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in Scotland, the race of beggars were as an invading host. English laws passed for the extinction of the tribe bear precisely the same character as the Scottish enactments that have just been noted, and were equally ineffectual in achieving their object. The English statute against vagabonds passed in the first year of Edward VI. reveals a condition of things which had happily passed away in Scotland by the same period. According to this frightful statute a servant who absented himself from his master for three days, was to be branded on the breast with a hot iron, and adjudged the slave of the person who caught him. Should he twice attempt to run away from his new master, he was to be treated as a felon. This terrible law was repealed in the same reign as that in which it was passed, but it reminds us of the fact that, while feudal slavery as an institution came to an end in Scotland as early as the fourteenth century, it persisted in England into the reign of Elizabeth.
We have seen what were the risks and discomforts of travel by land; travel by sea, also, was not to be undertaken with a light heart. Erasmus in his colloquy, entitled Naufragium, has given a lively description of his experiences in crossing the English Channel. The rascality of custom-house officers, the squalor aboard the boat, sea-sickness and the terror of pirates, made the crossing a veritable nightmare to haunt the memory. John Vaus, the Aberdeen scholar, who went to Paris in 1522 to superintend the publication of a grammatical work, speaks of the journey as being attended by " the greatest risks by land and sea, and by dangers from unscrupulous pirates." 6 That this was no exaggeration is abundantly proved by the records of the Scottish Privy Council, one of whose multifarious duties was to superintend the national marine. From these records it appears that during the reign of Mary and her immediate successors the coasts of Scotland literally swarmed with pirates. It is to be remembered that there was as yet no definite code of maritime law acknowledged and obeyed by the different nations. Countries might be in the strictest bonds of amity, yet the trade of piracy went on as vigorously as if they were at open war. Take, for example, this opening of an entry in the Privy Council Register for the year 1546, four years after Mary's accession : “Forasmuch as there is a peace taken and standing betwixt our Sovereign Lady and her dearest uncle, the King of England, who has written to her Grace, showing that there are certain Scottish ships in the east seas and other places, that daily take, rob, and spoil his ships and lieges of his realm passing to and
Entries to the same effect, it may be said, are of constant occurrence throughout the reigns of Mary and her successors. But the Scots themselves were as often the victims as the aggressors. • The Lords of Council," runs another
entry (1550), “considering the great enormities
' daily done to our Sovereign Lady's lieges, as well within her own waters and firths as in other places by ships of Holland, Flushing, and other Lowlands of Flanders, subjects to the Emperor, have thought expedient to license the war ships of this realm . to pass forth in warfare for stanching thereof.” 63 So numerous and audacious were the freebooters, as they were called, that the Lord High Admiral came to have a standing commission to enlist such masters of ships as were willing to give their services in encountering them—the arrangement being that any loss sustained should be made up to the losers. In spite of the Council's efforts,
64 however, the freebooters continued to ply their trade with a reckless daring which made a sea voyage a veritable running of the gauntlet. Stories such as the following are of frequent occurrence in the records of the Council. Two pirate ships of West Flanders one day anchored in the roads of Leith under the guise of friendly trading-vessels. In the course of the following night they made off with a Flemish ship, and on their way out of the Firth, took several craft which were part of a merchant fleet that had just arrived from Holland.6s About the same date we find the Council specially commending Lord Cantyre for a successful exploit against a pirate ship, which had been one of a number, we are told, “by whom His Majesty's good subjects were daily infested and their goods
spoiled.” 66 When the Earl of Both well, after casting his last die at Carberry, betook himself to the trade of pirate, he
was but following a common and profitable calling of his time.
CONDITIONS OF SOCIETY IN THE COUNTRY-THE
INTERIOR OF A TOWN
N what has hitherto been said we have been
mainly considering the general aspects of town and country in the time of Mary. Let us now take
. a closer glimpse of the conditions under which her subjects lived their lives, and carried through that revolution which involved such a complete breach with the past, and changed the destinies of the kingdom. It was in the towns that in the time of Mary the most intense life of the nation was concentrated; by the towns it was that the breach with the national religion was mainly effected; and it is in them that we chiefly find those indications of economic change which mark the reign of Mary as a period of transition from the Middle Age to the modern time. It is to the life of the towns, therefore, that our attention will be for the most part directed in the remaining lectures of the
But before dealing with this main branch of our subject let us cast a glance at the conditions of life in the country, at the various classes of society who made up its inhabitants, and at any