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Significant Scots
Buchanan, George

Buchanan, GeorgeBUCHANAN, GEORGE, one of the most distinguished reformers, political and religious, of the sixteenth century, and the best Latin poet which modern Europe has produced, was born in the parish of Killearn, Stirlingshire, in February, 1506, " of a family," to use his own words, " more ancient than wealthy." His father, Thomas, was the second son of Thomas Buchanan of Drumikill, from whom he inherited the farm of Moss, on the western bank of the water of Blane, the house where, though it has been several times rebuilt, still, in honour of the subject of this memoir, preserves its original shape, and dimensions, with a considerable portion of its original materials. His mother was Agnes Heriot of the family of Tabroun in East Lothian. The Buchanans of Drumikill were highly respectable, being a branch of the family of Buchanan of Buchanan, which place they held by charter as far back as the reign of Malcolm III. Antiquity of descent, however, is no preservative against poverty, of which our poet’s family had their full share, for the bankruptcy of his grandfather, the laird of Drumikill, and the death of his father while in the flower of his age, left George Buchanan, when yet a child, with four brothers and three sisters, with no provision for their future subsistence but their mother’s industry. She appears, however, to have been a woman of excellent qualities; and by the prudent management of the farm, which she retained in her own hands, brought up her family in a respectable manner, and had the satisfaction of seeing them all comfortably settled. George, the third son, received the rudiments of his education in the school of his native village, which was at that time one of the most celebrated in Scotland; and having at an early period given indications of genius, his maternal uncle, James Heriot, was induced to undertake the care and expence of his education; and, in order to give him every possible advantage, sent him, in 1520, when fifteen years of age, to prosecute his studies in the university of Paris. Here he studied with the greatest diligence, and impelled, as he has himself told us, partly by his inclination, and partly by the necessity of performing the exercises of his class, put forth the first blossom of a poetical genius that was afterwards to bear the rich fruits of immortality. Scarcely, however, had his bright morning dawned when it became suddenly overcast. Before he had completed his second year, his uncle died, leaving him in a foreign land, exposed to all the miseries of poverty, aggravated by bodily infirmity, occasioned, most probably, by the severity of his studies, for, at the same time that he was in public competing with the greatest talent of the several nations of Europe, who, as to a common fountain, were assembled at this far famed centre of learning, he was teaching himself Greek, in which he was latterly a great proficient. He was now obliged to return home, and for upwards of a twelvemonth, was incapable of applying to any business. In 1523, he joined the auxiliaries brought over from France by Albany, then Regent of Scotland; and served as a private soldier in one campaign against the English. He tells us that he took this step from a desire to learn the art of war; but perhaps necessity was as strong a prompter as military ardour. Whatever were his motives, he marched with the army commanded by the Regent in person, who entered England and laid siege to the castle of Werk, in the end of October, 1523. Repulsed in all his attempts on the place, Albany, from the disaffection among his troops and the daily increasing strength of the enemy, soon found himself under the necessity of re-crossing the Tweed; and being overtaken by a severe snow storm in a night march toward Lauder, lost a great part of his army; Buchanan escaped, but, completely cured of his warlike enthusiasm, if any such sentiment ever inspired him, was confined the rest of the winter to his bed. In the ensuing spring, being considerably recovered, and having completed his eighteenth year, he was sent to the university of St Andrews to attend the prelections of John Mair, or Major, who at that time, according to his celebrated pupil, " taught logic, or, more properly, the art of sophistry," in St Salvator's college. Buchanan's eldest brother, Patrick, was matriculated at the same time. Having continued one session at St Andrews, where he took the degree of Bachelor of Arts, on the 3d of October, 1525, being then, as appears from the college registers, a pauper or exhibitioner, he accompanied Major to France the following summer. Mackenzie says, that, on account of his great merits and at the same time his great poverty, Major sent for him, in 1524, and took him into his house as a servant, in which capacity it was that Buchanan went with him to Paris, and remained with him two years; but this has been regarded by the vindicators of Buchanan as a story set forth for the purpose of fixing a charge of ingratitude upon the poet, for an epigram which he wrote upon one of Major's productions, and in which his old instructor is termed" solo cognomine major."

On returning to France, Buchanan became a student in the Scots college of Paris, and in March was incorporated a bachelor of Arts - the degree of Master of Arts he received in April, 1528. In June the following year he was elected procurator for the German nation, one of the four classes, into which the students were divided, and which included those from Scotland. The principles of the Reformation were by this time widely extended on the continent, and every where excited the most eager discussion. Upon Buchanan's ardent and generous mind they made a powerful impression, and it was not in his nature to conceal it. Yet he seems to have acted with considerable caution, and was in no haste to renounce the established forms of worship, whence we conclude that the reported mortifications he is said to have met with at this time and on that account are without foundation. At the end of two years he was elected a professor in the college of St Barbe, where he taught grammar three years; and, if we may believe himself; his remuneration was such as to render his circumstances at least comparatively comfortable. It appears to have been in 1529, that this office was conferred upon him; he was consequently only in his twenty-third year. Soon after entering on his professorship, Buchanan attracted the notice of Gilbert Kennedy, earl of Cassillis, then residing in Paris, whither he had been sent to prosecute his studies, as the Scottish nobility at that period generally were; and at the end of three years Buchanan was engaged to devote his time entirely to the care of the young Earl's education. With this nobleman he resided as preceptor for five years; and to him, as "a youth of promising talents and excellent disposition," he inscribed his first published work, a translation of Linacre's rudiments of Latin grammar, which was printed by the learned Robert Stephens, in 1533.

In 1536, James V, made a matrimonial excursion to France, where he found the earl of Cassillis, who had just finished his education. James having, on the 1st of January, 1537, married Magdalene, daughter of Francis I., returned to Scotland in May, bringing with him Cassillis and George Buchanan. This accounts for the future intimacy between the latter person and the king, which in the end was like to have had a tragical termination. The connexion between Buchanan and the earl seems, however, not to have been immediately dissolved; for it was while residing at the house of his pupil, that the poet composed Somnium or the Dream, apparently an imitation of a poem of Dunbar's, entitled " How Dunbar was desyred to be ane frier," and a bitter satire upon the impudence and hypocrisy of the Franciscans. This piece of raillery excited the utmost hostility on the part of its objects, and to avoid their vengeance, which he had every reason to dread, Buchanan had determined to retire to Paris, where he hoped to be able to resume his former situation in the college of St Barbe. James V., however, took him under his protection, and retained him as preceptor to his natural son James Stuart, not the prior of St Andrews, whose mother was of the family of Mar, but one of the same baptismal name who held the abbacies of Melrose and Kelso, and whose mother was Elizabeth Schaw, of the family of Sauchie, and who died in the year 1548. James, who about this time was not satisfied with the conduct of the clergy, in regard to a conspiracy against his life, said to have been entered into by some of the nobility, sent for Buchanan, and not aware that he had already rendered himself obnoxious to the Franciscans, commanded him to write a satire against them. Wishing to gratify the king, and yet give as little additional ground of offence to the friars as possible, Buchanan wrote his Palinodia in two parts, a covert satire, which he hoped might afford no ground of open complaint to those against whom it was directed. The king, himself a poet, coarse and licentious, did not at all relish this delicate kind of irony, and it wounded the ecclesiastics still more painfully than its predecessor the Somnium; so that, as it usually happens in an attempt to please one party without offending the other, the poet’s labour proved vain. Finding it impossible to propitiate the friars, and the king still insisting upon their vices being fully and fairly exposed, he at last gave full scope to his indignation at the impudence, ignorance, impiety, and sensuality that distinguished the whole order, almost without an individual exception, in his poem entitled "Franciscanus," one of the most pungent satires to be found in any language. In this composition Buchanan had little occasion to exercise his fancy, facts were so abundant. He had but to embody in flowing language, what was passing before all men's eyes, and depict the clergy as the most contemptible and the most depraved of human beings, who, besides being robbers of the poor, lived, the far greater part of them, in the open and avowed practice of the most loathsome debauchery. Still they were the most powerful body in the state; and after the death of Magdalene, who had been bred under her aunt, the queen of Navarre, a protestant, and was friendly to the cause, they gained an entire ascendancy over the too facile King, who had not the grace to protect the tutor of his son from the effects of their rage, occasioned by poems that had been written at his own express command. Towards the end of the year 1538, measures were taken for the total suppression of the new opinions, and in February following, five persons were committed to the flames; nine saved their lives by burning their bills, as it was called, or in other words recanting. Among the rest George Buchanan was on this occasion seized, and to secure ample vengeance upon him, Cardinal Beaton offered the king a sum of money for his life; a piece of supererogatory wickedness, for which there was not the smallest occasion, as the prejudices of his judges would infallibly have secured his condemnation, had he been brought before any of their tribunals; but aware of the mortal enmity of his accusers, he fled into England. By the way he happily escaped a pestilential distemper, which was at that time desolating the north of England, and when he arrived in London, experienced the protection of an English knight, Sir John Rainsford, who both supplied his immediate necessities, and protected him from the fury of the papists, to whom he was now every where obnoxious. On this occasion it was that he addressed himself to Henry VIII. and to his minister Cromwell, both of whom treated him with neglect. Several of his little pieces written at this time attest the straits to which he was reduced. England at that period had few at tractions for a Scotsman; and it must have been peculiarly galling to the lofty spirit of Buchanan, after stooping to solicit patronage among the natural enemies of his country, to find his efforts despised, and his necessities disregarded. Meeting with so little encouragement there, he passed over to Paris, where he was well known, and had many acquaintances. But here to his dismay he found Cardinal Beaton resident as ambassador from the Scottish court. This circumstance rendered it extremely unsafe for him to remain; happily he was invited to Bourdeaux by Andrew Govea, a Portuguese, principal of the college of Guienne, lately founded in that city, through whose interest he was appointed professor of humanity in that afterwards highly famed seminary. Here Buchanan remained for three years, during which he completed four Tragedies, besides composing a number of poems on miscellaneous subjects. He was all this while the object of the unwearied enmity of Cardinal Beaton and the Franciscans, who still threatened his life. The Cardinal at one time wrote to the bishop of Bourdeaux, commanding him to secure the person of the heretical poet, which might perhaps have been done; but the letter falling into the hands of one of the poet's friends, was detained till the appearance of a pestilence in Guienne absorbed every lesser concern. The death of James V. following soon after, with the distractions consequent on that event, gave the Cardinal more than enough to do at home without taking cognizance of heretics abroad. Among his pupils at Bourdeaux, Buchanan numbered the celebrated Michael de Montagne, who was an actor in every one of his dramas; and among his friends were not only his fellow professors, but all the men of literature and science in the city and neighbourhood. One of the most illustrious of these was the elder Scaliger, who resided and practised as a physician at Agin; at his house Buchanan and the other professors used to spend part of their vacations. Here they were hospitably entertained, and in their society Scaliger seems not only to have forgot, as he himself acknowledges, the tortures of the gout, but, what was more extraordinary, his natural talent for contradiction. The many excellent qualities of this eminent scholar, and the grateful recollection of his conversational talents, Buchanan has preserved in an elegant Latin Epigram, apparently written at the time when he was about to quit this seat of the muses, to enter upon new scenes of difficulty and danger. The younger Scaliger was but a boy when Buchnnan visited at his father's house; but he inherited all his father's admiration of the Scottish poet, whom he declared to be decidedly superior to all the Latin poets of those times. After having resided three years at Bourdeaux, and conferred lustre upon its University by the splendour of his talents, Buchanan removed, for reasons which we are not acquainted with, to Paris; and in 1544, we find him one of the regents in the college of Cardinal le Moire, which station he seems to have held till 1547. There he had for his associates, among other highly respectable names, the celebrated Turnebus and Muretus. By a Latin elegy addressed to his late colleagues Tastoeus and Tevius, we learn that about this period he had a severe attack of the gout, and that he had been under the medical care of Carolus Stephanus, who was a doctor of physic of the faculty of Paris, and, like several of his relations, was equally distinguished as a scholar and as a printer. In the same elegy, Buchanan commemorates the kindness of his colleagues, particularly of Gelida, an amiable and learned Spaniard, less eminent for talents than Buchanan's other colleagues, Turnebus and Muretus, but as a man of true moral worth and excellence, at least equal to the former and vastly superior to the latter, who, though a man of splendid talents, was worthless in the extreme. To Muretus, Buchanan addressed a copy of verses on a Tragedy written by him in his youth, entitled Julius Caesar; but Muretus had not as yet put forth those monstrosities of character, that ought long ago to have buried his name in oblivion. 1

In the year 1547 Buchanan again shifted his place, and, along with his Portuguese friend, Andrew Govea, passed into Portugal. Govea, with two brothers, had been sent for his education into France, by John III. of Portugal, who having now founded the university of Coimbra, recalled him to take the principal superintendence of the infant establishment. Aware, at the same time, that his whole kingdom could not furnish a sufficiency of learned men to fill the various chairs, his majesty commissioned Govea to bring a number of learned men with him for that purpose. The persons selected were George Buchanan, his elder brother Patrick, Gruchius, Geruntreus, Tevius, and Vinetus, all of, whom had already distinguished themselves by the publication of learned works. Arnoldus Fabricius, John Costa, and Anthony Mendez, the two latter natives of Portugal, completed the establishment, and all of them, Patrick Buchanan and Fabricius excepted, had, under Govea, been teachers in the college of Guienne, France, at this period, threatened to be the scene of great convulsions, and Buchanan regarded this retirement to Portugal as an exceedingly fortunate circumstance, and for a short time his expectations were fully realized. Govea, however, died in less than a twelvemonth, and, deprived of his protection, the poor professors soon found themselves exposed to the jealousy of the natives on account of being foreigners, and to the unrelenting bigotry of the priests because they were scholars. Three of their number were very soon immured in the dungeons of the inquisition, and, after a tedious confinement, brought before that tribunal, which, unable to convict them of any crime, overwhelmed them with reproaches, and remanded them to their dungeons, without permitting them so much as to know who were their accusers. Buchanan did not escape his share of this persecution. Franciscanus was again revived against him, though the inquisitors knew nothing of that poem; for he had never parted with a copy, save that which he gave to his own king, James V., and he had taken care to have the whole affair properly explained to the Portuguese monarch before he set foot in his dominions. He was also charged with eating flesh in Lent, a practice quite common in Portugal at that time, and with having asserted that Augustine's opinion of the Eucharist coincided with the protestant rather than with the Romish views on the subject, and two witnesses were found to declare that he was an enemy to the Roman faith. More merciful than on many other occasions, the inquisition, after dealing with Buchanan for upwards of a year and a half, sentenced him to be confined in a monastery for some months, that he might by the inmates be better instructed in the principles and practice of religion. Fortunately, the monks to whose care Buchanan was thus consigned were not without humanity, though he found them utterly ignorant of religion; and he consoled himself by planning, and in part executing, his unrivalled paraphrase of the Psalms of David, which placed him immeasurably above all modern Latin poets, and will transmit his name with honour and admiration to the latest posterity. That this was a task imposed upon him by his ghostly guardians, is an idle tale totally devoid of foundation. The probability is that the poor monks were incapable of appreciating his labours, but he seems to have gained their good will, for he was restored to his liberty, and soliciting the king's permission to return to France, was requested to remain, and presented with a small sum of money for subsistence till a situation worthy of his talents should be found.

After having suffered so much from the inquisition, Buchanan could not be very ambitious of Portuguese preferment, and the promise of the king not being likely to be hastily fulfilled, he embarked in a Greek vessel at Lisbon and sailed for England. To England, however, he certainly had no partiality; and though Edward VI. was now on the throne, and doing all he could to advance the work of reformation, and though some very advantageous offers were made to induce him to settle in that country, he proceeded direct to France, where he arrived in the beginning of 1553. It was at this time that Buchanan wrote his poem, Adventus in Galliam, in which his contempt and resentment of the Portuguese, and the treatment he had received, together with his affection for the French nation, are strongly expressed. Perhaps it would be too much to say that the French nation was attached to Buchanan, but many individuals of it certainly were, and immediately on his arrival in Paris he was appointed to a regency in the college of Boncourt. In this station he remained till 1555, when he was engaged by the celebrated Comte de Brissac, to act as domestic tutor to his son, Timoleon de Cosse. To this nobleman he had addressed a poetical tribute after the capture or Vercelli, an event which occurred in September, 1553; and to him also he dedicated his tragedy of Jepthes in the summer of 1554. The Comte, who seems not to have been insensible to this species of flattery, next year called the poet into Italy, where he himself presided over the French dominions, and charged him with the education of his son. Though much of his time had been spent amidst the tumults of war, the Marshal de Brissac was a man of a. liberal mind, who, living in a state of princely magnificence, cultivated an acquaintance with the most eminent scholars. During his campaigns he had often been accompanied by men of learning, and had the discernment to discover in the preceptor of his son, powers of mind equal to any station in society. He therefore treated him with the utmost deference, often placing him at the council board among his principal officers, and on the most important occasions thought it no discredit to take the benefit of his superior sagacity. When committed to the tuition of Buchanan, Timoleon de Cosse was only twelve years of age, and he parted with him at the age of seventeen. He was afterwards distinguished for his bravery, for his acquaintance with military science, and his literary attainments were such as reflected honour on a young nobleman destined for the profession of arms. His short but brilliant career terminated at the siege of Mucidan, where he fell by a musket ball, aged only twenty-six years. During the five years of his connexion with this illustrious family, Buchanan's residence was alternately in France and Italy, and as his pupil was destined to the profession of arms, and had different masters to attend him, he found leisure for prosecuting his poetical studies, and formed the design, and composed part of his philosophical poem De Sphera, which he addressed to his pupil. His future avocations prevented him from completing this poem. He likewise published the first specimen of his version of the Psalms, and his translation of the Alcestes of Euripides, which he inscribed to Margaret, daughter of Francis I., a munificent princess, afterwards married to the Duke of Savoy. His ode on the surrender of Calais was also composed while in Brissac's family. But much of his spare time was employed in a manner still more important - in examining the grounds of his religious belief, and settling to his own satisfaction the great question (that has ever since, more or less, agitated Europe) between the Romish and the reformed churches. That he had all along inclined to the side of the reformed, is indisputable; but he had never relinquished his connexion with the ancient church, which he had probably thought still right in the main, though disfigured and disgraced by the figments and the follies of an ignorant and corrupt priesthood. The result of this examination, however, was a perfect conviction that many of the Romish doctrines were erroneous; that the worship was idolatrous; and the discipline utterly depraved and perverted; and, consequently, that the necessity of separation from this church was imperative upon all who had any regard to the Word of God and the salvation of their own souls: and no sooner did he arrive in Scotland than he acted accordingly.

As Buchanan's connexion with the Marshal de Brissac terminated in 1560, when the civil wars in France had already begun, he probably returned immediately to Scotland, though the exact period has not been ascertained. He had courted, while he resided in France, the notice of Mary, by an Epithalamium on her marriage with the Dauphin; and in January, 1561-2, we find Randolph, the English ambassador, writing thus from Edinburgh to his employers: "Ther is with the quene [Mary] one called George Bowhanan a Scottishe man very well learned, that was Schollemaster unto Mons' de Brissack's son, very Godlye and honest." And in a subsequent letter, dated from St Andrews, he says, "the quene readeth daylie after her dinner, instructed by a learned man, Mr George Bowhanan, somewhat of Livy." Mary had been sent to France in the sixth year of her age, and her education had in some respects been carefully attended to. She spoke Scottish and French, as if both had been her vernacular tongue, which in some degree they might be said to be. With Italian and Spanish she was familiar, and she was so much a master of Latin as to compose and pronounce in that language, before a splendid auditory, a declamation against the opinion of those who would debar the sex from the liberal pursuits of science and literature. This oration she afterwards translated into French, but neither the translation nor the original has been published. Mary was at this time in the full bloom of youth and beauty, and to have such a pupil must have been highly gratifying to Buchanan, who, with all the leaders of the reformation in Scotland, was at first much attached to her. This attachment he took occasion to express in a highly finished copy of Latin verses, prefixed to his translation of the Psalms, which he had just finished, and sent to the press of his friend Henry Stephens. The exact date of the first full edition of this important work is not known, no date being on the title; but a second edition was printed in 1566, in which was included the author's tragedy of Jepthes. On the titlepage of both these impressions, Buchanan is styled Poetarum nostri saeculi facile princeps, and the paraphrase was recommended by copies of' Greek verses by the printer, Henry Stephens, one of the first scholars of the age, by Franciscus Portus, and Fredricus Jamotius, and in Latin verses by Henry Stephens and Castlevetro. Mary must have been highly pleased by a compliment which carried her fame over all Europe, and as a reward for his services, bestowed upon her preceptor and poet, in 1564, the temporalities of the abbey of Crossraguell, vacant by the death of Quintin Kennedy, brother to Buchanan's former pupil, the Earl of Cassillis. These temporalities were valued at five hundred pounds Scots a-year, and the poet seems to have held them till the day of his death. Mary's love of power, and her attachment to popery, soon, however, alienated the affections of her friends; and, aware that he held her favour by a precarious tenure, Buchanan sedulously cultivated the friendship of the leaders of the reformation, which was now become the first object of his solicitude. In the same year in which he was promoted to the temporalities of Crossraguell, he prepared for the press a collection of satires, " Fratres Fraterrimi," in which the fooleries and impurities of the popish church were treated with the keenest irony, and assailed with the most vehement invective. He also now put the finishing hand to his Franciscanus, which he published, with a dedication to his friend and patron, the Earl of Murray. Through the interest of this nobleman, Buchanan was nominated to be principal of St Leonard's college, St Andrews, in 1566. In November this year, his name appears as one of the auditors of the faculty questor's accounts in the university of St Andrew's, where he had now fixed his residence. The chamber which he occupied, as principal of St Leonard's, is now part of a private dwelling house, and is supposed to have undergone scarcely any transformation. The following inventory of its furniture, in 1544, has been preserved: - " Twa standard beds, the foreside of aik and the northside and the fuits of fir - Item ane feather bed and ane white plaid of four ells and ane covering woven o'er with images - Item another auld bed of harden filled with straw with ane covering of green - Item ane cod - Item ane inrower of buckram of five breeds part green part red to zaillow - Item ane Hunters counter of the middlin kind - Item ane little buird for the sstudzie - Item ane furm of fir and ane little letterin of aik on the side of the bed with ane image of St Jerom - Item ane stool of elm with ane other chair of little pine - Item ane chimney weighing * * * - Item ane chandler weighing * * *." In 1566, and the two ensuing years, he was one of the four electors of the rector, and by each of the three officers who were successively chosen was nominated a pro- rector; and in the public register he is denominated by the honourable title which, in publishing his Psalms, Stephanus had bestowed on him. As principal of the college, he delivered occasional prelections on theology, as well as at the weekly meetings of the clergy and other learned men of the district, held for expounding the Scriptures, then styled the exercise of prophesying, and in the general assembly of the Scottish church he sat as a doctor from the year 1563 to 1567, in which last year he had the honour of being chosen moderator. This same year he published another collection, consisting of Elegiae Silvae Hendecasyllabi, to which was prefixed an epistle to his friend Peter Daniel, the learned editor of Virgil, with the commentary of Servius, in which he gives several notices respecting his avocations, and especially respecting his poetical works. "Between the occupations of a court, and the annoyance of disease, I have hardly," he remarks, " been able to steal any portion of time which I could devote to my friends or to myself, and I have therefore been prevented from maintaining a frequent correspondence with them, and from collecting my poems which lie so widely dispersed. For my own part I was not extremely solicitous to recall them from perdition, for the subjects are generally of a trivial nature, and such as at this period of life are at once calculated to inspire me with disgust and shame. But as Pierre Montaure, and some other friends, to whom I neither can nor ought to refuse any request, demanded them with such earnestness, I have employed some of my leisure hours in collecting a portion, and placing it in a state of arrangement. With this specimen, which consists of one book of elegies, another of miscellanies, and a third of hendecasyllables, I in the meantime present you. When it shall suit your convenience, I beg you will communicate them to Montaure, des Mesmes, and other philological friends, without whose advice I trust you will not adopt any measure relative to their publication. In a short time I propose sending a book of iambics, another of epigrams, another of odes, and perhaps some other pieces of a similar description. All these I wish to be at the disposal of my friends, as I have finally determined to rely more on their judgment than on my own. In my paraphrase of the Psalms, I have corrected many typographical errors, and have likewise made various alterations. I must therefore request you to advise our friend Stephanus not to publish a new edition without my knowledge. Hitherto I have not found leisure to finish the second book of my poem De Sphera, and therefore I have not made a transcript of the first. As soon as the former are completed I shall transmit them to you. Salute in my name all our friends at Orleans, and such others as it may be convenient. Farewell. Edinburgh, July the twenty-fourth, 1566." The work, of course, met with his friend's approbation, and was printed in Paris by Robert Stephens in 1567, 12mo. We have already noticed that the poem De Sphera was never completed. From the above letter it appears that it was Buchanan's intention to return to it when he should have finished some others that were in a greater state of forwardness, and did not require such a full command of his time as a work of greater magnitude. Circumstances, however, soon put a period to these peaceful and pleasing pursuits.

The marriage of Mary and Darnley, the murders of Rizzio and Darnley, the union between the Queen and Bothwell, the flight of the latter, Mary's surrender to the confederated lords, her imprisonment in Lochleven castle, and her escape from it, the defeat of her army at Langside, and her escape into England, are the events best known of any in Scottish history, and it is needless here to enlarge upon them. When Elizabeth thought fit to appoint commissioners, and call witnesses from Scotland for the purpose of substantiating the charges upon which Mary had been expelled from the throne, the main burden of the proof was devolved upon Buchanan, who had accepted favours from the Queen, indeed, but did not on that account either decline the task of becoming her accuser, or perform it with the less severity. He accordingly accompanied the Regent Murray into England upon that occasion, having composed in Latin a Detection of Mary's actions, which was laid before the commissioners at Westminster, and was afterwards most industriously circulated by the English court. To the same pen has also been ascribed the Actio contra Mariam Scotorum Reginam, a coarse and scurrilous invective, which was printed in England along with the Detection, but of which no man capable of reading Buchanan's works will believe that he ever composed one line. ‘‘The Detection," says an eminent historian, " is a concise historical deduction of facts, a rapid narrative written with that chaste and classical precision of thought and language by which each sentence acquires an appropriate idea distinct from the preceding, neither anticipated, repeated, nor intermixed with others; and the style is so strictly historical that the work is incorporated in Buchanan's history almost without alteration. But the Action against Mary is a dull declamation and a malignant invective, written in professed imitation of the ancient orators, whom Buchanan has never imitated, without arrangement of parts, coherence, or a regular train of ideas, and without a single passage which Buchanan in his history has deigned to transcribe. "The assassination of the Regent Murray soon after his return from England, threw the nation into a still deeper ferment, and Buchanan, strongly suspicious of the selfish policy of the Hamiltons, which he regarded as the principal source of the calamities that now afflicted the nation, addressed "Ane admonition direct to the true lordis maintainirs of the kingis graces authorite," in which he earnestly adjured them to protect the young king and the children of the late regent from the perils that seemed to impend over them. The same year he composed a satirical delineation of the character of the secretary Lethington, entitled, Chameleon, which, through the vigilance of the secretary, was prevented from being published at the time. A copy, however, was preserved among the Cotton MSS. dated 1570, and it was printed at London, in 1710, in the Miscellanea Scotica. It has been often reprinted since. These two pieces appear to be all that he ever composed in his vernacular tongue, and they are of such excellence as to make it matter of regret that he did not turn his attention oftener to the cultivation of his native language. As the hopes of the protestant party were entirely centred in King James, Buchanan was, in 1570, selected by the lords of the privy council, and others of the nobility, assembled on occasion of the slaughter of the regent Murray, to take the superintendence of that important matter, the education of the royal youth. On this occasion he "compeared personally in presence of the said lords of the council, nobility, and others of the estates, and at their desire, and of his own free will and proper motive, demitted and gave over his charge and place of master of the said college, (St Leonards,) in the favours of his well-beloved Master Patrick Adamson, and no otherwise."2

Buchanan commenced his new duties with ardour; and the very respectable scholarship which his pupil exhibited in after life, shows that so far he exceeded his task with great success. James' had been committed, during his infancy, to the charge of the Earl of Mar, a nobleman of the most unblemished integrity, and he was now in the fourth year of his age. His governor was Sir Alexander Erskine, brother to the Earl of Mar, "a gallant well-natured gentleman, loved and honoured by all men." The preceptors associated with Buchanana were Mr Peter Young, and the abbots of Cambuskenneth and Dryburgh, both of them related to the family of Mar. Young was a man of a mild disposition, respectable both for his talents and learning; and he discharged his office with a prudent attention to his future interests. Recollecting that his pupil was soon to be the sole dispenser of public favour, he was careful to secure his good graces, and of course was afterwards employed in several political transactions of considerable importance, obtained the honour of knighthood, and an annual pension of considerable amount. The two abbots, also, were wise and modest according to Sir James Melville, but the Lady Mar was wise and sharp, and held the king in great awe, and so did Mr George Buchanan. "But Mr George," Melville adds, "was a Stoic philosopher, who looked not far beforehand; a man of notable endowments for his learning and knowlledge of Latin poesy; much honoured in other countries; pleasant in conversation, rehearsing at all occasions moralities short and instructive, whereof he had abundance, inventing when he wanted." The austere spirit of Buchanan was not to be swayed by considerations of self-interest. Called in his old age to the discharge of this task, he seems to have performed it with an entire disregard of personal consequences. The result was, as we have said, that he certainly succeeded in beating a respectable degree of scholarship into his royal pupil, but left James's mind untinged with any respect or affection for his instructor. On the contrary, the king long remembered him with a feeling of horror, and used to say of one of his English courtiers, in the latter part of his life, that he never could help trembling at his approach, he reminded him so strongly of his pedagogue. Concerning Buchanan's treatment of his royal pupil there are preserved more anecdotes than in reference to any other period of his life; which, if we are to believe them, show that he neither spared castigation nor reproach. The Master of Erskine, who was the prince’s playmate, had a tame sparrow, possession of which was coveted by James, and ineffectually entreated from the owner. James had recourse to violence in order to obtain what he desired, and the one boy pulled and the other held till the poor sparrow was killed in the struggle. The loss of his little favourite caused the Master of Erskine to shed tears, and make, as is usual ill such cases, a lusty outcry. This brought the matter under the notice of Buchanan, who, Mackenzie says, "gave the king a box on the ear, and told him that what he had done was like a true bird of the bloody nest of which he had come." A more pleasing anecdote is thus related by Dr. Irving: - "One of the earliest propensities which he [James] discovered, was an excessive attachment to favourites; and this weakness, which ought to have been abandoned with the other characteristics of childhood, continued to retain its ascendancy during every stage of his life. His facility in complying with every request alarmed the prophetic sagacity of Buchanan. On the authority of the poet's nephew, Chytreus has recorded a ludicrous expedient which he adopted for the purpose of correcting his pupil’s conduct. He presented the young king with two papers which he requested him to sign; and James, after having slightly interrogated him concerning their contents, readily appended his signature to each, without the precaution of even a cursory perusal. One of them was a formal transference of the regal authority for the term of fifteen days. Having quitted the royal presence, one of the courtiers accosted him with his usual salutation: but to this astonished nobleman he announced himself in the new character of a sovereign; and with that happy urbanity of humour, for which he was so distinguished, he began to assume the high demeanor of royalty. He afterwards preserved the same deportment towards the king himself; and when James expressed his amazement at such extraordinary conduct, Buchanan admonished him of his having resigned the crown. This reply did not tend to lessen the monarch's surprise; for he now began to suspect his preceptor of mental derangement. Buchanan then produced the instrument by which he was formally invested; and, with the authority of a tutor, proceeded to remind him of the absurdity of assenting to petitions in so rash a manner."

When nominated the king's preceptor, Buchanan was also appointed director of the chancery; but this he does not appear to have long held. The same year he was made keeper of the privy seal in the room of John, afterwards lord, Maitland, who was deprived for his adherence to the queen. This office, both honourable and lucrative, and which entitled him to a seat in parliament, he held for several years. In April, 1578, he nominally resigned it in favour of his nephew, Thomas, son of Alexander Buchanan of Sleat; but this seems to have been done only to secure the reversion, for, in the following June and July, he continued to vote in parliament, and, so late as 1580, was addressed by his foreign correspondents as preceptor and counsellor to king James. In the management of public affairs Buchanan seems to have taken a lively interest, and to have been equally consulted as a politician and a scholar. Accordingly, in 1578, we find him forming one of a numerous commission, among whom was another poet and scholar, archbishop Adamson, appointed to examine and digest the existing laws; a most desirable object, but one that from its difficulty was never carried fully into effect. He was also included in two commissions for the improvement of education. The first was to rectify an inconvenience arising from the use of different grammars in the schools. Of the committee appointed for this purpose, Buchanan was president, and the other members were Messrs Peter Young, Andrew Sympson, and James Carmichael. They met in Stirling palace, and were entertained during the continuance of their labours at the charge of the king. Having declared all the grammars in use defective, they resolved that three of their number should compile a new one. To Sympson were assigned the rudiments; to Carmichael what is improperly termed etymology; and to Buchanan the department of prosody. Their respective tracts were committed to the press, and authorized by all order of the king and council; but they continued to be standards of instruction for a very short time, and have long been utterly forgotten. The second commission to which we have referred, was appointed by the parliament of 1578, to visit the colleges, to reform such things as tended to popery, to displace unqualified persons, and to establish such persons therein as they should judge fit for the education of youth. The university of St Andrews was the subject of the first experiment. Having found many things to alter and redress, the commissioners prepared a scheme of reformation, which was ratified by parliament. This document, written in the Scottish tongue by George Buchanan, is still preserved. The plan of improvement is skilfully delineated, and evidently presupposes that there was no want of learned men in the nation, but it was never carried into effect.

With the regents Murray, Lennox, and Mar, Buchanan was cordially united; but Morton in the end forfeited his good-will by the plans of self-aggrandizement which he so sedulously pursued;3 and it was principally by his advice and that of Sir Alexander Erskine that Morton was deposed, and the reins of government put into the king's hands, though he was yet only in his twelfth year. He was of course a member of the privy council appointed for the young monarch, but seems to have been displaced on Morton's return to power; and we are uncertain if he ever again held any political office. It is probably to this short period of political influence that we are to ascribe the following anecdote of Buchanan, related by Dr. Gilbert Stuart in his Observations concerning the Public Law and the Constitutional History of Scotland; "In feudal times," that writer observes, "when the sovereign upon his advancement to the royalty was to swear fidelity to his subjects, and to pay homage to the laws, he delivered his naked sword into the hands of the high constable. 'Use this in my defence,' said he, ‘while I support the interests of my people; use it to my destruction when I forsake them.' In allusion to this form, Buchanan made a naked sword to be represented on the money coined in the minority of James VI., with these words, Pro me; si mereor, in me."

A list of twenty-four Scotsmen has been preserved, whom, on the king's assuming the reins of government, Elizabeth thought it necessary to attach to her interest by pensions, and among these Buchanan stands at 100 per year; no contemptible sum in those days, and the same that was assigned to some of the first nobles of the land. There is no evidence that he ever received this gratuity, or that it was offered to him. Mackenzie, however, states it as a certainty, and adds, that the composition of his "De Jure Regni apud Scotos," was the grateful service he performed in return - an assertion not likely, considering that the doctrines of this book were not very consonant to the views of that high minded princess. The "De Jure" was composed principally with a view to instruct his royal pupil in what belonged to his office.

In 1576, he prepared his Baptistes, and dedicated it to the young king, with a freedom of sentiment bordering upon disrespect, which is to be regretted, because if his lessons had been conveyed in a less dictatorial manner, there would have been more likelihood of their being attended with advantage. "This trifle may seem," he says, "to have a more important reference to you, because it clearly discloses the punishment of tyrants, and the misery which awaits them even when their prosperity is at the highest. Such knowledge I consider it not only expedient but necessary that you should acquire, in order that you may early begin to hate what you ought always to shun; and I wish this work to remain as a witness to posterity, that if impelled by evil councillors, or suffering the licentiousness of royalty to prevail over a virtuous education, you should hereafter be guilty of any improper conduct, the fault may be imputed not to your preceptors, but to you who have not obeyed their salutary admonitions." Three years after, in 1579, he published the above-mentioned compendium of political Philosophy, the professed object of which is to delineate the rights of the Scottish crown: The origin of the work, which is sufficiently remote from that assigned by Mackenzie, is fully detailed in the dedication to the king, which is of so peculiar a character, that it would be unpardonable to pass it over. "Several years ago," he begins, "when our affairs were in a most turbulent condition, I composed a dialogue on the prerogatives of the Scottish crown, in which I endeavoured to explain, from their very cradle, if I may adopt that expression, the reciprocal rights and privileges of kings and their subjects. Although the work seemed to be of some immediate utility, by silencing certain individuals, who, with importunate clamours, rather inveighed against the existing state of things, than examined what was conformable to the standard of reason, yet in consequence of returning tranquillity, I, willingly consecrated my arms to public concord. But having lately met with this disputation among my papers, and supposed it to contain many precepts necessary for your tender age, (especially as it is so conspicuously elevated in the scale of human affairs,) I have deemed its publication expedient, that it may at once testify my zeal for your service, and admonish you of your duty to the community. Many circumstances tend to convince me, that my present exertions will not prove fruitless, especially your age yet uncorrupted by perverse opinions, a disposition above your years spontaneously urging you to every noble pursuit, a facility in obeying not only your preceptors, but all prudent monitors; a judgment and dexterity in disquisition which prevents you from paying much regard to authority, unless it be confirmed by solid argument. I likewise perceive that by a kind of natural instinct you so abhor flattery, the nurse of tyranny, and the most grievous pest of a legitimate monarchy, that you as heartily hate the courtly solecisms and barbarisms, as they are relished and affected by those who consider themselves as the arbiters of every elegance, and who, by way of seasoning their conversation, are perpetually sprinkling it with majesties, lordships, excellencies, and if possible with expressions still more putid. Although the bounty of nature, and the instruction of your governors, may at present secure you against this error, yet am I compelled to entertain some slight degree of suspicion, lest evil communication, the alluring nurse of the vices, should lend an unhappy impulse to your still tender mind, especially as I am not ignorant with what facility the external senses yield to seduction. I have therefore sent you this treatise, not only as a monitor, but even as an importunate, and sometimes impudent dun, who in this turn of life may convey you beyond the rocks of adulation, and may not merely offer you advice, but confine you to the path which you have entered; and if you should chance to deviate, may reprehend you, and recall your steps. If you obey this monitor, you will insure tranquillity to yourself and to your subjects, and will transmit a brilliant reputation to the most remote posterity." The eagerness with which this work was sought after, by those of Buchanan's own principles on the Continent, is manifested by a letter from one of his correspondents. ‘‘ Your dialogue de Jure Regni," says this epistle, "which you transmitted to me by Zolcher, the letter carrier of our friend Sturmius, I have received - a present which would be extremely agreeable to me, if the importunate entreaties of some persons did not prevent me from enjoying it; for the moment it was delivered into my hand, Dr Wilson requested the loan of it - he yielded it to the importunity of the chancellor, from whom the treasurer procured a perusal of it, and has not yet returned it; so that, to this day, it has never been in my custody."

Amidst multiplied labours Buchanan was now borne down with the load of years, aggravated by the encroachments of disease. His poetical studies seem now to have been entirely suspended, but his history of Scotland was unfinished, and was probably still receiving short additions or finishing touches. His life, too, at the request of his friends, he compiled when he had reached his 74th year, and his epistolary correspondence, which was at one time very extensive, was still continued with some of the friends of his earlier days. He had been long in the habit of writing annually, by some of the Bourdeaux merchants, to his old friend and colleague Vinetus, and one of these letters, written in March 1581, the year before his death, gives a not unpleasing picture of his state of feeling. "Upon receiving accounts of you," he says, "by the merchants who return from your courts, I am filled with delight, and seem to enjoy a kind of second youth, for I am there apprised, that some remnants of the Portuguese peregrinations still exist. As I have now attained to the 75th year of my age, I sometimes call to remembrance through what toils and inquietudes I have sailed past all those objects which men commonly regaled as pleasing, and have at length struck upon that rock beyond which, as the ninetieth Psalm very truly avers, nothing remains but labour and sorrow. The only consolation that now awaits me, is to pause ,with delight on the recollection of my coeval friends, of whom you are almost the only one who still survives. Although you are not, as I presume, inferior to me in years, you are yet capable of benefiting your country by your exertion and counsel, and even of prolonging, by your learned compositions, your life to a future age. But I have long bade adieu to letters. It is now the only object of my solicitude, that I may remove with as little noise as possible from the society of my ill-assorted companions, that I who am already dead, may relinquish the fellowship of the living. In the meantime I transmit to you the youngest of my literary offspring, in order that when you discover it to be the drivelling child of age, you may be less anxious about its brothers. I understand that Henry Wardlaw, a young man of our nation, and the descendant of a good family, is prosecuting his studies in your seminary with no inconsiderable application. Although I am aware of your habitual politeness, and you are not ignorant that foreigners are peculiarly entitled to your attention, yet I am desirous he should find that our ancient familiarity recommends him to your favour." Thuanus, who had seen this epistle in the possession of the venerable old man to whom it was addressed, says it was written with a tremulous hand, but in a generous style.

The last of Buchanan's productions was his history of Scotland, which it is doubtful whether he lived to see ushered fairly into the world or not. By the following letter to Mr Randolph, dated at Stirling in the month of August, 1577, it would appear that this work was then in a state of great forwardness. "Maister, I haif resavit diverse letters from you, and yit I haif ansourit to naine of thayme, of the quhylke albiet I haif mony excusis, as age, forgetfulness, besines, and desease, yit I wyl use nane as now except my sweirness and your gentilness, and geif ye thynk nane of theise sufficient, content you with ane confession of the falt w'out fear of punnition to follow on my onkindness. As for the present, I am occupiit in wryting of our historie, being assurit to content few and to displease mony tharthrow. As to the end of it, yf ye gett it not or thys winter be passit, lippen not for it, nor nane other writyngs from me. The rest of my occupation is wyth the gout, quhylk haldis me busy bath day and nyt. And quhair ye say ye haif not lang to lyif, I truist to God to go before you, albeit I be on fut and ye ryd the post [Randolph was post master to the queen's grace of England] prayin you als not to dispost my host at Newerk, Jone of Kilsterne. Thys I pray you, partly for his awyne sake, quhame I tho' ane gude fellow, and partly at request of syk as I dare not refuse, and thus I take my leif shortly at you now, and my lang leif quhen God pleasis, committing you to the protection of the Almyty." By this letter it is evident that he expected to publish his history immediately. A long delay, however, took place, for when, in September 1581, he was visited by Andrew Melville, James Melville, and his cousin Thomas Buchanan, the work was only then printing. Of this visit, James Melville has left a most interesting account. "That September in tyme of vacans, my uncle Mr Andro, Mr Thomas Buchanan, and I, heiring y' Mr George Buchanan was weak, and his historie under ye press, past ower to Edinbro annes earand to visit him and sie ye wark. When we cam to his chalmer we fand him sitting in his charre teatching his young man that servit him in his chalmer to spel a, b, ab, e, b, eb, &c. After salutation, Mr Andro says, 'I sie, Sir, ye are not ydle.' ‘Better,' quoth he, ' than stelling sheep or sitting ydle, whilk is als ill. 'Yrefter he shew ws the epistle dedicatorie to the king, the quhylk when Mr Andro had read, he told him that it was obscure in some places, and wanted certain wordis to perfyt the sentence. Sayes he, 'I may do na mair for thinking on another matter.' ‘What is that,' says Mr Andro. ‘To die,' quoth he; 'but I leave that an mony ma things to you to help.' We went from him to the printer’s wark hous, whom we fand at the end of the 17 buik of his chronicle, at a place qhuilk we thought verie hard for the tyme, qhuilk might be an occasion of steying the hail wark, anent the burial of Davie. Therefore steying the printer from proceeding, we calm to Mr George again, and fand him bedfast by [contrary to] his custome, and asking him whow he did, ‘Even going the way of weilfare,' sayes he. Mr Thomas, his cousin, shaws him of the hardness of that part of his story, y' the king wald be offendit w' it, and it might stey all the wark. 'Tell me, man,' sayes he, 'if I have told the truth' ‘Yes,' says Mr Thomas, 'I think sa.' ‘I will byd his feide and all his kin's, then,' quoth he. 'Pray, pray to God for me, and let him direct all. Sa be the printing of his chronicle was endit that maist learned, wyse, and Godlie man endit this mortal lyff."

The printing of the history must have gone on very slowly, for though it was printed as above, up to the seventeenth book, it was not finished till nearly a year after, the dedication to the king being dated August the twenty-ninth, 1582, only thirty days before the death of the author, which happened on Friday the 28th of September following, when he had reached the age of seventy-six years and eight months. He died in much peace, expressing his full reliance on the blood of Christ. He was buried in the Greyfriar's churchyard, a great multitude attending his funeral A throughstone, with an inscription, is said to have marked his grave; but the inscription has long been invisible, and the existence of the stone itself appears to be more than doubtful. An obelisk has, by the gratitude of posterity, been reared to his memory in his native village Killearn. His death, like that of all men who live out the full term of human life, excited less emotion than might have been expected. Andrew Melville, who had often celebrated him while alive, discharged the last debt of lettered friendship in an elegant Latin poem; Joseph Scaliger also wrote an epitaph for him in terms of liberal and appropriate praise.

Buchanan was never married, and left, of course, no children to perpetuate his memory; and though he held latterly one of the great offices of state, and possessed other considerable sources of emolument, he acquired no great estates, and his whole property at his death consisted of 100, arrears due upon his pension of Crossraguell.

A story is told upon the authority of the Earl of Cromarty, who had it from his grandfather, Lord Invertyle, that Buchanan, on his death-bed, finding the money he had about him insufficient to defray the expenses of his funeral, sent, his servant to divide it among the poor; adding, that if the city, meaning its authorities, did not choose to bury him, they might let him lie where he was, or throw his corpse where they pleased. This anecdote has been by some rejected as apocryphal; but there is no proof of its untruth, and it certainly does not startle us on account of any incongruity with Buchanan's character, which was severe, even to moroseness. He had passed through almost every vicissitude of human life, and, stern and inflexible, perhaps he had less sympathy with human frailty than the weaknesses of most men require. He was subject to that irritability of feeling which frequently attends exalted genius, but manifested at all times a noble generosity of spirit, which made him be regarded by his friends with a warmth of affection which mere intellectual eminence, though it were that of an archangel, could never inspire. By the general voice of the civilized world he held a pre-eminence in literature that seemed to render competition hopeless; but his estimate of his own attainments was consistent with the most perfect modesty, and no man was more ready to discover and acknowledge genuine merit in others. His brilliant wit and unaffected humour rendered his society highly acceptable to persons of the most opposite tastes and dispositions.

In 1584, only two years after the publication of the history, it was condemned along with De Jure Regni by the parliament of Scotland, and every person possessed of copies commanded to surrender them within forty days in order that they might be purged of the offensive and extraordinary matters which they contained.

We shall close this sketch of Buchanan's life with the concluding reflections of his learned biographer Dr Irving. "In his numerous writings," says the Doctor, " he discovers a vigorous and mature combination of talents which have seldom been found united in equal perfection. According to the common opinion, intellectual superiority is almost invariably circumscribed by one of the two grand partitions which philosophers have delineated; it is either founded on the predominancy of those capabilities which constitute what is termed the imagination, or of those which, in contradistinction, are denominated the understanding. These different powers of exertion, though certainly not incompatible with each other, are but rarely found to coalesce in equal maturity. Buchanan has, however, displayed them in the same high degree of perfection. To an imagination excursive and brilliant he unites an undeviating rectitude of judgment. His learning was at once elegant, various, and profound. Turnebus, who was associated with him in the same college, and whose decisions will not be rashly controverted, has characterized him as a man of consummate erudition. Most of the ancient writers had limited their aspiring hopes to one department of literature, and even to excel in one demand, the happy perseverance of a cultivated genius. Plato despaired of securing a reputation by his poetry. The poetical attempts of Cicero, though less contemptible perhaps than they are commonly represented, would not have been sufficient to transmit an illustrious name to future ages. Buchanan has not only attained to excellence in each species of composition, but in each species has displayed a variety of excellence. In philosophical dialogue and historical narrative, in lyric and didactic poetry, in elegy, epigram, and satire, he has never been equalled in modern, and hardly surpassed in ancient, times. A few Roman poets of the purest age have excelled him in their several provinces, but none of them has evinced the same capability of universal attainment. Horace and Livy wrote in the language they had learned from their mothers, but its very acquisition was to Buchanan the result of much youthful labour. Yet he writes with the purity and elegance of an ancient Roman. Unfettered by the classical restraints which shrivel the powers of an ordinary mind, he expatiates with all the characteristic energy of strong and original sentiment; he produces new combinations of fancy, and invests them with language equally polished and appropriate. His diction uniformly displays a happy vein of elegant and masculine simplicity, and is distinguished by that propriety and perspicuity which can only be attained by a man perfectly master of his ideas and of the language in which he writes. The variety of his poetical measures is immense, and to each species he imparts its peculiar grace and harmony. 'The style of his prose exhibits correspondent beauties; nor is it chequered by phraseologies, unsuitable in that mode of composition. His diction, whether in prose or verse, is not a tissue of centos; he imitates the ancients as the ancients imitated each other. No Latin poet of modern times has united the same originality and elegance; no historian has so completely imbibed the genius of antiquity, without being betrayed into servile and pedantic imitation. But his works may legitimately claim a higher order of merit, they have added no inconsiderable influx to the general stream of human knowledge. The wit, the pungency, the vehemence of his ecclesiastical satires, must have tended to foment the general flame of reformation; and his political speculations are evidently those of a man who had soared beyond the narrow limits of his age." All these remarks the reader will observe refer to the original Latin in which all the works of Buchanan, with the exception of the two which we have particularized, are written. The Dialogue has been frequently reprinted, and several times translated. Of the History, which was printed by Alexander Arbuthnot at Edinburgh, 1582, there have been published seventeen editions. It was translated into the Scottish language by John Reid, who, according to Calderwood's MS., was servitor to Mr George Buchanan. A MS. of this unpublished version is in the library of the university of Glasgow. Another unpublished version is in the British museum. In 1690, an English translation, with a portrait of the author, was printed in folio. This version has gone through five or six editions, and is to be frequently met with. It is a clumsy performance, and gives some such idea of Buchanan as a block from the quarry gives of the highly finished statue. A much better translation has recently appeared, from the pen of James Aikman, Esq. It is an honour yet awaiting some future scholar, to give to his unlettered countrymen to feel somewhat of the grace and strength that characterize the performances of George Buchanan.

It is probable that nineteen out of every twenty of the readers of these pages, are already aware of the great merit of Buchanan's poetry, without having ever seen or read a single line of it, either in its original, or in a translated form. I shall endeavour to correct this, by subjoining translations of two of his best small poems, executed by my esteemed friend, Mr Robert Hogg of Edinburgh, whose accurate taste and deep poetical sensibility are conspicuous in two articles already contributed by him. It will be observed, from these compositions, which present the ideas and spirit of the original with wonderful fidelity, how different a poet Buchanan must have been from the stiff and conceited rhymesters of his own age and country.


All hail to thee, thou First of May,
Sacred to wonted sport and play,
To wine, and jest, and dance and song,
And mirth that lasts the whole day long.
Hail! of the seasons, honour bright,
Annual return of sweet delight;
Flower of reviving summer’s reign,
That hastes to time's old age again!
When Spring's mild air, at Nature's birth,
First breathed upon the new-form'd earth;
Or when the fabled age of gold,
Without fixed law, spontaneous roll'd;
Such zephyrs, in continual gales,
Pass'd temperate along the vales,
And softened and refreshed the soil,
Not broken yet by human toil;
Such fruitful warmths perpetual rest
On the fair islands of the blest-
Those plains where fell disease's moan,
And frail old age are both unknown.
Such winds with gentle whispers spread,
Among the dwellings of the dead,
And shake the cypresses that grow
Where Lethe murmurs soft and slow
Perhaps when God at last in ire,
Shall purify the world with fire,
And to mankind restore again
Times happy, void of sin and pain,
The beings of this earth beneath
Such pure etherial air shall breathe.
Hail! glory of the fleeting year!
Hail! day the fairest, happiest here!
Memorial of the time gone by,
And emblem of futurity!


Son of the highest Father thou,
And equal of the Father too;
Pure heavenly light of light divine,
Thy Father's might and powers are thine.
Lo, while retire the shades of night,
Aurora, With her purple light,
Illumines earth, and sea, and sky,
Disclosing what ill darkness lie:
But shades of ignorance impure
My soul and all its powers obscure,
And fearful clouds of error blind
And almost overwhelm my mind:
Arise, O Sun! most pure, most bright!
The world irradiate with thy light;
Shine on my darkness, and dispel
The mists of sin that round me dwell:
Remove this fearful cold; impart
Unto the waste field of my heart,
From thine own lamp a warning ray
To purge each noxious damp away;
That so, by reason of thy love,
Watered with moisture from above,
The seed increase in grateful mould
An hundred and an hundred fold.

1 Of Muretus's impious book, De Tribus Impostoribus, or the three impostors, Moses, Jesus, and Mabomet, a late biographer of Buchanan has said "it is extremely evident that such a book never existed." We are informed, however, that a copy exists in the MS. collection of the University of Glasgow.

2 This is supposed to have been Mr Patrick Adamson, afterwards archbishop of St Andrews, but it does not appear from the records of the university that he ever entered upon his new functions. If we may credit Dr. Mackenzie, Adamson was at this time, or at least shortly after it, in France, whence he did not return till after the Bartholomew massacre. This nomination, therefore, was probably made in his absence, and before he could order his affairs abroad and be ready to enter upon his office, other arrangements might have become necessary.

3 Sir James Melville assigns a different, and perhaps equally powerful, reason for Buchanan's disagreement with Morton: "He became the Earl of Morton's great enemy, for that a nag of his chanced to be taken from his servant, during the civil troubles, and was bought by the Regent, who had no will to part with the said horse, because he was sure-footed and easy; but because he would not part with him, from being the Regent's great friend, he became his mortal enemy, and from that time forth spoke evil of him at all times and upon all occasions."

George Buchanan, A Biography by D. MacMillan (1906) (pdf)

Memoirs of Life and Writings of George Buchanan
By David Irving, A. M. (1807) (pdf)

George Buchanan
Humanist and Reformer by P. Hume Brown (1890) (pdf)

Dialogus de Jure Regni apud Scotos
By George Buchanan

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