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Of whom these gallants had none awe,

But played with him pluck-at-the-craw 1! * From this sad scene of selfishness and misgovernment, occasioned by the Queen's marriage with the Earl of Angus, and the seizure of the government and person of the young king by the Douglases, Lindsay naturally passes to his own extrusion from office. They deprived me of my place,' says he, yet, through the kindness of my master, the young king, my pension was punctually paid. Not daring to show my face at court openly, I yet could hide myself in a corner, from which I watched their vanities :'

When I durst neither peep nor look,
I yet could hide me in a nook ;
To see these wondrous vanities,
And how, like any busy bees,
They occupied their golden hours,

With help of their new governours.f It is impossible within our limits to pursue the analysis of this interesting poem with any minuteness. It proceeds to describe, in vigorous numbers, the torn and distracted state of the country; the rapid revolutions which took place upon the expulsion of the Douglases by Archbishop Beaton and the Regent Albany,

And others took the governing,

Far worse than they in ilka? thing ; the return of Angus to power; the tumult, misery, and bloodshed by which it was accompanied ; and finally the escape of the king, with the sudden ! To play at pluck and crow, to pigeon or cheat one.

every * Poems, vol. i. p. 264. + ib. vol. i. p. 267.

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flight of those who had kept him in such ignominious durance,-

When of their lives they had sic dreed,

That they were fain to trot o'er Tweed". Soon after James's assumption of the supreme power, the state of the borders arrested his atten. tion. Murder, robbery, and excess of every description had for many years held their favourite haunts in these unhappy districts.Nor were the crimes which disgraced the country confined to broken men and common thieves they were openly perpetrated by lords and barons ; amongst whom, Cockburn of Henderland, and Adam Scott of Tuschielaw, who was called the • King of Thieves, particularly distinguished themselves. The husbandmen and labourers were grievously oppressed ; property and human life recklessly invaded and destroyed ; black maill' levied openly, and all regular industry suspended. Under such circumstances, the king exhibited the energy of his character by levying an army and marching in person against the border thieves. Henderland and Tuschielaw were seized and executed ; and the famous Johnny Armstrong, who, by his depredations, had raised himself to power and opulence, met that fate, which, with some justice, has been stigmatised as needlessly severe. The account of this expedition, and of the execution of this noted freeboter, given by Pitscottie, is excellent:

• To this effect charge was given to all earls, barons, lords, freeholders, and gentlemen, to pass with the king to daunton the thieves of Thividaill and Anandaill. Also, the king desired all gentlemen that had doggis that were gud, to bring them with them to hunt in the said bounds, quhilk the most part of the noblemen of the highlands did; such as the Earls of Huntly, Argyle, and Athole, who brought their deer-hounds with them, and hunted with his Majesty. These lords, with many other barons and gentlemen, to the number of twelve thousand men, assembled at Edinburgh, and therefra went with the King's grace to Meggetland, in the quhilk bounds were slain at that time eighteen score of deer.

* Poems, vol. i. p. 272.

Efter this hunting, the king hanged Johne Armstrong, Laird of Gilnockie, whom mony Scottismen heavily lamented; for he was ane redoubted man, and as gude a chieftane as ever was upon the borders either of Scotland or of Eng. land; and albeit he was ane loose living man, and sustained the number of twenty-four well-horsed able gentlemen with him, yet he never molested nae Scottis man ; but it is said, from the Scottis border to Newcastle in England, there was not ane, of whatsoever estate, but paid to this Johnnie Armstrong a tribute to be free of his cumber,-he was so doubted in England. So when he entered in before the king he came very reverentlie, with the foresaid number of twenty-four gentlemen, very richly apparelled, trusting that in respect he had come to the king's grace wittingly and voluntarily, not being apprehended by the king, he should obtain the more favour. But when the king saw - him and his men so gorgeous in their apparel, and so mony braw men under a tirant's command

ment, throwwardlie he turned about his face, and bad tak that tirant out of his sight, saying " What wants yon knave that a king should have ?” But when Johne Armstrong perceived that the king kindled in a furie against him, and had no hope of his life, notwithstanding of many great and fair offers which he proposed to the king; that is, that he should sustain himself, with forty gentlemen, ever ready to await upon his Majesty's service, and never to tak a penny fra Scotland, or Scottisman; and that, secondly, there was not a subject in England, duke, earl, lord, or baron, but within a certain day he would bring any of them to his Majesty, quick or dead : he, seeing no hope of the king's favour to him, said, very proudly, "I am but a fool to seek grace at a graceless face; but had I known, Sir, that ye would have taken my life this day, I should have lived upon the borders in despite of King Harrie and you both; for I know King Harrie would weigh down my best horse with gold to know that I were condemned this day. So he was led to the scaffold, and he and all his men hanged *.'

It is still a tradition in the country that the trees, on which this brave freebooter and his gallant company suffered, not long after withered away:

The treis on which the Armstrongs died

Wi' summir's leaves were gay,
But lang before the harvist tide

They withered all away.
Every reader of the Minstrelsy of the Scottish
Border' is familiar with the spirited ballad of

* Pitscottie's Hist. of Scotland, pp. 249, 257.

Johnny Armstrong. In one material respect the traditionary account of the death of this prince of freebooters is apocryphal. There was no letter of safe-conduct granted by James; no direct communication of any kind between the sovereign and the outlaw previous to his being taken. From the account, quoted by Mr. Pitcairn in that valuable collection of criminal trials which throws so much clear and useful light on the history of the country, it appears, that Johne, enticed by the king's servants, forgetting to seek a letter of protection, accompanied with fifty horsemen unarmed, coming to the king, lighted upon some outwatches, who, alleging they had taken him, brought him to the king, who presently caused hang him, with a great number of his accomplices* Anderson, from whose manuscript history this narrative is taken, observes, that the Lord Maxwell himself, who was then Warden of the West Marches, feared his power, and sought all possible means for his destruction. It is not impossible that some of Maxwell's servants may have deceived Armstrong with assurances of safety, having no authority from the king, and concealing such promises from their master. Johnny was brother to the laird of Mangertown, chief of the clan Armstrong, nor is there any reason to think that the ballad exaggerates either his power or his magnificence :

They ran their horse on the Langholm-hows,

They brak their spears wi' mickle main ; The leddies look'd frae their loft windows

'God send our men weel hame again.'

* Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, vol. i. pp. 152, 153.

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