Na seachd reultan 'gam stuiradh An Dà-fhear-dhìag 'gam sheoladh. Na Còig lotan 'gam dhionadh Na trì sanasan 'nam cluasan Sìth nan seachd Eaglaisean 'gam cuairteachadh. An aon Dia 'gam riaghladh Sgiath ohreidimh os mo cheann b
'Iosal beannaich, stiùir agus glèidh mi, agus thoir mi gu beatha mhaireannaich. A Cholum Chille! guidh air son na h-Alba, 's air mo shon-sa. Amen.
Fob a Saint and a woman it must be allowed that Queen Margaret of Scotland has been charged with political indiscretions of some magnitude. By many she is thought to have inaugurated that policy of "Romanising" the Church of Scotland which her son David I. is commonly supposed to have completed. She is further charged with having influenced her husband to change the language of the court from Gaelic to English. Another serious indiscretion laid at her door is that of marrying Malcolm Caennmòr.
With regard to the last of these indiscretions, it seems to be forgotten by those who repeat them that Queen Margaret was only half a Saxon. Her father Edward married the Princess Agatha, sister to the King of Hungary. From this union sprang a son Edgar, surnamed Atheling, and two daughters, Margaret and Christina. Thus the subject of these observations was English on her father's side and
Hungarian on her mother's. Her education, too, was by no means exclusively conducted in England, nor by persons of English birth. It was not until the year 1041 that Edward returned with his children to his native country. In 1066 was fought the battle of Hastings, in which the Saxons were vanquished; and shortly afterwards Edgar Atheling fled to Scotland where, together with his sisters Margaret and Christina, he was hospitably received by Malcolm III.
Thus a considerable portion of this Queen's life was passed outside her own country. Her tenderest and most impressionable years were spent beyond its shores. Her married life was entirely passed in Scotland; yet if we are to credit the strictures of some of our historians, she was from first to last, so far as birth, breeding, education and prejudice were concerned, of all contemporary Saxons facile prìnceps.
It seems to be forgotten, too, by these amiable scribes that the King was free to wed whom he chose; that sovereigns are in the habit of seeking their wives outside the boundaries of their own territories; and that, finally, if Queen Margaret was half a Saxon, the circumstance, though no doubt regrettable enough, is not one for which she can reasonably be held personally responsible. Her coming to Scotland was, perchance, a regrettable incident in her career. Personally, I do not think it was so. Queen Margaret was a good woman at a time when good women, rare enough at all seasons, were more than usually scarce. By her example she did much to improve her adopted country. She led, we know, an exemplary life, in her capacity of queen and wife, and in her capacity of mother—a feat, by the way, which very few queens have been able to perform ; and if her political influence has been vastly exaggerated we are not to blame her on that account, but rather those whose partiality has been exercised at the expense of their judgment.
It must be allowed that good Queen Margaret has been rather unfortunate in her biographer. To quote Mr. Burton, her " life" by Turgot " is a rhapsody, rather than a biography ". The style of the period was florid. It abounded in metaphor and hyperbole. It did not stop to measure conceits ; and where one man undertook to write of a fellow countryman, it would be a strange thing indeed if he did not so contrive matters as to let you know that he and his were immeasurably superior to these others.
Turgot's biography, however, enjoys a distinction which, amongst books of that class, I am inclined to regard as something remarkable—it has been accepted in the spirit in which it was written almost verbatim et literatim. Burton, it is true, calls it, very properly, a rhapsody—perhaps a panegyric would be a better description; but strange to say he, too, has succumbed to what I suppose are its irresistible fascinations. Or perhaps it is the character of the Queen that he has succumbed to, in the which case his head and his heart are alike to be complimented, though I cannot resist the suspicion that had the Queen been a Gael instead of a Saxon, his praises had not been quite so enthusiastic.
At all events, it is curious that the power and influence of this Queen should have been accepted according to the estimate which her Confessor placed on them. Her political influence is thought to have been great. According to the historians,
Malcolm in her hands was little better than the proverbial wax. The somewhat foolish picture which they, assisted by Turgot, have drawn of him, however flattering to the industry of the latter, is hardly complimentary to the nation which produced him. Malcolm is an uxorious but letterless barbarian—a sort of Gaelic Caliban—whose principal delight is in fondling the books which his pious and talented wife is apparently incapable of teaching him to peruse. Her slightest wish is so much law to him. Her advice in affairs of state is invariably acted on. Her supposed partiality to her countrymen easily persuades the King to fill all the important" offices of state "1 (what precisely these were in a Gaelic kingdom is not stated) with persons hailing from England, to the entire exclusion almost of the native nobility. Instigated by her counsel, Malcolm, doubtless feeling his power absolutely consolidated, incontinently changes the language of the court from Gaelic to English, and metaphorically, if not actually, snaps his fingers in the face of a nation which is apparently powerless to resent so gross an insult or to revenge so tactless an usurpation. Encouraged, or instigated, by the artful Queen, Malcolm convenes councils of the clergy, and after haranguing and setting them all by the ears, rings up the curtain and treacherously introduces them (for the first time) to Eome!
These and other absurdities are frequently on the pens of our historians; and even the most intelhgent and sober-minded of them—such as Skene, Robertson and Bellesheim, to say nothing 'Thisandother purely feudal expressions are constantly onthepensof our historians when treating of Gaelic Scotland. Onewonderswhence they derived their inspirations.
of such lesser lights as Keith,1 MacKerlie,8 eta-seem incapable of resisting the spells cast by Turgot, and of reading the life of this Queen in accordance with the known facts of history.
Now what are the more important of these known facts of history, so far as they concern King Malcolm and Queen Margaret? The first undoubtedly is, that during this King's long reign of thirty-five years, he held his kingdom as it were by a thread. The second is that he left his kingdom much as he found it. The third is that no invasion of foreigners such as we are accustomed to read of in popular histories took place in his reign. The fourth is that he left the language of his court as he found it—Gaelic. The fifth is that the Queen exercised little or no influence in public affairs. The sixth is that the necessary reforms in the Church, though it is true that they were largely inspired by the Queen, yet were by no means " dictated by Rome,"3 nor were they entirely accomplished in her time.
Now, let us examine these several particulars in some detail. Malcolm ascended the throne of Scotland under circumstances which more than justify the suspicion that his sovereignty was by
1History of Scotland, by Duncan Keith. This author is responsible for the following monstrous statement. "Devotedly attached to the Eoman ritual and to all the forms and ceremonies attached to it, she (Queen Margaret^ founda secularised clergy with neither the one nor the other ' (vol. ii., p. 288).
2Galloway, Ancient and Modern.
8 It is false to say that "Eome" insisted on eventhe momentous and necessary change in respect of the celebration of Easter. The Church expressed her wishes on that head and left it to the good sense of the Scots to subscribe to heruniversal practice.
no means entirely agreeable to the nation at large; and that considerable address was necessary on his part in order to prevent the discordant factions from breaking out into open rebellion against an authority which, in many parts of his kingdom, was not only purely nominal in his own day, but continued to be invested with that character during the reigns of some of his successors. No sooner, however, was Malcolm sufficiently established on his throne than he plunged into war with England; and by this act inaugurated that succession of contests which, either at home or abroad, was destined to pursue him to his dying day. His wars with England and his wars with his own subjects comprise, indeed, the little that we know about him. From the violence1 that characterised the former, we are at least entitled to observe that whatever influence the Queen may have had it would not appear to have been successfully exerted in behalf of her countrymen, thousands of whom were slain by Malcolm, or carried off by him into a degrading captivity,2conduct which, in a man of his uxorious disposition and supposed partiality to the slightest opinion of his wife, cannot but seem surprising in the extreme; whilst from the frequency and stubbornness of the latter, we are