Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/227

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JAMES MELVILLE. 21


than he, and that his majesty knew very well his affection what service he had done, and was willing to do in so far as conscience would sutler him ; adding that the king found no fault nor ill with him that he knew of, but that he would not be a bishop. " If in my judgment and my conscience," he concluded, after some further remarks, " I thought it would not undo his majesty's monarchy and the church of Christ within the same, and so bring on a fearful judgment, I could as gladly take a bishopric and serve the king therein as I could keep my breath within me, so far am I from delighting to contradict and oppone to his majesty, as is laid to my charge ; for in all things, saving my conscience, his majesty hath found, and shall find me most prompt to his pleasure and service." With this reply the conversation ended.

During his exile various attempts were made by his parishioners to obtain leave for his return. In February, 1608, the elders of the church of An- struther prepared a petition with that view, to be presented to the commissioners of the General Assembly, and when through stratagem they were prevented from presenting it, another was given in to the Assembly which met at Linlith- gow in July, 1609. An application to the king on his behalf was promised ; but a reply which he made to a most unprovoked attack on the presbyterians in a sermon by the vicar of Newcastle, afforded the bishops and their friends a ready excuse for the non-fulfilment of this promise. To preserve appearances, the prelates did indeed transmit to court a representation in favour of the banished ministers ; but this is now ascertained to have been nothing more than a piece of the vilest hypocrisy. A private letter was transmitted at the same time, discouraging those very representations which in public they advocated, and urging the continuation of their banishment in unabated rigour. Equally unfavourable in their results, although we have less evidence of insincerity^ were the fair promises of the earl of Dunbar and of archbishop Spottiswood. 5

We have already noticed the anxious, though unsuccessful, efforts of Melville in behalf of his uncle. During the whole period of the imprisonment of Andrew Melville, his nephew's attentions were continued. He supplied his uncle with money and such other necessaries as could be sent him, and received in return the productions of his muse. About this period their correspondence, which they maintained with surprising regularity, took a turn somewhat out of its usual course. James Melville had now been for two years a widower ; he had become attached to a lady, the daughter of the vicar of Berwick-upon. Tweed, and he earnestly begged his uncle's advice. The match was con- sidered unequal in point of years, and a long correspondence ensued, from which it became evident, that, while James's respect for his uncle had led him to request his advice, his feelings had previously become too strongly interested to admit of any doubt as to the decision of the question. Finding his nephew's happiness so deeply concerned in the result, Andrew Melville yielded, and the marriage accordingly took place. Whatever may have been his fears, it is but justice to state, that this connexion led to no compromise of principle, and that it was attended with the happiest results.

It would seem that the bishops, not content with separating James Melville from his brethren, still thought themselves insecure if he was allowed to remain

  • Another representation in behalf of Melville appears to have been presented to the

Synod of Fife by his parishioners in 1610. Archbishop Gladstanes, the only authority for this statement, writes thus on the subject to the king: " As for me, I will not advise your majesty any thing in this matter, because I know not what is the man's humour as yet, but rather wish that, ere any such man get liberty, our turns took selling a while. " Life of Glad- stanes in "Wodrow's Biographical Collections, (printed for the Maitland Club,) vol. i., pp. 274, 275. So little confidence, does it appear, had the bishops in the stability of their establishment.