Page images

was bald and bare. He seemed to be a man of two-and-fifty years, with a great pyke-staff in his hand, and came first forward among the lords, crying and speiring for the king, saying, "he desired to speak to him.' While at the last, he came where the king was sitting in the desk at his prayers; but when he saw the king he made him little reverence or salutation, but leaned down familiarly on the desk before him, and said to him on this manner, as after follows:-Sir king, my mother hath sent me to you, desiring you not to pass at this time where thou art purposed; for if thou doest, thou wilt not fare well in thy journey, nor none that passeth with thee. Further, she bade thee converse with no woman, nor use their counsel; for if thou do it, thou wilt be confounded and brought to shame.' By the time this man had spoken thir words unto the king's grace, the evening song was near done, and the king paused on thir words, studying to give him an answer; but, in the mean time, before the king's eyes, and in presence of all the lords who were about him for the time, this man vanished away, and could no ways be seen or comprehended, but vanished away as he had been a blink of the sun, or a whiss of the whirlwind, and could no more be seen. I heard say, Sir David Lindsay, (Lion Herald,) and John Inglis, (the Marshall,) who were at that time young men and special servants to the king's grace, were standing presently beside the king, who thought to have laid hands on this man, that they might have speired further tidings at him; but all for nought; they could not touch him, for he vanished


away betwixt them, and was no more seen. There can be little doubt that the mysterious and unearthly-looking personage, who appeared in the royal chapel and vanished like a whiss of the whirlwind, was a more substantial spectre than was at that time generally believed. James, with the recklessness which belonged to his character, was hurrying into a war which proved disastrous in its consequences, and was highly unpopular with a great proportion of his nobles; and the vision at Linlithgow may have been intended to work upon the well-known superstitious feelings of the monarch. It is even by no means impossible, that Sir David Lindsay knew more of this strange old man than he was willing to confess; and, whilst he asserted to Buchanan the reality of the story, t concealed the key which he could have given to the supernatural appearance of the unknown monitor.

Our next information regarding Lindsay is derived from his own works. After the fatal battle of Flodden, and the death of the king, he continued his attendance on the infant monarch who succeeded him; and he presents us with a natural and beautiful picture of himself and his royal charge. “When thou wert young, and had not begun to walk, how tenderly did I bear thee in mine arms—how warmly wrap thee in thy little bed-how sweetly sing, with lute in hand, to give thee pleasure-or dance riotously, or play farces before thee on the floor :"

* Lindsay of Pitscottie, Hist. of Scotland, p. 172.

of Buchanani Hist, b. 13, c. 31.


“Quhen thow was zoung, I bure thee in my arme

Full tenderlie, til thow begowth to gang,
And in thy bed oft happit thee full warm;

With lute in hand syne sweitly to thee sang;

Sum tyme in dansing fiercely I fang,
And sum tyme playand farsis on the fure;
And sum tyme of my office takand cure."

Again, in his “Complaint," directed to the king's grace, we have the same subject touched upon in a more playful vein, but with a minuteness and delicacy, which reminds us, in a sister art, of the family pieces of Netscher or Gerard Dow:

“How, as ane chapman3 beirs his pack,

I bare thy grace upon my back,
And sum tymes strydlings on my neck,
Dansing with mony bend and beck.
The first sillabis that thou did mute
Was Pa, Da. Lyn;4 upon the lute
Then playd I twenty springs perqueir,

Quhilk was great plesure for to heir,
* Fra play thou let me nevir rest;

Bot gynkerton thou lov'd ay best;
And ay whan thow cam fra the scule,
Than I behov'd to play the fule;
As I at length into my Dreme
My sindre service did expreme.
“ Thoct 6 it bene better, as says the wise,

Hap to the court nor gude service,
I wot thou lov'd me better than
Nor now some wyf does her gudeman.
Then men til others did record,
Said Lyndsay wad be maid ane lord.
Thow has maid lords, sir, by Sanct Geill!
Of some that hes nocht servd sa weill.” 7

I begun.


3 pedlar.
4 Pa, Da. Lyn-Papa, David Lindsay.
5 by heart, off-hand. 6 although.

7 well.

The unhappy scenes of feudal turbulence and disorder which occupied the minority of James V. must have frequently involved Lindsay, not only in distress and difficulties, but in absolute proscription. Torn between contending factions, who each aimed at possessing themselves of the person of the monarch and ruling in his name, the country languished in vain for something like a regular and established government. Men ranged themselves respectively according to their interests or their prejudices: their fears of English influence, or their confidence in French integrity, compelled them into the ranks of the English or French parties; the first led by the queen-mother and the Earl of Angus her husband, the second by the Governor Albany. We are not to wonder that many of the nobles, disgusted by the imprudent marriage of the queen, and the violent and domineering temper of her brother Henry VIII., resolutely opposed the interference of this prince in the affairs of the country; nor, on the other hand, are we to be surprised that some good men, whilst they deprecated the idea of their country being wholly governed by English interest, believed that, with due caution, the mediation of Henry might be serviceable in reducing the kingdom of his infant nephew into a state of order and good government.

It happened here, however, as in all cases of political commotion, that the proportion of those who were actuated by a sincere desire of peace and a love of order was small, when compared with the ambitious and selfish spirits who found their interest and their consequence increased by

anarchy and confusion; and the consequence was what might have been anticipated—till the king arrived at an age, when he developed the strength and the vigour of his character, and grasped with his own energetic hand the reins which had been wrested from him by private ambition, everything was one wild scene of misrule, oppression, and disorder. The picture given by Lord Dacre, the English Warden of the Marches, in his letter to the Council, although coming from an enemy, was not overcharged:-"My lords, there is so great brutilnesse, mutability, and instableness in the counsaill of Scotland, that truly no man can or may trust them or their sayings or devices, without it be of things concluded or determined at a Parliament season, or General Council of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal; of which determined mind and purposes, from time to time, as often as they have sitten, and as far as I could get knowledge by mine espies, I certified the king's grace or you.

As to the nature of Henry's interference, and the conscientiousness of that anxiety which he professed for the prosperity of Scotland, there is a passage in the conclusion of Lord Dacre's letter, which is very characteristic:- .“ Upon the West Marches of Scotland I have burnt and destroyed the townships of Annan, Dronoch, Dronochwood, Tordoff, Fishgrenche, Stokes, Estridge, Ryeland, Blawetwood, Foulsyke, Westhill, Berghe, Rigge, Stapilton," et cetera, adding twenty other townships, “ with the water of Esk, from Stabil Gorton down to Canonby, which is six miles in length; where,

* Pinkerton's Hist. App. vol. ii. p. 459.

« PreviousContinue »