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arms of her attendants. This might have been a piece of semi-barbarian magnificence, for the princess was extremely well made, and was afterwards very famous for her agile dancing.
In the preceding century, James III., of Scotland, married a princess of Denmark; her brother, Christiern I., had, on some internal commotion in his dominions, pawned to him the Orkney and Shetland isles. The acquisition of these isles had proved a wonderful advantage to the commerce of Scotland, for they had been terrible thorns in the side of that country, and even of England, in former times, when they were the rendezvous of the Norwegian sea kings, who made such frequent piratical descents on the British The Orkneys had for a century quietly pertained to the Scottish crown, having, as sir James Melville declared, "laid in wadset, or unredeemed mortgage." But, the reigning king of Denmark, Frederic II., finding himself rich and prosperous, thought proper, in the year 1385, to offer repayment of the mortgage and arrears, and to reclaim
this appanage of the Danish crown. A war with Denmark, which possessed an overpowering navy, was a dismal prospect for Scotland, just breathing from the recent miseries with which the power or policy of England had oppressed her; on the other hand, the restoration of the Orkneys was an intolerable measure, as a formidable naval power would be immediately re-established within sight of the. Scottish coast. This question was earnestly debated for two or three years; at last, it appeared likely to be accommodated by a marriage between the young king of Scotland, James VI., and one of the daughters of the king of Denmark.'
The princess Anna, at the time the negotiation began for the restoration of the Orkney isles, had passed her tenth year, and, being considered too old to be carried in the arms of her nurses, had been just set on her feet. While she is taught to walk, to sew her sampler, to dance, and other accomplishments, we will take a glance at the history of the monarch destined to become her partner for life.
The calamities of the royal house of Stuart have been the theme of many a page. Hard have been their fates, and harder still it is, that the common sympathies of humanity have been denied to them, though the very nature
1 Melville's Memoirs.
of their misfortunes prove they were more sinned against than sinning. Such has been the venom infused on the page of history by national, polemic, and political prejudices, that no one has taken the trouble to compare line by line of their private lives, in order justly to decide whether this royal Stuart, who received a dagger in his bosom; that, who was shot in the back; or another, who was hoisted by the treacherous mine from his peaceful bed; or those who, "done to death by slanderous tongues," laid down their heads on the block as on a pillow of rest, were, in reality, as wicked as the agents who produced these results? Yet, if facts are sifted, and effects traced carefully back to their true causes, the mystery of an evil destiny which is so often laid to the charge, as if it were a personal crime attached to this line of hapless princes, will vanish before the broad light of truth.
Most of the calamities of the royal line of Scotland originated in the antagonism which, for long ages, was sustained between England and their country. Either by open violence or insidious intrigue, five Scottish monarchs had suffered long captivities in England; and, owing to the wars with England, or the commotions nurtured in Scotland by the English, six long minorities2 had successively taken place before James VI. was born. The regents who governed in the names of these minor sovereigns were placed or replaced by factions of the fierce nobility, who, at last, refused to submit to any control, either of king or law. In fact, the possessor of the Scottish crown was either destroyed or harassed to death as soon as an heir to the throne was born.
"Woe to the land that is governed by a child!" says the wise proverb. This was a woe that Scotland had hitherto known sufficiently; but it was possible for it to be aggravated, by the sceptre falling to a female minor, which it did at the early death of James V., who left it to his daughter Mary, a babe just born.
This unfortunate queen assumed the reins of government in Scotland, in the midst of a religious civil war. When she returned to Scotland she was the widow of Francis II.,
1 David I., William the Lion, David II., James I., kings, and Mary queen of Scots.
* James I., James II., James III., James IV., James V., and Mary.
king of France; she married, in 1565, her cousin, Henry Stuart,' lord Darnley.
Edinburgh Castle was the birth-place of their son, James VI. He was born June 19, 1566. During the short period in which his mother retained her regal authority after his birth, he was baptized, according to the catholic rites, in Stirling Cathedral, by the name of Charles James, December 17, 1566. His sponsors were, Charles IX. of France, and queen Elizabeth of England; and the latter sent, as her gift to her godson, a golden font.
Soon after the birth of an heir, the husband of the queen of Scots was murdered, and she was driven into captivity in England. A faction of the most turbulent of the Scottish nobility took possession of her infant, and proclaimed him king, when a long minority commenced, the whole of which time was spent in civil strife of factions struggling who should reign in the child's name. Such had been the proceedings in Scotland, with some accidental variations, for six previous minorities, only the troubles and disasters of the minorities of queen Mary, and of her son James VI., were aggravated by the furious struggles of three religions, the catholics, the reformers, and the calvinists.
James III. had, in the preceding century, built and strongly fortified the beautiful castle of Stirling, for the residence of his eldest son, or of any future heir of Scotland. In this castle queen Mary's infant was left, under the care of the earl of Marr, hereditary guardian of the heir of Scotland. His state-governess was Annabella, countess of Marr. His cradle and chair, of carved oak, are still in the possession of the Erskine family, and are in perfect preservation.
The infant, James VI., was but fourteen months old, when the revolution was completed which dethroned his mother. He was at Stirling Castle when it occurred, and his coronation was performed in Stirling Cathedral. His hereditary guardian, the earl of Marr, took him in his arms from the nursery, carried him in the procession, and placed him on the throne. This earl then held the crown of Scotland over the head of the innocent creature, put the globe and sceptre in his baby grasp, and undertook, in his name, all
1 Eldest son to lady Margaret Douglas and Matthew Stuart, earl of Lenox. See the Life of Mary I., queen of England, vol. v., where lord Darnley and his mother are mentioned,
the necessary oaths and obligations. After all was done, and the infant king was proclaimed as James VI., lord Marr took him down from the throne, and carried him back to his cradle. James Stuart, earl of Murray, eldest illegitimate son of the infant king's grandfather, James V., assumed the government, as regent for James VI.
The little king was so badly nursed, that he did not walk till he was five years old, but was carried about in the arms of his chamberlain. His nurse was a drunkard, and nourished him with vitiated milk. This circumstance, perhaps, gave him a predisposition to inebriety. The health of the royal infant was greatly injured before the vice of his nurse was discovered. James was, in after-life, weak on his feet; but it must be owned, that the manner of dressing infants, three centuries ago, was enough to cripple them, without any other malpractices in their nurseries. The unfortunate little creatures, as soon as they were born, were swathed, or swaddled, in a number of rollers, their arms were bound down to their sides, and their legs straight and close together, after the exact pattern of an Egyptian mummy. This operation was called swaddling, and, when completed, the miserable babe looked precisely like a chrysalis, with a little round face at the top, clad in a cap or hood, without a border. The ancient monastic carvings and illuminations, frequently represented the infant Saviour thus enveloped in the arms of the Virgin; indeed, the practice probably prevailed all over the world from the remotest antiquity. Royal babes were more elaborately swaddled than their subjects; and when their poor little cramped limbs were released on being weaned, it was a marvel they ever gained the use of them.
Although the infant James VI. could not walk, he could talk fast enough, and very early displayed a prodigious
1 This frightful custom prevailed in England, at the beginning of the last century; it was continued among some hordes of gipsies within the memory of man. The writer's grandmother once saw a gipsy-child, thus swaddled, in the lanes near Hampton Court. The increase in population in latter years is partly owing to the cessation from this barbarous practice. In ancient genealogies, it may be observed, half the children born died in infancy. In the Château d'Eu, there is a portrait of la grande mademoiselle, the heiress of Montpensier, a lively, laughing child of ten months old; her lower extremities are swaddled in this miserable way, and she is placed in a grand chair of green velvet, leaning like a bale of cloth against one of the arms; in this state the babe probably gave audience to her vassals.
memory, an insatiable curiosity, and a queer talent for observation, saying unaccountable things, and shewing a droll kind of wit as soon as he could speak. His conduct, at opening his parliament, in 1671, when he had arrived at the discreet age of four years, stamps him at once as a juvenile oddity.
In those days good subjects were not contented without they identified the person of an infant king, by seeing him perform his regal duty of opening parliament. Accordingly, the lords and burgesses of Scotland convened at Stirling, in the great hall of the castle,' a noble Gothic room, 120 feet in length. Thither the infant king was carried in the arms of his trusty guardian, the earl of Marr, and placed on the throne, at the upper end, having been previously taught a short speech to repeat to his parliament. From the throne the little creature silently and curiously made his observations on the scene before him, and, among other things, espied a hole in the roof of the hall where a slate had slipped off, and admitted the light. Others say that the hole was in the canopy of the throne. However, when he was required to make his speech, he recited it with astonishing gravity and precision, but added to it, in the same tone, the result of his previous observation, in these words" There is ane hole in this parliament.""
Such an addition to a royal speech, from such an orator, would have caused great mirth in a happier age and country; but the distractions, the miseries, and the fanaticism with which Scotland was then convulsed, caused these words of the infant monarch to be heard with horror and consternation. The parliament deemed that a spirit of prophecy had descended on babes and sucklings, and that the little king foresaw some great chasm to be made by death in their number.
The regent, Murray, had been recently assassinated, and the earl of Lenox, the father of lord Darnley, and grandfather to the royal child, had been elected regent in his place. The violent death of this unfortunate earl of Lenox, in the course of the same year, justified the omen in the eyes of the superstitious people.3
1 Which is still entire.
* Lindsay. Likewise Archbishop Spottiswoode.
One day, when the regent, Lenox, was on his way to visit the infant king, he was beset by conspirators, and he received, not far from the town of