[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
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
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
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
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
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
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).
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
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.