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Scenes and Legends of The North of Scotland
Chapter VIII


"-Times
Whose echo rings through Scotland to this hour.”—Wordsworth.

Prior to the Reformation there were no fewer than six chapels in the parish of Cromarty. The site of one of these, though it still retains the name of the Old Kirk, is now a sand-bank, the haunt of the crab and the sea-urchin, which is covered every larger tide by about ten feet of water ; the plough has passed over the foundations of two of the others; of two more the only vestiges are a heap of loose stones, and a low grassy mound; and a few broken fragments of wall form the sole remains of the sixth and most entire. The very names of the first three have shared the fate of the buildings themselves; two of the others were dedicated to St. Duthac and St. Bennet; and two fine springs, on which time himself has been unable to effect any change, come bubbling out in the vicinity of the ruins, and bear the names of their respective saints. It is not yet twenty years since a thom-bush, which formed a little canopy over the spring of St. Bennet, used to be covered anew every season with little pieces of rag, left on it as offerings to the saint, by sick people who came to drink of the water ; and near the chapel itself, which was perched like an eyry on a steep solitary ridge that overlooks the Moray Firth, there was a stone trough, famous, about eighty years before, for virtues derived also from the saint, like those of the well. For if a child was carried away by the fairies, and some mischievous unthriving imp left in its place, the parents had only to lay the changeling in this trough, and, by some invisible process, their child would be immediately restored to them. It was termed the fairies’ cradle ; and was destroyed shortly before the rebellion of 1745, by Mr. Gordon, the minister of the parish, and two of his elders. The last, and least dilapidated of the chapels, was dedicated to St. Regulus; and there is a tradition, that at the Reformation a valuable historical record, which had belonged to it—the work probably of some literary monk or hermit—was carried away to France by the priest. I remember a very old woman who used to relate, that when a little girl, she chanced, when playing one day among the ruins with a boy a few years older than herself, to discover a small square recess in the wall, in which there was a book ; but that she had only time to remark that the volume was a very tattered one, and apparently very old, and that there were beautiful red letters in it, when the boy, laying claim to it, forced it from her. What became of it afterwards she did not know, and, unconscious of the interest which might have attached to it, never thought of making any inquiry.

There does not survive a single tradition of the circumstances which, in this part of the country, accompanied the great event that consigned the six chapels to solitude and decay. One may amuse one’s-self, however, in conceiving of the more interesting of these, and, with history and a little knowledge of human nature for one’s guide, run no great risk of conceiving amiss. The port of Cromarty was one of considerable trade for the age and country, and the people of the town were Lowland Scots. A more inquisitive race live nowhere. First there would come to them wild vague reports, by means of the seamen and merchants, of the strange doctrines which had begun to disturb the Continent and the sister kingdom. Shreds of heretic sermons would be whispered over their ale; and stories brought from abroad, of the impositions of the priests, would be eked out, in some instances with little corroborative anecdotes, the fruit of an experience acquired at home. For there were Liberals even then, though under another name;—a certain proportion of the people of Scotland being bom such in every age of its independence. Then would come the story of the burning of good Patrick Hamilton, pensionary of the neighbouring abbey of Feam; and everybody would be exceedingly anxious to learn the particular nature of his crime. Statements of new doctrines, and objections urged against some of the old, would in consequence be eagerly listened to, and as eagerly repeated. Then there would come among them two or three serious, grave people, natives of the place, who would have acquired, when pursuing their occupations in the south, as merchants or mechanics, a knowledge, not merely speculative, of the new religion. A traveller of a different cast would describe with much glee to groups of the younger inhabitants, the rare shows he had seen acted on the Castle-hill of Cupar; and producing a black-letter copy of “The Thrie Estaites” of Davy Lindsay, he would set all his auditors a-laughing at the expense of the Church. One of the graver individuals, though less openly, and to a more staid audience, would also produee a book, done into plain English, out of a very old tongue, by one Tyndale, and still more severe on the poor priests than even “The Thrie Estaites.” They would learn from this book that what they were beginning to deem a rational, but at the same time new religion, was in reality the old one; and that Popery, with all its boasted antiquity, was by far the more modem of the two. In the meantime, the priests of the chapels would be the angriest men in the parish; —denouncing against all and sundry the fire and fagots of this world, and the fire without fagots of the next; but one of them, a good honest man, neither the son of a churchman himself, nor yet burdened with a family of his own, would set himself, before excommunicating any one, to study the old, newly-translated book, that he might be better able to cope with the maligners of his Church. Before half completing his studies, however, his discourses would begin to assume a very questionable aspect. Little would they contain regarding the Pope, and little concerning the saints; and more and more would he press upon his hearers the doctrines taught by the Apostles. Anon, however, he would assume a bolder style of language; and sometimes conclude, after saying a great deal about the spiritual Babylon, and the Man of sin, by praying for godly John Knox, and all the other ministers of the Evangel. In short, the honest priest would prove the rankest heretic in the whole parish. And thus would matters go on 'from bad to worse. A few grey heads would be shaken at the general defection, but these would be gradually dropping away; and the young themselves would be growing old without changing their newly-acquired opinions. They would not all be good Christians;—for every one should know it is quite a possible thing to be a Protestant, sound enough for all the purposes of party, without being a Christian at all;—but they would almost all be reformers; and when the state should at length set itself to annihilate root and branch of the old establishment, and to build up a new one on the broad basis of the kingdom, not a parish in the whole of it would enter more cordially into the scheme than the parish of Cromarty.

But however readily the people might have closed with the doctrines of the Reformation, they continued to retain a good deal of the spirit of the old religion. Having made choice of a piece of land on the edge of the ridge which rises behind the houses as a proper site for their church, they began to collect the materials. It so chanced, however, that the first few stones gathered for the purpose, being thrown down too near the edge of the declivity, rolled to the bottom; the circumstance was deemed supernaturally admonitory; and the church, after due deliberation, was built at the base instead of the top of the ridge, on exactly the spot where the stones had rested. The first Protestant minister of the parish was a Mr. Robert Williamson. His name occurs oftener than once in Calderwood’s Church History; and his initials, with those of his wife, are still to be seen on a flat triangular stone in the eastern part of the town, which bears date 1593. It is stated by Calderwood, that “Jesuits having libertie to passe thorough the countrey in 1583; during the time of the Earle of Huntlies lieutenantrie, great coldness of religion entered in Ross;” and by an act of council passed five years after, this Robert Williamson, and “John Urquhart, tutor of Cromartie,” were among the number empowered to urge matters to an extremity against them.

There awaited Scotland a series of no light evils in the shortsighted policy which attempted to force upon her a religion which she abhorred. The surplice and the service-book were introduced into her churches; and the people, who would scarcely have bestirred themselves had merely their civil rights been invaded, began to dread that they could not, without being unhappy in more than the present world, conform to the religion of the state. And so they set themselves seriously to inquire whether the power of kings be not restricted to the present world only. They learned, in consequence, that not merely is such the case, but that it has yet other limitations; and the more they sought to determine these, the more questionable did its grounds become. The spirit manifested on this occasion by the people of this part of the country, is happily exemplified by Spalding’s narrative of a riot which took place at the neighbouring Chanonry of Ross, in the spring of 1638. The service-book had been quietly established by the bishop two years before; but the more thoroughly the people grew acquainted with it, the more unpopular it became. At length, on the second Sunday of March, just as the first bell had rung for sermon, but before the ringing of the second, a numerous party of schoolboys broke into the cathedral, and stripped it in a twinkling of all the service books. Out they rushed in triumph, and, procuring a lighted coal and some brushwood, they marched off in a body to the low sandy promontory beneath the town, to make a bonfire of the whole set. But a sudden shower extinguishing the coal,, instead of burning they tore the books into shreds, and flung the fragments into the sea. The bishop went on with his sermon; but it was more than usually brief; and such were the feelings exhibited at its close by the people, that, taking hastily to his horse, he quitted the kingdom. “A very busy man was he esteemed,” says the annalist, “in the bringing in of the service-book, and therefore durst he not, for fear of his life, return again to Scotland.” In short, the country was fully awakened; and before the close of the following month, the National Covenant- was subscribed in the shires of Ross, Cromarty, and Nairn.

Some of the minor events which took place in the sheriffdom of Cromarty, on the triumph of Presbyterianism, have been detailed, as recorded by Sir Thomas, in the foregoing chapter. Even on his own testimony, most men of the present day will not feel disposed to censure very severely the churchmen of his district. It must be confessed, however, that the principles of liberty, either civil or ecclesiastical, were but little understood in Scotland in the middle of the seventeenth century; the parties which divided it deeming themselves too exclusively in the right to learn from the persecutions to which they were in turn subjected, that the good old rule of doing as we would be done by, should influence the conduct of politicians as certainly as that of private men. And there is a simple fact which ought to convince us, however zealous for the honour of our church, that the Presbyterian synod of Ross, which Sir Thomas has termed “ a promiscuous knot of unjust men,” was by no means a very exemplary body. Five-sixths of its members conformed at the Restoration, and became curates ; and as they were notoriously intolerant as Episcopalians, it is not at all probable that they should have been strongly characterized by liberality during the previous period, when they had found it their interest to be Presbyterians.

The restoration of Charles, and the appointment of Middleton as his commissioner for Scotland, were followed by the fatal act which overturned Presbyterianism, and set up Episcopacy in its place. It is stated by Wodrow, that Middleton, previous to the bringing in of this act, had been strengthened in the resolution which led to it, by Mackenzie of Tarbat, and Urquhart of Cromarty; and that the latter, who had lately “counterfeited the Protestor,” ended miserably some time after. In what manner he ended, however, is not stated by the historian, but tradition is more explicit. On the death of Sir Thomas, he was succeeded by his brother Alexander, who survived him only a year, and dying without male issue, the estate passed to Sir John Urquhart of Craigfintrie, the head of a branch of the family which had sprung from the main stock about a century before. This Sir John was the friend and counsellor of Middleton. About eleven years after the passing of the act, he fell into a deep melancholy, and destroyed himself with his own sword in one of the apartments of the old castle. The sword, it is said, was flung into a neighbouring draw-well by one of the domestics, and the stain left by his blood on the walls and floor of the apartment, was distinctly visible at the time the building was pulled down.

So well was the deprecated act received by the time-serving Synod of Ross, that they urged it into effect against one of their own body, more than a year before the ejection of the other nonconforming clergymen. In a meeting of the Synod which took place in 1661, the person chosen as moderator was one Murdoch Mackenzie ;—a man so strong in his attachments that he had previously sworn to the National Covenant no fewer than fourteen times, and he had now fallen desperately in love with the Bishopric of Moray. One of his brethren, however, an unmanageable, dangerous person, for he was uncompromisingly honest, and possessed of very considerable talent, stood directly in the way of his preferment. This member, the celebrated Mr. Hogg of Kilteam, had not sworn to the Covenant half so often as his superior, the Moderator, but then so wrong-headed was he as to regard his few oaths as binding ; and he could not bring himself to like Prelacy any the better for its being espoused by the king. And so his expulsion was evidently a matter of necessity. The Moderator had nothing to urge against his practice,—for no one could excel him in the art of living well; but his opinions lay more within his reach ; and no sooner had the Synod met, than, singling him out, he demanded what his thoughts were of the Protestors—the party of Presbyterians who, about ten years before, had not taken part with the king against the Republicans. Mr. Hogg declined to answer ; and on being removed, that the Synod might deliberate, the Moderator rose and addressed them. Their brother of Kilteam, he said, was certainly a great man—a very great man—but as certainly were the Protestors opposed to the king; and if any member of Synod took part with them, whatever his character, it was evidently the duty of the other members to have him expelled. Mr. Hogg was then called in, and having refused, as was anticipated, judicially to disown the Protestors, sentence of deposition was passed against him. But the consciences of the men who thus dealt with him, betrayed in a very remarkable manner their real estimate of his conduct. It is stated by Wodrow, on the authority of an eye-witness, that sentence was passed with a peculiar air of veneration, as if they were ordaining him to some higher office ; and that the Moderator was so deprived of his self-possession as to remind him, in a consolatory speech, that “ our Lord Jesus Christ had suffered great wrong from the Scribes and Pharisees.”

Mackenzie received the reward of his zeal shortly after in an appointment to the Bishopric of Moray; and one Paterson, a man of similar character, was ordained Bishop of Ross. On the order of council, issued in the autumn of 1662, for all ministers of parishes to attend the diocesan meetings, and take the newly-framed oaths, while in some of the southern districts of the kingdom only a few ministers attended, in the diocese of Ross there were but four absent, exclusive of Mr. Hogg. These four were, Mr. Hugh Anderson of Cromarty, Mr. John Mackilligen of Alness, Mr. Andrew Ross of Tain, and a Mr. Thomas Ross, whose parish is not named in the list. And they were all in consequence ejected from their charges. Mr. Anderson, a nephew of Sir Thomas’s opponent, Mr. Gilbert, who was now dead, retired to Moray, accompanied by his led ml, who had resolved on sharing the fortunes of his pastor; and they returned together a few years after to a small estate, the property of Mr. Anderson, situated in the western extremity of the parish. Mr. Mackilligen remained at Alness, despite of the council and the bishops, who had enacted that no nonconforming minister should take up his abode within twenty miles of his former church. Mr. Ross of Tain resided within the bounds of the same Presbytery; and Mr. Fraser of Brea, a young gentleman of Cromartyshire, who was ordained to the ministry about ten years after the expulsion of the others, had his seat in the parish of Resolis. In short, as remarked by Wodrow, there was more genuine Presbyterianism to be found on the shores of the Bay of Cromarty, notwithstanding the general defection, than in any other part of the kingdom north of the Tay.

And the current of popular feeling seems to have set in strongly in its favour about the year 1666. Towards the close of this year, Paterson the bishop, in a letter to his son, describes the temper of the country about him as very cloudy; and complains of a change in the sentiments of many who had previously professed an attachment to Prelacy. Mr. Mackilligen, a faithful and active preacher of the forbidden doctrines, seems to have given him so much trouble, that he even threatened to excommunicate him, but the minister regarding his threat in the proper light, replied to it by comparing him to Balaam the wicked prophet, who went forth to curse Israel, and to Shimei the son of Gera, who cursed David. The joke spread, for as such was it regarded, and Paterson, who had only the sanctity of his office to oppose to the personal sanctity of his opponent, deemed it prudent to urge the threat no further : he had the mortification of being laughed at for having urged it so far. There is a little hollow among the hills, about three miles from the house of Fowlis, and not much farther from Alness, in the gorge of which the eye commands a wide prospect of the lower lands, and the whole Firth of Cromarty. It lies, too, on the extreme edge of the cultivated part of the country, for beyond there stretches only a brown uninhabited desert ; and in this hollow the neighbouring Presbyterians used to meet for the purpose of religious worship. On some occasions they were even bold enough to assemble in the villages. In the summer of 1675, Mr. Mackilligen, assisted by his brethren of Tain and Cromarty, and the Laird of Brea, celebrated the Communion at Obsdale, in the house of the Lady Dowager of Fowlis. There was an immense concourse of people ; and “ so plentiful was the effusion of the Spirit,” says the historian whom I have so often had occasion to quote, “ that the oldest Christians present never witnessed the like.” Indisputably, even from natural causes, the time must have been one of much excitement; and who that believes the Bible, will dare affirm that God cannot comfort his people by extraordinary manifestations, when deprived of the common comforts of earth for their adherence to him ? One poor man, who had gone to Obsdale merely out of curiosity, was so affected by what he heard, that when some of his neighbours blamed him for his temerity, and told him that the bishop would punish him for it by taking away his horse and cow, he assured them that in such a cause he was content to lose not merely all his worldly goods, but his head also. A party had been despatched, at the instance of the bishop, to take Mackilligen prisoner; but, misinformed regarding the place where the meeting was held, they proceeded to his house at Alness, and spent so much time in pillaging his garden, that before they reached Obsdale he had got out of their way. But he fell into the hands of his enemy, the bishop, in the following year, and during his long imprisonment on the Bass Rock—for to such punishment was he subjected—he contracted a disease of which he died. Mr. Ross of Tain, and Mr. Fraser of Brea, were apprehended shortly after, and disposed of in the same manner.

Nor was it only a few clergymen that suffered in this part of the country for their adherence to the church. Among the names of the individuals who, in the shires of Ross and Cromarty, were subjected to the iniquitous fine imposed by Middleton on the more rigid Presbyterians, I find the name of Sir Robert Munro of Fowlis, the head of a family which ranks among the most ancient and honourable in the kingdom. Sir John Munro, son of Sir Robert, succeeded to the barony in 1668. His virtues, and the persecutions to which he was subjected, are recorded by the pen of Doddridge :—“The eminent piety of this excellent person exposed him,” says this writer, “to great sufferings in the cause of religion in those unhappy and infamous days, when the best friends to their country were treated as the worst friends to the government. His person was doomed to long imprisonment for no pretended cause but what was found against him in the matters of his God ; and his estate, which was before considerable, was harassed by severe fines and confiscations, which reduced it to a diminution much more honourable, indeed, than any augmentation could have been, but from which it has not recovered to this day.”

But, perhaps, a brief narrative of the sufferings of a single individual may make a stronger impression on the reader than any general detail of those of the party. Mr. James Fraser of Brea was born in the western part of the shire of Cromarty, in the year 1639. On the death of his father, whom he lost while in his infancy, he succeeded to the little property of about 100 per annum, of which the name, according to the fashion of Scotland, is attached to his own. His childhood was passed much like the childhood of most other people; but with this difference, that those little attempts at crime which serve to identify the moral nature of children with that of men, and which, in our riper years, are commonly either forgotten altogether, or regarded with an interest which owes nought of its intensity to remorse, were considered by him as the acts of a creature accountable to the Great Judge for even its earliest derelictions from virtue. But this trait belongs properly to his subsequent character. In his seventeenth year, after a youth spent unhappily, in a series of conflicts with himself, for he was imbued with a love of forbidden pleasures, and possessed of a conscience exquisitely tender, a change came over him, and he became one of the excellent few who live less for the present world than for the future. As he was not wedded by the prejudices of education to any set of religious opinions, he had, with only the Scriptures for his guide, to frame a creed for himself; and having come in contact, in Edinburgh, with some Quakers, he was well-nigh induced to join with them. But on more serious consideration, he deemed some of their tenets not quite in unison with those of the Bible. He attended, for some time after the Restoration, the preaching of the curates; but, profiting little by their doctrines, he deliberated whether he did right in hearing them, and concluded in the negative, in the very year in which all such conclusions were declared treason by act of Parliament. In short, by dint of reasoning and reading, he landed full in Presbyterianism, at a time when there was nothing to be gained by it, and a great deal to be lost. And not merely did he embrace it for himself, but deeming it the cause of God, he came forward in this season of wrong and suffering, when the bad opposed it, and the timid shrunk from it, to preach it to the people. He believed himself called to the ministerial office in a peculiar manner, by the Great Being who had fitted him for it; and the simple fact that he did not, in Scotland at least, gain a single sixpence by all his preaching until after the Revolution, .ought surely to convince the most sceptical that he did not mistake on this occasion the suggestions of interest for those of duty. He began to preach the forbidden doctrines in the year 1672 ; and he was married shortly after to a lady to whom he had been long attached.

The sufferings to which he had been subjected prior to his marriage affected only himself. He had been fined and exposed to ridicule; and he had had to submit to loss and imposition, out of a despair of finding redress from corrupt judges, whose decisions would have been prompted rather by the feelings with which they regarded his principles than by any consideration of the merits of his cause. No sooner, however, had he married, and become a preacher, than he was visited by evils greater in themselves, and which he felt all the more deeply from the circumstance that their effects were no longer confined to himself. He was summoned before councils for preaching without authority, and in the fields, and denounced and outlawed for not daring to appear. But he persevered, notwithstanding, wandering under hiding from place to place, and preaching twice or thrice every week to all such as had courage enough to hear him. He was among the number intercommuned by public writ; all the people of Scotland, even his own friends and relatives, being charged, under the severest penalties, not to speak to him, or receive him into their houses, or minister even the slightest comfort to his person. And yet still did he persevere on the strength of the argument urged by St. Peter before the Jewish Sanhedrim. The lady he married was a person every way worthy of such a husband. “In her,” I use his own simple and expressive language, “did I behold as in a glass the Lord’s love to me; and so effectually did she sweeten the sorrows of my pilgrimage, that I have often been too nearly led to exclaim. It is good for me to be here!” But she was lent him only for a short season. Four years after his marriage, when under hiding, word was brought him that she lay sick of a fever; and hurrying home in “great horror and darkness of mind,” he reached her bedside only to find that she had departed, and that he was left alone.

His sorrow at the bereavement oppressed, but it could not overwhelm him; for, with an energy rendered more intense by a sense of desolateness, and a feeling that the world had become as nothing to him, he applied afresh to what he deemed his bounden duty, the preaching of the Word. He was diligent in ministering to the comfort of many who were less afflicted than himself; and enveloped in the very flames of persecution, he confirmed, by his exhortations, such as were shrinking from their approach. So well was his character understood by the prelates, that he was one of three expressly named in an act of council as peculiarly obnoxious, and a large sum of money was offered to any who would apprehend him. Great rewards, too, were promised on the same account by the Archbishop of St. Andrews, out of his private purse; and after a series of hairbreadth escapes, he at length fell into his hands through the treachery of a servant. The questions put to him on his trial, with his replies to them, are given at full length by Wodrow. Without in the least compromising his principles, he yet availed himself of every legal argument which the circumstances of his case admitted; and such was the ingenuity of his defence, that he was repeatedly complimented on the score of ability by the noblemen on the bench. He was charged, however, with a breach of good manners; for, while he addressed his other judges with due respect, he replied to the accusations of the archbishop as if they had been urged against him by merely a private individual. In answer to the charge, he confessed that he was but a rude man, and hinted, with some humour, that he had surely been brought before their lordships for some other purpose than simply to make proof of his breeding. And, after all, there was little courtesy lost between himself and the archbishop. He had been apprehended near midnight, and before sunrise next morning, the servant of the latter was seen standing at the prison gate, instructing the jailer that the prisoner should be confined apart, and none suffered to have access to him. When the court met, the archbishop strove to entrap him, with an eagerness which only served to defeat its object, into an avowal of the sentiments with which he regarded the king and his ministers ; and failing to elicit these, for the preacher was shrewd and sagacious, he represented him to the other members of council as a person singularly odious and criminal, and an enemy to every principle of civil government. He was a schismatic too, he affirmed—a render asunder of the Church of Christ! To the charge that he was a preacher of sedition, Mr. Fraser replied with apostolic fervour, that in “none of his discourses had he urged aught disloyal or traitorous; but that as the Spirit enabled him, had he preached repentance towards God, and faith towards Jesus Christ, and no other thing but what was contained in the Prophets and the New Testament. And so far,” he added, “was he from being terrified or ashamed to own himself a minister of Christ, that although of no despicable extraction, yet did he glory most to serve God in the gospel of His Son, and deem it the greatest honour to which he had ever attained.” After trial he was remanded to prison, and awakened next morning by the jailer, for he had slept soundly, that he might prepare for a journey to the Bass. He was escorted by the way by a party of twelve horsemen and thirty foot, and delivered up on landing in the island to the custody of the governor.

Here a new series of sufferings awaited him, not perhaps so harassing in themselves as those to which he had recently been subjected—for punishment in such cases is often less severe than the train of persecution which leads to it; but he felt them all the more deeply, because he could no longer, from his situation, exert that energy of mind which had enabled him to divest, on former occasions, an evil of more than half its strength, by meeting it, as it were, more than half-way. He had now to wait in passive expectation until the evil came. There were a number of other prisoners confined to the Bass for their attachment to Presbyterianism; and the governor, a little-minded, capricious man, who loved to display the extent of his authority, by showing how many he could render unhappy, would sometimes deny them all intercourse with each other, by closely confining them to their separate cells. At times, too, when permitted to associate together, some of the profaner officers would break in upon them, and annoy them with the fashionable wit and blasphemy of the period. A dissolute woman was appointed to wait upon them, and scandalous stories circulated at their expense; all the letters brought them from the land were broken open and made sport of by the garrison; they were neither allowed to eat nor to worship together; and though their provisions and water were generally of the worst kind, they had sometimes to purchase them—even the latter—at an exorbitant price. But there were times at which the preacher could escape from all his petty vexations. In the higher part of the island there are solitary walks, which skirt the edge of the precipices, and command an extensive view of the neighbouring headlands and the ocean. On these, when his jailers were in their more tolerant moods, would he be permitted to saunter for whole hours; indulging, as the waves were breaking more than a hundred yards beneath him, and the sea-fowl screaming over him, in a not unpleasing melancholy—musing much on the future, with all its doubtful probabilities, or “ looking back on the days of old, when he joined with the wife of his youth.” And there was a considerable part of his time profitably spent in the study of Greek and Hebrew. He besides read divinity, and wrote a treatise on faith, with several other miscellanies : and at length, after an imprisonment of two years and a half, during which period his old enemy the archbishop had suffered the punishment which there was no law to inflict upon him, he was set at liberty; and he quitted his prison with not less zeal, and with more learning than he had brought into it.

He still deemed preaching as much his duty as before, and the state regarded it as decidedly a crime; and so he had to resume his wandering, unsettled life of peril and hardship ; “labouring to be of some use to every family he visited.” Falling sick of an ague, contracted through this mode of living, he was cited before the council, at the instance of some of his old friends the bishops; who, reckoning on his inability to appear on the day named, took this way of having him outlawed a second time. But they had miscalculated; for no sooner had he received the citation, than dragging himself from his bed, he set out on his journey to Edinburgh. Legal oppression he respected as little as he had done six years before ; but he was now differently circumstanced—one of his friends, on his liberation from the Bass, having bound himself as his surety; and sooner would he have died by the way than have subjected him to any loss. When the day arrived, he presented himself at the bar of the council; and defended himself with such ability and spirit, that his lay judges were on the eve of acquitting him. Not so the bishops; and the matter, after some debate, being wholly referred to their judgment, he was sentenced to be imprisoned at Blackness until he had paid a fine of five thousand merks, and given security that he should not again preach in Scotland. To Blackness he was accordingly sent; and there he remained in close confinement, and subjected, as he had been at the Bass, to the caprice of a tyrannical governor, for about seven weeks; when he was set at liberty on condition that he should immediately quit the kingdom. He passed therefore into England; and he soon found—for the Christian- is a genuine cosmopolite—“ that a good Englishman was more truly his countryman than a wicked Scot.” He was much esteemed by English people of his own persuasion ; and though he had at first resolved to forbear preaching out of the dread of being reckoned a “ barbarian,” for he could not divest himself of his Scotticisms, he yielded to the solicitations of his newly-acquired friends; and soon attained among them, as he had done at home, the character of being a powerful and useful preacher. But bonds and imprisonment awaited him even there. On the execution of Russell and Sydney, he was arrested on the suspicion of being one of their confederates ; and on refusing to take what was termed the Oxford Oath, he was committed to Newgate, where he was kept for six months. But from his previous experience of the prisons of Scotland, he seems, with Goldsmith’s sailor, to have deemed Newgate a much better sort of place than it is usually esteemed;—his apartment was large and lightsome, and the jailers were all very kind. Resuming, on his release, his old mode of living, he continued to preach and study by turns, until the Revolution; when, returning to Scotland, he was invited by the people of Culross to preside over them as their pastor;—a fit pastor for a parish which, during the reign of Prelacy, had suffered and resisted more than almost any other in the kingdom. In this place he continued until his death; grateful for all the mercies bestowed upon him, and few men could reckon them better; but peculiarly grateful that, in a season of hot persecution, he had been enabled to take part with God.

Nor were strong-minded men, like Fraser of Brea, the only persons who espoused this cause in the day of trouble, and dared to suffer for it. There is a quiet passive fortitude in the better kind of women, which lies concealed, as it ought, under a cover of real gentleness and seeming timidity, until called forth by some occasion which renders it a duty to resist; and this excellent spirit was exhibited during this period by at least one lady of Cromarty. She was a Mrs. Gordon, the wife of the parish minister ;—a lady who, at an extreme old age, retained much of the beauty of youth—a smooth unwrinkled forehead, shaded by a profusion of black glossy hair without the slightest tinge of grey: and it was said of her, so exquisite was her complexion, that, when drinking a glass of wine, her neck and throat would assume the ruddy hue of the liquid—an imaginary circumstance, deemed characteristic at one time, by the common people of Scotland, of the higher order of beauties, and which is happily introduced by Allan Cunningham into one of the most pleasing of his ballads:—

“Fu* white white was her bonny neck,
Twist wi’ the satin twine;
But ruddie ruddie grew her hawse,
While she sipp’d the bluid-red wine.”

Mrs. Gordon could scarcely have attained to her eighteenth year at the Revolution ; and yet she had been exposed to suffering on the score of religion, in the previous troubles. There was a story among the people, that her ears had been cut off; it was even observed, that her tresses were always so arranged as to conceal the supposed mutilation ; and some of the wilder spirits of the place used to call her Luggie, in allusion to the story; but she was too highly respected for the name to take. When a very old woman, she was one day combing her hair in the presence of a little girl, who was employed in dressing up the apartment in which she sat, and who threw at her from time to time a very inquisitive glance. “ Come here, Maggie,” said the lady, who guessed the cause of her solicitude; “you are a curious little girl, and have heard that I have lost my ears —have you not? Here they are, however,” she continued, shading back her hair as she spoke, and displaying two very pretty ones; “wicked men once threatened to cut them off, and a knife was sharpened for the purpose, but God permitted them not.”


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