Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 07.djvu/195

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Buchanan's pupil, Andrew Melville, under a subsequent commission in 1578. While chiefly engaged in the affairs of the church and education Buchanan was employed by the privy council to translate Spanish state papers for the use of the council. He still continued to exercise his talent for Latin verses, celebrated the marriage of Mary and Darnley in ‘Strenæ et Pompæ,’ dedicated his version of the Psalms to the queen, composed valentines in honour of the ladies Beaton and Fleming, two of the queen's Maries, and the verses spoken by the satyrs in the masque after the baptism of the young prince at Stirling. In reward for these services he received a pension of 500l. a year out of the revenues of the abbey of Crossraguel; but the resistance of the savage Earl of Cassilis, son of his old pupil, made it impossible to obtain payment of this pension, his chief livelihood, without recourse both to the privy council and the courts. Buchanan was probably at St. Andrews in the months between Darnley's murder (10 Feb. 1567) and Bothwell's marriage (15 May); and when he came to Edinburgh for the June assembly (25 June) Mary was a captive in Lochleven, and Bothwell in full flight to the north. The assembly over which Buchanan presided issued a missive summoning the nobility and others to a meeting on 20 July, but transacted no other business of importance. It was only five days before the June assembly that the famous casket with the letters alleged to be written by the queen is said to have been found, and taken possession of by Morton; but there is no proof that Buchanan at this time knew their contents. On 16 Sept. 1568 the casket was delivered by Morton to Moray, who was then preparing to go to the conference at York which Queen Elizabeth had summoned. Buchanan went as the secretary of the commission. At the conference, if not before he left Scotland, he must have become cognisant of the letters. On 27 Sept. the commissioners and Buchanan started for England, with a guard of a hundred horse. Narrowly escaping being waylaid by the Earl of Westmorland, they arrived at York in the beginning of October. The real debate began on 8 Oct., when Mary's commissioners gave in her complaint. On 10 Oct. Lethington, Macgill, Balnavis, and Buchanan were sent to the English commissioners, and protesting they did not appear before them as commissioners, but only for their instruction, exhibited a portion of the contents of the casket. Lethington, who had been her secretary, and Buchanan, who had been her tutor, declared that the letters were written by the queen. It is difficult to believe that either was ignorant as to her handwriting. The result of this disclosure was to lead Elizabeth and Cecil to transfer the conference to Westminster. Buchanan went with the Scottish commissioners. A tortuous diplomacy delayed the production of the proofs, whose existence must now have been known to all the principal parties, but Cecil and Moray desired to use the letters so as to force Mary to a compromise rather than to close the door to it. At last, however, all reluctance was overcome, and on 6 Dec. Moray gave in the ‘Book of Articles,’ in which the charge against Mary was first formulated. This was long supposed to be the same document as the ‘Detection’ which Buchanan afterwards published. A copy recently found among Lord Hopetoun's manuscripts proves it to have been different, though many passages are in almost the same words, and the proof is the same as in the ‘Detection.’ Two days after, with a renewed protest, the casket and a portion of its contents were brought forward. The queen's commissioners lodged in her name an answer to the accusation, charging Moray and his party with being the real authors of the murder. Elizabeth's counsellors now gave their opinion that she ought not to admit Mary to her presence. Finally on 11 Jan. 1568–9 the commissioners on both sides, of whom Buchanan is named as one, met for the last time face to face at Hampton Court, when Mary's commissioners repeated the accusation against Moray, but declined to take the responsibility of it on themselves, and Moray offered to go to Bowton to see whether Mary would stand by her accusation, an offer which her commissioners declined. Elizabeth had already on the 10th stated her decision through Cecil, refusing to condemn either Moray or Mary, and giving the former license to return to Scotland. Mary's commissioners were some weeks later allowed to return. Such was the impotent conclusion of these long conferences. The unfairness to Mary, who was not allowed either personally or by her commissioners to see the principal documents brought forward against her, is palpable. Buchanan must bear his share in the discredit of these transactions. What that share is it is not so easy to determine. At best Buchanan's conduct must be regarded as that of a willing agent of Moray's policy. But Mary's vindicators brought against him a much graver charge—the forgery of the documents produced from the casket. His life and character as represented by the closest observers do not warrant this, nor are the best judges inclined to see his style in their composition. A letter written from London, it is supposed at the instigation of Cecil after the publication of