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JAMES I. OF SCOTLAND.
James I. of Scotland was born in the year 1393, and became heir apparent to the Scottish crown by the death of his brother, Prince David. Taken prisoner at sea by the English, at ten years of age, he received some compensation for his cruel detention by an excellent education. It appears that he accompanied Henry V. into France, and there distinguished himself by his skill and bravery. On his return to his native country he endeavoured, during too short a reign, to strengthen the rights of the crown and people against a tyrannical aristocracy, He was the first who convoked commissioners from the shires, in place of the numerous lesser barons, and he endeavoured to create a house of commons in Scotland, by separating the representatives of the people from the peers; but his nobility foresaw the effects of his scheme, and too successfully resisted it. After clearing the lowlands of Scotland from feudal oppression, he visited the highlands, and crushed several refractory chieftains. Some instances of his justice are recorded, which rather resemble the cruelty of the times in which he lived, than his own personal character; but in such times justice herself wears a horrible aspect. One Mac
donald, a petty chieftain of the north, displeased with a widow on his estate for threatening to appeal to the king, had ordered her feet to be shod with iron plates nailed to the soles; and then insultingly told her that she was thus armed against the rough roads. The widow, however, found means to send her story to James, who seized the savage, with twelve of his associates, whom he shod with iron, a similar manner, and having exposed them for several days in Edinburgh, gave them over to the executioner.
While a prisoner in Windsor Castle, James had seen and admired the beautiful Lady Jane Beaufort, daughter of the Duke of Somerset. Few royal attachments have been so romantic and so happy. His poem entitled the Quair', in which he pathetically laments his captivity, was devoted to the celebration of this lady; whom he obtained at last in marriage, together with his liberty, as Henry conceived that his union with the grandaughter of the Duke of Lancaster might bind the Scottish monarch to the interests of England.
James perished by assassination, in the 44th year of his age, leaving behind him the example of a patriot king, and of a man of genius universally accomplished.
1 Quair is the old Scotch word for a book.
THE KING THUS DESCRIBES THE APPEARANCE OF HIS MIST WHEN HE FIRST SAW HER FROM A WINDOW OF HIS PRISON AT WINDSOR.
FROM CANTO II, OF THE QUAIR.
XII. Now was there made fast by the touris wall A garden fair ; and in the corners set An herbere green; with wandis long and small
3 Herbary, or garden of simples.
Railed about and so with treeis set
That life was none (a) walking there forby
Worshippe, Oye that lovers bene, this may !
And therewith cast I down mine eye again,
For which sudden abate 1 anon astert %
Of her array the form gifs I shall write, Toward her golden hair, and rich attire, In fret wise couched with pearlis white, And greatè balas * lemyng 5 as the fire; With many an emerant and faire sapphire, And on her head a chaplet fresh of hue, Of plumys parted red and white and blue.
XXIX. About her neck, white as the fyr amaille, A goodly chain of small orfevyrie ?, Whereby there hang a ruby without fail Like to a heart yshapen verily, That as a spark of lowe 8 so wantonly Seemèd burnyng upon her whitè throat; Now gif there was good parly God it wote,
XXX. And for to walk that freshè mayè's morrow, An hook she had upon her tissue white, That goodlier had not been seen toforrow,
* An unexpected accident. 2 Started back. 3 If.
4 Rubies. 5 Burning. 6 Mr. Ellis conjectures that this is an error, for fair email, i. e, enamel. 7 Goldsmith's work.
8 Fire. 9 Heretofore.