« PreviousContinue »
Sweet Conclusion of the Poem, 293.-It is Lindsay's last
DEATH OF SIR JAMES DOUGLAS IN SPAIN.
His minute Directions regarding his Sepulture, 325.—Quota-
FEUDAL GOVERNMENTS OF EUROPE.
JAMES IV.'S TOURNAMENT FOR THE BLACK LADY.
JAMES THE FIRST.
The return of James the First to his dominions had been signalized, as we have seen,* by a memorable example of retributive justice, from the sternness of which the mind revolts with horror. We must be careful, indeed, to regard his conduct to the house of Albany, not through the more humane feelings of our own age, but in relation to the dark feudal times in which he lived. To forgive, or rather not to revenge an injury, was a principle which in such days was invariably regarded as a symptom of pusillanimity. James had a long account to settle with the house of his uncle. The blood of his brother, the broken heart of his father, the usurpation of his hereditary throne for eighteen years, and the scenes of rapine and cruelty-which had been permitted to take place during his captivity in England, all called upon him to whet the sword of justice with no ordinary edge, to make an impression upon a people accustomed to laxity and disorder, which should powerfully affect their minds, and convince them that the reign of misrule was at an end. In assuming the government, his object was to be feared and respected; but, making
* Vol. ii. pp. 314, 315.
every allowance for such considerations, and taking fully into view the circumstances under which he returned to his kingdom, it is impossible to deny, that in the catastrophe of the family of Albany, the king appears to have attended to the gratification of personal revenge, as much as to the satisfaction of offended justice.
The effects, however, of his conduct upon a feudal age were such as might easily have been anticipated; and, within a wonderfully short interval, matters appeared to be rapidly approaching that state when, as James himself had predicted, “ the key should keep the castle, and the braken bush the cow.” The first cares of the monarch were wisely directed to the internal administration of the country
From without he had at present nothing to dread. England was at peace; the marriage with Jane Beaufort had secured the interest of the governors of that kingdom, during the minority of Henry the Sixth. France was the ancient ally of Scotland, and the commercial interests of the Netherlands were too essentially promoted by their Scottish trade, not to be anxious to preserve the most friendly relations. James, therefore, was permitted to direct his undivided attention to his affairs at home; and his great principle seems to have been to rule the country through his Parliament—to assemble that great national council as frequently as possible, to enact or to revive wholesome and salutary laws, suited to the emergency in which he found his kingdom, and to insist on their rigid observance. In the same Parliament which beheld the downfall of the house of Albany, we have seen that the administration