1. Charles I’s 1633 visit to Scotland, for his long-postponed coronation as King of Scots on 28 June, served as the occasion for a certain number of literary effusions including, predictably, a couple of university anthologies (Edinburgh, Glasgow). A representative sampling can be seen in the volume Academiae Glasguensis Χαριστήριον ad Monarcham Carolum, printed at Edinburgh, which perhaps most notably contains a poem Panegyricum by Michael Wallace, best known for his 1606 Gunpower Plot mini-epic In Serenissimi Regis Iacobi Britanniae Magnae, Galliarum, Hiberniae etc. Monarchae ab Immanissima Papanae Factionis Hominum Coniuratione Liberationem Faelicissimam Carmen Ἐπιχάρτικον NOTE 1 on sigs. B2v - C1v. Another similar work was printed independently at Edinburgh in the same year by Andrew Boyd [1565 - 1636]: Ad Augustissimum Monarcham Carolum...in Scotiam redeuntem, Carmen Panegyricum, immediately followed in the same volume by a translation entitled The English Paraphrase. Bishop of Argyll since 1613, Andrew was an illegitimate son of Thomas, 6th Lord Boyd, but his illegitimacy did not detract in the least from his status either as an aristocrat or as a pastor respected by all parties within the deeply-divided Kirk of Scotland. A graduate of Glasgow University, the bishop was a cousin of three prolific poets: the neo-Latinists Mark Alexander Boyd and Robert Boyd of Trochrig, and — more distantly — the vernacular versifier of Scripture, Zachary Boyd. One of Andrew's own great grandsons would be a Gaelic poet and Jacobite loyalist. NOTE 2
2. Here we are not interested in Boyd as a religious figure or a neo-Stoic thinker, NOTE 3 but rather as a poet. In the course of a manuscript epitaph, NOTE 4 Michael Wallace wrote:
Quis Maro, virtutes animi, decora inclyta mentis,
Dotes et omnes gratiae,
Naturamque, uno congestas pectore, possit
Apto referre carmine?
Vix Phoebus satis ipse potens, omnisque Aganippen
Chorus sororum quae colit.
Ergo se canat ipse, suis se versibus ornet,
Clarus poeta nam fuit,
Seu libuit Latias in carmina ducere Musas
Metrove ludere patrio.
[“What Vergil could describe in a fitting poem the virtues of his mind, the noble furniture of his mind, his endowments and all his graces and his nature, all combined in a single heart? Apollo himself would scarce be able, and the entire bevy of Sisters who haunt Aganippe. So let him him himself, let him honor himself with his own verses, for he was a fine poet, whether he chose to lead the Latin Muses in song, or sport in his native meter.”]
This suggests that Boyd was a notable, and possibly prolific, poet. Yet only two specimens of his Latin poetry seem to be extant, namely the abovementioned Carmen Panegyricum and a poem entitled Votum [“A Prayer”] enclosed in a letter to his cousin Robert Boyd of Trochrig, son of James Boyd, Archbishop of Glasgow. Two further examples of vernacular verse in Scots have survived in manuscript, and have been edited and published: NOTE 5 “Vanitie,” a fine sonnet inspired by the Book of Ecclesiastes, and an entertaining translation in rhyming couplets entitled “A dialog from Lucian schoweing mannes death and Judgement.” The latter was not made directly from the Greek original of Lucian’s Dialogue of the Dead, but from a Latin prose version by the obscure humanist Martinus Bolerus Brettonus, first published in 1530 and many times reprinted thereafter.
3. The fact that James VI/I had waited until 1617 to make a return visit to Scotland had already demonstrated that, for all the official rhetoric of a newly-founded Great Britain after his coronation as Elizabeth’s successor in 1603, down in London Scotland was regarded as anything but a full and equal partner in the Union of the Crowns. As James boasted to the English Parliament in 1607, “This I must say for Scotland. Here I sit and govern it with my pen, I write and it is done, and by a Clerk of the Council I govern Scotland now, which others could not do by the sword.” Nonetheless, James was in constant contact with his Scottish Privy Council, and kept a well-informed, close watch on affairs in the northern realm where he had learned his kingcraft. For Charles I, however, Scotland was a foreign country, indeed an unimportant appanage, and by 1633, the Stuarts to all intents and purposes saw themselves as an English dynasty. Charles’ long delay in presenting himself for coronation at Edinburgh only reinforced the impression. The principal feature of post-1603 Stuart policy towards Scotland was the ongoing attempt to extend royal control of the originally highly-autonomous Kirk, by enforcing some degree of religious conformity throughout the Stuart realms. In Scotland, this had meant the imposition of bishops on a reluctant Scotland, where Presbyterianism had put down deep roots. King James went no further than gradually reintroducing bishops, banishing leading Presbyterians in 1606 - 7, and imposing the “Five Articles of Perth” in 1618. Wisely, he did not attempt to interfere with most aspects of worship as such. But Charles I, having no feeling whatever for Scottish sensibilities, pushed his father’s policies much further, in the purest spirit of Laudian high church Anglicanism. Indeed, he took Laud to Scotland with him in 1633, and caused great offence and alarm by making the English archbishop a Scottish privy councillor. Charles’ absolutist determination to secure ecclesiastical uniformity merely succeeded in driving Scotland into outright rebellion in 1637, after the Edinburgh riots which greeted the king’s attempt to impose a fullblown Anglican-style prayerbook.
4. Andrew Boyd was of course himself a bishop, but his surviving correspondence and other writings indicate that he was only too aware of the time-bomb represented by rigid policies persecuting those who ignored the royal decree about “geniculation,” i. e., kneeling to receive communion; refusal was how “dissenting” clergy and laity signalled their fundamental disagreement with royal religious policy, including the fact that increasingly, the bishops and not the laity were running the country on the king’s behalf. In 1633, all Scots hoped and expected that Charles’ visit would provide the perfect opportunity for their absentee king to learn some home-truths about his ancestral kingdom — and adjust his policies accordingly. Nobody at that point wished to arouse active antagonism, and Charles was therefore given a rapturous reception. NOTE 5 That is certainly one reason why in his Carmen Panegyricum, Boyd devotes his energies to portraying Charles as a paragon, not to preaching at him in public to change his ways. The bishop's Scottish patriotism, on the other hand, is not submerged. In one extended passage near the outset (15 - 46), Boyd praises his homeland for its abundant natural resources and the quality of its men, both for their fighting and intellectual abilities. And he does not omit to remind Charles at line 54 that, prior to James, one hundred and seven kings of Scotland had ruled in unbroken succession (in a line which, according to historical tradition, reached back to 333 B. C.), something of which England could scarcely boast. There is therefore a distinct subtext that Scotland was worthy of greater attention than Charles was paying it.
5. That Boyd’s volume, highlighting everything positive that could be said about Charles, was intended as positive propaganda for the monarch is clear from the addition of a translation (“paraphrase”) for popular consumption in Scotland. NOTE 7 It is admittedly written in Scots-English, rather than fullblown Scots, and its sheer Scottishness is somewhat obscured by the English orthography that — in printed works — had by 1633 long replaced the distinctive traditional Scots spelling system. But Boyd employs enough uncommon vocabulary items to warrant a special glossary.
6. In terms of propaganda, particularly striking in the Scottish context is the way that Boyd's praise of the devout Charles’ religious practices in lines 121 - 29 (and their translation) includes a celebration of the king’s Laudian preference for sumptuous liturgical ritual (lines 126 - 29). Boyd’s Carmen was presumably printed and distributed in advance of the coronation, and these lines must have been intended to minimise the shocking surprise which Scots would experience at the coronation. Scottish worship was of a severely Genevan simplicity, with no liturgical ritual permitted. On 28 June, the coronation liturgy included processions, surplices and clerical genuflections before a large cross, quite apart from instrumental and polyphonic music (both banned in Scottish churches since 1560). It is rather striking that Boyd's own paraphrase specifically uses the words “liturgy” and “bishops and divine doctors,” so that his readers would be under no illusions as to what awaited them.
7. Its propagandistic purposes notwithstanding, the Carmen is very much the work of Boyd the systematic preacher. Twenty-two of his sermons are extant in manuscript, and they reveal that like other preachers, the bishop liked to assist his hearers by beginning with a short list of “heads,” on which he would then elaborate in due sequence. In the course of a sermon, the discussion of one or more of these “principal heads” may in turn be subdivided. We find precisely this pattern in the Carmen. In lines 8 - 14, the “heads” of the whole poem are set down, from Charles’ country of birth, through his parents, to his inherited blessings, his physical gifts, his spiritual gifts, and finally his marriage. Boyd then expounds each of these in order, and at length. When he comes to Charles’ spiritual gifts, Boyd makes it clear that these are the “fruit of the spirit” spoken of by St Paul in Ephesians 5: 9 et seq. (a famous passage which culminates in Paul's discussion of marriage, which is precisely what Boyd's final “principal head” will concern). Since the soul is a subject of fundamental importance to a Christian poet-preacher, Boyd has much to say at this point, and therefore provides a subset of six “heads” (Latin lines 109 - 112) enumerating these particular fruits of the spirit in the guise of items of regal attire:
— glistering Gem inroll'd
With Ostre, Peple, Monile of good mold,
And also with a party-colour'd pall
When it comes to the exposition of each of these sub-headings, however, as is discussed in the commentary note on 109 , the ordering in both the Latin and the vernacular texts appears to have gone slightly awry. It is not impossible that the printer, working under pressure of time, got the Latin lines out of order, and then, on noticing his mistake, adjusted the order of the vernacular lines so that they at least matched up to the Latin as he had typeset it. NOTE 8 Or perhaps Boyd simply decided that since he was not writing a sermon, he could be less rigidly systematic and place greater demands on his readers.
7. If the Carmen is a specimen of the official literature of loyalism, the Votum is something quite different, being so highly personal. In reading pietistic poetry of the period, it is often useful to recall the words of the English poet William Alabaster, recalling the sequence of sonnets he produced immediately after his conversion to Catholicism: NOTE 9
I wold sett me downe in certaine corne feldes, where I could not be seene nor heard of others and here passe the tyme in conferences between almightie God and my soule, sometimes with internall meditation uniting my will to god, sometimes [forming] and contryving the same meditations into verses of love and affection, as it were hiding of the fyer under ashes, with the reading wherof I might afterwardes kyndle my devotion at a new tyme againe.
Whatever else such poetry might be, its composition was capable of acquiring the dimension of a personal spiritual exercise, and the patent sincerity of Boyd’s Votum shows that this generalization is applicable in this particular case. In composing this kind of verse, such poets always had the Psalms as their original model, and so it is not surprising that a good deal of Boyd’s prayer is Psalm-inspired. Nor is it lacking in echoes of that version by now familiar to all educated Scotsmen from their schoolroom days, since it had gained a fixed place in the schools curriculum, George Buchanan’s set of Latin verse paraphrases.
9. The text of Votum has survived because the historian Robert Wodrow [1679 - 1734] made a transcription of it, eventually printed in the second volume of Wodrow’s Collections upon the Lives of the Reformers and Most Eminent Ministers of the Church of Scotland (Glasgow, 1845), p. 254. The Votum forms part of Wodrow's massive account of the bishop’s cousin Robert Boyd of Trochrigg, a theologian and poet, who in 1627 had dedicated his published poem Hecatombe Christiana to Andrew. Wodrow prefaced his transcription by saying, “The write [sic] is old and I may mistake some words, but give them in...the best way I can read them.” He did indeed make a few errors, but they are misreadings which are easily put right.
NOTE 1 Edited by Estelle Haan, “Milton’s In Quintum Novembris and the Anglo-Latin Gunpowder Epic,” Humanistica Lovaniensia 42 (1993), pp. 368 - 401.
NOTE 2 Andrew MacLean, known as Anndra Mac-an-Esbig (i. e., “Bishops's Son”), in all likelihood named Andrew for his great-grandfather, was born in 1635. He was the grandson of Bishop Boyd’s eldest son Mr Thomas Boyd, minister of Eaglesham, whose daughter Jean married Mr Hector MacLean [1605 - 87], who was for long the minister of Morvern in Bishop Boyd’s diocese of Argyll. Hector MacLean was appointed Bishop of Argyll in 1680. For information about Anndra, and several of his poems, see Rev. A. MacLean Sinclair, The Gaelic Bards, 1715- 1750 (Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, 1892). pp.1 - 8.
NOTE 3 These aspects of Boyd’s life are discussed by Jamie Reid Baxter, “Mr. Andrew Boyd (1567 - 1636): A Neo-Stoic Bishop of Argyll and his Writings,” in J. Goodare and A. A. MacDonald, edd., Sixteenth Century Scotland: Essays in Honour of Michael Lynch, (Leiden, 2008), pp. 395 - 425. This article is also the only modern biography (there is no article on Boyd in the O. D. N. B.).
NOTE 4 National Library of Scotland Adv. ms. 19.3.25 (a holograph), fol. 71.
NOTE 5 By Baxter, op. cit. pp. 415, 418 - 23.
NOTE 6 The welcome given to Charles contrasts strikingly with the way Edinburgh had received his grandmother, the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots, in August 1561, after her thirteen years’ absence in France. On 19 August, the queen’s first night in her palace of Holyroodhouse was much disturbed by the capital's Protestant militants’ insistence on serenading her with metrical psalms sung under her windows. Her lavish Joyeuse Entrée, on 6 September, was probably the most extraordinary royal entry on record: Edinburgh’s town council laid on a thoroughly admonitory and deeply anti-Catholic display. See Alasdair MacDonald, “Mary Stewart's Entry to Edinburgh: an Ambiguous Triumph,” Innes Review 42 (1991), 101 - 10.
NOTE 7 This strategy of issuing propagandistic literature in Latin for the consumption of the educated classes and a parallel “dumbed down” English version for the common man can be matched by (e. g.) the simultaneous publication of Thomas Watson’s eclogue Meliboeus and An Eclogue upon the Death of the Right Honorable Sir Francis Walsingham, both in 1590. Similar too, is the poetry written for the 1533 coronation of Anne Boleyn by John Leland and Nicholas Udall, where the sophisticated Latin parts are written for the consumption of a distinctly “upmarket“ audience, whereas the English ones were written in a doggerel readily comprehensible to the oridinary citizenry.
NOTE 8 Printers were resourceful. Robert Charteris, when typesetting Elizabeth Melvill’s Ane Godlie Dreame in 1603, skipped the third line in one of the sixty ABABBCBC stanzas. He was able to incorporate the omitted line as the eighth, where it makes unexceptionable sense; but his mistake can be detected because he had to change the line's last word in order to create the appropriate closing rhyme, leaving the stanza as a whole rhyming ABBBCBCA.
NOTE 9 Written in the course of the 1599 autobiographical document entitled Alabaster’s Conversion, §5.5.