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ART. VIII. Remarks on the Hiftory of Scotland. By Sir David Dalrymple. Edinburgh. 12mo. 4 s. 6d. bound. Balfour. 1773,
HE character of Sir David Dalrymple, as a diligent, and candid antiquary, is fo well known from his former publications, that the prefent work cannot fail of being favourably received by the lovers of historical researches. The general fubject of it muft, indeed, be more peculiarly interesting to the natives of Scotland: nevertheless, feveral of the questions here difcuffed, will afford fome amufement to many English readers.
The volume before is divided into nineteen chapters; the first of which relates to the alliance between Charlemagne and Achaius king of Scotland. Our Author informs us, that if a Scotchman, in the last age, had ventured to fufpect that the alliance between the emperor Charlemagne and Achaius King of Scotland was a filly fable, he would have been deemed an enemy of his country. Even at this day, fays he, I hardly venture to exprefs my doubts as to the hiftorical evidence of that alliance. Sir David Dalrymple has, however, expreffed his doubts with freedom, and has difcuffed the matter with great accuracy. The refult of his inquiry' is, that there is no fufficient proof of the account commonly received. If it be asked, when did the alliance between France and England commence ? Sir David answers, when the two nations faw that mutual aid was neceffary, and could be afforded. As nearly as he can judge, this concurrence of circumftances happened in the reign of William the Lyon, and from that æra may be dated the alliance between France and Scotland.
The fecond chapter contains a copious examination of the question, whether Malcolm the Fourth acknowledged himself the vaffal of Henry the Second, for Lothian in Scotland; in which our Author controverts Lord Lyttelton's account of that event; yet ftill leaves the queftion fomewhat obfcure: and well, fays he, may I ftyle that circumftance in British history obfcure, which Lord Lyttelton has unsuccessfully attempted to illuftrate.
The prophecies yet extant, in Scottish rhymes, of Thomas Lermonth, commonly cailed Thomas the Rhymer, are confidered in the third chapter. The Author makes the following apo. logy for treating upon what may [very justly] be deemed fo infignificant a fubject.
Perhaps it may be thought that I have bestowed unneceffary pains in difcrediting this popular prediction afcribed to Thomas the Rhymer
Let it, however, be confidered, that the name of Thomas the Rhymer is not forgotten in Scotland, nor his authority altogether flighted, even at this day.
• Within the memory of man, his prophecies, and the prophecies of other Scottish foothfayers, have not only been reprinted, but have been confulted with a weak, if not criminal curiofity. I mention not particulars; for I hold it ungenerous to reproach men with weakneffes of which they themselves are ashamed.
The fame fuperftitious credulity might again fpring up. I flatter myfelf that my attempts to eradicate it will not prove altogether
Be this as it will, in endeavouring to expofe forgeries, I endeayour to maintain the cause of truth.'
The next article relates to the death of Thomas Randolph Earl of Moray, in which Sir David confutes the affertion of the Scotch Hiftorians, that the Earl was poifoned by a vagrant monk from England, and that the fact was perpetrated with the knowledge and approbation of Edward the Third.
Chap. V. which treats of an extraordinary propofal made by David II, to his parliament, we fhall lay before our readers.
"In 1363, David II. affembled a parliament at Scone, where he proposed to the three eftates, that, after his death, they should chufe for king one of the fons of Edward III. king of England, and efpecially Lionel."
This is one of the moft fingular incidents in the hiftory of Scotland. Fordun conjectures that David made this propofal to his parliament, in confequence of fome promife extorted from him during his captivity.
The propofal was not made till about fix years after David had obtained his liberty.
It is probable enough that David II. a fhallow Prince, had conceived a jealoufy of Robert Stewart, as one who was more refpected, and who, in truth, had reigned longer in Scotland than himself.
Neither is it improbable that David may have projected a fettlement of the royal fucceffion on John Sutherland his nephew, by his only fifter of full blood, the Countefs of Sutherland.
I know that many of our hiftorians, and particularly Boece and Buchanan, have fuppofed that this fettlement was actually established by act of parliament: bat of this fuppofition I never could difcover any evidence.
Yet I muft obferve, that the capital objection generally urged against the hypothefis of Boece and Buchanan is of no force, viz. "That fuch a fettlement would have been contrary to the two parliamentary entails in the reign of Robert I." For, not to infift on the argument, that the fame power which made, could have varied the entail, it is plain that thofe entails introduced no limitations with refpect to the fucceffion in the event of Robert I. having iffue male. This event happened; he had iffue, David II. Now, Who was the heir of David II. in the event of his dying without iffue, the heir of Marjory his fifter confanguinean, or the heir of Margaret Countess of Sutherland, his fifter of full blood? If the former, then Robert Stewart was preferable; if the latter, John Sutherland.
To this, another pretext might have been added. Marjory was the daughter of Brace, a private man; Margaret, of Bruce, King of Scotland.
•If David II. ever formed fuch a plan, it was totally overthrown by the death of his nephew John Sutherland in 1361.
That he may have formed fome plan of this nature, in order to difappoint Robert Stewart, is not improbable, when his extraordinary negotiation with England, and his wild propofal of fettling the crown on a fon of Edward III. are confidered.
The parliament of Scotland received the propofal with merited contempt and execration. It was rejected, fays Fordun, in his fcholaftic jargon," Per univerfaliter fingulos et fingulariter univerfos de tribus ftatibus;" generally by each man, and particularly by all.'
The defign of the fixth article is to fhew, that Archibald III. Earl of Douglas was not the Brother of James II. Earl of Douglas, and that he did not fucceed to the earldom in right of blood. After having greatly laboured the point, the Author acknowledges, that what he has advanced has a paradoxical appearance. Ifhould, therefore, fays he, fufpect that there is fome error in my hypothesis, but where that error lies, I cannot discover.
In the two fubfequent chapters, Mary of Gueldre, Queen Dowager of James II. of Scotland, is vindicated from the charge of incontinency; and a copy is given of the fenfible proclamation, iffued by the magiftrates of Edinburgh, upon the first report of the battle of Floudden.
The ftatute in favour of the reformed, April 19th, 1567; is confidered in the ninth chapter; and the account of Buchanan and Spotifwood is defended, in oppofition to that of Keith and Dr. Robertfon.
The tenth and eleventh chapters relate to James Hepburn Earl of Bothwell, and the Sonnets afcribed to Queen Mary. With regard to that Earl, it does not appear that, when he began his famous connections with that Queen, he was either fo ugly or fo old as hath fometimes been reprefented. As to the fonnets afcribed to her, Sir David feems decifively to have proved, that the fonnets in the Scottish language are, what they are faid to be, a verfion from the French; and he inclines to the opinion, that Mary was herfelf the Author of them. This article is more curious and valuable than fome in the present work.
A circumftance in the hiftory of James VI. is next exhibited, the infertion of which will probably gratify many of our English readers.
James VI. ordains a Perfon charged with an Offence not Capital, to be tried; and, if found guilty, to be executed,
A learned and ingenious gentleman gave me an original warrant figned by James VI. which I here tranfcribe for its fingularity.
"James, be the grace of God, King of Scottis, to all and findrie our lieges and fubditis, quhomever it effeiris, [concerns,] to quhais
knawlege thir our letters fall come, Greeeting: Forfameklé as Peter Narne haveing maift traterouflie devifit and confpyrit the murther and diftructioun ofEnglishmen, and for executioun of his vyld and abhominable fact, haveing trained thame within oure realme, promiffing unto thame to gett thame advancen in credite and fervice with us, and haveing brocht thame to the towne of Kelfo, he thair refolvit to have accomplishen his faid vyld murther, and being in the actual executioun, he was, be the providence of God, stayed, the puir innocent ftrangearis relevit, and himself apprehendit, and is prefentlie in handis: Quhilk vyld and deteftable coyûinage and confpiracie of an intendit and confpyrit murther, being of fa rare ane example and preparative, and carying with it fa foull ane fclander and reproche to our natioun, giff the fame be not, accordinglie tane order with and punifheit, and albeit thair be na law maide againe practizars and confpiratours of ane murther unexecute, and that this fa haikedlie confiderit, will not appeir punifheable to the death; yet we haveing regaird to the circumftanceis thairof, with the interest quhilk it caryis to our fervice, and the fclander and reproche to our natioun, We have thairfoir, of our awin abfolute auctoritie and power, ordanit the faid wyld and deteftable confpiracie to be punifheit to the death, to the terror of all uthiris to interprife the lyke heireftir: for whilk purpois, we have maid and conftitute, and, be the tenor hereof, makis and conftitutis, our richt traift coufing and counfallor Robert Lord of Roxburgh our juice in that parte, to the effect undirwrittin, Gevand, grantand, and committand to him our full power and commiffioun, expres bidding and charge, to try and examine the faid Mr. Petir úpone the forme, maner, and circumftanceis of the faid conspiracie, and upoun fic vyld murther, qahairof he is fufpect gilty; and, giff neid beis, for the bettir discoverie of the trêuth, to put him to tortour; as alfwa, to put him to the knawiege of ane aflize for the fame, and giff be cry gilty of the faid, confpiracie and intendit murther committit be him, that he caus execute him to the deid for the fame; and in fpecial for the foull and treterous confpiracie aforefaid, and for this effect juftice courtis at quhatfomever placeis convenient to fett, begyn, affix, have, and continew, fuitis to make be callit, abfentis to amerciat, unlaws and efcheitis of the faids courtis, to afk, lift, and raife, and for the fame, gyf neid beis, to poind and diftrenzi, affifers neidfull to this effect refpective, undir the pane of fourty punds, to fummond, warne, cheis, and cauis to be fworne, clerkeis, ferjands, dempftair, and all uthir officiars of courte neidfull to make, creat, and ordane, for quhome he fal be haldin to anfwer; and generallie, all and findrie uther thingis to do and ufe, whilk for executioun of this our commiflioun, ar requifite and neceffar, ferme and stable halding, and for to hald, all and what fumevir things in our name fall be done herein. Given undir our fignet, and subscrivit with our hand, at Brechin, the tent day of October, and of our reign the xxxv. and yeir, 1601.
• Locus figilli.
It is probable that this commiffion was granted to Lord Roxburgh, because the confpiracy was to have been carried into execution in the Lordship of Kelfo, belonging to that nobleman.
• I am
'I am not certain whether the crime charged was an intention or an attempt to commit murder. I know not whether any trial enfued. Perhaps the King meant no more by this commiffion, than to make a parade of his impartial and inexorable juftice, and of his great affection to his future fubjects of England. If fuch was his purpose, the alarming expreflion," by our own abfolute authority and power," might have been spared.'’
The thirteenth chapter relates to the fecret correspondence of James VI. and brings convincing evidence, that he had correfpondents in England unknown to Cecil, as much as Cecil's negotiations were unknown to Elizabeth.
In the fucceeding article, an extract is given, from a MS. journal of the affembly of divines at Westminster, written by Mr. George Gillespie, one of the Scottish commiffioners. Our Author thinks, that a difpaffionate and impartial hiftory of the affembly of divines would be a work curious and useful. It is probable, however, fays he, that we shall never see such a work; for the writer must be one who neither hates, nor contemns, nor admires that affembly.
This article is followed by fome entertaining particulars, relative to the Earl of Glencairne's infurrection in 1653, and 1654; taken from a narrative of his expedition into the Highlands of Scotland, drawn up by one of his attendants.
The fubjects of the fixteenth and feventeenth chapters, are Euphan M'Cullen, Major Weir, and Mr. Gabriel Penman and the intention of Sir David, in taking notice of these persons, is, to expose the fanaticism, fuperftition, and bigotry of which both Prefbyterians and Epifcopalians have at times been guilty.
The next article affords a proof, from a certificate written by Sir Thomas Livingston, that terms had been offered to Lord Dundee; and confequently, that the popular opinion of his having been urged to defpair by the inexorable feverity of King William's ministry, was erroneous.
The laft chapter contains a curious inftrument, communicated by Thomas Aftle, Efq; with regard to the death of David prince of Scotland.
Such are the matters comprehended in the prefent publication. We have only to add, that the various questions here examined are treated of with impartiality and judgment. The fubjects are not all of great importance. Some of them are undoubtedly frivolous; but it does not always happen that the curiofities collected by antiquaries, are equally efteemed by the collector, and by thofe to whom he may be fond of fhewing his rarities.