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of launcers of his friends and followers, and was ready to march into England against the English then invading Scotland, his said Majesty, as a reward of his good and faithful service, authorised and gave warrant to his Lyon King of armes to give the said John Scott a bordure of flower-de-lis, siclike as in the royall bearing, a bundle of lances for his crest, and two men armed with jacks and steel bonnets, with lances in their hands for supporters. Of the truth of all which our said Lyon King of armes is fully satisfied from good testimony, and an old inventory of the writs and evidents of that family produced by him, wherein the foresaid warrant is fully deduced, but beiring that the principal wryt itselfe cannot be found, without which, or a new warrant under our royal hand, he is not at freedom to assign to the said Francis the double tressure, as born in our arms of Scotland ; and wee being willing to gratify and honor the heirs and representatives of all loyall and valorous progenitors, and to bestow a mark of our royall favor upon the said Sir Francis Scott, for good and faithful services done, and to be done by him to us ; therefore, we hereby authorize and order our Lyon King at armes, in our said ancient kingdom of Scotland, to add to the paternal coat of armes of the said Sir Francis Scott, a double tressure flowered and contre-flowered with flower-de-lis, as in our royal armes of Scotland, and to give him crest, supporters, and other exterior ornaments, as is above exprest, or as to him shall seem most proper.' "*
The claim, then, had been investigated, and admitted by the proper and highest authorities in the year 1700. Nor could it be imagined that Mr Riddell, after his complimentary introduction to this proof, meant any thing else than honour to Thirlestane. Not so, however. His aim in the whole of his tangled web of criticism is to leave the same species of imputation upon the Thirlestane quarters of the Merchiston armorial bearings, that he had previously attempted to cast upon the Lennox quarters,—namely, suspicions of falsehood, fraud, and wilful imposition against some person or persons unknown,—a most convenient mode of accusation, which neither commits him in a proof, nor renders him amenable to an individual. Accordingly, in the following somewhat flighty strain, he comments upon his own discovery.
* Tracts, p. 140, et infra.
"It must be confessed, upon the whole, that there is something suspicious in this transaction. There was hence, more than a century ago, no proper warrant or authority for the alleged grant in 1542,—merely an inventory is referred to, and, after all, it is not likely that either there or in a copy, so palpable an error as was detected by Pinkerton,—and countenancing the idea of forgery—should have been committed. Independently, too, of the unauthorized interpolation of supporters in the grant in 1700, of which there is no mention in the supposed warrant in 1542, the wording of the latter may not be altogether satisfactory; but, be this as it may, the homologatory act, or new concession, as it proceeds directly from the sovereign, must be held of itself to be quite sufficient, and fully to vest in the family the transcendent privilege in question. The use of these arms in modern times to which the late Lord Napier appeals, will not, therefore, prove the authenticity of the warrant in 1542, as that may be ascribed to an intervening circumstance, of which his Lordship was unaware. It would truly be curious, and perhaps no inferior test, to ascertain what were the armorial bearings of the Scotts of Thirlestane immediately after 1542, and in the course of the sixteenth century. We thusfurtherfind, contrary to some absurd usages in modern times, that no part of the royal arms can be given to a subject without an express warrant from the Crown." &c.
It is difficult to say whether Mr Riddel] intends, in the sentences quoted, to rate the good King William and his Lord Lyon, or merely to tache the shield of Thirlestane,—whether to stamp as a forgery the old inventory referred to in the royal renewal, or the old warrant referred toby Pinkerton,—and whether he really concedes to the family the right which he calls atranscendent privilege, but which in his view of the facts would confer very little honour. Is this a charge of forgery, or a defence against it? Does the author of the Tracts reject the idea of any blunder in the inventory? Does he mean to say that, in the inventory, or in a copy of that, it was that Pinkerton detected a palpable error? And how does he make out that a palpable error countenances the idea of forgery?
We have heard of an admirable attempt to forge a whole charter-chest, which for a time was successful. But the splendide mendax conception of manufacturing theShakespereanpapers, including completeplays newly discovered, was an effort, the anticipated reward of which might hold out a temptation, while the unparalleled genius of its execution all but justifies the lie. We have heard of subordinate agents forging documents to assist a peerage claim without the connivance of principals, and the temptation there, too, is manifest. But such acts of deceit, as are pointed at by Mr RiddelFs suspicions, only principals could have a motive for perpetrating. Now to concoct an old seal,—for the sake merely of establishing a male descent from Lennox, where a female descent which carried the fief was already admitted,—or to forge a warrant of arms, merely to establish the loyalty of a border chief, would be a luxury of deception, requiring more credulity to believe, than that Merchiston is come of Tudor, or that John of Thirlestane had, like the Roman knight, sacrificed himself, his horse and his arms, to close up a yawning gulf of rebellion. I shall here quote verbatim the warrant in Lord Napier's charter-chest; for neither Nesbit nor Sir Walter Scott have given it with precise accuracy. The former has omitted certain clerical blunders in the body of the instrument, which are material in a question of forgery, and in the notes to the Lay, the date, and also the signature of the King's secretary are misprinted. "Jame§ Rex. "We, James, be the grace of God King of Scottis, considerand the faith and guid servis of of of right traist freind, John Scott of Thirlstane, qua cummand to our hoste at Sautra edge with three score and ten launcieres on horsback of his freinds and followers, and beand willing to gang with us into England, when all our nobles and others refuised, he was readdy to stake all at our bidding, for the quhilk cause it is our will, and we do straitlie command and charg our Lion Herauld and his deputis for the time beand, to give and to graunt to the said John Scott ane border of fleure de lises about his coatte of armor, sic as is on our royal banner; and alsua ane bundell of launces above his helmet, with thir words, Readdy ay Ready, that he and all his aftercummers may bruik the samine, as a pledge and taiken of our guid will and kyndnes for his treue worthines. And thir our letters seen, ye nae wayes failzie to doe. Given at Fala Muire, under our hand and pnivy cashet the xxvii. day of July, imv% and xxxxii zeires.
* The production of a charter-seal of the family immediately after 1542, bearing the augmentation, would be excellent evidence of the grant; but the converse by no means holds, as various circumstances might have prevented the chief of Thirlestane, or some of his descendants, from affording that evidence of the grant. Ancient seals are not mentioned in the renewal as part of the evidence. I' am not aware of any seal of the family extant of the date.
"By the King's Grace's special ordinance,
Indors.—"Edin. 14 January 1713,Registred conform
to the Act of Parliament made anent probative writs, per
M'Kaile, Pror. and produced by Alexander Borthwick,
servant to Sir William Scott of Thirlestane. M'L. I."*
If this be a forgery, it is a very strange one. Independently of the other considerations already offered, there are three facts which militate against such an idea. 1. The repetition of of of is the blunder of a transcriber, not of a forger; one of is probably a misreading for our. 2. The date is filled up in a different hand from the rest of the document, and is obviously an awkward attempt to copy ancient figurate expressions, which appear to be blundered, and were probably misread; a forger would have been more careful in this circumstance, and might have left the day of the month blank, as that frequently occurred in ancient authentic writs. The awkward imitation of the figures is the source, probably, of the blunder in the notes to the Lay of the Last Minstrel. 3. A privy-seal is mentioned, yet there is no seal attached to this document, nor is there the slightest attempt made to give the appearance of
* Mr Riddell does not print this document, but gives bits of it, in a sentence of thirteen lines commencing with a royal nominative that never finds a verb.—See Tracts, p. 141.