Επιβατήριον ad Regem in Scotiam redeuntem (1617)

This was the first poem delivered to King James upon his return to Scotland in 1617, whick King delivered in person at Dunglass on 13 May. The poem has also been preserved in the printed records of the formal cultural events that the king attended all over Scotland, published under the collective title of The Muses Welcome to the High and Mightie Prince James (Edinburgh, 1618; for an up-to-date overview of this text see: Roger P.H. Green, 'The King Returns: The Muses Welcome, 1618', in D.McOmish and S. Reid (eds), Neo-Latin Literature and the Republic of Letters in Early Modern Scotland (Leiden, forthcoming)). The version of King's poem in The Muses Welcome has 18 lines of elegiac couplets suffixed to the main poem not included in the DPS version. These can be consulted at Early English Books Online (subscription needed). In 1617 King would have been a much respected and well-known member of Scottish public life. He had not long completed his magnum opus, the monumental commentary and supplement to George Buchanan's De Sphaera, the MS of which still survives in Edinburgh. He had contributed to educational reforms in Scotland at King James' request, and was now mentoring members of his own family who were also regents at the University of Edinburgh (see feature for May here for details). His breadth of learning was remarkable, and he was a member of a circle of friends that were popular and well-known in the capital (see October's feature on Thomas Craig for this prodigious group of individuals). The honour done to him here by allowing him to be the first to greet King James in verse was thus perhaps a fitting reward for many years of extremely able and loyal service to the state and monarch. Metre: hexameter.

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Επιβατήριον ad Regem in Scotiam redeuntem

1Expectate diu, 1 tandem nos Numina voti
damnavere reos, reducemque dedere tueri,
quem toties exposcit amor: nec vana tuorum
spes, quanquam longis inter suspiria curis
Link to an image of this page  [p234] 5anxia, continius fovit sua gaudia votis.
Iam bis septenas sibi Grampius induit acri
concretas algore nives: totiesque tepentes
frigora laxarunt Zephyri; et genitalibus auris 2
vere novant sylvisque comas, pratisque colores;
10orbe tuo, ceu luce sua, dum Scotia vultu
languet, et offusas jam tot suspirat ab annis
luminis erepti tenebras, noctemque morantem.
Te fuerit quam dulce frui, gens omnis et aetas
sensit: te proceres: te plebs, patresque togati
15saepe redonari patriae voluere: nec unquam
consensu majore animi caluere tuorum
in vota, aut studium visendi Principis ardor
acrior accendit. Non sic mens aegra paventem
sollicitat matrem, longo cui distinet Auster
20aequore cunctantem natum, dum grata reposcit
debita depositi, et tardi spem sustinet anni;
ut nos cura tui tot jam tenet anxia lustris,
dum meminisse juvat, quantis praesente bearit
te tua nos fortuna bonis, quantoque soleres
25eloquio mulcere animos, pacemque tueri
consilio; precibus facile placabilis iras
ponere; inoffenso moderari jura tenore.

Ipsum etiam natale solum, patriaeque penates
delitiis caruisse suis, tantaeque queruntur
30taedia lenta morae: campi collesque ferarum
depasti turmis, et quos indagine cinctos
exercere tuis saltus sudoribus, aevi
plenus adhuc, fremituque canum, studiisque sequentum 3
assueras, gratis desueta laboribus horrent
35lustra suis populata feris, exesaque sylvis
arbuta, et arcanos nemorum squalere recessus.

At nunc incolumem, et sceptris majoribus auctum,
fortunae coelique bonis, pacisque triumpho
insignem, sibi dum reddi et natalibus oris
40adspiciunt, posito renovant sua gaudia luctu
omnia; pubentes solito se laetius ornant
fronde nova sylvae; campi, collesque comoso
luxuriant cultu. Non sic Iunonius ales
Link to an image of this page  [p235] stellatis varios pennis discriminat orbes,
45aut picturatum variat Thaumantias arcum:
multiplices mutat pratis ut Flora colores,
unde sibi intexant crines, festisque coronent
Nympharum choreae; dum te Paeane canoro
montibus et sylvis resonant; talemque tueri
50venantem exposcunt, qualem stupuere calentem
lassantemque feras; sudato et pulvere semper
majorem: qualem non Ossa aut Pelion ingens 4
Pelidem, Idaeus non vidit Oriona saltus:
blanda nec humanis caeli indulgentia votis
55concedit. Zephyri aspirant, ducuntque benigno
astra situ: vernis ridet tibi solibus aether.
En ut Fortha trahens populares auctior amnes
accurrit, positisque minis, tibi murmure leni
crispat aquas, 5 stratis cui plenior obviat undis
60oceanus, Phorci, Tritonumque agmine ducto;
laetumque aequoreo perfusus nectare vultum,
quo ventos hyemesque premit, 6 caelumque serenat.
Nec Glotta his cessisse velit, vel Tueda, Tausve,
ut possent reducem amplecti, Dominumque mereri.

65Quid populos, urbesque loquar, proceresque, Patresque
obsequiis certare piis? Dum debita reddunt
munia, quae magnum est nostro concedere amori,
sed majus meruisse tuum, et voluisse mereri.
Cujus amor pietasque fovet, prudentia magnum
70imperium cura solerti in pace ministrat.

Quid memorem haec inter communia gaudia, quo te
privatim studio votoque expectat Edinum?
Dilectumque sui pignus suspiret amoris.
Nascenti cui prima tuae spiracula vitae
75excepisse datum, et toties sensisse favorem:
hinc amor, hinc justi semper reverentia sceptri; 7
et quae supplicibus tibi pulvinaria votis
usque calent: dum tu, tanta quos pace tueris,
respicis, et vultu praesens dignaris amico,
80quid referat nescit, nisi quam cum civibus urbem
iam pridem tibi devovit, regique, patrique,
perpetuis sacret obsequiis, et Numina votis
Link to an image of this page  [p236] sollicitet: quae tot sceptris, tantoque bonorum
te cumulo ornarunt, multos felicius annos
85indulgere velint, et qua pietate tueris
in terris pacem, dent tandem posse mereri
aeternam caelo placida cum pace quitetem.
Nec causa Aonidum levior vel cura sororum
laetitiae in partem assumi: quae protinus ortus
90excepere tuos, tibi formavere juventam,
et plenos fudere sacro de fonte liquores:
et quem Parnassi natum fovere sub antris
iam patrem agnoscunt, 8 praeses cui cedat Apollo,
sive modos numerare velis, sive ore soluto
95ducere quo libeat populos: nec parcior ipsas
dextra fovet Musas: non debita praemia desunt
virtuti, aut meritis: sic te foecunda patrono
ingenia assurgunt; quae tot miracula mundo
fortunae praeclara tuae non visa priori,
100virtutesque aequas fortunae in saecula didant.

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A welcome speech to the king upon his return to Scotland

1O you who have been long expected, finally the Gods have granted our prayers and allowed us to behold you on your return - you upon whom our searching love so often focuses.Your people's hope, which cherished their joy in ceaseless prayer, was not in vain - although there was drawn-outLink to an image of this page  [p234]anxiety amid their vexed sighs. Fourteen winters have seen the Grampians clothed in snow hardened by the bitter cold; and just as often have the warming Zephyrs eased the frost, which in springtime restores the leaves to the trees with its generative breeze, and the colour to the meadows; and while Scotland grows faint in appearance, with your return, as if with its own daylight, it blows away the darkness spread out over the many years deprived of your countenance, and it blows away the lingering night. Every age and estate has come to know how sweet it is to enjoy your presence: the nobles, the plebs, and the Senators have often desired that you be restored to the fatherland. Never in greater unison have the minds of your people been moved to prayer, or has a more intense passion kindled their desire to see their prince. An ailing mind does not so animate this fretting mother that the South holds back her son as he meanders along the sea, while she demands back the pleasing return of her deposit, and she entertains the promise of a longer year. As now a worried concern for you grips us over so many years, it comforts us to remember what great benefits your good fortune favoured us with when you were here, and with what great words you used to soothe our spirits, and what great counsel you used to watch over us, and how easily you used to lay aside our anger with your pacifying entreaties, and with what soothing guidance you used to regulate the law.

28Even your native land, and the native gods lament that they have been deprived of your delights, and lament the stupefying boredom of such a long delay. The fields and the hills, which have been pastured by the herds of wild beasts, and the woodlands, in which you once, when still young, had been accustomed energetically to sport accompanied by the bark of your dogs and the zest of your companions, and surrounded it with your hunting party; they are all amazed that the lairs of beast have become unaccustomed to your pleasing toils, and are lain waste by the beasts themselves, that the wild strawberries have been devoured, and the secret recesses of the woodland groves lie empty.

37But now, as they see that you are returned to them, and to your native shores safe and sound, and that you have been endowed with more titles, and by fortune's and heaven's bounty, they have put aside their sorrow and now all renew their glory: the hills and fields are covered far and wide with leafy splendour. Not even in this way does Juno's bird a Link to an image of this page  [p235]spread out its many eyes on its bejewelled wings, nor Iris' becoloured arch. b Here Flora scatters many colours upon the meadows which the chorus of Nymphs use to adorn their hair, and crown themselves with wreaths, while they sing your name in a hymn amid the mountains and forests, and they demand to behold a hunter at whom they would wonder as he vigorously bore down upon his prey, always before the rest in graft and toil; such an Achilles neither great Pelion or Ossa saw, nor Ida's valleys such an Orion; c nor such a man has the gentle kindness of heaven granted to human prayers. The Zephyrs blow, and the stars are arranged in a favourable position: the sky smiles upon you with spring sunshine. Behold how the raised, Forth trailing its tributaries, comes to meet you; with its defences down, it ripples its waters with gentle sound, and the vast ocean meets it with its waves spread out, with a band of Tritons and sea-gods leading the way. And its watery nectar covers your happy face, which dispatches the winter winds and clears the sky. And neither Clyde, nor Tay, nor Tweed differ, so that they too may embrace and be worthy of their returning Lord.

65Should I mention the peoples, the cities, the nobles, and the senators all vying for your favour with due allegiance, as they performs their duties? It was marvellous that you conceded these duties for our care, but it is greater that we earned your care, and were allowed to be worthy! Wisdom administers your great state in pace with adroit governance, and its care and duty sustains it.

71Should I bring to mind how Edinburgh's individual citizens, amid all these civic celebrations, earnestly and devoutly longed for your presence, and hoped for the cherished token of its own love? The Gods allowed Edinburgh to receive the first breaths of your birth and life, and allowed it to have known your favour so often: hence its love for you, hence its constant reverence for your right rule. Moreover, this love and reverence continues on bended knee to worship your empty throne in prayers. While you care for them whom you guard in such peace, and you dignify them with your benevolent presence, it does not know how to repay you except that, after it long ago pledged the city with its people to you, its king and father, they worship you with constant devotion, and harry the gods with prayers thatLink to an image of this page  [p236]they, who have adorned you with so many kingdoms, and such a mass of good fortune, grant you enjoy many years so happily, and as you maintain the peace upon the earth, may they finally grant that you can obtain eternal rest with sweet tranquility in heaven. And it is not so trivial a thing of concern for the Muses to take their part in the joy: they were there to receive your first arrival, they shaped your youth, and they poured you out a full measure from the sacred fountain. Now they see the father whom they nourished as a child in the caves of Parnassus, d so that Apollo is present and walks behind you, whether to allow verses to be articulated, or to gladly conduct the people in full voice. And your right hand generously nourishes the Muses: just rewards are never absent for virtue, or for the deserving; in this way, with you as patron, a native ingenuity swells; and the outstanding many wonders of your fortune, which weren't known to the ancient world, disperses fortune's benevolent virtues into future ages.



1: Cf. Buchanan, Silvae VII.2

2: Cf. Poliziano, Rusticus, 202

3: Cf. Virgil, Aeneid, V.148

4: Statius Achilleid, I.151

5: This and the previous line: Buchanan's poem on James' birth in 1566: Silvae, VII.29-32.

6: This and the previous line: Virgil, Aeneid, I.255; and Statius, Silvae III.2.117.

7: From Buchanan's poem on James' birth in 1566, already noted above (line 59): Silvae, VII.25.

8: This and the previous three lines are a reworking of a passage from an earlier poem by King on the so-called 'Gowrie Conspiracy'. See Jamie Reid Baxter's edition of this poem (the Soteria) at the The Philological Museum, lines 102-3.


a: The peacock.

b: The rainbow.

c: Mount Pelion was the home of the centaur Chiron, Achilles' tutor; the twins Otus and Ephialtes piled it upon Mount Ossa as part of their attempt to assault Olympus. Orion was a great huntsman in Greek mythology, placed among the stars as a constellation by Zeus.

d: Home of the Muses.