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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume III. Renascence and Reformation.

VII. Reformation and Renascence in Scotland

§ 8. Robert Lindesay of Pitscottie

Knox’s History is the chief literary monument of the Scottish reformation; but to the same period belong a number of works, more or less of a historical character, which prove that prose had now become an accredited vehicle of expression as well as verse. Next in literary quality to the work of Knox is The Historie and Cronicles of Scotland by Robert Lindesay of Pitscottie—one of the few productions of the time which can be read with interest at the present day. Lindesay was an ardent protestant, and, in the parts of his History where he deals with the change of the national religion, he is a thorough-going partisan. With religion, however, he is not primarily concerned, and his aim is not controversial like that of Knox. What mainly interested him in the past were picturesque episodes illustrating the manners of the times and the characters of the leading actors; and it is to him that we owe some of the most lively pictures in the national history. As his easy credulity as well as the structure of his book shows, Lindesay had no very severe criterion of historic accuracy. His account of the reign of James II (1436–60), with which his History begins, is merely a translation of Hector Boece’s Latin History of Scotland—a work of inventive imagination in which the wildest fables are recorded as ascertained facts. From 1542 onwards, he drew upon his own observation or on the testimony of eye-witnesses; but it is precisely in this portion of his work that he exhibits in least degree that gift of vivid narrative which made him the delight of Sir Walter Scott as the nearest approach to a Scottish Froissart.