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Parish Life in the North of Scotland
Chapter XI - Aberdeen Professors. Northern Notabilities.


1805-1809.

DURING the summer of 1805 Capt. Baigrie's third son John became my pupil. He lived with us first at Kildonan; but latterly I resided with him at Midgarty, and our school hours were passed in Capt Baigrie's bedroom, where we also slept in a small bed beside him.

My second session at college was in 1805-6. I again travelled to Aberdeen on foot with my father's man, Muckle Donald. I went this time by Inverness. We crossed the ferry of Invergordon, and then pursued our route through Resolis and Ferintosh to Kirkhill in Inverness-shire, crossing the Beauly at the ferry immediately below the village of that name. On our way to the manse of Kirkhill we were preceded by a funeral. That was the only time on which I saw or heard a bagpipe playing the Highland coronach on such an occasion—answering as it did the purposes both of the hand-bell at the interment of the lower classes, and of the "Dead March in Saul" at that of the upper classes of society. When we arrived at the manse our reception was what may be called very far north of kindness. Mr. Donald Fraser, my late cousin, was then a young man, his father's successor as minister of Kirkhill, and newly married. He had guests residing with pima Air. and Mrs. Munro from Inverness—who, Iike himself, were also newly married, and were there to spend their honeymoon. Mr. Fraser himself was scarcely twenty-one years of age, and exceedingly handsome both in face and figure. His wife looked ten years older than her elegant husband. Her brother, Mr. Gordon, had been in the West Indies, and making a fortune, came home and purchased the property of Drakies, near Inverness, but resided with his sister somewhere in the parish of Kirkhill. There Mr. Fraser got first acquainted with her. Succeeding his eminent father, he lived with his widowed mother and his sisters at the manse; and when he finished his theological course he paid his addresses to Miss Gordon, and their union took place when he was but nineteen, tinder these circumstances the marriage much displeased his mother and the rest of his relations; but Miss Gordon proved an excellent wife. His brother-in-law, Mr. Gordon, died insolvent many years thereafter, and Drakies had to be sold. Unfortunately, owing to the legal peculiarities of the case, Mr. Fraser got somewhat involved with the creditors—a circumstance which much encumbered him during his whole life.

My man and I left Kirkhill early on Monday for Inverness, where we both breakfasted in the same room, after a weary tramp under a heavy downpour of rain. At Fochabers we fell in with a returning hired horse, belonging to a man of the name of Campbell, an innkeeper and horse-hirer in Aberdeen. This lucky cast made our journey comparatively easy. Muckle Donald and I rode alternately, the horse carrying our baggage also.
On arriving at Aberdeen, rather late in the evening, I went to Mrs. Gordon's, Upper Kirkgate, where I was received with unabated kindness. Next day I took lodgings in the house of one Alexander Brown, a wheelwright in North Street, where I had as my fellow-lodger my friend James Campbell. He and the landlord's son George were again my class-fellows.

During this session I attended the classes of Civil and Natural History, as well as the Humanity Class, all taught by Prof. James Beattie, nephew of the well-known Dr. Beattie; and the first Mathematical class, taught by the eminent but eccentric Dr. Robert Hamilton. "Humanity" was usually taught at eight in the morning. Professor Beattie was one of the first classical scholars of his day. Latin he both understood and spoke, and when the disorderly conduct of the students called it forth, scolded in it with fluency and force. He was of keen passions and a hasty temper. As a disciplinarian, he carried matters as far as they could go, seeing that his reproofs, pointed enough in themselves, were sometimes rendered terrible by the external accompaniments of his warmth of temper and extraordinary bodily strength. To such of the students, however, as were naturally slow and dull, but at the same time diligent and anxious to learn, he curbed his temper, and showed the noblest forbearance. His plan of teaching was as follows:—In the morning hour we read the classics, both Greek and Latin. In the forenoon the professor carried on his course of civil history. He commenced by a• few preliminary lectures on chronology and geography, on oral tradition, historical poems, and other methods employed before the use of letters for preserving the memory of past events on the stages of civil society and the principal forms of government. In entering more immediately on his subject, he treated of the first four monarchies, viz., the Assyrian, the Babylonian, the Persian, and the Egyptian. He then gave a course of lectures on what he called "the two leading objects" of ancient history—the Revolutions of Greece and of Rome—pursuing first the history of Greece till its subjection to Rome, 164 B.C., and concluding it with a view of the state of literature, philosophy, and of the fine arts among the Greeks. He then took up the subject of Roman history, which he pursued till the accession of Augustus, when he lectured on the Roman constitution, manners, military discipline, and on the progress of Roman literature. He then resumed the history of Rome, and carried it on to the final settlement of the northern nations in Italy towards the close of the 6th century, concluding the whole with a few lectures on the manners of the northern nations, and on the history of the Christian Church down to that period.

The course of Natural History next followed. That science the professor divided into six great branches. These were—Mineralogy, Geology, Hydrology, Meteorology, Botany, and Zoology. He also dictated to the class, at occasional meetings, the outlines of his course of lectures, which each engrossed in a MS. book. It gave him peculiar pleasure to see these outlines neatly written out. A copy of the MS., which I wrote to his dictation, of the outlines of his lectures both on civil and natural history, I have still in my possession. His lectures on mineralogy contained a short system of chemistry; and when on the subject of acids, most of us had our fingers soiled and considerably burnt by trying experiments on the various properties and effects of sulphuric and sulphurous acid, nitric and nitrous acid, muriatic acid, and so forth. When he entered upon mineralogy itself, lie divided all the subjects of the mineral kingdom into six classes, viz., Earths, Inflammables, Saline bodies, Metals, Petrefactions, and the Impregnations of water, He adopted, in botany and zoology, the systematic arrangement of Linnaeus—the more modern and improved systems being then unknown.

Dr. Hamilton's first Mathematical Class we attended daily. He began the course by putting us through the cardinal rules of arithmetic, and explaining to us, in his own summary way, the abstract principles of arithmetic as a science. Then we went on to the Elements of Euclid, or what may be considered the first principles of mathematical science, such as Algebra, mensuration, etc. The mathematical course, however, taught by Dr. Hamilton during that and the ensuing session I may here dismiss at once, by mentioning that lie published, for the use of his class, a mathematical treatise, entitled, "Heads of part of a course of mathematics, as taught at the Marischal College," comprehending the following subjects, viz., use of scales and sliding rules, plane trigonometry, practical geometry, doctrine of the globes, perspectives, navigation, projection of the sphere, and spherical trigonometry. These, to the best of my recollection, were the subjects taught by Dr. Hamilton during the two sessions I attended. But I must here frankly confess that, under the tuition of this learned and excellent, but most eccentric man, I never could understand anything of the subjects he taught. This might, no doubt, arise from a natural deficiency to comprehend mathematical science. But if my natural capacity had been more extensive than it really was, it would have but little availed me under the worthy doctor's method of teaching. For, first of all, lie made himself both the master and the scholar, both the teacher and the taught. If the points of instruction were arithmetical questions, he chalked them out and worked them all himself; if the propositions of Euclid, he drew the figures, marked the letters, took up the demonstrating-rod, and, after, uttering or rather muttering, with great rapidity a few hasty explanations, went on to demonstrate the proposition or problem, step by step, with all the hurry and assiduity of a tyro, while the class had only to listen. His personal appearance, the odd intonations of his voice, the quizzical contortions of his countenance, the motions of his hands, his fidgety impatience, and the palpable absurdity of the whole man, with his little scratch wig awry on his head, and his gown flapping around him, and ever and anon in the way of his feet, or his hands, or his eyes—all taken together really held out a premium to every student, from the lightest to the gravest, to look on and laugh. When be entered the class, it was with the bustle of one who felt that he was too late, and had kept people waiting for him. With this impression, he would walk up to his desk with his hat on; after jumping about here and there, and handling this thing and the other, it would at last occur to him that his hat should be taken off; hut, in the hurry of the removal, both hat and wig would come oft at once, exposing his bald pate and setting the class in a roar. Stunned by the noise, he would clap his wig on the nail and his hat on his head; and then, on discovering his mistake, would make the hat and wig immediately exchange places. When he noticed any of the students trifling, he rose from his desk, ran up to the offender with neck out-stretched, and, clapping his hand upon his chin, first preluding his reproof with two or three short coughs, he mentioned the offender by his name in Latin, in the vocative case, and exclaimed, "Take your hat and go away," or, "Take your hat and leave the skule" —looking at him the meanwhile like an ape who had ensconced himself aloft out of the way of a parcel of curs haying at him. The insubordination of his class came to such a height that he felt himself compelled at last to summon the aid of the Senatus Academicus, or the "Faculty," as he called them, with which he had often threatened the more disorderly. Responding to his complaint, the Senates deputed Prof. Beattie, the most thorough disciplinarian at college, to pay us a visit. Prof. Beattie did so accordingly, and, entering the class-room one day with the port of Ajax—"earth trembling as he trode"—he made us tremble too by the wrath of his countenance, the stern severity of his reproofs, and by the movements of his herculean person with which every threat was enforced. The effect of all this, however, was not permanent. The origo sn ali was to be found, not so much in any peculiar propensity in the students to turbulence as in the total incapacity of the teacher to maintain his authority. [Robert Hamilton, LL.D., was born in Edinburgh in 1743. After having been ten years Rector of the Perth Academy, he was, in 1779, appointed to the Chair of Natural Philosophy, in Marischal College, which he afterwards exchanged for that of Mathematics. He is the anthot of a book of reputed merit on the "National Debt of Great Britain," and also of a posthumous work, entitled, "The Progress of Society." He died in 1829.]

Brown, my landlord during this session, was something of a religious character. He could not be curbed within the limits of any particular sect, but, on the contrary, was continually wandering from chapel to chapel, and from one sect to another. He was first an Antibnrgher,. and decently went with his wife and daughters to be edified under the plain and pithy, but rather homely, ministrations of Mr. James Templeton, the Seceder minister of Belmont Street. But he soon tired of this, and walked off alone to wait upon the ministry of Mr. Lawrence Glass, a burgher minister of the Old Light. He did not remain long under the ministry of Mr. Glass, who was both a profound divine and a preacher of great unction and power, but he finally joined the Independents, and became the regular hearer of Dr. Philip of the Laigh Kirk, one of their ablest and most talented preachers, who afterwards went as a missionary to Cape Town.

During this session, too, some of my fellow-students and I made an expedition to a manganese mine, near (3randholm, when we were interested to note, close by, the site of the great battle of Ilarlaw.
The only public event during this session was the death of William Pitt, on the '23rd of January, 1806. The recent defeat at Austerlitz, with its disastrous consequences on the health, and finally the life, of this illustrious man, was the conversational topic with every one, and, among others, with the students of the colleges. I recollect talking of it with a simple Sutherlandshire student from Invershin, who, not knowing exactly the difference between a minister of State and a minister of the Gospel, gravely asked me what parish in England bad become vacant by the Prime Minister's death.

On the closing (lay Professor Beattie, in giving his last lecture, was so deeply affected, that he could scarcely articulate his parting word, "valette." Next day a number of the students from the north began their journey homewards, starting about six o'clock in the morning. James Campbell, John Anderson from Elgin, and a fellow-townsman of his, one James MacAndrew, a very young man little more than twelve years of age, but who, notwithstanding, had that year finished-his college course, and James Bayne, eldest son of the late Dr. Ronald Bayne of Kiltarlity, and myself, all set out together. Our first stretch was from Aberdeen to Keith, a most overwhelming journey for one day, being little less than .0 miles. I was most grievously tired before I reachea my resting-place for the night, and, when, I did, could neither eat nor sleep. The present turnpike road from Aberdeen to Thurso, the Ultima Thule of the five northern counties, did not then exist, and no part of the old road could be more rugged than that from Huntly to Keith. After leaving the little dram-house of Benshole in the glen of Foudland, the wretched, floundering track crossed a bleak hill, and then came stumbling down a steep, miry slope immediately to the east of the straggling village of Keith. On this road, in the olden times, horses have sunk to the very girths in mud.

During the summer I was appointed parochial schoolmaster of Loth. I resided with Mr. Gordon the minister, whose wife was my second cousin, and the daughter of the venerable Thomas Mackay of Lairg. I remember yet my scholars, my difficulties, my weariness, and longings for home, to which I made many Saturday journeys across the Crask, and where I often remained too long into the ensuing week. It was in this year that the great county roads were begun, and I had great interest in tracing their progress through Sutherlandshire. Instead of straggling along the sea-shore, the new line swept along the base of the hills in an almost straight course.

My attendance at college during the third session I shall dismiss in a few sentences. Patrick Copland, the professor of natural philosophy, under whom I chiefly studied this year, was the most efficient of the public teachers of Marischal College. He was a very handsome man both as to face and figure; his wife was a neat, demure, pretty little woman. They had three sons and one daughter. His knowledge of the beautiful and extensive science which he taught was rather superficial, He was, however, both an elegant lecturer and an expert mechanic, and thus made the study most interesting to us. The science he divided into four great branches, viz., the mechanical philosophy, chemistry, the animal economy, and the vegetable economy. The first of these constituted the substance of his lectures; this subject he subdivided into six subordinate branches, mechanics strictly so called, hydrostatics or the doctrine of fluids, comprehending hydraulics and pneumatics, electricity, magnetism, optics, or the doctrine of light and astronomy. He did not dictate a syllabus of his lectures as the other professors did; but I took very full notes whilst he spoke on each of these branches, as well as copies of his drawings, diagrams, mathematical figures, machine models, etc., all which I digested, when at leisure, into a very full manuscript of three large 8vo volumes, with plates of my own drawing.

After my third session at college I resumed my labours at the school of Loth, but I did not long continue there. I must confess that I had not been very assiduous in the discharge of the duties devolving upon me, having ever had a natural repugnance to the drudgery of teaching and being neither attracted nor reconciled to it by the circumstances in which I found myself placed. The accommodations provided, the small amount of salary, and the irregularity with which the fees were paid, and above all, the character of my patron, the parish minister, combined to increase my dislike to my calling. Mr. Gordon was, as a preacher, sound and scriptural, and a lively and animated speaker, but his mind and spirit were thoroughly secularised, and this great moral defect palpably exhibited itself in his week-day conduct. My remembrance of him is both painful and bitter. He was even then indulging in habits which brought him to the grave about the close of the year 1822. The only one of his family who survives is his eldest son Charles, at present minister of Assynt. [Mr. Charles Gordon ways ordained minister of Assynt on 22nd Sept., 1825. —Ed.] Among my acquaintances at Loth were Colonel Cluness of Cracaig, Mrs. Gray of Kilgour, and George Munro of Whitehill.

Colonel Cluness was the lineal descendant of a family of that name who were formerly proprietors of a small estate in the Black Isle of Ross-shire. After the sale of his property the colonel's grandfather came to Sutherlandshire, and, being a man of skill and experience in country business, became the Earl of Sutherland's factor. His residence was at one of Lord Sutherland's seats, the castle of Cracaig in the parish of Loth. That baronial mansion was demolished and burned during one of the rebellions, and a less imposing manor-house was built in lieu of it, which the factor's descendants, down to my day, continue to occupy. Colonel Cluness' father was usually styled "Bailie Cluness," and flourished during the Scottish troubles of 1745. A passage in his life, during these turbulent times, handed down by popular tradition, now occurs to me. In the glen of Loth, and nearly at the centre of it, two burns meet almost at right angles. The larger stream runs through the whole length of the glen, the lesser joins it at the angle already mentioned; the mountains tower up on all sides of the streams, and in every direction, to the height of nearly 2000 feet. On an eminence close by the junction of the streams are three or four standing stones, grey with the moss of ages, the memorials either of the rites of the Druids or of the invasions of the Norsemen. A spot about a quarter of a mile above these monuments, at a bend of the burn, was the scene of a deed of blood and treachery, perpetrated during the memorable year of 1745-46, with which Bailie Clunass was innocently associated. Two young men, one the son of an Episcopal minister, the other of a Highland chief, both of whom were engaged in the rebellion, had escaped from the field of Culloden, and directed their flight northwards towards the counties of Sutherland and Caithness. They had gone as far as Thurso, when, understanding that the vigilance of Government in the pursuit of the fugitive rebels had relaxed, they ventured to return through the mountains homewards. The Government, however, had held out a reward for the apprehension of the insurgents, and the course of these unfortunates, ever since they crossed the Ord of Caithness and entered the county of Sutherland, was dogged by two or three men from Marril and Helmisdale. These fellows, under pretence of being their guides, took them to this fatal and gloomy spot where, rejecting all overtures of escape, or of surrender on condition of sparing their lives, the ruffians murdered them in cold blood. After these ruthless homicides had perpetrated the bloody deed, they came to Cracaig, and gave some dark and mysterious hints to Bailie Cluness of the tragedy which they had enacted, with a view to receive the promised reward. The humane and right-minded magistrate, however, no sooner penetrated into their design than, after expressing his abhorrence of their cold-blooded ferocity, and warning them of the moral consequences of what they had done, he ordered them out of his presence. Bailie Cluness left a numerous family, but of only two of them have I ever heard anything, and these were his eldest two sons, Gordon and John. Gordon was the Col. Cluness of Cracaig of my day. He married a daughter of Gordon of Carrol, by whom he had three sons and five daughters. Their eldest son was Archibald, who went to the West Indies, where he died. William. their second son, was in the army, and rose to the rank of Major, when he sold out, and lived at Cracaig after the death of his brother, and subsequently of his father, of whom, of all his sons, he was the only survivor. Major William Cluness was a gigantic, handsome, soldierly-looking man, of a truly noble countenance. After his father's death, lie was among the first who took extensive sheep-farms in the parish of Kildonan, on account of which hundreds of the natives of the soil were all summarily expelled during the first Sutherland clearances. That whole extent of country, from the lower part of the Strath of Kildonan to Cnoc-au-Eireannaich on the boundaries of Caithness, constituted the store-farm of Major Cluness. He never married, and died in 1829. His nephew, Innes of Thrumster, succeeded to his lease of Cracaig. Col. Cluness' youngest son, Gordon, rose in the army to the rank of Captain, but lie too sold out, and came to reside at his father's farm. He afterwards leased the farm, and commenced working it according to the new system. Poor Gordon Cluness died a fearfully sudden death. The local militia were embodied at Darnoch under the command of Lieut.-Col. the Earl Gower, and in it Gordon Cluness held rank as Captain. When they were disbanded for the year he, in company with William Gordon of Dalcharn, a brother officer, proceeded homewards. They left l)ornoeh after breakfast, and in the afternoon arrived at Uppat House, the seat of William Munro of Achany, where they remained for dinner. After dining, Captain Cluness rose to go away. His intention to leave that evening was strenuously resisted by his host and by all present. Not only had he indulged too freely after dinner, but he rode a full-bred English hunter which, without being urged by whip or spur, would of his own accord devour the way. Resisting all importunities, he insisted on having his fiery steed led to the door, when he mounted and set out at full gallop. Gordon, intending to follow, could scarcely come within sight of him. Coming full speed down upon Brora bridge, which crosses the river at almost a right angle with the road, and the parapets of which were then scarcely a toot and a half in height, Cluness was flung from the saddle over the parapet into the river, there at least 50 feet deep. He sank to rise no more. The overseer of the salmon-fishing at Brora had uniformly made it a practice, as well as a pastime, every evening to pass and repass with his coble under the bridge. On that fatal evening, however, he had remained at home, busily engaged in perusing the newspaper. Had he been present he might easily have saved the wretched man's life, as the overseer was one of the best swimmers in the north of Scotland.

Col. Cluness' eldest daughter married one Inns, an officer of excise, or gauger. By the death of several wealthy relations, he realised a considerable fortune, resided for many years at the Castle of Keiss, which, with the farm, he rented from Sir John Sinclair, and ultimately became the proprietor of Thrumster. When at Loth I saw several of his sons, particularly William and Gordon, both of whom were afterwards killed during the Peninsular war. Cluness' second daughter married John Reid, surveyor of taxes for the counties of Caithness and Sutherland; and his third became the second wife of Mr. Robert Gun, minister of Latheron. His fourth daughter, Elizabeth, died at Clynemitton in 1837, unmarried; she suffered from kleptomania. Anne Cluness, the youngest of the family, was, during my residence at Loth, a dashing young woman, the reigning belle of the coast side of Suther- land. She married Joseph Gordon of Carrol [who died in 18", at the age of 80.—Ed.] and has a throng family. The old couple, Col. and Mrs. Cluness, when I was in Loth, lived in ease and affluence, and kept open table. The Colonel himself retained his rank as honorary commander of the Sutherland Volunteers. He was a chatty, kind old man, very much afflicted with gout, and very much addicted to swearing, both in Gaelic and English; an old chum and acquaintance of the late Sir Hector Munro, and a profound admirer of Elizabeth, Marchioness of Stafford. He died in 1818. Mrs. Cluness was a most kind, hospitable, and warm-hearted old lady. Her husband was as enthusiastically fond of her as she was of him, and as an helpmeet, for this world at least, he had every reason safely to trust her, for a more skilful manager of a household never existed. She ruled her servants with a prudence and sagacity beyond all praise—only now and then she was a little hot-tempered. Like Queen Bess, too, she not unfrequently let out the occasional sallies of her temper in something more tangible than words. Her usual weapon was her slipper, which she put in requisition against any of her female attendants who offended her, by throwing it directly at them. An Eppy Campbell was an important personage in the establishment, and enjoyed the confidence and approbation of her mistress, but even Eppy herself could not at all times escape the discipline of the slipper. On one occasion the old lady got very angry on some point of domestic management, and, as Eppy maintained her own side with not a little obstinacy, Mrs. Cluness' slipper was forthwith hurled against her. The old lady expected Eppy to do in such a case what all her women were enjoined to do on these occasions, viz., to pick up the slipper, and very respectfully return it to its owner. Eppy, however, adopted another method. Coolly taking up the missile, she bolted out at the door with it, and left the old lady to tramp shoeless through the house in quest of it. After her husband's death, Mrs. Cluness left Cracaig and came to reside in Edinburgh, where she died in 1830. My first recollections of her are seeing her, with her daughter Anne, at Kildonan when we were all children. Mrs. MacCulloch of Loth accompanied them, and one evening we were, along with Anne Cluness, busily employed in taking out of the river, immediately below the church, fresh-water mussels in quest of pearls.

Of John Cluness, who lived at Whitehill and Kilmot, and who died before I was born, I only know that he was the father of Medley, who married Captain Robert Mackay of Hedgefield, near Inverness, Araidh-chlinni's eldest son.

Mrs. Gray at Kilgour was another of my acquaintances at Loth. She was then a widow, but her maiden name was Nicholson, and she was a native of Shetland. Her father was the proprietor of Shebister; during the first year of my attendance at the hall in Edinburgh, I recollect seeing at her house there her nephew, Arthur Nicholson, the heir to the estate. Her husband, whom she survived for many years, was connected with my native county. He was a Mr. Walter Gray, whose ancestors had lived in the county of Sutherland for centuries. They derived from John, second son of Lord Gray of Foulis, who, having killed the constable of Dundee for insulting his father, fled his country, and came as a refugee to Ross-shire. There he succeeded by marriage to certain lands belonging to a branch of the clan Mackay, the "Siol Thomais"—who also were proprietors of the lands of Spinningdale, and others in the county of Sutherland lying on the Dornoch Firth. His descendants were subsequently, for generations, proprietors in that county. There were at least four different branches of them; Gray of Skibo, Gray of Criech, Gray of Lairg, and Gray of Bogart and Ardinns. The Grays of Creich and of Bogart were the subjects of two of Rob Donn's most withering satires, and with them Walter Gray, who was their contemporary and near relative, was connected. But he and his elder brother, Captain John Gray, were men of probity and honour; both were therefore exempted by the bard from the sweeping sarcasms with which he so mercilessly demolished the character of their near kinsmen, Robert of Creich and John of Rogart. I have a distinct, though distant, recollection of seeing Captain Walter Gray in his house at Kilgour. My acquaintance, Mrs. Gray, was his second wife. His first was a Miss Elizabeth Sutherland, daughter of James Sutherland of Langwell, Caithness, my stepmother's cousin-german. To her memory after her death, for she died at a premature age, the Reay Country bard composed a graphic and beautiful elegy. From the poet's description of the lady she must have rivalled at least, if she did not excel, in her personal attractions, my beautiful aunt and her cousin, Mrs. J. Gordon of Navidale. The only one of Walter Gray's family by this lady was his daughter Dorothea, whom I often saw at Kildonan, and who died at Wick unmarried. In regard to his domicile, Captain Gray was continually shifting. He resided at Rian, parish of Rogart, and, after his first wife's death, went to Langwell, the property meanwhile having been sold, and purchased by a brother, or a near relative of his own; then he went to Skibo, and at last to Kilgour, where he died. When he was at Langwell, the late eminent Mr. Hugh Mackay of Moy, already mentioned, who was missionary minister at Berriedale, Dirlot, and Strathhalladale, resided at his house. [Mr. Hugh Mackay, A.M., was ordained minister of Moy on 25th April, 1793. He died 7th March, 1804, aged 42 years.—Ed.] During my last year's residence at Loth, Mrs. Gray was residing at Kilgour with a numerous family of daughters. Her lease having expired, the Marquis of Stafford refused to renew it to her, but let it to Mr. William Pope, elder brother of Robert Pope of Navidale, who had lately returned from India. Mrs. Gray then went with her family, in 1808, to reside in Edinburgh.

William Pope, on taking the farm of Kilgour. began by projecting many improvements, few of which he was able to carry into effect. Iie had little capital with which to stock it, and at last he was under the necessity of resigning his lease. After his return from India, he lived at his brother's house at Navidale. He was a well-informed man, generous and kind, but rather extravagant and free in his life. After he left Kilgour, he came again to reside at Navidale till after Mr. and Mrs. Pope's death, when, reduced to poverty, he went to live at a small cottage at Gartymore, where he died in 1811.

The circle of society of the better classes in Loth at this period was, perhaps, as respectable as any of the same kind in all Scotland. They were the tenants or tackamen, to be sure, of the Marchioness of Stafford, but they were more on the footing of proprietors than of tenants. They were all, without exception, gentlemen who had been abroad, or had been in the army, and had made money. They had each of them, too, their sub-tenants, and their long leases or wadsets, in virtue of which they each had a vote in the county. Such, indeed, was the state of society throughout the whole county, more especially on the coast side of Sutherland, then and long previously, particularly so in the parish of Loth, which might not unjustly he regarded as an "urbs in rure." Their farms were not of very great extent towards the coast, so that their respective houses were in sight of each other. As in all human societies, however, under similar circumstance, but too much strife and petty jealousy existed among them. Capt. Baigrie and Mr. Pope, for example, although nearly connected by marriage, quarrelled, and during the whole course of their Iives never made it up. The inland parts of the county, too, abounded with tenants equally respectable in their own sphere, such as Mackay, Araidh-chlinni ; Gordon, Dalcharn; Gunn, Achaneccan; Gordon, Griamachdary; MacDonald, Polley; Mackay, Achoull; and many more whom I could mention. These men, though dwelling in houses or rather hovels of stone and turf, and speaking their native Celtic, yet had their subtenants, were the subsidary owners of vast tracts of moorland, were given to hospitality, were enlightened by divine truth, and knew their Bibles well, and to all comers and goers, from the highest to the lowest, could furnish a plentiful and hospitable table and lodgings. But, as I shall soon show, this high-souled gentry and this noble and far-descended peasantry, "their country's pride," were set at nought, and ultimately obliterated for a set of needy, greedy, secular adventurers, by the then representatives of the ancient Earls of Sutherland.

The widow and daughters of Air. MacCulloch, former minister of Loth, lived at Kilmote when I was at Loth. The old lady was very feeble, very good jiatured, very much addicted to tea, and exhibited all the loquacity incident to "narrative old age." Her daughter Bell was equally loquacious, and, although considerably advanced in years, had lost none of her tact in holding fast by the one side of an argument. Her sister Anne was an obsequious and zealous assentor to any side of an argument which to her appeared to he the strongest.

Mrs. Pope of Navidale had, as a family, two sons, Peter and George, and three daughters, Elizabeth, Isobel, and Roberta. The three young ladies reside at Navidale. Peter married his cousin, Miss Mary Mackay of Torboll; George also married a cousin, Miss Charlotte Baigrie of Midgarty, and both brothers, with their wives, went to India. Mrs. Pope died under an operation in Edinburgh, and her husband only survived her a few months. Mr. Pope, by his will, settled the lease of Navidale on Alexander Ross, his brother-in-law, until his eldest son Peter should come of age. Mrs. Gordon took charge of the orphans at Aberdeen, where they were educated.

In 1808 I left Loth to reside at Kildonan. About the end of November I went to Aberdeen, where I found almost everything suhjected to change. Mrs. Gordon had removed from Upper Kirkgate Street to the opposite side of Denburn, then consisting merely of a straggling house here and there, but now grown up into a very elegant street called Skene Terrace. I boarded in a house situated at the angle between Broad Street and the Upper Kirkgate. John Baigrie from Midgarty was my fellow-lodger. My attendance at college was, during this my fourth session, most uninteresting. I attended the Moral Philosophy class taught by Prof. G. Glennie, D.D. This reverend and learned person was possessed of the least possible measure of talent or imagination. Whatever knowledge he might possess, he was totally destitute of tact in so conveying it to others as either to arrest attention or excite interest. His lectures were the very essence of dulness, and were an ill-digested compilation of the sayings and discussions of more eminent men, particularly of Dr. Beattie, whom he had succeeded, and to whose daughter he was married. He also taught the second Humanity class, both Greek and Latin. His class, at the close of the session, received each of them the literary distinction of A.M. The graduation, as it was called, was a mere literary farce. The students were examined in Latin or some branch of moral science, but the questions and answers were dictated to us by the professor a week previously. On our repeating this well-conned catechism the Principal, Dr. Brown, rose up solemnly, and holding an old dusty piece of scarlet cloth in his right hand, whilst we all stood like so many wooden images before him, he went the whole round of us, and, touching our heads, dubbed each of us a Master of Arts. For this piece of literary mummery we had each of us to pay double fees to the professor of Moral Philosopy as the promoter, double fees also to the sacrist and janitor of the college, and half a guinea for a piece of vellum, on which a skilful penman had written the diploma in Latin for our academical houours, and to which was attached in a tin box the college seal. *

I returned home by land, and had as my fellow-traveller George Urquhart, only son of Mr. Alex. Urquhart, minister of Rogart. This young man was my second-cousin by his mother, who was the niece of the Rev. Thomas :Mackay of Lairg, my father's uncle. Mrs. Urquhart's father, a Mr Poison, had the farm of Easter-Helmisdale, previous to its occupation by Louis Houston. Miss Poison and her sister lived in it while Mr. A. Urquhart was missionary-minister of Achness, and it was during her residence there that she was married to Mr. Urquhart. They were a very odd couple. Mr. Urquhart, who died in 1812, was the the immediate successor of Mr. Eneas Macleod, minister of Rogart. Their family were short-lived. His son George succeeded him, in 1813, as minister of Rogart, but falling into bad health, he went to Italy. There feeling himself dying, he started for his native land, but died at sea off Marseilles in 1821. James Campbell, "mine ancient," was employed as his assistant during his absence, and married his youngest sister Johanna. On my father's decease, in 1824, Campbell was settled minister at Kidonan, and his mother-in-law, with her two only. surviving daughters, Mrs. Campbell and Elizabeth, went to reside at Kildonan. He had a family of three children. Mrs. Campbell died of consumption, and Elizabeth, always weak in her intellect, was found drowned, after being amissing for several days, in a pool in the upper end of Craig-an-fhithich'. George never married. Mr. Campbell demitted his charge in 1845, and died at Pictou, N.S., in 1859.

I had been only two months at home when proposals were made to me by Mr. William Smith, minister of Bower, [Mr. William Smith, A.M., was ordained minister of Bower on 6th May, 1781); he died 3rd June, 1846, in the 79th year of his age and 58th of his ministry. On 16th Jan., 1813, he married Ann Longmore, third daughter of Mr. John Sinclair of Barrock. She died in 1856.—Ed.] who was long acquainted with and attached to my father, to become schoolmaster of his parish. Some time thereafter I accepted of the situation, and accompanied by Robert Gunn, my father's servant, went to Bower round by the Ord of Caithness. We came the first night to Latheron manse, where I first saw and became acquainted with Mr. Robert Gun, the minister of that parish. [Mr. Robert Gun was ordained minister of Latheron 27th Sept., 1775; he died 29th Nov., 1819, in the 70th year of his age. His son Thomas, after having been schoolmaster of Latheron, was ordained minister of the quoad sacra parish of Keiss, near Wick, 24th Sept., 1829; in 1844 he became Free Church minister of Madderty in Perthshire, where he died at an advanced age.—Ed.] He was a thin, spare man, and at that particular period of his life, was fast falling into a gentle but decided and growing decline of nature, of which, in 1819, he died. His manners were those of a gentleman of the old school. He always met his guests at his entry door with his hat off to usher them into his house. He was not much of a favourite either with his parishioners or his heritors. He was rather a stiff, uninteresting preacher, peevish in his dispositions, and not a little fond of litigation, on account of which his beritors usually styled him Mr. Robert McProcess. He was, however, a sound although not an attractive preacher, and a strict disciplinarian; while it is hut doing him justice to say that his peevishness and love of litigation were in a great measure wrung from him by his people and heritors, consequent on their frequent disorderly and improper conduct. His heritors were, with one exception (Mr. Sheriff Traill), unruly and profligate. My cousin-german, John Gordon of Swiney, was at the very head of them. Mr. Gun prosecuted one and all of them, not only for repairs of church and manse, and augmentation of stipend, but also for the fines laid upon them in course of parochial discipline. The parishioners also were disorderly in their own way. They were much given to battery and bloodshed at markets, and afterwards to religious dissensions—particularly as the followers of Peter Stewart, who was a native of that county, and whose leading tenet was that the public ordinances of the gospel, as administered by the pastors of the Church of Scotland, should be openly and universally renounced by the people, on the ground that the Spirit of God had left the Church, and that it was doomed to destruction. On my arrival at his house that evening Mr. Gun received me with great kindness. He lived in the old manse whilst the new was building. He had been, for many years before, married to his third wife, and the children of his three wives were residing with him at the time. Their names were Cecilia, by his first wife Miss Henderson of Stempster; Gordon, William, and Mary, by his second wife Miss Cluness of Cracaig; Thomas, and Adam, by his third wife Miss Gun of Forres. On my telling where I was bound for he shook his bead doubtfully, and said that he much feared I should not find myself very comfortable when I arrived. His shrewd predictions were fully verified. When I arrived at the manse of Bower I found, first of all, that the minister was not at home. He had gone to the Assembly, and nobody could tell when he would return. 1 quartered myself in the meantime at his house until he should arrive. Nothing could be more dreary than the manse of Bower. Although considerably advanced in years, Mr. Smith was still a bachelor, and his domestic arrangements corresponded with his condition. The internal economy of the manse was placed under the absolute control of a still older maid than the owner was a bachelor. The agricultural authority was vested in—a bachelor also—a genuine Caithnessman, or it might be the descendant of a Norwegian boor. He was a vinegar-visaged, club-footed, conceited fellow who, without very well knowing why, assumed in his own proper province all the ignorant but absolute authority of a German innkeeper in the 15th century. I next discovered that my appointment to the school of Bower was a mere thought or capricious suggestion of Mr. Smith to my father in a private conversation, and that he had taken no legal steps nor even once consulted the heritors about the matter.

As there was no preaching at Bower, I walked on the Sabbaths to the neighbouring parishes. My first "Sabbath-day journey" was to Thurso. My relative and future father-in-law, Mr. Dlackintosh, was minister of this parish. I arrived about 11 o'clock, A.M., had no place to which to go but the inn, and, when the hour for public worship arrived, I went along with others into the church. Mr. Mackintosh preached first in Gaelic and then in English, within the old church, for the present elegant building was not then in existence. During the Gaelic service I got a seat., but when the English service commenced I was ousted from one seat to another until, at last, I found no rest for the "soles of my feet" but at the outside of the church altogether, so I walked off that afternoon to Bower. During the week-days I called upon the resident heritors, Mr. Sinclair of Barrock, Mr. Henderson of Stempster, and C'ol. B. Williamson of Banniskirk, as trustee and factor on the estate of Standstill. They all, without exception, told me that they knew nothing of my appointment as a parochial teacher, yet, with all the liberality of gentlemen, they assured me that they would neither cancel my appointment nor refuse to pay me my salary when demanded.

It was then I got acquainted with the late Mr. John Sinclair of Barrock, father of the present Sir John Sinclair, 6th Baronet of Dunbeath. The Sinclairs of Barrock are the oldest and most respectably descended of all that name in Caithness, being nearly connected with the noble family of Caithness, the powerful family of Freswick, and, as they have lately proved, with the knights-baronet of Dunbeath. tiV When I first called at Barrock House, I was civilly and even kindly received. It was about the dinner hour, and I was hospitably invited to partake. The old gentleman, a little before dinner, came into the parlour, saluted me politely, and after expressing his utter ignorance of my appointment, and his long and intimate acquaintance with Mr. Smith's peculiarities, entered warmly into politics, declared himself a Whig and a firm adherent of Mr. Fox, to whom he was attached from personal acquaintance, and personal favour with which the Right Honourable Secretary had honoured him. His family consisted of two young ladies arrived at their bloom, and two or three more of them below their teens. When dinner was served up a rather vulgar-looking person bustled in, moved to the head of the table, and set herself down in the hostess' chair. The young ladies eyed her with looks of scorn, and the old gentleman introduced her as Mrs. Sinclair. During dinner she spoke but little, for she had been a servant in the family establishment of Barrock house. In that humble sphere, however, she was able to attract the eye of her laird and master, and with such powerful effect as to make his attentions remarkable during his first wife's life-time, who was then in declining health, and but too soon after her death the menial became the second Mrs. Sinclair of Barrock.

I called at Stempster House. The laird was not at home, but was expected to dinner. His lady and eldest daughter, after a very polite reception and the offer of a glass of whisky, invited me kindly to wait his arrival. He did come, and I dined with him. I found him to be a plain, frank, and most gentlemanly man, full of kindly feeling, totally unaware of my appointment as parochial teacher, but utterly unwilling to give me any opposition. After calling upon Col. Williamson, who was my dear stepmother's near relative, and getting his consent also to my otherwise vague appointment, 1 returned home until Mr. Smith should come back from the Assembly. About the middle of October thereafter I was informed of his arrival, and again set out for Caithness by a short rugged track across the mountains, and, again accompanied by Robert Gunn, arrived at Bower on the evening of the same day. It was a distance of at least 36 miles, and in the course of this long journey we called at Braemore, at the house of one Jean Gunn, who had been for many years dairymaid at Kildonan during the days of my boyhood, had afterwards married one MacDonald from Skye, and resided in this place. Jean received me with tears of joy. The best viands were immediately produced, consisting of very thick cream mixed with oatmeal, which Jean called an "ollag."

I resided with Mr. Smith that winter and spring teaching the school. The winter and spring which I passed at the manse of Bower was to me perhaps the most disconsolate and disagreeable of any portion of the years of my life. Mr. Smith was capricious and eccentric, "unstable as water " also in all his plans, conferences, and habits. His meals were most extraordinary. To breakfast we had porridge and milk, and mustard seed mixed up with them. I now rather think that he furnished me with this extraordinary beverage in order the more speedily to weary me of living with him at the manse, which I perceived he neither relished, nor had at all calculated upon. [It is more probable as those acquainted with Mr. Smith's frugal habits know, that this was one of his usual, favourite diets. Another Scotch dish in great favour was aorrans—"a thick soup or jelly made from the husks or millings of oats —a very nutritious food, called hi huglaud flummery." (Stormonth).—Ed.] But the matter was brought at once to the issue in the ensuing summer when, one morning, having taken down a book placed on the mantelpiece to read it, I neglected to put it back again precisely in the place I had found it. He flew into a passion, and said that if I bad nothing else to employ me at his house but to put matters into confusion, the sooner I shifted my quarters the better. The hint was too broad not to be taken, and that day I took my lodgings in the house of his neighbour, Peter Keith, tasksman of Thura, where I remained until I got happily rid of the school of Bower.

My reminiscences at Bower go back to two or three individuals. The first is Mr. Stewart, whom I found a guest with Mr. Smith on the first night of my arrival. The young man was a preacher, and came to the county in the capacity of assistant to Mr. James Smith, minister of Canisbay, brother of the pastor at Bower. Mr. James had got disordered in his intellect, and therefore required an assistant. Mr. W. Smith, who was himself a most accomplished scholar, had a tolerably well-furnished library of books. Among others, he had "Whitaker's Life of Queen Mary," a strong defence of that unfortunate princess. As a devoted adherent, Stewart devoured the book, and afterwards quarrelled with many on the guilt or innocence of Queen Mary. Mr. Smith of Canisbay recovered in the course of a few years, and Mr. Stewart was consequently parted with. He afterwards became private tutor in a family at Gairloch, Ross-shire, when, in a fit of despondency, he drowned himself in Lochewe.

Dr. William Sinclair of Freswick was also another visitor at the manse of Bower. This most eccentric but highly-ingenious man was a relative of my own and of Mr. Smith of Bower. He was bred to the medical profession, and, had he turned his attention to it, would have attained eminence. His father was also a physician, and the country people, who recollected them both, called the elder the Red Doctor, and the younger "the Black Doctor," from the respective colours of their hair. Dr. William, "the Black Doctor," was an impersonation of erudition and eccentricity. He and Mr. Ross of Clyne were fellow-students, and also fellow-combatants against the mob both at Aberdeen and at Thurso. On the death of John of Freswick, who lived at Dunbeath, and was famous for the gift of second sight, Dr. William Sinclair succeeded as heir to his estates in Caithness. By living long the life of a bachelor, and by penurious habits, he saved so much money as greatly to augment his already extensive property. At one time, and in some one of his numerous manors, he used to lie in bed for weeks and even months, sleeping away the most of his time, and living on cold sowans, having no other attendant but an old woman, as eccentric as himself, and well known in the neighbourhood of Dunbeath as "Black :Nance." When he chose to eat, the meagre diet of sowans was served up to him, and what he left of it, which often was little enough, for he had a voracious appetite, Black Nance got, and this she gobbled up at the fireside in his bed-room, whilst he again betook himself to his slumbers. Her very slender portion, however, of the meagre fare BIack Nance often attempted to increase by a secret application to the cask where the sowaus was stored up, on the presumption that her master was asleep. She was, however, very frequently and rather unpleasantly convinced of her mistake in this last particular. Freswick shut his eyes but kept awake, all the while watching the movements of his house-keeper, and having at his side in bed a black stick of more than ordinary length; so that when Black Nance had arrived at the cask, and was in the act of stretching out her hand to denude it of so much of the contents as might eke out what she lacked of her evening meal, she was promptly reminded of the illegality of her attempt by a sudden and rather smart application on the crown of her head of the black stick, by her apparently slumbering master. Foiled in this attempt to better her commons, she went out among the people, complaining most bitterly to them of her master for starving her. Some of them used to give her heels of old cheeses which she most thankfully received, and carefully secreted from her master's eye, but which, after he fell asleep, she roasted at the fire, and joyfully regaled herself with. One evening, after making a very tolerable repast on the heel of a kebbuck, just as she was about half through with it, she herself fell asleep. Freswick smelt, if he did not exactly see, what was going on, and getting up whilst she was asleep, took it out of tier lap, and ate it. When she awakened her first search was for the cheese, but it was gone. "Ah," said she, shaking her fist at the sleeper, "I even dreamt that the black dog was upon me." At other times Freswick could travel all over the country on foot, and quarter himself on every family whom he thought he could impose upon. With Smith of Bower and old John Cameron of Halkirk he lived at free quarters for many months. At last he took a fancy for the married state, and, being often at Barrock, the whole country had it that Miss Jean Sinclair, Barrock's second and very handsome daughter, was to be his wedded wife. But going to Edinburgh, he there fell in with a Miss Calder of Lynegar, whom about three weeks after their first introduction to each other he made his wife. He had three children by tier, the eldest of whom was a son and heir to the estate of Freswick. Mrs. Sinclair died soon after the birth of her last child, and her husband was inconsolable. He soon rallied, however, and in a very few years turned again to her whom everyone concluded to be his first choice, via., Miss Jean Sinclair of Barrock. They were married; and whilst Mrs. Sinclair insisted that he should reside permanently at Dunbeath Castle, he insisted on repairing his father's old domicile at Thurso, and residing there. There they did reside, and there both Mrs. Sinclair and he terminated their earthly existence. Mrs. Sinclair died first. Freswick, and one of his daughters by her, as also his eldest son by his first marriage, survived her. He lived to the age of 90. During his last illness he continued to be active and anxious about the passing things of time. All the inland and mountainous parts of Dunbeath he converted into a sheep-walk, took it into his own bands, and turned out a numerous tenantry. Whilst on his death-bed, and conscious of the injuries he had inflicted, he used to say, "Sandy Gair, the godly man, has been telling the people that `the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof,' but I'll show him and them that Dunbeath is not the Lord's but mine." The hour of his dissolution, however, at last came. He himself, from his medical skill, was fully aware of its approach. His more intimate friends were assembled around his dying lied. He told them that he had not full ten minutes to live, but that he was resolved as he had lived so would he die. He called for a glass of port wine. "Now," said he, "gentlemen, I wish you all a good night." He swallowed the bumper of port, leaned back on his pillow, and, after a few strong convulsive struggles, expired. Freswick was, in his personal appearance, above the ordinary size, exceedingly handsome, with a fine open countenance, but over which had been superinduced an expression of recklessness. The last time 1 saw him was at Thurso, at my father-in-law's house in 1828. He wandered up about 10 o'clock at night, anxious to have a chat about matters bygone, for he was a great antiquary. Mr. Mackintosh did not wish to encourage him, and, after a few civil words, left us both, and went to lied. About an hour afterwards I got him away, and accompanied him to his own door.

Another of Mr. W. Smith's visitors, whilst I lodged with him, was Captain Wemyss of Standstill. He dined one day at the manse. He was then unmarried and very handsome. His mother, the heiress of Southdun, was living and residing at Standstill. Afterwards he formed an attachment to, and subsequently married, a Miss Harriet Dunbar, second daughter of Sir Benjamin Dunbar of Hempriggs. They had a son and two daughters, the one married Mr. Sinclair of Forse, the other Mr. Robert Innes of Thrumster. Poor Captain Wemyss got deranged, from which he never fully recovered, except at brief intervals. Having retired to private life, and taken lodgings on the banks of the Solway, he went out one day, in a fit of insanity, to walk on the sands at ebb-tide, but, neglecting to return in time, before the tide came in with its usual well-known speed, he was overtaken and drowned.

I left Bower in 1811, and went to Stempster in the capacity of private tutor. I do not remember the length of time I resided at Stempster, but of my intercourse with the family, and of the public and private events involved in that period of my life, I have a distinct recollection. Mr. Henderson of Stempster and his lady were a very amiable couple. Mr., or Captain Henderson, as he was usually called from his holding that rank in the local militia of the county, was a plain, unassuming, upright country gentleman, the proprietor of an estate which realised between £300 and £400 per annum, the best part of which he personally farmed. In his younger years Mr. Henderson served as midshipman on board the "Royal George," afterwards lost in port. His father died, not an old man, and he succeeded to his patrimonial inheritance when comparatively young. He married, in the year 1787, a Miss Duthy, daughter of Mr. Duthy of Arduthy in the "How of the llearns." Soon after his marriage he took the farm of Tister in his immediate neighbourhood, and on such terms that he could easily enough have become the proprietor. By the profits of the farm he was enabled to improve his estate, to build a manor-house, and to lay up the balance as bank stock at Thurso. A bank-agent of the neighbourhood was, before his appointment, obliged to find securities. Unfortunately for Captain Henderson he became one of them, and in consequence his money was lost. Mrs. Henderson was amiable and good-looking. While fond of argument on any subject, she had a tender conscience on religion. They had nine children—sons and daughters. David, the eldest son, was then in the army and in Spain. Alexander, their second son, also got a commission in the army, and having, with many of his brother officers, been put on board an old leaky transport, he was wrecked and drowned. William got into the navy, and has, since then, by his merit and gallantry, risen to distinction. Margaret, the eldest daughter, was then a Iively young lady of nineteen, the image of her father. The rest of the family, Mary, Johan, James, and Peter were my pupils. My recollections of the treatment I met with from members of the family of Stempster are most pleasing. As parents they were both judicious and affectionate, as children docile and submissive. In the discharge of my duties as teacher, however, I never had reason to be satisfied with myself. I regret how little I then made the instruction of my pupils a matter of conscience before God, and how my natural heat of temper disqualified me from being a successful teacher of youth. Indeed, I must note this period of my life as that during which I was least tinder the influence of divine truth. It was not merely that I was not religious, but I was an enemy to religion, and my hostility to it rested solely on the ground of the stern and uncompromising opposition which its pure precepts uniformly gave to my own corrupt nature and propensities. In this hopeless state of mind, too, I was confirmed by everything around me. Religious truth, as publicly taught in two of the neighbouring parishes at which we attended on alternate Sabbaths, rather confirmed me in, than convinced me of, my moral obliquities. Mr. Smith, the minister of one of these parishes, was both a talented man and an accomplished scholar. But his religion, both in the pulpit and out of it, was, at best, but the mere caprice of the moment. He had, in his public prayers, a volubility and variety of words and expression, and even of ideas, such as they were, which bad nothing of the spirit of devotion. No one could ever have conceived that he was addressing his Creator, but rather that lie was exhibiting like a mountebank on the boards of a platform. Then, in his sermons and expository Iectures on scripture, he was always straining after something curious, or sarcastic, or puzzling, or even profane. There was no unction, no edification, no solemnity, not even sound scripture doctrine, but a sort of nondescript jumble of everything that might be said or fancied on the text, however in themselves either absurd or contradictory. Then his private devotions, as well as conversations with his people, were equally frivolous and flighty. He had an odd habit of marching down from his house to the church, at a certain fixed hour in the evening, both in summer and winter, for the purpose of reading, or rather chanting aloud and alone, the Hebrew Psalter, concluding the whole with a long prayer, which he uttered aloud. The locality about the manse and church was exceedingly wet in winter, and cut up in all directions with quagmires of very considerable depth. On one occasion, and in the pitchy gloom of a December night, I saw him coming in at his door, covered over from his crown to his feet soles with slime, and exhibiting the most grotesque and ludicrous appearance imaginable. The cause of the mishap was that, whilst engaged in church in the dark, he had been suddenly interrupted by some urchins who had crept up on the church couples, and in the love of fun had, right above him, uttered some unearthly yells. This so terrified him that he rushed out at the church door, and in passing through the gate of the churchyard, he stumbled headlong into a deep ditch crossing it at the threshold, whence, after floundering about in order to get to his legs again, he came home at last in the plight already mentioned. If any of his parishioners conversed with him on light or secular subjects, he changed the conversation at once into that of a grave and solemn cast; and if any of them spoke to him about the state of their minds, or the concerns of their souls, he turned the whole at once into a jest. His co-presbyter, Mr. John Cameron of Halkirk, was his twin brother in levity and folly. I have already twice made mention of him. But whilst at Stempster I was often his hearer. Nothing could be more irreverent or unedifying than his appearance in the pulpit. He had a stuttering, rapid utterance, slurring his words so much as to make them unintelligible, or, if they were understood, they were so perfectly ludicrous as often to set his audience a-laughing. He usually read his English sermons. The manuscripts were at least 40 years old, the crude lucubrations of his younger years, whilst the deep yellow hue of the leaves, and their tattered and rounded corners, bore occular testimony to their antiquity. He was diminutive in person, had an ill-combed shock of grey hair coming down on his forehead and shoulders, with a countenance strongly expressive of levity, drollery, profanity, and folly. He died at the manse of Halkirk, on the 8th of Dec., 1822, at the advanced age of 88. Under the ministrations of two such men, from the existing state of my own mind, I had no prospect or opportunity of improvement, and religion, distasteful to myself, was thus presented to me in the very light which of all others was most calculated to make it more so. Besides, the family at Stempster, although naturally as amiable, kind, and hospitable as all their intimates and friends could wish them to be, were destitute of even the forms of either personal or family devotion. They did not relish their parish minister; their discontent did not arise from any want which they discovered in him of fidelity and spiritual power as a preacher, but because they considered him, as the laird often pronounced him to be, "a wrong-headed man." The society in which they moved was also worldly and secular. Religion was never mentioned except to sneer at, or to argue against.

The families and individuals with whom I became acquainted at Stcmpster I can but cursorily mention. All the clergy without exception I both knew and visited. Mr. Sutherland of Wick, a hospitable landlord, his amiable wife, and their two daughters, Misses Mary and Margaret; Mr. Macintosh of Thurso, my future father-in-law, his wife, and then very young family, of whom my present wife was one; Mr. Jolly of Dnnnet, whom I often visited on Saturday, remaining until Sabbath afternoon to meet John Dunn, my old college companion whom I had formerly known in Sutherland, when tutor at Wester. Helmisdale, and who, afterwards, became parochial schoolmaster at Dunnet. Mrs. Jolly brought her husband a large family of sons, with each and all of whom I became acquainted. The late Mr. George Mackenzie of Olrig, Mr. David Mackay of Ilcay, Mr. Alexander Gunn of Watten, and Mr. James Smith of Canisbav were acquaintances at whose manses I was often kindly received and hospitably entertained. The laity whom I met as guests at Stempster or elsewhere were, the present Earl of Caithness, then Lord Berriedale, Sheriff Traill, his sons and daughters, Col. Williamson, who then resided at Oldfield, near Thurso; Mr. Tunes of Sandside; Mr. John Miller, merchant at Thurso, who was married to a sister of the minister of Bower, and his brother, Donald Miller, tacksman of Skinnet. I also met Captain Swanson at Gerston, a laughing, jovial fellow; John Horne of Stirkoke; Bailie \facLeay at Nick; Major Williamson at Reiss; George Sinclair Sutherland at Brabster; and I)r. Henderson of Clyth. With Mr. John Gordon of Swiney, my cousin-gerrnan, I of ten spent days and weeks at his house in Caithness, and afterwards at Fortrose. Of Mr. Gordon my recollections both at Swiney and at Fortrose, are most vivid He was well-informed, and had travelled much on the continent. He resided at Fortrose for some time to get his children educated. Whilst there his second daughter Catherine died, and his third daughter Fairly married one Young, then Town-clerk, and in good circumstances. Swiney himself died at his own house in 1825. I remained about two years at Stempster. My father visited me whilst there. He spent a day at Stempster. His sound, Christian advice to me on that occasion I still reverentially remember. Mr. Milne, then schoolmaster at Wick and a I.reacher, who afterwards married a daughter of Mr. Sutherland of Wick, often officiated for Mr. Smith during his absence. Mr. Milne was a dull, evangelical, but unmeaning preacher—a mere gospel parrot. lie afterwards, on the death of Mr. James Smith, became minister of Canisbay. Mr. Wm. Munro, schoolmaster at Thurso, also frequently officiated for the minister of Bower. He was a native of Reay, and had, with many others, been aided in the prosecution of his studies by the worthy and philanthropic Mr. David Mackay, minister of that parish.

The public events during my residence at Stempster were the Spanish war and the campaigns of the Duke of Wellington. Stempster's eldest son was in the Duke of Wellington's army, and the progress of the campaign, its bloody contests, and its doubtful issue, filled his parents with the most intense anxiety. Col. Williamson's two sons were also thare—Duadd and Jamas, both of whom were killed, the one at Burgos, the other at Badajoz. Captain Donald Williamson, the elder son, I have seen at Stempster, a most elegant youth, but thoughtless and extravagant. He soon afterwards joined his regiment in Spain. His brother was killed as he was cheering on his men to the assault at the scige of Burgos. He himself fell at Badajoz in a forlorn hope expedition for which he volunteered his services. Captain Sinclair Davidson, the eldest son of Mr. Davidson of Bukkies, Sir John Sinclair's quondam factor, fell in the Spanish war, with many more of the natives of Caithness.


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