Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/217

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JAMES MELVILLE. 11


dertak and bear out sa grait a charge as to profess theologie and holie lounges ainangis ministers and maisters, namelie [especially] in that maist frequent vni- nersitie of St Andros, amangs diuers alterit and displacit, and therfor malcontents and mislykers, occupied me sa, that I behovit to forget all, and rin to my God and my buik."

During the earlier period of their residence at St Andrews, Andrew Melville and his nephew had many difficulties to encounter. The former principal and professors annoyed their successors by " pursuit of the compts of the college." The regents of St Leonards, enraged that the philosophy of their almost deified Aristotle should be impugned, raised a commotion ; and, to quote the appro- priate allusion of James Melville, cried out with one voice, Great is Diana of the Kphesians. The provost and bai Hies, with the prior and his gentlemen pen- sioners, were suspected of corrupt proceedings, especially in the provision of a minister for the town, and the opposition and exposures of Andrew Melville thus raised up for him and his fellow labourers another host of enemies. These were all open and avowed opponents, but they had one to deal with, who, as yet wearing the mask of friendship, was secretly plotting their own and the church's ruin, this person was archbishop Adamson. Add to all this, that im- mediately after their settlement at St Andrews, the carelessness of one of the students had nearly been the cause of setting the establishment on fire, and we shall be abundantly persuaded that it required no small energy of mind, such as Andrew Melville indeed possessed, not only to bear up in such a situation, but successively to baffle all the opposition that was offered to him.

But amidst many discouragements which the more sensitive mind of James Melville must have keenly felt, he had also many cheering employments. He was engaged in duties which we have seen had been, from an early period, the objects of his greatest desire, he was the teacher of some promising young men, who afterwards became shining lights in the church, and he had the grati- fication of being requested to occupy the pulpit on many occasions, when there was no minister in the town, or when the archbishop happened to be absent.

At the Assembly which met at Edinburgh in December 1582, James Mel- ville was earnestly requested to become minister of Stirling. For himself he felt much inclined to accede to the wishes of the inhabitants, and the more so as he was now on the eve of his marriage ; but his uncle, considering the af- fairs of the college still in too precarious a state to admit of his leaving it, re- fused his consent, and James Melville did not consider it respectful to urge his own wishes. It was indeed fortunate that he was not permitted at this period to leave the college, for in the very next year his uncle was required to appear before the king and privy council, for certain treasonable speeches alleged to have been uttered in his sermons. When the summons (which ordered him to appear in three days) was served, James Melville was in the shire of Angus, and could not upon so sudden a requisition return to St Andrews in time to ac- company him to Edinburgh. He arrived, however, on the second day of his trial, if indeed the proceedings deserved that name. Passing over the minute circumstances of this transaction, our narrative only requires that we should state that Andrew Melville found it necessary to insure his safety by a flight into England.

In these discouraging circumstances, James Melville was obliged to return to St Andrews to undertake the management of the affairs of the college, with what feelings it may readily be judged. When he considered the magnitude of his charge, and the situation of the church, he was completely overpowered ; but the duration of his grief was short in proportion to its violence, and he soon found the truest remedy in applying his whole energies to the performance of his in-