie Armstrong had not; and he therefore continued to carry on the war in defiance of all those treaties and truces to which he was not a party. On this occasion the daring borderer, expecting a gracious reception from the king, and desirous of appearing before his sovereign in a manner becoming what he conceived to be his own rank, presented himself and his retainers, all magnificently appareled, before his majesty. The king, who did not know him personally, at first mistook him for some powerful nobleman, and returned his salute; but on learning his name, he instantly ordered him and all his followers to be taken into custody and hanged upon the spot. "What wants that knave that a king should have," exclaimed James, indignantly struck with the splendour of Armstrong’s and his followers’ equipments, and, at the same time, turning round from them on his heel as he spoke. The freebooter at first pled hard for his life, and endeavoured to bribe the king to spare him. He offered his own services and that of forty men at any time, when the king should require it, free of all expense to his majesty. He further offered to bring to him any subject of England—duke, earl, lord, or baron, against any given day, either dead or alive, whom his majesty might desire either to destroy or to have as a captive. Finding that all he could say and all he could offer had no effect in moving the king from his determination, the bold borderer, seeing the die was cast, and his fate sealed, instantly resumed the natural intrepidity of his character,—"I am but a fool," he said, raising himself proudly up, "to look for grace in a graceless face. But had I known, sir, that you would have taken my life this day, I should have lived upon the borders in despite of both king Henry and you; and I know that the king of England would down-weigh my best horse with gold to be assured that I was to die this day." No further colloquy took place; Armstrong and all his followers were led off to instant execution. A popular tradition of the borders, where his death was much regretted, says, that the tree on which Armstrong was executed, though it continued to vegetate, never again put forth leaves. After subjecting several other notorious offenders to a similar fate, the king returned to Edinburgh on the 24th of July. In the following summer, he set out upon a similar expedition to the north, with that which he had conducted to the south, and for similar purposes—at once to enjoy the pleasures of the chase and to bring to justice the numerous and daring thieves and robbers with which the country was infested.

This practice of converting the amusement of hunting into a means of dispensing justice throughout the kingdom, was one to which James had often recourse, for on these occasions he took care always to be attended with an armed force, sufficiently strong to enforce the laws against the most powerful infringer; and he did not spare them when within his reach. For thieves and robbers he had no compassion; common doom awaited them all, whatever might be their rank or pretensions. In this particular he was stern and inflexible to the last degree; and the times required it. There was no part of his policy more beneficial to the kingdom than the resolute, incessant, and relentless war which he waged against all marauders and plunderers.

On the expedition which he now undertook to the north, he was accompanied by the queen mother, and the papal ambassador, then at the Scottish court. The earl of Athol, to whose country the royal party proposed first proceeding, having received intelligence of the visit which he might expect, made the most splendid preparation for their reception. On the arrival of the illustrious visitors, they found a magnificent palace, constructed of boughs of trees, and fitted with glass windows, standing in the midst of a smooth level park or meadow. At each of the four corners of this curious structure, there was a regularly formed tower or block-house; and the whole was joisted and floored to the height of three stories. A large gate between two towers, with a formidable portcullis, all of green wood, defended the entrance; while the whole was surrounded with a ditch sixteen feet deep and thirty feet wide, filled with water, and stocked with various kinds of fish, and crossed in front of the palace by a commodious draw-bridge. The walls of all the apartments were hung with the most splendid tapestry, and the floors so thickly strewn with flowers, that no man would have known, says Lindsay, but he had been in "ane greine gardeine." The feasting which followed was in keeping with this elaborate and costly preparation. Every delicacy which the season and the country could supply was furnished in prodigious quantities to the royal retinue. The choicest wines, fruits, and confections, were also placed before them with unsparing liberality; and the vessels, linen, beds, &c., with which this fairy mansion was supplied for the occasion, were all of the finest and most costly description. The royal party remained here for three days, at an expense to their noble host of as many thousand pounds. Of all the party there was not one so surprised, and so much gratified with this unexpected display of magnificence and abundance of good living, as his reverence the pope’s ambassador. The holy man was absolutely overwhelmed with astonishment and delight to find so many good things in the heart of a wild, uncivilized, and barbarous country. But his astonishment was greatly increased when, on the eve of their departure, he saw a party of Highlanders busily employed in setting fire to that structure, within which he had fared so well and been so comfortably lodged, and which had cost so much time, labour, and expense in its erection. "I marvel, sir," he said, addressing the king, " that ye should suffer yon fair palace to be burned, that your grace has been so well entertained in." "It is the custom of our Highlandmen," replied James, smiling, "that be they never so well lodged at night they will burn the house in the morning." The king and his retinue now proceeded to Dunkeld, where they remained all night. From thence they went next day to Perth, afterwards to Dundee and St Andrews, in all of which places they were sumptuously entertained—and finally returned to Edinburgh.

James, who had now passed his twentieth year, was in the very midst of that singular career of frolic and adventure in which he delighted to indulge, and which forms so conspicuous a feature in his character. Attended only by a single friend or two, and his person disguised by the garb of a gentleman of ordinary rank, and sometimes, if traditionary tales tell truth, by that of a person of a much lower grade, he rode through the country in search of adventures, or on visits to distant mistresses; often on these occasions passing whole days and nights on horseback, and putting up contentedly with the coarsest and scantiest fare which chance might throw in the way. Sleeping in barns on "clean pease strae," and partaking of the "gude wife’s" sheep head, her oaten cakes, and ale, or whatever else she might have to offer, was no uncommon occurrence in the life of James. Such visits, however, were not always prompted by the most innocent motives. A fair maiden would at any time induce the monarch to ride a score of miles out of his way, and to pass half the night exposed to all its inclemency for an hour’s interview.

James was no niggard in his gallantries: where money was required, he gave it freely and liberally; where it was not, his munificence took the shape of presents such as rings, chains, &c. of gold and other descriptions of jewellery. In one month he gave away in this way to the value of upwards of four hundred pounds. The roving monarch, however, made even his vagrancies subservient to his great object of extirpating thieves and robbers. During his wanderings he frequently fell in with numerous bands of them, or sought them out; and on such occasions never hesitated to attack them, however formidable they might be, and however few his own followers.

As the roving propensities of the king thus frequently put his life in jeopardy, and as his dying without lawful issue would have left the country in all probability a prey to civil war, the nation became extremely anxious for his marriage, an event which, after many delays, arising from political objections to the various connexions from time to time proposed, at length took place. The Scottish ambassadors in France concluded, by James’s authority, a marriage treaty with Marie de Bourbon, daughter of the duke of Vendome. On the final settlement of this treaty, the young monarch proceeded to Vendome, to claim in person his affianced bride; but here his usual gallantry failed him, for on seeing the lady he rejected her, and annulled the treaty.

Whether it was the result of chance, or that James had determined not to return home without a wife, this occurrence did not doom him, for any length of time, to a single life. From Vendome he proceeded to Paris, was graciously received by Francis I., and finally, after a month or two’s residence at that monarch’s court, married his daughter Magdalene. The ceremony, which took place in the church of Notre Dame, was celebrated with great pomp and splendour. The whole city rang with rejoicings, and the court with sounds of revelry and merriment. The marriage was succeeded by four months of continued feasting, sporting, and merry making. At the end of that period James and his young bride, who was of an exceedingly sweet and amiable disposition, returned to Scotland; the former loaded with costly presents from his father-in-law, and the latter with a dowry of a hundred thousand crowns, besides an annual pension of thirty thousand livres during her life.

The royal pair arrived at Leith on Whitsun-eve, at ten o’clock at night. On first touching Scottish ground, the pious and kind-hearted young queen dropped on her knees, kissed the land of her adoption, and after thanking God for the safe arrival of her husband and herself, prayed for happiness to the country and the people. The rejoicings which the royal pair had left in France were now resumed in Scotland. Magdalene was every where received by the people with the strongest proofs of welcome and regard, and this as much from her own gentle and affable demeanour as from her being the consort of their sovereign.

Never queen made such rapid progress in the affections of a nation, and few ever acquired during any period so large a proportion of personal attachment as did the amiable lady. The object, however, of all this love, was not destined long to enjoy it. She was in a bad state of health at the time of her marriage, and all the happiness which that event brought along with it could not retard the progress of the disease which was consuming her. She daily became worse after her arrival in Scotland, and finally expired within forty days of her landing. James was for a long time inconsolable for her loss, and for a time buried himself in retirement, to indulge in the sorrow which he could not restrain.

Policy required, however, that the place of the departed queen should, as soon as propriety would admit, be supplied by another; and James fixed upon Mary of Guise, daughter of the duke of that name, and widow of the duke of Longueville, to be the successor of Magdalene. An embassy having been despatched to France to settle preliminaries, and to bring the queen consort to Scotland, she arrived in the latter kingdom in June, 1538. Mary landed at Balcomie in Fife, where she was received by the king, surrounded by a great number of his nobles. From thence the royal party proceeded to Dundee, St Andrews, then to Stirling; from that to Linlithgow; and lastly to Edinburgh. In all of these places the royal pair were received with every demonstration of popular joy, and were sumptuously entertained by the magistrates and other authorities of the different towns. James, by a long and steady perseverance in the administration of justice, without regard to the wealth or rank of the culprits, and by the wholesome restraint under which he held the turbulent nobles, had now secured a degree of peace and prosperity to the country which it had not enjoyed for many years before. His power was acknowledged and felt in the most remote parts of the Lowlands of Scotland, and even a great part of the Highlands. But the western isles, and the most northern extremity of the kingdom, places then difficult of access, and comparatively but little known, were still made the scenes of the most lawless and atrocious deeds by the fierce and restless chieftains, and their clans, by whom they were inhabited. James, however, resolved to carry and establish his authority even there. He resolved to "beard the lion in his den;" to bring these desperadoes to justice in the midst of their barbarous hordes; and this bold design he determined to execute in person. He ordered twelve ships, well provided with artillery, to be ready against the fourteenth day of May. The personal preparations of the king, and those made for his accommodation in the ship in which he was himself to embark on this expedition, were extensive and multifarious. His cabin was hung with green cloth, and his bed with black damask. Large quantities of silver plate, and culinary utensils, with stores for cooking, were put on board and also a vast number of tents and pavilions, for the accommodation of his suite, when they should land in the isles. The monarch himself was equipped in a suit of red velvet, ornamented with gold embroidery, and the ship in which be sailed was adorned with splendid flags, and numerous streamers of red and yellow serge.

The expedition, which had been delayed for fourteen days beyond the time appointed, by the advanced state of the queen’s pregnancy, finally set sail for its various destinations in the beginning of June.

The royal squadron, on reaching the western shores, proceeded deliberately from island to island, and from point to point of the mainland, the king landing on each, and summoning the various chieftains to his presence. Some of times he executed on the spot, others he carried away with him as hostages for the future peaceful conduct of their kinsmen and followers; and thus, after making the terror of his name and the sternness of his justice felt in every glen in the Highlands, he bent his way again homewards. James himself landed at Dumbarton, but the greater part of his ships, including those on board of which were the captured chieftains, were sent round to Leith.

Having now reduced the whole country to such a state of tranquillity, and so effectually accomplished the security of private property every where; that it is boasted, that, at this period of his reign, flocks of sheep were as safe in Ettrick forest as in the province of Fife, he betook himself to the improvement of his kingdom by peaceful pursuits. He imported superior breeds of horses to improve the native race of that animal. He promoted the fisheries, and invited artisans and mechanics of all descriptions to settle in the country, encouraging them by the offer of liberal wages, and, in many cases, by bestowing small annual pensions. With every promise of a long and happy reign, and in the midst of exertions which entitled him to expect the latter, the cup was suddenly dashed from his lips. Misfortune on misfortune crowded on the ill-starred monarch, and hurried him to a premature grave. Two princes who were born to him by Mary of Guise, died in their infancy within a few days of each other, a calamity which sank deep in the heart of their royal parent. His uncle, the king of England, with whom he had hitherto been on a friendly footing, for reasons now not very well known, invaded his dominions with an army of twenty thousand men, under the command of the duke of Norfolk. James gave orders to assemble an army of thirty thousand men on the Burrow muir, and with this force he marched to oppose them. The hostile armies met at Solway moss, but with little disposition on the part of the leaders of the Scottish army to maintain the credit of their sovereign by their arms. James had never been friendly to the aristocracy, and they now retaliated upon him by a lukewarmness in his cause in the hour of need. The unfortunate monarch himself increased this spirit of defection at this critical juncture by appointing Oliver Sinclair, a mean favourite, and a man of no ability, to the command of his army. The intelligence of this appointment excited the utmost indignation in the Scottish army. All declared that they would rather submit to be taken prisoners by the English than be commanded by such a general; and the whole army was thrown into such a state of commotion by this infatuated proceeding of their sovereign, that the English general perceived the disorder, and taking advantage of it, attacked the Scottish army with a few hundred light horse. The former making no resistance were instantly put to flight. James was at Carlaverock, about twelve miles distant, when this disaster took place. When informed of the disgraceful flight of his army, he sank into a state of dejection and melancholy from which nothing could rouse him. His proud spirit could not brook the disgrace which had befallen his arms, and the conduct of his nobles excited a degree of irritation which soon threw him into a violent fever. In this state of despondency he retired to Falkland. Here he took to bed and refused all sustenance. While in this condition intelligence was brought him that the queen, then at Linlithgow, was delivered of a girl. "It came with a lass and it will go with a lass," said the dying monarch, reckoning it another misfortune, that it was not a male heir that had been given to him.

A little before his death, which was now fast approaching, he was heard muttering the words "Solway moss," the scene of that disaster which was now hurrying him to the grave. On the day of his death, which happened previous to the 13th of December, 1542, but within two or three days of it, although the precise day is not known, he turned round to the lords who surrounded his bed, and with a faint but benignant smile, held out his hand to them to kiss, and in a few minutes thereafter expired. James died in the 31st year of his age, leaving the unfortunate Mary, then an infant, to succeed to his dignities and to more than his misfortunes. Besides Mary, his only surviving legitimate child, James left six natural children. These were—James, abbot of Kelso and Melrose; the regent Murray; Robert, prior of Holyroodhouse; John, prior of Coldingham; Janet, wife of the earl of Angus; and Adam, prior of the Chartreux at Perth.


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