Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/212

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


ANDREW MELVILLE.


with the professorship of theology, the appointment which Melville held in the university.

The accession of James to the English throne, did not abate his desire to assume an absolute control over the affairs of the church of Scotland, and long after his removal to England, he continued to entertain designs hostile to its liberties. The attempts which he had made to obtain this supremacy, while he was yet in Scotland, had been thwarted in a great measure by the exertions of Melville. His intrepidity kept James at bay, and his zeal, activity, and talents, deprived him of all chance of succeeding, by chicanery or cunning. Melville still presented himself as a stumbling-block in his way, should he attempt to approach the Scottish church with inimical designs, and James, therefore, now resolved that he should be entirely removed from the kingdom. To accomplish this, he had recourse to one of those infamous and unprincipled stratagems which he considered the very essence of " king craft." In May 1606, Mel- ville received a letter from his majesty, commanding him to repair to London before the 15th of September next, that his majesty might consult with him, and others of his learned brethren, regarding ecclesiastical matters, with the view of healing all differences, and securing a good understanding between his majesty and the church. Letters of a similar tenor were received by seven other clergymen, amongst whom was Melville's nephew.

Though not without some doubts regarding the result of this rather extraor- dinary invitation, Melville and his brethren set out for London, where they ar- rived on the 25th of August. The first interview of the Scottish clergymen with the king was sufficiently gracious. He inquired for news from Scotland, and condescended even to be jocular. This, however, did not last long ; at the subsequent conferences Melville found himself called upon, by the sentiments which the king expressed regarding church matters, to hold the same bold and plain language to him which he had so often done in Scotland, and this too in the presence of great numbers of his English courtiers, who could not refrain from expressing their admiration of Melville's boldness, and of the eloquence with which he delivered his sentiments. In the mean time, however, the Scot- tish ministers were interdicted from returning to Scotland without the special permission of the king. On the 28th September they were required by his majesty to give attendance in the royal chapel on the following day to witness the celebration of the festival of St Michael. The ceremonies and fooleries of the exhibition which took place on this occasion, were so absurd, and so nearly approached those of the Romish church, that they excited in Melville a feeling of the utmost indignation and contempt. This feeling he expressed in a Latin epigram, which he composed on returning to his lodgings. A copy of the lines found its way to his mnjesty, who was greatly incensed by them, and determined to proceed against their author on the ground that they were trea- sonable. He was accordingly summoned before the privy council, found guilty of scandalum magnatum, and after a confinement of nearly twelve months, first in the house of the dean of St Paul's, and afterwards in that of the bishop of Win- chester, was committed to the Tower, where he remained a prisoner for four years. The other clergymen who had accompanied Melville to London were allowed to return to Scotland ; but they were confined to particular parts of the country, and forbidden to attend any church courts. Melville's nephew was commanded to leave London within six days, and to repair to Newcastle upon Tyne, and not to go ten miles beyond that town on the pain of rebellion.

In the month of February, 1611, Melville was released from the Tower on the application of the duke of Bouillon, who had solicited his liberty from the king, in order to procure his services as a professor in his university at Sedan