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but it has taught modern philosophers to discuss the principles of political science with new freedom and energy.
These are not the hardy assertions of a recluse who amuses himself with advancing singular opinions; they are abundantly confirmed by the authority of many distinguished writers of various nations, and of every age from Buchanan's to that in which we live. The high estimation in which he was held by the greatest of modern scholars, will in some measure appear from the subsequent memoirs : but it may not here be superfluous to exhibit the previous testimonies of several British authors of distinction, who flourished during the two centuries which have intervened since his death.
Archbishop Spotswood denominates him
a man so well deserving of his country as none more.”? Nor can that worthy and able primate be suspected of any undue partiality in his favour.
Bishop Burnet has remarked that “ in his writings there appears, not only all the beauty and graces of the Latine tongue,
a Spotswood's Hist. of the Church of Scotland, p. 325.
but a vigor of mind and quickness of thought, far beyond Bembo, or the other Italians, who at that time affected to revive the purity of the Roman știle. It was but a feeble imitation of Tully in them ; but his stile is so natural and nervous, and his reflections on things are so solid, (besides his immortal poems, in which he shews how well he could imitate all the Roman poets, in their several ways of writing, that he who compares them, will be often tempi. ed to prefer the copy to the original,) that he is justly reckoned the greatest and best of our modern authors."
Cowley, speaking of the writers who have executed poetical versions of the psalms, denominates Buchanan “ inuch the best of them all, and indeed a great person.
Dryden, notwithstanding his political prejudices, has likewise mentioned him in terms of high commendation.
" Buchanan indeed for the purity of his Latin, and for his learning, and for all other endowments belonging to an historian, might be plac'd amongst the greatest, if he had not 6 Burnet's Hist. of the Reformation, vol. 1,3p. 311.
Cowley's pref. to his Pindarique Odes.
too much lean'd to prejudice, and too manifestly declar'd himself a party of a cause, rather than an historian of it. Excepting only that, (which I desire not to urge too far on so great a man, but only to give caution to his readers concerning it,) our isle may justly boast in him, a writer comparable to any of the moderns, and excell'd by few of the ancients."d
Sir William Temple," another very popular writer, was also among the number of his admirers. «« Thus began the restoration of learning in these parts, with that of the Greek tongue; and soon after, Reuchlyno and Erasmus began that of the purer and ancient Latin. After them Buchanan carried it, I think, to the greatest heighth of any of the moderns before or since.."
Lord Monboddo, whose opinion on this
d Dryden's Life of Plutarch, p. 56.
• Reuchlin has found an industrious biographer in his countryman J. H. Maius; whose publication bears the title of
Vita Jo. Reuchlini Phorcensis, primi in Germania Hebraicarum Græcarumque, et aliarum bonarum Literarum Instauratoris.” Durlaci, 1687, 8vo.
Temple's Essay upon the Ancient and Modern Learning,
subject at least is not singular, prefers his history to that of Livy. ." I will begin with my countryman Buchanan, who has written the history of his own country
in Latin, and in such Latin, that I am not afraid to compare his stile with that of
any Roman historian. He lived in an age when the Latin language was very much cultivated ; and among the learned it was not only the only language in which they wrote, but a living language ; for they spoke no other when they conversed together, at least upon learned subjects. ... In such an age, and with all the advantages of a learned education, did George Buchanan write the history of Scotland from the earliest times down to his own time : and I hesitate not to pronounce that the stile of his narrative is better than that of Livy; for it is as pure and elegant, is better composed in periods not intricate and involved like those of Livy, and without that affected brevity which makes Livy's stile so obscure. Even in speeches, in which Livy is supposed to excel so much, I think his composition is better ; and he has none of those short pointed sentences, the vibrantes sententiola, which Livy learned in the school of declamation.”
Dr. Stuart, though one of the most strenuous defenders of Queen Mary, could not dissemble the literary excellence of Buchanan. .“ He passed with propriety from the school to the cabinet, and felt himself alike a scholar and a courtier. In poetry he was deemed unrivalled by his contemporaries. He is more nervous, more various, more elegant than the Italian poets. He has imitated those of Rome with greater grace and purity. His psalms, in which he has employed so many kinds of verse, display admirably the extent and universality of his mind, the quickness and abundance of his fancy, and the power and acuteness of his judgment. In history he has contendo ed with Livy and Sallust. The chequered scenes of his life had given him a wide experience of the world, and he was naturally of a thoughtful disposition. He treats accordingly the transactions of men with great prudence and discernment. ... His learning is admirable ; his penetration beta
* Monboddo's Origin and Progress of Language, vol. V,