1. The Scottish poet Michael Wallace was probably a native of Kilmarnock, where we know he spent most of his adult life. His father was in all likelihood the Michael Wallace on record as teaching (without a Master’s degree) at Kilmarnock school on 25 November 1595 (NAS, CC9/14/3, unfoliated) and 12 June 1596 (NAS, RD1/143, fol. 440) and – as “sclmaistr in the clachan of Kilmernok” – on 3 December 1597 (RD1/62, fol. 69). During this time, one Allan Lochead was the actual rector of the Kilmarnock school. Within a mile of Kilmarnock itself, to the north-east, stands Kilmarnock (now Dean) Castle, the seat of the noble family of Boyd. Wallace appears to have had strong links with this family all his life. In his epicedion for Bishop Andrew Boyd, a son of the sixth Lord Boyd, Wallace speaks of the prelate’s having encouraged him 'from his earliest years’ with friendship and truly fatherly love. Two MS epitaphs for the bishop’s nephew Robert, seventh Lord Boyd (1595-1629) are also extant. For details of the Boyds, see here.
2. Like Bishop Andrew Boyd a generation earlier, Michael Wallace studied at Glasgow University. The Munimenta Almae Universitatis Glasguensis (ed. Cosmo Innes, Maitland Club, Glasgow, 1854) record him in the “third class” on the Kalends of December 1598 (III.63), graduating M. A. in 1601 (III.8); and on 16 October 1601 signing his contract to become a regent at the University (III.374):
Ego Magister Michael Wallace, in numerum Magistrorum Academiae Glasguensis sancte polliceor me in meo munere obeundo nihil reliqui ad summam fidem et diligentiam facturum; nec ante sexennium exactum stationem deserturum; nec nisi consultis at ante tres menses praemonitis Academiae Moderatoribus discessurum: quod si diutius hoc munere fungi contigerit, ne tum quidem ante exactum anni curriculum et trium mensium praemonitionem alio migraturum.
His name, as a “Regent in the Colledge of Glasgow,” is found in a legal document dated 28 June 1602 (NAS, RD1/91, fol. 67), and his signature, as one of the regents of the University, is found on a tack of the teinds (tithes) of Little Govan 28 August 1605 (Munimenta III.190). He described himself as being in Academia Glasquensi Philosophiae professor in his large-scale Carmen Ἐπιχάρτικον of 1606 on the Gunpowder Plot, published in London. On 29 November 1606 he appears, as a regent, in another legal document (RD1/155, fol. 36). We find him recorded as regent in the Munimenta on 19 June 1607 (III.191) and as signatory to a contract concerning the boarding of bursars on 22 October 1608 (III.519). He retained a strong link with the University after his appointment as minister of Kilmarnock in 1610. On 7 July 1619 he was recorded as assenting to the engagement of Mr George Young as a magister (III..377). On 6 July 1630 Wallace witnessed an instrument of sasine for the University (Munimenta I.218), and on 13 May 1632, he paid £50 to the University as a voluntary contribution “for the building of a common librarie within the Colledge of Glasgow, furnishing thairof with books and utherways inlarging the fabrick of the said colledge” (III.473). It was on the University’s behalf that he greeted King Charles I when he arrived in Scotland in 1633 for his June 18 coronation in Edinburgh. The king was evidently impressed, for he pledged £200 to Glagow University, a sum finally paid only in 1654 by Cromwell (!). Wallace's links with the University continued to the end of his life: on 28 August 1639 he was one of the nineteen commissioners appointed to carry out a visitation by the General Assembly meeting in Edinburgh. On submission of their report to the Assembly in Aberdeen on 3 August 1640, Wallace was amongst the commissioners reappointed to carry out a fresh visitation of his alma mater. His newly-appointed fellow-commissioners included his parishioner Sir William Mure of Rowallan, the poet (Munimenta II.451, 453).
3. In 1610 Wallace had moved from Glasgow back to Kilmarnock, when he was appointed minister; he was presented by Hugh, Earl of Eglinton, (who in 1589 had presented Wallace’s friend Andrew Boyd to Eaglesham). That very year, we find Wallace joining Mr Alexander Scrimgeour, minister of Irvine, to represent the presbytery of Irvine at the General Assembly held in Glasgow. NOTE 1 This Assembly was attended by twelve of the king’s Scottish bishops and was ”the most tightly controlled yet”. NOTE 2 It would inspire the exiled Presbyterian leader James Melville to write his powerful poem The Black Bastel or a lamentation in name of the Kirk of Scotland. Wallace did not protest against the Assembly’s decisions. But he was a convinced Presbyterian, despite his closeness to the future Bishop of Argyll (himself a lifelong supporter of episcopacy, as he wrote to the king in 1608). Wallace, like his brother-in-law Robert Scott, minister of Glasgow from 1605 and Rector of the University from 1618 to his death in 1627, would be one of the clerics who greatly angered the visiting King James by signing a Protestation at Edinburgh in defence of the Kirk’s traditions and purity — i.e. it was an anti-episcopal statement. NOTE 3
4. The fluidity of party lines, and the devotion which all Scots of whatever persuasion felt towards their monarch, is indicated by the fact that less than a month later Wallace would welcome the king to Paisley on 24 July with his ambitiously large Carmen Panegyricum, a flood of basileiolatry printed in 1618 along with many other such pieces as part of The Muses Welcome¸ edited by John Adamson. Earlier that year he had produced two epitaphs for his colleague Alexander Scrimgeour of Irvine, permanent moderator of the presbytery of Irvine from 1606. Scrimgeour was a firm Protestant — despite what might be thought in the light of a Privy Council summons of January 1610 for the crime of “intercommuning with papists.” Several other local ministers were involved, all of them under Scrimgeour’s supervision in his capacity as permanent moderator of the presbytery. What the incident actually illustrates is another human facet of the fluidity of party lines in Scotland: the papist in question, “Fr Crisostome, ane knowne trafficquing preist” was in fact, John Campbell, the brother of one of the ministers involved and brother-in-law of another. NOTE 4
5. With regard to the 27 June 1617 Protestation, it seems to be unknown whether Wallace actually recanted, as some of his fellow signatories did. He certainly did not suffer warding like Archibald Symson of Dalkeith (another poet who contributed verse to the celebration of the royal visit), let alone banishment, like the future historian David Calderwood (see his History VII.257-83). In late August 1618, Wallace would in fact be one of the “privie conference” appointed unilaterally by Archbishop Spottiswoode at the infamous Perth General Assembly. Calderwood (History VII.304-22) does not mention Wallace as a protester against the “Five Articles” devised by King James, which this Assembly eventually passed. In that same year 1618 Wallace was, with his newly-inducted colleague David Dickson of Irvine and other local ministers, involved in the trial and execution for witchcraft of Margaret Barclay at Irvine (see Sir Walter Scott’s 1830 Letters on Demonology, p.178, and the anonymous, The Trial, Confession and Execution of Isobel Inch, John Stewart, Margaret Barclay and Isobel Crawford at Irvine, anno 1618, Adrossan and Saltcoats, 1855).
6. According to the 1866 Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae III.104), Wallace was twice married; his first wife was Margaret Scott, sister of Mr Robert Scott, minister of Glasgow; his second was a Margaret Mirrie. Wallace wrote an epicedion for his brother-in-law Scott in 1629. Scott was a convinced Presbyterian, who had studied at Edinburgh under Robert Rollock and was a close friend of the leading Presbyterians Robert Boyd of Trochrigg and the young John Livingstone. Indeed, Livingstone was “severall times” at Scott’s deathbed, NOTE 5 while Boyd of Trochrigg, a cousin of Lord Boyd, wrote a poem about Robert Scott ”in testimony of our singular friendship.” NOTE 6
7. As minister of Kilmarnock, Michael Wallace would have had much contact with the Boyd family — hence his 1627 epitaphs for the seventh Lord Boyd — and he presumably also had much to do with the Boyds’ relatives, the Mures of Rowallan, since Kilmarnock was the nearest parish to Rowallan castle. Certainly, Wallace produced two liminary epigrams for a violently anti-Roman poem published in 1629, The True Crucifixe for Trew Catholiques, by William Mure the younger, of Rowallan. Six years later, this same Presbyterian aristocrat and poet would publish — anonymously — his proto-Covenanting, anti-Laudian sonnet-sequence The Joy of Tears (1635), with its title page’s statement that it was “Published with the gratious licence and priviledge of GOD Almighty, King of Heaven and Earth,” its anonymity justified by the liminary couplet Since blameless Truth dar scarce appear / No marvel I my name forbear. The ninth of the twenty-seven sonnets reads:
Edoms curs’d children wickedly insult,
Wounds of the beast again by them are cur’d:
With death and hell they craftily consult,
And make the Gospels lamp to bee obscurd.
High courts of justice are bee thame procurd,
Where wickednesse is stablisht by decree:
And where heavens heirs are wrongously injurd,
And Amos words are judged heresie.
In Babylon upon the willow tree
My harp is hangd, for Sion I must weep:
Yet they in scorn require some mirth from mee,
And Hebrew songs, my sorrowes are most deep.
Let my tongue bee within my mouth ty’d fast
If I rejoice while [i.e. until] Sions griefs be past.
8. That Wallace would have thoroughly approved of and endorsed Mure’s sentiments is shown by a story related in a letter reproduced in the 1834 Analecta Scotica of James Maidment. At the August 1637 Synod of Glasgow (which followed the 23 July Edinburgh riot against the new Prayer Book) Wallace made his attitude to the episcopal establishment and its “innovations” absolutely clear:
Bishop [Patrick] Lindesay was asking at all the moderators of Presbyteries, if they had conformed, and Mr Michael Wallace, minister at Kilmarnock, answered “Yes.” But when the Bishop came out, a minister at Dalserf said to him “The moderator of Irwine Presbytery gull’d you this day, for when he said that we are to conform, he meant, to the old Presbyterian standard no doubt.” The bishop said, I shall be at him to-morrow, and then he asked him, what he meant by his yesterday’s answer, conform, if it was to the articles of Perth? Mr. Wallace answered, “No ; bot we hear we are to get more of that kind of work from you,” meaning the service-book, “and when it comes, we shall give one answer for all (p. 188).”
That “one answer” was of course the National Covenant of February 1638: a document eventually signed by a large majority of Scottish adult males, not merely clergy. The revolutionary developments of 1638 were crowned by the great Glasgow General Assembly (21 November to 20 December) which both overturned the Five Articles of Perth and abolished the episcopate. Michael Wallace’s erstwhile adversary Archbishop Patrick Lindsay attempted to submit, but the Assembly remembered “that there was no man more violent in urging the Service Book, &c.,” and Lindsay fled to England where he died in poverty in 1644. NOTE 7
9. Robert Baillie’s Letters and Journals, NOTE 8 that indispensable, massively informative account of the whole period, make one or two mentions of Michael Wallace, who seems to have enjoyed the respect of the moderate Baillie, minister of nearby Kilwinning. In April 1638 we find Baillie and his neighbouring clerics, Wallace of Kilmarnock and David Dickson of Irvine, trying with difficulty to convince the notably conservative ministers of Glasgow to sign the Covenant (Letters, I.63). Wallace himself is thought to be the unnamed addressee of a letter of July 1638 (pp. 94f.) about Baillie’s doubts as to the Kirk’s right to convene its own General Assembly. We are given some insight into Wallace’s personality and clericalism in a letter of 7 July 1638, where Baillie writes of the 25 June deliberations of the Presbytery of Irvine as to who should be its elected representatives. He notes that Michael Wallace “was clean misregarded; whereof I am sorrie for many reasons, but his wilfull opposition of the laick Elders procured him that affront aand will get him more, if against all reason, he continue wilfull, as he is like to doe (p. 104).”
10. One of our latest glimpses of Michael Wallace’s activities is also provided by Baillie (p. 178), in a letter of 21 July 1639 (to David Dickson of Irvine) about the arrangements for funding the new parish of Fenwick (New Kilmarnock), involving Lord Boyd, Mure of Rowallan, and the minister of Kilmarnock. Our final sightings of his public persona in the extant records concern his beloved alma mater, as we saw above: in August 1639, Wallace, Baillie and David Dickson were all members of the Commission appointed by the General Assembly of the Kirk to carry out the Visitation of Glasgow University; a year later, Wallace was continued as a member of a fresh Commission of Visitation, which also included his parishioner Sir William Mure of Rowallan. Michael Wallace made his will “at my dwelling place in Kilmarnock the saxt day of aprile 1641,” and the copy in the Glasgow Register of Testaments (NAS, CC9/7/28, ff.685-90) says that he died “in the moneth of May 1641.” Wallace recommended “my spirit into the hands of Jesus Chryst my saviour who hes redeimd me, and my bodie to be interred in the commoun buriall place thair to sleip with the rest of the saints unto the day of the resurrection. The which tyme I assuredlie beleive that my bodie sall be raissd againe and conjoyned with my spirit againe and sall live for ever with Chryst my saviour in the kingdom of hevin.” He nominated and constituted “Mr Robert Wallace my son” as his sole executor and “intromettar with my guds and geir and all teynds and tak dewties and all uther debts quhatsumevir auchtand to me.” Wallace’s legacies tell us that his wife Margaret Mirrie had a daughter called Elizabeth Boyd, thus indicating that Margaret’s first husband had been a Boyd, and Wallace left “to the kirk fyve hundreth merks, the annualrent thereof to be imployit yeirlie” in alleviating the “puir within the parochin of Kilmarnock.” The rest of the long document mainly concerns the great number of tithes and other income from crops “auchtand to me.” Sadly, but all too typically, the testament makes no mention of Wallace’s presumably quite extensive library.
11. Michael’s son Mr Robert had been admitted as minister at Barweil in the presbytery of Ayr only in 1640. Unlike his father or David Dickson (but like Robert Baillie), Robert Wallace was a moderate. He was a “Resolutioner,” i. e., one of those whose support for Charles II after the defeat of the Covenanting army at Dunbar on 3 September 1650 included a desire to rethink the policy of excluding from army and government those driven out by the Act of Classes passed in January 1649. (he Act of Classes was aimed at all those who had supported the “Engagement” signed with Charles I in 1647, which had led to the disastrous invasion of England and defeat at Preston.) After the Restoration, rather curiously, given his father's staunchly anti-episcopal record, Robert Wallace accepted appointment to the see of the Isles in 1662 and remained bishop until his death in 1675.
12. Michael Wallace’s surviving works, printed and MS, are not inconsiderable in bulk. Perhaps his most significant poem is his large-scale, printed Carmen Ἐπιχάρτικον of 1606, on the Gunpowder Plot. Given that this poem is not present in Adv. Ms. 19.3.25 (held in the NLS), which contains MS versions of almost all of Wallace's extant works, there is good ground for believing that a body of earlier MS verse must have existed. Adv. MS 19.3.25 comprises 71 folios of verse copied in a single hand. It begins with the 1617 panegyric to James VI and I. This is followed by five sacred paraphrases, and then comes a series of Epitaphia, followed by the two printed liminary epigrams to Sir William Mure’s True Crucifixe of 1629. The final two items are the epicedion for Bishop Andrew Boyd, who died in December 1636, and the Liber Poematum epigram to Sir John Scot of Scotstarvet, presumably written in 1637, the year of the publication of the Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum, which Scotstarvet sponsored. After these, there are 74 blank leaves. However, any idea that the poems in this MS were copied in a straightforward chronological order of composition is contradicted by the fact that the the section headed Epitaphia begins with elegies for Prince Henry Frederick, who died in November 1612, and includes epicedia for Alexander Scrimgeour, who died before 12th July 1617. In other words, Wallace has grouped his poems thematically, the bulk of the MS being occupied by his five scriptural paraphrases.
13. The absence from the MS of the printed 1633 Panegyricum for Charles I is distinctly odd, as is the presence of considerable numbers of blank leaves between certain of the sacred paraphrases, prompting the suspicion that he planned to insert other poems as appropriate. With the exception of the two final items, the quasi-italic hand throughout is firm and strikingly neat (though not necessarily unambiguously legible!). There are differences in ink colour, but the hand is entirely consistent, and one's first impression is that this is a volume of “fair copies.” Fair copies may well be what Wallace initially set out to assemble. However, various poems have been emended and reworked by the same hand, which means that, even if Wallace did set out at some point to assemble a definitive collection of his (later?) works, he was unable to resist making further improvements to the poems. And. for reasons unknown, he failed to include at least one of his later extant works. The absence of that 1633 panegyric to Charles I may even be deliberate, reflecting Wallace's disapproval of the king’s policies after 1633.
14. The royal visit, centred on the Scottish coronation that Charles had put off for eight years, raised Scottish hopes that Charles would learn learn just how very different were the religious traditions of his northern realm. Alas for all those who would suffer and die in the Wars of the Three Kingdom, including the king himself, Charles learned nothing whatever from his visit. By the time he left, many of his northern subjects were distinctly disenchanted. Eight years earlier, on Charles’s accession in 1625, Wallace had devoted the second half of his second epitaph for James VI to expressing great enthusiasm for the new king. It can hardly be without significance that in 1633, the poet simply lifted a great deal of his Panegyricum for Charles wellnigh verbatim from its much more lavish counterpart of 1617 — this surely indicates that Wallace felt less than wholehearted commitment to his task of praising Charles. He may even have been one of those Scots who had already realized that the king’s sympathies did not lie with Presbyterianism or indeed his ancestral kingdom.
15. Wallace’s surviving MS poetry includes five Scriptural paraphrases. His Historiae Creationis a Mose primo et secundo cap. Genesis descriptae has a contemporary Scottish parallel, namely the Creationis Rerum Descriptio Poetica of his contemporary Andrew Ramsay of Edinburgh, published in 1633 (Ramsay's Creatio is, however, but the first part of a triptych which also covers Hominis felicitas ante Lapsum, Lapsus and Redemptio per Christum). Wallace's decision to versify the Song of Simeon has a direct counterpart in Ramsay’s Poemata Sacra, but where Ramsay also versified the Lord’s Prayer, the Decalogue and the Apostles Creed, Wallace chose the Song of Zechariah (Benedictus), the Magnificat, and the Song of Songs. This last is his largest venture in verse, for unlike the majority of the 36 other individuals in the British Isles who between 1549 and 1700 made verse paraphrases of the Song, whether in Latin or the vernacular, Wallace freely expanded on the Scriptural text.
16. While some vernacular poets did expand the text, not least Wallace’s older Scottish contemporary and fellow-Presbyterian James Melville, none of the seven other insular Latin versions indulges in troping. The existence in print of a severely untroped paraphrase (1604) Carminis Heroici Genere Buccolico Redditum, by the Scottish Reformation veteran Robert Pont, minister of St Cuthberts in Edinburgh, may have prompted the minister of Kilmarnock to take up the challenge. Pont’s rather relentless and unbucolic hexameters are much less appealing than Wallace’s lyrical, truly song-like version. Like James Melville, Wallace uses metrical variety to characterise the two speakers and impart dramatic tension. And if Wallace's exegetico-homiletic expansion of the text is far less ostentatiously Presbyterian and anti-episcopal than Melville’s, it nonetheless makes for interesting reading.
18. Wallace’s Carmen Ἐπιχάρτικον NOTE 9 is his best known work. Elsewhere in The Philological Museum it has been pointed out that Milton’s In Quintum Novembris is the last in a series of Gunpowder Plot narrative poems adhering to the same conventions and narrative moves, that include Francis Herrings Pietas Pontifica (1606), NOTE 10 Thomas Campions De Pulverea Coniuratione (undated), NOTE 11 and Phineas Fletchers Locustae (printed version 1627). NOTE 12 Satan, aggrieved that the Catholic cause is failing in England, convenes an infernal council, at which he sets in motion a scheme for destroying English Protestantism. Often operating through the agency of other Hellish beings, including the Catholic Church, his earthly agency, he enlists human actors (above all Guy Fawkes) to carry out his plan, which is in the end baffled by divine intervention. This chain reaction Satan > Church > human agent imitates the similar one Juno > Allecto > Turnus in Book VIII of the Aeneid. NOTE 13 These poems adopt a narrative pattern that already been applied to other historical situations. The first of these was the anonymous Pareus printed at Oxford in 1585 (in all probability by George Peele), NOTE 14 about Dr. William Parry’s abortive attempt to assassinate Elizabeth. This is the first such narrative poem to feature a new kind of Satan, adapted from Book IV of Torquato Tassos Gerusalamme Liberata (which had newly been translated into Latin by Scipio Gentili in a London-published version of 1584. Tasso had invented a new kind of hybrid Pluto - Satan, very different from Dantes inarticulate and mechanical one in being Machiavellian and rhetorical. The most notable feature of this new Satan was his intelligence and manipulative nature. He then reappeared in more or less similar poems such as William Alabasters Elisais (ca. 1590), NOTE 15 and Thomas Campions Ad Thamesin (1595).
19. So the narrative pattern devised for Pareus was subsequently applied to the Gunpowder Plot, and, since this specialized literary tradition (for such it has become by the time Milton wrote) was preeminently English, it seems intrinsically likelier that Herring’s’ Pietas Pontificia provided the model for Wallace’s poem, rather than vice versa (both were printed in 1606, but since neither is listed in the Stationers’ Register, certainty about the priority of publication is impossible). It is particularly attractive to think that Wallace was imitating Herring since this entire literary tradition, beginning with Pareus, appears to have been crafted to take advantage of the enormous craze for Tasso in England, a literary enthusiasm which found no equivalent in Scotland. Then too, Wallace elected to publish his Gunpowder Plot at London rather than in Scotland, which suggests he was writing for the consumption of an English, or at least pan-British, audience, and not for a specifically Scottish one. In all these poems, the Plot was presented as the local manifestation of a cosmic Manichaean struggle between the forces of light and darkness, in which the Catholic Church is portrayed as Satan’s agency on earth and James as God’s favored darling, the recipient of special divine illumination to root out and destroy the Plot. This narrative therefore manages to translate into concrete terms James’ theory of kingship. But for the modern reader, of course, the principal interest of this specialized genre of narrative Neo-Latin poetry is that Pareus was the first to introduce into English literature Tasso’s new model of Satan, a figure reproduced in the other items mentioned here, who was destined to come to full fruition in the Satan of Paradise Lost. NOTE 16 This same narrative pattern, incidentally, was subsequently used by the Presbyterian poet William Forbes in an epyllion celebrating the 1639 Dutch defeat of a Spanish fleet in the Battle of the Downs, in his epyllion Apophoreta Papae.
20. The remaining poems in the MS are grouped together at the end under the heading Epitaphia. After two on Prince Henry Frederick (whose untimely death in 1612 called forth a vast body of lamentation in both Scotland and England) and two on James VI, Wallace copies out his epitaphs on three individuals: his colleague and friend Alexander Scrimgeour minister of Irvine; his parishioner, Robert, seventh Lord Boyd; and his colleague, friend and brother-in-law Robert Scott, minister of Glasgow. Next come the two liminary epigrams he penned for Rowallan's True Crucifixe of 1629, and then, in a startlingly deteriorated hand, comes the elegy on Bishop Andrew Boyd, who had died in late December 1636. Here too, as in earlier poems, Wallace changed his mind about several lines, writing in corrections above the cross-outs. The hand is even less legible in the short final poem in the MS. Touchingly, this is a tribute to Sir John Scot of Scotstarvet and his long-gestated great project, Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum. Finally published at Amsterdam in 1637, this two volume set, totalling 1230 pages, features no fewer than 36 poets, and had been in preparation since 1615. NOTE 17 The driving force was unquestionably Scotstarvet, who may, at a very late stage, have availed himself of the proofreading assistance of the great Aberdeenshire poet Arthur Johnston. NOTE 18 No explanation of Scotstarvet's editorial criteria is known to exist, but while Johnston received no fewer than 218 pages (i. e., nearly twice the number occupied by the next most heavily represented poet, Mark Alexander Boyd), a surprisingly large number of poets were excluded. One was Mark Alexander's relative Bishop Andrew Boyd, another was Scotstarvet's sometime friend and correspondent John Leech of Aberdeen, a poet nearly as prolific as Johsnton himself (his Epigrams are included in The Philological Museum), and a third was the Presbyterian Mr. Michael Wallace, whose poetry therefore fell into total obscurity for nearly four hundred years.
LATIN VERSES BY MICHAEL WALLACE [ca. 1580 - 1641], MINISTER OF KILMARNOCK
1. In Serenissimi Regis Iacobi Britanniae Magnae, Galliarum, Hiberniae etc. Monarchae ab Immanissima Papanae Factionis Hominum Coniuratione Liberationem Faelicissimam Carmen Ἐπιχάρτικον (London 1606).
2. In Felicissimum et Optatissimum Serenissimi Potentissimique Monarchae Iacobi Britanniae magnae Franciae et Hiberniae Regis, ex Anglia post Annos Quatuordecem in Scotiam Reditum Carmen Panegyricum (printed in J. Adamson, ed., The Muses Welcome, Edinburgh 1618) pp. 262 - 270.
3. Panegyricum (printed in Academiae Glasguensis Χαριστήριον ad Augustissimum Monarcham Carolum Magnae Britanniae, Franciae, et Hiberniae regem, Fidei Defensorem &c. cum ex Anglia Profectus in Scotiae Regnum Solenni Ritu Inauguraretur. 18 Iunii, Anno Aerae Christianae 1633 (Edinburgh, 1633) sig. B2v - Cv.
4. Two liminary epigrams for Sir William Mure’s True Crucifixe for True Catholickes, 1629.
B. Poems contained in Adv. Ms. 19.3.25
The whereabouts of the MS between Michael Wallace’'s death and 1708 are unknown. In July 1694, according to an inscription on fol. 1, the MS had belonged to someone called John Cran (or perhaps Crau, i.e. Craw); no clergyman of that name is on record. In 1708 it was donated to the Advocates Library by the Jacobite bookseller and printer Robert Freebairn, who died in 1747. Robert was named for his grandfather [1618 - 88], minister of Gask in Strathearn, Perthshire; the bookseller's own father David [1653 - 1739] was minister of Gask in 1676, of nearby Auchterarder in 1680, and Dunning, also nearby, in 1686. He was deprived by order of the Privy Council in 1689 for refusing to pray for the new monarchs William and Mary (who had restored Presbyterianism). As a non-juror, David Freebairn retired to Edinburgh in 1691 and set up as a bookseller, but swiftly returned to his clerical career in the (persecuted and semi-clandestine) Scottish Episcopal Church. He was eventually consecrated bishop in 1722, and went on, as Bishop of Edinburgh, to serve as Primus 1731 - 38. His son Robert Freebairn, like his father a Jacobite supporter of the exiled Stewart dynasty, was a close friend of the Latin grammarian and Jacobite Thomas Ruddiman, keeper of the Advocates Library. As a publisher, Freebairn was instrumental in bringing out Ruddiman’s great edition of Gavin Douglas's Eneados in 1710. As noted above, Michael Wallace’s son Robert was Bishop of the Isles until his death in 1675, and it is possible that the MS was amongst his possessions and thereafter remained in episcopalian hands. But it is clear that Robert Freebairn had no idea who Michael Wallace had been; Ruddiman’s note of 1708 on fol. 1v says “this book of poems seems to be written by one Michael Wallas.”
The MS contains a total of 184 well-bound leaves, and appears to be in its original vellum binding, now lacking its leather “ties.” No writing is discernible on the outside covers or spine. It begins with columns of figures on the paste-down and 4 subsequent unnumbered leaves likewise covered with columns of figures, like the volume's last 5 leaves.
fol. 1r ([in very uncalligraphic secretary hand): Hora nimis vita ?egi Crastina vive hodie / s??ige quae moriturus agas / julio 1 m vi c nyntee four / Jo. Cran. In later italic hand: Edinr 14 July 1708 followed by nine lines apparently in same hand, rendered completely illegible by careful scribbling-over.
fol. 1v Bibliotheca Juridicorum quae Edinburgi est Dono dat Robertus Freebairn 1708
This Book of poems seems to be written by one Michael Wallas: the first is undoubtedly his, as is evident from the Muses Welcome to King James VI. p.262 where this very poem is sign’d by Mich.Wallas: and it is very probable that the rest are likewise his and written with his own hand, because the writ throughout is the same, but more especially because of the many corrections which are interlined, which none would have taken upon them to make except the Author himself. Ruddiman. (The ownership inscription is written upside down on fol. 71v in a very much more confident version of the handwriting of the poems on that leaf.
fols. 2 - 13v Carmen Panegyricum for James VI's Scottish visit of 1617 (as above)
fol. 14 blank
fol. 15r deleted title and opening lines of Historiae Creationis
fols. 15v - 16r blank
fols. 16v - 29vHistoriae Creationis a Mose primo et secundo cap. Genesis descriptas
nine unnumbered blank leaves
fols. 30 - 31r Canticum Zacharia patris Joannis Baptistae, quod cecinit Deo in nativitate filii
fols. 32 - 33r Canticum beatae Virginis
fols. 34 - 35v Canticum Simeonis paraphrastico carmine latine redditum (16 tetrastichs)
fols. 36 - 63v In Canticum Salomonis (in 21 Odes)
seven unnumbered blank leaves
fol. 64 Epitaphia
In obitum principis illustrissimi Henrici Britanniae Magnae Principis in primo iuventae flore extincti
fol. 65 Aliud [Henry, Duke of Rothesay and Prince of Wales, died 6 November 1612]
fol. 65 In obitum patris eiusdem Henrici Iacobi regis magnae Britanniae Epitaphia
fol. 65v Aliud [James VI King of Scots and I of England died 27 March 1625]
three unnumbered blank leaves
fol. 67 M. Alexandri Scrimgeri, pastoris ecclesiae Irviniensis Epitaphium
fol. .67 Aliud [Alexander Scrimgeour was minister of Irvine from 1589 to his death in 1617]
fol. 68 D. Roberti Bodii iuvenis clarissimi in ipso aetatis flore extincti epitaphium
fol. 68 Aliud [Robert, seventh Lord Boyd, lived 1595 - 1628]
fol. 69r D. Roberti Scoti in ecclesia Glasguensi praeconis et pastoris clarissimi epitaphium [note: Robert Scott, Wallace’s brother-in-law, died in 1629]
fol. 69v blank, followed by unnumbered blank leaf
fol. 70 In Stauropticon, id est De vera Crucis Christi Contemplatione poesin a d. Gulielmo Moro aeditam
fol. 70 Aliud [Sir William Mure's True Crucifixe for True Catholickes was published in 1629]
blank unnumbered leaf
fols. 71 - 71v In d. Andreae Bodii Argatheliae Episcopi celeberrimi hominisque omnibus charissimi obitum [note: Andrew Boyd died on 21 December 1636].
fol. 71v Poematum liber [on Scot of Scotstarvet and the Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum, publ. 1637]
NOTE 1 David Calderwood, The History of the Kirk of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1842) VII.106.
NOTE 2 A. R. MacDonald, The Jacobean Kirk, 1567 - 1624 (St. Andrews, 1998) p. 146.
NOTE 3 Calderwood, VII.256.
NOTE 4 Original Leters Relating to the Ecclesiastical Affairs of Scotland, 1603-1625, 2 vols., ed. D. Laing (The Bannatyne Club, 1851) pp. 234 and 423.
NOTE 5 A Brief Historical Relation of the Life of Mr. John Livingtone, Minister of the Gospel, containing several observations of the Divine Goodness manifested to him in several occurrences thereof. Written by himself, first published at Glasgow in 1754.
NOTE 6 David George Mullan, Scottish Puritanism, 1590 - 1638 (Oxford, 2000) p. 42.
NOTE 7 David George Mullan, Episcopacy in Scotland: the History of an Idea, 1560 - 1638 (Edinburgh, 1986) p. 192.
NOTE 8 The Letters and Journals of Robert Ballie, 1637 - 1662 (The Bannatyne Club, 1841).
NOTE 9 This poem was originally edited by Estelle Haan, “Milton’s In Quintum Novembris and the Anglo-Latin Gunpowder Epic, Part II,” Humanistica Lovaniensia 42 (1993) 368 - 401.
NOTE 10 For the narrative tradition, see more fully Dana F. Sutton, “Milton's in Quintum Novembris, Anno Aetatis 17 (1626): Choices and Intentions," in Gareth L. Schmeling (ed.), Qui Miscuit Utile Dulci (Festschrift for Paul Lachlan MacKendrick on his 85th birthday, Chicago, 1997) 349 - 375. Herring’s poem has been edited by Estelle Haan, “Milton’s In Quintum Novembris and the Anglo-Latin Gunpowder Epic,” Humanistica Lovaniensia 41 (1992) 221 - 95. Pietas Pontificia was reprinted in an expanded version under the title Venatio Catholica, in 1609, and also received the compliment of a pirated printing two years later. In addition, it was twice translated into English verse, by “A. P.” in 1610 and, in a "very much dilated" version, by John Vicars in 1617. This latter translation was reprinted as late as 1641.
NOTE 11 First edited by David Lindley and Robin Sowerby, Thomas Campion: de Pulverea Coniuratione (Leeds, 1987).
NOTE 12 First edited in Vol. II of Frederick S. Boas, The Poetical Works of Giles Fletcher and Phineas Fletcher (Cambridge, 1909); see also Estelle Haan, Phineas Fletcher. Locustae vel Pietas Iesuitica. With Introduction, Translation and Commentary (Supplementa Humanistica Lovaniensia 9, 1996).
NOTE 13 Notice should also be taken of the Scotsman Alexander Yule’s Descriptio horrendi parricidii et nefariae perduellionis a Papane religionis assertoribus designatae in Iacobum Magnae Britanniae, Galliae et Hiberniae regem serenissimum, in ipsius reginam, regiam sobolem, regnique ordines, et optimates, 5. Novembris 1605, another work printed in 1606. Although Yule’s account of the Plot does not employ all of the plot elements found in the poems discussed here, it does start by relating how the Plot’s inspiration originate in the Underworld. It is impossible to decide whether Yule invented this independently or whether he was writing under the influence of his fellow-countryman Wallace.
NOTE 14 Attribution to Peele was originally proposed by C. F. Tucker Brooke, “A Latin Poem by George Peele (?),” Huntington Library Quarterly 3 (1939 - 40) 48f., and was endorsed by Leicester Bradner, Musae Anglicanae: A History of Anglo-Latin Poetry 1500 - 1925 (New York, 1940, reprinted New York, 1965), 65. For arguments for attribution are given here.
NOTE 15 Edited by Michael O’Connor, “The ‘Elisaeis’ of William Alabaster,” Studies in Philology monograph 76 (1979); in his introduction, O’Connor noted that Milton's poem contains echoes of the Elisaeis, but did not elaborate on the subject.
NOTE 16 This account only takes into consideration extant Plot poems. There remains outstanding the tantalizing possibility that the Oxford poet-playwright William Gager played a pivotal role in the development of this literary tradition. In 1608 the William Gager wrote a lengthy meditation on the Plot entitled Pyramis. This work was never printed, and is preserved only in British Library Ms. Royal A LIX. Executed in a gorgeous italic hand by the poet himself, clearly this was a presentation copy given by Gager to the king. In the course of this poem, (164ff.) Gager alludes to earlier Plot poetry he had previously written, now lost, tells us that James had been pleased by this work. In commenting on these lines in his 1936 New Haven edition, C. F. Tucker Brooke suggested that Gager had originally written a work of a more narrative nature. Now, there are several reasons why Gager would have been admirably situated to have been the first to have written a work similar to those of Herring, Wallace, and the rest. Before Peele went down from Oxford, they had been students at Christ Church, and in 1583 Peele returned to Oxford to assist in the production of Gager’s tragedy Dido as an entertainment for an honored guest of the university; indeed, as explained here, Dido shows signs of dual authorship, and Peele is the most obvious possibility as Gager’s collaborator. More than this, it would appear that in 1584 the government granted Oxford to operate a press (Joseph Barnes was chosen as Printer to the University) on condition that it issue a certain amount of material designed to influence the political thinking of its readers. This is suggested by the fact that a number of its early publications consisted of distinctly propagandistic items, including several small poetry volumes by Gager and some prose works by the philosopher John Case, most notably his 1588 Sphaera Civitatis. It would seem that, in addition to making his own contributions, Gager was assigned the task of drumming up similar works by others (for example, he edited the 1587 university memorial anthology on the death of Sir Philip Sidney), and it is not unlikely that it was thanks to his agency that Pareus came to be printed by Barnes as a small pamphlet identical in appearance to several written by Gager himself..
Then too, in the 1580’s Tasso’s great fugleman in England was Scipio Gentile, and another Christ Church contemporary of Gager’s, and a good friend too, was Scipio Gentile’s brother Alberico, Oxford’s Regius Professor of Civil Law beginning in 1586. We know little about the Scipio Gentile’s doings during his years in England (from the article on him in the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie one would not learn that he had ever set foot in the British Isles), but it is plausible to imagine that he occasionally came up to Oxford to visit his brother, in which case Gager would have had the opportunity to meet him personally.
Finally, in Pyramis Gager tells us that James was “not displeased” by his earlier efforts (he had probably submitted them to the king in a presentation copy similar to the Pyramis one). This, doubtless, was not just because James was playing the royal literary critic, but because he appreciated the enormous propagandist usefulness of this kind of verse narrative. James would have seen that verse accounts of this kind were a highly desirable supplement to the official published account issued by the government in 1606, a document regarded as sufficiently important for influencing international as well as national opinion that a Latin translation by William Camden followed hard on its heels. We might further suppose that James let it be known he would be pleased to see other poets write similar stuff, as a means of instructing educated readers how they ought to think and feel about the Plot and, above all else, about himself, and that this provided the impetus for Herring, Wallace, and the rest. This theory is of course hypothetical, but Gager’s Plot items are unique for having demonstrably been read and liked by James.
NOTE 17 The earliest concrete references to the project are found in a letter of April 1615 in which Scotstarvet wrote to the bibliophile Sir David Lindsay of Balcarres that “at the desire of Sir William Alexander of Menstrie, and mine, Mr John Rea, our auld maister, has undertaken the collecting and setting togidder of our Scottish poets, in the imitation of the French and Italians, whereof we have gadderit a good number.” (W. C. L. Crawford, Lives of the the Lindsays, London, 1849, II.5) The modern editor misread the import of the abbreviated “maister” in the original and put “minister” in his transcription. Scotstarvet had stood godfather (“witness”) at the baptism of Ray's son John in December 1612 (William Steven, The History of the High School of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, 1849, 54). Ray was a distinguished Latinist, from 1597 a regent at Edinburgh University and then from 1606 head of Edinburgh's High School. In 1615 he issued a complete edition of Buchanan's poems. See the epigrams to him by John Dunbar (epigram IV.47)
NOTE 18 See Christopher A. Upton, , Studies in Scottish Latin (diss. St. Andrews, 1986) Chapter I and Steven Reid, “Quasi Sibyllae Divina Folia: The Anatomy of the Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum,” in Janet Hadley Williams and J. Derrick McClure (edd.), Fresche Fontanis: Studies in the Culture of Medieval and Early Modern Scotland (Cambridge, 2013), pp. 397 – 414. These writers convincingly shows that, the collection’s title page to the contrary, the widespread belief that the Delitiae were effectively edited by the poet Arthur Johnston is wrong, and that Scotstarvet played a very active role. As long ago as 1907, T. D. Robb had suggested as much, but his insights were ignored by subsequent commentators: see T. D. Robb, “Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum,” in Proceedings of the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow 39 (1907 - 1908) 97 - 120.