Page images

encouraging the importation of corn, by granting a free and unli mited trade to foreigners.

Events of an inauspicious aspect concurred to hasten the inglorious and tragical termination of James's reign; which had been hitherto successful, though not splendid. His kingdom had enjoyed peace since his accession.. The acquisition of the Orkney and Shetland Islands, the recovery of the town of Berwick and the castle of Roxburgh from the English, the depression of the aristocracy, prevented the irruption of public discontent. But James's arbitrary conduct had provoked much private animosity; and, having no standing army, he could not govern by fear only. His private pursuits, though not vicious, were unsuitable to the temper and genius of his time. Architecture, music, and painting, were his chief amusements; his chief companions were persons of low rank, though skilful in the mechanical arts.

His brothers, Albany and Mar, were princes of a character dissimilar to the King's. They associated with the nobility, and excelled in martial exercises; which were then esteemed the highest accomplishments; while he, in solitary retirement, neglecting the duties of his high station, incurred the contempt and indig nation of the haughty nobility. While he lived in amity with his brothers, their authority and influence restrained any public expression of indignation against him; but their popularity excited his jealousy and resentment.

The wardenship of the Eastern Marches had been assigned to Albany by his father; the command of Berwick and the lieutenancy of the Borders had been subsequently intrusted to him by his brother. A violent feud existed between Albany and the Homes and Lindsays; whose estates lay contiguous to the earldom of March, the property of the Prince. In order to procure Albany's ruin, his enemies applied to Cochrane, one of the King's favourites; who reported to the superstitious Monarch the prediction of a witch, that he should be slain by one of his nearest kindred. The Monarch's suspicions immediately fell upon his brothers: They were seized, upon suspicion of treasonable practices, and confined in separate fortresses. Albany effected his eA. D. scape to France. Mar, less fortunate, was brought to 1479. Edinburgh, and bled to death.

An infraction of the truce with England occasioned alternate incursions of the English and Scots, but unimportant in their de



Instigated by ambition or revenge; the fugitive Albany was persuaded to pass over from France to England, and to en ter into a treaty with Edward the Fourth against his country. The object of the contract was to dethrone the King of Scots, that Albany might succeed him as Edward's deputy and liege. Richard Duke of Gloucester, accompanied by Albany, ad1481. S vanced against Berwick, at the head of the English army. James applied to his Parliament for aid; which was readily promised: But the nobles took the field with a stronger disposition to regain their lost authority and redress their grievances than to annoy the enemy. About fifty thousand men attended the King from Edinburgh to Lauder; where the nobles, in secret council, deliberated upon their purpose of revenge. The obnoxious royal



favourites were Cochrane an architect, Hommil a tailor, Leonard a smith, Rogers a musician, and Torfijan a fencing-master. rane had been created Earl of Mar; and he was appointed to command the artillery. At the consultation of the nobles upon the most eligible means of despatching these minions, Lord Gray introduced a fable: The mice consulted how they might escape from their tyrannic enemy the cat; it was proposed that a bell should be suspended from her neck, to intimate the approaching danger; but what mouse had courage to fasten the bell? shall bell the cat !" said the Earl of Angus, impatiently.* It was instantly determined that James should be placed under a gentle restraint, and that his favourites should be hanged over the bridge at Lauder. Their resolution was speedily executed. Cochrane, ignorant of their designs, proceeded to the council and demanded admission. "Who knocks?" said Sir Robert Douglas of Lochleven, who guarded the passage. ""Tis I, the Earl of Mar," was the reply. He no sooner entered, than Angus, advancing to him, pulled a gold chain from his neck, and said, with vehemençe, “ A will suit thee better!" He, with his companions,


rope 1482. was instantly hanged.


Having thus satiated their revenge, the King was conducted to Edinburgh castle, and there confined. Meanwhile, the English took Berwick, and advanced to Edinburgh; but Albany, finding the nobles indisposed to dethrone the King, sued for a pardon, and

* The Earl went afterwards by the appellation of Archibald Bell-theCat.

obtained it. The English army retired. Albany's ambition revived with his security: He renewed his treasonable correspondence with the court of England; which, being discovered, he became a second time an exile in England.

Richard the Third, who had, by treason and assassination, seated himself upon the English throne, was disinclined or incapable to second the ambitious views of Albany. But Douglas, who had been long a fugitive in England, and enjoyed a pension from its sovereigns, agreed to assist him in his designs upon the kingdom; and, with imprudent haste, entered Scotland with five hundred horse, and advanced to Lochmaben, during a fair. But the onceanimating name of Douglas had lost its influence even among his former vassals; and the authority of Albany was despised. Their troops were soon overpowered; Albany escaped to England, and passed afterwards to France, where he died; Douglas was taken prisoner, and, being conducted to the King's presence, was sentenced to be imprisoned for life in Lindores abbey. "He who may no better be, must be a monk," muttered the Earl, as he retired.

Peace continued with England. Richard's usurpation was unpopular; it required all his courage and policy to repress the increasing discontent which his cruelty had awakened. His successor, Henry the Seventh, who dethroned and slew the tyrant, deemed it most eligible to cultivate peace with Scotland. James possessed not either talents or spirit to avail himself of the unsettled state of England for revenging the disgraces and miseries inflicted on his country by that nation.

A train of misfortunes preceded the conclusion of James's unhappy reign. Untaught by the tragical fate of his former favourites, he relapsed into his former impolitic conduct, associating with persons of mean birth, and secluding himself from the nobility. The nobles beheld with indignation a new set of upstarts closing all the avenues to the royal favour; and they seeretly denounced revenge.

A conspiracy was formed by the chief nobility, to imprison and dethrone the King. Despised as he was, he had influence to muster an army of thirty thousand men, The disaffected nobles prepared a formidable force. Both parties were, however, reluctant to put the issue of the contest upon the event of a battle; and a deceitful negotiation suspended for a short time this unnatural

contest. James disbanded his troops, and lost an opportunity never to be recalled. His pusillanimity emboldened his enemies to reassemble their adherents, under the pretence that he had evaded or delayed the performance of the articles of pacification.

The rebellious barons artfully reported that the King sought the life of the Prince, his son, who was then in his fifteenth year. It was in his defence that they professed to take up arms; and they constrained the Prince to become their nominal leader. Both sides prepared to terminate the dispute by the sword. The King proceeded to Stirling castle, to join the loyal peers who were advancing to his help; but, upon his arrival, the governor refused him admission.

Impatient and irresolute, he was advised to hazard an engagement near Bannockburn; but the action had scarcely commenced, when he was seized with a panic and fled. He was thrown from his horse, and, oppressed with the weight of his armour, fainted away. He was conveyed, by a miller and his wife, to their cottage; who, upon hearing that he was the King, and being desired to procure a priest to hear his confession, ran to the road and called aloud, "A priest for the King!" One of the rebels engaged in the pursuit, rode up and exclaimed, “I am a priest; where is the King?" Being conducted to the unfortunate Monarch, the miscreant heard his confession, and then stabbed him to the heart. A.D. Į A hawthorn marks the place of his sepulture. He was in1488. terred without any public honour or ceremony.

James the Third was killed in the thirty-sixth year of his age and the twenty-eighth of his reign. He left three sons. Margaret, his amiable and respected Queen, died before him, in the prime of life.


James the Fourth-his character. Insurrection. Naval transactions--encou ragement of the fishery, and of education. Perkin Warbeck. University of Aberdeen instituted. The King's marriage. Domestic policy-foreign relations. The Great Michael. Printing introduced. Dispute with England. Battle of Flodden.

JAMES the FOURTH.-James the Fourth, a great and accomplished prince, succeeded his father. Through a defective and neglected education, he possessed few literary acquirements; but his mind

was vigorous and acute. His stature was of the middle size, his form well-proportioned, his countenance majestic ; and a sound constitution enabled him to endure any fatigue. A spirit of true patriotism directed his councils and won the affections of all ranks; and his talents were equalled by his virtues. His strict administration of justice the happy concord which subsisted between him and the nobles-his generous patronage of the arts and scienceshis attention to navigation, which had been hitherto strangely neglected-rendered his reign beneficent and glorious. His love of magnificence, his ambition of fame, his skill in military exercises, and even his romantic spirit and chivalrous exploits, wonderfully excited the popular admiration and love.

As soon as the unhappy fate of the late Sovereign was ascer tained, Prince James was solemnly crowned at Scone. A revoca. tion of all lands, dignities, and offices, granted by his father since the commencement of the civil war, was published, for the ostensible reason that they had been bestowed by the advice of a council inimical to public liberty. The Estates passed an act of indemnity in favour of all who had been concerned in the late rebellion; but the involuntary part which the young King had taken in the late unnatural contest, excited in his mind the keenest remorse; and, as an evidence of his contrition, he constantly wore an iron girdle about his body.

The rebellion attracted the notice of the Pope, who directed the thunders of the Vatican at the rebellious barons; but he spared the young Monarch, in consideration of his youth and inexperience.

Various measures were recommended by the Parliament for repressing disorder and giving effect to the laws. The castle of Dunbar was ordered to be demolished; the Lords of Justiciary were commanded to accompany the King in his journeys through the kingdom, for the administration of justice; and, for the more ef fectual security of the public peace, certain noblemen and gentlemen were impowered to take cognizance of theft, and to restrain the rapacious habits of the people, until the King should attain the age of twenty-one.

A.D. In a session of Parliament held at Edinburgh, the see of 1489. Glasgow was raised into an archbishopric. Many of the nobles who had participated in the defeat and disgrace of the late King, regarded James as a captive in the hands of his father's


« PreviousContinue »