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Dr Alexander Cameron
Chapter I. Early Days


Badenoch is one of the most interior and elevated districts in Scotland ; it lies on the northern watershed of the Grampians, and forms a long valley with many abutting glens, which is bounded on the north by the lofty Monadh-lia range, and stands some eight hundred feet above sea level. No place can more truly answer Scott’s description of general Scottish scenery; it is a

“Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,
Laud of the mountain and the flood.”

Indeed, the local etymologists maintain that the name means the Land of Wood-clumps, nor does the scientist in language detract from the descriptive accuracy of Scott’s lines as applied to Badenoch by resolving the name, doubtless with accuracy, into the Land of Floods. Mountains and Alpine grandeur, however, aie its most prominent characteristics.

A land, too, of storms, with a short stormy history. The first historical references to Badenoch occur in the thirteenth century, when it formed the strong place of the princely family of Gumming. John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, for three generations —father, son, and grandson—stood forward as the most formidable rivals of the Baliols and Bruces for the throne of Scotland. A century later, Alexander Stewart, King Robert’s son, earned by his sanguinary embroilments with prelates and peers the ominous title of Wolf of Badenoch; but he died in tire odour of sanctity, leaving the Badenoch clans in a state of turmoil which the enigmatic fight at the North Inch of Berth (1396) does not stem to have done much to calm. Then the Gordons, Earls of Huntly, after a time of trouble, succeeded to the lordship about the middle of the fifteenth century (1451); and they ruled the native Clan Chattan with policy and prudence, which met with fair success. The various rebellions in favour of the Stuarts saw Badenoch loyal to the Royal cause. Macpherson, younger of Cluny, with three hundred of Clan Chattan, joined Montrose in 1644, and in the two risings of the eighteenth century Badenoch was art and part. Indeed, there is a fond belief that had the hardy Macphersons, the finest troops in Prince Charlie’s army, been not too late for Culloden Field, that day woull have been another Bannockburn for the Stuart cause:

“Another sight had seen that morn,
From Fate’s dark hook a leaf been torn,
Culloden had been Bannockbourne.”

The inhabitants of Badenoch, previous to the Saxon immigration that has marked the last generation or two, were a comparatively homogeneous race of Celtic descent. Clan Chattan names were, and as yet are, predominant, such as Macpherson, Mackintosh, Cattanach, and Shaw, with off-shoots of the same like Macbain, Gow, and Clark. Intrusions of long standing from neighbouring clans existed in the ease of the Camerons and Macdonalds from Lochaber, the Grants from Strathspey, and the Macintyres in Glentromie, besides some Stewarts and other sporadic clan names. A more distant family name, hailing from Celtic Ayrshire originally, was that of Kennedy, long established in Badenoch; and the Border name of Bell had intruded itself for some time. In physique the people of Badenoch were a stalwart race, a darker haired edition of Tacitus’ large-limbed and ruddy Caledonians, whose true descendants they were in physical and mental respects, and more especially in their martial character. Badenoch, at the end of last century and the beginning of this, had produced almost numberless officers for the British Army, not to speak of private soldiers and others in minor positions of military trust. Almost every second tacksman in the first quarter of this century in Badenoch was an officer, and the name “Captain Macpherson” recurred with a frequency that must have been sorely trying to the postal arrangements-of the time.

The people lived on the produce and products of their own district. Cats, barley, rye, and, when introduced, potatoes, formed the staple of cultivation. The Highland or black cattle was their mainstay; and these, with horses, sheep, and goats, were reared in fair abundance and exported tu be sold for payment of rent and the providing of luxuries. The chief trades were those of blacksmith, weaver, shoemaker, and tailor; for the black houses which formed the only abodes of the people did not much require the skill of mason and carpenter, though these did exist. Badenoch was in fact an Alpine Arcadia, tempered with the visitations of raiding and war in earlier times, and of famine and epidemics at all times. Illicit distilling of whiskey was, as might naturally be expected, carried on pretty extensively in the mountain fastnesses of Badenoch; and stirring incidents by moor and corrie are yet related of grandsires, often men of undoubted piety, who were engaged in this traffic, risky as it was, but rarely, if ever, regarded as morally wrong.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century Badenoch could boast of having the only school existent between Speymonth and Lorne: it was established at Ruthven village, the then capital of the district. The reverend authors of the “Survey of the Province of Moray,” published in 1798, record that few of the older people could read, and that the population wras characterised by “moderation in religious opinions” (Kingussie) or by being “rather ignorant of the principles of religion” (Alvie); they were hospitable but given to dram-drinking, brave but quarrelsome, and so forth. Waves of religious awakening, long in movement in the Lowlands, were slowly penetrating the Highland glens, and Badenoch too felt them. As a consequence, there arose a number of earnest men wrho by word and example taught the people Christian truth and practice. The efforts of these good men were ably seconded an guided in Badenoch for the greater part of the first quarter of this century by the Rev. John Robertson, minister of Kingussie, who in his character “was a happy union of great intellect, fervent and rational piety, unswerving fidelity in his Master’s cause, and zeal tempered by wisdom and controlled by discriminating prudence.” The result of this was that the moderatism and lack of evangelical zeal which marked the clergy elsewhere, and developed separatist tendencies in the earnest and devout men of their congregations, thus raising these to a separate caste known as “the Men,” did not exist in Badenoch, and ministers, office-bearers, and people worked harmoniously together for good. But the old semi-pagan, semi-Christian ideas died hard, as one amusing case may illustrate. The head of a certain household failed badly in answering the questions put by the minister, prior to granting baptism, but brought the matter to a sudden conclusion by offering his examiner, as a substitute for religious knowledge, the best cart of peats he ever got in his life!

The old Celtic Paganism survived the several centuries of Roman Catholic and Protestant religious domination in the form of superstitious beliefs and practices; and its mythology became the hero and folk tales current among the people, those “idle, hurtful, lying, secular stories” about the De Danans, the Milesians, and the Feinne, which Bishop Carsewell complains of in 1567 as being the literary and intellectual pabulum of the time, instead of the “faithful words of God and the perfect way of truth.” Superstition in Badenoch lost its hold sooner almost than in any other place in the North: at the beginning of this century it was decidedly in the background of belief and practice, despite the rude shock which the popular imagination received over the Loss of Gaick—Call Ghiiig—that epoch-dating event, when on the last Christmas of last century, Captain Macpherson of Ballacbroan and four others were choked to death by an avalanche of snow which carried away their bothie and one of their number. The Captain was a noted press-ganger, and his death was attributed to compacts which he had made with his Satanic majesty according to the fashion usual in folk tales.

The history of Badenoch as a land of literary talent dates from 1758, when James Macpherson published his poem of “The Highlander.” This gifted man was then schoolmaster at Ruthven and also a student of Divinity. Under inducements from Home and Blair, he published, in 1760, “Fi’agments of Ancient Poetry,” and soon thereafter there appeared his “Ossian” in two consecutive volumes, which purported to be a translation from the Gaelic. The work became immediately popular, and Macpherson’s fame soon spread over the civilised world. His contemporary and friend, Lachlan Macpherson of Strathmashie, was a Gaelic poet of no mean calibre; and towards the end of the century Mrs Grant of Laggan made Badenoch classic ground by her “Letters from the Mountains” and other works in prose and verse. The theme of the Loss of Gaick was sung of by Duncan Gow, and in still more beautiful poetry by Malcolm Macintyre, better known all over the Highlands as Calum Dubh nam Protaigean. Calum composed several poems, and he takes a good position among the minor bards of the Gael. Religious poetry finds, at the beginning of the century, a most fitting exponent in Mrs Clark, better known as Bean Torradhamh, whose lyrics are full of Christian fervour and alive with touches that denote deep experience of a soul in communion with God.

Such, then, were the surroundings alike of place, people, and culture wherein were cast the early days of the subject of this brief memoir. Within three miles east of Kingussie, not far from the foot of the Grampian range of mountains at Torcroy, Alexander Cameron was born on the 14th of July, 1827.

The spot is still pointed out in a sequestered nook, from which there is a fine and far view of the fertile valley of the rapid River Spey, which nere moderates its speed and winds slowly through many miles of meadow. It is worthy of note that scarcely two miles distant is Ruthven, where James Macpherson, already alluded to, taught his little school in his earlier and less famous years. Thus the boyhood of the renowned “Translator,” and of the famous Celtic Philologist, was passed amidst the same scenes, and both were destined to make and leave their mark in Gaelic literature and Celtic scholarship according to the respective bent of their genius. If there is much in a name there is also something in certain places—an indefinable influence or inspiration which seizes and sharpens the mind and seems to revivify the past. Witness Wordsworth visiting and revisiting Yarrow, and Dr Johnson’s encomium on Iona and Marathon.

“There are in our existence spots of time,
That with distinct pre-eminence retain
A renovating virtue.”

John Cameron, the father of Alexander, and Grace Cattanach, his mother, were both very shrewd, far-seeing, and industrious people who had to make the best of somewhat narrow and difficult circumstances. I had the good fortune, lately, to meet Isabella Macpherson, Drumguish, who is at present within two years of being a centenarian. She expressed great admiration for John and Grace Cameron, whom she knew well—adding, that the former was disposed to view things in a calmer manner than the latter, who was invariably full of vigour and activity. The early years of Alexander were passed in the ordinary way in the playful companionship of his younger and only brother, John, but even then it was noticed that the bent of his mind was of a serious and inquiring character. His parents, while the family were yet young, removed to Drumguish, where they resided for the rest of their lives. The attachment which Mr Cameron formed and always felt for this place appears from a story he was fond of telling about a Drumguish native who had been over a great part of the world and who used to remark, “After all, I have seen no prettier spot than our own black hillocks here.”

While still young, Alexander went to reside with a maternal maiden aunt—May Cattanach—at Kingussie, to be near the school; and it would seem from repeated statements of his that this good woman had as much as anyone to do in the forming of his future character and career. She was one of the most pious and upright women of her time, and her memory is still fragrant throughout the whole district. She was exceedingly kind to her charge, and, doubtless, early directed his thoughts to the things that are unseen and eternal. She was one of the most unassuming of Christians, and would have been most surprised if anyone were to regard her save as one of the most unworthy. And yet that was one among many proofs that she was rich in faith and an heir of the kingdom of heaven. Under such good influence, and with such a bright example brought daily to bear upon him, he began to turn his thoughts to serious subjects.

But he was not without interest in mundane matters, for one of his earliest recollections was the crowning of Queen Victoria— the glad event having been associated in his memory with the unusual appearance of the Royal Mail, which displayed a great deal of bunting and many flags in honour of the occasion. At that time in the quiet village of Kingussie, the passing of the “Big Coach” was the great event of each day, when home-going or school-going, or perchance occasionally truant-going children, unobserved by the guard—and if he were a kindly man sometimes not unobserved—used to stealthily climb on the step behind, and for a mile or two quietly cling to it—a feat that made a boy proud and envied for many a day. How changed the scene has become since then! Trains by the dozen hurry through the place now, and hundreds of tourists locate themselves in every available corner for the summer and autumn months.

It is hardly necessary here to do more than merely advert to the “Ten Years’ Conflict” that culminated in the Disruption of the Church of Scotland in 1843, and in the founding of the Free Church. It was a time of profound anxiety and upheaval throughout the land, and not less so in the Highlands. The Headship of Christ over His Church and over the nations, that is to say, spiritual independence combined and co-ordinate with national recognition of Christ as Governor among the nations, was the great underlying principle that created the fervour and called forth the faithfulness that caused the Disruption. Badenoch felt the force of this far-reaching movement, and responded thereto as pastor and people left the Church of their fathers, which they dearly loved, because loyalty and duty demanded the sacrifice. The sudden severance of life-long ties, and the loss of this world’s goods, must have been poignantly painful, but the reward—immediate in their own hearts, and prospective on earth and in heaven—was amply sufficient to sustain them in every difficulty and disappointment. Nor were their hope and faith in vain, as the event proved.

Hay Cattanach and her favourite ward and pupil took a lively interest in the proceedings, and cast in their lot with the Church of Scotland, free. Perhaps this struggle through which Mr Cameron passed at scarce sixteen to some extent accounts for his firm attitude in dealing with ecclesiastical questions to the very end of his life. Be that as it may, it was shortly after this that he was observed to be a keen listener and an appreciative hearer of the powerful addresses delivered by the famous Apostle of the North—Dr John Macdonald of Ferintosh. And, not satisfied with all that he heard at Kingussie from the great preacher, he was accustomed, when comforts and conveniences were not so common as now-a-days, to follow him to Rothiemurchus and elsewhere— the outward and widely-noted beginning of that seeking after God which did not cease until breath failed and the seeker passed through the gates into the city to find and eternally enjoy the beatific vision.

It is slightly difficult to fix the dates of his attendance at school, or discuss the merits and influence of his respective teachers, although the writer has heard him once and again refer to this interesting part of his past career. Mr Rutherford, a well-known and widely respected teacher at Kingussie, would appear to have been his first master. But he was for a short time in attendance at lush School, under Mr Patrick Grant, who was better known afterwards as a successful teacher for many years at Baldow, Alvie. Probably it was at Insh that he got his first smattering of Latin, where several not unknown scholars afterwards pored over their rudiments and formed friendships which the fleeting years have only consolidated. He then returned to his former teacher, who was, like most of the old dominies, a somewhat strict disciplinarian, but who seems to have taken kindly to his promising pupil and to have encouraged him in every possible manner. Like many others similarly situated at that time, Mr Rutherford, while teaching others, was himself acquiring knowledge, and had in view to study, or was actually studying, for the ministry. He was thus, naturally, more interested in, and perhaps more fitted to teach and help, boys of parts in their efforts to better themselves. Eventually he attained his goal, and became parish minister of Rothiemurchus. It was to him that the thirty lost poems of Mrs Clark, of Torra-dhamh, already alluded to, are believed to have been entrusted, but what became of them is unfortunately unknown.

Mr Cameron had by this time made such progress as to be deemed fit to conduct a side school at Glenfeshie, when, as he thought himself, he was hardly fit to teach, but rather required to be taught—an estimate of his own attainments which remained with him to the end. There are not a few of his old pupils still living who have testified to the unusual amount of painstaking labour he bestowed upon them—many of whom were far older and taller than their teacher. It was the general habit then for lads —and others beyond their 'teens—to work manually in summer and attend school during the quiet winter months. His short term of teaching in this then somewhat solitary, though well peopled glen, earned for him a reputation for thoroughness in work and good discipline that has not yet ceased to be talked about.

Relieved from his winter task, he returned to Kingussie School, now under the able guidance of Mr David Bruce—a native of Kirriemuir, the birthplace of many distinguished men, and likely to be immortalised under its new name of “Thrums.” Mr Bruce was a very good classical scholar and a splendid teacher, who succeeded in imparting to his pupils somewhat of his own enthusiasm. Under him Mr Cameron made great progress in Latin and got on well with Greek, and the good grounding thus given accounts for much of his subsequent success, and for part of his indomitable perseverance in confronting and solving difficulties. He was also indebted to Mr Nimmo and to Mr Henderson, who relieved the principal teacher while prosecuting his own University or Hall studies. The former and himself used to meet and study after school hours, and they became fast friends; and the latter used to encourage him to proceed with his literary pursuits whatever obstacles might obstruct his path. But without doubt Mr Bruce exercised most influence over him, and the intimacy early formed was continued, as a subsequent correspondence proves. And perhaps the best possible portrait of the teacher, and a not uninteresting glimpse of his environment at Kingussie, as well as instructive side-lights on a later period in his pupil’s career, can be got by the perusal of the four following letters from his own pen. A deep undertone of sadness, bordering on melancholy, mainly due to ill-health, pervades the otherwise bright and cheerful character revealed in these unpremeditated utterances, which are worthy of preservation for intrinsic merit and interest, in addition to being, so far as I know, the only remaining memorials of a man whose worth and gifts, had health been his, would have secured for him a place—not the lowest—in the literary galaxy that arose from and sheds lustre on “Thrums.” At the date of the letters, Mr Cameron was pursuing his studies at the Edinburgh U niversity.

“Kingussie, 5 th May, 1854.

“Dear Sir,—I was agreeably relieved from my uncertainty as to your whereabouts by the receipt of a letter yesterday. I had previously sent off a letter to Edinburgh, having lost all patience, which perhaps may have been forwarded to you from thence.

“I supposed you had found some employment for the summer in that quarter, not thinking that you had after all gone to the Western Isles. I daresay Islay is a rather more agreeable place of residence than Skye, and the preaching will be more pleasant when not combined with the teaching, which at best is but drudgery. I wish I could get a person to whom I could hand over the school and join you in your retreat, but I fear the matter cannot lie well managed at present. If no unforeseen event do not prevent it, I shall try to gratify my long-cherished wish to visit the Hebrides in the autumn—at least it will afford some gratification the dreaming over the pleasures that I will enjoy there, to say nothing of the restored health, which certainly needs some renovation. You will have fine opportunity of study —nature and books—long walks, and an open-air closet in sight of the rolling sea. But I must not envy you ; there is work for you in addition to these.

“My own life here is still as dull, as irksome as ever—nothing to keep the spirits from flagging—no comforts, no hope. For the last fortnight I have been again very far from well—the side and chest, and other symptoms highly developed—and the cough still remains constant. I am able to keep the school on; the work is now lighter, but I never enjoy one agreeable moment—one quite free from pain.

“The letter arrived before the parcel, which your aunt delivered in the evening. Perhaps it was too heavy for Alick, who is but a tender boy, or you may have enclosed it in that addressed to your mother. I delivered the parcel at the bank, but the lady was at Ballachroan, so I could not give it into her own hand. The other I entrusted to Miss M‘K.

“Macaulay I am well satisfied with, but he is not a profound writer, though he possesses the art of making his matter interesting. How different from Coleridge’s glances, which can pierce through millstones. Heine is but a trifle; but I should like the whole of the poems of that writer, who is a great favourite, could I get a bargain. I am very ill-off at present, having no means of getting catalogues or knowing what books are to be had. I expected Poetoe Gnomici along with the Anacrec-n, but 1 supposed you overlooked it. The Oxford Herodotus I should have liked but for its price ; but I think it was more prudent in me to get rather an additional Tauchnitz or two and be content with inferior paper. Was it in boards 1 If not, it would require to be bound before it could be used much. I was thinking since of getting De Qnincey —second vol.—and the Landor, there being scarcely another choice at present, and to live here at all I must have books ; but I am at a loss as to how to get them. Could you recommend me to you*' friend, or order for me—the deduction on foreign books seems tempting.

“The Athemmim is rather dull, but there seems no substitute but the Critic. The Critic was oflered at half-price to all the clergy I know, direct from the office, and it is twitted with it in the last Athenamm. The Critic is flimsy, but it contains extracts from the new books, and a greater amount of literary gossip—including Continental, which the Ath- does not deal in. The Revue is dear. But enough of books at present.

“I can hardly venture on the country news, for I hear very little, and reports are not always faithful. Nothing but Australia— Peter Ferguson among the number. Miss Grant is still in the country; she arrived in Kingussie yesterday from Lynwilg, but I have not been blessed with an angel glimpse. Perhaps you saw Ann in Edinburgh; she is receiving a month’s polish before the voyage. I heard the Catechist, &c., were again in Ross-shire laying snares for the Rev. D. Campbell—he seems very difficult to take. If you make haste you may yet be in time for Kingussie Church, for it does not appear likely to be filled soon. My stock seems scanter than I thought it, for I can recollect no new particulars at present. I never stir abroad to get news, and my own thoughts are chiefly occupied with books, when cold or rain or other evil does not prevent all thinking.

“Have you made any additions to your book store 1 This winter I have got next to nothing, and now I would fain buy if I knew what, or how they could be conveniently and cheaply procured. It will be better that the Athenaum, if we continue it, come to me first, as I suppose it will make little difference to you, but a good deal to me. I)o tell what your posts are, how long a letter takes to reach you, and on what day it were better to post. I shall be delighted1 to write once a week ; but I am afraid my letters will be found rather barren. I shall expect to hear from you soon, and as I want both time and matter to fill another sheet at present, I shall make my next one the longer. I shall be able then, I hope, to give my impressions of Miss Gr, and shall meantime keep my ears open for all sort of news. Miss M , though anything but a favourite, has a tongue which very few indeed can match. I am in constant admiration of its wonderful pliability, but as horned cattle pay for the superfluous bone by wanting the upper teeth, so that lady pays for the development of her tongue by the total want of a heart. Write soon.—Yours truly,

David Bruce.”

“Kingussie, 1st July, 1854.

“Dear Sir,—I received this morning your letter. I had all but given up hopes of again hearing from you, as it was reported you intended coming immediately to Badenoch, and your silence seemed to confirm it. The arrival of the newspapers somewhat shook my belief, and now your letter sets me to inquire how such a report could have arisen. The winds and waves seem of all things the most capricious and least to be depended on—it does seem strange that my letters, written with a week’s interval between them, should arrive together; but stranger still that you should not have received the two Athenaeums I sent off at the same time with the last letter. I hope you have got them before this, but the letter and they ought to have been received at the same time.

“I am glad to find that you are in such good health, for I was inclined to fear, knowing that you would not quit Islay unless there should be a serious break down ; but too much of that absurd affair—I mean the report. My own health is still indifferent— I can scarcely say whether I am better or worse. I cough less, but the pains in the side and chest, shoulder, &c., have rather increased in intensity. The weather this week has been cold, and I have suffered much from rheumatism. Happy you who are blessed with a mild climate ; and as for the dullness, I suppose this anomalous season, it prevails everywhere. I do not altogether let my spirits sink, uncomfortably as I am situated. Surely you ought to think better of a disciple of Carlyle, one at least who admires his Stoical preachments, though one can only approximate to the putting of them in practice. I am glad you have got the Johnson (of course I have it); it is Carlyle all over, and is considered one of his best papers. I think Johnson is greatly over-estimated, as well as the book which records his sayings and doings, viz., Boswell; and I can only account for the extraordinary value put upon it by supposing Carlyle to have formed a liking to it in his youth ; and as it is suggestive enough, to have derived some of those ideas from it which he knows how to make the most of. You must have noticed that Carlyle’s is not a very rich mind in new thoughts, ideas, whatever the case may be with images—that his forms but a scanty stock, and that he deals greatly in self-repetition. There is little in the article on Johnson which is not to be found in the Sartor, except some vivid descriptions, and these Carlyle is a master of. I would advise you to get the article on Burns, I think it much superior to the Johnson. 1 should like Carlyle’s Miscel. infinitely, but I will not be able to get at them at present. In the meantime I shall be satisfied with Lamb, which I hope you have ordered. I was disappointed in your not having mentioned it in your letter. My reason for troubling you was that I was not pleased with Mr Macdonald’s, and was afraid he would keep me waiting months, and yet I may gain nothing in point of time by writing to you. The distance between us is so great, and though I request you particularly to say ay or no, you neglect, and I am left at a loss. Do let me know as soon as possible if you have ordered Lamb’s Works (12s, Bolni), containing his letters and final memorials, and advertised in the Athen. for June 24th. Along with Macaulay, I should like De Quincey’s Autobiogr. Sketches, vol. II. (I have the first). I do not think it is over the weight, and forms a readable book. I am intent on buying German books, but am at a loss how to get them from London. The P.O. does not suit for large books any more than for small ones, like Triibner’s Classics. But enough of book buying. I have been driven to my Greek of late, and been making great effort to admire. You may judge from that how hard up I am for something fresh.

“You were amused with the parasol, but I see nothing wonderful in a young lady’s making the best possible use of it. In the case I mentioned, the gentleman was in delicate health and might have been injured by the rain; and perhaps the story may be apocryphal after all. I had it from a lady whose youngest son had tackled her by asking ,£ Is Miss H. and Mr M. papa and mama V He had observed them returning from a walk protected from a shower by the same parasol. They were in the country at the time, and it was summer, and in setting out, rain had not been expected. I hear of no more marriages in this quarter. The Miss Grants have sailed—at least, I suppose so, for I have not seen the father since the important day. I am sorry for Dody, for they scarcely allowed her time to know her own mind. I was sorry to hear of the death of your cousin at Strone; it was very sudden ; he was taken ill at the market, and died next day. At least, I suppose it to be your cousin, as the young man’s parents attend Mr G.’s Church. The great Australian Robertson is also reported to be dead—in real truth he was dead long ago, for such life as he led was no life. People still keep moving in that direction— Australia is still in favour. I hear that a deputation has gone off to take home the great Mr Campbell, but have learnt no particulars.

“I have been interrupted by a visit from the Irish Enlightener. He is welcome, because I have so seldom an opportunity of opening my mouth with anything like freedom ; but really he is too far back. It becomes quite painful to hear the notions of books and literary matters he gives vent to. He had had my Carlyle's Johnson on loan, and he is quite delighted with the funny things C. says. He is of opiuion that it is a very diverting book, and that reading such nonsense makes good pastime. Only think—0., who makes of literature so serious a matter, and to whom the great charge laid by lovers of amusement is that he makes too great demands on his readers—that he is obscure, unintelligible — viewed only as a diverting writer. Do you think my friend understood him in the least, for all the Carlylean doctrines are implied (in), and may be evolved from, that article? But it is the same with all books in this man’s hands, yet I have allowed him to carry off “Tristram Shandy,” notwithstanding my fears he may make a bad use of it in more senses than one. He has prevented my scrawl being sent off to-night, and brought me no news to help make up for it, but wind and tide being so uncertain it may make no difference. Don’t forget Lamb at least. I have not yet got a list, of the University Library. I see the cheap edition of Waverley is out, but I am not particular about that. The Classics I wish much. If the postage for Lamb do not exceed Is I should like it by post; but perhaps these minute directions are rather troublesome. I do so long for something new, you will excuse me. I saw the prospectus of Stewart’s works, but they did not excite any strong wish to possess them. Hamilton’s Notes 011 the Dissertation, if as copious as on Reid, must be curious. Many of Stewart’s blunders are rather of a glaring sort; while Hamilton’s acquaintance with the history of philosophy, even in its obscurest departments, is unmatched at least in this country. Write soon.—Yours sincerely, David Bruce.”

“Kingussie, 24th July, 1854.

“My Dear Sir,—I received both your letters with the ‘Witness’ yesterday, though they bore the post-mark of the 22nd. How it came about that I did not receive them on Saturday perhaps Miss M‘K. could explain. She knew I was impatient for a letter, and perhaps wished to annoy a little. I sent a boy to the Post-Office on Saturday to inquire, and the way to punish me was to deliver them on the morning of the Sunday, with the information that they had had occasion to send. Your explanation as to the posts and the marks on the back of the letters, leave little doubt as to how the matter really stood, which I regret the more because I am prevented from returning an early answer to your letters. The present scrawl, though I send it off to-night, will scarcely reach you sooner than if posted on Saturday next—at least it is a doubtful point. Those winds and waves are unmanageable things.

“As to the report of your return to Badenoch, I learned on subsequent enquiry that there was no good foundation for it, and I would not have given credence to it for a moment had not your silence of a month’s continuance seemed to confirm it. My other intelligence of your cousin’s death is only too true. The young man intended to have gone to Australia, but was taken ill on the day of the market, and died after a day’s illness. The father is still hale and vigorous. He was present at church at the Saera-mental services, and Mr Grant having to speak of him I mentioned the son’s death, which he confirmed. The old man was present at twelve battles, and came oft without a scratch. How few are able to tell the same tale! Certainly he was a favourite of fortune; and as he was are all fighters more or less in some sense or other. I hope you will get as safely through your life-battles. I am sure you would not take it as a compliment to be left with the baggage.

“I have dined thrice at the Manse on these occasions. It is wonderful, but I cannot say “no” when I have no reason to give that I like to put forward. I suppose it will take me a week to digest these dinners, which were very good, and which I got over without my cough being in a considerable degree ruffled. I have even got a couple of invitations, from Mr Rutherford and Grant of Cromdale—the first may be sincere—but I am not very anxious to comply with either. Would rather Islay, which I must still look upon as rather uncertain. I expected to have been able to give the play early, but that house of mine is such a tormenting business, and I must try to have a meeting brought about and something definite come to before I can leave for anywhere. I cannot pass a winter with the , anything rather than that, and there is no other lodging to be had. I am altogether in a perplexity, and do not know what plan to fall on, or what is best to do. That cursed house has been a source of infinite torment to me, more particularly the last twelve months, and I do not see how it is to end. I had given over quite the thought of being-next winter in Kingussie, and now that I am again vexing myself about making provision for it, I suppose I must be considerably better in health than I was. The side, Ac., are still troublesome, but I do feel better generally. I hope I shall be able to get things in order so as to pass a few; happy weeks with you in Islay, but it can only be in September.

“I am ashamed at putting you to so much bother about the books, and yet I am very much pleased that you have taken the trouble upon you. I am afraid Mr J. will not get the Glassies at the price, but I will be satisfied with Lamb, &c. I suppose I am not to expect them till next week, and yet I will be longing.

“Mrs Grant has not yet returned; she is in Edinburgh under Dr Simpson’s care. Perhaps had she been at home I would not have dined so often there. The Catechist’s son is not in Kingussie, and the great Mr Campbell, who had offered his services for five months, is reported to have got sick. There is rather a scarcity of preachers of your body apparently. Mr A. Gordon was expected to have preached at Kingussie a fortnight ago. The congregation was met, Miss M‘P. had arrived, there was the silence of expectation, but the quickest ear could not catch the sound of clerical boots approaching. People got impatient at last, the bellman, who was sent out to reconnoitre, brought back the mournful intelligence that Mr G. was not in Kingussie, neither at Mr Grant’s nor elsewhere, and there was no help for it but to go home. Miss M.P. walked down with the banker to his house, and ordered her carriage to be brought there—it seemed she was ashamed to be seen in the act of retreat; and when people came to ask each other what reason they had to expect Mr G., it turned out there was noue. The Of teehist had said that in such a dearth of preachers he must have A. G. up before them, but he had never written to him on the subject. Mr A. had happened to be in the village some days before, and it was considered to be an undoubted matter that he would come to have his gifts tested on the Sunday, so the bells were rung and the guests were met, but the bridegroom failed. I suppose Mr G., who remembers the Catechist’s questions at the Presbytery, rather shrinks from his testing powers. No wonder the young men hesitate to come before those who know the marks—not of the beast, but of the spirit. I am afraid they are too hard—the horns of a calf when beginning to bud are not very perceptible. Excuse this nonsense, but attribute it to a lack of news.

“I forgot the Duke of Athole has been for some days at the Inn with 25 dogs and I don’t know how many men. The head keeper would have been prized in ancient times when the wisdom was meted by the length of the beard—his is two feet long— rather uncomfortable at times, you would think, but he plaits it when it is likely to be too much in the way. The Duke's craze is the murder of others, and to gratify this propensity he maintains all these dogs and masters the energies of all these men —better be a bookworm. He has not succeeded in killing any in this quarter, though one was seen on Saturday. One might blush for the grandees of their country and the way they show their sense of the duties incumbent upon them.

“I suppose the books I am to receive will be sufficient at this time. During the vacation I could not use them, and how to store what I have is one of my perplexities. After the vacation I will be inclined! to buy a few more, and then I shall feel so glad, Ac., but I hope we will be able to arrange that in Islay. I will write again on Saturday. 1 hope you got all the Athencenms.

[Signature omitted. Letter written across on the last page.— J. K.]”

“Kingussie, 30th December, 1854.

“My Dear Sir,—I received your letter this morning, which I had been expecting for several days. I was sorry to learn that you had been ill, but I hope the holidays will restore you quite to your former state of health. You have, indeed, too much work on your hand ; the preparation for so many classes will tell in time, even though the season of the year did not bring coughs and colds along with it. I, too, have been ill all the week, but feel somewhat better to-day. I have less fever, and a smart cough has taken form. That I would not mind much, were it not for the accompanying pain in the side and chest, the difficulty of breathing in a frosty atmosphere, and the deadening effect of the cold. Indeed, all is gloomy and cheerless about me, and there is no possibility of viewing things in their brighter aspect, when there is no bright side. While I remain in Kingussie I never expect to feel contented or happy. I have, however, shaken off one encumbrance from my back, or rather been obliged to suffer ic drop off. I am no longer Registrar. It entails some sacrifice, but something like tranquility, freedom from annoyance, on which my health so much depends, must be purchased at any pi*ice. If I had had but one trusty friend on whom I could rely in Kingussie— but a Registrar obliged to use other people’s feet and ears, and with enemies not disinclined to bother him, with no house of his own, his lodgings inconvenient, even were he in good health, could not be very pleasantly situated, even though the pay should more than counterbalance the labour.

“But to quit disagreeables, your account of the book sales made my very mouth water. I hope you will send the catalogue if possible, that I, too, may have a nibble at such tempting bait. My choice of books would, however, be different from yours, though some of your purchases seem valuable in their way. 1 should have bought Coleridge’s Lay Sermons, if I had fallen in with a cheap copy. I suppose it is M N's “Lamb” you have got for me, from their being no deduction from Bohn’s price, in that case, it is cheap. I think it will be as well to defer the sending of it for a week or two, till it be seen what turn my health is likely to take, or whether the roads are to be blocked up or no ! (Is not that a well-constructed climax) 1 I am sorely in want of the slips, however, and if they be allowed to travel through the post iu company with De Quincey I shall feel obliged by your sending them. I shall be glad to take the Greek Testament. I was in negotiation with a Kirriemuir acquaintance settled in Edinburgh, a Mr Paterson, for a similar vol., but we did not conclude the bargain. Perhaps you may have met Mr P. He teaches writing and arithmetic, and had at one time, at least, a schoolroom in the same house with Mr Macdonald. He is very amiable, but a little whimsical in certain matters—medicine for one.

“I should like Alick to read Sallust along with either Virgil or Ovid. The latter, perhaps, would be most convenient for me in the meantime, as I have John Macrae reading Latin also, and he might be able in that case to go on with the other boy, which would be for the advantage of both, and a relief to me. I shall mention the Greek to Alick, but I am afraid he has enough on his hands. Would you write him a few admonitions, to be studious, Ac. His imperfect knowledge of English is against him.

I hear no news and perhaps as well for me. I might almost as well be in a cell of a penitentiary worked on the solitary and silent system. The Badenoch gents have been liberal to the Fund; but I have not yet found out how many soldiers from Badenoch serve in the Crimea, or whether their widows and orphans are likely to be burdensome. Rev. Mr Grant gave £3 3s besides flannels, Ac., furnished by his wife. I gave 2s 6d. I might have given more, but for several reasons I limited myself to that sum. Besides I have not yet been able to see what Britain had to do interfering in the quarrel, or to satisfy myself that Turkey deserves to be supported.

“The Rev. Mr Campbell has been labouring for the last three weeks in Kingussie. I hope he finds the Kingussie winter agree with him; for if he has suffered as much from the cold as I have he will give up all thoughts of settling permanently there.

“My own reading at present is chiefly Greek. I have read 8 or 10 books of Homer and some plays carefully and making good use of the Lexicon. But it is in general rather heartless work, and prompted more by a desire to keep myself occupied than by any ulterior views. Have you seen Donaldson’s Grammar of Modern Greek, and what is its character? If good for anything' I should like to have it, as it professes to give a view of modern Greek literature—and only costs 2s. I am sorry your enquiries after German lit-paper were unsuccessful. I have seen the Lit-Blatt in the Waterloo Newsrooms, but I suppose there is no chance of getting it from there. Have Edmondson A Douglas anything good among their second-hand books, but usually the good things are at once carried off.

“I have now all but filled my paper, but I scarcely think you will have patience sufficient to read it to its close—the cure, however, is in your own hands. Write soon.—\ours sincerely,

David Bruce.

“P.S.—I send a sort of list of books which I made out lately, but it is not very complete even as far as it goes, and I fear you will be able to make but little use of it.”

The list is “a never ending one,” and includes the chief works of Shakespeare, Southey, Ben Johnson, Laudor, Coleridge, Carlyle, Pope, Thomson, Chatterton, Johnson, Swift, Bunyan, Hooker, Brown (Sir T.), Dunbar, Burns, Milton, Cowper, Hallam, Taylor; also, Goethe, Lessing, Rosenkranz, and Plutarch, Herodotus, Thucydides, Aristotle, &c.

In parting with this episode in Mr Cameron’s career, a word may be added in reference to the subsecpient but brief course of Mr Bruce’s life. Whether due to intense longing for a larger sphere of usefulness and better opportunity of mental improvement, or, as is more likely, to impaired health—of which there is ample indication in the above letters—and to the constant exercise of the sword proving too much for the worn scabbard, Mr Bruce shortly after this date felt the labour and tension of teaching more trying and irksome than profitable. He felt keenly the necessity, but fully realised the wisdom, of retiring from all duty, which he did in the autumn of 1856. And it was not long afterwards when the mind once so full of activity and promise succumbed to the unequal strain, and the imprisoned vital spark found final release from the rough and tumble of this work-a-day world.


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