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Parish Life in the North of Scotland
Chapter XXIII - Evangelistic Journeys


1822-1825.

ABOUT the 28th of May, 1822, I received a Ietter from Mr. MacDonald, of Ferintosh, in reply to an application I had made to him as to the dispensation of the sacrament in my parish on the 10th of June. He wrote me to say that I should not depend upon his assistance, as he had resolved to visit St. Kilda, an island of the west, situated nearly midway between the northern coast of Ireland and the Scottish mainland. He would, he said, hold himself in readiness from the 1st of June to proceed to St. Kilda, waiting only for a call to go thither when the Revenue cutter which, at the time, was employed in a cruise to the Western Isles, should be ready to sail.

I may here observe that Mr. MacDonald was distinguished above all his contemporaries by his missionary zeal. Living and labouring statedly in Ross-shire, Mr. MacDonald often cast an eye of pity towards those "dark places" of the north whose inhabitants, from one end of the year to the other, "heard not the voice of the Dove." Not satisfied, therefore, with engaging in the stated and ever-returning duties of the pastoral office at home, he made engagements for week-day preaching excursions. I accompanied him, not to assist—he had no occasion for that—but to witness the extent of his labours, and from Tuesday to Friday he preached thrice daily. But these daily engagements were not yet enough to satisfy his ardent desire to "spend and be spent" in the service of his Lord. It had, as he himself observed, become his element to preach the gospel, and, like our modern tourists in their own peculiar sphere making out new tours of pleasure through countries untravelled before, so he, in his heaven-bound course, cut out new work and sought earnestly after new fields of apostolic labour. St. Kilda was one of his recently discovered spheres. The inhabitants, on his arrival, he found sitting under that darkness which, for ages gone, by had been gradually but steadily accumulating. The island formed a part of the parish of Harris, the ministers of which in succession no more troubled themselves about their parishioners there than they might be supposed to do about the inhabitants of Kamtschatka. Mr. MacDonald, however, came to them, "preaching peace by Jesus Christ." The subject was new to them, and they listened to the message with undivided attention and cordial welcome. An affecting illustration of this he personally communicated to me. He said that, after having set before them the plan of redemption and shown the necessity of faith in Christ for salvation, not only from its nature but from its fruits, he enforced the necessity of a holy life, which consisted in keeping Christ's commandments from love to Him. In his private intercourse with them he understood that, as fishermen on the sea and hunters on the land, they were in the habit of devoting to these pursuits the Sabbath no' less than the week-days. Mr. MacDonald showed them that, to sanctify the first day of the week, in remembrance of Christ's glorious resurrection, was one of His commandments just as sure as any other precept of the moral law. "O yes, yes sir," said they, "did we but know that it was a sin we should not have done it." The gospel thus preached was not slow in producing its proper effects, and before Mr. MacDonald terminated his first visit the islanders were already united as a congregation of simple-minded lovers of the truth. They desired a stated ministry—a privilege of which for ages they had been deprived. This, therefore, became the next object of Mr. MacDonald's labours, and hence he annexed, as the indispensable condition of his compliance with the many requests made to him, either to assist at sacraments or for week-day preachings, that a collection be made for erecting a church in St. Kilda. His object was accomplished.

A gentleman, whose name I cannot recall, was tacksman of St. Kilda, and went twice a year to receive his rent, which the inhabitants paid in kind, namely, in fish and feathers. He proceeded in a Revenue cutter which cruised on the Western Archipelago daring the summer months, and afforded the cheapest, if not the only way of going thither. With the captain of the cutter it was arranged that i11r. MacDonald should be conveyed back to the coast of Skye at any time he should elect. Having settled the preliminaries of his voyage, he next entered into a brotherly paction with Mr. Shaw, minister of Bracadale, a simple-minded and worthy man, who had agreed to accompany him. [Mr John Shaw, a native of Moulin, Perthshire, was translated from Duirinish to Bracadale, in 1813. He died 16th January, 1823, in the 39th year of his age and the 12th of his ministry.—Ed.] The night before they went on board the cutter Mr. MacDonald lodged at the manse of Bracadale. Each lay in a separate bed but in the same room. The terrors of a long and, in all probability, boisterous passage on the Atlantic so wrought upon Mr. Shaw's fears that, during the night, he kept tossing on his pillow in anticipation of the voyage. "Oh, Mr. MacDonald," said the afflicted man, "are you awake? " "No," said the other, "I am not." "Is not the Bible a good book, Mr. MacDonald?' "O yes, yes," said the other, "but let us sleep at present," and seconding his advice by his example he set to it with such earnestness as to drown all farther queries. The summons to sail came with the peep of dawn. Mr. MacDonald speedily started out of bed, and dressed himself. Mr. Shaw did the same. They walked to the beach, and found the ship's yawl awaiting them, but as do the ocean's billows, restrained by an invisible and all-controlling power, so did Mr. Shaw under the dominancy of his fears, each so far came, but could no farther go. Mr. MacDonald sprang into the boat, took his seat, and beckoned to his friend to seat himself beside him. But Mr. Shaw's feet were rooted to the pebbles, his heart failed him, he waved his hands, bade him adieu, and returned to his home.

Mr. Shaw's timidity was ludicrous, but it proved portentous. The cutter, with Mr. MacDonald as sole passenger, was overtaken on the return journey by a furious storm, and was so far driven out of its course as to be many weeks behind the usual time of its arrival on the coast of Skye. In the meantime the report became current that the good ship, with Mr. MacDonald, the captain, and crew, had foundered at sea, which report continued to circulate some time after Mr. MacDonald's safe arrival at home. He himself indeed told me that, sitting at his own fireside, he read in the Aberdeen Journal a long account of his death and character. On another voyage Mr. MacDonald was accompanied to St. Kilda by his son Simon. Whilst the father was engaged in making himself acquainted with the moral state and conduct of the inhabitants, the son was occupied in ascertaining the extent, dimensions, and even the very shape of their sea-girt habitation. Having surveyed the island on every side by coasting it all around in a boat, and travelling over its rugged surface on foot, he contrived to block out a miniature model of it. The material consisted of a mass of blue clay, of more than ordinary tenacity, which he had so moulded and shaped as to exhibit all the heights and hollows and beetling precipices of the island more vividly and accurately than the best constructed map or the most finished drawing could have done. I have seen the model. [Dr. John MacDonald was translated from the Gaelic Chapel, Edinburgh, to Urquhart or Ferintosh 1st Sept,, 1813; be died 16th April, 1849, in the 70th year of his age and 43rd of his ministry. His eldest son John, whose memoir has been written by Dr. W. K. Tweedie, became one of the Church's most devoted missionaries in India. Dr. MacDonald visited St. Kilda in 1822, 1825, 1827, and 1830. His journals of evangelistic work among the people of that isolated island have been republished by his biographer, the late Dr. John Kennedy of Dingwall. —Ed.]

My correspondence for ]825 reminds me of a society shortly before formed at Inverness under the imposing name of "The Northern Institution for the Promotion of Science and Literature," and having for its object the investigation of the antiquities of the country and its civil and natural history. The association was chiefly, if not wholly, got up by the Messrs. Anderson of that town, both men of considerable literary attainments. They had already published "The Tourists' Guide Book through the Highlands of Scotland," a work of much utility and interest. On the 21st of June, 1825, Mr. George Anderson, secretary to the institution, solicited my aid and co-operation in forwarding this object by furnishing replies to some queries on the antiquities and natural history of Resolis. My avocations were such as to afford me no time to spare for the purpose, and I was silent, while Mr. Anderson, as I had reason to know, was equally unsuccessful with the great majority of my brethren.

During the course of the same year, Mr. Kirkaldy, a wealthy merchant in Dundee, paid a visit to the north. I have already referred to him as a man of eminent piety, and, though he is now in great poverty and advanced in years, he was than a young man in easy and even affluent circumstances. He came to reside for a few days among his friends in Ross-shire. One particular incident is recalled to my recollection. Mr. MacDonald was to preach a week-day sermon at Cromarty. For that town he and Mr. Kirkaldy and I set out from Resolis together. The day began to rain, but it was only a commencement. We got to Cromarty without being much inconvenienced. During the continuance of the service, however, and whilst we remained at Cromarty, the rain continued. In the evening we all three set out for the manse of Resolis, and arrived at the bridge of Newhall. But all farther progress homewards was here interdicted. The burn was swollen over "bank and brae." It had cut out a new channel on the north side of the bridge, so as to preclude all possibility-of crossing. There was, however, still farther up, another way of access to the other side of this furious stream, a little to the north-east of the house and place of Braehiugwell. This also we attempted, but it was equally impossible. The ford across lay in the bottom of a deep hollow, with high hanks, upwards of ten feet, on each side. The water, however, rose to the very edge of the banks, and even overflowed them. The question then came to be—what next? Poyntzfield House stood on this side the burn, and was then occupied by Mr. Munro, the proprietor, and his truly excellent wife, both equally hospitable. I suggested that we should go thither, and ask quarters. We did so, and were most kindly received. Mr. MacDonald, suo more at family worship, gave a short but comprehensive exposition of the chapter which he read. Next morning, all intervening obstacles being removed, we breakfasted at the manse, and before we parted, among our other themes of conversation was the high ministerial character of Mr. Lachlan Mackenzie, late minister of Lochcarron, who had died about six years before. Mr. Kirkcaldy proposed to erect, at his own expense, a marble slab to the memory of so eminent a man, to ho placed in the wall of the church of Lochcarron, and requested that Mr. MacDonald and I should undertake to draw out for it a suitable inscription. For this purpose I wrote to Mr. Roderick Forbes, a relative of my own, then a teacher at I'lockton of Lochalsh, requesting him to favour me with information respecting the date of Mr. Lachlan's death, his age, and the number of the years of his ministry. On the 13th of June Mr. Forbes replied to say that he was furnished with answers to my enquiries by the late Mr. Lachlan Mackenzie's nephew, Mr. Donald Mackenzie, then residing at Lochalsh, [Mr. Donald Mackenzie, on being licensed to preach the gospel, was appointed assistant to Mr. Mackenzie, minister of Comrie ; he became minister of Ardeonaig in 1837. lie acted as colleague to Mr William Burns (afterwards of China) during an evangelistic tour throughout the highlands of Perthshire in August, 1840, which was the occasion, under God, of a remarkable religious revival among the people of those parts. His character was simple and his manners primitive, but lie was a very impressive and powerful Gaelic preacher. He died 10th October, 1873.—Ed.] who stated that his uncle died on 20th April, 1819; that his age was 65 years, those of his ministry amounting to 37, two of which he had spent in the island of Lewis. Mr. MacDonald and I, soon after the receipt of this communication, met to draw out the inscription, embodying in it the above mentioned particulars, which I afterwards transmitted to Mr. Kirkaldy. But the monetary affairs of that gentleman had, meanwhile, experienced a reverse, the house with which he was connected failed, and the monument to the memory of Mr. Lachlan was never executed. His memorial, however, is embalmed in the hearts of the many to whom his ministry was blessed, while, as one of "the righteous," his name "shall be had in everlasting remembrance."
My friend and relative, Mr. John Mackay of Rockfield, is recalled to my recollection by a letter which I received from him, dated at Kildary on the 18th of June, 182-5. lie usually resided, and especially during the winter, at his house, 122, Princes Street, Edinburgh. But, having purchased an estate in Ross-shire, he came north, where he spent the greater part of the summer months. His wife was niece of the late Mr. Donald MacLeod of Geanies, then Sheriff-Depute of Ross and Cromarty, the lineal representative of the ancient, but extinct, family of the MacLeods of Assynt, and the last of the lairds of Geanies ; that property, after his death, having been purchased by a successful merchant of Tain, named Murray. With Mrs. Mackay I had got acquainted many years before, when on a visit to my fathers' house while I was but a mere youth. She was then Miss Bella Gordon, the third daughter of Mr. John Gordon, of Carrol, who lived at Kintradwell. My cousin and she had been married long before he wrote.

The General Assembly's Schools for the instruction of the children of the poor in the Highlands—having a similar object in view with the Inverness Education Society—were in full operation. The former, however, added to their supply of initiatory teachers for the children a class of instructors for the parents, called catechists, who, in the more remote parts of the Highlands and Islands, were ignorant of the first principles of Scripture truth. Catechists were a class or order of religious teachers not recognised by the founders of the Scottish Church. They were employed for the purpose of teaching the people —both old and young—to commit to memory and to repeat the Shorter Catechism, of which they also gave a short explanation. This was all the more necessary, as in many if not all parishes throughout the Highlands, with a population amounting perhaps to 2000 people, not a single individual of the working-classes could read. So far as I can ascertain, the General Assembly s School Committee, if we except the Christian Knowledge Society, was the first to recognise this order of instructors. As I had already received a school for the west end of the parish from the Inverness Society, I applied to the Assembly's committee for another school in the east end, at Jemimaville. My application to Principal Baird and the committee on the 6th July was immediately acknowledged. In the month of March, 1826, I received intimation that my claims were favourably entertained. The school was afterwards established and examined by Dr. Baird more than once. [Dr. George Husband Baird was born at Bo'ness in 1761. His diligence as a student attracted the notice of Principal Robertson, whom he succeeded in 1793 as Principal of the University of Edinburgh. In 1792 he was appointed minister of New Greyfriars, and professor of Oriental Languages in the University. He was afterwards translated to the New North parish, and finally succeeded Dr. Blair in the High Church. His wife was the eldest daughter of Lord Provost Thomas Elder. He died 11th January, 1810, in the 53rd year of his ministry.—Ed.]

Since my settlement at Resolis I had continued to hold a close and brotherly intercourse with my highly-gifted and beloved relative the late Mr. Donald Fraser, minister of Kirkhill. Mr. (afterwards Dr.) MacDonald of Ferintosh, Mr. John Kennedy of Killearnan, and he, were my guides and friends, with whom I had delighted to hold sweet counsel on sacramental and other occasions at Kirkhill, Ferintosh, Resolis and elsewhere. Mr. Fraser was at the time secretary, as he was indeed the founder, of the Inverness Society for the education of the poor in the Highlands. With him was associated, in the same office, Mr. Alexander Clark, his co-presbyter and one of the ministers of Inverness, but on Mr. Fraser rested chiefly the labour and responsibility which attached to it. The Society established schools in every direction, but it was on the condition that, in every parish where one had been established, contributions should be made. This condition was but very partially fulfilled, and the Society began to be rather hampered for want of funds. To remedy this evil it appeared to Mr. Fraser that the proper course was to extend the sphere of the Society's operations. Adopting this proposal, he thought of the practicability of a mission, in favour of the Society, to Sutherland and Caithness, and he and I were, by the Directors, appointed for that purpose.

In the first instance Mr. Fraser begged that I should write Mr. Kennedy of Dornoch intimating all I knew of the subject, and asking in the most deferential terms if he would agree that our deputation should occupy his pulpit on a certain Sabbath, if so that he would have the goodness to intimate the same on the previous one. To my letter so written Mr. Kennedy replied, and, after some reference to Mr. Fraser's "very venal offence of being a young man," he agreed to the proposal. On informing Mr. Fraser of the success of my negotiation with Mr. Kennedy, he urged the necessity of our beginning operations as soon as possible. All preliminaries being determined, Mr. Fraser arrived at my house on the evening of the 23rd September, from which we on the next day went to Dornoch. On Sabbath, the 25th, Mr. Fraser preached at Dornoch, and I at the neighbouring parish of Rogert. I rode to Rogart on the morning of Sabbath, preached in Gaelic and English, and dined with the minister, Mr. John Mackenzie. He was the son of Donald Mackenzie, tacksman of Tagan, in Gairloch, Ross-shire, who had been my father's companion in youth. John had been my fellow-student at the Edinburgh Hall. After the Disruption in 1843 he became my successor in the Established Church of Resolis. He had some skill in medicine, not much, yet a great deal more than he had in "ministering to a soul diseased." He received me into his manse with polite kindness and civility.

I left Rogart the same evening for Dornoch, and on Monday, the 26th of September, Mr. Fraser and I went to Clyne, where Mr. Fraser preached, and a large collection for our society was made; and where both of us were hospitably entertained at the house of a Mr. Harper, the tacksman of Clynelish, and a distiller. This was during a vacancy in that parish—The Rev. Walter Ross having died shortly before. On Tuesday following we preached at Loth, Mr. Donald Ross being the minister of the parish. For some years Mr. Ross was minister of Kilmuir in Skye. At the time that MacPherson, in a splenetic fit, resigned the pastoral charge of Golspie, resisted all the solicitations of the Presbytery of Dornoch, as well as of his own friends, to retract his resignation, and persisted in his intention, Mr. Ross was presented by the Marchioness of Stafford to the living. As he was about to be presented, however, MacPherson reappeared to claim the living, and, the case being carried by appeal to the Assembly, it was voted, on the motion of Dr. Cook of St. Andrews, that MacPherson should be restored, and Mr. Ross, although already inducted, set aside. The patrons resolved to make up the loss to the disappointed presentee. Rogart became vacant soon afterwards, by the death of my relative, Mr. George Urquhart, and Air. Ross was presented, with the assurance that any vacant living in the gift of the patrons, preferable in point of emolument to Rogart, should be at his disposal. Accordingly when, by the death of Dir. G. Gordon, the larger living of Loth became vacant, Mr. Ross was presented to the living. He afterwards became involved in debt, and reduced in circumstances and in character.

We pushed on to Latheron. On our way we crossed the Ord of Caithness. The old road over this promontory—the same identically which William, Earl of Caithness, nearly four centuries ago, had passed with his gallant band, clad in green, to the fatal battle of Flodden was really dangerous. It lay within a foot, and stretched along the very edge, without any protecting buttress, of a precipice 800 feet above the sea. We were, however, more fortunate. A new road had been made in 1804, from the Meikleferry to Wick, the expenses of which were paid partly by the proprietors and partly by the Exchequer. In passing the Ord this road, instead of edging on the brink of the precipice, as formerly, was carried by an easy sweep over the top of the hill. As we drove up the western side, a striking view of the German Ocean, just at its junction with the ;foray Firth, suddenly presented itself. On ir. Fraser the effect was solemnising; he remarked that a beautiful analogy subsisted between the material and invisible worlds ; that he had often attempted to form purely ideal conceptions of Eternity without success, and that to him the most striking emblem of it—conveying a definite idea to the senses of that which of itself is altogether incomprehensible—was a view over the expanse of ocean from an eminence such as that on which we were stationed, knowing as we did, at the same time, that it extended invisible far beyond the line of the horizon.

We came to the manse of Latheron in the evening, where we were received with the utmost civility and welcome. My sister-in-law Maria (Mrs. Davidson), the very personification of meekness combined with unfeigned piety, was especially kind. Mr. Fraser preached, on the 28th Sept., in both languages. At Latheron we fell in and conversed with a goodly number of those from Kildonan who, when driven thence by territorial and aristocratic oppression, found an asylum in the parish of Latheron. Among others was the eminently pious and gifted George Mackay, the eldest son of Donald, my father's catechist. He received us with the ripe affability of an old believer. Though driven from Liriboll in his native Strath, he continued to minister in his vocation to the small remnant still residing ill Kildonan.
The next day we went to Watten, where, on the 29th September, I preached. Mr. Fraser left us, intending to preach at Wick on Sabbath, October 2nd, and I remained with Mr. Gunn until the Saturday. During my residence in Caithness I had become slightly acquainted with him, but this was the first time that I had the opportunity fully to enter into and to estimate the excellency of his Christian and ministerial character. The simplicity of his faith, the soundness of his views, and the heaven-tending earnestness of his spirit made me feel that, while I was scarce a disciple, be was truly a master in Israel. [Mr. Alexander Gunn, A.M., a native of Caithness, was ordained at Orphir, Orkney, in 1803, and admitted minister of Watten 20th Sept., 1805. He was a preacher of eminent ability and evangelical power. His church became a centre of attraction for the people of Caithness, and his ministry was fruitful in spiritual blessing to many. lie died 28th August, 1836, in the Gard year of his age and 33rd of his ministry. His son Alexander (who has completed the 50th year of his ministry) succeeded him on the 6th April, 1837.—Ed.] The intimates of his home at the time were his excellent helpmate, the daughter of Mr. Arthur, my immediate predecessor at Resolis, and a sweet-looking girl of about seventeen, his brother's daughter.

On Saturday, the 1st October, I went to the manse of Thurso, where Mr. Mackintosh received me with a hearty welcome. I had not seen him for several years, and I was not a little struck with his appearance. Stout and healthy before, he was now 'greatly reduced. Mrs. Mackintosh was almost the same as when I first saw her, twelve or thirteen years before. They had five of a family—four daughters and one son. The eldest, Catherine, a very handsome woman, whom I recollect to have seen as a mere girl twelve years before, was married to Captain Sutherland, who had in lease the farm of Ulbster. The second daughter, Elizabeth, had newly returned from Edinburgh, where she had been at a boarding-school. Christina, Camilla, and James were still at school. My first sight of Elizabeth was accompanied with an indescribable impression, for I took the fancy that her lot and mine were henceforth one and indivisible, or, as the English marriage service has it, "for better for worse." Next day I preached at Reay, and, in the evening returned to the manse of Thurso, and found Mr. Fraser there before me. On Monday Mr. Fraser preached at Thurso, and I at Dunnet. Among his bearers were, Sir John Sinclair, Bart., with his son Mr. George Sinclair of Ulbster, and wife. With Mr. Jolly, minister of Dunnet, I was acquainted ever since the year 1812, when I resided at Bower and Stemster. He was then, as formerly, vigorous and active in the discharge of his parochial duties, and as devoted as ever to the guidance of Armuuus in Scripture interpretation. "Whitby on the New Testament" was his favourite commentary and rade mecum from his study to his pulpit. My sermon rudely crossed the path of some of his favourite points, but without any intention on my part. [Mr. Thomas Jolly, A.M., a native of the Mearns, was ordained assistant and successor to Dr. Traill of Dunnet 10th August, 1784; he died 2nd December, 1844, in the 91st year of his ago and 61st of his ministry, he was not appreciated as a preacher, but as a dispenser of -ordinary medicines to the sick of the parish he was much sought after. One of his song, Thomas (who "came out" at the Disruption), was minister of Keiss, and afterwards of Bowden, while Peter was minister of Canis-bay, and finally succeeded his father at Dunnet, the "living" of which has been in possession of the family for a period of 105 years.—ED,] After dining. I left for Thurso and again found my fellow-deputy before me at the manse. Next day we preached at Halkirk-1 in Gaelic and he in English. On the morning of Tuesday, the 4th October, before we set out, we breakfasted at the castle of Thurso East. It was previously agreed that Sir John and Mr. G. Sinclair should accompany us to Halkirk, and the Lady Camilla had also agreed to go. Her husband Mr. Sinclair, however, had an appointment with Mr. Innes of Sandside for that day, and could not attend. Mr. Fraser and I, therefore, set out for Halkirk, Sir John and Lady Camilla almost immediately following. My sermon in Gaelic was preached in a cold and formal spirit to a cold and formal audience. Mr. Fraser's English discourse was different. It was a lucid and Scriptural exposition of that beautiful expression of holy desire, "O send forth thy light with thy truth." His application of the text, with reference to the godly upbringing of poor children in the Highlands and Islands, was appropriate, suitable and impressive. The sermon was greatly admired, and by none more than by Lady Camilla, and she thought fit to enter into a strict investigation with Mr. Fraser as to how, in so short a time, he could prepare so masterly a discourse. We dined with the worthy minister, Mr. John Munro, the cordial choice of the people of Halkirk, and, in accordance therewith, the presentee of the patron, Sir John Sinclair. In equally good taste, therefore, Sir John and the Lady were, along with us, invited as guests on the occasion. At dinner, as host, Mr. Munro did not feel himself exactly in his element. The carving he delegated to me, especially a well-roasted leg of mutton highly recommended to us for its excellent taste and flavour. Sir John, among his many other patriotic efforts to promote the improvement of the north of Scotland, had introduced the merino breed of sheep into Caithness. High compliments were paid Sir John during the repast, and after dinner the subject was renewed by our drinking the worthy baronet's health, to which he replied at great length. In the evening, Sir John returned home with his daughter-in-law, and Air. Fraser and I remained over night, crossing the hill of Sordal next morning in order to preach at Bower.

The line of road was so rugged as, in many places, to put us within almost a hairbreadth of being overturned. We ascended the west side of the hill, until we reached the great road leading from Thurso to Wick; then, nearly at a right angle, striking off the road, we proceeded to the north-west, until we came within a few yards of the manor-house of Stempster, my old quarters in 1812, after which we drove in an easterly direction towards Bower manse by a road which had not been either improved, or even slightly repaired, for half a century at least. Mr. Fraser preached one of the clearest, most forcible and impressive sermons I ever heard. His concluding address in behalf of our society was in keeping with the sermon which preceded it. At the close of the services I met with my old patron Stempster. We greeted each other with cordiality. I was so full of my excellent and gifted friend's sermon that one of my first questions to him was, how he liked it ? He said he did not know, but his object in coming from his home to-day was only to gratify his curiosity by hearing me preach and not the stranger, whom he neither knew nor c.ired anything about. I replied that "I regretted that very much," and so our conference broke off. The service in church being ended, we went to the manse. Mr. Smith, my early acquaintance, and his wife, whom as such I saw for the first time, received us with much kindness. Mr. Smith was not much changed from what he was about twelve years before, when, as parochial schoolmaster of Bower, I resided in his house. Mrs. Smith was a your er daughter of the late Mr. Sinclair of Barrock, one of his heritors. She was young enough to be Mr. Smith's daughter, since he himself had in her infancy baptised her. They had a numerous family, but none of them were with him at this time.

We drove to Olrig in the evening, distant from Bower about four miles. The plan agreed upon was, Mr. Fraser should preach at Olrig next day, and I at Canisbay, on Thursday the 6th of October. We arrived at Olrig manse, and found my early friend, Mr. William Mackenzie, waiting for us. I had frequently met with him when residing in Caithness about twelve years before. His father, the late Mr. George Mackenzie, was then living, and at his hospitable manse I was frequently a welcome guest. His eldest son was then, evep as I was myself, a candidate for the ministry, neither of us very promising for the holy office to which we aspired. William succeeded his father as minister of Olrig, and when we visited him in 1825 he was unmarried, his sisters by his father's second marriage living with him. [Mr. William Mackenzie, who had been for five years minister of the Presbyterian Church, Monkwearmouth, succeeded his father as minister of Olrig in 1825; in the same year he married Miss Catherine S. Brodie, who long survived him Through his exertions the Parish Church was built in 1840. In 1843 he became Free Church minister of the parish, and died in 1857, in the filth year of his ago and 39th of his ministry.—ED.] Leaving my fellow-labourer to preach there, I set out early next morning for Canisbay.

Crossing the sands of Dunnet bay, and proceeding onward, close b' the manse, I drove past the farmhouse of Ilattar, and the old baronial castle of Mey, and arrived at the manse of Canisbay in time for breakfast. Mr. James Smith, the minister, suet me at the door, and nave me a most gentlemanly reception. I had been at his houae many years before on a sacramental occasion. He was brother of Mr. Smith of Bower, and both of them were the sons of Mr. Smith of Olrig, the immediate predecessor of Mr. George Mackenzie. The congregation, which I afterwards addressed, did not meet until 12 o'clock noon, and even then but a mere handful assembled. The majority of them, if they knew little of the value of education, knew for less of that of the gospel. Mr. Smith's sermons were fitter for the Chair of a Professor of Church History or Ethics than for the pulpit of a minister of "the pure Evangel." But at the hour appointed the bell rang, and Mr. Smith accompanied me down to the church, a ruinous Scandinavian building, intimating by its appearance, evidently, that it must have been erected as far back as the days of Paul II., Earl of Orkney, or of his successor, Rognvald Kalle. The inside of the fabric was, like all Caithness churches in those times, quite in keeping with the outside, that is, in utter confusion. The congregation was as small as it was unconcerned—they seemed as little impressed with the great truths of the gospel declared to them in their own, as if spoken to them in an unknown, tongue. Mr. Smith showed his hospitality both by precept and example. He was almost of gigantic proportions—considerably over six feet, and very stout. He indulged to an extent which I could not but think dangerous, in the luxuries of the table. My augury proved but too true, for he did not live much more than four months from that day. He died of inflammation of the bowels on the 31st of January, 182, in the 51st year of his age.

I came to Olrig that evening, and from thence we proceeded to Thurso. Before leaving Thurso manse I took occasion, in a private interview with Mr. Mackintosh, to intimate the state of my feelings and affections towards his daughter Elizabeth, to which he lent a favourable ear, but said that she had gone to visit her sister, Mrs. Sutherland, at Ulbster, and was soon afterwards to accompany her younger sister Christina to Edinburgh to place her in a boarding-school. He would, he added, communicate my wishes to Elizabeth on her return from Ulbster, and she would write me personally.

On Friday, the 7th October, we left Thurso after breakfast, and taking, what is usually called the Causeymire road from Thurso to Berriedale Inn as the shortest, we stopped that evening at the manse of Latheron. From thence we came to Helmisdale, and there I remained to preach on the following Sabbath. Mr. Fraser preached at Golspie on the same day. At Helmisdale I had a great congregation, M. Campbell, my father's successor, deeming it unnecessary to preach at Kildonan at all, from the paucity of the inhabitants.

Our two remaining engagements in Sutherland were at Lsirg and Creich. I met Mr. Fraser at Golspie on Monday the 10th of October; from thence we set out for Leirg. We were hospitably entertained in the evening at Rogart by Mr. Mackenzie, and lodged there at night. Next day we arrived at Lairg to breakfast, and, if my memory serves me aright, Mr. Fraser preached. Mr. D. MacGillivray, the minister, gave as a most brotherly reception, and next day, at an early hour, we left Lairg and arrived at the manse of Creich for breakfast. We afterwards engaged in the services of the day, when Mr. Fraser preached in Gaelic and I in English. Arid so terminated our engagements in behalf of the "Inverness Edinburgh Society," in the counties of Sutherland and Caithness. What the sums contributed by each of the congregations we visited were, or what the amount of the whole, I cannot now recall. But I do recollect that at the annual meeting at Inverness, some months after our return, where Mr. Fraser read a report of the Society's operations for the preceding year, the thanks of the meeting to Mr. Fraser and myself were moved by my old acquaintance, Captain Robert Sutherland, formerly of Drumoy in Golspie, but then residing at Inverness. I may here observe that, the directors having appointed a committee to investigate the state of education in the Highlands and Islands and to report, that report was drawn up by Mr. Fraser [Mr. Donald Fraser, A.M., succeeded his em4nent father, Dr. Alex. Fraser, as minister of Kirkhill on 28th Sept., 1802; he died 12th July, 1836, in the 54th year of his age and 34th of his ministry. In 1834 he published a small volume of sennous entitled, "The Method of Salvation." His son Alexander was, at the time of his father's death, minister of Cawdor, and succeeded him at Kirkhill 26th Jan., 1837. Mr. Alex. Fraser accompanied the Highland Brigade, as chaplain, to the Crimea during the war. In connection with this appointment he frequently risked his life by ministering to the wounded, sick, and dying, both in hospital and on the field of battle, he died in 1885.—Ed.] of Kirkhill, and read by hire at the annual meeting held at Inverness on the 2nd Nov., 1825, and ordered to be printed. It was entitled "Moral Statistics," which indeed justly belonged to it, from the comprehensive view of the whole subject in all its bearings which it embraced. The report was so admirably constructed as to be favourably noticed by the "Edinburgh Review."

From this date I kept up a regular correspondence with Mr. Mackintosh and his daughter Elizabeth. 0u the 19th October he wrote me that he had spoken to Elizabeth, communicating my wishes, and that she herself would write me on the subject. His letter to me was so full of piety and good sense that I must refer to its more important passages. "Eliza," he wrote, "is just now at Ulbster, on a visit to her sister, where she may remain a week or two, for such is their mutual attachment as to find it not very easy to keel) separate. I have not failed to deliver to her your friendly message, and I am happy to say that she expressed no objection to your person, profession, or plan—only regretted she had not more acquaintance with you, not so much as to have heard you preach, and that she felt shy to write. As far as I can learn, her affections are disengaged, and a little time and acquaintance may bring near what may now appear distant. Rest assured, my dear Sir, that my wife and I would always feel happy to see her with a highly-esteemed minister of the gospel, as well as to see you here. Yet your coming here immediately, so long a journey when the weather is broken, might put you to unnecessary trouble and expense; besides, your appearance would excite the curiosity of meddling neighbours, and expose you and Eliza to the tongues of the world, which the firmness of the philosopher can scarcely withstand." But, after giving such sound and philosophical advice, he adds that "if we be mutually spared until June next, when, Deo libente et jurante, I intend to dispense the Communion, and you come here to help at that solemnity, who knows, after the more sacred duties are over, but you might prevail to bring home with you a partner through life that, through grace, would prove a 'Mother in Israel.'"


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