Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/229

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SIR JAMES MELVILLE. 23


opposition to its measures. Its enemies were undoubtedly highly criminal ; but this method of pronouncing judgment upon them cannot be defended upon any ground of Scripture or charity.

But while we condemn this theory, in connexion with James Melville's name, justice requires the admission, that it was by no means a peculiar tenet of his, it was the doctrine of an age, rather than of an individual. It is, moreover, let it ever be remembered, to such men as Andrew and James Melville, that we owe much of our present liberty ; and, but for their firmness in the maintenance of those very principles which we are so apt to condemn, we might, still have been acting those bloody scenes which have passed away with the reigns of Charles and of James. They struggled for their children, for blessings, in the enjoy- ment of which they could never hope to participate. And let not us, who have entered into their labours, in our zeal to exhibit our superior enlightenment, forget or underrate our obligations. The days may come when our privileges may be taken away ; and how many of those who condemn the zeal and the principles of their forefathers, will be found prepared to hazard so much for conscience' sake, or to exhibit even a small portion of their courage and self- denied patriotism, in the attempt to regain them ?

MELVILLE, (Sra) JAMES, a courtier of eminence, and author of the well known memoirs of his own life and times which bear his name. In that work he has made effectual provision to keep posterity mindful of the events of his life, and the following memoir will chiefly consist of an abridgment of the facts he has himself detailed. 1 He appears to have been born in the year 1535. His father was Sir John Melville of Haith, one of the early props of the reformed faith, who, after suffering from the hate of Beaton, fell a victim to his successor, archbishop Hamilton, in 1549.* Nor were his children, or his widow, who was a daughter of Sir Alexander Napier of Merchiston, spared from persecution. James, who was the third son, was, by the queen dowager's influence and direction, sent at the age of fourteen, under the protection of the French ambassador returning to France, to be a page of honour to the young queen of Scotland. The French ambassador Monluc, bishop of Valence, be- sides his embassy to Scotland, had, before his return, to accomplish a secret mis- sion to the malcontents of Ireland, who had begun to breathe a wish to cast off the yoke of England, and might have proved a very valuable acquisition to France. To Ireland Melville accompanied him. Immediately on his arrival Sir James encountered a love adventure, which he tells with much satisfaction. The ship had been overtaken by a storm, and with difficulty was enabled to land at Lochfeul. They were entertained by O'Docherty, one of the bishop's friends, who lived in " a dark tour," and fed his friends with such " cauld fair " as " herring and biscuits," it being Lent. The bishop was observed to bend his eyes so attentively on O'Docherty's daughter, that the prudent father thought it right to provide him with the company of another female, in whose conduct he had less interest or responsibility. This lady was so far accomplished as to be able to speak English, but she produced an awkward scene by her ignorance of etiquette, in mistaking a phial " of the only maist precious balm that grew in Egypt, which Soliman the great Turc had given in a present to the said bishop " for something eatable, " because it had ane odoriphant smell." " Therefore she licked it clean out." The consequence of the bishop's rage was the discovery of his unpriestly conduct. Meanwhile O'Docherty's young daughter, who had fled from the bishop, was seized with a sudden attachment for Melville. " She came and sought me wherever I was, and brought a priest

1 From the beautiful edition of his memoirs printed by the Bannatyne Club, 1827.

  • Wood's Peerage, ii. 112.