To see the Latin text, click on a green square. To see a textual note, click on a blue square.
TO JAMES SIXTH, KING OF SCOTS,
saved by divine intervention from the
wicked conspiracy of the Ruthven Brothers,
A THANKSGIVING OFFERING FOR HIS SAFETY
Who could deny , O JAMES, that your safety is the care of the powers above? Or would not now hope the kindly gods are about to put an end to our ills, and no longer be angered with us wretches, or turn deaf ears to our supplications? Who sees not herein irrefutable arguments of favour divine, which rescued you, O JAMES, from such great perils, and us (should the Fates have ended your days) from future disasters, and the threatening furies of Hell itself?
That great Maker of all things and avenger of evil deeds, taking pity on our innocent Prince and his people, was pleased to frustrate that iniquitous crime in its perpetration, and turned on the authors’ heads all the mighty efforts of their deceitfulness, baffling the malevolent hopes of their wicked plan with swift defeat. Fortune herself was ashamed of the crime, and dared not despoil such a lord as you of your kingdom, nor suffer her wheel to roll over one who lay helpless; greater is the destiny she reserves for you, and commands your Scottish folk to expect better hap now in all things, since you are saved unhurt, if with you, we offer our vows, with fresh incense and pure souls, and fulfill what we have vowed to God, and wickedness, heedless
of our salvation, is not indulged, that it may set alight the anger of our God, that would blaze with punishments yet more harsh. 'Therefore pour incense on the sacred altars, let all highest heaven re-echo io, and that day shall annually rededicate a joyous paean in the temples — let it be marked in letters red, and gold, 2 the day on which GOD’s angry hand constrained within bounds the struggling lightning-bolts: the hellish conspiracy vowed to our ruin, and the Furies rushing with devouring mouth on their hoped-for prey, were checked by another morsel. Yea rather in eager prayers let all those nations vie, whom, beneath the Western sun, Ocean’s embrace divides from the rest of the world ; let justice, law, earth and heaven rejoice at the salvation from the wicked foe’s assault of him whom they wish and hope to see their lord, and thus at length beneath that prince see happy ages dawn on lands at peace.
And you, Scotland, who suckled him, newborn, with his first draught of light, and circled his tender locks with the kingly diadem, and kindly, took such mighty pains to nurture, these many years in your lap, so noble a pledge of peace and rule, and now behold him and yourself escaped from this your common peril: crown his head with the olive branch of peace, let the murmurings of of ill fame fall silent, and rejoice with your King — never more justly was cause for rejoicing given you, whether you are moved by the consolation of your king’s safety, and the blood only of the guilty spilled, God’s anger removed from our necks, and the power of frightful Fate destroyed; or whether you meditate in mind what forces and battalions, had the king been removed, the monsters of the Pit were preparing to unleash on you, so that War, arising from the civil wound, would turn your right hand against your own entrails, and destroy the dear friendship of kindred with a brother's sword, pollute the living ancestral shades with blood, lay waste the towns, turn countryside to wasteland, widowed of its stricken farmers, and everywhere fill the neglected fields with sad funeral rites, disfigure the cities
with ruins, and by sword, flame and famine, leave nothing undared by fair means or foul: on one side Civil War, raging furiously with her serpents; and on the other, wanton Destruction, running riot with foreign steel.
But the powers above forestalled these threats: and, placated with the guilty brothers’ blood, they taught your King, that God is present in the midst of danger, and that to the guilty, safety or security are nowhere granted, nor any shadow to cloak their deceits, which the light and lively force of a innocent mind cannot uncover, nor any craft and guile of wickedness, which it cannot frustrate.
But nations and cities that lay under the threat of a single catastrophe were snatched from the threshold of hell, and indeed whole kingdoms. So much so, that the altars reek with worthy flames, and all of these, joining their prayers with the common rejoicing, rightly demand to be part of this your triumph, O JAMES, and with you, carry their corn and salt as sacrifice, to place offerings in all the temples. Nor are they slow to rush to pay their vows, those in whose chaste souls public peace and wellbeing sit, and their advantage they weigh in balance with the common good: scarce did word of the peril winged and armed with anxious fears, spread among the people and then the doubtful rumour of your safety groan in their ears, than immediately and everywhere the people poured into all the roads, and left their towns and fields in their zeal to give thanks: tears and joys they mingle, the temples resound with hymns, and bonfires blaze at the crossroads, your eager nobles and the councillors in their robes run, avid in their gladness and their fear, to kiss the right hand of one saved from death; wherever you pass, the towns’ armoured and rejoicing citizens pour forth to meet you. Not more welcome are refreshing rains falling on thirsty fields nor the port to sailors tossed by the raging storm, nor health to the sick man, nor shade in summer heat, than to your people is your appearing safe and triumphant. And even Ocean himself , with the winds curling his waves, sports with you, returning King, and lest the fervent hopes of the armed folk surrounding the shores should be delayed, Ocean has even held the ebbing tide, and stays longer in harbour, adding his roars to our applause.
And not only your own Scotland rejoices with you, but the Queen of England indeed declares that she is delighted at your happiness, and hopes that from this your peril you learn to be more cautious. And finally, lest anything be absent to crown these solemn celebrations, amidst the people, nobles and senators — behold those who trained you in the lyric arts, in the grottoes of Apollo, from your earliest days, drenching your boyhood in their sacred cordials: yea, from Parnassus Mount they come, the Muses, hand in hand
with Pallas Athene, her brow encircled with laurel, their streaming locks knotted with gold, and with them see, there come Naiads, Dryads and sea-nymphs too, spurning the waves, Apollo leading the choral dance, and striking the tuneful lyre to accompany their festal songs, to which the very air makes harmony, while the soft grasses smile with happy flowers. And now the choral dance falls silent: and having observed by what star your birth shone, Urania, in her mind revolving the prophetic fates, entreats, with face uplifted, that they be kind.
“Eternal Father of all things, Who bend all things whither You will at Your nod, and Who protect the spirits and sceptres of kings, give our King honour and strength, give him to know the ways of law and equity. Let neither crime by fraud, or open force of evil men harm him. Let his mind by piety, his right hand by clemency and his judgement by Astraea be ruled . Let his body by Patience, his behaviour by Integrity, his breast by Wisdom, and his tongue by Grace be ordered; let Victory in war, and Abundance in peace be his lot. Let his people strive to outdo their prince in doing their duties, they in worship and he in love, nor let either of them ever put their private cares before the public good. By these arts, for however many days are given him, let him rule the sea-girt races until he reaches the age of Nestor. Let none compute the length of his life by the years already past: his natal day will be that day whereon the Fates rescued him from imminent death, so that when he is wearied late with long old age, and passes from earth to the citadel of the stars, his son will take up his father’s example, and hand it on to his grandson, and down many years, as destiny runs its course, through these his fatherly virtues, all the globe in imperial sway will be held by the sons of their sons, and then by those born to them.”