Page images
PDF
EPUB

Nor trenscheand swerd, sall defays, nor doun thring,
Nor lang proces of age, consumes all thing:
Quhen that unknawina day sall him address,
Quhilk not but on this body power hes,
And ends the date of mine uncertain eild,3
The better part of me shall be upheild4
Above the sternis perpetuallie to ring,5
And here my name remane butó emparing;
Throwout the isle, yclipt'it Albione,
Read shall I bee, and sung by many a one.
Thus up my pen and instruments full zore7
On Virgil's post I fix for evermore,
Nevir from thens sic matters to descrive:8
My muse shall now be clene contemplative
And solitair; as doth the bird in caige
Sen fer by worne, all is my childis aige ;10
And of my days near passit the half date,
That Nature suld me granting, wele I wate;
Thus sen I feilell down sweyand12 the ballance,
Here I resign my youngkeris13 observance,
And will direct my labours evermoir, 14
Unto the Common-welth and goddis gloir.15
Adiew, gude redaris, 16 God gif you all gude nycht,1

And, after death, grant us his hevinly lycht.” 18 The life of Douglas now became troubled and eventful. It had before glided on serenely in happy literary enjoyment, undisturbed by pomp or terror.

Its after-course was destined to partake largely of both.

The widowed queen of James IV., who had been deprived of her husband when she was yet in the prime of youth and beauty, fixed her affections on the Earl of Angus, one of the handsomest 1 defeat.

unknown. 4 upheld.

reign. 6 without. 7 expert.

8 describe. altogether contemplative. 11 feel.

12 down inclining; 13 observance of my youth. evermore. glory.

16 good readers. 17 good night. 18 light.

2

3 old age.

5

9

10 age.

14

15

66 Mar

the queen.

[ocr errors]

noblemen at the court, and nephew to Douglas; but, from his extreme youth, little calculated to act with prudence under circumstances so flattering to his vanity and ambition.

“ To the surprise and regret of all ranks,” says Pinkerton, garet, hardly recovered from the languor of childbirth, suddenly wedded the Earl of Angusprecipitate step, which was fatal to her ambition, as, by the laws of the country, it terminated her regency. A birth, distinguished by an ancestry of heroes, opulent possessions, a potent vassalryabove all, a person blooming with youth and elegance, transported the woman, whilst they ruined

By this imprudent union, Douglas became nearly connected with the royal family; and, as the archbishopric of St. Andrews was now vacant by the death of Alexander Stewart in the battle of Flodden, the queen nominated him to the primacy, recommending him, in a letter addressed to Leo X., as second to none in learning and virtues." He accordingly took possession of the archiepiscopal palace, and prepared to enter upon his ecclesiastical functions; but these were the iron times, in which the bishop often found it as difficult to preach peacefully in his cathedral as the baron to live quietly in his castle. His right was contested by Hepburn, prior of St. Andrews, who had been elected by the canons, and Forman, bishop of Moray, a crafty and grasping pluralist, whose wealth and address had procured the presentation from the Pope. Hepburn, at the head

66

* Pinkerton's History, vol. ii. p. 121.

[blocks in formation]

of a large body of troops, expelled the servants of Douglas, and took possession of the castle; whilst Forman, acquiring the assistance of Lord Hume, one of the most powerful of the Scottish nobles, first published the papal bull at Edinburgh, at the head of an army of ten thousand men, and then marched to St. Andrews. It

says

much for Douglas's moderation and love of peace, that he immediately retired from the contest, and left his furious rivals to pursue the stormy courses of their ambition, which concluded by Forman obtaining possession of the primacy.

Not long after this, the see of Dunkeld, considered at that time as the third in the realm, in point of emolument, became vacant, and the queen once more nominated Douglas, who, by the interest of Henry VIII., obtained a papal bull in his favour. The chapter at the same moment, however,

had elected Stewart, a brother of the Earl of Athole; and the postulate bishop, at the head of his clansmen and ketherans, lost no time in taking possession of his new dignity, fortifying the palace and cathedral, stationing parties of armed retainers in the passes where he might be attacked, and declaring his resolution to be expelled only at the point of the sword. Nay, the persecution of Douglas was carried still further: being arraigned under some acts of parliament, which had seldom been carried into effect, of the crime of procuring bulls from Rome, he was found guilty, subjected to a temporary imprisonment, and committed to the custody of Hepburn, his former rival for the primacy. A compromise between tho two parties at length took place, and Douglas was consecrated

“ Having

at Glasgow, by Archbishop Beaton. first visited, on his journey, the metropolitan city of St. Andrews, he proceeded from thence to Dunkeld, where all ranks exhibited the utmost delight at his arrival, extolling to the clouds his learning and virtues, and uttering their thanks to Heaven for the gift of so noble and eminent a prelate.” The pope's bull was then proclaimed, with the usual solemnities, at the high altar, and the bishop retired to the house of the dean, where he was splendidly entertained. There was a very sufficient reason for this, as the servants and soldiers of Stewart still held the episcopal palace and cathedral, declaring their determination not to surrender it till they received their master's orders. Their steel coats were seen glancing on the walls, the cannon pointed from the battlements, and even the steeple had been transformed into a garrison of troops; so that the new bishop was constrained to perform divine service in the house in which he lodged. Here, too, he administered the oaths to his canons; and, having afterwards held a solemn consultation with the powerful nobles and gentry by whom he was accompanied, their deliberations were interrupted by a sudden discharge of cannon, whilst news arrived at the same moment that 'Stewart was on his march to take possession of the benefice. Force had now to be opposed to force; the feudal friends, who surrounded Douglas, marshalled their retainers; messengers were sent off to Fife and Angus, and next morning so powerful a reinforcement arrived, that Stewart retired to the neighbouring woods. The cathedral was then carried by one of Douglas's supporters, and his

182

GAVIN DOUGLAS.

DI

opponents, being summoned to capitulate, at last thought it prudent to obey. “A circumstance," says Sage, “ very acceptable to the good bishop, who, in all the actions of his life, discovered a gentle and merciful disposition, regulating the warlike and heroic spirit that was natural to his family, by the excellent laws of the Christian religion."

His near relationship to the powerful and turbulent Earl of Angus, was an unfortunate circumstance for the prelate, and often involved him in scenes deeply repugnant to his feelings. One of these is worthy of record, as it presents an extraordinary picture of the times, and brings out the Christian meekness of Douglas, in fine relief, to the dark and ferocious characters by whom he was surrounded. In 1520 a faction of the nobles, headed by Arran, Argyle, and Huntley, and secretly supported by Archbishop Beaton, determined to humble the

power of Angus. In April they assembled at Edinburgh in great strength, and, holding their rendezvous at the house of the Archbishop, resolved to seize Angus, whose power, they alleged, was too exorbitant for a subject. Apprised of this, the earl commissioned his uncle, the Bishop of Dunkeld, to confer with his opponents, and, if possible, to bring matters to an amicable agreement. It was in vain, however, that he addressed himself to barons of turbulent and warlike habits, who deemed it an indignity to forgive an injury. Turning, therefore, to Beaton, he implored him by

* Irving's Lives, vol. ii. p. 11.

« PreviousContinue »