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SPECIMEN OF ASCHAM'S STYLE.
teaching Latin, without putting the pupils through the preparatory drudgery of mastering the details of the grammar.
Ascham's work on Germany gives, besides much political information, some curious pictures of the Emperor and his court, which are valuable as being sketched by an eye-witness.
EXTRACT FROM "THE SCHOOLMASTER" OF ASCHAM.
Before I went into Germany, I came to Broadgate in Leicestershire, to take my leave of that noblc Lady Jane Grey, to whom I was exceeding much beholden. Her parents, the duke and duchess, with all the household, gentlemen and gentlewomen, were hunting in the park. I found her in her chamber reading Phedon Platonis in Greek, and that with as much delight as some gentlemen would read a merry tale in Bocace. After salutation and duty done, with some other talk, I asked her why she would lose such pastime in the park? Smiling, she answered me: “I wiss, all their sport in the park is but a shadow to that pleasure that I find in Plato. Alas! good folk, they never felt what true pleasure meant.” “And how came you, madam,” quoth I, “to this deep knowledge of pleasure? And what did chiefly allure you unto it, seeing not many women, but very few men, have attained thereunto ?” “I will tell you,” quoth she, “and tell you a truth which, perchance, ye will marvel at. One of the greatest benefits that ever God gave me, is, that he sent me so sharp and severe parents, and so gentle a schoolmaster. For when I am in presence either of father or mother, whether I speak, keep silence, sit, stand, or go, eat, drink, be merry or sad, be sewing, playing, dancing, or doing anything else, I must do it, as it were in such weight, measure, and number, even so perfectly as God made the world, or else I am so sharply taunted, so cruelly threatened, yea, presently, sometimes with pinches, nips, and bobs, and other ways which I will not name for the honour I bear them, so without measure misordered, that I think myself in hell, till time come that I must go to Mr. Elmer; who teacheth me so gently, so pleasantly, with such fair allurements to learning, that I think all the time nothing, whiles I am with him.”
GEORGE BUCHANAN has been styled the Scottish Virgil from the elegance of his Latin verse, in which among moderns he stands unrivalled, at least by any writer of British birth. Nor is his Latin prose much inferior in vigour and in flow.
Born in Dumbartonshire in 1506, he passed, after a poor and struggling boyhood, to the University of Paris, where he was supported by the kindness of his uncle, James Heriot. But in less than two years the death of this good friend flung him upon the world, sick and poor. Returning to Scotland, he joined a Scottish army that was marching into England; but the hardships of a soldier's life once more laid him on a sick-bed. When restored to health, he went to college at St. Andrews, graduated there, and went again to France, where he completed his academic course at Paris. About the age of twenty-three he was chosen professor in the College of St. Barbe, and then began his teaching life.
Having acted for five years as tutor to the young Earl of Cassilis, who lodged near St. Barbe, Buchanan returned with his pupil to his native land. His growing reputation as a teacher won for him the notice of James V. who intrusted one of his own natural sons to his care. This office he continued to fill until his poetic satires upon the viees of the friars, especially the poem called Franciscanus, drew upon him the fiery wrath of the clergy. Charged with holding the Lutheran heresy-- he really had caught the flame in Paris—he was arrested; and but for
TRANSLATING THE PSALMS INTO LATIN.
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 sandstone 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 full work, 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 bis 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 A.D. 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 Marice 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.
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, so 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 Chamæleon, 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.