Page images

to the College of Guienne, lately found that he was suspected by some of haved in that city, he was appointed one ing published in his own name, a genof the professors. During the three uine relique of antiquity.* This we conyears of his residence at Bordeaux, he ceive to be one of the highest testimonies wrote four tragedies, together with that could be adduced of the classical várious other poems or miscellaneous purity of Buchanan's Latin stylesubjects. Of the tragedies, two were higher than any evidence founded meretranslations from the Greek (the Medea ly on the authority of any modern schoand Alcestis of Euripides ;) two were

lar. In the tragedies of Buchanan, reon scriptural subjects (Baptistes and presented in the college of Guienne, the Jephthes), but on the Greek model. celebrated Michael de Montague was a Buchanan's tragedies are not consi- frequent performer. And Buchanan apdered among the most perfect of his pears at one time to have formed a compositions. We have no intention project of composing a work on educahere to enter upon a criticism of them, tion, in which he intended to exhibit as It may be sufficient to mention, as a a model, the early discipline of his proof how little he preserved the keep- pupil Montagne, a very remarkable ing of his picture, that he frequently one (his father gave him an old Geralludes to the classical mythology, and

man professor in place of a nurse, to things with which the Hebrews were that he might learn Latin as his mother unacquainted. To some of the cha- tongue—and he did it). We certainly racters in Jephthes he gives Greek have great doubts as to the excellence names, and the chorus speaks of the of George's scheme of education, nor wealth of Croesus, who was not born till do we think the world has suffered about six hundred years after Jephtha. much by the loss of it. At the same time it ought to be added, In the Baptistes, Buchanan attacks that the language of his translation of priestcraft as keenly as in the Francisthe Medea appeared to his learned con- canus, as the following terse and vigotemporaries so thoroughly classical, rous lines will amply testify :

Nostrique cætus vitium id est vel maximum,
Qui sanctitatis plebem imagine fallimus :
Præcepta tuto liceat ut spernere Dei;
Contra instituta nostra si quid audeas,
Conamur auro evertere adversarios,
Tollere veneno, subditisque testibus
Opprimere: falsis régias rumoribus
Implemus aures : quicquid animum offenderit,
Rumore falso ulciscimur, et incendimus
Animum furore turbidum, et calumniis

Armamus irae sævientis impetum. One of Milton's biographers has ascrib- to unknown pieces of his, whereof I am ed to Milton, but without foundation, now to give an account." an English version of the Baptistes.

Even at Bordeaux Buchanan was This was Mr Peck (New Memoirs of the not altogether safe from the vengeance Life and Poetical Works of Mr John of Cardinal Beaton and the Grey Milton. Lon. 1740, 4to,) who first friars; the Cardinal having addressed indeed declared that the translation a letter to the Archbishop of Bordeaux, of the Baptistes under this title “ Ty- requesting him to secure the person rannical Government Anatomized; or, of the heretical poet; but, luckily for a discourse concerning evil councillors; Buchanan, the letter was intrusted to being the Life and Death of John the Bap- the care of some person interested in tist," was an original work of Mr Mil- his wel and he was suffered to reton's; announcing it in the following main unmolested. terms: His Baptistes is the sixth of After three years' residence at BorMr John Milton's nine most celebrated deaux, Buchanan removed to Paris. In English poems; and one of the hither- 1544 he was officiating as a regent in the college of Cardinal le Moine ; and situation in Portugal extremely dishe seems to have held the same office agreeable, in consequence of the persetill 1547, when he accompanied An- cution he suffered from the bigotry of drew Govea to Portugal, who had been the Portuguese. In a poem entitled invited by the King of Portugal to be- Desiderium Lutetiæ, he expresses his come principal of the lately founded anxious desire to leave what he in university of Coimbra. Upon the death another poem (Adventus in Galliam) of Govea in 1548, Buchanan found his characterises as

* H. Stephanus De bene instituendis Græcæ linguæ studiis, p. 116, cited by Dr Irving, p. 38, 1st ed.

Jejuna miserce tesqua Lusitaniæ,
Glebasque tantum fertiles penuriæ.


and to return to Paris, (which he re- Amaryllis), in the following beautiful presents under the allegorical name of lines :

O formosa Amarylli, tuo jam septima bruma
Me procul aspectu, jam septima detinet æstas:
Sed neque septima bruma nivalibus horrida nimbis,
Septima nec rapidis candens fervoribus æstas
Extinxit vigiles nostro sub pectore curas.
Tu mihi mane novo carmen, dum roscida tondet
Arva pecus, medio tu carmen solis in æstu,
Et cum jam longas præceps nox porrigit umbras;
Nec mihi quo tenebris condit nox omnia, vultus
Est potis occultare tuos: te nocte sub atra
Alloquor, amplector, falsâque in imagine somni
Gaudia sollicitam palpant evanida mentem,

At cum som nus abit, &c. Buchanan returned to France about Irving contends that Buchanan's manthe beginning of 1553. In 1555, the ners must have been courteous and celebrated Marshal Cotme de Brissac polished. We own we cannot assent appointed him tutor of his son, Timo- to this opinion. The general manners lesse de Cossé. At that time the Mar- of the age were not very refined. But shal de Brissac was governor of the we think there is evidence to shew-that French dominions in Italy, whither George Buchanan's manners Buchanan accompanied his pupil. Af- coarse even for his age. The answer, ter remaining five years in this family, energetic but coarse, which he is re

find Buchanan in 1562 at the ported to have made to the Countess of Scottish court, officiating as classical Mar, when she demanded how he had tutor to the Queen, then in the 20th presumed to lay his hand upon “the year of her age. Every afternoon she Lord's anointed,” is quite characterisread with Buchanan a portion of Livy. tic of the man. Dr Irving also defends Queen Mary, it seems, was a learned Buchanan from a more serious impu

Poor woman! (like many a tation to which some of his writings

who could be named), more have given rise; and instances poets, learned than wise! Fancy George, both ancient and modern, who prowith his stiff pedant visage and un- tested with solemnity that, though their gainly pedagogue demeanour, seated verses were loose, their conduct was corbeside the beautiful, graceful young rect. The excuse appears to us a lame Queen. We should recommend the And this instance only confirms subject as a good one to a clever artist our dislike to celibate schoolmasters. fond of strong contrasts. There was Buchanan's epigrams have been certainly little danger to George of much and justly admired. The one Rizzio's fate. The fiddler beat the In Zoilum has been frequently trans“schollemaster"* all to nothing. Dr lated




Frustra ego te laudo, frustra me, Zoile, lædis:

Nemo mihi credit, Zoile, nemo tibi.


* “ There is with the Queene one called Mr George Bowhanan, a Scottishe man, verie weill lerned, that was schollemaster unto Mons. de Brisack's sone, very godlye and honest."- Randolph to Cecil, Edin. Jan. 30th, 1561."

Menage, who has written one in the anan, as well as himself, was indebted very same terms, affirms that Buch

to the prose of Libanius.

Μάψ έμε λοιδορεις, μάψ, Ζωίλε, και σε επαινω

Ου γάρ εμοίς, ου σοίς πίστις ένεστι λόγοις.

[ocr errors]

As Commendator of the Priory of St of the preceptors of the young King, Andrews, the Earl of Murray had the then only four years of


Various right of nominating the Principal of St anecdotes are told of Buchanan's seveLeonard's College, and about 1566 rity; and the impression he left on the he appointed Buchanan to that office, mind of his pupil appears to have been Buchanan sat as a member of the Ge- anything but an agreeable one. Franneral Assembly of the National Church, cis Osborne (Advice to a Son, p. 19) convened at Edinburgh on the 25th of relates that King James used to say of December 1563, and was appointed one a person in high place about him, that of the commissioners for revising “The he ever trembled at his approach, it Book of Discipline.” He was also a minded him so of his pedagogue. There member of the Assembly which met at is no saying how far the severity of the Edinburgh on the 25th of June, 1567, pedagogue, taken along with other cirand on that occasion, though a laymar cumstances connected with his birth, he was chosen moderator.

may have tended to produce that exThe conduct of Queen Mary had ex- treme timidity of character which markcited against her the just indignation ed the royal pedant through life. All of a large portion of her subjects; and the tutor's pains, though they may have Buchanan, who had formerly praised forced into him some glancings and her immoderately, now attacked her in nibblings of knowledge," did not, how, terms equally unmeasured, heaping up- ever, succeed in imparting any love for on her all the stores of invective which his principles of government. King his copious vocabulary afforded. We James regarded his History of Scotland are no admirers of that weak and flagi- as an infamous invective; and admotious woman; but Buchanan had been nished his heir-apparent to punish such treated by her with courtesy and kind- of his future subjects as should be guil

-had even received very consider- ty of retaining it in their custody. able benefits at her hands; and assum- It may be said that it would have ing that his former praises were sin- been no easy matter to have made a cerely bestowed, because he believed hero, or even an average king, out of them merited, when the object of those such materials as were to be found in praises had put on a character the re- the character of James, from whatever verse of that for which they were in- parentage inherited. Still we cannot tended, though neither his defence nor help thinking that Buchanan must have even his approbation of her new char- committed some grievous faults in his acter would by any reasonable person education ; for he evidently had it in have been required; yet the exposure, his power to produce some impression the reprobation, and punishment of her -and the impression he made was enfaults, her follies, and her crimes, would tirely of the genus pedant. Homer have come more becomingly from an- tells us that the precept which Peleus other hand than his.

impressed particularly upon his son In 1570 Buchanan was appointed one

Achilles was — Αιέν αριστεύειν, και υπείροχον έμμεναι άλλων And the sorts of excellence which he have carefully read some of his works, sought after were such as might be sup- and we cannot agree with his panegyposed to have been pointed out to him rists that they exhibit any degree of by his tutors, his father Peleus, and the excellence, except perhaps that of procentaur Chiron. James, too, had some ducing a laugh by their transcendent vague glimmering of an idea of excel- absurdity. As to the “purity of style” ling--but of excelling in what? in writ- which some have found in them, we can ing bad prose and worse verse--for we only say that to us the style or lan


guage appear on a level with the logic, tion. In short, James's idea of his vowhich is of the most despicable descrip- cation was

“ To stick the doctor's chair into the throne,
Give law to words, or war with words alone,
Senates and courts with Greek and Latin rule,

And turn the council to a grammar school.” And a very poor grammar school it enter; but we refer the readers to Dr would have been of which he was mas- Irving's judicious remarks on it. ter. Not forgetting also

Shortly before Buchanan's death, “ The right divine of kings to govern wrong.”

some of his friends having gone to the About the same time that he was no

printing office to look at his history, minated preceptor to the king, Buchanan found the impression had proceeded as received the appointment of director of far as the passage relative to the inthe Chancery, which he held but a short

terment of David Rizzio ; and being time. Soon after, the office of keeper of alarmed at the boldness with which the thePrivy Sealwas conferred on him. This historian had there expressed himself, office, which he held for several years, en

they returned to Buchanan's house, titled him to a seat in Parliament.

whom they found in bed, and stated to In his dialogue, “ De Jure Regni him their apprehensions respecting the apud Scotos," with a dedication to consequences. “Tell me, man,” said King James, dated at Stirling, Jan. Buchanan, “if I have told the truth ?” 10, 1579 (in which dedication he cer

Yes, Sir," replied his cousin, I tainly administers a dose of something think so.”. “Then,” rejoined the dyvery like flattery to the young King, ing historian, “I will abide his feud, when he tells him that “ he perceives and all his kin’s. Pray to God for me, that by a kind of natural instinct he and let him direct all.” Buchanan exabhors flattery, the nurse of tyranny”), pired a little after five in the morning Buchanan maintains that all power is

on Friday the 20th September 1582, derived from the people ; that it is

in the 77th year of his age. He was more safe to entrust our liberties to buried in the cemetery of the Greythe definite protection of the laws, friars; and, says Dr Irving, “his unthan to the precarious discretion of the grateful country never afforded his King ; that the King is bound by those grave the common tribute of a monuconditions under which the supreme mental stone.” power was originally committed to his It was unfortunate for Buchanan hand ; that it is lawful to resist and that his country's language was so rude even to punish tyrants. During the

and unformed at the time he wrote, for minority of King James, several coins no writer, we apprehend, can hope to were struck with a naked sword on one

live, who writes in any other but his own side, supporting a crown on its point,

“land's language.” But Buchanan, if and surrounded with this legend, Pro. for nothing else, cannot fail to be held me, si. mereor. in. me : furnished, it in lasting remembrance as a man who may be inferred, by Buchanan.

bearded kings when it was something In the 74th year of his age, Buch-

to beard them; and who, though but a anan composed a brief sketch of his poor scholar, when a scholar was little own life. His last production was his

more than a despised menial, spoke history of Scotland; into the merits or

defiance with his dying breath against demerits of which we cannot now

the whole race of the Stuart kings.



Sound Io Poean, Hellas !—the cloud is scattered now:
Thy shielded Pallas leaps with joy on Sunium's sacred brow;
Rend, rend thy robe, proud Xerxes, and curse thy coward slaves,
Flee while the chastised Hellespont is trembling ʼmid his caves.
To Susa's towers thine eagle back may bear his wounded wing,
But Asia's million widows deep will curse her ruthless King.

They came in clustered thousands, like locusts on our shore,
And Europe bridged with Asia to let her myriads o'er ;
From India's golden rivers—from Bactra's wastes of sand ;
From green Arabia's pearly Isles, and sage Chaldea's land ;
From where the Scythian wanders by Maeotis' lonely shore;
From where the wild Chalybian lists, the Euxine’s wilder roar;
From Syria's cedar'd mountains, and Damascus' gardens fair
And the children of the lotus’d Nile, with brutish gods were there,
And rich Phenicia's oaken oars, their falcon swiftness lent,
Cilicia's weight of gleaming prows the burdened ocean bent.

[ocr errors]

But vain from Babylonian towers, Chaldea's flattering seers Read fortune in the eyes of heaven-her eyes were red with tears., And mystic Mithras flamed in vain, amid his burning zone; For Father Zeus his thunder grasped, and scathed is Persia's throne, And Phoebus girded for the fight, and Delphi's rocks can tell, The Pythian God protects his shrine both warily and well.

They came with chains and slaughter-they drank our rivers dry, And Tempe's swains o'er wasted fields, and trampled vineyards sigh. But little dreamt the millions of those many coloured bands, The wit of quick Athenian brain, the weight of Spartan hands; Break down the mountains, tyrant, and chain the subject sea, But freedom's adamantine heart is rock too hard for thee.

No tears for good Leonidas—he died upon his shield; And sweet is death in such a cause, on such a battle field. His mother's brow is garlanded, and proud is she to tell, Her son, on red Thermopylæ, for Spartan freedom fell. Deep from the Pythian Adytum the voice of Fate was sent, “Heracleid blood for Greece must flow." "I go,” he said, and went, Aye, blythe to battle went he, as to banquet reveller goes ; For well the doom-devoted King did love the feast of blows. The old Heracleid blood is bright with everlasting fame; And Sparta in her heart of hearts will write her hero's name.

Stout soldier, Eurybiades— receive the wreath thy due,
Thy hand and heart are quick to wrath, but quick to justice too.

Smile, sacred Justice, from thy heaven on thy peculiar child,
Him of unswerving spirit-yet of eye so calm and mild;
His hands are pure, his shield is bright, and good betides the cause
In whose behalf his righteous sword just Aristides draws.

Strew, strew your flowers, Athenian maids, shed the triumphal wine ! Welcome Themistocles, ye sons of Cecrops' golden line ! Sing, silver springs of Castalie !-sing fount of Hippocrene ! Descend bright-voiced Calliope, the Muses’ tuneful Queen! Come with thy flowery wealth of song, the saviour youth to hail ; Citheron, nod thy wild woods all, and wake thy every gale! The key of his bright mind hath oped the destiny of Greece ; And from its stormy chambers brought the olive branch of peace.

Ye sun-walked rocks of Salamis, amid your caves rejoice ; And thou, our old Ægean, laugh with thy multitudinous voice ! Oh, well may leap thy gleaming waves, like goats on Oetas' hills, As o'er their purple tumult far our Io Poean thrills.

« PreviousContinue »