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of the most powerful Highland chieftains the moment they entered the hall. Two of the most guilty were beheaded, others were confined in separate prisons throughout the country, whilst those against whom no flagrant crime could be proved were set at liberty. Among the latter was Alexander, lord of the isles ; and this pirate prince was not long in abusing the clemency that had restored him to freedom. He descended with a band of Catherans to ravage the mainland, but at the approach of James with an army he was obliged to retreat ; and finding that the King's vengeance was not to be evaded, he came and made his submission at Edinburgh in the most humiliating plight. Having appeared in the chapel of Holyrood attired only in his shirt and drawers, he humbly confessed his offences, and on his knees presented the hilt of his sword to the King. He was sent a prisoner to Tantallon Castle.-James removed the Earl of March, who had fought as often on the side of the English as on that of the Scots, from his dangerous position on the border, and gave him the Earldom of Buchan ; he also called many of the lords to account for the lands they had acquired during the regencies, at the expense
of the crown. Years rolled on, and Scotland was rapidly improving under the strict but wise government of her energetic King, when an event occurred which cat James off in the midst of his reforms, and consigned the kingdom to all the evils of a minority. James's activity in punishing crimes and checking disorders, though felt as a blessing by the great majority of his subjects, could not but excite the fears and the enmity of the more turbulent and lawless. Sir Robert Grahame, who had been imprisoned at the commencement of this reign, had latterly, for certain treasonable practices, been again committed to prison, and his estates forfeited. Having once more obtained his liberty from the clemency of the King, he retired to the Highlands, whence he sent a letter to James, upbraiding him as a tyrant, and adding, “ You have made me houseless and landless--I renounce my allegiance, and I give you warning that wherever I meet you I will slay you as my mortal enemy.” This James despised as the threat of a desperado and an outlaw; he published, however, a proclamation for his apprehension, and set a price upon his head. Grahame continued to lurk in the Highlands, and in concert witi certain discontented nobles, particularly the Earl of Athol, and his grandson Sir Robert Stewart, chamberlain of the royal household, formed a plot for assassinating the King James was residing in the monastery of the Dominicans or Blackfriars at Perth, when on the night of the 20th February 1437, after having entertained a party at supper, amongst whom was his treacherous relative the Earl of Athol, he was standing in his dressing-gown talking with the queen and her ladies before retiring to rest, when the trampling of feet was heard and the glare of torches was observed in the court. This was Grahame, who with three hundred Catherans was forcing his way to the royal presence. James, suspecting their purpose, attempted in vain to escape by the windows, and as the noise drew nearer, and the bars of the doors had been treacherously removed by the faithless chamberlain, the King seized the tongs, and by main force wrenched up a board of the floor, and let himself down into the vault underneath. The conspirators entering found only the queen and her ladies, the former of whom they brutally wounded, and, after a vain search for the King, leit the apartment, having failed to discover his place of concealment. They proceeded to search the corridors, and other apartments, and after the lapse of a considerable interval, the King, finding that all was quiet, and getting impatient of his comfortless condition in the cold vault, called on the ladies to help him out. At this moment two of the conspirators happened to look again into the apartment before finally quitting the monastery, when they discovered the King in the act of rising from the vault. They called out to their ac complices, and immediately rushed down upon the King, who, however, grappling with them both, overpowered and trod them under his feet; though his hands were dreadfully cut and lacerated by the knives of the assassins. Grahame now entered, and descending with his drawn sword, run the King through the body, and dispatched him with many wounds.
Thus fell James I., one of the ablest monarchs that ever ruled in Scotland, but too eager, perhaps, in carrying forward his schemes of reformation, and too strict in punishing the disorders of that rude age. The murderers fled to the Highlands, but were hotly pursued, and the course of two ths most of them were taken and executed. Grahame was put to death with horrible tortures, but he died glorying in his crime.
Written for the present Work.
X.-JAMES II.-1437-1460. JAMES II. suceeeded to his father when only six years of age. The late king, bent on humbling the power of the higher nobles, had chosen his counsellors from among the lesser barons or private gentry. Chrichton and Livingston, two of the latter class, who had aided the councils of James I., were appointed joint regents after his death. They were both men of high talents, but almost constantly engaged in rivalry with one another, unless when forced to combine against the powerful and haughty Earl of Douglas, who exercised an almost sovereign authority over the south and west of Scotland. The misgovernment of the regents, and the licentious tyranny of Douglas and of the other nobles, produced such a state of rapine, oppression, and murder, that (to use the language of an old historian), no man was safe 66 unless he had sworn himself a servant to some common murderer or bloody tyrant, to maintain him against the invasion of others.'
This reign, which beheld the aspiring house of Douglas attain its highest pitch of pride and power, witnessed also the final overthrow of the elder branch of that redoubted family. Upon the death of Archibald, sixth Earl of Douglas, his son William, a youth of only seventeen years, succeeded to the honours and estates of that powerful earldom, extending over Annandale, Galloway, and other large domains; while the dukedom of Touraine, which he held of the crown of France, gave him the importance and dignity of a foreign potentate. The youthful Earl did not bear his honours meekly, or exhibit much discretion in the exercise of his power: he rode with a train almost royal, being generally attended by a retinue of one thousand followers,—and many of these lawless retainers were guilty of gross excesses, and oppression of the people. Still these circumstances cannot justify the unprincipled regents for the perfidious and sanguinary proceedings by which they attempted to crush this dangerous family. Earl William and his younger brother David were inveigled to Edinburgh, where they were sumptuously entertained for some days in the castle, with the young sovereign, now ten years of age ; but this was only till the necessary preparations were made for their ruin. Whilst sitting at dinner, the chancellor and regent abruptly accused them of treason, and after being hurried through a form of trial, they were both beheaded in the back court of the castle. This cold blooded murder had not the effect of dismembering the Douglas estates, as its perpetrators probably imagined; for William, cousin-german of the late Earl, not only succeeded to the earldom as male heir of the house of Douglas, but by marrying his cousin Margaret, sister of the murdered youths, acquired also the whole unentailed property; and thus the ample domains of Douglas were once more united, and that in the hands of one who yielded in ambition and daring to none who had ever borne that formidable name. The new Earl did not come to an open rupture with the government, but used every art to ingratiate himself with the king, in which he so far succeeded that he was appointed lieutenant-general of the kingdom.
In 1446, James, now fourteen years of age, took the government into his own hands; and in 1449 Livingston and his sons were deprived of their offices, their estates confiscated, and some members of the family executed for crimes committed during the minority. Douglas had retired from court, and was acting the independent sovereign in his own domains. He executed Herries of Terreagles merely for defending himself and his property against the lawless violence of the Earl's followers; he murdered, by his partisans, Sir John Sandilands of Calder, a kinsman of the king; he attacked, by a band of ruffians, the Chancellor Chrichton near Edinburgh, and the old man was saved only by the resolute courage with which he defended himself. Yet for none of these enormities was the Earl called to account, the government being too weak to take cognizance of so powerful a culprit. He had, moreover, the better to strengthen his power and overawe the throne, entered into a treasonable union with the Earls of Crawford and Ross, the two most powerful nobles in the centre and north of Scotland, and both highly disaffected to the government; and there can be no doubt that rebellion was in contemplation. When mustering his forces for this purpose, he compelled all the lesser barons and gentry in his neighbourhood to join his standard; and Maclellan the tutor of Bomby, on refusing to obey this order, was seized by the Earl, and carried a prisoner to Douglas Castle. Sir Patrick Gray, uncle of the prisoner, and captain of the King's body-guard, justly alarmed for the fate of his nephew, procured a letter from the King to Douglas requiring him to deliver up his captive to Gray; and with this letter he himself proceeded on a fleet horse to Douglas castle. On his arrival, the Earl, guessing his errand, refused to enter upon business till his guest had received some refreshment; and, whilst they were dining, he gave secret orders for beheading Maclellan in the court of the castle. When dinner was over he opened the king's letter, and said he should comply with the king's wishes as far as was in his power. He then led Gray into the court, and pointing to the body, said, “ Sir Patrick, you have come a little too late ; there lies your sister's son—but he wants the head; you are welcome to the body if you wish it.” Sir Patrick replied, “ Since you have taken the head, you may dispose of the body at your pleasure.” He then mounted his horse, and, as soon as he had crossed the drawbridge, he shook his mailed glove at the Earl, and exclaimed, My Lord, if I live you shall be rewarded for this." He immediately galloped off, pursued by the Earl's horsemen till within a few miles of Edinburgh ; and was only saved by the fleetness of his steed.