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to hear my confession, and to bring me the eucharist. The priest, it is averred, heard his confession; and then stabbed the unfortunate monarch; whose weakness deserved a milder fate than to fall the victim of a lawless aristocracy, more inimical to public order and prosperity than the feeble despotism of their sovereign.
On this important event some reflections naturally arise. Had James been victorious, the power of the Scottish aristocracy might have been crushed for ever; and, weak and despotic as he was, it would have been better for the people to have one tyrant than many. But this monarch (if we set the dubious murder of his brother aside), was more weak than vicious; and even when his feebleness and impolicy are mentioned, it is rather in a relative than a positive view; for his conduct was chiefly blameable, because ill adapted to the ferocious times and people, which required, in the character of a sovereign, the duties of a magistrate, and the valour and skill of a general. Had James lived a century or two later, his faults would perhaps have escaped observation. But the conduct of the rebellious peers, whose sanguinary lust of power, and eagerness to continue their lawless rapine, opposed the son in open combat against his father, that last infamy of civil war, cannot be severely reprobated. They excite horror, while the monarch attracts a reverential compassion. PINKERTON.
JAMES IV. OF SCOTLAND.
At length a reign arises, undisturbed by the disorders of a minority; and forming a strong contrast to the preceding in spirit and ability. The young monarch was soon to develope a character brightened with many illustrious qualities, and darkened with few shades. His strict administration of justice, by which the realm was maintained in a tranquillity long unknown, his uniform concord with his nobles, his magnificence, his generosity, his patronage of useful arts and sciences, particularly navigation, which had been strangely neglected by the Scottish monarchs, and even his spirit of chivalry, were to render his reign popular and glorious. Nor has it been unjustly asserted, that the period of his domination was that of the greatest wealth and power of Scotland, while a separate kingdom. Yet some of his qualities were rather specious than solid, and rather belonged to chivalrous romance than to real life: in the high regal duties of a politician, and of a general, he was extremely defective; his natural impetuosity predominating alike in his smaller pursuits and in his most important affairs. The avarice of the preceding reign he contrasted by a profusion which secured the attachment of the peers at the expense of the people. That superstitious devotion which, with a few exceptions, was inherent in his family, from its first elevation to his final descent from the throne, was in the fourth James much increased by his remorse for the death of his father;
and the mass formed one of his chief daily offices. The resources of his magnificence were not exempt from a charge of extortion: but his gentleness and affability won all hearts, and stifled all murmurs. Just in his decrees, the severity of punishment was softened by his visible reluctance to chastise. To admonition, or even reproach, his ear was open; and his sense of an innocent conscience such that he listened without the smallest emotion. By a neglected education he was ignorant of letters; but his mind was acute; he excelled in music, in horsemanship, and other exercises; and a firm constitution enabled him to support every fatigue. His person was of the middle size, and elegant; his countenance majestic. PINKERTON.
MARGARET, WIDOW OF JAMES IV.
The royal widow appears to have merited, and possessed, the admiration of all ranks; and as she continues to occupy much attention, during the various and stormy scenes of this long minority, some account of her character may not be here improper. Margaret was now in her twentyfourth year; and her youthful beauty and graces rather proclaimed the bride than the widow. Her circular countenance displaying gaiety, her vivacious eyes, her person rather rustic than delicate, were accompanied with a corresponding vigour of health. Her amorous propensities were strong; and were to be indulged at the expense of ambition and decency, in precipitate marriages; and if we believe her brother (Henry VIII.) and Wolsey, in yet bolder deviations. But eminent in accomplishments, and in prudence, when unbiased by her passions, her talents threw her faults into the shade. Her long letters display an intimate knowledge of affairs and characters, considerable ability, and patient industry. In her political conduct she was not free from the levity ascribed to the sex, and was apt to pass from one extreme to another; and, when in power, alternately to display too much pride or too much humility, a severity too stern, or a gentleness too relaxed. Yet the times were difficult; and that wisdom could not be mean which attracted the praise of the able Dacre, of the prudent and magnanimous Surrey, and of the cautious cardinal; a praise not to be suspected of flattery, because neither pronounced nor known to the object.
THE REGENT, DUKE OF ALBANY.
John, Duke of Albany, son of that Alexander who has been seen attempting to wrest the Scottish sceptre from his brother James III., whom he termed a bastard, cannot be supposed to have been warmly attached to the royal race; and there were not wanting some whose malice already saw the crown of Scotland on his head, tinged with infant blood. But such a prospect probably never existed, save in the jealous eye, or wanton calumny, of faction. His character is so mixed, that it is very difficult to delineate it
with precision. To Surrey and to Wolsey he appeared a coward and a fool, as they bluntly express their sensations; and his government in Scotland so inconsistent, so constantly foiled in every scheme, rather seems to warrant the harshness of the appellations. Yet Francis I., a good judge of merit, was afterwards to employ him in important affairs: when that king was before Pavia, in 1525, Albany was to be detached with a part of the army to conquer the kingdom of Naples, an enterprise demanding a general of supreme talents, but the defeat and capture of Francis rendered the plan abortive: in 1533, when that monarch was to meet the pontiff Clement VII. at Marseilles, Albany was to be distinguished by the appointment of conducting by sea Catherine de Medici, the destined wife of Henry, second son of the king, afterwards Henry II.; an office at least implying confidence and favour, and a brother of Albany was, according to Guicciardini, created a cardinal upon occasion of that service. The friendship of Francis I. is itself a recommendation: yet an intimate acquaintance with the actions and papers of Albany may authorize the following character of his government. It was artful, yet weak; profuse, yet unfriended; tyrannic, yet inefficient: while love and attachment were estranged by caprice, fear and awe were not supported by uniform rigour: opinionative obstinacy disconcerted the prudence of friends, and prevented the conciliation of enemies. A stranger to the arts of empire, Albany, whom just policy ought to have transformed into a complete Scottishman, never forgot his French