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Nor can their persistent ill-luck good taste which had been sedulously be traced to lack of capacity; for cultivated, and which was offended there was hardly a member of the by, boorish immodesty and clownish family who was not bright, ener
indecorun. They liked to have poets
and scholars and minstrels about getic, virile :
them—the Dunbars, and Lindsays, “ The Stuarts, intellectually if not plaints, made perhaps more in jest
and Buchanans; and spite of commorally, were immensely above the
than in earnest, which have been average. They were not ely men and women of conspicuous courage ; liberally by them.
preserved, they appear to have dealt they were men and women of conspicuous capacity. They were poets, fluent writers and speakers, brilliant There were great men in Greece soldiers, able administrators. They before Agamemnon, and the hiswere resolved from first to last to tory of Scotland does not begin hold their own; and they had a high with the Stuarts. conception of the kingly dignity, and sketch of the saintly Margaret is
Mrs Oliphant's of the absolute inimunity from criticism of a divinely appointed ruler ; quick with life and colour ; but yet they were not arrogant. Easy we are hardly prepared to agree of access, affable, quick at jest or
with her when she says,
“ Before repartee, they had all the graceful Margaret there is little but fable.” qualities which win the love, if not Such an assertion is hardly fair to the confidence, of the masses. The the eminent antiquaries who have engaging address of the Stuarts
been recently at work upon our attained perhaps its finest expression
earliest records. The admirable in Mary ; but each could exert on occasion 'the enchantment whereby industry of Mr Skene and other men are bewitched. In their hours Celtic scholars has unquestionably of leisure they liked to mix with the thrown a flood of light upon the crowd ; and instead of holding them- condition of the Scot before his selves aloof from the commonalty, it institutions were feudalised; and might be nearer the truth to say that they were not unfrequently plebeian remote society are full of interest
the glimpses that we get into that in their tastes. Mary, we are told, was somewhat sad when solitary'; and entertainment. Nor are we and though none of them were sullen prepared to admit that Scotland, or morose, as moonstruck monarchs prior to the War of Independence, have been, there was a strain of
was the home of a savage and bargravity and even of melancholy in
barous people. The period extheir moods; but it could not wholly cloud their constitutional gaiety. Sur tending over several generations,
from the time when Norman rounded as they were by a treacherous and turbulent nobility, they had knights and nobles flocked to the to be patient, reticent, watchful, alert; Court of King David to the time and the strain told upon them in the when the Maiden of Norway died end ; but they were always eager to
on her homeward voyage, was, escape from the tedious conventions of the Court to the freedom and home speaking generally, a peaceful and liness of a country life; and when prosperous age, on which the later they unbent they unbent wholly. annalists, who lived during the
Then they were like children out for long anarchy and licence of the a holiday; and it is only fair to add English wars, looked back with that though the mirth on these oc
unfeigned regret. The “blast" casions might become fast and furious, which burst when Alexander the it seldom degenerated into the un
Third's horse stumbled upon the seemly licence and gross buffoonery
cliff at Kinghorn, swept away the which were common in the households of the greater nobles. It was
earlier civilisation of Scotland. kept in due restraint by a native That the Stuarts did much to re
pair the evil is true, and Mrs their sway from an angry village, lyOliphant's eulogy of the Jameses ing between a fierce castle and a rich is not perhaps overstrained :
monastery, little distinguished among its peers, less favoured than Stirling,
less wealthy than the town of St “ With one exception, and that John, to one of the most noted of doubtful-for a man may be weak and may not be brave without being of noble houses, the centre of national
cities, picturesque and splendid, full a bad man or even king-every bearer of this fated name laboured with
life and government. And it is curi
ous to record that no one of the moncourage and constancy at the great archs who brought it such nobility work of elevating his country.
Another for Hector !' cried the High- the associations of Edinburgh. They
and fame left any sadness of death to land warrior when his young chief
lived and were wedded and filled with was in danger, and all the world has
the brightness of their happier moread the story with moistened eyes.
ments the town which afforded so Another for Scotland ! had been the
beautiful a scene for all rejoicings : cry of the house of Stewart through- they died on the field of battle or in out more than a century.
other places in conflict or violence or man fell he handed the sword to another ; to an infant hand trained amid despair. But Edinburgh only retains feuds and anarchy, but always clasp- processions, the bridal finery, the
the brighter memories, the triumphal ing, as soon as it had force enough, jousts and the feasts, the Parliaments the royal weapon with royal courage
and proclamations of laws and high and meaning. None of the Jameses lived beyond the earliest chapter of contain the history of her rise, her
alliances. The reigns of the Jameses middle age; all of them succeeded in splendour, her climax of beauty and early youth, most of them in child- stateliness, without any association of hood ; and, with but that uncertain
downfall or decay.” exception of James III., every one of them was actuated by a noble patri- This is admirably put; and we may otism, and did his devoir manfully for say at once without any qualitithe improvement and development of cation, that many of the most movhis country. They were noble gentle- ing incidents in Scottish history men one and all; the bigotry, the
been egotism, the obstinacy of the later
The whole of the Stewarts were not in them. Knights presented. and paladins of an age of romance, chapter, for instance, devoted to they were also stern executors of jus- James I. is excellent. The destice, bold innovators, with eyes ever cription of the king's wooing while open to every expedient of progress still an exile in England is just as and prosperity. Their faults were those faults of a light heart and genial Edinburgh on his return :
finely realistic as the picture of temperament, which are the most easily understood and pardoned. Un “Old Edinburgh comes to light in der their sway their country and their the glow of this arrival, not indeed little capital came to be known over with any distinctness of vision, but Christendom as not muworthy to hold with something of the aspect of a place among the reigning kingdoms capital filled to overflowing with a and cities through which the stream many-coloured and picturesque crowd. of chivalry flowed. They invented The country folk in their homespun, the trade, the shipping, the laws and and all the smaller rank of gentlecivic order of Scotland. Among her men, with their wives in the French heroes there are none more worthy of hoods, which fashion already dictated, everlasting remembrance. They ful thronged the ways and filled every filled their stewardry with a unity of window to see the King come in. It purpose and a steadfastness of aim
was more like the new setting up of a which, when we take into account kingdom, and first invention of that the continually recurring lapses of dignity, than a mere return ; and long nuinorities, is one of the wonders cager crowds came from every quarter of the time. Edinburgh grew under to see the King, so long a mere name,
now suddenly blazing into reality, He was a man of letters, a man of with all the primitive meaning of the science. The contemporary annalists word, so much greater and more living are his apologists. The crafty and than anything that is understood in it rapacious tyrant is regarded by Bower
The King's Grace ! after the and Wynton and Barbour with genulong sway of the Regent, always ine enthusiasm. Amid the turbulence darkly feared and suspected, and the of Border warfare he is represented feeble deputyship full of abuses of his as engaged in archeological pursuits, son Murdoch, it was like a new world --recovering and restoring the relics to have the true Prince come backof an earlier age. A still more strikthe blood of Bruce, the genuine and ing picture has been preserved by native King, not to speak of the fair Bower, — sitting on the ramparts of Princess by his side, and the quickened the Castle of Edinburgh, the Regent life they brought with them. From discourses to his courtiers, during the the gates of the castle where they moonlight night, of the causes of first alighted, down the long ridge eclipses and the order of the universe." through the half-grown town within its narrow walls, where a few high houses, first evidences of the growth leave the Jameses, we would ven
One word of caution, before we of the wealthy burgher class, alternated with the low buildings which
ture to offer to Mrs Oliphant. they were gradually supplanting, Lindsay of Pitscottie's garrulous through the massive masonry of the narrative has a perennial charm,Port with its battlements and towers the charm of simplicity, naïveté, to the country greenness and freshness and unconscious picturesqueness; of the Canons Gate which led to the but it is not to be taken as gospel great convent of the valley, there could truth. It is not a finical criticism be no finer scene for a pageant.”
only that has found it faulty ; it There is one omission in Mrs
is clear indeed to the most casual Oliphant's review of the Jameses student that many of the in
-one only; we should like to cidents recorded (as recorded) can have heard a little more from her be as little historical as Shakeof one of the most enigmatical of speare's plays. If they have not the Stuarts,—the Regent Albany. been evolved out of the writer's We have never, for our own part,
inner consciousness, they have been able to form any very clear been derived, it is obvious, from conception of the character of no higher authority than floating the remarkable man who, after a
tradition or the gossip of the fashion, governed Scotland for market-place. We may add that
a similar caution should be adforty years, and of whom Mr
dressed to those who put their Skelton writes :
trust in Knox's narrative, “ Albany is one of those peculiar Mrs Oliphant, we suspect, is and powerful characters which per- rather too much inclined to do. plex the historian. He had great op. We agree with her that the hishis government, during a period of tory of the Reformation in Scotprofound peace, Scotland was given land is surprisingly vivid and inover to anarchy. The patrimony of tensely dramatic. But it is histhe Crown, the estates of the Church, tory written by a man who was were squandered among nobles whó one of the chief actors in the were little better than brigands. On drama which it records, and who the other hand, he had strong natural
was as prejudiced, as superstitious, affections. He was a devoted father.
and unconscientious (where When he sinned he sinned for his children. He appears besides to have what he called “the Truth” was had tastes and occupations which concerned) as the most bitter and were uncommon in that rude society. unlettered partisan of the older
faith could have been. We may drance and interruption with which trust him so far when he tells us the lords must have regarded their of what took place before his own
companion, with his devout imaginaeyes (though, even then, the incu- jated to the keen inspection of an
tious' When men's lives are subrable bias comes in); but his re
ecclesiastical board new to its functions cord of events which he did not and eager for perfection, which does witness is comparatively if not not disclain the most minute detail absolutely worthless.
nor to listen to the wildest rumours, Up to this time—the close of the high ideal is apt to fall into the James Vis life—we have found
most intolerable petty tyranny.
linos had all the limitations of mind ourselves in full accord with Mrs
natural to his humble origin, and his Oliphant. When we come to the
profession, and the special disadvanreign of Mary, we (anter "the
tage which must attach to the habit Debatable land." We are glaul of investigating liya means of popular to say that Irs Oliphant's judy- Accusation and gossip, prololematical ment appears to us on the whole cases of immorality. ... With such to be eminently judicial, alike as
extraordinary arguments, unconscious
it would seem of the absolute inconregards Mary and as regards Knox.
gruity of his illustrations, obtusely A writer in the 'Spcctiltor' (Dec. perverse in the dogmatism which 20, 1890) will have it that “she destroys both (hristian charity and steers a milelle course between sound perception-though he was as Mr Skelton and those thorough- far from obtuse as ever man was by going worshippers of Knox of nature the preacher stood immora whom Vr Froude is perhaps the able - massailable. ... lle was leading representative in modern dices violent in speech, often merei
a man all faults, bristling with prejuEnglish literature.” It seems to
less in judgment, narrow, dogmatic, uls, on the contrary, that the fiercely intolerant.” 56 middle course which she has chosen leads her within a meas It is quite true, of course, that urable distance of Knox's later Mrs Oliphant is deeply impressed critics. We should be surprised by what the Reformer-unpleasant indeed if many of Mary's apolo- and inconvenient as he was in gists would find any difficulty in many aspects—contrived to effect, accepting as fairly impartial her by the dauntless force and indegeneral estimate of the Reformer. pendence of his character, for Such sentences as these could not Scotlanıl and for religion. She come from the lips of a worship is right so far, no doubt; but we per who was in any way blind to have always thought that there the failings of her hero:
was considerable exaggeration in
the view which makes Knox an "Knox is often worly, sometimes indispensable factor in Scottish histedious, now and then narrow is a tory. We hold, for our own part, village gossip, always supremely and that Knox was vitally and fundaabsolutely dogmatic, seeing, 10 Waly mentally unreasonable, and that but his own, and acknowledging no possibility of error. ... We still feel unreasonableness (in other words, sympathetically something of the sup- departure from, or failure to repressed irritation and sense of hin- cognise, the true relations of
1 One or two slips may be noticed for a second edition. Douglas was Warden of the Marches (not of the Marshes), p. 100; Beaton “skulked about his own life moors (1). 201). Should it not be ingus. Opinion is veering, but it is by no means certain that James I. wrote ('hristis Kirk on the Green,' even in a more archaic form than it has come down to us.
things) is always punished in the words, “established the Church long-run. The Pope of the High of Christ de novo.” Street was not a whit more ra It cannot be said, on the other tional, not a whit more tolerant hand, that Mrs Oliphant is unior enlightened, than the Pope of formly, or even frequently, unfair the Vatican. It may be urged, to the Queen. Mary's charm, her indeed, that Knox succeeded. quite innocent charm, is freely Though more than three hundred recognised, as well as her transyears, however, have passed since cendent ability.) Yet at the same the reformation of religion was time there is an under-current of carried through, it must not be adverse feeling which occasionally assumed that we have seen the comes to the surface in unexpected end. The revolt from Rome was places. “After the half-dozen years one of those momentous move- of disaster and tragedy,” she rements which cannot be judged in marks for instance, “of which a a day; and we honestly believe much greater number of her people that had Erasmus, Maitland, and believed her the guilty cause than men of that stamp, been permitted the innocent victim, there were to conduct it—had they not been few indeed who maintained their swept aside by the violence of the faith.” No representation could be torrent-greater ultimate stability further from the mark. There would have been secured. Rome had not been half-a-dozen years of recovered from the blow with disaster and tragedy. Mary was amazing celerity, and the strides only six years in Scotland from that she has been making of late beginning to end; and the early years are ominous, if not of final years were exceptionally peaceful triumph, yet certainly of a wide and prosperous. Maitland, for insupremacy in the not distant stance, was able to assure the future.
Would she have retained Estates, four years after her comthis marvellous recuperative force ing, that both at home and abroad had the Reformation been directed the nation continued in the enjoyupon other lines ?— had it been ment of almost unexampled repose really what it professed to be, “peace with all foreign nations, the emancipation of the intellect and quietness among ourselves in and of the conscience? The truth such sort that it might be truly afis, that on the basis of a dogma- firmed that in living memory Scottism so arbitrary and so narrow land had never been in greater tran
Knox's — a dogmatism even quillity.” We should like to know, more narrow and arbitrary than besides, what authority there is that which it succeeded -no en- for holding that even after Darnduring structure could be raised, ley's death the attitude of the no world-wide authority assured. nation, as a whole, was bitterly Knox may or may not have been hostile to the Queen.
“ There responsible for the destruction of would seem to be no doubt of the the abbeys; but he was undoubt- strong immediate feeling which edly guilty of a fatal mistake when arose against the Queen, the inhe cut himself off from histori- stant conclusion of the bystanders cal Christianity, and, in his own as to her guilt. The whole
1 Mrs Oliphant, however, is rather inclined to accept Mr Swinburne's wellknown paradox. But the conclusion that Mary could not be innocent unless she was a weak and brainless idiot seems somewhat strained.