Wednesday, September 28, 2011

George Buchanan


‘Having little or no property save his bare designation, Sir Mungo had been early attached to Court in the capacity of whipping-boy, as the office was then called, to King James the Sixth, and, with his Majesty, trained to all polite learning by his celebrated preceptor, George Buchanan. The office of whipping-boy doomed its unfortunate occupant to undergo all the corporeal punishment which the Lord's Anointed, whose proper person was of course sacred, might chance to incur, in the course of travelling through his grammar and prosody. Under the stern rule, indeed, of George Buchanan, who did not approve of the vicarious mode of punishment, James bore the penance of his own faults, and Mungo Malagrowther enjoyed a sinecure ; but James's other pedagogue, Master Patrick Young, went more ceremoniously to work, and appalled the very soul of the youthful king by the floggings which he bestowed on the whipping-boy, when the royal task was not suitably performed…’

The humanist, poet, and historian George Buchanan reaches the pages of Walter Scott’s “The Fortunes of Nigel” as tutor for James VI of Scotland.  James was not Buchanan’s first student.  As a result of persecution of Lutherans in Scotland (1539), Buchanan fled the country for some 20 years, moving to the continent.  He was about 33 years old at the time.  Here he picked up a notable pupil; Michel Eyquem de Montaigne. Well after Montaigne, at a time when Buchanan had returned to Scotland (1560), and just before James, Buchanan tutored James’ mother, Mary Queen of Scots.  Royal tutor George Buchanan died on September 28, 1582.

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