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More Leaves from the Journal
Dr. Norman Macleod March 1873


[March, 1873.—1 am anxious to put on record all my recollections of my dear and valued friend Dr. Norman Macleod, who has been taken from us, and whose loss is more deeply felt every day.

I have therefore made the following extracts from my journal since the year 1862, when my heavy misfortune brought me into very close contact with him.]

Balmoral, Sunday, May 11, 1862

Hurried to be ready for the service which Dr. Macleod was kindly going to perform. And a little before ten I went down with Lenchen and Affie (Alice being still in bed unwell) to the dining-room, in which I had not yet been. The ladies and gentlemen were seated behind me, the servants, including Grant and some of the other Highlanders, opposite. And never was service more beautifully, touchingly, simply, and tenderly performed. There was the opening prayer, then the reading from Scripture, which was most beautifully selected as follows: the twenty-third chapter of Job, the forty-second Psalm, the fourteenth chapter of St. John, some of the first verses, and then from the twenty-third verse to the end, and the seventh chapter of Revelations to the end.

All so applicable. After this came another prayer, and then the sermon, entirely extempore, taken from the twelfth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews to the thirteenth verse, also alluding to the tenth chapter, and occasionally turning to the Corinthians. The sermon was admirable, all upon affliction, God’s love, our Saviours sufferings, which God would not spare Him, the blessedness of suffering in bringing us nearer to our eternal home, where we should all be together, and where our dear ones were gone on before us. He concluded with another prayer, in which he prayed most touchingly for me. The children and I were much affected on coming upstairs.

Monday, May 12

On coming home in the afternoon, Dr. Macleod came to see me, and was so clever, agreeable, kind, and good. We talked of dear Albert’s illness, his readiness to go hence at all times, with which Dr. Macleod was much struck, and said what a beautiful state of mind he must always have been in—how unselfish—how ready to do whatever was necessary; and I exemplified this by describing his cheerfulness in giving up all he liked and enjoyed, and being just as cheerful when he changed to other circumstances, looking at the bright and interesting side of them; like, for instance, going from here to Windsor and from Windsor to London, leaving his own dear home, etc., and yet being always cheerful, which was the reverse with me. He spoke of the blessing of living on with those who were gone on before. An old woman, he said, whom he knew, had lost her husband and several of her children, and had had many sorrows, and he asked her how she had been able to bear them, and she answered "Ah! when he went awa’ it made a great hole, and all the others went through it.”  And so it is, most touchingly and truly expressed, and so it will ever be with me.

Balmoral, Sunday, August 24, 1862

At ten service was performed by Dr. Macleod downstairs, again very beautifully. His selections were very good: the hundred and third Psalm, part of the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, and then before his sermon, the fourth chapter of Philippians, sixth verse, which was the text:  “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God,” and part of the eleventh chapter of St. Luke, fifth verse: “Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and shall say unto him, friend, lend me three loaves?” As usual, it made a deep impression.

After dinner, in the evening, I went over to Mrs. Bruce’s room, and there Dr. Macleod joined us, and was so kind, so comforting, and so cheering. He expressed great admiration of my dearest Albert’s statue (the cast of which was standing in the vestibule below). His eyes were full of tears, and he said his loss was felt more and more. I showed him a drawing of the mausoleum, and he said, “Oh! he is not there,” which is so true; and again, when admiring the photograph of the reclining statue by Marochetti, he added, “But I think he is more like the statue below,” which is a beautiful and a true idea. He looks so truly at the reality of the next life.

My poor birthday!

At a quarter past ten service was performed by Dr. Macleod. All the children but Baby there. He read the ninetieth and hundred and third Psalms; part of the twenty-fourth chapter of St. Matthew, ninth verse: “All hail.” His sermon very fine, but he read it, not having had time to prepare one by thinking the subject over, or even by the help of mere notes. I saw him in the evening, and he was most kind and sympathising.

Sunday, October 9, 1864

At four, went to kirk with Lenchen and Augusta Stanley. Dr. Macleod performed the service admirably, and gave us a very striking sermon, all extempore, and appealing very strongly to the people’s feelings. Saw good Dr. Macleod afterwards, and was much upset in talking to him of my sorrows, anxieties, and overwhelming cares; and he was so kind and sympathising, so encouraging and full of that faith and hope which alone can comfort and sustain the broken heart. In his sermon he spoke of there being peace without happiness, and happiness without peace, which is so true.

Balmoral, Sunday, June 11, 1865

At twelve, went (a great effort) to the kirk with the girls and the Duchess of Athole. I had only been once at the end of our stay last year in October, in the afternoon, and it made me very nervous. Still, as no one expected me to go, it was better so. Dr. Macleod performed the service most impressively. His sermon was from 1 Thessalonians IV. 10. No one reads the Bible better than he does, and his prayers were most beautiful. In the one for me, which he always words so expressively and touchingly, he prayed for Alix and her dear babe very beautifully. The singing and the whole service brought tears to my eyes. I felt so alone! All reminded me of former blessedness.

Balmoral, Saturday, October 14, 1865

After dinner Dr. Macleod gave us a long account of that dreadful Dr. Pritchard, and his interviews with him. Never in his life had he seen anything so dreadful as this man’s character and his wonderful untruthfulness.

Dr. Macleod afterwards came upstairs, and read to I.enchen and me out of Burns most beautifully.

Sunday, October 15, 1865

At twelve we went to the kirk, where dear Dr. Macleod performed the service more beautifully than I ever heard it. The sermon was touching, and most striking and useful. It touched and struck all. The text was from Genesis III. 13: “And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done?”

And then he showed how we all had a secret life which no one knew but God, and showed the frightful danger of living a life of deception till you deceived yourself, and no longer knew wrong from right. I wish I could repeat all he said, but it was admirable. Then in his beautiful prayers he brought in a most touching allusion to Lord Palmerston, [He had poisoned his wife and his wife’s mother, and Dr. Macleod attended him in prison.] and prayed for him.

Balmoral, Sunday, June 17, 1866

We went at twelve to the kirk, and Dr. Macleod gave us a beautiful sermon from St. Mark ix. 38, etc. It was very fine, so large-minded and charitable, much against party spirit and want of charity, and showed how thoroughly charity, in its highest form, existed in our Saviour.. . . The Duchess of Athole and Dr. Macleod dined with me. He was so amiable, and full of sympathy; he also suffers much from constant work and worry, and must go abroad for relaxation. Told him how much I required it, and that I came here for it, and had had a hard fight for it. He said he quite felt this, and entreated me— “as you work for us”—always to insist upon coming here. I said my dearest Albert had injured himself by never giving himself enough rest; and we spoke of the absolute necessity of complete relaxation occasionally, and of the comfort of it.

Balmoral, Sunday, September 16, 1866

The church was very full and the atmosphere very close. Dr. Macleod preached admirably, especially the latter part of the sermon, when he preached extempore, and spoke of our responsibilities which made us work out our salvation. God wished us all to be saved, but we must work that out ourselves. And we might by our own fault not be saved. The first part was read, he having told me the night before that he felt nervous, and must read it.

Balmoral, Thursday, September 20, 1867

Good Dr. Macleod (who arrived yesterday, for two nights) came to talk to me for some little time while I was sitting out. He spoke most kindly, and said enough to show how shocked he was at my many worries, but said also that he was convinced of the great loyalty of the nation, and that I should take courage.

On the next day, the 21st, he came to take leave of me, as he was going to India, sent by the General Assembly to look after the missions. He is only going for six months; still, his life is so valuable that it is a great risk. He was much affected in taking leave of me, and said, “If I should not return, I pray God to carry your Majesty through all your trials.”

Balmoral, Saturday, October 10, 1868

Mr. Van de Weyer and good Dr. Macleod, who is looking ill, and rather broken, and with a long beard, dined with us.

Sunday, October 22

All to kirk at twelve. Christian and Franz sat in the Abergeldie pew. Dr. Macleod performed the service, and I never heard a finer sermon, or more touching prayer for me. The text, St. Luke ix. 33: “Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here . . . not knowing what he said.”

Saw Dr. Macleod, who talked, as also last night, of India, and of the disturbances in the Church.

Balmoral, Sunday, June 6, 1863

To kirk with Louise, Leopold, Baby (Beatrice), and Christian. Dr. Macleod (who arrived last night) performed the service, and admirably, speaking so much to the heart.

The prayers were beautiful, and so was the sermon. It was so full of truth and simple good advice, telling us to act according to the spirit of what is told us, and according to what we felt was right. The text from i Peter iv. 21. Afterwards saw dear Dr. Macleod, whom I find a good deal altered and aged. He is Moderator of the General Assembly for this year, and spoke with much pleasure of the unanimity prevailing, and of the good feeling shown towards him; and regretted much this Irish Church Bill.

Balmoral, Sunday, October 3, 1869

At twelve, went with our children to the kirk. Dr. Macleod preached a fine sermon, and gave us two beautiful prayers as usual. The text was from Matthew xxvi. 30.

I saw Dr. Macleod before dinner. He is greatly alarmed for the Established Church of Scotland, as he fears that an attempt will be made to pull that down also; though, thank God, there is no difference of form or doctrine there, and were this to happen, the Free Church and United Presbyterians, with the present Established Church, would become one very strong Protestant body. I also asked him about Lord Lorne, and he said he had a very high opinion of him; that he had long known him, and had prepared him for confirmation, that he thought very highly of him, and had a great respect for him, and that he had fine, noble, elevated feelings.

Sunday, October 2, 1870

A very fine morning after a frost. The sun intensely hot. Dear Leopold breakfasted with us out of doors. Sat out for a short while. To the kirk at twelve. It was not so stifling. Dr. Macleod gave us such a splendid sermon on the war, and without mentioning France, he said enough to make everyone understand what was meant (when he pointed out how God would punish wickedness, and vanity, and sensuality; and the chapters he read from Isaiah xxviii., and from Ezekiel, Amos, and one of the Psalms, were really quite wonderful for the way in which they seemed to describe France). It was all admirable and heart-stirring. Then the prayers were beautiful in which he spoke of the sick, the dying, the wounded, the battlefield, and my sons-in-law and daughters. We all came back deeply impressed.

Monday, October 3

Dr. Macleod came to wish me good-bye. He yesterday again told me what a very high opinion he had of Lord Lorne, how good, excellent, and superior he thought him in every way, and the whole family so good.

Balmoral, June—, 1871

Dear Dr. Macleod was unable to come during my present stay here, having been unwell in the winter. He has gone abroad to Ems.

Balmoral, Sunday, November 5, 1871

At a little before twelve, went to kirk with Baby and Janie Ely, for the first time after a very severe illness—a great pleasure to me who am so fond of going to the dear little church there. Brown helped me up and down the steep staircase, but I found no great difficulty. Dr. Macleod (who arrived yesterday evening at the Castle) performed the service, which he made purposely rather short for me. He gave us a beautiful sermon, the text from St. Matthew vi. 9: “Our Father, who art in heaven;” and he preached upon the great importance, as well as comfort, of our looking on God as a Father, and not as a judge or “magistrate,” to use a homely phrase. He also gave an admirable explanation of the Sacrament, which he announced was to be given next Sunday, explaining that it was not a miracle, which people often consider it to be. Back by quarter past one, much edified.

He came to see me before dinner.

Monday, November 6, 1871

Had a long and satisfactory talk with Dr. Macleod after luncheon to-day again.

Balmoral, Sunday, May 26, 1872

To kirk at twelve, with Baby and the ladies, etc. Dr. Macleod preached a very fine sermon, full of love and warm feeling, upon future life and hope. The text was from St. Matthew v. 9, “Thy kingdom come.” But I was grieved to see him looking ill.

After luncheon saw good Dr. Macleod, who was very depressed and looking very ill, and willingly sat down at my request. He said he was quite broken down from hard work, and would have to give up his house in Glasgow (where he has not a moment’s rest), and his Indian mission work, etc. He feels all this much, but it is unavoidable. He did too much. He has never recovered from the effects of his visit to India. He is, however, going to America for some months, and has refused everything in the way of preaching and lectures. He talked much of a future life, and his certainty of there being a continuation there of God's educational purposes, which had commenced in this world, and would work on towards the final triumph of good over evil, and the extinction of sin.

Saw and wished good Dr. Macleod good-bye, with real regret and anxiety. Towards the end of dinner, yesterday, he cheered up, having hardly talked at all daring the course of it.

Balmoral, Sunday, June 16, 1872

We had come home at five minutes past eight; I had wished Brown good-night, and was just going to my dressing-room, when he asked to come in again and say a few words to me. He came in, and said, very kindly, that he had seen Colonel Ponsonby, and that there was rather bad news of Dr. Macleod, who was very ill, in fact that they were afraid he was deadI Oh! what a blow! How dreadful to lose that dear, kind, loving, large-hearted friend! My tears flowed fast, but I checked them as much as I could, and thanked good Brown for the very kind way he broke this painful and most unexpected news to me. I sent for and told Leopold, who was quite stunned by it, and all my maids. Every one was most deeply grieved—the Duchess of Athole, Janie Ely, Miss MacGregor, Colonel Ponsonby, and Dr. Taylor, who was so overcome as hardly for some time to be able to speak. The loss, he and we all felt, was quite irreparable. Dr. Taylor knew (which I did not] that he had been very ill for a week, and that he might die at any moment, and that the long and most admirable speech which he made in the Assembly had been far too much for him. That was on the 30th. Still we all hoped that rest would have restored him. How thankful I felt that I had seen him so lately! When the Duchess came upstairs, we could speak of little else. After she left, and I was alone, I cried very bitterly, for this is a terrible loss to me.

When I awoke the sad truth flashed upon me, which is doubly painful, as one is unaware of the reality on first waking.

After breakfast, when I thought of my dear friend Dr. Macleod, and all he had been to me—how in 1862-63-64 he had cheered, and comforted, and encouraged me—how he had ever sympathised with me, and now much I always looked forward to the few occasions I had of seeing him when we went to Balmoral, and that this too, like so many other comforts and helps, was for ever gone—I burst out crying.

Yesterday evening we heard by telegraph from Mr. Donald Macleod (for the first news came from the Glasgow telegraph clerk to Warren) that his dear brother had died at twelve that morning.

I telegraphed to all my children, and could think of nothing else. I try to dwell on all he said, for there was no one to whom in doubts and anxieties on religion I looked up with more trust and confidence, and no one ever reassured and comforted me more about my children. I remember that he expressed deep satisfaction at hearing such good accounts of them. . . . And then he seemed so full of trust and gratitude to God. He wrote a beautiful letter to Janie Ely on his birthday (June 3), in answer to my inquiries after him, of which I annex the copy. His words seemed almost prophetic!

June 3, 1872

Dear Lady Ely,—Whether it is that my head is empty or my heart full, or that both conditions are realised in my experience, the fact, however, is that I cannot express myself as I feel in replying to your. Ladyship’s kind—far too kind— note, which I received when in the whirlwind or miasma of Assembly business.

Thanks deep and true to you, and to my Sovereign Lady, for thinking of me. I spoke for nearly two hours in the Assembly, which did me no good, nor, I fear, to any other.

I was also to preach yesterday. As I have nice summer quarters, I much hope to recruit, so as to cast off this dull, hopeless sort of feeling.

I ought to be a happy, thankful man to-day. I am today sixty, and round my table will meet my mother, my wife, and all my nine children, six brothers, sisters, and two aunts—one eighty-nine, the other seventy-six; and all these are a source of joy and thanksgiving! Why such mercies to me, and such sufferings as I often see sent to the rest on earth?

God alone knows! I don’t see how He always acts as a wise, loving, and impartial Father to all His children. What we know not now, we shall know hereafter. Let us trust when we cannot trace.

God bless the Queen for all her unwearied goodness! I admire her as a woman, love her as a friend, and reverence her as a Queen; and you know that what I say I feel. Her courage, patience, and endurance are marvellous to me.

(Signed) N. MACLEOI).

March 1873

Dear Dr. Macleod likewise came to Balmoral, and preached there, on the following occasions: October 21, 1863, May 24, 1864 (my birthday, after his visit to the Holy Land), on May 27, 1867, and on May 29, 1869.

When I last saw him I was greatly distressed at his depression and sadness, and instead of my looking to him to cheer and encourage me, I tried to cheer him. He said he had been ordered to give up all work, and to give up his house at Glasgow, merely continuing to preach at the Barony Church; and that then they gave him hopes of a recovery, but it was not at all certain. He must give up the Indian Mission, which was a great sorrow to him; and he meant to take the opportunity of resigning it in person, to say what he felt so strongly, though others might not be pleased. He meant to go to America in August, merely to recruit his health and strength; and he had refused every invitation for dinners, or to lecture or preach. He had not much confidence, he said, in his recovery, but he might be wrong. All was in God’s hands. “It is the nature of Highlanders to despond when they are ill,” he added. He hoped God would allow him to live a few years longer, for his children, and to be able to go on with “Good Words.” He dwelt then, as always, on the love and goodness of God, and on his conviction that God would give us, in another life, the means to perfect ourselves and to improve gradually. No one ever felt so convinced, and so anxious as he to convince others, that God was a loving Father, who wished all to come to Him, and to preach of a living personal Saviour, One who loved us as a brother and a friend, to whom all could and should come with trust and confidence. No one ever raised and strengthened one’s faith more than Dr. Macleod. His own faith was so strong, his heart so large, that all—high and low, weak and strong, the erring and the good—could alike find sympathy, help, and consolation from him.

How I loved to talk to him, to ask his advice, to speak to him of my sorrows, my anxieties!

But, alas! how impossible I feel it to be to give any adequate idea of the character of this good and distinguished man! So much depended on his personal charm of manner, so warm, genial, and hearty, overflowing with kindness and the love of human nature; and so much depended on himself, on knowing and living with him that no one who did not do so can truly portray him. And, indeed, how can any one. alas, who has not known or seen a person, ever imagine from description what he is really like?

He had the greatest admiration for the beauties of nature, and was most enthusiastic about the beautiful wild scenery of his dear country, which he loved intensely and passionately. When I said to him, on his last visit, that I was going to take some mineral waters when I went south, he pointed to the lovely view from the windows, looking up the glen of the Dee, and said: “The fine air in these hills, and the quiet here, will do your Majesty much more good than all the waters.” His wife, he said, had urged him to come, though he felt so ill.“ It always does you good to go to Balmorals he told him. He admired and loved the national music of his country, and wrote the following description of it, most kindly, as a preface to a book of Pipe Music published by my head piper, William Ross:—

THE BAGPIPE AND ITS MUSIC
By the Rev. Dr. Norman Macleod.

The music of the Highlands is the pibroch of the great war-pipe, with its fluttering pennons, fingered by a genuine Celt, in full Highland dress, as he slowly paces a baronial hall, or amidst the wild scenery of his native mountains. The bagpipe is the instrument best adapted for summoning the clans from the far-off glens to rally round the standard of their chiefs or for leading a Highland regiment to the attack amidst the roar of battle. The pibroch is also constructed to express a welcome to the chief on his return to his clan, and to wail out a lament for him as he is borne by his people to the old burial-place in the glen or in the sainted Isle of Graves. To those who understand its carefully composed music there is a pathos and depth of feeling suggested by which a Highlander alone can fully sympathise with associated by him as it always is with the most touching memories of his home and country; recalling the faces and forms of the departed; spreading forth before his inward eye panoramas of mountain, loch, and glen, and reviving impressions of his early and happiest years. And thus, if it excites the stranger to laughter, it excites the Highlander to tears, as no other music can do, in spite of the most refined culture of his after life. It is thus, too, that what appears to be only a tedious and unmeaning monotony in the music of the genuine pibroch, is not so to one under the magic influence of Highland associations. There is, indeed, in every pibroch a certain monotony of sorrow. It pervades even the “welcome,” as if the young chief who arrives recalls the memory of the old chief who has departed. In the “lament” we naturally expect this sadness; but even in the “summons to battle,” with all its fire and energy, it cannot conceal what it seems already to anticipate, sorrow for the slain. In the very reduplication of its hurried notes, and in the repetition of its one idea, there are expressions of vehement passion and of grief— “the joy of grief,'’ as Ossian terms it, which loves to brood upon its own loss, and ever repeats the one desolate thought which fills the heart, and which in the end again breaks forth into the long and loud agonising cry with which it began. All this will no doubt seem both meaningless and extravagant to many, but it is nevertheless a deliberately expressed conviction.

The characteristic poetry of the Highlands is Ossian, its music the pibroch; and these two voices embody the spirit and sing the praises of “Tir na‘m Beann, na‘n Gleann’s na Gaisgeach ” (“the land of the mountains, the glens, and the heroes).

I said I was sure he would rejoice to think that it was a Highlander who had seized O’Connor, and he replied, “I was deeply thankful to hear it.”

He possessed a keen sense of wit and great appreciation of humour, and had a wonderful power of narrating anecdotes. He had likewise a marvellous power of winning people of all kinds, and of sympathising with the highest and with the humblest, and of soothing and comforting the sick, the dying, the afflicted, the erring, and the doubting. A friend of mine told me that if she were in great trouble, or sorrow, or anxiety, Dr. Norman Macleod was the person she would wish to go to! And so it was I. One felt one’s troubles, weaknesses, and sorrows would all be lovingly listened to, sympathised with, and entered into.

I detected a sign of illness in dear Dr. Macleod’s accepting, contrary to his ordinary usage, my invitation to him to sit down, saying he could not stand well; and I afterwards heard he had complained greatly of fatigue in walking back from the kirk. I said I feared India had done him harm. He admitted it, but said, “I don’t regret it.” I expressed an earnest hope that he would be very careful of himself, and that on his return at the end of October he would take Balmoral on his way.

When I wished him good-bye and shook hands with him, he said, “God bless your Majesty,” and the tears were in his eyes. Only then did the thought suddenly flash upon me, as I closed the door of my room, that I might never see this dear friend again, and it nearly overcame me. But this thought passed, and never did I think, that not quite three weeks after, his noble, pure spirit would be with the God and Saviour he loved and served so well! I have since heard that he mentioned to several at Balmoral that he thought he should never come there again.

I will here quote from my Journal some part of an account of my conversations at Balmoral on August 24 and 25, 1872, with Dr. Macleod’s excellent and amiable brother, the Rev. Donald Macleod, about his dear brother Norman:—

“He (Norman) was a complete type in its noblest sense of a Highlander and a Celt, which, as Mr. Donald Macleod and I both observed, was peculiarly sympathetic, attaching, and attractive. I said that since my great sorrow in 1861, I had found no natures so sympathetic and so soothing as those of the Highlanders. . . . He (Donald Macleod) said, ‘I went to him for everything; he was like a father to me (he is twenty years his junior)! His indefatigable kindness to every one was unequalled, and his patience was so great and he was so good.’ His acts of kindness to people whom he did not know were frequent and unknown even to his family. His sense of humour and fun was unbounded, and enabled him to win the confidence of persons of the greatest diversity of character. Mr. Donald Macleod thinks, however, that it was a mercy his dear brother was taken when he was, for that a life of inactivity, and probable infirmity, would have been unbearable to him. ... His health had been unsatisfactory already before he went to India, but, no doubt, that journey had done him great harm; still he never would have spared himself, if he thought there was a work given to him to do. . . . His wife and children bore up wonderfully because he had taught them to look on the future state so much as a reality, and as one of such great happiness, that they felt it would be doing wrong not to rejoice in his joy. His faith was so strong that it held others in a marvellous manner, and he realised the future state and its activity, as he believed, in a most remarkable way.


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