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Memoir of Norman MacLeod, D.D
The Funeral


"Had I a wish on so solemn a subject, I would be disposed to choose a sudden death." So had he written some years before; and those who knew and loved him best, when their grief was so far assuaged as to allow them to judge calmly, thanked God for the time and manner in which it pleased Him to take His servant to Himself. His death came when his work was in a sense complete. He had all but accomplished his plans for meeting the spiritual necessities of his great parish [What remained to be done was rapidly executed after his death. Three of the Mission Chapels were endowed as parishes by three of his friends—Kelvinhaugh and Bluevale (the first and the last he built) being severally endowed by Mr. Whitelaw and Mr. James Baird, and his own Mission Church erected into what is now called "The Macleod Parish," by Mr. J. H. Houldsworth. The congregation of the Barony completed in like manner the remaining parochial appliances which he had projected, and built a Memorial Missionary Institute in a destitute part of the parish.] He had borne his last mature testimony on behalf of India; and his work in the Church and in the country had, in many ways, reached its fulness. Had it pleased God so to order it, he would doubtless have meekly accepted the burden of an enfeebled old age spent in retirement, or, by divine grace, would have patiently endured protracted suffering, and watched with fortitude the slow approach of certain death. But neither of these experiences—both so trying to a temperament like his—was allotted to him. His active nature did not survive its usefulness; and instead of being kept under what, to his vivid imagination, might have been the appalling consciousness of life slowly ebbing away, his spirit passed, without a struggle, into that Presence in which his thoughts and affections had long made themselves a beloved abode.

The news of his death passed with extraordinary speed through the kingdom, and everywhere produced a profound impression. No man, since Chalmers, was so much mourned in Scotland. People who had never exchanged a word with him felt and spoke as if a personal friend had been taken away, and those who had deemed it their duty sometimes to oppose him even with bitterness, were the foremost to pay honour to the rich humanity and religious nobleness, which had raised him above the influence of all party strife.

A vague rumour of his death having reached the Queen she at once telegraphed for information, and with that ready sympathy which has so endeared her to the nation, she addressed the following letter to his brother:—

"Balmoral, June 17th, 1872.

"The Queen hardly knows how to begin a letter to Mr. Donald Macleod, so deep and strong are her feelings on this most sad and most painful occasion —for words are all too weak to say what she feels, and what all must feel who ever knew his beloved, excellent, and highly gifted brother, Dr. Norman Macleod!

"First of all, to his family—his venerable, loved, and honoured mother, his wife and large family of children—the loss of this good man is irreparable and overwhelming! But it is an irreparable public loss, and the Queen feels this deeply. To herself personally, the loss of dear Dr. Macleod is a very great one; he was so kind, and on all occasions showed her such warm sympathy, and in the early days of her great sorrow, gave the Queen so much comfort whenever she saw him, that she always looked forward eagerly to those occasions when she saw him here; and she cannot realise the idea that in this world she is never to see his kind face, and listen to those admirable discourses which did every one good, and to his charming conversation again!

"The Queen is gratified that she was able to see him this last time, and to have some lengthened conversation with him, when he dwelt much on that future world to which he now belongs. He was sadly depressed and suffering, but still so near a termination of his career of intense usefulness and loving-kindness, never struck her or any of us as likely, and the Queen was terribly shocked on learning the sad, sad news. All her children, present and absent, deeply mourn his loss. The Queen would be very grateful for all the details which Mr. D. Macleod can give her of the last moments and illness of her dear friend.

"Pray, say everything kind and sympathising to his venerable mother, to Mrs. N. Macleod, and all the family; and she asks him to accept himself of her true heart-felt sympathy."

Among many valued tributes of respect paid to his memory, but which it would be superfluous to mention here in detail, [Among these may be mentioned the touching allusions made on the Sunday after his burial in so many of the pulpits of all churches in the kingdom; and of these there were none truer or more beautiful than those spoken in the Barony by Dr. Watson of Dundee, and Dr. Taylor of Crathie. Many kind notices of his life appeared at the time in the Press, among which was an exquisite sketch of his career and character, contributed to the Times by Dean Stanley; and similarly affectionate and appreciative papers were written by Dr. Walter Smith in Good Words, and by Mr. Strahan in the Contemporary. Addresses of condolence were sent to his family from such public bodies as the Presbytery of Glasgow, the India Mission, the Barony Kirk Session, the Barony Sabbath School Association, the Bible Society, the Sunday School Society of Stockport, the Scottish Amicable Insurance Society, of which he was a director, the Sons of the Clergy, and several others. A tablet to his memory has been put up in the Parish Church of Loudoun, where his early labours are still cherished in the affectionate memory of the people, and a statue is about to be erected in Glasgow. At Crathie, two stained windows have been placed in the Church by Her Majesty—the one bearing a figure of King David, and the other one of St. Paul—representing the gifts of poetry and missionary zeal. On the former there is inscribed:—"In Memory of the Rev. Norman Macleod, D.D., Dean of the Most Noble and Most Ancient Order of the Thistle, Dean of the Chapel Royal, and one of Her Majesty's Chaplains, a man eminent in the Church, honoured in the State, and in many lands greatly beloved;" on the other, the text—"They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever."—Dan. xii. 3. Several months after his death, his family were surprised and gratified by finding the competency he had provided for them largely increased by those who had loved him; and this was done in a manner so delicate, as to make the mention of it here a privilege.] there was one that, for many reasons, has a peculiar interest.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, with characteristic catholicity of spirit, thus addressed the Moderator of the Church of Scotland :-

'Lambeth Palace, London, June 10th, 1873.

"My dear Moderator,
"Will you allow me to express to you officially the deep feeling of sorrow with which I have heard of the loss that has befallen the Established Church of Scotland by the death of Dr. Norman Macleod? He was so widely known in England as well as in Scotland, and, indeed, wherever mother tongue is spoken, that his death seems a national loss. So zealous, large-hearted, and gifted a pastor could ill be spared at any time to the Christian Church. While his own people lament that they no longer hear his familiar voice, winning them by his wise-spoken counsels, his written words will be missed in thousands of homes in every quarter of the world; and the Established Church, over which you preside, will deeply feel the removal of one who held so high a place amongst its wisest and most strenuous defenders.

"Believe me to be, my dear Moderator,
"Your faithful servant,
"A. C. Cantaur."

It is unfortunately so seldom the representatives of the National Churches of England and Scotland exchange official communications, that this letter becomes the more remarkable as indicating at once the wide influence exercised by Dr. Macleod, and the reality of that unity in virtue of which, if one branch of the Church suffers, the whole Church suffers with it.

His funeral took place on Thursday, the 20th, and was celebrated with a solemnity unparalleled in the history of the city with which his labours were so long associated.

The day was of heavenly beauty, seeming the more beautiful that it had been preceded and was followed by days of storm. There was a private service at his own house, for the members of his family, at which his friend Dr. Watson officiated, and from his house to the Barony church, where his remains were first borne, the streets were lined with an observant multitude. The Barony church was filled with the members of his own congregation, and of his Mission churches, and the venerable Cathedral seemed doubly solemn from the reverent throng of mourning friends and representatives of public bodies gathered there to do honour to the dead.

Among those present were Dr. Robertson, Queen's commissioner, sent by Her Majesty to represent Herself and the Prince of Wales, and the Hon. E. C. Yorke, who acted in a similar capacity for the Duke of Edinburgh.

The service in the Barony was conducted by Dr. Burns, the minister of the Cathedral, and by Dr. Walter C. Smith, of the Free Church, while Professor Eadie, of the United Presbyterian Church, and Dr. Smith, of North Leith, officiated in the Cathedral.

When the solemn services were concluded, the cortege was accompanied to the outskirts of the city by the magistrates of Glasgow, the sheriffs, the representatives of Royalty, the senate of the University, and by other public functionaries in their official robes; by clergymen of all Churches, gathered from many districts of the country, and by the members of various religious and other societies with which he had been connected. These preceded the hearse, and behind it and the mourning relatives there followed a long line of nearly three thousand persons of all classes of the community. This demonstration of respect was the more gratifying that it was entirely spontaneous. As the great procession moved on to the sad music of the "Dead March," it was watched along the whole route by a vast multitude, occupying every available position from which a view could be obtained, and showing by their saddened aspect how deeply the hearts of the people had been touched. One of the most remarkable features in that crowd was the large proportion of workmen and of the poor, who came to pay honour to the memory of him who had laboured so earnestly for their good. More than one touching testimony was audibly expressed by these onlookers to the benefit they had received from him. "There goes Norman Macleod," a brawny working man was heard saying, as the dark column moved past; "if he had done no more than what he did for my soul, he would shine as the stars for ever."

As the funeral approached Campsie, it was not only met by many friends, but as business had been for the time suspended in the town, and the shops closed, the entire population united in paying respect to the honoured dead, whose ashes were to rest in the old parish where his early life had been spent.

He was laid beside his father, and as the grave which was prepared for him was discovered, unexpectedly, to be that of James, the two brothers, whose lives had been linked by the holiest of all ties, were thus united in their last resting-place.

Ere the coffin was lowered, three wreaths of Immortelles were placed upon it. The first bore the inscription, "A token of respect and friendship from Queen Victoria;" the second, "A token of respect from Prince Leopold," and the third, "A token of respect from Princess Beatrice."

The spot where he sleeps is a suggestive emblem of his life. On the one side are the hum of business and the houses of toiling humanity. On the other, green pastoral hills, and the silence of Highland solitudes. More than one eye rested that day on the sunny slope where he had so lately dreamt of building a home for his old age—more than one heart thanked God for the more glorious mansion into which he had entered.


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