Appendix: 1598, April-May

Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, 1560-1618. Originally published by [s.n.], Edinburgh, 1839.

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Maitland Club, 'Appendix: 1598, April-May', Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, 1560-1618, (Edinburgh, 1839), pp. 966-977. British History Online [accessed 13 June 2024].

Maitland Club. "Appendix: 1598, April-May", in Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, 1560-1618, (Edinburgh, 1839) 966-977. British History Online, accessed June 13, 2024,

Maitland Club. "Appendix: 1598, April-May", Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, 1560-1618, (Edinburgh, 1839). 966-977. British History Online. Web. 13 June 2024,

1598, April-May

[After the Assembly was dissolved, the King directed Mr William Melvill and Mr David Mcgill, Senators of the Colledge of Justice, with commission to the Presbytrie of Haddintoun, to complain upon Mr John Davidson for his misbehaviour in the Assembly holdin in Dundie, (so it pleased them to terme the giving in of his Protestation.) The Presbytrie sent an officer to summond him with certification.

Mr John compeared the next Presbytrie day. He said to the Presbytrie, He marvelled, that any question should be made touching that Protestation, seeing it was lawfull in itself, and the King himself found no fault with him, when he was present in the Assembly. After reasoning to and fro, it was agreed that some brethren should goe into Edinburgh the day following with Mr Davidson, to advise with some brethren in Edinburgh, and to goe with them to the King. He consented, provyding the caus of the Kirk be not prejudged in his person, and that he be not urged to pass from his Protestation.

The King would not admitt him to speech, but directed his speech to Mr James Carmichael and James Gibson, and called him a very stark fooll, an heretick, an anabaptist, a traitour to him, to the common weale, to Christ, and his Kirk.

The next Presbytrie day, Mr David Mcgill prosecuted before the Presbytrie of Hadintoun the action intended against him; but nothing done, because Mr John was detained at home be a feaver.

Upon the 26 of Aprile, a pursevant was sent from the Commissioners of the Generall Assembly to the Presbytrie of Hadintoun, to get the extract of the process against him. It was denyed, and some brethren were sent to conserr with Mr David Makgill; so the action after lingering, at last was deserted.

Upon Fryday the 14 of Aprile, the Commissioners of the General Assembly, appointed to see Edinburgh planted, convented the Ministers of Edinburgh before them. The King being present, the Moderator asked Mr Robert Bruce if he was willing to accept a particular flock according to the act of the Generall Assembly. He answered, Yes. Next he demanded, How soon. He answered, As soon as ye please. Then, at the Kings direction, he said to Mr Robert, you must have ordination beside the rest. Mr Robert Bruce answered, He wold not be made a spectacle more nor the rest, offered himself ready to obey the decreet of the Generall Assembly, or to doe any other thing, that any Pastor of Edinburgh had to doe. Some promised to move his collegues to accept of the like. When he was near satisfied, the King hearing will have him only to accept of that ceremony of imposition of hands. He refused. They will him to advise till the morne after noon. He went doun the morn to Mr Patrick Galloway his house. After long reasoning, they came to this point, that they should all take imposition of hands alse well as he. He went with them to the Palace. The King shewed him, that it behoved him to take a new ordination. Mr Robert answered, He heard no word of a new ordination in the Generall Assembly. The King affirmed the contrary. Mr Robert called him to remembrance, that there is mention made only of imposition of hands. That is a like, said the King. Not a like, Sir, said he; for this ceremonie may serve, as well for confirmation, as ordination. The King slipping from him, the Commissioners desire him to enter in no further contestation with the King, promissing to give him a testificat in writt, that this ceremony was not for ordination; and that Mr Robert Pont sould declare the same before the people, and approve his bygane Ministry, and Pastoral calling there; and that they should cause the rest of his Collegs receive the lyke imposition: But the Lords day following, they caused an edict to be proclaimed after the doctrine, for him, and not for the rest, whereby he perceived they meant to goe foreward with their ordination. Mr Robert Pont seemed to be ignorant of the edict. Mr Robert Bruce therefore craved their promise to be subscribed in writt, and agreed with Mr Robert Pont upon a forme, which he promised to get past; wherein he offered not to stand for the ceremony of imposition of hands, if they would use it, as a ceremonie of entrie to a particular flock, or else a ceremony of confirmation in his calling; and willed them to acknowledge his former calling, certifying them, that if they used it as a ceremony of entry, he would not accept of it. The Commissioners, who had caused serve the edict, came up to the toun, to see what the people had to object against Mr Robert. The people all with one consent took instruments, he was their lawful Pastor. After the people was dismissed, Mr Robert addressed himself to the Commissioners, asked, why they had served an edict for him more nor the rest; desired them to be plain with him, what was their meaning in that ceremony, and to subscribe a ticket, which he had penned, wherein they shall acknowledge him to have had a lawfull calling, to be a Pastor in Edinburgh; whereupon he took instruments, that he was willing to obey the act of the General Assembly, and to doe any thing, any other Pastor of Edinburgh would doe.

He went down to the Palace, where hardly he got access to the King, in audience of Sir Patrick Murray. He desired his Majestie would remove all jealousy and sinistrous opinions he had conceived of him, and to think of him, as of a subject well affected toward his service, whereof he should give a proof, if it pleased his Majestie to employ him. The King promised to think no otherwise of him, and said, he was well content, that he should remain where he was. At last, he desired to understand, whether it was his pleasure precisely, that he should take imposition of hands, or not. He could not think his Majestie would do any thing to disgrace his former calling, or to prejudge his former Ministry. If the Commissioners seek only a ratification of his former calling, he would not stand with them for a ceremony, so much the rather, because he saw his Majestie so bent upon it. The King answered, He had commanded Mr Robert Pont to approve his former travels and calling, in his doctrine. He thanked the King, and desired only to get a little ticket penned to that effect, past to him be the Commissioners, which he promised to send to his Majestie incontinent. The King promised it should be done. Mr Robert sent the ticket incontinent to Sir Patrick Murray. The messenger returned with this answer, that Sir Patrick promised to get it past, and to send it back or 8 hours at night; but so soon as Mr James Nicolson and Mr Thomas Buchanan went doun to the Abbey, the King was diverted. No answer was returned that night.

Sir Patrick went over the water soon in the morning, before Mr Robert could come doun to him; and the King went out to the hunting. This was the day of the admission of the Ministers to their particular quarters, to wit the 18 of Aprile. The north east quarter resorted to the Colledge Kirk, to receive Mr Walter Balcalquall and Mr George Robertson: the north west quarter to the Great Kirk, to receive Mr William Watson and Mr John Hall: the south west quarter to the Upper Tolbuith, to receive Mr Robert Rollock and Mr Peter Hewat: the north east quarter resorted to the East or Little Kirk, where Mr Robert Bruce and Mr James Balfour should have been received.

Before the ringing of the bell, Mr Robert caused deal with the Commissioners for a ratification of his former calling. They would subscrive nothing. The furthest could be obtained was, that Mr Robert should come in, and if he heard any thing that did not like him, he should be free to goe out.

Mr Robert Pont, who made the sermon, it being ended, entered in the action. After he had uttered many things to the commendation of Mr Bruce, and acknowledged him to have been a Minister in Edinburgh lawfully called; at last he asked, If he would take imposition of hands. The other craved to make his answer in audience of the people. Mr Robert Pont gives him place; so that they were both standing in the pulpit at one time. There Mr Robert proved before the people, that he lacked nothing that was essential to a lawfull calling, yet now, said he, it hath pleased the Lord to try me, by calling my former calling in doubt: and the Commissioners of the General Assembly have urged me with a new ordination to the Ministry, as if I had never been a Minister in Edinburgh. This new ordination I could not accept, except I would proclaim my self to have runne unsent to this people these eleven years bygane. As to the ceremony, because I take it to be indifferent, and may serve as well for confirmation, as ordination, I will not refuse it, if that may please you, faith he, (directing his speach to so many of these Commissioners as were appointed to attend the action in that Kirk,) only subscribe this ticket, that I may be sure, that ye mean no other thing. So he read the ticket in their audience. He pressed Mr Robert Pont to subscribe it, and offered him the pen; but he refused, and cast it over the pulpit to Mr Thomas Buchanan and Mr James Nicolson. The Bailie Cornelius Englis conveyed it to them, and requiested them very earnestly to subscribe it. They refused all together, but said, they would ratifie whatsoever the preacher had spoken. But faith Mr Robert, he hath testified the same in effect; testify it be your hand writt: if ye mean not truely, why doe ye deceive both him and the people. But in no case they would subscrive, for no requiest of the Bailie, or the Elders who were sitting beside them. Mr Robert perceiving their obstinacy, made him to withdraw himself, because he would not trouble their action: which when Mr James Nicolson perceived, he moved Mr John Nicolson to call for Mr Robert, and to move him to sit doun upon the furme beside them, and he should find contentment. Mr Robert comes, and sitteth doun beside Mr James, looking that Mr Robert Pont should have dimitted them without any farther ceremony; but he refused, and they would not subscribe the ticket. The Elders fitting upon the furmes, cried all with a loud voice, Wee acknowledge him to be our Pastor; and, in token thereof, take him by the hand. They prayed Mr Robert Pont to give his blessing, and to admitt; but he refused, and went to the prayer, and so ended.

After noon, some of the honest citizens of the toun, together with Mr James Nicolson, went to the Commissioners, desired them to report favourably and truely of the proceedings the forenoon. They promised much, but performed little, and made a dangerous report to the King.

The day following, Mr Robert and some citizens went doun to the King, but the Commissioners preveened him. Mr Robert was called upon, but none suffered to come in with him. The King asked, What motion was you ye made yesterday in the Kirk. Mr Robert answered, There was no motion offensive. What meaned ye, said the King, be going to the pulpit. The people could not hear me, where I sat, said Mr Robert. I chused the most commodious place, with the Preachers leave, to make my answer. What said ye in the pulpit, said the King. I said, Sir, said Mr Robert, in effect, that I had lawfull calling, and the thing that was craved of me was not lawfull. I dare say upon my conscience, said the King, ye have no lawfull calling. Your Majestie speaketh, as ye are informed; but I rest upon my inward warrant, said Mr Robert. Ye said to Mr Thomas Buchannan, ye had rather given your life, ere ye had done it, said the King. Sir, after wee came out of the pulpit, I said, my life was not so dear to me, as the honour of my calling, said Mr Robert. What writt was it, ye urged them to subscrive, said the King. Even that same writt, which they promised to subscrieve, both on Saturday and Monday. Who promised, said the King. Mr Robert Pont, Mr David Lindsay, John Duncanson, Mr James Nicolson, and Mr Thomas Buchanan, said Mr Robert. They are false knaves then, said the King; and they themselves also denyed. Mr Robert offered to prove it be witnesses. Mr Thomas Buchanan alledged, he promised only to approve whatsoever Mr Robert Pont had said. Well, said Mr Bruce, but so it is, that Mr Robert Pont called me a lawfull Pastor. But Mr Robert Pont and Mr Thomas both denyed. Mr Robert Bruce offered to prove his alledgeance be a hundred witnesses. Then the King asked him, how he bewitched the people with his harrangue. Sir, said Mr Robert, I use no harrangues. Mr Robert Rollock faith to him, so said ye, ye would not appeall to the Generall Assembly again. I thank you for that, Mr Robert, said Mr Bruce, ye are lyke to goe from difference in opinion to malice in affection. Answer to the point, says the King. Ye have disobeyed the ordinance of the Commissioners, said the King. It ought to have been intimated to me, said Mr Robert. Read it to him, Mr James, said the King. It being read, Mr Robert said, this is the first tyme that ever I saw it. Remove you, said the King, wee will judge, notwithstanding, whither ye have disobeyed, or not. He is called in again incontinent, and its declared, that they had found him disobedient. He is removed again, and after consultation called on. The King shewed, that it was his part to prevent discord, which was like to arise among Pastors, and to knitt them up in unity; and therefore he had taken upon him, and that of his own authority, to give him yet a day to obey their ordinance. They wold ratifie his former doctrine, and such commission as he had borne in name of the Kirk. He thanked the King, and asked, if they would ratifie his former calling, that he had a lawfull calling to be a Pastor in Edinburgh. Will ye, Mr Robert, that wee be plain with you, sayes the King; I am not of that mind, nor is there any here will say, that ye have a lawfull calling to be a Pastor in Edinburgh. Ye shall hear them all posed in your audience. So the King asked first Mr Robert Pont. He was not resolved what to say. The King left him, and asked at Mr David Lindsay. Mr David said, that he wanted imposition of hands. Ye see, Sir, said Mr Robert, he says not, that I am no lawfull Pastor; he voteth not so. Mr David, says the King, what say ye, whether is he a lawfull Pastor, or not. He answered, in respect he wanteth imposition of hands, I cannot say. Then the King asked Mr Robert Rollock. He directed his speech to Mr Robert Bruce. Sir, I grant ye have the presentation of the General Assembly, and the consent of the people, and that very great; but ye want ordination. After him voted Mr Thomas Buchanan, Mr James Nicolson, Mr Patrik Galloway, and John Duncanson. Ye see, quoth the King, they call you no lawfull Pastor. Sir, sayes he, they obscure that conclusion; I had rather been buried, if the Lord would have assisted me, ere I had voted to the like of them. Then he asked of Mr Patrick Galloway, if he thought not his calling as good as his own. My calling is better than yours, sayes Mr Patrick. Well, said Mr Robert, when ye drew upon us all this work, ye wold have said other wayes; ye and Mr James Nicolson formed the declinator, and wrote letters unto the Presbytries. Was Mr James Nicolson, sayes the King, one of them. Forsuith was he, sayes Mr Robert. Can ye say no more, sayes Mr Patrick. I can say more, said he. Ye have slipped from the cause, said he, and left us out. As for my self, I thank the living God, I am not ashamed of it.

With this Mr Robert was removed again, and they proceed to the sentence of deprivation, except he obeyed their first ordinance, betwixt and the nynth of May. He was called in again. The King caused read the sentence. When he heard it, he said, he thanked God, he was ready, not only to suffer that much, but the very death in that cause, if it should please God to call him to suffer; and I hope, Sir, said he, ye shall not charge me wrong in that cause, and it were to the very scaffold.

So he came forth, and declared to some of his friends what was done. They advised him to goe ben again, and to appeall from their ordinance to the General Assembly. So he sent for Alexander Frier, a Noter, and went in, when Mr James Balfour was called on, took instruments of his appellation. The King sayes to him, what is that ye are saying, thinking to terrifie him. Sir, sayes he, I am appealling from this ordinance. It is reason, said the King, to appeall and protest, why not.

A little before the day that Mr David Lindsay brought him the copy of the charge to leave off, he resolved to desist after the expyring of the day, till some new appointment interveen. So after the receipt of the charge, he took his leave in the pulpit the fift of May.

The Presbyterie of Edinburgh give their approbation and testimony to his calling, as followes.

2 May, 1598.

The which day the brethren of the Presbytrie of Edinburg having ripely advised upon the desire of their brother, Mr Robert Bruce, willing to de clare, whither he had been, and is yet a lawfull Pastor of the Kirk of Edinburgh, having his calling of the Generall Assembly thereto: The whole brethren being present, gave their resolute answer without contradiction, That they had acknowledged, and acknowledge him to be a lawfull Pastor of the said Kirk, by whom God in his mercy had wrought effectually in the said pastoral charge; and be whose travells the whole Kirk and themselves had received great comfort.

Extract out of the bookes, &c.

Mr Charles Lumsdane, Clerk to the Presbytrie of Edinburgh.

The Presbytrie of Edinburgh sent doun Mr James Balfour, Mr Walter Balcalquall, William Aird, and Mr Charles Lumsden, to the Commissioners to deal for Mr Robert. They agreed with the Commissioners upon a forme, and after presented it to Mr Robert. He corrected some words in it, and sent it back to the brethren. They directed it to Mr Patrick Galloway, and Mr Robert Rollock: it lieth beside them unanswered.

Mr Robert is sent for to the King and Commissioners upon Tuesday the 9 of May. The King urgeth him with obedience to their ordinance. Mr Robert answered, that the Commissioners and he had agreed upon a forme, with advice of the Presbytrie. Mr Robert Rollock draweth it out of his pocket, and presents it to the King. The King would not stand content with it, but reformed it at his own pleasure, and gave it to Mr Robert to advise upon. Mr Robert conferred with the Presbytrie, and seeks their advice. At the first, some of the number perceived not the deceit, which was lurking under the words; but after noon, when they entered in new conference with the Commissioners, they saw they meaned not uprightly in that forme, which they had conceived; therefore urged the first. They would not condiscend till they had advised with the King. The King wold not alter his forme. Mr Robert being wearied went out of the toun to take the air. Mr John Spotswood, now Archbishop of Sanct Andrews, being directed from the Commissioners, overtakes him within half a myle out of the toun: he shewed to him, that the Commissioners marvelled that he should depart out of the toun, the process not being closed; and that he had answered for him, that in respect they had found him disobedient already, and had proceeded to the sentence of deprivatioun, that he had no farther to doe, except that the King had charged him to attend upon his incoming. Mr Robert answered, He was charged only to attend before noon, and yet attended both before and after noon. In the end Mr Spotswood said, he had power fra the Commissioners to offer his admission without any ceremony. Mr Robert desired writt upon that, and then they should have an answer.

Upon Fryday the 12 of May, Mr John Spotswood, Mr John Preston, and Mr George Young went out to Smeton to Mr Robert. He asked at Mr Spotswood, if he brought with him the writt, which he promised. Mr Spotswood said, the Commissioners were willing, but the King wold not agree to it; and that he had brought another little different from his own. When Mr Robert wold have made some animadversions upon it, Mr Spotswood alledged, he was discharged to alter one syllable.

Upon the 13th of May, Mr Spotswood sent a letter to Mr Robert, wherein he made known to him, that he had brought the King and the Commissioners almost to satisfy his desire, and sent a third forme, which he prayed him to agree unto; yea he stirred up some of his chief friends to urge him: so sundry of Mr Roberts friends wrought upon be his craft, condemned Mr Robert, as if he stood only upon trifles.

Upon 14 day of May, Mr John Preston, Mr John Nicolson, and Mr George Young went out to Mr Robert, and requiested him to returne to the toun. He yielded, and returneth the day following, that is Monday the 15 of May, in the morning.

Mr Andrew Knox, Minister of Paisley, and after Bishop of the Isles, was sent to him, as appeared, be the Commissioners: he travelled between him and them for the space of three or four hours. One of the Bailies presented to Mr Robert a forme, assuring himself of the Commissioners consent; but that they would have him subscrive first. Mr Robert was content with the form and subscribed; but the Bailiff could not get their subscriptions, howbeit some of them had promised.

Mr Patrick Simpson travelled with the Commissioners, but could not obtain that which was reasonable.

The day following, that is the 16 of May, which was the Presbytrie day, Mr Robert propounded to the Presbytrie, and other brethren conveened out of sundrie quarters, if they thought it meet he should take a new ordination to the Ministry, or not; craved their interlocutor, and removed himself. After a space he was called in, and they declared, it was their mind, that he should not take a new ordination to the Ministrie.

After noon the Commissioners conveened together with the whole Pref bytrie and many other brethren. They sent for Mr Robert twise, ere he would come. At last he cometh: He asked, Whether it was his ordination to the Ministrie that was sought, or not. The Commissioners would give no direct answer. Mr Robert bursting forth in the grief of his heart, said, They had persecuted him extremely, and had used tyrannous and imperious dealing toward him; that he could never remember, that he ever abused any of them in world or deed, or used any recrimination, save only against Mr Patrick Galloway, and that compelled be his injurious speeches uttered before the King, at their last meeting in the Abbay. And now said Mr. Robert, I take my leave of you, brethren, and wish you from my heart rather to choise affliction than iniquity. Mr Patrick granted he spoke the words alledged; but he spake them in respect he had imposition of hands, which Mr Robert wanted. Mr James Balfour replayed, that he wanted imposition of hands alse well as Mr Robert. Mr Robert went out, and left them at this debate.

Some of the brethren were directed to Mr Robert, and again mended the forme: Mr Robert would not agree unto it, except they specisied in plain terms, that the imposition of hands, which they urged, was not a ceremony of ordination to the Ministry. The Commissioners refuse, and offered admission without all ceremony, rather than to insert that clause. Mr. Robert was content to take admission as the rest had it. When they perceived him satissied, they would have passed from their offer; but at last were brought to be content to insert his words in the last forme.

The Commissioners went doun to the King, and informed him what was done. The King yielded at last, and appointed the nixt Friday to be the day of his admission.

Upon Wednesday the 17 of May, the Commissioners conveened in the East or Little Kirk, and sent for Mr Robert: He went to them, and desired to know in tyme, whether they meant as they spake. It was long ere they would answer. At the last, they declared, that they spake as they meant, and wrote as they spoke. Mr Robert taketh the brethren witness. Mr Robert Pont is appointed to teach. Mr Robert and he differed about the forme of the declaration, which he should use in pulpit, as he had found him ambiguous before both be word and be writt. At last Mr Robert and the Commissioners agree, that the writt, which he and they had subscribed, should be read, and serve for his declaration.

Upon Fryday the 19 of May, Mr Robert Pont made a sermon in the Little or East Kirk of Edinburgh; and after sermon, and the declaration foresaid made, came doun from the pulpit, and laid hands upon the heads of Mr Robert, and Mr John Balfour. The Elders and Deacons sitting beside upon furmes, took them be the hands, and received them as their lawfull Pastors. C.]

[The Synod of Fyff convenit in Dumfermling in the monethe of Junie. Ther war Commissioners from his Maiestie, the Lord of Towngland, and Sir Patrik Murray.

Reasoning was, and the iudgments of all the Presbyteries and breithren, giffen in thir Questiones.

1. Ester what maner he sall be chosin wha sall vot in Parliament for the Kirk: Whither sall the Kirk haue the nominatioun, and the King the choise, or e contra. Cuper Presbyterie, quhilk Mr Thomas Buchanan gydit, thought that the Kirk sould nominat fyve or sax, out of the quhilk the King sould chuse an. The vther thrie Presbyteries aggreit in an, that the Kirk fould mak chose of ther awain Commissionars, and therwith the King sould content and accept the sam, as the Barrones and Burrowes does.

2. Whom land sould they continow.

Cuper Presbytrie answerit, Tota vita, nisi interueniat culpa. The vther thrie in an, That they sould continue from a Generall Assemblie to an vther.

3. Whom they sould be callit.

Cuper Presbyterie thought it a thing indifferent, whither they war callit Bischopes or Commissioners. The vther thrie in an, thought the consequens of the nam of graitter importance, because the verie nam of Bischope now importethe the corruptioun and tyrranie in the Kirk; and therfor that they should be called Commissioners of the Kirk.

4. Concerning their rent.

All aggreit in that it sould be but hurt of vther kirks, and nocht hinder the dissolutioun of benefices.

Mr James Melvill protested for his awin part, he wald haue na thing ado with the forging or blocking of it in anie fort; for as he saw it working, the best forme of it wald be bot a corruptioun and tyrannie brought in within the Kirk to the wrak therof.

But all the cair and trauell of the Kings Commissioners, was to gett sick thrie men nominat as the King lyked best of: grait deuyses and mikle bissines was about that. In end they fand the way to put vpon the lyttes a guid number of the thrie Presbyteries that war against tham, that they might be quyt of thair vottes; and sa haiffing moyenned the rest behind, they gatt thair intent, for Mr George Gladsteanes, Mr Thomas Buchanan, and Mr Jhone Fearfull were chosen Commissioners be maniest votes; and these that were upon the leits were called in. Whilk when the guid brethring espyed, they wald give them na vther commissioun bot to report faithfullie thair iudgment in the Questionnes; and attending therto, to reasone, vot, and conclud, and sie ne quid Ecclesia detrimenti capiat. Promitten to approue and allow na thing bot that quhilk they did lawfullie in that matter.

The Commissioners from Synods conveened at Falkland in the moneth of August. Mr James Melvill went not to it; yea his opinioun and wis was, ther sould be na generall meittings, Rege presidente, vnles it pleasit God to turn and sett his heart vtherwayes; for he saw and was certean, we sould ay be farder and farder behind in the sinceritie and libertie of Chrysts kingdome; and they souyld euer, a way or vther, get thair intents brought about.

Allwayes in generall, the King and his Commissioners fand nocht sic fordar in their purpose as they luiked for. What was concluded be plurality of votes, was related to the General Assembly following.

The General Assembly, that was appointed to be holden the year following at Aberdeen, in July, was prorogat be the Kings proclamatiouns almost a yeir, for aduysment and better dressing of maters. C. & Melvill's Diary.]