James I.

king of England, and VI. of Scotland, was the son of the unfortunate Mary queen of Scotland, by her cousin Henry, lord Darnley, and was born at Edinburgh-castle in June 1566, at the time when his mother had fixed her affections on the earl of Bothwell; the young prince, however, was committed to the charge of the earl of Mar, and in the following year, his mother being forced to resign the crown, he was solemnly crowned at Stirling, and all public acts from that time ran in his name. He was educated by the celebrated Buchanan while he was at Stirling castle; his progress in school-learning was rapid, and he manifested talents which presaged the future great man: but he became the prey of flatterers, who urged him to | unpopular measures, which in 1582 produced a conspiracy of the nobles against him, who took possession of his person at Ruthven castle. From thence he was conveyed to the palace of Holyrood-house, and treated with much external respect, while in reality he was held in the utmost restraint. A new confederacy of other nobles produced his liberation, and he put himself under the sway of his favourite the earl of Arran, who was violent and unprincipled, and who carried on measures of severity againsf the nobles of the former conspiracy, and against the clergy who favoured them. He contrived to engage the mind of the young king with a constant round of amusement, and he himself exercised with unlimited sway all the regal authority, and by his insolence and rapacity rendered himself universally odious. Queen Elizabeth of England had long employed her arts to maintain a party in the country, which policy was become more necessary on account of her conduct to its queen. Though James had hitherto been induced to treat his mother very irreverently, yet when her life appeared to be in imminent danger, from the sentence pronounced against her by an English court of judicature, he felt himself bound to interfere, and wrote a menacing letter to Elizabeth on the occasion. He also applied to other courts for their assistance, and assembled his own nobles, who promised to stand by him in preventing or avenging such an injustice. When he learned the fatal catastrophe, he rejected with a proper spirit of indignation the hypocritical excuses of Elizabeth, and set about preparations for hostilities; but reflecting on his own resources, which were inadequate to the purposes of carrying on a serious war, he resolved to resume a friendly correspondence with the English court. It is to the honour of James that one of the‘ first acts of his full iriajority, in 1587, was an attempt to put an end to all family feuds among the nobility, and personally to reconcile them with each other at a solemn festival in Holyrood-house. When the invasion of England was resolved upon by Philip, king of Spain, he put his kingdom into a state of defence, resolving to support the queen against her enemies. His people also were zealous for the preservation of Protestantism, and entered into a national bond for the maintenance of true religion, which was the origin and pattern of all future engagements of the kind, under the name of solemn leagues and covenants. | In 1589 he married Anne, daughter of Frederic king of Denmark, and as contrary winds prevented her coming to Scotland, he went to fetch her, and passed the winter in a series of feasting and amusements at Copenhagen. On his return he was frequently in danger from conspiracies against his life, particularly from those excited by the earl of Bothwell. In 1600, while the country was in a state of unusual tranquillity, a very extraordinary event took place, the nature and causes of which were never discovered. While the king was upon a hunting excursion, he was accosted by the brother of Ruthven earl of Gowrie, who, by a feigned tale, induced him and a small train to ride to the earl’s house at Perth. Here he was led to a remote chamber on pretence of having a secret communicated td him, where he found a man in complete armour, and a dagger was put to his breast by lluthven, with threats of immediate death. His attendants were alarmed, and came to his relief; in the end Gowrie and his brother were slain, and the king escaped unhurt. In 1603, on the death of queen Elizabeth, James was proclaimed her successor, and proceeded, amidst the acclamations of his new subjects, to London. One of his first acts was to bestow a profusion of honours and titles upon the great men, as well of his own country as those of England. A conference held at Hampton-court in 1604, between the divines of the established church and the Puritans, afforded James a good opportunity of exhibiting his skill in theological controversy, and the ill-will he bore to popular schemes of church-government. Although the king had distinguished himself in his own country by lenity to the Roman Catholics, yet those of that religion in England were so much disappointed in their expectations of his favour, that a most atrocious plot was formed by the zealots of that party to bloxv up the House of Lords at the first meeting of parliament, and with it the king, queen, and prince of Wales, and all the principal nobility and gentry of the kingdom, and then to set upon the throne the young princess Elizabeth, and establish the Catholic religion. This plot was fortunately discovered on the eve of the designed execution, and the principal persons in it suffered the punishment dae to their crimes. His next object was to reduce Ireland to a settled form of law and government. fc

No circumstance, however, in James’s reign was more unpopular than his treatment of the celebrated sir Walter | Raleigh, after the detection of a conspiracy with lord Grey, and lord Cobham, to set aside the succession in favour of Arabella Stuart: he was tried and capitally convicted, but being reprieved, he was kept thirteen years in prison. In 1615 he obtained by bribery his release from prison, but the king would not grant him a pardon. He went out on an expedition with the sentence of death hanging over his head; he was unsuccessful in his object, and on his return the king ordered him to be executed on his former sentence. James is supposed to have been more influenced to this deed by the court of Spain than by any regard to justice. The influence of that court on James appeared soon after in his negociations for marrying his son prince Charles to the infanta. The object was, however, not attained, and he afterwards married him to the French princess Henrietta, with the disgraceful stipulation, that the children of that marriage should be educated by their mother, a bigoted papist, till they were thirteen years of age. As he aavanced in years he was disquieted by a concurrence of untoward circumstances. The dissentions of his parliament were very violent, and the affairs of his son-in-law, the elector palatine, now king of Hungary, also were in a very disastrous state. He had undertaken the cause of the protestants of Germany, but instead of being the arbiter in the cause of others, he was stripped of his own dominions. In his defence, James declared war against the king of Spain and the emperor, and sent troops over to Holland to act in conjunction with prince Maurice for the recovery of the palatinate; but from mismanagement, the greater part of them perished by sickness, and the whole enterprise was defeated. Oppressed with grief for the failure of his plans, the king was seized with an intermitting fever, of which he died in March 1625. It would be difficult, says Hume, to find a reign less illustrious, yet more unspotted and unblemished, than that of James in both kingdoms. James possessed many virtues, but scarcely any of them pure or free from the contagion of neighbouring vices. His learning degenerated into pedantry and prejudice, his generosity into profusion, his good nature into pliability and unmanly fondness, his love of peace into pusillanimity, and his wisdom into cunning. His intentions were just, but more adapted to the conduct of private life than to the government of kingdoms. He was an encourager of learning, and was himself an author | of no mean genius, considering the times in which he lived. His chief works were, “Basilicon Doron” and “The true Law of free Monarchies” but he is more known for his adherence to witchcraft and demoniacal possessions in his “Demonology,” and for his “Counterblast to Tobacco.” He was also a poet, and specimens of his talent, such as it was, are to be found in many of our miscellanies. He also wrote some rules and cautels t for the use of professors of the art, which, says Mr. Ellis, have been long, and perhaps deservedly disregarded. The best specimen of his poetical powers is his “Basilicon Doron,” which bishop Percy has reprinted in his “Reliques,” and declares that it would not dishonour any writer of that time. Both as a man of learning, and as a patron of learned men, sufficient justice, in our opinion, has never been done to the character of James I.; and although a discussion on the subject would extend this article too far, it would not be difficult to prove that in both respects he was entitled to a considerable degree of veneration. 1


Hume’s History. Park’s edition of the Royal and Noble Authors. Ellis’s Specimens. Irvine Liret of the Scottish Poets.