To see the Latin text, click on a green square. To see a textual note, click on a blue square.
FUNERAL LAMENT ON THE DEATH OF THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS, VICTORIOUS
PRINCE, JAMES, EARL OF MORAY, LORD ABERNETHY &c.,
REGENT OF THE KINGDOM OF SCOTLAND
Is this how Fate summons you, by far the most illustrious of princes? And has indomitable death thus denied us you forever, and your dread countenance, you who never ceased to watch over us while you lived? Now you are a corpse bewailed, early snatched from us, enclosed in a little urn. Ah, you were not thus, when with conquering force Scotland’s protecting spirits lately saw you victorious after your steel tamed the clans where the rushing Esk tumbles, and where the infamous Liddel water flows. Behold how chance with sudden motion sweeps all away! The man who was the dread of Scotland’s bounds, her only glory, whose angry face the Frenchman fled, whom the warlike Saxon feared when armed, and embraced as friend in peace, the man at the sound of whose mere name all brigands trembled, you — o wicked crime of fate! — are cut down, your entrails ripped through by the accursed bullet fired by an executioner whom you had freed from death. O enormity, o heaven’s shame, o earth’s disgrace, is this the gratitude of men, is this the reward of kindness, that one to whom we granted life, should wrest our life from us?
Your loss the springs of water, the wan countryside, and the stripped and leafless forests now bewail, and the shepherd no longer safe on his own ground; behold your grave, wet with mothers’ tears and tears of men: you, the abiding grief of your country’s lords, see how you fill with sad laments the disfigured mouths of the people — even as when southwards declining (except that it will return) the sun flees the confines of the northern sky to shine on the African lands, and Winter comes down shivering and ghastly: all the glory of the painted field is slain, sad and barren are the furrows, the thin grass frozen, and the fruits of the trees lie locked in icy imprisonment.
Brighter than he shone no man for faithful duty, for habits and behaviour; no warrior fought more stout and stern. Seeing this portent, Justice, leaving the heavens to others, joyfully chose to make her seat in Scotland’s bounds. The freedom we enjoy, if dutiful (and may it long be so), to live unharmed by crimes, we shall always owe to him alone. This man was the victor who expelled from all the North whatever Roman presumption had once dared perpetrate against the human mind, when with lying shadows it brought in fearful mockeries, banishing the truth. He who with his avenging hand twice pulled down the masters of our slave of a nation, he the keenest avenger of wicked crimes, and lover of true virtue: whatever distant glens he frequented, wheresover this mightiest of men raised his head, thither did swift footed victory repair, and good fortune hasten on snowy wings to meet him. O dolour, o ye gods called on in vain to solemn promises, he, honour of peace, the glory of war, the North’s fiery strength has paid for his enemies’ designs with his own blood, binding together an infamous clan to commit this boundless crime.
But you, now newly resident in the flame-bearing firmament, lighting with your presence the sky, the world with your virtues — if fame’s glory, and fame added yet to glory, delight a faithful shade, then receive this as your death’s consolation: as long as the greathearted Scots’ renowned and royal line shall devoutly adhere to the eternal decrees, and the noble sway of the great Stewart shall stand in the years to come, you shall stand with them, acclaimed unto the eternal ages, and you shall reap the rich reward of honourable fame. If merit is valued at all, then as a noble example of destiny and virtue, Moray will be held a hero, of everything that our descendants will wish to remember and commemorate.
ON THE FUNERAL OF THIS SAME PRINCE
I could think springs and rivers can indeed be born from tears (if of sad Cyane and of Biblis report speaks true), the tears that have fallen at your tomb have brought it to pass, Moray, you the only glory of your time. You have fallen, leaving the commerce of an ingrate world, and in a modest tomb (o blessed man) enclosed you lie. And true religion, honourable peace, and warfare’s glory, as they lived with you, likewise with you together are fallen. But, since neither by tears is loosed the natural order, nor does inhuman death surrender, overcome by prayer, go, thou, go, our glory, make better experience of heaven, since earth gives so much cause to flee her bounds.
He died 23 January,
A. D. 1570