Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/209

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ANDREW MELVILLE.


that the regent resented this bold language ; but probably his forbearance was as much owing to the circumstance of his resigning the regency, which he did soon after, as to any other cause.

In 1580, Melville was translated to St Andrews, to fill a similar situation with that which he occupied at Glasgow. Here he distinguished himself by the same ability which had acquired him so much reputation in the western uni- versity. Besides giving lectures on theology, he taught the Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, and Rabbinical languages, and discovered such an extent of knowledge and superiority of acquirement, that his classes were attended, not only by young" students in unusual numbers, but by several of the masters of the other colleges. In 1582, Melville opened, with sermon, an extraordinary meeting of the General Assembly, which had been convoked to take into consideration the dangerous state of the protestant church, from the influence which the earl of Arran, and the lords D'Aubigne and Lennox, exercised over the young king. In this sermon he boldly inveighed against the absolute authority which the court was assuming a right to exercise in ecclesiastical affairs, and alluded to a design on the part of France, of which D'Aubigne was the instrument, to re- establish the catholic religion in the country. The assembly, impressed with similar sentiments, and entertaining similar apprehensions, drew up a spirited remonstrance to the king, .and appointed Melville to present it. He accord- ingly repaired to Perth, where the king then was, and, despite of some alarm- ing reports which reached him, of the personal danger to which he would ex- pose himself from the resentment of the king's favourites, demanded and ob- tained access to his majesty. When the remonstrance was read, Arran looked round the apartment, and exclaimed, in a tone of defiance and menace, " Who dares subscribe these treasonable articles ?" " We dare," replied Melville; and, taking a pen from the clerk, he affixed his signature to the document : an ex- ample which was immediately followed by the other commissioners who were with him. The cool and dignified intrepidity of Melville, completely silenced the blustering of Arran, who, finding himself at fault by this unexpected oppo- sition, made no further remark; and Lennox, with better policy, having spoken to the commissioners in a conciliatory tone, they were peaceably dismissed. It seems probable, however, from what afterwards ensued, that Arran did not for- get the humiliation to which Melville's boldness had on this occasion subjected him. In less than two years afterwards, Melville was summoned before the privy council, on a charge of high treason, founded upon some expressions which, it was alleged, he had made use of in the pulpit. Whether Arran was the original instigator of the prosecution, does not very distinctly appear ; but it is certain that he took an active part in its progress, and expressed an eager anxiety for the conviction of the accused. Failing in establishing any thing to the prejudice of Melville, the council had recourse to an expedient to effect that which they could not accomplish through his indictment. They could not punish him for offences which they could not prove ; but they found him guilty of declining the judgment of the council, and of behaving irreverently before them, and condemned him to be imprisoned in the castle of Edinburgh, and to be fur- ther punished in person and goods at his majesty's pleasure. The terms of the sentence, in so far as regarded the place of imprisonment, were afterwards altered by Arran, who substituted " Blackness," where he had a creature of his own as keeper, for Edinburgh. Several hours being allowed to Melville before he was put in ward, he availed himself of the opportunity, and made his escape to Eng- land. To this step, being himself in doubt whether he ought not rather to submit to the sentence of the council, he was urged by some of his friends, who, to his request for advice in the matter, replied, with the proverb of the house of