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THE life of Bishop Douglas was virtuous and eventful. His political consequence has introduced his name into the public annals of his native country: and the intrinsic dignity of his private character is commemorated in simple terms by his official Alexander Myln *.
Gavin Douglas was the third son of Archibald Earl of Angus, and of Elizabeth, the daughter of Robert Lord Boyd, a nobleman who for some time held the office of high chamberlain ". He appears to have been born about the year one
Alexander Myln was Canon and Official of Dunkeld, and afterwards Abbot of Cambuskenneth, and the first President of the College of Justice. His unpublished work entitled Vita Episcoporum Dunkeldensium may be found in the Advocates Library. This work is dedicated to Bishop Douglas and the chapter of Dunkeld.
Crawford's Lives of the Officers of State, p. 315.
thousand four hundred and seventy-four. His education was undoubtedly suitable to his noble birth, and to the honourable profession for which he was destined; but the seminary in which he completed his studies has not been mentioned by any of his biographers.
Having entered into holy orders, he was appointed Rector of Hawick. His early residence amid the beautiful scenes of Teviotdale must have tended in an eminent degree to foster in his warm imagination the genuine seeds of original poetry. The dormant energies of the human mind are at first awakened by external objects.
As early at least as the year 1509 he was, on the recommendation of his sovereign, nominated Provost of the Collegiate Church of St Giles in Edinburgh . This was a situation of no small dignity and emolument: and he appears to have enjoyed it in conjunction with his other benefice.
It was while he filled those less elevated stations that he composed the admirable works which have perpetuated his name. His family was afterwards exposed to many vicissitudes : and the latter part of his life, notwithstanding his eminent piety and learning, was rendered
c Sage, Mackenzie, and Keith, on the alleged authority of Myln, have styled him Rector of Heriot. But on consulting the MS. I find him denominated "Rector de Havich."
d Keith's Catalogue of the Bishops of Scotland, p. 57.
unquiet by the pernicious feuds which at that time prevailed.
His father, who is commonly denominated the Great Earl of Angus, followed the standard of his sovereign James the Fourth when he invaded England; but finding his prudent counsels disregarded, he excused himself on account of his advanced age, and returned towards his native country. His two eldest sons, George Master of Angus, and Sir William Douglas of Glenbervie, with about two hundred gentlemen of the same name, were slain in the fatal battle of Flodden. This calamity to the nation in general, and to his own family in particular, made so deep an impression on his heart, that having retired to St Mains in Galloway, he died there within the space of twelve months f. His title and estates were inherited by Archibald, the son of the late Master of Angus. This young nobleman, whose personal attractions stood unrivalled in the Scotish court, had the fortune to obtain. the regard of the widowed queen; and their nuptials were solemnized within a shorter period than the rules of decorum require. The match,
e The Earl of Angus was at that time provost of Edinburgh. From the Records of the Town Conncil, as quoted by Mr Sibbald, it appears that on the thirtieth of September, 1513, his son Gavin Douglas was chosen a burgess, pro communi bona villæ, gratis.” (Chronicle of Scottish Poetry, vol. i. p. 423.)
f Hume's Hist. of the House of Douglas, p. 235.
8 Buchanan. Rerum Scotic. Hist. p. 255. edit. Ruddiman.
which had been secretly concluded without the concurrence of the nobles, excited general indignation. The queen was no longer willingly acknowledged as regent the preeminence of her husband had rendered him odious in the eyes of the more powerful subjects; and the house of Douglas was involved in the persecutions which his aggrandizement provoked.
Among the warlike churchmen who fell in the battle of Flodden, was the king's natural son Alexander Stewart, Archbishop of St Andrews, and Abbot of Aberbrothock. In a letter addrest
to Pope Leo the Tenth, the queen, after extolling Gavin Douglas as second to none in learning and virtue, earnestly requested that he might be confirmed in the possession of that abbacy, till his singular merits should be rewarded by some more ample endowment". After the death of Stewart, William Elphinston, Bishop of Aberdeen, had been nominated to the vacant see of St Andrews: but his modesty or infirmities inducing him to decline this splendid station, the queen afterwards presented Douglas to the primacy. Confiding in the royal nomination, the splendour of his family, and his own virtue and learning, he took possession of the archiepiscopal castle but the validity of his claims was efficaciously disputed
Epistolæ Regum Scotorum, vol. i. p. 183.
i Boëthii Aberdonensium Episcoporum Vitæ, f. xxxiii, a. Leslæus de Rebus Gestis Scotorum, p: 356.