Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/45

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JOHN LESLIE. 415


in the monastery, under a monument erected to his memory by his nephew and heir, John Leslie.

Bishop Leslie is generally allowed the praise of great learning and of high diplomatic abilities, though it is almost as generally regretted, that he did not turn them to a better use. His fidelity to a declining cause is also allowed, even by its enemies, to have been a sentiment as free from the dross of worldly or selfish views as the motives of a line of public conduct ever are. The isola- tion of a catholic church dignitary in society seems favourable to the develop- ment of such sentiments ; and there are not many cases in which the principle is observed to have been more powerful than in the history of this Scottish pre- late. His tongue, his pen, the travel of his body, his temporal fortune, were all devoted with the most generous unreserve to the cause which he thought that of justice and true religion ; and what more can any man do, to show the superior- ity of his nature to the meaner passions?

The works of bishop Leslie are as follow : 1. Defence of the honour of Mary Queen of Scotland ; with a declaration of her right, title, and interest to the crown of England; Liege, 1571, 8vo, which was immediately suppressed.

2. Afllicti Animi Consolationes et Tranquilli Animi Conservatio ; Paris, 1574.

3. De Origine, Moribus, et Rebus Gestis Scotorum : Romae, 1578, 4to. 4. A Treatise showing that the Regiment of Women is conformable to the law of God and Nature. 5. De Titulo et Jure Mariae Scotorum Reginae, quo Angliffi Suc- cessionem Jure sibi vindicat ; Rheims, 1580, 4to. 6. The History of Scotland, from the death of James I. in 1436, to the year 1561 ; Edinburgh, 1830, 4to.

The volume last mentioned was printed from a manuscript in the possession of the earl of Leven and Melville. It is in the Scottish tongue, and forms the original of the three latter books of the Latin history, which differs from it in no respect except in being a little more ample. It appears to have been com- posed in the vernacular tongue, in order that it might be of use to his captive mistress, who, it is to be presumed, was not so good a Latinist as her cousin Elizabeth. The reason of his presenting her with only this detachment of the history of her country, was, that the preceding part was already to be had in Bellcnden's version of Boece. That work stops at the death of James I., and it would naturally occur to bishop Leslie, that a continuation to his own time was a desideratum, both to the people and to her whom he maintained to be their sovereign. He finished his work in March, 1570, and presented the unfortunate queen with the manuscript in 1571 ; but it never saw the light till the date above mentioned, when one hundred copies were printed for the Bannatyne Club, with fifty additional for sale to the public. The style of the work, though it could not fail to sound rudely in the ears of a modern Englishman, is highly elegant and dignified, forming a wonderful improvement upon the rude sim- plicity of Bellenden. The worthy bishop informs us, that he stops at the be- ginning of queen Mary's reign, because the transactions subsequent to that period contain much that he does not think would reflect honour upon his country : there could be few whose words were more worth listening to, respecting that important and greatly controverted part of our history.

The volume alluded to contains a portrait of Leslie, representing him as a grave and venerable man, with an aquiline nose, a small beard, and a very lofty and capacious forehead. As a specimen of the Scottish which a learned prelate would then write, and a queen peruse, we may quote the bishop's char- acter of James V.

" Their was gryt dule and meane maid for him throw all the partis of his realme, because he was a nobill prince, and travaillet mekill all his dayis for manitening of his subjectis in peace, justice, and quietnes. He was a man of