1. In the past, as now, the vicissitudes of the British royal family were capable of creating profound emotional reactions in the minds of their subjects. Rarely have ones of entirely different characters occurred in such rapid succession as in 1612 - 1613. On 6 November 1612 James I’s son Henry Frederick Stuart, Prince of Wales, died of typhoid fever, and then on 14 February 1613 James’ daughter Elizabeth married the German prince Frederick V, Elector of the Palatinate in a ceremony at Whitehall, beginning the genuinely romantic marriage of an attractive young couple, and having the extra beneficial effect of cementing British relations with the association of Protestant princes in the Holy Roman Empire known as the Protestant Union. But of course appropriate public reactions to royal events need to be encouraged and shaped. Today loyal sub jects are given instructions about what to think and feel concerning the occasion in question by the press and the media, but in King James’ time this was a job for poets. Both of these events elicited their appropriate literary reactions: the death produced poetry by such leading lights as Raleigh, Heywood, Campion, and Chapman, and the marriage inspired, among other works, John Donne’s Epithalamion, or Marriage Song on the Lady Elizabeth, and Count Palatine being married on St. Valentines Day. For more up-market readers, similar verse was produced in Latin. Joseph Barnes, for example, the printer to the University of Oxford, produced commemorative anthologies for both events. The present poem, Henrici Principis Iusta by the Scottish poet David Hume of Godscroft [1558 - ca. 1630], is another Latin example. It is perhaps unique in attempting to memorialize these two so different events, entailing diametrically opposite feelings of grief and rejoicing, in a single work, and to combine them with yet a third element, the provision of useful moral and religious advice for the new heir-apparent, James’ second son, the young Charles Duke of York. This must have been a daunting agenda. Let us see how Hume accomplished the task he had set for himself.
2. The first part of the poem (1 - 81) is a lament for Prince Henry. Then comes short transition (81 - 85): the British people should mourn Henry, but they should not do so forever, since all things have their changes and their endings. The months fly by, and the wedding is at hand. It must now be celebrated as a source of rejoicing (85 - 118). This is followed by another transition, this time to Henry’s younger brother Charles. (119f.). Then follows the longest portion of the poem (121 - 200), which is addressed to Charles, giving him the wholesome advice that he should imitate his brother’s virtues. In lines 134 - 200 Charles is more particularly advised that he must always hate Catholicism and ever be on guard against its menace. At 201 - 225 Hume shifts his address to King James but continues with his anti-Catholic exhortation. He then directs a prayer to God (226 - 253), asking that He forgive the British people for their sins and confer His blessings on Charles. Finally a short passage addressed once more to Prince Henry (255 - 265) brings us back to the poem’s starting-point and provides a satisfactory conclusion. With the single exception of the inadequately-marked transition at 119f., Hume combines all his disparate material with satisfactory adroitness, and the finished product makes a tidy enough package.
3. As a Scotsman, Hume had a more particular agenda. In this poem he manages to hold his tongue about his Presbyterian conviction, expressed outspokenly enough elsewhere, that the king should not attempt to exercise control over the Scottish Kirk by imposing bishops on it. But he does contrive to insert a couple of details supporting another of his own convictions. In De Unione Insulae Britannicae (the first part was printed in 1605, the second only in modern times) NOTE 1 he came out in favor of a union of the two realms of England Scotland, but in the second part argued for a series of constitutional measures meant to assure that the new union between the two kingdoms should be one of genuine parity, with a parliament located at York and a British council consisting of equal numbers of Englishmen and Scotsmen. At 7f. he writes:
Nec fas componere, nec sit
Hos praeferre, aut hos, urget ratio acris utrinque.
[“Let it not be right to compare the two nations, or to give preference to the one or the other, since reason vigorously urges the cases of them both.”]
And at 252 he expresses the hope:
Iacobaea veniens de stirpe propago
Imperet unitis aequata lance Britannis.
[“May the descendants of James’ line govern the united British with a balanced scales“]
The suggestion may be made that the sentiments of these passages are only fully comprehensible in the light of Hume’s political theory.
4. Illustrissimi Principis Henrici Iusta, ubi et Sponsorum Epithalamium; et consolatio; et exhortatio ad principem Carolum ad fratris imitationem was printed by George Hall, “at the expense of Richard Boyle and William Jones,”at London in 1613. Another text was printed by Hume’s son James in Davidis Humi Wedderburnensis Poemata Omnia. Accesere ad finem Unio Britannica et Praelium ad Lipsiam soluta oratione (Paris, 1639), pp. 58 - 67 of the section entitled Jacobea. The text of Hume’s Lusus Poetici printed in this volume differs substantially from the one that had been published at London in 1605. Evidently his son had inherited Hume’s papers and found the text of a second, revised and expanded, edition that never eventuated. The 1639 text of the present poem, however, appears to a straightforward transcription of the 1613 edition. It even reproduces most of the the same textual problems: at 47 it should be the arrogant people that James restrains with his government, not the arrogant government of James; we still have didere for dedere at 166; at 200 the disparaging description of St. Peters’ Basilica remains garbled and partially unintelligible; and at 232 we still read ostensum for ostensam. It looks very much as if, for this portion of the book, James Hume just handed in a copy of the 1613 volume to his printer.
5. Four years later Hume published more ceremonial poetry to commemorate yet another kind of royal occasion, when James returned to Scotland for the first time since his departure to claim the English crown in 1603. This event likewise inspired literary reactions, largely consisting of the entertainments to be performed at his various stopping-places which were gathered up in Tὰ τῶν Μουσῶν Εἰσόδια. The Muses Welcome to the High and Mighty Prince Iames by the grace of God King of Great Britaine, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c At his Majestie's happie Returne to his olde and native Kingdome of Scotland, after 14 yeeres absence, in Anno 1617, edited by John Adamson [d. 1652] and printed at Edinburgh in 1618. From this volume (where they appear on pp. 10 - 15) we learn that Hume’s long poem and appended cycle of epigrams were written for one such occasion. In introducing Hume’s poetry, Adamson (followed by John Nichols in the third volume of his The Progresses, Processions, and Magnificent Festivities, of King James the First, London, 1828, who clearly depended on The Muses Welcome for his information) tells us that these poems were written to greet the King during a reception provided by Alexander Home, first Earl of Home, at his ancient family seat of Dunglass Castle on May 13, 1617.
6. Our attention naturally fixes on the major piece in this collection, the Regi suo Scotiae Gratulatio, in which Scotland addresses the king in her own right. All Scotsmen must have been disappointed to discover that, that, for all the official rhetoric of a newly-founded Great Britain after James’ 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.” James’ protracted absence dramatized the degree to which Scotland was reduced to something very like provincial status, and the single most conspicuous feature of his Scottish policy had been to ram bishops down the throat of a very unwilling Kirk. But for Hume the disappointment must have been particularly keen since, as we have seen, he had been an outspoken proponent of full and equal partnership of Scotland and England. Nevertheless he managed to stifle whatever personal reservations he may have felt and produced the flattering expressions of loyalism required by the present occasion. Very politely, to be sure, he goes out out of his way to remind James of his Scottish heritage: how in his capacity as King of Scots he possesses a throne once occupied by the likes of King Fergus I, Scotland’s supposed founder, and Robert the Bruce, how he is the one hundred and sixth in the line of succession, and how the Stuarts can trace their origins to Banquo and his son Fleance. A king, after all, who has tarried in London for so many years, governing his native country at a distance, might well be in need of a reminder about his heritage.
7. In one respect, Hume goes farther his flattery than he needed to go. We know from some of his other writings, and from his friendship with the Presbyterian firebrands Archibald Earl of Angus and Andrew Melville, NOTE 2 that he was one of those radicalized Presbyterians who opposed James’ attempt to replace the democratic government of the Kirk of Scotland with bishops who would be instruments of royal control. In a passage beginning at line 122, therefore, it is a little unsettling to see Hume so enthusiastically endorsing the idea that King James has a special relationship with heaven, which was the cornerstone of the political theory of the Divine Right of Kings and provided the justification for James’ interference with the Kirk. From the Presbyterian point of view, a sounder theory was that which had been set forth by George Buchanan in his 1579 De Iure Regni apud Scotos Dialogus, according to which kingship — or at least Scottish kingship — was a purely secular institution. After all, at least according to the largely mythical history of early Scotland given literary form by Hector Boece in his Scotorum Historia and subsequently repeated by Buchanan in his 1582 Rerum Scotarum Historia, Scottish kings had originally been elected, NOTE 3 and therefore were answerable for their actions to the people of Scotland, and not exclusively to God. Since this political theory was highly congenial to the Presbyterian desire to retain a democratically-organized, independent Kirk, it is surprising to find Hume endorsing the opposite view. Surely this subject was one that Hume did not have to raise, and one suspects his desire to flatter James on this occasion got the better of his private judgment.
8. The printing history of this set of poems is a little complicated. It first appeared as a separate publication, Regi Suo post bis Septennium in Patriam ex Anglia Redeunti, Scotiae Gratulatio, printed at Edinburgh by Andrew Hart in 1617. The same set next appeared in Adamson’s The Muses Welcome in 1618, a collection of all the oratory and poetry generated by the royal visit. Hume’s contributions are printed on pp. 10 - 15. Two extra poems by Hume, written on the occasion of the king’s departure on August 4 of the same year, appear in in a special section, with separate pagination, entitled Tὰ τῶν Μουσῶν Ἐξόδια (sigs. A2v ff.). But the two publications are not exactly alike. Although Hume’s separate volume appeared first, rather paradoxically it is in some respects a subsequent reworking of the text printed by Adamson, which was what was actually read to the king at Dunglass Castle. The 1617 volume contains two poems written after the fact, one (Tarda Impressio) apologizing for the fact that printed volume was not yet ready for presentation to the king on May 23, and another (Difficilis Exhibitio) excusing the poet’s difficulty in locating the king in order to send him a newly-published copy. The idea was that such a volume was to serve in lieu of the presentation manuscript often given honorees on such occasions. NOTE 4 Then too, Adamson included another Hume poem that was part of the original Dunglass set, Scotiae cum Angliae amicum certamen, which for some reason Hume chose not to retain in his version. And, of course, the volume was printed while James was still in Scotland, so the two epigrams about his departure had not yet been written. Finally, as recorded in detail in the page of textual notes, at some points in his longest poem, Regi suo Scotiae gratulatio, some lines and passages have been reworked in the 1617 text, whereas Adamson printed the original versions.
9. Like Henrici Principis Iusta, this group of poems on James’ visit to Scotland is included under the general heading Jacobea in the 1639 Paris volume Davidis Humi Wedderburnensis Poemata Omnia edited by Hume’s son James (on pp. 49 - 58). This time, however, James gives us no mere mechanical reproduction of the original printed version. The typographical errors of the 1617 edition are now corrected, and a new one is added (quos for quot at line 48 of Regi suo Scotiae gratulatio). More importantly, a few useful explanatory sidenotes have been added; the fact that one of them, the one on the second epigram Ad eundem, lines 11f., is historically incorrect — see the commentary note ad loc. — strongly suggests that these annotations were the handiwork of son James.
NOTE 1 See Paul J. McGinnis and and Arthur H. Williamson, The British Union: a critical edition and translation of David Hume of Godscroft’s ‘De unione insulae Britannicae,’ (Aldershot, 2002).
NOTE 2 Some items in Hume’s Lusus Poetici that make his doctrinal views explicit are poems 75, 107, 114, 116, and 118. A few of these were so outspoken that his son James felt it necessary to censor them, so he used ellipses to represent passage he chose not to print. In addition, in a note on poem 119 James states that he declined to print two of his father’s epigrams because he thought they went too far.
NOTE 3 Although Boece’s first forty kings may be mythical, the idea that early kings had been elected was based on recollections of the ancient Celtic political institution of tanistry, whereby kings and other leaders were chosen by a mixed system of heredity and election. (There is a very good treatment of this custom in Francis John Bryne, Irish Kings and High Kings, Dublin, 1973).
NOTE 4 The copy presented to James remained in royal possession until George III donated it to the British Museum (Nichols, III.306 n.)