Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/228

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


22 JAMES MELVILLE.


at Newcastle. They accordingly obtained an order for his removal to Carlisle, which was afterwards changed by the interest of his friends to Berwick. About this period he was again urged by the earl of Dunbar to accede to the wishes of the king, but with as little success as formerly. That nobleman therefore took him with him to Berwick, where he continued almost to the date of his death. This period of his life seems to have been devoted to a work on the proper execution of which his mind was most anxiously bent his Apology for the Church of Scotland. This work, which however he did not live to see published, bears the title of " Jacobi Melvini libellus Supplex Ecclesias Scoticanse Apologeticus." It was printed at London and appeared in 1645.

About the year 1612, Melville appears to have petitioned the king for liberty to return to his native country. He received for answer that he need indulge no hopes but by submitting absolutely to the acts of the General As- sembly of 1610. Such conditions he would not-of course accept, and he con- sidered his return altogether hopeless. But the very measures which the king and the bishops had been pursuing were the means of carrying his wishes into effect The prelates had lately assumed a degree of hauteur which the nobility could ill have brooked, even had they felt no jealousy of a class of men, who, raised from comparative obscurity, now formed a powerful opposition to the ancient councillors of the throne. They therefore determined to exert their influence for the return of the ministers, and to second the representations of their congre- gations and friends. In this even the bishops felt themselves obliged to join, and they at the same time determined upon a last attempt to obtain from the ministers a partial recognition of their authority, but in this they were unsuccess- ful. James Melville therefore obtained leave to return to Scotland, but it was now too late. His mind had for some time brooded with unceasing melancholy over the unhappy state of the church, and his health declined at the same time. He had proceeded but a short way in his return home, when he was suddenly taken ill, and was with difficulty brought back to Berwick. Notwithstanding the prompt administration of medicine, his complaint soon exhibited fatal symp- toms ; and, after lingering a few days, during which he retained the most perfect tranquillity, and expressed the firmest convictions of the justice of the cause in which he suffered, he gently expired in the fifty-ninth year of his age, and eighth of his banishment.

The character of Melville is so fully developed in the transactions of his life, that if the present sketch is in any degree complete, all attempt at its further de- lineation must be unnecessary. A list of his works will be found in the Notes to Dr M'Crie's Life of Andrew Melville. Of these, one is bis Diary, which has been printed as a contribution to the Bannatyne Club, and which has sup- plied the materials for the present sketch up to 1601, where it concludes. This Diary, combining, as it certainly does, perfect simplicity of style with a thorough knowledge of its principles, containing the most interesting notices of himself and other public men, while it is perfectly free from egotism, and, above all, indicating throughout, the best feelings both of a Christian and a gentleman, is one of the most captivating articles in the whole range of auto- biographical history. It is no less remarkable than, in our estimation, it is un- questionable, that the most interesting additions to Scottish history, brought to light in our times, are written by persons of the same name. We allude to the Diary of James Melville, and the Memoirs of Sir James Melville, with which it must not be confounded. There is one point, however, in Melville's Diary, which must forcibly strike every one who is acquainted with its author's history, we mean the allusion in many parts of his narrative to whatever evils befell the enemies of the church, as special instances of the Divine vengeance for their