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CHAPTER IX.

LEGEND OF JANE DOUGLAS, LADY GLAMIS, BURNED ON THE

CASTLE HILL OF EDINBURGH.

King James, for former wrongs, long bore
To Angus' house a grudge, and swore,
While he the crown of Scotland wore,
No Douglas e'er should refuge find
In castle, cot, with serf or hind ;
And banished exiles did they roam,
Far from their much-loved mountain home.

We are now getting gradually out of the hazy atmosphere of ancient and historical tradition, and after this tale of witchcraft is ended, we shall bask in the more congenial and sunnier region of the heart and the affections.

As has already been observed, while descanting on events so remote as those hitherto alluded to, it is necessary to bear in mind that the earlier period of the history of Scotland is involved in great obscurity; and that, notwithstanding the fact that Chalmers and Hailes have dispelled to a great extent the darkness in which the earlier period of Scottish history had hitherto been enveloped, even their explanatory statements must still be received with some degree of caution, if not with distrust.

The barbarous execution, however, of Lady Glamis on the Castle Hill of Edinburgh, on the 17th July 1537, in the reign of James V., for an alleged attempt to hasten the King's death by the imaginary crime of withcraft, and thereby to restore the expatriated house of Angus, is incontrovertible matter of history. It does appear singular, however, that, while all the Scottish historians declare their belief in the innocence of Lady Glamis, Sir Walter Scott should express a contrary opinion, and darkly hint that the effect of these unhallowed rites was often accelerated by the administration of poison. He exculpates James also, by saying that “the cruelty was that of the age, not of the sovereign.” In almost the next sentence, however, he virtually resigns the question, by saying—“The license which he (the King) gave to the vindictive persecution of the Protestants seems to have originated in that personal severity of temper already noticed. His inexorable hatred of the Douglases partakes of the same character. No recollection of early familiarity, no degree of personal merit, would enduce him to extend any favour to an individual of that detested name.”

This hatred of the Douglases by King James being at the root, and doubtless, the real cause of the criminal accusation against Lady Glamis, let us glance for a moment at the origin of this vindictive spirit displayed by the King to the house of Angus.

It occurred in this wise : When Lennox and his host arrived in the neighbourhood of Kirkliston, previous to the battle of that name, Angus rushed out of Edinburgh to support Arran. Sir George Douglas followed immediately thereafter, bringing with him the young King, and a goodly number of the citizens of Edinburgh. The conflict was hotly and pretty equally maintained, and the noise of the artillery on both sides waxed louder and louder. The King, by no means naturally courageous, betrayed great unwillingness to remain, which Sir George observing, addressed his Royal master in these memorable words—“I read you: Majesty's thoughts,” said the stern Douglas ; “but do not deceive yourself. If your enemies had hold of you on one side, and we on the other, we would tear you asunder rather than quit our hold”—rash, fatal words, which the King never forgave. Although the Earl of Angus subsequently, and in many ways, by acts of moderation and

clemency to the Royal army when they besieged his garrisoned Castle of Tantallon, endeavoured to mollify the King's resentment, James bitterly remembered the wrongs which he had received, and felt no gratitude for this forbearance and mercy on the part of his subject. On the contrary, he solemnly swore, in his anger, that no Douglas should, while he lived and reigned, find favour or countenance in Scotland. Henry VIII. used all the intercession he could in the Earl's favour ; but it was not until the death of James that the Douglases were retored to their native country of Scotland.

In the following legend I have assumed, as I am entitled to do, that Lady Glamis was innocent of the crimes, imaginary or otherwise, which were laid to her charge and, in accordance with this view, have depicted her character, trial and cruel and unjust puishment. An extorted confession was in those days of little avail to the unfortunate prisoner accused of witchcraft, for, whether she confessed or not, a cruel and ignominious death was her certain doom. The assumed confession, therefore, of Lady Glamis must not be taken as any indication or proof of her guilt. She was arraigned on the double charge of witchcraft and conspiracy; and, from the well-known inexorable hatred of the King to her family, she knew no mercy would ever be extended to her, far less an honourable acquital. To have prolonged the sufferings of Lord Glamis would have had the effect of sacrificing his life as well as her own. She is therefore represented as making the exclamation “Guilty !" that she might thereby save the life of her son, as fall a sacrifice she must herself, whether she made the confession or not.

A family union had again been consummated between the two noble Houses of Angus and Strathmore. Lady Jane Douglas became the bride and happy wife of Lord Glamis. Her wedded happiness, however, was not of long duration. Soon after the birth of their first-born, the Lord Glamis, after a lingering illness, was summoned to give in his final account, and died much lamented by his family and dependants.

The Lady Glamis, his widow, not only proved a truly enlightened and affectionate mother, but earned the highest encomiums from all the dwellers in Strathmore for her many unostentatious deeds of mercy and compassionate love. Without the family haughty pride of her race, and disdaining the chivalric amusements of the day, she found, and delighted to have found, a wide-spread field for the exercise of her amiable virtues in ministering to the wants and necessities, not only of those belonging to her own household, but of all who came within the wide scope of her benign influence. Hence, not only in lowly cot and courtly hall were her praises sung in every household, but her fame spontaneously spread through the length and breadth of the land as one who, by her deeds of benevolence, and philanthropic interest in all that pertains and ministers to the welfare and happiness of mankind, had raised her name to a pinnacle of renown which crowned and mitred heads might envy, but which, in all their ambitious strivings, they could never reach, far less surpass.

The fame of Lady Glamis, universal as it was, could not be long in penetrating to the Court of James, and from the implacable hatred of the King to all, whether male or female, who bore the detested name of Douglas, it required little persuasion on the part of his servile courtiers to poison the Royal mind against the sister of Angus, against whose house the fatal proscription pronounced was only waiting its practical fulfilment.

In that age of foul superstition and gross moral darkness, every benevolent action, every good deed of mercy, and every lofty philanthropic aspiration, were maliciously traced to imaginary witchcraft, in conjunction with, and at the instigation of, the Evil One. Thus noiselessly around the Lady Glamis did the clouds of evil omen gather, and the meshes of envy and revenge encircle themselves in an impenetrable labyrinth.

With artful skill the hellish plot was laid, and soon carried out with a ready and fiendish will. Accused of harbouring against the King designs to poison his Majesty, and of exercising her power of witchcraft to restore the expatriated House of Angus, Lady Glamis was rudely seized, while occupied in deeds of mercy in the village, and carried off a prisoner to Edinburgh. Her youthful son, Lord Glamis, was also ignominiously and forcibly bound; and one of his own kin was found so base as to guide the cavalcade, and to guard with mock pride the ill-fated prisoners to the capital.

It was an awful, solemn, impressive scene! There, on an elevated bench in the ancient Parliament House, sat high in state the bewigged and crimson-robed Judges, with the mild and gracious Argyll as their President; while the crowded Court was composed not only of the worthy burgesses and sightseers of the city, but of the high and noble of every rank in the land.

The fair prisoner is now placed at the bar. Every voice is silent, every sound is hushed, every eye is searchingly directed to the beautiful creature, calm and resigned in conscious innocence, arraigned before her country on the double charge of witchcraft and conspiracy. Notwithstanding the powerful influence which superstition and the actual belief in witchcraft exercised over the minds of the people in general, there was not one in all that crowded Court who could look on the lovely form and angelic mien of the accused without from the heart commiserating her unhappy fate.

This marked expression of pity contrasted strangely, yet forcibly, with the fierce, revengeful looks, and savage, restless demeanour of her persecutors, who inwardly thirsted for her precious blood, and eagerly longed to see the blazing faggots consume with merciless rage her majestic yet trembling frame, and cloud with guilt and shame her fair, unsullied brow.

There was now a dread and ominous pause ; for the wiry, sinister-looking doomsters triumphantly brought into the Court the dreaded thumbkins, the boot, and the screwprecursors of excruciating anguish and agonising torture. The youthful Lord Glamis was then rudely led into the presence of the Judges, guarded, like a malefactor, by a body

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