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TRANSLATING THE PSALMS INTO LATIN. 113
his lucky escape through a window, while his keepers were asleep, the name of Buchanan might now be read 1539 with those of Hamilton and Wishart upon the sand- A.D. stone obelisk at St. Andrews. Before the year closed, we find him teaching Latin in the College of Guienne at Bordeaux. While there he made the acquaintance of the Scaligers, father and son, who lived at Agen. Here, too, he wrote four tragedies. After some changes of fortune in France, Buchanan went to fill a chair in the newly established College of Coimbra in Portugal, on the invitation of his friend Govea, who had been appointed Principal. Here he was assailed, after a short interval of peace, by the revengeful monks, who had never forgiven the poems, in which he had heaped ridicule on their order. The fearful machinery of the Inquisition was now in fullwork, and Buchanan was in considerable danger of his life. But after the delay of a year and a half, he was sentenced to confinement in a monastery, where he was to be schooled by the monks into better behaviour and sounder views. It is said, but without a shadow of evidence, that these monks gave George, as a punishment, the task of translating the Psalms into Latin verse. He certainly began in that quiet Portuguese cloister the version of the Psalms which has made his name so great; and what more natural than that he should thus beguile the lagging hours of a captive's life? We can fancy the keen pleasure with which his eye would brighten, when the dull homilies of the monks were done for the day, and he found himself among his well-thumbed books in some sequestered nook, where, with the vine leaves tapping at the open grating, and a glimpse of the deep azure sky seen beyond their tender green, he loved to sit writing his great work. Upon his release, finding his chances of promotion in Portugal very doubtful, he sailed to England, whence after some time he passed to France. We find him soon in Italy, teaching the son of Marshal de Brissac, a great French soldier, by whom he was treated with respectful kindness. The termination of this engagement, which lasted for five years, marks the close of Buchanan's Continental life.
The return of Buchanan to his native land, which was then
TUTOR TO JAMES THE SIXTH.
convulsed with the throes of the Reformation, took place shortly before the year 1562. His fame as a teacher had crossed the Straits of Dover before him; and he was honoured, in spite of his Protestant principles, with the office of classical tutor to Queen Mary, who read a passage of Livy with him every day after dinner. In 1564 he received from his royal mistress and pupil, in recognition of his literary merit, the temporalities of Crossraguel Abbey, which were worth £500 a year in Scottish money. The Earl of Murray, who was then the leading man in Scotland, took special notice of this great scholar, and made him, about 1566, Principal of St. Leonard's College at St. Andrews. The terrible murder of Darnley, and the infamous marriage of Mary with Bothwell, soon split Scotland into rival factions. Buchanan, sid.
ing with the Regent Murray, undertook the tuition of 1570 the young king, James VI.; into whom, according to the
fashion of those days--and later days, too, not far from
our own-he whipped so much Greek and Latin, that the thick-speaking, shambling, unwashed pedant acquired the name of the “British Solomon.” There is more than a spice of irony in the appellation; though, doubtless, many a servile courtier, with a fat living or an easy place in his eye, used it in another sense. Bitter and stern words flowed from Buchanan's pen against the royal girl, once his pupil, who had so fearfully sullied the crown she wore, and so recklessly outraged her people's love. The Latin work, Detectio Mariæ Reginæ, is a fierce exposure of her guilt and shame. Eight years later, in 1579, followed a masterly political work, De Jure Regni, maintaining the right of the people to control their rulers.
The last days of this great Scotsman were passed quietly, although his pupil James did not look so kindly on him after the publication of his republican book in 1579. He wrote a yearly letter, transmitted by the wine-ships that traded from Leith to Bordeaux, to his old friend and colleague, Vinetus. He penned a modest account of his own life; and he completed his second great work, The History of Scotland, on which he had been engaged for twenty years.
“HISTORY OF Scotland.” 115
In his seventy-seventh year he breathed his last, so poor that his body was buried at the expense of the city of Edinburgh. His “History of Scotland” was then passing through the press. It is written in Latin, which many writers prefer to that of Livy, and consider equal to that of Sallust. The record of events is brought down to the year 1572, and occupies twenty books, into which the whole work is divided. Buchanan adopts that practice of the ancient historians, by which they put fictitious speeches into the mouths of their leading characters. This, however well adapted for displaying the historian's skill in composition, takes from the truthfulness, which should be the pervading and governing quality of all history. In his magnificent Latin version of the Psalms he has used twenty-nine different metres. The translation is freely executed, 80 that it frequently becomes a paraphrase rather than an exact rendering. The 104th and 137th Psalms are considered the gems of this master-piece of elegant scholarship and poetic fire. Among the miscellaneous works of Buchanan, it may suffice to name two, the Epithalamium, which he wrote in honour of Queen Mary's first marriage; and a poem composed on the occasion of James the Sixth's birth. Both are in Latin, and both contain passages of excelling sweetness. A tract, called The Chamaeleon, satirizing Secretary Maitland, affords a scanty specimen, but quite enough too, of the rugged Scotch, in which this Scottish Virgil transacted his daily business. A physician to Charles I., born in 1587 at Aberdeen, by name Arthur Johnston, much of whose life was also spent abroad, wrote a complete Latin version of the Psalms in elegiacs, which Hallam values almost as highly as the version of Buchanan.
116 WHAT PHILIP SIDNEY WAS LIKE.
WHILE Elizabeth in the first year of her glorious reign was receiving the congratulations of a rejoicing land, a boy, not yet five years old, was plucking daisies and chasing butterflies on the green lawns of Penshurst in Kentshire. It was Philip Sidney, son of Sir Henry Sidney and Mary Dudley, who was sister to the magnificent Leicester, soon to be prime favourite of the Queen. Philip, born in 1554, went to school at Shrewsbury, and passed thence to Oxford and Cambridge, where he won a scholar's name. Having spent three years in Continental travel, during which he saw Paris drenched in the blood of Huguenots, and himself narrowly escaped death on the fearful day of St. Bartholomew, he returned in his twenty-first year to England, a polished and accomplished man. His début at court was an instant and decided success. No doubt his uncle, Leicester, then in the full blaze of royal favour, had much to do with this; but Sidney had personal qualities which won for him the smiles of all. His finely-cut Anglo-Norman face, his faint moustache, his soft blue eyes, and flowing amber hair, were enough to make him the darling of the women; while his skill in horsemanship, fencing, and manly games, gained the respect and admiration of the men. Higher than these outward and accidental graces must we rank the intellect and scholarship which stamped him as one of England's greatest sons; and higher still, that gentle heart, whose pulses, always human, never throbbed
more kindly than when, on the field of his death, he turned the cooling draught from his own blackened lips to slake the dying thirst of a bleeding soldier, past whom he was carried. Yet this brilliance was not without its clouds. At tennis one day he quarrelled with the Earl of Oxford, who ordered him to leave the playing-ground. This Sidney refused to do; upon which Oxford, losing temper, called him a puppy. Woices rose high, and a duel was impending, when Elizabeth interfered and took Sidney to task for not paying due respect to his superiors. Philip's haughty spirit could not bear the rebuke, and he withdrew from court. Far from the glittering whirl, sheltered amid the oaks of Wilton, the seat of his brother-in-law, Pembroke, he wrote a romantic fiction, which he called The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia. Written merely to amuse his leisure hours, it was never finished, and was not given to the world till its gifted young writer had been four years dead. The censures, which Horace Walpole and others have passed upon this work, are quite unmerited. No book has been more knocked about by certain critics; but its popularity in the days of Shakspere and the later times of the Cavaliers, with whom it was all the fashion, affords sufficient proof that it is a work of remarkable merit. We, who read Scott and Dickens and Thackeray, cannot, certainly, relish the “Arcadia” as Elizabeth's maids of honour relished it; but all who look into its pages must be struck with its rich fancy and its glowing pictures. It is not a pastoral, as the misnomer “Arcadia,” borrowed from Sannazzaro, seems to imply. There are indeed in this book shepherds, who dance and sing occasionally; but the life of a knight and courtier—such as Sidney's own—has clearly supplied the thoughts and scenery of the work. But the book on which Sidney's reputation as an English classic writer rests, is rather his Defense of Poesie, a short treatise, written in 1581, to combat certain opinions of the Elizabethan Puritans, who would fain, in their well-meant but mistaken zeal, have swept away the brightest blossoms of our literature, along with pictures, statues, holidays, wedding-rings, and other pleasant things, A favourite of Elizabeth, who called him the “jewel of her