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Traits and Stories of the Scottish People
Chapter IV. About Royal Personages


"A monarch's crown,
Golden in show, is but a crown of thorns;
Brings dangers, troubles, cares, and sleepless nights,
To him who wears the regal diadem."

Milton.

"Then happy low, lie down,
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."

Shakspkare.

Queen Margaret Atheling, wife of Malcolm Can-more and niece of Edward the Confessor, was one of the most pious of royal princesses. She retained the services of a private chaplain, who conducted divine worship daily in her royal household. An illuminated missal lay on the table of her boudoir, and its pages bore marks of her frequent use. To her little private oratory she frequently retired for the purposes of devotion. She built many hospitals for the infirm and aged. Among a number of orphans she dispensed provisions every morning; and every evening she personally ministered to the sick. She introduced the manufacturing arts, and personally illustrated the benefits of a life of industry. Queen Margaret died at the age of forty-seven. Her remains were at the Beformation borne from their resting-place at Dunfermline, and deposited in a chapel built for their reception, by Philip II. of Spain, in the palace of the Escurial.

In the beginning of the fifteenth century two extraordinary events were enacted at the Scottish and English courts. The rightful monarch of each country was detained a captive at the court of the other. The detention of James I. at the court of Henry IV. is matter of well-known history, but Mr. Tytler was the first to establish that Richard II. was similarly detained in Scotland. It is commonly believed that Richard perished in Pontefract Castle. This, Mr. Tytler has shown, did not occur. He contrived to escape from his imprisonment at Pontefract, and found his way to the Western Isles, where he was recognized in the disguise of a harper, and brought to the court of Eobert III. By Eobert, and afterwards by his brother the Eegent Albany, he was kept at Stirling, and entertained in a style becoming his rank. He died at Stirling Castle, in 1419, and was interred in the Dominican monastery of the place. The Latin inscription which adorned his tomb is included in the "Extracts from the Scottish Chronicles," printed for the Maitland Club. Beferring to these remarkable captivities, Mr. Tytler observes that Henry IV. and the Duke of Albany "played off their two royal prisoners against eachother." After the death of Albany, James I. regained his liberty. His first act of government was to procure the condemnation and execution of the son and other near relatives of the usurper of his throne. They were beloved by the people, who wept aloud when they were decapitated. A series of hillocks, at Stirling, from which the populace witnessed the executions, still bear the name of the Gowling or weeping hills.

The first reigning members of the House of Stuart were weak princes. James I. profited exceedingly by his long detention at the English court. He became a master of accomplishments, an intelligent ruler, and a firm though somewhat severe dispenser of justice. He was the inventor of Scottish music. He promoted the amenities of life. He found his subjects plundered by a set of lawless persons, who subsisted by spoliation. In order to suppress their practices he caused purses of gold to be suspended on trees by the highways, and watchers to be set in the vicinity. Just as a purse was cut down by a vagabond thief, he himself was forthwith suspended in its place.

Another method adopted by James I. to discover the condition of his subjects was that of moving about among them in disguise. He commonly assumed the costume of "a gudeman" or inferior yeoman. Proceeding on foot in this attire between Edinburgh and Linlithgow, he was assailed near Cramond Bridge by a band of gipsies. He defended himself with his accustomed valour, but was at length overpowered. Just as he had been smitten down, a farmer, familiarly called Jock Howison, and his son, who were thrashing in a barn not far off, hearing the noise, proceeded to the scene of action. Finding one man ruthlessly assailed by so many, they dealt about their flails among the gipsies so vigorously as to put them to flight. Howison raised the wounded stranger, and conducting him to his cottage, handed him a basin and towel that he might wash, and furnished him with other means of refreshment. When the stranger removed his cloak, the farmer perceived that he was a person of the better sort, and offered him a seat at the head of the board. This was at first declined; but Howison persisted, saying,"Do as I tell ye, for I'm maister here." Before leaving, the stranger heartily thanked his benefactor, and, informing him that he lived in Edinburgh Castle, said he would be glad to see him there. Howison replied that he would be particularly pleased to see the castle, and promised soon to avail himself of the stranger's invitation. "Wha shall I speir for when I come?" said the farmer. "Ye'll ask for ane James Stuart," said the stranger, "and they'll bring ye to me at once."

After a few weeks Howison presented himself at Edinburgh Castle. He was ushered into an assembly of the nobles, among whom was his former guest, who saluted him cordially. Howison asked whether the king was present. "He is here now," answered his friend. "Where?" said Howison; "how will I ken him?" "Why," said the supposed "gudeman," he is the only one present who keeps his hat on." "Then," said Howison, looking round on the company, "he maun be either you or me!" The king smiled, and said that he was James Stuart, who wore the crown, and assured him that the good service rendered him should not be forgotten. His Majesty next requested Howison to name any boon he might desire. "The lairdship o' my farm o' Braehead," said the farmer, with alacrity. "The lands are yours," said the king; "and I couple the gift with this proviso, that you and your representatives shall bring a basin of water and a towel to wash the king's hands every time he passes Cramond Brig. The monarch invited the honest farmer to dinner, and called on him to sit beside him. As Howison hesitated to accept the honoured seat, the king gave him a sharp slap on the shoulder, adding, "Do as I tell ye, for I'm maister here."

Mr. William Howison Crawfurd, of Braehead and Crawfurdland, did service to George IV., in 1822, in fulfilment of the stipulation under which his ancestor received his lands. At the grand civic banquet in the Parliament House, after the different courses had been served, the heir of Jock Howison, attended by the son and nephew of Sir Walter Scott, as pages, dressed in crimson and white satin, approached the king with a basin and ewer of silver, for his Majesty to wash his hands. In offering the basin Mr. Howison Crawfurd knelt down, and the king acknowledged the service with his accustomed graciousness. The rose-water used on the occasion has been hermetically sealed up, and the towel which dried his Majesty's hands has never been used for any other purpose.

James II. was oppressed by the haughty assumptions and rebellious practices of his nobles. Their combined opposition was so formidable that on one occasion he lost heart. He called for James Kennedy, the shrewd Bishop of St. Andrews, and asked him to suggest some method of securing his prerogative. The bishop produced a bunch of arrows. Handing an arrow to the king, he asked him whether he could break it. " Easily," said the king, who, suiting the action to the word, snapped it on his knee. The bishop next presented a bundle of arrows to his Majesty, and inquired whether he could snap these. "I certainly cannot," said the monarch. "When your enemies remain banded together," rejoined the prelate, "your Majesty cannot subdue them; let them be detached, and each one will be broken as readily as the arrow." James returned to his palace, and contrived to follow the counsel of the ingenious prelate.

The union of the crowns of England and Scotland sprung from the marriage of James IV. with Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII. The event was preceded by an occurrence connected with the personal history of the royal bridegroom, which is very imperfectly set forth by the ordinary historian.

Three plain blue marble slabs in Dunblane cathedral, one paving the choir, and the two others resting at its entrance, were placed in this ancient church to protect the remains of the three daughters of John, first Lord Drummond—Margaret, Euphemia, and Sybella,—who were there interred. These ladies, of whom the second, Euphemia, was married to Lord Fleming, died in their father's house of Drummond Castle, in 1502, from the effects of poison. The object of the poisoners was to accomplish the death of Margaret, the eldest daughter, consequent on her being betrothed to the young king, James IV. When Duke of Rothesay, and believed by his royal father to be strictly confined within the precincts of Stirling Castle, he was making love pastimes with fair Margaret Drummond in her father's bowers of Stobhall. He had met the young lady when she attended court as one of the maids of honour of his mother; and a fine melody, entitled "Tay's Banks," is said to have been composed by him in honour of her charms. A few lines of the song have been presented by Miss Strickland. We modernize the spelling:—

"The river through the rocks rushed out
Through roses raised on high;
The shene birds full sweet 'gan shout

Forth that seemly shaw.
Joy was within, and joy without,
When Tay ran down with streames stout
under Stobbeshaw."

Oil the demise of his father, and his accession to the throne, James betrothed himself to the object of his early love. As the parties were related within the degrees prohibited by the Church, the solemnization of the marriage was deferred till the requisite dispensation should be obtained from the Pope. But the members of the Privy Council were opposed to the connection, and entreated their sovereign to contract a union which might promote a permanent alliance with England. He pretended to yield to their remonstrances, and actually formed a matrimonial contract with the Princess Margaret, while he was privately negotiating with Rome regarding his proposed marriage with fair Margaret Drummond. Tidings of the monarch's secret determination to wed the lady whom he heartily loved having been propagated, it was resolved by the ruthless nobility that she should perish. She was cut off, with her sisters, by poison being mixed in her morning meal. The king was long inconsolable. He pensioned two priests to celebrate mass for the soul of his intended spouse. After waiting a year, he married the English princess. Their great-grandson ascended the British throne.

James V. acquired his popular title of "King o' the Commons" by the frequency with which, in disguise, he associated with the humbler classes. Sometimes he appeared as a "Gaberlunzie," or beggar, carrying a wallet. In reference to this disguise, he is believed to have composed the " Jollie Beggar" and the "Gaberlunzie Man," two popular songs. "The Wife of Auchtermuchty," an amusing ballad, has also been ascribed to him. James commonly took the disguise of a gudeman, a character which he was well qualified to sustain. When resident at Stirling, he left the castle in disguise by a small postern at the Ballengeich Pass; from this arose the designation which he assumed of "Gudeman of Ballengeich."

In one of his rambles from Stirling, James was benighted at the base of the Ochil hills, near .Alloa. He sought shelter in the cottage of John Donaldson, a small farmer. Though ignorant that his visitor was a person of quality, Donaldson gave him a kindly reception, and desired the gudewife to fetch for the stranger's supper the hen that roosted nearest to the cock, which, he said, was always the plumpest. The king, who was highly pleased with his entertainment, wished Donaldson to visit him in Stirling Castle, saying that he was known there as the "Gudeman o' Ballengeich." Like Jock Howison, the gudeman of the Ochil farm found his way to the royal presence, and was amazed to discover that he had entertained the king. His Majesty called him " king o' the muirs," and gave him a grant of his farm in reward for his evening's hospitality. The farm was retained by the family till a recent period. On the death of John Donaldson, the last "king o' the muirs," about forty years ago, the chair in which the king sat was purchased for the Crown, and deposited in Stirling Castle. When Queen Victoria visited the Castle, in 1842, Sir Archibald Christie, the governor, exhibited the chair to her Majesty, briefly detailing these particulars of its history.

From Falkland Palace James often sauntered about the adjoining district in his favourite disguise. One evening he experienced hospitality from the miller of Ballomill, a place on the north bank of the Eden, near Crawford Priory. On parting with his entertainer he said he would be glad to see him at Falkland. "Jist gang to the palace yett, and ask for the gudeman o' Ballengeich, an' I'se come t'ye." The miller found his way to the royal residence, and was duly welcomed. The king revealed himself at once, and insisted that the miller, who was very athletic, should engage with himself and his nobles in various muscular feats, such as "tossing the caber" and "putting the stone." The miller remained some days at the palace. At first he beat all the courtiers in the athletic exercises, but he afterwards lost strength, and was occasionally overcome. The king perceived that the dainty food of the royal table did not suit the miller's constitution, and so asked him on what he usually lived. He replied that his fare was "broken water and slain meal." "Then," said the king, "that you may always have plenty of both, you shall have a portion of the land of Ballo- # mill. Whether," proceeded the king, "will you take the aught part or the twa part of the land?" The miller was less of an arithmetician than an athlete, so, according to the story, he chose the eighth part of the land, which in his view seemed the better part of the alternative.

The king was, as gudeman, on a visit to the hamlet of Markinch. To obtain some refreshment he stepped into the village inn. The landlady informed him that the ben-house, or stranger's apartment, was engaged by the parish priest and the village schoolmaster, but she supposed they would allow him to join them. He was received readily, and caroused with his new acquaintances for several hours. When the reckoning came to be paid, the schoolmaster proposed that the priest should join him in paying the stranger's share. The priest objected, remarking that "the birkie should pay higglety-pigglety with themselves." So the disguised monarch paid his share. As they separated the stranger thanked the schoolmaster for his intended generosity, and added, "I shall make your living higglety-pigglety with the priest's; I am the king."

Some time after, the king, who had conceived a strong aversion to the priest, called him to his presence. "I understand," said the monarch, "you are proud of your learning. I am to propose to you four questions, and if you cannot answer them within four days you shall no longer retain the living of Markinch."

Returning home the priest found that the questions were of a most puzzling character. Utterly-perplexed, he proceeded to seek counsel from the miller of the Middle Mill, on the Leven, a person greatly reputed for his sagacity.

The miller offered to personate the priest at the palace, and to bring him out of his difficulty. The impersonation was rendered easy from a natural resemblance which subsisted between the miller and the ecclesiastic. At the appointed time the miller, in clerical attire, presented himself before the king, and undertook to answer the royal queries. "Where is the middle of the earth?" said the monarch. "Just here," responded the miller, beating the ground with his staff; "if your Majesty will measure all round, you will find that it is just at this spot." "Ay," said the king, "that may do. How long will I take to go round the world?" "Twenty-four hours," said the miller, "if you rise with the sun, and travel with him all the day." "Not so bad," said the king. "Now can you tell me how much I am worth?" "Twenty-nine pieces of silver," said the miller; "our Saviour was valued at thirty, and you cannot be worth more." "Very ingenious," exclaimed the king. "Now for the last question. What am I thinking?" "You are thinking," replied the miller, "that I am priest of Markinch, but I am only miller of the Middle Mill." "Well," said the king, "you're a clever fellow, and should be the priest. But your answers have saved your friend."

Many highway robberies had been committed in the neighbourhood of Falkland, the perpetrators always contriving to escape detection. Suspicion rested on the four sons of a person named Seaton, who lived in the castle of Clatto, about four miles east of the palace. The king was riding in that neighbourhood in his disguise as a gudeman, when a stout young man seized his horse by the bridle, and demanded his purse. With a small sword the rider chopped off the hand of the assailant, who instantly betook himself to flight. Next day the king, attended by his nobles, visited Seaton in his castle. He asked for all his sons, and was informed that one was ill and in bed. Expressing a desire to see the invalid, he was conducted to the sick chamber. The king offered to shake hands with the ailing man. Young Seaton held out his left hand, and proceeded to explain that he had by an accident been deprived of the other. "I have a hand in my pocket," said the monarch; "perhaps it may suit you." The king blew his bugle-horn, and his attendants took possession of the castle and its inmates. A gibbet was erected, and Seaton and his sons were executed.

James was on one occasion overpowered in a scuffle with three gipsies, who took him prisoner, and compelled him to lead their ass, and otherwise minister to their wants. As they were drinking in a public-house in Milnathort, James contrived to despatch a messenger to Falkland Palace, to inform his nobles of his detention. In the course of a few hours an armed body, led 011 by some of the courtiers, surrounded the gipsy encampment, and liberated the monarch. Two of the gipsies were hanged.

James VI. was the only coward in his illustrious house. His intense apprehension of personal danger has been ascribed to the alarm sustained by his mother on the murder of Rizzio, some time previous to his birth. The affair of the Gowrie conspiracy no doubt increased his weakness. Desirous of inspecting a coal mine, he accepted an invitation from Sir George Bruce, of Culross Abbey, to visit the extensive mines on his estate. The coal on the Culross property was then wrought under the sea, and was brought out for shipment at a moat within sea mark. To this moat James being suddenly conducted from the chambers of the mine, the idea of treachery took sudden possession of his mind, and he lustily bawled out, "Treason!" Sir George succeeded in allaying the royal fears by pointing to an elegant pinnace, which he had provided to convey his august visitor to the shore.

In 1617, James VI. visited Scotland for the second time since his accession to the English throne. He invited the Edinburgh professors to meet him in the Chapel Boyal of Stirling Castle, in presence of many of the English and Scottish nobility. Several subjects were debated before him, after the manner of the times. After supper the king sent for the disputants, whose names were John Adamson, James Eairlie, Patrick Sands, Andrew Young, James Beid, and William King. He then proceeded to compliment them in these words:—

"Adam was the father of all, and Adam's son had the first part of this act. The defender is justly called Fairlie; his theme had some fairlies in it, and he sustained them very fairly, and with many fair lies given to the oppugners. And why should not Mr. Sands he the first to enter the sands? But now I clearly see that all sands are not barren, for certainly he hath shown a fertile wit. Mr. Young is very old in Aristotle. Mr. Beid need not be red with blushing for his acting this day. Mr. King disputed very kingly, and of a kingly purpose concerning the royal supremacy of reason above anger and all passions." The monarch added that the College of Edinburgh, to which they belonged, should henceforth be called The College of King James.

The interesting traditions which lingered among the people respecting the homely ways of the old sovereigns conduced towards the insurrectionary movements of 1715 and 1745. The first insurrection was considerably checked by the appearance of the Chevalier de St. George, which did not justify the sanguine hopes of his adherents. But Prince Charles Edward, when he appeared, in 1745, caused the uninviting aspects of his sire to be forgotten. His fine manly form was the admiration even of those who denied his claims. Highland dames and damsels strove to kiss his hand. Many gentlewomen carried miniatures of the young adventurer in their bosoms. Lady Anadowal and Miss Flora Macdonald caused sheets in which he had slept to be constantly parried with them in their journeyings, that they might not lose the opportunity of being buried in their folds.

When George IV. visited Scotland, in 1822, all classes were equally enthusiastic in yielding him a proper reception. The Highlanders regarded him as their lawful king, since the Stuart line had failed. Some of the English nobility entertained apprehensions respecting the loyalty of the Gael—and a gallant colonel, on their behalf, suggested to Sir Walter Scott that it might be prudent that the Highland guard at Holyrood should remove the flints from their pistols. Sir Walter invited the Colonel to meet a number of the Highland chiefs at his house at dinner, which he suggested might be a favourable opportunity for introducing the subject of the flints. The evening was spent amidst the most enthusiastic manifestations of loyalty. When the proceedings had considerably advanced, Sir Walter said to the colonel, "Will you now speak about the flints?" "It would be utter madness," replied the colonel; "the men are loyal to the backbone."

The loyalty was exuberant. It was whispered that the king, like some of his royal predecessors, occasionally moved about incognito—a rumour much to the inconvenience of those stout burly gentlemen who appeared in the thoroughfares, these being constantly cheered and jostled as disguised sovereigns. One portly yeoman, who considerably resembled the monarch, was pounced upon as veritable Majesty, and the more he attempted to protest that he was not, the huzzas became the louder. At length, when fairly driven into a corner by the populace, he shouted at the pitch of his voice, "Upon my honour I'm no king—not even a baronet or a knight, but a plain man just as any of yourselves."

Sir Walter Scott, who was received into the royal presence before the king had left his ship, was so overwhelmed by the honour of having his health drunk by the monarch, that he begged the wineglass from his Majesty, that it might be preserved in his family. When the glass was accidentally broken, the great minstrel regarded the occurrence as a personal affliction.

In congratulating his Majesty on his arrival, the chief magistrate of Leith eloquently conveyed the sentiments of assembled thousands as he said, "I feel an elevation of mind which is inexpressible, in bidding welcome to Scotland the descendant of more M an a hundred of her kings."

An Edinburgh advocate had some time before been presented to the king at St. James's Palace. In the confusion of the hour he forgot the usual act of fealty, and took hold of the royal hand, which he shook with Scottish cordiality. When the state levee was held at Holyrood, the advocate, who had undergone some ridicule on account of his former awkwardness, knelt down and saluted the royal hand in the customary manner. He was passing on, when the king recognizing him said, "Stop, friend. I always part with my old acquaintances as I meet with them." The king then seized the gentleman by the hand and gave him a hearty shake.

The king took occasion to express the extreme gratification he had experienced by his reception in the Scottish capital. "I had been accustomed," he said, "to regard the Scots as a loyal race—an independent people, but now I perceive that they are a nation of gentlemen."

Our present gracious Sovereign has been so long accustomed to reside during a portion of the year in the Highlands, that the enthusiasm which attended her Majesty's first visit in 1842 has subsided into quiet and respectful greetings. To the occupants of the Balmoral estate the Queen has endeared herself by many acts of condescension and kindness. She has manifested a personal concern in their welfare, has sat familiarly by their firesides, and paid visits to them in their afflictions. Some years ago, Mr. Mackenzie, farmer, Ardoch, had been severely indisposed for a period of six months. The Queen sent word that she proposed to visit him in his sick chamber next day, and expressed a hope that he would not be annoyed by the intention. The visit was paid, and on the following day her Majesty despatched a messenger to Mr. Mackenzie's dwelling to inquire how he was, lest her visit had in any manner disturbed him.

The Queen was seated at the fireside of a cottar wife. The broth-pot was simmering on the fire. Her Majesty was informed by the honest housewife that she was preparing her broth. "And what is broth made of?" asked the Queen. "There's beef intilt," answered the gudewife, "and there's neeps intilt, and there's carrots intilt, and there's barley intilt." "But what's intilt?" said her Majesty. "Just as I'm telling your Majesty,—there's carrots intilt, and neeps intilt, and-" "Yes, I know all that very well," again interjected the Queen; "but what's intilt? I don't know what that is." "Just precisely as I'm telling your Majesty. There's beef intilt, and there's barley intilt, and there's neeps intilt, and there's carrots intilt, and there's greens intilt." Her Majesty only ascertained the meaning of intilt on her return to the castle.

There are some remarkable instances of regal personages having sprung from Scottish families. The great-grandfather of her Majesty the Empress of the French was a landless baronet in Dumfriesshire. Miss Charlotte Paterson of New York, granddaughter of Bobert Paterson, the Dumfriesshire stonemason, prototype of "Old Mortality," was the first wife of Jerome Bonaparte, ex-King of Westphalia, younger brother of the Emperor Napoleon.

The daughter of a plain family named Nelson, residing in St. Ninians, Stirlingshire, was the late Sultana of the Crimea. Miss Gloag, daughter of the blacksmith of Mill o' Steps, a small hamlet near Muthill, had an adventurous history, terminating in royal honours. Her father, after being many years a widower, contracted a second marriage. His daughter, who had attained her sixteenth year, was unkindly treated by her stepmother. At that period, about a century ago, many Scottish maidens emigrated to America. Miss Gloag joined several others, and embarked in an emigrant ship bound for some port on the American coast; but evil fortune seemed to pursue her. The vessel was seized by African pirates, and the passengers and crew were carried to- Morocco and there sold as slaves. Miss Gloag was purchased by the Emperor, who admitted her into his harem. At length she became Empress. She corresponded regularly with her humble relatives in Scotland. About the beginning of the century, two sons of the late Emperor of Morocco applied to the British Government for protection against the pretensions of an ambitious relative, who aspired to their father's throne. They pled a claim for assistance on account of their mother being a British subject. The claim was admitted, and a fleet was being fitted out at Gibraltar for their defence, when intelligence arrived that they had been secretly assassinated.


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