Epitaphium Iacobi Lindesii, qui obiit Genevae 17 cal. Iul. 1580

James Lindsay was the fourth son of David, ninth Earl of Crawford, and was appointed to the parish of Fettercairn in 1576. He presumably studied alongside Melville during his time at Geneva (1569-74) before his return to Scotland, but he then returned to France to seek relief from gallstones. In a letter to his brother John Lindsay of Balcarres (d2_MelA_052) written at Paris in 1579, he recorded that he was on his way to Geneva, 'being pressit thereto baith be sundry writings from the ministry in Scotland', but died in the city in 1580. The poem's opening section clearly echoes Melville's eulogy on the martyrs of the St Bartholomew's Day Massacres (see d2_MelA_017), and is valuable for the list of the colleagues and friends that Melville had made in his time at Geneva. Metre: hexameter.

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Epitaphium Iacobi Lindesii, qui obiit Genevae 17 cal. Iul. 1580

1Dum te magnus amor virtutis, et aethereis alti
igneus ardor agit, patriam, fratresque, sororesque,
et matrem instantis luctantem in limine lethi
deseris. Oceani fluctus, hyemisque feroces,
5atque omnes terrae casus, caelique ruinas 1
ter frustra aggressus, ter retro, o fata, repulsus
secure contemnis. Et effugis Anglobrittani
Link to an image of this page  [p123] arva beata quidem, sed adhuc minus hospita, nec non
Celtarum crudele solum, crudelia tandem
10regna dolis Italorum atris. Et caede recenti 2
carnificum dirorum infamia (Sequana qua se
obliquat flexu vario, qua Matrona Belgas
irrigat: immitesque Liger, tristesque Garumna
permutat populos: et gurgite sanguinis alti
15qua Rhodano se jungit Arar, sua flumina miscens 3
purpurea: exanimesque artus, laniataque membra
matrumque infantumque, aevi discrimine nullo 4
aut sexus teneri, vastum protrudit in aequor, 5
piscibus impastis pastum monstrisque marinis), 6
20exuperas gressu impavidus, certusque salutis.
Iam Genevam, Genevam verae pietatis alumnam,
florentem studiis caelestibus omine magno
victor ovans subis. Ac voti jam parte potitus:
iam Bezae dulci alloquio, Suadaeque medulla, 7
25et succo ambrosiae caelesti, et nectaris imbre 8
perfusus; jam Danaei immortalia dicta,
Cornelique Palaestinas, Portique sorores
Grajugenas: jam Serrana cum lampade Faii
Phœbaeas artes geminas, clarumque Perotti
30sidus, Gulardique jubar, lumenque Pinaldi,
et Stephani Musas varias operumque labores,
necnon ingentis Calvini ingentia fata,
et magnum atque memor Keithi magni atque sagacis
Glaspaei desiderium, sanctique Colessi
35edoctus. Non jam tu urbes hominesque videre
amplius, aut patriam rursus carosve parentes
visere, vel fratres optas dulcesve sorores:
at caelos, caelicolas, caelique parentem
ardet amore animus coram spectare (Deumque
40immensum, verumque hominem). Cui limina Divum 9
celsa patent; quem Tartarei tremit omnis Averni
militia: hunc fontem vitae, pelagusque salutis,
et solem aeternae lucis jam fervidus instat
amplecti: purisque pedum dare basia plantis.

45Haud mora, festinat tenebrosi carceris hujus
absterso paedore omni, illuvieque situque,
Link to an image of this page  [p124] concretas testa fragili terraque rubente
exuere induvias, et jam pernicibus alis 10
alta secat: celerique fuga super aetheris axem 11
50evolat, extremo votorum sine beatus. 12
At nobis reditum laetum expectantibus, ultro
tu mi Iacobe, polumque petens patriamque perennem,
luctum, eheu, lacrymasque, et acerbi incommoda lethi
in paedore situque gravi illuvieque relinquis.
55Te canae flevere Alpes, visaeque Lemanno
illachrymare cano: visus pater ipse Lemannus
57et Rhodanus liquidis planctum miscere sub undis.

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An epitaph for James Lindsay, who died at Geneva on 15 June 1580

As a great love of virtue, and a burning passion for high heaven leads you on, so you take your leave of your fatherland, your brothers, sisters, and mother who is struggling on the threshold of approaching death. Eventually you safely navigate the billows of the Ocean, vicious storms, and all the misfortunes suffered by land, and the downpours of heaven, although three times you ventured forth, and were, o fates, three times repelled. And you leave behind too the blessed, though still not entirely welcoming fields of Anglo-Britannia, and the not uncruel kingdom of the Celts, Link to an image of this page  [p123] and at last the kingdom wicked with the dark deceits of the Italians. And during the recent slaughter, the shame of the dreadful butchers (where the Seine turns in winding bends, where the Marne brings its water to the Belgians: and the Loire alters the savage people, and the Garonne the gloomy: and where the Saone joins itself to the Rhone, mixing in its bloody stream, turning its waters blood-red: and flowing with dead bodies, and the mangled limbs of both mothers and babies, with no distinction of age or sex, it flushes out into the vast ocean, becoming food for the hungry fish and monsters of the sea), undaunted in your course you prevail, certain of salvation. Victoriously exulting in a great omen you now proceed to Geneva, Geneva the daughter of true piety, flourishing in heavenly studies. And now you have received a portion of your desires: the sweet conversation of Beza, a the very essence of Persuasion, both ambrosia's heavenly juice, and a stream of nectar; and then you were fully instructed in the immortal words of Daneau, and Corneille's Hebrew Muses, and Porteau's Greek ones: then de la Faye's twin Apollonian disciplines with their Serranian torch, and the bright star of Perrot, and the brilliance of Goulart, and the light of Pinault, and the numerous talents and works of Estienne, and not forgetting the remarkable utterances of the remarkable Calvin, and also the great, mindful longing for Keith and the wise Gillespie, and holy Collace. b Not now do you hope to see Scottish cities and men anymore, nor to visit your fatherland again or your dear parents, nor your brothers nor sweet sisters: but your soul burns with love to behold heaven, and heaven's inhabitants, and the parent of heaven face to face (both boundless god and true man). For him the high threshold of the gods opens up; and he passionately hastens to embrace the one whom every army of the hellish underworld trembles before, the spring of life, and sea of salvation, and the sun of everlasting light: and he hastens to give kisses to the stainless soles of His feet.

45Without delay, with all the grime of this dark prison washed away, both the filth and dirt, he hastens Link to an image of this page  [p124] to strip off his clothes covered in brittle clay and ruddy earth, and now on swift wings he passes through the heights: and in rapid flight above the regions of heaven he flies, blessed by his prayed-for final end. But with us hoping for your happy return, and you rather, my dear James, seeking out heaven and the everlasting fatherland, you leave behind, alas, tears and sadness in the disagreeable dirt of bitter death and oppressive decay and filth. The white-topped Alps wept for you, and they seemed to weep by pale Lake Geneva. Father Geneva himself and the Rhone seemed to join the lament under their flowing waves.



1: Virgil, Aeneid I.129

2: Virgil, Aeneid II.718

3: cf. Caesar, De Bello Gallico I.12.1

4: 'discrimine nullo': Melville also uses this phrase at 'Antichristus' (d2_MelA_054), l.317. Virgil Aeneid X.108 is the source there. Perhaps given the context of this passage, Aeneid XII.498 is a more likely inspiration.

5: Virgil, Aeneid X.693

6: Virgil, Aeneid X.560; VII.780

7: Cicero, Brutus 59; Quintilian, Insitutiones II.15.4 and XI.3.31. The quote is attributed to Ennius in both Cicero and Quintilian. For the semantic implications of 'suada' see the notes on its use in Melville's short poem, 'Votum' ((d2_MelA_049).

8: Virgil, Aeneid XII.419. For end of line cf. Claudian, Epithalamium Honorio 101

9: Virgil, Georgics III.358

10: Virgil, Aeneid IV.180

11: Virgil, Aeneid III.243

12: Manilius, Astronomica IV.4


a: For what follows (in order): Theodore Beza (1519-1605), Calvin's chief lieutenant and rector of the Genevan Academy; Lambert Daneau (1530-1595), professor of divinity at Geneva; Corneille Bertram (1531-1594), professor of Hebrew at Geneva; François Portus (1511-1581), professor of Greek; Jean de Serres (1540-1598), a Genevan pastor in 1572, then rector of the Protestant college of Nîmes from 1579; Antoine de la Faye (1540-1615), pastor and professor of Theology at Geneva, and doctor of medicine; Charles Perrot, pastor at Geneva between 1564 and 1608, and rector of the Genevan Academy between 1570-72 and 1588-1592; Simon Goulart, pastor at Geneva between 1566 and 1628, and author of several Huguenot propaganda tracts and memoirs; Jean Pinault, pastor at Geneva between 1560 and 1606; Henri Estienne (1528x31-1598), the Genevan printer. Melville had literary connections with Goulart, Bertram and Portus; see Reid, Humanism and Calvinism, pp. 65-75. For more on the Genevan pastorate and intelligentsia, see Holloway, Melville, pp. 112-131, 136-146; Scott M. Manetsch, Calvin's Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609 (Oxford, 2012); M'Crie (1819 edn), vol. 1, pp. 55, 426-427.

b: Keith: George Keith, fourth earl Marischal (1549/50-1623), who studied at Geneva in the 1570s and was well-regarded by Beza; Collace is presumably John Collace, Lindsay's successor at Fettercairn. Gillespie is unknown.