Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/211

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General Assembly, who met at C'upar in Fife, being appointed to wait upon the king at Falkland, for the purpose of exhorting him to prevent the consequences of certain measures inimical to religion, which his council were pursuing. James Melville, nephew of the subject of this memoir, was chosen spokesman of the party, on account of the mildness of his manner and the courteousness of his address. On entering the presence, he accordingly began to state the object and views of the deputation. He had scarcely commenced, however, when the king interrupted him, and in passionate language, denounced the meeting at Cupar as illegal and seditious. James Melville was about to reply with his usual mildness, when his uncle, stepping forward, seized the sleeve of the king's gown, and calling his sacred majesty "God's silly vassal," proceeded to lecture him on the impropriety of his conduct, and to point out to him the course which he ought to pursue, particularly in matters of ecclesiastical polity. " Sir," lie said, " we will always humbly reverence your majesty in public; but since we have this occasion to be with your majesty in private, and since you are brought in extreme danger both of your life and crown, and, along with you, the country and the church of God are like to go to wreck, for not telling you the truth, and giving you faithful counsel, we must discharge our duty or else be traitors both to Christ and you. Therefore, Sir, as divers times before I have told you, so now again I must tell you, there are two kings and two king- doms in Scotland : there is king James, the head of this commonwealth, and there is Christ Jesus the king of the church, whose subject James the Sixth is, and of whose kingdom he is not a king, nor a lord, nor a head, but a member." Melville went on in a similar strain with this for a great length of time, not- withstanding repeated attempts, on the part of the king, to stop him. James expressed the strongest repugnance at the outset to listen to him, and endeav- oured to frighten him from his purpose by a display of the terrors of offended royalty, but in vain. He was finally compelled to listen quietly and patiently to all that Melville chose to say. At the conclusion of the speech, the king, whose anger, and whose courage also probably, had subsided during its delivery, made every concession which was required ; and the deputation returned with- out any loss, apparently, of royal favour. It was not, however, to be ex- pected, that Melville should have gained any ground in the king's affec- tions by this display of sincerity and zeal ; nor were the future interviews which took place between them better calculated for this end. The very next which occurred is thus alluded to in his nephew's diary : " And ther they (the king and Melville) heeled on, till all the hous and clos bathe hard mikle, of a large houre. In end, the king takes upe and dismissis him favourablie."

However favourably James may have dismissed him, he does not seem to have been unwilling to avail himself of the- first opportunity w : hich should offer of get- ting rid of him. At a royal visitation of the university of St Andrews, which son afterwards took place, matter of censure against Melville was eagerly sought after, and all who felt disposed to bring any complaint against him, were encouraged to come forward with their accusations. The result was, that a large roll, filled with charges against him, was put into the king's hands. He was accused of aeglecting the pecuniary affairs of the college, and the duties of his office as a teacher, of agitating questions of policy in place of lecturing on divinity, and of inculcating doctrines subversive of the king's authority and of the peace of the realm. At several strict examinations, he gave such satisfactory explana- tions of his conduct, and defended himself so effectually against the slanders of those who sought his ruin, that the visitors were left without any ground or pre- text on which to proceed against him. They, however, deprived him of the rectorship, on the plea that it was improper that that office should be united