Page images
[ocr errors]

Lepanto,” an original poem, descriptive of the battle of Lepanto. The preface to this publication deserves quotation for its modesty; it would have been well for James and his posterity, had he remained always in as humble an opinion of his own fallibility.

"Receive here, beloved reader, a short poetique discours which I have selected and translated from amongst the rest of the works of Du Bartas, as a vive mirror of this last and most decreeped age. Heere shalt thou see clearlie, as in a glass, the miseries of this wavering world," &c. &c. "And in case thou find, as wel in this work as in my Lepanto following, many incorect errors both of the dytement and orthography, I must pray thee to accept this reasonable excuse, which is this.-Thou considers, I doubt not, that upon the one part I composed these things in my verie young and tender yeares, wherein Nature, except she were a monster, can admit of no perfection. And now, on the other part, being of riper yeares, my burden is so great and continuall without any intermission, that quhen ingyne and age could, my affairs and fasherie will not permit me to remark the wrong orthography committed by the copies of my unlegible and ragged hand, far les to amend my proper errours. Yea, scarslie but at stolen moments, have I the lesure to blenk upon any paper, and yet not that with free and unvexed spirit. Albeit rough and unpolished as they are, I offer them unto thee, which being well accepted, will move me to haste the presenting unto thee of my Apocalyps, and also such nomber of the psalms as I have perfitted, and incourage me to the ending out of the rest. And thus, beloved reader, recommending these labours to thy

[ocr errors]

friendlie acceptation, I bid thee hartelie farewell."

Du Bartas returned the compliment which James had paid him, by translating, in return, the Battle of Lepanto into French heroic verse. This translation was published at Edinburgh in 1591; and among the commendatory copies of verses which accompanied it, was the following sonnet from James himself, which may be taken as a favorable specimen of his poetic talent.


The azure vaulte, the crystall circles bright,

The gleaming fyrie torches powdered there, The changing round, the shining beamie light,

The sad and bearded fyres, the monsters faire, The prodiges appearing in the aire,

The rearding thunders and the blustering winds, The foules in hue and shape, and nature raire,

The prettie notes that winged musicians finds
In earth, the savrie flouris, the metalled mines,

The wholsum herbes, the hautie pleasant trees,
The silver streams, the beasts of sundrie kinds,
The bounded waves and fishes of the seas:
All these for teaching man the Lord did frame,
To do his will, whose glory shines in thame.

The personal habits of James are thus very happily described by Mr. Irving ::-"King James was of a middle stature, but possessed of none of those attractions which arise from external elegance; his shape was without symmetry; his deportment destitute of ease and dignity. As his legs were hardly able to support the weight of his body, he proceeded in

His eyes,

his walk by a kind of circular motion. which were remarkably large, he was accustomed to fix on strangers with a broad uninterrupted stare, which frequently compelled the more bashful to a precipitate retreat from his presence. His skin is said to have been as soft as sarsnet. He was of a ruddy complexion; his hair of a light brown colour, but towards the close of his life interspersed with white. His beard was thinly scattered on his chin. His tongue exceeded the due proportion; a circumstance which caused him to manage his cup in a manner sufficiently disgusting. He was somewhat inclined to corpulency; but more in appearance than reality; for his extreme timidity induced him constantly to wear a quilted doublet, of stilletto proof. The fashion of his clothes he could not be persuaded to vary; and it was not without some reluctance that he ever laid aside any of his old suits. So little subject to change was his mode of life, that one of his courtiers was wont to declare, that if he himself were to awake after a sleep of seven years' continuance, he would undertake to enumerate the whole of his majesty's occupations, and every dish which had been placed on his table during that interval. His natural temperament is said to have disposed him to moderation in eating and drinking; but during the last years of his life, his compliance with Buckingham's frolicsome humour frequently immersed him in riotous excess, and at an earlier period he is known to have been engaged in scenes of low dissipation." "James became immoderately addicted to drinking, and his beverage was generally the strongest which could be procured. This course of life rendered him,

at last, torpid and unwieldy; and although he still pursued the amusement of hunting, of which he was excessively fond, yet when he was trussed on horseback, he maintained his posture like a lump of inaniWhen his hat was placed on his head, he suffered it to remain in whatever position it happened to occupy."

mate matter.

James, by his queen, Anne of Denmark, had issue, Henry, who died in his 20th year, a prince celebrated for his virtues, and the darling of the people whilst living; Charles, who succeeded to the throne; and Elizabeth, who was married to the unfortunate Frederick, Prince Palatine of the Rhine.

D. S.


THE family of Maitland, to whom we are indebted for the most valuable collection existing of the ancient poetry of Scotland, and which has itself given a poet of some eminence to the country, has long been one of the most distinguished in the south east of Scotland. The name, as anciently written, was Mautalant. The first of the race who gained a place in story was a Sir Richard Maitland, baron or laird of Thirlestane in Haddingtonshire, who lived about the middle of the thirteenth century, and was famous for his valour.

Of auld Sir Richard of that name
We have heard sing and say;
Of his triumphant nobill fame,
And of his auld baird gray,
And of his nobill sonnis three,
Quhilk that tyme had no maik ;*
Quhilk made Scotland renounit be,
And all England to quaik.

Anon. Lines," In Prayse of Lethington."

William Maitland of Lethington, a descendant of

* Equal.

« PreviousContinue »