Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/230

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


with her that could speak English, and offered, if I would marry her, to go with me to any part which I pleased." But James was prudent at fourteen. He thanked her, said that he was yet young, that he had no rents, and was bound for France. With the assistance of Wauchope, archbishop of Armagh (a Scotsman) Monluc proceeded with his mission. From O'Docherty's house they went to the dwelling of the bishop of Roy. Here they were detained until the arrival of a Highland boat, which was to convey them to Scotland, and after more storms and dangers, losing their rudder, they at length landed at Bute. In the person to whom the boat belonged, Melville found a friend, James M'Conell of Kiltyre, who had experienced acts of kindness from his father. Soon after their return to Scotland, Melville sailed with the ambassador to France, and landed on the coast of Brittany. The bishop proceeding by post to Paris, left his young protege to the attendance of " twa young Scottis gen- tlemen," who were instructed to be careful of him on the way, and to provide him with the necessary expenses, which should be afterwards refunded to them. The three young men bought a nag each, and afterwards fell into company with three additional companions, a Frenchman, a Spaniard, and a Briton, all travelling in the same direction. At the end of their first day's journey from Brest, they all took up their night's rest in a chamber containing three beds. The two Frenchmen and the two Scotsmen slept together. Melville was ac- companied by the Spaniard. In this situation he discovered himself to be the subject of plot and counterplot He first heard the Scotsmen with much sim- plicity certainly, when it is remembered that a countryman was within hearing observe, that as the bishop had directed them to purvey for their companion, " therefore we will pay for his ordinair all the way, and sail compt up twice as meikle to his master when we come to Paris, and so sail won our own ex- penses." 3 This was a good solid discreet speculation, but it need not have been so plainly expressed. While it was hatching, the Frenchmen in the next bed were contemplating a similar plot, on the security of the ignorance of French on the part of their companions, and their inexperience of French travelling, proposing simply to pay the tavern bills themselves, and charge a handsome premium " sufficient to pay their expenses" for their trouble. Mel- ville says he could not refrain " laughing in his mind." The Frenchmen he easily managed, but the Scotsmen were obdurate, insisting on their privilege of paying his charges, and he found his only recourse to be a separate enumeration of the charges, and the " louns " never obtained payment of their overcharge. But the Frenchmen were resolved by force to be revenged on the detector of their cunning. In the middle of a wood they procured two bullies to interrupt and attack the travellers, and when Melville and his friends drew, they joined their hired champions. But Melville, by his own account, was never discomfited, and when they saw their " countenance and that they made for defence," they pretended it was mere sport. Melville informs us, how, after his arrival at Paris, his friend the bishop was called to Rome, and himself left behind to learn to play upon the lute and to write French. In the month of May, 1553, Melville appears to have disconnected himself from the bishop, of whom he gives some curious notices touching his proficiency in the art magique and mathematique, and came into the service of the constable of France, an office in the acquisition of which he was much annoyed by the interference of a captain Ringan Cocbtirn, " a busy medlar." At this point in his progress the narrator stops to offer up thanks for his good fortune. As a pensioner of France, he became attached to the cause of that country in the war with Charles V., and was present at the siege of St Quentin, where his patron the constable was 3 Memoirs, p. 13. partially modernized in orthography.