1. In the immediate aftermath of the mysterious and murderous events of 5 August 1600 at the Gowrie House in Perth, King James VI returned to his palace at Falkland and produced a narrative that was in the hands of the Privy Council in Edinburgh by nine the following morning. It was communicated to Robert Cecil in London London that very day by the English agent George Nicolson. Widespread scepticism greeted the king’s story that he had been lured to Perth by a tale of a pot of gold coins, in order to be murdered by the young third Earl of Gowrie and his brother Alexander Ruthven, whose conspiracy was foiled by the king’s presence of mind and the swords of his courtiers, who killed the Earl and his brother. The scepticism has never abated, and the Gowrie Conspiracy has given rise to a sizeable body of historical writing. NOTE 1
2. Particularly reluctant to endorse the royal account of what had happened at the Gowrie House were the five ministers of Edinburgh, and above all their leader, the much-respected Robert Bruce. These prominent clerics said they were happy to praise God for the king’s safety, but rejected the royal demand that Gowrie — a darling of their own strongly presbyterian party within the Kirk — be denounced as a traitor, saying they had no objective proof that this was the case. In order to combat the widespread doubts encouraged by the public opposition of these ministers, NOTE 2 the royal narrative of events went through several expansions over the following weeks and months. The best-known and most influential of these publications was Gowreis conspiracie A Discourse of the Unnatural and Vyle Conspiracie attempted against the Kings Maiestis Person at Sanct-Iohnstoun, hereinafter referred to as the Discourse, which appeared about a month after the first reports of the events in Perth. NOTE 3 However, the longest and by far the most literary was the anonymous 1601 Robert Charteris publication, De execrabili et nefanda fratrum Ruvvenorum, in Serenissimi Scotorum Regis caput coniuratione, apud Perthum Augusto mense An. 1600 vera ac dilucida narratio, Cui praemissa est Prefationis loco velitatio cum Lectore in fide & assensu commodando paulo religiosiore. His accessere ad Regem Soteria, Carmine Heroico.
3. Although published anonymously, the De execrabili...coniuratione is now known from an epigram by the Scottish poet John Dunbar NOTE 4 to be the work of the ‘kirk papist’ Adam King. NOTE 5 This fascinating man, a considerable neo-Latin poet, had a distinguished academic background as professor of philosophy and mathematics in Paris, where in 1588 he published a large Roman Catholic catechism. NOTE 6 Astonishingly enough, he then returned to his native land, to enjoy a successful second career as a iuridicus in foro ecclesiastico Edenburgeno, a royally-appointed judge in the consistory court of Edinburgh, which had often conflictive links with the Kirk. James VI’s tolerant attitude to outwardly-conforming ‘kirk papists’ like Adam King and the Jesuit-educated Lord President of the Court of Session, Alexander Seton, future Chancellor of the realm and first Earl of Dunfermline, meant that their religious beliefs did not hamper their careers. (James VI’s relations with the Kirk, by contrast, were considerably hampered by the royal policy of tolerating and employing Catholics). NOTE 7 Adam King had good cause to demonstrate his loyalty and gratitude to the Scottish monarch, and John Dunbar’s epigram makes it clear that King’s authorship of the anonymous De execrabili...coniuratione was well-known. In 1603 and 1617 King would openly proclaim his loyalty and love in the only two works he published under his own name in Scotland. NOTE 8 Though none of King’s other Latin verse seems to have seen print, the epigrammatist John Leech (Leochaeus) paid the poet high tribute. NOTE 9 King’s lavish MS edition (and completion) of George Buchanan’s unfinished De Sphaera survives in the Edinburgh University Library; bound into the same volume is a beautifully copied collection of Latin verse entitled Sylvae, vel Poemata Varia, NOTE 10 dedicated to King’s coreligionist Alexander Seton, Chancellor of Scotland. NOTE 11 It includes the Soteria — i.e. a thanksgiving for delivery from mortal danger NOTE 12 — which concludes the De execrabili...coniuratione, a paratextual counterweight to the opening Praescriptio ad lectorem. No discussion of this impressive poem appears to exist. The MS version includes some extra lines, duly noted in the Commentary to the edition with parallel text translation given below. This forms a companion piece to my edition of John Dykes’s sonnet sequence The Nyne Muses, which likewise celebrates James’s ‘lait saiftie and miraculous preseruation.’ NOTE 13
4. The Praescriptio with which King prefaces his Narratio of the Gowrie Conspiracy is a very substantial piece of paratext. As the title page has informed us, this is a praefationis loco velitatio cum Lectore, a disputation with the reader in place of a preface, defending the veracity of the official Discourse. Despite all that has been written about the Conspiracy , neither the Praescriptio nor the Vera ac dilucida narratio seem to have drawn forth any critical assessment, although they certainly merit one. NOTE 14 The Narratio itself is much more than a straightforward translation of the ‘plain and simple’ Discourse. Although both Praescriptio and Narratio are spoken throughout in the first person, the author is never identified, NOTE 15 and the Short Title Catalogue tentatively ascribes the book to Patrick Galloway, royal chaplain, former minister of Perth and sometime friend of the late Earl of Gowrie. Galloway’s important anti-Gowrie sermons of 11 and 31 August 1600 are reproduced in Calderwood, History of the Kirk of Scotland, VI.50 - 56 and 77 - 81. NOTE 16 However, Dunbar’s epigram confirms that the impressively learned legal mind on display in De execrabili...coniuratione is that of Adam King. Aimed at an international audience, the book was prepared with great care. For a start, it is a far more attractive example of the printer’s art than its vernacular predecessors. Not only does it display attractive typefaces and initial capitals, but it has an elaborate title page bearing both the splendid royal arms (James’s impaled with Anne of Denmark’s), conferring quasi-official status onthe book , and a carefully-worded Latin version of Ps. 11:2-3. NOTE 17 None of the vernacular accounts contain any prefatory matter, but King’s erudite, quotation-laden Praescriptio runs to over 4500 words; NOTE 18 three pages from the end, the author ironically notes that Non debet enormior esse prologus quam fabula (d2). NOTE 19
5. The arguments contained in this ‘disputation in place of a preface’ can be compared (to advantage) with the defence of the king set out in the anonymous prose Short Discourse of the good ends of the higher providence, in the late attemptat against his Majesteis person, printed (twice) in Edinburgh in 1600, which was almost certainly the work of the poet William Alexander, future Earl of Stirling. It exhibits Alexander’s characteristic portentousness and involved syntax, exemplified by its first sentence: When I consider in the frame of the worlde and tryals of men, such a mutuall & reciproque consequution of contraries, that everie evill, in some sort of applyance, proceedeth from gud, and yeeldeth againe the occasion thereof: I marvell the lesse of oure deare Kings Fortune in the late attempt against his sacred person, be the traitor of Gowrie: whom many benefits of honor and greatnes, besid all other kind of loving treatment, could not containe, from making his name the first traytor that ever was in his Maiesties raigne’. Throughout his twenty-eight pages, Alexander’s ponderous tone and pace will never alter. By contrast, King’s Velitatio opens energetically, assuring the reader that he should have no doubts whatever that the Narratio will be recounted ‘purely and simply’ (puriter simpliciterque) by one of spotless good faith, and will be ‘bare and simple’ (nuda simplexque). King then stresses, like all the other official accounts, that in this story, omnia certe agnosco miraculo proxima (Patrick Galloway’s Gowrie sermons had laid great stress on this miraculousness). He acknowledges and refutes two improbabilities: that so intelligent a king would put his head in a noose pro auri olla, ‘for the sake of a pot of gold,’ and that such a paragon as the young Earl of Gowrie would fall into the insanity of attempting treason against his king. In other words, the Praescriptio tackles the fundamental objections to the truth of the royal version of events head-on, which certainly shows that the government deemed these objections worrying enough to require refutation. King argues that James' rashness in walking into an ambush is excusable, firstly because great men should scorn rumours of danger, and secondly because James thus gave God the opportunity to demonstrate His power (and His esteem for James VI). NOTE 20 The sceptical reader then evokes all Gowrie’s outstanding qualities. King, however, counters that even paragons can fall into diabolical delusion thanks to ambition and greed, and explains that the ‘Ephesian characters’ written on parchment that Gowrie constantly carried about with him show that the Earl’s studies and intellectual achievements led him ad magicas et illecebras artes (to magic and unlawful practices), and as a Servatoris sui desertor (a deserter of his Saviour) he fell into the satanic delusion of consulting spirits. The ambiguous answers he received led him to think he could be king himself. King concludes by telling the reader that in the Narratio ‘you will see the eternal Mind rising up to fight for the king, and either beclouding the intentions, confounding the counsels, or frustrating the efforts of those utterly sworn to take the king’s life; and so, since you see how uniquely precious the king is to God, learn also to treasure him more and more deeply, as precious, venerable and sacrosanct, and never to attack him by deeds, wound him by words, nor offend him by suspicions’ [vides aeternam illam mentem pro Rege excubantem, & hostium in caput ipsius iuratissimorum siue animum obnubilantem, siue consilia corrumpentem, siue conatus eludentem: quem Deo vnice charum vides hunc tu quoque disce in oculis ferre, magis magisque charum, venerabilem ac sacrosanctum habere: at neque facto violare, neque verbo laedere, neque suspicione offendere.]
6. The Narratio’s ensuing rewriting of the vernacular account of the events totals some ten thousand words. The sworn testimonies which formed the substantial latter part of the vernacular Discourse are not included. Although King makes passing reference to certain of the statements made by the witnesses, he chooses to devote his closing pages to political considerations concerning the English succession and erudite philosophical reflections on the unspeakable crime of parricide. NOTE 21 These closing pages are loudly echoed in the postliminary Soteria, which is designed as a QED of the text’s thesis that James was saved from the machinations of the devil by the direct intervention of God Himself. Like the Gowrie poems of John Dykes, but unlike those of Walter Quin’s Sertum Poeticum (Edinburgh, 1600), NOTE 22 the Soteria does not recount the events of the day of 5th August. The poem does reiterate some of the contents of the latter pages of the Narratio, notably its translation of the original vernacular Discourse’s statement that even on the dark, rainy night of the 5th, as the king rode back to Falkland, people came and lined the way cheering, and that these demonstrations continued for days. However, entirely absent from the vernacular Discourse had been the Narratio’s recital recital of the catastrophic effects on a peaceful country of killing James, and of James’s perfect qualifications for inheriting the throne of England. ‘All ranks could see that the king’s destruction would greatly weaken that hope, which the Scots cherish as certain and sure, and which is thought scarcely likely to dampen the enthusiam of neighbouring nations, namely that the King of Scots and his posterity will by right come into the inheritance of English Empire’s dynasty. For who cannot see what a difference it makes, to have an adult male, of outstanding qualities, mature intellect, experienced in handling matters of state, and diligent, whose judgement and energies are equal to the challenge of ruling and of safeguarding his rule?’ [quod perspicerent Ordines Regis interitu maiorem in modum debilitari eam spem, quam Scoti tanquam certam ratamque alunt: & ad vicinarum gentium studia excitanda putatur non inefficax, Regi Scotorum ipsiusque posteris haereditatem Imperii Anglicani Gentilitatis iure obventuram. Nam quis non intelligit? Quantum intersit, virum habere aetatis perfectae, virtute praestantem, Ingenio maturum, rerum agendarum experientem, industrium qui regendo, tutandoque Imperio consilioet viribus par sit.] The open assumption that James was the rightful, legal heir to the English throne is a striking feature of the Soteria, as it is of Alexander’s Short Discourse of the good ends and Walter Quin’s Sertum Poeticum. Elizabeth Tudor deeply disliked public reminders of James’s right to succeed her, since they proclaimed her own mortality. NOTE 23 The fact that in books bearing the royal arms and the words cum privilegio regio, both King and Quin are so forthright about James’s prospects, provides no small backing for Maurice Lee’s persuasive theory, set out in ‘The Gowrie Conspiracy Revisited,’ that the English government had not been uninvolved in the Conspiracy, and was therefore in no position to object in any way to the Scottish king’s presentation of events or of his status as heir apparent. NOTE 24 In June 1600, James had been so worried about his prospects that he had unsuccessfully tried to get the Convention of Estates to vote money to raise an army to press his claims by force of arms if need be. Now he was using the Gowrie Conspiracy as a perfect vehicle for international propaganda aimed at England and the wider world.
7. The Soteria may originally not have been intended to be the only verse included in De execrabili... coniuratione. The letter to Cecil of 20 November concerning the Latin translation of the Discourse (see Note 12) speaks of ‘sundry verses to it’, and some at least of the Latin poems penned by Walter Quin could easily find a place in Adam King’s book. As the Commentary reveals, there is certainly textual evidence that one of the poets had read the other’s work. ‘Creative originality’ as we understand it was no concern of neo-Latin writers, who prided themselves on skillful redeployment of classical sources; the very word Soteria alludes to the Soteria written by Statius for Rutilius Gallicus, and Adam King stresses this by incorporating various striking quotations from the Roman poem, which jostle with many others from other sources. The advent of electronically searchable texts of the entire Roman poetic repertory has made it incomparably easier to track classical quotation. However, the whole of Europe produced (and read and quoted) endless reams of neo-Latin verse, and to date only the Germans have been exemplary in digitising and making universally available their neo-Latinists. This means that King’s poem may well contain further undetected quotations from and allusions to neo-Latin verse, not least from the works of native Scots.
8. It is unsurprising to discover that the Soteria, being available to contemporaries in print, left its mark on a particular neo-Latin genre where echoes are entirely appropriate, namely that of the epyllion on the Gunpowder Plot. NOTE 25 Both miraculous royal escapes from murderous conspiracy were heavily exploited as a means of enhancing James’s special status as God's anointed: ‘our David,’ as Patrick Galloway repeatedly called him in his Gowrie sermons of 11 and 31 August 1600. James was prompt to turn God's defeat of the Gowries into a means of advancing his strategy of establishing royal control over the all too independent Kirk. And his command that every pulpit in the kingdom proclaim thanksgiving for his divine deliverance from treason resulted in the elimination of the most effective and prominent presbyterian spokesman for kirk autonomy, namely Robert Bruce, minister of Edinburgh. Bruce’s stubborn refusal to endorse the royal narrative played straight into the king’s hands, and Bruce was banished in October. He never preached again in Edinburgh, though he lived till 1631. James went on to use the November meeting of Parliament to institute 5 August as an annual day of Scottish national rejoicing for his — and hence his kingdom’s — salvation, and in 1603 England was commanded to observe it too. After 1605, both kingdoms would mark November 5 in the same way; this second miraculous escape from a devilish conspiracy was used to impress on James’s new subjects just how extraordinary a king they now had, and just how high their king stood in the counsels of the Almighty. NOTE 26 Thus it is that in the Gunpowder Plot poems of Adam King’s countrymen Alexander Yule and Michael Wallace, NOTE 27 we find — enormously amplified — echoes of King’s literally hellish imagery in Soteria 8 [furiisque minacibus Orci] and 48f [monstra barathri], when describing the conspiracy’s satanic origins and the devil's plan to unleash chaos on Scotland. There are also clear parallels between the three poets’ descriptions of popular rejoicing in 1600 and 1605. The very title of Yule's poem, Descriptio horrendi parricidii, loudly echoes the closing pages of De execrabili ... coniuratione. And both Yule and Wallace reveal direct verbal parallels with the Soteria (these are duly noted in the Commentary). King’s poem is notably more sober and compressed than Yule's, let alone Wallace’s, but by far the most striking difference between the Soteria and all the furiously anti-Catholic and anti-Jesuit literature called forth by the Plot of November 5th NOTE 28 is the fact that King’s prose and verse completely ignore the ‘Roman plot’ line peddled by the royal chaplain Patrick Galloway — and by John Dykes — claiming that the Earl of Gowrie (a personal friend of Theodore Beza!) was inspired by the counsels of the Roman curia. NOTE 29 Wallace’s and Yule’s Gunpowder Plot poems also speak of James in quite breathtakingly hyperbolic terms. Adam King’s Soteria, by contrast, breathes a certain classical sobriety and avoids mindless adulation, while treating James VI with love and respect (as well a kirk papist might!), paying particular tribute to his poetic gifts. The Soteria presents the King of Scots as a true child of the Muses, a man of peace — and a man of destíny, the longed-for future male monarch of a united kingdom of Scotland and England. From the opening evocation of Statius’ celebration of divine intervention, through to the supremely confident closing quotations of Virgil’s vision of the Golden Age and the endless line of Aeneas’ imperial succession, this impressive poem — like John Dyke’s The Nyne Muses — speaks volumes for the self-confidence of James VI and his country in late 1600.
9. I should like to acknowledge my gratitude to Dr Henry Howard, Edinburgh, for his advice and comments on the draft translation of Adam King’s Soteria, , to Tom Green and Dr Julian Goodare for discussions about the Commissary Court of Edinburgh, and to Dana Sutton for many helpful suggestions.
NOTE 1 Listed by Maurice Lee at the beginning of his ‘The Gowrie Conspiracy Revisited’, in The ‘Inevitable’ Union (East Linton: Tuckwell, 2003), p.99. For a recent specimen, , all too predictably complete with Freemasons and Templar, sof the wilder sort of lucubrations to which the mysterious events of 5 August and their aftermath have been giving rise since 1600, see this discussion.
NOTE 2 With the exception of Bruce, they fell into line by 11 September: Calderwood, Historie, vi, 82f.
NOTE 3 An undistinguished workaday product of the press of Robert Charteris in Edinburgh, this is reproduced by David Calderwood in vol. VI of his History of the Kirk of Scotland, 28-45; Calderwood states (p.45) that it was issued ‘a moneth after’ , i.e. around 5 September. The Charteris Discourse is virtually identical with the even less lovely blackletter The Earl of Gowries Conspiracy against the Kings Maiesty of Scotland, issued by Valentine Simmes in London by 11 September. Describing itself as a 'plaine and simple narration' (Calderwood, vi, 44), and devoid of prefatory material, the Discourse totals some 7000 words, and is completed by ten pages of sworn testimonies by ‘certaine persones, who were either actors, and eie-witnesses, or immediate hearers of those things.’ The much shorter COPIE D’VNE LETTRE, ESCRIPTE A MONSIEVR L’ARCHEVESQUE DE GLASGO Embassadeur pour le Roy d’Escosse en France, discourant la pernicieuse & damnable conspiration faite sur la per-sonne dudit Roy. Du 13 Aoust, 1600, (Lyon: Thibaud Ancelin, imprimeur ordinaire du roi. 1600), quickly led to an undistinguished (and not identical) Dutch translation, Waerachtich verhael van den grouwelijc verraet t’welc voorghenomen is ghewest teghens den Coninck van Schotlant, door den Grave van Gaurie met sijne mede-hulpers, den 5 Augusti 1600 (Delft: Jacob Cornerlisz Vennecool, 1600).
NOTE 4 Epigrammaton Centuriae Sex (1616) I.35: Dunbar (unlike John Leech, see Note 9) speaks of King as a historian, not a poet. The epigrams immediately flanking this are addressed to two of the heroic courtiers who rescued the king, namely Ludovic Stewart, Duke of Lennox and John Ramsay (the subject of I.36 and I.37 being the youthful Ramsay's killing of both Alexander Ruthven and his brother the Earl of Gowrie). The role of another of the heroes of 5 August, Thomas Erskine, is praised in Centuria II.96, and Dunbar commemorates the failure of the Gowrie Conspiracy in his opening Panegyricus to James VI and I, 171 - 73.
NOTE 5 On King, see John Durkan, ‘Adam King: a Church Papist,’ Innes Review.52:2 (Autumn 2001) pp.195 - 199. Durkan had seen the Edinburgh University Library MS of King’s Soteria, and deduced from Dunbar’s epigram that it had been printed somewhere, but never having read the De execrabili...coniuratione he was unaware of the poem’s presence in (and King’s authorship of ) the book.
NOTE 6 His Scots-language translation Ane Cathechisme... compyled be... Peter Canisius Doctour in Theologie (Paris, 1588) is polemical in intent: see Note 10 below. It can be consulted in EEBO. A small part of it was reprinted in T. G. Law (ed.), Catholic Tractates of the Sixteenth Century, 1573 - 1600 (Scottish Text Society: Edinburgh - London, 1901) pp. 173 - 216.
NOTE 7 On Seton, see Maurice Lee, ‘King James’s Popish Chancellor’, in The ‘Inevitable’ Union, 145 - 57. There is no single survey of James VI’s attitude to Catholics and his resultant problems with the Kirk, but the issue is briefly surveyed in W. B. Patterson, James VI and I and the Reunion of Christendom (Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 18 - 20. James Elphinstone, first Lord Balmerino, royal secretary and later Lord President, and Thomas Hamilton, Lord Advocate and eventually also Lord President, were prominent beneficiaries of the king’s easygoing attitude to kirk papists. Perhaps the single most spectacular example of the Kirk’s mistrust of James’s tolerance was the failed coup d’etat of December 1596, a major factor in which was fear of the return from banishment of Catholic Earl of Huntly and of the Catholicism of the government’s exchequer commissioners Seton, Elphinstone and Hamilton, all members of the ‘Octavian’ group of who managed royal finance; see Julian Goodare, ‘How Archbishop Spottiswoode became an Episcopalian’, Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Reforme, Toronto, 30.4 (2006/2007), pp.83 - 103, at 85 - 91).
NOTE 8 In Iacobum Sextum Scotorum Regem, Angliae, Franciae et Hiberniae Corona, iure haereditario donatum...Panegyris, splendiferously celebrating James’s accession to the English throne, and Ad Iacobum VI Magnae Britanniae, Franciae et Hyberniae Monarcham in Scotiam redeuntem Epibaterion, expressing Scotland’s joy at James’s visit from 13 May to 4 August 1617; it was printed as the final item of Nostodia In serenissimi, potentissimi, et inuictissimi monarchae, Iacobi Magnae Britanniae, Franciae & Hiberniae Regis, fidei defensoris, &c. felicem in Scotiam reditum, Academiae Edinburgiensis congratulatio (Edinburgh, 1617).
NOTE 9 ADAMO REGI, POETAE, IN CONSISTORIO ECCLESIASTICO EDUNENSI IURIDICO
Cognomen, nomenque tibi, doctissime vates
Imposuit fati conscia Musa tui,
Illud quod rex sis, hoc quod vatum pater audis;
Et, Regi, ex merito nomen utrumque tuo.
[“Your surname and name, most learned of bards, the Muse bestowed, aware of your destiny; the one, that you be a king, the other that you be called the father of bards. Both titles belong to you for being a king and because of your merit.”]
This appeared in Leech’s Epigrammatum Libri Quatuor (London 1620, 1621 and 1623), and was one of the epigrams retained in the slightly different 1621 and the much-changed 1623 editions, both printed (with other, separately paginated poetry) as part of Joannis Leochaei Scoti, musae priores, sive poematum pars prior. Edinburgh University Library MS Dk.7.29 features three epigrams, by the educationalists Patrick Sands and Alexander Hume, praising to the stars King’s work on Buchanan’s De Sphaera. Hume’s shorter epigram places King on a level with Buchanan:
Tu Scotis quondam praeluxisti lumina; lumen
Ad lumen supplet Rex Buchanane tuum.
Nunc gaudete duos vobis lucescere soles
Scotia quos peperit; si sapit, orbis amet.
[“You once bore blazing light before the Scots; light is added to your light by King, Buchanan. Now rejoice that two suns shine upon you. You, Scotland, who bore them, and you, world, if you have discernment, love them. ”]
NOTE 10 All these poems were later published in the second of the two volumes of the Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum (2 vols., Amsterdam, 1637), pp. 20 - 54, with three exceptions, namely the Emblematis in Collegio Lexovaeo Lutetiae Anno 1587 Propositi Interpretatio, the 113 lines of Votivae Peccatoris Lachrymae and the 105 lines of the Desiderium Patriae Caelestis. Omitted from the Poemata MS is the liminary verse to the Canisius translation of 1588 (which is prefaced by much calendrical information, devised by King the mathematician — and future editor of De Sphaera):Scire velis, medios peragit quos cynthia motus;
AD LECTOREM EPIGRAMMA
Quoque pari cursu Phoebus & annus eant.
Aut quos foelici dvos Ecclesia partu,
Diua parens per ter secula quina tulit,
Hae tabulae, numeris tibi quas degessimus aequis,
Perpetuas lunae latoidisque vices
Diuorum seriemque dabunt, & tempora: quales
Haeresis haud vnquam Caluinia dedit.
Cuncta catechesis fidei precepta docebit
Pro qua tot diui sustinuere mori,
Romana & coluit quam Petri a sede petitam.
Scotia, per trinis addita lustra Decem.
ADA. REGIVS EDIMB.[“You wish to know the full moon's movements, and by which equal course the sun and year move round, or which saints, in a happy birth, the Church our holy mother, bore in thrice five hundred years. These tables, which I have devised for you in fit numbers, will give the perpetual alternations of the moon and sun, and the calendar of the saints and sacred seasons: which the Calvinian heresy has never told you. The catechism will teach all the precepts of the faith, for which so many saints were content to die, and which, once begged from Peter's Roman throne, Scotland oberved for fifteen hundred years. ”]
NOTE 11 Seton’s letter to the poet, warmly commending King’s edition of De Sphaera, is included in the prefatory matter to the latter (fol. iv, verso).
NOTE 12 The book and poem must presumably have been printed very early in 1601: ‘This matter is translated in Latin and presently to be printed with sundry verses to it’: George Nicolson to Cecil, 20 Nov. 1600 (CSPS, xiii part II, 737).
NOTE 13 In A. A. MacDonald and K. Dekker (eds.), Rhetoric, Royalty and Reality: Essays on the Literary Culture of Medieval and Early Modern Scotland (Peeters, Leuven, 2005) 197 - 218. In that essay I mistakenly stated that the only other poetry currently known on the subject of the Gowrie Conspiracy was the little sequence of seven feeble sonnets by Prince Henry’s tutor, the Irishman Walter Quin (to whom John Dunbar would dedicate his epigram I.73). In fact Quin also wrote Latin verse on the subject. See Note 22 below.
NOTE 14 In Ralph Houlbrooke, ed. James VI and I: Ideas, Authority and Government (Ashgate: Aldershot, 2006), Mary Morrissey’s lucid account of the Gowrie Conspiracy and its aftermath, in her ‘Presenting James VI and I to the public: Preaching on political anniversaries at Paul’s Cross’, pp. 97 - 121, at 115 - 121, discusses the usefulness to preachers of the Discourse of the Unnatural and Vyle Conspiracie and other vernacular material, but the existence of De execrabili...coniuratione is mentioned only in a footnote, attributed (as per the STC) to Patrick Galloway, with no indication that Dr Morrissey realises the book is much more than a translation of the Discourse.
NOTE 15 There is always the (in my opinion remote) possibility that Adam King may only have turned the vernacular Discourse into the Narratio and written the closing Soteria, and hence not be the speaker in the Praescriptio. Robert Pitcairn, when reprinting the latter as no. 5 of his Documents Illustrative of the Earl of Gowrie’s Conspiracy’, in his Criminal trials in Scotland, from A.D. MCCCCLXXXVIII to A.D. MDCXXIV. Embracing the entire reigns of James IV and V, Mary Queen of Scots, and James VI. Compiled from the original records and mss. With historical illustrations and notes (3 vols., Bannatyne Club: Edinburgh, 1833), II. 223 - 231, implies that Thomas Cargill (rector of Aberdeen Grammar School from 1580 to 1602) might be the author. Pitcairn’s footnote 1 on p. 223 states “From a copy in the Library of the University of Edinburgh...The Editor is indebted to Mr David Laing for the following curious abstracts from the Records of Aberdeen :... Vol. xl. ... ‘Mr. Thomas Cargill to be paid £20 for his Latin Treatise, congratulating the King on his deliverance from Gowrie’s Conspiracy”...’ A closer look at this reference, in a printed transcript not available to Pitcairn, indicates that Cargill's treatise ‘quhilk he dedicat to this burght’ also contained, for canny good measure, ‘sum commemoratioun of this burghis antiquitie and previlegis, grantit thereunto by his Majestie's predicessouris.’ (Extracts from the Council Registers of the Burgh of Aberdeen, ed. John Stuart, 2 vols., (Aberdeen, 1844-48), ii, 222. Regrettably, Cargill’s book, which clearly has nothing to do with the Praescriptio, appears not to survive. As he died in 1602, it must have been one of his last compositions.
NOTE 16 Galloway was very close to King James. He had not only written the prefatory letters to King James’s Ane Fruitfull Meditation contening ane plane and facill expositioun...of the 7. 8. 9 and 19 versis of the Reuelatioun (Edinburgh, 1588) and Ane Meditatioun upon the ... the Chronicles of the Kingis (Edinburgh, 1589) but assisted the king with preparing the printed versions of these and perhaps other theological writings; see Astrid J Stilma, A King Translated: James VI & I and the Dutch Interpretations of his Works (Academisch Proefschrift, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, 2005), pp. 239 - 44.
NOTE 17 The text of v. 2 is the standard Calvinist translation of Immanuel Tremellius, but v. 3 states that the wicked, in attempting secretly to shoot at ‘the upright in heart’ in v. 2, are instead destroyed by their own devices — atqui istis propositis destruentur: cf. Soteria 11-12.
NOTE 18 The quotations are from Seneca (7), Curtius on Alexander (3), Dion Chrysostomos (2), Cicero (Philippics VII and XII),. Horace (2), King Solomon (Proverbs 21:7 and 25:2), Plato (2), Plautus, Trinummus (2), Claudian, De quarto consulatu Honorii Augusti, Lucretius (II.1028f.), Paulo Manuzio’s Adagia, Persius (Satyrae v.117), Petronius Arbiter (cxl.15, Pliny’s Panegyricon, Quintilian, Sallust (De Bello Iugurthino lxiv), Tacitus (Annales III.55), Terence (Heautontimoroumenos V.77), and Valerius Maximus.
NOTE 19 A quotation from Paulo Manuzio, Adagia Optimorum Utriusque Linguae Scriptorum Omnia (Aelius Sparticus in Aelio Vero).
NOTE 20 In The Nyne Muses, John Dykes makes this point forcefully in ‘Thalia’, and concludes ‘The Muses to ATE’ — and thus his whole sonnet sequence — with the statement ‘O happie prince, whom hellisch hownds thus hates! / Gods darling deir, sen he sic feas [such foes] defeats!’ (Rhetoric, Royalty and Reality, p.210, p.212).
NOTE 21 Cicero, Seneca, Tacitus, Horace, Quintilian, and King’s fontemporary and Jean Bodin (La Republique ii.5) are quoted.
NOTE 22 Quin’s Sertum Poeticum, in honorem Iacobi Sexti serenissimi, ac potentissimi Scotorum Regis, a Gualtero Quinno Dubliniensi contextum (Edinburgh, 1600) contains not only the seven vernacular sonnets referred to in Note 13 above, but precedes them with a 17-stanza Hymnus and 21 Latin Epigrammata de multis notatu dignis, quae in Sereniss. Regis periculo, et liberatione contigerunt, narrating the events of 5 August and celebrating both the king himself and his defenders Sir Thomas Erskine and Sir John Ramsay (see Note 4 above).
NOTE 23 Andrew Melville’s 1594 Principis Scoti-Britannorum Natalia had caused a serious diplomatic incident (see CSPS, xi, 430f. ), but in the wake of 5 August 1600, William Alexander could publicly speak in his Short Discourse of the happy ends of ‘the eternall providence having given many markes, even from the firste conception of his Majestie, that he is appoynted for great thinges: and willing at last, before his approches to his destined right, now in the good age of his sister of England [...] that he should be incouraged be a speciall signe of his high protection and hand with him’ (pp. 8f.), while Walter Quin’s Sertum is positively triumphalist about Elizabeth’s impending death and James’s rightful succession. Quin’s prose preface explains that he has anagramatised CAROLVS IACOBVS STVARTVS as CVLTV, AVRA BIS ROSA SCOTVS because James is, through both his parents, the descendant of the Tudor reconciliation of the White and Red Roses of England ‘and therefore rightly claims for himself, as next heir after Queen Elizabeth (with whom the line of Henry VIII fails) to the insignia of both Roses, and to whatever by the law of inheritance falls to the heir of either family’ [ac proinde proxime post Reginam Elisabetham (in qua deficit Henrici octavi proles) utriusque Rosae insignia, et quicquid in utriusque familiae Haeredem Haereditario iure cadere potest merito sibi vendicat]. Quin goes on to explain he has conflated England’s heraldic leopards with the (Scottish) lion and devised an anagram that shows James is in fact Arthur, ‘most famous King of Britain’. The succeeding poems celebrate not only James, but the future of his dynasty. Henricus Fredericus Steuartus is anagrammatised as Arthuri in sede futurus crescis, and also described as son of the Britannorum Imperii Regius Haeres. James’s daughter Elizabeth is also praised, as is James’s ability to quell riots by a word, without violence; his poetic gifts as an Apollo who has brought peace to Scotland are saluted and urged on the young as an example; and the remainder of the little book is devoted to the King’s divinely-ordained and aided survival of the Gowrie Conspiracy, with Quin describing James as him ‘who rules the Britons of the North, and with God’s favour, will soon be dispensing justice to the rest in the South’ in the Hymnus, and ‘the rising glory and salvation of the Britons’ in Epigram 12.
NOTE 24 Lee argues that the English had encouraged Gowrie to kidnap the king, in order to make it impossible for James to act on his suspicions that Cecil was trying to exclude him from the succession in favour of the Infanta; any hostile act on James’s part would wreck England’s very delicate peace negotiations with Spain at Boulogne, designed to prevent a Spanish invasion of Ireland in support of the Earl of Tyrone, with whom, to add to England’s worries, James was known to be in contact.
NOTE 25 See Estelle Haan, ‘Milton’s In Quintum Novembris and the Anglo-Latin Gunpowder Epic,’ Humanistica Lovaniensia 41 (1992) 221 - 295 and 42 (1993) 368 - 401. and (more recently} see here. To the poems she lists (in HL 41, p.222, note 9) should be added the relevant poems of Alexander Yule and Thomas Campion (available in The Philological Museum), Robert Ayton and Andrew Melville.
NOTE 26 Mary Morrissey (see Note 14 above) highlights James’s ‘very innovative and consistent use’ of the public pulpit for ‘projecting an image of majesty’ (p.107), with specific reference to the sermons preached on the annual commemorations of the events of 5th August and 5th November. ‘The figure of James that emerges from these sermons is one drawn on a grand, biblical canvas, like that of Jacob, David and Solomon...In using the pulpits to commemorate events like the Gowrie Conspiracy, James used this biblical mirror to project an image of himself to his subjects, and this mirror created some rather grand-style distortions that added to the king’s charisma’ (p. 120).
NOTE 27 In his In Serenissimi Regis Iacobi...ab immanissima Papanae factionionis hominum coniuratione liberationem carmen epichartikon (London, 1606), Michael Wallace, professor of philosophy at Glasgow University and future minister of Kilmarnock, has Satan bitterly bewailing James’s escape from death at Gowrie’s hands in ll. 61 - 65, with a possible echo of Adam King: see the note on line 52. Estelle Haan, op. cit. 1993 (see Note 25) presents a modern edition of Wallace’s poem.
NOTE 28 Boundless hatred of Catholicism, Jesuits and Spain was endemic amongst Scottish protestants, who were appalled by their king’s extremely lenient attitude. It is instructive to compare the Kirk’s mindset with Adam King’s hopes for James’s future foreign policy as voiced in his Panegyris of 1603: in London ‘the Court resounds with the presence of ambassadors’ [Legatis strepit aula frequentibus] from all Europe: ‘The Spaniard reaches out an olive branch from the shores of Calais, / and the eager Belgian [i.e. inhabitant of the Spanish Netherlands] coming from the sea coast. / He speaks words of peace, and for an end to be put to a long war’ [Calaicis olem praetendit Iberus ab oris/ Impiger & marino veniens de littore Belga./ Pacem orat, longo finemque imponere bello]. In 1604, at the end of the tract De Unione Britanniae, the last surviving veteran of the Scottish Reformation, the Rev. Robert Pont (whom Adam King had attacked in his 1588 Catechism), wrote in his poem Ad omnes Insularum Britannicarum habitatores, ‘Let the Pope, the World’s Wonder, with his retinue of half-men / Rattle their weapons; let the misnamed Society of Jesus urge them on; / Let the savage Spanish foe destroy the peaceful Indians; / And rage of the Turks weary their fierce neighbours: / But let them fear our twin kingdoms, and God; from henceforth let them follow / True religion: for no foe will harm the Britons’ [Papa stupor mundi cum semiviro comitatu / Arma fremat: stimulent mentiti nomen Iesu, / Hostis Iberus atrox imbelles atterrat Indos, Et fera Turcarum rabies vicina fatiget :/ Regna, Deum timeant, hunc relligione sequantur / Sincera, nullo laedentur ab hoste Britanni.].
NOTE 29 On 11 August in the presence of King James and a huge crowd at the Cross of Edinburgh, Galloway thundered 'As to that man, GAURIE, let nane thinck, that be this tratarous fact of his, our religioun hes ressavit onie blott: ffor ane of our religioun was he not, but a deip dissimulat hipocreit! ane profound atheist! ane incarnat devill in the co[a]t of ane Angel! [...] a conjurer of devillis [...] hanting with papistis, yea, the Pape himself, with quhom he had not conferance onlie, but farder, hes maid covenand and bandis with him’ (Royalty, Rhetoric and Reality, p.215). John Dykes directly echoes these words in ‘Thalia,’ describing King James as ‘Invyed of all that Serpents raging race / Romes Runigats, that proud presuming pack / Incarnat fends, transformed in Angels face / Conjuring ay: conspyring ay your wrack’ (5-8; op.cit. p.210) . In his closing sonnet ‘To ATE’, Dykes tells us ‘Beelzebub proud rebell brewd this breasche / His romisch court conspyrd, richt weill acquent/ To pley sic pageans princes to dispeasch’ (5 - 7, p.212).