And the good influence was soon manifest, not only in those who sided with Buchanan and his friends, but in those who most opposed them. The Roman Catholic preachers, who at first asserted Mary’s right to impunity, while they allowed her guilt, grew silent for shame, and set themselves to assert her entire innocence; while the Scots who have followed their example have, to their honour, taken up the same ground. They have fought Buchanan on the ground of fact, not on the ground of morality: they have alleged—as they had a fair right to do—the probability of intrigue and forgery in an age so profligate: the improbability that a Queen so gifted by nature and by fortune, and confessedly for a long while so strong and so spotless, should as it were by a sudden insanity have proved so untrue to herself. Their noblest and purest sympathies have been enlisted—and who can blame them?—in loyalty to a Queen, chivalry to a woman, pity for the unfortunate and—as they conceived—the innocent; but whether they have been right or wrong in their view of facts, the Scotch partisans of Mary have always—as far as I know—been right in their view of morals; they have never deigned to admit Mary’s guilt, and then to palliate it by those sentimental, or rather sensual, theories of human nature, too common in a certain school of French literature,—too common, alas! in a certain school of modern English novels. They have not said, “She did it; but after all, was the deed so very inexcusable?” They have said, “The deed was inexcusable: but she did not do it.” And so the Scotch admirers of Mary, who have numbered among them many a pure and noble, as well as many a gifted spirit, have kept at least themselves unstained; and have shown, whether consciously or not, that they too share in that sturdy Scotch moral sense which has been so much strengthened—as I believe—by the plain speech of good old George Buchanan.
“Apollo, god of medicine, exiled from the rest of the earth, was straying once across the Narbonnaise in Gaul, seeking to fix his abode there. Driven from Asia, from Africa, and from the rest of Europe, he wandered through all the towns of the province in search of a place propitious for him and for his disciples. At last he perceived a new city, constructed from the ruins of Maguelonne, of Lattes, and of Substantion. He contemplated long its site, its aspect, its neighbourhood, and resolved to establish on this hill of Montpellier a temple for himself and his priests. All smiled on his desires. By the genius of the soil, by the character of the inhabitants, no town is more fit for the culture of letters, and above all of medicine. What site is more delicious and more lovely? A heaven pure and smiling; a city built with magnificence; men born for all the labours of the intellect. All around vast horizons and enchanting sites—meadows, vines, olives, green champaigns; mountains and hills, rivers, brooks, lagoons, and the sea. Everywhere a luxuriant vegetation—everywhere the richest production of the land and the water. Hail to thee, sweet and dear city! Hail, happy abode of Apollo, who spreadest afar the light of the glory of thy name!”