Andrew Lang.

A history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) online

. (page 58 of 60)
Online LibraryAndrew LangA history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) → online text (page 58 of 60)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


and English places. Hence, too, from the lack of bullion, arose
the system of commercial taboos intended "to keep money in the
country." "To import a commodity, unless by exchange for some
native commodity " (such as red herrings), " meant to export gold and
silver for purchase of the import, and, as wealth consisted in the
possession of gold and silver, this was always a damage to the
commonwealth." On the other hand, the exportation of native
commodities — coal, corn, pig-iron, and so forth — was often under
taboo, and an economic authority informs the world that " pig-iron
is the test of a nation's progress." If you may not export your
staple commodities (for that raises their price at home), nor pur-
chase imports with bullion (for that sends money out of the
country), it seems as if you could scarcely have any commerce at
all, and as if trade must have been pure smuggling. The preachers
added a taboo of their own against dealing with idolaters, like
the Spaniards, but the trading classes disregarded the pious
restriction.

The leather trade (which Mr Robert Louis Stevenson describes
as peculiarly precarious) passed through a crisis in 161 7-1622.
The shoemakers complained of the execrable quality of Scottish
leather, and the tanners admitted that their leather, in truth, was
very bad. A committee decided that "the country was very far
abused in the barking of their hides," but the Town Council of
Edinburgh urged that the Privy Council had no right to bring in
alien tanners to teach Scotland how to tan. That was matter for
the king and Parliament. However, eight tanners were fetched,
and Lord Erskine, son of the Earl of }vLir, obtained a patent in
the leather trade, and furnished the capital. Naturally the English



IMPORTS AND EXPORTS. 555

tutors in tanning (seventeen in number) did not lead happy lives,
and now the boot and shoemakers resisted the very reform for
which they had clamoured. They raised the prices of boots and
shoes inordinately, which is perhaps the reason why the less opulent
classes only wore shoes on Sundays. Such was the crisis in the
leather trade. '■^

It will surprise no one to hear that what soap was used in Scot-
land was foreign soap, and that bad, probably adulterated, so that
foreigners " cannot abide the smell of the napery and linen clothes
washed with this filthy soap." A Mr Udward obtained a patent
for soap-making, to the prejudice of the Flemish article. The
king is also said to have put a prohibitive tariff on Dutch golf-balls,
greatly to the benefit of the native manufacturer. If the author
may hazard a conjecture, it is that the golf-balls of the period (like
those used at the jeu de mail) were made of wood. Lord Caithness
describes the cannon-balls at the siege of Kirkwall as breaking
in two, " like golf-balls." Now a feather golf-ball, such as was used
in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, cannot break into
two fragments, as a gutta-percha or a wooden golf-ball does. Hence
we may infer that the golf-balls of King James's reign were wooden.
Glass-making and sugar-refining, as well as cloth-making, tanning,
and soap-boiling, were all improved, and were subjects of careful
attention to the king and Council. A machine for transporting coal
from the pit-mouth was invented, a kind of tram perhaps. English
beer was introduced (and adulterated), and native beer improved, to
lessen the demand for foreign wines. The local single ale cost a
penny (English) the pint (the Scots pint), containing about three
English pints or more. The best native double ale was the
" tippenny," or two shillings Scots, and one of the grievances of the
saints in the Bass, under Charles II., was that they had "to pay
at a sixpenny rate for a pint o' the tippenny yill," The Celts, of
course, already got drunk on whisky and eau de vie.

Imports, naturally, were " nearly ten times as numerous as
exports." Arrows, baskets, beads, beer, bows, bricks, brushes,
carpets, caviare, chairs, chessmen, chests, cloth, combs, dolls,
drugs, ivory, furs, garters, gloves, glue, groceries, Jew's -harps,
muskets, pistols, silk, spectacles, surgical instruments, swords, tin,
tobacco, thimbles, vinegar, viols, virginals, and wines (French,
Rhenish, Levantine, and Spanish), were among the imports. How
they were paid for is a mystery of political economy ; for the most



556 KINDLY TENANTS.

part, perhaps, in red herrings. There was not always and univer-
sally a taboo on exporting coal, corn, and other commodities.
Salmon was a staple ; and, in short, though we can scarcely tell how,
Scotland obtained her imports. Probably the laws were defied or
evaded. At this period, judging by the case of Stirling and of
Perth, where the town sent out 800 men to resist depredations by
Lord Scone, and by various accounts of the troubles in Edinburgh,
the craftsmen were numerous, well-to-do, and turbulent on occasion.
The tillers of the ground not only suffered from the raids and feuds,
but, as a rule, were subject to summary eviction, and held their
crofts for brief periods on precarious tenure. We have elsewhere
given examples to prove this, and the preachers constantly insisted
on the merciless oppressions of the lairds.

The class of farmers called " kindly " or " native " tenants had
tenures less uncertain, and enjoyed recognised rights which they could
sometimes be persuaded to part with for various considerations. After
the Gowrie affair, when Logan of Restalrig took to selling his lands (to
avoid forfeiture, as was believed), he "came to Edinburgh for re-
demption of the lands of Flemington from the goodwife of Peilwalls."
Lady Restalrig (Logan's wife) said, " This is but vain labour, for I am
sure if it were in the laird's hands it would not bide long unsold."
"And Bower " (alleged to have been Logan's go-between with Gowrie)
" said to the laird, as we thought by way of pretence, ' It were better,
sir, that you should let the honest folk brook their land, and take the
old offer that they offered you long ago, than to wreck them and
remove them, for they are native tenants.^ " This is a statement of
Sprot, the fraudulent notary, who forged the plot-letters of Logan :
the passage is in the Haddington MSB. The goodwife of Peilwalls,
as a kindly or native tenant, had a tenant right over part of the
lands of Flemington, which Logan wished to clear off before selling
the estate. According to Sprot, he made that ingenious man forge
a document to further his purpose. The facts illustrate the relatively
secure position of tenants, kindly or " native," who, of course, were
no longer the nativi, or serfs, of our earlier history.

How rich ladies lived we learn from a curious and then popular
play, "Philotus" (1603). One publisher, dying at about this time
(1 600-1 6 10), had 500 copies of "Philotus" in stock. The piece turns
on the desire of a rich old man to wed a pretty girl. He sends a
woman to point out the advantages of the match. Every day shall
be comfortable.



A LADY'S DAY. 557

Your fire shall first be burning clear,
Your maidens then shall have your gear
Put in good order and efieir,
Each morning ere you rise.

And say, lo, Mistress, here your mules,
Put on your petticoat or it cools,
Lo, here one of your velvet stools
Whereon you shall sit down.

Then two shall come to comb your hair,
Put on your headgear soft and fair,
Take there your glass, see all be clear,
And so goes on your gown.

Then take to staunch the morning drouth,
A cup of JMalmsey for your mouth.
For fume cast sugar in at fouth.
Together with a toast.

Three garden gulps take of the air,
And bid your page in haste prepare
For your disjune some dainty fair,
And care not for no cost.

A pair of plovers piping het,
A partridge and a quaily get,
A cup of sack, sweet and well set.
May for a breakfast gain.

Your cater he may care for syne
Some delicate against ye dine.
Your cook to season all so fine.
Then does employ his pain.

So the day goes on, with eating, drinking, dressing, music, and for
exercise, walking up and down a green alley : the last collation is
taken with Rhenish wine,

For it is cold and clean.

Velvet hats, gold embroideries, hoods of state, are dwelt on, and

Your mask when ye shall gang to gait
From sun and wind, early and late.
To keep that face so fair,

a precaution common even in the eighteenth century. Chains of
Paris work, carcanets, velvet, silk, satin, damascene, are all offered,
velvet shoon, silken stockings, "all your fingers full of rings, with
pearls and precious stones."

Sweet heart, what further would you have ?



558 BOOKS AND BOOKSELLERS,

The lady very briefly replies in the spirit of the song,

What should a young lassie do wi' an auld man ?

Beyond this point her remarks are too candid and explicit for repro-
duction by a writer of the opposite sex.^^ The play has little merit
beyond that of nimble rhyme, and is founded on a novel by Barnaby
Rich.

What did people read in these days ? We have the reply to this
question in the wills of several Edinburgh printers and publishers.
These documents contain lists of the persons who were in debt to
their booksellers. They are chiefly college men and ministers.
We find both Andrew and James Melville, Mr Peter Hewat and Mr
Charles Lumsden (who heard Sprot's confessions as to the forged
Logan letters); we find Lady Cowrie, who owed £,i6 : 4 : 8 to Edward
Cathkin, in 1601; and we find her future son-in-law, young TuUibar-
dine, whom she detested because he was in Perth on the fatal fifth of
August, when her sons were slain. Scarcely any lairds appear to
have been book-buyers, no nobles are in the lists, and, except Lady
Cowrie, only one lady, Helen Rutherford. The king, however, is on
the lists, and perhaps the gentry usually paid ready money ; if not,
they were not book-buyers, though tradesmen and the clergy patron-
ised literature. Two curious facts are demonstrated, '• the very large
impressions of books then printed," and " the way in which these
copies have almost wholly disappeared." Setting aside Bibles and
psalm books and school books, we find that Bassandyne had 510
copies of Sir David Lindsay's poems, while the romance of " Crey
Steil " existed in large numbers. Among the most popular books were
Sir David Lindsay's Poems, Blind Harry's "Wallace," Henryson's
■" Testament of Cressid," Rollock's Sermons, "Valentine and Orson,"
" Guy of Warrick," " The Palace of Pleasure," Sir Thomas Elyot's
"Governour," "Gargantua," Sir John Mandeville, "Squire Meldrum,"
"Bevis of Hampton," "Winter Nights"; the rest are, for the most
part, theological books and editions of the Latin classics. " Philotus"
appears to be the only contemporary work in verse which had
a considerable sale. One does not observe a " Faery Queen," or
any of the books of the great Elizabethan poets. On the whole,
though considerable numbers of books were bought, Uterature in
Scotland must have been a starveling trade early in the seventeenth
century. The Greek classics, too, scarcely appear in the booksellers'
lists.



ST ANDREWS UNIVERSITY. 559

To give a complete account of the universities is not possible
in this place. The King's College of Edinburgh made up the
number to four — St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh. There
were frequent visitations of St Andrews by royal commissions.
The place, freely robbed at the Reformation, and unsettled by many
years of turmoil, could not be in a satisfactory condition. The
University had but three colleges, St Salvator's, St Leonard's, and
St Mary's, of which Andrew Melville was Principal, assisted by his
nephew James. The commissioners of April 1588 were addressed
in this colloquial style of royal impatience, " It is most difficult in
this confused time, when all folks are looking to the weltering of the
world, to effectuate any good common work , . . and specially
where ye are not certainly instructed, and has no great hope of
thanks for your travail ; however, seeing things are so far proceeded,
do something, for God's sake !....! have mair writing concern-
ing thir materis of the CoUegis nor I wald get red my selff this XV
dayes, albeit I had little other thing ado," goes on King James. It
is not the authors intention to inflict on himself or the reader the
information which was too much for King James. Knowing St
Andrews fairly well, the king says to his commissioners, " Forbid
thair quarrelling . . . Albeit it is not forbid that they flyte (scold)
yet forbid fechting, or bearing of daggis (pistols) or swerdis, sending
of cartels, or setting up of pasquils."

The commissioners found that the bursar of the New College " hes
maid na compt," and that all the finance was disorderly. Of five
Masters of Arts who should have lectured, only three were busy, the
other two, not receiving any salaries, " refused to come." Andrew
Melville lectured daily on the Psalms in Hebrew, from five to six in
the morning, Mr John Robertson dealt with the New Testament in
Greek. Patrick Melville lectured in Ecclesiastes. A Mr Robert
Hamilton had dilapidated (or embezzled) the scholarship founded by
the Laird of Moncrief. (The Scots name is "bursarship," not scholar-
ship, and a bursar is not a bursar in the Oxford sense, but a scholar.)
At St Salvator's the Provost treated the finances with a free hand, and
gave in no accounts. The Provost affirmed that he lectured ; the
ministers declared that he did not lecture once a month. Mr Wellwood
averred that lie lectured, the Provost said that he lied. The plague
had scattered Mr Cranstoun's class, so he taught grammar to the
Earl of Cassilis, he who made the murderband against Mure of
Auchendrane. The physics of Aristotle were lectured on daily in



560 ST ANDREWS UNIVERSITY.

Greek ; the first class read Isocrates, Aristotle, and Homer. At
St Leonard's abundance of Aristotle, including the Ethics, was read,
in Greek, one hopes. The lecturers disliked teaching grammar ;
everywhere they wished to begin with a form, or class, and conduct
it through the whole course, whereas the law insisted on yearly change
of masters.

Further examination at St Mary's, or " the New College," proved
that the bursar had a receipt for his accounts, which he was
said not to have presented. It was signed by James Melville
and another, Andrew being absent through troubles with the
king. But as to the receipt, James Melville said that " they
were forced to give it, .or otherwise the house would have been
siai7/if," or dispersed. At St Salvator's some of the financial docu-
ments were lost, and others were buried " in ane kist under the erth,
and lang thairefter found be chance, bot that the evidentis " (the
documents) " was altogidder consumed thairin." The number and
complexity of quarrels in St Salvator's (where the Provost declined
to recognise the lecturers in law and mathematics) were beyond
belief Scholars were elected without examination. The Provost
averred that the College had no common goods, except eighteen
silver spoons, of recent make. The late Mr William Cranstoun had
embezzled ^10,000 of common property. A quarter of the cloisters
and the great hall were ruinous. In short, the University, except
for the Melvilles and one or two others, was a den of thieves, and
college meetings must have been lively.

In 1597 a new commission "put at" Andrew Melville — unjustly,
say James Melville and Dr M'Crie. Spottiswoode takes the
opposite view, and so does the Blue Book of the period, recorded
in the third volume of the "-Commission on Scottish Universities " of
1837 (p. 197). " Mr Andrew Melville found by voting that he has
not performed the office of a rector in the administration thereof, to
the ruling and ordering of the University." He had not conformed
to Act of Parhament and the reformed constitution. A new con-
stitution was proclaimed. Robert RoUock and the useful Patrick
Galloway, with Lennox and some local lairds and others, were in the
commission. In 1597 Andrew Melville was not likely to get fair
play. He was deprived of the rectorship. Mr ^^' ell wood, a
Melvillite, was also ejected. At that time, as in Glasgow still, there
were examinations upon the "black stone." A seat with a stone in
it still exists at Glasgow, a black capping stone at St Andrews. Is



GODSCROFT ON MARY. 5^1

this a relic of fetishism? James made presents of books, and it
was thought desirable to have a library to put them in. St Mary's
was in ruins, and the men lived in lodgings in the town. On the
whole the University of St Andrews, though frequented by mem-
bers of the noblest families, was disorderly, ruinous, impoverished,
and rent by quarrels theological, political, and personal. This was
not for want of learning. His worst enemies did not contest the
erudition of Andrew Melville, and gentle King Jamie himself had
more Greek and Latin than all the later occupants of the British
throne could muster among them.

But the nature of the times did not permit the quiet necessary
for academic life. Melville had to be fighting the battle of freedom
in every direction. The University, like the State, was devoured by
feuds political, religious, and personal. In an age of plunder it is
clear that several of the authorities robbed the University, a practice
which survived deep into the nineteenth century. The marvel is
that, in these distracting circumstances, classical learning was so
infinitely more abundant in Scotland than it is at the present day.
If Arran, a soldier of fortune, had not only Latin but Greek in
plenty, it is no marvel that men of less tumultuous lives were well
read in the classics.

In poetry the Latin muse attracted the Scots much more than
the muse of the vernacular. Melville was a considerable poet in
Latin, so were Sir Thomas Craig, Sir Robert Ayton (a pleasing writer
of English verse), Jonston, Hercules Rollock (an imposing name !),
and Hume of Godscroft, the historian of the house of Douglas,
a Protestant dealer in politics, an uncritical historian, but a very
pleasant character. It is astonishing that Godscroft, living so near
the time of the events, should believe, for example, that after
Riccio's murder Morton returned from English exile before the
birth of James VI. No reliance can be placed on Godscroft where
"a Douglas or a Douglas's man" is concerned. But how amiably
and with what fairness he writes on Mary Stuart : — " Concerning
that princess, my heart inclineth more to pity. I see good qualities
in her, and love them ; I see errors, and pity them ; I see gentle-
ness, courtesy, humility, beauty, wisdom, liberality — who can but
affect these ? If they be carried to inconvenience who can but
lament it? In thai sex, in that place, in that education, in that
company ; a woman, a princess, accustomed to pleasure, to have
their will, by religion, by sight, by example, by instigation, by

VOL. II. 2 N



562 NOTES.

soothing, and approbation ! Happy, yea, thrice happy are they who
are guided through these rocks without touch, nay, without ship-
wreck." What more can history say about the unhappy queen ?
Darnley's murder is " that fact so lamentable, which I can never
remember without affliction."

There were, doubtless, many gentlemen like Godscroft, humane,
learned, and gentle ; but they do not often appear among the political
leaders or the infamous secondary characters of the political drama.
Of the Archibald Douglases, John Colvilles, and Logans, of the
spies, and traitors, and highhanded ruffians we know much, but
little of those who, in an age of perfidy and violence, were eminent
for benevolence and virtue. How the distracted Scotland, torn
by family feuds, ungoverned, unpoliced, could ever have reached a
milder civilisation, except by way of the union ol the Crowns and
English influence, does not appear.



NOTES TO CHAPTER XXI.

^ Pitcairn, iii. p. 622.

2 Privy Council Register, vi. 603.

^ Spottiswoode, iii. 289, citing Register of the Privy Seal, Ixxviii. ibog, 1610.

* Register of Privy Council, x. pp. 642, 643.

* Privy Council Register, x. pp. 630-633.

® Privy Council Register, vol. vi. pp. 856, S57.

7 Haddington MSS.

8 Haddington MSS.

^ Register Privy Council, vol. x. Introduction, p. Ixxxvi.

^^ Gordon Papers. .Spalding Club Miscellany.

^^ Register Privy Council, xii., pp. v.-xiii.

^2 Philotus, 1603, Charteris, Edinburgh, and Bannatyne Club, 1835.



563



APPENDIX A.



THE CASKET LETTERS.



The letters which Mary is said to have written to Bothwell, before Darnley's
murder, and before her own abduction, were the only direct proof which her
brother and (if she really was guilty) her accomplices could bring against her.
When Mary surrendered at Carberry (June 15, 1567), and when the Lords had
shut her up in Loch Leven Castle, utterly immured from the world, they needed
something to justify their conduct in the eyes of Christian princes. What they
needed they got with almost miraculous promptitude. On June 19 a servant of
Bothwell's, named George Dalgleish, was sent by his master from Dunbar to
Edinburgh Castle. Bothwell had stored his title-deeds and other objects of value
in the castle, and had entrusted the command of the fortress to his creature and
accomplice, Sir James Balfour, an elder of the Kirk, and, of old (1547), a fellow-
captive of Knox in France. But, even before Carberry, Balfour had been won
over from the cause of Bothwell and Mary by Lethington, who deserted Mary's
cause just after she had saved his life from Bothwell. On the arrival of Dalgleish
to remove Bothwell's property from the castle, information was sent to Morton,
who was at dinner with Lethington. Then, according to Morton's sworn
declaration, search was made for Dalgleish ; he was found, was examined, and,
on threat of torture, gave up a small silver-gilt coffer or casket, bearing the
crown and cypher (F, in the new "Italian" hand) of Francis, Mary's first
husband. On June 21 the box was broken open in the presence of Morton,
Lethington, and various members of the Privy Council. A messenger, George
Douglas, one of Riccio's murderers, was at once sent to carry a letter of Lething-
ton's to Cecil, and a verbal narrative to Robert Melville, then representing both
Mary and her opponents, at the Court of Elizabeth.

It is impossible to doubt that the verbal message was a report on the contents of
the silver casket, which, on June 21, had been inspected by the persons who opened
it. No reference is made to the subject in the minutes of the Privy Council of June
21, and no inventory of the contents of the casket was made, or, at all events, was
produced. We have only Morton's word for the nature and number of the papers
found, and for the fact that he preserved them without adding or taking away any
article. At a later date, Randolph (October 15, 1570) avers that Lethington and
Balfour opened a small coffer, " covered with green " (cloth or velvet) in the castle,
and removed the band for Darnley's murder, and Drury mentions (in October 28,
1567) the same abstraction. This was done, if Randolph is right, in the castle,
before the casket reached the hands of Morton, supposing it to be the same
casket. The contents, as described by Morton, and as exhibited to the English



564 APPENDIX A.

Commissioners at York and Westminster in 1568, were ei^ht unsigned and
undated and unaddressed letters, averred to be from Mary to Bothwell, two
marriage contracts between them, and a sequence of love poems, more or less in
the form of the sonnet. The Spanish ambassador in London, de Silva, heard
from the French ambassador that, in June-July 1567, copies of the papers were
given to du Croc (the French envoy with Mary) to take to France. Of these, no
more is known ; they have not been found in French archives, nor are they cited
in French despatches. When versions of some of the letters were published
abroad with Buchanan's 'Detection' (i 571-1573) we never hear that the French
Government made any allusion to the copies carried in July 1567 by du Croc.
This must be remembered when it is suggested that, in 1568, a letter may have
been shown, which differed from a letter alleged to have existed in 1567.

In July 1567, Throckmorton, then in Scotland, was informed by the Lords that
they had evidence of Mary's guilt in her own handwriting. Again, de ^Iva, the
Spanish ambassador, in July 1567, elicited from Elizabeth the statement that she
did not believe in the letters, and that, in her opinion, " Lethington had behaved
badly in that matter." I suspect that Robert Melville, who was much attached
to Mary (though he was acting for the Lords), may have suggested these ideas to



Online LibraryAndrew LangA history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) → online text (page 58 of 60)