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A PANEGYRIC SONG ON THE MOST HAPPY AND LONG-DESIRED RETURN FROM ENGLAND TO SCOTLAND, AFTER FOURTEEN YEARS, OF THE MOST SERENE AND MIGHTY MONARCH JAMES, KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, FRANCE, AND IRELAND
Lift up your head, O happy Scotland, taste these joys so long awaited, and cease your long suffering. Behold, that light, besought by so many voices and prayers of the commons and the nobility, that golden day comes to you, on which our life, strength, desire and glory, earth’s chief beloved, heaven’s chief concern, James, who governs with his united sceptres the British kingdoms, pinnacle of royal rule, high offspring of the gods, delight of humankind; who, sent down from the stars of heaven, has brought back Justice to our lands, with law, and the Golden Age; thanks to whom pure Religion enjoys the light of Christ and the Church a placid peace; whom the East fears, the North loves, the West worships, the South admires, and to whom as the author of established peace, the whole globe stretches out its friendly arms. He is returned after twice-six and two spans of years. years spent settled in the southern parts of his kingdom alongside the pleasant stream of the Thames that flows under London, after various uproars made by the wicked, and a thousand labours, savage attacks and a thousand dangers suffered, and, still kept safe and sound by heaven’s right hand, his blessed footsteps hither he has directed, and brought us his longed-for face, revisiting his native soil, his ancient nation and ancestral home, and his first cradle.
O how the whole face of the kingdom is made new, great king, by your return! O how great the gladness spread among all her people! O how many are these joys! What splendours have accrued to all all ranks and orders! See how the very towns, shaken from their seats, their emptied houses, their city walls, with gates thrown open, their thresholds, roofs, fortresses and kirks all seem to exult! See, how all the young folk have come forth from the fields and marketplaces, and all men, of every condition, sex and age, to welcome the returned one with glad applause. With a happy din, everywhere they strive with outspread arms to embrace him, and with eager effort, crowded displays, and festive dancing, they enthusiastically celebrate his arrival.
Report tells how Admetus pulled from the darkness of the Underworld the spouse of her loving husband after she had died, reclaimed from death by the intervention of Hercules. And Hippolytus too, they say, after he died, thanks to the crime of his cruel stepmother, and having been destroyed by Neptune’s horses, was recalled to life by healing herbs and Diana’s love, restored to the light of day and the breeze of the upper world. But your return from the shadows of oblivion, more powerful than healing herbs and Apollo’s skill, has brought not just one body back, but has rescued whole towns disfigured by poverty and thirst, and many peoples from death, and enabled them to nourish themselves with fresh light, and life-giving air.
For recently Scotland lay exhausted by her careworn longing, her spirit wracked by grief for her absent lord, her heart kept in suspense by constant yearning, and thus she filled all heaven with her sad complaints. “Ah, when shall I see again the countenance and sweetest features of my king, whom twice-seven misty winters, and twice-seven summers have withheld from my sight? Ah, when will the golden-haired sun rise in the east, granting a day on which its possible to touch his blest right hand, and hear his true voice, and for him to hear mine? What does the addition of wealthy England, and having all Britain now subject to the King of Scots, do for my sceptres, or this union of north and south as one people under a single name? The peace and perpetual treaties made? What matters all this, if the very presence of my beloved prince be taken from me forever, if I am thus left lonely and abandoned, like a body with its head wrenched off, like a wife bereaved of her wedded husband, a child bereft of its father? Without him, what sweet, what lovable thing can be given me, even if Ophir were to remove hither from the gold-flowing Indus in the east, even if Pactolus rich in dazzling sands, even if Gargara were to send hither its plenteous harvests, even if the fruits of the fields were to fill my barns to the full with crops as rich as all the wealth of watered Egypt can offer, where the cleansing Nile makes the ground fertile an hundredfold, or if the woods were to drip from Lesbian vines and fill every cellar with their generous nectar. Would I choose wealth without him, wine, rivers running with gold, or abundant harvests. O, rather let both wealth, and harvest, and gold be wanting! Ah, revered prince, will you always delay the joyful sight of your face, and twist our hearts with uncertain hope, forgetful of your home of old, and the fields of your birth, forgetful of her who first nourished you at her breast, and now lies exhausted by longing and grief? Why do the palaces which housed you in these parts for four times nine years lie filthy and neglected? Why does your summer light not shine on us in our turn, just as the golden sun, lighting the whole earth with its rays, is sometimes carried nearer the north, and sometimes inclines to the south? No matter how much you shine because of your great forefathers, James, and are enriched with new kingdoms, titles and honours, no matter how much rich South Britain may boast of the abundance of its wealthy fields, and its palaces level with heaven’s height, as London’s abundance spreads forth its immense riches, do not disdain to adorn your ancient home with your visitation. Iff any splendour worthy of the name be lacking to it, devotion and duty will make up the difference. At length, therefore, show pity for Scotland;s long suffering, and by the light of your countenance drive the gloomy clouds from her borders.” Thus the sad nymphs of the Forth in its glassy depths, thus the nymphs of the Clyde, swimming in its silent caves, the rivers and the springs, the towns and countryside all made moan. Likewise the longing to see their dear prince possessed every woman and man, the people and the nobility.
As soon as these utterances and sad complaints of his beloved motherland reached the ears of that best of princes, a reciprocal longing entered his heart, and soon the old flame, fanned into life, ran through his bones, inflaming his mind with a mighty love of Scotland. He was fired to go thither, and revisit those sweet landscapes. This was now his concern: whether night covered earth with her dark wings, or the light of Phoebus’ lamp burned over the globe, for by day and by night the image of his native land, hovering before his eyes, would not let him know rest. And so in the new springtime, when Taurus, his head new-gilded, opened the returning year, and the white snow on the high hills was melting, he announced his journey to the land of the Scots. Without delay, he forthwith left the palaces on the Thames, the Tower of London, the walls of high Nonsuch, the long halls of Hampton Court with its bright courtyards, and Whitehall, he went in progress with glorious pomp, and with a numerous host of Scots and English, of soldiers and knights in his train, all of them resplendent in their purple and gold, with himself standing tall in their midst, shining with manifest majesty and the nobility in his serene features, all shimmering with gilded vestments, which Indian gems, and threads woven with priceless emeralds, and the pearls of Nereus, arranged in various patterns. As when, having brought peace to the world and all its peoples, and closed the gates of war, Octavian Augustus once rode as victor in great triumph to Rome’s temples and the fortress on the Capitoline Hill, ready to consecrate his vows of peace on the holy altars, so King James, no less zealous than he as guardian of peace in this age, who has stilled all the uproar of war throughout the world, and brought back golden age, went his chosen way, until, bent on his return to Scottish fields, he arrived at the walls of Berwick, once warlike but now wreathed in olive-branches, and Edinburgh, the seat of his old government. Next, he progressed through the towns and territories of the realm.
So abandon your complains of long delay and your anxious doldrums, Scotland, be tortured no more by your doubtful longings. He whom you sought with your mind is wholly present before your eyes. The man, the love of whom seized upon you, the image of whom delighted you when stamped on gold, when carved on bronze, or polished into marble — you may now behold his actual appearance, looking in person upon his face and the divine honor of his lofty brow, and venerating his august person; with your ears you may drink in his words, as milky as streams flowing from nectar fountains. Clasp this indomitable hand, which protects you in your good fortune. Receive this magnanimous heart, from which flows a steady liquor of great good judgment and prudence that, pouring itself forth in all directions, inspires lively vigor through all the parts of his realm.
With a happy expression and serene countenance let heaven, earth and all things either nourished by the earth, contained in the liquid air, or swimming in Neptune’s glassy waters, receive his arrival, and attest their joy. Let a brighter sun rise up from eastern waters, let a brighter sun sink in the waters of the west. Let Diana, that rival of her brother’s fires, drive brighter in her night-ranging car, traversing a shining sky. The winter banished, let the air gleam once more with summer splendor, let the tranquil winds fall still, and placid southerlies caress the watery floods, with storms abandoned. Let handsome May paint the fields with a covering of green, and decorate all places far and wide with fragrant flowers. Let not hot Cancer scorch the crops with his ravening fires, nor let wet Jove harm them with excessive rainfall. Let Virgo bring the fruitful autumn grain to ripeness, let pure rivers of fragrant honey and snow-white milk burst forth from the soil everywhere, rich abundance rain down from heaven and grace the fields with fruitful crops. Let happy herds and flocks frisk and sport in the happy fields, and let whatever wild beasts haunt the mountainous desert wastes, and whatever game is enclosed in shady game-parks, which, thanks to the indulgence of our lofty king, live safe from hunters’ nets and quick-scented hounds, the swift-flying roebucks and young stags, the herds of deer lifting their high heads to heaven, and the fleet-footed goats congregate in the open fields, and show themselves to the king as ripe for the hunting. Now that the terror of the cruel fowlers, and the fear of the net and the cunning snare is now abolished, let whatever birds haunt the harsh heaths, or the liquid lakes, give rejoicing thanks and fill the skies with happy songs. And you also, who haunt the shrines of the twin-peaked hill, your hair entwined with laurel fronds and fresh flowers, ye Muses, throw open the secret places of the sacred rock, and prepare a new paean in your hidden caves for your meeting with the king, who has both devoted his choice leisure to your songs, and honored you with ornaments and worthy rewards, since he shines forth as the great glory of the Muses and Apollo.
O Thalia, if there is any vigour in us, or if you can beseech any Hippocrene liquor from the Castalian sisters for our cups too, rise up, and greet the happy advent of the king with your song. Nay, rather take on every shape, become entirely Apollo himself, and even so, you will not encompass all his praises. For who indeed can match great James in metrical lines, or is able to tell in the humble verse of his Muses the virtues of his spirit, and famous glories of his mind, and all the gifts of nature brought together in that one breast, whose fame, fills both hemispheres with frequent proclamation as far as Ethiopia, the distant Atlantic lands, the freezing water of the Don, the shores of the Caspian? One who heard of it, and came as guest from the farthest shores, saw the kingdom’s mighty strength and the glory of its court, wondered, and scarcely could believe his eyes, beholding the ranks of soldiers and cohorts of cavalry, the apparel of his servants resplendent in purple and gold, and most of all the high magnificence of the prince himself. What great nobility blazing with generous majesty in his features, and the gravity of his serene brow! What great charm in his speech, and the grace of his rosy lips! What force of spirit, and intelligence! Both his deeds and words exceed the grasp of mortals. Shall I speak of how pure a religion fills his heart? How great is your love of piety divine, how vast your longing to bring heavenly matters into human minds, so that your praise truly is to bring religion into honour, and preserve the sacred church of Christ? For which you have borne a thousand bloody struggles, a thousand labours and cruel plots from the three-headed Monsters tribe, who, infected with the Gorgon’s poisons, dares to attack the rulers of earth and their sacred crowns, so that, the light-giving glory of kingship once removed, all things may once again fall back into the chaos of Papistry. But the frenzied flock flying out of the hellish lake, and the smoke-bringing locusts pouring forth from the infernal regions, shrouding the globe in black darkness, and stinging all those who do not bear heaven’s seal upon their forehead, none of these apparitions, affrighted you, nor giant Typhoeus himself, as he vainly hurled ghastly thunderbolts from the Tarpeian rock, mingling them with his empty roars. You have, like another Apollo, transfixed the Lateran Serpent with your spear, conquering him by a grievous wound. You, like a godly Hercules, have gone forth to free the world from the unnatural monsters of error by the strength of unconquered truth; with the sword of sacred dogma you have lopped off the coils of that great Hydra, breathing forth wars, weapons and threats; and by an equally happy fortune, the luckless heads that thence grew again lie laid low by you, monuments of a bygone age, and the whole sacred History which the liar Baronio composed at the behest of the Whore, polluting it with clumsy panderings and filthy fables. Savage Gretser lies conquered by the same hand, tied up by your rope with a triple knot, after rising up to heal the wound of the first head, and other mitre-crowned Giants have fallen, thanks to you. Thanks to you. the darkness of error and all barbarism have been removed, Christ’s golden light has been lit for the farthest-off lands, and holy religion shines venerable in its serene beauty. May your age, fruitful in virtues, flourish, because Astraea has not abandoned the earth, nor has glory. The arts and civilised gifts of Minerva abound on all sides, and the granaries scarce contain the harvests which sacred Pales gathers from the fields of the Muses.
Or should I tell the milky, liquid eloquence of your tongue? How expertly you set forth all the arts? Whether you elect to bring the Muses down from their Aonian heights, make plain the hidden mysteries of divine Wisdom, recount the recondite monuments of ancient ages, expound the public ordinances of justice and the law, give answers to doubtful questions and resolve dark mysteries, or explain the abstruse causes of things, telling the paths of heaven and of the sun, the moons eclipse’s, or praise the great Artificer Who shines in these things, the Author of nature and the whole order of the universe. Who could not be amazed that such varied gifts reside in the one breast, and that so much eloquence flows from a single mouth?
Shall I sing of your justice? Whereby, wielding the wholesome reins of the laws, you decide your peoples disputes with impartial government, offering law to the poor, and ensuring that the wicked violence of the powerful does not oppress the weak, nor fraud by its wiles or deceitful usury persecute the unfortunate. By your justice, you enable the farmers and the sturdy sons of the countryside to enjoy peace and safety, and the cattle to wander unguarded through the empty fields. By your justice, the distant folk under the farthest sun, and the savage Irish, who inhabit the mountainous wastes, accustomed to living by theft, now submit to bridles, and accustom themselves to submit to the sway of law.
Or should I recall how Justice’s sister, now exiled from virtually all the world, has fixed her lodging in your breast, fearless Faith. the devoted eternal guardian of your words and deeds, preserving your natural disposition unshaken, binding your promises with solid adamant, not allowing you to feign, lurk in the shadow of any deceit, or cheat the just of their reward, nor applaud the wicked, nor conceal hatred in the silent cavern of your heart, but to match your visage to your thoughts, your deeds to your words? Or shall I recall how Clemency, the offspring of the great Father, softens the hard rigour of justice and the laws, and calms hasty, angry passion against the guilty, and which, mixing coolness with heat, softness with severity, in due proportion, is the friend who preserves human affairs, wholly informs your mind and all your acts? Thus you placidly put down crimes, and free of anger, impose penalties for offences. Nor do you rejoice in bloodshed, nor the sufferings of the wretched: therefore you spare the defeated, suppress armed violence with peace, and adroitly take away the seeds of hatred. Nor do you close an unmoved ear to suppliants. Let others boast themselves rulers by the sword and forceful violence, and fill their treasuries with their people’s wealth, creating horror by their savagery. Your praise, o James, is “to spare the humble and subdue the proud.”
Or shall I speak of the abundant showers of your inexhaustible fountainhead, raising countless men to wealth and honours? The waters of the Tagus, teeming with veins of gold, the fields of Lydia, foaming with the glittering sands of the Pactolus, the eastern forges of the yellow Ophir, all are surpassed by your munificent hand, that bestows golden gifts far and wide. Jupiter once, as poets have sung, granted golden rains to fall upon Rhodes at the birth of Pallas. It is said, too, that Midas, by virtue of the power of his greedy prayer, turned whatever he touched into yellow gold. Both of these fables are truly fulfilled in you: your right hand has surpassed Jove’s rains and Midas’s touch, distributing throughout all ranks, enriching commoners and nobility with generous rewards of gold and rich lands. Therefore no oblivion will be able to bury your name, but you shall be celebrated with lasting fame, whether the living voice of men paint out your honours, or whether you decorate stone and wood with new insignia, on which, thanks to the skilled hand of artificers, your image will arise. To these let the the figures of ancient art and bronze give place, which they say Apelles endowed with painted life, or Phidias or Myron polished with careful skill, or which Pyrgoteles graved in shining gemstones, or were shaped in gleaming bronze by Lysippus. Rather, the monuments of the Muses will secure for you a name more lasting than marble statues or any bronze, and undying fame in all ages yet to come.
Draw out, ye spinning sisters, his thread of life unbroken, Draw out for James the long thread of happy old age, that late he may return to heaven, and for many years remain in happiness among his British lands and people. Then Thou, Omnipotent One, Who by eternal thought governst the world, grant that his race and the offspring of his race may hold sway over the empire they inherit for eternal ages; and, o Father, let their descendants resembling their forebears’ reign as long as Phoebus, passing through the oblique constellations in his fiery chariot. separates the light from the shades of darkness.