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Title: George Buchanan
Author: Wallace, Robert, Smith, J. Campbell
Language: English
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  GEORGE BUCHANAN



  FAMOUS SCOTS SERIES


_The following Volumes are now ready:--_

    THOMAS CARLYLE. By HECTOR C. MACPHERSON.
    ALLAN RAMSAY. By OLIPHANT SMEATON.
    HUGH MILLER. By W. KEITH LEASK.
    JOHN KNOX. By A. TAYLOR INNES.
    ROBERT BURNS. By GABRIEL SETOUN.
    THE BALLADISTS. By JOHN GEDDIE.
    RICHARD CAMERON. By Professor HERKLESS.
    SIR JAMES Y. SIMPSON. By EVE BLANTYRE SIMPSON.
    THOMAS CHALMERS. By Professor W. GARDEN BLAIKIE.
    JAMES BOSWELL. By W. KEITH LEASK.
    TOBIAS SMOLLETT. By OLIPHANT SMEATON.
    FLETCHER OF SALTOUN. By G. W. T. OMOND.
    THE BLACKWOOD GROUP. By Sir GEORGE DOUGLAS.
    NORMAN MACLEOD. By JOHN WELLWOOD.
    SIR WALTER SCOTT. By Professor SAINTSBURY.
    KIRKCALDY OF GRANGE. By LOUIS A. BARBÉ.
    ROBERT FERGUSSON. By A. B. GROSART.
    JAMES THOMSON. By WILLIAM BAYNE.
    MUNGO PARK. By T. BANKS MACLACHLAN.
    DAVID HUME. By Professor CALDERWOOD.
    WILLIAM DUNBAR. By OLIPHANT SMEATON.
    SIR WILLIAM WALLACE. By Professor MURISON.
    ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON. By MARGARET MOYES BLACK.
    THOMAS REID. By Professor CAMPBELL FRASER.
    POLLOK AND AYTOUN. By ROSALINE MASSON.
    ADAM SMITH. By HECTOR C. MACPHERSON.
    ANDREW MELVILLE. By WILLIAM MORISON.
    JAMES FREDERICK FERRIER. By E. S. HALDANE.
    KING ROBERT THE BRUCE. By A. F. MURISON.
    JAMES HOGG. By Sir GEORGE DOUGLAS.
    THOMAS CAMPBELL. By J. CUTHBERT HADDEN.
    GEORGE BUCHANAN. By ROBERT WALLACE. Completed by J. CAMPBELL SMITH.



[Illustration]

  GEORGE BUCHANAN

  BY ROBERT WALLACE
  COMPLETED BY J CAMPBELL SMITH

  FAMOUS SCOTS SERIES

  PUBLISHED BY
  OLIPHANT ANDERSON & FERRIER
  EDINBURGH AND LONDON



The designs and ornaments of this volume are by Mr. Joseph Brown, and
the printing from the press of Messrs. T. and A. Constable, Edinburgh.



PREFACE


The concluding chapter of the book I intended to serve the purpose of
prologue and epilogue, but on reflection I find that readers both in
and out of Scotland may desire to be told a little more about Robert
Wallace, M.A., D.D., and M.P., a collocation of titles of honour, so
far as I know, unexampled. He was a minister of the Church of Scotland
from the summer of 1857 to the autumn of 1876; was in succession the
minister of Newton-on-Ayr, of Trinity College Church, Edinburgh,
and of Old Greyfriars’, Edinburgh, in which last he succeeded Dr.
Robert Lee, as also in the leadership of the Liberal Party of the
Church of Scotland. The degree of D.D. was conferred upon him by the
University of Glasgow, pretty much, it was believed, through the
influence of Dr. Caird, the most eloquent preacher and one of the most
profound theologians of our day. After Dr. Wallace became editor of
the _Scotsman_ he resigned his chair of Church History, his church,
and even his licence to preach, and he left in abeyance the title of
D.D., and became in his time, as a barrister-at-law, plain Mr. Robert
Wallace. But the degree of a university is, I believe, indelible, and
he will always be Dr. Wallace to me. His degree of M.A., like mine, was
conferred by the University of St. Andrews in April 1853 after four
years’ study, during which we attended simultaneously every Humanity
class. He was first in every literary class, and by far the best
classical scholar of my day. Dr. Alexander, the venerable professor of
Greek, who had taught for thirty years, pronounced him the best student
he had ever taught.

His splendid classical attainments, the erudition necessary to the
chair of Church History, his extensive and distinguished practice as a
debating gladiator in Church Courts, especially the General Assembly,
perhaps even his experience in the solid, stolid, non-mercurial House
of Commons, all fitted him, as few men have been fit, to do justice to
the life, labours, and supreme European culture of George Buchanan.

To equal fitness I do not pretend. To the best of my ability I have
tried to complete the unfinished task of my friend, with whom I at
intervals interchanged ideas since the beginning of our college
career in October 1849. I am not sure he would have agreed with all I
say in the last chapter. For the views expressed therein I alone am
responsible.

From one error in fact and a doubtful assumption as to Buchanan’s
relation to Montaigne, the ‘representative’ sceptic, I have been
saved by Dr. P. Hume Brown, the author of the best life of Buchanan,
whose knowledge of the history of Buchanan and his contemporaries is
probably unrivalled. He read the proof-sheets, and for his friendly,
disinterested attention Dr. Wallace’s representatives and I are greatly
obliged to him, as all readers ought to be, for they have the assurance
that the most enlightened eye on the subject of Buchanan examined what
they are expected to believe.

                                    J. CAMPBELL SMITH.

  DUNDEE, _December 1899_.



CONTENTS


      CHAPTER I
                                               PAGE
  PRELIMINARY AND GENERAL                        9


      CHAPTER II
  CHARACTERISTICS                               26


      CHAPTER III
  CHARACTERISTICS (_continued_)                 48


      CHAPTER IV
  FURTHER CHARACTERISTICS                       66


      CHAPTER V
  BUCHANAN AND CALVINISM                        89


      CHAPTER VI
  BIOGRAPHICAL FACTS                           111


  EPILOGISTIC                                  138


  INDEX                                        147



GEORGE BUCHANAN



CHAPTER I

PRELIMINARY AND GENERAL


On the 21st July 1683, Lord William Russell was beheaded in Lincoln’s
Inn Fields, because Charles II., F.D., who never said a foolish
thing, and never did a wise one, thought it would help to keep alive
the Stuart doctrine of the Divine right of kings. On the same day,
the political writings of George Buchanan and one John Milton were,
by decree of the learned and loyal University of Oxford, publicly
burned in front of their Schools by the common hangman, because they
were regarded as the most formidable and dangerous defences of the
principles on account of which it had been considered judicious to kill
Lord William Russell, and perhaps also in token that if Buchanan and
Milton had not been dead they might have been burned too, along with
their books. It is comforting to reflect that this same decree was
subsequently burned with the same publicity--and by the same common
hangman, one would hope.

At the time, however, the Oxford transaction, in view of the
sycophancy, obscurantism, and other degrading characteristics of the
then University, was the highest compliment that could have been paid
to Buchanan and Milton, and especially to Buchanan. For Buchanan was
substantially a century before Milton, who, like the rest of the
Roundheads, was inspired by Buchanan’s principles and greatly assisted
by his arguments. Dryden, indeed, declared that Milton stole his
_Defence of the People of England_ from Buchanan’s _De Jure Regni apud
Scotos_; but that was only ‘Glorious John’s’ inglorious way of making
himself controversially disagreeable. Milton put his own genius and
experience into Buchanan’s idea, and produced an essentially original
work. But what although he had not? Milton was fighting a great battle,
and was entitled, or rather bound, to use the best weapons, wherever he
could get them. The anti-plagiarising spirit is often a mere form of
vanity. If the Royal Artillery declined to plagiarise from Armstrong
and Krupp, and insisted on making all their ammunition themselves, I
should tremble for the defence of the country. Not the less, however,
does Buchanan amply merit the title of ‘Father of Liberalism,’ since
the principles which he successfully floated in unpropitious times
undoubtedly produced the two great English, the American, and the first
French Revolutions, with all their continuations and consequences.

Let it be noted that the distinction which Buchanan achieved in
this matter was not merely that of the political philosopher and
thinker. The publication of the _De Jure_, at the time and under
the circumstances in which it appeared, was a blow of the utmost
consequence, delivered in the great politico-theological struggle with
which he was contemporary. It was like one of Knox’s famous sermons,
which were not mere religious meditations, but political events of
the most immense influence, present and future. The Reformation,
particularly in Scotland, was, in its inception and establishment, a
political, quite as much as a religious revolution, of which Buchanan
was not simply an interested but recluse critic and dilettante
spectator. He thought profoundly about what he saw going on, but he
also threw his thoughts into the fight that was raging round him, with
bombshell results, and the effects of what he thought and did upon the
fortunes of the great struggle for popular liberty against usurping
ascendency--a struggle not even yet concluded--prove him to have
possessed qualities of far-sightedness and statesmanship of the highest
order.

In a totally different walk of life he achieved almost equal
distinction. He was a great scholar-poet and general writer; and when,
in this connection, I use the words ‘almost equal,’ I am thinking
of the question whether the director of human affairs or the artist
in words and ideas of beauty or human interest is the greater. Of
course, comparison of things or people generically distinct is scarcely
possible. You can hardly compare a snuff-box and a policeman. But it
seems less difficult to ask whether Cæsar or Shakespeare, Alfred the
Great or Alfred Tennyson, was the greater man. However that may be,
there can be no doubt that Buchanan rose to very great eminence as an
intellectual artist, both in prose and verse. He enjoyed an unsurpassed
European reputation among the Renaissance magnates of his day. Henri
Estienne, for instance,--Buchanan’s Stephanus, our Stephens--said
that he was _poetarum nostri sæculi facile princeps_, meaning thereby
‘easily the first poet of our time,’ which is sufficiently strong. Of
course it may be said that Estienne or Stephens was only a printer.
But there are printers _and_ printers, and Stephanus belonged to the
second class. Anybody who knows anything about the literary history of
the time will understand that such praise from Estienne implied a very
great deal.

Then there were the Scaligers, Julius Cæsar _père_, and Joseph
_fils_, a greater man than his father, in the opinion of the best
judges--himself included, probably. They were not men easy to please,
the Scaligers. Even Erasmus was not good enough for Julius Cæsar, who
used language truly awful about the glory of the priesthood and the
shame. As for Joseph, there was but one man alive in his own line
for whom he had a vestige of respect, and that was Casaubon; and
he told him so, intimating that he might think a good deal of the
compliment, as he, Joseph, was the only man in Europe who was capable
of forming an opinion about him--a perfectly true if not absolutely
humble observation. But however difficult to please in most cases,
the Scaligers had a sincere and unbounded admiration of Buchanan--an
admiration abundantly shown while he lived, and when he was gone,
expressed, especially by the younger Scaliger, with a tenderness and
beauty which stamp the tribute with authority and value. His epitaphium
on Buchanan concluded thus:--

    ‘Namque ad supremum perducta Poetica culmen
      In te stat, nec quo progrediatur habet.
    Imperii fuerat Romani Scotia limes;
      Romani eloquii Scotia finis erit.’

Anybody with a fair understanding of Latin and a full understanding
of epigram, who reads the last couplet here, will know that Scaliger
was perfectly qualified to pronounce a judgment in the matter. For the
benefit of the man in the street, it may be stated that what Scaliger
was driving at was that Buchanan had brought poetry to a pitch of
perfection beyond which it could not go; and that as Scotland had in
the past been the last line of expansion for the Roman Empire, so in
the future it would, in the person of Buchanan, be found to have given
the highest note of Roman eloquence. Of course it may be said that this
was only the customary and privileged lie of the epitaph; but that it
was really Scaliger’s deliberate opinion appears from a well-known
quotation from his table-talk, that ‘in Latin poetry Buchanan stands
alone in Europe, and leaves everybody else behind.’ Coming to more
modern times, it will probably be admitted that Wordsworth knew good
poetry when he saw it, and he says of one of Buchanan’s poems--by no
means his best--that it was equal in sentiment, if not in elegance, to
anything in Horace.

This he said before a pedantic relative pointed out a false quantity.
What he would have felt had he known this before he read the poem,
Schoolmaster only knows. What the latter potentate would have done
we may partly surmise from what Porson actually did when some one
got him to commence reading Buchanan’s poetry and he stumbled up
against a false quantity, or what he regarded as such. He at once
got up and pitched the volume across the room in disgust, probably
with an accompaniment of expressions not loud but deep. Regarding
which behaviour, two remarks seem natural. The first is that possibly
Buchanan was right and Porson wrong. At Eton, as is well known, Porson
was a poor quantitarian, and fell behind in consequence. He may have
made up his leeway afterwards, but not likely, and certainly his line
of scholarship was not in the direction of Latin Prosody.

But suppose Buchanan were wrong, what then? Is Shakespeare to be
flung into the corner because many of his lines will not scan? An
indignant critic of the _Agamemnon_ has discovered, what I believe
is the fact, that in that play Æschylus has violated Dawes’s canon.
Yet everybody that can reads the _Agamemnon_. Dr. Johnson points out
that Milton uses the hideous solecism _vapulandum_. Only think of
it! And yet we read _Paradise Lost_. Perhaps Porson did too, knowing
nothing of _vapulandum_! Johnson was no such stickler, for he read
and enjoyed Milton, _vapulandum_ notwithstanding. He had also the
highest opinion of Buchanan, both as a Latinist and as ‘a great
poetical genius,’ and his authority on such matters, being both poet
and critic himself, is much greater than Porson’s, great though the
latter was in his own department of research. Hallam is inclined to
qualify the almost universal admiration of Buchanan’s poetry, but
one begins to doubt Hallam’s judgment in this matter when he finds
him preferring Buchanan’s _De Sphæra_ to the rest of his poetry. The
_Sphere_ may contain exquisite isolated passages ‘equal to Virgil,’
as the enthusiastic Guy Patin maintained, but it is not properly a
poem at all. It is really a versified and very lame defence of the
exploded Ptolemaic Astronomy, totally destitute of the human interest
which inspires so much else that Buchanan wrote. On his own field of
history Hallam is more of an authority, and here his admiration of
Buchanan is unstinted and unequivocal. He extols the ‘perspicuity and
power’ of the _History of Scottish Affairs_, recognises the ‘purity’
of its diction, and affirms that few writings of the Latinists are
‘more redolent of the antique air,’ and is almost as emphatic in his
eulogy as Dryden, when the latter says of Buchanan, ‘our isle may
justly boast in him a writer comparable to any of the moderns, and
excelled by few of the ancients.’ Froude might be cited to the same
effect, but enough has been said to establish Buchanan’s fame and power
in the world of letters.

Of course, care must be taken to distinguish the precise character
of Buchanan’s scholarship. He was not a scholar in the sense that
Casaubon, or Porson, or Liddell and Scott were scholars. That is to
say, he was not a classical antiquarian, or philologist, or grammarian,
although he knew antiquities and such philology as was going, and had
refurbished or even made a grammar or two as he went along. But he used
these simply as instruments to his main aim as a scholar, which was to
write as good Latin as Virgil, or Livy, or Horace, or Tacitus. There
is nothing absurd or impossible in such an aim. I have heard ardent
Aberdonians maintain that the late Dr. Melvin of their city wrote
better Latin than Cicero, and, apart from the matter, I am quite ready
to believe it. That Buchanan as good as accomplished his purpose we
have already seen.

And be it remembered that all this cultivation of a Latin style was
not mere dilettante work on his part. He and one Sturm of Strasbourg,
along with other Humanists, had formed the design of making Latin the
vernacular of Europe, and actually believed that it would ultimately
become such. Hence they had a twofold purpose in writing Latin. They
desired to forward this reform of a universal language, and they wished
to be intelligible to a Latin-speaking posterity. I state this on
the authority of Dr. P. Hume Brown, the well-known author of _George
Buchanan, Humanist and Reformer_, and I should not advise any one
rashly to contradict Dr. Brown on any Buchanan matter. He seems to me
to have mastered the entire subject, and to have left very little for
subsequent research to do, unless some lucky ‘find’ of new sources
should occur. I have been able to glean nothing from any quarter that
I have not found already known to Dr. Brown, and recorded by him,
unless it be some such small fact as the presence of Joseph Scaliger in
Edinburgh in 1566, along with his friend Chastaigner, but not expressly
to see Buchanan; and other little things of that sort. I do not pretend
to contribute any fresh Buchanan materials. My object is the humble,
but not, I hope, useless one of boiling down Dr. Brown and the other
scientific biographers, and attempting a brief popular presentation of
what Buchanan was and did.

Another proof of the varied power of Buchanan is found in the storm he
raised as a controversialist, in the still burning question as to the
guilt or innocence of Mary Queen of Scots. In 1571, four years after
the Scottish people had deposed their sovereign, Buchanan published a
pamphlet, or what in these days would probably have taken the shape of
a magazine article, with the title _Detectio Mariæ Reginæ_, i.e. _The
Detection or Exposure of Queen Mary_, or as an editor of to-day would
have been sure to head it, _The Truth about the Queen_. Buchanan’s
object in this publication is to vindicate the Scottish people and
their leaders before the public opinion of Europe for having, after
the murder of Darnley, brought Mary’s career as sovereign to a close,
as being not only a public danger, but a public scandal. That the
vigour of the _brochure_ itself, backed up by Buchanan’s immense
reputation, went far to make Mary an impossible factor in European
politics, is beyond question. To the same extent he made himself the
_bête noire_ of Mary’s friends and apologists, and very brutal and
very black they certainly made him out to be. In more recent times
a school of sentimental historians has arisen, who refuse to see in
Mary either fault or flaw, and recognise in her a sort of spotless
goddess, of irresistible charm, thrown away upon an unworthy age. Not
content with pity--it would be inhuman not to feel it in any case--they
show how true it is that pity is akin to love, and falling victims in
some degree to the spell which ruined the unhappy and love-maddened
Chastelard, they conduct a necessarily Platonic flirtation with their
idol’s romantic and fascinating memory, across the separating interval
of three hundred years. Had Mary been ugly, or even plain, she would
have had fewer champions.

In vituperation of Buchanan they are not a whit behind his contemporary
assailants. Mr. Hosack, for instance, one of the most ingenious of
Mary’s modern defenders, calmly says, ‘Buchanan was without doubt the
most venal and unscrupulous of men.’ His usual way of alluding to the
_Detectio_ is ‘Buchanan’s famous libel,’ varied occasionally by ‘the
highly coloured narrative of Buchanan,’ or ‘the subsequently invented
slanders of Buchanan,’ or ‘the slanderous narrative of Buchanan,’ or
‘the atrocious libel of Buchanan.’ Sir John Skelton, whose treatment
of the subject is distinguished by a literary grace which cannot
be claimed for Mr. Hosack, is on a level with him when he reaches
Buchanan. ‘Buchanan’s atrocious libel’ is common form with the Marians,
and Sir John has it. Perhaps his gentlest reference is when he speaks
of ‘the industrious animosity of the man who had been her pensioner,’
and when he desires to be specially severe, he speaks of ‘grotesque
adventures invented, or at least adapted, by Buchanan, whose virulent
animosities were utterly unscrupulous, and whose clumsy invective was
as bitter as it was pedantic.’ The present is not the place to inquire
into the truth or falsehood of these statements. They are adduced
merely as a tribute to Buchanan’s power. ‘Woe unto you when all men
shall speak well of you,’ does not logically justify the counter
statement, ‘Good for you when all men shall speak ill of you’; but
when a controversialist has been abused by his opponents as Buchanan
has been, it is at least a proof that he has been found a formidable
antagonist, either for his ability or veracity, or both, and that in
the direct ratio of the violence with which they attack him.

One other aspect of Buchanan’s varied power seems to call for some
mention. Up to the middle of this century, a chapbook usually entitled
_The Witty and Entertaining Exploits of George Buchanan_, sometimes
adding _The King’s Jester_, ran through many editions original and
revised, and had a certain vogue all over Scotland among a considerable
class--not the most refined, certainly--of the population. It is an
ignorant, coarse, and indecent production, and can be read only by
the historical student for the purpose of investigating the popular
taste of its time. Its description of Buchanan as the ‘Fule’ instead
of the tutor of King James, and its placing him at the English court
of James, who did not ascend the throne of England until Buchanan
had been twenty-one years dead, are sufficient commentary on its
historical accuracy. At first sight one might imagine that it had been
put together by an enemy of Buchanan, but its brutish zeal in holding
up Buchanan as a desperately clever fellow who was continually turning
the tables and raising the laugh against people who wished to take him
off, and who were generally English, and often English nobles, bishops
or other clergy, show that it was earnest in its admiration according
to its dim and dirty lights.

Buchanan was a humorist, and saw the ludicrous side of existence with
a depth and keenness and enjoyment very different from the barbarian
faculty which produced the ‘merry bourds’ of Knox and certain of his
iconoclastic cronies. Even the prospect of having soon to leave the
world could not make him utterly solemn, although the circumstances
lend a grim aspect to the humour which may make it distasteful to
wooden seriousness. ‘Tell the people who sent you,’ he said to the
macer of the Court of Session, who came to summon him for something
objectionable in some of his writings, ‘tell them I am summoned before
a higher tribunal.’ When good John Davidson called on him and reminded
him of the usual evangelical consolations, he repaid him with some
original causticity _à propos_ of the Romish doctrine of the Mass,
which would no doubt delight that worthy man. He never had much money
at any time, and less than usual at the close; and when, on counting it
up with his attendant, he found that there was not enough to bury him,
he directed it to be given to the poor. But ‘what about the funeral?’
naturally asked the servitor. ‘Well,’ Buchanan said, ‘he was very
indifferent about that,’ as he meditated on the dilemma in which he saw
he was placing the people of Edinburgh, who had not been over kind to
the greatest scholar of the age. ‘If they will not bury me,’ he said,
‘they can let me lie where I am, or throw my body where they like.’
Of course, as he knew, they had to bury him, so he could enjoy his
posthumous triumph of wit; but they had their repartee, denying him a
gravestone for a generation or two.

There is a weird humour in the famous interview between himself on
the one hand and the Melvilles, Andrew and James, on the other, who
had crossed from St. Andrews to Edinburgh to see him shortly before
he passed away. They found him teaching his young attendant his _a b,
ab_. Andrew Melville, amused by the spectacle of the greatest scholar
in Europe engaged in so disproportionate a task, made a suitable
observation. ‘Better this than stealing sheep,’ quoth Buchanan, or
‘than being idill,’ he added, which latter he maintained to be as
bad as the stealing of sheep. Then the conversation wandered to his
_History_, which was by this time in the hands of the printer. The
Melvilles noticed in the proofs the well-known and ugly story of Mary’s
having got Rizzio’s body removed to the tomb of James V. They suggested
that the king might take offence at this reflection on his mother’s
memory, and that the publication might be stopped. ‘Tell me,’ said the
dying historian, ‘if it is true.’ They said they thought so. ‘Then I
will bide his feud, and all his kin’s,’ was the answer. There was, no
doubt, a dash of the heroic in this, but there was a chuckle in it
too, as the speaker reflected that the king who had neglected him, and
whom he had flogged for persistent boyish insolence, according to the
pedagogic fashion of the time, would once more have his pride humbled
at his hands when he was gone.

No story was better known in Scotland than his correction of the king,
and his now unrepeatable sarcasm in reply to the Countess of Mar’s
haughty demand how he, a mere man of learning, could dare to lift his
hand upon the Lord’s anointed. It tickled the popular mind, and along
with other reports of Buchanan’s fun--for it is not to be supposed
that his table-talk with the Scaligers, or even with Knox, was wholly
funereal in character--indeed we know it was not--formed a sort of
Buchanan myth, to which every witling who thought he had invented a
good thing, and wanted to get it listened to by fathering it on a
well-known name--a device not yet extinct--would contribute further
bulk, although not more ornament. In this way an idea of Buchanan as
a man of mirth and facetiousness[1] would take root and spread in the
public consciousness, and as the people could not get at the real
Buchanan for his Latin, they formed a picture of him according to their
own uncivilised conceptions. Hence the chapbooks--a hideous reflection
from a cracked and distorted mirror, but still showing that there was
something to reflect.

Such was Buchanan, political thinker, practical statesman, poet,
scholar, historian, controversialist, humorist, and great in all these
diverse directions--certainly a personality worth knowing in greater
detail.



CHAPTER II

CHARACTERISTICS


Buchanan’s life, like the lives of most people who have done anything
worth speaking of in their time, divides itself roughly into two
sections--the period of preparation, and the period of performance.
What I shall call his period of performance, or at all events chief
performance, was from the time when he finally returned to Scotland,
after an absence abroad, with brief interruptions, of twenty-two years,
and spent the remaining twenty-one years of his life in more or less
intimate occupation with the public affairs of his country. On the
19th of August 1561, Queen Mary, then in her nineteenth year, landed
at Leith, and was escorted to Holyrood by her enthusiastic subjects,
by whom she was also serenaded at night in a style which, as the
queen’s French retinue thought, showed more heart than art. Shortly
before or after this date, Buchanan, now fifty-five years old, also
appeared in Scotland, for his final settlement there. It is a curious
coincidence that these two persons, eminent alike in their widely
divergent spheres, and destined alternately to a literary friendship
that was pleasant to both, and a political antagonism that was fatal
to one of them, should have appeared on the scene of their sympathies
and conflicts practically at the same time. I have said that the
division of Buchanan’s life into a period of preparation and a period
of performance is a rough division. By that I mean that what really
deserves to be called performance could not be absolutely excluded from
the preparation period, and that, to some extent, one stage of the
performance period was often a preparation for the next; but taken with
this qualification, the division is a sufficiently valid one.

It was, for instance, mainly during the preparation or foreign period
that Buchanan wrote those poems which stamped him not only as a man
of wit and poetic genius, but as the first Latin stylist in Europe of
his day. During this period, too, he acquired from classic and other
sources those broad and comprehensive ideas on the leading questions
of the day which made him the thinker and Humanist as contrasted with
the mere cleric or scholastic obscurantist. It was then also that,
through observation on the spot, he was able to comprehend the ‘true
inwardness’ of the struggle that was going forward between the old
order of things and the new, and often give practical advice that
was useful. In this period, too, he completed that thorough study
of the Roman and Protestant controversy which ended in determining
him to identify himself publicly with the Protestant side in the
great conflict that was on foot--in itself no inconsiderable event.
All this was undoubtedly performance of no mean order, but from the
Scottish national point of view, and from the point of view of general
history, on which the special Scottish history exerted so profound an
influence, it was preparatory to the great work he did in his native
land. His Latin and his various Continental activities are forgotten,
but his Scottish work is still memorable. Yet it was because he was
the great Humanist and unequalled Latinist, as well as the thinker and
experienced observer of affairs, that he was able to command the ear
of learned and diplomatic Europe, and through them to make the events
that were happening in his country a factor in the world’s history. His
foreign performance was therefore, in reality, a preparation for his
crowning performance at home. I shall not labour the point of one stage
of his performance being preparatory to another.

Of course I do not mean to say that Buchanan did all this consciously
and systematically; that he deliberately prepared abroad, and then
came and deliberately performed at home. Few men, especially men
of Buchanan’s type, shape their lives on such lines of exact and
exhaustive purpose. I leave out of account the unhappily large class
who foolishly, and even wickedly, throw away their lives, and have
hardly ever tried or desired to make a better of it. I confine myself
to those who do get something out of life for themselves or society,
or both. But I doubt if any, beyond a small minority even of this
class, begin life with a distinct aim at reaching what they end life
by becoming. There is, of course, the famous case of Whittington, who
set himself in cold blood to become Lord Mayor of London. But for
one Whittington there have been centuries of Lord Mayors who never
dreamt of the Mansion House when they started business in the City.
The glory and the turtle came upon them, virtually unsolicited; and
even Whittington would probably not have addressed himself as he did
to his high achievement, had it not been for the unique campanula of
inspiration caught by his ear alone. Probably Napoleon early laid his
plans for attaining the mastership of France, possibly of Europe; but
did Cæsar begin life with a determination to conquer Rome and become
its dictator, or Cromwell with a sketch-plan for cutting off his king’s
head, cashiering his country’s parliament, and making himself Lord
Protector and military despot?

Millionaires are seldom so of set design. They begin, most probably,
by aiming at a competent fortune, but having got that length, the
acquired delight in pulling the strings of an extensive and possibly
adventurous undertaking, and not mere miserly greed, has kept them
at a task which they find they can perform, until the millions roll
in as a justification of their ideas and processes. In politics and
the professions men probably set out with a general aim at the best
position and the most money they can make for themselves; but very few,
I should imagine, of those who have reached the greatest eminence or
prosperity possible to them said in their youth, ‘I mean to be Prime
Minister, or Lord Chancellor, or Archbishop of Canterbury, or President
of the Royal College of Physicians, or of the Royal Academy.’ Buchanan
seems to have belonged to a type of character which does not include
either of the classes of persons just considered. Neither cupidity nor
ambition nor any of the ordinary self-aggrandising motives seems to
have had much, if any, place in his character. Apostrophising Buchanan
in his Funeral Elegy, Joseph Scaliger says:--

    ‘Contemptis opibus, spretis popularibus auris,
    Ventosæque fugax ambitionis, obis.’

 ‘Despising wealth, spurning the mob’s applause, and shunning vain
 ambition, thou passest away.’

This was literally true. Buchanan lived from hand to mouth during the
greater part of his career. But there is no evidence that he ever tried
to make a fortune. He might have prospered in the Church, as Dunbar was
willing to do. But he had ideas of his own on that subject, and neither
gold nor dignities could tempt him to sell his soul.


_Begging Letter-Writer_

He was often ‘hard up,’ but it does not appear to have depressed his
spirits. Indeed, he is never sprightlier, more epigrammatically witty,
or more genially humorous than when he is what some of us might call
‘begging’ from some wealthy friend who could appreciate his genius and
accomplishments. Here, for instance, is a ‘begging letter’ to Queen
Mary, in the days when they were still friends, and read Livy, and
doubtless indulged in fencing-matches of wit together:--

    ‘Do quod adest: opto quod abest tibi: dona darentur
      Aurea, sors animo si foret æqua meo.
    Hoc leve si credis, paribus me ulciscere donis:
      Et quod abest, opta tu mihi: da quod adest.’

Which may be literally, or nearly so, according ‘to the best of my
knowledge and belief,’ as the affidavits say:--

    ‘To you I give what I do have: for you I wish what you
        don’t have:
    Golden, indeed, would be my gifts, were Fortune equal
        to my will.
    If you should chance to think this levity, in equal levities
        have your revenge:
    For me wish you what I don’t have: to me give you
        what you do have.’

Dr. Hume Brown puts it neatly into rhyme thus:--

    ‘I give you what I have: I wish you what you lack:
    And weightier were my gift, were fortune at my back.
    Perchance you think I jest? A like jest then I crave:
    Wish for me what I lack, and give me what you have.’

Take another in the same strain:--

            ‘Ad Jacobum, Moraviæ Comitem.
    ‘Si magis est, ut Christus ait, donare beatum,
      Quam de munifica dona referre manu:
    Aspice quam faveam tibi: sis ut dando beatus,
      Non renuo fieri, te tribuente, miser.’

 ‘To James, Earl of Moray.

 ‘If, as Christ says, it is more blessed to give than to receive gifts
 from a munificent hand, just see what a favour I am doing you: that
 you may be blessed in giving, I am ready to play miserable receiver to
 your happy donor.’

Or, to cite Dr. Brown again:--

    ‘It is more blest, saith Holy Writ, to give than to receive:
    How great, then, is your debt to me, who take whate’er you give!’

With equally humorous familiarity he sends in an application, ‘Ad
Matthæum Leviniæ Comitem, Scotiæ Proregem’ (To Matthew, Earl of Lennox,
Regent of Scotland’). I quote only the concluding couplet:--

    ‘Denique da quidvis, podagram modo deprecor unam:
    Munus erit medicis aptius illa suis.’

That is--

 ‘To be brief, give me whatever you like--only, not your gout. That
 will be a more appropriate fee for the doctors who are trying to cure
 it.’

Or to fall back on Dr. Brown’s translation once more:--

    ‘Since I am poor and you are rich, what happy chance is thine!
    My modest wishes, too, you know--one nugget from your mine!
    Only, whatever be your gift, let it not be your gout:
    _That_, a meet present for your leech, I’d rather go without.’

These are merely samples of many communications, similar in object and
style, which he addressed, at various periods of his life, to quarters
where he thought they would not be ill-taken. As a rule, he supported
himself by ‘regenting’ in colleges, or acting as tutor in royal or
noble families. It was only when he could not make a better of it
that he asked Society, through its most likely magnates, to give him
something ‘to go on with.’ What else could he do? Carlyle’s description
of Thackeray as ‘writing for his life’ could never have applied to
Buchanan. Literature was not yet a profession or ‘bread-study.’ It
was not till next century that Milton got £5 for _Paradise Lost_; and
even Shakespeare made his money less as a writer than as a showman.
The idea of Buchanan or Erasmus--a much more importunate beggar than
Buchanan--going into business, say the wine or the wool trade, would
have been absurd. They would have ruined any house that adopted them
in two or three years, to say nothing of the indecency of allowing
intellectual leaders of high genius to be lost in work which could be
much better done by humbler men. There was nothing else for it, in
Buchanan’s case, but to do as he did.

Of course, in this age of contract and commerce, we are apt to
associate an idea of meanness and pitifulness with the conduct of
Buchanan and Erasmus and others in this matter. Our first feeling is
that nobody should give any other body anything except according to
bargain. Every man should be independent, and if he asks anything
outside a contract, he might as well go bankrupt at once. He must
clearly be a weakling, and the weak must go to the wall. The feudal
sentiment, however, amidst which Buchanan lived, was entirely
different, and had a nobler side than ours, although one does not want
feudalism back merely on that account. Kings and lords took everything
to themselves, in the shape of power and possession, that they could
lay their hands on; but it was on the understanding that they were to
make a generous use of what they had appropriated. _Noblesse oblige_
was still a maxim with vitality in it. The right men acknowledged it,
and acted on it; the ruffians, as their manner is, wherever they are
placed in life, ignored it. Patronage was not an act of grace: it was
a duty. It was part of the honourable service to society, by which the
patron’s tenure of his prosperity was conditioned. More particularly
must this duty have been recognised by right-minded possessors of
power and wealth who had felt the influence of the Renaissance, that
mighty and far-reaching effort of the human intellect to assert its
freedom and its varied energies against the narrowing and obscurantist
influences of scholasticism, reduced to its then existing state of
enslavement, often against its better knowledge and attempts at
self-emancipation, by Ecclesiastical authority, wielding the weapon of
Papal and Conciliar decree, sanctioned by fire and faggot.

Then there was still the tradition of hospitality which the Old Church,
with all its faults, had kept up. In these contractual days of ours,
there is very little hospitality, as it was defined by the Author of
Christianity. A modern dinner is generally a meeting of creditors,
or a combination of clever or stupid epicureans, the better to amuse
or otherwise enjoy themselves, according to their tastes in meat
and drink, or even conversation. It is often a case of undisguised
‘treating’ on the part of the so-called host, who wants to use his
so-called guests for a purpose, and whose performance might very
appropriately go into a schedule to some of the Bribery and Corruption
Acts. But in the days of the Old Church, a wandering or needy scholar
would have been welcomed at many, if not all, of the religious houses,
and treated on a very different footing from our applicants for relief
at the casual wards of one of our workhouses, probably the only
institution resembling Christian hospitality authorised by modern
organised society.

This latter may be a better arrangement, for anything I know to the
contrary. All I say is that it is different from what was recognised
in Buchanan’s day. It would never occur to Buchanan that he was doing
anything inconsistent with self-respect in putting his position
before people like Queen Mary, or Moray, or Lennox, and asking their
temporary aid or a permanent office. They had taken over the wealth
of the religious houses; did not their hospitalities pass with it?
They had divided up the country among themselves and others; were
they not honourably bound to see that a great civilising force like
Buchanan was not extinguished? Besides, he understood his own value.
A man is not six feet six inches high without being aware of it. He
knew what he was, and what he had made himself, and what he was worth,
and that he was giving as good as he was getting, or likely to get.
In those days a great master of the New Learning was an object of the
highest admiration, as a sort of intellectual Magician. Moreover, he
was a power, in as far as he was a leader of contemporary thought and
learning.

In these respects Buchanan was an invaluable acquisition to persons
like Mary, or Moray, or Lennox, or Knox, who must have winked at a good
deal in Buchanan, which he would not have stood in a less potent ally.
In his prime, and even until his death, no one had an equal command
over the universal ear of cultured Europe. To the rulers of his time he
was worth what, say, fifty friendly editors of newspapers--including
the _Times_ and all the sixpenny weeklies, as far as they are worth
anything would be to a politician of to-day. To Queen Mary especially,
with her refined intellectual tastes and her ambition to be a figure
in the world, it was no small matter to have the greatest and most
brilliant scholar-poet of the day as a part of her court, whether
he read Livy and exchanged wit with herself, or officiated as her
poet-laureate on great occasions. As a mere ornament he was worth a
considerable fraction of her best diamond necklace.

I am dwelling on this point because it will save time and trouble
afterwards, and accordingly I ask further if Edie Ochiltree, in later
times, and in a less feudalistic state of public sentiment, could
beg round the district, without loss of respect, on the strength of
his badge and uniform, testifying to past good service in his time
and station, why should not an eminent public servant like Buchanan,
in a totally different state of general feeling on such matters, ask
society, through representatives of it who, he knew, should not and
would not treat him roughly, to help him in prosecuting his shining
and useful career? He had done a good work on the High Street of the
World. He had sung it a song or played it a melody such as it would
hear nowhere else. Was he not entitled to send round his hat among the
listeners? Is it not what is done by every book-writer of to-day,
who, when the last page is finished, sends out a confederate in the
shape of a publisher to canvass the public--for a consideration--with
the book in one hand and the hat in the other? Is it not what is done,
_inter alia_, by every Parliamentary lawyer, who goes into the House of
Commons to grind his axe, when the fitting occasion arises, and he says
to his party leader, ‘I have fought two general elections for you. I
have spoken for you unnumbered times in the House and on the platform.
I have voted for you, up hill and down dale, through thick and thin,
right or wrong, and now I will trouble you for that Chancellorship, or
that Chief-Justiceship, or that Attorney-Generalship, or that Puisne
or County Court Judgeship that has just fallen vacant’? Except that
Buchanan and his work were not shams, but realities, the cases are the
same.

Buchanan’s enemies say that in accepting maintenance or preferment he
sold his independence to the donors, and when it is answered that he
showed anything but want of independence in the case of Queen Mary and
others, whom he subsequently came to oppose in the public interest,
they tack about and accuse him of the basest ingratitude--in biting
the hand that fed him, as they put it. It is as if in these days Sir
Gorgias Midas, M.P., were to say to some editor who had noticed a
speech of his unfavourably, ‘Ungrateful scribbler, have I not, over
and over again, dined you and wined you with the best that larder and
cellar can produce, and do you now turn and rend me?’ There have been
editors who would have answered, ‘Presumptuous moneybag, I suppose
I paid fully for my dinner with my company, and I am perfectly free
to criticise you as you deserve.’ Buchanan stood equally free in his
relations to his patrons. From the personal point of view, whether his
connection were regarded as an ornament, a pleasure, or a utility,
his alliance was worth his subsidy. From the public point of view it
was their duty, as trustees for the public property and progress, to
maintain a great civiliser like Buchanan in a position where his powers
had scope, while it was Buchanan’s privilege and duty to exercise his
creative and critical capacities in the public interest without fear
or favour. And this, as will be seen, is what Buchanan substantially
did. Knox and Melville repeatedly reminded Queen Mary and King James
that there was another kingdom in the realm besides theirs--the kingdom
of Christ, to wit--and suggested, or rather demanded, that their
Majesties should not meddle with officials of this spiritual kingdom
like themselves, the said Knox and Melville. This claim they rested
on a supernatural, and therefore disputable, basis. But there could be
nothing disputable about the ground Buchanan stood on. He too was a
potentate--of the intellect; a king of thought, learning, and poetic
might, and in that dominion, when it was necessary, bore himself with
a courage and independence that have not always been successfully
reproduced by his successors, when confronted with the monarchies and
lordships of material power and glory.


_No Notoriety Hunter_

This discussion arose in our endeavour to determine Buchanan’s
character so far as money-making was concerned. He was no money-maker.
_Contemptis opibus_--‘despising wealth’--is, as we have seen, Joseph
Scaliger’s account of him, meaning thereby that personally he did
not care for more money than would maintain the much other than
money-making career which he liked, and had set his heart on, keeping
himself independent by the labour of a scholar, but not hesitating
to ask payment, when he wanted it, from a society that was morally
indebted to him. His indifference, however, to wealth as a life-object
must not be confounded with the counsel of the ascetic preacher who
urges his hearers to forget the present world in thoughts of the
world to come, and wins, perhaps, a better living by an eloquent and
pessimistic sermon on the text which says that ‘the love of money is
the root of all evil.’ There is nothing to show that Buchanan did not
hold, with all sensible people, that there is a sense in which the
love of money is the root of all good, inasmuch as it is the men of
strong cupidity who organise industry and commerce, thereby laying
that foundation of material wealth without which there can be no
superstructure of leisured thought, learning, or art, acting, it may
be, only as the dray-horses of civilisation--some of them, of course,
are a good deal more--but worthy of all the corn they consume, although
were one desirous of exchanging ideas, it would not be to their
sumptuous stables that he would resort.

Neither does he appear to have set his heart upon the ordinary
objects of ambition, in the shape of fame or power. ‘Dear is fame to
the rhyming tribe.’ ‘That dearest wish of every poetic bosom--to be
distinguished,’ said Burns in his preface to the first edition of his
poems, and he, if any one, was entitled to speak. But in the same
preface he also says that to amuse himself amidst toil, to transcribe
the feelings in his own breast, to find some counterpoise to the
struggles of a world alien and uncouth to the poetic mind--‘these
were his motives for courting the Muses, and in these he found Poetry
to be its own reward.’ In other words, the poet may desire fame and
distinction for what he has done, yet it need not have been the desire
of fame and distinction that made him do it. Buchanan seems to have
been even more self-controlled or more indifferent than this account
of matters might imply. His numerous efforts had won him the highest
reputation, but he had taken no pains to advertise himself. He had
handed his productions here and there to friends who wished to see
them, and it was only the solicitation of those friends that prevented
his consigning to everlasting obscurity some of the brightest things
he, or indeed any one else, ever wrote.

His most famous production as a poet, his version of the Hebrew Psalms,
or rather series of poems based upon these, was certainly not written
for fame. Every Humanist of eminence was expected to try his hand upon
the Psalms, and when Buchanan found himself in Portugal under lock and
key, at the instance of the Inquisition, among a set of monks, whom he
hits off as equally good-natured and ignorant, and who had been told
off to instruct him in orthodoxy, he addressed himself to a classic
rendering of the Psalms with the double purpose of discharging his duty
by his Humanistic Vocation, and doing something that might redeem his
time and his temper from the boredom of the uncongenial society amidst
which misfortune had placed him. There does not seem in all this much
of that passionate desire of distinction to which Burns confesses. It
is said, however, that fame was his object in commencing and carrying
on his poem on the _Sphere_, which was undoubtedly planned on an
elaborate and extensive scale. If fame was his desire, it was not a
very consuming one, for he was five-and-twenty years at least over it,
and left it unfinished at last, although goaded by friends to hasten
its production.

What does he say on the matter himself? Writing to Tycho Brahe in
1576, six years before his death, and more than twenty after he began
to work at the _Sphere_, he says that bad health had compelled him,
_spem scribendi carminis in posterum penitus abjicere_,--‘completely
to abandon the hope of writing a poem for posterity.’ Three years
afterwards, writing to a literary friend in England, who, like many
others, kept dunning him for his promised books, and even for ‘copy,’
he says, with respect to his ‘astronomical’ aims in poetry, he had not
so much voluntarily abandoned them, as been obliged reluctantly to
submit to the deprivation of them; _neque enim aut nunc libet nugari,
aut si maxime vellem per ætatem licet. Accessit eo historiæ scribendæ
labor_,--‘for neither am I now greatly disposed for mere trifling,
nor, were I never so much disposed, will my years allow it. Then in
addition to my other difficulties there is the labour of writing my
_History_’; the plain meaning being that as his years forbade him
to do both the _History_ and the _Sphere_, he elected to go on with
the _History_ and give up the _Sphere_, as a form of _nugari_ or
‘dilettantism.’

All this does not look very like a burning eagerness for posthumous
fame, at all events of the kind that moves a certain class of people to
leave money for hospitals, or almshouses, or learned foundations, to
perpetuate names that would otherwise never have risen out of obscurity
or escaped oblivion. As a matter of fact, Buchanan knew that he was
celebrated, but no one had a poorer opinion of the work that had won
him reputation than he had himself, not from the modesty of merit,
as the common form carelessly puts it, but from the consciousness of
merit, and because he felt that it was in him to do better. He hated
the idea of having more celebrity than he deserved, and wanted to
produce something that would show he was not an impostor or a quack.
In short, he did not want more fame, but what he thought a better and
honester title to the fame he had. That, however, is not the passion
for fame, but simply self-respect, and an unselfish anxiety for the
good name of those friends who had staked their reputation for taste
and judgment on his ability for turning out the highest class of work.
This is not the love of glory, but something better, although even if
it were, it would not necessarily be either weak or wrong, provided the
subject of it knew what he was doing in giving a rational scope to a
natural impulse, and that he could and would give humanity something
worth the prize of its praise.

Buchanan himself tells us why he gave up the _Sphere_ and took up the
_History_. It was primarily to gratify his friends, who thought that
such a work was a want of the time, more useful and more suitable to
Buchanan’s years than poetry; while he himself assures us, and there is
no reason to doubt his declaration, that he desired to set before his
royal pupil, James VI., the warnings and the encouragements derivable
from the story of his predecessors on the throne, including his own
ill-advised and ill-fated mother. It was no fault of Buchanan’s if
James despised his teacher’s counsel, and, listening to flatterers,
took up with the Divine Right doctrine, by impressing which on his
unhappy son, both through precept and example, he virtually destined
him to jump the life to come from the scaffold of Whitehall.

Buchanan’s friends seem to have tried to tempt him to undertake the
_History_ by representing that no subject was _aut uberius ad laudem,
aut firmius ad memoriæ conservandam diuturnitatem_,--‘better fitted to
win him renown or prolong his memory.’ It is not on the strength of
such hopes, however, that he describes himself as working. It was, by
his own account, only the shame of leaving unfinished a task he had
engaged himself to his friends to perform that made him persevere at a
labour which, he says, _in ætate integra permolestus, nunc vero in hac
meditatione mortis, inter mortalitatis metum, et desinendi pudorem,
non potest non lentus esse et ingratus, quando nec cessare licet, nec
progredi lubet_,--‘would, even in the flower of my age, have been a
burden, but now, in contemplation of my end, what between the dread of
death interrupting me before I am done, and the shame there would be
in abandoning my undertaking, I neither find myself free to stop, nor
feel any pleasure in going on.’ Not much there of glory for himself,
although something of an heroic devotion to the claims of friendship
and the call of duty!



CHAPTER III

CHARACTERISTICS--(_continued_)


_Did not seek power_

Scaliger’s ascription to Buchanan of a spirit superior to the
temptations of wealth and fame seems thus fairly well justified;
but what of his further claim that he was insensible to ambition?
He rose to be the foremost Latin poet and man of letters, or indeed
poet and man of letters of any kind in his day, and to the highest
positions, political, ecclesiastical, educational, in his native land.
Did he reach all this without aiming at it? Did it all come upon him
unsolicited? Substantially, it would seem, that was so. The key to his
plan of life, I believe, is to be found in the beginning of the short
autobiography which he wrote (1580) in the third person, two years
before his death, not from motives of egotism, but at the request
of friends. He is stating how he came to be sent to the University
of Paris when about fourteen, and then he says, _ibi cum studiis
literarum, maxime carminibus scribendis, operam dedisset, partim
naturæ impulsu, partim necessitate (quod hoc unum studiorum genus
adolescentiæ proponebatur)_, etc.,--‘devoting himself there to literary
studies, and chiefly to writing verses, partly from natural impulse
and partly from necessity, that being the only sort of study open to
youthful learners.’

That is really Buchanan in a nutshell. He followed the bent of his
genius, and did not pick and choose his work, but performed, to the
best of his ability, the task placed before him by Destiny. He lived
up to his nature and his Fate, did with his might what his hand found
to do, then took up the next undertaking that came along, and handled
it in the same fashion. He waited upon ‘time and the hour’ rather than
sought to force its hand--a very good way, if not indeed the best way,
to confront life and its problems, for those who are wise enough and
strong enough to do it. He made himself master of the spirit, ideas,
and style of the great writers and thinkers of classic antiquity,
because it was the work that lay nearest to his hand, and because he
liked it--passionately--and could not rest until it was all and easily
his own, and not because he thought he could make it pay, whether in
money or reputation, or both. Except in the case of the unlucky and
unfinished _Sphere_, he did not sit down to compose poetry deliberately
and in cold blood, at the rate of so many scores or hundreds of lines
before breakfast or dinner, as certain ‘poets’ are said to have done,
or do. His best work of this kind was struck out of him like the fire
from the flint, by the demand of the occasion, or the suggestion of
friends, or an inspiration or impulse that came upon him at the moment.

It was the request of James V. (1537) that led to his becoming the
most powerful satirist of his time and country, much above Lyndsay, at
least on a level with Dunbar, and second only to Burns. His ‘Psalms’
were written (1550-51) to kill time while imprisoned in a Portuguese
monastery. His Elegies, Epigrams, Tragedies, Masques, Addresses
(1530-66) were thrown off in answer to the call of the moment and
the circumstances. The _Detectio Reginæ_ (1569-71) was composed at
the desire of the great anti-despotic and reforming party to which
he belonged. The ‘Admonition to the Trew Lordis’ and the ‘Chameleon’
were political tracts for the times designed to stimulate the flagging
zeal of the friends of freedom. The _De Jure_ (1570-79) was inspired
by a present and a foreseen necessity of making Liberty impregnable as
against the reactionaries of Absolutism. The _History_ was undertaken
and completed (1569-82) less for a scientific than for a patriotic and
politico-paideutic purpose, to set his country and its constitution in
a true light before the world, and to help in moulding its future king
into the constitutional ruler of a free people.

He held many appointments, and executed many commissions, not a few of
them of the highest responsibility and dignity, but most of them sought
him, not he them. Lord Cassilis had him for tutor-companion (1532-37).
King James V. engaged him as tutor for one of his children (1538-39).
The King of Portugal employed him to aid in founding and conducting
his College at Coimbra, and did his best, though in vain, to retain
him in his kingdom (1547-52). The famous Maréchal de Brissac chose him
to mould the mind of his son, and sometimes had him at a Council of
War (1555-60). Queen Mary attached him to her Court, and as we have
seen, read Livy with him, and, no doubt, much else (1562). The General
Assembly of the Reformed Church of Scotland chose him, though a layman,
as their Moderator (1567), he having already sat four years as a member
and aided them in drawing up their _First Book of Discipline_. He was
appointed by Regent Moray Principal of St. Leonard’s College, St.
Andrews (1566), to reorganise its curriculum and constitution. He was
selected as Secretary to the Commission sent by the Scots Government to
deal with the high questions at issue between Queens Elizabeth and Mary
(1568-69). The Scots Parliament chose him to the extremely responsible
office of Tutor to the youthful King James VI. (1570), and continued
him in that position nominally until his death (1582). He sat as a
member of the Scots Parliament (1570-78) in virtue of his keepership of
the Privy Seal, and did secretarial work for it, which nobody else was
qualified to do, while at the same time assisting the General Assembly
in revising their Book of ‘Policy.’ This keepership he may have
solicited--he subsequently resigned it--although there is no proof of
that, but all the other appointments came to him, and engaged his best
ability as they passed him in procession.


_Sir James Melville backs Scaliger_

This view of Buchanan’s character and scheme of life is confirmed
by the remarkable and elaborate account of him given, in his own
_Memoirs_, by Sir James Melville of Halhill (1545-1617), a professional
courtier and diplomatist who had served on the Continent in important
missions and affairs, and had been a confidential servant both to
Queen Mary and her son James VI. He is describing the guardians of
the boy-king at Stirling (1570-78), and after having highly eulogised
the Governor, he proceeds: ‘The Laird of Dromwhassel, his Maiestie’s
maister of houshald, was ambitious and greedy, and had gretest
cair how till advance himself and his friendis. The twa abbots
[Cambuskenneth and Dryburgh] were wyse and modest; my Lady Mar was wyse
and schairp, and held [_i.e._ kept] the King in great aw; and sa did
Mester George Buchwhennen. Mester Peter Young[2] was gentiller, and
was laith till offend the King at any tym, and used himself wairily,
as a man that had mynd of his awin weill, be keeping of his Maiestie’s
favour. Bot Mester George was a stoik philosopher, and looked not
far before the hand; a man of notable qualities for his learning and
knawledge in Latin poesie, mekle maid accompt of in other contrees,
plaisant in company, rehersing at all occasions moralities short and
fecfull, whereof he had aboundance, and invented wher he wanted.

‘He was also of gud religion for a poet, bot he was easily abused,
and sa facill that he was led with any company that he hanted for the
tyme, quhilk maid him factious in his auld dayes; for he spak and
wret as they that wer about him for the tym infourmed him. For he was
become sleperie and cairles, and followed in many thingis the vulgair
oppinion, for he was naturally populaire, and extrem vengeable against
any man that had offendit him, quhilk was his gretest fault. For he
wret dispytfull invectives against the Erle of Monteith, for some
particulaires that was between him and the Laird of Buchwhennen; and
became the Erle of Morton’s gret ennemy, for ane hackney of his that
chancit to be tane fra his saru[v]and during the civil troubles, and
was bocht be the Regent; wha had na will to part with the said horse,
he was sa sur of foot and sa easy, that albeit Mester George had oft
tymes requyred him again, he culd not get him, and wher he had bene the
Regentis gret frend of before, he becam his deadly ennemy, and spak
evil of him fra that tym fourth in all places and at all occasions.
Dromwhassel also, because the Regent kepit all the casualtes[3] to
himself, and wald let nathing fall till v[u]thers that wer about the
King, becam also his ennemy, and sa did they all that wer about his
Maiestie.’

Melville was scarcely the man to take the measure of Buchanan on the
more important side of his character, but he may be trusted to have
given an honest view of him according to his lights--which, in some
serious respects, were darkness--as well as of the impression which
Buchanan had made on better judges of remarkable men than was the
worthy Sir James himself. The latter’s preface is a charming piece of
_naïveté_. He tells us that though a courtier he had dealt faithfully
and not flatteringly with ‘princes,’ but had not found it a paying
procedure, and hints that if he had it to do over again, he might
sail on the opposite tack. He had advised the Laird of Carmichael to
do so, who profited greatly by the advice, both for himself and his
friends, but did not show much gratitude to his counsellor, as the
latter complains--rather unreasonably, one would say, since, if you
corrupt a man’s _morale_, you must not be disappointed if he treats
you accordingly. Perhaps Sir James recovers his honest standing by the
honest simplicity with which he confesses his leanings to dishonesty,
like the M. de Bussy whom he quotes as also bewailing, too late, the
honesty of his courtier career, but excusing himself on the ground that
he could not help it, as it was his ‘nature to.’

All the more trustworthy, however, is probably the distinction Sir
James draws between Peter Young and Buchanan. ‘Mester Peter’ was
evidently no Nathanael in his critic’s view, and his subsequent good
fortune, as attested by history, shows that his character had been
accurately enough diagnosed. There is no reason to doubt, accordingly,
that Sir James is equally correct in describing Buchanan as one who
‘looked not far before the hand.’ That is, he was not a calculating
person, and set his duties above his interests; did his work to the
best of his ability, and took his reward if, as, and when it came, but
was really less anxious about securing the reward than about doing the
work as it ought to be done.


_A Faithful Mentor_

His whole connection with James makes this plain. It begins with his
_Genethliacon_ or Birthday Ode, in which, after apostrophising the
infant prince as the hope of all who desired the unity and consequent
tranquillity of the two kingdoms, he addresses the _felices felici
prole parentes_ (‘parents to be felicitated on an offspring born to a
felicitous career’), and under guise of a sketch, in verse of Virgilian
elevation and beauty, of the standard of character up to which they
should train their child, lays down with ‘faithful’ outspokenness the
lines of duty on which their own lives should run, and warns them of
the ruin which neglect of his counsel would bring. It is not, except
in style, a courtly production. Darnley probably could not, but Mary
certainly both could and would see the poet’s drift, and happy would it
have been for both had they avoided the faults against which the poet
directed his pointed admonition.

If James turned out ‘the wisest fool in Christendom,’ the folly was
not the fault of Buchanan, but of James’s nature, and perhaps also
of flatterers of the ‘Mester Peter Young’ order, who scattered tares
among the wheat of the more worthy sower. At all events he made James
a scholar, if the latter made himself a pedant; and this implied, in
the circumstances and the particular case, an exercise of firm and
even stern discipline--of which a famous if not quite elegant instance
has been quoted above,--and which was better fitted to improve the
_morale_ of the pupil than the fortunes of the disciplinarian. As
Melville puts it, Buchanan ‘held the king in awe,’ an awe which James
felt and resented to the last, although, to do him justice, he also
plumed himself on his training by an unrivalled scholar. Three works
remarkable for their political teaching--his _Baptistes_, his _De Jure
Regni_, and his _History_--Buchanan dedicated to James, in prefaces
as remarkable as the works themselves. All three books were mainly,
the second entirely, motived by the idea which Buchanan seems to have
regarded as constituting and directing his true mission in life,
namely, the unspeakable value of liberty, the constant possibility and
deadly evil of tyranny, and the corresponding and always pressing duty
of forestalling this possibility and resisting this evil by abundant
proclamation and practice of the doctrine that legitimate political
sovereignty exists only for the good and by the will of the people--a
principle, of course, entirely subversive of the despotic doctrine
of the Divine right of kings, so prevalent in usurpationist quarters
in that day, and anticipatory of the modern and accepted democratic
‘platform’ of ‘Government of the People, by the People, for the
People.’

This is not the stage at which to describe the books themselves--it
is their prefaces that make them relevant at present,--but a word
to indicate their general character is necessary. The _Baptistes_
was written (1540-41) when Buchanan was comparatively a young man,
thirty-four or thirty-five, and was ‘regenting’ in a great secondary
school or gymnasium at Bordeaux, called the Collège de Guyenne,
organised and presided over by one André de Gouvéa, a famous Portuguese
Humanist and educator of the day. This _Baptistes_ was simply a
dramatic reproduction of the story of John the Baptist and his tragic
end, the _dramatis personæ_ being King Herod, Queen Herodias, the
latter’s dancing daughter, Malchus the high priest, Gamaliel, and
the unlucky John himself. It was composed, Buchanan tells us in the
dedicatory preface and in his autobiography (1574), in accordance with
the rules of the college, and intended by him to win the students, who
acted it, from the silly ‘mysteries’ of the monks to the imitation of
classic antiquity, and the rising study of religion in its original
documents. But there was something more intended. It is scarcely
necessary to read ‘between the lines’ to find a complete condemnation
of absolutist tyranny, and a picture of the misery which it brings on
the tyrant himself as well as on his victims. This was not the kind
of writing to please monarchs of the period. Nevertheless Buchanan
dedicates it (1576) to the boy-king, as ‘having a peculiar appositeness
to his position,’ warning him of ‘the agonisings and wretchedness which
await tyrants, even when they seem to be most flourishing outwardly.’

This lesson, he goes on to say, he thinks ‘not only useful, but
absolutely essential,’ for his royal pupil to learn now, so that he
may ‘early begin to hate’ a fault which ‘he ought always to shun.’
Moreover, he ‘wishes to place it on record, for the information of
posterity, that if the king should in the future, at the instigation
of evil advisers, or by allowing the lust of power to overcome the
principles of his education, act contrary to the warnings now given
him, the blame must be laid, not on his teachers, but on himself, in
not having listened to those who gave him good counsel.’ This was not
the language of flattery; and though James was only ten when he was
thus addressed, the precocity of his intelligence would enable him
to understand its import. He was destined, in a very few years, to
be king in fact as he was now in name, and Buchanan knew that if his
charge turned out other than he was trying to make him--what actually
happened--his own plain speaking would not be to his advantage. Knowing
this, he did his duty, and had his sovereign for his enemy when the
latter got used to being his own master. The fact reveals an elevation
of character in Buchanan which cannot be justly forgotten in judging
of him in other connections. It is not surprising that the agents
in Scotland of Cecil, Queen Elizabeth’s great minister, when on the
look-out for ‘Biencontents,’ as they were called, who might be dealt
with in the way of bribery with a view to forming a strong Elizabethan
party in Scotland, should have secretly reported (1579, King’s age
thirteen) Buchanan as ‘a singular man,’ while of ‘Mester Peter Young’
they say that he was ‘specially well affected, and ready to persuade
the king to be in favour of her majestye.’

Three years after dedicating the _Baptistes_ to James in the style we
have seen, he dedicated the _De Jure_ to him (1579). This was a still
bolder and more independent proceeding. Without entering, for the
present, into the details of its argument, it may be enough to remember
that, with its doctrine of Sovereignty as originating from the People,
existing for their benefit, and not autocratic, but bounded by laws
to which the People have consented, the _De Jure_ must have appeared
to Absolutist and ‘Divine right people’ generally, revolutionary
rubbish of the most pernicious description; and accordingly, in 1584,
when Buchanan had been dead two years, they had it condemned and its
publication and circulation forbidden by express Statute of the Scots
Parliament--the King, of course, assenting, if not inciting; while,
as we have already seen, the University of Oxford, later on, paid it
the compliment of having it publicly burned. Buchanan must have, in a
general way, foreseen the possibility of something like this, and the
risk he ran if the King should, in his riper age, turn upon him and
seek to rend him. This, however, did not deter him from pressing his
democratic treatise on the attention and study of his royal pupil.

He praises him, not in the fulsome and fawning language of the
Dedication literature of the time, but with evident sincerity and
honest, hearty admiration for the brightness of his abilities, his
intellectual interests, his independence of judgment while inquiring
into the truth of things and opinions. He congratulates him, too, on
his present aversion to flattery, that ‘nurse of Tyranny, and deadliest
of plagues to genuine kingship’--_tyrannidis nutricula, et legitimi
regni gravissima pestis_,--and rejoices that he seems ‘instinctively
to detest’--_naturæ quodam instinctu oderis_--‘the courtly solecisms
and barbarisms’--_solæcismos et barbarismos aulicos_--affected by
those self-chosen ‘arbiters of elegance’--_elegantiæ censores_--who
‘spice their conversation’--_velut sermonis condimenta_--with ‘profuse
employment of “Your Majesty,” “Your Lordship,” “Your Illustrious
Highness,” and any other still more sickening title they can
find’--_passim_ MAJESTATES, DOMINATIONES, ILLUSTRITATES, _et si qua
alia magis sunt putida, adspergant_. Was there any latent reference
here to ‘Mester Peter Young’ and his courtier ways? Anyhow, Buchanan
plainly owns that he has doubts and fears for James’s future. He tells
him of the dangers of evil companionship, and invites him to the study
of the essay thus dedicated to him, not only as an instructor that will
show him the right and wrong of the subject, but as a Mentor that may
‘keep at him’ in importunate and even audacious fashion, as it may seem
for the moment. If he is faithful to the principles commended to him,
there will be peace in the present for him and his, and lasting glory
in the future. James subsequently thought he could do better, and
threw off his early training; but, notwithstanding, or in consequence,
he failed alike to achieve a peaceful career or to transmit a glorious
memory. The citation from the chorus in the _Thyestes_ of Seneca--who
also was tutor to a royal failure, although James must, of course, be
admitted to have been a brilliant success compared with Nero--in which
the great but ill-starred Roman delineates the Stoic king, appended to
Buchanan’s dedication, no doubt expresses his own view of what James
might and should have been: beginning with--

    ‘Regem non faciunt opes
    Non vestis Tyriæ color,’ etc.

 ‘It is not wealth nor the purple robe that makes a king,’ etc.

and ending--

    ‘Rex est, qui metuit nihil,
    Rex est, qui cupiet nihil.
    Hoc regnum sibi quisque dat.’

 ‘He is a king who has conquered Fear and Desire. Such a kingship every
 man may give himself, and none else.’

It is in the same spirit that he dedicates his _History_ to the King
(1582, James sixteen). He knows perfectly well how his book is likely
to be taken. Writing (1577) to Sir Thomas Randolph, Queen Elizabeth’s
representative at the Scottish court, and Buchanan’s _quondam_ pupil
at Paris, he says: ‘I am occupiit in wryting of our historie, being
assurit to content few, and to displease many thairthrow.’ Among the
many ‘displeased,’ he could not but foresee that possibly the young
King might be found, on account of the unfavourable view which, in
common with most historians, he felt himself obliged to take of the
character and career of the King’s own mother, Queen Mary. He must
have felt too that, unless James were all the more magnanimous, he
might take deep offence--as he did, death alone saving Buchanan from
criminal proceedings on account of his ‘seditious’ writings--at his now
nominal preceptor’s contention that by the Constitution of Scotland the
monarchy had, as an historical fact as well as by a true philosophy,
been all along a derivative and limited, even very limited, one, and
anything but a divinely authorised Absolutism, as maintained by courtly
authorities. Buchanan, however, prefers to assume that James had enough
of the king and the public man in him to sink private feeling in public
duty and accept truth, however unpleasant; and accordingly he dedicates
his _History_ to him, urging him to follow the example of his good
predecessors and eschew that of the bad ones, and more particularly
commending to his notice and imitation the career of the saintly
David I., the ‘sair saunt for the crown’ of one of his successors and
descendants, as a ruler who, according to his lights--some of which,
however, especially those that led to his profuse and corrupting
liberality to the Church, Buchanan, herein endorsing John Major, his
early St. Andrews ‘regent’ in Logic, emphatically decries--devoted
himself not to pleasure, or the strengthening of his prerogative, but
to what seemed to him to be the true welfare of his people. In all
this, some of Buchanan’s critics have thought him too stern, and that
gentler methods might have won over James to better thoughts. But
truth must always be stern to those who dislike or fear it. Yet those
only are the real friends of these latter who give them the chance of
profiting by it; and in so acting by James, come what might of himself
and his personal fortunes, Buchanan will be thought by most admirers
of a high _morale_ to have stamped himself as a wholly high-minded and
even heroic character.



CHAPTER IV

FURTHER CHARACTERISTICS


_A Stoic Philosopher_

We are now, perhaps, in a better position to face Melville’s further
characterisation of him as a ‘Stoik philosopher, of gud religion for a
poet.’ That Sir James knew something about Stoicism, although perhaps
not very deeply, is shown by his apparent familiarity with the Seneca,
whom he quotes in that remarkable preface of his, although only for a
sarcastic comment upon those foolish political Stoics who, like Sir
James himself, throw away their Stoical honesty upon unappreciative
‘Princes,’ and repent of their Stoicism when too late. That Buchanan
had studied the Stoics goes without saying. He was as familiar with
the metres of Seneca and Boëtius as with those of Horace and Catullus,
and he was not the man--not the pedant or grammarian--to master the
form and style merely of his author without penetrating to his inner
thought. How minutely he had read Cicero appears from his famous
emendation in the second Philippic of _patrem tuum_, passed over by
previous commentators, into _matrem_, subsequently _parentem tuam_--a
case in which even Gibbon would probably have admitted that a vowel,
to say nothing of a diphthong, was vital to truth, and which gave
occasion to Dionysius Lambinus to flay alive a rival Ciceronic editor,
Petrus Victorius by name, for critical larceny, in having feloniously
but silently appropriated, first, the laurels of Buchanan who did the
good deed, and next, those of him, Lambinus, who had the sagacity to
recognise and adopt Buchanan’s great performance. But Buchanan had
doubtless read Cicero’s _De Officiis_ with not less care, and had
gathered from its pages some idea of Stoicism as expounded by Cicero’s
own early tutor, Panætius, probably the most distinguished of Rome’s
then professional teachers of this great ethical system. He must
have come across such a passage as this, where Cicero says: ‘What is
called the _summum bonum_ by the Stoics, to live agreeably to Nature
(_convenienter Naturæ vivere_), has, I conceive, this meaning--always
to conform to virtue; and as to all other things which may be according
to Nature (_secundum naturam_) [_i.e._ other possible _bona_ besides
the _summum_: as gratifications of appetite, propensity, ambition,
etc.], to take them if they should not be repugnant to virtue,’--a
declaration which Butler, with his supremacy of conscience as part
of true Nature, would have accepted, and in substance, indeed, has
explicitly endorsed. Probably, too, he had noticed the habitual
doctrine of Epictetus, ‘this is the great task of life also, to discern
things and divide them, and say, “Outward things are not in my power;
to will is in my power. Where shall I seek the Good, and where the
Evil? Within me--in all that is my own. But of all that is alien to
thee, call nothing good nor evil, nor profitable nor hurtful, nor any
such term as these. What then? should we be careless of such things?
In no wise. For this, again, is a vice in the Will, and thus contrary
to Nature. But be at once careful, because the use of things is not
indifferent, and steadfast and tranquil because the things themselves
are.... And hard it is, indeed, to mingle and reconcile together the
carefulness of one whom outward things affect, with the steadfastness
of him who regards them not. But impossible it is not; and if it is, it
is impossible to be happy.... Take example of dice-players. The numbers
are indifferent, the dice are indifferent. How can I tell what may be
thrown up? But carefully and skilfully to make use of what is thrown,
that is where my proper business begins”’ (Rolleston translation).

This seems to me to describe the general temper and spirit in which
Buchanan confronted the vicissitudes of life. I do not say that in a
Register of Religions like that provided under 6 and 7 Will. IV. c. 85
and amending acts, he would have entered himself as ‘G. B., Stoic.’ For
one thing, he had not the chance, as only one denomination was allowed.
Nor do I think he ever said in his heart, ‘I am a Stoic, and mean to
guide my life by the Stoical system’; but all the same, I believe that
_convenienter naturæ vivere_, interpreted in the Stoical sense, sank
with gradually increasing depth into his moral nature as life went
on, and preserved him from Epicurean timidity, levity, and egotism.
Not that he succeeded perfectly, but he kept trying to. Stoicism did
not, any more than Christianity, maintain that the concrete Stoic was
free from sins, both of omission and commission. Not Socrates, nor
even Diogenes--most misunderstood of men, who attained the high degree
of Cynic--would have been claimed as impeccable, although they came
very near it. It has been said that Buchanan in several ways allowed
the ‘outward things that were not in his power’ get the better of the
‘will’ that was, that he was, for instance, fiery and irritable, for
little other reason, apparently, than that he had Celtic blood in him,
and was bound to be so; that he was disappointed and soured by his
early struggle with poverty, his critics assuming that this must have
been the case, because in his circumstances they would have been so
themselves; that he was a ‘good hater’--as if that were really a fault
at all, etc.

Had he been all that his detractors call him, that would not have
unstoicised him, since, as already said, the system admits that ‘no
mere man is able to keep the commandments, but doth daily break them,’
as the Shorter Catechism puts it in questionable grammar. But his
censors have not sufficiently observed that if he displayed faults
of passion, eagerness, temper, impatience, it was when he was young;
and the fair inference is that if he overcame those tendencies as
life proceeded, it was by a persistent effort of ‘will,’ repelling
the invading influence of the ‘outward.’ By all accounts his age was
not a ‘crabbed age.’ Though plain, and even rustic, in appearance--in
the matter of dress he seems to have carried his superiority to the
‘outward’ to a really unstoical extreme--when he opened his mouth
he was a different being, courtly in manner, refined and elegant in
expression, humorous and entertaining, as well as instructive even to
the verge of ‘edifying,’ in every way a polite and variously pleasant
companion--‘with nothing of the pedagogue about him but the gown,’
said a keen and competent observer, who knew him well. ‘Plaisant in
company,’ says the slightly garrulous Sir James, ‘rehersing at all
occasions moralities short and fecfull, whereof he had aboundance,
and invented wher he wanted’--a combination, in short, of wit,
wisdom, resource, and pith, anything but a picture of the snappish
old curmudgeon, soured and made ill-natured by disappointments which
he had not wisely overcome. His letters, too, of which unfortunately
we possess only a few, reveal the same well-ordered and placid moral
interior: full of the purest friendly devotion, ready always to do
a good turn, especially to merit in obscurity, not insensible to
the difficulties and distresses of life, but rising above them, and
achieving in spite of them not only contentment, but a degree of
light-heartedness. He was long a martyr to gout--a sore affliction, if
sufferers from it may be trusted. But he took it with a smile. Writing
(1577) at seventy-one to his old friend and pupil Randolph, by that
time Postmaster-General to Queen Elizabeth, he tells him that he is
hard at work on his _History_, and adds: ‘The rest of my occupation
is wyth the gout, quhilk holdis me besy both day and nyt. And quhair
ye say ye haif not lang to lyif [live], I traist [trust] to God to go
before you, albeit I be on fut, and ye ryd the _post_.... And thus I
tak my leif [leave] shortly at you now, and my lang leif quhen God
pleasis.’ The fun may not be of a side-splitting character, nor the
seriousness very unctuous, but the man who could encounter the gout
keeping at him night and day in this fashion, must have practised
keeping the ‘outward’ at bay in a considerable variety of situations,
and for a considerable time, and with considerable success.


_Alleged Vindictiveness_

The fastidious Sir James seems to think that Buchanan rather stepped
down from the high ‘Stoik philosopher’ pedestal in being what he
calls ‘extrem vengeable against any man that had offendit him.’ But,
as already suggested, Dr. Johnson, who was a tolerable authority on
the higher morality, would have been rather prejudiced in Buchanan’s
favour on this very account, and would probably have wished to know
Sir James’s evidence for unfavourably meant reflection, and would
certainly have thought that it did not amount to much. It may be
pardoned in an old ex-courtier to think it a dreadful thing to have
written ‘dispytfull invectives against the Erle of Monteith.’ No doubt,
the fact that the subject of the incriminated ‘invectives’ was some
‘particulaires that was between him (the “Erle”) and the Laird of
Buchwhennen,’ would dispose Buchanan to do his best, because blood is
thicker than water, and when Buchanan was at his best on an invective,
it is likely enough that the object of it and his friends might think
it ‘dispytfull,’ if not worse, although unprejudiced people might
find it very good reading. But everything depends on the merits of
the ‘particulaires,’ and of these Sir James tells us nothing. With
every respect to him and his kidney, an ‘Erle’ may be in the wrong
while a ‘Laird’ is in the right, and if that were so in the present
instance, it was the part of a ‘philosopher,’ and especially a ‘Stoik’
one, to take an ‘Erle’ precisely for what he was worth and no more, as
Diogenes, the champion Stoic, in the famous anecdote, whether _vero_ or
_ben trovato_, tells Alexander the Great that, as far as he knew, the
only thing he (the Great) could do for him (the champion) was to stand
out of his light.

Sir James’s other instance of Buchanan’s ‘vengeableness’ is not much
more to the point. Perhaps the story of the requisitioned ‘hackney’
that was ‘sa sur of foot and sa easy’ is not true, and merely an
instance of the baseless gossip that so easily gets into circulation
about distinguished people, and people that are not distinguished as
well. But even if the ‘said horse’ and Melville’s history of it are
facts, most people will be of opinion that Buchanan had grounds of
displeasure. He was deprived of the ‘said horse’--there is no word of
a price, but that is immaterial--for public purposes during the civil
wars. When the public purpose was satisfied, the animal ought to have
been returned to him. In the meantime Morton had ‘bocht’ the beast,
apparently from the requisitioner or his donee, and Morton was not the
man to pay too much for him. But when the morally rightful proprietor
applied to have his own back, and that time after time, he found the
Regent of Scotland standing upon his real or fancied contractual
rights. If Buchanan and Morton were the great friends Melville says
they were, Buchanan was not treated in a friendly manner. It takes
two to make a friendship, and by the proverb it is ‘giff gaff,’ not
giff and no gaff, that creates the connection. ‘Love me, love my
dog,’ is one thing; but love me, and let me love your horse _à la
Morton_, is very much another thing. Loyalty is tested by conduct in
small matters, even more than in great ones, and in the circumstances
stated, it would not have been wonderful if Buchanan’s feeling of
personal liking for Morton, if it ever existed, underwent a change.
It is certain that Buchanan at a particular point ceased to approve
of parts of Morton’s policy, but not for any such trumpery reason as
the one assigned by tattling Sir James. While Knox was alive, there
was a complete solidarity of public action between him and Morton
and Buchanan, to whom the cause of Protestantism meant the cause of
liberty. Their aim was to strengthen the position of Protestantism in
Scotland by the English Alliance, and to strengthen the position of
Elizabeth as fighting the general battle of Protestantism against the
Catholic reaction of the Continent; while, even in spite of Elizabeth
herself, who had an interest in Monarchical Absolutism as well as in
Protestant freedom, they firmly resisted every attempt to restore Mary,
the champion of the old faith and its political tyranny.

With this view Knox, who was a statesman, and not the mere crazy
fanatic and demagogue that he is sometimes mistaken for, winked at
the moral irregularities of Morton, and would even have joined the
General Assembly in making him an ‘Elder,’ if he had not himself,
though quite free from scruples, felt that this would have been
putting on rather too much; while Buchanan gave him every support in
his power, and as internal evidence shows, wrote for him the Memorial
demanded by Elizabeth at the final London Conference, in which the
right of the Scottish nation to depose Mary from her regal office is
defended on the same principles and often in the same language as are
employed in the _Detectio_, the _De Jure_, the _History_, and indeed
all through Buchanan’s writings. After Knox’s death he still pursued
the anti-Marian and pro-Elizabethan policy, but with a difference. To
complete the unity of Scottish and English Protestantism, Morton sought
to reduce the Scottish Church to the same level with the English--that
is, to make it Episcopal and Erastian. When he made this proposal
he was fully aware of the opposition on which he had to reckon; for
although he made very light of the other Presbyterian clergy, and
indeed told some of them who kept boring him beyond endurance that he
might have some of them ‘hanged’ if they did not take care, he knew
that in Knox he met a man who was not afraid of him, or any one, or
anything else, and who was the one man in Scotland who was a stronger
man than himself.

But when Knox was gone, he had the stage to himself, and began to
develop his views, apparently seeking to use Buchanan as a tool for
carrying them into execution. James Melville, in his entertaining
diary, tells us that when Andrew his uncle returned from abroad, Morton
sent Buchanan to him to try whether the influence of an old master
over an old pupil and lifelong friend could not prevail on Andrew
to assist him in more or less Anglicising the ‘Kirk.’ The idea of
getting Andrew Melville to assent to Episcopacy and Erastianism, or any
modification of them, was of course utterly futile and ludicrous. You
might as well have tried to marry fire and water. To Buchanan himself
the proposal would not appear unreasonable in itself. He was not an
ecclesiastic, but a scholar and thinker to whom the struggle between
Presbyterian and Prelate would appear a sectarian squabble, but his
interview with his severely Puritanical pupil undoubtedly convinced
him that Morton’s scheme for turning the Scottish into a branch of the
Anglican church would simply defeat itself. It would rend and desolate
the ecclesiastical life of Scotland--as was too amply proved by the
Scottish history of the seventeenth century,--and paralyse it for
the time as a power in resisting the efforts of the avowed or tacit
Catholic League to crush that element of liberty in the Protestant
revolt, which to Buchanan was its most valuable characteristic.
This, and not ‘the said horse,’ was unquestionably the explanation
of Buchanan’s growing antagonism to Morton. If ‘the said horse’ was
not a myth, it might, taken in conjunction with the abortive Melville
negotiation, lead Buchanan to think that Morton was just a little too
much disposed to convert his friends into useful instruments for his
own purposes--an impression which would be greatly deepened when he
noticed Morton’s great and increasing anxiety to get the young King,
Buchanan’s special charge, into his power, Buchanan’s opposition to
which project, for which Melville (Sir James) expressly vouches,
contributed ultimately to Morton’s downfall.

But that Buchanan, from the alleged ‘hackney’ period, and from
‘hackney’ causes, ‘spak evil’ of Morton ‘in all places and at all
occasions,’ is not only incredible when we remember the high character
and intellectual tastes of the man, but inconsistent with the facts of
the situation. If Buchanan had desired to abuse Morton in a vindictive
spirit, he had the amplest opportunity in his _History_. But what are
the facts? There is not a word of depreciation, but many of praise,
more or less direct. He does full justice to Morton’s great powers and
wise foresight, and in accordance with a rule which he held ought to be
applied to public men, screens his defects. He describes him exactly as
he was, a fearless and skilful military leader, and a sagacious, firm,
and patriotic statesman. He even goes out of his way a little to state
facts in Morton’s favour, recording the energy and self-sacrifice which
he once and again displayed in rising from a sick-bed of very serious
prostration and redeeming a dangerous crisis to which he knew no one
else was equal, and in relating the last negotiations which Morton
conducted with Elizabeth and her council pays a due compliment to his
diplomatic dexterity and merit. Detractors have said that he stopped
in his _History_ when on the threshold of Morton’s Regency, because
he did not wish to advertise an adversary. But it was really death,
not animosity, that stayed the narrator’s hand. By a weird prescience,
Buchanan forecast the hour of his exit from time to a nicety, if such
a term may be employed in such a connection. He worked up to within
a month of his death; and then, when asked whether he meant to go on
with his work, he said he had now another work to do; and when further
asked what that was, he said it was the work of ‘dying,’ to which he
addressed himself in the fashion we have already seen--a fashion not
unworthy of a ‘Stoik philosopher.’


_Not so Facile_

It is of course a pity that we do not possess an account and criticism
of Morton’s singularly able and interesting rule in Scotland by so
original a contemporary observer as Buchanan. That it would, in all
respects, have been favourable, is not likely, for the reasons already
noticed. That it would have been consciously unjust is incredible in
the light of such treatment of Morton by Buchanan as we have, much
of which must have been written after Morton’s violent and unjust
execution. Indeed, one could almost wish to be sure that the ‘hackney’
story was true, as it would show how superior the ‘Stoik philosopher’
can rise to petty and personal considerations when he has to discharge
the high function of narrator and judge of public events. That his
delineation of men and events would have been conspicuously able
is as certain as any such matter can be, notwithstanding good Sir
James’s remark that ‘in his auld dayes he was become sleperie and
cairless, and followed in many things the vulgair oppinion, for he was
naturally populaire,’ etc. There is no sign of this alleged falling
off into sleepiness and carelessness in Buchanan’s _History_. The
last chapter is as well thought out and written as the first. You may
think him wrong, but you can have no doubt about the distinctness of
his explanation of the sequence of events and the motives and aims of
historic characters, while the style in no respect falls below the
unsurpassed standard of prose Latinity maintained throughout the entire
work. One grows a little suspicious of Sir James’s judgment when his
reasons for it are considered. Buchanan had come, he says, to ‘follow
in many things the vulgair oppinion, _for_ he was naturally populaire’;
that is to say, he was democratic in spirit. Of course he was. He felt
it to be his mission in life to oppose Regal Absolutism in behalf of
public liberty, and never let slip an opportunity of maintaining that
all sovereignty originated from the people, and was justifiable only as
it subserved their advantage. The courtly Sir James did not like this.
He was a good deal of what Thackeray has immortalised as a ‘Snob.’ He
might very well be called Sir ‘Jeames,’ and when he says Buchanan had
been ‘maid factious,’ we must not forget that the ‘faction’ Sir J.
had in his eye was the ‘faction’ of Liberty against Tyranny, and how
far that can be justly called a faction will be settled by different
critics according to their different tastes.

With his soreness on this point, it is not surprising that he should
describe Buchanan as ‘easily abused, and sa facill that he was led with
any company that he hanted for the tyme,’ and that ‘he spak and wret
as they that were about him for the tym informed him.’ That is to say,
Buchanan did not belong to Sir J.’s ‘set,’ which is not surprising.
The Democratic old scholar and thinker was not likely to sympathise
with the kind of people whom the courtier naturally regarded as the
_élite_ of society and the salt of the earth. Knox and Scaliger, Moray
and Mar, Randolph and Ascham, Melville and Scrymgeour, Beza and Tycho
Brahé, were among his correspondents or intimates; and if Buchanan
thought that ‘information’ derived from persons of that stamp was
_prima facie_ trustworthy, it was no more than the rules of evidence
permitted and justified. It is barely conceivable that they sought to
‘abuse’ him and succeeded, but specific proof of this is necessary in
such a case, and is not forthcoming. That Buchanan was ‘sa facill that
he was led with any company that he hanted for the tyme’ is rendered
utterly incredible by the facts. It is one of the most remarkable
circumstances in Buchanan’s career that he mixed with people of the
most opposite and irreconcilable characters and positions, while
preserving his independence of both. There was, for instance, a time
when he was equally at home with Maitland and Moray, and what is more
wonderful still, with Knox and Mary. On the very same day when he had
been reading Livy and turning verses with Mary at Holyrood, he might
be discussing Calvin and the political situation with Knox in his High
Street house; and what is more, each of them knew it. To my mind this
does not point to ‘facility,’ but to dominancy. The ‘Stoik philosopher’
was quietly their master, because he was his own. He was not moved by
their inter-personal attractions and repulsions, but passionlessly
contemplated them as interesting life-‘forces,’ that he had to take as
they came along, and in his calm judicial presence they bowed their
more vehement heads. That is as probable an explanation as any of a
very striking psychological phenomenon.


‘_Gud Religion_’

‘He was also of gud religion for a poet,’ says Sir James, when
adding the last item to the creditor side of his profit and loss
account of Buchanan’s qualities. ‘Gud religion for a poet’ is good,
and characteristic of the times which said _Ubi tres medici, duo
athei_,--‘Three Physicists,[4] two Atheists.’ Humanists, and still
more Humanist poets, were also suspect, and for the same reason. The
rebellion against Scholasticism, the resuscitation of the old Pagan
spirit in thought and art and science, involved a staggering blow to
Ecclesiastical Faith. Men whose minds were steeped in the literature
of ancient Greece and Rome could not take sympathetically, I will not
say, to Christianity, but to the dogmatic system of the Church, and
even to much of its ethical teaching. ‘Humanity,’ in the sense of ‘the
humanities,’ really meant the antithesis of Divinity. The Renaissance
was a wakening up of the human intellect, an assertion of ‘private
judgment’ in every possible sphere of its exercise, and in innumerable
instances the Humanist created a faith and a code of morals for
himself, although for comfort and convenience he might conceal his
spiritual interior from the view of the ignorant and the unenlightened.
In many an instance he held that there was one law for the men who
understand, and another for the ‘vulgar’ who cannot understand. Popes
and priests were often at heart Humanists of the most ‘advanced’
type, pushing the right of ‘private judgment’ to its furthest limit,
discarding the public creed, and in morals, exercising, in favour of
their appetites, that dispensing power which ‘private judgment,’ the
Pope’s successor in so many awakened intellects, carried over with it,
at all events extensively into practice, while simultaneously a silent
outward conformity with the established system was carefully maintained.

Not that it did not sometimes betray itself. It is a Roman dignitary
who is credited with the famous remark about the profit brought in by
‘this fable of Christ’; and everybody remembers how horrified poor
Luther was in Rome when he heard the priests at Mass saying _panis es,
panis manebis_,--‘bread thou art, and bread thou shalt remain.’ The
open licentiousness of many Church dignitaries of those days is too
notorious for special mention. ‘Private judgment’ may be a primary
human right and a duty owing by reason to itself of the highest order;
but to cast off in its favour an inveterate obedience to authority,
is a psychological problem surrounded with the greatest difficulty
and danger, and unless when under the control of an adequately strong
judgment and will, may cause much wreckage of faith and conduct.
I do not think that Buchanan suffered much in this way--certainly
not so much as many others among the leaders and supporters of the
Reformation; while any damage he sustained was amply compensated
by his gains. Knox and other Reformers--I speak of Scotland--were
driven by the violence of the recoil involved in their assault on the
Catholic and Feudal system into extreme positions, necessarily harmful
to themselves, and bequeathing legacies of disadvantage to their
successors.

They needed, through polemical necessities, an authority equal to that
of Rome, which they had overthrown, and this drove them into placing
Scripture in a position which the speculative and historical criticism
of the last two centuries has made highly uncomfortable for many people
of intelligence, including Broad Churchmen, whom it has driven into
crypto-scepticism, and Evangelicals and Ritualists, whom it has moulded
into wilful believers. Their denunciation and destruction of ‘idolatry’
and every rite ‘not appointed in the Word,’ with the necessity
they lay under of maintaining a high standard of Biblical morality
as a proof that Antinomian licence was not the necessary result of
Justification by Faith, engaged them in a war against Art, Literature,
and Natural Beauty and Pleasure, which, while it stamped the national
consciousness with a grave, deep, and serious habit of regarding life,
which is of the greatest value, produced also an immense amount, not
yet exorcised, of official Pharisaism, popular hypocrisy, and practical
pessimism, with all its miserable consequences. These were unfortunate
results of the great rebellion against authority and claim of ‘private
judgment,’ apparently suggested, in part at least, by self-defence;
while the Nicene and Predestinarian dogmas were put forward with an
emphasis and detail which would not be attempted in the present day,
but were very seasonable in times when immaculate and even strained
orthodoxy was both weapon and armour in a degree that does not prevail
now.

Knox, it must be remembered, did not discourage the belief that he
could predict the future and had a good deal of the ‘second-sight’
in him. He had a powerful political instinct, and he and his chief
associates knew that if they went ‘too far’ in their destructions, the
alarm would be taken, and the life and death struggle in which they
were engaged would for them be lost for ever; and every man of any
depth of thought or feeling is aware that the ‘doctrines of grace,’ in
their inner, perhaps mystical, interpretation, and apart altogether
from the stupendous metaphysical and historical setting assigned
them in systems of Christian dogma, have a consoling, strengthening,
and guiding influence on that vast body of serious, simple, if often
practically powerful natures, to whom Criticism is neither a necessity
nor a possibility. Such a union of accommodation and exaggeration
need not be construed as of set purpose propositional in form, and
deliberate in execution. In the transition from authority to private
judgment initiated by Humanism and the Renaissance generally, special
Reformation exigencies may be conceived as leading to such a union, so
that in thought and action it was only semi-conscious and instinctive,
and there was little time for the minutiæ of introspective scrutiny.
On the ethical side, however, there was no Renaissance loosening among
the mass of the leading Reformers. The value of the controversial
mendacities propagated about the morals of Knox may be judged of by
the fact that the coryphæus of the revilers maintained that he won his
second wife by magic! As a rule they kept the ten commandments, and
especially the seventh, rigidly. They failed a good deal on the new
one of Charity. They preached the ‘Gospel’ with technical accuracy,
but they mostly practised the ‘Law,’ and if Paul had returned among
them, he would probably have re-edited his Epistle to the Romans, with
up-to-date applications, as indeed he might have to do still.



CHAPTER V

BUCHANAN AND CALVINISM


In Buchanan’s case, the revolt from authority seems to have produced
different effects. As regards dogma, it appears to have led him into
an attitude of mind that was mainly negative. He had none of the
‘Evangelical’ fervour which marked the utterances of Knox, Luther,
Calvin though to a less degree, and the Reforming preachers of
Scotland. He never preached, in the popular sense of the word, although
as Principal of St. Leonard’s and ‘doctor in the schools’ he could
easily have had himself ‘called’ and ordained, if he had been animated
by any zeal for the function. He could not have written such letters
as Knox wrote, full of pious sentiment and sympathy, in phraseology
that was absolutely unctuous, to Mrs. Bowes, and Mrs. Locke, and other
women, who leant on him for a sort of semi-priestly or confessorial
guidance. He was a critic, not a sentimentalist. You may read his whole
works through, prose and poetry both, without knowing that he laid
any stress on the Calvinism of the Scottish Church, except on its
destructive side. Indeed, much of his literary work was done before
he openly and formally broke with Rome, which he was in no hurry to
do. He satirises the clergy, especially the monks, and ridicules such
doctrines as those of Indulgences and Transubstantiation, the latter
especially in the _Franciscanus_, where it is stated with a grossness
and extravagance of literalism which would probably be disowned by
the highest order of Catholic dogmatist. As the _Franciscanus_ was
published, after revision and completion, in his Protestant days, this
may have been an addition of the period; but nowhere, in anything he
wrote during the Protestant part of his career, does he emphasise,
or almost even allude to, such doctrines as Justification by Faith,
the Incarnation, the Atonement, Election, and Reprobation, or any of
the positive dogmatic propositions most prominently characteristic of
Scottish Protestantism.


_Not a Zealot_

It is remarkable that in his _History_ he associates the Reformers
less with _Evangelium_ than with _Libertas_. They are the _vindices
libertatis_--‘the champions of liberty’--quite as much or oftener than
the _Evangelii professores_--‘the professors of the Evangel,’--from
which it might seem that for Buchanan, not the least valuable aspect
of Protestantism lay in its being a struggle for liberty--a view in
which a good many other people will be ready to concur. Queen Mary, in
her later years, protesting against Buchanan’s appointment as her son’s
tutor, described him, in writing, as an ‘Atheist’; but that was in the
sense in which Athanasius described Arius as an atheist, and is said to
have seized an opportunity of striking him in the jaw in that capacity,
to show what he thought of it and him. Arius, however, constantly
professed himself a believer in ‘God, the Father Almighty,’ under, of
course, ‘heretical’ modifications; but Athanasius thought that a wrong
God--that is, a God that was not God, according to Athanasius--was no
God, and spoke and acted accordingly. Buchanan was certainly no atheist
in his own sense and intention, which, it must always be remembered,
was essentially of a deep-sea seriousness, although the wavelets of
wit might often dance and gleam on its surface. He manifestly held by
some Almighty Power called by him God, _Deus_, _Numen_, _Providentia_;
but whether this was the God of Mary Stuart, or the anthropomorphic
God of Calvin, or the accommodation to the popular sense of reverence
ascribed by many people, and not without reason, to Carlyle, might form
a subject of discussion.

Bearing on this matter, passing allusion may be made to the Dirge or
_Epicedium_, as he called it, which Buchanan wrote on the death of
Calvin (1564), an event which occurred some three years, more or less,
after Buchanan had publicly become a Protestant, when he was already a
member of the General Assembly, sitting cheek-by-jowl with Knox, and
on the Assembly’s judicial committee; the year when Mary, having been
finally off with the Spanish Don Carlos marriage, was drawing towards
the Catholic Darnley marriage, which Knox, correctly scenting on the
way, was beginning to anathematise by anticipation, he having the
year before fiercely denounced from the High Kirk pulpit the Spanish
alliance as fatal to Scotland, because it was an ‘infidel’ marriage,
and ‘all Papists are infidels,’ said the uncompromising one, in the
true Athanasian vein, on the head of which he had quarrelled with Mary
and Moray also; while all the time Buchanan was, to Knox’s knowledge,
continuing to act as Mary’s Court poet, and possibly meditating on
the ‘Pompa’ or masque for her wedding, and getting on so well with
her that she was arranging for giving him that £500 (Scots) pension
from Crossraguel Abbey, out of which it cost him such excruciating
difficulty to get anything at all, at the same time that he was helping
the General Assembly to revise the _Book of Discipline_, translating
Spanish despatches for the Privy Council, and generally acting as
‘handy man’ on the highest planes all round. This ‘Dirge’ is too long
for quotation: a curious attempt to combine the Pagan spirit and the
Calvinistic theology--spiritual elevation and sarcastic wit in the best
poetic form. ‘Those who believe that there are no _Manes_, _i.e._ no
hereafter, or if they do, live despising Pluto and the trans-Stygian
penalties, may well deplore their coming fate, while they leave
sorrow to surviving friends. But we have no such grief over our lost
Calvin. He has passed beyond the stars, and, filled with a draught of
Deity (_Numinis_), lives in an eternal and nearer enjoyment of “God”
(_Deo_). But Death has not taken all of him from us. We have monuments
of his genius and his fame wherever the Reformed religion has spread.
We have the terror which he struck, and which his name will continue
to strike, into your Popes--your Clements and Pauls, and Juliuses
and Piuses; while we know that the Pontiff tyrant of fire and sword
who appropriated all the functions of the nether kingdom--becoming
a Pluto in empire, a Harpy in his shameful extortions, a Fury in
his martyr-making fire, a Charon in his viaticum (_Charon naulo_),
and a Cerberus in his mitre (_triplici corona Cerberus_)--will have
to appropriate the penalties also of the same lower world, becoming
a Tantalus thirsty amidst waters, a Sisyphus rolling back the
ever-recurring stone, a Prometheus with vultures ceaselessly pecking
at his liver, a Danaid vainly filling her empty bucket, and an Ixion
twisted into a circle on his endless wheel.’

_À propos_ of Calvin’s ‘draught of Deity,’ Buchanan gives in the course
of the poem what seems to be meant for an explanation of the spiritual
work of ‘regeneration,’ which, I am afraid, would not have been so
satisfactory to Mess John Davidson as some others of his efforts to
propitiate that sound divine. As the soul animates the body, otherwise
a mass of clay--_sic animi Deus est animus_--so ‘“God” is the Soul of
the soul,’ and when the _Numinis haustus_, the ‘draught of Deity,’ has
been taken, the soul which before was ‘shrouded in darkness, illusioned
by empty appearance, and grasping at mere shadows of the “right and
good,”’ sees the ‘darkness disappear, the vain “simulacra” cease, the
unveiled face of “truth” reveal itself in light.’ I may be wrong, but
this looks to me more like a Pantheistic theory of ‘illumination’
than the ‘regeneration’ of the Calvinistic creeds! Besides, there is
no word of ‘sin,’ and the change to at least an incipient ‘holiness’
only from ‘_illusion_’ to ‘truth’ (_verum_). If it be said that this
must be assumed, then a new contradiction of Calvinism arises, since
a divine Soul of the soul cannot will evil, and ‘sanctification’ is
thus erroneously made out to be an instantaneous act and not a gradual
process. Altogether, and as it stands, the passage might have been
written by one of those later Stoics, including possibly Aurelius
himself, who seem to have believed in the indwelling Divinity, and that
the souls of good men at death were not immediately reabsorbed into the
All, but lived with ‘God,’ in some cases a thousand years, in others
for ever, or, at all events, until the ‘philosopher’s year’ was over,
and the new cycle began to repeat the history of the old.

But there is one omission which, among various others, seems
remarkable. Of the relics enumerated by Buchanan as left by Calvin,
he passes over the most important of all--Calvin’s own body. He
makes no reference to the resurrection. Yet, on orthodox principles,
Calvin’s glory and beatitude could not be complete until that event.
If Calvin had been writing about Buchanan, instead of _vice versa_,
he would not have forgotten the matter, for he laid great stress upon
it. ‘He alone,’ he says, ‘has made solid progress in the Gospel,
who has acquired the habit of meditating continually on a blessed
resurrection.’ Buchanan’s silence here and on other points that have
been mentioned, and the scantiness, brevity, for the most part simply
Theistic references he makes to matters of faith, are significant.
He clearly was not zealous about most of those doctrines on which
the Reforming preachers placed the greatest emphasis. His training
and wide intellectual illumination must have stood in the way of his
sympathising with the more violent among them, probably not excepting
Knox himself occasionally. In this connection one thinks of another
illustrious son of the Renaissance, Erasmus, Buchanan’s senior by forty
years. After all he had said and done, the Protestants demanded, with
loud reproaches, that he should publicly join their ranks. Erasmus
would not, perhaps could not. The alternate violence and unctuousness
of the Evangelicals repelled him as much as the ignorance, and
worse, of the monks disgusted him. With certain reforms in morals,
constitution, and discipline, he did not see why the old Church should
not be satisfactorily worked on the lines of the traditional doctrine
and ritual. Probably he thought that if a man could reconcile himself
to the Nicene dogmas and their consequences, it was not worth his
pains boggling over Transubstantiation. Although any one may see that
his heart was in many things with the Reform movement, he had never
directly and openly denied any dogma. Apparently he was not prepared in
his own mind to do so.

If a man is asked, ‘Do you deny that Abracadabra is Mesopotamia?’ he
can probably say ‘No’ quite conscientiously; and there can be no doubt
that this attitude of non-denial is widely accepted for positive faith.
The Roman Church, and the Roman Empire before it, were quite willing to
take it so. If a man would hold his peace, they would let him alone.
Erasmus condemned the outbreak of Luther, whose faith in the immense
amount of doctrine he left untouched he perhaps regarded as simply a
huge faculty of taking things for granted, ending in straining at the
gnat and swallowing the camel. For myself, as one of the crowd, I am
glad that with all his blunders and shortcomings, so easy to point out
at this distance, Luther took his own way, and did what he did. Truth
is greater than peace. ‘Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall
make you free,’ is the method of Christianity, unless the Founder of it
is mistaken. The martyrs had faults and weaknesses--say even that they
were mistaken,--but they were men of nobler spirit, and did more for
us and our liberties than the _traditores_, the ‘traitors’ who handed
over their Scriptures to the Prætor rather than face the lions. Up to
a certain point, Buchanan’s attitude seems to have been practically
that of Erasmus. He tells us himself in his _Autobiography_, that while
a student at the University of Paris (1526-29, pp. 20-23) he ‘fell
into the spreading flame of the Lutheran sect.’ Several years later
(1535-38), while resident in Scotland, he wrote some satirical verses
on the Franciscan monks, which the brethren took in high dudgeon, very
much to Buchanan’s astonishment--boys always are astonished that frogs
should object to the pleasant amusement of being stoned,--and gave him
so much annoyance, ending in his having to flee the country for his
life, as to make him, in his own words, ‘more keenly hostile to the
licentiousness of the clergy, and less indisposed to the Lutheran cause
than before.’


_Silent Doubt_

All this time, however, he appears not to have attacked or denied
anything in creed or ritual, although there cannot be a doubt that
he had his own secret doubts. The relentless persecution of the
monkish enemies he had made for himself at last brought him before the
Inquisition (1548) at Coimbra, in Portugal, where he was acting as
‘Regent’ in a college recently founded by the King; but although the
Inquisitors had him through their hands several times, they discovered
nothing against him that could properly be called heretical. He was
said to have eaten flesh in Lent, but everybody did it there, when
they could get it. He was said to have given it as his opinion that on
the Eucharistic controversy Augustine’s opinions were more favourable
to the Lutherans than to the Church; but that was merely literary or
historical criticism, not heresy. Two young gentlemen testified that
Buchanan was not at heart a good Catholic--which was probably true
enough, but was not specific. So they shut him up, as already said,
in a monastery to be taught by monks, who, though good fellows, did
not know anything; and for want of something better to do, Buchanan
made his famous Latin paraphrase of the Psalms. What must his Faith
have been during those years? Manifestly, like that of Erasmus, less
a positive assent than an abstinence from denial. Would he deny
Transubstantiation or the Trinity? No, he was not ready to do anything
of the kind--anyhow, not yet.

It need not be maintained that in all this Buchanan, or Erasmus either,
was merely seeking to save his own skin. He may have thought that it
was best for the order and edification of society to let things alone.
Probably too, by this time, that spirit of Stoicism, which I have shown
reason for believing sank deeper into Buchanan’s nature as time went
on, was beginning to assert itself. And here, in passing may I say
that the common popular image of the Stoic as a gloomy, unbending,
sour, cantankerous, repulsive curmudgeon, is a mistake. There is
nothing in Stoicism to make him so, and as a matter of fact he was
not so. Aurelius was a finished gentleman. Seneca had all the culture
of his time, and was the poet of the day. Boëtius was a polished
courtier. When Buchanan went over to the Reformers, it was the smartest
epigrammatist going who was joining the most advanced party and leaving
the ‘stupid’ party behind. To return. It was a well-known rule of the
Stoics not to quarrel with the popular beliefs, but, if possible, to
utilise them for good, as we see Buchanan does with the Pagan mythology
in his Dirge on Calvin’s death. Socrates, their model wise man,
teaches conformity to the cult of the city where the sage resides; and
everybody will recollect the care with which, as his trial approached,
he arranged that Esculapius should have the cock that was due him.
Probably Esculapius is still receiving a good deal of that class of
poultry. For a long time--indeed until he was fifty-five, the last five
of which he spent in carefully scrutinising and balancing theological
controversies, and examining the whole situation--Buchanan followed the
lines of Erasmus, used the cult of the Roman Esculapius to go on with,
pending eventualities. But when the termination of the Guisian tyranny
in Scotland made it safe for him to return, he had to make up his mind
whether he was to side with the cause of oppression as advocated by the
Church in which he had been born and lived up to now, or that in which,
though unfortunately with certain drawbacks, a battle was being fought
for liberty to express opinions different from those taught by the
Church. Nobody who knew Buchanan could doubt what his choice would be.

The transition would be all the easier that in his new quarters he
would find much less to offend his philosophic reason than in his
old ones; but would there not be an occasional bird to be sacrificed
still? He had been doing it all his Catholic life. Was it completely
over now? That is not likely. But, however that may be, Buchanan was
the least dogmatic and the most tolerant of all the theologically
instructed men who helped to give Protestantism its place in Scotland.
He might have preached had he chosen, but as he shrank from priest’s
orders in the Catholic Church, so he shrank in the Protestant from a
position in which he would be bound to dogmatise. He did not frown upon
Mary’s private Mass, while Knox denounced it as worse than ten thousand
armed opponents. When he narrates the hanging of a priest, according
to statute, for saying Mass a third time, he does not exult, as was
no doubt done by the men of the ‘Congregation,’ and possibly by Knox
himself, when they heard of the happy event. There is nothing about him
of the zeal of the renegade, who often out-Herods Herod in championing
his new faith--a tendency from which Knox was by no means free. In
his _History_ he evidently tries to hold the balance fair between
Catholic and Protestant, and is as just to Mary of Guise as to Moray.
His whole religious career points to a man who thought profoundly and
inquired anxiously after truth, and was careful to give expression to
his feeling of reverence for the mystery of being by outward conformity
with a creed and ritual to which he could more or less reconcile his
reason. Well might James Melville (Rev., not Sir) describe him not
only as a ‘maist learned and wyse,’ but also as a ‘maist godlie’
man, although he himself might have preferred ‘spiritual’ as a more
comprehensive epithet.

It may be objected that men like Buchanan and Erasmus did not act
honestly in remaining silent and conforming members of a system
which they secretly regarded as in many vital respects false, and an
imposture upon the world. Of course, it is to be said for Buchanan that
he did ultimately come out of it; but then, why not sooner? Why did he
not earlier follow the lead of Luther and Calvin and Knox? For one
thing, it must be remembered that even these great heroes of veracity
had probably their reticences. At all events, they have left to us
the legacy of an incompletely performed work. Was their outspokenness
equal to Christ’s? His brought Him to the cross. It seems to be in the
nature of the Ideal that to make an utterly clean breast of it should
be perilous or fatal to its revealer, and the hero of Truth who dies in
his bed has probably made a good many compromises with his conscience
to achieve that result. It is all a matter of degree, a comparison of
the well and the very well, of the bad and the too bad. A good man
is a man who tries to be good, and a bad man is a man who does not
care whether he is bad or good. But man is finite, and there can be
nothing absolute in human life, except perhaps the absolute fool who
thinks there may. Everything depends on the state of the facts. In
these days, for instance, when historical and speculative criticism
has put Scripture and the supernatural in so very different a position
from that assigned to them by the Reformers, there is too good reason
to believe, especially in the light of intra-ecclesiastical demands
for the revision of Confessions and Articles, that many of the clergy
feel extremely uneasy in being pledged to dogmas which they more
or less disbelieve. As they could not speak out without having to
face starvation for those dependent on them, a merciful man might be
disposed to say that while the situation was bad, it was perhaps not
unpardonable, and that the person implicated might still be regarded as
a good and otherwise honestly intentioned man. But if the inner state
of mind should be one of hopeless antagonism to the supernatural, one
would be disposed to say that it was ‘too bad’ to remain, and that
speaking out and coming out, at any cost, was the duty of the position.

Bearing in mind that Buchanan carried his life in his hand, and that
he had never undertaken the function of religious teacher, only a very
heroic person could afford to say that he had not done all he dared,
and that he showed himself deeply in earnest about Truth, when at last
he had the opportunity, and really ‘was of gud religion for a poet,’
and even for a more hopeful character. Buchanan, on the intellectual
side of him, was not merely a poet, but a wit and humorist--a type of
mind not in itself easy to harmonise with being of ‘gud religion.’
Perhaps if the Puritans had not been in so many cases hopelessly
wooden, it might have saved their cause from having so many joints in
its harness open to the shafts of the satirical sharpshooter, but they
would probably not have done so great and grave a work in the world.
Dire, however, are the fruits of an igneous temperament and a ligneous
intellect, and Praise-God Barebones and Co. have done an evil turn to
a good undertaking. The capacity and habit of seeing and enjoying the
ludicrous are a temptation to their possessor to forget that life has
its serious aspect also, and in too many instances this seems to be
forgotten. Hence the presumption is against the laugher until he has
become better known. I recollect once hearing a celebrated preacher
give a highly comical account of his own conversion, and albeit not
given to the frowning mood, I could not help asking myself whether this
could be a serious man; and it was not until I read his life that I saw
he knew that there is a time for everything under the sun, and that he
possessed the secret of assigning its due claim to all views of life.
Buchanan, too, had mastered this power--for it requires an effort of
will, and there must always be an essential difference between the
humorous man’s view of religion, and that of the man who cannot show
his teeth by way of smile, though Nestor swear the jest be laughable.
Buchanan could sparkle when sparkling was in place, but he could also
be depended on when grave or even grim work was in request.


_Renaissance Morals_

Part of the price paid for the enlightenment of the Renaissance
was that in too many instances its breadth of ethical as well as
intellectual outlook was allowed by its possessor to sink into a
practical licentiousness, open or concealed, that corrupted, or even
totally destroyed, the moral and spiritual faculties. I cannot see
proof of any such results in Buchanan’s case. I think he was careful
to secure himself from danger on this side of his temptations. His
bitterest detractors do not raise a whisper against him here. But there
is a section of his poetry which may best be characterised as of the
_Ad Neæram, In Leonoram (Lenam), Ad Gelliam, Ad Briandum Vallium pro
Lena Apologia_ order, which has occasioned misgiving to some of his
friends. One biographer, a very competent authority on this period of
Scottish history, says, somewhat severely, that these pieces ought not
to have been written by the man who wrote _Franciscanus_--a powerful
satire on the vices and hypocrisy of the monks. I must say that, with
every deference to a critic highly worthy of respect, I am not able to
see it. The _Franciscanus_ was essentially an exposure of dishonesty,
not so much of the vices practised under the cowl, as of the shameful
trickery of using the cowl to cloak them. As far as honesty and
consistency go, there is no reason why an honest and consistent man
should not have written every word of these ‘Lena’ sketches. Even from
an artistic point of view they will stand inspection. The subject,
of course, is a revolting one, and so is Dame Quickly--but would any
man of average robustness of mind wish Dame Quickly unwritten? Many
people seem to forget that while the real itself may be unpleasant,
the artistic image of the real may be a delight. We should shrink
from Caliban in the flesh, but Shakespeare throws a charm over him;
Pandemonium is not, I believe, a sweet scene, but Milton’s account of
it is sublime; Falstaff was disreputable, but he makes an admirable
stage figure; a corpse is an unlovely object, but Rembrandt’s
‘Dissectors’ has a fascination.

Probably it was for want of noting this distinction that the late
Principal Shairp, who was a good judge of a certain class of poetry,
lamented that Burns should have written _Holy Willie’s Prayer_ and
the _Jolly Beggars_!--a remark which led Louis Stevenson, in a
compassionating way, to hint that Burns was perhaps too ‘burly’ a
figure for the Principal’s microscope. There is a good deal of this
‘burliness’ in Buchanan’s _Leonoras_, which in point of graphic power
are second only to the _Jolly Beggars_, while their savage and even
hideous realism, contrasting with the elegance of the Latin line,
produce a piquant effect from the mere point of view of art. But I
demur to any suggestion that these or any of Buchanan’s so-called
‘amorous’ poetry are corrupting or intended to be, or that they exhibit
any gloating over the degrading or the degraded on the part of the
writer. From references in them I believe they were satires written for
the warning of ‘college’ youth, and resembled certain passages in the
Book of Proverbs and elsewhere in the Bible, where certain counsels,
highly necessary and practical, are conveyed in language not deficient
either in directness or detail. They could not possibly scandalise
or tempt any one, being written in Latin. Mr. Podsnap and the ‘young
person’ would pass equally scatheless, for they could not read them.
Only men who could construe and scan Horace could understand them, and
these might be trusted to see their true drift. Then the _Ad Gelliam_
verses were merely playful little satires upon ladies who painted,
or wore brass rings and glass gems, which might amuse readers, while
producing no effect, good or evil, upon their subjects. As to the
_Neæra_ series, they are not love-poems at all, but epigrams. There is
no passion, sensuous or otherwise, in them. What show of manufactured
emotion there may be is simply a stage-scaffolding on which to plant
and fire off the epigram. Probably the best known of the series is the
following:--

    ‘Illa mihi semper præsenti dura Neæra,
      Me quoties absum semper abesse dolet;
    Non desiderio nostri, non mœret amore,
      Sed se non nostro posse dolore frui’;

which James Hannay, who was well able to appreciate this class of work,
translated thus:--

    ‘Neæra is harsh at our every greeting,
      Whene’er I am absent, she wants me again;
    ’Tis not that she loves me, or cares for our meeting,
      She misses the pleasure of seeing my pain’;

adding that ‘Ménage used to say that he would have given his best
benefice to have written the lines--and Ménage held some fat ones.’
What anchorite could discover anything exceptionable here, or if he
had any intelligence left, could fail to perceive that it was simply
a case for admiring extreme cleverness of thought and smartness of
phrase? If any one desires to see how Buchanan could appreciate and
address the highest type of womanhood, let him read such verses as the
_Ad Mildredam_ or the _Ad Camillam Morelliam_, and he will see that he
was a man with tenderness in him as well as virility, with grace as
well as severity of speech; and the fact that in his maturer years he
was not ashamed to publish the incriminated poetry, showed that he was
not conscious of anything to be ashamed of, that he knew the poet’s
dominion was conterminous with the whole range of things, and no part
of it whatever exempt from his critical or sympathetic function, while
his fiercest or lightest dealing with the facts of life is in no way
inconsistent with a profound and silent veneration in presence of the
mystery of existence.



CHAPTER VI

BIOGRAPHICAL FACTS


_Earlier and Continental_

Buchanan was born early in February 1506, at Moss or Mid-Leowen, on the
Blane Water, about two miles south-east of Killearn in Stirlingshire,
of a ‘family ancient rather than opulent,’ as he tells us in his
_Autobiography_, so that he was delivered from the peasant or upstart
consciousness which, except in the priesthood, would, in those feudal
times, have handicapped him heavily in the race of life. His real
and Scoto-Irish clan name was Macauslan, but the Macauslan having
acquired the lands of Buchanan in the Lennox, took the name of his
property, and became Buchanan of that Ilk; and thus it came to pass
that our George ranked as a ‘cadet of Buchanan,’ as Hannay was proud
and particular to specify. Ancient lineage, however, is no insurance
against misfortune, and the Buchanans of Moss, never rich, sank into
deep poverty. The father died in George’s youth, and the grandfather
who survived him was a waster and became a bankrupt, and Agnes Heriot,
the mother, was left to struggle with the upbringing of five sons and
three daughters--a task however, which she successfully accomplished,
like the heroine she was, as her most distinguished son gratefully
commemorates. Having never known wealth or luxury, perhaps it was
easier for Buchanan to reconcile himself to their opposites in after
years. In the Lennox they talked Gaelic, and Buchanan picked up that
speech to begin with. He would also learn some Scotch or Northern
English from his mother, who came from Haddingtonshire, and in addition
she was careful to have him sent to the schools in the neighbourhood,
where he could learn the elements of Latin.

For the old Church had not entirely neglected popular education,
as has been shown, in a very interesting way, in Grant’s _Burgh
Schools of Scotland_, and as, indeed, appears on the face of the
Reformers’ _First Book of Discipline_ itself (1560). Most of the
burghs maintained schools, both secondary and elementary, so that
the barons and freeholders who were ordered by the celebrated Act of
James IV. (1494) to keep their heirs at school until they had learned
‘perfyt Latyn’--then the international language of the educated and
of diplomacy--had abundant opportunity of doing so had they chosen,
although unfortunately they too seldom chose; so that the burgh
schools were largely recruiting-grounds for the priesthood. There were
also elementary Church schools, in many cases taught by women, and
private adventure schools; and in these a considerable number of the
children of the poor were taught at least to read. Accordingly, when
it is said that Knox and the Reformers established the Scottish Parish
School system, a little discrimination must be exercised. They did not
invent popular education--they found it; but they did invent, on paper,
in the _First Book of Discipline_, the idea of bringing education to
the people’s doors, by securing that there should be a school wherever
there was a ‘kirk’--that is, practically in every parish; so that ‘the
youth-head and tender children shall be nourished and brought up in
vertue, _in presence of their friends_, by whose good attendance many
inconveniences may be avoyded in which the youth commonly fall, either
by over much libertie which they have in strange and unknowne places,
while they cannot rule themselves; or else for lack of good attendance,
and of such necessaries as their tender age requires.’

So far the _Book of Discipline_, at once recognising an existing
educational system, and suggesting, for reason given, the vital
improvement of its national application! The whole scheme, indeed,
is admirable, including as it does compulsion, the picking out
and, in the case of the poor, supporting the class of youth suited
for the higher kinds of service to society, while the others not so
gifted ‘must be set to some handie craft, or to some other profitable
exercise’--that is, technical education, or some other form of
practical training. I have said ‘on paper,’ but not by way of sneer,
and ought to add in passing, that it was not the fault of Knox and
his associates that it remained to a great extent merely ‘on paper,’
instead of being immediately and effectually established. It was the
fault and the disgrace of a different type of men. Knox, as I have
already said, was a politician, and made dexterous use of the ‘Lords
of the Congregation’ to secure the triumph of Protestantism. But
these ‘Lords of the Congregation’ were politicians also, and made an
equally dexterous use of Knox to fill their own pockets with Church
spoil--I except a few, who were really noble men. They gave little for
parish churches, and nothing that I ever heard of for parish schools.
The whole thing broke poor Knox’s heart. It did not ruffle Buchanan,
although he was probably the greatest educational enthusiast in Europe
at the moment. But he was really a greater intelligence and a calmer
master of himself than Knox, and probably knew that any one who expects
to find more than twenty-five per cent.--if so much--of the race as
existing at any given moment worthy of intellectual or moral respect,
must either have had little experience of life, or possess a very low
standard of human excellence.

Not till 1696 was the plan of the _Book of Discipline_ adumbrated in
legislation, and the successors of the ‘Lords of the Congregation’
bound by law to provide a school-house and a salaried teacher in every
parish. But during the whole of the intervening century and a third,
the Presbyterian clergy never ceased in their efforts, and often their
sacrifices, for popular education, while at the same time fighting
a steady battle for liberty against as mean and cruel a crusade of
Absolutist Monarchy and Ecclesiastical Tyranny as ever was preached
by a ridiculous and pedant Peter against a self-respecting people.
For myself, I fail to find much of the theology of the Covenanters
credible--although I must say I should like if we could hear Knox
and Melville, or even Cameron and Cargill, on the existing state of
things. I think we should get some different guidance from what we
are receiving from those blind leaders of the blind who shiveringly
and stammeringly attempt to fill their places. For it is almost
impossible to appraise too highly the service done by the Covenanters
for the cause of liberty and popular education; and although they had
their very obvious faults, one is always sorry to think that the
aristocratic and Episcopalian prejudices of Scott should have led him
to hold them up to ridicule, while glad that a higher and juster view
was taken by a greater Scotsman even than Scott, when, in answer to a
contemptuous critic of the men of the Covenant, Burns turned on him
with the withering _impromptu_:--

    ‘The Solemn League and Covenant
      Cost Scotland blood--cost Scotland tears--
    But it sealed Freedom’s sacred cause--
      If thou’rt a slave, indulge thy sneers.’[5]

We go back to young George Buchanan (1517-19) at the Catholic local
grammar-school of Killearn or Dumbarton, or wherever else in the
neighbourhood secondary education was to be had. The boy had shown
such aptitude that his uncle, James Heriot, who is said to have been
Justiciar of Lothian, sent him to the University of Paris, then, though
not quite so much as at an earlier date, enjoying the reputation of
the most notable of any seat of learning in existence. Instead of
being required to pass through the preparatory school, he at once began
his studies in the Arts faculty (1520, age fourteen), his Scottish
acquirements having apparently been sufficient to pass him through
whatever entrance examination was imperative. Here he spent about two
years, working mainly at Latin versification, which, as his reputation
for Latin poetry was to be the making of him in after years, was
perhaps the best thing he could do, especially as he liked it. At this
point, as evil fate would have it, his uncle died, and he himself fell
ill. But as he was penniless, he had to struggle home, illness and all,
as best he could, and was not able to move about again for a year or
thereabouts (1523). And then it turned out that a very singular purpose
had entered the mind of the ill or convalescent student of seventeen.

[_Here ends Dr. Wallace’s MS._]


That purpose was to enlist as a volunteer in an army for the invasion
of England, to be led by the Regent Albany, who had supposed wrongs of
his own as well as of the borders to avenge against that old neighbour
and untiring enemy. That army, consisting of French auxiliaries and
Scottish recruits, marched to Melrose and then partly crossed the
Tweed by a wooden bridge, then, holding Flodden in memory, intimated
a mutinous resolution not to cross the border, then marched down the
left bank of the river, and for three days besieged Wark Castle to
little effect, then made a sudden night-march to Lauder in a snowstorm,
‘which told heavily on man and beast,’ and reduced Buchanan to very
bad health for the rest of the winter. Buchanan, when he came to write
his own life in his old age, had come to believe that he joined this
abortive expedition to learn the art of war, which, without intentions
more far-seeing than those of a lad of eighteen, he certainly did, just
as Gibbon was educated to understand the evolution of the phalanx and
the legions, by what he saw, in his two and a half years’ captaincy
of the Hampshire Militia, of the evolutions of a modern battalion.
In the spring of 1525 Buchanan appeared as a ‘pauper student’ at the
University of St. Andrews, doubtless specially well qualified both as
a student and as a ‘pauper’--which epithet ‘pauper,’ however, meant
probably nothing more opprobrious than a youth who required board
and education free, like many a score of St. Andrews students, from
poet Buchanan to poet Fergusson, who about two and a half centuries
later sat at the bursar’s free table and said grace over the too
plentiful college rabbits that were last century procured from the
links that now swarm only with golfers. He was sent there, he tells
in his _Autobiography_, to ‘sit at the feet of John Major,’ the
celebrated logician of that age; but he did not long sit at his feet
as pupil before he felt in a position to criticise his master as a
teacher of sophistry rather than logic. Next summer, having taken
the St. Andrews B.A. degree, he followed or accompanied Major to
Paris, and there passed through two years’ adversity under pressure
of poverty and the suspicion of not being an orthodox Papist. Fortune
relaxed her frown, and he was admitted to the College of Ste. Barbe,
in which he was Professor of Grammar for three years. Meanwhile
Gilbert Kennedy, the young Earl of Cassilis, one of the earliest of
Scottish hero-worshippers, had the insight to appreciate his learning
and genius, and the devotion to adhere to him as friend, pupil, and
protector for five years. In 1533, the tutor dedicated to the pupil his
translation of Linacre’s Grammar, one of the items of work done by him
during his professorship in the College of Ste. Barbe; and in 1558,
after this pupil, who had held a prominent position among Scottish
nobles, died, probably from poison, at Dieppe, on his way home from
the marriage of Mary Stuart to the Dauphin, along with the other three
Scottish commissioners who had attended it, Buchanan celebrated him in
emphatic Latin verse that is now better known than most contemporary
epitaphs. Let it be told, however, to illustrate the cross-threads
that run through the web of life, that Queen Mary, on 9th October
1564, granted to Buchanan, who had been her tutor also, and probably
the most learned and intellectual of all her friends, a pension of
£500 Scots, or £25 sterling a year, from the Abbey of Crossraguel;
that the then Earl of Cassilis, son of Buchanan’s old pupil, claimed
the temporalities of that abbey as his own, and sometimes stopped
temporarily, and often permanently diminished, the pension which
had been granted by the Queen out of the spoils of the Reformation,
tarnishing by pious Protestant greed the brightest page in the history
of the earldom of Cassilis.

After Buchanan’s tutorship of the father of this grasping Protestant
was ended, and Buchanan was proposing to return to his old scholar’s
life in Paris, James V. detained him to act as tutor to one of his
natural sons--not the one known afterwards as the Good Regent, but
James Stewart, Prior of Coldingham. This king, who entertained the
idea that the clergy ought not to disregard the moral law as if
they were royal personages like himself, set Buchanan to the not
uncongenial task, upon which Dunbar and Sir David Lindsay of the Mount
had previously been engaged, of ‘lashing the vices’ of the clergy,
and especially of the monks. In the form of a dream, _Somnium_, he
represented to St. Francis the reasons of a decent man for refusing to
enter this order of sainthood--reasons which, because of their truth,
might satisfy a saint, but which also, because of their truth, would
likely be disagreeable to sanctified hypocrites and scoundrels. Two
palinodes, wearing the aspect of apologies, were seen by those who
understood irony to be rather stinging aggravations of the original
satire. After some months of a mixed tumult of priestly rage and
secular laughter, the royal love of fun and of virtue again prompted
Buchanan to renew the attack, which he did by beginning _Franciscanus_,
not published till 1560, and then dedicated to the Regent Moray and
gradually extended to a thousand Latin lines, which contain the most
polished, skilfully contemptuous exposure of the arts, ignorance, and
vices of the later generations of the Romish clergy in Scotland. It is
still worth reading by all who enjoy rough, boisterous, coarse humour,
as also by all anti-Papist fanatics, even if they should renew their
Latin studies for nine months to enable them to understand and utilise
it. These men, drenched with satire, published and unpublished, whose
craft of various hues was endangered by it, of course thought that it
would be judicious if not just to burn its author. Cardinal Beaton had
him on his list of heretics,--for what heresy could be so dangerous as
disbelief in the solid, well-fed, red-faced exponents of infallible
truth? In 1539 he escaped from prison in Edinburgh[6] when his guards
were asleep. But being warned after the King had received the MS. of
_The Franciscan_ that Beaton had offered this fickle monarch a price
for his head, he felt constrained to bid farewell once more to his
native country. He fled to England, but, as Henry VIII. was then busy
burning all shades of believers that did not suit his personal fancy,
Buchanan thought it prudent to trust his safety and his fortunes once
more to Paris. On arriving there, however, he found that Cardinal
Beaton was there before him as ambassador, so on the invitation of
Andrew Gouvéa he withdrew to Bordeaux. There he taught three years
at least in the public schools, and wrote four tragedies for the
annual exhibitions of these schools, to wit _The Baptist_, _Medea_,
_Jepthes_, and _Alcestis_. In the College of Guyenne he had Gouvéa as
a principal, and as a pupil Montaigne, the celebrated sceptic, who is
dogmatic enough to state in one of his essays that Gouvéa was ‘without
comparison the chiefest rector in France,’ and that he himself had, as
a principal actor, ‘undergone and represented the chiefest parts in the
Latin Tragedies of Buchanan.’ When here, Beaton and the Franciscans
harassed him until that fear was dispelled by the plague raging over
Aquitaine and the death of his fickle patron, the King of Scots.

Next, about 1547, in the wake or under the convoy of Gouvéa, he
migrated to Portugal in response to the invitation of the King to teach
in a resuscitation of the University of Coimbra that was being then
worked out at great expense for education in the liberal arts and the
philosophy of Aristotle. Many of his friends, eminent for learning,
were there before him, and he expected to find peace in that out of
the way corner of the world. But Gouvéa died suddenly, and then all
his enemies ran at him with open mouth. He was thrown into prison,
charged with writing against the Franciscans and eating flesh in Lent.
The Inquisitors tormented themselves and him for six months without
stateable result; and then, thinking it prudent, and perhaps honest,
to conceal that their toil had been in vain, they shut him up in a
monastery to be converted to the true faith or to be prepared for the
fagots. To the great scholar, however, the monks, though ignorant,
behaved not unkindly. They allowed him the truest literary leisure
and quiet he ever had except perhaps in St. Andrews; and he devoted
it to the so-called translation of David’s Psalms into Latin verse,
which are in truth artistic evolutionary expositions from Hebrew
hints, or splendid blossoms of sacred poetry grown from the seed given
by the poet-king of Israel to the winds of heaven, in the moments of
inspiration occurring in a life of suffering, of passion, and of hope.
Never elsewhere did the iron fetters of Buchanan’s own environment
permit him to soar so close to the firmament.

When set at liberty, though the King of Portugal offered him the means
of subsistence, he returned to England. But as affairs were then in
disorder under a young king, he in a short time returned to France
and celebrated the siege of Metz in a Latin poem, not without the
approbation which rewarded all his efforts in that line of composition.
Thereafter the Marshal de Brissac called him to Italy, and he lived
with him and his son in Italy and France for four years till 1560,
spending much time in writing his poem _De Sphæra_, and in study of the
religious controversies then seething through civilised Europe, and
carrying it into a scientific region that rendered a poetic exposition
of the Ptolemaic system a work of futility and utterly misspent power.

In 1561 he returned to his native country, and there indicated his
Rationalistic leanings to the side of Protestantism. Nevertheless,
the non-Protestant Mary Stuart, of ever-living memory in the realm of
history and romance, pursued her studies in Livy and other classics
with his help. As formerly mentioned, she endowed him with a pension
of £500 a year. But in after years Mary’s faults or her misfortunes
threw them into the hostile camps that tore Scotland into confusion
and deadly discord. In regard to the murder of Darnley, he came to the
conclusion, on the evidence of open foes and of professed friends,
that she was guilty. He preferred truth to the beautiful queen, and
it is difficult to comprehend how any man capable of weighing and
scrutinising such evidence as was accessible to him can blame him.[7]

Buchanan has been accused of ingratitude to Mary, his friend as well
as his mistress, divinely gifted and divinely appointed. He may have
been compelled to seem ungrateful through the lying of ill-informed
Reformers and rogues; but sure am I that his Latin and other Humanist
studies with that most fascinating and accomplished of women, or
at least of queens, gave him the opportunity of forming an idea of
her intellectual powers and unsurpassed personal charms that no
other contemporary in Scotland was mentally and morally capable of
forming, and I don’t doubt that this idea finds sincere expression
in his dedication to her of his version or paraphrase of the Psalms
of the Hebrew poet-king, without any hint whatever of kindred royal
frailties, or of tendencies thereto. What Buchanan must have seen in
her when he had the best opportunity of sight and knowledge stands
recorded unalterably in his noble verse that rolls down the centuries,
bearing an impress of insight and sincerity unequalled in the poetical
portraiture of queens till Tennyson laid his dedication at the feet of
the most illustrious and fortunate of all her countless descendants.
A true poet I believe to be a true seer, and incapable of falsehood
to the extent that he has had the chance to see. But a true poet may
be deceived. Spenser and Shakespeare were deceived into uttering
gross flatteries about Queen Elizabeth; but they were deceived by the
dense atmosphere of lying by which one of the cleverest, falsest,
most hateful of women of all history encompassed herself. That Queen
Mary should have been no worse than she was in a world with her royal
cousin and rival flaunting her fictitious moral and physical beauties
at the head of it, and getting prematurely canonised as the Good Queen
Bess, ought certainly to qualify or blot out for ever all that can
be stated truly and justly in condemnation or even grave censure of
Queen Mary. Therefore let the modest and honest muse of History cease
howling and canting about her crimes, and try to refrain from lavishing
eulogy upon her kindred in position and in blood--Henry VIII., the
Royal Bluebeard, and his inconstant, cruel, deceitful daughter--a pair
of monarchs whose fickle affections led so many adventurous wives
and ambitious wooers to the scaffold, by processes that involved the
partial but temporary corruption of their country’s conscience.

The wants and troubles of his country beset Buchanan with many a
call of duty, and cast upon him loads of multifarious work, such as
perhaps never in the history of human-kind before were thrown upon the
most accomplished and studious of living men. The tasks assigned to
Buchanan, and the duties imposed upon him, reflect no inconsiderable
honour and credit upon his lawless, homicidal, half-civilised
countrymen. While still friendly with Queen Mary, he gave effect
to his Reformation convictions, by sitting and working for years,
from 1563 onwards, as a member of the new-born democratic General
Assembly, knowing well enough that it was an institution that the
Queen would have been happy to see strangled, even before it began
to discuss the scandals of Rizzio and Darnley with the plain-spoken
impudence of a rustic kirk-session and the arrogance of an infallible
tribunal. Buchanan was one of the Commissioners that revised the _Book
of Discipline_, and, along with Knox and others, was a member of a
committee appointed to confer regarding the causes that fell, or that
ought to fall, within the jurisdiction of the Kirk. In 1567, a few
days after the beginning of Mary’s imprisonment in Lochleven, Buchanan
filled the chair of the Moderator of the General Assembly, a position
that for generations has not called for the worldly wisdom and terse,
impatient talk of a layman, and seldom, if ever, so much required to be
reminded of the limits of its power and jurisdiction as when Buchanan
sat as its Moderator, and the head of the State was a captive.

In the previous year, Queen Mary’s half-brother, the Earl of Moray,
commendator of the Priory of St. Andrews, and as such patron of the
Principalship of St. Leonard’s College there, appointed Buchanan to
that office, which he held for four years. During these years St.
Leonard’s, which in the first year was studentless, became the best
attended of the three St. Andrews colleges. But the fame of the
‘greatest poet of the age’ could not permanently revive the fortunes of
St. Leonard’s, nor did the efforts of the Parliamentary Commission of
1579, of which Andrew Melville as well as Buchanan were members. By the
time Dr. Johnson was on his way to the Hebrides, the College buildings
were ruinous and forsaken, including St. Leonard’s Church, of which the
Doctor could not see the inside, because of decent excuses exciting in
his mind the hope that ‘Where there is still shame there may yet be
virtue.’[8]

The Regent Moray, Buchanan’s patron and friend, to whom the
_Franciscanus_ was dedicated, was a recognised mainstay of
Protestantism, heartily hated by the allies of the Queen and of the
Pope. He was assassinated in Linlithgow on 20th January 1570, partly
to further their interests and partly to gratify private revenge.
Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh was waiting for him in the house of his
uncle, Archbishop Hamilton, with small-bore matchlock and lighted
match, and the accident of a crowded street gave him the opportunity
of a deliberate aim. His death was laid at the door of the Hamiltons,
and it stirred the patriotism of Buchanan to write a political
pamphlet, called an _Admonition to the Trew Lordes_, in the vernacular
of Scotland, directed against the Hamiltons and their friends--a
publication full of practical insight, good sense, and cogent argument,
the work of a wise, earnest, sagacious man, who in the zeal for the
good of his country forgot that he had the gift of poetic inspiration,
in that respect very unlike his great successor Milton when he too
became a political pamphleteer, more rhapsodical than relevant. He
suspected the Hamiltons of a desire to secure the crown, and Buchanan
very much preferred to them Queen Mary and her son, whose birth he
had welcomed as a star of hope for his country. His birthday ode
of welcome, ostensibly intended for the boy when he grew up, but
positively in the meantime for the guidance and the warning of his
mother, is in substance a serious homily on the duty of kings to God
and the people, from whom their power came, and whose will and welfare
alone justified its exercise. The essence of the _De Jure Regni_
underlies it, an essence never practically intelligible to the fated
House of Stuart. Neither the beautiful, brilliant Mary nor her erratic
but not stupid race could understand the teaching of Buchanan as an
exposition of the law of the King of kings. The fate of that race, from
her flight to England to the flight from Culloden, has helped the world
to understand it. They were doomed to be born in and live through ages
of ignorance, superstition, and falsehood, in which few men arose who
could discover and recognise truth and publish it at their risk for the
dark here and the darker hereafter, as was done by Buchanan. He may
not have been infallible, but he had insight, veracity, and courage,
the like of which will never be exhibited by his traducers to the end
of time. Those who can believe him guilty of base ingratitude and
malicious falsehood are incapable of discriminating the best from the
worst in human nature and in human history.

Buchanan’s truthfulness and resolute desire to be impartial can be
best inferred in our time from his _History of Scotland_, at which he
had written for years, and for which he had collected materials from
his boyhood. The style of it appears to be an eclectic adaptation of
available and appropriate elements from the styles of Livy, Sallust,
and Tacitus. It wants the special charm of ‘Livy’s pictured page,’
for Scottish places, deeds, heroes, and tastes did not for Buchanan’s
earnest, realistic, dialectical, judicial mind present inducements
to poetic word-painting--indeed, it was after his day, before the
fascinations of the picturesque dawned upon the mind of Scotland,
unless it may have been to some semi-mythical, mist-inspired member
of the tribe of Ossian. The speeches of his _History_ are the most
tersely expressed, forcibly reasoned specimens of ancient Scottish
oratory, assuming, of course, that they ought to have been delivered,
but that they never were. They want the terse, pregnant suggestiveness
of the orations of Tacitus; but they may probably appear to be not
less skilfully adapted for the dramatic surroundings in which they are
supposed to have been delivered. Young students of Latin, especially
in the Aberdeen region, have found it to be for their interest to
read and re-read Buchanan’s _History_, and it is in the original that
the literary art and linguistic skill of its author can be best seen.
But it is still worth reading, and is often read in Dr. Watkins’
translation, which as a translation reflects a good deal more credit
upon its author than his old-womanly, newspapery but not dishonest
attempt at original historical composition shown in his bringing
down of Buchanan’s masterly story to the culmination or extinction
of Scottish history in the visit of George IV. to Edinburgh. The
babes and sucklings of the school of Dry-as-dust assert that Buchanan
is superseded as an historian; but a man of Buchanan’s powers and
opportunities can never be superseded as a narrator of the history of
his own time.

Buchanan died on the 28th September 1582, a few days or weeks after his
_History_ had been published. He had striven, in spite of old age,
ill-health, and poverty, to accomplish this long-meditated patriotic
task; and when he had corrected the proofs and given it to the world,
he felt that his last slender tie to life was broken, and his long,
chequered, poorly-paid day’s work was done.

His death took place in Kennedy’s Close, the second close off the High
Street of Edinburgh above the Tron Church, as recorded by ‘George
Paton, Antiquary,’ upon the rather reliable authority of an ancient
Lord Advocate, Sir James Stewart of Goodtrees.

His last lodging was in ‘the first house in the turnpike above the
tavern,’ and occupied some few cubic feet of space, probably about
twelve feet above the existing causeway blocks of Hunter Square, an
entirely vanished pile of tall, substantial, over-populated masonry,
part of the crest of the High Street once, standing within a quarter
of a mile of the vanished garden in which Darnley was found dead in
his shirt without mark of violence, still nearer to the site of the
vanished house in which Walter Scott was born, and to the vacant
air-space once filled by Johnny Dowie’s vanished tavern, in which
during his Edinburgh sojourn Robert Burns was wont to make merry with
select friends.

The records of the Commissary Court show that Buchanan left no property
except £100 of his Crossraguel pension (gifted by Queen Mary, and
withheld as often and as long as he could by the Earl of Cassilis),
which had been in arrear from the previous Whitsunday. His ‘Inventar’
exhibits him in his true character of an ancient philosopher, whether
Stoic or not. The civic authorities of Edinburgh, who from time
immemorial have been ready and willing to bury scholars, buried his
body the day after his death at the public expense. The ground of
Greyfriars, one of the spoils of the Reformation, was then being turned
into a burying-ground, and Buchanan was the ‘first person of celebrity’
buried in it. The exact spot of his sepulture is, however, in doubt,
though a small tablet was put up by a humble blacksmith to mark where
it is believed to be--a tribute of hero-worship like to that in
Parliament Square which is supposed to mark the burial-place of Knox.

It is not likely that Buchanan ever asked the Town Council of Edinburgh
for bread, but it is believed that they gave him a stone--without any
inscription, however, to show for whom it was intended, so that by 1701
it was lost or stolen. His skull also is believed to be one of the
lawful and sacred possessions of the Edinburgh University. If genuine,
it may be a phrenological curiosity. Sir W. Hamilton once used it at
a lecture which was listened to and approved of by Thomas Carlyle. Sir
William demonstrated to Carlyle’s satisfaction that the said skull,
supposed to be Buchanan’s, was according to phrenological dogmas
far inferior to that of some ‘Malay cut-throat’ or other unredeemed
ruffian. Assuming this to be the fact--and my authority for believing
it is a letter of Carlyle published in Veitch’s _Life_ of Sir W.
Hamilton--I am surprised that Mr. Hosack and Sir John Skelton were not
converted to phrenology. But for my part, believing in the universal
but mostly untranslatable symbolism of Nature, from the ‘flower in the
crannied wall’ to the human face and form divine, and believing only to
a limited extent in phrenology as the dark side of physiognomy that is
open to touch rather than to sight, I should hold that the skull which
was inferior to a Malay’s in any respect except thickness could never
be the skull of Buchanan; and it would not alter my conviction to feel
sure that George Combe was present at Sir William Hamilton’s lecture,
and for the first and only time in their career of phrenological
disputation expressly agreed with him. Whatever Buchanan’s head and
face may have been like--and his portraits impute to him either sleepy,
benevolent dulness, or ferrety, peevish conceit--it is not believable
that his head or face could have ever resembled that of a Malay or any
other kind of savage. So acute a logician as Sir W. Hamilton ought to
have doubted one of his premises at least, and been able to conceive it
possible that the resetters of dead men’s skulls may be sometimes the
victims of outside, as well as inside, deception.



EPILOGISTIC


The sudden and untimely death of Dr. Wallace has left this volume
incomplete, and incapable of being completed as he would have done it.
Detailed facts are in part awanting, but they are awanting in every
biography and autobiography, and after the oblivion of centuries has
passed over them, they tend to be unintelligible and uninteresting as
lying remote from everyday experience. These, however, the inquiring
reader, to his reasonable satisfaction, can find elsewhere; what he
will never find elsewhere are Dr. Wallace’s ultimate, deliberate,
critical estimates of the life and work of Buchanan. His book, as it
grew under his nimble pen, grew, probably unconsciously, to be not so
much an articulation of the bare bones of fact as a narrative of the
genesis, evolution, growth, and vitality of Buchanan’s ideas, more
especially his ideas affecting social democratic development, and in
particular his capital heresy, dangerous for himself, but vital for the
race, touching the ‘rights of man.’

Few men of any country have had such versatility of talent, and have in
life found tasks so varied as George Buchanan and Robert Wallace. No
other Scotsman known to me, through credible report or in the flesh,
has had the personal experience that would enable him so well to
understand and interpret the personal experience of George Buchanan.
Both were pre-eminent in the university learning of their respective
eras, which had little in common except Latin; scholastic logic and
metaphysic being the dominating study of Buchanan’s days, as inductive
positive science is of ours. Both were wandering scholars seeking for
fortune, or at least for bread; each acting as tutor, schoolmaster,
university professor, man of letters, theologian, politician, and
teacher of public men who were too ignorant or too neglectful of
honest rational principle to be fit to rule in mercy and in justice;
both were doomed by circumstances or by conscience to poverty and the
discrediting influences of poverty, though fit to furnish invaluable
light and guidance to their fellow-men. Methinks the pre-Reformation
church was a kinder, less harsh nursing-mother to the inquiring,
doubting, hesitating, satirical Protestant, than the dry-as-dust nurses
of ultra-Protestantism, agnosticism, atheism, and sincere worship of
nothing except Mammon’s golden calf were to the learned literary
man of our day who, afflicted with distracting doubts himself, and
many sorrows, could still give reasons for his faith in a supreme
Creator and an administrator of the universe according to fixed law
and unswerving right, and could help to lift the mind of his age out
of a darkness deeper than Popery--the blackness of atheistic despair.
Both knew about politics as revealed in the wrangling of churches or
religious sects, and the strife of factions intriguing and fighting
for power to govern or to misgovern. The politics familiar to Buchanan
included the ethics that prompted and the arts that effected the
murders of Cardinal Beaton, Rizzio, Darnley, Regent Moray, and Queen
Mary, and that often imperilled his own life. Nevertheless, worn out by
his years and assiduous labours, he died in his bed when his work was
done, a fortnight after his _History_ of his country was published, and
before his old pupil the Scottish Solomon had time to discover all the
treason it contained; ordered his servant to give his few last coins to
a beggar, and left the care of his funeral to all whom it might concern
on Christian, natural, civic, and sanitary grounds, ending his long,
busy, chequered tenure of time with that courage and hope which gilds
the last sunset of those who have striven to do right and never doubted
that God is just.

There was no man in Scotland or in Europe that could have been of so
much service to Scotland in guiding it through the troubles and storms,
political, moral, and religious, of the Reformation as Buchanan, if
the people of Scotland, more especially the feudal lords of Scotland,
had been fit to follow the dictates of the broadest, most complete
worldly wisdom, and of the clear conscience of one who had spent his
years in study and in poverty, who had lived the life of a stranger
to the entanglements of foolish pleasure and the illusions of earthly
hope, who had the most of his possible life behind him and eternity
in no distant prospect, and who had no conceivable motive to applaud
murder or to tell lies. Sceptical by innate constitution, and educated
to doubt in the schools of adversity and experience, personal and
historical, he was not the man to commit himself hastily to faith in
dark dogmas and half-explored truths; he was the man to be a cautious,
judicious reformer, not the man to be an impetuous, frantic destroyer,
too rash and unrestrained to discriminate between the entirely and
partially unsound, too just to plunder churchmen, some of them
profligate, in order to enrich feudal lords skilled in few arts except
the arts of war and theft. Like Erasmus and Beza, he saw that the old
order of society was dissolving; but, like all wise men, he preferred
slow and gradual to revolutionary change.

John Knox, in point of culture and of pure intellect and reason, was
a small man--a rash, daring, half-educated schoolboy, compared with
Buchanan. Knowledge and reason are conservative forces, and Knox could
not have been great had he not been a destroyer. His most indelible
historical records are the ruins of cathedrals and other religious
houses, ‘rooks’ nests’ requiring to be pulled down only in the judgment
of blind superstition and rabid fanaticism. For the ignorance and
savagery of the people of Scotland the Church of Rome was primarily
to blame. That Church required reformation, moral and intellectual;
but no spiritual entity, however corrupt, can be miraculously reformed
by the destruction of Gothic or any other architecture which took its
form under the sincere art and piety of buried generations. Cardinal
Beaton’s mode of burning good true men to support and preserve the
divine truth that had vitalised his Church for centuries was irrational
and infernal; but it was not very much worse than the mad, destructive
fury inspired by John Knox’s ‘excellent’ sermons, which, whatever their
merits, can scarcely have emanated from a mind that had any clear
comprehension of the processes by which spiritual truth makes its way
and holds its power effectively among mankind. Beaton and Knox were
both powerful in their age and characteristic of it, but they would
have found no conspicuous function in an age that was not in the
course of emerging from the mire of savagery, with all its tendencies
to violence and to vice. Both alike were uncompromising enemies of
individual freedom, and equally bent upon the suppression of all
conscientious opinions that did not concur with their own. Both were
patriots, and of signal service to Scotland; but the evil they did so
nearly counterbalances all the good they did (which might, and would,
in time have been done by less unscrupulous, ungentle instruments),
that it might have been well had Scotland been liberated by Providence
from the piebald burden of both of them.[9]

Buchanan as a scholar was a very large inheritor of the wisdom of
many ages, the largest inheritor of that rare kind of wealth of all
the Scotsmen of his day. He was by nature somewhat of a sceptic, the
teacher in Latin--and who can tell what beside?--of Montaigne--most
candid and sincere of sceptics--by necessity a doubter, as true seekers
of truth, especially in dark, troubled, fermenting ages, cannot help
being. He was a philosopher--a Stoic probably, as most impecunious
philosophers are compelled to be more or less, capable of bearing the
inevitable with patience, and of waiting to solve difficulties by
skill and cautious experiment rather than by violence or deceit! What
his worldly wisdom and great intellectual power might have done for
the good of his country opens up a wide field of conjecture touching
the solution of most of the big problems of his age. Why should the
clever, beautiful Queen Mary not have trusted him as an adviser rather
than Scotch rakes and traitors and Italian fiddlers? Why should her
race, more gifted than most royal races, have hugged a delusion about
the Divine right of kings along the precipices overhanging death and
ruin? Why should the Reformers, who had the means of ascertaining
that among them he was a veritable Saul among the prophets, and
neither a fanatic nor a hypocrite, not have utilised his wisdom and
his inspiration of the beautiful and the true to direct the course and
shape the limits of the Reformation, without proclaiming a barbarian,
everlasting divorce between the power of truth and the beauty of
holiness? Why should the spiritual force and illumination of every
great man who did not wear fine raiment and fare sumptuously every
day, of the prophets of Judæa and the sages of Greece and Rome, have
been lost upon their contemporaries and left to find its way and its
expanding efficacy in the slow course of centuries? Buchanan’s lot was
the common lot of unendowed, and therefore unappreciated, genius. The
greatest scholar and writer of his own country in his own time, one
of the most potent of the intellectual aristocracy of Europe for all
time, he was a rustic in dress, a plain, unpretentious, non-assertive
inhabitant of the European villages called cities, known to him as St.
Andrews and Edinburgh; a man pure of life in a vicious, half-decent
age; loyal to truth so far as it was possible for him to discover it
among contemporaries prone to falsehood and ready for the perpetration
of it by forgery or any other effective and not unpracticable mode,
he was esteemed a stranger in his native land, and not a Solon or a
seer except by the more cultured of his own unlettered generation;
to subsequent vulgar generations he was so unknown or so forgotten
as to fill, in their rude Temple of Fame, the niche of a mythical
court-jester and coarse wit or witling; nevertheless he holds a title
to lasting remembrance as sure as the story of the Reformation and
the era of the never-to-be-forgotten Mary Stuart can give; also the
unique distinction of being the greatest master of the Latin language
since it died as a vernacular, and became the immortal medium of
intercommunication for the wide, high, and cold republic of scholars
and thinkers, scattered through realms of ether and cloudland, and lit
by volcanic fire and spiritual aurora fitfully lifting the night from
peaks of rock and ice.



FOOTNOTES


[1] When I first heard from one of my early schoolmasters the mediæval
chestnut, _Quid distat inter sotum et Scotum?--Mensa tantum._ (‘What
divides a sot (fool) from a Scot?--Only the table’)--the reply was
credited to Buchanan.

[2] He was Buchanan’s assistant, and called the king’s ‘Pedagogue,’
Buchanan being called ‘Master.’

[3] Certain emoluments arising to the feudal superior (in this case the
king); which, as they depend on uncertain events, are termed casualties.

[4] This covers the meaning more accurately than ‘Physicians.’

[5] Burns appears to have afterwards written it down thus:--

    ‘The Solemn League and Covenant
      Now brings a smile, now brings a tear;
    But sacred Freedom, too, was theirs:
      If thou’rt a slave, indulge thy sneer.’

The form may be improved, the sentiment could not be.

[6] My authority is Herkless’s _Cardinal Beaton_, p. 153.

[7] My non-forensic sympathy, but not my full conviction, goes with
Mr. Hosack and Sir John Skelton in their chivalrous but too unmeasured
defence of Mary. My verdict in regard to her being ‘art and part’ in
putting an end to that traitor in heart and deed, the good-for-nothing,
faithless fool Darnley, is a hesitant ‘Not Proven’; but if otherwise,
then a distinct non-hesitant ‘served him right.’ Skelton’s clever,
interesting book upon Maitland of Lethington, Mary’s most faithful and
capable minister, does not throw much, if any, light upon Buchanan.
In it he is treated as an opposition pleader, capable rather than
scrupulous, who did not know all the facts, and who was instructed
by men who had other purposes to serve than telling the whole truth,
and who probably did not know it themselves so well as Skelton had
opportunities to come to know it, _e.g._ in regard to the ‘Casket
Letters’--documents that could be satisfactory to no modern tribunal
except a Dreyfus court-martial. Buchanan’s attack, in a pamphlet
written in Scotch, upon Skelton’s hero Maitland, entitled _The
Chameleon_, Skelton sneers at as a ‘Dawb’--not entirely an inaccurate
criticism, for _The Chameleon_ is a caricature, and that, of course,
means an exaggeration of all faults, actual or presumable. But when
a ‘chameleon’ like Disraeli or Maitland, both of whom have found in
John Skelton an ingenious and eloquent hero-worshipper, is assailed
by satirists in _Punch_ or elsewhere, the only effective condemnatory
judgment worth stating is that the caricature is not recognisable by an
honest enemy or a free and easy friend. For my part, I believe that the
unvarnished truth, though perhaps not the whole of it, can be better
inferred from Buchanan than from Skelton.

[8] Sir David Brewster, when Principal of the United College of St.
Leonard and St. Salvador, had a residence close to St. Leonard’s
roofless church. In 1853, Sir David told to a breakfast-party of
students, which included Dr. Wallace and the writer, that his house
embraced all that existed of Buchanan’s old dwelling-house, and pointed
out one particular part of the ancient outer wall thick enough to
resist the artillery of Buchanan’s day. Dr. Johnson’s general contempt
for Scotland, which did not keep silence in St. Andrews, could not
resist the inspiration of the _genius loci_ of St. Leonard’s so far as
to prevent his generously recognising Buchanan’s claim to immortality
as being as fair as modern Latinity can give, and ‘perhaps fairer than
the instability of vernacular languages admit.’

[9] Carlyle’s estimate of Knox I accept and credit as the estimate of
as penetrating an insight and as true a conscience as ever uttered
the verdicts of history; but it is the estimate of a mind that could
discover more to approve in the storm than in the sunshine, and who
too readily infers noble motives from splendid results. I believe
all the good he imputes to Knox and his life-battle for truth, and
I don’t believe sufficiently in the vileness of human nature to
believe in any of the charges of immorality which rival ecclesiastics
have persisted in relating against him. But for all that, I am not
blind to his human imperfections. I am far from thinking him to be a
perfect man, much less a perfect Christian. His wild joy and unbridled
merriment over the dying miseries of Cardinal Beaton and of Mary of
Guise would be scarcely in harmony with the budding benevolence of a
half-reformed cannibal. His virtues were genuine, and not hypocritical,
but they were essentially Pagan virtues--gifts of nature, tested and
strengthened, but not acquired, through his experiences as a notary and
an ecclesiastic.



INDEX


  _Admonition to Trew Lords_, the, 130.
  Æschylus, 15.
  _Agamemnon_, 15.
  Arius, 91.
  Ascham, Roger, 81.
  Atonement, the, 90.
  Augustine, 99.
  Aurelius, Marcus, 100.

  _Baptistes_, the, 57, 58.
  Beaton, Cardinal, 122, 139.
  Begging letter-writer, 31.
  Beza, 81.
  Boëtius, 66, 100.
  Bordeaux, 58.
  Brahe, Tycho, 44, 81.
  Brissac, Marshal of, 51.
  Brewster, Sir D., 129.
  Brown, P. Hume, 18.
  BUCHANAN, GEORGE--
    Writings burned by hangman, 9.
    Milton and Buchanan’s _De Jure_, 10.
    Effect of the _De Jure_, 11.
    Relations to the Scaligers, 13.
    Wordsworth on Buchanan, 14.
    Porson and Buchanan, 15.
    Milton’s opinion of him, 15.
    Hallam’s estimate of him, 16.
    Froude’s opinion of him, 16.
    Buchanan’s scholarship, 17.
    His _Detectio Mariæ Reginæ_, 18.
    The Marians and Buchanan, 20.
    The chapbook Buchanan, 21.
    His humour, 22.
    Interview with Melvilles, 23.
    The Countess of Mar and, 25.
    Division of his life into periods of preparation and
      performance, 27.
    Why he became a Protestant, 28.
    Joseph Scaliger’s elegy on, 31.
    Begging letter-writer, 31.
    Letters to Mary, Queen of Scots, 32.
    Letters to Earl of Moray, 32.
    Comparison between Erasmus and, 35.
    Hospitality of Roman Catholic days, 36.
    His influence on cultured Europe, 38.
    Parallel between his conduct and that of to-day, 39.
    No loss of self-respect, 40.
    No notoriety hunter, 41.
    No money grabber, 43.
    Did not seek power, 48.
    Dates and aims of his works, 50.
    Moderator of General Assembly, 51.
    Various appointments held, 51.
    Aids in drawing up _First Book of Discipline_, 51.
    Appointed Principal of St. Leonard’s College, 51.
    Secretary to the Scots Commission _re_ Mary, 51.
    Opinion of Sir James Melville of, 52.
    Not to be blamed for James VI.’s pedantry, 57.
    Dedicates his three great works to the king--_Baptistes_, _De Jure_,
      and the _History_, 57.
    Examination of the Prefaces to these, 58-65.
    Resembled a Scots Stoic philosopher, 66.
    His courtly manners, 70.
    Alleged vindictiveness towards Morton disproved, 72.
    His policy regarding Scots affairs, 76.
    Further disproof of Sir J. Melville’s remarks, 80.
    His religious views, 83.
    The Scots Reformation position, 83-88.
    His relations to Calvinism, 89-96.
    Not a zealot, 90.
    His views of Evangelium, 90.
    His pension, 92.
    His dirge upon Calvin, 93.
    His period of doubt, 98.
    Why he never took orders, 101.
    Is Conformity allowable? 104.
    Renaissance morals, 106.
    Buchanan’s amorist poetry, 107.
    Biographical facts, 111.
    The Roman Catholic Church and education, 112.
    Lords of the Congregation and education, 114.
    His early years of education, 116.
    Enlists as a volunteer to invade England, 118.
    Life at St. Andrews University, 119.
    Proceeds to St. Barbe, 119.
    Friendship with Earl of Cassilis, 119.
    James V. invites him to write _Franciscanus_, 121.
    Leaves him to the vengeance of Beaton, 122.
    Escapes from prison to the Continent, 122.
    Migrates to Portugal: seized by the Inquisition, 123.
    Imprisoned in a monastery, where he translates the Psalms, 123.
    Returns to Scotland and declares for Protestantism, 124.
    Relations between Mary and Buchanan, 125.
    Accused of ingratitude towards her, 126.
    The multifariousness of his work, 128.
    Writes _Admonition to the Trew Lords_, 130.
    Characteristics of his _History of Scotland_, 132.
    Buchanan’s last days, 133.
    His burial-place and property, 135.
    Legend of his skull, 135.
    Characteristics, 136.
    Final summing up, 137-145.
    Parallel drawn between Dr. Wallace and Buchanan, 138.
  Burns, 107, 116.

  Calvin, J., 82, 89, 90, 92, 94, 100.
  Cameron, 115.
  Cargill, 115.
  Carlyle, T., 34, 143.
  Casaubon, 13.
  Cassilis, Lord, 51, 119, 134.
  Catullus, 66.
  _Chameleon_, the, 50, 126.
  Chapbooks on Buchanan, 21.
  Charles II., 9.
  Cicero, 67.
  Coimbra, college of, 51, 98.
  Collége de Guyenne, 58.
  Congregation, Lords of, 114, 115.
  Covenanters, 115.

  Darnley, 128, 134, 139.
  Dawes, Canon, 15.
  _Detectio Mariæ Reginæ_, 18, 50.
  Diogenes, 69.
  Dionysius, Lambinus, 67.
  _Dirge_, the, 92.
  _Discipline, Book of_, 112.
  Divine right, 9, 11, 50, 57.
  Dryden, John, 10.
  Dunbar, William, 121.

  Education in Catholic days, 113.
  Election, doctrine of, 90.
  Elizabeth, Queen, 127.
  England, invasion of, 118.
  Erasmus, 13, 34, 96, 99, 100.
  Eucharistic controversy, 99.
  Evangelicals, the, 89.

  France, 124.
  _Franciscanus_, the, 50, 90, 98, 106, 121.

  Gamaliel, 58.
  General Assembly of Church of Scotland, 51.
  _Genethliacon_, the, 56.
  Gibbon, 67, 118.
  Gouvéa, André de, 58, 122, 123.

  Hackney, the, 75.
  Hamilton, Sir W., 135.
  Hebrew Psalms, 43, 123.
  Henry VIII., 127.
  Heriot, J., 116.
  Herod, King, 58.
  Herodias, 58.
  _History of Scotland_, 50, 57, 63, 132.
  Horace, 66.
  Hosack, 20.
  Humanists, 27, 28, 43, 58, 83, 84, 126.

  Incarnation, the, 90.
  Indulgences, 90.
  Inquisition, the, 43, 98.

  James IV., 112.
  James V., 50, 120.
  James VI., 46, 52, 56, 76.
  Johnson, S., 15, 129.
  Justification by Faith, 86, 90.

  Killearn, 111.
  Knox, J., 11, 37, 40, 75, 76, 81, 85, 92, 101, 102, 114, 115, 141.

  Latin Style, 17, 27, 132.
  ‘Lena’ poetry, the, 106.
  Lennox, Earl of, 33, 37.
  Leo X., 84.
  Lincoln’s Inn Fields, 9.
  Livy, 31, 51, 132.
  Luther, 84.
  Lyndsay, Sir D., 50, 121.

  Macauslan, 111.
  Major, John, 65.
  Mar, Countess of, 24, 81.
  Mary, Queen of Scots, 19, 31, 37, 40, 51, 64, 75, 92, 120, 127,
    128, 139.
  Mary of Guise, 102.
  Melville, Andrew and James, 23, 40, 81, 102, 115.
  Melville, Sir James, 52, 80.

  Milton, John, 9, 10.
  Moderator of Assembly, 51, 128.
  Montaigne, 119.
  Moray, Earl of, 32, 33, 37, 51, 81, 92, 121, 129, 130, 139.
  Morton, Earl of, 73, 74, 75, 79.

  _Neæra_ pieces, 108.
  Nicene Dogmas, 86.

  Oxford University, 9.

  Panætius, 67.
  Paris, University of, 116.
  Paten, Guy, 16.
  Pension, 92.
  Petrus, Victorinus, 67.
  Porson, 15.
  Portugal, 43, 51, 98, 123.
  Predestinarianism, 86.
  Principal of St. Leonard’s, 51.
  Private judgment, 86.

  Randolph, Sir T., 63, 71, 81.
  Reformation, Scots, 11, 83, 85, 87, 120.
  Renaissance, the, 83, 87, 96, 106.
  Revolutions, English, American, and French, 11.
  Rizzio, 128, 139.
  Roman Catholic hospitality, 36.
  ---- ---- Church, 28, 97, 99, 101.
  Russell, Lord William, 9.

  St. Andrews, University of, 118, 129.
  Sallust, 132.
  Scaligers, the, 12, 13, 30, 48, 81.
  Scott, Sir W., 116.
  Seneca, 63, 67, 100.
  Shairp, Principal, 107.
  Shakespeare, 12, 15.
  Skelton, Sir J., 20, 125.
  Skull, Buchanan’s, 135.
  Socrates, 69, 100.
  Stephanus, 12.
  Stevenson, R. L., 107.
  Stoic philosopher, 53, 63, 66, 69, 73, 82, 100.

  Tacitus, 132.
  Tennyson, 12, 127.
  Thackeray, 34, 81.
  _Thyestes_, the, 63.
  Transubstantiation, 90.

  Wordsworth, W., 14.

  Young, Peter, 53, 55, 57, 62.



OPINIONS OF THE PRESS ON THE ‘FAMOUS SCOTS’ SERIES.


Of THOMAS CARLYLE, by H. C. MACPHERSON,

The _British Weekly_ says:--

 ‘We congratulate the publishers on the in every way attractive
 appearance of the first volume of their new series. The typography is
 everything that could be wished, and the binding is most tasteful....
 We heartily congratulate author and publishers on the happy
 commencement of this admirable enterprise.’

The _Literary World_ says:--

 ‘One of the very best little books on Carlyle yet written, far
 outweighing in value some more pretentious works with which we are
 familiar.’

The _Scotsman_ says:--

 ‘As an estimate of the Carlylean philosophy, and of Carlyle’s place
 in literature and his influence in the domains of morals, politics,
 and social ethics, the volume reveals not only care and fairness, but
 insight and a large capacity for original thought and judgment.’

The _Glasgow Daily Record_ says:--

 ‘Is distinctly creditable to the publishers, and worthy of a national
 series such as they have projected.’

The _Educational News_ says:--

 ‘The book is written in an able, masterly, and painstaking manner.’


Of ALLAN RAMSAY, by OLIPHANT SMEATON,

The _Scotsman_ says:--

 ‘It is not a patchwork picture, but one in which the writer, taking
 genuine interest in his subject, and bestowing conscientious pains on
 his task, has his materials well in hand, and has used them to produce
 a portrait that is both lifelike and well balanced.’

The _People’s Friend_ says:--

 ‘Presents a very interesting sketch of the life of the poet, as well
 as a well-balanced estimate and review of his works.’

The _Edinburgh Dispatch_ says:--

 ‘The author has shown scholarship and much enthusiasm in his task.’

The _Daily Record_ says:--

 ‘The kindly, vain, and pompous little wig-maker lives for us in Mr.
 Smeaton’s pages.’

The _Glasgow Herald_ says:--

 ‘A careful and intelligent study.’


Of HUGH MILLER, by W. KEITH LEASK,

The _Expository Times_ says:--

 ‘It is a right good book and a right true biography.... There is a
 very fine sense of Hugh Miller’s greatness as a man and a Scotsman;
 there is also a fine choice of language in making it ours.’

The _Bookseller_ says:--

 ‘Mr. Leask gives the reader a clear impression of the simplicity, and
 yet the greatness, of his hero, and the broad result of his life’s
 work is very plainly and carefully set forth. A short appreciation
 of his scientific labours, from the competent pen of Sir Archibald
 Geikie, and a useful bibliography of his works, complete a volume
 which is well worth reading for its own sake, and which forms a worthy
 instalment in an admirable series.’

The _Daily News_ says:--

 ‘Leaves on us a very vivid impression.’


Of JOHN KNOX, by A. TAYLOR INNES,

Mr. Hay Fleming, in The _Bookman_ says:--

 ‘A masterly delineation of those stirring times in Scotland, and of
 that famous Scot who helped so much to shape them.’

The _Freeman_ says:--

 ‘It is a concise, well written, and admirable narrative of the great
 Reformer’s life, and in its estimate of his character and work it is
 calm, dispassionate, and well balanced.... It is a welcome addition to
 our Knox literature.’

The _Speaker_ says:--

 ‘There is vision in this book, as well as knowledge.’

The _Sunday School Chronicle_ says:--

 ‘Everybody who is acquainted with Mr. Taylor Innes’s exquisite lecture
 on Samuel Rutherford will feel instinctively that he is just the man
 to do justice to the great Reformer, who is more to Scotland ‘than any
 million of unblameable Scotsmen who need no forgiveness.’ His literary
 skill, his thorough acquaintance with Scottish ecclesiastical life,
 his religious insight, his chastened enthusiasm, have enabled the
 author to produce an excellent piece of work.... It is a noble and
 inspiring theme, and Mr. Taylor Innes has handled it to perfection.’


Of ROBERT BURNS, by GABRIEL SETOUN,

The _New Age_ says:--

 ‘It is the best thing on Burns we have yet had, almost as good as
 Carlyle’s Essay and the pamphlet published by Dr. Nichol of Glasgow.’

The _Methodist Times_ says:--

 ‘We are inclined to regard it as the very best that has yet been
 produced. There is a proper perspective, and Mr. Setoun does neither
 praise nor blame too copiously.... A difficult bit of work has been
 well done, and with fine literary and ethical discrimination.’

_Youth_ says:--

 ‘It is written with knowledge, judgment, and skill.... The
 author’s estimate of the moral character of Burns is temperate and
 discriminating; he sees and states his evil qualities, and beside
 these he places his good ones in their fulness, depth, and splendour.
 The exposition of the special features marking the genius of the poet
 is able and penetrating.’


Of THE BALLADISTS, by JOHN GEDDIE,

The _Birmingham Daily Gazette_ says:--

 ‘As a popular sketch of an intensely popular theme, Mr. Geddie’s
 contribution to the “Famous Scots Series” is most excellent.’

The _Publishers’ Circular_ says:--

 ‘It may be predicted that lovers of romantic literature will re-peruse
 the old ballads with a quickened zest after reading Mr. Geddie’s book.
 We have not had a more welcome little volume for many a day.’

The _New Age_ says:--

 ‘One of the most delightful and eloquent appreciations of the ballad
 literature of Scotland that has ever seen the light.’

The _Spectator_ says:--

 ‘The author has certainly made a contribution of remarkable value to
 the literary history of Scotland. We do not know of a book in which
 the subject has been treated with deeper sympathy or out of a fuller
 knowledge.’


Of RICHARD CAMERON, by Professor HERKLESS,

The _Freeman_ says:--

 ‘Professor Herkless has made us all his debtors by his thorough-going
 and unwearied research, by his collecting materials from
 out-of-the-way quarters, and making much that was previously vague and
 shadowy clear and distinct.’

The _Christian News_ says:--

 ‘This volume is ably written, is full of interest and instruction, and
 enables the reader to form a conception of the man who in his day and
 generation gave his life for Christ’s cause and kingdom.’

The _Dundee Courier_ says:--

 ‘In selecting Professor Herkless to prepare this addition to the
 “Famous Scots Series” of books, the publishers have made an excellent
 choice. The vigorous, manly style adopted is exactly suited to the
 subject, and Richard Cameron is presented to the reader in a manner
 as interesting as it is impressive.... Professor Herkless has done
 remarkably well, and the portrait he has so cleverly delineated of one
 of Scotland’s most cherished heroes is one that will never fade.’


Of SIR JAMES YOUNG SIMPSON, by EVE BLANTYRE SIMPSON,

The _Speaker_ says:--

 ‘This little book is full of insight and knowledge, and by many
 picturesque incidents and pithy sayings it helps us to understand in
 a vivid and intimate sense the high qualities and golden deeds which
 rendered Sir James Simpson’s strenuous life impressive and memorable.’

The _Daily Chronicle_ says:--

 ‘It is indeed long since we have read such a charmingly-written
 biography as this little Life of the most typical and “Famous
 Scot” that his countrymen have been proud of since the time of Sir
 Walter.... There is not a dull, irrelevant, or superfluous page in all
 Miss Simpson’s booklet, and she has performed the biographer’s chief
 duty--that of selection--with consummate skill and judgment.’

The _Leeds Mercury_ says:--

 ‘The narrative throughout is well balanced, and the biographer has
 been wisely advised in giving prominence to her father’s great
 achievement--the introduction of chloroform--and what led to it.’


Of THOMAS CHALMERS, by W. GARDEN BLAIKIE,

The _Spectator_ says:--

 ‘The most notable feature of Professor Blaikie’s book--and none could
 be more commendable--is its perfect balance and proportion. In other
 words, justice is done equally to the private and to the public life
 of Chalmers, if possible greater justice than has been done by Mrs.
 Oliphant.’

The _Scottish Congregationalist_ says:--

 ‘No one can read the admirable and vivid sketch of his life which
 Dr. Blaikie has written without feeling admiration for the man, and
 gaining inspiration from his example.’


Of JAMES BOSWELL, by W. KEITH LEASK,

The _Spectator_ says:--

 ‘This is one of the best volumes of the excellent “Famous Scots
 Series,” and one of the fairest and most discriminating biographies of
 Boswell that have ever appeared.’

The _Dundee Advertiser_ says:--

 ‘It is the admirable manner in which the very complexity of the man is
 indicated that makes W. Keith Leask’s biography of him one of peculiar
 merit and interest.... It is not only a life of Boswell, but a picture
 of his time--vivid, faithful, impressive.’

The _Morning Leader_ says:--

 ‘Mr. W. K. Leask has approached the biographer of Johnson in the
 only possible way by which a really interesting book could have been
 arrived at--by way of the open mind.... The defence of Boswell in the
 concluding chapter of his delightful study is one of the finest and
 most convincing passages that have recently appeared in the field of
 British biography.’


Of TOBIAS SMOLLETT, by OLIPHANT SMEATON,

The _Dundee Courier_ says:--

 ‘It is impossible to read the pages of this little work without being
 struck not only by its historical value, but by the fairness of its
 criticism.’

The _Weekly Scotsman_ says:--

 ‘The book is written in a crisp and lively style.... The picture of
 the great novelist is complete and lifelike. Not only does Mr. Smeaton
 give a scholarly sketch and estimate of Smollett’s literary career, he
 constantly keeps the reader in conscious touch and sympathy with his
 personality, and produces a portrait of the man as a man which is not
 likely to be readily forgotten.’

The _Newsagent and Booksellers’ Review_ says:--

 ‘Tobias Smollett was versatile enough to deserve a distinguished place
 in any gallery of gifted Scots, such as the one to which Mr. Smeaton
 has contributed this clever and lifelike portrait.’


Of FLETCHER OF SALTOUN, by W. G. T. OMOND,

The _Edinburgh Evening News_ says:--

 ‘The writer has given us in brief compass the pith of what is known
 about an able and patriotic if somewhat dogmatic and impracticable
 Scotsman who lived in stormy times.... Mr. Omond describes, in
 a clear, terse, vigorous way, the constitution of the Old Scots
 Parliament, and the part taken by Fletcher as a public man in the
 stormy debates that took place prior to the union of the Parliaments
 in 1707. This part of the book gives an admirable summary of the state
 of Scottish politics and of the national feeling at an important
 period.’

The _Leeds Mercury_ says:--

 ‘Unmistakably the most interesting and complete story of the life of
 Fletcher of Saltoun that has yet appeared. Mr. Omond has had many
 facilities placed at his disposal, and of these he has made excellent
 use.’

The _Speaker_ says:--

 ‘Mr. Omond has told the story of Fletcher of Saltoun in this monograph
 with ability and judgment.’


Of THE BLACKWOOD GROUP, by Sir GEORGE DOUGLAS,

The _Scotsman_ says:--

 ‘In brief compass, Sir George Douglas gives us skilfully blended
 together much pleasantly written biography and just and judicious
 criticism.’

The _Weekly Citizen_ says:--

 ‘It need not be said that to every one interested in the literature
 of the first half of the century, and especially to every Scotsman so
 interested, “The Blackwood Group” is a phrase abounding in promise.
 And really Sir George Douglas fulfils the promise he tacitly makes in
 his title. He is intimately acquainted not only with the books of the
 different members of the “group,” but also with their environment,
 social and otherwise. Besides, he writes with sympathy as well as
 knowledge.’


Of NORMAN MACLEOD, by JOHN WELLWOOD,

The _Star_ says:--

 ‘A worthy addition to the “Famous Scots Series” is that of Norman
 Macleod, the renowned minister of the Barony of Glasgow, and a man as
 typical of everything generous and broadminded in the State Church in
 Scotland as Thomas Guthrie was in the Free Churches. The biography
 is the work of John Wellwood, who has approached it with proper
 appreciation of the robustness of the subject.’

The _Scots Pictorial_ says:--

 ‘Its general picturesqueness is effective, while the criticism is
 eminently liberal and sound.’

The _Daily Free Press_ says:--

 ‘It is one of the great merits of Mr. Wellwood’s book that it is
 wholly free from dulness. His attention once secured, the reader is
 carried irresistibly along till he has finished the whole of the
 fascinating story.’

The _Daily Chronicle_ says:--

 ‘Mr. Wellwood is in thorough sympathy with his hero, and has given us
 in this little volume a graphic and picturesque sketch of him.’


Of SIR WALTER SCOTT, by GEORGE SAINTSBURY,

The _Pall Mall Gazette_ says:--

 ‘Mr. Saintsbury’s miniature is a gem of its kind.... Mr. Saintsbury’s
 critique of the Waverley Novels will, I venture to think, despite all
 that has been written upon them, discover fresh beauties for their
 admirers.’

The _Morning Leader_ says:--

 ‘A fresh and charming biography.’

The _St. James’s Gazette_ says:--

 ‘Apart from Lockhart, we do not know any one who has given a better
 picture of Scott than Mr. Saintsbury, and there is no sounder and more
 comprehensive estimate of his work.’

The _Scots Magazine_ says:--

 ‘The little volume is bright, informative reading, and is a worthy
 addition to a capital and much-needed series.’


Of KIRKCALDY OF GRANGE, by LOUIS A. BARBÉ,

The _Scotsman_ says:--

 ‘Mr. Barbé’s sketch sticks close to the facts of his life, and these
 are sought out from the best sources and are arranged with much
 judgment, and on the whole with an impartial mind.’

The _Glasgow Herald_ says:--

 ‘A conscientious and thorough piece of work, showing wide and accurate
 knowledge.’

The _Speaker_ says:--

 ‘This scholarly monograph seeks to unravel the seeming contradictions
 of a great career, as well as to show that Kirkcaldy of Grange was a
 sincere patriot.’

The _Bookseller_ says:--

 ‘Mr. Barbé has put together a very instructive and interesting account
 of his career.’


Of ROBERT FERGUSSON, by DR. A. B. GROSART,

The _Westminster Gazette_ says:--

 ‘One of the most interesting of the “Famous Scots” Series is devoted
 to “Robert Fergusson” the poet, to whom “the greater Robert,” as he
 freely acknowledged, was under so many obligations. Dr. Grosart is
 perhaps the best living authority on all that relates to the bard
 of “The Farmer’s Ingle,” and he gives many new facts and corrects a
 number of erroneous statements that have hitherto obtained currency
 respecting him. We have read it with genuine pleasure.’

The _British Weekly_ says:--

 ‘It is a creditable, useful, and painstaking book, a genuine
 contribution to Scottish literary history.’

The _North British Daily Mail_ says:--

 ‘The little volume is a thoroughly competent piece of work, and forms
 a valuable addition to an excellent series.’

The _Weekly Scotsman_ says:--

 ‘The book will be welcomed as a worthy addition to that wonderfully
 entertaining and instructive series of biographies, the “Famous Scots.”


Of JAMES THOMSON, by WILLIAM BAYNE,

The _Daily News_ says:--

 ‘A just appreciation of Thomson as poet and dramatist, and an
 interesting record of the conditions under which he rose to fame, as
 also of his friendships with the great ones of the eighteenth century.’

_Literature_ says:--

 ‘The story of Thomson’s claim to the disputed authorship of “Rule
 Britannia” is sustained by his countryman with spirit, and in our
 judgment with success.’

The _Publishers’ Circular_ says:--

 ‘The book is one which every lover of Thomson will welcome, and which
 students of poetry cannot well afford to neglect.’

The _Spectator_ says:--

 ‘This is one of the compactest and best written volumes of the useful
 series of biographies to which it belongs.’


Of MUNGO PARK, by T. BANKS MACLACHLAN,

The _Leeds Mercury_ says:--

 ‘We owe to Mr. Maclachlan not only a charming life-story, if at
 times a pathetic one, but a vivid chapter in the romance of Africa.
 Geography has no more wonderful tale than that dealing with the
 unravelling of the mystery of the Niger.’

The _Speaker_ says:--

 ‘Mr. Maclachlan recounts with incisive vigour the story of Mungo
 Park’s heroic wanderings and the services which he rendered to
 geographical research.’

The _Kilmarnock Herald_ says:--

 ‘It is a thrilling story, powerfully told, of one of Scotland’s
 noblest sons.’

The _Educational News_ says:--

 ‘Mungo Park has his record here summarised in such a manner as to win,
 inform, and delight.’


Of DAVID HUME, by HENRY CALDERWOOD,

The _Speaker_ says:--

 ‘The little book is a virile recruit of the “Famous Scots Series.”’

 ‘This monograph is both picturesque and critical.’

The _New Age_ says:--

 ‘To the many students of philosophy in Scotland a special interest
 will attach to Professor Calderwood’s sketch of David Hume from the
 fact that it is the last piece of work done by its lamented author;
 and very pleasing it is to note the fairness and charity of the
 judgment passed by the most evangelical of philosophers upon the man
 who used to be denounced as the prophet of infidelity.’

The _Scotsman_ says:--

 ‘Fulfils admirably well the purpose of the writer, which was that of
 presenting in clear, fair, and concise lines Hume and his philosophy
 to the mind of his countrymen and of the world.’

The _Publishers’ Circular_ says:--

 ‘This biography is well written, and it will no doubt be considered,
 as it really is, one of the best of the “Famous Scots Series.”’


Of WILLIAM DUNBAR, by OLIPHANT SMEATON,

The _Speaker_ says:--

 ‘Mr. Smeaton looks narrowly into the characteristics of Dunbar’s
 genius, and does well to insist on the almost Shakespearian range
 of his gifts. He contends that in elegy, as well as in satire and
 allegory, Dunbar’s place in English literature is amongst the great
 masters of the craft of letters.’

The _Glasgow Herald_ says:--

 ‘This is a bright and picturesquely written monograph, presenting
 in readable form the results of the critical research undertaken by
 Laing, Schipper, and the other scholars who during the present century
 have done so much for the elucidation of the greatest of our early
 Scottish poets.’

The _Bailie_ says:--

 ‘A graphic and informed account not only of the man and his works, but
 of his immediate environment and of the times in which he lived.’

The _Bookman_ says:--

 ‘The book is an admirable biography, one of the liveliest and most
 readable in the series.’


Of SIR WILLIAM WALLACE, by Professor MURISON,

The _Speaker_ says:--

 ‘Mr. Murison is to be congratulated on this little book. After much
 hard and discriminative labour he has pieced together by far the best,
 one might say the only rational and coherent, account of Wallace that
 exists.’

Mr. William Wallace in the _Academy_ says:--

 ‘Professor Murison has acquitted himself of his task like a patriot.’

 ‘Capital reading.’

The _Daily News_ says:--

 ‘A scholarly and impartial little volume, one of the best yet
 published in the “Famous Scots Series.”’

The _Pall Mall Gazette_ says:--

 ‘A bright little book which will be much relished north of the Tweed,
 and also among those Scottish exiles who are supposed to be pining
 away their lives south of it.’

The _New Age_ says:--

 ‘Anyhow, here, at least, we have his life-story--a most difficult
 tale to tell--recorded with a painstaking research and in a spirit of
 appreciative candour which leave almost nothing to be desired.’


 Of ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON, by MARGARET MOYES BLACK,

The _Banffshire Journal_ says:--

 ‘The portrait, drawn as it is by a loving hand, is absolutely
 photographic in its likeness, and the literary criticisms with which
 the book is pleasantly studded are alike careful and judicious, and
 with most of them the ordinary reader will cordially agree.’

The _Bookman_ says:--

 ‘This little book is sure to get a welcome.’

The _Speaker_ says:--

 ‘Sense and sensibility are in these pages, as well as knowledge and
 delicate discrimination.’

The _Outlook_ says:--

 ‘Certainly one of the most charming biographies we have ever
 come across. The writer has style, sympathy, distinction, and
 understanding. We were loth to put the book aside. Its one fault is
 that it is too short.’

The _Daily Free Press_ says:--

 ‘One of the most charming sketches--it is scarcely a biography--of a
 literary man that could be found has just been published as the latest
 number of the “Famous Scots Series”--“R. Louis Stevenson,” by Miss
 Black. The excellence of the little book lies in its artless charm, in
 its loose and easy style, in its author’s evident love and delight in
 her subject.’


Of THOMAS REID, by Professor CAMPBELL FRASER,

The _North British Daily Mail_ says:--

 ‘A model of sympathetic appreciation and of succinct and lucid
 exposition.’

The _Scotsman_ says:--

 ‘Professor Campbell Fraser’s volume on Thomas Reid is one of the
 most able and valuable of an able and valuable series. He supplies
 what must be allowed to be a distinct want in our literature, in the
 shape of a brief, popular, and accessible biography of the founder
 of the so-called Scottish School of Philosophy, written with notable
 perspicuity and sympathy by one who has made a special study of the
 problems that engaged the mind of Reid.’

The _Glasgow Herald_ says:--

 ‘We do not know any volume of the “Famous Scots Series” that deserves
 or is likely to receive a heartier welcome from the educated public
 than this life and estimate of Reid by Professor Campbell Fraser. The
 writer is no amateur, but a past-master in the subject of Scottish
 philosophy, and it has evidently been a real pleasure to him to
 expiscate quite a number of new facts regarding the professional and
 private life of its best representative.’

The _Pall Mall Gazette_ says:--

 ‘The little work is of high excellence--comprehensive in view, dear in
 exposition, and exemplary in literary style.’

The _Saturday Review_ says:--

 ‘Mr. Campbell Fraser has added to the “Famous Scots Series” an
 excellent little book on Reid and his philosophy, dealing lucidly with
 the philosopher’s relations with contemporary thinkers and with modern
 thought.’


Of POLLOK AND AYTOUN, by ROSALINE MASSON,

The _Spectator_ says:--

 ‘One of the most artistically conceived and gracefully written of the
 series to which it belongs.’

The _Glasgow Herald_ says:--

 ‘The facts of the two lives are presented by Miss Masson with
 intelligence and spirit, and the volume will take a good place among
 the rest of the series.’


Of ADAM SMITH, by HECTOR C. MACPHERSON,

The _Speaker_ says:--

 ‘This little book is written with brains and a degree of courage which
 is in keeping with its convictions. It has vision, too, and that
 counts for righteousness, if anywhere, in political economy.’

The _Echo_ says:--

 ‘Smith’s life is briefly and clearly told, and there is a good deal
 of independent criticism interspersed amidst the chapters on the
 philosopher’s two principal treatises. Mr. Macpherson’s analysis of
 Smith’s economic teaching makes excellent reading.’

The _Scots Pictorial_ says:--

 ‘One of the best of an admirable series.’

Mr. Herbert Spencer says:--

 ‘I have learned much from your sketch of Adam Smith’s life and
 work. It presents the essential facts in a lucid and interesting
 way. Especially am I glad to see that you have insisted upon the
 individualistic character of his teaching. It is well that his
 authority on the side of individualism should be put forward in these
 days of rampant Socialism, when the great mass of legislative measures
 extend public agency and restrict private agency; the advocates
 of such measures being blind to the fact that by small steps they
 are bringing about a state in which the citizen will have lost all
 freedom.’

The _Glasgow Herald_ says:--

 ‘A sound and able piece of work, and contains a fair and discerning
 estimate of Smith in his essential character as the author of the
 doctrine of Free Trade, and consequently of the modern science of
 economics.’


Of ANDREW MELVILLE, by WILLIAM MORISON,

The _Spectator_ says:--

 ‘The story is well told, and it takes one through a somewhat obscure
 period with which it is well to be acquainted. No better guide could
 be found than Mr. Morison.’

The _Speaker_ says:--

 ‘The great aspects of his career as Principal of Glasgow and then of
 St. Andrews--it has been said that the European renown of the Scottish
 Universities began with Melville--are admirably discussed in this
 virile, and at the same time critical monograph.’

The _North British Daily Mail_ says:--

 ‘Mr. Morison outlines the main facts of Melville’s life-work with
 singular lucidity and point. He displays a full and accurate knowledge
 of the ecclesiastical history of the period, and his judgments are
 invariably sound. Altogether the book is one of the best of the
 series.’

The _British Weekly_ says:--

 ‘Mr. Morison writes with full knowledge of Scottish history, and also
 with what is equally important, perfect sympathy with the strong men
 who made it.’

The _Academy_ says:--

 ‘Mr. Morison has told Melville’s story with a care for accurate
 history.’


Of JAMES FREDERICK FERRIER, by E. S. HALDANE,

The _Scotsman_ says:--

 ‘Ferrier the man, and even Ferrier the professor, Miss Haldane brings
 near to us, an attractive and interesting figure.’

The _Pall Mall Gazette_ says:--

 ‘His splendid and transcendental thought and fine eloquence were so
 inspiring and stimulating, and his personal charm was so fascinating,
 that a study of the man must engage the sympathies of every
 student. The author, who is already known for admirable work in the
 philosophical field, has written an excellent exposition of Ferrier’s
 views.’


Of KING ROBERT THE BRUCE, by Professor MURISON,

The _Morning Leader_ says:--

 ‘Professor Murison has given us a book for which not only Scots, but
 every man who can appreciate a record of great days worthily told will
 be grateful.’

The _Aberdeen Journal_ says:--

 ‘The story of Bruce is brilliantly told in clear and flexible
 language, which draws the reader on with the interest of a novel.
 Professor Murison is a most impartial and thoroughly reliable critic,
 and may be followed with confidence by all who desire a truthful and
 unprejudiced picture of this greatest of the Scots.’

The _Leeds Mercury_ says:--

 ‘A worthy, as it is a necessary, addition to an admirable series.’

The _Speaker_ says:--

 ‘He has sifted for himself State records, official papers, old
 chronicles, and has come to his own conclusions without the aid of
 modern historians. Therein lies the value of the book: it is a fresh,
 independent, critical estimate of a man who emancipated Scotland from
 a thraldom which was almost worse than death. Bruce’s career from
 first to last is described in these pages with uncompromised fidelity,
 and no attempt is made to gloss over the faults of a masterful nature.’

The _Morning Leader_ says:--

 ‘Professor Murison has given us a book for which not only Scots, but
 every man who can appreciate a record of great days worthily told,
 will be grateful.’


 Of JAMES HOGG, THE ETTRICK SHEPHERD, by Sir GEORGE DOUGLAS,

The _Scotsman_ says:--

 ‘Sir George Douglas has contributed a gracefully written and well-knit
 biography of the Ettrick Shepherd to the “Famous Scots” Series. It
 follows in a spirit of kindly criticism the steps of Hogg through the
 shadow and sunshine, the failures and successes of his career, from
 the hillsides of Yarrow and Ettrick to the more slippery places of the
 world of literature, and back again to the solitude of the forest; and
 it gives us judicious and sympathetic appreciations of his work in
 prose and in verse, much of it already fallen into unmerited neglect.’

The _New Age_ says:--

 ‘A capital biography--full, careful, discriminating, and sympathetic.’

The _Daily News_ says:--

 ‘The story of James Hogg’s manly, honourable battle with poverty,
 and of his literary achievement, is excellently told by Sir George
 Douglas.’

The _Expository Times_ says:--

 ‘The book is accurate, and must have cost research, but it is written
 in a pleasant gossipy manner, quite as if Hogg had flung the flavour
 of Hogg’s writings over his biographer.’

_Saint Andrew_ says:--

 ‘We have no hesitation in saying that this valuable and interesting
 volume will be welcomed by the Scots people as heartily as any that
 have preceded it.’


Of THOMAS CAMPBELL, by J. CUTHBERT HADDEN,

The _Scotsman_ says:--

 ‘A very useful, compact, well-digested, and well-written account of
 Campbell’s career and literary labours.’



Transcriber’s Note


In the Daily Chronicle’s review of SIR JAMES YOUNG SIMPSON, by Eve
Blantyre Simpson, “superflous” has been changed to “superfluous”.





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