WELCOME TO SCOTLAND.
Cousin of York, thus once more we embrace thee;
Welcome to James of Scotland! For thy safety,
Know, such as love thee not shall never wrong thee.
Come, we will taste awhile our court delights,
Dream hence afflictions past, and then proceed
To high attempts of honour.
The duke of York arrived off Leith. While the messengers were going to and fro, and preparation was made to disembark, lie and his principal friends were assembled on the deck of their vessel, regarding; this strange northern coast with curiosity, wonder, and some contempt.
"I see horses," cried Lord Barry; "by'r Lord's grace, grass grows hitherward—that is much!"
"I see kye," exclaimed Frion, "so we may hope for buttered sowans at least, if not beef, at the palace of feasts."
"Ay," cried Sir Edward Brampton, who had come on board, "you may hope for choice cheer. I promise ye shall live well, ye that are noble—these unclad rocks and desert moors are the home of many an earl and belted knight, whose gorgeousness may vie with the cavaliers of France or Burgundy. In this it differs from England, ye will not find stout franklins or fat burgesses; there are no men of Ghent, nor London aldermen: the half-naked kern tills the stony soil. Next to the palace is the hearthless hovel. Wealth and penury, if not mates, are joint masters of the land."
"I have heard," said York, "that there is much paternal love and filial duty between the rich and poor in this country."
"Among the northern mountains thus it is," said Brampton; "a strange and savage race, which, my good Lord Barry, some name Irish, dwell on the barren heights, along the impassable defiles, beside their vast stormy lakes; but the Lowlander looks askance on the Highland clanship. List ye, gentlemen; all bears a different aspect here from the gentle southern kingdoms; but they are men, proud, valiant, warlike men, as such they claim our respect. His majesty and a few others are moreover right gallant cavaliers."
"Mark these words," said York, earnestly, "and remember, dear friends, that we, the world's wanderers, seek refuge here of our own will, which if we find, we must not disdain our hosts. Remember, too, the easy rage of the fiery Scot; and that we boast gentler customs: suffer no brawling to mar our concord; let not Richard of York, who of all his wide realm possesses your hearts only, find his dominions narrowed, or violently disturbed by your petulance and pride."
The duke's associates listened with respect. Hitherto the spirited boy had been led by a Barry, a Clifford, a Neville, or a Plantagenet. They had counselled, spoken for him; his sword only had been as active as theirs. A new light seemed to have broken in upon his soul; it assumed a seriousness and power that exalted him in their eyes, while it took nothing from the candour and single-hearted reliance on their loves, which was his dearest charm.
On landing, the duke of York was escorted to Edinburgh by the earl of Errol, Sir Patrick Hamilton, and others. The attire, arms, and horses, with their caparisons, of these gentlemen, were little inferior to those displayed at Paris. King James awaited him at the castle of Edinburgh. The monarch received his guest in state on his throne. The prince was struck at once by his elegance, his majesty, and sweet animated aspect: his black bonnet, looped up by a large ruby, sat lightly on his brow, his glossy black curly hair escaping in ringlets from underneath; his embroidered shirt-collar, thrown back, displayed his throat, and the noble expression of his head; his dark grey eyes, his manly sun-burnt complexion, the look of thought, combined with goodness, mingled with dignity, gave an air of distinction to his whole person. Various were the physiognomies, various the guises, of those around him. The swart, gaunt Highlander, in his singular costume; the blue-eyed, red-haired sous of the Lowlands were there; and in each and all were remarkable a martial, sometimes a ferocious, expression.
The prince of England entered, surrounded by his (to the Scotch) foreign-looking knights.
James descended from his throne to embrace his visitant, and then re-assumed it, while all eyes were turned upon the royal adventurer, whose voice and mien won every heart, before his eloquence had time to move them. "High and mighty king," said Richard, "your grace, and these your nobles present, be pleased to hear the tragedy of one, who, born a prince, comes even as a beggar to your court. My lords, sorrow and I were not twins: I am the elder, and for nine years I beheld not the ill-visage of that latest birth of my poor but royal mother's fortunes. It were a long tale to tell, what rumour has made familiar to every ear: my uncle Gloucester's usurpation; my brother's death; and the sorrows of our race. I lost my kingdom ere I possessed it; and while jet my young hands were too feeble to grasp the sceptre of my ancestors, and, with it, the sword needful to defend the same, capricious fate bestowed it on Henry of Richmond; a base-born descendant of ill-nurtured Bolingbroke; a scion of that Red Rose that so long and so rightfully had been uprooted in the land, which they had bought with its children's dearest blood.
"Good, my lords, I might move you to pity did I relate how, in my tender years, that usurer king sought my life, buying theblood of the orphan at the hands of traitors. How, when these cruelties failed him, he used subtler arts; giving me nicknames; meeting my gallant array of partizans, not with an army of their peers, but with a base rout of deceits, treasons, spies, and blood-stained decoyers. It would suit me better to excite your admirations by speaking of the nobleness and fidelity of my friends; the generosity of the sovereigns who have shed invaluable dews upon the fading White Rose, so to refresh and restore it.
"But not to waste my tediousness on you, let this be the sum. I am here, the friend of France, the kinsman of Burgundy; the acknowledged lord of Ireland; pursued by my powerful foe, I am here, king of Scotland, to claim your friendship and your aid. Here lies the accomplishment of my destiny! The universal justice to be rendered me, which I dreamed of in my childhood, the eagle hopes of my youth, my better fortunes, and future greatness, have fled me. But here they have found a home; here they are garnered up; render them back to me, my lord; unlock with the iron key of fatal battle the entrance to those treasures, all mine own, whose absence renders me so poor. Arm for me Scotland; arm for the right! Never for a juster cause could you buckle breast-plate, or poize your lance. Be my captain, and these your peers, my fellow-soldiers. Fear not, but that we vanquish; that I gain a kingdom; you eternal glory from your regal gift. Alas! I am as a helmless vessel drifting towards the murderous rock; but you, as the strong north-wind, may fill the flapping sails, and carry me on my way with victory and gladness."
A murmur filled the presence-chamber: dark Douglas grasped his sword; Hamilton's eyes glanced lightnings; not one there but felt his heart beat with desire to enforce the illustrious exile's right. The tide of rising enthusiasm paused as James arose; and deep attention held them all. He descended from his throne. "My royal brother," he said, "were I a mere errant knight, so good and high I esteem your cause, without more ado I would don my armour, and betake me to the field. The same power which enables me to afford you far better succour than the strength of one arm, obliges me to pause and take council, ere I speak what it is in my heart to promise. But your highness has made good your interests among my counsellors; and I read in their gestures the desire of war and adventure for your sake. Deem yourself an exile no more. Fancy that you have come from merry England to feast with your brother in the north, and we will escort you back to your capital in triumphant procession, showing the gaping world how slighter than silky cobwebs are the obstacles that oppose the united strength of Plantagenet and Stuart. Welcome—thrice welcome to the Scottish land—kinsmen, nobles, valiant gentlemen, bid dear welcome to my brother England!"