Obrazy na stronie

ing portraitures of Douglases, that falls into the hand of a bookseller, history vainly seeks to supplant the bibliophile has generally to their ideals. But even when shorn look at the balance at his banker's of all legendary accretions the before venturing on an attempt at Douglas records still preserve the purchasing. As a family historian, higher charms of romance. The Mr Fraser handles his subjects bold and powerful lords, more than with an evident consciousness that a match for the Crown itself; the the select audience whom he is fair and haughty dames of the race; addressing desiderate kindly and the battles, forays, treasons, con- courteous treatment of their ancesspiracies, bitter feuds, and splen- tors; but we cannot accuse him of did friendships,-need no effects neglect of the wider object to which of art to fix them upon the mind. his work is subservient—the estabNor are the darker dramatic qual- lishment of historic truth. We can ities wanting Though proverbi- justly say of these family histories, ally “tender and true," the Lords especially of “The Douglas Book,' of Douglas were ruthless and im- that they are not merely additions placable foes, fettered by few of the highest value to the general scruples when either their interest history of Scotland, but that they or their ambition was to be grati- render it necessary that much of fied. A history of the Douglases our history as generally received would therefore be an eloquent should be reconsidered if not revolume, even though it came from written. the pen of a less accomplished Of the four large volumes which writer and less authoritative his- Mr Fraser has devoted to

the torian than Mr William Fraser. Douglas family, the first two are

Mr Fraser's magnificent series concerned with the histories of the of family histories, of which • The houses of Douglas and Angus, the Douglas Book' is the most im- “Black" and “Red Douglases" ; portant both by subject and treat- the third contains character; and the ment, may be said to be unique in fourth, correspondence extending literature. Embodying the results over a period of about five hundred of the closest and most painstaking years; and all these volumes are research, such sumptuous volumes beautifully illustrated with facas the Scotts of Buccleuch,' the similes of characters and signatures,

Red Book of Menteith,' the Stir- engravings of seals, and plates of lings of Keir,' the • Book of Car- the principal sepulchral memorials laverock,' the · Lairds of Grant,' of the Douglases. While claiming or the much-criticised • Lennox,' for Mr Fraser the credit due for want only a larger circulation to the execution of the work, it would entitle them to rank as national be unjust to omit commendation of as well as family muniments. But the Earl of Home, the representaMr Fraser does not write for that tive of the Lords of Douglas-pace general public, which will, how- his Grace of Hamilton—to whose ever, in the end, reap the benefitspirited munificence the printing of his researches. His histories of · The Douglas Book' is due. are privately printed for the fami- It may be easily imagined that, lies to which they relate; the edi- under Mr Fraser's searching scrutions are limited—rarely, we be- tiny, many of the traditions with lieve, exceeding a hundred and which the Douglases are usually fifty or a couple of hundred copies; associated pass away into the reand when one of these by chance gions of myth. Sholto Dhuglas is




not the only familiar member of this, for the satisfaction of future the family whose existence is called Gladstones, may point to this fact, in question. The authorities for and from it advance with more Sholto are struth delivered from assurance than Mr Fraser ventures hand to hand” and a " certain on the assumption that the great manuscript" seen by the tenth statesman of the Victorian age Earl of Angus, as mentioned by traced a direct descent from HerGodscroft, in the north of Scotland bert of Gledstanes in the end of in 1595, perhaps a transcript of the thirteenth century. But the Boece's History. The rebellion of truth is, that Mr Herbert GladDonald Bane, against which Sholto stone derives his Christian name distinguished himself, took place from having been born at the time some four hundred years after the when Mr Sidney Herbert was his assumed era of Solvathius; and it father's colleague ; and thus the reis contemporaneously with this oc- currence of the Christian name is currence that Willian of Douglas, nothing more than a coincidence. "the earliest recorded ancestor, Identity of names has led Mr is met with. Might not this Wil- Fraser to discuss another suggestliam have been the legendary ed origin of the Douglases, which, "Sholto"? Might he not have if not wholly new, is now examined been distinguished by a popular in full detail for the first time. The cognomen as well as

“ Bell-the- peculiar name of Freskin appears Cat" or " Tineman"? Mr Fraser once, and only once, in the Douglas observes in a note that the name of pedigree, and on it is based a hy. Sholto does not appear in the fam- pothesis that the Douglases had ilies of Douglas or Angus until a common origin with the great quite recent times—" which," he house of De Moravia in Freskin remarks, “is not what usually oc- the Flemming, who obtained a

Respect for the name of grant of lands from King David the founder of a great family gen- I. in the recently subjugated proverally ensures that his Christian ince of Moray. When most is name at least occasionally appears made of the evidence, the conwhen he has a long line of descen- clusions are not very convincing. dants.” This is true so far; but Freskin the Flemming died before we need go no further than “The 1171; and in a charter between Douglas Book' for an instance 1203 and 1222, we find Brice of which proves that Christian names Douglas, Bishop of Moray, speakare not always a safe_basis for ing of his uncle Freskin of Kerdal, genealogical evidence. The Gled- a barony presumably lying within stanes were the hereditary bailies Strathnairn. But who was Fresof the Douglas on his barony of kin of Kerdal ? The furthest that Cavers, and there is strong pre- even Cosmo Innes can go, is to sumption made out that the family conjecture, from the peculiarity of of which Mr Gladstone is the most his name, that, if not a member, distinguished member are the pres- he was at least a relative of the ent representatives of that ancient family of Moravia. Even the house. The first of the old stock marriage of William of Douglas to of whom we have any record was the sister of Freskin de Kerdal Herbert of Gledstanes, and we find has no other foundation than the the same name perpetuated still in allusion in Bishop Brice's charter, the ex-Premier's family. Genealo. and the fact that William of gists some two hundred years after Douglas had a son called Freskin.



The utmost that this proves is, ever, is now ascertained to have that the Douglases in the end of been in Lesmahagow, and not in the twelfth century occupied a Douglas; and no link exists to position which entitled them to connect William of Douglas, who intermarry with so high a family appears in Douglasdale certainly as the De Moravias were. But within thirty years of the last of an argument for consanguinity is these dates, and Theobald the found in the assertion of identity Flemming, who with more probabilof arms. The old coat of the ity has been assigned as an ancesDouglases, we are told, bore tor to the De Berkelays—a powerthree stars, like those of Moray, ful baronial family in the Mearns Sutherland, and Bothwell, but on and Angus under the earlier a line in chief, and not arranged Stewart kings. The second theory two and one. But even upon this is, that the Douglas family were we cannot lay much stress. Our natives of the soil from which earlier Scottish armorials show, if they took their name, and Lords not limited imagination, a con- of Douglasdale, before we find any stant tendency on the part of written record of their existence. Scottish heraldry to repeat itself; This is, to our mind, the most and only on such suppositions can probable hypothesis ; and we think we account for the existence of al- that Mr Fraser, evidently carried most identical coats borne by fam- away by a partiality for the De ilies, between which no connection Moravia theory, hardly gives it is traceable. Scottish heraldry the consideration to which it is enin the days before the War of titled. Weight is given to it by Independence was not the perfect the fact that the Douglas family, and discriminative science that it when we first hear of it, was poshad become in the days of so ac- sessed of evident local influence complished a Lord Lyon as Sir and consequence; for it could proDavid of the Mount. Thus, while cure the Piory of Lesmahagow for the attempts to establish a genea- Brice of Douglas “in juvenilibus logical and heraldic connection be- annis,” it could contract distintween the Douglases and the De guished alliances, and enjoyed Moravias are interesting as showing popularity among the people—a the early importance of the former, further presumption of its being we must agree with Mr Fraser a native or Celtic family, for the that “the chain of evidence is not Scots were by no means partial to complete, and no definite conclu- the foreigners whom David I. and sion can be drawn.”

his successors settled in the counOther three theories of the Doug- try in such numbers. And lastly, las origin remain to be disposed of, Mr Riddell, the peerage authority, but these Mr Fraser does not deem has suggested a Northumbrian ordeserving of such elaborate inves- igin, which is, however, found to tigation. Chalmers, with charac- have no better foundation than teristic dogmatism, remarks that that the family of Douglas posGodscroft might have seen the sessed some manors in that county, “ first mean man" of the family, as at various times they possessed had he opened his eyes to the ex- lands in the sister kingdom. istence of -- Theobald Flammati- We have discussed this matter cus,” who obtained a grant of lands at such length, that we must allow on the Douglas Water between Mr Fraser himself to conclude the 1147 and 1160. This grant, how- controversy :

[ocr errors]

· It only remains to sum up what who continued, from the earliest appears to be actually proved as to records we have of them, to range the first member of the Douglas themselves under the special profamily, though the question of origin, tection of St Bryde. it is to be feared, must remain in obscurity. The evidence adduced is to

In William "le Hardi” and the effect that William of Douglas, his son the “Good Sir James,” we father of Archibald and Brice of are able to recognise clearly those Douglas and their brothers, was a qualities which were soon to raise near relation of Freskin of Kerdal, the Douglases to the highest rank a laird in Moray; that the cognis- of Scottish nobility, and to place ance of the Douglases, three stars in them in a position in which they chief, was similar to that borne by a descendant of Freskin of Kerdal; overshadowed even the Crown itand the Douglases and the Freskins self. Their assumption of the (afterwards the family of Moray) popular cause in the war of Scotwere, at an early period, neighbour- tish Independence, the sacrifices ing proprietors in the south of Scot- which they made in the contest land, and that the two families were also in Morayshire together; and with the English, and the large

, further, that the traditional ancestor of the family of Douglas is asserted securing the throne for Bruce, to have fought against Donald Bane, naturally marked out the Douglas while the first historical Douglas was as the first subject for honour and actually contemporary with the rebel consideration. The two suffered of that name who was slain in Moray- severely at the hands of the Engshire."

lish invaders. William the Hardi William of Douglas, the first had, at an early stage of his historical Douglas, was succeeded career, provoked the enmity of by Archibald, and he had also a Edward by carrying off and 'maryounger son Andrew, grandfather rying an English widow-heiress, of the Black Knight of Liddesdale Eleanor of Lovain, who had been and ancestor of the line of Morton. wife of Ferrers, Lord of Groby, Archibald again was succeeded by and who had come to Scotland to Sir William of Douglas, who was secure her dowry out of estates the father of Hugh and of Sir of which her late husband had William "le Hardi." During been possessed in that kingdom. these three generations the Doug- She was not, however, his first lases increased much in posses- wife, for the Good Sir James's sions and influence, Bishop Brice mother was a daughter of Alexapparently being of much service ander the High Steward. to his family. Brice was evi- We cannot follow the fortunes dently a prelate of much weight of “le Hardi” and his son through in his day; and though he did not the long wars of their generation. escape from the tongue of slander, Are not their exploits written in which charged him with unlaw- the pages of Blind Harry and Barfully accumulating money, and bour ? Mr Fraser's less romantic that he lavished it upon “wenches, narrative detracts nothing from the by keeping company with om renown of these two heroes. It he was evil spoken of," he was deserves to be noted that though canonised after his death. But as Sir James, as Bruce's first soldier, a prophet has no honour in his could doubtless have obtained vast own country, so St Bricius does estates from the lands which had not seem to have been held in been confiscated to the Crown by special estimation by his own kin, Edward's partisans, yet Douglas

bore no personal titles save those Bower is right. A nickname in which indicated inheritance of a family is easily revived, but in his own paternal lordship and the spite of its reverses the career of simple knighthood conferred upon the Douglas Duke of Touraine was him in presence of the whole Scot- as a whole too brilliant to have of tish army arrayed at Bannockburn. itself originated the epithet. The This moderation, however, he did names of the different Douglases not bequeath to his posterity. were so often in the mouths of

Mr Fraser introduces to us a minstrels and ballad-mongers, that new Douglas, hitherto unrecognised the frequent confusions which Mr in history, in the person of William Fraser has now cleared away are Lord of Douglas, a son of the Good perfectly explicable. Sir James; but the evidence of his Under William, who was created succession is quite satisfactorily the first Earl of Douglas in 1358, established. This clears up some we are conscious that the house of historical difficulties which have Douglas has now become a prearisen from confounding William ponderating power in Scotland, of Douglas with the Knight of and is in a position to push its Liddesdale, who was a son of Sir claims to the highest offices and James Douglas of Lothian. Wil- influence in the State. William liam, however, enjoyed his lordship was the pupil in chivalry of the for only three years, and fell at Knight of Liddesdale, and part of Halidon under the banner of his his military education had been uncle Archibald, who was there acquired in France. He returned taken prisoner. In his seal is dis- to Scotland during the troubled played a shield on which is a fess period subsequent to the battle of surmounted by three mullets in Durham, when the King was a chief, and in base for the first time prisoner, and the people at the we meet with the famous bloody mercy of English incursions. The heart, which seems thus to have fortunes of Scotland were then at been introduced into the Douglas the lowest ebb, and the field arms immediately aster the Good afforded favour for a nobleman of Sir James's death.

energy and talent, such as William On the death of William, with- Douglas undoubtedly possessed. out issue, and probably unmarried, He began by imitating the exHugh, brother of the Good Sir ample of the Good Sir James, and James, succeeded to the lordship. driving out the English from He was an ecclesiastic and unmar- Douglasdale, and then going warily ried, and resigned, after a tenure to work until he found himself at of eleven years, in favour of his the head of a sufficient power, nephew William, son of that Archi- won back Teviotdale and Ettrick bald who had been Warden of Forest to the Scots. He was one Scotland and had fallen at Halidon. of the commissioners who treated Archibald was the first 6 Tine- for David's liberation at Newman,” or loser of the family—a castle in 1351; but Mr Fraser name which attached itself with corrects Lord Hailes's assertion even more fatal associations to that William was a party to the Archibald the fourth Earl of abortive secret negotiations which Douglas. Mr Fraser is disposed went on for freeing the King, the to think that the epithet should William referred to having been the be only applied to the latter. But Knight of Liddesdale, who appeared we are inclined to believe that to have been actuated by motives

« PoprzedniaDalej »