Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/214

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8 JAMES MELVILLE.


enthusiasm with which he pleaded its cause, enabled him to introduce an im- proved plan of study into all the universities. By his instructions and example, lie continued and increased the impulse which he had first given to the minds of his countrymen. In languages, in theology, and in that species of poetical composition which was then most practised among the learned, his influence was direct and acknowledged." The services which he rendered the civil and re- ligious liberties of his country are recorded by the same able author in still stronger terms. " If the love of pure religion," he says, " rational liberty, and polite letters, forms the basis of national virtue and happiness, I know no individual, after her reformer, from whom Scotland has received greater bene- fits, and to whom she owes a deeper debt of gratitude and respect, than Andrew Melville."

MELVILLE, JAMES, with whose history are connected many most interesting facts in the ecclesiastical and literary history of Scotland, was born at Baldovy, near Montrose, on the 25th of July, 1556. 1 His father was Richard Melville of Baldovy, the friend of Wishart the Martyr, and of John Erskine of Dun, and the elder brother of Andrew Melville. Soon after the Reformation, this gentle- man became minister of Mary-Kirk, in the immediate neighbourhood of his pro- perty, and continued so till the close of his life. He married Isobel Scrimgeour, sister of the laird of Glasswell, a woman of great " godlines, honestie, vertew, and affection." James Melville was, therefore, to use his own expression, descended " of godlie, faithfull, and honest parents, bathe lightned with the light of the gospell, at the first dawning of the day tharof within Scotland."

The mother of James Melville having died about a year after his birth, he was placed under the care of a nurse, " an evill inclynit woman ;" and after being weaned, was lodged in the house of a cottar, from whence, when ho was about four or five years old, he was brought home to Baldovy. He and his elder brother David were soon afterwards sent to a school, kept by Mr William Gray, minister of Logie-Montrose, " a guid, lerned, kynd man." This school was broken up, partly by the removal of some of the boys perhaps to attend the universities, but more immediately by the ravages of the plague at Montrose, from which Logie was only two miles distant. James and his brother, therefore, re- turned home, after having attended it for about five years. During the following winter, they remained at home, receiving from their father such occasional instruc- tion as his numerous duties permitted him to give them. At this period, Richard Melville seems to have intended that both his sons should be trained to agricul- tural pursuits, there being no learned profession in which a livelihood, even of a very moderate kind, could be obtained. In the spring, it was resolved that, as the elder brother was sufficiently old to assist in superintending his father's rural affairs, he should remain at home, and that James should be sent again to school. He accordingly attended a school at Montrose, of which Andrew Milne, afterwards minister of Fetteresso, was master. Here he continued about two years.

Of the whole of this period of his life, James Melville has left a most interest- ing account ; and we only regret that, from the length to which this memoir must otherwise extend, we are unable to give any thing more than a very rapid sketch of this and the subsequent part of his education. He entered on his philosophical course at St Leonard's college in the university of St Andrews, in November, 1571, under the fare of William Collace, one of the regents. At first he found himself unable to understand the Latin prelections, and was so much chagrined that he was frequently found in tears ; but the regent took

1 In a note on this date in his Diary, he says, " My viicle, Mr Andro, haulds that I was born in An. 1557."