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Parish Life in the North of Scotland
Chapter XII - Aberdeen and Edinburgh; Divinity Halls


1809-1813.

DURING the period of my residence in Caitlniess, I attended the Divinity Hall in Aberdeen, and after I left Caithness entirely, I attended the Hall in Edinburgh. My first session in Diviuity was in the winter of 1809, during my sojourn at Bower. My first outset was very unpropitious. I set off from Bower in company with John Dunn as my fellow-student and travelling companion. My half-year's salary to clear expenses I had collected from the heritors; this amounted, with as much of school-fees as I could gather, to £10. The better to secure it, I sewed up the notes between two pieces of pasteboard, and deposited the packet in my waistcoat pocket. Mr Dunn and I travelled on foot all the way to Aberdeen, and it was about the latter end of December that we arrived, on the first night of our journey, at a small inn on the Causewaymire road, called Achavannaich, through a perfect tempest of drift and snow. In the evening, after dinner, I went out to view the night,, and, totally unconscious of my loss, dropped my cash-case in the dark, and came in again. We set off next morning very early, and, owing to the heavy fall of snow, with great difficulty we arrived at Berriedale inn. .Just as we were going to bed did I miss my case. I searched my clothes, it was not to be found. I appealed to John Dunn in my perplexity; he knew nothing about it, the subject not having been hinted to him before. My last resource was to search my recollections, and at once it occurred to me that I had lost my money in my night ramble, and that I had nothing better for it than to start for Achavannaich at peep of day, whilst John Dunn was to await my return. After passing an almost sleepless night I did so. But it was labour in vain, and I came back, on the evening of next day, to Berriedale, only just as wise as I went, minus my ten pounds. What was to be done I knew not, hut, at my fellow-traveller's suggestion, it was arranged that both of us should proceed on our journey as far as Helrnisdale, and that there he and I should separate for a time; I to proceed to my father's at Kildonan to get the money replaced, and he-to wait for me at the house of his former host, "Sauey Ross," at Helmisdale. This plan was strictly put in execution. We proceeded next day, notwithstanding the continuance of the storm, and in spite of a hard frost during the night, which put us both in the morning in imminent peril of our lives. It was in crossing the Ord in Caithness where the road in those days crept along the very edge of the precipice. Both my fellow-traveller and lost our footing, slipped upon the ice, rendered still more slippery by a coating of snow which it had received that morning, and fell flat on the very brink of the precipice. We gathered ourselves up again in fear and trembling; it was certainly one of those occasions during the course of my life in which I felt the fears of death upon me. We parted at Helmisdale, and, on my arrival at my father's, nay pecuniary embarrasment was soon removed by the friendly interposition of kind Captain Baigrie, who, on my application, gave me an order on his friends the Forbeses in Aberdeen. In company with old Henry, the carrier at Helmisdale' John Dunn and I met and prosecuted our journey, without further interruption, to Aberdeen.

The Divinity Chair at Marischal College was then filled by Dr. William Laurence Brown, Principal of that University; whilst that of Kinds College was occupied by Dr. Gilbert Gerard. I had, in some measure, become acquainted with Dr. Brown during my attendance at the philosophy classes. He was a learned man. Previous to his appointment at Aberdeen, in the threefold office of Principal of M1.arischal College, professor of divinity, and minister of Greyfriars' he lectured in Latin in some University in Holland. [William Laurence Brown, D.D., was born in Utrecht in 1755. He became minister of the English Church, and professor in the University of Utrecht. In consequence of the war which followed the French Revolution, he was obliged to leave Holland, and in 1795 was appointed Professor of Divinity in Marischal College and Principal of the University. He died in 1830.—Ed.] His father, one of the professors of St. Andrews, was remarkable for a rather clever bon, snot which he uttered at one of the University dinners. One of his colleagues, after dinner, with all due gravity, having proposed as a toast "the Arts and Sciences," Dr. Brown responded by drinking, to "their absent friends." His son was inflamed with a love of ostentation —Dr. Campbell, his predecessor, was a great controversialist, Principal Brown must be so too—Dr. Beattie was a poet, and immortalised himself by his "Minstrel" and "Hermit," Principal Brown must outdo him, and accordingly he composed his poem of "Philemon." The idlest striplings about college attempted to vie with each other in the perfection with which they mimicked the Highlanders, but they too had a formidable rival in the Reverend the Principal of the College, who endeavoured to equal and excel them. His lectures on theology were vague and indefinite. He had a course of lectures on the whole system, measured out so as to meet the course of the students' attendance at the hall, viz., four full successive sessions. I attended his lectures for four sessions, two partial and two full, but I never yet could precisely ascertain where they began or where they closed. I never heard from his lips three consecutive sentences illustrative of any of the doctrines of the Bible; and I can conscientiously say that I never beard him pronounce, even once, the name of Jesus Christ in his lectures during my four years' attendance at the hall; a wordy torrent of controversy, a mere "beating of the air," uttered with an ostentatious display of oratory and fine writing, was perpetually his mode of dealing with his theme. Then he had other exercises in the hall, viz., to pronounce judgment on the sermons of the students. The practice in the theological seminaries of Scotland in those days was that, when a student of theology delivered any piece of trial, whether homily, lecture, exegesis, or exercise and addition, not only the professor, but the divinity students were called on to give their opinion on the manner and ability with which he had handled his subject. To this practice Dr. Brown rigidly adhered. The remarks of the students were usually on those pieces of trial delivered in their vernacular which they could best understand, and were in general very superficial, suggested more by prejudice or partiality than by knowledge or sound judgment. The Rev. Doctor himself brought up the rear. His remarks were chiefly, if not entirely, strictures on composition or pronunciation, in which he prided himself as having exquisite taste. 'The doctrine of the discourse, however, the learned professor seldom noticed. One solecism, or two or three ill-pronounced words, were sufficient to put the doctrine, whether Scriptural or anti-Scriptural, Popish or Protestant, entirely out of his head, and to make him pass it over as of comparatively little moment. The students who, year by year, constituted his class, presented a melancholy and dreary prospect as the rising generation of ministers. Their attainments, their exhibitions, their habits and conduct, as aspirants to the ministry, were, particularly during my first year at the Hall, miserable in the extreme. Many of them could not put three consecutive sentences together in prayer without having them written down, and placed in the bottom of their hats; they then read them aloud with all the outward semblance of devotion. When an exegesis was delivered—usually on some given subject of polemical theology, illustrated in the Latin tongue—Dr. Brown, observing the usual practice, called upon the students to deliver their opinions. But as these opinions could only be expressed in the language in which the exegesis was delivered, the doctor's call was usually responded to by a prudent silence. He then proceeded to pronounce upon the subject his own verdict, characterised indeed by its usual want of depth, but expressed in Latin which was at once fluent, classic, and elegant. This latinity had all the native ease of a living language, and George Buchanan could not have expressed himself more accurately. The invitation to the students of theology to deliver their opinions in Latin I never knew to have been complied with but once, and that was by fir. Robert Gordon, one of the teachers of the Perth Academy, who, at once accepting the challenge, for it was little less on the part of the learned Principal, in a short, luminous and pointed criticism, far exceeded the doctor in depth, and almost equalled him in the elegance of his style. This Mr. Gordon also delivered a discourse—a close and most consummate piece of reasoning—but the most perfectly free from the slightest allusion to the gospel of anything of the kind. Afterwards he became minister of Kinfauns, in the neighbourbood of Perth, and there, through the instrumentality of his excellent wife, he experienced a thorough change of views and of heart. He is now advanced in years, and is the eminent and pious Dr. Robert Gordon of Edinburgh. Dr. Brown, not content with the three offices which he already held, conjoined with them a fourth, sue 8ponte, viz., that of teacher of elocution. For this purpose, after his theological prelection was concluded, he made the students by turns read a piece of English in order to correct them in pronunciation, attitude, tones of voice, etc.; and after the student had read the piece prescribed, the doctor himself read it over again in order to hold up to our view the faultless model which it would be our duty to imitate. He had a peevish expression of countenance, and an unceasing cough. In church politics, he was of the evangelical party, but in his preaching he was a genuine Arminian moderate.
Dr. Gerard, Professor of Divinity in King's College, was associated with Dr. Brown in teaching the theological classes, and the students attended his lectures on Tuesdays and Fridays during the session. The attendance at both Halls was rendered imperative by church law, but the prescribed pieces of trial were not on that account doubled, it being optional with the students to take out their discourses and deliver them before either of the professors. During the years of my attendance Dr. Gerard was in the decline of life. He succeeded his father in the theological chair—a man of considerable eminence, the author of some theological works, chiefly approved of for their literary merit. [Gilbert Gerard, D.D., born in Aberdeen, was for a few years minister of the Scotch Church, Amsterdam. In 1791 he was elected Professor of Greek in King's College; in 1795, appointed successor to his fattier in the Chair of Divinity; and in 1811, inducted to the Bid charge of Old Machar Church. In 1808 he published his principal work, entitled "Institutes of Biblical Criticism." He died in 1815.—Ed.]

My attendance at the Aberdeen Hall was of no benefit whatever to me; I knew nothing at all of theology or of the Bible, nor was I made to know anything of them by my public teachers. I am deeply to blame for this, but they are nearly as much so. The divinity session was only for three months, beginning about the end of December and terminating with the philosophical courses. Of my fellow-students I have now scarcely any recollection.

I attended the Divinity Hall for six sessions; the last two were at Edinburgh. I left Kildonan about the beginning of November to go to Edinburgh by land, and from Inverness to Perth I took a seat in a stage coach which had been started on that line of road. The Highland road by Drumuachdar was then in a wretched state, being the more skeleton of the military line made in 1746 by General Wade. The coach took two (lays from Inverness to Perth, a distance which the improved modes of travelling of modern times enable a stage-coach to perform in one. I had picked up as a fellow-traveller Mr. MacPherson of Belleville in Badenoch, nephew of the celebrated James MacPherson, translator of Ossian. He had occasion to go to Edinburgh, and the coach waited for and took him up at his own porter's lodge. We travelled together to Perth, stopping the first night at Dalwhiunie. When we arrived next evening at the "Salutation Inn" I prudently parted with my fellow-traveller, and decamped to a less costly hostelry. Next morning getting up early, with stick and bundle in hand, I began my journey to Edinburgh. Forty miles, however, on a short November's day, was something considerably more than a mere walk. Taking the old line of road from Perth to Kinross, for there was then none other, after breakfasting at the latter place, I did not arrive at Queensferry until near sunset, and after crossing the ferry, which occupied a considerable time, it was 'lark. The moon rose, however, as I advanced on my way to Edinburgh, but its light only served to increase my apprehension of assault and robbery. The road through which I passed was edged on each side, in one portion of it, with clumps of wood of considerable extent, at another with hedge-rows, and as I advanced, with palpitation of heart, at every new opening of the road I fancied I saw a fellow with fustian jacket and stern face, with pistol or cudgel in hand, advance upon me from the right or left. But it was all imagination. I was permitted to wend my weary way without molestation. When late at night I entered the suburbs of the city, I met a young fellow idling about, of whom I asked where I could get quiet lodgings at an inn. The honest fellow by a sort of instinct appeared at once to comprehend my case. "On," said he, "ye'll be ane o' the puir stoodents commn' to Edinberry. There's kindly folk in the High Street that keep a public in a sma' way; no stylish folk, ye ken; a' the horse-coupers and carriers put u{) at the hoose, and yell rind yourself quiet and comfortable." "Well," said I, "but where is the High Street?" "Ou,e ha' na been in Edinberry afore, then; weel, I'se gang wi ye mysel'y." So we trudged off together, and he showed me in at the door of the hostelry. It was exactly as he had described it—not stylish indeed, either as to the apartments, the furniture, or the fare. The house was the general resort of mechanics for that quarter of the town. They came hither to drink, and their beverages appeared to me not a little extraordinary. They began the potations by swallowing a glass of whisky, as a heater as they called it, and then, as a cooler after it, drank a bottle of two penny or small beer. I remained at the hostelry over Sabbath, and on Monday took lodgings in Rose Street. That day I entered the Divinity Hall.

The professor of theology was Dr. William Ritchie, formerly one of the ministers of Glasgow and an extreme Moderate. When in his parochial charge, from some probable leanings towards Episcopacy, he had introduced an organ into his church, for which he was so roughly handled, both by his congregation and his presbytery, that, like the mariners in a storm, "he wished for the day" in which a prospect of earthly emolument might take him elsewhere. The Moderates having then all the influence in Church and State regarding such a pointments, he was made professor in room of Dr. Hunter. On his appointment being made public, a ludicrous caricature was put forth by the celebrated Kay, in which he was represented as trudging on foot from Glasgow to Edinburgh with an organ on his back; and then stopping on that part of the road where Glasgow is seen for the last time, he is shown in the last part as playing on his organ, "I'll gang nae mair to you toon." When I came to Edinburgh he was both professor of divinity and one of the ministers of the High Church. On my entering the Wall the first day, after hearing his preliminary prayer and his lecture, both of which were very neat pieces of composition, I witnessed at the close a rather unusual scene. The doctor had just pronounced the apostolic blessing, when a fellow stood up and intimated that a meeting of the students was to be held within the hall on most important business inuned ately. Dr. Ritchie stared and appeared for the moment rather brow-beaten; but rallying immediately, he rose up in his desk, and authoritatively said, "Gentlemen, I hope you will all retire." The great majority of the students then moved off in a body. Not knowing at the time anything about the meaning of all this, I just joined with the majority, and walked out with them accordingly. As we were moving off, however, the insurgent student, availing himself of the time we took to get out, emptied his bile in most abusive terms against Dr. Ritchie; so much so, that the doctor was compelled to mingle with the retiring crowd to make his escape. As the last of us were wending out at the c oor, we came in for a liberal share of the abuse and censure for the side we took. Next day the matter was committed to the Senatus Academicus, at a meeting called expressly for the purpose, and a decree of expulsion from the University was summarily pronounced upon the delinquent. The individual in question was an old acquaintance of mine, a John Ross, a native of Contin. I had first seen him at the house of Mr. Neil Kennedy, late of Logic, when minister of the Gaelic chapel, Aberdeen, and he then made ardent professions of piety. I afterwards travelled on foot to Aberdeen in company with him, the late Dr. Hugh Mackenzie of Killin, and Daniel Forbes, son of the late Daniel Forbes of Ribigill. I then particularly remarked the conduct and bearing of John Ross. He was considerably older than any of us, and he lectured us on the importance of scriptural knowledge and personal piety. In all this I could clearly enough see a great deal of ostentation, a love of argument, and not a little arrogance. He afterwards became schoolmaster of Fodderty, where, under the superintendence of the parish minister, he quickly got rid of all his "fanatical" notions of religion, and drank deeply of the Castaliau font of Moderatism. To exhibit his new-fledged views on the subject, he entered the lists with Mr. Robert Findlater, dyer at Drummond, parish of Kiltearn, in a keen controversy about the nature and character of forced settlements, or what we would now call non-intrusion. Mr. Findlater advocated the principle in a pamphlet entitled "The Old Seceder," and Ross replied, contra, in a furious effusion entitled "A Lash for the Old Seceder." His dispute with Dr. Ritchie was Moderatism v. Moderatism, of all such quarrels the most relentless. The Moderates of those days were indivisible in their opposition to Christ in the Government of His church in Scotland, but, when they fell out with each other on minor and secular points, their quarrels could only be compared to the merciless onset of enraged mastiffs. After his expulsion from Edinburgh University Ross went to London in the capacity of reporter to the Tines newspaper. Before his departure for England he was, however, in defiance of his sentence, licensed to preach by the presbytery of Lochcarron. As Professor of Theology Dr. Ritchie's exhibitions were grave and becoming, but somewhat meagre and artificial. His preliminary and concluding prayers were first carefully written, and then committed to memory. He had composed just three forms, on which he "rang the changes" during the whole session. What these forms lacked in unction was compensated for by elegance of diction and by the well-knit structure of the sentences. One of these rounded periods I yet remember—and so well I. might, it having been every third day of two sessions at the Edinburgh Hall stamped and re-stamped upon my memory, if not upon my devotional feelings. The mellifluous sentence was as follows:" We adore that goodness of Thine which is infinite—we venerate the wisdom that cannot err—we tremble at the Providence to which nothing is impossible," etc. Dr. Ritchie, however, was a rigid Calvinist, That scriptural system of interpretation of revealed truth he adhered to, and supported in his lectures and criticisms in the Hall and in his sermons in the pulpit. He was the first professor of theology in Scotland who successfully resisted the practice, until then observed in all the Scottish Universities, of asking the students to give their opinions on the pieces of trial delivered at the Divinity Hall. All his public exhibitions were premeditated, and when he made the slightest attempt to speak extempore, he stumbled and broke down. He had occasion to intimate a very liberal invitation by Professor Jameson to the students of divinity, to attend the Natural History Class gratis; and Dr. Ritchie was so much impressed with his colleague's generosity that lie ventured to make an extempore speech in praise of the Natural History professor. "And, gentlemen", said the doctor, "we do accept of this most liberal offer, and—we—of this offer do accept—and, gentlemen, we do, and that most thankfully gentlemen—that is—close with Professor Jameson's offer, with, with thankfulness and"—but here the worthy doctor's feeling- were too much for his powers of utterance, and—he summed up the whole by lifting up his hands, pronouncing the apostolic benediction, and dismissing us. [Dr. William Ritchie was translated from St. Andrew's Church, Glasgow, to the High Church, Edinburgh, and on 10th May, 1809, was elected Professor of Divinity in the Edinburgh University, which position he held in conjunction with his parochial charge. He died at Tarholton, where his ministry began, on 29th Jan., 1830. His statement before the Glasgow Presbytery "as to the use of an organ in St Andrew's Church" was printed and circulated,—Ed.] He was succeeded in the Theological Chair by the far-famed and illustrious Dr. Thomas Chalmers.

The general character of my fellow-students at the Edinburgh Ball resembled that of those whom I left at Aberdeen. A very consideral,le number were from Argyleshire and the Border counties. My acquaintances were but few, and my reminiscences are scanty. Andrew Bullock was the Divinity Hall librarian, in which capacity he erred both in principle and practice. Dr. Ritchie had set on foot a sort of close system by which he had contrived to place the whole institution of the library under his control. Bullock lent himself to Dr. Ritchie's plans until his employer found it no longer convenient to retain him. Bullock, when in his turn dismissed, became quite obstreperous, holding evening meetings with the students to rail at Dr. Ritchie on account of the very measures which he had himself so long supported. Bullock became, afterwards, a subject of divine grace. He died minister of Tulliallan in 1836, at the age of 47, and for a considerable time before his death had exhibited all the evidences of the Christian spirit. Another of my contemporaries at the Hall was Robert Story, afterwards minister of Roseneath. He impressed himself on my notice by a discourse which he delivered. It was, as Dr. Ritchie characterised it, "a tissue, from first to last, of trope upon trope and metaphor upon metaphor." As an illustration of his text it could only be compared to Macbeth's vision of the weird sisters who, at first, showed an array of hideous, unearthly countenances, but who, ultimately, became thin air into which they evanished. George Urquhart of Rogart, another student, was at Edinburgh either during the first or second year of my attendance. His father had just died, and as he had the promise of the succession, he came to finish his theological studies preparatory to licence. His ordination took place the following summer. George Mackay, the only son of David Mackay. minister of Reay, was tutor in the family of the eminent Dr. James Gregory, professor of the Practice of Physic, for which he had the very handsome salary of £.100 per annum. I had frequently met George Mackay at my aunt Mrs. Gordon's during my second session in Aberdeen, then at his father's in the manse at Reay, and afterwards at Stempster. He delivered both an English and a Latin discourse at the Hall when I was there. The exegesis was expressed in classical and elegant Latin, and showed, according to Dr. Ritchie, very considerable ease and practice in Latin composition. The subject, too, was suitably arranged and illustrated. The English discourse, which was a homily, was equally unexceptionable. In 1816 lie was presented to the parish of Rafford in Moray-shire. [Dr. George Mackay, minister of Rafford, was son of the minister of Reay, and received his elementary education at the parish school, Reay, under Dlr. John Tulloch. who afterwards became Professor of 3latbematics, King's College, Aberdeen. He connected himself in 1843 with the Free Church of Scotland, of which he became the minister at Rafford, and died 19th Jan., 1862, in the 71st year of his age and 49th of his ministry. His son David succeeded him,—Ed.]

To my other acquaintances in Edinburgh, during my two sessions there, I may now briefly refer. My cousin John Mackay of Rockfield lived in a house, his own property, in Princes Street, right opposite the Castle. He married Miss Isabella Gordon, youngest daughter of John Gordon of Carrot, and my earliest recollections of him are during his honeymoon, when I dined with him at the house of my kind old friend Mrs. Houston of Easter-Helmisdale. I also saw him at the house of his brother-in-law, Mr. Gordon of Loth, soon after he had become the proprietor of Rockfield. He always showed me great kindness, particularly so when in Edinburgh. He was specially instrumental in procuring for me a bursary from the funds of the Society for the Sons of the Clergy; he also advanced money for me during the second year of my attendance, which I repaid to him when I got the living of Resolis. Whilst in Edinburgh I was not only a frequent visitor, at his house, but I went there daily as his amanuensis to write his letters, and keep his accounts, in return for which he gave me lessons in French, and in English reading. For these he was peculiarly well qualified, being a most accomplished man. When I left Edinburgh for the north he accompanied me. He had, in an evil hour, taken the sheep-farm of Shiness, once occupied by Captain Donald Matheson, his brother-in-law, and after his death held by his son Duncan, then an advocate at the Scottish bar. Duncan Matheson was but two happy to get rid of it, and his uncle, without once counting the cost, as readily took it along with the stock of sheep. The inevitable consequences of this bargain soon became visible. His shepherds milked his cows, ate his sheep, rode his horses, and, in short, turned all the profits of the farm to their own account, leaving him to pay them their wages and the landlord his rent. He was, therefore, compelled to resign his lease, though at a loss. Both the horses which we rode were his property, purchased at the Grassmarket for the farm. On our way north we stopped at Perth, and spent a day at the house of an early acquaintance of his, Mr. Josiah Walker, afterwards professor of Humanity at Glasgow. On arriving at Kingussie, we breakfasted with the late excellent Mr. John Robertson, the minister of the parish, who very kindly received us, and who, at family worship, offered up a very striking and most impressive prayer. I parted with Mr. Mackay at Kessock, Inverness, and went home.

Dr. Brunton of the Trots Kirk was appointed professor of Hebrew the first year of my attendance at the Edinburgh College. I was a hearer of his preliminary lecture in the Hebrew Chair, when he first opened it on his appointment to till the office. The chief object of the lecture was to prove that the Hebrew points had neither authority nor common sense in support of their use or practice. They were a mere modern invention—quite absurd --some of the sounds he could only compare to "a calf calling to its mother." This sparkling witticism elicited from his accompanying friends an unanimous smile of approbation. As a teacher he was superficial, and as a preacher he was equally shallow and uninteresting. I occasionally went to hear him and his superannuated colleague Dr. Simpson, [Dr. Wm. Simpson had been translated from Alorebattle to Lady Yester's, and from thence, in 1789, to the Tron Kirk. He died 24th Jan., 1831, in the 87th year of his age and the 60th of his ministry.—Ed.] when their pulpit lucubrations forcibly reminded me of the dull old minister's remark to his equally dull but younger assistant, "On man, may the Lord tak' pity on the puir folk that's been to hear us haith." Dr. Brunton's manner was kind and affable; he loved popularity, and to obtain it he was smoothness and plausibility personified. He watched the students as they passed him on the street, and the slightest movement of their hands to their hats drew from him the most graceful bend of the body and wave of the hand. His wife, Miss Balfour, was a native of Orkney. She was an authoress, and composed two novels, somewhat of a religious character, entitled "Discipline," and "Self-Control," which excited considerable interest, especially as she concealed her name from the public. I supped, along with a number of my fellow-student, at Dr. Brunton's, about the close of the session. [Dr. Alex. Brunton was translated from New Greyfriars to the Tron Kirk on 23rd Nov., 1809, and elected professor of Oriental Languages in Edinburgh University on 19th May, 1813. He became a moderator of the General Assembly. and for 13 years in succession was convener of the Assembly's Committee on India Missions. He died near Cupar-Angus 9th Feb., 1854, in the 42nd year of his age and 57th of his ministry. His wife was the only daughter of Col. Thomas Balfour of Elwick.] One of the students there that evening was John Paul, a nephew of Sir Harry Moncreiff, and the son of Sir Harry's former colleague in the West Church, who, in the course of a few years thereafter (1828), became in his tarn Sir Harry's successor.

Principal Baird, one of the ministers of the High Church and also the head of the chief University of Scotland, was raised to fill that double charge through private favour. He was not a man of talent, and had a very ordinary education, but through his marriage he acquired an immense amount of personal influence. Money, indeed, had in those days everything to say. It was the pass-key to open up the way before all aspirants to civil, religious, or literary distinction. Whoever could command the four-wheeled vehicle of money, influence, patronage, and moderatism, was sure to be wafted onward from one step of promotion to another
With Dr. Davidson I was personally unacquainted, but his character was well known to me. He was an eminently pious man who preached the gospel in its purity, and who took a deep Christian interest in young men who were candidates for the ministry. He was the representative of an ancient and opulent family of landholders in the county of Midlothian, the Davidsons of Muirhouse. His own family name was Randall, but on the failure of the direct line, being next of kin, he succeeded as heir-at-law, and changed his name to Davidson. He lived a life of opulence and ease, but in the exercise of every Christian virtue. [Dr. Thomas Davidson was born in 1747 at Inchture, Perthshire, of which parish his father, Thomas Randall, was minister. Educated at Glasgow and Leyden Universities, be was appointed to succeed his father at Inchture. In 1773 he was translated to the outer High Church, Glasgow; be afterwards became minister of Lady Yester's, and, in 1785, of the Tolbooth Church, Edinburgh. Though extremely modest in his demeanour, he exercised a powerful influence for good among all ranks in Edinburgh by "the elevation of his Christian character, and his diligence in pastoral work." His second wife was a sister of Lord Cockburn. He died in 1827. (See "Dictionary of National Biography," edited by Mr. Leslie Stephen.)-.—ED.]

I was personally, but slightly, acquainted with his colleague in the Tolbooth, Dr. Campbell. He was a pious man and a profound divine, but of a very sour and dogged natural disposition.

Sir Harry Moncreiff was one of my favourite preachers when at the Hall. In the forenoon he always lectured first, and then preached, and nothing could exceed the ability, the clearness, and comprehensiveness of his expositions. He himself remarked, and the remark was worthy of his judgment. that the commentator, Matthew Henry, "had carefully compiled all the sense and all the nonsense ever written on Scripture." No man living could have more accurately conveyed the precise meaning and all the leading points of a chapter in the Bible, excluding all extraneous matter, even to a single superfluous remark, than Sir Harry Moncreiff. He was truly a master in Israel. His intellect flowed out on every subject with the irresistible force of some mighty engine which either presses down or breaks into shivers everything that presents even a momentary resistance to its progress. The greatest minds, however, have their corresponding weaknesses, and the vigour of Sir Harry Moncreiff's intellect on abstract subjects made him, on ordinary matters, arbitrary and punctilious to absurdity. In common with the other city ministers, Sir Henry read all his discourses. He was also a most laborious minister among his flock, and a rigid disciplinarian. On one occasion a sailor's wife, her husband being at sea, applied to Sir Henry as her minister for the baptism of her child. He proceeded to examine her on her religious knowledge, asking her in his double bass tone, "What is baptism?" The poor woman was dumb. Sir Henry repeated his interrogation, when the catechumen summoned courage to say that she could not repeat the answer from memory. "Then, good woman," replied the minister, "you must just go home and learn it before I can baptise your infant." Away she went, and at the hour appointed presented herself again before Sir Henry. "Have you now got the questions?" "Yes sir." "Well, what is baptism?" In reply, the woman, putting her hand into her pocket and pulling out the Shorter Catechism, began very deliberately to read the answer there printed. "Stop, woman ; what are you about?" exclaimed Sir Henry, " that will not pass with me; you must say the answer by heart." " Ey, Sir harry," replied the sailor's wife, "wull ye no lat me read the question—Ou, sir, bonnily do ye read yersel', Sir Harry." The child was baptised very soon thereafter. During my last year's attendance at the Hall, I was ordered by my father to call upon the baronet, who was for many years collector for the Widows' Fund, in order to pay the annual rate. I found Sir Henry in his office, made my raw obeisance, and tabled the money, viz., a round sum in notes, from which a balance of six shillings and threepence was expected to be returned by the collector. But Sir Henry was in one of his punctilious moods. " What, young man,", said he, " you expect the balance, and do you suppose that I have nothing to do but to trudge up and down the streets to find your balance for you; you ought to have provided yourself with it, and paid down the exact sum without giving yourself or me any further trouble." It so happened, however, that considerable quantities of silver and copper were, in the meantime, exhibiting themselves quietly, but very visibly, on a side-table, disposed each after its kind in so many rows or stalks from which it would have been easy enough for him to have handed me my balance without betaking himself, or sending me, to the streets for it. My eye mechanically turned to the provision of the side-table. I presumed not, however, to say anything, but in the most humble and respectful manner possible, assured the lofty baronet that 1 would instantly go for the change, return, and pay down the exact sum as he wished. 'i'his mollified him not a little, and lie condescended to say in a much milder tone that such always was his method. [Sir Henry Moncreiff Wellwood of Tullibole, Bart., D.D., was translated from Blackford to the West Kirk (St. Cuthbert's), Edinburgh, 26th Oct., 1775, and was appointed joint convener of "Ministers' Widows' Fund" in 1784, to which he rendered important services. He died 4th Aug., 1827, in the 78th year of his age and 56th of his ministry. He took a prominent part in all schemes devised for the true welfare of mankind. The title and estates were inherited by his son, Mr. James 31onereitf, advocate, an influential and powerful debater on the evangelical side in the church until he became a Lord of Session ; he died in 1953. Lord Monereiff had two sons, who also rose to eminence, viz., Sir Henry Wel;wood Moncreiff, Bart., 1).D., of the Free West Church, Edinburgh ; and the Right Hon. James blonereiff, who became Lord Justice Clerk and a Peer of the realm.—ED.]

Mr. Andrew Thomson of Greyfriars was then scarcely known, although afterwards he became so celebrated as a minister and a controversialist. Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Henry Grey, a native of England, and minister for only a few years of some Scottish parish on the borders, was appointed, during my last year at the Edinburgh College, to the Chapel of Ease connected with the parish of St. Cuthbert. I heard him preach his first sermon after his induction; it was evangelical and ingenious.

Dr. Fleming was the minister of Lady Yester's; I was his hearer now and then. He was a plain and unsophisticated, but the very reverse of either a lively or a powerful, preacher of the pure evangel. He had been translated many years before to the city from a country charge in Fifeshire. [Dr. Thomas Fleming had been minister of Kirkcaldy, from which he was translated, in 1806, to Edinburgh; he died 19th June, 1824, in the 70th year of his age and 46th of ministry. Benevolent in disposition, he interested himself chiefly in the charitable institutions of Edinburgh. He translated the "Westminster Shorter Catechism" into Gaelic.—Ed.]

At the Edinburgh hall I only delivered a lecture, and this, together with a homily which I delivered at Aberdeen, were the only pieces of trial I ever gave during my six years' attendance at the theological classes. The courses of study were not in those days so strictly looked after, either by synods or presbyteries, as now. I attended the Church History Class when in Edinburgh, then taught by Dr. Hugh Meiklejohn of Aberdeen. Discourses were delivered by the students in his class also. He received the student's manuscript, brooded over it for about a week, and then read aloud in the class a carefully composed, written critique which he had concocted upon it. His criticisms and lectures, however, were uninteresting, tedious and prosing, as he evidently had the art of speaking, utterly irrespective of the art of thinking.

But reminiscences of my student life in Edinburgh are not very pleasant to recall, owing to a nervous disorder from which I then suffered. I could not sleep at night. To the very top of Arthur's Seat at two or three o'clock in the morning was my usual stroll in quest of health and an ordinary appetite; there I would remain sitting on one of its highest peaks, and watching the dawn of day.


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