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his sacred character to become the advocate of peace, and to promote a reconciliation between the hostile factions. “ It may not be,” said the prelate; “ Angus is too insolent and powerful; and, of Arran's designs, upon my conscience! I know nothing." As he said this, the churchman incautiously struck his hand upon his heart, and a steel hauberk, which he wore concealed under his cassock, rung with the blow. "I perceive, my lord, ” said Douglas, “that your conscience is not sound, for I hear it clatter.' Turning next to Sir James Hamilton, he besought him to appease his brother the Earl of Arran; and Hamilton appeared inclined to be a peacemaker, when Arran's natural son, a man of brutal and turbulent manners, upbraided him with cowardice. “ Bastard smaik,” said Sir James, “thou liest falsely; I shall fight this day where thou darest not be seen!” and, rushing into the street with his drawn sword, at the head of his vassals, Hamilton threw himself upon the party of Angus, and was almost instantly slain. A fierce contest ensued, during which the Bishop of Dunkeld retired to his chamber, where he piously offered up his prayers to God for the stanching of these unchristian feuds. Meanwhile the conflict raged, and Angus was at last victorious, seventy of his antagonists being slain, and the rest put to flight; whilst Beaton, the archbishop, who seems to have been personally engaged, fled for refuge behind the altar of the Black Friar's Church. Trembling for the safety of the prelate, Douglas flew from his retreat, and arrived at the moment when the enraged followers of his nephew had torn their victim from the sanctuary to which he had retreated. A few minutes longer, and the tragedy of Becket might have been repeated in Scotland: the rochet had been already torn from his shoulders, and their swords were at his throat, when Douglas effectually interposed, and, by his remonstrances, averted the meditated destruction.
Not long after, one of those sudden revolutions, which were of so frequent occurrence in a feudal government, overwhelmed the party of Angus, and compelled that nobleman and Bishop Douglas to take refuge at the court of Henry VIII., at that time described by Erasmus as a “truly regal abode, where learning and the best studies had found a favoured seat." He here not only found an asylum, but was rewarded by a pension, and enjoyed the society and literary converse of various eminent scholars. One of these was the noted Polydore Virgil, then employed in composing his history of England. To him Douglas communicated the only prose production which he appears to have written, a Commentary on the early history of his country. “The publication of Mairs' History of Scotland,” says Dr. Irving, “in which that author ventured to expose the Egyptian fables of his predecessors, had excited the indignation of such of his countrymen as delighted to trace their origin to the daughter of Pharaoh. Douglas was studious to warn his new friend against adopting the opinions of this writer, and presented him
with a brief commentary, in which he pursued the fabulous line of our ancestry from Athens to Scotland. This tractate, which was probably written in Latin, seems to have shared the common fate of the
writings intrusted to Polydore, who, to secure the faults of his work from the danger of detection, is said to have destroyed many invaluable monuments of antiquity."'* From this quotation, the historical talents of the prelate appear to have been of a far inferior description to his poetical abilities; and the conduct of his Italian friend, if it only led to the destruction of a Latin commentary on the descent of the Scots from the daughter of Pharaoh, however unjustifiable in point of principle, was not very calamitous in its effects. It was the misfortune of Douglas to live in an age when national vanity, a love of traditionary fable, and a warm imagination, formed the chief sources from whence Scottish history was derived.
The party of Albany, and the enemies of the bishop, were now all-powerful; and, in his absence, a sentence of proscription was passed against him as a fugitive traitor, who had devoted himself to the service of the king of England.
The revenues of his cathedral were sequestrated, and all persons interdicted from holding communication with him, under high penalties; at the same time, the governor individually, and the three estates of the realm in their collective capacity, addressed letters to the pope, requesting his holiness to beware of nominating the traitor, Gavin Douglas, to the archbishopric of St. Andrews and the abbacy of Dumfermlinema caution which rather betrays their high opinion of his abilities and virtues, than militates against his integrity. In the midst of these scenes of proscription and exile, Douglas, whose life, since
* Irving's Lives, vol. i. p. 17.
the period that he had forsaken his tranquil literary labours, had been the sport of persecution and calamity, was seized with the plague, and died at London, in the year 1522. The character of this man, as it is drawn by the classical pen of Buchanan, is highly to his honour, but may be, perhaps, suspected of partiality:-“He died at London, having proceeded so far on his journey to Rome, to the great regret of all those good men who admired his virtues. To splendour of birth, and a handsome and dignified person, he united a mind richly stored with the learning of the age, such as it then existed.
His temperance and moderation were very remarkable; and, living in turbulent times, and surrounded by factions at bitter enmity with each other, such was the general opinion of his honesty and uprightness of mind, that he possessed a high influence with all parties. He left behind him various monuments of his genius and learning, of no common merit, written in his native tongue.' A still higher strain of panegyric is indulged in by Dr. Irving:—“ Connected,” says he, as Douglas was with a powerful and factious family, which had often shaken the unstable throne of the Stuarts, instead of co-operating in their unwarrantable designs, he invariably comported himself with that meekness which ought always to distinguish the character of the man who devotes himself to the service of the altar ... With the fortitude incident to a great mind, he submitted to the numerous disappointments and mortifications which thwarted him in the career of
* Buchanan's History, b. 14, c. 13.
preferment; and when at length he obtained an accession of power, he never sought to avenge the wrongs to which he had formerly been exposed. His character as a politician appears to have commanded the reverence of his countrymen; and in the discharge of his duty as a Christian pastor, he exhibited a model of primeval purity. By his exemplary piety and learning, by his public and private acts of charity and munificence, he reflected distinguished honour on the illustrious family from which he descended, and on the sacred profession to which he had devoted his honourable life.
This is the language of generous but somewhat exaggerated and indiscriminate panegyric. In his political conduct, Douglas supported a party which had been called into existence by the precipitate and imprudent marriage of the queen, and was animated by the selfish and often treacherous policy of the Earl of Angus. In his individual conduct he was pacific, temperate, and forgiving; but his secret correspondence with Henry VIII. and his ministers, instead of commanding the reverence, was probably the great cause of the animosity with which he was treated by his countrymen; nor can he be very consistently held up as a model of primeval purity, whom we find, in the next sentence, to have been the father of a natural daughter, from whom the house of Foulewood is descended. His genius and learning are unquestionable; his temper was mild and affectionate; and we may hope that his munificence rests on a more certain evidence than his patriotic feelings or political integrity.