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The only other work of our author's written during the lifetime of his royal master was his attack upon auricular confession, known by the title of
Kitty's Confession ;' of which the coarseness is not redeemed either by its wit or its poetry.
The death of the king in 1542 left Lindsay at full liberty to join the party of the reformers. However disposed James might have been in 1540 to favour the schemes which were then agitated for the reformation of the church, it is well known that he soon after determined upon a war with England, chose for his principal adviser the Cardi, nal Beaton, and adopted principles entirely opposed to all alliance with Henry VIII., or any changes in the ecclesiastical establishment of the kingdom. Lindsay, to a certain degree, must have been influenced by the opinions of a monarch by whose patronage he had been cherished, and in whose service he filled an honourable and ancient office. Now he was at liberty to act uninfluenced by selfinterest, without any outrage offered to the decencies of gratitude or affection, and he hesitated not a moment to unite himself to the party of the reformers; one of the results of this was his publication of the tragedy of the • Cardinal.'
The murder of Beaton, one of the most flagrant acts which has been perpetrated in any age or country, took place, as is well known, at St. Andrew's on the 29th May, 1546. Into its secret history we will not now enter, remarking only that the plot can be traced upon evidence of the most unquestionable authenticity to Henry VIII., that the assassins have been detected in intimate corre. spondence with that monarch, proposing the cutting off this able enemy, receiving his approval of the design, supported by his money, and encouraged by the promise of a shelter in his dominions * To Lindsay, and many of the reformers, the atrocity of the deed was forgotten in the feelings of triumph and gratulation with which they regarded the removal of their ablest and most determined enemy. The tone of the Lord Lion, however, is more quiet and decorous than that adopted by Knox.' Sitting in his oratory, and pondering in a thoughtful and melancholy mood over Boccaccio's work on the · Downfall of Princes,' a grisly ghost glides into the chamber with a pale countenance, and the blood flowing from many wounds over its rich ecclesiastical vestments :
I sitting so upon my book reading,
Richt suddenly afore me did appear
With visage pale, and with a deidly cheer,
Seeming a man of twa-and-fifty year,
Of velvet and of satin cramosye. This, as may be easily anticipated, is the appariţion of the once proud Cardinal, who is made to rehearse his own story, to expose his ambition, prodigality, and oppression ; from which he takes occasion to admonish his brethren the prelates upon the criminal courses in which they indulged, and to enter a solemn caveat to all earthly princes against their indiscriminate presentation of ecclesiastical benefices to ignorant and unworthy pastors.
Mak him bishop that prudentlie can preich
As doth pertain till his vocation;
Ane persoun quhilk his parochoun can téiche,
Gar vicars mak dew ministratioun,
Quilk Christis law can to their convent ken. Any further quotation from this piece is unnecessary.
In the pages of our contemporary historians during this period, we see so little of the private life and manners of the times, that everything must be welcome which can supply this defect; and in such a light · Lindsay's History of Squire Meldrum' is particularly valuable and interesting. It was composed about the year 1550, and contains a biography of a gallant feudal squire of those days, drawn up from his own recital by the affectionate hand of his friend and contemporary.
With help of Clio I intend,
Describe the deeds, and eke the man*. We have accordingly the birth, parentage, education, adventures, death, and testament of Ane noble and vailiant Squire, William Meldrum, umquhyle (lately) Laird of Cleish and Binns.' We first learn that he was of noble birth.
Of noblesse lineally descendit
* Poems, vol. ü., p. 245.
After having been educated in all the exercises of chivalry, this noble squire began his vassalage at twenty years of age. His portrait at this time is prepossessing. His countenance was handsome, his expression cheerful and joyous, his stature of middle height, his figure admirably proportioned, yet strong and athletic; his manners were amiable, and his love of honor and knightly deeds so ardent that he determined to win his spurs both in England and in France.
Because he was so courageous,
Rampand lyke ane wild Iyoun*. At this moment James IV. had despatched a fleet to assist his ally the King of France against the attack of Henry VIII. It conveyed an army of three thousand men, commanded by the Earl of Arran, whilst the office of Admiral was entrusted to Gordon of Letterfury. Under Arran young Squire Meldrum determined to commence his warlike education, and an adventure soon occurred which is strongly characteristic of the times. In passing the coast of Ireland a descent was made upon Carrickfergus, which was taken and sacked with great barbarity. In the midst of those dreadful scenes which occur under such circumstances, a young and beautiful lady had been seized by some of the brutal soldiery, and was discovered by Meldrum imploring them to spare her life, and what was dearer to her than life, her honour,
They had stript her of her rich garments, and she stood
* Poems, vol. ii., p. 253.
helpless and almost naked when this brave youth flew to her assistance, and upbraided them for their cruelty and meanness. He was instantly attacked by the ruffians, but the struggle ended in his slaying them both, and saving the lady from the dreadful fate which seemed impending over her. The description of her dress is graceful and curious :
Her kirtle was of scarlet red,
Belt and brochis of silver fyne; Scarce had Squire Meldrum rescued this beautiful and unknown lady than the trumpet sounded, and it became his duty to hurry on board. But his noble and generous conduct had made an impression on her which can be easily imagined. To be saved from death and dishonour, to see her deliverer only for a moment, but to see enough of him in that brief interval to be convinced that he was the very mirror of youthful beauty and valor, all this was what few gentle hearts could resist, and we do not wonder when she throws herself in a transport of gratitude and admiration at his feet, informs him of the high rank of her father, and in very unequivocal terms offers him her hand and her heart. But it might not be ; Squire Meldrum dared not desert the banner of his lord the high admiral; he must pass on to take his fortune in France. • Ah !' said the lady, 'if it must be thus, let me dress myself as thy page, and follow thee but for love? • Nay; thou art too young to be thus exposed to danger,' said Meldrum ; but let