Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/232

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


might happen to be ; to inquire as to his religion, his rents, his qualities, his age, and stature. Melville had a very discreet and confidential meeting \vith Maximilian, who made diligent inquiry as to the intentions of the queen of Scots and her subjects, regarding the alleged right to the English throne ; while it struck the wily Scot, that he was not particularly anxious to advance his brother to a throne, presently that of Scotland, but not unlikely to be that of the island of Britain. To obtain such information as might prove a sure foot- ing for his future steps, he procured his companion, Mons. Zuleger, to drink with the secretaries of Maximilian, and ascertained his suspicions to be well founded. Notwithstanding a cordial invitation to join the court of Maximilian, (no other man ever had so many sources of livelihood continually springing up in his path,) Melville returned to the Palatine. On his way he enjoyed a tour of pleasure, passing to Venice and Rome, and returning through Switzerland to Heidelberg, where the elector held his court. He afterwards revisited Paris on a matrimonial scheme, concocted by the queen-mother, betwixt her son and Maximilian's eldest daughter, acting in the high capacity of the bearer of a miniature of the lady. The welcomes of his friend the constable, not on the best of terms with the queen-mother, seem now to have fallen with far less cordiality on the heart of Melville, and he seems to have looked with some misliking at that dignitary's taking the opportunity of presenting the picture, to appear at court, where " he sat down upon a stool, and held his bonnet upon his head, taking upon him the full authority of his great office, to the queen- mother's great misliking." While at Paris, he received despatches from Mur- ray and secretary Maitland, requesting his immediate return to his native coun- try, to be employed in the service of the queen, a mandate which he obeyed. Meanwhile the Palatine and his son, duke Casimer, showed an ambition for a union of the latter with Elizabeth of England ; a measure which Melville found curious grounds for dissuading, in fulfilment of his principle of using such influ- ence as he might command, to interfere with the appearance of an heir to the crown of England. But Melville could not refuse the almost professional duty of conveying the young duke's picture to England. He obtained an interview with Elizabeth, who was more attentive to the subject of the marriage of queen Mary, than to her own ; expressing disapprobation of a union with the arch- duke Charles, and recommending her favourite Dudley. He proceeded to Scotland, and was received by Mary at Perth, on the 5th May, 1564. He was informed that it had been the queen's intention to have employed him in Germany, but she had now chosen for him a mission to England. He is most amiable in his motives for following the young queen. He was loth to lose " the occasions and oilers of preferment that was made to him in France and other parts: but the queen was so instant and so well inclined, and showed her- self endowed with so many princely virtues, that he thought it would be against good conscience to leave her, requiring so earnestly his help and service ;" so that, in short, he " thought her more worthy to be served for little profit, than any other prince in Europe for great commodity." He proceeded to England with ample instructions, the amicable purport of which, either as they were really delivered, or as Melville has chosen to record them, is well known to the read- ers of history. Melville made sundry inquiries at " very dear friends" attend- ing the court of Elizabeth, as to his best method of proceeding with the Haughty queen ; and having, on due consideration, established in his mind a set of canons for the occasion, stoutly adhered to them, and found the advantage of doing so. He was peculiarly cautious on the subject of the marriage ; he re- mained to witness the installation of Dudley as earl of Leicester and baron of Denbigh, cautiously avoiding any admission of the propriety of countenancing