WILSON FAMILY OF BANKIIEAD, AND
LETTERS FROM AMERICA
THE AMERICAN WAR IN 1812 AND 1813.
IN the old churchyard of the
county town of Clackmannan, a tombstone is to be seen not far from the
east end of the church, the inscription on which runs as follows:-
Erected by SARAH WILSON
in memory of
Her dear departed friends,
SARAH MALLOCH, her Grandmother,
died 1st July 1791, aged 73;
ALEXANDER WILSON, her
died 18th April
1806, aged 72;
Sister, died 20th Feby.
1814, aged 13;
Brother, died 9th Augt.
1828, aged 33;
SARAH WILSON, died
24th Dear. 1861, aged 79.
'Come, here Is mouldering dust;
behold and see
what you and I and all ere
long must be.'
This Alexander Wilson and Sarah
Malloch are my maternal great-grandfather and great' grandmother.
Standing at the
Cross of Clackmannan, and looking up the only street of which the town
consists, their house is the first one on the right-hand side, with an
outside stone stair.
How many of a
family they had I have not been able to learn; but they had one daughter,
named Mary, who married a cousin of her own—Adam Wilson, who was laird of
the farm of Bankhead, in Fossoway parish. They had a family of nine
children—six Sons and three daughters—their names and the years of their
birth being as follows:-
the eldest son, emigrated in 1801 to America, and established himself as a
market gardener in the city of New York. He died about the year 1833,
leaving a large family, none of whom, however, we have ever seen. His
eldest son corresponded with my brother in Dollar, and thought at one time
of coming over to see us, but never made it out. He died some years ago.
We know nothing of his family, or of any of the other members of uncle's
family. From three letters of uncle's that have just been put into my
hands by my brother in Dollar (written in 1812 and 1813), I find he had
been a most intelligent and really good man, and gifted, withal, with a
poetical turn of mind of no mean order.
Two of these
letters were written to his sister Sarah, and one to his young brother
Henry, then only sixteen years of age, and are of general interest, from
the fact that they were written during the American war with Britain, and
show very clearly the great difficulty there was in carrying on any
intercourse or correspondence between the two countries at that time. The
following quotations will show this. In a letter to his sister, dated June
1813, he says: 'I am sorry that the war between this country and Britain
should interrupt our correspondence, yet I expect to have frequent
opportunities by the Cartel ships to write you; and although such letters
are all examined by the officers of the Government, and no doubt will be
so long as the war continues, yet our correspondence being perfectly
inoffensive is no detriment in the least to them. This, and another for
Sandy, go by the Cartel ship Robert Burns, from New York to Liverpool. Mr.
Gibb in Dunfermline will be able to inform you how to get your letters
properly conveyed for the Cartel ships, which are the only chance now by
which we can write.' Again, in another letter to his sister, dated
December 24th, 1813, he says: 'Your kind letter of last July and the other
two, sent by the return of the Robert Burns, I received all safe. May God
grant that we may be equally prosperous with the present Cartel.'
And again in
the same letter he says: 'I send one letter to Sandy along with this by
the Cartel ship Fair American, bound to Liverpool, where she will be
allowed to remain but a short time before her return to the United States.
It is of no consequence to what port any of the Cartel ships come here;
their letters are very speedily forwarded to New York from any port in the
Union. There was one, the Minerva, that arrived at Boston not long ago
from Leith. It would have been a fine opportunity for Sandy, and I
wondered he did not write by her.'
informed by his sister of the death of his mother at Bankhead, Fossoway,
those two letters to her, from which I have quoted, are full of
expressions of the most intense, glowing love to his dear departed mother,
for whom he and all the family seemed to have entertained the deepest love
and affection. In one of them he wishes a white marble tombstone to be
erected to her memory, with the following inscription, the expense of
which was to be entirely borne by himself:—
wife of ADAM WILSON, of
who departed this life on the
27th day of June 1812, aged
This stone is
erected by her affectionate children, as a lasting testimony of that
sincere regard which they bear for the memory of the beat of mothers.
The last sad
tribute they can here bestow for that maternal and affectionate regard
invariably manifested by her unsullied bosom for the beat interests of her
'Blessed are the
dead who the In the Lord.'
The death of
his mother, and a number of their neighbours, at Bankhead about the same
time, suggested to him the following lines, which I here give as a
specimen of his poetry:-
lately I roamed
through yon bonnie green valley,
The fields they were wet with the soft
And the sweet native notes of the lark still ascended,
Far on high rose her song as still upward she flew.
'My mind it was
cheered by the sweet-smelling verdure
Of all that is fair in kind
The full-blown flowers wide their glories expanded,
The rose and the lily bloomed fragrant and gay.
'Green were the
boughs of the high towering forest,
Brave emblems of virtue they
soared still on high,
Their sweet-smelling odours spread o'er the
Their exalted perfume reached the far-distant sky.
'Though my feet
wandered wide to yon far-distant nation,
My soul hovered still o'er
the midst of the vale;
Deep, deep in my bosom lay hid the sweet
Instilled from the fairest, the dearest of all.
exultation how joyful I tasted
Of these sweets, though far wafted
across the wide sea;
But ah! how short-lived are our best earthly
The beauty of Fossoway blooms no more for me!
the fairest of all the green forest—
How stately they flourished, how
pleasant they shone!
Are laid low in the dust, in silence they moulder;
The glory of Fossoway is fallen, is gone.
'Where are her
cedars that waved on the mountain!
How does her forest look scanty and
O chilly blast, had thou spared but the fairest,
white Wy, ho glad had. I been!
Her old goodly
timber that still stands unshaken,
Both cheerless and dreary alone now
O soft be the breeze that may ever pass o'er them;
and calm be their last setting sun.
'Ye dear tender
shoots who are now thus exposed,
Unsheltered to feel the rough
tempest's cold blast,
O how I would lock you to this warm bosom,
hide thee in safety within this fond breast!
'Nor time nor
great distance shall e'er dim those features,
Of love and affection my
soul ever warms;
It pores o'er the valley with filial raptures,
lingers; it strays by the dearest of urns.'
In a footnote
under this poetry he says: 'Two lines of the first verse allude to the
early morning prayers of our worthy mother, and the two next verses to the
happy situation of those who lived under the auspicious care of her, and
the other worthy friends that are gone?
poetical turn of mind was not confined to him alone of the family, may be
gathered from the following quotation from the same letter, written
immediately after the poetry:-
'In the above
verses I have followed the same imagery as that in which my little brother
Henry had been traversing. His verses I carefully copied from your letter,
and, for a youth of sixteen, I think them well composed.'
From the whole
letter to his brother Henry, he shows himself to have been a decided
Christian, and the many excellent counsels contained in it, and the
language in which they are expressed, would have done credit to any
minister. Throughout all the three letters he shows the greatest interest
in the temporal and eternal welfare of all his brothers and sisters, and
in one of them refers to my father and mother (who were then only about a
year married), as 'our brother Gibson and Mary?
excellent advices given to his young brother in the letter to him are so
suitable for young lads about to start on the business of life, that I
think I cannot do better than give a few extracts from it, for the benefit
of the rising generation of the present day. Although written seventy
years ago (the letter being dated September 20th, 1812), they are as
suitable now as they were then. In it he says :-
scarcely remember the man that thus addresses you; yet often, often do I
think of the playful scenes you gratified me with in your youngest years.
But now that you are grown up, considerations of far more importance will
no doubt occupy your thoughts; and as all men continually stand in need
of, and are greatly benefited by, serious and sound admonitions, I send
you this letter with a sincere desire that it may prove a lasting blessing
to you, and that you may not be without a memorandum of a brother who
sincerely loves you. Whatever your inclinations may be respecting the
occupation you intend to follow, happiness is undoubtedly the grand object
of all your wishes; yet perfect happiness cannot be obtained on this side
the grave. But there is an inexpressible happiness to be obtained which
the "worldly-minded" knows not of,, neither can the world give, or take it
'Let me advise
you above all things to hold daily and frequent intercourse with your
Creator, and endeavour as far as possible to regulate all your conduct
according to the good laws of God, so plainly exhibited to you in your
Bible. Perhaps you have already gone, or may soon go, to some trade. Then,
in a special manner, ought you to be on your guard. Above all things, in
your dealings with mankind, observe these two, truth and honesty, by which
you will command respect from all who know you; whereas falsehood and
covetousness justly incur the contempt of everybody. All kinds of swearing
and obscene language sadly demean the man, deprave his every virtue, and
sink him below the level of the very brute. Beware, I beseech you, of the
friendship of those who indulge in every kind of wickedness and obscenity.
You will always find in every place some whose minds naturally rise above
the vile and ignominious. Such minds will ever warm to those of similar
affections, and the improving intercourse that ensues is truly pleasing
'The man who
spends his life without the society of a virtuous friend can scarcely know
what it is to live. Such an one I hope you will always be able to enjoy,
and may God ever preserve you from the paths of vice.
'I send this
letter, and one to Robert, with a Mr. Murphy, whose family lives in
Paisley. He has been here a few months only, and returns in a Cartel ship
to Liverpool. . . . He is much pleased with my situation.'
I find the
postage of those letters was 2s. 6d., this sum being marked on the back of
one of them. (There were no envelopes in those days, nor for many a day
after—the letters being written on three sides of a big square sheet of
paper, and addressed on the fourth.) It is also written on each of them
when they were received, and in every case I find it took about two months
for the packet to cross the Atlantic.
What a contrast
to all this exists at the present day, and how would my worthy uncle be
astonished could he revisit this earthly scene again! Instead of two
months, his letters would now reach their destination in some seven or
eight days, with unfailing regularity, driven along against, wind and tide
and the ocean currents of the Atlantic by that wonderful agent steam, the
irresistible force of which was first discovered by James Watt, when he
tied down the lid of the kettle, stopped up the spout, and blew away at
the fire with the bellows, to see what effect it would have, when he
escaped death as if by a miracle, the kettle being shivered to atoms.
instead of looking out for friends by whom to send his letters, and when
none could be got, sending them through the post office at a charge of 2s.
6d., we get them despatched daily now for the small sum of 2d. only, by
the magnificent fleet of gigantic steamers that now cross the Atlantic.
But how would
uncle stare in utter amazement, when told that he could flash a message
with lightning speed across the Atlantic to his sister in a few minutes,
by a mysterious wire at the bottom of the ocean! Yet those are amongst the
great advantages we now enjoy, as compared with his day, and for all of
which, and for many other great discoveries since his time, we ought to be
He was the
author of a very excellent book on gardening, published by Anderson,
Davis, & Co., Chatham Square, New York, in 1828. It is entitled, 'Economy
of the Kitchen-Garden, the Orchard, and the Vinery, with Plain Practical
Directions for their Management. By William Wilson, nurseryman.' It is a
book of two hundred and six pages, and contains a very full treatise of
the subject, and must have been invaluable in those early days of the
settlement of the country. He had got the copyright of his book secured;
and the fact that it was so is made known in the first page,—a short
extract from which I here give as follows :-
District of New York, S.S.
REMEMBERED, that on the sixteenth day of October, in the fifty-second year
of the Independence of the United States of America, William Wilson, of
the said district, hath deposited in this office the title of a book, the
right whereof he claims as author and proprietor, in the words following,
the title, as given above.]
to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled "An Act for the
Encouragement of Learning, by securing the Copies of Maps, Charts, and
Books to the Authors and Proprietors of such Copies, during the times
therein mentioned. . . . And extending the Benefits thereof to the Arts of
Designing, Engraving, and Etching Historical and other Prints."
'Cleric of the Socthern District of New York.'
It may not be
uninteresting to give a copy of the index to the book, as showing what
products were principally reared at that time in America. It is as follows
bean, beet, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, carrot, cucumber, corn
salad, cress, endive, egg plant, garlick, hole bean, horseradish, Indian
corn, kail, lettuce, leek, melon, New Zealand spinnage, nasturtium, onion,
okra, parsnip, parsley, pea, pepper, pumpkin, potato, radish, spinage,
squash, sorrel, salsify, shallot, turnip, tomato.
POT AND SWEET
coriander, sweet basil, summer savory, sage, thyme.
comfrey, catmint, elecampane, bore- hound, hyssop, mint, rue, tansey,
peach, plum, cherry, apricot, nectarine, quince, gooseberry, currant,
raspberry, strawberry, grape vine.
Of the vine, he
says the following sorts have been found to succeed tolerably well in
Golden Chasselas, White Chasselas, White Sweet Water, White Muscadine,
Morillon Blanc, Black Hamburgh, Tokay, Blue Cartiga, Muscat Violet,
Messlier, Austrian Muscadell.
introduction to his book I learn that, from a diary he kept regularly for
a period of nine years of the results of all his various gardening
operations, and from the experience gathered for twenty-seven years of
what best suited the soil and climate in the neighbourhood of New York, he
had gathered the materials for another and more important work, which was
immediately to follow his first one, the title of which was to be 'The New
York Horticulturist,' and in which he says would be found 'a distinct
arrangement of all the views of importance which I have formed and
entertain respecting the practical execution of all the various operations
necessary to be performed in the more refined departments of landscape
gardening, the pleasure or flower garden, the hothouse, greenhouse, and
forcing- frames. But as these subjects are not necessarily much connected
with the kitchen garden, it has been thought better to commence with the
management of it by itself, the more especially as it is presumed the far
greater part of the purchasers will prefer to have it so. The management
of fruit trees and grape vines being so nearly allied to that of the
kitchen garden, they will be freely treated upon in the present work, as
soon as we get our kitchen garden well cropped.'
Of this second
work we have, unfortunately, no copy (so far as I know). The copy. of the
one from which I have been quoting was made a present of to my father by
the author, and is inscribed on the first page, in his own handwriting, as
by his Brother,
New York, October 2,
It is now in
the possession of one of my sisters.
As a contrast
to those 'floating islands' that now leave Glasgow almost daily to cross
the Atlantic, it may not be uninteresting here to refer to the Comet, the
first steamer that was started on the Clyde, which was built in 1811, by
J. Wood, for Henry Bell. It was only forty-two feet long, eleven feet
broad, and five and a half feet deep.
steamer was advertised to sail, in a newspaper dated 5th August 1812; and
referring as it does to those early days of steam navigation, I here give
a copy of it in full
BOAT THE COMET, BETWEEN GLASGOW
AND HELENSBURGH, FOR PASSENGERS ONLY.
having at much expense fitted up a handsome vessel to ply upon the Clyde
between Glasgow and Greenock, to sail by the power of wind, air, and
steam, he intends that the vessel shall leave the Broomielaw on Tuesdays,
Thursdays, and Saturdays about mid-day, or at such hour thereafter as may
answer from the state of the tide; and to leave Greenock on Mondays,
Wednesdays, and Fridays in the morning to suit the tide. The elegance,
comfort, safety, and speed of this vessel require only to be proved to
meet the approbation of the public; and the proprietor is determined to do
everything in his power to merit public encouragement. The terms are for
the present fixed at 4s. for the best cabin, and 3s. for the second; but
beyond these rates nothing is to be allowed to servants or any other
persons employed about the vessel. The subscriber continues his
establishment at Helens- burgh Baths the same as for ten years past, and a
vessel will be in readiness to convey passengers in the Comet from
Greenock to Helensburgh. Passengers by the Comet will receive information
of the hours of sailing by applying at Mr. Houstan's office, Broomielaw,
or Mr. Thomaa Blackney, East Quay Head, Greenock.
Aunt Sarah and
Uncle Henry lived in their grandfather's house in Clackmannan, and carried
on the little shop in connection with it. Uncle died at the early age of
thirty-three, but aunt lived to the long age of seventy-nine.
who was a builder, established himself in Paisley, and his eons John,
William, and Robert used frequently to visit us in Dollar. They have now
emigrated to America.
Uncle Adam (who
never was married) lived for long in Dollar, but latterly in Paisley, and
emigrated to America, and we never heard where be settled, or what became
Uncle Bruce was
drowned in the Caldron Linn. No one saw him fall in; but a stepping-stone
that used to be at the top of the upper fall, and by which people got
across the Devon, was amissing, and this led to the supposition that he
might have fallen in. This, alas! turned out to be too true; for, after a
week's searching, his body was got in the lower pool.
Aunt Annie died
in my father's house, at the early age of thirteen. She was a good little
girl, and told the friends around her deathbed that if she died on a
Sabbath, to be sure she was in heaven. And on a Sabbath, sure enough, she
THE OLD HOME IN
I come now to
the one of the family around whom the greatest interest centres - my dear
and loving mother, Mary, who was married to my father on the 26th of April
1811, being then twenty-three years of age, my father being a year
I was told by a
Mrs. M'Ilwraith, who lived in Tillicoultry, and who died only a few months
ago, aged ninety-five, that she knew my father and mother very well before
they were married, and that it was at a marriage in Dollar they first saw
each other. Be this as it may, my father was fortunate in getting one of
the best of women for his partner in life, and who afterwards proved a
most devoted and excellent mother to his large family; and whose memory
will, till the day of my death, be deeply enshrined in my inmost heart.
They had twelve
of a family, four sons and eight daughters, five of whom (two sons and
three daughters) died in infancy. The names of the survivors were as
follows six of whom are still living:-
first Mrs. Peter Daigleish, Stirling. James, married Elizabeth, youngest
daughter of Mr. William Archibald, Craigfoot, Tillicoultry.
Archibald, Devonvale, Tilhicoultry, and Cluny Bank, Porres).
married Jessie Christie, eldest daughter of Mr. James Prentice, Stirling.
Kirk, Park House, Dollar).
(Mrs. M'Leish, Free Church Manse, Methven).
In my father's
house we were most thoroughly drilled in the use of the Scriptures and the
Shorter Catechism, having to repeat (question about) the one half of the
latter every Sabbath night, my father asking all the questions without a
book. This thorough knowledge of the Catechism was at that time, I
believe, very general, and was considered essential to salvation; and in
almost every household it was looked upon as of equal authority with the
Bible. That it should have been so, is, I think, very much to be
regretted, as some important things were left out of it that should have
been in, and some were given a prominence to that had better have been
I trust this
old 'Standard' will—like the New Testament—soon be revised, and those
glorious truths made known in it (which are not at present), that Christ
tasted death for every man (Heb. ii. 9); and that God will have all men to
be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. ii. 4). I
would like, also, to see added to the already beautiful answer to the
fourth question of, 'What is God,' those three precious words, 'God is
love' (1 John iv. 8). When referring to this fourth question of the
Catechism, I think it would not be out of place here to give a short
extract from a very beautiful address I saw lately, on the love of God,
and the great mistake many people made regarding it. The great source of
the mental anguish of thousands is caused by thinking that they must make
God love them by being good. Now God loves us, not because we are good,
but because He is our Father. The cross of Christ does not make God love
us; it is the outcome and measure of His love to us. He loves all His
children—the clumsiest, the dullest, the ugliest, and the worst. His love
lies at the back of everything, and we must get upon that as the solid
foundation of our religious life, not growing up into that, but growing up
out of it.' No poor sin- burdened soul, mourning over the wickedness and
depravity of his or her sinful heart, need ever despair when they see the
love of their heavenly Father to them, as manifested in the beautiful
parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke xv. 11). 'When he was yet a great way
of,' the father did not wait till he came to him, but ran and met him,
fell on his neck, kissed, and embraced his son; showing clearly that God
is at all times more willing to receive us, than we are to go to Him.
to this parable, an interesting story I read a few years ago in one of the
children's magazines, has been brought to mind, and it may not be out of
place to introduce it here. A gentleman's son had lived a very reckless,
sinful life; and, after sinking lower and lower in depravity, he was at
last forced to join himself to other two or three kindred spirits, and
perform through the streets as a coloured minstrel. Stopping in front of a
shop door one day, the merchant (a godly man) offered a shilling to this
son if he would read aloud to them all a portion of Scripture which he
would point out to him. The offer being gladly accepted, the Bible was
opened, and Luke xv. 11 having been pointed out to him, he commenced at
once to his task. He had not proceeded far, when one of his companions
ejaculated, 'That's thee, Jim,' and frequently, as he continued, repeated
the exclamation; till at last the poor fellow fairly broke down, and, like
the son of whom he had been reading, he resolved there and then that 'he
would arise and go to his father,' and confess all his past wickedness;
and ask his forgiveness. He did so, and was welcomed back to his friends,
and this good merchant's shilling proved the means, in God's hand, of this
young prodigal's conversion.
There is no
unwillingness on God's part that we should be saved, and we will have
ourselves to blame if we are not so. He has provided an all-sufficient
Saviour for us, if we will only accept of Him. He says: 'As I live, saith
the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the
wicked turn from His way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil way,
for why will ye die?' (Ezek. xxxiii. 11). And then we have what I look
upon as the most precious verse in the whole Bible, John iii. 16, 'For God
so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' What a
precious word that 'Whosoever' is—the poor broken-hearted penitent, the
sail-righteous Pharisee, the openly wicked and profane, all are here
invited to come, and accept of this all-sufficient Saviour; but we must
come, and each for himself or herself, personally, accept of Him, for
Jesus says in another place of those who reject Him, 'Ye will not come to
me that ye might have life' (John v. 40). How precious is this invitation:
'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you
rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in
heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my
burden is light' (Matt. xi. 28, 29, 30). And again: 'Behold, I stand at
the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will
come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me' (Rev. iii. 20).
Let none, then,
be afraid of being shut out from the atonement of Jesus, when they read
those precious verses.
appearance my father was about the average height (5 ft. 8 or 9 in.), with
a full round face; and, for a long time before he died, had got very grey
and bald. He was a kind and affectionate parent, and at the same time very
strict in maintaining proper discipline in his household.
enjoyed a good story, and had a perfect fund of anecdotes himself, few of
which, however, I am sorry to say, I can remember. He used to tell a vei1y
good one of a Mr. James Stewart, a gentleman boarder of the Rev. Mr.
Brown's of Glendevon. Mr. Stewart, as Scotch folks would say, 'had a
want,' but at the same time a degree of cleverness about him which at
times was very amusing. The Rev. George Graham of Fossoway used to preach
occasionally for Mr. Brown, and was in the habit of teasing Mr. Stewart
very much, which sadly annoyed him, and he resolved, quietly, that some
day he would have his revenge. Well, one Sabbath day, when Mr. Graham was
preaching for Mr. Brown, a favourable opportunity occurred. In finishing
his sermon he shut the Bible, and said, 'I add no more;' when up started
Mr. Stewart in front of the pulpit, and (having an impediment in his
speech) bawled out, as loud as he could, in the hearing of the whole
congregation, 'A—a—a—gude reason whey, Geordie lad, ye've nae mair to
add.' We can easily conceive what 'a chuckle' would run through the
congregation, and that Mr. Graham would not, after this, be in the best
possible mood for finishing the rest of the service.
amusing stories are told of Mr. Stewart by others, and, while referring to
him, I may here give one or two I got from the Rev. John M'Leish, who knew
him well. The Rev. John Clark of Blackford like Mr. Graham—frequently
preached for Mr. Brown, and he also it seems, had taken a pleasure in
teasing Mr. Stewart, and Jamie (as be used to be called) made up his mind
that he would some day 'be upsides with him.' Mr. Stewart had made himself
very useful in Glendevon Church, and regularly performed all the duties of
the church-officer, ringing the bell, and taking the Bible up into the
pulpit, etc.; so that it was unnecessary to employ a paid official for
these duties. Well, on one occasion, when Mr. Clark was going to
officiate, Mr. Stewart got the sermon from him to put into the Bible, that
he knew was going to be 'read to the folks that day (reading sermons in
those days was not so common as it is now, and was looked upon with great
disfavour by the people; it being no uncommon occurrence, when a sermon
was read, to see some one rise and go out), and away he marched up to the
pulpit with the Bible; and, in order to let the congregation see what they
might expect, he opened the Bible, and held it up, first to the one
gallery, and then to the other, showing off the minister's manuscript,
accompanying it, no doubt, with some knowing 'winks' and grimaces; and
while this performance was going on, Mr. Clark— rather sooner than was
expected—walked into the church, and 'took in' the whole situation at a
glance; when down went the Bible with a thump on the pulpit, and Jamie
made 'clean heels' down the pulpit stair, and out of the church, to the
great amusement of the whole congregation, and the no little discomfiture
of poor Mr. Clark.
It was a habit
with Mr. Clark, when preaching, to lift the Bible from the pulpit, and lay
it down, first on the one side, and then on the other, which was rather
peculiar, and very noticeable. Well, at dinner that day (there being a
goodly company present), Mr. Clark thought he would be revenged on Mr.
Stewart for the insult he had offered him in the church, and was very
severe with his satire upon the poor old man; when, without saying a
single word, Mr. Stewart rose from the table, got hold of a big Bible,
and, placing it down before him, commenced to turn it over from one side
to the other, which fairly 'set the table in a roar,' and completely
turned the laugh against his assailant.
Stewart was from home he invariably put a half-crown in the plate on
Sabbath days; but when at Blackford on one occasion he departed from his
usual practice, and put in only a threepenny-bit---Mr. Clark having
offended him in some way before going to church. When the collection was
about to be counted (Mr. Stewart being present), Mr. Clark turned over the
con- tents of the plate from side to side in search of the usual
half-crown; and finding—to his great astonishment —only a threepenny-bit
instead, he could not conceal his disappointment, and, turning to Mr.
Stewart, said, 'What do you think the folks will be crying after you
through the streets, but "Threepenny Jamie, Threepenny Jamie"?' when Mr.
Stewart very coolly and amusingly replied, 'Will they, though? and what do
you think they will cry after you, but "Paper Jock, Paper Jock";' which
fairly convulsed the members of session with laughter, and scored another
complete triumph for Mr. Stewart. I should think that Mr. Clark would,
after this, be glad to let poor Jamie alone.
I will now give
just one other anecdote about him, although many others could be told.
When at Blackford on one sacramental occasion, Mr. Clark—being rather
scarce of elders that day—asked Mr. Stewart if he would stand at the plate
at the church door, to which he at once agreed. As usual on these
occasions, services were being conducted at a tent in the churchyard, and,
the day being fine, the great bulk of the people preferred going to the
tent, instead of into the church. The result of this was, that while the
plate for the tent congregation was well filled, Jamie's was almost empty;
so, watching a favourable opportunity,—when the elder at the tent plate
was temporarily absent,—be slipped quietly over to it, carried and emptied
it into the church-door plate, and then replaced the empty plate in its
old position. We can easily fancy the consternation of the elder when he
returned and found his plate empty; and his first thought would, I
daresay, be to cry for the police, had there been any such officials in
that part of the world. However, after a little calm reflection, he would
not, I daresay, be at a great loss to suspect who had been the rogue, when
he remembered that Mr. Stewart was there that day.
I recollect Mr.
Stewart's appearance very well. He was a man well up in years, and, being
slightly paralyzed on one side, had a limp in walking, and stooped
considerably to that side.
(a son of the Rev. Mr. Brown's with whom Mr. Stewart boarded) was one of
my most intimate school companions.]
having been discovered in my father's day, the only likeness we have of
him was taken, in pencil, by one of the candidates for the
drawing-master's situation in Dollar Academy, when Mr. Brown was
appointed. My father being one of the trustees of the Institution, this
candidate wished to show him what he could do; and hence this portrait. I
am very sorry we have no likeness whatever of my mother; but, had I been
an artist, I think I could take her portrait yet, her features are so
indelibly impressed on my memory, although very young when she died. It
was on the 29th of August 1828 that this sad event took place, which
brought a dark cloud over us all, and brought their married life to a
termination after the short sojourn together of only seventeen years.
young when this sad event happened, I have—as already stated—a distinct
recollection of her sweet and loving face, and only those who have
experienced, like myself, what it is to lose a loving partner in life, can
have any idea of the irreparable loss my father sustained in the death of
his young wife (she was only forty), and what a loss it must have been to
her young family.
This great blow
(the greatest, I think, that can befall us poor mortals here below) would
weigh on my father's spirits till the day of his death; for however full
your house may be, your companion is gone, and nothing on earth can make
up for the loss. He nevertheless bore up wonderfully under it, and
apparently was always cheerful when in the presence of any one, and
enjoyed a quiet meeting of friends very much. But 'the heart knoweth its
own bitterness;' and (speaking from my own experience) solitude is found
at times to be a great relief, where the pent-up fountain of our grief can
flow out freely, unrestrained by the presence of any one. In the words of
another, 'Hearts constitute homes, and the 1088 of a beloved wife is the
communion of home ended, and the husband left to a solitude that no tears
can relieve, no entreaties reverse.' Seven of a family (one more than in
my own case) were left with him to mourn over the loss of his partner in
Father has wise ends in view in those great trials He sends upon us, and
though we cannot see through them now, we shall be able to comprehend them
in eternity, and to then realize that 'all things work together for good
to those who love the Lord.' Those great bereavements are—amongst other
things sent to try our faith, and I think I cannot do better than here
introduce one of Spurgeon's beautiful Morning by Morning &ading8 (a
precious book), bearing on this subject. It is on October 7, from Num. xi.
11 'Wherefore bast Thou afflicted Thy servant?' 'Our heavenly Father sends
us frequent troubles to try our faith. If our faith be worth anything, it
will stand the test. Gilt is afraid of fire, but gold is not; the paste
gem dreads to be touched by the diamond, but the true jewel fears no test.
It is a poor faith which can only trust God when friends are true, the
body full of health, and the business profitable; but that is true faith
which holds by the Lord's faithfulness when friends are gone, when the
body is sick, when spirits are depressed, and the light of our Father's
countenance is hidden. A faith which can say, in the direst trouble,
"Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him," is heaven-born faith. The
Lord afflicts His servants to glorify Himself, for He is greatly glorified
in the graces of His people, which are His own handiwork. When
"tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience,
hope," the Lord is honoured by these growing virtues. We should never know
the music of the harp if the strings were left untouched; nor enjoy the
juice of the grape if it were not trodden in the wine-press; nor discover
the sweet perfume of the cinnamon if it were not pressed and beaten; nor
feel the warmth of fire if the coals were not utterly consumed. The wisdom
and power of the great Workman are discovered by the trials through which
His vessels of mercy are permitted to pass. Present afflictions tend also
to heighten future joy. There must be shades in the picture to bring out
the beauty of the lights. Could we be so supremely blessed in heaven, if
we had not known the curse of sin and the sorrow of earth? Will not peace
be sweeter after conflict, and rest more welcome after toil? Will not the
recollection of past sufferings enhance the bliss of the glorified? There
are many other comfortable answers to the question with which we opened
our brief meditation; let us muse upon it all day long.'
REFORM BILL OF
father took no active public part in politics, he was thoroughly Liberal
in his views, and when the great Reform Bill passed in 1832, was amongst
those who rejoiced that this first grand step in the political
regeneration of this country was taken. Although very young at the time, I
remember well the great rejoicings that took place throughout the length
and breadth of the land. There was a great procession at Dollar, with some
seven or eight bands of music, and we marched round by Rack-Mill,
Dollarbeg, and Blairingone, and home by Vicar's Bridge. A public dance
also took place on the Brewer's Knowe.
In case some of
my young readers may not know what the Reform Bill was, I may here state
that prior to 1832 Scotland had no real representation whatever. The
county qualification of Scotland was limited to a peculiar description of
property, and was above a hundred times higher than the corresponding
qualification in England,—the smallest English county containing as many
voters as all the counties of Scotland put together. The condition of the
burghs was different from, but not better than, that of the counties. The
appointment of members of Parliament in burghs lay with the Town Councils,
which were self-elected, and, as a rule, not well qualified for such an
important responsibility,--the result being that the representation of the
Scottish people in their own House was a mockery and a sham. By the Reform
Act of 1832, the county qualifications were an occupancy franchise of £50,
and an ownership one of £10; while in burghs the qualification was £10 for
the proprietors and tenants. These qualifications continued until 1867,
since which date every householder in burghs has a vote; and in counties
the ownership qualification has been £5, and that of occupants £14. There
can be little doubt, however, that before the present Parliament is
dissolved the present household qualification of burghs will have been
extended to counties. The country is now in earnest that this change
should take place, and no Parliament can long dare to withhold it.
The Reform Bill
of 1832 was the first 'knock on the head' our Tory legislators got, and
put an end, to a great extent, to the 'class' legislation which had been
carried on for so long a period.
The first great
contest in the united counties of Clackmannan and Kinross, to represent
them in Parliament, after the passing of the Reform Bill, was between the
late W. P. Adam's father, Admiral Adam (Liberal), and the present Lord
Balfour of Burleigh's father, Mt. Bruce of Kennet (Tory), and resulted in
a great victory for the Admiral, who was carried shoulder-high through