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Significant Scots
Adam Blackwood

BLACKWOOD, ADAM, a learned writer of the sixteenth century, was born at Dunfermline, in 1539. He was descended from an ancient and respectable family; his father, William Blackwood, was slain in battle ere he was ten years of age, (probably at Pinkie-field); his mother, Helen Reid, who was niece to Robert Reid, Bishop of Orkney, died soon after, of grief for the loss of her husband. By his uncle, the Bishop, he was sent to the university of Paris, but was soon obliged to return, on account of the death of his distinguished relation. Scotland, at this time, was undergoing the agonies of the reformation, under the regency of Mary of Lorrain. Blackwood found it no proper sphere for his education; and therefore soon returned to Paris, where, by the liberality of his youthful sovereign, Queen Mary, then residing at the court of France, he was enabled to complete his studies, and to go through a course of civil law at the university of Thoulouse. Having now acquired some reputation for learning and talent, he was patronized by James Beaton, the expatriated Archbishop of Glasgow, who recommended him very warmly to Queen Mary and her husband, the Dauphin, by whose influence he was chosen a member of the parliament of Poitiers, and afterwards appointed to be professor of civil law at that court.

Poitiers was henceforth the constant residence of Blackwood, and the scene of all his literary exertions. His first work was one entitled, "De Vinculo Religionis et Imperii, Libri Duo," Paris, 1575, to which a third book was added in 1612. The object of this work is to show the necessity under which rulers are laid, of preserving the true—i. e. the Catholic, religion, from the innovations of heretics, as all rebellions arise from that source. Blackwood, by the native tone of his mind, the nature of his education, and the whole train of his associations, was a faithful adherent of the church of Rome, and of the principles of monarchical government. His next work developed these professions in a more perfect manner. It was entitled, "Apologia pro Regibus," and professed to be an answer to George Buchanan’s work, "De Jure Regni apud Scotos." Both of these works argue upon extreme and unfair principles. Buchanan seeks to apply to the simple feudal government of Scotland—a monarchical aristocracy— all the maxims of the Roman republicans. Blackwood, on the other hand, is a slavishly devout advocate for the divine right of kings. In replying to one of Buchanan’s positions, the apologist of kings says, very gravely, that if one of the scholars at St Leonard’s College were to argue in that manner, he would richly deserve to be whipt. Both of the above works are in Latin. He next published, in French, an account of the death of his benefactress, Queen Mary, under the title, " Martyre de Maria Stuart, Reyne d’Escosse," Antwerp, 8vo., 1588. This work is conceived in a tone of bitter resentment regarding the event to which it refers. He addresses himself, in a vehement strain of passion, to all the princes of Europe, to avenge her death; declaring that they are unworthy of royalty, if they are not roused on so interesting and pressing an occasion. At the end of the volume, is a collection of poems in Latin, French, and Italian, upon Mary and Elizabeth; in which the former princess is praised for every excellence, while her murderess is characterised by every epithet expressive of indignation and hate. An anagram was always a good weapon in those days of conceit and false taste; and one which we find in this collection was no doubt looked upon as a most poignant stab at the Queen of England:


In 1598, Blackwood published a manual of devotions under the title, "Sanctarum precationum proemia," which he dedicated to his venerable patron, the Archbishop of Glasgow. The cause of his writing this book was, that by reading much at night he had so weakened his eyes, as to be unable to distinguish his own children at the distance of two or three yards: in the impossibility of employing himself in study, he was prevailed upon, by the advice of the Archbishop, to betake himself to a custom of nocturnal prayer, and hence the composition of this book. In 1606, Blackwood published a Latin poem on the inauguration of James VI., as king of Great Britain. In 1609, appeared at Poitiers, a complete collection of his Latin poems. He died, in 1623, in the 74th year of his age, leaving four sons (of whom one attained to his own senatorial dignity in the parliament of Poitiers), and seven daughters. He was most splendidly interred in St Porcharius’ church at Poitiers, where a marble monument was reared to his memory charged with a long panegyrical epitaph. In 1644, appeared his "Opera Omnia," in one volume 4to., edited by the learned Naudeus, who prefixes an elaborate eulogium upon the author. Blackwood was not only a man of consummate learning and great genius, but is allowed to have also fulfilled, in life, all the duties of a good man.

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