Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/286

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80 SIR ROBERT MURRAY.


army surviving in Scotland, when " lord Glencairn took a strange course to break it, and to ruin him." A letter written by him to William Murray, a low minion, who had risen in the court of Charles L, by the performance of the most despicable offices, was pretended to have been found at Antwerp. " This ill-forged letter gave an account of a bargain Sir Robert had made with Monk for killing the king, which was to be executed by Mr Murray : so he prayed him in his letter to make haste and despatch it This was brought to the earl of Glencairn : so Sir Robert was severely questioned upon it, and put in arrest : and it was spread about through a rude army that he intended to kill the king, hoping, it seems, that some of these wild people, believing it, would have fallen upon him, without using any forms. Upon this occasion, Sir Robert practised, in a very eminent manner, his true Christian philosophy, without showing so much as a cloud in his whole behaviour." 7

At the discussion at Whitehall, on the question of the future established reli- gion in Scotland, Sir Robert Murray, along with Hamilton and Lauderdale, proposed to delay the establishment of episcopacy, until the temper of the people should be ascertained. 8 In the attempt, by means of ballot, to disqualify those who had been favourable to the government of Cromwell from serving under Charles, Sir Robert was one of those whose downfall, along with that of Lauder- dale, was particularly aimed at. 9 This association with Lauderdale seems not to have been called for by the previous conduct, the party opinions, or the moral character of Sir Robert. Afterwards Lauderdale's aversion to so moderate and honest a man, disturbed his councils, and was partly productive of his down- fall. He joined the rising administration of Tweeddale ; and, having at the Re- storation been re-appointed a lord of session, was promoted to be justice-clerk. " The people were pleased and gratified," says Laing, " when a judicial office, so important and dangerous, was conferred on the most upright and accom- plished character which the nation produced." 10 But Sir Robert was made jus- tice-clerk, not to be a judge, but that the salary might induce him to be a par- tizan. He never sat on the bench, and was probably quite ignorant of law. Meanwhile, in 1662, took place the most important event in his life, and one of the most interesting transactions of the period. He was one of the leaders of that body of naturalists and philosophers, who, with the assistance of lord Brounker and Robert Boyle, procured for the Royal Society the sanction of a charter. The society had existed as a small debating club previous to the re- public, at the establishment of which, the members separated. At the Restora- tion, they re-established themselves, and conducted their meetings and opera- tions on a rather more extensive scale. On the 28th November, 1660, we find Sir Robert present at, probably, the first meeting, where it was proposed " that some course might be thought of to improve this meeting to a more regular way of debating things ; and that, according to the manner in other countries, where there were voluntary associations of men into academies for the advance- ment of various parts of learning, they might do something answerable here for the promoting of experimental philosophy." 11 Sir Robert undertook to com- municate the views of the society to the court, and at next meeting returned an answer, indicative of encouragement from that quarter. 12 After rules for hold- ing meetings, and for the appointment of office-bearers, were established, Sir Robert was successively chosen president during the first and second month of the existence of the society. 13 He was a member of almost all committees and councils, delivered several papers, prepared and exhibited experiments, and

Own Times, 5. 103. 8 Ib. 132 Ib. 150. " Hist. ii. 47.

u Kirch. Hist. R. Soc., i. 3. Ib. 4. Ib. 21.