THE town of Dalkeith, which
formed by far the most important part of his new parish, had then a
population of 5,000. Its principal streets are chiefly occupied by
prosperous shops and the houses of well-to-do tradesmen; but the "wynds"
behind these, and the miserable "closes" which here and there open from
them, consist mainly of the dens of as miserable a class as can be found
in the purlieus of Edinburgh or Glasgow. There were well-farmed lands in
the country district of the parish, and one or two collieries with the
usual type of mining village attached to them. There were in the town
numerous churches belonging to various denominations, from the Episcopal
chapel to the representatives of the chief forms of Presbyterian dissent.
But still the charge which devolved upon the parish minister was a heavy
one. Two churches belonged to the Church of Scotland, but only one of
these was then open for worship; and the parish, which has since been
divided, was of great extent. The old parish church, now beautifully
restored, but at that time choked with galleries, rising tier above tier
behind and around the pulpit, was a curious example of Scotch vandalism.
There was, however, something of the picturesque in the confused cramming
of these "lofts" into every nook and corner, and bearing quaint shields,
devices, and texts emblazoned in front of the seats allotted to different
guilds. The Weavers reminded the congregation of how life was passing
"swiftly as the weaver's shuttle," and the Hammermen of how the Word of
God smote the rocky heart in pieces.
The characteristics of his
new charge were very different from those of Loudoun. He was aided and
encouraged in his work in Dalkeith by many in every rank of life, and he
formed life-long friendships with families remarkable at once for their
culture and religious warmth. But the working-men of Dalkeith did not show
the keen intellectual interest in public questions evinced by the weavers
of Newmilns and Darvel, nor were they possessed of their intellectual
enthusiasm and love of books. The prevailing tone of mind was solid, dull,
and prosaic. There was, besides, a stratum of society low enough to be
appalling. The very names of some of the "Vennels" in the town,—"Little
Dublin," and the like,—indicated the character of their inhabitants.
In such haunts there was to be found an amount of poverty, ignorance, and
squalor, easy to reach so long as the question was one of almsgiving, but
which it appeared almost impossible to reform.
Yet the missionary labour among the lapsed
classes of Dalkeith, on which he now entered, formed useful training for
his future work in Glasgow. In Dalkeith he made his first efforts in the
direction of that congregational organization, which was subsequently
developed with such success in the Barony. He held special week-day
meetings to impart information to his people respecting missionary
enterprise at home and abroad, and established associations for the
systematic collection of funds in support of the work of the Church. He
also sought to utilise the life and zeal of the communicants by giving
them direct labour among their poor and ignorant neighbours. He personally
visited both rich and poor, and opened mission stations in three different
localities, where regular services were held on Sundays, and sewing and
evening classes were taught during the week. He formed a loan-fund to help
those who were anxious to help themselves, and although often
disappointed, yet experience, on the whole, confirmed his belief as to the
benefit of frankly trusting working-men with means for providing for
themselves better houses and better clothes. Drunkenness was, as usual,
the root-evil of most of the misery, and he strained every effort to
grapple with its power. He did not join any temperance society, but in
order to help those he was trying to reform, he entered with them, for a
considerable period, into a compact of total abstinence. The results of
these experiences he afterwards gave to the public in a tract entitled "A
Plea for Temperance."
The seat of the noble family of Buccleuch is
near the town of Dalkeith, and the town in many ways depends on the
Palace. The gates of the Park stand at the end of the Main Street, and
lead into a wide demesne, affording to many families unlimited walks
through forests of oak and beech, stretching for several thousand acres
along the picturesque banks of the Esk. Few noblemen realise more fully
than the Duke of Buccleuch the responsibilities attached to property, or
are more anxious to discharge faithfully the duties of their high station.
His generosity, his chivalrous honour and lofty tone of mind endear him
personally to all Scotchmen. Yet, even with so favourable an example,
Norman Macleod perceived the grave practical evils attending that
alienation of the nobility and gentry of Scotland from the national
religion which has become of late years so prevalent. The causes that have
mainly produced this result are easily discovered. It is natural that
among men educated in England, and accustomed to the liturgy of her
venerable Church, many should find the bald simplicity and extempore
prayers of the Church of Scotland distasteful. The forms of worship which
are so dear to the mass of the people, are unedifying to them. Nor is it
to be wondered at if the cheap and ugly barns, which the heritors of
Scotland have frequently erected as parish churches, should so offend the
tastes of these heritors themselves as to drive them away from the
ungainly walls. The ecclesiastical disputes too which have recently torn
Scotland asunder, have perhaps repelled not a few, and made them seek the
peaceful retirement of a communion which has not been identified for
centuries with any national movement. However this may be, the great Earls
and Barons who used, by their presence, to give an importance to the
deliberations of the General Assembly scarcely second to that of the
debates of Parliament, have now few representatives on her benches, so
that those of the clergy who have struggled under many difficulties to
increase the usefulness, elevate the tone, and improve the services of the
Church, have been left without that support from the higher classes to
which they naturally deem themselves entitled. And Norman Macleod deplored
the division which had grown up between the nobility and the people for
reasons besides those which affect the stability of the national Church.
He saw that what absenteeism was doing in Ireland in subverting the
loyalty of the masses was, in a smaller degree, yet unmistakeably, being
accomplished in Scotland. "The aristocracy do not know what they are
doing," he used frequently to say; "they. are making themselves the most
powerful instruments for advancing democracy and of ruining the influence
of their own order." He felt, with more than his usual warmth, that those
loyal attachments which spring up when common sympathies and associations
unite class with class, and which are so much calculated to sweeten the
atmosphere of social and political life, are severely checked, when those
who ought to be leaders in all that affects the deeper life of the people,
live as foreigners and aliens, and by refusing to worship with their
Presbyterian countrymen, throw discredit, not merely on the National
Church, but on the national faith. Pecuniary or political support, however
largely accorded, cannot counterbalance such personal alienation.
From the proximity of Dalkeith to Edinburgh he
was able to study the working of the committees entrusted with the control
of the various agencies of the Church, and to lend his aid in
reconstructing her missions. The impressions produced by this experience
were not encouraging, for while he entertained a profound personal respect
for the good men who guided the business of the Church, he groaned aloud
over the want of power and enthusiasm. He soon learned that there were
causes for the slowness of progress lying deeper than faults of
management, and his lamentations passed from the committees in Edinburgh
to the indifference of many in the ministry, and of the Church at large.
Morning, noon, and night his thoughts turned towards the revival of the
zeal and the developement of the resources of the Church. "I am low—low
about the old machine—no men, no guides, no lighthouses, no moulding
master-spirit." Consumed with anxieties, he was glad when the opportunity
was offered of making himself useful in Church business. The first work
assigned to him, as well as the last, was in connection with the India
Mission. He was sent in 1844 to the north of Scotland along with Mr.
Herdman [Now the Rev. Dr. Herdman, of Melrose, who was, in 1872, appointed
his successor in the management of the Indian mission.] to organize
associations for the promotion of female education in Hindostan.
To his Sister Jane:—
"Dalkeith, Friday, December 15, 1843.
"Well, it is all over!—I am now minister of
Dalkeith; and may God in His mercy grant that it may be all for His own
glory! I received a most hearty welcome, and was rejoiced to get hold of
not a few hard horny fists, and also the trembling hands of some old
women. There is work for mo here, I thought, and some usefulness yet by
December 16, 1843.
was yesterday inducted into my new charge. Another change— another great
waterfall in the stream of time.
"I am weary of controversy and strife, and I
shall devote my days and life to produce unity and peace among all who
love Christ. I pray that God may make me more useful and holier now than I
have ever been before, that I may be the means of saving others.
"Dec. 31st, Sabbath.'—The first Sabbath in my
new parish and last night of the year. In an hour, forty-three with its
solemn changes will have passed, and the unknown forty-four have begun.
The grate before which I sit was in Campbeltown; I was toasted before it
the night I was born. O time! O changes! My head aches!"
"August 5, 1844.
"I have been very busy; my catechism [A
Catechism for Churchmen, on the Doctrine of the Headship of Christ, which
he published after the "Cracks about the Kirk."] will be out this week,
and will be only three-halfpence; it is, I think, simple and good. I am
very anxious to write a tract to leave in sick-rooms, both for the use of
the sick and, what I think is much wanted, for the use of those around the
sick who may wish to be of service to them, but who hardly know what to
do. I would point out passages of scripture for them to read, and give
short comments upon these passages and a few simple prayers."
To his Sister Jane: —
"Inverness, August, 1844.
"I feel that in all the congregations I have
addressed, and in all the meetings, there is little—very little real life!
A great amount of coldness; at least, I think so. To form Missionary
Associations is like giving good spectacles to those whose eyes are nearly
out; they will not cure the disease. The 'eye-salve' must first be applied
before much good can be done ! hence, what we need is preaching the
gospel. This is an apparent truism; but alas! truisms are what people
attend to least. On Tuesday I went to Elgin. The weather this week was
magnificent; the air clear and bracing; the Moray Firth ' gleaming like a
silver shield;' the great line of precipice of old red sandstone, which
forms a rocky wall to Caithness, all clear and well-defined. Held our
meeting at one; about fifty ladies present and several of the clergy.
Formed the Association. Sermon at night tolerably well attended. Saw
Patrick Duff's fossils from the old red; beautiful, very beautiful. Fish
with the scales glittering as if the fish were caught yesterday.
"Next day found the coach full. A fair in
Forres. Got a lift in a Free Churchman's gig. Had much talk with him, and
could not blame the man; but blamed the clergy, old and new. Reached Nairn
at twelve. John Mackintosh came down to the inn. He is mad about Germany
and Germans ; he even smoked. Dined at Geddes, after forming an
Association. Thursday was a glorious day. John and I drove off by the
coach to Inverness. Had a good meeting. Our mission is now nearly over. I
am very thankful I have come; thankful for the encouragement given by the
clergy and the people, and thankful for having been enabled to preach the
"Dalkeith, October, 1844.
''Geddes is now one of the bright points in
the world which lies in darkness, to which my spirit will often turn for
light; but not your intellectual light, though of that there is abundance,
but heart-light. I am every day hating intellect more and more. It is the
mere gleaming of a glacier—clear, cold, chilly, though magnificent; and
then------ 'Come, no more of this, an' thou lovest me, Hal.' I detest
essay letters; but I love a smoke, and I love thee, dear John, and thy
house, and even Ben Wyvis, and all the happy group that showed it to me ;
and I love all that love me down to my devoted cat; and when any do not
love me, I pity them for their wanting so large an object for their
affections; and so I wish, above all things, to bear about with me a heart
which I would not have shut by sin or by vanity, and % always open, dear
John, to thee. Well, I had such a day and night with Shairp! I went to
Houstoun. We talked—and you know my powers in that sort of wordy
drizzle—we talked the moon down. We talked through the garden, and along
the road, and up the avenue, and up the stair, and in the drawing-room,
and during music, and during dinner, and during night, and, I believe,
during sleep ; certainly during all next morning, and even when one
hundred yards asunder, he being on the canal bank, and I in the canal
boat. What a dear, noble soul Shairp is! I do love him. Would that our
Church had a few like him. We want broad-minded, meditative men. We want
guides, we want reality, we want souls who will do and act before God ;
who would have that disposition in building up the spiritual Church, which
the reverential Middle Age masons had when elaborately carving some graven
imagery or quaint device, unseen by man's eye, on the fretted roof of a
cathedral—they worked on God's house, and before God!"
To the Same:—
"Dalkeith, October, 1844, half-past nine A.M.
"'There is poetry in everything.' True, quite
true, Emerson—thou true man, poet of the backwoods! But there is not
poetry in a fishwife, surely? Surely there is; lots of it. Her creel has
more than all Dugald Moore's tomes. Why there was one—I mean a
fishwife—this moment in the lobby. She has a hooked nose. It seems to be
the type, nay the an cestor, of a cod-hook. Her mouth was a skate or
turbot humanised; her teeth, selected from the finest oyster pearl; her
eyes, whelks with the bonnets on—bait for odd fish on sea or land; her
hands and fingers in redness and toughness rivalled the crab, barring him
of the Zodiac. Yet she was all poetry. I had been fagging, reading,and
writing since 6 a.m. (on honour !)—had dived into Owen, was drowned in
Edwards, and wrecked on Newman—my brain was wearied, when suddenly I heard
the sound of ' Flukes!' followed by 'Had—dies!' (a name to which Haidee
was as prose). 1 descended and gazed into the mysterious creel, and then
came a gush of sunlight upon my spirit—visions of sunny mornings with
winding shores, and clean, sandy, pearly beaches, and rippling waves
glancing and glittering over white shells and polished stones, and breezy
headlands; and fishing-boats moving like shadows onward from the great
deep; and lobsters, and crabs, and spoutfish, and oysters, crawling, and
chirping, and spouting out sea water, the old ' ocean gleaming like a
silver shield.' The fishwife was a Claude Lorraine; her presence painted
what did my soul good, and as her reward I gave her what I'll wager never
during her life had been given her before—all that she asked for her fish!
And why, you ask, have I sat down to write to you, beloved John, all
this—to spend a sheet of paper, to pay one penny, to abuse ten tickings of
my watch to write myself, like Dogberry, an ass? Why? 'Nature,' quoth
d'Alembert, ' puts questions which Nature cannot answer.' And shall I beat
Nature, and be able to answer questions put to me by John—Nature's own
child 1 Be silent, and let neither of us shame our parent, Modesty forbids
me to attempt any solution of thy question, dear John. Now for work. My
pipe is out!"
have been horribly busy. As for next week, I cannot see my way to the end
of it. I am to be at the top of my speed, and no mistake. I have got a
beautiful third preaching-house in a close, so that I have the three best
points in the town occupied, and I will clear the way for a missionary. I
am going to develope one of my theories regarding the best method of
teaching the lower orders, by getting pictures of the life of Christ, the
Lord's Prayer, and Ten Commandments printed in large type, and hung up on
the walls. I have more faith in the senses than most Presbyterians.
"Need I assure E------of the impossibility of
my saying anything like what is reported of me! No—I said the fightings of
'all sects and parties were disgusting infidels even,' and so prejudicing
Christianity in their minds.
"I am very jolly because very busy. Breakfast
on bread-and-milk every morning at eight; dine at two jollily."
Letter to the late Sir John Campbell, of
Kildalloig, on the birth of a son and heir.
"Officer of the Watch. The commodore is
"Captain. What has she got up?
"Officer. No. 1, sir. ' An heir apparent is
Glorious news! All hands on deck. Bend on your flags. Stand by your
halyards. Load your guns! All ready fore and aft!
"All ready, sir.
"Hoist and fire away!
"Load. Eire! Three cheers!!!
"Load again. Fire!
"Three tremendous cheers !!!
"For the Laird of Kildalloig!
"It is impossible to do justice to the
sensation which was created in every part of the ship. The vessel herself
made one of her best bows, and for once ceased to look stern. The sails,
though suffering much from the bight of a rope, for which the doctor had
stuck on them a number of leeches and recommended wet sheets, nevertheless
'looked swell' and much pleased as the top gallants said sweet things into
their lee earing. The royals though rather high and complaining of the
truck system, waved their caps. The chain-cable sung 'Old King Coil,'
while the best-bower cried encore ! (anchor). The capstan began to make
love to the windlass, who was thought to be a great catch, but who
preferred the caboose on account of his coppers. The boatswain took the
ship round the waist, but got it pitched into him for his impertinence. He
said it was all friendship. The binnacle was out of his wits with
joy—quite non-compass. The wheel never spoke; he had more conning than any
in the ship, and was afraid of being put down, or getting hard up. The
cuddy gave a fearful bray. The cat-of-nine-tails gave a mew which was
heard a mile off, and scampered off to the best-bower, which was embracing
the cat-head and sharing its stock with it. The lifebuoy roused up the
dead lights, who rushed and wakened the dead eyes, who began to weep tears
of joy. The shrouds changed into wedding garments. The two davits said
they would, out of compliment to the laird, call themselves after the two
Johns. The companion got so in love with marriage that he swore he would
not be cheated by a mere name, but get another companion as soon as
possible. The long-boat sighed for a punt, and began to pay his addresses
to the cutter. The launch got so jealous that he kicked the bucket; while
the swab declared he would turn cleanly, and try and earn a good character
so as to get spliced to a holy-stone. The guns offered their services to
all hands, and promised that they would marry all and sundry
can(n)onically, and each give a ball on the occasion. The block-heads
alone were confused, but even they said they would contribute their
sheaves. The very man-holes spoke lovingly of the fair sex; and the false
keel for once spoke truth, saying he never saw such fun, but that he would
be at the bottom of all this mystery.
"What the effects of all this might have been
no one can tell if all the above marriages had taken place; but just as
all parties were ready for being spliced (the marling-spikes acting as
curates), it was found every gun was deep in port. But in the meantime the
captain summoned all on deck and gave the following short but neat
your glasses ! Drink a bumper to the health of the young Laird of
Kildalloig. May he swim for many a long year over the stormy ocean on
which he has been launched. May neither his provisions nor cloth ever fail
him. May he ever be steered by the helm of conscience, and go by the chart
of duty and the compass of truth; and may every breeze that blows and
every sea that dashes carry him nearer a good haven!'
To his Mother:—
"Dalkeith, Sunday, 1845.
"After working very hard during the week, 1
rose to-day at half-past six, studied till nine, taught my school till
eleven, preached forenoon and afternoon long sermons, had baptisms, slept
for an hour, preached for an hour to fifty outcasts in the wynd, was my
own precentor and clerk, and here I am as fresh as a lark—a pulse going
like a chronometer, and a head calm, and clear and cool as a mountain
spring. But my chief reason for writing you to-night is to tell you a
story which has amused me.
"On coming home this evening I saw a number of
boys following and speaking to, and apparently teasing, a little boy who,
with his hands in his pockets and all in rags, was creeping along close by
the wall. He seemed like a tame caged bird which had got loose and was
pecked at and tormented by wild birds. His cut was something like this. I
asked the boys who he was. 'Eh! he's a wee boy gaun' about begging, wi'out
faither or mither!' He did seem very wee, poor child—a pretty boy, only
nine years old. I found him near my gate and took him in. I asked him to
tell me the truth. He said his father was alive—a John Swan, in Kirkaldy;
that his 'ain mither' was dead; that he had a stepmother; that 'a month
and a week ago' he left them, for they used to send him to beg, to drink
the money he got, and to thrash him if he brought none in; and that they
sent him out one evening and he left them. He got threepence from a
gentleman and crossed in the steamboat to Leith. He had heard that he was
born in Kirkhill near this, 'and that his mither lived there wi' him when
he was a bairn.' He reached a stable, and there he has been ever since,
begging round the district. Poor infant! Jessie, my servant, once a
servant in some charitable institution, was most minute in her
questionings about Kirkaldy; but his answers were all correct and very
innocent. Well, a few minutes after, Jessie came in. 'What,' said I, 'are
you doing with the boy?' 'Oo, I gied him his supper, puir thing, and am
making a shakedown for him; and, ye see, I saw he was verra dirty, and I
pit him in a tub o' water, and he's stannin in't ee' noo till I gang ben.
That's the way we vised to do in the Institution. Eh ! if ye saw the boys
frae the Hielans that used tae come there! Keep me! I couldna eat for a
week after cleannin them; and wee Swan is just as bad. I wadna tell ye hoo
dirty he is, puir bairn! I couldna thole tae pit him tae his bit bed yon
way. I cast a' his duds outside the door, and sent Mary Ann straight up
tae the factor's for a sack for him; for ye see whan we washed them in the
Institution------' 'Be off,' said I, 'and don't keep the poor fellow in
the tub longer.' I went in, a few minutes ago, and there I found him, or
rather saw something like a ghost amongst mist, Jessie scrubbing at him,
and seeming to enjoy the work with all her heart. 'How do you like it?'
Fine, fine!' But just as I wrote the above word, the door was opened, and
in marches my poor boy, paraded in by Jessie—a beautiful boy, clean as a
bead, but with nothing on but a large beautiful clean shirt, his hair
combed and divided; and Jessie gazing on him with admiration, Mary Ann in
the background. The poor boy hardly opened his lips, he looked round him
in bewilderment. 'There he is,' said Jessie; 'I am sure ye're in anither
warld the night, my lad. Whan wer ye clean afore?' 'Three months syne.' '
War ye ever as clean afore?' 'No.' 'What will ye do noo? 'Idinna ken.'
'Will ye gang awa and beg the night?' 'If ye like.' 'No,' said I, 'be off
to your bed and sleep.' Poor child, if his mother is in heaven she will be
pleased! "If charity covers a multitude of sins, Jessie Wishart will get
1845.—Of nothing do we stand more in need in this poor country at this
moment than of a man who knows and loves the truth, and who would have the
courage to speak out with a voice which would command a hearing. I think
we are in a forced, cramped, fettered, unnatural state. It is notorious to
every honest man, who will open but a corner of even one eye, that we have
received a terrible shock by the Secession. It is very possible that had
there been no Secession, the Establishment might have been in the end more
irrevocably shattered, as an Establishment, by the High Church forces
within, than she is or can be by these same forces acting on her from
without. This is a 'may be ' only; but it is ' no may be,' but a most
serious fact, that the withdrawal of these men has left us fearfully weak.
In what respects?
There are many parishes left with mere skeleton congregations. In some
parts of Sutherland and Boss-shire, the skeleton has dwindled down to a
bone—a mere fossil.
"2. The best ministers, and the best portion of our people have gone. Lots
of humbugs, I know, are among them ; but, as a general fact, this is true.
"3. The 'moderate' congregations will coon make 'moderate' ministers. The
tone will insensibly be lowered.
"4. We have many raw recruits; and they are thinking more of the
drawing-room paper and the fiars [The annual value of grain by which the
stipends of parish ministers are determined.] prices than of the Church.
"5. We have no heads to direct us; not one commanding mind, not one
trumpet voice to speak to men's inner being and compel them to hear. There
are, I doubt not, many who would do right if they knew what was right to
do. Like some regiments during the war, we have gone into battle with our
full complement of men, and the slaughter has been so great that ensigns
have come out majors and field-officers, with rank and uniform, but
without talent or experience.
But the Free Church is as crammed with error
as we are, though of a different and less stupid kind. Vanity, pride, and
haughtiness, that would serve Mazarin or Richelieu, clothed in Quaker
garb; Church ambition and zeal and self-sacrifice that compete with
Loyola; and in the Highlands specimens of fanaticism which Maynooth can
alone equal. This is not so characteristic of the people as of the clergy,
although it is met with among deacons, and the clever tailors and
shoemakers of the party, and some of the Jenny Geddes type; but many of
the people follow them because they somehow think it safer, while they
follow their own kind hearts also, and love good men and good ministers of
fear much that this great excitement, without Christian principle, will
produce reaction with sin; and that our nation will get more wicked. Alas
! this is drawing rapidly on the Highlands. The Establishment cannot save
that poor country, for the mass of the clergy are water-buckets. The Free
Church cannot save it, for they are firebrands.
"What should we do?
"Not lean on the aristocracy. They have but
one eye, and it looks at one object—the landed interest. If they, as a
body, support the Establishment, it is on much the same principle that
they support guano—because it helps to make men pay their rents.
"Not on Government. Peel is a trimmer, and
would for a time 'save the country.'
"Not on numbers. Holiness is power. The
poorest man who is great in prayer is, perhaps, a greater man in affecting
the destinies of the world than the Emperor of Russia. We need quality,
missions! Good! So are spectacles, if we have eyes; so are steam-engines,
if they have steam.
"We require an Inner Work in the hearts of the clergy and the people. We
need life, and not mere action; the life of life, and not life from
galvanism. If we were right in our souls, out of this root would spring
the tree and fruit, out of this fountain would well out the living water.
But until we attend to this, mere outward action will but blind and
two years will be years of severe trial to the Church.
"We want earnest men, truth-loving and
truth-speaking men, and so 'having authority, and not as the scribes.' We
want a talented, pious young Scotland party. We must give up the Church of
the past, and have as our motto the Church of the future.
"The soldering between the Free Church and
Dissenters has all along been false—based on love of popularity and
self-interest, and hatred to the Establishment.
"February 7th.—The spirit of the
ecclesiastical movement will never be known; it is a noxious gas, which,
however, cannot be fixed in any material substance that will convey it to
posterity. If it could be confined like chlorine, and conveyed like a
bleaching powder to our grandchildren, it would bleach their faces white.
You can always tell what a man says or does ; but can you tell in a
history his lowering look, his fidgetty expression, his sneaky remarks,
his infinite littleness and fierceness and fanaticism which have made up
three-fourths of the man, which have given a complexion to his whole
character, which have annoyed a whole neighbourhood! These things
evaporate in a generation, and what posterity gets has been pickled and
preserved on purpose for it—a made-up dish, spiced and peppered and tasted
by the knowing hands, tried by cooking committees, and duly manufactured
for the next age, and directed to be opened by those only who are ready to
praise the dish and to vow that it is just the kind of thing which was
common at every table in Scotland! And so, when any Fraser Tytler or
Walter Scott, or any other historian, picks up the debris of dishes, very
different, but once found, perhaps, in every house—' Oh! that was a chance
meal, an unfortunate repast, a mere hurried lunch; not at all
our forefathers' preserve pots. They are in our cupboard. These are the
specimens of the true viands.' 'O history, what a humbug art thou!' Once
we leave the Bible, history is but bubbles on the stream, or mountains in
Scott Moncrieff, Esq:—
"March 11, 1845. "The Duke has offered £70 a
year to pay a missionary. This is kind and generous, like himself. But I
have no missionary; and, perhaps, at present, one is not much needed, and
if he were, I cannot get a man who is worth the money. In these
circumstances, the £70 is of no use to the parish; but my conviction is,
that the half of this sum might be judiciously used in another way. I
shall explain what I mean. You know that the grand obstacle in the way of
filling our church with the poorer classes is the want of clothes. This is
the excuse they make. In a great many cases it is the true cause of their
neglect of ordinances. I know well, that of the hundreds here, who attend
no place of worship in the world, a great per centage would, in their
present state of depravity, absent themselves from public worship if they
had all the clothes that their bodies could carry. There are too many
drunken men and women (the worst of the two) who would pawn their clothes,
and, if they could, would pawn themselves, for drink. But, I also know
very many who I honestly believe would never be absent one day from the
house of God, if they had the means of appearing there decently clad.
There are parents who, during sickness, have pawned their clothes for food
to give their children; and who, living from hand to mouth, have never
been able to recover them. There are others who are industrious—women
especially—who cannot from their small wages earn them. Such people attend
my mission stations regularly. They have implored me to enable them to
appear in church. One asks a pair of shoes, another a pair of trousers,
another a shawl, another a gown; and they have done so with tears. I have
twenty or thirty persons in these circumstances on my list. Now, I have
assisted some of these out of my own pocket, and these persons are
regularly in church. Why not employ (until we get a missionary) a part of
this fund in supplying the wants of the best of such people? You, perhaps,
may think that I may be deceived; possibly, I may. But as I have been for
some years constantly amongst such people, I am not easily deceived. And
may we not be deceived with a missionary, and lose the £70 in a lump?
There is a chance of being deceived in some cases, and of losing a pound
here and one-and-sixpence there; but on the other hand there is a greater
chance of reclaiming people to habits of order and decency, of bringing
into godly habits parents who never have been in church since they were
children, who have never been at the sacrament, and whose children are
unbaptized. Is it not worth while to make the trial? Unless something like
this is done, my visiting of the parish is almost mere sham. I pass
through the people like a stick through water. They receive me kindly, and
they are just as they were when my back is turned. You ask me, then, what
I want? I'll tell you: I want a sum of money in my own hand to try the
experiment for one year. The Duke gives me £70 for the good of the parish;
if he gets the good, he will not care, I am sure, how the money is
expended. Let me only have the half. I will give you an account; of how I
spend it. I will show you the results, and I am willing to stake my
stipend that a dozen missionaries, trudging about with their gaiters and
umbrellas, and preaching long, dry sermons, won't do so much good at first
as £35 spent in my way."
To his Mother:—
"Dalkeith, March, 1845.
"Everything goes on smoothly. I have, ranged
before me, a series of really beautiful coloured lithographs for my
mission station. We are taught by the eye, as well as by the ear. The more
ignorant we are, the less able are we to form ideas. Children in years and
children in knowledge are the better of pictures; so think the Papists,
who know human nature well. But they err, not in dealing with people who
are children as children should be dealt with, but in keeping them
"There is a
marked change in the town, whatever the reason may be. The police sergeant
told me yesterday that the change during the last three months is
incredible. Instead of ten a week in the lock-up for drunkenness, he has
not had one case for a month; while the streets, formerly infested with
low characters, are now as quiet as possible. This is gratifying, and
should make us thank God and take courage.
"My geological lectures are over, I gave the
twelfth last night; it was on the wisdom of God as displayed in the
structure of the world, and I do think it must have been interesting even
to those who knew nothing of the subject."
To his Sister Jane:—
"I had a meeting on Monday last to petition
against Maynooth; I intimated it from my pulpit. The meeting was good. I
made a long speech ; was all alone. Although I believe I am the first,
and, as far as I know, mine is the only parish belonging to our Church
that has petitioned, I am so thankful I followed my own sense and did it.
The fact is, we have passed through a revolution, the most serious by far
in our time. Sir Robert has sapped the basis of Establishments ; he has
capsized the principles of his party; he has alienated from him the
confidence of the country, and inflicted a sore blow upon Protestantism. I
declare solemnly I would leave my Manse and glebe to-morrow, if I could
rescind that terrible vote for Maynooth. I cannot find words to express my
deep conviction of the infatuation of the step. And all statesmen for it!
Not one man to form a Protestant party!—not one! God have mercy on the
country!" [Compare with these reflections the opinions expressed in
Chapter XIII., May, 1854.]
From his Journal:—
"March 27th.—The connection between a right
physical and right intellectual and moral state is a question of vast
importance in connection with the supremacy and advancement of the
Christian Church, i.e., the good and happiness of man. If it be true that
through bad feeding, clothing, hard work, &c, there is a retrogression of
the species, or families of the species, and vice versa, how important
that a country, especially a Church, should attend to the physical wants
of the people! I have heard it alleged that criminals, generally speaking,
are an inferior race physically. Query, how much has Christianity advanced
the human race by stimulating that charity that ' does good unto all men,
especially unto those who are of the household of faith V The defect of
most systems for benefitting man has arisen not so much from the presence
of a bad element, as the absence of a good—from a minus, not a plus—from
forgetting that man is an intellectual, social, moral, active, and
sentient being, and that his well-being is advanced just in proportion as
all these different parts of his nature are gratified. Better drainage,
ventilation, poor laws, deal with his sentient part; and so far good.
Reading-rooms, lectures, mechanics' institutes, cheap literature, deal
with his intellectual, and are good, too. Amusements, coffee-houses, and
some of the above, deal with his social, and are likewise good. The axiom,
' give the people always something to do,' deals with his active powers;
the gospel and all the means of grace, with his moral nature; and as this
is the mainspring of all he thinks and does, it is the most important of
all; but it alone, as a system of truth separated from a system of action,
which includes all reform, will not do. To preach a sermon, and refuse
meat to the starving hearers, is mockery ; and so says St. James. To this
I add, the necessity of a living, wise and Christian agency coming
constantly into contact with men.
"It is a glorious night! 'The moon doth with
delight look round her, and the heavens are bare.' How wonderful is the
majestic calm of nature! how awing to the spirit this steadfast and
unhalting march of God's plan in nature and providence! Man's wrath stays
it not; many storms disturb it not. The stars twinkle as they did on Eve
or on the waters of the Deluge. How comforting to think of the Mighty Hand
which is guiding all! ' Be still, and know that I am God!'
"December 29th.—During this past year I have
preached one hundred and twenty-six times in my own parish, besides
sermons in mission stations. Helped to found thirty Missionary
Associations for the support of female Education in India, in Elgin,
Forres, Nairn, Inverness, Fort "William, Helensburgh, Dunoon, Perth,
Dundee, Kilmarnock, Coldstream, Hawick, Greenock, and besides delivering
addresses in Largs, Glasgow, Campsie, Dalkeith, Edinburgh College, written
the 'Churchman's Catechism' (3,000 sold)."