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Oor Ain Folk
Chapter XVII


Declining Years—Increasing Infirmities—An Assistant and Successor appointed—The Last Sermon—Closing Scenes—His Strong Faith—Considerate to the Last—A Noble Dying Testimony—The End: 'Peace.'

Some time after the elder boys had gone out into the world, the weight of increasing years and cares began to tell on the old minister. The stalwart frame began to bend more, the keen, kindly, gray eye grew somewhat dimmer. He began to suffer too from painful neuralgic affections. During the days of my boyhood he had gone round among his friends all over Scotland, and had raised funds enough to build a fine, commodious manse for his large and growing family. To this he added a spacious and beautiful garden, the care of which was one of his chief delights. He was a most enthusiastic gardener, and a practical and accomplished one withal. He took a keen interest in experiments with new and foreign seeds, and was an expert in most branches of this primal industry.

Finding his infirmities increasing, however, and being no longer able to look after the whole of his widely-scattered flock in distant glen and on lonely upland, as he was wont to do, the people resolved to procure him an assistant and successor. This step was taken sorely against my father's desires, but as it was the determination of the people, he loyally acquiesced in the expression of their will. An assistant was accordingly appointed.

In 1875 I managed to get home for a short visit, but the season was a severe one, and the cold changeable climate proved too trying for my relaxed state of health. My dear father preached his last sermon the Sabbath after my arrival; and it was sad to see how much he had lost of his old fire and vigour. He still, however, retained his fine, kindly sense of humour, and was never at a loss for some quaint, humorous criticism on current events.

Some few years previously a horse had trod on his foot, severely crushing the great toe. This had been treated rather lightly, but there were constant recurrences of inflammation, and at length the toe had to be amputated. This course ought to have been taken much earlier, for even the amputation did not secure relief. Inflammatory action set in higher up the limb, and at length focused itself in the groin, where a malignant tumour gathered, and though an operation was performed, it did not materially relieve his sufferings.

My brother George was also at home at the time, and from his detailed account of the last sad days I condense the following narrative. As showing how strong the old man's sense of humour was, when George came home from Edinburgh on Christmas Day 1875, and saw the wasted form for the first time, he was deeply affected, but trying to cheer up the sufferer he stammered out: 'You're no lookin' so ill as I expected to find you.' To which, with a wan, wintry smile, he managed to whisper: 'Ah, but I was aye a guid-lookin' chiel', ye ken.'

George proceeds—'He was not able to speak much nor yet to smile. He told me one day to have all the Assembly's blue books tied up and given to the Session Clerk, "so that he would have no need to come and ask for them."

'He told me to burn all his MS. sermons on the Psalms, as he said they were composed in a hurry at the beginning of his ministry, and during the "Ten Years' Conflict," and were not so well finished as he would have liked, but he had never found time to revise them. He said they contained numerous extracts from the writings of Matthew Henry and others.

'He specially wished to expend a small credit he had in the savings bank, in the purchase of a clock to be put in the church where all could see it, and specially named four of his old and tried hearers to take charge of the clock. To his lifelong friend and medical attendant, old Doctor Mackie of Brechin, he wished that, after his bill was paid in full, a present of Five Pounds might be made, saying: "I think there will be funds enough for that"'

I think that was a fine characteristic trait of his loyalty to old friends and the liberal generosity of his nature; for it must not be forgotten that five pounds represented to a poor country minister quite as much as a far larger sum would to a richer man.

'On the 12th of January he had a terrible fit of coughing, said "he was a great sufferer, and longed to get home," but "he must wait his appointed time," and then he murmured, "O Time — time — time!" Next day his much-attached friends, Mr. and Mrs. Nixon, came from Montrose, and a very affecting conversation was held. Mr. Nixon asked among other things if he regretted the sacrifices he had made for Christ's sake. A fine glow of enthusiasm lit up the wasted features, and with a burst of deep feeling, holding up his wasted hands, he replied: "Oh no, no, no!" Mr. Nixon then prayed very touchingly for him, Mrs. Nixon tenderly kissed his forehead, and they took their leave all deeply moved.'

On the 15th George had to return to his classes at the New College, Edinburgh, and when saying farewell, the old man held his hand and said: 'I canna keep ye awa' langer, an' I dinna want to keep mysel'. May God bless and prosper you! Oh be faithful—be faithful! See that you meet me in glory. I'm no able to speak. Farewell.'

During the latter portion of his illness he often said to my mother, "Oh, can you no help me to die?" A few days before the end he suffered fearfully from a dreadful cough, which racked and shook his whole frame; and it became very painful to those waiting on him, as they could do nothing to give him relief. He had to be given ice to cool and moisten his parched tongue, and seeing their distress he tried to assume a cheerfulness which was touchingly unselfish. He would sometimes smile and whisper jokingly: "Gie me anither sna' ba'" This was said with the intention of diverting the grief of the loved and loving watchers round his bed.

'On Wednesday afternoon, 19th January 1876, he sank into a quiet sleep, and about five o'clock he passed peacefully away to "the rest that remaineth."

My brother's notes conclude— 'He died in the 73rd year of his age and the 39th of his (ordained) ministry. "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace."'

Note on Teetotum, p. 97..

Since writing the above a kind correspondent has sent me the following most interesting information regarding the teetotum, indicating the great antiquity of the toy. He says it was really a Roman implement of gambling, and the letters meant as follows. A. Accipe unum, D. Donato alium, N. Nihil, T. Totum.

THE END

Printed by R. & R. Clark, Edinburgh.


BOOKS BY THE SAME AUTHOR.

SPORT AND WORK ON THE NEPAUL FRONTIER

OR

Twelve Tears' Sporting Reminiscences of an Indigo Planter. By 'MAORI,'

AUTHOR OF 'TIRHOOT RHYMES,' ETC.

MACMILLAN AND CO., LONDON, 1878.

OPINIONS OF THE PRESS.

"A graphic and unvarnished account of experiences gained during twelve years of a planter's life in North Behar. Animated and even picturesque."—Saturday Review.

"Englishmen will read his book both with pleasure and profit. Has the art of communicating information in a very agreeable way—exceedingly lively and versatile in the mixed contents of his chapters. Curious, interesting and most valuable. Has gone on the plan of being comprehensive and exhaustive, and has the happy knack of putting subjects in fresh and agreeable lights. Describes his sport in animated detail, graphically told. The best and most instructive chapters on the habits and pursuit of the tiger that we have ever read. The volume is well worth reading all through."—Pall Mall Gazette and Budget.

"He wields the pen with equal address and success. His description of the delights of tiger-shooting in the Koosee jungles and sal forests, of hunting trips across the Nepaul frontier, or of a grand burst after a "fighting boar," are capitally written—fresh, vigorous, and full of the true sportsman's fire. Many of them will hardly be read without a sympathetic thrill of excitement. Such a book deserves to be popular. It is gossipy without being tedious, and informatory without being dull."—Scotsman.

"A most enjoyable record. . . . Sport and Work gives evidence of being written by a keen sportsman. It abounds with information of every imaginable kind; and at the present time, when matters are so unsettled in the East, and public attention is so much directed to that quarter, there is no doubt it will be warmly welcomed."—Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News.

"We have plenty of books describing the ways and manners of the army and of the civil service in India, but we know very little about the life of the pushing and thriving gentleman from Europe, who occupies India on his own account and brings his British businesslike activity to bear upon the astonished indolence of the native whose lands ne cultivates and whose labour he employs. Here we see a specimen of the energetic ruling race carrying into industry and commerce the qualities by which empires are won and sustained, etc. The features of native life are most vividly presented in these lively pages. "—London Daily News.

"Will certainly interest all who take it into their hands. An expert with both rifle and pen, his book will well repay perusal by those who have a taste for capitally written stories about sport. We hope ' Maori' will soon take pen in hand again to give the world a further instalment of his manifold experiences as a sportsman."—Globe.

"Maori's' former literary efforts have proved him incapable of being dry, and that lucky incapacity is here more strikingly emphasised than ever. He is the keenest of observers, and wields a pen of rare vividness and force. Excellent and manly throughout Much real information scattered throughout the book in the pleasantest form and the most unpretentious way. Possesses great descriptive power."—Dundee Advertiser.

"Exactly what is wanted. The author has succeeded in rendering his book one of more than ordinary interest. Written in a frank ana cheery spirit. His sketches are spirited and interesting. His information about all Indian subjects is never without interest. Related with great freedom and full of interest."—Glasgow Herald.

"One of those frank, fresh, breezy books, which by their vividness of presentation and graphic narration have almost the charm of actual experience. Given witn an ease and simplicity, and yet a fulness and accuracy of information which render this unpretentious volume more valuable than many professedly instructive works. The reader forgets that he is having his experience at second hand. The book is so interesting and picturesque that the scenes to which it relates, themselves appear before him, and he follows with breathless excitement the incidents of dangerous hardihood told with a flow of sporting enthusiasm with which it abounds. A quiet analysis of native life, much wise comment, irresistible verve and freedom of real sport in many of its anecdotes. Its merits are so various as to render its popularity assured, and to reflect the greatest credit upon the intelligence and acumen of the author."—Melbourne Age.

"It is only justice to say that his object of giving a full and clear idea of the life of an Anglo-Indian planter is most successfully attained. The author always writes in good spirits, his pages are animated with the moving reflex of his active life, and the life which he so enjoyed he has brought clearly and strongly before his readers."—Australasian.

"Agreeable without pretension, and fluent without verbosity— gives us the impression of having been written by one of those manly Englishmen whose courageous energy, intelligence, and administrative capacity qualify them alike to become the pioneers of colonisation and to obtain and exercise a commanding and beneficial influence over subject races. A careful and accurate observer," etc.—Melbourne Argus.

"It is seldom we meet with a book in which abundance of striking incident and picturesque reminiscences are dwelt upon with such vigorous facility of diction—comes to one with the interest of a long letter from an old acquaintance in which there is not one uninteresting sentence. Narrative after narrative, and incident after incident, each instinct with warm picturesque colouring, and breathing of a writer who tells of what he has seen or knows to be true. Might with advantage be added to the library of every one interested in Indian life and sport."—Sydney Morning Herald.

"Capital descriptive picture. Varied, readable, interesting, handsomely got up and well illustrated. Would make a capital gift book." —Sydney Mail.

The volume so favourably reviewed by the Press of England, India, and Australia has already been reprinted in America by Harper Brothers, New York.

OUR AUSTRALIAN COUSINS.

By ' MAORI' (The Honourable James Inglis)

AUTHOR OF ' TIEHOOT RHYMES,' ( SPORT AND WORK ON THE NEPAUL FRONTIER,' ETC.

OPINIONS OF THE PRESS.

"Of the book as a whole it gives us pleasure to speak in terms of warm appreciation. The author is demonstrably a diligent and keen observer. ... It may be read as quickly as a novel; and, indeed, it is more interesting than are many novels. This brings us to what we deem to be Mr. Inglis's special gifts, namely, remarkably vivid and racy descriptive and narrative powers. He has a capital vocabulary, and a bright, frank, cheery, racy, graphic style which evidently carried him along easily and pleasantly in the writing, and has equally carried us along in the reading."—Sydney Mail.

"Altogether this is one of the best books of Australian travel that have appeared in recent times."—London Daily News.

"Our Australian Cousins is a pleasant and an entertaining book, and we shall be glad to find that it has a wide circulation."—Sydney Morning Herald.

"The book will be found highly interesting, valuable, and entertaining. Even the faults do not seem out of place in an account of a young, vigorous, and expanding nation, proudly conscious of its abounding energy and vitality, and not indisposed to 'bounce' regarding its wonderful progress and industrial achievements."—The Scotsman.

"Mr. Inglis possesses one singular merit, not often to be found in writers upon Australia; he has the courage to expose abuses and to denounce their authors, as well as to praise the climate and to extol the riches and capabilities of the country. ... He indulges in warmer hopes of its future than most authors, and describes its scenery and rural sports in the bright, fresh style which characterised his former volume, Sport and Work on the Nepaul Frontier."—The Athenaeum.

"It is the characteristic and recommendation of the work that it fulfils the promise of the preface. It is naturally and frankly written, with a good deal of the ease and unreserve of private correspondence, and its author is exceedingly outspoken with respect to the flaws in the political and social life and institutions of these communities. ... It is written in a lively and entertaining style, and it contains a fund of .information respecting these colonies, besides offering some valuable suggestions for the introduction of novel industries."—The Argus, Melbourne.

"Besides describing the legal, commercial, and legislative aspects of Australia, Mr. Inglis depicts with a skilful hand some curious adventures he met with in the social world. ... In his broad survey of the colony he has not omitted to describe Australian forest and coast scenery, together with many of the interesting denizens of plain and river. His sketches of his shooting expeditions are vivid, picturesque, and useful from a strictly scientific point of view."—The London Standard.

"Mr. Inglis has written a very pleasant and a very valuable book, not for colonists only, but for those at home who wish to know what our colonies are like. . . . The portions of his book that will most please the general reader are those devoted to descriptions of the scenery, animal life, and sports of the colonies. We have seldom read fresher, healthier descriptions. . . . The scraps of natural history, too, are all exceedingly interesting, as well as some of the tales about animal sagacity. . . . The book is full of matter that will delight the sportsman and naturalist, and about which there can be no doubt of any land." —The Spectator.

OUR NEW ZEALAND COUSINS.

By 'MAORI' (The Honourable James Inolis)

AUTHOR OF 'TIBHOOT RHYMES,' 'SPORT AND WORK ON THE NEPAUL FRONTIER,'
OUB AUSTRALIAN COUSINS,' ETC.

SAMPSON LOW AND CO., LONDON, 1887.

OPINIONS OF THE PRESS.

"This volume comprises a series of letters contributed by the author, who is the Minister of Public Instruction of New South Wales, to a Sydney paper. The writer's observations of the condition of the colony and its inhabitants are fresh and suggestive."—London Daily News.

"The Minister of Instruction of New South Wales, as his previous books on Nepaul and Australia bear witness, is a past master in tne art of writing genial, lively, gossipy notices of men and manners in the countries where he has sojourned. Our New Zealand Cousins is certain, therefore, of a hearty reception in the Antipodes and at home."—The Scotsman.

"Our New Zealand Cousins is an interesting account of the New Zealand group of islands by a man who has visited them thoroughly at various times during the last twenty years."—Saturday Review.

"This work is one of the most interesting and should prove one of the most useful volumes that has been published respecting New Zealand. The writer has evidently travelled much, observed much, experienced much, thought much, written much. His style is easy and free, his descriptions of scenery are graphic and strikingly true. . . . The little work, in addition to being most entertaining reading, is one of great utility and instruction."—Auckland Evening Star.

"The publication of his book must be of benefit to these colonies." —New Zealand Herald and Daily Southern Cross.

"The author of this book is well known to Australian readers as a fluent speaker and racy writer, who adds to a keen perception of what nature has done for these colonies, an intelligent judgment of all that the colonists have done for themselves, and enterprising and liberal views as to a great deal more that should now be undertaken."—Sydney Morning Herald.

"Mr. Inglis's criticisms upon the various phases of colonisation in New Zealand are characterised by considerable keenness of observation and by a truly British sympathy with the energetic and intelligent development of a young country's resources."—Sydney Daily Telegraph.


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