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show that Lindsay attended the University beyond 1509. It has been inferred, from references in his poems, that he travelled, or finished his education abroad; but the passages on which such conjectures are founded are of themselves too indirect to be sufficient evidence of the fact, without corroboration.
The first notice of his appearance at the court of James IV. is supplied by the Treasurer's accounts for the year 1511, when the sum of £3, 4s. was paid for a play-coat to David Lindsay, for the play played in the Abbey of Holyrood, before the King and Queen. The probability is, that he was in the royal service a year or two previously; but the loss of the Treasurer's accounts from 1508 to 1511, deprives us of the chief means of information concerning the private concerns of the court during these years.
On the birth of Prince James, afterwards James V., in April 1512, Lindsay was appointed his usher, or chief page; and a very pleasing and natural account of how he attended upon his young charge, and ministered to his youthful enjoyments, forms reminiscences in his two earliest poems, "The Dream," and "The Complaint to the King."
While thus forming an intimate member of the royal household, his testimony, as an eye-witness, is said to authenticate an incident on which the tragic results of the Battle of Flodden, which closely followed, very possibly threw back a supernatural reflection, to which the superstitious and excited temper of the times attached an importance out of proportion to the reality of the occurrence. Scott, whose romantic nature loved to reanimate the
weird spectres of former ages, has incorporated the incident in Marmion, and in a note quotes Lindsay of Pitscottie's account of it, which is to the following effect :
The King (during the preparation for the war with England) repaired to Linlithgow, to seek such religious support and guidance as suited his circumstances, and while engaged in prayer in the church of St Michael, he was saluted by an aged man in pilgrim attire, who warned him against undertaking the war, and then disappeared in the same mysterious manner in which he came. It was the popular belief that the King's monitor was St Andrew, the titular saint of Scotland, who was thus commissioned by the Virgin to warn James of the sad issue of the war. "I know not," says Scott, "by what means St Andrew got the credit of having been the celebrated monitor of James IV., for the expression in Lindsay's narrative, My mother has sent me,' could only be used by St John, the adopted son of the Virgin Mary. The whole story," he adds, "is so well authenticated that we have only the choice between a miracle or an imposture." Buchanan, after recording the incident, remarks "that David Lindsay of The Mount, a man of unsuspected probity and veracity, attached to literature, and during life invariably opposed to falsehood ; from whom, unless I had received the story as narrated vouched for truth, I had omitted to notice it as one of the commonly reported fables."
After the death of James IV., Lindsay continued as master of the young King's household, for which he had a salary of
£40 a-year, and had, as his associate in charge of the youthful monarch, Sir James Inglis, as chaplain, who was also private secretary to the Queen Dowager, and a poet, to whom the Maitland MS. attributes a poem of sixteen stanzas, entitled "A General Satyre," but which the Bannatyne MS. ascribes to Dunbar. On even less satisfactory evidence, he has been credited with the authorship of The Complaint of Scotland. John Bellenden was at the same time clerk of accounts in the King's service; and Gavin Dunbar, afterwards Archbishop of Glasgow, and Lord Chancellor of Scotland, was James's preceptor.
In 1522, Lindsay was married to Janet Douglas, a lady who was also in the King's service, as his seamstress, and which appointment she retained even after her husband's retirement from court; for the Treasurer's accounts up to 1537, contain various entries of moneys paid to her for the King's wardrobe.
The quarrels of the Queen Dowager and her husband, the Earl of Angus, at length led to her having him divorced; but on the retirement of the governor, Albany, with whom she sided, to France, in 1524, Angus recovered the control of affairs, and, with the view of strengthening his party, nominally placed the King, now in his twelfth year, in supreme power, while he kept him in a state of semi-captivity, the more effectually to use him as the instrument of his own ambitious designs. Lindsay, and others of the King's early guardians, were too honest to suit the view of the Angus party; yet though dismissed from the service of the King, his pension was continued to him. He retired to his
estate of Garmylton, near Haddington, and about 1528, at the age of thirtyseven, made his first essay in literature, by the publication of "The Dream," which is prefaced by an "Epistle to the King's Grace." To this succeeded, about 1530, "The Complaint to the King," and "The Complaint of the Papyngo." The chief burden of these three poems is the disorder and dishonesty that, both in Church and State, were ruining the country.
But now began to be heard the first indistinct murmurs of the storm that was to purify the polluted atmosphere in which the ecclesiastical life of Scotland maintained its unhealthy existence; and the Romish priesthood, urged by the fears that ever haunt the slaves of superstition, steeped in effeminacy, manifested the natural cruelty of their instincts, by passing an Act of Parliament, denouncing "the damnable opinions of heresy spread in divers countries by the heretic Luther and his disciples, and as this realm has ever been clean of all sic filth and vice;" and ordaining, under the severest penalties, "that nae manner of person bring with them any books of the said Luther, his disciples, or servants." Nor were they long in obtaining a victim in the person of Patrick Hamilton, who had returned from Germany, and began to proclaim the doctrines of the Reformation to his countrymen. He was brought to the stake in 1527-8.
The escape of James from the custody of the Douglases, in July 1528, again brought Lindsay into public life; and in 1529 he was appointed Chief Herald, with the title of Lyon King of Arms,
and the honours of knighthood. In 1531, along with Sir John Campbell of Lundy, he was sent on an embassy to Flanders, for the purpose of renewing a treaty of commerce, concluded by James I. in 1430. The Queen of Hungary, sister of the Emperor Charles V., who was then Governess of the Netherlands, along with her brother the Emperor, received the Scottish ambassadors at Brussels with great distinction. Lindsay had here an opportunity of witnessing the splendours of the court, and the pageantry of a grand tournament; and in a letter, still preserved, which he wrote from Antwerp, he records the impression made upon him by the unusual splendours of which he was a spectator, the cordiality with which they were received, and the success of their mission. A detailed account of his observation, written for the King's perusal, has not been preserved.
Buchanan relates that the Scottish ambassadors were authorized to report in reference to a matrimonial alliance with a member of the Emperor's family; and Charles, desirous of severing Scotland's ancient connection with France, in 1534, wrote James a letter, giving him the choice of three princesses of his own blood, all Marys. Pitscottie states that this matter formed the occasion of a special mission in 1535; but whether James was dissatisfied with the appearance of the ladies, whose portraits were sent him, or preferred the French alliance, does not appear.
Lindsay's next foreign mission was to France, in 1536, when he accompanied the ambassadors sent to negotiate a
treaty of marriage between James and Marie de Bourbon, daughter of the Duke of Vendome. But before the terms were concluded, the King in person, but disguised as one of his retinue, appeared upon the scene, and was discovered by the Princess, who had his portrait sent her secretly from Scotland. Yet after the most cordial reception, the impulsive monarch, at the end of eight days, took an abrupt leave of the Princess, on the plea of consulting the King of France.
Francis I. advised him to carry out his engagement with the Princess de Bourbon, but James set his affections on Magdalene, the King's eldest daughter, whose hand, after some hesitation on the part of her father, he at last obtained. They were married in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, on the Ist of January 1536-7, and the account of the marriage given by Pitscottie is said to have been supplied him by Lindsay, who witnessed the splendid ceremonial. James returned to Scotland in May, accompanied by his bride, who, however, only survived her arrival forty days. The King's grief was excessive, and Lindsay composed an elegy, entitled "The Deploration of the Death of Queen Magdalene."
James, in a short time, again turns his thoughts to a second French alliance, and selects Mary, daughter of the Duke de Guise, as his partner. Lindsay did not accompany the embassy that was sent to bring home the Queen, but superintended the preparations made for her reception at St Andrews, where the King decided upon receiving her. As part of the entertain
ments of the court on this occasion, he wrote the "Jousting betwixt Watson and Barbour, the King's 'medicinars.'" It is not at all improbable that his concern with the pageantry and amusements of this occasion may have turned his thoughts to the composition of his most remarkable production, The Satire of The Three Estates. Dr Laing rejects the common belief that it was enacted at Cupar, in 1535, and assigns its first representation to January❘ 1539-40, at Linlithgow. Lindsay's next work was of an official character, A Register of the Arms of the Scottish Nobility and Gentry, completed under his directions, as Lyon Herald, in 1542. This volume is preserved in the Advocate's Library, and its execution, Dr Laing remarks, is "creditable to the state of the heraldic art in Scotland."
On 14th December of this year, James V. died at Falkland, in his 31st year, a week after the birth, at Linlithgow, of his infant daughter and heiress, Mary. When the announcement of this event was made to him on his death-bed, he is said to have replied, “Fairweil; it cam with ane lass, and it will pass with ane lass." In connection with James's death, Lindsay, in 1544, was commissioned to restore the statutes and badges of the different orders of knighthood that were bestowed upon him, among which was that of the Golden Fleece, by the Emperor Charles V., that of St Michael, by Francis I., and that of the Garter, by Henry VIII.
In acknowledging the receipt of the insignia of the Garter, Henry, in a letter to the governor, the Earl of Arran, takes occasion to commend the Lyon
Herald for having "used himself right discreatelye, and moche to our contentation."
Lindsay's next poem, "The Tragedy of the Cardinal," is one on account of which he has incurred the displeasure of his most assiduous editor, Chalmers. From our present standpoint, it may be admitted to be a composition whose defects, in point of taste, are not compensated by poetical merits; yet it cannot be said to be outrageous as an exponent of the spirit of the times. It may indeed have been considered a moderate exposition of the estimate of Beaton's character, held by those whom the cruel deaths of Hamilton and Wishart filled with just resentment at the authors of such villanies. It is also quite in harmony with Lindsay's numerous other forcible denunciations of the lives and practices of the priesthood of a Church, of which it is very doubtful that he ever desired the overthrow, but only the reformation. It does appear, from Knox's History of the Reformation, that Lindsay was present at a private conference of the great Reformer and his friends, on one occasion, at St Andrews, but this was a year after the Cardinal's assassination, and had no connection with the perpetrators of that deed of retribution. He sat as commissioner for the burgh of Cupar, in the Parliament in which Norman Lesley and his associates were declared guilty of treason; and it devolved on him, as Lyon Herald, to make public proclamation of the sentence.
His last mission abroad was in 1548, when he was sent to Denmark, to solicit ships for the defence of the
Scottish coast against England, and to negotiate a free trade, especially in grain, between the merchants of both countries. He only succeeded in accomplishing the latter part of his mission.
About this time he published "The History and Testament of Squire Meldrum," which Chalmers considers the most pleasing of his poems, though blemished by occasional coarseness, trifling jests, and fulsome ribbaldry. In 1553, he finished The Monarchie, which has been characterized as his "greatest" work. That it his longest work admits of no dispute, and it may also be reckoned as his last poem; yet while it contains many forcible passages, and displays an extensive acquaintance with history, the greater part of it does not rise in style, or conception, above the ordinary metrical chronicle.
His play of "The Three Estates" was acted on the Playfield, Edinburgh, in April 1554, before the Queen mother, the Court, and the Commons; and Henry Charteris, the Edinburgh publisher of Lindsay's works, who was present, says that the author superintended the representation.
One of Lindsay's last public acts was the convening of a chapter of Heralds, in the Abbey of Holyrood-house, in January 1554-5, "for the trial and punishment of William Crawar, a messenger, for abuse of his office."
The exact date of his death is unknown, but Dr Laing gives an extract from the Privy Council Register, which shows that his brother, Alexander Lindsay, his next of kin, and heir of entail-for he had no heirs of his body, and his wife, who was in conjunct fee
with himself, must have predeceased him-was acknowledged as his successor on the 18th April 1555, which must have been very shortly after his death. Lindsay has been regarded as a reformer as well as a poet. Dr Laing observes, what no one who reads his poems can fail to see, that "all his writings had for their object an unmistakable attempt to expose and reform abuses, whether in Church or State. That they had a powerful effect in promoting such reforms is sufficiently obvious. In no other sense can he be called a reformer."
It is quite clear, both from Lindsay and Dunbar's attacks upon the lives of the Romish clergy, that very great licence was tolerated in this direction; and it appears to be true of all ecclesiastical institutions, that though the vices of the priesthood are most fatal to their stability, the slightest deviations from the faith excite their resentment more than the most violent attacks upon the morals and conduct of the clergy. The Church of Rome at length did try to put an end to writings of this class; for by an act of Queen Mary, printers are for bidden, under pain of confiscation and banishment, to issue books without a licence, with special reference to the stoppage of such publications. Neither Lindsay nor Dunbar appears to have diverged from the faith of their Church.
It has been already indicated that we consider Lindsay's poetry of an inferior order to Dunbar's, and in loftiness of imagination to that of Douglas; yet in arrangement and clearness of conception, in proportion and perspective, he is Douglas's superior; and in dramatic