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time, a sojourner at the convent of the Dominicans at Perth, is confessing to the haughty Prior Anselm. Their conversation, which, although not very striking, is well adapted to display their respective characters, is interrupted by the sudden entrance of a gentleman usher, announcing the Duke of Albany. This aspiring and crafty politician approaches the royal seat:— "My dear brother,' said the King, raising the Duke of Albany as he stooped to kiss his hand; 'my dear, dear brother, wherefore this ceremonial? Are we not both sons of the same Stewart of Scotland, and of the same Elizabeth More?'
'I have not forgot that it is so,' said Albany, arising; 'but I must not omit, in the familiarity of the brother, the respect that is due to the King.'
Õh, true, most true, Robin,' answered the King. "The throne is like a lofty and barren rock, upon which flower or shrub can never take root. All kindly feelings, all tender affections, are denied to a monarch. A king must not fold a brother to his heart-he dare not give way to fondness for a son!'
'Such, in some respects, is the doom of greatness, Sire,' answered Albany; but Heaven, who removed to some distance from your Majesty's sphere the members of your own family, has given you a whole people to be your children.'
Alas! Robert,' answered the Monarch, 'your heart is better framed for the duties of a sovereign than mine. I see from the height at which fate has placed me, that multitude whom you call my children-I love them, I wish them well-but they are many, and they are distant from me. Alas! even the meanest of them has some beloved being whom he can clasp to his heart, and upon whom he can lavish the fondness of a father! But all that a King can give to a people is a smile, such as the sun bestows on the snowy peaks of the Grampian mountains, as distant and as ineffectual. Alas, Robin! our father used to caress us, and if he chid us it was with a tone of kindness; yet he was a monarch as well as I, and wherefore should not I be permitted, like him, to reclaim my poor prodigal by affection as well as severity?'
'Had affection never been tried, my liege,' replied Albany, in the tone of one who delivers sentiments which he grieves to utter, means of gentleness ought, assuredly, to be first made use of. Your Grace is best judge whether they have been long enough persevered in, and whether those of discouragement and restraint may not prove a more effectual corrective. It is exclusively in your royal power to take what measures with the Duke of Rothsay you think will be most available to his ultimate benefit, and that of the kingdom.'
This is unkind, brother,' said the King; "you indicate the painful path which you would have me pursue, yet you offer me not your support in treading it.'
'My support your Grace may ever command,' replied Albany; "but would it become me, of all men on earth, to prompt to your Grace severe measures against your son and heir! Me-on whom, in case of failure-which Heaven forefend-of your Grace's family, this fatal
crown might descend? Would it not be thought and said by the fiery March and the haughty Douglas, that Albany had sown dissension between his royal brother and the heir to the Scottish throne, perhaps to clear the way for the succession of his own family ?—No, my lege-I can sacrifice my life to your service, but I must not place my honour in danger.'
You say true, Robin-you say very true,' replied the King, hastening to put his own interpretation upon his brother's words. We must not suffer these powerful and dangerous lords to perceive that there is aught like discord in the royal family. That must be avoided of all things; and therefore we will still try indulgent measures, in hopes of correcting the follies of Rothsay. I behold sparks of hope in him, Robin, from time to time, that are well worth cherishing. He is youngvery young—a Prince, and in the hey-day of his blood. We will have patience with him, like a good rider with a hot-tempered horse. Let him exhaust this idle humour, and no one will be better pleased with him than yourself. You have censured me in your kindness for being too gentle, too retired-Rothsay has no such defects.'
'I will pawn my life he has not,' replied Albany, drily.
'And he wants not reflection as well as spirit,' continued the poor King, pleading the cause of his son to his brother. 'I have sent for him to attend council to-day, and we shall see how he acquits himself of his devoir. You, yourself, allow, Robin, that the Prince wants neither shrewdness nor capacity for affairs, when he is in the humour to consider them.'
'Doubtless, he wants neither, my liege,' replied Albany, when he is in the humour to consider them.'
'I say so,' answered the King; and am heartily glad that you agree with me, Robin, in giving this poor hapless young man another trial. He has no mother now to plead his cause with an incensed father.That must be remembered, Albany.’
'I trust,' said Albany, the course which is most agreeable to your Grace's feelings will also prove the wisest and the best."" pp. 137-139.
This conversation is interrupted by the trampling of horses, and the Prior who stood opposite the window which looked into the court-yard of the monastery, announced the arrival of the Earl of March, adding at the same time with great astonishment, that a strolling glee-woman with her viol, was preparing to sing under the royal windows, and in the cloister of the Dominicans! Upon March's entrance into the room of the palace, an altercation of a disagreeable kind ensued between him and Albany, to put an end to which, the poor old king called their attention to a pleasing strain of Minstrelsy, beginning with somewhat of the wild joyousness of the Provençal melodies, but gradually dying away in plaintive and melancholy notes.
"The offended Earl, whatever might be his judgment in such matters on which the King had complimented him, paid, it may be supposed,
little attention to the music of the female minstrel. His proud heart was struggling between the allegiance he owed his Sovereign, as well as the love he still found lurking in his bosom for the person of his well-natured King, and a desire of vengeance arising out of his disappointed ambition, and the disgrace done to him by the substitution of Marjory Douglas, to be bride of the heir-apparent, instead of his betrothed daughter. March had the vices and virtues of a hasty and uncertain character, and even now, when he came to bid the King adieu, with the purpose of renouncing his allegiance, as soon as he reached his own feudal territories, he felt unwilling, and almost unable, to resolve apon a step so criminal, and so full of peril. It was with such dangerous cogitations that he was occupied during the beginning of the glee maiden's lay; but objects which called his attention powerfully, as the songstress proceeded, affected the current of his thoughts, and rivetted them on what was passing in the court-yard of the monastery. The song was in the Provençal dialect well understood as the language of poetry in all the courts of Europe, and particularly in Scotland. It was more simply turned, however, than was the general caste of the Sirventes, and rather resembled the lai of a Norman Minstrel. It may be translated thus:
THE LAY OF POOR LOUISE.
Ан, poor Louise! The live-long day
Ah, maids, beware the woodland way,
Ah, poor Louise! Thy treasure's reft!
To poor Louise.
Let poor Louise some succour have!
For poor Louise." pp. 143-144.
The Minstrel herself is thus described :
"The glee-maiden already mentioned, had planted herself, where a rise of two large broad steps, giving access to the main gateway of the royal apartments, gained her an advantage of a foot and a half in height over those in the court, of whom she hoped to form an audience. She wore the dress of her calling, which was more gaudy than rich, and showed the person more than did the garb of other females. She had laid aside an upper mantle, and a small basket which contained her slender stock of necessaries, and a little French spaniel dog sat beside them, as their protector. An azure-blue jacket, embroidered with silver, and sitting close to the person, was open in front, and showed several waistcoats of different-coloured silks, calculated to set off the symmetry of the shoulders and bosom, and remaining open at the throat. A small silver chain worn around her neck, involved itself among these brilliant coloured waistcoats, and was again produced from them, to display a medal of the same metal, which intimated, in the name of some court or guild of minstrels, the degree she had taken in the Gay or Joyous Science. A small scrip, suspended over her shoulders by a blue silk ribband, hung on her left side.
Her sunny complexion, snow-white teeth, brilliant black eyes, and raven locks, marked her country lying far in the south of France, and the arch smile and dimpled chin bore the same character. Her luxuriant locks, twisted around a small gold bodkin, were kept in their position by a net of silk and gold. Short petticoats, deep-laced with silver, to correspond with the jacket, red stockings which were visible to near the calf of the leg, and buskins of Spanish leather, completed her adjustment, which, though far from new, had been saved as an untarnished holiday suit, which much care had kept in good order. She seemed about twenty-five years old; but, perhaps, fatigue and wandering had anticipated the touch of time, in obliterating the freshness of early youth." pp. 147-148.
March declined giving any opinion about the music when asked to do so by the King, referring him to the Duke of Rothsay, who had just entered the quadrangle of the monastery, and was sitting on horseback by the glee-maiden, to the scandal of his royal father and all the bystanders-but above all, of the
"tremendous Archibald Douglas," commonly called the Black Douglas, (Austerus, says Buchanan,) the father-in-law of Rothsay, who happened to arrive at the gate of the monastery a few moments after him. This very striking scene is thus desribed:
"Just as she commenced, she was stopped by a cry for 'Roomroom-place for the Duke of Rothsay!'
'Nay, hurry no man on my score,' said a gallant young cavalier, who entered on a noble Arabian horse, which he managed with exquisite grace, though by such slight handling of the reins, such imperceptible pressure of the limbs and sway of the body, that to any eye save that of an experienced horseman, the animal seemed to be putting forth his paces for his own amusement, and thus gracefully bearing forward a rider who was too indolent to give himself any trouble about the matter.
The Prince's apparel, which was very rich, was put on with slovenly carelessness. His form, though his stature was low, and his limbs extremely slight, was elegant in the extreme; and his features no less handsome. But there was on his brow a haggard paleness, which seemed the effect of care or of dissipation, or of both these wasting causes combined. His eyes were sunk and dim, as from late indulgence in revelry on the preceding evening, while his cheek was inflamed with unnatural red, as if either the effect of the Bacchanalian orgies had not passed away from the constitution, or a morning draught had been resorted to, in order to remove the effects of the night's debauchery.
Such was the Duke of Rothsay, and heir of the Scottish crown, a sight at once of interest and compassion. All unbonneted, and made way for him, while he kept repeating carelessly, 'No haste-no hasteI shall arrive soon enough at the place I am bound for. How's this-a damsel of the joyous science? Ay, by St. Giles! and a comely wench to boot Stand still, my merry men; never was minstrelsy marred for me. A good voice, by the mass! Begin me that lay again, sweetheart.'
Louise did not know the person who addressed her; but the general respect paid by all around, and the easy and indifferent manner in which it was received, showed her she was addressed by a man of the highest quality. She recommenced her lay, and sung her best accordingly; while the young Duke seemed thoughtful and rather affected towards the close of the ditty. But it was not his habit to cherish such melancholy affections. This is a plaintive ditty, my nut-brown maid,' said he, chucking the retreating glee-maiden under the chin, and detaining her by the collar of her dress, which was not difficult, as he sat on horseback so close to the steps on which she stood. But I warrant me you have livelier notes at will, ma bella tenebrosa; and canst sing in bower as well as wold, and by night as well as day.'
At this moment, as he turned to ask an attendant for his purse, the Prince encountered the stern and piercing look of a tall black man, seated on a powerful iron-grey horse, who had entered with attendants while the Duke of Rothsay was engaged with Louise, and now remained stupified and almost turned to stone by his surprise and anger, at this