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84
INTRODUCTION.
Sibbald was apparently the first to claim this scanty
entry in the interests of Philotus.1 He was undeterred
by Irving’s later scruple 2 that a play in the presence
of the Lord Regent would surely not pass over that
dignitary without bracketing him along with the infant
king in the final complimentary stanza 3; and he boldly
suggests (i) that the play is none other than Philotus—
“ the only dramatic piece in the Scottish language that
has any appearance of being composed about that period ” ;
(2) that the author, Robert Semple, is the fourth Lord
Sempill.
The official records of the period add little to Birrel’s
entry. A minute of February 20, 1567-8, in the Edin¬
burgh MS. Council Register, Vol. iv. f. 213, ordains the
city treasurer
“ to deliuere to Robert semple pe sowme of x merkis in
support of j>e expensft maid be him at pe play.”
That the Reformed Town of Edinburgh would in 1568
subsidise a non-moral Italianate comedy of intrigue seems
on the face of it improbable, to say the least; one sus¬
pects rather a highly flavoured piece of Protestant propa¬
ganda, such as Robert Semple, the fiery Reformation
balladist, might well supply. Nor do the several rewards
from 1567-73 to Robert Simple or Semple (or capitane
Semple), for unspecified services, which are recorded in
the MS. Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer and the
MS. Household Papers at Register House,4 help us.
1 Sibbald, Chronicle of Scottish Poetry, Vol. iii. p. 397.
2 History of Scotish Poetry, p. 440. Irving admits, however, that
this stanza may have been altered for the 1603 edition.
3 Infra, p. 153, stanza 171.
1 For details of these entries, see my Mediceval Plays in Scotland,
191 n. Cf. also T. G. Stevenson, The Sempill Ballates, p. ix.

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