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Title: Leading Articles on Various Subjects
Author: Miller, Hugh, 1802-1856
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Leading Articles on Various Subjects" ***

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{Transcriber's Note:

All square brackets [] are from the original text. Braces {} ("curly
brackets") are supplied by the transcriber.

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{Illustration: W. H. McFarlane, Lith^r Edin^r
_Fac-simile of a Calotype by D. O. Hill, R. I. A. 1845.
see page 184_}












The present volume is issued in compliance with the strong solicitations
of many, to whose desire deference was due. In selecting the articles,
I have been guided mainly by two considerations,--namely, the
necessity for reproducing the mature opinion of a great mind, upon
great subjects; and for making the selection so varied, as to convey to
the reader some idea of the wonderful versatility of the powers
which could treat subjects so diverse in their nature with such
uniform eloquence and discrimination. I trust that the chapters on
Education will prove to be a valuable contribution to the speedy
settlement of that question at the present crisis. Those on
Sutherlandshire are inserted because they possess a permanent value,
in connection with the social and economical history of our country.
Some of the articles are of a personal character, and are introduced,
not, certainly, for the purpose of recalling old animosities, but
solely to illustrate the author's method of using some of the more
formidable figures of speech; while over against these may be set some
on purely literary subjects, which show the genial tenderness of his
disposition towards those who aspired to serve God and their generation
by giving to the world the fruit of their imagination, their labour,
and their leisure.

I have not determined the selection without securing the counsel and
approval of men on whose judgment I could rely. It only remains for me
to thank them, and in an especial way to thank Mr. D. O. Hill for the
portrait which forms the frontispiece. An impersonal reference to a
similar portrait taken at the same time will be found at page 184, in
the article on 'The Calotype.'


_London, March 8, 1870._




  LORD BROUGHAM,                                         105

  THE SCOTT MONUMENT,                                    111

  THE LATE MR. KEMP,                                     119


  A HIGHLAND CLEARING,                                   136

  THE POET MONTGOMERY,                                   146

  CRITICISM--INTERNAL EVIDENCE,                          151

  THE SANCTITIES OF MATTER,                              161

  THE LATE REV. ALEXANDER STEWART,                       170

  THE CALOTYPE,                                          179

  THE TENANT'S TRUE QUARREL,                             190


  PERIODICALISM,                                         206

  'ANNUS MIRABILIS,'                                     215


  FINE-BODYISM,                                          232

  ORGANSHIP,                                             240

  BAILLIE'S LETTERS AND JOURNALS,                        249

  FIRST PRINCIPLES,                                      262

  AN UNSPOKEN SPEECH,                                    269

  DISRUPTION PRINCIPLES,                                 280

  CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CRIMEAN WAR,                    293

  THE POETS OF THE CHURCH,                               302

  THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA,                           315

  A VISION OF THE RAILROAD,                              327

  THE TWO MR. CLARKS,                                    337

  PULPIT DUTIES NOT SECONDARY,                           358

  DUGALD STEWART,                                        369

  OUR TOWN COUNCILS,                                     378

  RUINED,                                                388


The following chapters on the Educational Question first appeared as a
series of articles in the _Witness_ newspaper. They present, in
consequence, a certain amount of digression, and occasional
re-statement and explanation, which, had they been published
simultaneously, as parts of a whole, they would not have exhibited.
The controversy was vital and active at every stage of their
appearance. Statements made and principles laid down in the earlier
articles had, from the circumstance that their truth had been
questioned or their soundness challenged, to be re-asserted and
maintained in those which followed; and hence some little derangement
in the management of the question, for which, however, the interest
which must always attach to a real conflict may be found to
compensate. That portion of the controversy, however, which arose out
of one of the articles of the series, and which some have deemed
personal, has been struck out of the published edition of the
pamphlet, and retained in but an inconsiderable number of copies,
placed in the hands of a few friends. In omitting it where it has been
omitted, the writer has acted on the advice of a gentleman for whose
judgment he entertains the most thorough respect, and from a desire
that the general argument should not be prejudiced by a matter
naturally, but not necessarily, connected with it. And in retaining it
where it has been retained, he has done so in the full expectation of
a time not very distant, when it will be decided that he has neither
outraged the ordinary courtesies of controversy, nor taken up a false
line of inference or statement; and when the importance of the subject
discussed will be regarded as quite considerable enough to make any
one earnest, without the necessity of supposing that he had been
previously angry.

It is all-important, that on the general question of National
Education, the Free Church should take up her position wisely.
Majorities in her courts, however overwhelming, will little avail
her, if their findings fail to recommend themselves to the good
sense of her people, or are palpably unsuited to the emergencies of
the time. A powerful writer of the present age employs, in one of
his illustrations, the bold figure of a ship's crew, that, with
the difficulties of Cape Horn full before them, content themselves
with instituting aboard their vessel a constitutional system of
voting, and who find delight in contemplating the unanimity which
prevails on matters in general, both above decks and below. 'But
your ship,' says Carlyle, 'cannot double Cape Horn by its excellent
plans of voting: the ship, to get round Cape Horn, will find a set of
conditions already voted for, and fixed with adamantine rigour, by
the ancient Elemental Powers, who are entirely careless how you
vote. If you can by voting, or without voting, ascertain these
conditions, and valiantly conform to them, you will get round the
Cape: if you cannot, the ruffian Winds will blow you ever back again;
the inexorable Icebergs, dumb privy councillors from Chaos, will nudge
you with most chaotic admonition; you will be flung half-frozen on
the Patagonian cliffs, or jostled into shivers by your iceberg
councillors, and will never get round Cape Horn at all.' Now there
is much meaning couched in this quaint figure, and meaning which the
Free Church would do well to ponder. There are many questions on
which she could perhaps secure a majority, which yet that majority
would utterly fail to carry. On the question of College Extension,
for instance, she might be able to vote, if she but selected her
elders with some little care, that there should be full staffs of
theological professors at Glasgow and Aberdeen. But what would her
votes succeed in achieving? Not, assuredly, the doubling of the Cape;
but the certainty of shivering her all-important Educational
Institute on three inexorable icebergs. In the first place, her
magnificent metropolitan College, like that huge long boat, famous
in story, which Robinson Crusoe was able to build, but wholly unable
to launch, would change from being what it now is--a trophy of her
liberality and wisdom--into a magnificent monument of her folly. In
the second place, she would have to break faith with her existing
professors, and to argue, mayhap, when they were becoming thin and
seedy, and getting into debt, that she was not morally bound to
them for their salaries. And, in the third and last place, she would
infallibly secure that, some twenty years hence at furthest, every
theological professor of the Free Church should be a pluralist, and
able to give to his lectures merely those fag-ends of his time
which he could snatch from the duties of the pulpit and the care of
his flock. And such, in doubling the Cape Horn of the College
question, is all that unanimity of voting could secure to the
Church; unless, indeed, according to Carlyle, she voted in accordance
with the 'set of conditions already voted for and fixed by the
adamantine powers.'

Nor does the question of Denominational Education, now that there is a
national scheme in the field, furnish a more, but, on the contrary, a
much less, hopeful subject for mere voting in our church courts, than
the question of College Extension. It is _not_ to be carried by
ecclesiastical majorities. Some of the most important facts in the
'Ten Years' Conflict' have perhaps still to be recorded; and it is one
of these, that long after the Non-Intrusion party possessed majorities
in the General Assembly, the laity looked on with exceedingly little
interest, much possessed by the suspicion that the clergy were
battling, not on the popular behalf, but on their own. Even in 1839,
after the Auchterarder case had been decided in the House of Lords,
the apathy seemed little disturbed; and the writer of these chapters,
when engaged in doing his little all to dissipate it, could address a
friend in Edinburgh, to whom he forwarded the MS. of a pamphlet thrown
into the form of a letter to Lord Brougham, in the following
terms:--'The question which at present agitates the Church is a vital
one; and unless the people can be roused to take part in it (and they
seem strangely uninformed and wofully indifferent as yet), the worst
cause must inevitably prevail. They may perhaps listen to one of their
own body, who combines the principles of the old with the opinions of
the modern Whig, and who, though he feels strongly on the question,
has no secular interest involved in it.' It was about this time that
Dr. George Cook said--and, we have no doubt, said truly--that he could
scarce enter an inn or a stage-coach without finding respectable men
inveighing against the utter folly of the Non-Intrusionists, and the
worse than madness of the church courts. For the opponents of the
party were all active and awake at the time, and its incipient friends
still indifferent or mistrustful. The history of Church petitions in
Edinburgh during the ten eventful years of the war brings out this
fact very significantly in the statistical form. From 1833, the year
of the Veto Act, to 1839, the year of the Auchterarder decision,
petitions to Parliament from Edinburgh on behalf of the struggling
Church were usually signed by not more than from four to five
thousand persons. In 1839 the number rose to six thousand. The people
began gradually to awaken, and to trust. Speeches in church courts
were found to have comparatively little influence in creating opinion,
or ecclesiastical votes in securing confidence; and so there were
other means of appealing to the public mind resorted to, mayhap not
wholly without effect: for in 1840 the annual Church petition from
Edinburgh bore attached to it thirteen thousand signatures; and to
that of the following year (1841) the very extraordinary number of
twenty-five thousand was appended. And, save for the result, general
over Scotland, which we find thus indicated by the Church petitions of
Edinburgh, the Disruption, and especially the origination of a Free
Church, would have been impossible events. How, we ask, was that
result produced? Not, certainly, by the votes of ecclesiastical
courts,--for mere votes would never have doubled the Cape Horn of the
Church question; but simply through the conviction at length
effectually wrought in the public mind, that our ministers were
struggling and suffering, not for clerical privileges, but for popular
rights,--not for themselves, but for others. And that conviction once
firmly entertained, the movement waxed formidable; for elsewhere, as
in the metropolis, popular support increased at least fivefold; and
the question, previously narrow of base, and very much restricted to
one order of men, became broad as the Scottish nation, and deep as the
feelings of the Scottish people. But as certainly as the component
strands of a cable that have been twisted into strength and coherency
by one series of workings, may be untwisted into loose and feeble
threads by another, so certainly may the majorities of our church
courts, by a reversal of the charm which won for them the element of
popular strength, render themselves of small account in the nation.
They became strong by advocating, in the Patronage question, popular
rights, in opposition to clerical interests: they may and will become
weak, if in the Educational one they reverse the process, and advocate
clerical interests in opposition to popular rights.

Their country is perishing for lack of a knowledge which they cannot
supply. Every seven years--the brief term during which, if a
generation fail to be educated, the opportunity of education for ever
passes away--there are from a hundred and fifty to two hundred
thousand of the youth of Scotland added to the adult community in an
untaught, uninformed condition. Nor need we say in how frightful a
ratio their numbers must increase. The ignorant children of the
present will become the improvident and careless parents of the
future; and how improvident and careless the corresponding class which
already exists among us always approves itself to be, let our prisons
and workhouses tell. Our country, with all its churches, must
inevitably founder among the nations, like a water-logged vessel in a
tempest, if this state of matters be permitted to continue. And why
permit it to continue? Be it remembered that it is the _national_
schools--those schools which are the people's own, and are yet
withheld from them--and not the schools of the Free Church, which it
is the object of the Educational movement to open up and extend. Nor
is it proposed to open them up on a new principle. It is an
unchallenged fact, that there exists no statutory provision for the
teaching of religion _in them_. All that is really wanted is, to
transfer them on their present statutory basis from the few to the
many,--from Moderate ministers and Episcopalian heritors, to a people
essentially sound in the faith--Presbyterian in the proportion of at
least _six_ to one, and Evangelical in the proportion of at least
_two_ to one. And at no distant day this transference must and will
take place, if the ministers of the Free Church do not virtually join
their forces to their brethren of the Establishment in behalf of an
alleged ecclesiastical privilege nowhere sanctioned in the word of

There is another important item in this question, over which, as
already determined by inevitable laws, ecclesiastical votes, however
unanimous, can exert no influence or control. They cannot ordain that
inadequately paid schoolmasters can be other than inferior educators.
If the remuneration be low, it is impossible by any mere force of
majorities to render the teaching high. There is a law already 'voted
for' in the case, which majorities can no more repeal than they can
the law of gravitation. And here we must take the opportunity of
stating--for there has been misrepresentation on the point--what our
interest in the teachers of Scotland and of the Free Church really is.
Certainly not indifferent to their comfort as men, or to the welfare
of their profession, as one of the most important and yet worst
remunerated in the community, we frankly confess that we look to
something greatly higher than either their comfort or the professional
welfare in general. They and their profession are but _means_; and it
is to the _end_ that we mainly look,--that end being the right
education of the Scottish people, and their consequent elevation in
the scale, moral and intellectual. We would deal by the teachers of
the country in this matter as we would by the stone-cutters of
Edinburgh, were we entrusted with the erection of some such exquisite
piece of masonry as the Scott Monument, or that fine building recently
completed in St. Andrew Square. Instead of pitching our scale of
remuneration at the rate of labourers' wages, we would at once pitch
it at the highest rate assigned to the skilled mechanic; and this not
in order, primarily at least, that the masons engaged should be
comfortable, but in order that they should be masters of their
profession, and that their work should be of the completest and most
finished kind. For labourers' wages would secure the services of only
bungling workmen, and lead to the production of only inferior masonry.
And such is the principle on which we would befriend our poor
schoolmasters,--not so much for their own sakes, as for the sake of
their work. Further, however, it is surely of importance that, when
engaged in teaching religion, they themselves should be enabled, in
conformity with one of its injunctions, to 'provide things honest in
the sight of all men.' Nay, of nothing are we more certain, than that
the Church has only to exert herself to the extent of the liabilities
already incurred to her teachers, in order to be convinced of the
absolute necessity which exists for a broad national scheme. Any
doubts which she may at present entertain regarding the question of
the _necessity_, are, in part at least, effects of her lax views
respecting the question of the _liability_, and of her consequent
belief that _anything well divided_ is sufficient to discharge it. At
the same time, however, it would be perhaps well that at least our
better-paid schoolmasters should be made to reflect that the
circumstances of their position are very peculiar; and that should
they take a zealous part against what a preponderating majority of the
laity of their Church must of necessity come to regard as the cause of
their country, their opposition, though utterly uninfluential in the
general struggle, may prove thoroughly effectual in injuring
themselves. For virtually in the Free Church, as in the British
Constitution, it is the '_Commons_' who grant the supplies.

We subjoin the paper on the Educational Question, addressed by Dr.
Chalmers to the Hon. Mr. Fox Maule, as it first appeared in the
_Witness_. The reader will see that there is direct reference made to
it in the following pages, and will find it better suited to repay
careful study and frequent perusal than perhaps any other document on
the subject ever written:--

  'It were the best state of things, that we had a Parliament
  sufficiently theological to discriminate between the right and
  the wrong in religion, and to encourage or endow accordingly.
  But failing this, it seems to us the next best thing, that in
  any public measure for helping on the education of the people,
  Government were to abstain from introducing the element of
  religion at all into their part of the scheme; and this not
  because they held the matter to be insignificant,--the contrary
  might be strongly expressed in the preamble of their Act,--but
  on the ground that, in the present divided state of the
  Christian world, they would take no cognizance of, just because
  they would attempt no control over, the religion of applicants
  for aid,--leaving this matter entire to the parties who had to
  do with the erection and management of the schools which they
  had been called upon to assist. A grant by the State upon this
  footing might be regarded as being appropriately and exclusively
  the expression of their value for a good secular education.

  'The confinement for the time being of any Government measure
  for schools to this object we hold to be an imputation, not so
  much on the present state of our Legislature, as on the present
  state of the Christian world, now broken up into sects and
  parties innumerable, and seemingly incapable of any effort for
  so healing these wretched divisions as to present the rulers of
  our country with aught like such a clear and unequivocal
  majority in favour of what is good and true, as might at once
  determine them to fix upon and to espouse it.

  'It is this which has encompassed the Government with
  difficulties, from which we can see no other method of
  extrication than the one which we have ventured to suggest. And
  as there seems no reason why, because of these unresolved
  differences, a public measure for the health of all--for the
  recreation of all--for the economic advancement of all--should
  be held in abeyance, there seems as little reason why, because
  of these differences, a public measure for raising the general
  intelligence of all should be held in abeyance. Let the men
  therefore of all Churches and all denominations alike hail such
  a measure, whether as carried into effect by a good education in
  letters or in any of the sciences; and, meanwhile, in these very
  seminaries let that education in religion which the Legislature
  abstains from providing for, be provided for as freely and as
  amply as they will by those who have undertaken the charge of

  'We should hope, as the result of such a scheme, for a most
  wholesome rivalship on the part of many in the great aim of
  rearing on the basis of their respective systems a moral and
  Christian population, well taught in the principles and
  doctrines of the gospel, along with being well taught in the
  lessons of ordinary scholarship. Although no attempt should be
  made to regulate or to enforce the lessons of religion in the
  inner hall of legislation, this will not prevent, but rather
  stimulate, to a greater earnestness in the contest between truth
  and falsehood--between light and darkness--in the outer field of
  society; nor will the result of such a contest in favour of what
  is right and good be at all the more unlikely, that the families
  of the land have been raised by the helping hand of the State to
  a higher platform than before, whether as respects their health,
  or their physical comfort, or their economic condition, or, last
  of all, their place in the scale of intelligence and learning.

  'Religion would, under such a system, be the immediate product,
  not of legislation, but of the Christian philanthropic zeal
  which obtained throughout society at large. But it is well
  when what legislation does for the fulfilment of its object
  tends not to the impediment, but rather, we apprehend, to the
  furtherance, of those greater and higher objects which are in
  the contemplation of those whose desires are chiefly set on
  the immortal wellbeing of man.

  'On the basis of these general views, I have two remarks to
  offer regarding the Government scheme of education.

  '1. I should not require a certificate of satisfaction with the
  religious progress of the scholars from the managers of the
  schools, in order to their receiving the Government aid. Such a
  certificate from Unitarians or Catholics implies the direct
  sanction or countenance by Government to their respective
  creeds, and the responsibility, not of _allowing_, but, more
  than this, of _requiring_, that these shall be taught to the
  children who attend. A bare allowance is but a general
  toleration; but a requirement involves in it all the mischief,
  and, I would add, the guilt, of an indiscriminate endowment for
  truth and error.

  '2. I would suffer parents or natural guardians to select what
  parts of the education they wanted for their children. I would
  not force arithmetic upon them, if all they wanted was reading
  and writing; and as little would I force the Catechism, or any
  part of the religious instruction that was given in the school,
  if all they wanted was a secular education. That the managers of
  the Church of England schools shall have the power to impose
  their own Catechism upon the children of Dissenters, and, still
  more, to compel their attendance on church, I regard as among
  the worst parts of the scheme.

  'The above observations, it will be seen, meet any questions
  which might be put in regard to the applicability of the scheme
  to Scotland, or in regard to the use of the Douay version in
  Roman Catholic schools.

  'I cannot conclude without expressing my despair of any great or
  general good being effected in the way of Christianizing our
  population, but through the medium of a Government themselves
  Christian, and endowing the true religion, which I hold to be
  their imperative duty, not because it is the religion of the
  many, but because it is true.

  'The scheme on which I have now ventured to offer these
  few observations I should like to be adopted, not because
  it is absolutely the best, but only the best in existing

  'The endowment of the Catholic religion by the State I should
  deprecate, as being ruinous to the country in all its interests.
  Still I do not look for the general Christianity of the people,
  but through the medium of the Christianity of their rulers. This
  is a lesson taught _historically_ in Scripture, by what we read
  there of the influence which the personal character of the
  Jewish monarchs had on the moral and religious state of their
  subjects; it is taught _experimentally_, by the impotence, now
  fully established, of the Voluntary principle; and last, and
  most decisive of all, it is taught _prophetically_ in the book
  of Revelation, when told that then will the kingdoms of the
  earth (_Basileiai_, or governing powers) become the kingdoms of
  our Lord Jesus Christ, or the Governments of the earth become
  Christian Governments.

  (Signed)  'THOMAS CHALMERS.'


  {1} Some of the reasonings of both the Established and Free
      Church courts on this matter would be amusing were they not so
      sad. 'Feed my lambs,' said our Saviour, after His resurrection,
      to Peter; and again twice over, 'Feed my sheep.' Now, let us
      suppose some zealous clergyman setting himself, on the strength
      of the latter injunction here, to institute a new order of
      preachers. As barbers frequently amuse their employers with
      gossip, when divesting them of their beards or trimming their
      heads, and have opportunities of addressing their fellow-men
      which are not possessed by the other mechanical professions, the
      zealous clergyman determines on converting them into preachers,
      and sets up a Normal School, in order that they may be taught
      the art of composing short sermons, which they are to deliver
      when shaving their customers, and longer ones, which they are
      to address to them when cutting their hair. And in course of
      time the expounding barbers are sent abroad to operate on the
      minds and chins of the community. 'There is no mention made of
      any such order of prelectors,' says a stubborn layman, 'in my
      New Testament;' 'Nor yet in mine,' says another. 'Sheer
      Atheism,--Deism at the very least!' exclaims the zealous
      clergyman. 'Until Christianity was fairly established in the
      world, there was no such thing as shaving at all; the Jews don't
      shave yet: besides, does not every decent Church member shave
      before going to church? And as for the authority, how read you
      the text, "Feed my sheep!'" 'Weighty argument that about the
      shaving,' say the laymen; 'but really the text seems to be
      stretched just a little too far. The commission is given to
      Peter; but it confers on Peter no authority whatever to
      commission the barbers. Nay, our grand objection to the
      pseudo-successors of Peter is, that they corrupted the Church
      after this very manner, by commissioning the non-commissioned,
      until they filled the groaning land with cardinals, bishops, and
      abbots, monks and nuns,--

                      "Eremites and friars,
          White, black, and grey, with all their trumpery.'"

      Now, be it remembered that we are far from placing the
      Church-employed schoolmaster on the level of the parson-employed
      barber of our illustration. _Rationally_ considered, they are
      very different orders indeed; but so far as _direct_ Scripture is
      concerned, they stand, we contend, on exactly the same ground.
      The laity would do well in this controversy to arm themselves
      with the New Testament, and, if their opponents be very
      intolerant, to hand them the volume, and request them to turn up
      their authority. And, of course, if the intolerance be very
      great, the authority must be very direct. Mere arguings on the
      subject would but serve to show that it has no actual existence.
      When the commission of a captain or lieutenant is legitimately
      demanded, it is at once produced; but were one to demand the
      commission of a sergeant or boatswain's mate, the man could at
      best only reason about it.



  Disputes regarding the meaning embodied by Chalmers in his
  Educational Document--Narrative suited to throw some light on
  the subject--Consideration of the Document itself--Testimony
  respecting it of the Hon. Mr. Fox Maule.

One of the most important controversies which has arisen within
the pale of the Romish Church--that between the Jansenists and
Jesuits--was made to hinge for many years on a case of disputed
meaning in the writings of a certain deceased author. There were five
doctrines of a well-defined character which, the Jesuits said, were to
be found in the works of Cornelius Jansenius, umquhile Bishop of
Ypres, but which, the Jansenists asserted, were not to be found in
anything Jansenius had ever written. And in the attempt to decide
this simple question of fact, as Pascal calls it, the School of the
Sorbonne and the Court of the Inquisition were completely baffled;
and zealous Roman Catholics heard without conviction the verdict of
councils, and failed to acquiesce in the judgment of even the Pope.

We have been reminded oftener than once of this singular controversy,
by the late discussions which have arisen in our church courts
regarding the meaning embodied by Chalmers in that posthumous document
on the Educational question, which is destined, we hold, to settle the
whole controversy. At first we regarded it as matter of wonder that
such discussions should have arisen; for we had held that there was
really little room for difference respecting the meaning of
Chalmers,--a man whose nature it was to deal with broad truths, not
with little distinctions; and who had always the will, and certainly
did not lack the ability, of making himself thoroughly understood. We
have since thought, however, that as there is nothing which has once
occurred that may not occur again, what happened to the writings of
Jansenius might well happen to one of the writings of Chalmers; and
further, that from certain conversations which we had held with the
illustrious deceased a few months before his death, on the subject of
his paper, and from certain facts in our possession regarding his
views, we had spectacles through which to look at the document in
question, and a key to his meaning, which most of the disputants
wanted. The time has at length come when these helps to the right
understanding of so great an authority should be no longer withheld
from the public. We shall betray no confidence; and should we be
compelled to speak somewhat more in the first person, and of
ourselves, than may seem quite accordant with good taste, our readers
will, we trust, suffer us to remind them that we do not commit the
fault very often, or very offensively, and that the present employment
of the personal pronoun, just a little modified by the editorial _we_,
seems inevitably incident to the special line of statement on which we
propose to enter.

During the greater part of the years 1845 and 1846, the Editor of
the _Witness_ was set aside from his professional labours by a
protracted illness, in part at least an effect of the perhaps too
assiduous prosecution of these labours at a previous period. He had
to cease per force even from taking a very fixed view of what the
Church was doing or purposing; and when, early in January 1847, he
returned, after a long and dreary period of rustication, in improved
health to Edinburgh, he at least possessed the advantage--much
prized by artists and authors in their respective walks--of being
able to look over the length and breadth of his subject with a
_fresh_ eye. And, in doing so, there was one special circumstance
in the survey suited to excite some alarm. We found that in all the
various schemes of the Free Church, with but one exception, its
extensively spread membership and its more active leaders were
thoroughly at one; but that in that exceptional scheme they were
not at all at one. They were at one in their views respecting the
ecclesiastical character of ministers, elders, and church courts,
and of the absolute necessity which exists that these, and these
only, should possess the spiritual key. Further, they were wholly at
one in recognising the command of our adorable Saviour to preach
the gospel to all nations, as of perpetual obligation on the
Churches. But regarding what we shall term, without taking an undue
liberty with the language, the pedagogical teaching of religion, they
differed _in toto_. Practically, and to all intents and purposes,
the schoolmaster, in the eye of the membership of our Church, and
of the other Scottish Churches, was simply a layman, the proper
business of whose profession was the communication of secular
learning. And as in choosing their tailors and shoemakers the
people selected for themselves the craftsmen who made the best and
handsomest shoes and clothes, so, in selecting a schoolmaster for
their children, they were sure always to select the teacher who was
found to turn out the best scholars.{2} All other things equal, they
would have preferred a serious, devout schoolmaster to one who was
not serious nor devout, just as, _coeteris paribus_, they would have
preferred a serious shoemaker or tailor to a non-religious maker of
shoes or clothes; but religious character was not permitted to stand
as a compensatory item for professional skill; nay, men who might be
almost content to put up with a botched coat or a botched pair of
shoes for the sake of the good man who spoiled them, were particularly
careful not to botch, on any account whatever, the education of
their children. In a country in which there was more importance
attached than in perhaps any other in the world to the religious
teaching of the minister, there was so little importance attached to
the religious teaching of the schoolmaster, that, when weighed
against even a slight modicum of secular qualification, it was
found to have no sensible weight. And with this great practical fact
some of our leading men seemed to be so little acquainted, that they
were going on with the machinery of their educational scheme, on a
scale at least co-extensive with the Free Church, as if, like that
Church--all-potent in her spiritual character--it had a moving power
in the affections of the people competent to speed it on. And it was
the great discrepancy with regard to this scheme which existed
between the feelings of the people and the anticipations of some of
our leading men, clerical and lay, that excited our alarm. Unless
that discrepancy be removed, we said--unless the anticipations of
the men engaged in the laying down of this scheme be sobered to the
level of the feelings of the lay membership of our Church, or,
_vice versa_, the feelings of the lay membership of our Church be
raised to the level of the anticipations of our leaders--bankruptcy
will be the infallible result. From the contributions of our
laymen can the scheme alone derive its support; and if our leaders
lay it down on a large scale, and our laymen contribute on a small
one, alas for its solvency! Such were our views, and such our
inferences, on this occasion; and to Thomas Chalmers, at once our
wisest and our humblest man--patient to hear, and sagacious to
see--we determined on communicating them.

He had kindly visited the writer, to congratulate him in his dwelling
on his return to comparative health and strength; and after a long and
serious conversation, in which he urged the importance of maintaining
the _Witness_ in honest independency, uninfluenced by cliques and
parties, whether secular or ecclesiastical, the prospects of the Free
Church educational scheme were briefly discussed. He was evidently
struck by the view which we communicated, and received it in far other
than that parliamentary style which can politely set aside, with some
soothing half-compliment, the suggestions that run counter to a
favourite course of policy already lined out and determined upon. In
the discrepancy which we pointed out to him he recognised a fact of
the practical kind, which rarely fail to influence the affairs upon
which they bear; and in accordance with his character--for no man
could be more thoroughly convinced that free discussion never hurts a
good cause, and that second thoughts are always wiser than first
ones--he expressed a wish to see the educational question brought at
once to the columns of the _Witness_, and probed to its bottom. We
could not, however, see at that time how the thing was to be
introduced in a practical form, and preferred waiting on for an
opportunity, which in the course of events soon occurred. The
Government came forward with its proposal of educational grants, and
the question was raised--certainly not by the writer of these
chapters--whether or no the Free Church could conscientiously avail
herself of these. It was promptly decided by some few of our leading
men, clerical and lay, that she could not; and we saw in the decision,
unless carried by appeal to our country ministers and the people, and
by them reversed, the introduction of a further element of certain
dissolution in our educational scheme.

The status of the schoolmaster had been made so exceedingly
ecclesiastical, and his profession so very spiritual, that the money
of that Government of the country whose right and duty it is to
educate its people, was regarded as too vile and base a thing to be
applied to his support. There were even rumours afloat that our
schoolmasters were on the eve of being _ordained_. We trust, however,
that the report was a false one, or, at worst, that the men who
employed the word had made a slip in their English, and for the time
at least had forgot its meaning. _Ordination_ means that special act
which gives status and standing within the ecclesiastical province. It
implies the enjoined use of that spiritual key which is entrusted by
Christ to His Church, that it may be employed just as _He_ directs,
and in no other way. The Presbyterian Church has as much right to
institute prelates as to ordain pedagogues. 'Remember,' said an
ancient Scottish worthy, in 'lifting up his protestation' in troublous
times, 'that the Lord has fashioned His Kirk by the uncounterfeited
work of His own new creation; or, as the prophet speaketh, "hath made
us, and not we ourselves;" and that we must not presume to fashion a
new portraiture of a Kirk, and a _new form of divine service, which
God in His word hath not before allowed_; seeing that, were we to
extend our authority further than the calling we have of God doth
permit--as, namely, if we should (as God forbid!) authorize the
authority of bishops--we should bring into the Kirk of God the
ordinance of man.' If men are to depart from the 'law and the
testimony,' we hold that the especial mode of their departure may be
very much a matter of taste, and would, for our own part, prefer
bishops and cardinals to poor dominies of the gospel, somewhat out at
the elbows.{3} The fine linen and the purple, the cope and the stole,
would at least have the effect of giving that sort of pleasant relief
to the widespread sable of our Assemblies which they possessed of
yore, ere they for ever lost the gay uniform of the Lord High
Commissioner, the gold lace of his dragoon officers, and the glitter
of his pages in silver and scarlet. 'We are two of the humblest
servants of Mother Church,' said the Prior and his companion to Wamba,
the jester of Rotherwood. 'Two of the humblest servants of Mother
Church!' repeated Wamba; 'I should rather like to see her seneschals,
her chief butlers, and her other principal domestics.'

We again saw Chalmers, and, in a corner apart from a social party, of
which his kind and genial heart formed the attractive centre, we found
he thoroughly agreed with us in holding that the time for the
discussion of the educational question had fully come. It was a
question, he said, on which he had not yet fully made up his mind:
there was, however, one point on which he seemed clear--though, at
this distance of time, we cannot definitively say whether the remark
regarding it came spontaneously from himself, or was suggested by any
query of ours--and that was the right and duty of a Government to
_instruct_, and consequently of the governed to receive the
instruction thus communicated, if in itself good. We remarked in turn,
that there were various points on which we also had to 'grope our way'
(a phrase to which the reader will find him referring in his note,
which we subjoin); but that regarding the inherently secular
character of the schoolmaster, and the right and duty of the
Government to employ him in behalf of its people, we had no doubt
whatever. And so, parting for the time, we commenced that series of
articles which, as they were not wholly without influence in
communicating juster views of the place and status of the schoolmaster
than had formerly obtained in the Free Church, and as they had some
little effect in leading the Church to take at least one step in
averting the otherwise inevitable ruin which brooded over her
educational scheme, the readers of the _Witness_ may perhaps remember.
We were met in controversy on the question by a man, the honesty of
whose purpose in this, as in every other matter, and the warmth of
whose zeal for the Church which he loved, and for which he laboured,
no one has ever questioned, and no one ever will. And if, though
possessed of solid, though perhaps not brilliant talent, he failed on
this occasion 'in finding his hands,' we are to seek an explanation of
his failure simply in the circumstance that truths of principle--such
as those which establish the right and duty of every Government to
educate its people, or which demonstrate the schoolmaster to possess a
purely secular, not an ecclesiastical standing--or yet truths of fact,
such as that for many years the national teaching of Scotland has
_not_ been religious, or that the better Scottish people will on no
account or consideration sacrifice the secular education of their
children to the dream of a spiritual pedagogy,--are truths which can
neither be controverted nor set aside. He did on one occasion, during
the course--what he no doubt afterwards regretted--raise against us
the cry of infidelity,--a cry which, when employed respecting matters
on which Christ or His apostles have not spoken, really means no more
than that he who employs it, if truly a good man, is bilious, or has a
bad stomach, or has lost the thread of his argument or the equanimity
of his temper. Feeling somewhat annoyed, however, we wished to see
Chalmers once more; but the matter had not escaped his quick eye, and
his kind heart suggested the remedy. In the course of the day in which
our views and reasonings were posted as infidel, we received the
following note from Morningside:--

      MORNINGSIDE, _March 13, 1847_.

  MY DEAR SIR,--You are getting nobly on on education; not only
  groping your way, but making way, and that by a very sensible
  step in advance this day.

  On my own mind the truth evolves itself very gradually; and I am
  yet a far way from the landing-place. Kindest respects to Mrs.
  Miller; and with earnest prayer for the comfort and happiness of
  both, I ever am, my dear Sir, yours very truly,


    Hugh Miller, Esq.

In short, Thomas Chalmers, by his sympathy and his connivance, had
become as great an infidel as ourselves; and we have submitted to our
readers the evidence of the fact, fully certified under his own
hand.{4} There is a sort of perfection in everything; and perfection
once reached, deterioration usually begins. And when, in bandying the
phrases _infidel_ and _infidelity_--like the feathered missiles in the
game of battledore and shuttlecock--they fell upon Chalmers, we think
there was a droll felicity in the accident, which constitutes for it
an irresistible claim of being the terminal one in the series. The
climax reached its point of extremest elevation; for even should our
infidel-dubbers do their best or worst now, it is not at all likely
they will find out a second Chalmers to hit.

We concluded our course of educational articles; and though we
afterwards saw the distinguished man to whom our eye so frequently
turned, as, under God, the wise pilot of the Free Church, and were
honoured by a communication from him, dictated to his secretary, we
did not again touch on the subject of education. We were, however,
gratified to learn, from men much in his confidence and company--we
hope we do not betray trust in referring to the Rev. Mr. Tasker of the
West Port as one of these--that he regarded our entire course with a
feeling of general approval akin to that to which he had given
expression in his note. It further gratifies us to reflect that our
course had the effect of setting his eminently practical mind
a-working on the whole subject, and led to the production of the
inestimably valuable document, long and carefully pondered, which will
do more to settle the question of national education in Scotland than
all the many volumes which have been written regarding it. As in a
well-known instance in Scottish story, it is the 'dead Douglas' who is
to 'win the field.'

But we lag in our narrative. That melancholy event took place which
cast a shade of sadness over Christendom; and in a few weeks
after, the posthumous document, kindly communicated to us by the
family of the deceased, appeared in the columns of the _Witness_. We
perused it with intense interest; and what we saw in the first
perusal was, that Chalmers had gone far beyond us; and in the
second, that, in laying down his first principles, he had looked at
the subject, as was his nature, in a broader and more general aspect,
and had unlocked the difficulty which it presented in a more
practical and statesmanlike manner. _We_ had, indeed, considered
in the abstract the right and duty of the civil magistrate to
educate his people; but our main object being to ward off otherwise
inevitable bankruptcy from a scheme of our Church, and having to
deal with a sort of vicious Cameronianism, that would not accept of
the magistrate's money, even though he gave the Bible and the
Shorter Catechism along with it, we had merely contended that
money given in connection with the Bible and Shorter Catechism is a
very excellent thing, and especially so to men who cannot fulfil their
obligations or pay their debts without it. But Chalmers had looked
beyond the difficulties of a scheme, to the emergencies of a nation.

At the request of many of our readers, we have reprinted his document
in full, as it originally appeared.{5} First, let it be remarked
that, after briefly stating what he deemed the optimity of the
question, he passes on to what he considered the only mode of
settling it practically, in the present divided state of the
Church and country. And in doing so he lays down, as a preliminary
step, the absolute right and duty of the Government to educate,
altogether independently of the theological differences or divisions
which may obtain among the people or in the Churches. 'As there
seems no reason,' he says, 'why, because of these unresolved
differences, a public measure for the health of all, for the
recreation of all, for the economic advancement of all, should be
held in abeyance, there seems as little reason why, because of these
differences, a public measure for raising the general intelligence of
all should be held in abeyance.' Such is the principle which he
enunciates regarding the party possessing the right to _educate_.
Let the reader next mark in what terms he speaks of the party _to be_
educated, or under whose immediate superintendence the education is
to be conducted. Those who most widely misunderstand the Doctor's
meaning--from the circumstance, perhaps, that their views are most
essentially at variance with those which he entertained--seem to hold
that this _absolute_ right on the part of Government is somehow
_conditional_ on the parties to be educated, or to superintend the
education, coming forward to them _in the character of Churches_.
They deem it necessary to the integrity of his meaning, that
Presbyterians should come forward as Presbyterians, Puseyites as
Puseyites, Papists as Papists, and Socinians as Socinians; in
which case, of course, all could be set right so far as the Free
Church conscience was concerned in the matter, by taking the State's
grant with the one hand, and holding out an indignant protest
against its extension to the erroneous sects in the other. But
that Chalmers could have contemplated anything so monstrous as
that _Scotchmen_ should think of coming forward simply as Scotchmen,
they cannot believe. He must have regarded the State's _unconditional_
right to educate as _conditional_ after all, and dependent on the
form assumed by the party on which or through which it was to be
exercised. Let the reader examine for himself, and see whether
there exists in the document a single expression suited to favour
such a view. Nothing can be plainer than the words 'Parliament,'
'Government,' 'State,' 'Legislature,' employed to designate the
educating party on the one hand; and surely nothing plainer than
the words 'people,' '_men_ of all Churches and denominations,'
'families of the land,' and 'society at large,' made use of in
designating the party to be educated, or entrusted with the
educational means or machinery, on the other. There is a well-grounded
confidence expressed in the Christian and philanthropic zeal which
obtain throughout society; but the only bodies ecclesiastical which
we find specially named--if, indeed, one of these can be regarded as
at all ecclesiastical--are the 'Unitarians and the Catholics.' It was
with the broad question of national education in its relation to two
great parties placed in happy opposition, as the 'inner hall of
legislation' and the 'outer field of society,' that we find Dr.
Chalmers mainly dealing. And yet the document _does_ contain
palpable reference to the Government scheme. There is one clause in
which it urges the propriety of 'leaving [the matter of religion]
to the parties who had to do with the erection and management of
the schools which [the rulers of the country] had been called on
to assist.' But the greater includes the less, and the much that is
general in the paper is in no degree neutralized by the little in it
that is particular. The Hon. Mr. Fox Maule could perhaps throw some
additional light on this matter. It was at his special desire, and
in consequence of a conversation on the subject which he held with
Chalmers, that the document was drawn up. The nature of the
request could not, of course, alter whatever is absolutely present in
what it was the means of producing; but it would be something to
know whether what the statesman asked was a decision on a special
educational scheme, or--what any statesman might well desire to
possess--the judgment of so wise and great a man on the all-important
subject of national education.

It will be found that the following valuable letters from Dr. Guthrie
and the Hon. Mr. Fox Maule determine the meaning of Dr. Chalmers on
his own authority:--

          2, LAURISTON LANE, _March 5, 1850_.

  MY DEAR MR. MILLER,--When such conflicting statements were
  advanced as to the bearing of Dr. Chalmers' celebrated paper on
  education, although I had no doubt in my own mind that the view
  you had taken of that valuable document was the correct one, and
  had that view confirmed by a conversation I had with his
  son-in-law, Mr. M'Kenzie, who heard Dr Chalmers discuss the
  matter in London, and acted, indeed, as his amanuensis in
  writing that paper; yet I thought it were well also to see
  whether Mr. Maule could throw any light on the subject. I wrote
  him with that object in view; and while we must regret that we
  are called to differ from some most eminent and excellent
  friends on this important question, it both comforts and
  confirms us to find another most important testimony in the
  letter which I now send to you, in favour of our opinion, that
  Dr. Chalmers, had God spared him to this day, would have lifted
  up his mighty voice to advocate the views in which we are

  Into the fermenting mind of the public it is the duty of every
  one to cast in whatever may, by God's blessing, lead to a happy
  termination of this great question; and with this view I send
  you the letter which I have had the honour to receive from Mr.
  Maule.--Believe me, yours ever,


          GROSVENOR STREET, _March 4, 1850_.

  MY DEAR DR. GUTHRIE,--When you wrote me some time since upon the
  subject of the communication made to me by the late Dr. Chalmers
  upon the all-important question of education, I could not take
  upon myself to say positively (though I had very little doubt in
  my mind) whether that document took its origin in a desire
  expressed by me to have Dr. Chalmers' opinion on the general
  question of education, or merely upon the scheme laid down and
  pursued by the Committee of Privy Council. My impression has
  always been, that Dr. Chalmers addressed himself to the question
  as a whole; and on looking over my papers a few days since, I
  find that impression quite confirmed by the following sentence,
  in a note in Dr. Chalmers' handwriting, bearing date 21st May
  1847:--'I hope that by to-morrow night I shall have prepared a
  few brief sentences on the _subject of education_.'

  None of us thought how inestimable these brief sentences were to
  become, forming, as they do, the last written evidence of the
  tone of his great mind on this subject.

  Should you address yourself to this question, you are, in my
  opinion, fully justified in dealing with the _memorandum_ as
  referring to general and national arrangements, and not to
  those which are essentially of a temporary and varying
  character.--Believe me, with great esteem, yours sincerely,

    F. MAULE.


 {2} This passage has been referred to in several Free Church
     presbyteries, as if the writer had affirmed that the schoolmaster
     stands on no higher level than the shoemaker or tailor. We need
     scarce say, however, that the passage conveys no such meaning.
     By affirming that in matters of chimney-sweeping men choose
     for themselves the best chimney-sweeps, and in matters of
     indisposition or disease the best physicians, we do not at
     all level the physician with the chimney-sweep: we merely
     intimate that there is a _best_ in both professions, and that
     men select that best, as preferable to what is inferior or worse,
     on every occasion they can.

 {3} We have learned that what was actually intended at this time
     was, not to _ordain_, but only to _induct_ our schoolmasters. And
     their _induction_ would have made, we doubt not, what Foigard in
     the play calls a 'very pretty sheremony.' But no mere ceremony,
     however imposing, can communicate to a secular profession a
     spiritual status or character.

 {4} A fac-simile of this letter was reproduced in the columns of
     the _Witness_.--ED.

 {5} See Introduction.


  Right and Duty of the Civil Magistrate to educate the
  People--Founded on two distinct Principles, the one economic,
  the other judicial--Right and Duty of the Parent--Natural, not
  Ecclesiastical--Examination of the purely Ecclesiastical
  Claim--The real Rights in the case those of the State, the
  Parent, and the Ratepayer--The terms Parent and Ratepayer
  convertible into the one term Householder.

Wherever mind is employed, thought will be evolved; and in all
questions of a practical character, truth, when honestly sought, is
ultimately found. And so we deem it a happy circumstance, that there
should be more minds honestly engaged at the present time on the
educational problem than at perhaps any former period. To the upright
light will arise. The question cannot be too profoundly pondered, nor
too carefully discussed; and at the urgent request of not a few of our
better readers, we purpose examining it anew in a course of occasional
articles, convinced that its crisis has at length come, just as the
crisis of the Church question had in reality come when the late Dr.
M'Crie published his extraordinary pamphlet;{6} and that it must
depend on the part now taken by the Free Church in this matter,
whether some ten years hence she is to posses any share, even the
slightest, in the education of the country. We ask our readers
severely to test all our statements, whether of principle or of fact,
and to suffer nothing in the least to influence them which is not
rational, or which is not true.

In the first place, then, we hold with Chalmers, that it is
unquestionably the right and duty of the civil magistrate to educate
his people, altogether independently of the religion which _he
himself holds_, or of the religious differences which may unhappily
obtain among _them_. Even should there be as many sects in a country
as there are families or individuals, the right and duty still remain.
Religion, in such circumstances, can palpably form no part of a
Government scheme of tuition; but there is nothing in the element of
religious difference to furnish even a pretext for excluding those
important secular branches which bear reference to the principles of
trade, the qualities of matter, the relations of numbers, the
properties of figured space, the philosophy of grammar, or the form
and body which in various countries and ages literature and the
_belles lettres_ have assumed. And this right and duty of a Government
to instruct, rest, we hold, on two distinct principles,--the one
_economic_, the other _judicial_. Education adds immensely to the
_economic_ value of the subjects of a State. The professional and
mercantile men who in this country live by their own exertions, and
pay the income tax, and all the other direct taxes, are educated men;
whereas its uneducated men do not pay the direct taxes, and, save in
the article of intoxicating drink, very little of the indirect ones;
and a large proportion of their number, so far from contributing to
the national wealth, are positive burdens on the community. And on the
class of facts to which this important fact belongs rests the
_economic_ right and duty of the civil magistrate to educate.

His _judicial_ right and duty are founded on the circumstance, that
the laws which he promulgates are _written_ laws, and that what he
writes for the guidance of the people, the people ought to be enabled
to read; seeing that to punish for the breach of a law, of the
existence of which he who breaks it has been left in ignorance, is not
man-law, but what Jeremy Bentham well designates dog-law, and
altogether unjust. We are, of course, far from supposing that every
British subject who can read is to peruse the vast library which the
British Acts of themselves compose; but we hold that education forms
the only direct means through which written law, as a regulator of
conduct, can be known, and that, in consequence, in its practical
breadth and average aspect, it is only educated men who know it, and
only uneducated men who are ignorant of it. And hence the derivation
of the magistrate's _judicial_ right and duty. But on this part of our
subject, with Free Churchmen for our readers, we need not surely
insist. Our Church has homologated at least the general principle of
the civil magistrate's right and duty, by becoming the recipient of
his educational grant. If he has no right to give, she can have no
right to receive. If he, instead of performing a duty, has perpetrated
a wrong, she, to all intents and purposes, being guilty of receipt, is
a participator in the crime. Nay, further, let it be remarked that, as
indicated by the speeches of some of our abler and more influential
men, there seems to exist a decided wish on the part of the Free
Church, that the State, in its educational grants, should assume a
purely secular character, and dispense with the certificate of
religious training which it at present demands,--a certificate which,
though anomalously required of sects of the most opposite tenets,
constitutes notwithstanding, in this business of grants, the sole
recognition of religion on the part of the Government. Now this, if a
fact at all, is essentially a noticeable and pregnant one, and shows
how much opposite parties are in reality at one on a principle
regarding which they at least _seem_ to dispute.

The right and duty of the civil magistrate thus established, let us
next consider another main element in the question,--the right and
duty of the parent. It is, we assert, imperative on every parent in
Scotland and elsewhere to educate his children; and on the principle
that he is a joint contributor with the Government to the support of
every national teacher--the Government giving _salary_, and the
parent _fees_--we assert further, that should the Government give its
salary 'exclusively as the expression of its value for a good
_secular_ education,' _he_ may, notwithstanding, demand that his fees
should be received as the representative of _his_ value for a good
_religious_ education. Whether his principles be those of the
Voluntary or of the Establishment-man, the same schoolmaster who is a
secular teacher in relation to the Government, may be a religious
teacher in relation to him. For unless the State positively _forbid_
its schoolmaster to communicate religious instruction, he exists to
the parent, in virtue of the fees given and received, in exactly the
circumstances of the teacher of any adventure school.

Let us further remark, that the rights of the parent in the matter of
education are not _ecclesiastical_, but _natural_ rights. The writer
of this article is one of the parents of Scotland; and, simply as
such, he claims for himself the right of choosing his children's
teacher on his own responsibility, and of determining what his
children are to be taught. The Rev. Dr. Thomas Guthrie is his
minister; and _he_ also is one of the parents of Scotland, and enjoys,
as such, a right identical in all respects with that of his
parishioner and hearer. But it is only an identical and co-equal
right. Should the writer send his boy to a Socialist or Popish school,
to be taught either gross superstition or gross infidelity, the
minister would have a right to interfere, and, if entreaty and
remonstrance failed, to bring him to discipline for so palpable a
breach of his baptismal engagement. If, on the other hand, it was the
minister who had sent his boy to the Socialist or Popish school, the
parishioner would have a right to interfere, and, were entreaty and
remonstrance disregarded, to bring _him_ to discipline. Minister and
parishioner stand, we repeat, in this matter, on exactly the same
level. Nor have ten, twenty, a hundred, a thousand, twenty thousand,
or a hundred thousand lay parents, or yet ten, twenty, a hundred, or
a thousand clerical parents, whether existing as a congregation or
hundreds of congregations on the one hand, or as a Presbytery, Synod,
or General Assembly on the other, rights in this matter that in the
least differ in their nature from the rights possessed by the single
clergyman, Dr. Guthrie, or by the single layman, the Editor of the
_Witness_. The sole right which exists in the case--that of the
parent--is a _natural_ right, not an _ecclesiastical_ one; and the
sole modification which it can receive from the superadded element of
Church membership is simply that modification to which we refer as
founded on the religious duty of both member and minister, in its
relation to ecclesiastical law and the baptismal vow.

Nor, be it observed, does this our recognition, in our character as a
Church member, of ecclesiastical rule and authority, give our minister
any true grounds for urging that it is our bounden duty, in virtue of
our parental engagements, and from the existence of such general texts
as the often quoted one, 'Train up a child,' etc., to send our
children to some school in which religion is expressly taught. Far
less does it give him a right to _demand_ any such thing. We are Free
Church in our principles; and the grand distinctive principle for
which, during the protracted Church controversy, we never ceased to
contend, was simply the right of choosing our own religious teacher,
on the strength of our own convictions, and on our own exclusive
responsibility. We laughed to scorn the idea that the three items of
Dr. George Cook's ceaseless iterations--life, literature, and
doctrine--formed the full tale of ministerial qualification: there was
yet a fourth item, infinitely more important than all the others put
together, viz. _godliness_, or religion proper, or, in yet other
words, the regeneration of the whole man by the Spirit of God. And on
this last item we held that it was the right and duty of the people
who Chose for themselves, _and for their children_, a religious
teacher, and of none others, clerical or lay, solemnly to decide. And
while we still hold by this sacred principle on the one hand, we see
clearly, on the other, that the sole qualifications of our Free Church
teachers, as prepared in our Normal Schools, correspond to but Dr.
Cook's three items; nay, that instead of exceeding, they fall greatly
short of these. The certificate of character which the young
candidates bring to the institution answers but lamely to the item
'_life_;' the amount of secular instruction imparted to them within
its walls answers but inadequately to the item '_literature_;' while
the modicum of theological training received, most certainly not equal
to a four years' course of theology at a Divinity Hall, answers but
indifferently to the crowning item of the three--'_doctrine_.' That
paramount item, conversion on the part of the teacher to God, is still
unaccounted for; and we contend that, respecting that item, the
parent, and the parent only, has a right to decide, all difficult and
doubtful as the decision may be: for be it remembered, that there
exist no such data on which to arrive at a judgment in cases of this
nature, as exist in the choosing of a minister. And though we would
deem it eminently right and proper that our child should read his
daily Scripture lesson to some respectable schoolmaster, a believer in
the divine authority of revelation, and should repeat to him his
weekly tale of questions from the National Catechism, yet to the
_extempore_ religious teaching of no merely respectable schoolmaster
would we subject our child's heart and conscience. For we hold that
the religious lessons of the unregenerate lack regenerating life; and
that whatever in this all-important department does not intenerate and
soften, rarely fails to harden and to sear. Religious preachments from
a secular heart are the droppings of a petrifying spring, which
convert all that they fall upon into stone. Further, we hold that a
mistake regarding the character of a schoolmaster authorized to teach
religion _extempore_ might be greatly more serious, and might involve
an immensely deeper responsibility, than a similar mistake regarding a
minister. The minister preaches to grown men--a large proportion of
them members of the Church--not a few of them office-bearers in its
service, and competent, in consequence, to judge respecting both the
doctrine which he exhibits and the mode of its exhibition; but it is
children, immature of judgment, and extremely limited in their
knowledge, whom the religion-teaching schoolmaster has to address.
Nay, more: in choosing a minister, we may mistake the character of the
man; but there can be no mistake made regarding the character of the
office, seeing that it is an office appointed by God Himself; whereas
in choosing a religion-teaching schoolmaster, we may mistake the
character of both the man and the office too. We are responsible in
the one case for only the man; we are responsible in the other for
both the man and the office.

We have yet another objection to any authoritative interference on the
part of ecclesiastical courts with the natural rights and enjoined
duties of the parent in the matter of education. Even though we fully
recognised some conscientious teacher as himself in possession of the
divine life, we might regard him as very unfitted, from some natural
harshness of temper, or some coldness of heart, or some infirmity of
judgment, for being a missionary of religion to the children under his
care. At one period early in life we spent many a leisure hour in
drawing up a gossiping little history of our native town, and found,
in tracing out the _memorabilia_ of its parish school, that the Rev.
John Russell, afterwards of Kilmarnock and Stirling, and somewhat
famous in Scottish literature as one of the clerical antagonists of
Burns, had taught in it for twelve years, and that several of his
pupils (now long since departed) still lived. We sought them out one
by one, and succeeded in rescuing several curious passages in his
history, and in finding that, though not one among them doubted the
sincerity of his religion, nor yet his conscientiousness as a
schoolmaster, they all equally regarded him as a harsh-tempered,
irascible man, who succeeded in inspiring all his pupils with fear,
but not one of them with love. Now, to no such type of schoolmaster,
however strong our conviction of his personal piety, would we entrust
the religious teaching of our child. If necessitated to place our boy
under his pedagogical rule and superintendence, we would address him
thus: Lacking time, and mayhap ability, ourselves to instruct our son,
we entrust him to you, and this simply on the same division of labour
principle on which we give the making of our shoes to a shoemaker, and
the making of our clothes to a tailor. And in order that you may not
lack the power necessary to the accomplishment of your task--for we
hold that 'folly is bound up in the heart of a child'--we make over to
you our authority to admonish and correct. But though we can put into
your hands the parental rod--with an advice, however, to use it
discreetly and with temper--there are things which we cannot
communicate to you. We cannot make over to you our child's affection
for us, nor yet our affection for our child: with these joys 'a
stranger intermeddleth not.' And as religious teaching without love,
and conducted under the exclusive influence of fear, may and must be
barren--nay, worse than barren--we ask you to leave this part of our
duty as a parent entirely to ourselves. _Our_ duty it is, and to you
we delegate no part of it; and this, not because we deem it
unimportant, but because we deem it important in the highest degree,
and are solicitous that no unkindly element should mar it in its
effects. Now where, we ask, is the ecclesiastical office-bearer who,
in his official character, or in any character or capacity whatever,
has a right authoritatively to challenge our rejection, on our own
parental responsibility, of the religious teaching of even a converted
schoolmaster, on purely reasonable grounds such as these? Or where is
the ecclesiastical office-bearer who has an authoritative right to
challenge our yet weightier Free Church objection to the religious
teaching of a schoolmaster whom we cannot avoid regarding as an
unregenerate man, or whom we at least do not know to be a regenerate
one? Or yet further, where is the ecclesiastical office-bearer who has
a right authoritatively to bear down or set aside our purely
Protestant caveat against a teacher of religion who, in his
professional capacity, has no place or standing in the word of God?
The right and duty of the civil magistrate in all circumstances to
educate his people, and of parents to choose their children's teacher,
and to determine what they are to be taught, we are compelled to
recognise; and there seems to be a harmony between the two rights--the
parental and the magisterial, with the _salary_ of the one and the
_fees_ of the other--suited, we think, to unlock many a difficulty;
but the authoritative standing, in this question, of the ecclesiastic
as such, we have hitherto failed to see. The parent, as a Church
member or minister, is amenable to discipline; but his natural rights
in the matter are simply those of the parent, and his political rights
simply those of the subject and the ratepayer.

And in this educational question certain political rights _are_
involved. In the present state of things, the parish schoolmasters of
the kingdom are chosen by the parish ministers and parish heritors:
the two elements involved are the ecclesiastical and the political.
But while we see the parish minister as but the mere idle image of a
state of things passed away for ever, and possessed in his ministerial
capacity of merely a statutory right, which, though it exists to-day,
may be justly swept away to-morrow, we recognise the heritor as
possessed of a real right; and what we challenge is merely its
engrossing extent, not its nature. We regard it as just in kind, but
exorbitant in degree; and on the simple principle that the money of
the State is the money of the people, and that the people have a right
to determine that it be not misapplied or misdirected, we would, with
certain limitations, extend to the ratepayers as a body the
privileges, in this educational department, now exclusively exercised
by the heritors. In that educational franchise which we would fain see
extended to the Scottish people, we recognise two great elements, and
but two only,--the natural, or that of the parent; and the political,
or that of the ratepayer. These form the two opposite sides of the
pyramid; and, though diverse in their nature, let the reader mark how
nicely for all practical purposes they converge into the point,
_householder_. The householders of Scotland include all the ratepayers
of Scotland. The householders of Scotland include also all the parents
of Scotland. We would therefore fix on the householders of a parish as
the class in whom the right of nominating the parish schoolmaster
should be vested. But on the same principle of high expediency on
which we exclude householders of a certain standing from exercising
the political franchise in the election of a member of Parliament,
would we exclude certain other householders, of, however, a much lower
standing, from voting in the election of a parish schoolmaster. We are
not prepared to be Chartists in either department,--the educational or
the political; and this simply on the ground that Chartism in either
would be prejudicial to the general good. On this part of the subject,
however, we shall enter at full length in our next.

Meanwhile we again urge our readers carefully to examine for
themselves all our statements and propositions,--to take nothing on
trust,--to set no store by any man's _ipse dixit_, be he editor or
elder, minister or layman. In this question, as in a thousand others,
'truth lies at the bottom of the well;' and if she be not now found
and consulted, to the exclusion of every prejudice, and the disregard
of every petty little interest and sinister motive, it will be ill ten
years hence with the Free Church of Scotland in her character as an
educator. Her safety rests, in the present crisis, in the just and the
true, and in the just and the true only.


 {6} _What ought the General Assembly to do at the present
     Crisis?_ (1833.)


  Parties to whom the Educational Franchise might be safely
  extended--House Proprietors, House Tenants of a certain
  standing, Farmers, Crofters--Scheme of an Educational
  Faculty--Effects of the desired Extension--It would restore the
  National Schools to the People of the Nation.

It is the right and duty of every Government to educate its people,
whatever the kinds or varieties of religion which may obtain among
them;--it is the right and duty of every parent to select, on his
own responsibility, his children's teacher, and to determine what his
children are to be taught;--it is the right and duty of every member
of the commonwealth to see that the commonwealth's money, devoted to
educational purposes, be not squandered on incompetent men, and,
in virtue of his contributions as a ratepayer, to possess a voice
with the parents of a country in the selection of its salaried
schoolmasters. There exist, on the one hand, the right and duty of
the State; there exist, on the other, the rights and duties of the
parents and ratepayers; and we find both parents and ratepayers
presenting themselves in the aggregate, and for all practical
purposes in this matter, as a single class, viz. the _householders_
of the kingdom. But as, in dealing with these in purely political
questions, we exclude a certain portion of them from the exercise of
the _political_ franchise, and that simply because, as classes, they
are uninformed or dangerous, and might employ power, if they
possessed it, to the public prejudice, so would we exclude a certain
proportion of them, on similar grounds, from the _educational_
franchise. In selecting, however, the safe classes of householders,
we would employ tests somewhat dissimilar in their character from
those to which the Reform Act extends its exclusive sanction, and
establish a somewhat different order of qualifications from those
which it erects.

In the first place, we would fain extend the educational franchise to
all those householders of Scotland who inhabit houses of their own,
however humble in kind, or however low the valuation of their
rental. We know not a safer or more solid, or, in the main, more
intelligent class, than those working men of the country who, with the
savings of half a lifetime, build or purchase a dwelling for
themselves, and then sit down rent-free for the rest of their lives,
each 'the monarch of a shed.' With these men we are intimately
acquainted, for we have lived and laboured among them; and very rarely
have we failed to find the thatched domicile, of mayhap two little
rooms and a closet, with a patch of garden-ground behind, of which
some hard-handed country mechanic or labourer had, through his own
exertions, become the proud possessor, forming a higher certificate of
character than masters the most conscientious and discerning could
bestow upon their _employés_, or even Churches themselves upon their
members. Nor is this house-owning qualification much less valuable
when it has been derived by inheritance--not wrought for; seeing that
the man who retains his little patrimony unsquandered must be at
least a steady, industrious man, the slave of no expensive or
disreputable vice. Let us remark, however, that we would not
attach the educational franchise to property as such: the proprietor
of the house, whether a small house or a large one, would require
to be the _bona fide_ inhabitant of the dwelling which he occupied,
for at least a considerable portion of every year. The second class
to which we would fain see the educational franchise extended are
all those householders of the kingdom who tenant houses of five
pounds annual rent and upwards, who settle with their landlords not
oftener than twice every twelvemonth, and who are at least a year
entered on possession. By fixing the qualification thus high, and
rejecting the monthly or weekly rent-payer, the country would get rid
of at least nineteen-twentieths of the dangerous classes,--the
agricultural labourers, who wander about from parish to parish, some
six or eight months in one locality, and some ten or twelve in
another; the ignorant immigrant Irish, who tenant the poorer hovels
of so many of our western coast parishes; and last, not least, all the
migratory population of our larger towns, who rarely reside half a
year in the same dwelling, and who, though they may in some
instances pay at more than the rate of the yearly five pounds, pay
it weekly, or by the fortnight or month. We regret, however, that
there is a really worthy class which such a qualification would
exclude,--ploughmen, labourers, and country mechanics, who reside
permanently in humble cottages, the property of the owner of the
soil, and who, though their course through life lies on the bleak
edge of poverty, are God-fearing, worthy men, at least morally
qualified to give, in the election of a teacher, an honest and not
unintelligent voice. And yet, hitherto at least, we have failed to
see any principle which a British statesman would recognise as
legitimate, on which this class could be included in the educational
franchise, and their dangerous neighbours of the same political
status kept out. There is yet a third very important class whom we
would fain see in possession of the educational franchise,--those
householders of Scotland who till the soil as tenants, whether
with or without leases, or whether the annual rent which they pay
amounts to three or to three thousand pounds. The tillers of the
soil are a fixed class, greatly more permanent, even where there
exists no lease, than the mere tenant householders; and they
include, especially in the Highlands of Scotland, and the poorer
districts of the low country, a large proportion of the country's
parentage. They are in the main, too, an eminently safe class, and
not less so where the farms are small and the dwellings upon them
mere cottages--to which, save for the surrounding croft or farm, no
franchise could attach--than where they live in elegant houses, and
are the lessees of hundreds of acres. And such are the three great
classes to which, as composing the solid body of the Scottish
nation--to the exclusion of little more than the mere rags that
hang loosely on its vestments--would we extend, did we possess the
power, the educational franchise.

In order, however, to render a franchise thus liberally restricted
more safe and salutary still, we would demand not only certain
qualifications on the part of the parents and ratepayers of the
country, without which they could not be permitted to _vote_, but
also certain other qualifications on the part of the country's
schoolmasters, without which they could not be _voted for_. We
would thus impart to the scheme such a twofold aspect of security as
that for which in a purely ecclesiastical matter we contended, when
we urged that none but Church members should be permitted to choose
their own ministers; and that none but ministers pronounced duly
qualified in life, literature, and doctrine, by a competent
ecclesiastical court, should they be _permitted_ to choose. There
ought to exist a teaching Faculty as certainly as there exists a
medical or legal Faculty, or as there exists in the Church what is
essentially a preacher-licensing Faculty. The membership of a Church
are unfitted in their aggregate character to judge respecting at
least the literature of the young licentiate whom, in their own and
their children's behalf, they call to the pastoral charge;--the
people of a district, however shrewd and solid, are equally
unqualified to determine whether the young practitioner of medicine
or of law who settles among them is competently acquainted with his
profession, and so a fit person to be entrusted with the care of
their health or the protection of their property. And hence the
necessity which exists in all these cases for testing, licensing,
diploma-giving courts or boards, composed of men qualified to decide
regarding those special points of ability or acquirement which the
people, as such, cannot try for themselves. In no case, however, are
courts of this nature more imperatively required than in the case
of the schoolmaster. Neither the amount of literature which he
possesses, nor yet his mastery over the most approved modes of
communicating it, can be tested by the people, who, as parents and
ratepayers, possess the exclusive right to make choice of him for
their parish or district school; and hence the necessity that what
they cannot do for themselves should be previously done for them by
some competent court or board, and that no teacher who did not possess
a licence or diploma should be eligible to at least an endowed
seminary supported by the public money. With, of course, the
qualifications of the mere adventure-teacher, whether supported by
Churches or individuals, we would permit no board to interfere. As
to the composition of the board itself, that, we hold, might be
determined on very simple principles. Let the College-bred teachers
of Scotland, associated with its University professors, select for
themselves, out of their own number, a dean or chairman, and a court
or committee, legally qualified by Act of Parliament stringently
to try all teachers who may present themselves before them, in order
to be rendered eligible for a national school, and to grant them
licences or diplomas, legally representative of professional
qualification. Whether a teacher, on his election by the people,
might not be a second time tried, especially on behalf of the State
and the ratepayers, by a Government inspectorship, and thus a check
on the board be instituted, we are not at present called on to
determine; but on this we are clear, that the certificate of no
Normal School, in behalf of its own pupils, ought to be received
otherwise than as a mere makeweight in the general item of
professional character; seeing that any such document would be as
much a certificate of the Normal School's own ability in rearing
efficient teachers, as of the pedagogical skill of the teachers
which it reared. The vitiating element of self-interest would
scarce fail to induce, ultimately at least, a suspicious habit of

Such, then, in this matter, is our full tale of qualification,
pedagogical and popular, of the educators of the country on the
one hand, and of the educational franchise-holders of the country on
the other. And now we request the reader to mark one mighty result
of the arrangement, which no other yet set in opposition to it could
possibly produce. There are in Scotland about one thousand one
hundred national schools, supported by national resources; and, of
consequence, though fallen into the hands of a mere sect, which in
some localities does not include a tithe of the population, they
of right belong to the Scottish people. And these schools of the
_people_ that extension of the educational franchise which we
desiderate would not fail to restore to the _people_. It would put
them once more in possession of what was their own property _de
facto_ at the Revolution (for at that period, when, with a few
inconsiderable exceptions, they were all of one creed, the ministry of
the Established Church virtually represented them), and of what has
been _de jure_ their property ever since. But by the ministry of no
one Church can the people be represented now. The long rule of
Moderatism,--the consequent formation of the Secession and Relief
Churches,--the growth of Independency and Episcopacy,--and last,
but not least in the series, the Disruption, and the instantaneous
creation of the Free Church, have put an end to that state of things
for ever. The time has in the course of Providence fairly come,
when the people must be permitted in this matter to represent
themselves; and there is one thing sure,--the struggle may be
protracted, but the issue is certain. Important, however, as are our
parish schools, and rich in associations so intimately linked to the
intellectual glory of the nation, that, were they but mere relics of
the past, the custodiership of them might well be most desirable to
the Scottish people, they represent but a small part of the stake
involved in the present all-engrossing movement. It seeks also to
provide from the coffers of the State--on a broad basis of popular
representation, and with the reservation of a right on the part of
the people to supplement whatever instruction the State may not or
cannot supply--that fearful educational destitution of the nation
which is sinking its tens and hundreds of thousands into abject
pauperism and barbarous ignorance, and which neither Churches nor
Societies can of themselves supply. It is the _first_ hopeful movement
of the age; for our own Free Church educational movement, though
perhaps _second_ in point of importance, only serves irrefragably
to demonstrate its necessity.

It is, we repeat, to the people of Scotland, and not to any one of the
Churches of Scotland, that our scheme of a widely-based and truly
popular franchise would restore the Scottish schools. Mr. George
Combe is, however, quite in the right in holding that religion is too
intimately associated with the educational question, and too decidedly
a force in the country, to be excluded from the national seminaries,
'unless, indeed, Government do something more than merely _omit_ the
religious element.'{7} All is lost, Mr. Combe justly infers, on the
non-religious side of the question, if the introduction of the Bible
and Shorter Catechism be not _prohibited_ by Act of Parliament; for, if
not stringently prohibited, what Parliament merely omits doing, a Bible
and Catechism loving people will to a certainty do; and the conscience
of the phrenologist and his followers will not fail to be outraged by
the spectacle of Bible classes in the national schools, and of State
schoolmasters instilling into the youthful mind, by means of the
Shorter Catechism, the doctrine of original sin and the work of the
Spirit. Nay, more; as it is not in the power of mere Acts of the
Legislature to eradicate from the hearts of a people those feelings of
partiality, based on deep religious conviction and the associations of
ages, with which it is natural to regard a co-religionist, more
especially in the case of the teacher to whom one's children are to
read their daily chapter and repeat their weekly tale of questions,
_denomination_ must and will continue to exert its powerful
influence in the election of national schoolmasters popularly chosen.
And as there are certain extensive districts in Scotland in which some
one Church is the stronger, and other certain districts in which some
other Church is the stronger, there are whole shires and provinces in
which, if selected on the popular scheme, the national teachers would be
found well-nigh all of one religious denomination. From John
O'Groat's to Beauly, for instance, they would be all, or almost all,
Free Churchmen; for in that extensive district almost all the people
are Free Church. In the Scottish Highlands generally, nearly the same
result would be produced, from, of course, the existence of a similar
constituency. In Inverness, and onwards along the sea-coast to
Aberdeen, Montrose, St. Andrews, and the Frith of Forth, the element
of old dissent would be influentially felt: the great parties among
the people would be three--Establishment, Free Church, and Voluntary;
and whichever two of them united, would succeed in defeating the third.
And such unions, no doubt, frequently _would_ take place. The
Voluntaries and Free Churchmen would often unite for the carrying of
a _man_; and occasionally, no doubt, the Free Church and the
Establishment, for the carrying of a _principle_,--that principle of
religious teaching on which, in the coming struggle, the State Church
will be necessitated to take her stand. To the south of the Frith of
Forth on to Berwick, and along the western coast from Dumbarton to
the Solway, there would be localities parcelled out into large farms,
in which the Establishment would prevail; and of course, wherever it can
reckon up a majority of the more solid people, it is but right and
proper that the Establishment _should_ prevail; but who can doubt that
even in these districts the national teaching would be immensely
heightened by a scheme which gave to parents and ratepayers the
selection of their teachers, and restricted their choice to
intelligent and qualified men? Wherever there is liberty, there will
be discussion and difference; and the election of a schoolmaster would
not be managed quite as quietly under the anticipated state of
things, with the whole people of a parish for his constituency, as in
the present, by a minister and factor over a social glass. But the
objection taken by anticipation to popular heats and contendings in
such cases is as old as the first stirrings of a free spirit among
the people, and the first struggles of despotism to bind them down.
We ourselves have heard it twice urged on the unpopular side,--once
when the rotten burghs were nodding to their fall, and once when an
unrestricted patronage was imperilled by the encroachments of the
Veto. There will, and must be, difference; and difference too, Scotland
being what it is, in which the religious element will not fail to
mingle; but not the less completely on that account will the scheme
restore the Scottish schools to the Scottish people, as represented by
the majority, and to the membership of the Free Church, in the _de
facto_ statistical sense and proportion in which the Free Church is
national. It will not restore them to us in the theoretic sense; but
then there are at least three other true original Churches of
Scotland, which in that respect will be greatly worse off than
ourselves,--the true national Cameronian Church, the true national
Episcopalian Church, and a true compact little Church of the whole
nation, that, in the form of one very excellent minister, labours in
the east.

Meanwhile, we would fain say to our country folk and readers of the
north of Scotland: You, of all the Free Churchmen of the kingdom, have
an especial stake in this matter. Examine for yourselves,--trust to
your own good sense,--exercise as Protestants your right of private
judgment,--and see whether, as Christian men and good Scotchmen, you
may not fairly employ the political influence given you by God and
your country, in possessing yourselves of the parish schools. There
will be deep points mooted in this controversy, which neither you nor
we will ever be in the least able to understand. You will no doubt be
told of a theocratic theory of the British Government, perfectly
compatible, somehow, with the receipt of educational _grants_ from
which all recognition of the religious element on the part of the
State is, at the express request of the Church, to be thoroughly
discharged, but not at all compatible with the receipt of an
educational _endowment_ of exactly the same character, from which the
same State recognition of the same religious element is to be
discharged in the same degree. You will, we say, not be able to
understand this. The late Dr. Thomas Chalmers and the late Rev. Mr.
Stewart of Cromarty could not understand it; we question much whether
Dr. William Cunningham understands it; and we are quite sure that Dr.
Guthrie and Dr. Begg do not. And you, who are poor simple laymen, will
never be able to understand it at all. But you are all able to
understand that the parish schools of your respective districts, now
lying empty and useless, belong of right to you; and that it would be
a very excellent thing to have that right restored to you, both on
your own behalf and on that of your children.


 {7} 'The sixth resolution [of the Educational Manifesto], in
     which the opinion of Dr. Chalmers is quoted, that Government
     [should] abstain from introducing the element of religion at all
     into their part of the scheme, must, as here introduced, be
     presumed to mean, that in the Act of the Legislature which shall
     carry the views of the resolutionists into practical effect,
     nothing shall be said about religious instruction; but that power
     shall be given to the heads of families to manage the schools,
     and prescribe the subjects to be taught, according to their own
     convictions of what is sound in religious and useful in secular
     instruction. But this would leave the religious rights of the
     minority completely unprotected. Government must do something
     more than _omit_ the religious element: it must limit the power
     of the majority to introduce this element into their schools to
     the injury of the minority.'--_Letter of Mr. George Combe on the
     Educational Movement._


  Objections urged by the Free Church Presbytery of Glasgow
  against the Educational Movement--Equally suited to bear against
  the Scheme of Educational Grants--Great superiority of
  Territorial over Denominational Endowment--The Scottish People
  sound as a whole, but some of the Scottish Sects very
  unsound--State of the Free Church Educational Scheme.

'Whereas attempts are now being made to reform the parish schools of
Scotland, on the principle of altogether excluding religion from
national recognition as an element in the national system of
education, and leaving it solely to private parties to determine in
each locality whether any or what religious instruction will be
introduced into the parochial schools,--it is humbly overtured to the
Venerable the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland, to
declare that this Church can be no party to any plan of education
based on the negation of religion in the general, or of the national
faith in particular,' etc.

Such is the gist of that 'Overture on Education' which was carried
some three weeks ago by a majority of the Free Church Presbytery of
Glasgow. It has the merit of being a clear enunciation of meaning; of
being also at least as well fitted to express the views of the
Established as of the Free Church courts in Glasgow and elsewhere, and
a great deal better suited to serve as a cloak to their policy; and,
further, by a very slight adaptation, it could be made to bear as
directly against State _grants_ given for educational purposes, if
dissociated from the religious certificate, as against State
_endowments_ given for the same purpose, when dissociated from
statutory religious requirement. It is the religious certificate--most
anomalously demanded of denominations diametrically opposed to each
other in their beliefs, and subversive of each other in their
teachings--that constitutes in the affair of educational grants the
recognition of religion on the part of the State. Educational grants
dissociated from the religious certificate are educational grants
dissociated from the State recognition of religion. The fact that the
certificates demanded should be of so anomalous a character, is simply
a reflection of the all-important fact that the British people are
broken up into antagonistic Churches and hostile denominations, and
that the British Government is representative. And that men such as
those members and office-bearers of our Church who hold the middle
position between that occupied by Mr. Gibson of Glasgow on the one
hand, and Dr. Begg of Edinburgh on the other, should see no other way
of availing themselves of the educational grants, with a good
conscience, than by getting rid of the religious recognition, only
serves to show that they are quite as sensible as their opponents in
the liberal section of the enormous difficulty of the case, and can
bethink themselves of no better mode of unlocking it. For it will not
be contended, that if in the matter of grants there is to be no
recognition of religion on the part of the State, the want of it could
be more adequately supplied by sects, as such, denominationally
divided, than by the people of Scotland, as such, territorially
divided; seeing that sects, as such, include Papists, Puseyites,
Socinians, and Seceders,--Muggletonians, Juggletonians, New
Jerusalemites, and United Presbyterians,--Free-thinking Christians,
Free-Willers, and Free Churchmen. Nor can we see either the wisdom or
the advantage of any scheme of Government inquiry into the educational
destitution of a locality, that, instead of supplying the want which
it found, would merely placard the place by a sort of feuing
ticket--destined, we are afraid, in many instances to be sadly
weather-bleached--which would intimate to the sects in general, that
were any one of them to come forward and enact the part of
school-builder and pedagogue, the State would undertake for a portion
of the expenses. We suppose the advertisement on the ticket would run

Leaving, however, to profounder intellects than our own the adjustment
of the nice principles involved in this matter, let us advert to what
we deem the practical advantages of a _territorial_ scheme of
educational _endowments_ over a _denominational_ scheme of educational
_grants_. At present, all or any of the _sects_ may come forward as
such, whatever their character or teaching, and, on fulfilling certain
conditions, receive assistance from the Government in the form of an
educational grant; whereas, by the scheme which we would fain see
set in its place, it would be only the more solid people of
_districts_--let us suppose parishes--that would be qualified to come
forward to choose for themselves their parochial State-endowed
teachers. And at least one of the advantages of this scheme over the
other must be surely obvious and plain. _Denominationally_, there is
much unsoundness in Scotland; _territorially_, there is very little.
There exist, unhappily, differences among our Scottish Presbyterians;
but not the less on that account has Presbyterianism, in its three
great divisions--Voluntary, Establishment, and Free Church--possessed
itself of the land in all its length and breadth. The only other form of
religion that has a territorial existence in Scotland at all is
Popery, and Popery holds merely a few darkened districts of the outer
Hebrides and of the Highlands. It would fail, out of the one thousand
one hundred parish schools of the country, to carry half-a-dozen;
and no other form of religious error would succeed in carrying so
much as one parish school. There is no Socinian district in
Scotland; old Scotch Episcopacy has not its single parish; and high
Puseyism has not its half, or quarter, or even tithe of a parish.
That Church of Scotland which Knox founded, with its offshoots the
Secession and Relief bodies, has not laboured in vain; and through the
blessing of God on these labours, Scotland, as represented by its
territorial majorities, is by far the soundest and most orthodox
country in the world. A wise and patriotic man--at once a good Scot
and a judicious Churchman--would, we think, hesitate long ere he flung
away so solid an advantage, won to us by the labours, the contendings,
the sufferings of reformers, confessors, martyrs, and ministers of the
truth, from the days of Melville and of Henderson, down to those of
the Erskines and of Chalmers. He would at least not fail to ask himself
whether that to which what was so unequivocally _substance_ was to be
sacrificed, was in itself _substance_ or _shadow_.

Let us next remark, that the Scottish national schools, while they
thus could not fail to be essentially sound on the territorial
scheme--just because Scotland is itself essentially sound as a
nation--might, and would in very many instances, be essentially
unsound on a denominational one. There is no form of religious error
which may not, in the present state of things, have, as we have said,
its schools supported in part by a Government grant, and which may not
have its pupil-teachers trained up to disseminate deadly error at the
public expense among the youthhead of the future. Edinburgh, for
instance, has its one Popish street--the Cowgate; but it has no Popish
parish: it has got very little Popery in George Square and its
neighbourhood,--very little at the Bristo Port,--very little in
Broughton Street; and yet in all these localities, territorially
Protestant, Papists have got their religion-teaching schools, in which
pupil-teachers, paid by the State, are in the course of being duly
qualified for carrying on the work of perversion and proselytism. St.
Patrick's school, in which, as our readers were so lately shown, boys
may spend four years without acquiring even the simple accomplishment
of reading, has no fewer than five of these embryo perverters
supported by the Government. Puseyism has, in the same way, no
territorial standing on the northern shores of the Frith of Forth; and
yet at least one Free Church minister, located in one of the towns
which stud that coast, could tell of a well-equipped Puseyite school
in his immediate neighbourhood, supported in part by the Government
grant, that, by the superiority of the secular education which it
supplies, is drawing away Presbyterian, nay, even Free Church
children, from the other schools of the locality. On the territorial
principle, we repeat, schools such as these, which rest on the
denominational basis alone, could not possibly receive the support and
countenance of the Legislature. And let the reader remark, that should
the Free Church succeed in getting rid of the anomalous religious
certificate, and yet continue to hold by the denominational basis,
something worse than mere denomination would scarce fail to step in.
The Combeite might then freely come forward to teach at the public
expense, that no other soul of man has yet been ascertained to exist
than the human brain, and no other superintending Providence than the
blind laws of insensate matter. Nay, even Socialism, just a little
disguised, might begin to build and teach for the benefit of the
young, secure of being backed and assisted in its work by the civil
magistrate. Further, should the grant scheme be rendered more
flexible, _i.e._ extended to a lower grade of qualification, and thus
the public purse be applied to the maintenance and perpetuation of a
hedge-school system of education,--or should it be rendered more
liberal, _i.e._ should the Government be induced to do proportionally
more, and the school-builders be required to do proportionally
less,--superstition and infidelity would, in the carrying out of their
schemes of perversion, have, in consequence, just all the less to
sacrifice and to acquire. According to the present arrangement, a
schoolmaster must realize, from salary and fees united, the sum of
forty-five annual pounds, and be, besides, furnished with a free
house, ere he can receive from the Government a grant on its lowest
scale, viz. fifteen pounds;{9} and whatever judgment may be formed of
the proportion in which the State contributes, there can be no
question that the general arrangement is a wise one. Sermonizing
dominies could be had, no doubt, at any price; and there can be as
little doubt that, at any price, would the great bulk of them turn out
to be '_doons hard bargains_;' but it is wholly impossible that a
country should have respectable and efficient teachers under from
sixty to eighty pounds a year. The thing, we repeat, is wholly
impossible; and the State, in acting, as in this arrangement, on the
conviction, does but its duty to its people. The some sixty or seventy
pounds, however, would be as certainly realized as under the present
arrangement, were it Government that contributed the forty-five
pounds, and the denomination or society the fifteen and the free
house; and this, of course, would be eminently liberal. But what would
be the effects of so happy a change? It might in some degree relieve
the Free Church Scheme from financial difficulty; but would it do
nothing more? There are Puseyite ladies in Scotland, high in rank and
influence, and possessed of much wealth and great zeal, who are
already building their schools, in the hope of unprotestantizing their
poor lapsed country, spiritually ruined by the Reformation. The
liberality that might in part enable the Free Church Education
Committee to discharge its obligations at the rate of twenty shillings
per pound, would be a wonderful godsend to them; seeing that they
would have little else to do, under a scheme so liberal, than simply
to erect schoolhouses on the widespread domains of their husbands or
fathers, and immediately commence perverting the children of the
nation at the national cost. It would be no less advantageous to the
Society of the Propaganda, and would enable it to spare its own
purse, by opening to it that of the people. The Socinian, the
Combeite, the semi-Socialist--none of them very much disposed to
liberality themselves--would all share in that of the Government; and
their zeal, no longer tied down to inactivity by the dread of
pecuniary sacrifice or obligation, would find wings and come abroad.
Surely, with such consequences in prospect, our Free Church readers
would do well to ponder the nature and demands of the crisis at which
they have now arrived. Our country and our Church have in reality but
one set of interests; and a man cannot be a bad Scot without being a
bad Free Churchman too. Let them decide in this matter, not under the
guidance of an oblique eye, squinted on little temporary difficulties
or hypothetical denominational advantages, but influenced by
considerations of the permanent welfare of their country, and of their
abiding obligations to their God.

But why, it may be asked of the writer, if you be thus sensible of
the immense superiority of a territorial scheme of educational
endowments over a denominational scheme of educational grants,--why
did you yourself urge, some three years ago, that the Free Church
should avail herself of these very grants? Our reply is sufficiently
simple. The denominational scheme of grants was the only scheme
before us at the time; these grants were, we saw, in danger of being
rejected by the Free Church on what we deemed an unsound and
perilous principle, which was in itself in no degree Free Church;
and last, not least, we saw further, that if the Church did not
avail herself of these grants, there awaited on her Educational
Scheme--ominously devoid of that direct divine mandate which all her
other schemes possessed--inevitable and disastrous bankruptcy. But
circumstances have greatly changed. The Free Church is no longer in
any danger from the principle which would have rejected Government
assistance. There is now a territorial scheme brought full before the
view of the country; and, further, the Government grants have wholly
failed to preserve our Educational Scheme from the state of extreme
pecuniary embarrassment which we too surely anticipated. Salaries of
£15 and £20 per annum are greatly less than adequate for the
support and remuneration of even the lower order of teachers,
especially in thinly-peopled districts of country, where pupils are
few and the fees inconsiderable. But at these low rates it was
determined, in the programme of the Free Church Educational Scheme,
that about three-fourths of the Church's teachers should be paid; and
there are scores and hundreds among them who regulated their
expenditure on the arrangement. For at least the last two years,
however, the Education Committee has been paying its £15 salaries at
the reduced rate of £10, and its £20 salaries at the rate of £13,
13s. 4d.; and those embarrassments, of which the reduction was a
consequence, have borne with distressful effect on the Committee's
_employés_. However _orthodox_ their creed, their circumstances
have in many instances become _Antinomian_; nor, while teaching
religion to others, have they been able in every instance to
conform to one of its simplest demands--'Owe no man anything.'

There were several important items, let us remark, in which we
over-estimated the amount of assistance which the Scheme was to
receive from the Government; and this mainly from our looking at the
matter in the gross, as a question of proportion--so much granted for
so much raised--without taking into account certain conditions
demanded by the Minutes of Council on the one hand, and a certain
course of management adopted on the part of our Education Committee on
the other. The grant is given in proportion to salary of one to two
(we at present set aside the element of fees): a _salary_ of thirty
pounds is supplemented by a _grant_ of fifteen pounds,--a salary of
forty pounds by a grant of twenty,--a salary of fifty by a grant of
twenty-five,--and so on; and we were sanguine enough to calculate,
that an aggregate sum of some ten or twelve thousand pounds raised by
the Church for salaries, would be supplemented by an aggregation of
grants from the Government to the amount of some five or six thousand
pounds more. The minimum sum regarded as essentially necessary for
carrying on the Free Church Educational Scheme had been estimated at
twenty thousand pounds. If the Free Church raise but twelve thousand
of these, we said, Government will give her six thousand additional in
the form of grants, and some two thousand additional, or so, for the
training of her pupil-teachers; and the Church will thus be enabled to
realize her minimum estimate. We did not take the fact into account,
that of our Free Church teachers a preponderating majority should fail
successfully to compete for the Government money; nor yet that the
educational funds should be so broken up into driblet salaries,
attached to schools in which the fees were poor and the pupils few,
that the schoolmaster, even though possessed of the necessary
_literary_ qualification, would in many cases be some twenty, or even
thirty, pounds short of the necessary _money_ qualification, _i.e._
the essential forty-five annual pounds. We did not, we say, take these
circumstances into account,--indeed, it was scarce possible that we
could have done so; and so we immensely over-estimated the efficacy of
the State grant in maintaining the solvency of our Educational Scheme.
We learn from Dr. Reid's recent Report to our metropolitan church
court, that of the forty-two Free Church teachers connected with the
Presbytery of Edinburgh, and in receipt of salaries from the Education
Committee, only thirteen have been successful in obtaining Government
certificates of merit. And even this is a rather high average,
compared with that of the other districts; for we have ascertained,
that of the six hundred and eighty-nine teachers of the Free Church
scattered over the kingdom, not more than a hundred and twenty-nine
have received the Government grant. There are, however, among the
others, teachers who have failed to attain to it, not from any want of
the literary qualification--for some of them actually possess the
parchment certificate bearing the signature of Lansdowne--but simply
because they are unfortunate enough to lack the pecuniary one.

That which we so much dreaded has come, we repeat, upon our
Educational Scheme. The subject is a painfully delicate one, and
we have long kept aloof from it; but truth, and truth only, can now
enable the Free Church and her people to act, in this emergency, as
becomes the character which they bear, and the circumstances in which
they are placed. Let us not fall into the delusion of deeming the
mere array of our Free Church schools and teachers--their numbers and
formidable length of line--any matter of congratulation; nor
forget, in our future calculations, that if the Free Church now
realizes from £10,000 to £12,000 yearly for educational purposes,
she would require to realize some £5000 or £6000 more in order to
qualify her to meet her existing liabilities, estimated at the
very moderate rates laid down in the programme. The £5000 or £6000
additional, instead of enabling her to erect a single additional
school, would only enable her to pay in full her teachers' salaries.
And so it is obviously a delusion to hold that our Free Church
Educational Scheme supplies in reality two-thirds of our congregations
with teachers, seeing that these teachers are only two-thirds paid.
We are still some £5000 or £6000 short of supplying the two-thirds,
and some £6000 or £7000 more of supplying the whole. And even were
the whole of our own membership to be supplied, the grand query,
How is our country to be educated,--our parish schools to be
restored to usefulness and the Scotch people,--and Scotland herself
to resume and maintain her old place among the nations?--would come
back upon us as emphatically as now. Judging from what has been
already done, and this after every nerve has been strained in the
Sisyphisian work of rolling up-hill an ever-returning stone, it
seems wholly impossible that we should ever succeed in educating the
young of even our own congregations; and how, then, save on some great
national scheme, is a sinking nation to be educated?


 {8} The following portion of a motion on the educational
     question, announced in the Edinburgh Presbytery of the Free
     Church on the 6th of February last, is specially referred to in
     this paragraph:--

     'That the successful working of the present Government plan would
     be greatly promoted by the following amendments:--

     '1_st_, The entire omission in all cases (except, perhaps, the
     case of the Established Church) of the certificate regarding
     religious instruction, and the recognition of all bodies, whether
     Churches or private parties and associations, as equally entitled
     to receive aid.

     '2_d_, The adoption of a rule in proportioning Government grants
     to local efforts more flexible, and admitting of far more liberal
     aid in destitute localities, as compared with those which are in
     a better condition.

     '3_d_, The institution, on the part of Government, of an inquiry
     into the destitution confessedly existing in large towns,
     populous neighbourhoods, and remote districts, with a view of
     marking out places where elementary schools are particularly
     needed; and the holding out of special encouragement to whatever
     parties may come forward as willing to plant such schools.

     'That the preceding suggestions, if adopted, would go far to
     render the present Government plan unobjectionable in principle,
     and also to fit it in practice for ascertaining the educational
     wants of the country; but that a much more liberal expenditure of
     the public money would seem to be indispensable, as well as a
     less stringent application, upon adequate cause shown, of the
     rules by which the expenditure is regulated.'

     In bringing the motion forward in the following meeting of
     Presbytery, the clause recommending the 'entire omission in all
     cases of the certificate regarding religious instruction' was
     suffered to drop.

 {9} Such are the proportions laid down in the official document
     for Scotland of the Committee of Her Majesty's Privy Council on
     Education. We understand, however, that the Government inspectors
     possess certain modifying powers, through which the Government
     grant is occasionally extended to deserving teachers whose salary
     and fees united fall considerably short of the specified sum of
     forty-five pounds.


  Unskilled Labourers remunerated at a higher rate than many of
  our Free Church Teachers--The Teaching must be inferior if the
  Remuneration be low--Effect of inferior Teaching on the parties
  taught--Statutory Security; where are the parties to contend for
  it?--Necessity of a Government Inquiry--'O for an hour of

That higher order of farm-servants which are known technically in
Mid-Lothian as 'sowers and stackers,' receive, as their yearly wages,
in the immediate neighbourhood of the house of the writer, eighteen
pounds in money, four bolls oatmeal, two cart-loads of potatoes, and
about from twenty to thirty shillings worth of milk. The money value
of the whole amounts, at the present time, to something between
twenty-three and twenty-four pounds sterling. We are informed by a
Fifeshire proprietor, that in his part of the country, a superior
farm-servant, neither grieve nor foreman, receives eight pounds in
money, six and a half bolls meal, three cart-loads of potatoes, and
the use of a cow, generally estimated as worth from ten to twelve
pounds annually. His aggregate wages, therefore, average from about
twenty-four to twenty-six pounds ten shillings a year. And we are told
by another proprietor of the south of Scotland, that each of the
better hinds in his employment costs him every year about thirty
pounds. In fine, to the south of the Grampians, the emoluments of our
more efficient class of farm-servants range from twenty-three to
thirty pounds yearly. We need not refer to the wages of railway
navvies, nor yet to those of the superior classes of mechanics, such
as printers, masons, jewellers, typefounders, etc. There is not a
printer in the _Witness_ office who would be permitted by the rules of
his profession, to make an arrangement with his employers, were he to
exchange piece-work for wages, that did not secure to him twenty-five
shillings per week. To expect that a country or Church can possibly
have efficient schoolmasters at a lower rate of emolument than not
only skilled mechanics, but than even unskilled railway labourers, or
the 'stackers and sowers' of our large farms, is so palpably a
delusion, that simply to name it is to expose it. And yet of our Free
Church schoolmasters, especially in thinly-peopled rural districts and
the Highlands, there are scores remunerated at a lower rate than
labourers and farm-servants, and hundreds at a rate at least as low;
and if we except the fortunate hundred and twenty-nine who receive the
Government grant, few indeed of the others rise to the level of the
skilled mechanic. Greatly more than two-thirds of our teachers were
placed originally on the £15 and £20 scale of salaries: these are now
paid with £10 and £13, 13s. 4d. respectively. There are many
localities in which these pittances are not more than doubled by the
fees, and some localities in which they are even less than doubled;
and so a preponderating majority of the schoolmasters of the Free
Church are miserably poor men: for what might be a competency to a
labourer or hind, must be utter poverty to them. And not a few of
their number are distressfully embarrassed and in debt.

Now this will never do. The Church may make herself very sure, that
for her £10 or £13 she will receive ultimately only the worth of £10
or £13. She may get windfalls of single teachers for a few months or
years: superior young men may occasionally make a brief stay in her
schools, in the course of their progress to something better,--as
Pilgrim rested for a while in the half-way recess hollowed in the side
of the Hill Difficulty; but only very mediocre men, devoid of energy
enough of body or mind to make good masons or carpenters, will stick
fast in them. We have learned that, in one northern locality, no
fewer than eight Free Church teachers have since Martinmas last either
tendered their resignations, or are on the eve of doing so. These, it
will be found, are superior men, who rationally aspire to something
better than mere ploughman's wages; but there will of course be no
resignations tendered by the class who, in even the lowest depths of
the Scheme, have found but their proper level. These, as the more
active spirits fly off, will flow in and fill up their places, till,
wherever the £10 and £13 salaries prevail,--and in what rural
district do they not prevail?--the general pedagogical acquirements of
our teachers will present a surface as flat, dull, and unprofitable
as ditch-water. For what, we again ask, can be expected for £10 or
£13? And let the reader but mark the effect of such teaching. We have
seen placed side by side, in the same burgh town, an English school,
in which what are deemed the branches suitable for mechanics and
their children, such as reading, writing, and arithmetic, were
energetically taught, and a grammar school in which a university-bred
schoolmaster laboured, with really not much energy, especially in
those lower departments in which his rival excelled, but who was fitted
to prepare his pupils for college, and not devoid of the classical
enthusiasm. And it struck us as a significant and instructive fact,
that while the good English school, though it turned out smart
readers and clever arithmeticians, failed to elevate a single man from
the lower to the middle or higher walks of life, the grammar school
was successful in elevating a great many. The principle on which such a
difference of result should have been obtained is so obvious, that it
can scarce be necessary to point it out. The teaching of the one
school was a narrow lane, trim, 'tis true, and well kept, but which led
to only workshops, brick-kilns, and quarries; whereas that of the
other was a broad, partially-neglected avenue, which opened into the
great professional highways, that lead everywhere. And if the
difference was one which could not be obviated by all the energy of a
superior and well-paid English teacher, how, we ask, is it to be
obviated by our Free Church £10 and £13 teachers? Surely our Church
would do well to ponder whether it can be either her interest or her
duty to urge on any scheme, in opposition to a national one, which
would have all too palpably the effect of degrading her poorer
membership, so far as they availed themselves of it, into the
Gibeonites of the community--its hewers of wood and drawers of water.
Never will Scotland possess an educational scheme truly national, and
either worthy of her ancient fame or adequate to the demands and
emergencies of an age like the present, until at least every parish
shall possess among its other teachers its one university-bred
schoolmaster, popularly chosen, and well paid, and suited to assist in
transplanting to the higher places of society those select and
vigorous scions that from time to time spring up from the stock of
the commonalty. The waking dream of running down the ignorance and
misery of a sinking country by an array of starveling teachers in the
train of any one denomination--itself, mayhap, sufficiently
attenuated by the demands of purely ecclesiastical objects--must be
likened to that other waking dream of the belated German peasant, who
sees from some deep glade of his native forests a spectral hunt
sweep through the clouds,--skeleton stags pursued by skeleton huntsmen,
mounted on skeleton horses, and surrounded by skeleton beagles; and who
hears, as the wild pageant recedes into the darkness, the hollow
tantivy and the spectral horns echoing loud and wildly through the
angry heavens.

It is of paramount importance that the Free Church should in the
present crisis take up her position wisely. We have heard of invaders
of desperate courage, who, on landing upon some shore on which they
had determined either to conquer or to perish, set fire to their
ships, and thus shut out the possibility of retreat. Now the Free
Church--whether she land herself into an agitation for a scheme of
Government grants rendered more liberal and flexible than now, and
dissociated from the religious certificate, or whether she plant her
foot on a scheme of national education based on a statutory
recognition of the pedagogical teaching of religion--is certainly in
no condition to burn her ships. Let her not rashly commit herself
against a third scheme, essentially one in principle with that which
the sagacious Chalmers could regard, after long and profound
reflection, as the only one truly eligible in the circumstances of the
country, and which she herself, some two or three years hence, may be
compelled to regard in a similar light. The educational agitation is
not to be settled in the course of a few brief months; nor yet by the
votes of Presbyteries, Synods, or General Assemblies, whether they
belong to the Free or to the Established Churches. It rises direct out
of the great social question of the time. Scotland as such forms one
of its battle-fields, and Scotchmen as such are the parties who are to
be engaged in the fight; and the issue, though ultimately secure, will
long seem doubtful. And so the Free Church may have quite time enough
to fight her own battle, or rather her own _two_ battles in
succession, and, when both are over, find that the great general
contest still remains undecided.

For what we must deem by much the better and more important battle of
the _two_--that for a statutory demand on the part of the State that
the Bible and Shorter Catechism should be taught in the national
schools--we are afraid the time is past; but most happy would we be
to find ourselves mistaken. The Church of Scotland, as represented by
that majority which is now the Free Church, might have succeeded in
carrying some such measure ten years ago, when the parish schools were
yet in her custody; just as she might have succeeded seven years
earlier in obviating the dire necessity which led to the Disruption, by
acting upon the advice of the wise and far-seeing M'Crie.{10} But she
was not less prepared at the one date to agitate for the total
abolition of patronage, than at the other to throw open the parish
schools on the basis of a statutory security for the teaching of
religion. In both cases, the golden opportunity was suffered to pass
by; and Old Time presents to her now but the bald retreating occiput,
which her eager hand may in vain attempt to grasp. Where, we ask, are
we to look for the forces that are to assist us in fighting this
battle of statutory security? Has the Establishment become more
liberal, or more disposed to open the parish schools, than we ourselves
were when we composed the majority of that very Establishment? Alas!
in order to satisfy ourselves on that head, we have but to look at the
decisions of her various ecclesiastical courts. Or is it the old
Scottish Dissenters that are to change their entire front, and to
make common cause with us, in disregard, and even in defiance, of their
own principles, as they themselves understand them? Or are we to look
to that evangelical portion of the Episcopacy of England, with whom
_Establishment_ means _Church_, and the 'good of the Establishment' a
synonyme for the 'good of the Church,' and who, to a certainty, will
move no hand against the sister Establishment in Scotland? Or are we
to be aided by that portion of English Independency that has so very
strangely taken its stand equally against educational grants and
educational endowments, on the ground that there is a sort of
religion homoeopathically diffused in all education--especially, we
suppose, in Lindley Murray's readings from the _Spectator_ and Dr.
Blair--and that, as the State must not provide _religious_ teaching
for its people, it cannot, and must not, provide for them teaching
of any kind? Scientific Jews are they, of the straitest sect, who,
wiser than their fathers, have ascertained by the microscope, that
all meat, however nicely washed, continues to retain its molecules of
blood, and that flesh therefore must on no account be eaten. We
cannot, we say, discern, within the wide horizon of existing realities,
the troops with which this battle is to be fought. They seem to be mere
shadows of the past. But if the Free Church see otherwise, let her by
all means summon them up, and fight it. Regarded simply as a matter of
policy, we are afraid the contest would be at least imprudent. 'It were
well,' said a Scotch officer to Wolfe, when Chatham first called out the
Highlanders of Scotland to fight in the wars of Britain,--'It were
well, General, that you should know the character of these Highland
troops. Do not attempt manoeuvring with them; Scotch Highlanders
don't understand manoeuvre. If you make a feint of charging, they will
throw themselves sword in hand into the thick of the enemy, and you
will in vain attempt calling them back; or if you make a show of
retreating, they will run away in right earnest, and you will never see
them more. So do not employ them in feints and stratagems, but keep them
for the hard, serious business of the fight, and you will find them
the best troops in the world.' Now, nearly the same character applies
to the Free Church. To set her a-fighting as a matter of policy,
would be very bad policy indeed. She would find out reasons,
semi-theological at least, for all her positions, however hopeless,
and would continue fixed in these long after the battle had been
fought and lost, and when she ought to be engaged in retrieving her
disasters on other ground, and in a fresh and more promising quarrel.
But if the Free Church does enter into this battle, let her in the
meantime not forget, that after it has been fought, and at least
_possibly_ lost, another battle may have still to be begun; nor let
her attempt damaging, by doubtful theology, the position which a
preponderating majority of her own office-bearers and members may have
yet to take up. For, ultimately at least, the damage would be all
her own. Let her remark further, that should her people set their
hearts pretty strongly on those national seminaries, which in many
parts of the country would become, if opened up, wholly their own _de
facto_, and which are already their own _de jure_, they might not be
quite able to feel the cogency of the argument that, while it left
Socinians and Papists in the enjoyment of at once very liberal and very
flexible Government grants, challenged _their_ right to choose, on
their own responsibility, State-paid teachers for their children; and
which virtually assured them, that if they did not contribute largely
to the educational scheme of their own Church, she would be wholly
unable to maintain it as a sort of mid-impediment between them and
their just rights, the parish schools. They would be exceedingly apt,
too, to translate any very determined and general preference manifested
by our church courts for the scheme of educational grants, into some
such enunciation as the following:--'Give us to ourselves but a
moiety of one-third of the Scottish young, and we will frankly give up
the other two-thirds,--the one-half of them to be destroyed by gross
ignorance, and the other half by deadly error.'{11}

There is at least one point on which we think all Free Churchmen ought
to agree. It is necessary that the truth should be known respecting
the educational condition and resources of Scotland. It will, we
understand, be moved to-day [February 27th], in the Free Church
Presbytery of Edinburgh, as a thing good and desirable, that Government
should 'institute an inquiry into the educational destitution
confessedly existing in large towns, populous neighbourhoods, and
remote districts, with a view to the marking out of places where
elementary schools are particularly needed,' etc. Would it not be
more satisfactory to move instead, the desirableness of a Government
Commission of Inquiry, 1_st_, into the educational condition of all the
youth of Scotland between the years of six and fifteen, on the scheme
of that inquiry recently conducted by a Free Church Educational
Association in the Tron parish of Glasgow; 2_d_, into the condition,
character, and teaching of all the various schools of the country,
whether parochial, Free Church, or adventure schools, with the actual
amount of pupils in attendance at each; and 3_d_, into the general
standing, acquirements, and _emoluments_ of all the teachers? Not only
would the report of such a Commission be of much solid value in
itself, from the amount of fact which it would furnish for the
direction of educational exertion on the part of both the people and
the State; but it might also have the effect of preventing good men from
taking up, in the coming contest, untenable and suspicious ground. It
would lay open the true state of our parish schools, and not only
show how utterly useless these institutions have become, from at
least the shores of the Beauly to those of the Pentland Frith, and
throughout the Highlands generally, but also expose the gross
exaggeration of the estimate furnished by Mr. Macrae, and adopted by
Dr. Muir.{12} Further, it would have the effect of preventing any
member of either the Free Church or the Establishment from resorting
to the detestable policy of those Dissenters of England, who, in
order to secure certain petty advantages to their own miserable
sects, set themselves to represent their poor country--perishing at
the time for lack of knowledge--as comparatively little in need of
educational assistance. But we trust this at least is an enormity, at
once criminal and mean, of which no Scotchman, whatever his Church,
_could_ possibly be guilty; and so we shall not do our country the
injustice of holding that, though it produced its 'fause Sir Johns' in
the past, it contains in the present one such traitor, until we at
least see the man. Further, a State Report of the kind would lay open
to us, in the severe statistical form, the actual emoluments of our
own Free Church teachers. We trust, then, that this scheme of a
searching Government inquiry may be regarded as a first great step
towards the important work of educating the Scottish people, in which
all ought to agree, however thoroughly at variance in matters of
principle or on points of detail.

It is of mighty importance that men should look at things as they
really are. Let us remember that it is not for the emergencies of
yesterday that we are now called on to provide, but for the
necessities of to-day,--not for Scotland in the year 1592, nor yet
in the year 1700, but for Scotland in the year 1850. What might be
the best possible course in these bygone ages, may be, and is, wholly
an impracticable course now. _Church_ at both these earlier dates
meant not only an orthodox communion, but also that preponderating
majority of the nation which reckoned up as its own the great bulk of
both the rulers and the ruled, and at once owned the best and
longest swords, and wore the strongest armour; whereas it now
means, _legally_ at least, merely two Erastianized Establishments,
and _politically_, all the Christian denominations that possess
votes and return members to Parliament. The prism seizes on a single
white ray, and decomposes it into a definitely proportioned
spectrum, gorgeous with the primary colours. The representative
principle of a Government such as ours takes up, as if by a reverse
process, those diverse hues of the denominational spectrum that
vary the face of society, and compounds them in the Legislature into
a blank. Save for the existence of the two Establishments--strong on
other than religious grounds--and the peculiar tinge which they cast
on the institutions of the country, the blank would be still more
perfect than it is; and this fact--a direct result of the strongly
marked hues of the denominational spectrum, operated upon by the
representative principle--we can no more change than we can the
optical law. Let there be but the colour of one religion in the
national spectrum, and the Legislature will wear but one religious
colour: let it consist of half-a-dozen colours, and the Legislature
will be of none. 'O for an hour of Knox!' it has been said by a
good and able man, from whom, however, in this question we greatly
differ,--'O for an hour of Knox to defend the national religious
education which he was raised up to institute!' Knox, be it
remembered, was wise, prudent, sagacious, in accordance with the
demands of his time. A Knox of the exact fashion of the sixteenth
century, raised up in the middle of the nineteenth, would be but a
slim, long-bearded effigy of a Knox, grotesquely attired in a
Geneva cloak and cap, and with the straw and hay that stuffed him
sticking out in tufts from his waistband. 'O for an hour of Knox!'
The Scottish Church of the present age has already had its Knox.
'Elias hath already come.' The large-minded, wise-hearted Knox of
the nineteenth century died at Morningside three years ago; and he
has bequeathed, as a precious legacy to the Church, his judgment on
this very question. 'It were the best state of things,' he said, 'that
we had a Parliament sufficiently theological to discriminate between
the right and the wrong in religion, and to endow accordingly. But
failing this, it seems to us the next best thing, that in any public
measure for helping on the education of the people, Government
were to abstain from introducing the element of religion at all
into their part of the scheme; and this not because they held the
matter to be insignificant,--the contrary might be strongly
expressed in the preamble of their Act,{13}--but on the ground that,
in the present divided state of the Christian world, they would
take no cognizance of, just because they would attempt no control
over, the religion of applicants for aid,--leaving this matter
entire to the parties who had to do with the erection and management
of the schools which they had been called upon to assist. A grant
by the State on this footing might be regarded as being appropriately
and exclusively the expression of their value for a good secular


{10} To demand of that Parliament which carried the Reform Bill
     the repeal of the Patronage Act, instead of enacting, on her own
     authority, the Veto Law.

{11} 'I see,' said Knox, when the Privy Council, in dividing
     the ecclesiastical revenues of the kingdom into three parts,
     determined on giving two of these to the nobility, and on
     dividing the remaining part between the Protestant ministry
     and the Court,--' I see two-thirds freely given to the devil,
     and the other third divided between God and the devil: if the
     end of this order be happy, my judgment fails me!' Our church
     courts, if they declare for the system of denominational
     grants, in opposition to the territorial endowments of a scheme
     truly national, will be securing virtually a similar division
     of the people, with but this difference, that God's share of the
     reserved moiety may be a very small share indeed. And can it
     possibly be held that the shame and guilt of such an arrangement
     can be obviated by the votes of Synods or Assemblies? or that,
     with an intelligent laity to judge in the matter, the 'end of
     this order' can be other than unhappy? The schools of the Free
     Church have already, it is said, done much good. We would, we
     reply, be without excuse, in taking up our present position--a
     position in which we have painfully to differ from so many of the
     friends in whose behalf for the last ten years we deemed it at
     once a privilege and an honour to contend--did we believe that
     more than six hundred Protestant schools _could_ exist in
     Scotland without doing _much_ good. Of nothing, however, are
     we more convinced, than that the good which they have done has
     been accomplished by them in their character as _schools_, not in
     their character as _denominational_. We know a little regarding
     this matter; for in our journeyings of many thousand miles over
     Scotland, especially in the Highlands and the northern counties,
     we have made some use of both our eyes and ears. We have seen,
     and sickened to see, hordes of schoolboys of ten and twelve years
     bandying as nicknames, with boys whose parents belonged to the
     Establishment, the terms of polemic controversy. 'Moderate'
     has become in juvenile mouths as much a term of hatred and
     reproach in extensive districts of our country, as we remember
     'Frenchman' used to be during the great revolutionary war. Our
     children bid fair to get, in their state of denominational
     separatism, at least religion enough heartily to hate their
     neighbours; and, we are afraid, not much more. Now, it may be
     thought that the Editor of the _Witness_, himself long engaged
     in semi-theological warfare, ought to be silent in a matter of
     this kind. Be it remembered, we reply, that it was _men_, not
     children, whom the Editor of the _Witness_ made it his business
     to address; and that when, in what he deemed a good cause, he
     appealed to the understandings of his adult country-folk, he
     besought them in every instance to test and examine ere they
     judged and decided. He did not contemplate a phase of the
     controversy in which unthinking children should come from
     their schools to contend with other children, in the spirit
     of those little ones of Bethel who 'came forth out of their
     city' to mock and to jeer; or that immature, unreasoning
     minds should be torn by the she-bears of uncharitable feeling,
     at an age when the points really at issue in the case can be
     received only as prejudices, and expressed only by the mere
     calling of names. And seeing and knowing what he has seen and
     knows, he has become sincerely desirous that controversy should
     be left to at least the adult population of the country, and
     that its children of all the communions should be sent to
     mingle together in their games and their tasks, and to form
     their unselfish attachments, under a wise system of national
     tuition, as thoroughly Christian as may be, but at the same time
     as little as possible polemical or sectarian.

{12} To the effect that there are a hundred thousand children in
     attendance at the parish schools of Scotland.

{13} 'We are aware,' says a respected antagonist, 'that Mr.
     Miller is no Deist; his argument, nevertheless, rests on a
     deistical position,--a charge to which Dr. Chalmers' letter is
     not liable to be exposed, in consequence of its first sentence,
     and of what it recommends in a Government preamble.' If there be
     such virtue in a preamble, say we, let us by all means have a
     preamble--ten preambles if necessary--rather than a deistic
     principle. We would fain imitate in this matter the tolerance of
     Luther. 'A complaint comes that such and such a reformed preacher
     will not preach without a cassock. "Well," answers Luther, "what
     harm will a cassock do the man? Let him have a cassock to preach
     in; let him have three cassocks, if he find benefit in them.'"


  Our previous Statement regarding the actual Condition of the
  Free Church Educational Scheme absolutely necessary--Voluntary
  Objections to a National Scheme, as stated by the Opponents of
  the Voluntaries; not particularly solid--Examination of the

Our episode regarding the Free Church Educational Scheme now fairly
completed, let us return to the general question. The reader may,
however, do well to note the inevitable necessity which existed on our
part, that our wholesome, though mayhap unpalatable, statements
respecting it should have been submitted to the Church and the
country. The grand question which in the course of Providence had at
length arisen was, 'How is our sinking country to be educated?' We had
taken our stand, as a Scotchman, in behalf of the Scottish people; and
as the belief seemed widely to exist that our own Free Church scheme
was adequate, or at least nearly so, to the education of the children
of our own membership, and that our duty as Scotchmen could be
fulfilled, somehow, by concentrating all our exertions upon _it_, it
had become essentially necessary that the delusion should be
dispelled. And so we have showed, that while our scheme, in order
fully to supply the educational wants of even our own people, would
require to exist in the proportion of _nine_, it exists nominally in
but the proportion of _six_, and in reality in but the proportion of
_four_,--seeing that the _six, i.e_. our existing staff of teachers,
amounting to but two-thirds of the number required, are but two-thirds
paid;--in short, that our educational speculation is exactly in the
circumstances of a railway company who, having engaged to cut a line
ninety miles in length, have succeeded in cutting forty miles of it at
their own proper expense, and then having cut twenty miles more on
_preference_ shares, find their further progress arrested by a lack of
funds. And so it became necessary to show that the existence and
circumstances of our Free Church schools, instead of furnishing, as
had been urged in several of our presbyteries, any argument _against_
the agitation of the general question, furnished, on the contrary, the
best possible of all arguments _for_ its agitation; and to show
further, that the policy which brought a denominational scheme, that
did not look beyond ourselves, into a great national engagement, in
the character of a privateer virtually on the side of the enemy, was a
most perilous policy, that exposed it to damaging broadsides, and
telling shot right between wind and water.

Let us now pass on to the consideration of a matter on which we
but touched before,--the perfect compatibility of a consistent
Voluntaryism with religious teaching in a school endowed by the
State, on the principle of Dr. Chalmers. The _Witness_ is as little
Voluntary now as it ever was. It seems but fair, however, that a
principle should be saddled with only the consequences that
legitimately arise from it; and that Voluntaryism should not be
exposed, in this contest, to a species of witchcraft, that first
caricatures it in an ill-modelled image, and then sticks the ugly
thing over with pins.

The revenues of the State-endowed schools of this country--and, we
suppose, of every other--are derived from two distinct sources: from
Government, who furnishes the schoolmaster's salary, and erects the
building in which he teaches; and from the parents or guardians, who
remunerate him according to certain graduated rates for the kind of
instruction which he communicates to their children or wards. And the
_rationale_ of this State assistance seems very obvious. It is of
importance to the State, both on economic and judicial grounds, that
all its people should be taught; but, on the adventure-school
principle, it is impossible that they should all be taught, seeing
that adventure schools can thrive in only densely peopled localities,
or where supported by wealthy families, that pay largely for their
children's education. And so, in order that education may be brought
down to the humblest of the people, the State supplements, in its own
and its people's behalf, the schoolmaster's income, and builds him a
school. Such seems to be the principle of educational endowments. Now,
if the State, in endowing national schoolmasters, were to signify that
it endowed them in order that, among other things, they should _teach
religion_, we can well see how a Voluntary who conscientiously holds,
as such, that religion ought not to be State-endowed, might be unable
to avail himself, on his children's behalf, of the State-enjoined
religious teaching of any such functionaries; just as we can also see,
that if the State _forbade_ its schoolmasters on any account to teach
religion, a conscientious holder of the Establishment principle might
be perhaps equally unable to avail himself of services so restricted.
We can at least see how each, in turn, might lodge an alternate
protest,--the one against the positive exclusion of religion by the
State, the other against its positive introduction. But if, according
to Chalmers, the State, aware of the difficulty, tenders its endowment
and builds its schools 'simply as an expression of its value for a
good secular education,' and avowedly leaves the religious part of the
school training to be determined by the parties who furnish that
moiety of the schoolmaster's support derived from fees--_i.e._ the
parents or guardians--we find in the arrangement ground on which the
Voluntary and the Establishment man can meet and agree. For the State
virtually wills by such a settlement--and both by what it demands, and
by what it does _not_ demand, but _permits_--that its salaried
functionary should stand to his employers, the people, simply in the
relation of an adventure schoolmaster. The State says virtually to
its teacher in such circumstances: 'I, as the _general_ guardian of
your pupils, do not pay you for their religious education; but their
_particular_ and special guardians, the parents, are quite at liberty
to make with you on that head whatever bargain they please. Fully
aware of the vast importance of religious teaching, and yet wholly
unable, from the denominational differences of the time, at once to
provide for it in the national seminaries, and to render these equal
to the wants of the country, I throw the whole responsibility in this
matter on the divided people, whom I cannot unite in their religion,
but whose general education I am not on that account at liberty to
neglect.' On grounds such as these, we repeat, Voluntaryism and the
Establishment principle may meet and agree.

There can be little doubt, however, that there are men on both sides
sparingly gifted with common sense: for never yet was there a great
question widely and popularly agitated, that did not divide not only
the wise men, but also the fools of the community; and we have heard
it urged by some of the representatives of the weaker class, that a
Voluntary could not permit his children to be taught religion under a
roof provided by the State. Really, with all respect for the cap and
bells, this is driving the matter a little too far. We have been told
by a relative, now deceased, who served on shipboard during the first
revolutionary war, and saw some hard fighting, that at the close of a
hot engagement, in which victory remained with the British, the
captain of the vessel in which he sailed--a devout and brave
man--called his crew together upon the quarter-deck, and offered up
thanks to God in an impressive prayer. The noble ship in which he
sailed was the property of the State, and he himself a State-paid
official; but was there anything in either circumstance to justify a
protest from even the most rabid Voluntary against the part which he
acted on this interesting occasion, simply as a Christian hero? Nay,
had he sought to employ and pay out of his private purse in behalf of
his crew an evangelical missionary, as decidedly Voluntary in his
views as John Foster or Robert Hall, would the man have once thought
of objecting to the work because it was to be prosecuted under the
shelter of beams and planks, every one of which belonged to the
Government? Would a pious Voluntary soldier keep aloof from a
prayer-meeting on no other ground than that it was held in a
barrack?--or did the first Voluntaries of Great Britain, the
high-toned Independents that fought under Cromwell, abstain from their
preachings and their prayers when cooped up by the enemy in a
garrison? Where is the religious Voluntary who would not exhort in a
prison, or offer up an unbought prayer on a public, State-provided
scaffold, for some wretched criminal shivering on the verge of the

Now the schoolmaster, in the circumstances laid down by Chalmers, we
hold to be in at least as favourable a position with respect to the
State and the State-erected edifice in which he teaches, as the
ship-captain or the non-commissioned missionary--the devout Voluntary
soldier, or the pious Independents of Cromwell's Ironsides. He is, in
his secular character, a State-paid official, sheltered by an erection
the property of the State; but the State permits him to bear in that
erection another character, in relation to another certain employer,
whom it recognises as quite as legitimately in the field as itself,
and permits him also--though it does not enjoin--to perform his duties
there as a Christian man. Though, however, the objection to religious
teaching under the State-erected roof may be suffered to drop, there
may be an objection raised--and there has been an objection
raised--against the teaching of religion in certain periods of time
during the day, for which it is somehow taken for granted the State
pays. Hence the argument for teaching religion in certain other
periods of time not paid for by the State--or in other words, during
separate hours. Now the entire difference here seems to originate in a
vicious begging of the question. It is not the State that specifies
the hours during each day in which State-endowed and State-erected
schools are taught; on the contrary, varying as these hours do, and
must, in various parts of the town and country--for a thinly-peopled
district demands one set of hours, and a densely-peopled locality
another--they are fixed, as mere matters of mutual arrangement, to
suit the convenience of the teachers and the taught. It is enough that
the State satisfy itself, through its inspectors, that the secular
instruction for which it pays is effectually imparted to its people:
it neither does nor will lay claim to any one hour of the day as its
own, whether before noon or after it. It will leave to the English
Establishment its canonical hours, sacred to organ music and the
Liturgy; but it will set apart by enactment no pedagogical hours,
sacred to arithmetic or algebra, the construing of verbs, or the
drawing of figures. If separate hours merely mean that the master is
not to have all his classes up at once--here gabbling Latin or Greek,
there discussing the primer or reciting from Scott's Collection,
yonder repeating the multiplication table or running over the rules of
Lindley Murray--we at once say religion must have its separate hour,
just as English, the dead tongues, figuring, writing, and the
mathematics, have their separate hours; but if it be meant that the
religious teaching of the school must be restricted to some hour not
paid for by the State, then we reply with equal readiness that we know
of no hour specially paid for by the State, and so utterly fail to
recognise any principle in the proposed arrangement, or rather in the
objection that would suggest it.

As to the question of a separate fee for religious tuition, let us
consider how it is usually solved in the adventure schools of the
country. The day is, in most cases, opened by the master with prayer,
and then there is a portion of Scripture read by the pupils. And
neither the Scripture read nor the prayer offered up fall, we are
disposed to think, under the head of religious tuition, but under a
greatly better head--that of religion itself. It is a proper
devotional beginning of the business of the day. The committal of the
Shorter Catechism--which with most children is altogether an exercise
of memory, but which, accomplished in youth, while the intellect yet
sleeps, produces effects in after years almost always beneficial to
the understanding, and not unfrequently ameliorative of the heart--we
place in a different category. It is not religion, but the teaching of
religion; not food for the present, but store laid up for the future.
With the committal to memory of the Catechism we class that species of
Scripture dissection now so common in schools, which so often mangles
what it carves.{14} And religion taught in this way is and ought to be
represented in the fee paid to the teacher, and is and ought to be
taught in a class as separate from all the others as the geography or
the grammar class. Such is, we understand, a common arrangement in
Scottish adventure schools; nor does there exist a single good reason
for preventing it from also obtaining in the Scottish national
schools. If the parentage of Scotland, whether Voluntary or
Establishment, were to be vested with the power of determining that it
should be so, and of selecting their schoolmasters, the schools would
open with prayer and the reading of the Word--not because they were
State-endowed, but because, the State leaving the point entirely open,
they were the schools of a Christian land, to which Christian parents
had sent their children, and for which, on their own proper
responsibility, they had chosen, so far as they could determine the
point, Christian teachers. And for this religious part of the services
of the day we would deem it derogatory to the character of a
schoolmaster to suppose that he _could_ receive any remuneration from
the parents of his pupils, or from any one else. For the proper
devotional services of the school we would place on exactly the same
high disinterested level as the devotional exercises of the family,
or as those of the gallant officer and his crew, who, paid for but the
defence of their country, gave God thanks on the blood-stained
quarter-deck, in their character as Christians, that He had sheltered
their heads in one of their country's battles, and then cast
themselves in faith upon His further care. We would, we say, deem it
an insult to the profession to speak of a monetary remuneration for
the read word or the prayer offered up. Nay, if either was rated at
but a single penny as its price, or if there was a single penny
expected for either, where is there the man, Voluntary or Free Church,
that would deem it worth the money? The story of the footman, who,
upon being told, on entering on his new place, that he would have to
attend family prayers, expressed a hope that the duty would be
considered in his wages, has become one of the standard jokes of our
jest-books. We would, however, place the religious teaching of the
school on an entirely different footing from its religious services.
We would assign to _it_ its separate class and its separate time, just
as we would assign a separate class and time to the teaching of
English grammar, or history, or the dead languages. And whether the
remuneration was specified or merely understood, we would deem it but
reasonable that this branch of teaching, like all the other branches
which occupied the time and tasked the exertions of the teacher,
should be remunerated by a fee: in this department of tuition, as in
the others, we would deem the labourer worthy of his hire. We need
scarce add, however, that we would recognise no power in the majority
of any locality, or in the schoolmaster whom they had chosen, to
render attendance at even the devotional services of the seminary
compulsory on the children of parents who, on religious or other
grounds, willed that they should not join in the general worship. And,
of course, attendance on the religion-teaching class would be
altogether as much a matter of arrangement between the parent and the
schoolmaster, as attendance on the Latin or English classes, or on
arithmetic, algebra, or the mathematics.

While, however, we can see no proper grounds for difference between
Voluntaries and Free Churchmen, on even these details of school
management, and see, further, that they never differ regarding the way
in which the adventure schools of the country are conducted, we
must remind the reader that all on which they have really to agree
on this question, as Scotchmen and franchise-holders, is simply
whether their country ought not, in the first place, to possess an
efficient system of national schools, open to all the Christian
denominations; whether, in the second, the parents ought not to be
permitted to exercise, on their own responsibility, the natural right
of determining what their children should be taught; and whether, in
the third, the householders of a district ought not to be vested in
the power, now possessed by the heritors and parish minister, of
choosing the teacher. Agreement on these heads is really all that is
necessary towards either the preliminary agitation of the question,
or in order to secure its ultimate success. The minor points would
all come to be settled, not on the legislative platform, but in the
parishes, by the householders. Voluntaryism, wise and foolish, does
not reckon up more than a third of the population of Scotland; and
foolish, _i.e._ extreme Voluntaries--for the sensible ones would be
all with us--would find themselves, when they came to record their
votes, a very small minority indeed. And so, though their extreme
views may now be represented as lions in the path, it would be found
ultimately that, like the lions which affrighted Pilgrim in the
avenue, and made the poor man run back, they are lions well chained
up--_lions_, in short, in a _minority_, like the agricultural lion in
_Punch_. Let us remark, further, that if some of our friends deem the
scheme proposed for Scotland too little religious, it is as certain
that the assertors of the scheme now proposed for England, and
advocated in Parliament by Mr. Fox, very decidedly object to it on
the opposite score. Like the grace said by the Rev. Reuben Butler,
which was censured by the Captain of Knockdunder as too long, and
by douce Davie Deans as too short, it is condemned for faults so
decidedly antagonistic in their character, that they cannot co-exist
together. One class of persons look exclusively at that lack of a
statutory recognition of religion which the scheme involves, and
denounce it as _infidel_; another, at the religious character of the
people of Scotland, and at the consequent certainty, also involved
in the scheme, that they will render their schools transcripts of
themselves, and so they condemn it as _orthodox_. And hence the
opposite views entertained by Mr. Combe of Edinburgh on the one
hand, and Mr. Gibson of Glasgow on the other.{15}


{14} It is not uninstructive to remark how invariably in this
     matter an important point has been taken for granted which has
     not yet been proven; and how the most serious charges have been
     preferred against men's principles, on the assumption that there
     exists in the question a certain divine truth, which may be
     neither divine nor yet a truth at all. Wisdom and goodness may be
     exhibited in both the negative and positive form--both by
     avoiding what is wicked and foolish, and by doing what is good
     and wise. And while no Christian doubts that the adorable Head of
     the Church manifested His character, when on earth, in both ways,
     at least no Presbyterian doubts that He manifested it not only by
     instituting certain orders in His Church, but also by omitting to
     institute in it certain other orders. He instituted, for
     instance, an order of preachers of the gospel; He did not
     institute an order of popes and cardinals. Neither, however, did
     He institute an order of 'religion-teaching' schoolmasters; and
     the question not yet settled, and of which, without compromising
     a single article in our standards, either side may be espoused,
     is, whether our Saviour manifested His wisdom in _not_ making use
     of the schoolmaster, or whether, without indicating His mind on
     the subject, He left the schoolmaster to be legitimately employed
     in an after-development of the Church.

     Indeed, so entirely in this matter is the Free Church at sea,
     without chart or compass, that it has still to be determined
     whether the religious teaching of her schools be of a tendency to
     add to or to diminish the religious feeling of the country. 'I
     sometimes regretted to observe,' says Dr. Reid, in his Report on
     the Schools in connection with the Free Presbytery of Edinburgh,
     'that [their lessons in the Bible and Shorter Catechism] were
     taught rather too much in the style of the ordinary lessons. I
     do not object to _places being taken_, or any other means
     employed, which a teacher may consider necessary to secure
     attention during a Scripture lesson; but divine truth should
     always be communicated with solemnity.' Now, such is the
     general defect of the religious teaching of the schoolroom. Nor
     is it to be obviated, we fear, by any expression of extra
     solemnity thrown into the pedagogical face, or even by the
     _taking of places_ or the _taws_. And there seems reason to
     dread that lessons of this character can have but the effect
     of commonplacing the great truths of religion in the mind,
     and hardening the heart against their after application from
     the pulpit. But some ten or twelve years will serve to unveil
     to the Free Church the real nature of the experiment in which
     she is now engaged. For our own part, we can have little doubt,
     be the matter decided as it may, that experience will serve
     ultimately to show how vast the inferiority really is of man's
     'teachers of religion' to Christ's preachers of the gospel.

     We shall never forget at least the more prominent particulars
     of a conversation on this subject which we were privileged to
     hold with one of the most original-minded clergymen (now,
     alas, no more) our Church ever produced. He referred, first,
     to the false association which those words of world-wide
     meaning, 'religious education,' are almost sure to induce,
     when restricted, in a narrow, inadequate sense, to the teaching
     of the schoolmaster; and next, to the divine commission of the
     minister of the gospel. 'Perverted as human nature is,' he
     remarked, 'there are cases in which, by appealing to its
     sentiments and affections, we may derive a very nice evidence
     respecting the divine origin of certain institutions and
     injunctions. For instance, the Chinese hold, as one of their
     religious beliefs, that parents have a paramount claim to the
     affections of their sons and daughters, long after they have been
     married and settled in the world; whereas our Saviour teaches
     that a man should leave father and mother and cleave to his
     wife, and the wife leave father and mother and cleave to her
     husband. And as, in the case of the dead and living child,
     Solomon sought his evidence in the feelings of the women that
     came before him, and determined _her_ to be the true mother in
     whom he found the true mother's love and regard, I would seek my
     evidence, in this other case, in the affections of human
     nature; and ask them whether they declared for the law of the
     Chinese Baal, or for that of Him who implanted them in the
     heart. And how prompt and satisfactory the reply! The love
     which of twain makes one flesh approves itself, in all
     experience, to be greatly stronger and more engrossing than that
     which attaches the child to the parent; and while we see the
     unnatural Chinese law making the weaker traverse and overrule
     the stronger affection, and thus demonstrating its own
     falsity, we find the law of Christ exquisitely concerting with
     the nature which Christ gave, and thus establishing its own
     truth. Now, regarding the commission of the minister of the
     gospel,' he continued, 'I put a similar question to the
     affections, and receive from them a not less satisfactory reply.
     The God who gave the commission does inspire a love for him
     who truly bears it; ay, a love but even too engrossing at times,
     and that, by running to excess, defeats its proper end, by making
     the servant eclipse in the congregational mind the Master whose
     message he bears. But I do believe that the sentiment, like the
     order to which it attaches, is, in its own proper place, of
     divine appointment. It is a preparation for the reception in
     love of the gospel message. God does not will that His
     message should be injured by any prejudice against the bearer
     of it; and that His will in this matter might be adequately
     carried out, was one of the grand objects of our contendings
     in the Church controversy. But we are not to calculate on the
     existence of any such strong feeling of love between the children
     of a school and their teacher. If, founding on the experience
     of our own early years, we think of the schoolmaster, not in
     his present relation to ourselves as a fellow-citizen, or as a
     servant of the Church, but simply in his connection with the
     immature class on which he operates, we will find him circled
     round in their estimation (save in perhaps a very few exceptional
     cases) with greatly more of terror than affection. There are no
     two classes of feelings in human nature more diverse than the
     class with which the schoolmaster and the class with which the
     minister of the gospel is regarded by their respective charges;
     and right well was St. Paul aware of the fact, when he sought
     in the terrors of the schoolmaster an illustration of the
     terrors of the law. And in this fence of terror we may perhaps
     find a reason why Christ never committed to the schoolmaster
     the gospel message.' We are afraid we do but little justice, in
     this passage, to the thinking of our deceased friend; for we
     cannot recall his flowing and singularly happy language, but we
     have, we trust, preserved his leading ideas; and they are, we
     think, worthy of being carefully pondered. We may add, that he
     was a man who had done much in his parish for education; but
     that he had at length seen, though without relaxing his efforts,
     that the religious teaching of his schools had failed to make
     the rising generation under his charge religious, and had
     been led seriously to inquire regarding the cause of its

{15} Mr. Combe, however, may be regarded as an extreme man; and
     so the following letter, valuable as illustrating the views of a
     not very extreme opponent, though a decided assertor of the
     non-religious system of tuition, may be well deemed instructive.
     The writer, Mr. Samuel Lucas, was for many years Chairman of that
     Lancashire Public School Association which Mr. Fox proposes as
     the model of his scheme:--


     SIR,--In your paper of the 26th ultimo, I observe among the
     advertisements a set of resolutions which have been agreed to and
     signed by a number of parties, with the view of a national
     movement in favour of an unsectarian system of national
     education. It is perhaps too early to say, that though the names
     of some of the parties are well known and highly esteemed in this
     country, yet that the names of many who might be expected to be
     foremost in promoting such an object are wanting.

     I cannot, however, help thinking, that some of these may have
     been prevented from signing the document in question by some
     considerations which have occurred to myself on the perusal of
     it; and as a few lines of editorial comment indicate that the
     project has your sanction, you will perhaps allow me briefly to
     say why I think the people of Scotland should give to it the most
     deliberate consideration before committing themselves to it.

     Agreeing, as I do most fully, with a large proportion of the
     contents of the resolutions, I regret that its authors have made
     an attempt, which it is impossible can be successful, to unite in
     the national schoolhouses, and in the school hours, a sound
     religious with an unsectarian education.

     What is a _sound religious education_? Will not the professors
     of every variety of religious faith answer the question

     I think it was Bishop Berkeley who said, Orthodoxy is my doxy;
     heterodoxy is another man's doxy. So it is with a sound religious
     education. What is sound to me is hollow and superficial, or
     perhaps full of error, to another.

     If it be said that the majority of heads of families must decide
     as to what is sound and what is unsound, I must protest against
     such an injustice. The minority will contribute to the support of
     the public schools, and neither directly nor indirectly can they
     with justice be deprived of the use of them.

     It appears to me that the authors of the resolutions are flying
     in the face of their own great authority, in proposing to
     introduce religious instruction into the public schools. It is
     true that Dr. Chalmers proposes that Government should 'leave
     this matter entire to the parties who had to do with the erection
     and management of the schools which they had been called upon to
     assist;' but he was not then contemplating the erection of
     national schools by the public money, but schools erected by
     voluntary subscription, which the Government might be called on
     to assist.

     His opinion on the right action of Government in the present
     state of things is clear. He says: 'That in any public measure
     for helping on the education of the people, Government [should]
     abstain from introducing the element of religion at all into
     their part of the scheme.'

     What, then, should be the course taken by the promoters of
     public schools, in accordance with the principles enunciated
     by Dr Chalmers? It appears to me to be clearly this: to make no
     provision whatever for, or rather directly to exclude, all
     religious teaching within the walls of the school, and to
     leave, in the words of the fifth resolution, 'the duty and
     responsibility of communicating religious instruction' in the
     hands of those 'to whom they have been committed by God, viz.
     to their parents, and, through them, to such teachers as they
     may choose to entrust with that duty.'

     This was the course pursued by the Government of Holland in the
     early part of the present century; and I suppose no one will
     venture to call in question the morality or religion of the
     people of that country, or to throw a doubt upon the success of
     the system.

     It is as an ardent friend of National Education, both in Scotland
     and England, that I have ventured to make these few observations.
     I desire to throw no obstruction in the way of any movement
     calculated to attain so desirable an object. It may be that I am
     mistaken in supposing that it is intended to convey religious
     instruction, in the public schools, of a kind that will be
     obnoxious to a minority; and if so, the design of the authors of
     the resolutions will have no more sincere well-wisher than, Sir,
     your obedient servant,


     LONDON, _February 4, 1850_.


  General Outline of an Educational Scheme adequate to the
  demands of the Age--Remuneration of Teachers--Mode of their
  Election--Responsibility--Influence of the Church in such a
  Scheme--Apparent Errors of the Church--The Circumstances of
  Scotland very different now from what they were in the days of

Scotland will never have an efficient educational system at once
worthy of her ancient fame, and adequate to the demands of the age,
until in every parish there be at least one central school, known
emphatically as the _Parish_ or Grammar School, and taught by a
superior university-bred teacher, qualified to instruct his pupils in
the higher departments of learning, and fit them for college. And
with this central institute every parish must also possess its
supplementary English schools, efficient of their kind, though of
a lower standing, and sufficiently numerous to receive all the
youthful population of the district which fails to be accommodated in
the other. In these, the child of the labourer or mechanic--if,
possessed of but ordinary powers, he looked no higher than the
profession of his father--could be taught to read, write, and figure.
If, however, there awakened within him during the process, the
stirrings of those impulses which characterize the superior mind,
he could remove to his proper place--the central school--mayhap, in
country districts, some two or three miles away; but when the
intellectual impulses are genuine, two or three miles in such cases
are easily got over.

We would fix for the teachers, in the first instance, on no very
extravagant rate of remuneration; for it might prove bad policy in
this, as in other departments, to set a man above his work. The
salaries attached at present to our parish schools vary from a minimum
of £25 to a maximum of about £34. Let us suppose that they varied,
instead, from a minimum of £60 to a maximum of £80--not large sums,
certainly, but which, with the fees and a free house, would render
every parochial schoolmaster in Scotland worth about from £80 to £100
per annum, and in some cases--dependent, of course, on professional
efficiency and the population of the locality--worth considerably
more. The supplementary English schools we would place on the average
level maintained at present by our parish schools, by providing the
teachers with free houses, and yearly salaries of a minimum of £30 and
a maximum of £40. And as it is of great importance that men should not
fall asleep at their posts, and as tutors never teach more efficiently
than when straining to keep ahead of their pupils, we would fain have
provision made that, by a permitted use of occasional substitutes,
this lower order of schoolmasters should be enabled to prepare
themselves, by attendance at college, for competing, as vacancies
occurred, for the higher schools. It would be an arrangement worth £20
additional salary to every school in Scotland, that the channels of
preferment should be ever kept open to useful talent and honest
diligence, so that the humblest English teacher in the land might
rise, in the course of years, to be at the head of its highest school;
nay, that, like that James Beattie who taught at one time the parish
school of Fordoun, he might, if native faculty had been given and
wisely improved, become one of the country's most distinguished
professors. In fixing our permanent castes of schools, Grammar and
English, we would strongly urge that there should be no permanent
castes of teachers fixed--no men condemned to the humbler walks of the
profession if qualified for the higher. The life-giving sap would thus
have free course, from the earth's level to the topmost boughs of our
national scheme; and low as an Englishman might deem our proposed
rates of remuneration for university-taught men, we have no fear that
they would prove insufficient, coupled with such a provision, for the
right education of the country.

We are not sure that we quite comprehend the sort of machinery meant
to be included under the term Local or Parochial Boards. It seems
necessary that there should exist Local _Committees_ of the
educational franchise-holders, chosen by themselves, from among
their own number, for terms either definite or indefinite, and
recognised by statute as vested in certain powers of examination and
inquiry. But though a mere name be but a small matter, we are
inclined to regard the term Board as somewhat too formidable and
stiff. Let us, at least for the present, substitute the term
Committee; and as large committees are apt to degenerate into
little mobs, and, as such, to conduct their business noisily and ill,
let us suppose educational committees to consist, in at least
country districts or the smaller towns, of some eight or ten
individuals, selected by the householders for their intelligence,
integrity, and business habits, and with a chairman at their head,
chosen from among their number by themselves. A vacancy occurs, let
us suppose, in either the Grammar or one of the English schools of
the place: the committee, through their chairman, put themselves in
communication with some of the Normal schoolmasters of the south,
and receive from them a few names of deserving and qualified teachers,
possessed of diplomas indicating their professional standing, and
furnished, besides, with trustworthy certificates of character. Or, if
the emoluments of the vacant school be considerable, and some of the
neighbouring teachers, placed on a lower rate of income, have
distinguished themselves by their professional merits, and so
rendered themselves known in the district, let us suppose that they
select _their_ names, and to the number of some two, three, four, or
more, submit them, with the necessary credentials, to their
constituents the householders. And these assemble on some fixed day,
and, from the number placed on the list, select their men. Such,
in the business of electing a schoolmaster, would, we hold, be the
proper work of a committee. In all other seasons, the committee
might be recognised as vested in some of the functions now exercised
by the Established presbyteries, such as that of presiding, in
behalf of the parentage of the locality, at yearly or half-yearly
examinations of the schools, and of watching over the general
morals and official conduct of the teacher. But the power of trial
and dismission, which, of course, would need to exist somewhere, we
would vest in other hands. Let us remark, in the passing, that
much might come to depend ultimately on the portioning out of the
localities into electoral districts of a proper size, and that it
would be perhaps well, as a general rule, that there should be no
subdivisions made of the old parishes. There are few parishes in
Scotland in which the materials of a good committee might not be
found; but there are perhaps many half, and third, and quarter
parishes in which no such materials exist. Further, the householders
of some country hamlet or degraded town-suburb, populous enough to
require its school, might be yet very unfit of themselves to choose
for it a schoolmaster. And hence the necessity for maintaining a
local breadth of representation sufficient to do justice to the
principle of the scheme, and to prevent it, if we may so speak, from
sinking in the less solid parts of the kingdom. A parochial
breadth of base would serve as if to plank over the unsounder portions
of the general surface, and give footing to a system of schools and
teachers worthy, as a whole, of the character and the necessities
of a country wise and enlightened in the main, but that totters on
the brink of a bottomless abyss.

The power of trying, and, if necessary, of dismissing from his charge,
an offending teacher, would, however, as we have said, require to exist
somewhere. Every official, whether of the State or Church, or whether
dependent on a single employer or on a corporation or company, bears
always a twofold character. He is a subject of the realm, and, as
such, amenable to its laws; he has also an official responsibility,
and may be reprimanded or dismissed for offences against the
requirements and duties of his office. A tradesman or mechanic may
go on tippling for years, wasting his means and neglecting his business,
untouched by any law save that great economic law of Providence which
dooms the waster to ultimate want; but for the excise officer, or bank
accountant, or railway clerk, who pursues a similar course, there
exists a court of official responsibility, which anticipates the slow
operation of the natural law, by at once divesting the offender of
his office. And the State-paid schoolmaster must have also his official
responsibility. But it would serve neither the ends of justice nor
the interests of a sound policy to erect his immediate employers into a
court competent to try and condemn: their proper place would be rather
that of parties than of judges; and as parties, we would permit them
simply to conduct against him any case for which they might hold there
existed proper grounds. A schoolmaster chosen by a not large majority,
might find in a few years that his supporters had dwindled into a
positive minority: parents whose boys were careless, or naturally
thick-headed, would of course arrive at the opinion that it was the
teacher who was in fault; nay, a parent who had fallen into arrears
with his fees might come to entertain the design of discharging the
account simply by discharging the schoolmaster; and thus great
injustice might be done to worthy and efficient men, and one of the
most important classes of the community placed in circumstances of a
shackled dependency, which no right-minded teacher could submit to
occupy. What we would propose, then, is, that the power of trial, and
of dismission if necessary, should be vested in a central national
board, furnished with one or more salaried functionaries to record
its sentences and do its drudgery, but consisting mainly of unpaid
members of high character and standing,--some of them, mayhap, members
_ex officio_; the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, let us suppose--the
Principal and some of the Professors of the Edinburgh University--the
Rector, shall we say, of the High School--the Lord Advocate, and
mayhap the Dean of Faculty. And as it would be of importance that there
should be as little new machinery created as possible, the evidence,
criminatory or exculpatory, on which such a board would have to decide
could be taken before the Sheriff Courts of the provinces, and then,
after being carefully sifted by the Sheriffs or their Substitutes,
forwarded in a documentary form to Edinburgh. It would scarce be wise
to attempt extemporizing an official code in a newspaper article;
but the laws of such a code might, we think, be ranged under three
heads,--immorality, incompetency, and breach of trust to the parents.
We would urge the dismissal, as wholly unqualified to stand in the
relation of teacher to the youthhead, of the tippling, licentious, or
dishonest schoolmaster; further, we would urge the dismissal (and in
cases of this kind the corroborative evidence of the Government
inspector might be regarded as indispensable) of an incompetent
teacher who did not serve the purpose of his appointment; and, in the
third and last place, we would urge that a teacher who made an
improper use of his professional influence over his pupils, and of the
opportunities necessarily afforded him, and who taught them to entertain
beliefs, ecclesiastical or semi-ecclesiastical, which their parents
regarded as erroneous, should be severely reprimanded for such an
offence in the first instance, and dismissed if he persevered in it.
We would confer upon the board, in cases of this last kind, no power of
deciding regarding the absolute right or wrong of the dogmas taught.
The teacher might be a zealous Voluntary, who assured the children of
men such as the writer of these articles that their fathers, in
asserting the Establishment principle, approved themselves limbs of that
mystic Babylon which was first founded by Constantine; or he might be a
conscientious Establishment-man, who dutifully pressed upon the
Voluntary pupils under his care, that their parents, though they
perhaps did not know it, were atheistical in their views. And we would
permit no board to determine in such cases, whether Voluntaryism was in
any respect or degree tantamount to atheism, or the Establishment
principle to Popery. But we would ask them to declare, as wise and
honest men, that no schoolmaster, under the pretext of a zeal for
truth, should with impunity break faith with the parents of his pupils,
or prejudice the unformed and ductile minds entrusted to his care
against their hereditary beliefs. Should we, however, do no violence
by such a provision, we have heard it asked, to the conscientious
convictions of the schoolmaster? No, not in the least. If he was in
reality the conscientious man that he professed to be, he would quit
his equivocal position as a teacher, in which, without being
dishonest, he could not fulfil what he deemed his religious duty,
and become a minister; a character in which he would find Churches
within which he could affirm with impunity that Dr. Chalmers was, in
virtue of his Establishment views, little better than a Papist, or
that Robert Hall, seeing he was a Voluntary, must have been an
unconscious atheist at bottom.

Let us next consider what the influence of the ministers of our
Church would be under a national scheme such as that which we
desiderate, and what the probability that the national teaching would
be religious. The minister, as such, would possess, nominally at
least, but a single vote; and if he were what an ordained minister may
in some cases be--merely a suit of black clothes surmounted by a
white neckcloth--the vote, _nominally_ one, would be also _really_
but one; nor ought it, we at once say, to weigh in such cases an
iota more than it counted. Mere black coats and white neckcloths,
though called by congregations, and licensed and ordained by
presbyteries, never yet carried on the proper business of either
Church or school. But if the minister was no mere suit of clothes, but
a Christian man, ordained and called not merely by congregations and
presbyteries, but by God Himself, his one vote in the case would
outweigh hundreds, simply because it would represent the votes of
hundreds. Let us suppose that, with the national schools thrown
open, a vacancy had occurred in the parish school of Cromarty during
the incumbency of the lamented Mr. Stewart. The people of the town
and parish, possessing the educational franchise, would meet; their
committee would deliberate; there would be a teacher chosen,--in
all probability, the present excellent Free Church teacher of the
town; and every man would feel that he had exercised in the election
his own judgment on his own proper responsibility. And yet it would
assuredly be the teacher whom the minister had deemed on the whole
most eligible for the office, that would find himself settled, in
virtue of the transaction, in the parish school. How? Not, certainly,
through any exercise of clerical domination, nor through any
employment of what is still more hateful--clerical manoeuvre--but in
virtue of a widespread confidence reposed by the people in the wisdom
and the integrity of the minister sent them by God Himself to preach
to them the everlasting gospel. In almost all the surrounding
parishes--in Resolis, Rosskeen, Urquhart under the late Dr.
M'Donald, Alness, Kiltearn, Kincardine, Kilmuir, etc. etc. etc.--in
similar cases similar results would follow; and if there are
preachers in that vast northern or north-western tract--which, with
the three northern counties, includes also almost the entire
Highlands--in which such results would _not_ follow, it would be
found that in most cases the fault lay rather with the ordained
suits of black, topped by the white neckcloths, than with the
people whom they failed to influence.

As for the religion or the religious teaching of the schools, we
hold it to be one of the advantages of the proposed scheme, that it
would really stir up both ministers and people to think seriously of
the matter, and to secure for the country truly religious teaching,
so far as it was found to be at once practicable and good. Previous to
the year 1843, when the parish schools lay fully within our power,
there was really nothing done to introduce religious teaching into
_them_; we had it all secure on written sheepskin, that their
teaching should and might be religious, for we had them all fast
bound to the Establishment; and, as if that were enough of itself,
ministers, backed by heritors and their factors, went on filling
these parish schools with men who stood the test of the Disruption
worse, in the proportion of at least five to one, than any other class
in the country, and who, if their religious teaching had but taken
effect on the people by bringing them to their own level, would have
rendered that Disruption wholly an impossibility.{16} And then, when
that great event occurred, we flung ourselves into an opposite
extreme,--eulogized our Educational Scheme as the best and most
important of all the Schemes of our Church, on, we suppose, the
principle so well understood by the old divines, that whereas the
other schemes were of God, and God-enjoined, this scheme was of
ourselves,--introduced, further, the design of '_inducting_' our
teachers, as if an idle ceremony could be any substitute for the
indispensable commission signed by the Sovereign, and could make the
non-commissioned by Him at least _half_ ecclesiastics.{17} And then,
after _teaching_ our schoolmasters to _teach_ religion, we sent
them abroad in shoals--some of them, no doubt, converted men, hundreds
of them unconverted, and religious but by certificate--to make the
children of the Free Church as good Christians as themselves. And by
attempting to make them half ecclesiastics, we have but succeeded in
making them half mendicants, and somewhat more,--a character which
assuredly no efficient schoolmaster ought to bear; for while his
profession holds in Scripture no higher place than the two _secular_
branches of the learned professions, physic and the law, he is as
certainly worthy of his reward, and of maintaining an independent
position in society, as either the lawyer or the physician. In
schools truly national--with no sheepskin authority to sleep over on
the one hand, and no idle dream of semi-ecclesiastical 'induction' to
beguile on the other--the item of religious teaching, brought into
prominence by both the Free and the Established Churches in the
preliminary struggle, would assert and receive its due place.
Scotland would possess what it never yet possessed,--not even some
twenty years or so after the death of Knox,--a system of schools
worthy, in the main, of a Christian country. We are told by old
Robert Blair, in his Autobiography, that when first brought under
religious impressions (in the year 1600), 'he durst never play on
the Lord's day, though the schoolmaster, after taking an account of
the Catechism, dismissed the children with that express direction,
"Go not to the town, but to the fields, and play." I obeyed him,'
adds the worthy man, 'in going to the fields, but refused to play
with my companions, as against the commandment of God.' Now it is
not at all strange that there should have been such a schoolmaster,
in any age of the Presbyterian Church, in one of the parish
schools of our country; but somewhat strange, mayhap, considering the
impression so generally received regarding the Scottish schools of
that period, that Blair should have given us no reason whatever to
regard the case as an extreme or exceptional one. Certainly, with
such a central board in existence as that which we desiderate, no
such type of schoolmaster would continue to hold office in a
national seminary.

Further, it really seems difficult to determine whether the difference
between the old educational scheme of Knox and that proposed at the
present time by the Free Church, or the difference between the
circumstances of Scotland in his days and of Scotland in the present
day, be in truth the wider difference of the two. Knox judged it of
'necessitie that every several kirk should have one schoolmaster
appointed,'--'such a one at least as was able to teach grammar and the
Latine tongue;' 'that there should be erected in every notable town,'
a 'colledge, in which the arts, logic, and rhethorick, together with
the tongues, should be read by masters, for whom _honest_ stipends
should be appointed;' and further, 'that fair provision should be
made for the [support of the] poor [pupils], in especial those who
came from landward,' and were 'not able, by their friends nor by
themselves, to be sustained at letters.' We know that the notable
towns referred to here as of importance enough to possess colleges
were, many of them, what we would now deem far from notable. Kirkwall,
the Chanonry of Ross, Brechin, St. Andrews, Inverary, Jedburgh, and
Dumfries, are specially named in the list; and we know further, that
what Knox deemed an 'honest stipend' for a schoolmaster, amounted on
the average to about two-thirds the stipend of a minister. Such, in
the sixteenth century, was the wise scheme of the liberal and
scholarly Knox, the friend of Calvin, Beza, and Buchanan. Are we to
recognise its counterpart in the middle of the nineteenth century, in
a scheme at least three-fourths of whose teachers are paid with yearly
salaries of from £10 to £13, 13s. 4d.--about half ploughman's
wages--and of whom not a fourth have passed the ordeal of a Government
examination, pitched at the scale of the lowest rate of attainment?
The scheme of the noble Knox! Say rather a many-ringed film-spinning
grub, that has come creeping out of the old crackling parchment, in
which the sagacious Reformer approved himself as much in advance of
his own age, as many of those who profess to walk most closely in his
steps demonstrate themselves to be in the rear of theirs.

Let us next mark how entirely the circumstances of the country have
changed since the days of the First Book of Discipline. With the
exception of the clergy, a few lay proprietors, and a sprinkling of
the inhabitants of the larger towns, Scotland was altogether, in the
earlier period, an uneducated nation. Even for more than a century
after, there were landed gentlemen of the northern counties unable, as
shown by old deeds, to sign their names. If the Church had not taken
upon herself the education of the people in those ages, who else was
there to teach them? Not one. Save for her exertions, the divine
command, 'Search the Scriptures,' would have remained to at least
nine-tenths of the nation a dead letter. But how entirely different
the circumstances of Scotland in the present time! The country has its
lapsed masses,--men in very much the circumstances, educationally, of
the great bulk of the population in the age of Knox; and we at once
grant that, unless the Churches of the country deal with these as Knox
dealt with the whole, there is but little chance of their ever being
restored to society or the humanizing influences of religion, let
Government make for them what provision it may.{18} But such is not
the condition of the membership of at least the evangelical Churches.
Such is palpably not the condition of the membership of the Free
Church, consisting as it does of parents taken solemnly bound, in
their baptismal engagements, to bring up their children in the
'nurture and admonition of the Lord,' and of the children for whom
they have been thus taken bound. Save in a few exceptional cases,
_their_ education is secure, let the Church exert herself as little as
she may. She is but exhausting herself in vain efforts to do what
would be done better without her. She has all along contemplated, we
are told, merely the education of her own members; and these form
exactly that portion of the people which--unless, indeed, the solemn
engagements which she has deliberately laid upon them mean as little
as excise affidavits or Bow Street oaths--may be safely left to a
broad national scheme, wisely based on a principle of parental

'If thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time,' said Mordecai to
Esther, 'then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the
Jews from another place, but thou and thy father's house shall be
destroyed.' Scotland will have ultimately her Educational Scheme
adequate to the demands of the age; but if the Free Church stand
aloof, and suffer the battle to be fought by others, her part or lot
in it may be a very small matter indeed. What, we ask, would be her
share, especially in the Highlands, in a scheme that rendered the
basis of the educational franchise merely co-extensive with the basis
of the political one? Nay, what, save perhaps in the northern burghs,
would be her share in such a scheme over Scotland generally? A mere
makeweight at best. But at least the lay membership of the Free Church
will, we are assured, not long stand aloof; and this great question of
national education being in no degree an ecclesiastical one, nor lying
within the jurisdiction of presbyteries or assemblies, true lovers of
their country and of their species, whether of the Established or of
the Free Churches, will come forward and do their duty as Scotchmen on
the political platform. In neither body does the attitude assumed by
the ecclesiastical element in this question, so far as has yet been
indicated, appear of a kind which plain, simple-minded laymen will
delight to contemplate. The Established Church courts are taking up
the ground that the teaching in their parish schools has been all
along religious, and at least one great source from which has sprung
the vitalities of the country's faith. And who does not know that to
be a poor, unsolid fiction,--a weak and hollow sham? And, on the other
hand, some of our Free Churchmen are asserting that they are not
_morally_ bound to their forlorn teachers for the meagre and
altogether inadequate salaries held out to them in prospect, when they
were set down in their humble schools, divorced from all other means
of support, to regulate their very limited expenditure by the
specified incomes. Further, they virtually tell us that we cannot
possibly take our stand as Scotchmen on this matter, in the only
practical position, without being untrue to our common Christianity,
and enemies to our Church. It has been urged against our educational
articles, that we have failed to take into account the fall of man: he
would surely be an incorrigible sceptic, we reply, who could look upon
statements such as these, and yet doggedly persist in doubting that
man has fallen. But, alas! it is not a matter on which to congratulate
ourselves, that when the Established Church is coming forward to
arrest the progress of national education with her strange equivocal
caveat, the Free Church--the Church of the Disruption--should be also
coming forward with a caveat which at least _seems_ scarce less
equivocal; and that, like the twin giants of Guildhall--huge,
monstrous, unreal--both alike should be turning deaf and wooden ears
to the great clock of destiny, as it strikes the hours of doom to
their distracted and sinking country. O for an hour of the great, the
noble-minded Chalmers! Ultimately, however, the good cause is secure.
It is a cause worth struggling and suffering for. We know a little
boy, not yet much of a reader, who has learned to bring a copy of
Scott's _Tales of a Grandfather_, which now opens of itself at the
battle of Bannockburn, to a little girl, his sister, somewhat more in
advance, that she may read to him, for the hundredth time, of Wallace
and the Black Douglas, and how the good King Robert struck down Sir
Henry Bohun with a single blow, full in the sight of both armies. And
after drinking in the narrative, he tells that, when grown to be a big
man, he too is to be a soldier like Robert the Bruce, and to 'fight
in the battle of Scotland.' And then he asks his father when the
battle of Scotland is to begin! Laymen of the Free Church, the battle
of Scotland has already begun; and 'tis a battle better worth fighting
than any other which has arisen within the political arena since the
times of the Reform Bill. Your country has still claims upon you: the
Disruption may have dissolved the tie which bound you to party; but
that which binds you to Scotland still remains entire. The parental
right is not dissolved by any traditionary requirements of the altar;
nor can we urge with impunity to our country,--'It is Corban, that is
to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me.'


{16} There are about one thousand one hundred parish schoolmasters
     in Scotland: of these, not more than eighty (strictly, we
     believe, seventy-seven) adhered to the Free Church at the

{17} The Church as such ought to employ the schoolmaster, it has
     been argued, in virtue of the divine injunction, 'Search the
     Scriptures:' what God _commands_ men to do, it is her duty to
     _enable_ men to do. The argument is excellent, we say, so far as
     it goes; but of perilous application in the case in hand. It is
     the Church's duty to teach those to read the Scriptures, who,
     _without her assistance, would not be taught to read them_. But
     if by teaching Latin, arithmetic, algebra, and the mathematics to
     _ten_, she is incapacitating herself from teaching _twenty_ to
     read the Bible; or if, by teaching twenty to read the Bible who
     would have learned to read it whether she taught them or no, she
     is incapacitating herself from teaching twenty others to read it,
     who, unless she teach them, will never learn to read it at all;
     then, instead of doing her recognised duty in the matter, she is
     doing exactly the reverse of her duty--doing what prevents her
     from doing her duty. Let the Free Church but take her stand on
     this argument, and straightway her rectors, her masters in
     academies, and her schoolmasters planted in towns and populous
     localities, to teach the higher branches, become so many bars
     raised by herself virtually to impede and arrest her, through the
     expense incurred in their maintenance, in her proper work of
     enabling the previously untaught and ignorant to read the word of
     God, in obedience to the divine injunction.

{18} This statement has been quoted by an antagonist as utterly
     inconsistent with our general line of argument; but we think we
     may safely leave the reader to determine whether it be really so.
     Did we ever argue that any scheme of national education, however
     perfect, could possibly supersede the proper _missionary_ labours
     of the Churches, whether educational or otherwise? Assuredly not.
     What we really assert is, that if the Churches waste their
     energies on work not missionary, the work which, if they do it
     not, cannot be done must of necessity be neglected; seeing that,
     according to Bacon, 'charity will hardly water the ground where
     it must first fill a pool.'


The history of Lord Brougham has no exact parallel in that of British
statesmen. Villiers Duke of Buckingham (the Duke of the times of
Charles II.) sunk quite as low, but not from such an elevation. Of him
too it was said, as of his Lordship, that 'he left not faction, but of
that was left,'--that every party learned to distrust and stand aloof
from him, and that his great parts had only the effect of rendering
his ultimate degradation the more marked and the more instructive.
Hume tells us that by his 'wild conduct, unrestrained either by
prudence or principle, he found means to render himself in the end
odious, and even insignificant.' But the Duke of Buckingham had been a
mere courtier from the beginning, and no man had ever trusted or
thought well of him.

Bolingbroke bears a nearly similar character. There was a mighty
difference between the influential and able minister of Queen Anne,
recognised by all as decidedly one of the most accomplished statesmen
of his age or country, and the same individual,--forlorn and an exile,
disliked and suspected by parties the most opposite, and who agreed in
nothing else,--a fugitive from his own country to avoid the threatened
impeachment of the Whigs for his Jacobitism, and a fugitive from
France to avoid being impeached by the Pretender for his treachery.
But Bolingbroke had never very seriously professed to be the friend of
his country, nor would his country have believed him if he had.
According to the shrewd remark of Fielding, the temporal happiness,
the civil liberties and properties of Europe, had been the game of his
earliest youth, and the eternal and final happiness of all mankind the
sport and entertainment of his advanced age. He would have fain
destroyed the freedom of his countrymen when in power, and their hope
of immortality when in disgrace. Neither can we find a parallel in the
history of that other Lord Chancellor of England, who has been
described by the poet as 'the greatest, wisest, meanest of mankind.'
Two of the epithets would not suit Lord Brougham; and though he
unquestionably bore himself more honourably in the season of his
elevation than his illustrious predecessor, he has as certainly
employed himself to worse purpose in the time of his disgrace.

Unlike Lords Bolingbroke, Buckingham, or Bacon, Lord Brougham entered
public life a reformer and a patriot. The subject of his first
successful speech in Parliament was the slave-trade. He denounced not
only the abominable traffic itself,--the men who stole, bought, and
kept the slave; but also the traders and merchants,--'the cowardly
suborners of piracy and mercenary murder,' as he termed them, under
whose remote influence the trade had been carried on; and the
sympathies of the people went along with him. He was on every
occasion, too, the powerful advocate of popular education. Brougham is
no discoverer of great truths; but he has evinced a 'curious felicity'
in expressing truths already discovered: he exerted himself in sending
'the schoolmaster abroad,' and announced the fact in words which
became more truly his motto than the motto found for him in the
Herald's Office. He took part in well-nigh every question of reform;
stood up for economy, the reduction of taxes, and Queen Caroline;
found very vigorous English in which to express all he ought to have
felt regarding the Holy Alliance and the massacre at Manchester; and
dealt with Cobbett as Cobbett deserved, for doing what he is now
doing himself. There was always a lack of heart about Brougham, so
that men admired without loving him.

There were no spontaneous exhibitions of those noblenesses of nature
which mark the true reformer, and which compel the respect of even
enemies. Luther, Knox, and Andrew Thomson were all men of rugged
strength,--men of war, and born to contend; but they were also men of
deep and broad sympathies, and of kindly affections: they could all
feel as well as see the right; what is even more important still, they
could all thoroughly forget themselves, and what the world thought and
said of them, in the pursuit of some great and engrossing object: they
could all love, too, at least as sincerely as they could hate.
Brougham, on the contrary, could only see without feeling the right;
but then he saw clearly. Brougham could not forget himself; but then
he succeeded in identifying himself with much that was truly
excellent. Brougham could not love as thoroughly as he could hate; but
then his indignation generally fell where it ought. His large
intellect seemed based on an inferior nature--it was a brilliant set
in lead; nor were there indications wanting all along, it has been
said, that he was one of those patriots who have their price. But the
brilliant was a true, not a factitious brilliant, whatever the value
of the setting; and the price, if ever proffered, had not been
sufficiently large. Brougham became Lord Chancellor, the Reform Bill
passed into a law, and slavery was abolished in the colonies.

The country has not yet forgotten that the Lord Chancellor of 1832 and
the two following years was no wild Radical. There was no leaven of
Chartism in Lord Brougham, though a very considerable dash of
eccentricity; and really, for a man who had been contending so many
years in the Opposition, and who had attained to so thorough a command
of sarcasm, he learned to enact the courtier wonderfully well. Neither
'Tompkins' nor 'Jenkins' had as yet manifested their contempt for the
aristocracy; nor had the 'man well stricken in years' written
anonymous letters to insult his sovereign. The universal suffrage
scheme found no advocate in the Lord Chancellor. He could call on
Cobbett in his chariot, to attempt persuading the stubborn old Saxon
to write down incendiarism and machine-breaking. He breathed no
anticipation of the 'first cheer of the people on the first refusal of
the soldiery to fire on them.' As for Reform, he was very explicit on
that head: really so much had been accomplished already, that a great
deal more could not be expected. Little could be done in the coming
years, he said, just because there had been so much done in the years
that had gone by. The Lord Chancellor was comparatively a cautious and
prudent man in those days--on the whole, a safe card for monarchy to
play with. Radicalism had learned that Whigs in office are not very
unlike Tories in office; and to Brougham it applied the remark: nor
was he at all indignant that it did so. All his superabundant energies
were expended in Chancery. We unluckily missed hearing him deliver his
famous speech at Inverness, and that merely by an untoward chance, for
we were in that part of the country at the time; but we have seen and
conversed with scores who did hear him: we are intimate, too, with the
gentleman who gave his speech on that occasion to the world, and know
that a more faithful or more accomplished reporter than the editor of
the _Inverness Courier_ is not to be found anywhere, nor yet a man of
nicer discrimination, nor of a finer literary taste. There was no
mistake made regarding his Lordship's sentiments when he spoke of the
Reform Bill as well-nigh a final measure; nor did his delight in the
simple-minded natives arise when he pledged himself to recommend them,
by the evening mail, to the graces of good King William, from their
wishing the bill to be anything else than final. Even with its
limited franchise, he deemed it a very excellent bill; and the
woolsack, to which it had elevated him, a very desirable seat. People
did occasionally see that Hazlitt was in the right--that he was rather
a man of speech than of action; that he was somewhat too imprudent for
a leader, somewhat too petulant for a partisan; and that he wanted in
a considerable degree the principle of co-operation.

But Chatham wanted it quite as much as he; and it was deemed invidious
to measure so accomplished a man, and so sworn a friend of peace and
good order, by the minuter rules. But Napoleon should have died at
Waterloo, Brougham at Dunrobin.

What is ex-Chancellor Brougham now? What party trusts to him? What
section of the community does he represent? Frost had his confiding
friends and followers, and Feargus O'Connor led a numerous and
formidable body. Even Sir William Courtenay had his disciples. Where
are Brougham's disciples? What moral influence does the advocate of
popular education, and the indignant denouncer of the iniquities of
the slave-trade, exert? In what age or what country was there ever
a man so 'left by faction?' The Socialism of England and the
Voluntaryism of Edinburgh entrust him with their petitions, and
Chartism stands on tiptoe when he rises in his place to advocate
universal suffrage; but no one confides in him. Owen does not, nor the
Rev. Mr. Marshall of Kirkintilloch, nor yet the conspirators of
Sheffield or Newport. Toryism scarcely thanks him for fighting its
battles; Whiggism abhors him. There is no one credulous enough to
believe that his aims rise any higher than himself, or blind enough
not to see that even his selfishness is so ill-regulated as to
defeat its own little object. His lack of the higher sentiments,
the more generous feelings, the nobler aims, neutralizes even his
intellect. He publishes his speeches, carefully solicitous of his
fame, and provokes comparison in laboured dissertations with the
oratory of Demosthenes and Cicero; he eulogizes the Duke of
Wellington, and demands by inference whether he cannot praise as
classically as even the ancients themselves; but his heartless
though well-modulated eloquence lingers in first editions, like the
effusions of inferior minds; nor is it of a kind which the 'world
will find after many days.' Brougham will be less known sixty years
hence than the player Garrick is at present.

Bolingbroke, when thrown out of all public employment-gagged,
disarmed, shut out from the possibility of a return to office,
suspected alike by the Government and the Opposition, and thoroughly
disliked by the people to boot--could yet solace himself in his uneasy
and unhonoured retirement by exerting himself to write down the

And his _Craftsmen_ sold even more rapidly than the _Spectator_

But the writings of Brougham do not sell; he lacks even the solace of
Bolingbroke. We have said that his history is without parallel in that
of Britain. Napoleon on his rock was a less melancholy object: the
imprisoned warrior had lost none of his original power--he was no
moral suicide; the millions of France were still devotedly attached to
him, and her armies would still have followed him to battle. It was no
total forfeiture of character on his own part that had rendered him so
utterly powerless either for good or ill.

_July 8, 1840._


The foundation-stone of the metropolitan monument in memory of Sir
Walter Scott was laid with masonic honours on Saturday last. The day
was pleasant, and the pageant imposing. All business seemed suspended
for the time; the shops were shut. The one half of Edinburgh had
poured into the streets, and formed by no means the least interesting
part of the spectacle. Every window and balcony that overlooked the
procession, every house-top almost, had its crowd of spectators.
According to the poet,

    'Rank behind rank, close wedged, hung bellying o'er;'

while the area below, for many hundred yards on either side the
intended site of the monument, presented a continuous sea of heads. We
marked, among the flags exhibited, the Royal Standard of Scotland,
apparently a piece of venerable antiquity, for the field of gold had
degenerated into a field of drab, and the figure in the centre showed
less of leonine nobleness than of art in that imperfect state in which
men are fain to content themselves with semblances doubtful and
inexpressive, and less than half the result of chance. The entire
pageant was such a one as Sir Walter himself could perhaps have
improved. He would not have fired so many guns in the hollow, and the
grey old castle so near: he would have found means, too, to prevent
the crowd from so nearly swallowing up the procession. Perhaps no man
had ever a finer eye for pictorial effect than Sir Walter, whether
art or nature supplied the scene. It has been well said that he
rendered Abbotsford a romance in stone and lime, and imparted to the
king's visit to Scotland the interest and dignity of an epic poem.
Still, however, the pageant was an imposing one, and illustrated
happily the influence of a great and original mind, whose energies had
been employed in enriching the national literature, over an educated
and intellectual people.

It is a bad matter when a country is employed in building monuments to
the memory of men chiefly remarkable for knocking other men on the
head; it is a bad matter, too, when it builds monuments to the memory
of mere courtiers, of whom not much more can be said than that when
they lived they had places and pensions to bestow, and that they
bestowed them on their friends. We cannot think so ill, however, of
the homage paid to genius.

The Masonic Brethren of the several lodges mustered in great numbers.
It has been stated that more than a thousand took part in the
procession. Coleridge, in his curious and highly original work, _The
Friend_--a work which, from its nature, never can become popular, but
which, though it may be forgotten for a time, will infallibly be dug
up and brought into public view in the future as an unique fossil
impression of an extinct order of mind--refers to a bygone class of
mechanics, 'to whom every trade was an allegory, and had its guardian
saint.' 'But the time has gone by,' he states, 'in which the details
of every art were ennobled in the eyes of its professors by being
spiritually improved into symbols and mementoes of all doctrines and
all duties.' We could hardly think so as we stood watching the
procession, with its curiously fantastic accumulation of ornament and
symbol; it seemed, however, rather the relic of a former age than the
natural growth of the present--a spectre of the past strangely

The laugh, half in ridicule, half in good nature, with which the
crowd greeted every very gaudily dressed member, richer in symbol
and obsolete finery than his neighbour, showed that the day had
passed in which such things could produce their originally intended
effect. Will the time ever arrive in which stars and garters will
claim as little respect as broad-skirted doublets of green velvet,
surmounted with three-cornered hats tagged with silver lace? Much, we
suppose, must depend upon the characters of those who wear them, and
the kind of services on which they will come to be bestowed. An Upper
House of mere diplomatists--skilful only to overreach--imprudent
enough to substitute cunning for wisdom--ignorant enough to deem the
people not merely their inferiors in rank, but in discernment
also--weak enough to believe that laws may be enacted with no regard
to the general good--wrapped up in themselves, and acquainted with
the masses only through their eavesdroppers and dependants--would
bring titles and orders to a lower level in half an age, than the
onward progress of intellect has brought the quaintnesses of
mechanic symbol and mystery in two full centuries. We but smile at
the one, we would learn to execrate the other. Has the reader ever
seen Quarles' _Emblems_, or Flavel's _Husbandry and Navigation
Spiritualized_? Both belong to an extinct species of literature, of
which the mechanic mysteries described by Coleridge, and exhibited
in the procession of Saturday last, strongly remind us. Both alike
proceeded on a process of mind the reverse of the common. Comparison
generally leads from the moral to the physical, from the abstract
to the visible and the tangible; here, on the contrary, the tangible
and the visible--the emblem and the symbol--were made to lead to the
moral and the abstract. There are beautiful instances, too, of the
same school in the allegories of Bunyan,--the wonders in the house
of the Interpreter, for instance, and the scenes exhibited in the
cave of the 'man named Contemplation.'

Sir Walter's monument will have one great merit, regarded as a piece
of art. It will be entirely an original,--such a piece of architecture
as he himself would have delighted to describe, and the description of
which he, and he only, could have sublimed into poetry. There is a
chaste and noble beauty in the forms of Greek and Roman architecture
which consorts well with the classic literature of those countries.
The compositions of Sir Walter, on the contrary, resemble what he so
much loved to describe--the rich and fantastic Gothic, at times
ludicrously uncouth, at times exquisitely beautiful. There are not
finer passages in all his writings than some of his architectural
descriptions. How exquisite is his _Melrose Abbey_,--the external view
in the cold, pale moonshine,

    'When buttress and buttress alternately
     Seemed formed of ebon and ivory;'

internally, when the strange light broke from the wizard's tomb! Who,
like Sir Walter, could draw a mullioned window, with its 'foliaged
tracery,' its 'freakish knots,' its pointed and moulded arch, and its
dyed and pictured panes? We passed, of late, an hour amid the ruins of
Crichton, and scarce knew whether most to admire the fine old castle
itself, so worthy of its poet, or the exquisite picture of it we found
in _Marmion_.

Sir Walter's monument would be a monument without character, if it
were other than Gothic. Still, however, we have our fears for the
effect. In portrait-painting there is the full life-size, and a size
much smaller, and both suit nearly equally well, and appear equally
natural; but the intermediate sizes do not suit. Make the portrait
just a very little less than the natural size, and it seems not the
reduced portrait of a man, but the full-sized portrait of a dwarf. Now
a similar principle seems to obtain in Gothic architecture.

The same design which strikes as beautiful in a model--the piece
which, if executed in spar, and with a glass cover over it, would be
regarded as exquisitely tasteful--would impress, when executed on a
large scale, as grand and magnificent in the first degree. And yet
this identical design, in an intermediate size, would possibly enough
be pronounced a failure. Mediocrity in size is fatal to the Gothic, if
it be a richly ornamented Gothic; nor are we sure that the noble
design of Mr. Kemp is to be executed on a scale sufficiently extended.
We are rather afraid not, but the result will show. Such a monument a
hundred yards in height would be one of the finest things perhaps in

What has Sir Walter done for Scotland, to deserve so gorgeous a
monument? Assuredly not all he might have done; and yet he has done
much--more, in some respects, than any other merely literary man
the country ever produced. He has interested Europe in the national
character, and in some corresponding degree in the national
welfare; and this of itself is a very important matter indeed.
Shakespeare--perhaps the only writer who, in the delineation of
character, takes precedence of the author of _Waverley_--seems to
have been less intensely imbued with the love of country. It is quite
possible for a foreigner to luxuriate over his dramas, as the Germans
are said to do, without loving Englishmen any the better in
consequence, or respecting them any the more. But the European
celebrity of the fictions of Sir Walter must have had the inevitable
effect of raising the character of his country,--its character as a
country of men of large growth, morally and intellectually. Besides,
it is natural to think of foreigners as mere abstractions; and hence
one cause at least of the indifference with which we regard them,--an
indifference which the first slight misunderstanding converts into
hostility. It is something towards a more general diffusion of
goodwill to be enabled to conceive of them as men with all those
sympathies of human nature, on which the corresponding sympathies
lay hold, warm and vigorous about them. Now, in this aspect has Sir
Walter presented his countrymen to the world. Wherever his writings
are known, a Scotsman can be no mere abstraction; and in both
these respects has the poet and novelist deserved well of his

Within the country itself, too, his great nationality, like that of
Burns, has had a decidedly favourable effect. The cosmopolism so
fashionable among a certain class about the middle of the last
century, was but a mock virtue, and a very dangerous one. The 'citizen
of the world,' if he be not a mere pretender, is a man to be defined
by negatives. It is improper to say he loves all men alike: he is
merely equally indifferent to all. Nothing can be more absurd than to
oppose the love of country to the love of race. The latter exists but
as a wider diffusion of the former. Do we not know that human nature,
in its absolute perfection, and blent with the absolute and infinite
perfection of Deity, indulged in the love of country? The Saviour,
when He took to Himself a human heart, wept over the city of His
fathers. Now, it is well that this spirit should be fostered, not in
its harsh and exclusive, but in its human and more charitable form.

Liberty cannot long exist apart from it. The spirit of war and
aggression is yet abroad: there are laws to be established, rights to
be defended, invaders to be repulsed, tyrants to be deposed. And who
but the patriot is equal to these things? How was the cry of 'Scotland
for ever' responded to at Waterloo, when the Scots Greys broke through
a column of the enemy to the rescue of their countrymen, and the
Highlanders levelled their bayonets for the charge! A people cannot
survive without the national spirit, except as slaves. The man who
adds to the vigour of the feeling at the same time that he lessens its
exclusiveness, deserves well of his country; and who can doubt that
Sir Walter has done so?

The sympathies of Sir Walter, despite his high Tory predilections,
were more favourable to the people as such than those of Shakespeare.
If the station be low among the characters of the dramatist, it is an
invariable rule that the style of thinking and of sentiment is low

The humble wool-comber of Stratford-on-Avon, possessed of a mind more
capacious beyond comparison than the minds of all the nobles and
monarchs of the age, introduced no such man as himself into his
dramas--no such men as Bunyan or Burns,--men low in place, but kingly
in intellect. Not so, however, the aristocratic Sir Walter. There is
scarcely a finer character in all his writings than the youthful
peasant of Glendearg, Halbert Glendinning, afterwards the noble knight
of Avenel, brave and wise, and alike fitted to lead in the councils of
a great monarch, or to carry his banner in war. His brother Edward is
scarcely a lower character. And when was unsullied integrity in a
humble condition placed in an attitude more suited to command respect
and regard, than in the person of Jeanie Deans?

A man of a lower nature, wrapt round by the vulgar prejudices of rank,
could not have conceived such a character: he would have transferred
to it a portion of his own vulgarity, dressed up in a few borrowed
peculiarities of habit and phraseology. Even the character of Jeanie's
father lies quite as much beyond the ordinary reach. Men such as
Sheridan, Fielding, and Foote, would have represented him as a
hypocrite--a feeble and unnatural mixture of baseness and cunning. Sir
Walter, with all his prejudices and all his antipathies, not only
better knew the national type, but he had a more comprehensive mind;
and he drew David Deans, therefore, as a man of stern and inflexible
integrity, and as thoroughly sincere in his religion. Not but that in
this department he committed great and grievous mistakes. The main
doctrine of revelation, with its influence on character--that doctrine
of regeneration which our Saviour promulgated to Nicodemus, and
enforced with the sanctity of an oath--was a doctrine of which he knew
almost nothing. What has the first place in all the allegories of
Bunyan, has no place in the fictions of Sir Walter. None of his
characters exhibit the change displayed in the life of the ingenious
allegorist of Elston, or of James Gardener, or of John Newton.

He found human nature a _terra incognita_ when it came under the
influence of grace; and in this _terra incognita_, the field in which
he could only grope, not see, his way, well-nigh all his mistakes were
committed. But had his native honesty been less, his mistakes would
have been greater.

He finds good even among Christians. What can be finer than the
character of his Covenanter's widow, standing out as it does in the
most exceptionable of all his works,--the blind and desolate woman,
meek and forgiving in her utmost distress, who had seen her sons shot
before her eyes, and had then ceased to see more?

Our subject, however, is one which we must be content not to exhaust.


The funeral of this hapless man of genius took place yesterday,
and excited a deep and very general interest, in which there mingled
the natural sorrow for high talent prematurely extinguished, with
the feeling of painful regret, awakened by a peculiarly melancholy
end. It was numerously attended, and by many distinguished men. The
several streets through which it passed were crowded by saddened
spectators--in some few localities very densely; and the windows
overhead were much thronged. At no place was the crowd greater,
except perhaps immediately surrounding the burying-ground, than at
the fatal opening beside the Canal Basin, into which the unfortunate
man had turned from the direct road in the darkness of night, and had
found death at its termination. The scene of the accident is a gloomy
and singularly unpleasant spot. A high wall, perforated by a low,
clumsy archway, closes abruptly what the stranger might deem a
thoroughfare. There is a piece of sluggish, stagnant water on the one
hand, thick and turbid, and somewhat resembling in form and colour a
broad muddy highway, lined by low walls; not a tuft of vegetation
is to be seen on its tame rectilinear sides: all is slimy and brown,
with here and there dank, muddy recesses, as if for the frog and
the rat; while on the damp flat above, there lie, somewhat in the
style of the grouping in a Dutch painting, the rotting fragments of
canal passage-boats and coal-barges, with here and there some
broken-backed hulk, muddy and green, the timbers peering out
through the planking, and all around heaps of the nameless lumber of a
deserted boat-yard. The low, clumsy archway is wholly occupied by a
narrow branch of the canal,--brown and clay-like as the main trunk,
from which it strikes off at nearly right angles. It struck us
forcibly, in examining the place, that in the uncertain light of
midnight, the flat, dead water must have resembled an ordinary
cart-road, leading through the arched opening in the direction of the
unfortunate architect's dwelling; and certainly at this spot, just
where he might be supposed to have stepped upon the seeming road under
the fatal impression, was the body found.

It had been intended, as the funeral letters bore, to inter the body
of Mr. Kemp in the vault under the Scott Monument,--a structure which,
erected to do honour to the genius of one illustrious Scotsman, will
be long recognised as a proud trophy of the fine taste and vigorous
talent of another. The arrangement was not without precedent; and had
it been possible for Sir Walter to have anticipated it, we do not
think it would have greatly displeased him. The Egyptian architect
inscribed the name of his kingly master on but the plaster of the
pyramid, while he engraved his own on the enduring granite underneath;
and so the name of the king has been lost, and only that of the
architect has survived. And there are, no doubt, monuments in our own
country which have been transferred in some sort, and on a somewhat
similar principle, from their original object. There are fine statues
which reflect honour on but the sculptor that chiselled them, and
tombs and cenotaphs inscribed with names so very obscure, that they
give place in effect, if not literally, like that of the Egyptian
king, to the name of the architect who reared them. Had the Scott
Monument been erected, like the monument of a neighbouring square, to
express a perhaps not very seemly gratitude for the services of some
tenth-rate statesman, who procured places for his friends, and who did
not much else, it would have been perilous to convert it into the tomb
of a man of genius like poor Kemp. It would have been perilous had it
been the monument of some mere _litterateur_. The _litterateur's_
works would have disappeared from the public eye, while that of the
hapless architect would be for ever before it. And it would be thus
the architect, not the _litterateur_, that would be permanently
remembered. But the monument of Sir Walter was in no danger; and Sir
Walter himself would have been quite aware of the fact. It would not
have displeased him, that in the remote future, when all its
buttresses had become lichened and grey, and generation after
generation had disappeared from around its base, the story would be
told--like that connected in so many of our older cathedrals with
'prentice pillars' and 'prentice aisles'--that the poor architect who
had designed its exquisite arches and rich pinnacles in honour of the
Shakespeare of Scotland, had met an untimely death when engaged on it,
and had found under its floor an appropriate grave.

The intention, however, was not carried into effect. It had been
intimated in the funeral letters that the burial procession should
quit the humble dwelling of the architect--for a humble dwelling it
is--at half-past one. It had been arranged, too, that the workmen
employed at the monument, one of the most respectable-looking bodies
of mechanics we ever saw, should carry the corpse to the grave. They
had gathered round the dwelling, a cottage at Morningside, with a
wreath of ivy nodding from the wall; and the appearance of both it and
them naturally suggested that the poor deceased, originally one of
themselves, though he had risen, after a long struggle, into
celebrity, had not risen into affluence. Death had come too soon. He
had just attained his proper position--just reached the upper edge of
the table-land which his genius had given him a right to occupy, and
on which a competency might be soon and honourably secured--when a
cruel accident struck him down. The time specified for the burial
passed--first one half-hour, and then another. The assembled group
wondered at the delay. And then a gentleman from the dwelling-house
came to inform them that some interdict or protest, we know not
what--some, we suppose, perfectly legal document--had inhibited, at
this late hour, the interment of the body in the monument, and that
there was a grave in the course of being prepared for it in one of the
city churchyards.


It was the religion of Scotland that first developed the intellect
of the country. Nor would it be at all difficult to show how. It is
sufficiently easy to conceive the process through which earnest
feeling concentrated on the great concerns of human destiny leads to
earnest thinking, and how thinking propagates itself in its abstract
character as such, even after the moving power which had first set its
wheels in motion has ceased to operate. The Reformation was mainly a
religious movement, but it was pregnant with philosophy and the arts.
The grand doctrine of justification by faith, for which Luther and the
other reformers contended, was wonderfully linked, by the God from
whom it emanated, with all the great discoveries of modern science,
and not a few of the proudest triumphs of literature. It drew along
with it in the train of events, as if by a golden chain, the
philosophy of Bacon and Newton, and the poesy of Milton and
Shakespeare. But though the general truth of the remark has been
acknowledged, the connection which it intimates--a connection
clearly referable to the will of that adorable Being who has made
'godliness profitable for all things'--has been too much lost sight
of. Religious belief, transmuted in its reflex influences into mere
intellectual activity, has too often assumed another nature and
name, and forgotten or disowned its origin; and whatever is suited
to remind us of the certainty of the connection, or to illustrate
the mode of its operations, cannot be deemed other than important.
From a consideration of this character, we have been much pleased with
a little work just published, which, taking up a single family in the
humblest rank, shows, without any apparent intention of the kind on the
part of the writer, how the Christianity of the country has operated on
the popular intellect; and we think we can scarce do better than
introduce it to the acquaintance of our readers. Most of them have
perhaps seen a memoir of one Annie M'Donald, published in Edinburgh
some eight or ten years ago. It is a humble production, given
chiefly, as the title-page intimates, in Annie's own words; and Annie
ranked among the humblest of our people. She had never seen a single
day in school. When best and most favourably circumstanced, she was
the wife of a farm-servant,--no very exalted station surely; but still a
lowlier station awaited her, and she passed more than half a century in
widowhood. One of her daughters became the wife of a poor labourer, her
two grandchildren were labourers also. It is not easy to imagine a
humbler lot, without crossing the line beyond which independence
cannot be achieved; and yet Annie was a noble-hearted matron, one of
the true aristocracy of the country. Her long life was a protracted
warfare--a scene of privation, sorrow, and sore trial; but she
struggled bravely through, ever trusting in God, dependent on Him,
and Him only; and if the dignity of human nature consist in integrity
the most inflexible, energy the most untiring, strong sound thinking,
deep devotional feeling, and a high-toned yet chastened spirit of
independence, then was there more true dignity to be found in the humble
cottage of Annie M'Donald, than in half the proud mansions of the
country. Many of our readers must be acquainted, as we have said,
with her character, and some of the outlines of her story. Most of them
are acquainted, too, with the character of another very remarkable
person, John Bethune, the Fifeshire Forester,--a man whose name, in
all probability, they have never associated with Annie M'Donald. He
belongs to quite a different class of persons. The venerable matron
takes her place among those cultivators of the moral nature who live in
close converse with their God, and on whom are re-stamped, if we may
so speak, the lineaments of the divine image obliterated at the fall.
The poet, too early lost, ranks, on the other hand, among those hardy
cultivators of the intellectual nature who, among all the difficulties
incident to imperfect education, and a life of hardship and labour,
struggle into notice through the force of an innate vigour, and impress
the stamp of their mind on the literature of their country. Much of
the interest of the newly published memoir before us arises from the
connection which it establishes between the matron and the poet. It
purports to be 'A Sketch of the Life of Annie M'Donald, by her
Grandson, the late John Bethune.' And scarce any one can peruse it
without marking the powerful influence which the high religious
character of the grandmother exerted on the intellectual character of
her descendant. The nobility of the humble family from which he sprung
was derived evidently from this source. That character, to borrow a
homely but forcible metaphor from Burns, was the sustaining 'stalk of
carle hemp' which bore it up and kept it from grovelling on the
depressed level of its condition. How very interesting a subject of
thought and inquiry! A little Highland girl, when tending cattle in the
fields nearly a century ago, was led, through divine grace, to
'apprehend the mercy of God in Christ,' and to close with His free
offers of salvation; and in the third generation we can see the effects
of the transaction, not only in the blameless life and the pure
sentiments of a true though humble poet, but in, also, the manly
vigour of his thinking, and the high degree of culture which he was
enabled to bestow on his intellectual faculties.

The story of Annie M'Donald is such an one as a poet of Wordsworth's
cast would delight to tell. She was born in a remote and thinly
inhabited district of the Highlands, and lost her father, a Highland
crofter, while yet an infant. She was his youngest child, but the
other members of the family were all very young and helpless; and her
poor mother, a woman still in the prime of life, had to wander with
them into the low country, friendless and penniless, in quest of
employment. And employment after a weary pilgrimage she at length
succeeded in procuring from a hospitable farmer in the parish of
Kilmany, in Fifeshire. An unoccupied hovel furnished her with a home;
and here, with hard labour, she reared her children, till they were
fitted to leave her one by one, and do something for themselves,
chiefly in the way of herding cattle. Annie grew up to be employed
like the rest; and when a little herd-girl in the fields, 'she
frequently fell into strains of serious meditation,' says her
biographer, 'on the works of God, and on her own standing before Him.'
Let scepticism assert what it may, such is the nature of man. God has
written on every human heart the great truth of man's responsibility;
and the simple, ignorant herd-girl could read it there, amid the
solitude of the fields. But the inscription seemed fraught with
terror: she was perplexed by alternate doubts and fears, and troubled
by wildly vivid imaginings during the day, and by frightful dreams by
night. Her mother had been unable to send her to school, but she got
occasional lessons in the evenings from a fellow-servant; and through
the desultory assistance obtained in this way, backed by her solitary
efforts at self-instruction, she learned to read. She must have deemed
that an important day on which she found she could at length converse
with books; and the books with which she most loved to discourse were
such as related to the spiritual state. She pored over the Shorter
Catechism, and acquainted herself with her Bible. But for years
together, at this period, she suffered much distress of mind. Her
imagination possessed a wild activity, and the scenes and shapes which
it was continually calling up before her were all of horror and
dismay--the place of the lost, the appalling forms with which fancy
invests the fallen spirits, the terrors of the last day, and the dread
throne of judgment. But a time of peace and comfort came; and she was
enabled to lay hold on God in faith and hope as _her_ God, through the
all-sufficient blood of the atonement. And this hold she never after

There was no pause in her humble toils. From her early occupations
in the fields, she passed in riper youth to the labours of the
farm-house; and at the age of twenty-five experienced yet another
change, in becoming the wife of a farm-servant, a quiet man of solid
character, and whose religious views and feelings coincided with her
own. Her humble home was a solitary hut on the uplands, far from even
her nearest neighbours; but it was her home, and she was happy. With
the consent of her husband, she took her aged mother under her
care, and succeeded in repaying more than the obligations incurred
in infancy; for her instructions, through the blessing of God, were
rendered apparently the means of the old woman's conversion. There
were sorrows that came to her even at the happiest, but they were
mingled with comfort. She lost one of her children by small-pox at
a very early age; and yet, very early as the age was, evidence was
not wanting in its death that the Psalmist spoke with full meaning
when he said that God can perfect praise out of the mouths of babes
and sucklings. But there was a deeper grief awaiting her. After a
happy union of twelve years, her husband was seized in the night
in their lonely shieling by a mortal distemper, at a time when only
herself and her young children were present, and ere assistance
could be procured he expired. There is something extremely touching
in the details of this event, as given by the poet, her grandson.
They strongly show how real an evil poverty is, in even the most
favourable circumstances, when the hour of distress comes. Cowper
ceased to envy the "'_peasant's nest_" when he thought how its
solitude made scant the means of life.' We would almost covet the
hut of Annie M'Donald as described by her grandson. 'It appeared,'
he says, 'as if separated and raised above the world by the
cultureless and elevated solitude on which it stood. Around it on
every side were grey rocks, peering out from among tufted grass,
heath furze, and many-coloured mosses; forming what had been, till
more recently--when the whole was converted into a plantation--a
rather extensive sheep-walk. For an extent equal to more than half
the horizon, the eye might stretch away to the distant mountains,
or repose on the intervening valleys; and from the highest part of
the hill, a little to the eastward, the dark blue of the German Ocean
was clearly visible. It must have been a cheerful spot in the clear
sunny days of summer, when even heaths and moors look gay--when
the deep blue of the hills seems as if softening its tints to
harmonize with the deep blue of the sky--when the hum of the bee is
heard amid the heath, and the lark high overhead. But it must have
been a gloomy and miserable solitude on that night when the
husband of Annie lay tossing in mortal agony, and no neighbour
near to counsel or assist, her weeping children around her, and with
neither lamp nor candle in the cottage. It was only by the 'light
of a burning coal taken from the fire, and exchanged for another as
the flame waxed faint, that she was enabled to watch the progress
of the fatal malady, and to tell at what time death set his
unalterable seal on the pallid features of her husband.'

Long years of incessant labour followed; her children were young and
helpless, and her aged mother still with her. She removed to another
cottage, where she rented an acre or two of land, that enabled her to
keep a cow, and gave her opportunity, as the place was situated beside
a considerable stream, of earning a small income as a bleacher of
home-made linen. The day, and not unfrequently the night, was spent in
toil; but she was strengthened to endure, and so her children were
bred up in hardy independence. 'During the weeks of harvest,' says her
biographer, 'she was engaged as a reaper by the farmer from whom she
rented her little tenement; and when her day's work was done, while
her fellow-labourers retired to rest, she employed herself in reaping
her own crops, or providing grass for the cow, and often continued her
toil by the light of the harvest moon till it was almost midnight.
After a number of years thus spent, the expiration of the farmer's
lease occasioned her removal. Her family were now grown up; she could
afford, in consequence, to have recourse to means of subsistence
which, if more scanty, were less laborious than those which she had
plied so long; and so, removing to a neighbouring village, she earned
a livelihood for herself and her infirm mother by spinning carpet
worsted at twopence a-day, the common wages for a woman at that
period.' 'The cottage which she now occupied,' we again quote,
'happened to be one of a number which the Countess of Leven charitably
kept for the accommodation of poor people who were unable to pay a
rent. She, however, considered that she had no right to reckon herself
among this class, so long as it should please God to afford her
strength to provide for her own necessities; and therefore she deemed
it unjustifiable to deprive the truly indigent of what had been
intended exclusively for them. Influenced by these motives, she
removed at the next term to an adjacent hamlet, and here her aged
mother died.' We need not minutely follow her after-course: it bore
but one complexion to the end. She taught a school for many years,
and was of signal use to not a few of her pupils. At an earlier period
she experienced a desire to be able to write. There was a friend at a
distance whom she wished to comfort, by suggesting to her those topics
of consolation which she herself had found of such solid use; and the
wish had suggested the idea. And so she did learn to write. She took
up a pen, and tried to imitate the letters in her Bible; an
acquaintance subsequently furnished her with a copy of the alphabet
commonly used in writing; and such was all the instruction she ever
received in an art to which in after life she devoted a considerable
portion of her time, and in the exercise of which she derived no small
enjoyment. In extreme old age she was rendered unable by deafness
properly to attend to her school, and so, with her characteristic
conscientiousness, she threw it up; but bodily strength was spared to
her in a remarkable degree, and her last years were not wasted in
idleness. 'Her spinning-wheel was again eagerly resorted to; even
outdoor labour, when it could be obtained, was sometimes adopted.' And
the editor of the memoir before us--Alexander Bethune, the brother and
biographer of John--relates that he recollects seeing her engaged in
reaping, on one occasion, when in her eighty-second year; and that on
the same field her favourite nephew the poet, at that time a boy of
ten, was also essaying the labours of the harvest. In one of the
simple but touching epistles which we owe to her singularly acquired
accomplishment of writing--a letter to one of her daughters--we find
her thus expressing herself:--

'We finished our harvest last Monday, and here again I have cause for
thankfulness. I would desire to be doubly thankful to God for enabling
my old and withered arms to use the sickle almost as well as they were
wont to do when I was young, and for the favourable weather and
abundant crop which in His mercy He has bestowed on us. But, my dear
child, there is in very deed a more important harvest before us. Oh!
may God, for Christ's sake, ripen us by the sunshine of His Spirit for
the sickle of death, and stand by us in that trying hour, that we may
be cut down as a shock of corn which is fully ripe.'

Annie survived twelve years longer; for her life was prolonged
through three full generations. 'In the intervals of domestic duty,
her book and her pen were her constant companions.' 'The process of
committing her thoughts to paper was rendered tedious, latterly, by
the weakness and tremor of her hand; and her mind not unfrequently
outran her pen, leaving blanks in her composition, which she did not
always detect so as to enable her to fill them up. And this
circumstance sometimes rendered her meaning a little obscure. But
with all these deficiencies, her letters were generally appreciated by
those to whom they were addressed. Her conversation, too, was much
sought after by serious individuals in all ranks in society; and
occasionally it was pleasing to see the promiscuous visitors who met
in her lowly cottage laying aside for a time the fastidious
distinctions of birth and station, and humbly uniting in the
exercise of Christian love.' At length she could no longer leave
her bed: 'her hearing was so much impaired, that it was with the
greatest difficulty she could be made to understand what was said to
her; and those friends who came to visit her were frequently
requested to sit down by her bedside, where she might see their
faces, though she could no longer enjoy their conversation. After
raising herself to a convenient position, she generally addressed
them upon the importance of preparing for another world while
health and strength remained; and tried to direct their attention to
the merits and sufferings of the Saviour as the only sure ground of
hope upon which sinners could rest their salvation in the hour of
trial.' As for her own departure, she 'had a thousand reasons,' she
said, 'for wishing to be gone; but there was one reason which
overbalanced them all--God's time had not yet arrived.' But at
length it did arrive. 'Lay me down,' she said, for the irritability
of her nervous system had rendered frequent change of posture
necessary, and her friends had just been indulging her,--'Lay me
down; let me sleep my last sleep in Jesus.' And these were her last
words. Her grandson John seems to have cherished, when a mere boy,
years before she died, the design of writing her story; and the
whole tone of his memoir (apparently one of his earlier prose
compositions) shows how thorough was the respect which he entertained
for her memory. She forms the subject, too, of a copy of verses
evidently of later production, and at least equal to any he ever
wrote, in which he affectingly tells us how, when sadness and
disease pressed upon the springs of life, and he lingered in
suspense and disappointment, the hopes which she had so long

    'The glorious hopes which flattered not--
     Dawned on him by degrees.'

He found the Saviour whom she had worshipped; and one of the last
subsidiary hopes in which he indulged ere he bade the world farewell,
was that in the place to which he was going he should meet with his
beloved grandmother. We have occupied so much space with our
narrative, brief as it is, that we cannot follow up our original
intention of showing how, in principle, the intellectual history of
Bethune is an epitome of that of his country; but we must add that it
would be well if, in at least one important respect, the history of
his country resembled his history more. The thoughtful piety of the
grandmother prepared an atmosphere of high-toned thought, in which the
genius of the grandson was fostered. It constituted, to vary the
figure, the table-land from which he arose; but how many of a
resembling class, and indebted in a similar way, have directed the
influence of their writings to dissipate that atmosphere--to lower
that table-land! We refer the reader to the interesting little work
from which we have drawn our materials. It is edited by the surviving
Bethune, the brother and biographer of the poet, and both a vigorous
writer and a worthy man. There are several of the passages which it
comprises of his composition; among the rest, the very striking
passage with which the memoir concludes, and in which he adds a few
additional facts illustrative of his grandmother's character, and
describes her personal appearance. The description will remind our
readers of one of the more graphic pictures of Wordsworth, that of the
stately dame on whose appearance the poet remarks quaintly, but

    'Old times are living there.'

'From the date of her birth,' says Alexander Bethune, 'it will be seen
that she (Annie M'Donald) was in her ninety-fourth year at the time of
her death. In person she was spare; and ere toil and approaching age
had bent her frame, she must have been considerably above the middle
size. Even after she was far advanced in life, there was in her
appearance a rigidity of outline and a sinewy firmness which told of
no ordinary powers of endurance. There was much of true benevolence in
the cast of her countenance; while the depth of her own Christian
feelings gave an expression of calm yet earnest sympathy to her eye,
which was particularly impressive. Limited as were her resources, she
had been a regular contributor to the Bible and Missionary Societies
for a number of years previous to her death. Nor was she slow to
minister to the necessities of others according to her ability.
Notwithstanding the various items thus disposed of during the latter
part of her life, she had saved a small sum of money, which at her
death was left to her unmarried daughters.'

The touching description of the poet we must also subjoin. No one can
read it without feeling its truth, or without being convinced that, to
be thoroughly true in the circumstances, was to be intensely poetical.
The recollection of such a relative affectionately retained was of
itself poetry.

                 MY GRANDMOTHER.

    Long years of toil and care,
      And pain and poverty, have passed
    Since last I listened to her prayer,
      And looked upon her last;
    Yet how she spoke, and how she smiled
    Upon me, when a playful child--
      The lustre of her eye--
    The kind caress--the fond embrace--
    The reverence of her placid face,--
      All in my memory lie
    As fresh as they had only been
    Bestowed and felt, and heard and seen,
      Since yesterday went by.

    Her dress was simply neat--
      Her household tasks so featly done:
    Even the old willow-wicker seat
      On which she sat and spun--
    The table where her Bible lay,
    Open from morn till close of day--
      The standish, and the pen
    With which she noted, as they rose,
    Her thoughts upon the joys, the woes,
      The final fate of men,
    And sufferings of her Saviour God,--
    Each object in her poor abode
      Is visible as then.

    Nor are they all forgot,
      The faithful admonitions given,
    And glorious hopes which flattered not,
      But led the soul to heaven!
    These had been hers, and have been mine
    When all beside had ceased to shine--
      When sadness and disease,
    And disappointment and suspense,
    Had driven youth's fairest fancies hence,
      Short'ning its fleeting lease:
    'Twas then these hopes, amid the dark
    Just glimmering, like an unquench'd spark,
      Dawned on me by degrees.

    To her they gave a light
      Brighter than sun or star supplied;
    And never did they shine more bright
      Than just before she died.
    Death's shadow dimm'd her aged eyes,
    Grey clouds had clothed the evening skies,
      And darkness was abroad;
    But still she turned her gaze above,
    As if the eternal light of love
      On her glazed organs glowed,
    Like beacon-fire at closing even,
    Hung out between the earth and heaven,
      To guide her soul to God.

    And then they brighter grew,
      Beaming with everlasting bliss,
    As if the eternal world in view
      Had weaned her eyes from this:
    And every feature was composed,
    As with a placid smile they closed
      On those who stood around,
    who felt it was a sin to weep
    O'er such a smile and such a sleep--
      So peaceful, so profound;
    And though they wept, their tears expressed
    Joy for her time-worn frame at rest--
      Her soul with mercy crowned.

_August 10, 1812._


How quickly the years fly! One twelvemonth more, and it will be a full
quarter of a century since we last saw the wild Highland valley so
well described by Mr. Robertson in his opening paragraphs.{1} And yet
the recollection is as fresh in our memory now as it was twenty years
ago. The chill winter night had fallen on the brown round hills and
alder-skirted river, as we turned from off the road that winds along
the Kyle of the Dornoch Frith into the bleak gorge of Strathcarron.
The shepherd's cottage, in which we purposed passing the night, lay
high up in the valley, where the lofty sides--partially covered at
that period by the remnants of an ancient forest--approach so near
each other, and rise so abruptly, that for the whole winter quarter
the sun never falls on the stream below. There were still some ten or
twelve miles of broken road before us. The moon in its first quarter
hung low over the hills, dimly revealing their rough outline, and
throwing its tinge of faint bronze on the broken clumps of wood in the
hollows. A keen frost had set in; and a thick trail of fog-rime,
raised by its influence in the calm, and which at the height of some
eighty or a hundred feet hung over the river--scarce less defined in
its margin than the river itself, for it winded wherever the stream
winded, and ran straight as an arrow wherever the stream ran
straight--occupied the whole length of the valley, like an enormous
snake lying uncoiled in its den. The numerous turf cottages on either
side were invisible in the darkness, save that ever and anon the brief
twinkle of a light indicated their existence and their places. In a
recess of the stream the torch of some adventurous fisher now gleamed
red on rock and water, now suddenly disappeared, eclipsed by the
overhanging brushwood, or by some jutting angle of the bank. The
distant roar of the stream mingled sullenly in the calm, with its
nearer and hoarser dash, as it chafed on the ledges below, filling the
air with a wild music, that seemed the appropriate voice of the
impressive scenery from amid which it arose. It was late ere we
reached the shepherd's cottage--a dark, raftered, dimly-lighted
building of turf and stone. The weather for several weeks before had
been rainy and close, and the flocks of the inmate had been thinned by
the common scourge of the sheep-farmer at such seasons on marshy and
unwholesome farms. The rafters were laden with skins besmeared with
blood, that dangled overhead to catch the conservative influences of
the smoke; and on a rude plank table below there rose two tall
pyramids of dark-coloured joints of braxy mutton, heaped up each on a
corn riddle. The shepherd--a Highlander of colossal proportions, but
hard and thin, and worn by the cares and toils of at least sixty
winters--sat moodily beside the fire. The state of his flocks was not
particularly cheering; and he had, besides, seen a vision of late, he
said, that filled his mind with strange forebodings. He had gone out
after nightfall on the previous evening to a dank hollow on the
hill-side, in which many of his flock had died; the rain had ceased a
few hours before, and a smart frost had set in, that, as on this
second evening, filled the whole valley with a wreath of silvery
vapour, dimly lighted by the thin fragment of a moon that appeared as
if resting at the time on the hill-top. The wreath stretched out its
grey folds beneath him, for he had climbed half-way up the acclivity,
when suddenly what seemed the figure of a man in heated metal--the
figure of a brazen man brought to a red heat in a furnace--sprang up
out of the darkness; and after stalking over the surface of the fog
for a few seconds--in which, however, it traversed the greater part of
the valley--as suddenly disappeared, leaving an evanescent trail of
flame behind it. There could be little doubt that the old shepherd had
merely seen one of those shooting lights that in mountain districts,
during unsettled weather, so frequently startle the night traveller,
and that some peculiarity of form in the meteor had been exaggerated
by the obscuring influence of the frost-rime and the briefness of the
survey; but the apparition had filled his whole mind, as one of
strange and frightful portent from the spiritual world. And often
since that night has it returned to us in recollection, as a vision in
singular keeping with the wild valley which it traversed, and the
credulous melancholy of the solitary shepherd, its only witness,--

    'A meteor of the night of distant years,
     That flashed unnoticed, save by wrinkled eld
     Musing at midnight upon prophecies.'

By much the greater part of Strathcarron, in those days, was in the
possession of its ancient inhabitants; and we learn from the
description of Mr. Robertson, that it has since undergone scarce any
change. 'Strathcarron,' he says, 'is still in the old state.'
Throughout its whole extent the turf cottages of the aborigines rise
dark and thick as heretofore, from amid their irregular patches of
potatoes and corn. But in an adjacent glen, through which the Calvie
works its headlong way to the Carron, that terror of the Highlanders,
a summons of removal, has been served within the last few months on a
whole community; and the graphic sketch of Mr. Robertson relates both
the peculiar circumstances in which it has been issued, and the
feelings which it has excited. We find from his testimony, that the
old state of things which is so immediately on the eve of being broken
up in this locality, lacked not a few of those sources of terror to
the proprietary of the country, that are becoming so very formidable
to them in the newer states. A spectral poor-law sits by our waysides,
wrapped up in death-flannels of the English cut, and shakes its skinny
hand at the mansion-houses of our landlords,--vision beyond comparison
more direfully portentous than the apparition seen by the lone
shepherd of Strathcarron. But in the Highlands, at least, it is merely
the landlord of the new and improved state of things--the landlord of
widespread clearings and stringent removal-summonses--that it
threatens. The existing poor-law in Glencalvie is a self-enforcing
law, that rises direct out of the unsophisticated sympathies of the
Highland heart, and costs the proprietary nothing. 'The constitution
of society in the glen,' says Mr. Robertson, 'is remarkably simple.
Four heads of families are bound for the whole rental of £55, 13s. a
year; the number of souls is about ninety. Sixteen cottages pay rent;
three cottages are occupied by old lone women, who pay no rent, and
who have a grace from the others for the grazing of a few goats or
sheep, by which they live. This self-working poor-law system,' adds
Mr. Robertson, 'is supported by the people themselves; the laird, I am
informed, never gives anything to it.' Now there must be at least some
modicum of good in such a state of things, however old-fashioned; and
we are pretty sure such of our English neighbours as leave their acres
untilled year after year, to avoid the crushing pressure of the
statute-enforced poor-law that renders them not worth the tilling,
would be somewhat unwilling, were the state made theirs, to improve it
away. Nor does it seem a state--with all its simplicity, and all its
perhaps blameable indifferency to modern improvement--particularly
hostile to the development of mind or the growth of morals. 'The
people of Amat and Glencalvie themselves supported a teacher for the
education of their children,' says Mr. Robertson. 'The laird,' he
adds, 'has never lost a farthing of rent. In bad years, such as 1836
or 1837, the people may have required the favour of a few weeks'
delay, but they are now not a single farthing in arrears.'

Mr. Robertson gives us the tragedy of a clearing in its first act. We
had lately the opportunity of witnessing the closing scene in the
after-piece, by which a clearing more than equally extensive has been
followed up, and which bids fair to find at no distant day many
counterparts in the Highlands of Scotland. Rather more than twenty
years ago, the wild, mountainous island of Rum, the home of
considerably more than five hundred souls, was divested of all its
inhabitants, to make way for one sheep-farmer and eight thousand
sheep. It was soon found, however, that there are limits beyond which
it is inconvenient to depopulate a country on even the sheep-farm
system: the island had been rendered too thoroughly a desert for the
comfort of the tenant; and on the occasion of a clearing which took
place in a district of Skye, and deprived of their homes many of the
old inhabitants, some ten or twelve families of the number were
invited to Rum, and may now be found squatting on the shores of the
only bay of the island, on a strip of unprofitable morass. But the
whole of the once peopled interior remains a desert, all the more
lonely in its aspect from the circumstance that the solitary glens,
with their green, plough-furrowed patches, and their ruined heaps of
stone, open upon shores every whit as solitary as themselves, and that
the wide untrodden sea stretches drearily around. We spent a long
summer's day amidst its desert recesses, and saw the sun set behind
its wilderness of pyramidal hills. The evening was calm and clear; the
armies of the insect world were sporting by millions in the light; a
brown stream that ran through the valley at our feet yielded an
incessant poppling sound from the myriads of fish that were
incessantly leaping in the pools, beguiled by the quick glancing wings
of green and gold that incessantly fluttered over them; the
half-effaced furrows borrowed a richer hue from the yellow light of
sunset; the broken cottage-walls stood up more boldly prominent on the
hill-side, relieved by the lengthening shadows; along a distant
hill-side there ran what seemed the ruins of a grey stone fence,
erected, says tradition, in a very remote age to facilitate the
hunting of deer: all seemed to bespeak the place a fitting habitation
for man, and in which not only the necessaries, but not a few also of
the luxuries of life, might be procured; but in the entire prospect
not a man nor a man's dwelling could the eye command. The landscape
was one without figures. And where, it may be asked, was the one
tenant of the island for whose sake so many others had been removed?
We found his house occupied by a humble shepherd, who had in charge
the wreck of his property,--property no longer his, but held for the
benefit of his creditors. The great sheep-farmer had gone down under
circumstances of very general bearing, and on whose after development,
when in their latent state, improving landlords had failed to
calculate; the island itself was in the market, and a report went
current at the time that it was on the eve of being purchased by some
wealthy Englishman, who purposed converting it into a deer-forest. The
cycle--which bids fair to be that of the Highlands generally--had
already revolved in the depopulated island of Rum.

We have said that the sheep-farmer had gone down, in this instance,
under adverse circumstances of very extensive bearing. In a beautiful
transatlantic poem, a North American Indian is represented as visiting
by night the tombs of his fathers, now surrounded, though reared in
the depths of a forest, by the cultivated farms and luxurious
dwellings of the stranger, and there predicting that the race by
which _his_ had been supplaced should be in turn cast out of their
possessions. His fancy on the subject is a wild one, though not
unfitted for the poet. The streams, he said, were yielding a lower
murmur than of old, and rolling downwards a decreasing volume; the
springs were less copious in their supplies; the land, shorn of its
forests, was drying up under the no longer softened influence of
summer suns. Yet a few ages more, and it would spread out all around
an arid and barren wilderness, unfitted, like the deserts of the East,
to be a home of man. The fancy, we repeat, though a poetic, is a wild
one; but the grounds from which we infer that the clearers of the
Highlands--the supplanters of the Highlanders--are themselves to be
cleared and supplanted in turn, is neither wild nor poetic. The voice
which predicts in the case is a voice, not of shrinking rivulets nor
failing springs, but of the 'Cloth Hall' in Leeds, and of the worsted
factories of Bradford and Halifax. Most of our readers must be aware
that the great woollen trade of Britain divides into two main
branches--its woollen cloth manufacture, and its worsted and stuff
manufactures: and in both these the estimation in which British wool
is held has mightily sunk of late years, never apparently to rise
again; for it has sunk, not through any caprice of fashion, but in the
natural progress of improvement. Mr. Dodd, in his interesting little
work on the _Textile Manufactures of Great Britain_, refers
incidentally to the fact, in drawing a scene in the Cloth Hall of
Leeds, introduced simply for the purpose of showing at how slight an
expense of time and words business is transacted in this great mart of
trade. 'All the sellers,' says Mr. Dodd, 'know all the buyers; and
each buyer is invited, as he passes along, to look at some "olives,"
or "browns," or "pilots," or "six quarters," or "eight quarters;" and
the buyer decides in a wonderfully short space of time whether it will
answer his purpose to purchase or not. "Mr. A., just look at these
olives." "How much?" "Six and eight." "Too high." Mr. A. walks on, and
perhaps a neighbouring clothier draws his attention to a piece, or
"end," of cloth. "What's this?" "Five and three." "Too low." The "too
high" relates, as may be supposed, to the price per yard; whereas the
"too low" means that the quality of the cloth is lower than the
purchaser requires. Another seller accosts him with "Will this suit
you, Mr. A.?" "_Any English wool?_" "_Not much; it is nearly all
foreign_;" a question and answer which exemplify the disfavour into
which English wool has fallen in the cloth trade. But it is not the
cloth trade alone in which it has fallen into disfavour. The rapid
extension of the worsted manufacture in this country,' says the same
writer in another portion of his work, 'is very remarkable. So long as
efforts were made by English wool-growers to compel the use of the
English wool in cloth-making--efforts which the Legislature for many
years sanctioned by legal enactments--the worsted fabrics made were
chiefly of a coarse and heavy kind, such as "camlets;" but when the
wool trade was allowed to flow into its natural channels by the
removal of restrictions, the value of all the different kinds of wool
became appreciated, and each one was appropriated to purposes for
which it seemed best fitted. The wool of one kind of English sheep
continued in demand for hosiery and coarse worsted goods; and the wool
of the Cashmere and Angora goats came to be imported for worsted goods
of finer quality.' The colonist and the foreign merchant have been
brought into the field, and the home producer labours in vain to
compete with them on what he finds unequal terms.

Hence the difficulties which, in a season of invigorated commerce and
revived trade, continue to bear on the British wool-grower, and which
bid fair _to clear_ him from the soil which he divested of the
original inhabitants. Every new sheep-rearing farm that springs up in
the colonies--whether in Australia, or New Zealand, or Van Diemen's
Land, or Southern Africa--sends him its summons of removal in the form
of huge bales of wool, lower in price and better in quality than he
himself can produce. The sheep-breeders of New Holland and the Cape
threaten to avenge the Rosses of Glencalvie. But to avenge is one
thing, and to right another. The comforts of our poor Highlander have
been deteriorating, and his position lowering, for the last three
ages, and we see no prospect of improvement.

'For a century,' says Mr. Robertson, 'their privileges have been
lessening: they dare not now hunt the deer, or shoot the grouse or the
blackcock; they have no longer the range of the hills for their cattle
and their sheep; they must not catch a salmon in a stream: in earth,
air, and water, the rights of the laird are greater, and the rights of
the people are smaller, than they were in the days of their
forefathers. Yet, forsooth, there is much talk of philosophers of the
progress of democracy as a progress to equality of conditions in our
day! One of the ministers who accompanied me had to become bound for
law expenses to the amount of £20, inflicted on the people for taking
a log from the forest for their bridge,--a thing they and their
fathers had always done unchallenged.'

One eloquent passage more, and we have done. It is thus we find Mr.
Robertson, to whose intensely interesting sketch we again direct the
attention of the reader, summing up the case of the Rosses of

'The father of the laird of Kindeace bought Glencalvie. It was sold by
a Ross two short centuries ago. The swords of the Rosses of Glencalvie
did their part in protecting this little glen, as well as the broad
lands of Pitcalnie, from the ravages and the clutches of hostile
septs. These clansmen bled and died in the belief that every principle
of honour and morals secured their descendants a right to subsisting
on the soil. The chiefs and their children had the same charter of
the sword. Some Legislatures have made the right of the people
superior to the right of the chief; British law-makers have made the
rights of the chief everything, and those of their followers nothing.
The ideas of the morality of property are in most men the creatures of
their interests and sympathies. Of this there cannot be a doubt,
however: the chiefs would not have had the land at all, could the
clansmen have foreseen the present state of the Highlands--their
children in mournful groups going into exile--the faggot of legal
myrmidons in the thatch of the feal cabin--the hearths of their loves
and their lives the green sheep-walks of the stranger.

'Sad it is, that it is seemingly the will of our constituencies that
our laws shall prefer the few to the many. Most mournful will it be,
should the clansmen of the Highlands have been cleared away, ejected,
exiled, in deference to a political, a moral, a social, and an
economical mistake,--a suggestion not of philosophy, but of mammon,--a
system in which the demon of sordidness assumed the shape of the angel
of civilisation and of light.'

_September 4, 1844._


 {1} _The Rosses of Glencalvie_, by John Robertson, Esq. (article
     in the Glasgow _National_, August 1844).--ED.


The reader will find in our columns a report, as ample as our limits
have allowed, of the public breakfast given in Edinburgh on Wednesday
last{1} to our distinguished countryman James Montgomery, and his
friend the missionary Latrobe. We have rarely shared in a more
agreeable entertainment, and have never listened to a more pleasing or
better-toned address than that in which the poet ran over some of the
more striking incidents of his early life. It was in itself a poem,
and a very fine one. An old and venerable man returning to his native
country after an absence of sixty years--after two whole generations
had passed away, and the grave had closed over almost all his
contemporaries--would be of itself a matter of poetical interest, even
were the aged visitor a person of but the ordinary cast of thought and
depth of feeling. How striking the contrast between the sunny,
dream-like recollections of childhood to such an individual, and the
surrounding realities--between the scenes and figures on this side the
wide gulf of sixty years, and the scenes and figures on that: yonder,
the fair locks of infancy, its bright, joyous eyes, and its speaking
smiles; here, the grey hairs and careworn wrinkles of rigid old age,
tottering painfully on the extreme verge of life! But if there
attaches thus a poetic interest to the mere circumstances of such a
visit, how much more, in the present instance, from the character of
the visitor,--a man whose thoughts and feelings, tinted by the warm
hues of imagination, retain in his old age all the strength and
freshness of early youth!

Hogg, when first introduced to Wilkie, expressed his gratification at
finding him so young a man. We experienced a similar feeling on first
seeing the poet Montgomery. He can be no young man, who, looking
backwards across two whole generations, can recount from recollection,
like Nestor of old, some of the occurrences of the third. But there is
a green old age, in which the spirits retain their buoyancy, and the
intellect its original vigour; and the whole appearance of the poet
gives evidence that his evening of life is of this happy and desirable
character. His appearance speaks of antiquity, but not of decay. His
locks have assumed a snowy whiteness, and the lofty and full-arched
coronal region exhibits what a brother poet has well termed the 'clear
bald polish of the honoured head;' but the expression of the
countenance is that of middle life. It is a clear, thin, speaking
countenance: the features are high; the complexion fresh, though not
ruddy; and age has failed to pucker either cheek or forehead with a
single wrinkle. The spectator sees at a glance that all the poet still
survives--that James Montgomery in his sixty-fifth year is all that he
ever was. The forehead, rather compact than large, swells out on
either side towards the region of ideality, and rises high, in a fine
arch, into what, if phrenology speak true, must be regarded as an
amply developed organ of veneration. The figure is quite as little
touched by age as the face. It is well but not strongly made, and of
the middle size; and yet there is a touch of antiquity about it too,
derived, however, rather from the dress than from any peculiarity in
the person itself. To a plain suit of black Mr. Montgomery adds the
voluminous breast ruffles of the last age--exactly such things as, in
Scotland at least, the fathers of the present generation wore on their
wedding-days. These are perhaps but small details; but we notice them
just because we have never yet met with any one who took an interest
in a celebrated name, without trying to picture to himself the
appearance of the individual who bore it.

There are some very pleasing incidents beautifully related in the
address of Mr. Montgomery. It would have been false taste and delicacy
in such a man to have forborne speaking of himself. His return, after
an absence equal to the term of two full generations, to his native
cottage, is an incident exquisitely poetic. He finds his father's
humble chapel converted into a workshop, and strangers sit beside the
hearth that had once been his mother's. And where were that father and
mother? Their bones moulder in a distant land, where the tombstones
cast no shadow when the fierce sun looks down at noon upon their
graves. 'Taking their lives in their hands,' they had gone abroad to
preach Christ to the poor enslaved negro, for whose soul at that
period scarce any one cared save the United Brethren; and in the midst
of their labours of piety and love, they had fallen victims to the
climate. He passed through the cottage and the workshop, calling up
the dream-like recollections of his earliest scene of existence, and
recognising one by one the once familiar objects within. One object he
failed to recognise. It was a small tablet fixed in the wall. He went
up to it, and found it intimated that James Montgomery the poet had
been born there. Was it not almost as if one of the poets or
philosophers of a former time had lighted, on revisiting the earth as
a disembodied spirit, on his own monument? Of scarce less interest is
his anecdote of Monboddo. The parents of the poet had gone abroad, as
we have said, and their little boy was left with the Brethren at
Fulneck, a Moravian settlement in the sister kingdom. He was one of
their younger scholars at a time when Lord Monboddo, still so well
known for his great talents and acquirements, and his scarce less
marked eccentricities, visited the settlement, and was shown, among
other things, their little school. His Lordship stood among the boys,
coiling and uncoiling his whip on the floor, and engaged as if in
counting the nail-heads in the boarding. The little fellows were all
exceedingly curious; none of them had ever seen a real live lord
before, and Monboddo was a very strange-looking lord indeed. He wore a
large, stiff, bushy periwig, surmounted by a huge, odd-looking hat;
his very plain coat was studded with brass buttons of broadest disk,
and his voluminous inexpressibles were of leather. And there he stood,
with his grave, absent face bent downwards, drawing and redrawing his
whip along the floor, as the Moravian, his guide, pointed out to his
notice boy after boy. 'And this,' said the Moravian, coming at length
to young Montgomery, 'is a countryman of your Lordship's.' His
Lordship raised himself up, looked hard at the little fellow, and then
shaking his huge whip over his head, 'Ah,' he exclaimed, 'I hope his
country will have no reason to be ashamed of him.' 'The circumstance,'
said the poet, 'made a deep impression on my mind; and I determined--I
trust the resolution was not made in vain--I determined in that moment
that my country should not have reason to be ashamed of me.'

Scotland has no reason to be ashamed of James Montgomery. Of all her
poets, there is not one of equal power, whose strain has been so
uninterruptedly pure, or whose objects have been so invariably
excellent. The child of the Christian missionary has been the poet of
Christian missions. The parents laid down their lives in behalf of the
enslaved and perishing negro; the son, in strains the most vigorous
and impassioned, has raised his generous appeal to public justice in
his behalf. Nor has the appeal been in vain. All his writings bear the
stamp of the Christian; many of them--embodying feelings which all the
truly devout experience, but which only a poet could express--have
been made vehicles for addressing to the Creator the emotions of many
a grateful heart; and, employed chiefly on themes of immortality, they
promise to outlive not only songs of intellectually a lower order, but
of even equal powers of genius, into whose otherwise noble texture sin
has introduced the elements of death.

_28th October 1841._


 {1} 20th October 1841.


The reader must have often remarked, in catalogues of the writings of
great authors--such as Dr. Johnson, and the Rev. John Cumming, of the
Scotch Church, London--that while some of the pieces are described as
_acknowledged_, the genuineness of others is determined merely by
_internal evidence_. We know, for instance, that the Doctor wrote the
_English Dictionary_, not only because no other man in the world at
the time could have written it, but also because he affixed his name
to the title-page. We know, too, that he wrote some of the best of
Lord Chatham's earlier speeches, just because he said so, and pointed
out the very garret in Fleet Street in which they had been written.
But it is from other data we conclude that, during his period of
obscurity and distress, he wrote prefaces for the _Gentleman's
Magazine_, for some six or seven years together,--data derived
exclusively from a discriminating criticism; and his claim to the
authorship of _Taylor's Sermons_ rests solely on the vigorous
character of the thinking displayed in these compositions, and the
marked peculiarities of their style. Now, in exactly the same way in
which we know that Johnson wrote the speeches and the Dictionary, do
we know that the Rev. John Cumming drew up an introductory essay to
the liturgy of a Church that never knew of a liturgy, and that he
occasionally contributes tales to morocco annuals, wonderful enough to
excite the astonishment of ordinary readers. To these compositions he
affixes his name,--a thing very few men would have the courage to do;
and thus are we assured of their authorship. But there are other
compositions to which he does not affix his name, and it is from
internal evidence alone that these can be adjudged to him: it is from
internal evidence alone, for instance, that we can conclude him to be
the author of the article on the Scottish Church question which has
appeared in _Fraser's Magazine_ for the present month.

May we crave leave to direct the attention of the reader for a very
few minutes to the grounds on which we decide? It is of importance, as
Johnson says of Pope, that no part of so great a writer should be
suffered to be lost, and a little harmless criticism may have the
effect of sharpening the faculties.

There is a class of Scottish ministers in the present day, who, though
they detest show and coxcombry, have yet a very decided leaning to the
picturesque ceremonies of the Episcopal Church. They never weary of
apologizing to our southern neighbours for what they term the baldness
of our Presbyterian ritual, or in complaining of it to ourselves. It
was no later than last Sunday that Dr. Muir sorrowed in his lecture
over the 'stinted arrangement in the Presbyterian service, that admits
of no audible response from the people;' and all his genteeler
hearers, sympathizing with the worthy man, felt how pleasant a thing
it would be were the congregation permitted to do for him in the
church what the Rev. Mr. Macfarlane, erst of Stockbridge, does for him
in the presbytery. Corporal Trim began one of his stories on one
occasion, by declaring 'that there was once an unfortunate king of
Bohemia;' and when Uncle Toby, interrupting him with a sigh,
exclaimed, 'Ah, Corporal Trim, and was he unfortunate?' 'Yes, your
honour,' readily replied Trim; 'he had a great love of ships and
seaports, and yet, as your honour knows, there was ne'er a ship nor a
seaport in all his dominions.' Now this semi-Episcopalian class are
unfortunate after the manner of the king of Bohemia. The objects of
their desire lie far beyond the Presbyterian territories. They are
restricted to one pulpit, they are limited to one dress; they have
actually to read and preach from the same footboard; they are
prohibited the glories of white muslin; liturgy have they none. No
audible responses arise from the congregation; the precentor is
silent, save when he sings; their churches are organless; and though
they set themselves painfully to establish their claim to the
succession apostolical, the Hon. Mr. Percevals of the Church which
they love and admire see no proof in their evidence, and look down
upon them as the mere preaching laymen of a sectarian corporation.

Thrice unfortunate men! What were the unhappinesses of the king of
Bohemia, compared with the sorrows of these humble but rejected
followers of Episcopacy!

Now, among this highly respectable but unhappy class, the Rev. John
Cumming, of the Scotch Church, London, stands pre-eminent. So grieved
was Queen Mary of England by the loss of Calais, that she alleged the
very name of the place would be found written on her heart after her
death. The words that have the best chance of being found inscribed on
the heart of the Rev. Mr. Cumming are, bishop, liturgy, apostolical
succession, burial service, organ, and surplice. The ideas attached to
these vocables pervade his whole style, and form from their continual
recurrence a characteristic portion of it. They tumble up and down in
his mind like the pieces of painted glass in a kaleidoscope, and
present themselves in new combinations at every turn. His last
acknowledged composition was a wonderful tale which appeared in the
_Protestant Annual_ for the present year, and--strange subject for
such a writer--it purported to be a _Tale of the Covenant_. Honest
Peter Walker had told the same story, that of John Brown of
Priesthill, about a century and a half ago; but there had been much
left for Mr. Cumming to discover in it of which the poor pedlar does
not seem to have had the most distant conception.

Little did Peter know that John Brown's favourite minister 'held the
sacred and apostolical succession of the Scottish priesthood.' Little
would he have thought of apologizing to the English reader for 'the
antique and ballad verses' of our metrical version of the Psalms.
Indeed, so devoid was he of learning, that he could scarce have valued
at a sufficiently high rate the doctrines of Oxford; and so little
gifted with taste, that he would have probably failed to appreciate
the sublimities of Brady and Tate. Nor could Peter have known that the
'liturgy of the heart' was in the Covenanter's cottage, and that the
'litany' of the spirit breathed from his evening devotions. But it is
all known to the Rev. Mr. Cumming. He knows, too, that there were
sufferings and privations endured by the persecuted Presbyterians of
those days, of which writers of less ingenuity have no adequate
conception; that they were forced to the wild hill-sides, where they
could have no 'organs,' and compelled to bury their dead without the
solemnities of the funeral service. Unhappy Covenanters! It is only
now that your descendants are beginning to learn the extent of your
miseries. Would that it had been your lot to live in the days of the
Rev. John Cumming of the Scottish Church, London!

He would assuredly have procured for you the music-box of some
wandering Italian, and gone away with you to the wilds to mingle
exquisite melody with your devotions, qualifying with the sweetness of
his tones the 'antique and ballad' rudeness of your psalms; nor would
he have failed to furnish you with a liturgy, by means of which you
could have interred your dead in decency. Had such been the
arrangement, no after writer could have remarked, as the Rev. Mr.
Cumming does now, that no 'pealing organ' mingled 'its harmony of
bass, tenor, treble, and soprano' when you sung, or have recorded the
atrocious fact, that not only was John Brown of Priesthill shot by
Claverhouse, but actually buried by his friends without the funeral
service. And how striking and affecting an incident would it not form
in the history of the persecution, could it now be told, that when
surprised by the dragoons, the good Mr. Cumming fled over hill and
hollow with the box on his back, turning the handle as he went, and
urging his limbs to their utmost speed, lest the Episcopalian soldiery
should bring him back and make him a bishop!

It is partly from the more than semi-Episcopalian character of this
gentleman's opinions, partly from the inimitable felicities of his
style, and partly from one or two peculiar incidents in his history
which lead to a particular tone of remark, that we infer him to be the
writer of the article in _Fraser_.

We may be of course mistaken, but the internal evidence seems
wonderfully strong. The Rev. Mr. Cumming, though emphatically powerful
in declamation, has never practised argument,--a mean and undignified
art, which he leaves to men such as Mr. Cunningham, just as the
genteel leave the art of boxing to the commonalty; and in grappling
lately with a strong-boned Irish Presbyterian, skilful of fence, he
caught, as gentlemen sometimes do, a severe fall, and began
straightway to characterize Irish Presbyterians as a set of men very
inferior indeed. Now the writer in _Fraser_ has a fling _à la Cumming_
at the Irish Presbyterians. Popular election has, it seems, done
marvellously little for them; with very few exceptions, their
'ministry' is neither 'erudite, influential, nor accomplished,' and
their Church 'exhibits the symptoms of heart disease.' Depend on it,
some stout Irish Presbyterian has entailed the shame of defeat on the
writer in _Fraser_. Mr. Cumming, in his tale, adverts to the majority
of the Scottish Church as 'radical subverters of Church and State, who
claim the Covenanters as precedents for a course of conduct from
which the dignified Henderson, the renowned Gillespie, the learned
Binning, the laborious Denham, the heavenly-minded Rutherford, the
religious Wellwood, the zealous Cameron, and the prayerful Peden,
would have revolted in horror.' The writer of the article brings out
exactly the same sentiment, though not quite so decidedly, in what Meg
Dodds would have termed a grand style of language. At no time, he
asserts, did non-intrusion exist in the sense now contended for in
Scotland; at no time might not qualified ministers be thrust upon
reclaiming parishes by the presbytery: and as for the vetoists, they
are but wild radicals, who are to be 'classified by the good sense of
England with those luminaries of the age, Dan O'Connell, John Frost,
and others of that ilk.' In the article there is a complaint that our
majority are miserably unacquainted with Scottish ecclesiastical
history; and there is special mention made of Mr. Cunningham as an
individual not only ignorant of facts, but as even incapable of being
made to feel their force. In the _Annual_, as if Mr. Cumming wished to
exemplify, there is a passage in Scottish ecclesiastical history, of
which we are certain Mr. Cunningham not only knows nothing, but which
we are sure he will prove too obstinate to credit or comprehend. 'The
celebrated Mr. Cameron,' says the minister of the Scottish Church,
London, 'was left on Drumclog a mangled corpse.' Fine thing to be
minutely acquainted with ecclesiastical history! We illiterate
non-intrusionists hold, and we are afraid Mr. Cunningham among the
rest, that the celebrated Cameron was killed, not at the skirmish of
Drumclog, but at the skirmish of Airdmoss, which did not take place
until about a twelvemonth after; but this must result surely from our
ignorance. Has the Rev. Mr. Cumming no intention of settling our
disputes, by giving us a new history of the Church?

That portion of the internal evidence in the article before us which
depends on style and manner, seems very conclusive indeed. Take some
of the avowed sublimities of the Rev. Mr. Cumming. No man stands more
beautifully on tiptoe when he sets himself to catch a fine thought. In
describing an attached congregation, 'The hearer's prayers rose to
heaven,' he says, 'and returned in the shape of broad impenetrable
bucklers around the venerable man. A thousand broadswords leapt in a
thousand scabbards, as if the electric eloquence of the minister found
in them conductors and depositories.'

Poetry such as this is still somewhat rare; but mark the kindred
beauties of the writer in _Fraser_. Around such men as Mr. Tait,
Dr. M'Leod, and Dr. Muir, 'must crystallize the piety and the hopes
of the Scottish Church.' What a superb figure! Only think of the Rev.
Dr. Muir as of a thread in a piece of sugar candy, and the piety of
the Dean of Faculty and Mr. Penney, joined to that of some four or
five hundred respectable ladies of both sexes besides, all sticking
out around him in cubes, hexagons, and prisms, like cleft almonds in a
bishop-cake. Hardly inferior in the figurative is the passage
which follows: 'The Doctor (Dr. Chalmers) rides on at a rickety
trot,--Messrs. Cunningham, Begg, and Candlish by turns whipping up
the wornout Rosenante, and making the rider believe that windmills
are Church principles, and the echoes of their thunder solid argument.
A ditch will come; and when the first effects of the fall are over,
the dumbfounded Professor will awake to the deception, and smite
the minnows of vetoism hip and thigh.' The writer of this passage is
unquestionably an ingenious man, but he could surely have made a
little more of the last figure. A dissertation on the hips and thighs
of minnows might be made to reflect new honour on even the genius
of the Rev. Mr. Cumming.

It is mainly, however, from the Episcopalian tone of the article
that we derive our evidence. The writer seems to hold, with Charles
II., that Presbyterianism is no fit religion for a gentleman. True,
the Moderates were genteel men, of polish and propriety, such as
Mr. Jaffray of Dunbar, who never at synod or presbytery did or
said anything that was not strictly polite; but then the Moderates
had but little of Presbyterianism in their religion, and perhaps,
notwithstanding their 'quiet, amiable, and courteous demeanour,'
little of religion itself. It is to quite a different class that
the hope of the writer turns. He states that 'melancholy facts and
strong arguments against the practical working of Presbytery is at
this moment impressing itself in Scotland on every unprejudiced
spectator;' that there is a party, however, 'with whom the ministerial
office is a sacred investiture, transmitted by succession through
pastor to pastor, and from age to age,--men inducted to their
respective parishes, not because their flocks like or dislike them,
but because the superintending authorities, after the exercise of
solemn, minute, and patient investigation, have determined that
this or that pastor is the fittest and best for this or that parish;'
that there exist in this noble party 'the germs of a possible
unity with the southern Church;' and that there is doubtless a
time coming when the body of our Establishment, 'sick of slavery under
the name of freedom, and of sheer Popery under Presbyterian
colours, shall send up three of their best men to London for
consecration, and Episcopacy shall again become the adoption of
Scotland.' Rarely has the imagination of the poet conjured up a
vision of greater splendour. The minister of the Scotch Church,
London, may die Archbishop of St. Andrews. And such an archbishop!
We are told in the article that 'the channel along which ministerial
orders are to be transmitted is the pastors of the Church, whether
they meet together in the presbytery, or are compressed and
consolidated in the bishop.' But is not this understating the case
on the Episcopal side? What would not Scotland gain if she could
compress and consolidate a simple presbytery, such as that of
Edinburgh--its Chalmers and its Gordon, its Candlish and its
Cunningham, its Guthrie, its Brown, its Bennie, its Begg--in
short, all its numerous members--into one great Bishop John Cumming,
late of the Scotch Church, London! The man who converts twenty-one
shillings into a gold guinea gains nothing by the process; but the
case would be essentially different here, for not only would there
be a great good accomplished, but also a great evil removed. As for
Dr. Chalmers, it is 'painfully evident,' says the writer of the
article, 'that he regards only three things additional to a "supernal
influence" as requisite to constitute any one a minister--a
knowledge of Christianity, and endowment, and a parish;' and as
for the rest of the gentlemen named, they are just preparing to do,
in an 'ecclesiastical way in Edinburgh, what Robespierre, Marat, and
others did in a corporal way in the Convention of 1793.'

Hogarth quarrelled with Churchill, and drew him as a bear in
canonicals. Had he lived to quarrel with the Rev. John Cumming, he
would in all probability have drawn him as a puppy in gown and band;
and no one who knows aught of the painter can doubt that he would have
strikingly preserved the likeness. As for ourselves, we merely indulge
in a piece of conjectural criticism. The other parts of the article
are cast very much into the ordinary type of that side of the
controversy to which it belongs: there is rather more than the usual
amount of misrepresentation, inconsistency, and abuse, with here and
there a peculiarity of statement. Patrons are described as the
'trustees of the supreme magistrate, beautifully and devoutly
appointed to submit the presentee to the presbytery.' Lord Aberdeen's
bill is eulogized as suited to 'confer a greater boon on the laity of
Scotland than was ever conferred on them by the General Assembly.' The
seven clergymen of Strathbogie are praised for 'having rendered unto
God the things that are God's,' 'their enemies being judges.'

The minority of the Church contains, it is stated, its best men,
and its most diligent ministers. As for the majority, they have
been possessed by a spirit of 'deep delusion;' their only idea of
a 'clergyman is a preaching machine, that makes a prodigious
vociferation, and pleases the herd.' They are destined to become'
contemptible and base;' their attitude is an 'unrighteous attitude;'
they are aiming, 'like Popish priests,' at 'supremacy' and a
deadly despotism, through the sides of the people; they are
'suicidally divesting themselves of their power as clergymen, by
surrendering to the people essentially Episcopal functions;' they are
'wild men,' and offenders against the 'divine headship;' and the
writer holds, therefore, that if the Establishment is to be maintained
in Scotland, they must be crushed, and that soon, by the strong arm
of the law. We need make no further remarks on the subject. To employ
one of the writer's own illustrations, the history of Robespierre
powerfully demonstrates that great vanity, great weakness, and
great cruelty, may all find room together in one little mind.

_March 10, 1841._



  SIR,--Upon hearing read aloud your remarks{1} in the _Witness_
  of Saturday the 28th ultimo, upon the danger of investing the
  mere building in which we meet for public worship with a
  character of sanctity, an English gentleman asked, 'How does the
  writer of that article reconcile with his views our Saviour's
  conduct, described by St. John, ii. 14-17, and by each of the
  other evangelists?'

  Though quite disposed to agree with the purport of your remarks,
  and fully aware that the tendency of the opinions openly
  promulgated by a large section of the clergy of the Church of
  England is to give 'the Church' the place which should be
  occupied by a living and active faith in our Saviour, I found it
  difficult to meet this gentleman's objections, and only reminded
  him that you made a special exception in the case of the Jewish
  temple. Brought up from childhood, as Englishmen are, with
  almost superstitious reverence for the buildings 'consecrated'
  and set apart for religious uses, it is difficult to meet
  objections founded on such strong prejudices as were evident in
  this case.

  If any arguments suggest themselves to you, to show that the
  passage above referred to cannot be fairly employed in the
  defence of the Church of England tenets, in favour of
  consecrating churches, and of reverence amounting almost to the
  worship of external objects devoted to religious purposes, you
  will oblige me by stating them.--I remain, Sir, Your obedient


The passage of Scripture referred to by the 'English Gentleman' here
as scarcely reconcilable with the views promulgated in the _Witness_
of the 28th ult. runs as follows:--'And Jesus went up to Jerusalem,
and found in the temple those that sold oxen, and sheep, and doves,
and the changers of money, sitting; and when He had made a scourge of
small cords, He drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep and
the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the
tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence;
make not my Father's house a house of merchandise.'

It will perhaps be remembered by our readers, that in referring to the
Scotch estimate of the sacredness of ecclesiastical edifices, we
employed words to the following effect:--'We (the Scotch people)
have been taught that the world, since it began, saw but two truly
holy edifices; and that these, the Tabernacle and the _Temple_, were
as direct revelations from God as the Scriptures themselves, and were
as certain embodiments of His will, though they spoke in the obscure
language of type and symbol.' Now the passage of Scripture here
cited is in harmonious accordance with this view. It was from one of
these truly holy edifices that our Saviour drove the sheep and oxen,
and indignantly expelled the money-changers. Without, however,
begging the whole question at issue--without taking for granted the
very point to be proven, _i.e._ the intrinsic holiness of Christian
places of worship--the text has no bearing whatever on the view taken
by the 'English Gentleman.' If buildings such as York Cathedral,
Westminster Abbey, and St. Paul's, be holy in the sense in which the
temple was holy, then the passage as certainly applies to them as
it applied, in the times of our Saviour, to the sacred edifice
which was so remarkable a revelation of Himself. But where is the
evidence of an intrinsic holiness in these buildings? Where is the
proof that the rite of consecration is a rite according to the mind
of God? Where is the probability even that it is other than a piece of
mere will-worship, originated in the dark ages; or that it confers
one whit more sanctity on the edifice which it professes to render
sacred, than the breaking a bottle of wine on the ship's stem,
when she is starting off the slips, confers sanctity on the ship?
Stands it on any surer ground than the baptism of bells, the sacrifice
of the mass, or the five spurious sacraments? If it be a New
Testament institution, it must possess New Testament authority. Where
is that authority?

Can it be possible, however, that the shrewd English really differ from
us in our estimate? We think we have good grounds for holding they
do not. On a late occasion we enjoyed the pleasure of visiting not only
York Cathedral, but Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's, and saw quite
enough to make even the least mistrustful suspect that the professed
Episcopalian belief in the sacredness of ecclesiastical edifices is but
sheer make-belief after all. The 'English Gentleman' refers to the
example of our Saviour in thrusting forth the money-changers from the
temple, as a sort of proof that ecclesiastical edifices are holy;
and we show that it merely proves the temple to have been holy. The
passage has, however, a direct bearing on a somewhat different point:
it constitutes a test by which to try the reality of this ostensible
belief of English Episcopalians in the sacredness of their churches
and cathedrals. If the English, especially English Churchmen, act
with regard to their ecclesiastical buildings in the way our Saviour
acted with regard to the temple, then it is but fair to hold that their
belief in their sacredness is real. But if, on the contrary, we find
them acting, not as our Saviour acted, but as the money-changers or
the cattle-sellers acted, then is it equally fair to conclude that
their belief in their sacredness is not a real belief, but a piece of
mere pretence. In the north transept of York Minster there may be seen a
table like a tomb of black Purbec marble, supported by an iron
trellis, and bearing atop the effigy of a wasted corpse wrapped in a
winding-sheet. 'This monument,' says a little work descriptive of
the edifice, 'was erected to the memory of John Haxby, formerly
treasurer to the church, who died in 1424; and in compliance with
stipulations in some of the ancient church deeds and settlements,
occasional payments of money are made on this tomb to the present
day.' Here, at least, is one money-changing table introduced into
the consecrated area, and this not irregularly or surreptitiously, like
the money-changing tables which of old profaned the temple, but through
the deliberately formed stipulations of ecclesiastical deeds and
settlements. The state of things in St. Paul's and Westminster,
however, throws the money-table of York Minster far into the shade.
The holinesses of St. Paul's we found converted into a twopenny, and
those of Westminster into a sixpenny show. For the small sum of
twopence one may be admitted, at an English provincial fair, to see the
old puppet exhibition of Punch and Judy, and of Solomon in all his
glory; and for the small sum of twopence were we admitted, in like
manner, to see St. Paul's, to see choir, communion-table, and grand
altar, and everything else of peculiar sacredness within the edifice.
The holinesses of Westminster cost thrice as much, but were a good
bargain notwithstanding. Would English Churchmen permit, far less
originate and insist in doggedly maintaining, so palpable a
profanation, did they really believe their cathedrals to be holy? The
debased Jewish priesthood of the times of our Saviour suffered the
money-changers to traffic unchallenged within the temple; but they
did not convert the temple itself into a twopenny show: they did not
make halfpence by exhibiting the table of shew-bread, the altar of
incense, and the golden candlestick, nor lift up corners of the veil
at the rate of a penny a peep. It is worse than nonsense to hold that a
belief in the sacredness of ecclesiastical buildings can co-exist with
clerical practices of the kind we describe: the thing is a too palpable
improbability; the text quoted by the Englishman is conclusive on
the point. Would any man in his senses now hold that the old Jewish
priests really believed their temple to be holy, had they done, what
they had decency enough not to do--converted it into a raree-show? And
are we not justified in applying to English Churchmen the rule which
would be at once applied to Jewish priests? The Presbyterians of
Scotland do not deem their ecclesiastical edifices holy, but there
are certain natural associations that throw a degree of solemnity
over places in which men assemble to worship God; and in order that
these may not be outraged, they never convert their churches into
twopenny show-boxes. Practically, at least, the Scotch respect for
decency goes a vast deal further than the English regard for what they
profess, very insincerely it would seem, to hold sacred.

We have said there is quite as little New Testament authority for
consecrating a place of worship as for baptizing a bell; and if in
the wrong, can of course be easily set right. If the authority
exists, it can be no difficult matter to produce it. We would fain
ask the reader to remark the striking difference which obtains
between the Mosaic and the New Testament dispensations in all that
regards the materialisms of their respective places of worship. We
find in the Pentateuch chapter after chapter occupied with the
mechanism of the tabernacle. The pattern given in the mount is as
minutely described as any portion of the ceremonial law, and for
exactly the same reason: the one as certainly as the other was 'a
figure of things to come.' How exceedingly minute, too, the
description of the temple! How very particular the narrative of its
dedication! The prayer of Solomon, Heaven-inspired for the occasion,
forms an impressive chapter in the sacred record, that addresses
itself to all time. But when the old state of things had passed
away,--when the material was relinquished for the spiritual, the
shadow for the substance, the type for the antitype,--we hear no
more of places of worship to which an intrinsic holiness attached,
or of imposing rites of dedication. Not in edifices deemed sacred was
the gospel promulgated, so long as the gospel remained pure, but in
'hired houses' and 'upper rooms,' or 'river-sides, where prayer was
wont to be made,' in chambers on the 'third loft,' often in the
streets, often in the market-place, in the fields and by solitary
waysides, on shipboard and by the sea-shore, 'in the midst of Mars
Hill' at Athens, and, when persecution began to darken, amid the deep
gloom of the sepulchral caverns of Rome. The time had evidently
come, referred to by the Saviour, when neither in the temple at
Jerusalem, nor on the mountain deemed sacred by the Samaritans, was
the Father to be worshipped; but all over the world, 'in spirit and
in truth.' Until Christianity had become corrupt, we do not hear
even of ornate churches, far less of Christian altars, of an order of
Christian priests, of the will-worship of consecration, or of the
presumed holiness of insensate matter,--all unauthorized additions of
man's making to a religion fast sinking at the time under a load of
human inventions,--additions which were in no degree the more
sacred, because filched, amid the darkness of superstition and error,
from the abrogated Mosaic dispensation. The following is, we
believe, the first notice of _fine_ Christian churches which occurs
in history;--we quote from the ecclesiastical work of Dr. Welsh,
and deem the passage a significant one:--'From the beginning of the
reign of Gallienus till the nineteenth year of Diocletian,' says the
historian, 'the external tranquillity of the Church suffered no
general interruption. The Christians, with partial exceptions, were
allowed the free exercise of their religion. Under Diocletian open
profession of the new faith was made even in the imperial household;
nor did it prove a barrier to the highest honours and employments.
In this state of affairs the condition of the Church seemed in the
highest degree prosperous. Converts were multiplied throughout all
the provinces of the empire; and the ancient churches proving
insufficient for the accommodation of the increasing multitudes of
worshippers, _splendid edifices were erected in every city_, which
were filled with crowded congregations. But with this outward
appearance of success, the purity of faith and worship became
gradually corrupted; and, still more, the vital spirit of religion
suffered a melancholy decline. Pride and ambition, emulation and
strifes, hypocrisy and formality among the clergy, and superstitions
and factions among the people, brought reproach on the Christian
cause. In these circumstances the judgments of the Lord were
manifested, and the Church was visited with the severest persecution
to which it ever yet had been subjected.'

There are few more valuable chapters in Locke than the one in which he
traces some of the gravest errors that infest human life to a false
association of ideas. But of all his illustrations, employed to
exhibit in the true light this copious source of error, there is not
one half so striking as that furnished by the false association which
connects the holiness that can alone attach to the living and the
immortal, with earth, mortar, and stone, pieces of mouldering serge,
and bits of rotten wood. Nearly one half of the errors with which
Popery has darkened and overlaid the religion of the Cross, have
originated in this particular species of false association. The
superstition of pilgrimages, with all its long catalogue of crime and
suffering, inclusive of bloody wars, protracted for ages,---

            'When men strayed far to seek
    In Golgotha Him dead who lives in heaven,'--

the idolatry of relics, so strangely revived on the Continent in our
own times,--the allegorical will-worship embodied in stone and lime,
which Puseyism is at present so busy in introducing into the Church of
England, and which renders every ecclesiastical building a sort of
apocryphal temple, full, like the apocryphal books, of all manner of
error and nonsense,--a thousand other absurdities and heterodoxies
besides,--have all originated in this cause. True, such association is
most natural to man, and, when of a purely secular character,
harmless; nay, there are cases in which it may be even laudably
indulged. 'When I find Tully confessing of himself,' says Johnson,
'that he could not forbear at Athens to visit the walks and houses
which the old philosophers had frequented or inhabited, and recollect
the reverence which every nation, civil and barbarous, has paid to the
ground where merit has been buried, I am afraid to declare against the
general voice of mankind, and am inclined to believe that this regard
which we involuntarily pay to the meanest relique of a man great and
illustrious, is intended as an incitement to labour, and an
encouragement to expect the same renown if it be sought by the same
virtues.' We find nearly the same sentiment eloquently expounded in
the Doctor's famous passage on Iona. But there exists a grand
distinction between natural feelings proper in their own place, and
natural feelings permitted to enter the religious field, and vitiate
the integrity of revelation. It is from the natural alone in such
cases that danger is to be apprehended; seeing that what is not
according to the mental constitution of man, is of necessity at once
unproductive and shortlived. Let due weight be given to the
associative feeling, in its proper sphere,--let it dispose us to
invest with a quiet decency our places of worship,--let us, at all
events, not convert them into secular counting-rooms or twopenny
show-boxes; but let us also remember that natural association is not
divine truth--that there attaches no holiness to slated roofs or stone
walls--that under the New Testament dispensation men do not worship in
temples, which, like the altar of old, sanctified the gift, but in
mere places of shelter, that confer no sacredness on their services;
and that the 'hour has come, and now is, when they that worship the
Father must worship Him in spirit and in truth.'

_April 15, 1846._


 {1} See _First Impressions of England and its People_, ch.


Our last conveyed to our readers the mournful intelligence of the
illness and death of the Rev. Alexander Stewart of Cromarty,--a man
less known, perhaps, than any other of nearly equal calibre, or of a
resembling exquisitiveness of mental faculty, which his country has
ever produced, but whose sudden removal has, we find, created an
impression far beyond the circle of even his occasional hearers, that
the spirit which has passed away was one of the high cast which nature
rarely produces, and that the consequent blank created in the existing
phalanx of intellect is one which cannot be filled up. Comparatively
little as the deceased was known beyond his own immediate walk of duty
or circle of acquaintanceship, it is yet felt by thousands, of whom
the greater part knew of him merely at second-hand by the abiding
impression which he had left on the minds of the others, that,
according to the poet,

    'A mighty spirit is eclipsed; a power
     Hath passed from day to darkness, to whose hour
     Of light no likeness is bequeathed--no name.'

The subject is one with which we can scarce trust ourselves. There are
no writings to which we can appeal, for Mr. Stewart has left none, or
at least none suited to convey an adequate impression of his powers;
and yet of nothing are we more thoroughly convinced, than that the
originality and vigour of his thinking, and the singular vividness
and force of his illustrations, added to a command of the principles
of analogical reasoning, which even a Butler might have envied,
entitled him to rank with the ablest and most extraordinary men of the
age. Coleridge was not more thoroughly original, nor could he impart
to his pictures more vividness of colouring, or more decided strength
of outline. In glancing over our limited stock of idea, to note how we
have come by it, we find that to two Scotchmen of the present century
we stand more largely indebted than to any of their contemporaries,
either at home or abroad. More of their thinking has got into our mind
than that of any of the others; and their images and illustrations
recur to us more frequently. And one of these is Thomas Chalmers; the
other, Alexander Stewart.

There is an order of intellect decidedly original in its cast, and of
considerable power, to whom notwithstanding originality is dangerous.
Goldsmith, when he first entered on his literary career, found that
all the good things on the side of truth had already been said; and
that _his_ good things, if he really desired to produce any, would
require all to be said on the side of paradox and error. 'When I was a
young man,' he states, in a passage which Johnson censured him for
afterwards expunging, 'being anxious to distinguish myself, I was
perpetually starting new propositions. But I soon gave this over, for
I found that generally what was new was false.' Poor Edward Irving
formed a melancholy illustration of this species of originality. His
stock of striking things on the side of truth was soon expended;
notoriety had meanwhile become as essential to his comfort as ardent
spirits to that of the dram-drinker, or his pernicious drug to that of
the inveterate opium-eater; and so, to procure the supply of the
unwholesome pabulum, without which he could not continue to exist, he
launched into a perilous ocean of heterodoxy and extravagance, and
made shipwreck of his faith. His originality formed but the crooked
wanderings of a journeyer who had forsaken the right way, and lost
himself in the mazes of a doleful wilderness. Not such the originality
of the higher order of minds; not such, for instance, the originality
of a Newton, of whom it has been well said by a distinguished French
critic, that 'what province of thought soever he undertook, he was
sure to change the ideas and opinions received by the rest of men.'
One of the most striking characteristics of Mr. Stewart's originality
was the solidity of the truths which it always evolved. His was not
the ability of opening up new vistas in which all was unfamiliar,
simply because the direction in which they led was one in which men's
thought had no occasion to travel, and no business to perform. It was,
on the contrary, the greatly higher ability of enlarging, widening,
and lengthening the avenues long before opened upon important truths,
and, in consequence, enabling men to see new and unwonted objects in
old, familiar directions. That in which he excelled all men we ever
knew, was the analogical faculty--the power of detecting and
demonstrating occult resemblances. He could read off as if by
intuition--not by snatches and fragments, but as a consecutive
whole--that older revelation of type and symbol which God first gave
to man; and when privileged to listen to him, we have recognised, in
the evident integrity of the reading, and the profound and consistent
wisdom of what the record conveyed, a demonstration of the divinity of
its origin, not less powerful and convincing than that to be found in
any department of the Christian evidences yet opened up. Compared with
even the higher names in this department, we have felt under his
ministry as if, when admitted to the company of some party of modern
_savans_ employed in deciphering a hieroglyphic-covered obelisk of the
desert, and here successful in discovering the meaning of an insulated
sign, and there of a detached symbol, we had been suddenly joined by
some sage of the olden time, to whom the mysterious inscription was
but a piece of common language written in a familiar alphabet, and who
could read off fluently and as a whole what the others could but
darkly and painfully guess at in detached and broken parts.

To this singular power of tracing analogies there was added in Mr.
Stewart an ability of originating the most vivid illustrations. In
some instances a single stroke produced a figure that swept across
the subject-matter of his discourse like the image of a lantern on a
wall; in others, he dwelt upon the picture produced, finishing it
with stroke after stroke, until it filled the whole imagination,
and sank deep into the memory. We remember hearing him preach on one
occasion on the return of the Jews, as a people, to Him whom they
had rejected, and the effect which their sudden conversion could not
fail to have on the unbelieving and Gentile world. Suddenly his
language, from its high level of eloquent simplicity, became at
once that of metaphor: 'When _Joseph_,' he said, 'shall reveal
himself to _his brethren_, the _whole house of Pharaoh_ shall _hear
the weeping_.' Could there be an allusion of more classical beauty,
or more finely charged with typical truth? And yet such was one of
the common and briefer exercises of the illustrative faculty in
this gifted man. On another occasion we heard him dwell on that vast
profundity characteristic of the scriptural representations of God,
which ever deepens and broadens the longer and the more thoroughly
it is explored, until at length the student--struck at first by
its expansiveness, but conceiving of it as if it were a mere
_measured_ expansiveness--finds that it partakes of the unlimited
infinity of the divine nature itself. Naturally and simply, as if
growing out of the subject, like a green berry-covered misletoe on the
mossy trunk of a reverend oak, there sprang up one of his more
lengthened illustrations. A child bred up in the interior of the
country has been brought for the first time to the sea-shore, and
carried out to the middle of one of the noble friths that indent so
deeply our line of coast; and on his return he informs his father,
with all a child's eagerness, of the wonderful expansiveness of the
_ocean_ which he has seen. He went out, he tells, far amid the
great waves and the rushing tides, till at length the huge hills
seemed diminished into mere hummocks, and the wide land itself
appeared along the waters but as a slim strip of blue. And then
when in mid-sea the sailors heaved the lead; and it went down, and
down, and down, and the long line slipped swiftly away over the
boat-edge coil after coil, till, ere the plummet rested on the ouse
below, all was well-nigh expended. And was it not the _great_ sea,
asks the boy, that was so vastly broad, and so profoundly deep?
Ah! my child, exclaims the father, you have not yet seen aught of its
greatness,--you have sailed over merely one of its little arms. Had
it been out into the wide ocean that the seamen had carried you, you
would have _seen_ no shore, and you would have _found_ no bottom. In
one rare quality of the orator, Mr. Stewart stood alone among his
contemporaries. Pope refers, in one of his satires, to a strange
power of creating love and admiration by just 'touching the brink
of all we hate;' and Burke, in some of his nobler passages,
happily exemplifies the thing. He intensified the effect of his
burning eloquence by the employment of figures so homely, nay,
almost so repulsive in themselves, that a man of lower powers who
ventured their use would find them efficient merely in lowering his
subject and ruining his cause. We may refer, in illustration, to
Burke's celebrated figure of the disembowelled bird, which occurs in
his indignant denial that the character of the revolutionary
French in aught resembled that of the English. 'We have not,' he
says, 'been _drawn_ and _trussed_, in order that we may be filled,
_like stuffed birds in a museum_, with _chaff and rags_, and _paltry
blurred shreds of paper_ about the rights of man.' Into this
perilous but singularly effective department, closed against even
superior men, Mr. Stewart could enter safely and at will. We heard
him, scarce a twelvemonth since, deliver a discourse of singular
power, on the sin-offering of the Jewish economy, as minutely
particularized by the divine penman in Leviticus. He described the
slaughtered animal--foul with dust and blood--its throat gashed
across--its entrails laid open--and steaming in its impurity to
the sun, as it awaited the consuming fire, amid the uncleanness of
ashes outside the camp,--a vile and horrid thing, which no one
could see without experiencing emotions of disgust, nor touch
without contracting defilement. The picture appeared too painfully
vivid, its introduction too little in accordance with the rules of
a just taste. It seemed a thing to be covered up, not exhibited.
But the master in this difficult walk well knew what he was doing.
'And that,' he said, as if pointing to the strongly-coloured picture
he had just completed, 'and that is SIN.' By one stroke the
intended effect was produced, and the rising disgust and horror
transferred from the revolting material image to the great moral

We had fondly hoped that for a man so singularly gifted, and who had
but reached the ripe maturity of middle life, there remained important
work yet to do. He seemed peculiarly fitted, if but placed in a
commanding sphere, for ministering to some of the intellectual wants,
and for withstanding with singular efficiency some of the more
perilous tendencies, of the religious world in the present day. That
Athenian thirst for the new so generally abroad, and which many have
so unhappily satisfied with the unwholesome and the pernicious, he
could satisfy with provision at once sound and novel. And no man of
the age had more thoroughly studied the prevailing theological errors
of the time in their first insidious approaches, or could more
skilfully indicate the exact point at which they diverge from the
truth. But his work on earth is for ever over; and the sense of
bereavement is deepened by the reflection that, save in the memory of
a few, he has left behind him no adequate impress of the powers of his
understanding or of the fineness of his genius. It is strange how much
the lack of a single ingredient in a man's moral constitution--and
that, too, an ingredient in itself of a low and vulgar cast--may
affect one's whole destiny. It was the grand defect of this gifted
man, that that sentiment of self-esteem, which seems in many instances
so absurd and ridiculous a thing, and which some, in their little
wisdom, would so fain strike out from among the components of human
character, was almost wholly awanting. As the minister of an attached
provincial congregation, a sense of duty led him to study much and
deeply; and he poured forth _viva voce_ his full-volumed and
many-sparkling tide of eloquent idea as freely and richly as the
nightingale, unconscious of a listener, pours forth her melody in the
shade. But he could not be made to understand or believe, that what so
impressed and delighted the privileged few who surrounded him was
equally suited to impress and delight the many outside, or that he was
fitted to speak through the press in tones which would compel the
attention not merely of the religious, but also of the literary world.
And so his exquisitely-toned thinking perished like the music of the
bygone years, has died with himself, or, we should perhaps rather say,
has gone with him to that better land, where all those fruits of
intellect that the human spirits of greatest calibre have in this
world produced, must form but the comparatively meagre beginnings of
infinite, never-ending acquirement.

Mr. Stewart was one of the eminently excellent and loveable, and his
entire character of the most transparent, childlike simplicity. The
great realities of eternity were never far distant from his thoughts.
Endowed with powers of humour at least equal to his other faculties,
and a sense of the ludicrous singularly nice, he has often reminded
us in his genial moments, when indulging most freely, of a happy child
at play in the presence of its father. Never was there an equal amount
of wit more harmlessly indulged, or from which one could pass more
directly or with less distraction to the contemplation of the matters
which pertain to eternity. And no one could be long in his company
without having his thoughts turned towards that unseen world to which
he has now passed, or without receiving emphatic testimony regarding
that Divine Person who is the wisdom and the power of God.

We have seen it stated that Mr. Stewart 'was slow to join the
non-intrusion party, and to acquiesce in the necessity of the
secession.' On this point we are qualified to speak. No one enjoyed
more of his society during the first beginnings of the controversy, or
was more largely honoured with his confidence, than the writer of
these remarks; and the one point of difference between Mr. Stewart and
him in their discussions in those days was, that while the writer was
sanguine enough to anticipate a successful termination to the Church's
struggle, _his_ soberer anticipations were of a character which the
Disruption in 1843 entirely verified. But with the actual result full
in view, he was yet the first man in his parish--we believe, in his
presbytery also--to take his stand, modestly and unassumingly as
became his character, but with a firmness which never once swerved or
wavered. Nay, long ere the struggle began, founding on data with which
we pretend not to be acquainted, he declared his conviction to not a
few of his parishioners, that of the Establishment, as then
constituted, he was to be the last minister in that parish. We know
nothing, we repeat, of the data on which he founded; but he himself
held that the conclusion was fairly deducible from those sacred
oracles which no man more profoundly studied or more thoroughly knew.
Alas! what can it betoken our Church, that we should thus see such
men, at once its strength and its ornament, so fast falling around us,
like commanding officers picked down at the beginning of a battle, and
that so few of resembling character, and none of at least equal power,
should be rising to occupy the places made desolate by their fall!

_November 13, 1847._


There are some two or three slight advantages which real merit has,
that fictitious merit has not; among the rest, an especial advantage,
which, we think, should recommend it to at least the quieter members of
society--the advantage of being unobtrusive and modest. It presses
itself much less on public notice than its vagabond antagonist, and
makes much less noise; it walks, for a time at least, as if
slippered in felt, and leaves the lieges quite at freedom to take
notice of it or no, as they may feel inclined. It is content, in its
infancy, to thrive in silence. It does not squall in the nursery, to
the disturbance of the whole house, like 'the major roaring for his
porridge.' What, for instance, could be quieter or more modest, in
its first stages, than the invention of James Watt? what more
obtrusive or noisy, on the contrary, than the invention of Mr. Henson?
And we have illustrations of the same truth in our Scottish metropolis
at the present moment, that seem in no degree less striking.
Phreno-mesmerism and the calotype have been introduced to the Edinburgh
public about much the same time; but how very differently have they
fared hitherto! A real invention, which bids fair to produce some of the
greatest revolutions in the fine arts of which they have ever been the
subject, has as yet attracted comparatively little notice; an invention
which serves but to demonstrate that the present age, with all its
boasted enlightenment, may yet not be very unfitted for the reception of
superstitions the most irrational and gross, is largely occupying
the attention of the community, and filling column after column in
our public prints. We shall venture to take up the quieter invention of
the two as the genuine one,--as the invention which will occupy most
space a century hence,--and direct the attention of our readers to
some of the more striking phenomena which it illustrates, and some of
the purposes which it may be yet made to subserve. There are few
lovers of art who have looked on the figures or landscapes of a
camera obscura without forming the wish that, among the hidden
secrets of matter, some means might be discovered for fixing and
rendering them permanent. If nature could be made her own limner, if
by some magic art the reflection could be fixed upon the mirror, could
the picture be other than true? But the wish must have seemed an idle
one,--a wish of nearly the same cast as those which all remember to
have formed at one happy period of life, in connection with the famous
cap and purse of the fairy tale. Could aught seem less probable than
that the forms of the external world should be made to convert the
pencils of light which they emit into real _bona fide_ pencils, and
commence taking their own likenesses? Improbable as the thing may have
seemed, however, there were powers in nature of potency enough to
effect it, and the newly discovered art of the photographer is
simply the art of employing these. The figures and landscapes of the
camera obscura can now be fixed and rendered permanent,--not yet in
all their various shades of colour, but in a style scarce less
striking, and to which the limner, as if by anticipation, has already
had recourse. The connoisseur unacquainted with the results of the
recent discovery, would decide, if shown a set of photographic
impressions, that he had before him the carefully finished drawings
in sepia of some great master. The stronger lights, as in sketches done
in this colour, present merely the white ground of the paper; a tinge
of soft warm brown indicates the lights of lower tone; a deeper and
still deeper tinge succeeds, shading by scarce perceptible degrees
through all the various gradations, until the darker shades concentrate
into an opaque and dingy umber, that almost rivals black in its
intensity. We have at the present moment before us--and very wonderful
things they certainly are--drawings on which a human pencil was never
employed. They are strangely suggestive of the capabilities of the
art. Here, for instance, is a scene in George Street,--part of the
pavement; and a line of buildings, from the stately erection at the
corner of Hanover Street, with its proud Corinthian columns and rich
cornice, to Melville's Monument and the houses which form the eastern
side of St. Andrew Square. St. Andrew's Church rises in the middle
distance. The drawing is truth itself; but there are cases in which
mere truth might be no great merit: were the truth restricted here to
the proportions of the architecture, there could be nothing gained by
surveying the transcript, that could not be gained by surveying the
originals. In this little brown drawing, however, the truth is truth
according to the rules of lineal perspective, unerringly deduced; and
from a set of similar drawings, this art of perspective, so important
to the artist--which has been so variously taught, and in which so many
masters have failed--could be more surely acquired than by any other
means. Of all the many treatises yet written on the subject, one of the
best was produced by the celebrated Ferguson the astronomer, the sole
fruit derived to the fine arts by his twenty years' application to
painting. There are, however, some of his rules arbitrary in their
application, and the propriety of which he has not even attempted to
demonstrate. Here, for the first time, on this square of paper, have
we the data on which perspective may be rendered a certain science. We
have but to apply our compasses and rules in order to discover the
proportions in which, according to their distances, objects diminish.
Mark these columns, for instance. One line prolonged in the line of
their architrave, and another line prolonged in the line of their
bases, bisect one another in the point of sight fixed in the distant
horizon; and in this one important point we find all the other
parallel lines of the building converging. The fact, though unknown to
the ancients, has been long familiar to the artists of comparatively
modern times,--so familiar, indeed, that it forms one of the first
lessons of the drawing-master. The rule is a fixed one; but there is
another rule equally important, not yet fixed,--that rule of proportion
by which to determine the breadth which a certain extent of frontage
between these converging lines should occupy. The principle on which
the horizontal lines converge is already known, but the principle on
which the vertical lines cut these at certain determinate distances
is not yet known. It is easy taking the _latitudes_ of the art, if we
may so speak, but its _longitudes_ are still to discover. At length,
however, have we the lines of discovery indicated: in the architectural
drawings of the calotype the perspective is that of nature itself;
and to arrive at just conclusions, we have but to measure and compare,
and ascertain proportions. One result of the discovery of the
calotype will be, we doubt not, the production of completer treatises
on perspective than have yet been given to the world. Another very
curious result will be, in all probability, a new mode of design for
the purposes of the engraver, especially for all the illustrations of
books. For a large class of works the labours of the artist bid fair
to be restricted to the composition of _tableaux vivants_, which it will
be the part of the photographer to fix, and then transfer to the
engraver. To persons of artistical skill at a distance, the
suggestion may appear somewhat wild. Such of our readers, however, as
have seen the joint productions of Mr. Hill and Mr. Adamson in this
department, will, we are convinced, not deem it wild in the least.
Compared with the mediocre prints of nine-tenths of the illustrated
works now issuing from the press, these productions serve admirably
to show how immense the distance between nature and her less skilful
imitators. There is a truth, breadth, and power about them which we
find in only the highest walks of art, and not often even in these. We
have placed a head of Dr. Chalmers taken in this way beside one of the
most powerful prints of him yet given to the public, and find from
the contrast that the latter, with all its power, is but a mere
approximation. There is a _skinniness_ about the lips which is not true
to nature; the chin is not brought strongly enough out; the shade
beneath the under lip is too broad and too flat; the nose droops, and
lacks the firm-set appearance so characteristic of the original; and
while the breadth of the forehead is exaggerated, there is scarce
justice done to its height. We decide at once in favour of the
calotype--it is truth itself; and yet, while the design of the print--a
mere approximation as it is--must have cost a man of genius much
pains and study, the drawing in brown beside it was but the work of
a few seconds: the eye of an accomplished artist determined the attitude
of the original, and the light reflected from the form and features
accomplished the rest. Were that sketch in brown to be sent to a skilful
engraver, he would render it the groundwork of by far the most
faithful print which the public has yet seen. And how interesting to
have bound up with the writings of this distinguished divine, not a
mere print in which there might be deviations from the truth, but the
calotype drawing itself! In some future book sale, copies of the
_Astronomical Discourses_ with calotype heads of the author prefixed,
may be found to bear very high prices indeed. An autograph of
Shakespeare has been sold of late for considerably more than an hundred
guineas. What price would some early edition of his works bear, with
his likeness in calotype fronting the title? Corporations and colleges,
nay, courts and governments, would outbid one another in the purchase.
Or what would we not give to be permitted to look even on a copy of the
_Paradise Lost_ with a calotype portrait of the poet in front--serenely
placid in blindness and adversity, solacing himself, with upturned
though sightless eyes, amid the sublime visions of the ideal world?
How deep the interest which would attach to a copy of Clarendon's
_History of the Civil War_, with calotypes of all the more remarkable
personages who figured in that very remarkable time--Charles, Cromwell,
Laud, Henderson, Hampden, Strafford, Falkland, and Selden,--and with
these the Wallers and Miltons and Cowleys, their contemporaries and
coadjutors! The history of the Reform Bill could still be illustrated
after this manner; so also could the history of Roman Catholic
Emancipation in Ireland, and the history of our Church Question in
Scotland. Even in this department--the department of historic
illustrations--we anticipate much and interesting employment for the

We have two well-marked drawings before us, in which we recognise
the capabilities of the art for producing pictures of composition.
They are _tableaux vivants_ transferred by the calotype. In the
one[Footnote: See Frontispiece] a bonneted mechanic rests over his
mallet on a tombstone--his one arm bared above his elbow; the other
wrapped up in the well-indicated shirt folds, and resting on a piece
of grotesque sculpture. There is a powerful sun; the somewhat
rigid folds in the dress of coarse stuff are well marked; one half
the face is in deep shade, the other in strong light; the churchyard
wall throws a broad shadow behind, while in the foreground there is a
gracefully chequered breadth of intermingled dark and light in the
form of a mass of rank grass and foliage. Had an old thin man of
striking figure and features been selected, and some study-worn
scholar introduced in front of him, the result would have been a
design ready for the engraver when employed in illustrating the
_Old Mortality_ of Sir Walter. The other drawing presents a
_tableau vivant_ on a larger scale, and of a much deeper interest.
It forms one of the groups taken under the eye of Mr. Hill, as
materials for the composition of his historic picture. In the
centre Dr. Chalmers sits on the Moderator's chair, and there are
grouped round him, as on the platform, some eighteen or twenty of the
better known members of the Church, clerical and lay. Nothing can
be more admirable than the truthfulness and ease of the figures.
Wilkie, in his representations of a crowd, excelled in introducing
heads, and hands, and faces, and parts of faces into the interstices
behind,--one of the greatest difficulties with which the artist
can grapple. Here, however, is the difficulty surmounted--surmounted,
too, as if to bear testimony to the genius of the departed--in the
style of Wilkie. We may add further, that the great massiveness of the
head of Chalmers, compared with the many fine heads around him, is
admirably brought out in this drawing.

In glancing over these photographic sketches, one cannot avoid being
struck by the silent but impressive eulogium which nature pronounces,
through their agency, on the works of the more eminent masters. There
is much in seeing nature truthfully, and in registering what are in
reality her prominent markings. Artists of a lower order are
continually falling into mere mannerisms--peculiarities of style that
belong not to nature, but to themselves, just because, contented with
acquirement, they cease seeing nature. In order to avoid these
mannerisms, there is an eye of fresh observation required--that ability
of continuous attention to surrounding phenomena which only superior
men possess; and doubtless to this eye of fresh observation, this
ability of continuous attention, the masters owed much of their
truth and their power. How very truthfully and perseveringly some of
them saw, is well illustrated by these photographic drawings. Here,
for instance, is a portrait exactly after the manner of Raeburn.
There is the same broad freedom of touch; no nice miniature
stipplings, as if laid in by the point of a needle--no sharp-edged
strokes: all is solid, massy, broad; more distinct at a distance than
when viewed near at hand. The arrangement of the lights and shadows
seems rather the result of a happy haste, in which half the effect
was produced by design, half by accident, than of great labour and
care; and yet how exquisitely true the general aspect! Every stroke
tells, and serves, as in the portraits of Raeburn, to do more than
relieve the features: it serves also to indicate the prevailing mood
and predominant power to the mind. And here is another portrait,
quiet, deeply-toned, gentlemanly,--a transcript apparently of one of
the more characteristic portraits of Sir Thomas Lawrence. Perhaps,
however, of all our British artists, the artist whose published works
most nearly resemble a set of these drawings is Sir Joshua Reynolds.
We have a folio volume of engravings from his pictures before us; and
when, placing side by side with the prints the sketches in brown, we
remark the striking similarity of style that prevails between them,
we feel more strongly than at perhaps any former period, that the friend
of Johnson and of Burke must have been a consummate master of his art.
The engraver, however, cannot have done full justice to the originals.
There is a want of depth and prominence which the near neighbourhood of
the photographic drawings renders very apparent: the shades in the
subordinate parts of the picture are more careless and much less
true; nor have the lights the same vivid and sunshiny effect. There is
one particular kind of resemblance between the two which strikes as
remarkable, because of a kind which could scarce be anticipated. In
the volume of prints there are three several likenesses of the artist
himself, all very admirable as pieces of art, and all, no doubt,
sufficiently like, but yet all dissimilar in some points from each
other. And this dissimilarity in the degree which it obtains, one
might naturally deem a defect--the result of some slight inaccuracy in
the drawing. Should not portraits of the same individual, if all
perfect likenesses of him, be all perfectly like one another? No; not
at all. A man at one moment of time, and seen from one particular point
of view, may be very unlike himself when seen at another moment of
time, and from another point of view. We have at present before us the
photographic likenesses of four several individuals--three likenesses
of each--and no two in any of the four sets are quite alike. They
differ in expression, according to the mood which prevailed in the
mind of the original at the moment in which they were imprinted upon
the paper. In some respects the physiognomy seems different; and the
features appear more or less massy in the degree in which the lights and
shadows were more or less strong, or in which the particular angle they
were taken in brought them out in higher or lower relief.

We shall venture just one remark more on these very interesting
drawings. The subject is so suggestive of thought at the present
stage, that it would be no easy matter to exhaust it; and it will, we
have no doubt, be still more suggestive of thought by and by; but we
are encroaching on our limits, and must restrain ourselves, therefore,
to the indication of just one of the trains of thought which it has
served to originate. Many of our readers must be acquainted with Dr.
Thomas Brown's theory of attention,--'a state of mind,' says the
philosopher, 'which has been understood to imply the exercise of a
peculiar intellectual power, but which, in the case of attention to
objects of sense, appears to be nothing more than the co-existence of
desire with the perception of the object to which we are said to
attend.' He proceeds to instance how, in a landscape in which the
incurious gaze may _see_ many objects without _looking_ at or knowing
them, a mere desire to know brings out into distinctness every object
in succession on which the desire fixes. 'Instantly, or almost
instantly,' continues the metaphysician, 'without our consciousness of
any new or peculiar state of mind intervening in the process, the
landscape becomes to our vision altogether different. Certain parts
only--those parts which we wished to know particularly--are seen by
us; the remaining parts seem almost to have vanished. It is as if
everything before had been but the doubtful colouring of enchantment,
which had disappeared, and left us the few prominent realities on
which we gaze; or rather as if some instant enchantment, obedient to
our wishes, had dissolved every reality beside, and brought closer to
our sight the few objects which we desired to see.' Now, in the
transcript of the larger _tableau vivant_ before us--that which
represents Dr. Chalmers seated among his friends on the Moderator's
chair--we find an exemplification sufficiently striking of the laws on
which this seemingly mysterious power depends. They are purely
structural laws, and relate not to the mind, but to the eye,--not to
the province of the metaphysician, but to that of the professor of
optics. The lens of the camera obscura transmits the figures to the
prepared paper, on quite the same principle on which in vision the
crystalline lens conveys them to the retina. In the centre of the
field in both cases there is much distinctness, while all around its
circumference the images are indistinct and dim. We have but to fix
the eye on some object directly in front of us, and then attempt,
without removing it, to ascertain the forms of objects at some
distance on both sides, in order to convince ourselves that the field
of distinct vision is a very limited field indeed. And in this
transcript of the larger _tableau vivant_ we find exactly the same
phenomena. The central figures come all within the distinct field. Not
so, however, the figures on both sides. They are dim and indistinct;
the shades dilute into the lights, and the outlines are obscure. How
striking a comment on the theory of Brown! We see his mysterious power
resolved in that drawing into a simple matter of light and shade,
arranged in accordance with certain optical laws. The clear central
space in which the figures are so distinct, corresponds to the central
space in the retina; it is the attention-point of the picture, if we
may so speak. In the eye this attention-point is brought to bear,
through a simple effort of the will, on the object to be examined; and
the rest of the process, so pleasingly, but at the same time so
darkly, described by the philosopher, is the work of the eye itself.


It has been remarked by Sir James Mackintosh, that there are four
great works, in four distinct departments of knowledge, which have
more visibly and extensively influenced opinion than any other
productions of the human intellect. The first of these is the
_Treatise on the Law of War and Peace_, by Grotius. It appeared about
two centuries ago; and from that period downwards, international law
became a solid fact, which all civilised countries have recognised,
and which even the French Convention, during the Reign of Terror,
dared, in its madness, to outrage but for a moment. The second is the
_Essay on the Human Understanding_, by Locke. It struck down, as with
the blow of a hatchet, the wretched mental philosophy of the dark
ages,--that philosophy which Puseyism, in its work of diffusing over
the present the barbarism and ignorance of the past, would so fain
revive and restore, and which has been ever engaged, as its proper
employment, in imparting plausibility to error and absurdity, and in
furnishing apology for crime. The third was the _Spirit of Laws_, by
Montesquieu. It placed legislation on the basis of philosophy; and
straightway law began to spring up among the nations out of a new
soil. The fourth and last great work--_An Inquiry into the Nature and
Causes of the Wealth of Nations_, by Adam Smith--was by far the most
influential of them all. 'It is,' says Sir James, 'perhaps the only
book which produced an immediate, general, and irrevocable change in
some of the most important parts of the legislation of all civilised
states. Touching those matters which may be numbered, and measured,
and weighed, it bore visible and palpable fruit. In a few years it
began to alter laws and treaties, and has made its way throughout the
convulsions of revolution and conquest to a due ascendant over the
minds of men, with far less than the average obstructions of prejudice
and clamour, which check the channels through which truth flows into

And yet, though many of the seeds which this great work served to
scatter sprung up thus rapidly, and produced luxuriant crops,
there were others, not less instinct with the vital principles, of
which the germination has been slow. The nurseryman expects, in sowing
beds of the stone-fruit-bearing trees, such as the plum or the
hawthorn, to see the plants spring up very irregularly. One seed
bursts the enveloping case, and gets up in three weeks; another
barely achieves the same work in three years. And it has been thus
with the harder-coated germens of the _Wealth of Nations_. It is
now exactly eighty years since the philosopher set himself to
elaborate the thinking of his great work in his mother's house in
Kirkcaldy, and exactly seventy years since he gave it to the world.
It appeared in 1776; and now, for the first time, in 1846, the
Queen's Speech, carefully concocted by a Conservative Ministry,
embodies as great practical truths its free-trade principles. The
shoot--a true dicotyledon--has fairly got its two vigorous lobes
above the surface: freedom of trade in all that the farmer rears,
and freedom of trade in all that the manufacturer produces; and there
cannot be a shadow of doubt that it will be by and by a very vigorous
tree. No Protectionist need calculate, from its rate of progress in
the past, on its rate of progress in the future. Nearly three
generations have come and gone since, to vary the figure, the
preparations for laying the train began; but now that the train
is fairly ready and fired, the explosion will not be a matter of
generations at all. Explosions come under an entirely different law
from the law of laying trains. It will happen with the rising of the
free-trade agitation as with the rising of water against a dam-head
stretched across a river. Days and weeks may pass, especially if
droughts have been protracted and the stream low, during which the
rising of the water proves to be a slow, silent, inefficient sort
of process, of half-inches and eighth-parts; but when the river gets
into flood,--when the vast accumulation begins to topple over the
dam-dyke,--when the dyke itself begins to swell, and bulge, and
crack, and to disgorge, at its ever-increasing flaws and openings,
streams of turbid water,--let no one presume to affirm that the
after-process is to be slow. In mayhap one minute more, in a few
minutes at most, stones, sticks, turf, the whole dam-dyke, in short,
but a dam-dyke no longer, will be roaring adown the stream,
wrapped up in the womb of an irresistible wave. Now there have been
palpable openings, during the last few months, in the Protectionist
dam-head. We pointed years since to the rising of the water, and
predicted that it would prevail at last. But the droughts were
protracted, and the river low. Good harvests and brisk trade went
hand in hand together; and the Protectionist dam-head--though feeble
currents and minute waves beat against it, and the accumulation
within rose by half-inches and eighth-parts--stood sure. But the river
is now high in flood--the waters are toppling over--the yielding
masonry has begun to bulge and crack. The Queen's Speech, when we
consider it as emanating from a Conservative Ministry, indicates a
tremendous flaw; the speech of Sir Robert Peel betrays an irreparable
bulge; the sudden conversions to free-trade principles of officials
and place-holders show a general outpouring at opening rents and
crannies: depend on it, Protectionists, your dam-dyke, patch or
prop it as you please, is on the eve of destruction; yet a very
little longer, and it will be hurtling down the stream.

For what purpose, do we say? Simply in the hope of awakening to a
sense of their true interest, ere it be too late, a class of the
Scottish people in which we feel deeply interested,--we mean the
tenant agriculturists of the kingdom. They have in this all-important
crisis a battle to fight; and if they do not fight and win it, they
will be irrevocably ruined by hundreds and thousands. The great
Protectionist battle--the battle in which they may make common cause
with their landlords if they will, against the League, and the
Free-Trade Whigs, and Sir Robert Peel, and Adam Smith, and the
Queen--is a battle in which to a certainty they will be beat. They
may protract the contest long enough to get so thoroughly wearied as
to be no longer fit for the other great battle which awaits them;
but they may depend on it as one of the surest things in all the
future, that they will have to record a disastrous issue. They
_must_ be defeated. We would fain ask them--for it is sad to see
men spending their strength to no end--to look fairly at the aspect
things are beginning to wear, and the ever-extending front which is
arraying against them. We would ask them first to peruse those
chapters in Adam Smith which in reality form the standing-ground of
their opponents,--chapters whose solid basis of economic philosophy
has made anti-corn-law agitation and anti-corn-law tracts and
speeches such formidable things. We would ask them next to look at
the progress of the League, at its half-million fund, its indomitable
energy and ever-growing influence. We would then ask them to look
at the recent conversions of Whig and Tory to free-trade principles,
at the resignation of Sir Robert Peel, and the proof the country
received in consequence, that in the present extremity there is no
other pilot prepared to take the helm; at the strangely marked Adam
Smith cast of the Queen's Speech; and at the telling facts of Sir
Robert's explanatory statement. We request them to take a cool
survey of all these things, and to cogitate for themselves the issue
which they so clearly foretell. It seems as certain that free-trade
principles are at last to be established in Britain, as that there
is a sun in the sky. Nor does there seem much wisdom in fighting a
battle that is inevitably to be lost. The battle which it is their
true interest to be preparing to fight, is one in which they must
occupy the ground, not of agriculturists, but simply of tenants: it is
a battle with the landlords, not with the free-traders.

We believe Dr. Chalmers is right in holding that, ultimately at least,
the repeal of the corn-laws will not greatly affect the condition of
our agriculturists. There is, however, a transition period from which
they have a good deal to dread. The removal of the protective duties
on meat and wool has not had the effect of lowering the prices of
either; but the fear of such an effect did for a time what the repeal
of the duties themselves failed to do, and bore with disastrous
consequences on the sheep and cattle market. And such a time may, we
are afraid, be anticipated on the abolition of the corn-laws. Nay, it
is probable that, even when the transition state shall be over, there
will be a general lowering of price to the average of that of the
Continent and America,--an average heightened by little more than the
amount of the true protective duties of the trade,--the expense of
carriage from the foreign farm to the British market. And woe to the
poor tenant, tied down by a long lease to a money-rent rated according
to the average value of grain under the protective duties, if the
defalcation is to fall on him! If he has to pay the landlord according
to a high average, and to be paid by the corn-factor according to a
low one, he is undone. And his real danger in the coming crisis
indicates his proper battle. It is not with his old protector Sir
Robert that he should be preparing to fight; it is, we repeat, with
his old ally the landholder. Nay, he will find, ultimately at least,
that he has no choice in the matter. With Sir Robert he _may_ fight if
it please him, and fight, as we have shown, to be beaten; but with the
landlord he _must_ fight, whether he first enter the lists with Sir
Robert or no. When his preliminary struggle shall have terminated
unsuccessfully, he shall then without heart, without organization,
without ally, have to enter on the inevitable struggle,--a struggle
for very existence. We of course refer to landlords as a class: there
are among them not a few individuals with whom the tenant will have no
struggle to maintain,--conscientious men, at once able and willing to
adjust their demands to the circumstances of the new state of things.
But their character as a class does not stand so high. Many of their
number are in straitened circumstances,--so sorely burdened with
annuities and mortgages, as to be somewhat in danger of being
altogether left, through the coming change, without an income; and it
is not according to the nature of things that the case of the tenant
should be very considerately dealt with by them. When a hapless crew
are famishing on the open sea, and the fierce cannibal comes to be
developed in the man, it is the weaker who are first devoured. Now we
would ill like to see any portion of our Scotch tenantry at the mercy
of wild, unreasoning destitution in the proprietor. We would ill like
to see him vested with the power to decide absolutely in his own case,
whether it was his tenant that was to be ruined, or he himself that
was to want an income, knowing well beforehand to which side the
balance would incline. Nor would we much like to see our tenantry at
the mercy of even an average class of proprietors, by no means in the
extreme circumstances of their poorer brethren, but who, with an
unimpeachable bond in their hands, that enabled them to say whether it
was they themselves or their tenant neighbours who were to be the
poorer in consequence of the induced change, would be but too apt, in
accordance with the selfish bent of man's common nature, to make a
somewhat Shylock-like use of it. Stout men who have fallen into
reduced circumstances, and stout paw-sucking bears in their winter
lodgings, become gradually thin by living on their own fat; and quite
right it is that gross men and corpulent bears _should_ live on their
own fat, just because the fat is their own. But we would not deem it
right that our proprietors should live on their farmers' fats: on the
contrary, we would hold it quite wrong, and a calamity to the country;
and such, at the present time, is the great danger to which the
tenantry of Scotland are exposed. Justice imperatively demands, that
if some such change is now to take place in the value of farms, as
that which took place on the regulation of the currency in the value
of money, the ruinous blunder of 1819 should not be repeated. It
demands that their actual rent be not greatly increased through the
retention of the merely nominal one; that the tenant, in short, be not
sacrificed to a term wholly unchanged in sound, but altogether altered
in value. And such, in reality, is the object for which the
farm-holding agriculturists of Scotland have now to contend. It is the
only quarrel which they can prosecute with a hope of success.

We referred, in a recent number, when remarking on the too palpable
unpopularity of the Whigs, to questions which, if animated by a
really honest regard for the liberties of the subject, they might
agitate, and grow strong in agitating, secure of finding a potent ally
in the moral sense of the country. One of these would involve the
emancipation of the tenantry of England, now sunk, through one of the
provisions of the Reform Bill, into a state of vassalage and
political subserviency without precedent since at least the days of
Henry VIII. It has been well remarked by Paley, that the direct
consequences of political innovations are often the least important;
and that it is from the silent and unobserved operation of causes set
at work for different purposes, that the greatest revolutions take
their rise. 'Thus,' he says, 'when Elizabeth and her immediate
successor applied themselves to the encouragement and regulation of
trade by many wise laws, they knew not that, together with wealth and
industry, they were diffusing a consciousness of strength and
independency which could not long endure, under the forms of a mixed
government, the dominion of arbitrary princes.' And again: 'When it was
debated whether the Mutiny Act--the law by which the army is governed
and maintained--should be temporal or perpetual, little else probably
occurred to the advocates of an annual bill, than the expediency of
retaining a control over the most dangerous prerogative of the
Crown--the direction and command of a standing army; whereas, in its
effect, this single reservation has altered the whole frame and quality
of the British constitution. For since, in consequence of the military
system which prevails in neighbouring and rival nations, as well as on
account of the internal exigencies of Government, a standing army
has become essential to the safety and administration of the empire, it
enables Parliament, by discontinuing this necessary provision, so to
enforce its resolutions upon any other subject, as to render the
king's dissent to a law which has received the approbation of both
Houses, too dangerous an experiment any longer to be advised.' And
thus the illustration of the principle runs on. We question, however,
whether there be any illustration among them more striking than that
indirect consequence of the Reform Bill on the tenantry of England to
which we refer. The provision which conferred a vote on the
tenant-at-will, abrogated leases, and made the tiller of the soil a
vassal. The farmer who precariously holds his farm from year to year
cannot, of course, be expected to sink so much capital in the soil, in
the hope of a distant and uncertain return, as the lessee certain of a
possession for a specified number of years; but some capital he must
sink in it. It is impossible, according to the modern system, or indeed
any system of husbandry, that all the capital committed to the earth
in winter and spring should be resumed in the following summer and
autumn. A considerable overplus must inevitably remain to be gathered
up in future seasons; and this overplus remainder, in the case of
the tenant-at-will, is virtually converted into a deposit, lodged in
the hands of the landlord, to secure the depositor's political
subserviency and vassalage. Let him but once manifest a will and a
mind of his own, and vote, in accordance with his convictions,
contrary to the will of the landlord, and straightway the deposit,
converted into a penalty, is forfeited for the offence. It is surely
not very great Radicalism to affirm that a state of things so
anomalous ought not to exist--that the English tenant should be a
freeman, not a serf--and that he ought not to be bound down by a
weighty penalty to have no political voice or conscience of his own.
The simple principle of 'No lease, no vote,' would set all right; and it
is a principle which so recommends itself to the moral sense as just,
that an honest Whiggism would gain, in agitating its recognition and
establishment, at once strength and popularity. But there are few
Scotch tenants in the circumstances of vassalage so general in
England. They are in circumstances in which they at least _may_ act
independently; and the time is fast coming in which they must either
make a wise, unbiassed use of their freedom, or be hopelessly
crushed for ever.

_January 28, 1846._


We trust we may now look back on by far the most disastrous passage
which occurs in the military history of Great Britain, as so
definitively concluded, that in the future we shall be unable to trace
it as still disadvantageously operative in its effects. A series of
decisive victories has neutralized, to a considerable extent, the
influence of the most fatal campaign in which a British army was ever
engaged. But this is all. One of our poets, in placing in a strong
light the extreme folly of war, describes 'most Christian kings' with
'honourable ruffians in their hire,' wasting the nations with fire and
sword, and then, when fatigued with murder and sated with blood,
'setting them down just where they were before.' It is quite
melancholy enough that our most sanguine expectations with regard to
the Affghan war should be unable to rise higher by a hair's-breadth
than the satiric conception of the poet. We can barely hope, after
squandering much treasure, after committing a great deal of crime,
after occasioning and enduring a vast amount of wretchedness, after a
whole country has been whitened with the bones of its inhabitants,
after a British army has perished miserably,--we can barely hope that
our later successes may have had so far the effect of effacing the
memory of our earliest disasters, that we shall be enabled to sit down
under their cover on the eastern bank of the Indus, 'just where we
were before.' And even this is much in the circumstances.

We have seen the British in India repeat the same kind of fatal
experiment which cost Napoleon his crown, and from which Charles XII.
dated his downfall; and repeat it, in the first instance at least,
with a result more disastrous than either the flight from Pultowa or
the retreat from Moscow. And though necessarily an expedition on a
similar scale, it seemed by no means improbable that its ultimate
consequences might bear even more disastrously on British power in the
East, than the results of the several expeditions into Russia, under
Charles and Napoleon, bore on the respective destinies of Sweden and
of France. That substratum of opinion in the minds of an hundred
millions of Asiatics, on which British authority in India finds its
main foundation, bade fair to be shivered into pieces by the shock.

There are passages in all our better histories that stand out in high
relief, if we may so speak, from the groundwork on which they are
based. They appeal to the imagination, they fix themselves in the
memory; and after they have got far enough removed into the past to
enable men to survey them in all their breadth, we find them caught up
and reflected in the fictions of the poet and the novelist.

But it is wonderful how comparatively slight is the effect which
most of them produce at the time of their occurrence. It would seem
as if the great mass of mankind had no ability of seeing them in
their real character, except through the medium of some superior
mind, skilful enough to portray them in their true colours and
proportions. Who, acquainted with the history of the plague in
London, for instance, can fail being struck with the horrors of
that awful visitation, as described in the graphic pages of Defoe?
Who, that experienced the visitation of similar horrors which
swept away in our own times one-tenth part of the human species,
could avoid remarking that the reality was less suited to impress
by its actual presence, than the record by its touching pictures
and its affecting appeals? The reality appealed to but the fears
of men through the instinct of self-preservation, and even this
languidly in some cases, leaving the imagination unimpressed; whereas
the wild scenes of Defoe filled the whole mind, and impressed
vividly through the influence of that sense of the poetical which, in
some degree at least, all minds are capable of entertaining.

On a nearly similar principle, the country has not yet been able
rightly to appreciate the disasters of Affghanistan. It has been
unable to bestow upon them what we shall venture to term the historic
prominence. When one after one the messengers reach Job, bearing
tidings of fatal disasters, in which all his children and all his
domestics have perished, the ever-recurring 'and I only am escaped
alone to tell thee,' strikes upon the ear as one of the signs of a
dispensation supernatural in its character. The narrative has already
prepared us for events removed beyond the reach of those common laws
which regulate ordinary occurrences. Did we find such a piece of
history in any of our older chronicles, we would at once set it down,
on Macaulay's principle, as a ballad thrown out of its original verse
into prose, and appropriated by the chronicler, in the lack of less
questionable materials. But finding it in the Record of eternal truth,
we view it differently; for there the supernatural is not dissociated
from the true. How very striking, to find in the authentic annals of
our own country a somewhat similar incident; to find the 'I only am
escaped alone to tell thee' in the history of a well-equipped British
army of the present day! There occurs no similar incident in all our
past history. British armies have capitulated not without disgrace. In
the hapless American war, Cornwallis surrendered a whole army to
Washington, and Burgoyne another whole army to Gates and Arnold.

The British have had also their disastrous retreats.

The retreat from Fontenoy was at least precipitate; and there was much
suffered in Sir John Moore's retreat on Corunna. But such retreats
have not been wholly without their share of glory, nor have such
surrenders been synonymous with extermination. In the annals of
British armies, the 'I only have escaped alone to tell thee' belongs
to but the retreat from Cabul. It is a terrible passage in the history
of our country--terrible in all its circumstances. Some of its earlier
scenes are too revolting for the imagination to call up.

It is all too humiliating to conceive of it in the character of an
unprincipled conspiracy of the civilised, horribly avenged by
infuriated savages. It is a quite melancholy enough object of
contemplation, in even its latter stages. A wild scene of rocks and
mountains darkened overhead with tempest, beneath covered deep with
snow; a broken and dispirited force, struggling hopelessly through the
scarce passable defiles,--here thinned by the headlong assaults of
howling fanatics, insensible to fear, incapable of remorse, and
thirsting for blood,--there decoyed to destruction through the
promises of cruel and treacherous chiefs, devoid alike of the sense of
honour and the feeling of pity; with no capacity or conduct among its
leaders; full of the frightful recollections of past massacres,
hopeless of ultimate escape; struggling, however, instinctively on
amid the unceasing ring of musketry from thicket and crag, exhibiting
mile after mile a body less dense and extended, leaving behind it a
long unbroken trail of its dead; at length wholly wasting away, like
the upward heave of a wave on a sandy beach, and but one solitary
horseman, wounded and faint with loss of blood, holding on his
perilous course, to tell the fate of all the others. And then, the
long after-season of grief and suspense among anxious and at length
despairing relations at home, around many a cheerless hearth, and in
many a darkened chamber, and the sadly frequent notice in the
obituaries of all our public journals, so significant of the disaster,
and which must have rung so heavy a knell to so many affectionate
hearts, 'Killed in the Khyber Pass.' To find passages of parallel
calamity in the history of at least civilised countries, we have to
ascend to the times of the Roman empire during its period of decline
and disaster, when one warlike emperor, in battle with the Goth,

              'in that Serbonian bog,
    Betwixt Damieta and Mount Cassus old,
    With his whole army sank;'

or when another not less warlike monarch was hopelessly overthrown by
the Persian, and died a miserable slave, exposed to every indignity
which the invention of his ungenerous and barbarous conqueror could

Britain in this event has received a terrible lesson, which we trust
her scarce merited and surely most revolting successes in China will
not have the effect of wholly neutralizing. The Affghan war, regarded
as a war of principle, was eminently unjust; regarded as a war of
expediency, it was eminently imprudent. It seems to have originated
with men of narrow and defective genius, not over largely gifted with
the moral sense. We have had to refer on a former occasion to the
policy adopted by Lord Auckland respecting the educational grants to
Hindustan. An enlightened predecessor of his Lordship had decided that
the assistance and patronage of the British Government should be
extended to the exclusive promotion of European literature and science
among the natives of India. His Lordship, in the exercise of a
miserable liberalism, reversed the resolution, and diverted no
inconsiderable portion of the Government patronage to the support of
the old Hindustanee education,--a system puerile in its literature,
contemptible in its science, and false in its religion. Our readers
cannot have forgotten the indignant style of Dr. Duff's remonstrance.
The enlightened and zealous missionary boldly and indignantly
characterized the minute of his Lordship, through which this
revolution was effected, as 'remarkable chiefly for its omissions and
commissions, for its concessions and compromises, for its education
without religion, its plans without a Providence, and its ethics
without a God.' Such was the liberalism of Lord Auckland; and of at
least one of the leading men whose counsel led to the Affghan
expedition, and who perished in it, the _liberalism_, it is said, was
of a still more marked and offensive character. What do we infer from
the fact?

Not that Providence interfered to avenge upon them the sin of their
policy: there would be presumption in the inference. But it may not be
unsafe to infer, from the palpable folly of the Affghan expedition,
that the _liberalism_ in which Lord Auckland and some one or two of
his friends indulged is a liberalism which weak and incompetent men
are best fitted to entertain. His scheme of education and his
Affghanistan expedition are specimens of mental production, if we may
so speak, that give evidence of exactly the same cast and tendency
regarding the order and scope of the genius which originated them. We
have been a good deal struck by the shrewdness of one of Prince Eugene
of Savoy's remarks, that seems to bear very decidedly on this case.
Two generals of his acquaintance had failed miserably in the conduct
of some expedition that demanded capacity and skill, and yet both of
them were unquestionably smart, clever men. 'I always thought it would
turn out so,' said the Prince. 'Both these men made open profession of
infidelity; and I formed so low an opinion of their taste and judgment
in consequence, that I made myself sure they would sooner or later run
their heads into some egregious folly.'

It is satisfactory in every point of view that Britain should be
at peace with China and the Affghans. War is an evil in all
circumstances. It is a great evil even when just; it is a great evil
even when carried on against a people who know and respect the laws of
nations. But it is peculiarly an evil when palpably not a just war,
and when carried on against a barbarous people. It has been stated
in private letters, though not officially, that a soldier of the 44th
was burned alive by the Ghilzies in sight of the English troops, and
that on the approach of the latter the throat of the tortured
victim was cut to ensure his destruction. And it is the inference of
an Indian newspaper from the fact, that such wretches are not the
devoted patriots that they have been described by some, and that
the war with them cannot, after all, be very unjust. We are
inclined to argue somewhat differently. We believe the Scotch under
Wallace were not at all devoid of patriotism, though they were
barbarous enough to flay Cressingham, and to burn the English
alive at Ayr. We believe further, that an unjust war is rendered none
the less unjust from the circumstance of its being waged with a
savage and cruel people. The barbarism of the enemy has but the effect
of heightening its horrors, not of modifying its injustice. It is
possible for one civilised man to fight with another, and yet retain
his proper character as a man notwithstanding. But the civilised man
who fights with a wild beast must assume, during the combat, the
character of the wild beast. He cannot afford being generous and
merciful; his antagonist understands neither generosity nor mercy.
The war is of necessity a war of extermination. And such is always
the character of a war between wild and civilised men. It takes its
tone, not from the civilisation of the one, but from the cruel
savageism of the other.

_December 3, 1842._


The poet Gray held that in a neglected country churchyard, appropriated
to only the nameless dead, there might lie, notwithstanding, the remains
of undeveloped Miltons, Hampdens, and Cromwells,--men who, in more
favourable circumstances, would have become famous as poets, or great
as patriots or statesmen; and the stanzas in which he has embodied the
reflection are perhaps the most popular in the language. One-half the
thought is, we doubt not, just. Save for the madness of Charles,
Cromwell would have died a devout farmer, and Hampden a most
respectable country gentleman, who would have been gratefully
remembered for half an age over half a county, and then consigned to
forgetfulness. But the poets rarely die, however disadvantageously
placed, without giving some sign. Rob Don, the Sutherlandshire bard,
owed much less to nature than Milton did, and so little to learning that
he could neither read nor write; and yet his better songs promise to
live as long as the Gaelic language. And though both Burns and
Shakespeare had very considerable disadvantages to struggle against, we
know that neither of them remained 'mute' or 'inglorious,' or even
less extensively known than Milton himself. It is, we believe, no easy
matter to smother a true poet. The versifiers, placed in obscure and
humble circumstances, who for a time complain of neglected merit and
untoward fate, and then give up verse-making in despair, are always
men who, with all their querulousness, have at least one cause of
complaint more than they ever seem to be aware of,--a cause of
complaint against the nature that failed to impart to them 'the
divine vision and faculty.' There are powers, however, admirably
fitted to tell with effect in the literature of the country, for they
have served to produce the most influential works which the world
ever saw--works such as the _Essay_ of Locke, the _Peace and War_ of
Grotius, and the _Spirit of Laws_ of Montesquieu--which, with all
their apparent robustness, are greatly less hardy than the poetic
faculty, and which, unless the circumstances favourable to their
development and exercise be present, fail to leave behind them any
adequate record of their existence. It is difficult to imagine a
situation in life in which Burns would not have written his songs, but
very easy to imagine situations in which Robertson would not have
produced his _Scotland_ or his _Charles V._, nor Adam Smith his _Wealth
of Nations_. We have no faith whatever in 'mute, inglorious Miltons;'
but we do hold that there may be obscure country churchyards in which
untaught Humes, guiltless of the _Essay on Miracles_, may repose, and
undeveloped Bentleys and Warburtons, whose great aptitude for
acquiring or capacity for retaining knowledge remained throughout life a
mere ungratified thirst.

It has remained for the present age to throw one bar more in the way
of able men of this special class than our fathers ever dreamed of;
and this, curiously enough, just by giving them an opportunity of
writing much, and of thinking incessantly. It is not, it would seem,
by being born among ploughmen and mechanics, and destined to live by
tilling the soil, or by making shoes or hobnails, that the 'genial
current of the soil is frozen,' and superior talents prevented from
accomplishing their proper work: it is by being connected with some
cheap weekly periodical, or twice or thrice a week newspaper, and
compelled to scribble on almost without pause or intermission for
daily bread. We have been led to think of this matter by an
interesting little volume of poems, chiefly lyrical, which has just
issued from the Edinburgh press,--the production of Mr. Thomas
Smibert, a man who has lived for many years by his pen, and who
introduces the volume by a prefatory essay, interesting from the
glimpse which it gives of the literary disadvantages with which the
professionally literary man who writes for the periodicals has to
contend. Periodical literature is, he remarks, 'to all intents and
purposes a creation of the nineteenth century, in its principal
existing phases, from Quarterly Reviews to Weekly Penny Magazines.
Newspapers,' he adds, 'may justly be accounted the growth of the same
recent era, the few previously published having been scarcely more
than mere Gazettes, recording less opinions than bare public and
business facts.' The number of both classes of periodicals is now
immensely great; and 'equally vast, of necessity, is the amount of
literary talent statedly and unremittingly engaged on these journals,
while a large additional amount of similar talent finds in them
occasional and ready outlets for its working.' 'When one or two
leading Reviews, Quarterlies, and Monthlies alone existed, they called
for no insignificant individual efforts of mind on the part of their
chief conductors and supporters, and those parties almost took rank
with the authors of single works of importance. But within the last
twenty years periodical literature has become extensively hebdomadal,
and even diurnal; and, as a necessary consequence, the essays of those
sustaining it in this shape have decreased in proportionate value, at
once from the larger amount of work demanded, and from the shorter
time allowed for its execution. Such essays may serve the hour fairly,
but can seldom be of high worth ultroneously.' 'The extent and variety
of the labours called for at the hands of those actively engaged on
modern cheap periodicals can scarcely be conceived by the uninitiated
public. If their eyes were opened on the subject, they would
certainly wonder less why it is that the literary talent of the
current generation does not tend to display itself by striking
isolated efforts: they would also more readily understand wherefore
parties in the situation of the present writer may well experience
some unsatisfactory feelings in looking back on the labours of the
past. Though years spent in respectable periodical writing can by no
means be termed misspent, yet such a career presents in the retrospect
but a multitude of disconnected essays on all conceivable themes, and
such as too often prove their hurried composition by crudeness and
imperfections.' The consideration of such a state of things 'may
furnish a salutary lesson to the many among the young at this day,
who, possessing some literary taste, imagine that the engagements of
common life alone stand in the way of its successful development, and
that to be enabled to pursue a life of professional writing in any
shape would secure to them both fame and fortune to the height of
their desires. They here err sadly. No doubt supereminent talents will
sooner or later make themselves felt under almost any circumstances;
but the position described assuredly offers no peculiar advantages for
the furtherance of that end. Ebenezer Elliot, leaving his forge at eve
with a wearied body, could yet bring to his favourite leisure tasks a
mind less jaded than that of the _littérateur_ by profession.' 'The
regular periodicalist, too, of the modern class has usually no more
stable interest in his compositions than has the counting-house clerk
in the cash-books which he keeps. To publishers and conductors fall
the lasting fruits. Let those among the young who feel the ambition to
seek fame and fortune in the walks of literature think well of these
things, and, above all, ponder seriously ere they quit, with such
views, any fixed occupation of another kind.'

There is certainly food for thought here; and that, too, thought of a
kind in which the public has a direct interest. If such be the
dissipating effect of _writing_ for newspapers and the lighter
periodicals, it is surely natural to infer that the exclusive
_reading_ of such works must have a dissipating effect also. It is too
obvious that the feverish mediocrity of overwrought brains becomes
infectious among the class who place themselves in too constant and
unbroken connection with it, and that from the closets of over-toiled
_littérateurs_ an excited superficiality creeps out upon the age. And
hence the necessity to which we have oftener than once referred, that
men should keep themselves in wholesome connection with the master
minds of the past. Mr. Smibert's remarks preface, as we have said, a
volume of sweet and tasteful verse; and we find him saying that, 'most
of all, the operation of Periodicalism has been unfavourably felt in
the domain of poetry.'

'The position of literature,' he adds, 'in the times of the
Wordsworths, Crabbes, and Campbells of the age just gone by, was more
favourable than at present to the devotion of talent to great
undertakings. These men were assuredly not beset by the same seductive
facilities as the _littérateurs_ of the current generation for
expending their powers on petty objects,--facilities all the more
fascinating, as comprising the pleasures of immediate publicity, and
perhaps even of repute for a day, if not also of some direct
remuneration. These influences of full-grown Periodicalism extend now
to all who can read and write. But it entices most especially within
its vortex those who exhibit an unusually large share of early
literary promise, involves them in multitudinous and multifarious
occupation, and, in short, divides and subdivides the operations of
talent, until all prominent identity is destroyed, both in works and
workers. To the growth of this modern system, beyond question, is
largely to be referred the comparative disappearance from among us of
great literary individualities; or, to use other and more accurate
words, by that system have men of capacity been chiefly diverted from
the composition of great individual works, and more particularly great

We are less sure of the justice of this remark of Mr. Smibert's,
than of that of many of the others. It is not easy, we have said, to
smother a true poet; and we know that in the present age very
genuine poetry has been produced in the offices of very busy
newspaper editors. Poor Robert Nicoll never wrote truer poetry than
when he produced his 'Puir Folk' and his 'Saxon Chapel,' at a time
when he was toiling, as even modern journalist has rarely toiled, for
the columns of the _Leeds Times_; and James Montgomery produced his
'World before the Flood,' 'Greenland,' and 'The Pelican Island,'
with many a sweet lyric of still higher merit, when laboriously
editing the _Sheffield Iris_. The 'Salamandrine' of Mr. Charles
Mackay was written when he was conducting the sub-editorial
department of a daily London paper; nor did he ever write anything
superior to it. And we question whether Mr. Smibert himself, though he
might have produced longer poems, would have written better ones than
some of those contained in the present volume, even had his life
been one of unbroken leisure. It seems natural to literary men, who
fail in realizing their own conceptions of what they had wished and
hoped to perform, to cast the blame upon their circumstances. Johnson
could speak as feelingly, not much later than the middle of the
last century, of the 'dreams of a poet doomed at last to wake a
lexicographer,' as any literary man of the present time, who, while
solicitously desirous to give himself wholly to the muses, is
compelled to labour as a periodicalist for the wants of the day
that is passing over him. But perhaps the best solace for the
dissatisfaction which would thus wreak itself on mere circumstances,
is that which Johnson himself supplies. 'To reach below his own
aim,' says the moralist, 'is incident to every one whose fancy is
active, and whose views are comprehensive; nor is any man satisfied
with himself because he has done much, but because he can conceive
little.' But to labour and be forgotten is the common lot; and why
should a literary man be more disposed to repine because his
productions perish after serving a temporary purpose, than the
gardener or farmer, whose vocation it is to supply the people with
their daily food? If the provisions furnished, whether for mind or
body, be wholesome, and if they serve their purpose, the producers
must learn to be content, even should they serve the purpose only
once, and but for a day. The danger of over-cropping, and of
consequent exhaustion, is, of course, another and more serious matter;
and of this the mind of the periodicalist is at least as much in
danger as either field or garden when unskilfully wrought. But mere
rest, which in course of time restores the exhausted earth, is often
not equally efficient in restoring the exhausted mind; nor does
mere rest, even were it a specific in the case, lie within the reach
of the periodic writer. It is often the luxury for which he pants,
but which he cannot command. One of the surest specifics in the
case is, the specific of working just a little more,--of working for
the work's sake, whether at poem or history, or in the prosecution of
some science, or in some antiquarian pursuit. There is an exquisite
passage in one of the essays of Washington Irving, in which he
compares the great authors--Shakespeare, for instance--who seem
proof against the mutability of language, to 'gigantic trees, that we
see sometimes on the banks of a stream, which, by their vast and deep
roots, penetrating through the mere surface, and laying hold on
the very foundations of the earth, preserve the soil around them from
being swept away by the ever-flowing current, and hold up many a
neighbouring plant to perpetuity.' And such is the service rendered by
some pervading pursuit of an intellectual character, prosecuted for
its own sake, to the intellect of the journalist. It is the
necessity imposed upon him of taking up subject after subject in the
desultory, disconnected form in which they chance to arise, and
then, after throwing together a few hastily collected thoughts upon
each, of dismissing them from his mind, that induces first a habit
of superficiality, and finally leaves him exhausted; and the
counteractive course open to him is just to take up some subject
on which the thinking of to-day may assist him in the thinking of
to-morrow, and on which he may be as well informed and profound as
his native capacity permits. All our really superior newspaper
editors have pursued this course--more, however, we are disposed to
think, from the bent of their nature than from the necessities of
their profession; and the poetical volume of Mr. Smibert shows
that he too has his engrossing pursuit. We recommend his little work
to our readers, as one in which they will find much to interest and
amuse. We have left ourselves little room for quotation; but the
following stanzas, striking, both from their beauty and from the
curious fact which they embody, may be regarded as no unfair specimen
of the whole:--

            THE VOICE OF WOE.

  'The language of passion, and more peculiarly that of grief,
          is ever nearly the same.'

    An Indian chief went forth to fight,
      And bravely met the foe:
    His eye was keen--his step was light--
    His arm was unsurpassed in might;
    But on him fell the gloom of night--
      An arrow laid him low.
    His widow sang with simple tongue,
      When none could hear or see,
          _Ay, cheray me!_

    A Moorish maiden knelt beside
      Her dying lover's bed:
    She bade him stay to bless his bride;
    She called him oft her lord, her pride;
    But mortals must their doom abide--
      The warrior's spirit fled.
    With simple tongue the sad one sung,
      When none could hear or see,
          _Ay, di me!_

    An English matron mourned her son,
      The only son she bore:
    Afar from her his course was run--
    He perished as the fight was done--
    He perished when the fight was won--
      Upon a foreign shore.
    With simple tongue the mother sung,
      When none could hear or see,
        _Ah, dear me!_

    A Highland maiden saw
      A brother's body borne
    From where, from country, king, and law,
    He went his gallant sword to draw;
    But swept within destruction's maw,
      From her had he been torn.
    She sat and sung with simple tongue,
      When none could hear or see,
        _Oh, hon-a-ree!_

    An infant in untimely hour
      Died in a Lowland cot:
    The parents own'd the hand of power
    That bids the storm be still or lour;
    They grieved because the cup was sour,
      And yet they murmured not.
    They only sung with simple tongue,
      When none could hear or see,
        _Ah, wae's me!_

_July 26, 1851._


We have now reached the close of the most wonderful year the world
ever saw. None of our readers can be unacquainted with the poem in
which Dryden celebrated the marvels of the year 1666,--certainly an
extraordinary twelvemonth, though the English poet, only partially
acquainted with the events which rendered it so remarkable, restricts
himself, in his long series of vigorous quatrains, to the description
of the two naval battles with the Dutch which its summer witnessed,
and of the great fire of London which rendered its autumn so

He might also have told that it was a year of great fear and
expectation among both Christians and Jews. The Jews held that their
Messiah was to come that year; and, in answer of the expectation, the
impostor Sabbatei Levi appeared to delude and disappoint the hopes of
that unhappy nation. There was an opinion nearly equally general in
the Roman Catholic world, that it would usher in the Antichrist of New
Testament prophecy; while among English Protestants it was very
extensively believed that it was to witness the end of the world and
the final judgment. It was remarkable, too, as the year in which
oppression first compelled the Scotch Presbyterians of the reign of
Charles II. to assume the attitude of armed resistance, and as
forming, in the estimate of Burnet and other intelligent Protestants,
the fifth great crisis of the Reformed religion in Europe. And such
were the wonders of the _Annus_ _Mirabilis_ of Dryden: two bloody
naval engagements; a great fire; the appearance of a false Messiah; a
widely-spread fear that the end of the world and the coming of
Antichrist were at hand; the revolt from their allegiance to the
reigning monarch of a sorely oppressed body of Christians, maddened by
persecution; and a perilous crisis in the general history of

The year now at its close has been beyond comparison more remarkable.
In the earlier twelvemonth, no real change took place in the existing
state of things. Its striking events resembled merely the phenomena of
a mid-winter storm in Greenland, where, over a frozen ocean, moveless
in the hurricane as a floor of rock or of iron, the hail beats, and
the thick whirling snows descend, and, high above head, the flashings
of aurora borealis lend their many-coloured hues of mystery to the
horrors of the tempest. Its transactions, picturesque rather than
important, wholly failed to affect the framework of society. That
floor of ice which sealed down the wide ocean of opinion retained all
its mid-winter solidity, and furnished foundations as firm as before
for the old despotic monarchies and the blood-stained persecuting
churches. But how immensely different the events of the year now at an
end! Its tempests have been, not those of a Greenland winter, but of a
Greenland spring: the depths of society have been stirred to the dark
bottom, where all slimy and monstrous things lie hid, and, under the
irresistible upheavings of the ground-swell, the ice has broken up;
and amid the wide weltering of a stormy sea, cumbered with the broken
ruins of ancient tyrannies, civil and ecclesiastical, the eye can
scarce rest upon a single spot on which to base a better order of
things. The 'foundations are removed.' A time of great trouble has
come suddenly upon the kingdoms of Europe--a time of 'famines, and
pestilences, and fearful sights, and great signs from heaven;' 'signs
in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth
distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring.'

The extreme stillness of the calm by which this wide-roaring tempest
has been preceded, forms one of not the least extraordinary
circumstances which impart to it character and effect. In the _Vision
of Don Roderick_, the fated monarch is described as pausing for a time
amid the deep silence of a vast hall, pannelled and floored with black
marble, and sentinelled by two gigantic figures of rigid bronze that
stand moveless against the farther wall. The one, bearing a scythe and
sand-glass, is the old giant Time; the other, armed with an iron mace,
is the grim angel of Destiny. Not a sound or motion escapes them. In
that dim apartment nothing stirs save the sands in the glass, and the
inflexible look of the stern mace-bearing sentinel marks how they ebb.
The last grains are at length moving downwards--they sink, they
disappear; and now, raising his ponderous mace, he dashes into
fragments the marble wall: a scene of savage warfare gleams livid
through the opening, and the wide vault re-echoes to the hollow tread
of armies, the shrill notes of warlike trumpets, the rude clash of
arms, and the wild shouts of battle. And such, during the last few
years, has been the stillness of the preliminary pause, and such was
the abrupt opening, when the predestined hour at length arrived, of
those clamorous scenes of revolution and war which impart so
remarkable a character to the year gone by. A twelvemonth has not yet
passed since history seemed to want incident. Time and Destiny watched
as statue-like sentinels in a quiet hall, walled round by the old
rigid conventionalities, and human sagacity failed to see aught beyond
them; the present so resembled the past, that it seemed over-boldness
to anticipate a different complexion for the future. But, amid the
unbreathing stillness, the appointed hour arrived. The rigid marble
curtain of the old conventionalities was struck asunder by the iron
mace of Destiny; and the silence was straightway broken by a roar as
if of many waters, by the wrathful shouts of armed millions--the
thunderings of cannon, blent with the rattle of musketry--the wild
shrieks of dismay and suffering--the wailings of sorrow and
terror--the shouts of triumph and exultation--the despairing cry of
sinking dynasties, and the crash of falling thrones. And with what
strange rapidity the visions have since flitted along the opened

A royal proclamation forbids in Paris a political banquet; four short
days elapse, and France is proclaimed a Republic, and Louis Philippe
and his Ministers have fled. Britain at once recognises the
Provisional Government; but what are the great despotisms of the
Continent to do? Six days more pass, and the Canton of Neufchatel
declares itself independent of Prussia. In a few days after, the Duke
of Saxe-Cobourg-Gotha grants to his subjects a representative
constitution, freedom of the press, and trial by jury; the King of
Hanover has also to yield, and the King of Bavaria abdicates. These,
however, are comparatively small matters. But still the flame spreads.
There is a successful insurrection at Vienna, the very stronghold of
despotism in central Europe; and the Prime Minister, Metternich, the
grim personification of the old policy, is compelled to resign. Then
follows an equally successful insurrection at Berlin; Milan, Vicenza,
and Padua are also in open insurrection. Venice is proclaimed a
Republic. Holstein declares itself independent of Denmark, Hungary of
Austria, Sicily of Naples. Prague and Cracow have also their
formidable outbreaks. Austria and Prussia proclaim new constitutions.
Secondary revolutionary movements in both Paris and Vienna are put
down by the military. There are bloody battles fought between the
Austrians and the Piedmontese on the one hand, and the Germans and the
Danes on the other; and, in a state of profound peace, the people of
a British port hear from their shores the boom of the hostile cannon.
The Emperor of Austria abdicates his throne, the Pope flees his
dominions, and a nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte is elected President of
France. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, the ebullitions of the
revolutionary element serve but to demonstrate its own weakness. In
both England and Scotland, the moral and physical force of the
country--in reality but one--arrays itself on the side of good order
and the established institutions. A few policemen put down, without
the assistance of the military, the long-threatened rebellion in
Ireland; and the Sovereign Lady of the empire, after journeying among
her subjects, attended by a retinue which only a few ages ago would
have been deemed slender for a Scotch chieftain or one of the lesser
nobility, and without a single soldier to protect her, and needing no
such protection, spends her few weeks of autumn leisure in a solitary
Highland valley,--a thousand times more secure in the affections of a
devoted and loyal people than any other European monarch could have
been in the midst of an army of an hundred thousand men. Such are some
of the wonderful events which have set their stamp on the year now at
its close.

We regard the old state of things as gone for ever. The foundations
have broken up on which the ancient despotisms were founded. It
would seem as if 'the stone cut out without hands' had fallen during
the past year on the feet of the great image, and ground down into
worthless rubbish the 'iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the
gold.' And 'the wind,' though not yet risen to its height, seems fast
rising, which will sweep them all away, 'like the chaff of the
summer thrashing-floor;' so that 'there shall be no place found for
them.' But while we can entertain no hope for the old decrepit
despotisms, we cannot see in the infidel liberalism--alike unwise
and immoral--by which they are in the course of being supplanted,
other than a disorganizing element, out of which no settled order of
things can possibly arise. It takes the character, not of a reforming
principle destined to bless, but of an instrument of punishment,
with which vengeance is to be taken for the crimes and errors of the
past; and, so far at least, a time when we need expect to witness but
the struggles of the two principles--the old and the new--as they
act and react against each other, stronger and weaker by turns, as
they disgust and alienate by their atrocities in their hour of
power such of the more moderate classes as had taken part with them
in their hour of weakness. It is the grand error of our leading
statesmen, that they fail to appreciate the real character of the
crisis, and would fain deal with the consequent existing difficulties
in that petty style of diplomatic manoeuvre with which it was
their wont to meet the comparatively light demands of the past. It
would seem as if we had arrived at a stage in the world's history in
which statesmanship after this style is to be tolerated no longer.
How instructive, for instance, the mode in which, for the present at
least, an all-governing Providence has terminated the negotiations
of this country with the Pope! Contrary to the wishes and principles
of the sound-hearted portion of the British people, our leading
statesmen open up by statute their diplomatic relations with the
Pope, palpably with the desire of governing Ireland through the
influence of that utterly corrupt religion which has made that
unhappy island the miserable lazar-house that it is; and, lo!
Providence strikes down the ghostly potentate, and virtually, for
the present, divests him of that 'property qualification' in
virtue of which the relation can alone be maintained. But not less
infatuated than our statesmen, and even less excusably so, are
those men--professedly religious and Protestant, but of narrow
views and weak understandings--who can identify the cause of Christ
with the old tottering despotisms and the soul-destroying policy of
princes such as the late Emperor of Austria, and of ministers such as
Metternich. It would not greatly surprise us to see Protestants of
this high Tory stamp, who have been zealous against Popery all
their lives long, taking part in the 'lament of the merchants and
mariners' over the perished Babylon, when they find that the
representatives of the Roman Emperors must fall with the Roman See.
There are two wild beasts, like those which Daniel saw in vision,
contending together in fierce warfare,--the old Babylonish beast,
horrid with the blood of saints, and its cruel executioner--the
monster of Atheistic Liberalism; but Christ has identified His cause
with neither. No reprieve from the prince awaits the condemned
culprit; and with the disreputable and savage executioner he will
hold no intercourse. Destruction, from which there is no escape,
awaits equally on both.

We began with a reference to Dryden's _Year of Wonders:_ we conclude
with an anecdote regarding that year, connected with the history of
one of the most eminent judges and best men England ever produced. It
needs no application, showing as it does, with equal simplicity and
force, how and on what principle the terrors of years such as the
'_Annus Mirabilis_' of the seventeenth century, or the '_Annus
Mirabilis_' of our own, may be encountered with the greatest safety
and the truest dignity. We quote from Bishop Burnet's _Life of Sir
Matthew Hale_:--

'He' (Sir Matthew), says the Bishop, 'had a generous and noble idea of
God in his mind; and this he found, above all other considerations,
preserve his quiet. And, indeed, that was so well established in him,
that no accidents, how sudden soever, were observed to discompose him,
of which an eminent man of that profession gave me this instance:--In
the year 1666 an opinion did run through the nation that the end of
the world would come that year. This, whether set on by astrologers,
or advanced by those who thought it might have some relation to the
number of the beast in the Revelation, or promoted by men of ill
designs to disturb the public peace, had spread mightily among the
people; and Judge Hale going that year the Western Circuit, it
happened that, as he was on the bench at the assizes, a most terrible
storm fell out very unexpectedly, accompanied with such flashes of
lightning and claps of thunder, that the like will hardly fall out in
an age; upon which a whisper ran through the crowd, "that now was the
world to end, and the day of judgment to begin." And at this there
followed a general consternation in the whole assembly, and all men
forgot the business they were met about, and betook themselves to
their prayers. This, added to the horror raised by the storm, looked
very dismal, insomuch that my author--a man of no ordinary resolution
and firmness of mind--confessed it made a great impression on himself.
But he told me "that he did observe the judge was not a whit affected,
and was going on with the business of the court in his ordinary
manner;" from which he made this conclusion: "that his thoughts were
so well fixed, that he believed, if the world had been really to end,
it would have given him no considerable disturbance!'"

_December 30, 1848._


It is well that there should exist amongst the evangelistic churches
at least a desire for union. We do not think they will ever be welded
into one without much heat and many blows. Popery, with mayhap
Infidelity for its assistant, will have first to blow up the coals and
ply the hammer; but it is at least something that the various pieces
of the broken and shivered Church catholic should be coming into
contact, drawn together as if by some strong attractive influence, and
that there should be so many attempts made to fit into each other,
though with but indifferent success, the rough-edged inflexible
fragments. It is much that the attractive influence should exist.
Among the many inventions of modern times, a singularly ingenious one
has been brought to bear on the smelting of iron. A powerful magnetic
current is made to pass in one direction through the furnace, which
imparts to each metallic particle a loadstone-like affinity for all
the others; and no sooner has the heat set them free, than, instead of
sinking, as in the old process, through the molten stony mass to the
bottom, solely in effect of their superior gravity--a tedious, and in
some degree uncertain process--they at once get into motion in the
line of the current, and unite, in less than half the ordinary time
under any other circumstances, into a homogeneous, coherent mass. May
we not indulge the expectation of similar results from the magnetic
current of attraction, if we may so speak, which has so decidedly
begun to flow through the evangelistic churches? True, so long as the
little bits remain unmolten, however excellent their quality, they but
clash and jangle together, if moved by the influence at all; but
should the furnace come to be seven times heated, it will scarce fail
to give unity of motion and a prompt coherency to all the genuine
metal, however minute, in its present state, the particles into which
it is separated, or however stubborn the stony matrices which
dissociate these from the other particles, one in their origin and
nature, that lie locked up in the sullen fragments around.

Never perhaps was there a time when the great disadvantages of
disunion were so pressed in a practical form on the notice of the
churches as at the present. It formed the complaint of one of our
better English writers considerably more than a century ago, that
we had religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us
love, one another. At that time, however, sects, to employ one of
Bacon's striking phrases, 'had not so grown to equality' as now; and
storms in the moral world, as in the natural 'at the equinoxia,'
when night and day are equal, are commonly greatest, adds the
philosopher, 'when things do grow to equality.' The unestablished
Protestant denominations formed in the times of Queen Anne a mere
feeble moiety, that could raise no efficient voice against the
established religion; and Popery, newly thrust under feet, after a
formidable struggle, that threatened to overturn the constitution of
the country, had no voice at all. Matters are very different now:
things have grown to an equality; night and day, as 'at the
equinoxia,' have become nearly equal; and society can scarce take one
step for the general benefit, without experiencing, as a thwarting
and arresting influence, the effects of religious difference. Do we
regret that the Government of a country such as ours should be
practically irreligious in its character? Alas! were every Government
functionary in the empire a thoroughly religious man, Government
could not act otherwise than it does in not a few instances, just
in consequence of our religious differences. Are there millions of
the people sinking into brutality and ignorance, and do our rulers
originate a scheme of education in their behalf?--our religious
differences straightway step in to arrest and cripple the design.
Are there whole districts of country subjected to famine, and are we
roused, both as Britons and as Christians, to contribute of our
substance for their relief?--our religious differences immediately
interfere; and a Church greatly more identified by membership with
the sufferers than any other, has to fight a hard battle ere she
can be permitted to co-operate in the general cause. Is there a
ragged-school scheme originated in the capital, to rescue the
neglected perishing young among us from out the very jaws of
destruction?--forthwith rival institutions start up, on the ground
of religious differences, to dwarf one another into inefficiency,
like starveling shrubs in a nursery run wild; and projected
exertions in the cause of degraded and suffering humanity degenerate
into an attack on a benevolent Presbyterian minister, who refuses to
accept, from conscientious motives, of a directorship in a Popish
institution. This is surely a sad state of things,--a state grown
very general, and which threatens to become more so; and in a due
sense of the weakness for all good which it creates, and of the
palpable state of disorganization and decomposition favourable to
the growth of every species of evil, physical and moral, which it
induces, we recognise at least one of the causes of the general
desire for union. To no one circumstance has Rome owed more of its
success than to the divisions of the Protestant Church; and great as
that success has been in our own country, where, as 'at the
equinoxia,' day and night are fast 'growing to equality,' it is but
slight compared with what she has experienced in America and the
colonies. It is a serious consideration in an age like the present,
in which the country looks to emigration for relief from the
pressure of a superabundant population, that religion has suffered
more in the colonies from its sectarian divisions, than from every
other cause put together.

The way in which the mischief comes to be done is easily conceivable.
The Protestant emigrants of the country quit it always, with regard to
their churchmanship, as a mere undisciplined rabble. The Episcopalian
sets sail in the same vessel, and for the same scene of labour, as the
Independent--the Free Churchman with the Baptist--the Methodist with
the Original Seceder--the Voluntary with the Establishment-man; and
they squat down together on contiguous lots, amid the solitude of the
forest. Were they all of one communion, there might be scarce any
break created in their old habits of church-going and religious
instruction. The community, considerable as a whole, though very
inconsiderable in its parts when broken up into denominational septs,
would have its minister of religion from its first settlement, or
almost so; and, from the rapid increase which takes place in all new
colonies in congenial countries and climates, the charge of such a
minister would be soon a very important one, and adequate to the full
development of the energies of a superior man.

But alas for the numerous denominational septs! Years must elapse, in
some instances many years, ere--few and scattered, and necessarily
deprived of every advantage of the territorial system--they can
procure for themselves religious teachers: they fall gradually, in the
interim, out of religious habits, or there rises among them a
generation in which these were never formed; and when at length a
sept does procure a teacher, generally, from the comparative
fewness of their numbers, the extent of district over which they
are spread, and the lukewarmness induced among them by their years
of deprivation--circumstances which make the charge of such a people
no very desirable one to a man who can procure aught better, and
which have some effect also in rendering their choice in such
matters not very discriminating--he is frequently of a character
little suited to profit them. They succeed too often in procuring not
missionaries, nor men such as the ministers of higher standing, that
divide the word to the congregations of the mother country, but the
country's mere remainder preachers, who, having failed in making their
way into a living at home, seek unwillingly a bit of bread in the
unbroken ground of the colonies. The circumstances of Popery as a
colonizing religion are in all respects immensely more favourable. For
every practical purpose, it is one and united: it is furnished
with an army of clergy admirably organized, and set peculiarly
loose for movement at the will of the general ecclesiastical body
by their law of celibacy. It possesses in prolific Ireland a vast
propelling heart, if we may so speak, ever working in sending out
the blood of a singularly bigoted Romanism to every quarter of the
world. It has already begun to influence the elections of the United
States; and should the Papal superstition be destined to live so
long, and should its membership continue to increase at the present
ratio, there will be as many Papists a century hence in the great
valley of the Mississippi, and the tracts adjacent, as are at
present in all Europe. In no field in the present day has Rome more
decidedly the advantage than in that of colonization; and it is
surely a serious consideration that it should owe its successes in
such large measure to the divisions of Protestantism.

But these divisions exist, and no amount of regret for the mischief
which they occasion will serve to lessen them. We are not disposed to
give up a single tenet which we hold as Free Churchmen; and our
brother Protestants of the other denominations are, we find, quite as
tenacious of their distinctive holdings as ourselves. And so the evils
consequent on disunion in infant colonies and settlements-evils which,
when once originated, continue to propagate themselves for ages--must
continue, in cases of promiscuous emigration, to be educed, and Rome
to profit by them. We find a vigorous attempt to grapple with the
difficulty, by rendering emigration not promiscuous, but select,
originated by a branch of the New Zealand Company, which we deem
worthy of notice. It is calculated, from the proportion which they
bear to the entire population of the country, that from a thousand to
fifteen hundred Free Church people emigrate from Scotland every year.
A number equal to a large congregation quit it yearly for the
colonies; but absorbed among all sorts of people--in Canada, New
Brunswick, Nova Scotia, the United States, Australia, and Southern
Africa, etc. etc.--these never reappear as congregations, but are
subjected, in their scattered, atomic state, to the deteriorating
process, religious and educational, to which we have referred as
inevitable under that economy of promiscuous emigration unhappily so
common in these latter times. In an earlier age the case was
different. The Pilgrim Fathers who first planted New England were so
much at one in their tenets, that they had no difficulty in making the
laws of the colony a foundation on which to erect the platform both of
a general church and of an educational institute; and till this day,
the character, moral and intellectual, of that part of the States
tells of the wisdom of the arrangement. Now why, argue the Company,
might not a similar result be produced in the present age, by
directing the Free Church portion of the outward stream of emigration,
or at least a sufficient part of it, into one locality? If the
disastrous effects of division cannot be prevented by reconciling the
disagreements of those who already differ, they may be obviated
surely, to a large extent, by bringing into juxtaposition those who
already agree. And on this simple principle the Company has founded
its Free Church colony of Otago. Of course, regarding the secular
advantages of the colony, we cannot speak. New Zealand has been long
regarded as the Great Britain of the southern hemisphere. It possesses
for a European constitution peculiar advantages of climate; the
neighbourhood of the settlement, for several hundred miles together,
is deserted by the natives; Government is pledged to the appointment
of a Royal Commissioner to watch over the interests of Her Majesty's
subjects in connection with the Company, and to afford them
protection; the committee for promoting the settlement of the colony
includes some of the most respected names in the Free Church; and
thus, judged by all the ordinary tests, it seems to promise at least
as well as any other resembling field of enterprise open at the
present time. But respecting the principles involved in this scheme of
colonization, we can speak more directly from the circumstance that we
find them recognised as just and good by the General Assembly of our
Church. The records of the Assembly of 1845 bear the following
deliverance on the subject:--'The General Assembly learn with great
pleasure the prospect of the speedy establishment of the Scotch colony
of New Edinburgh [now Otago] in New Zealand, consisting of members of
the Free Church, and with every security for the colonists being
provided with the ordinances of religion and the means of education in
connection with this Church. Without expressing any opinion regarding
the secular advantages or prospects of the proposed undertaking, the
General Assembly highly approve of the principles on which the
settlement is proposed to be conducted, in so far as the religious and
educational interests of the colonists are concerned; and the
Assembly desire to countenance and encourage the association in these

We have seen the waste of mind which takes place in the colonies of a
very highly civilised country adverted to in a rather fanciful and
rationalistic connection with the desponding reply of the captive Jews
to their spoilers: 'How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange
land?' Ages, sometimes whole centuries, elapse, remarks the
commentator, ere the colonies of even eminently literary nations come
to possess poets and fine writers of their own. There is first a
struggle for bare existence among the colonists, during which the
higher branches of learning are necessarily neglected; and when a
better time at length comes, the general mind is found to have
acquired, during the struggle, a homely and utilitarian cast, which
militates against the right appreciation, and of course the
production, of what is excellent. And thus the true divinities of song
fail to be sung in a foreign land. There is, we doubt not, truth in
the remark, though somewhat quaintly expressed, and somewhat
doubtfully derived. The necessities of a colony in its youth, and the
peculiar cast of mind which they serve to induce, are certainly not
favourable to the development of poetic genius. But there is, alas!
another and more scriptural sense in which the 'Lord's song' too often
ceases to be sung in a strange land. We have already adverted to the
process of deterioration, moral and religious, through which it comes
to be silenced; and it is one of the advantages of the Otago scheme,
that it makes provision in, we believe, the most effectual way
possible, in the present divided state of Protestantism, for
preventing a result so deplorable. Youth is an important season, as
certainly in colonies as in individuals; and we question whether the
characteristic recklessness of Yankeeism in the far west and south may
not be legitimately traced to the neglected youthhead of the States in
which it is most broadly apparent. The deterioration of a single
generation left to run wild may influence for the worse, during whole
centuries, the character of a people; and who can predicate what these
colonies of the southern hemisphere are yet to become? They may be
great nations, influencing for good or evil the destinies of the
species in ages of the world when Britain shall have sunk into a
subordinate power, or shall have no name save in history. Those
records of the past, from which we learn that states and peoples, as
certainly as families and individuals, are born and die, and have
their times of birth and of burial, may serve to convince us that the
melancholy reflection of one of our later poets on this subject is by
no means a fanciful one:

    'My heart has sighed in secret, when I thought
     That the dark tide of time might one day close,
     England, o'er thee, as long since it has closed
     On Egypt and on Tyre,--that ages hence,
     From the Pacific's billowy loneliness,
     Whose tract thy daring search revealed, some isle
     Might rise, in green-haired beauty eminent,
     And like a goddess glittering from the deep,
     Hereafter sway the sceptre of domain
     From pole to pole; and such as now thou art,
     Perhaps New Zealand be. For who can say
     What the Omnipotent Eternal One,
     That made the world, hath purposed?'

_June 16, 1847._


Of all the dangers to which the Free Church is at present exposed, we
deem the danger of _fine-bodyism_ at once the least dreaded and the
most imminent. And the evil is in itself no light one: it marks,
better than any of the other _isms_--even the heresies themselves--the
sinking of a Church that is never to rise again. Churches have been
affected by dangerous heresies both of the hot and the cold kinds, and
have yet shaken them off and recovered. The Presbyterians of
Ireland, now so sound in their creed, were extensively affected,
little more than half a century ago, by Arian error and the
semi-infidelity of Socinus; and the Church that in 1843 had become
vigorous enough to dare the Disruption, recorded in the year 1796 its
vote against missions, and framed in the year 1798 its law against
church extension. But we know of no Church that ever recovered from
_fine-bodyism_ when the disease had once fairly settled into its
confirmed and chronic state. In at least this age and country it
exists as the atrophy of a cureless decline. It were well, however,
that we should say what it is we mean by _fine-bodyism_; and we
find we cannot do better than quote our definition from the first
speech ever delivered by Chalmers in the General Assembly. 'It is
quite ridiculous to say,' remarked this most sagacious of men,
'that the worth of the clergy will suffice to keep them up in the
estimation of society. This worth must be combined with importance.
Give both worth and importance to the same individual, and what
are the terms employed in describing him? "A distinguished member
of society, the ornament of a most respectable profession, the
virtuous companion of the great, and a generous consolation to all
the sickness and poverty around him." These, Moderator, appear to me
to be the terms peculiarly descriptive of the appropriate character
of a clergyman, and they serve to mark the place which he ought to
occupy; but take away the importance and leave only the worth, and
what do you make of him? What is the descriptive term applied to him
now? Precisely the term which I often find applied to many of my
brethren, and which galls me to the very bone every moment I hear
it--"_a fine body_"--a being whom you may like, but whom I defy
you to esteem--a mere object of endearment--a being whom the great
may at times honour with the condescension of a dinner, but whom
they will never admit as a respectable addition to their society. Now,
all that I demand from the Court of Teinds is to be raised, and that
as speedily as possible, above the imputation of being "_a fine
body_;" that they would add importance to my worth, and give
splendour and efficacy to those exertions which have for their object
the most exalted interests of the species.'

The Free Church has for ever closed her connection with the Court of
Teinds; but her danger from _fine-bodyism_ is in consequence all
the greater, not the less. The Sustentation Fund is her Court of
Teinds now; and it is to it that she has in the first instance to
look for protection from the all-potent but insidious and vastly
under-estimated evil under which no Church ever throve. The outed
ministers are comparatively safe. Unless prudence be altogether
wanting, and the wolf comes to the door, not, as in the child's
story-book, in the disguise of a soft-voiced girl, but in that of a
gruff sheriff's officer, they will continue to bear through life the
old status of the Establishment, heightened by the _éclat_ of the
Disruption. But our younger men of subsequent appointment stand
on no such platform, nor will any of their contemporaries or
successors step upon it as a matter of course when the heroes of the
conflict have dropped away, and they come to occupy their vacant
places. Their status will be found to depend on two circumstances,
neither of them derived from the men of a former time--on their
ability to maintain a respectable place among the middle classes, and
on their scholastic acquirements and general manners. A half-paid,
half-taught, half-bred minister of religion may be a very excellent
man; we have seen such, both in England and our own country, among
the non-Presbyterian Dissenters who laboured to do well, and were
exceedingly in earnest; but no such type of minister will ever be
found influential in Scotland, either in extending the limits of a
Church, or in benefiting the more intelligent classes of the
people. And the two circumstances of acquirement and remuneration
will be found indissolubly connected. A Church of under-paid
ministers, however fairly it may start, will, in the lapse of a
generation, become a Church of under-taught and under-bred ministers
also. Nor is there any chance that the evil, once begun, will ever
cure itself, for the under-bred and the under-taught will be sure
to continue the under-paid. That animating spirit of a Church,
without which wealth and learning avail but little, money now, as
of old, cannot buy; but the secular will be ever found to depend on
the secular,--the general rate of secular acquirement on the
general rate of secular remuneration; and unless both be pitched
at a level very considerably above that of the labouring laity,
which constitutes the great bulk of congregations, even the better
ministers of a Church need not expect to escape _fine-bodyism_. And
once infected with this fatal indisposition, they must be content to
suffer, among other evils, the evil of being permitted to lay
whatever claim to status they may choose, without challenge or
contradiction. 'Oh yes,' it will be said, should they assert that
their Church is the Church of the nation, and that it is they
themselves, and not the ministers of the Establishment, who are on
the true constitutional ground,--'Oh yes, Church of the nation, or, if
ye will, Church of the whole world, or, in short, anything you please;
for you are _fine bodies_.' Chalmers exercised all his sagacity
when he demanded of the Court of Teinds 'to be raised, and that as
speedily as possible, above the imputation of being a _fine body_.'
And what Chalmers demanded of the Court of Teinds, every minister of
the Free Church ought to ask of the Sustentation Fund.

But how is the demand to be effectually made? It is well known to
statesmen, who, when they once get a tax imposed by Parliament, can
employ all the machinery of the police and the standing army--of
fines, confiscations, and prisons--in exacting it, that yet,
notwithstanding, in the arithmetic of finance two and two do not
always make four. There are certain pre-existing laws to be
studied--laws not of man's passing, but which arise out of man's
nature and the true bearings and relations of things; and unless
these be studied and conformed to, the Parliament-imposed tax,
though backed by the constable and the jail, will realize but
little. And if the statesman must study these laws, well may the
Church do so, who has no constables in her pay, and to whom no
jail-keys have been entrusted. It ought, we think, to be regarded
as one fundamental law, that whatever has been gained by the seven
years' establishment of the Fund, should not be lightly perilled by
bold and untried innovations. True, there may, on the one hand, be
danger, if let too much alone, that its growth should be arrested,
and of its passing into a stunted and hide-bound condition, little
capable of increase; but the danger is at least as great, on the
other, that if subjected to fundamental changes, it might lose that
advantage of permanency which whatever is established possesses
in virtue of its being such; and which has its foundation in habit,
and in that vague sense of responsibility which leads men to give,
year after year, what they had been accustomed to give in the previous
years, just because they had given it. Let it not be forgotten,
that though much still remains to be done in connection with this
Fund, much has been done already--that a voluntary tax of about
eighty thousand pounds per annum, raised from about one-third, and
that by no means the wealthiest third, of the Scottish people, is
really not a small, but a great one--and that as great, and as
worthy of being desired and equalled, do the other non-endowed
Churches of the country regard it. No tampering, therefore, with its
principle should be attempted: he was an eminently wise man who
first devised and instituted it,--not once in an age do churches, or
even countries, get such men to guide their affairs,--and it ought
by all means to be permitted to _set_ and consolidate in the mould
which he formed for it. We would apply in this case the language of
a philosophic writer of the last age, when speaking of government in
general:--'An established order of things,' he said, 'has an infinite
advantage, by the very circumstance of its being established. To
tamper, therefore, to try experiments upon it, upon the credit of
supposed fitness and improvement, can never be the part of a wise man,
who will bear a reverence for what carries the marks of the
stability of age; and though he may attempt some improvements for
the public good, yet will he adjust his innovations as much as
possible to the ancient fabric, and preserve entire the chief
pillars and supports of the institution.'

It ought, we hold, to be regarded as another law of the Fund, that the
means taken to increase it should be means exclusively fitted to lead
the givers to think of their _duties_, not of their _rights_. The
Sustentation Fund is not the result of a tax properly so called, but
an accumulation of freewill offerings rendered to the Church by men
who in this matter are responsible to God only. What the Church receives
on these terms she can divide; but what the givers do not place at her
disposal--what, on the contrary, they reserve for quite another
purpose--she cannot lay hold of and distribute. It is not hers, but
theirs; and the attempt to appropriate it might be very fatal. Hence
the danger of the question regarding the appropriation for general
purposes of supplements, which was mooted two years ago, but which was
so promptly put down by the good sense of the Church. It would have led
men to contend for their rights, and, in the struggle, to forget their
duties; and the battle would have been a losing one for the Fund. We
regard it as another law, that the distribution of the sustentation
money entrusted to the Church should be a distribution, not
discretionary, but fixed by definite enactment. A discretionary
licence of distribution, extended to some central board or committee,
even though under the general review of the Church, could not be other
than imminently dangerous, because opposed in spirit to the very
principle of Presbytery. And if Presbytery and the Sustentation Fund
come into collision in the Free Church of Scotland, it is not
difficult to say which of the two would go down. It has been shrewdly
remarked by Hume, that in monarchies there is room for discretionary
power--the laws under a great and wise prince may in some cases be
softened, or partially suspended, and carried into full effect in
others; but republics admit of no such discretionary authority--the
laws in them must in every instance be thoroughly executed, or set
aside altogether. Every act of discretionary authority is treason
against the constitution. And so is it with Presbytery. Give to a
central board or committee the power of sitting in judgment on the
circumstances of ministers of their body, and of apportioning to one
some thirty or forty pounds additional, and of cutting down another to
the average dividend, and, for a time at least, the Presbyterian
independence is gone. But the reaction point once reached--and in the
Free Church the process would not be a very tedious one--the
discretionary authority would be swept away in the first instance, and
the Sustentation Fund not a little damaged in the second. It is of
paramount importance, therefore--a law on no account to be neglected
or traversed--that the distribution of the Fund be regulated by rules
so rigid and unbending, and of such general application, that the
manifestation of favour or the exercise of patronage on the part of
the board or committee authorized to watch over it may be wholly an

It is, in the next place, of importance carefully to scan the
sources whence the expected increase of the Fund is to come. The
givers in the Free Church at the present time seem to lie very
much in extremes. A considerable number, animated by the Disruption
spirit, contribute greatly more to ministerial support, in proportion
to their incomes, than the old Dissenters of the kingdom; but a
still larger number, reposing indolently on the exertions of these,
and in whom the habit has not been cultivated or formed, give
considerably less. It was stated by Mr. Melvin, in the meeting of
the United Presbyterian Synod held on Wednesday last, that, 'on an
average, the members of weak congregations in connection with their
body contributed to the support of their minister about 14s. 6d. per
annum, besides about 2s. 6d. for missionary purposes, while some
of them contributed even as high as 25s. to 26s.' Now, an average rate
of contribution liberal as this, among the members of country
congregations in the Free Church, would at once place the Fund in
flourishing circumstances, and render it, unless its management was
very unwise indeed, sufficient to maintain a ministry high above the
dreaded level of _fine-bodyism_. Nor do we see why, if we except
the crushed and poverty-stricken people of some of the poorer
Highland districts, Free Church congregations in the country
should not contribute as largely to church purposes as United
Presbyterian congregations in the same localities. The membership of
both belong generally to the same level of society, and, if equally
willing, are about equally able to contribute. Here, then, is a
field which still remains to be wrought. Something, too, may be done
at the present time, from the circumstance that the last instalment
of the Manse Building Fund is just in the act of being paid, and
those who have been subscribing for five years to this object, and
formed a habit of periodic giving in relation to it, may be induced
to transfer a portion of what they gave to the permanent fund, and
so continue contributing. Ere, however, they can be expected to do
so, they must be fairly assured that what they give is to be
employed in strengthening and consolidating the Church, and in raising
her ministers above the level of _fine-bodyism_, not in adding to
her weakness by adding to her extent. Until a distinct pledge be
given that there shall not be so much as a single new charge
sanctioned until the yearly dividend amounts to at least a hundred
and fifty pounds, we must despair of the Sustentation Fund. One may
hopefully attempt the filling up of a tun, however vast its contents;
but there can be no hope whatever in attempting the filling of a
sieve. And if what is poured into the Sustentation Fund is to be
permitted, instead of rising in the dividend, to dribble out
incontinently in a feeble extension, it will be all too soon
discovered that what we have to deal with is not the tun, but the
sieve; and the laity, losing all heart, will cease their exertions,
and permit their ministers to sink into poverty and _fine-bodyism_.

_May 15, 1850._


Some six or eight months after the Disruption there occurred an
amusing dispute between two Edinburgh newspapers, each of which
aspired to represent the Establishment solely and exclusively, without
coadjutor or rival. The one paper asserted that it was the _vehicle_
of the Established Church, the other that it was the Church's _organ_;
and each, in asserting its own claim, challenged that of its
neighbour. The organ was sure that the vehicle lacked the true
vehicular character; and the vehicle threw grave doubts on the
organship of the organ. In somewhat less than half a year, however,
the dispute came suddenly to a close: the vehicle--like a luckless
opposition coach, weak in its proprietorship--was run off the road,
and broke down; and the triumphant organ, seizing eager hold of the
name of its defunct rival as legitimate spoil, hung it up immediately
under its own, as a red warrior of the West seizes hold of the scalp
of a fallen enemy, and suspends it at his middle by his belt of
wampum. The controversy, however, lasted quite long enough to lead
curious minds to inquire how or on what principle a body so divided as
the Established Church could possibly have either vehicle or organ.

If the organ, it was said, adequately represent Dr. Muir, it cannot
fail very grievously to misrepresent Dr. Bryce; and if the vehicle
be adapted to give public airings to the thoughts and opinions of
the bluff old Moderates, those of Dr. Leishman and the Forty must
travel out into the wind and the sunlight by an opposition conveyance.
One organ or one vehicle will be no more competent to serve a
deliberative ecclesiastical body, diverse in its components, than one
organ or vehicle will be able to serve a deliberative political body
broken into factions. Single parties, as such--whether secular or
ecclesiastical--may have their single organ apiece; but it seems as
little possible that a Presbyterian General Assembly should have only
one organ representative of the whole, as that a _House of Lords_ or a
_House of Commons_ should have one organ representative of the
whole. An organ of the Establishment in its present state of
disunion, if at all adequately representative, could not fail to
resemble Montgomery's strange personification of war: 'A deformed
genius, with two heads, which, unlike those of Janus, were placed
front to front; innumerable arms, branching out all around his
shoulders, sides, and chest; and with thighs and legs as multitudinous
as his arms. His twin faces,' continues the poet, 'were frightfully
distorted: they glared, they grinned, they spat, they railed, and
hissed, and roared; they gnashed their teeth, and bit, and butted with
their foreheads at each other; his arms, wielding swords and spears,
were fighting pell-mell together; his legs, in like manner, were
indefatigably at variance, striding contrary ways, and trampling on
each other's toes, or kicking each other's shins, as if by mutual
consent.' Such would be the true representative of an organ that
adequately represented the Establishment.

We are led into this vein on the present occasion by a recent
discussion in high quarters on the organship of the Free Church,--a
Presbyterian body, be it remarked, as purely deliberative in its
courts as the Parliament of the country, and at least sufficiently
affected by the spirit of the age to include within its pale a
considerable diversity of opinion. It is as impossible, from this
cause alone, that the Free Church should be represented by a single
organ, as that the _House of Commons_ should be represented by a
single organ. The organ, for instance, that represented on the
education question the Rev. Mr. Moody Stuart, would most miserably
misrepresent the party who advocate the views of the great father of
the Free Church--the late Dr. Chalmers.

The organ that represented the peculiar beliefs held, regarding the
personal advent, by the party to which Mr. Bonar of Kelso belongs,
would greatly misrepresent those of the party to which Mr. David Brown
of Glasgow and Mr. Fairbairn of Saltoun belong. The organ that
advocated Dr. Cunningham's and Dr. James Buchanan's views of the
College question, would be diametrically opposed to the view of Dr.
Brown of Aberdeen and Mr. Gray of Perth. The organ that contended for
an ecclesiastical right to legislate on the temporalities according to
the principle of Mr. Hay of Whiterig, would provoke the determined
opposition of Mr. Makgill Crichton of Rankeillour. The organ that took
part with the Evangelical and Sabbath Alliances in the spirit of Dr.
Candlish of St. George's, would have to defend its position against
Mr. King of St. Stephen's of the Barony; and the organ that espoused
the sentiments held on tests by Mr. Wood of Elie, would find itself in
hostile antagonism with those entertained on the same subject by Mr.
Gibson of Kingston. And such are only a few of the questions, and
these of an ecclesiastical or semi-ecclesiastical character, regarding
which a diversity of views, sentiments, and opinions in the Free
Church renders it impossible that it can be adequately represented by
any one organ, even should that organ be of a purely ecclesiastical
character. But a newspaper is _not_ of a purely ecclesiastical
character; and there are subjects on which it may represent a vast
majority of the people of a Church, without in the least degree
representing the Church itself, simply because they are subjects on
which a Church, as such, can hold no opinions whatever.

It is, for instance, not for a Church to say in what degree she
trusts the Whigs or suspects the Tories--or whether her suspicion be
great and her trust small--or whether she deem it more desirable that
Edinburgh should be represented by Mr. Cowan, than mis-represented
by Mr. Macaulay. These, and all cognate matters, are matters on
which the Church, as such, has no voice, and regarding which she
can therefore have no organ; and yet these are matters with which a
newspaper is necessitated to deal. It would be other than a newspaper
if it did not. On these questions, however, which lie so palpably
beyond the ecclesiastical pale, though the Church can have no
organ, zealous Churchmen may; and there can be no doubt whatever
that they are questions on which zealous Free Churchmen _are_ very
thoroughly divided--so thoroughly, that any single newspaper could
represent, in reference to them, only one class. The late Mr. John
Hamilton, for instance--a good and honest man, who, in his character
as a Free Churchman, determinedly opposed the return of Mr.
Macaulay--was wholly at issue regarding some of these points with the
Honourable Mr. Fox Maule, who in 1846 mounted the hustings to say
that the 'gratitude and honour of the Free Church' was involved in
Mr. Macaulay's return. And so the organ that represented the one,
could not fail to misrepresent the other. Now, we are aware that on
this, and on a few other occasions, the _Witness_ must have given very
considerable dissatisfaction in the political department to certain
members of the Free Church. It was not at all their organ on these
occasions; nay, at the very outset of its career, it had solemnly
pledged itself _not_ to be their organ.

The following passage was written by its present Editor, ere the first
appearance of his paper, and formed a part of its prospectus:--'The
_Witness_,' he said, '_will not espouse the cause of any of the
political parties which now agitate and_ _divide the country_.'
'Public measures, however, will be weighed as they present themselves
in an impartial spirit, with care proportioned to their importance,
and with reference not to the party with which they may chance to
originate, but to the principles which they shall be found to
involve.' Such was the pledge given by the Editor of the _Witness_;
and he now challenges his readers to say whether he has not honestly
redeemed it. Man is naturally a tool-making animal; and when he
becomes a politician by profession, his ingenuity in this special walk
of constructiveness is, we find, always greatly sharpened by the
exigencies of his vocation.

He makes tools of bishops, tools of sacraments, tools of Confessions
of Faith, and tools of Churches and church livings.

We had just seen, previous to the _début_ of the _Witness_, the Church
of Scotland converted by Conservatism into a sort of mining tool,
half lever, half pickaxe, which it plied hard, with an eye to the
prostration and ejection of its political opponents the Whigs,
then in office; and not much pleased to see the Church which we
loved and respected so transmuted and so wielded, we solemnly
determined that, so far at least as our modicum of influence
extended, no tool-making politician, whatever his position, should
again convert it unchallenged into an ignoble party utensil. With
God's help, we have remained true to our determination; and so
assured are we of being supported in this matter by the sound-hearted
Presbyterian people of the Free Church, that we have no fear
whatever, should either the assertors among us of the unimpeachable
consistency of the Conservatives, or of the immaculate honesty of the
Whigs, start against us an opposition vehicle to-morrow, that in
less than a twelvemonth we would run it fairly off the road, and
have some little amusement with it to boot, so long as the contest
continued. The _Witness_ is not, and, as we have shown, cannot be,
the organ of the Free Church; but it is something greatly better:
it is the trusted representative--against Whig, Tory, Radical, and
Chartist--against Erastian encroachment and clerical domination--of
the Free Church people. There lies its strength,--a strength which
its political Free Church opponents are welcome to test when they

We must again express our regret that the article on the Duke of
Buccleuch, which has proved the occasion of so much remark, spoken and
written, should have ever appeared in our columns; and this, not, as
the agent of the Duke asserts, because it has been _exposed_, but
because of the unhappy unsolidity of its facts, and because of that
diversion of the public attention which it has effected from cases
such as those of Canobie and Wanlockhead, and from such a death-bed as
that of the Rev. Mr. Innes. Our readers are already in possession of
our explanation, and have seen it fully borne out by the incidental
statement of Mr. Parker. We would crave leave to remind them that the
_Witness_ is now in the ninth year of its existence; and that during
that time the Editor stated many facts, from his own observation,
connected with the refusal of sites, and other matters of a similar
character. He saw congregations worshipping on bare hill-sides in the
Highlands of Sutherland, and on an oozy sea-beach on the coast of
Lochiel; he sailed in the Free Church yacht the _Betsey_, and
worshipped among the islanders of Eigg and of Skye. Nor did he shrink
from very minutely describing what he had witnessed on these
occasions, nor yet from denouncing the persecution that had thrust out
some of the best men and best subjects of the country, to worship
unsheltered amid bleak and desert wastes, or on the bare sea-shore.

And yet, of all the many facts which he thus communicated on his own
authority, because resting on his own observation, not one of them has
ever yet been disproved; nay, scarce one of them has ever yet been so
much as challenged.

Of course, in reference to the statements which he has had to make on
the testimony of others, his position was necessarily different; and a
very delicate matter he has sometimes found it to be, to deal with
these statements. A desire, on the one hand, to expose to the
wholesome breathings of public opinion whatever was really oppressive
and unjust; a fear, on the other, lest he should compromise the
general cause, or injure the character of his paper, by giving
publicity to what either might not be true, or could not be proven to
be true,--have often led him to retain communications beside him for
weeks and months, until some circumstance occurred that enabled him to
determine regarding their real character and value. And such--with
more, however, than the ordinary misgivings, and with an unfavourable
opinion frankly and decidedly expressed--was the course which he took
with the communicated article on the Duke of Buccleuch.

That the testing circumstance which _did_ occur in the course of the
long period during which it was thus held _in retentis_ was not
communicated to him, or to any other official connected with the
_Witness_, he much regrets, but could not possibly help.

In the discussion on the Sites Bill of Wednesday last, the Honourable
Fox Maule is made to say, that 'the _Witness_ contained many articles
which had been condemned by the Church.'

Now this must be surely a misreport, as nothing could be more grossly
incorrect than such a statement. The voice of the Free Church--that by
which she condemns or approves--can be emitted through but her
deliberative courts, and recorded in but the decisions of her solemn
Assemblies. On the merits or demerits of the _Witness_, through these
her only legitimate organs, she has not yet spoken; and Mr. Maule is,
we are sure, by far too intelligent a Churchman to mistake the voice
of a mere political coterie, irritated mayhap by the loss of an
election, for the solemn deliverance of a Church of Christ. With
respect to his reported statement, to the effect that the _Witness_
'contained many articles which had done great harm to the Free
Church,' the report may, we think, be quite correct. The _Witness_
contained a good many articles on the special occasion when the Free
Churchmen of Edinburgh conspired--'ungratefully and dishonourably,' as
Mr. Maule must have deemed it--to eject a Whig Minister, and to place
in his seat, as their representative, a shrewd citizen and honest

And these lucubrations accomplished, we daresay, their modicum of
harm. With regard, however, to the articles of the _Witness_ in
general, we think we can confidently appeal in their behalf to such
of our readers as perused them, not as they were garbled, misquoted,
interpolated, and mis-represented by unscrupulous enemies, but as
they were first given to the public from the pen of the Editor. Among
these readers we reckon men of all classes, from the peer to the
peasant--Conservative landowners, magistrates, merchants, ministers of
the gospel. Dr. Chalmers was a reader of the _Witness_ from its
first commencement to his death; and he, perusing its editorial
articles as they were originally written--not as they were garbled or
interpolated in other prints--saw in them very little to blame.

Not but that some of our sentences look sufficiently formidable in
extracts when twisted from their original meaning; and this, just as
the Decalogue itself might be instanced as a code of licentiousness,
violence, and immorality, were it to be exhibited in garbled
quotations, divested of all the _nots_. In the _Edinburgh Advertiser_
of yesterday, for instance, we find the following passage:--'It [_The
Witness_] has menaced our nobles with the horrors of the French
Revolution, when the guillotine plied its nightly task, and when the
"bloody hearts of aristocrats dangled on button-holes in the streets
of Paris." It has reminded them of the time when a "grey discrowned
head sounded hollow on the scaffold at Whitehall;" insinuating that,
if they persisted in opposing the claims of the Free Church, a like
fate might overtake the reigning dynasty of our time.'

When, asks the reader, did these most atrocious threats appear in the

They never, we reply, appeared in the _Witness_ as threats at all. The
one passage, almost in the language of Chateaubriand, was employed in
an article in which we justified the sentence pronounced on the
atheist Patterson. The other formed part of a purely historic
reference--in an article on Puseyism, written ere the Free Church had
any existence--to the Canterburianism of the times of Charles I., and
the fate of that unhappy monarch. We thought not of threatening the
aristocracy when quoting the one passage, nor yet of foreboding evil
to the existing dynasty when writing the other. On exactly the same
principle on which these passages have been instanced to our
disadvantage, the description of the _Holoptychius Nobilissimus_,
which appeared a few years ago in the _Witness_, might be paraded as a
personal attack on Sir James Graham; and the remarks on the
construction of the _Pterichthys_, as a gross libel on the Duke of
Buccleuch. It is, we hold, not a little to the credit of the
_Witness_, that, in order to blacken its character, means should be
resorted to of a character so disreputable and dishonest. From truth
and fair statement it has all to hope, and nothing to fear.

_June 14, 1848._


This is at once the handsomest and one of the best editions of the
curious and very interesting class of works to which it belongs, that
has yet been given to the public. It is scarce possible to appreciate
too highly the tact, judgment, and research displayed by the editor;
and rarely indeed, so far as externals are concerned, has the
typography of Scotland appeared to better advantage. It is a book
decked out for the drawing-room in a suit of the newest pattern,--a
tall, modish, well-built book, that has to be fairly set a-talking ere
we discover from its tongue and style that it is a production not of
our own times, but of the times of Charles and the Commonwealth. The
good, simple minister of Kilwinning would fail to recognise himself in
its fair open pages, that more than rival those of his old _Elzevirs_.
For his old-fashioned suit of home-spun grey, we find him sporting
here a modern dress-coat of Saxony broadcloth, and a pair of
unexceptionable cashmere trousers; and it is not until we step forward
and address the worthy man, and he turns upon us his broad, honest
face, that we see the grizzled moustache and peaked beard, and
discover that his fears are still actively engaged regarding the
prelatic leanings of Charles II., 'now at Breda;' though perchance not
quite without hope that the counsel of the 'wise and godly youth'
James Sharpe may have the effect of setting all right again in the
royal mind. We address what we take, from the garb, to be a
contemporary, and find that we have stumbled on one of the seven

We deem it no slight advantage to the reading public of the present
day, that it should have works of this character made so easy of
access. It is only a very few years since the student of Scottish
ecclesiastical history could not have acquainted himself with the
materials on which the historian can alone build, without passing
through a course of study at least as prolonged as an ordinary college
course, and much more laborious. Let us suppose that he lived in
some of the provinces. He would have, in the first place, to come
and reside in Edinburgh, and get introduced, at no slight expense of
trouble, mayhap, to the brown, half-defaced manuscripts of our public
libraries. He would require next to study the old hand, with all
its baffling contractions. If he succeeded in mastering the
difficulties of Melville's _Diary_ after a quarter of a year's
hard conning, he might well consider himself a lucky man. Row's
_History_ would occupy him during at least another quarter;
Baillie's _Letters and Journals_ would prove work enough for two
quarters more. If he succeeded in getting access to the papers of
Woodrow, he would find little less than a twelvemonth's hard labour
before him; Calderwood's large _History_ would furnish employment for
at least half that time; and if curious to peruse it in its best
and fullest form, he would find it necessary to quit Edinburgh for
London, to pore there over the large manuscript copy stored up in
the British Museum. As he proceeded in his course, he would be
continually puzzled by references, allusions, initials; he would
have to consult register offices, records of baptisms and deaths,
session books, old and scarce works, hardly less difficult to be
procured than even the manuscripts themselves; and if he at length
escaped the fate of the luckless antiquary, who produced the famous
history of the village of Wheatfield, he might deem himself more than
ordinarily fortunate. 'When I first engaged in this work,' said the
poor man, 'I had eyes of my own; but now I cannot see even with the
assistance of art: I have gone from spectacles of the first sight to
spectacles of the third; the Chevalier Taylor gives my eyes over,
and my optician writes me word he can grind no higher for me.' It
will soon be no such Herculean task to penetrate to the foundations of
our national ecclesiastical history. From publications such as
those of the Woodrow Club, and of the _Letters and Journals_, the
student will be able to acquire in a few weeks what would have
otherwise cost him the painful labour of years. Nor can we point out
a more instructive course of reading. In running over our modern
histories, however able, we almost always find our point of view
fixed down by the historian to the point occupied by himself. We
cannot take up another on our own behalf, unless we differ from him
altogether, nor select for ourselves the various subjects which we
are to survey. We are in leading-strings for the time: the vigour
of our author's thinking militates against the exercise of our own;
his philosophy enters our minds in a too perfect form, and lies
inert there, just as the condensed extract of some nourishing food
often fails to nourish at all, because it gives no employment to
the digestive faculty. A survey of the historian's materials has
often, on the contrary, the effect of setting the mind free. We see
the events of the times which he describes in their own light, and
simply as events,--we select and arrange for ourselves,--they call up
novel traits of character,--they lead us to draw on our experience
of men,--they confirm principles,--they suggest reflections.

Some of our readers will perhaps remember that we noticed at
considerable length the two first volumes of this beautiful edition of
Baillie rather more than a twelvemonth ago. The third and concluding
volume has but lately appeared. It embraces a singularly important
period,--extending from shortly before the rise of the unhappy and
ultimately fatal quarrel between the Resolutioners and Protesters,
till the re-establishment of Episcopacy at the Restoration, when the
curtain closes suddenly over the poor chronicler, evidently sinking
into the grave at the time, the victim of a broken heart. He sees a
stormy night settling dark over the Church,--Presbytery pulled down,
the bishops set up, persecution already commenced; and, longing to be
released from his troubles, he affectingly assures his correspondent,
in the last of his many letters, that 'it was the matter of his daily
grief that had brought his bodily trouble upon him,' and that it would
be 'a favour to him to be gone.' From a very learned, concise, and
well-written Life, the production of the accomplished editor, which
serves as a clue to guide the reader through the mazes of the
correspondence, we learn that he died three months after.

Where there is so much that is interesting, one finds it difficult to
select. The light in which the infamous Sharpe is presented in this
volume is at least curious. Prelacy, careful of the reputation of her
archbishops, makes a great deal indeed of the bloody death of the man,
but says as little as possible regarding his life and character. The
sentimental Jacobitism of the present day--an imaginative principle
that feeds on novels, and admires the persecutors because Claverhouse
was brave and had an elegant upper lip--goes a little further, and
speaks of him as the venerable Archbishop. When the famous picture of
his assassination was exhibiting in Edinburgh, some ten or twelve
years ago, he rose with the class almost to the dignity of a martyr:
there were young ladies that could scarce look at the piece without
using their handkerchiefs; the victim was old, greyhaired, reverend,
an archbishop, and eminently saintly, as a matter of course, whatever
the barbarous fanatics might say; and all that his figure seemed to
want in order to make it complete, was just a halo of yellow ochre
round the head. In Baillie's _Letters_ we see him exhibited, though
all unwittingly on the part of the writer, in his true character, and
find that the yellow ochre would be considerably out of place. Rarely,
indeed, does nature, all lost and fallen as it is, produce so
consummate a scoundrel. Treachery seems to have existed as so
uncontrollable an instinct in the man, that, like the appropriating
faculty of the thief, who amused himself by picking the pocket of the
clergyman who conducted him to the scaffold, it seems to have been
incapable of lying still. He appears never to have had a friend who
did not learn to detest and denounce him: his Presbyterian friends,
whom he deceived and betrayed, did so in the first instance; his
Episcopalian friends, whom he at least strove to deceive and betray,
did so in the second. We are assured by Burnet, that even Charles, a
monarch certainly not over-nice in the moral sense, declared James
Sharpe to be one of the worst of men. His life was a continuous lie;
and he has left more proofs of the fact in the form of letters under
his own hand, than perhaps any other bad man that ever lived.

In Baillie he makes his first appearance as the Presbyterian minister
of Crail, and as one of the honest chronicler's greatest favourites.
The unhappy disputes between the Resolutioners and Protesters were
running high at the time. Baillie was a Resolutioner, Sharpe a zealous
Resolutioner too; and Baillie, naturally unsuspicious, and biassed in
his behalf by that spirit of party which can darken the judgment of
even the most discerning, seems to have regarded him as peculiarly the
hope of the Church. He was indisputably one of its most dexterous
negotiators; and no man of the age made a higher profession of
religion. Burnet, who knew him well in his after character as
Archbishop of St. Andrews, tells us that never, save on one solitary
occasion, did he hear him make the slightest allusion to religion. But
in his letters to Baillie, almost every paragraph closes with the
aspirations of a well-simulated devotion. They seem as if strewed over
with the fragments of broken doxologies. The old man was, as we have
said, thoroughly deceived. He assures his continental correspondent,
Spang, that 'the great instrument of God to cross the evil designs of
the Protesters, was that _very worthy, pious, wise, and diligent young
man_, Mr. James Sharpe.' In some of his after epistles we learn that
he remembered him in his prayers, no doubt very sincerely, as, under
God, one of the mainstays of the Church. What first strikes the reader
in the character of Sharpe, as here exhibited, is his exclusively
diplomatic cast of talent. Baillie himself was a controversialist: he
wrote books to influence opinion, and delivered argumentative
speeches. He was a man of business too: he drew up remonstrances,
petitions, protests, and carried on the war of his party above-board.
All his better friends and correspondents, such as Douglas and
Dickson, were persons of a resembling cast. But Sharpe's vocation lay
in dealing with men in closets and window recesses: he could do
nothing until he had procured the private ear of the individual on
whom he wished to act. Is he desirous to influence the decisions of
the Supreme Civil Court in behalf of his party? He straightway
ingratiates himself with President Broghill, and the court becomes
more favourable in consequence. Is he wishful to propitiate the
English Government? He goes up to London, gets closeted with its more
influential members. It was this peculiar talent that pointed him out
to the Church as so fit a person to treat with Charles at Breda.

And it is when employed in this mission that we begin truly to see the
man, and to discover the sort of ability on which the success of his
closetings depended. We find Baillie holding, in his simplicity, that
in order to draw the heart of the King from Episcopacy, nothing more
could be necessary than just fairly to submit to him some sound
controversial work, arranged on the plan of the good man's own
_Ladensium_; and urging on Sharpe, that a few able divines should be
employed in getting up a compilation for the express purpose. Sharpe
writes in return, in a style sufficiently quiet, that His Majesty, in
his very first address, 'has been pleased to ask very graciously about
Robert Baillie,' a person for whom he has a particular kindness, and
whom, if favours were dealing, he would be sure not to forget. He
adds, further, that however matters might turn out in England, the
Presbyterian Establishment of Scotland was in no danger of violation;
and lest his Scotch friends should fall into the error of thinking too
much about other men's business, he gives fervent expression to the
hope 'that the Lord would give them to prize their own mercies, and
know their own duties.' Even a twelvemonth after, when on the eve of
setting out for London to be created a bishop, he writes his old
friend, that whatever 'occasion of jealousies and false surmises his
journey might give,' of one thing he might be assured, 'it was not in
order to a change in the Church,' as he 'would convince his dear
friend Mr. Baillie, through the Lord's help, when the Lord would
return him.' He has an under-plot of treachery carrying on at the same
time, that affects his 'dear friend' personally. In one of his letters
to the unsuspecting chronicler, he assures him that he was 'doing his
best, by the Lord's help,' to get him appointed Principal of the
University of Glasgow. In one of his letters to Lauderdale, after
stating that the office, 'in the opinion of many,' would require a man
'of more acrimony and weight' than 'honest Baillie,' he urges that the
presentation should be sent him, with a blank space, in which the name
of the presentee might be afterwards inserted.

Baillie, naturally slow to suspect, does not come fully to understand
the character of the man until a very few months before his death. He
then complains bitterly to his continental correspondent, amid the
ruin of the Church, and from the gloom of his sick-chamber, that
Sharpe was the traitor who, 'piece by piece, had so cunningly
trepanned them, that the cause had been suffered to sink without even
a struggle.' The apostate had gained his object, however, and become
'His Grace the Lord Primate.' There were great rejoicings. 'The new
bishops were magnificklie received;' they were feasted by the Lord
Commissioner's lady on one night, by the Chancellor on another; and in
especial, 'the Archbishop had bought a new coach at London, at the
sides whereof two lakqueys in purple did run.'

The vanity of Sharpe is well brought out on another occasion by
Burnet. The main object of one of his journeys to London, undertaken a
little more than a twelvemonth after the death of Baillie, was to urge
on the King that, as Primate of Scotland, he should of right take
precedence of the Scottish Lord Chancellor, and to crave His Majesty's
letter to that effect. In this trait, as in several others, he seems
to have resembled Robespierre. His cruelty to his old friends the
Presbyterians is well illustrated by the fact that he could make the
comparative leniency of Lauderdale, apostate and persecutor as
Lauderdale was, the subject of an accusation against him to Charles.
But there is no lack of still directer instances in the biographies of
the worthies whom his malice pursued. His meanness, too, seems to have
been equal to his malice and pride. When Lauderdale on one occasion
turned fiercely upon him, and threatened to impeach him for
_leasing-making_, he 'straightway fell a-trembling and weeping,' and,
to avoid the danger, submitted to appear in the royal presence; and
there, in the coarsest terms, to confess himself a liar. It is a
bishop who tells the story, and it is only one of a series. Truly the
Primate of all Scotland was fortunate in the death he died. 'The
dismal end of this unhappy man,' says Burnet, 'struck all people with
horror, and softened his enemies into some tenderness; so that his
memory was treated with decency by those who had very little respect
for him during his life.'

In almost every page in this instructive volume the reader picks up
pieces of curious information, or finds matters suggestive of
interesting thought. There start up ever and anon valuable hints that
germinate and bear fruit in the mind. We would instance, by way of
illustration, a hint which occurs in a letter to Lauderdale, written
shortly after the Restoration, and which, though apparently slight,
leads legitimately into a not unimportant train of thinking. Scotchmen
are much in the habit of referring to the political maxim that the
king can do no wrong, as a fundamental principle of the constitution,
which concerns them as directly as it does their neighbours the
English. Dr. Chalmers alluded to it no later than last week, in his
admirable speech in the Commission. The old maxim, that the king could
do no wrong, he said, had now, it would seem, descended from the
throne to the level of courts co-ordinate with the Church. Would it
not be a somewhat curious matter to find that this doctrine is one
which has in reality not entered Scotland at all? It stands in
England, a guardian in front of the throne, transferring every blow
which would otherwise fall on the sovereign himself, to the
sovereign's ministers: it is ministers, not sovereigns, who are
responsible to the people of England. But it would at least seem, that
with regard to the people of Scotland the responsibility extends
further. At least the English doctrine was regarded as _exclusively_
an English one in the days of Baillie, nearly half a century prior to
the Union, and more than a whole century ahead of those times in
which the influence of that event began to have the effect of mixing
up in men's minds matters peculiar to England with matters common to
Britain. We find Baillie, in his letter written immediately after the
passing of the Act Recissory, pronouncing the doctrine that the 'king
can do no fault,' as in his judgment 'good and wise,' but referring to
it at the same time as a doctrine, not of the Scottish Constitution,
but of the 'State of England.'

The circumstance is of importance chiefly from the light which it
serves to cast on an interesting passage in Scottish history. The
famous declaration of our Scotch Convention at the Revolution, that
James VII. had _forfeited_ the throne, as contrasted with the
singularly inadequate though virtually corresponding declaration of
the English Convention, that James II. 'had _abdicated_ the
government, and that the throne was thereby vacant,' has been often
remarked by the historians. Hume indirectly accounts for the
employment of the stronger word, by prominently stating that the more
zealous among the Scotch Royalists, regarding the assembly as illegal,
had forborne to appear at elections, and that the antagonist party
commanded a preponderating majority in consequence; whereas in England
the Tories mustered strong, and had to be conciliated by the
employment of softer language. Malcolm Laing, in noticing the fact,
contents himself by simply contrasting the indignation on the part of
the Scotch, which had been aroused by their recent sufferings, with
the quieter temper of the English, who had been less tried by the
pressure of actual persecution, and who were anxious to impart to
Revolution at least the colour of legitimate succession. And Sir James
Mackintosh, in his _Vindiciæ Gallicæ_, contents himself with simply
remarking that the 'absurd debates in the English Convention were
better cut short by the Parliament of Scotland, when they used the
correct and manly expression that James VII. _had forfeited the
throne_.' We are of opinion that the very different styles of the two
Conventions may be accounted for on the ground that, in the one
kingdom, the monarch, according to the genius of the constitution, was
regarded as incapable of committing wrong; whereas, in the other, he
was no less constitutionally regarded as equally peccable with any of
his subjects. A peccable monarch may _forfeit_ his throne; an
impeccable one can only _abdicate_ it. The argument must of course
depend on the soundness of Baillie's statement. Was the doctrine that
the king can do no wrong a Scottish doctrine at the time of the
Revolution, or was it not?

It was at least not a Scottish one in the days of Buchanan,--nor for a
century after, as we may learn very conclusively, not from Buchanan
himself, nor his followers--for the political doctrines of a school of
writers may be much at variance with those of their country--but from
the many Scottish controversialists on the antagonist side, who
entered the lists against both the master and his disciples. Buchanan
maintained, in his philosophical treatise, _De Jure Regni apud
Scotos_, that there are conditions by which the King of Scotland is
bound to his people, on the fulfilment of which the allegiance of the
people depends, and that 'it is lawful to depose, and even to punish
tyrants.' Knox, with the other worthies of the first Reformation, held
exactly the same doctrine. The _Lex Rex_ of Rutherford testifies
significantly to the fact that among the worthies of the second
Reformation it was not suffered to become obsolete. It takes a
prominent place in writings of the later Covenanters, such as the
_Hind let Loose_; and at the Revolution it received the practical
concurrence of the National Convention, and of the country generally.
Now the doctrine, be it remembered, was an often disputed one.
Buchanan's little work was the very butt of controversy for
considerably more than an hundred years. It was prohibited by
Parliament, denounced by monarchs, condemned to the flames by
universities; great lawyers wrote treatises against it at home, and
some of the most celebrated scholars of continental Europe took the
field against it abroad. We learn from Dr. Irving, in his _Classical
Biography_, that it was assailed among our own countrymen by
Blackwood, Winzet, Barclay, Sir Thomas Craig, Sir John Wemyss, Sir
Lewis Stewart, Sir James Turner, and last, not least, among the
writers who preceded the Revolution, by the meanly obsequious and
bloody Sir George Mackenzie. And how did these Scotchmen meet with the
grand doctrine which it embodied? The 'old maxime of the state of
England,' had it extended to the sister kingdom, would have at once
furnished the materials of reply. If constitutionally the King of
Scotland could do no wrong, then _constitutionally_ the King of
Scotland could not be deposed. But of an entirely different complexion
was the argument of which the Scottish assailants of Buchanan availed
themselves. It was an argument subversive to the English maxim.
Admitting fully that the king _could_ do wrong, they maintained merely
that, for whatever wrong he did, he was responsible, not to his
subjects, but to God only. Whatever the amount of wrong he committed,
it was the duty of his subjects, they said, passively to submit to it.
On came the Revolution. In England, in perfect agreement with the
doctrine of the king's impeccability--in perfect agreement, at least,
so far as words were concerned--it was declared that James had
abdicated the government, and that the throne was thereby vacant; and
certainly it cannot be alleged by even the severest moralist, that in
either abdicating a government or vacating a throne, there is the
slightest shadow of moral evil involved. In Scotland the decision was
different. The battle fought in the Convention was exactly that which
had been previously fought between Buchanan and his antagonists.
'Paterson, Archbishop of Glasgow, and Sir George Mackenzie,
asserted,' says Malcolm Laing, 'the doctrine of divine right, or
maintained, with more plausibility, that every illegal measure of
James's government was vindicated by the declaration of the late
Parliament, that _he was an absolute monarch, entitled to unreserved
obedience_, AND ACCOUNTABLE TO NONE; while Sir James Montgomery and
Sir John Dalrymple, who conducted the debate on the other side,
averred that the Parliament was neither competent to grant, nor the
king to acquire, _an absolute power, irreconcilable with the_
prevailed; and the estates declared that James VII. having, through
'_the advice of evil and wicked councillors_, invaded the fundamental
constitution of the kingdom, and altered it from a legal limited
monarchy to an arbitrary despotic power,' he had thereby _forfaulted_
his right to the crown.' The terms of the declaration demonstrate that
Baillie was quite in the right regarding the 'old maxime, that the
king can do no fault,' as exclusively a 'maxime of the State of
England.' By acting on the advice of 'evil and wicked councillors,' it
was declared that a peccable king had forfeited the throne. The fact
that there were councillors in the case did not so much even as
extenuate the offence: it was the advisers of the King who then, as
now, were accountable to the King's English subjects for the advice
they gave; it was the King in person who was accountable to his
Scottish subjects for the advice he took. This principle, hitherto
little adverted to, throws, as we have said, much light on the history
of the Revolution in Scotland.


There is a passage in the _Life of Sir Matthew Hale_ which has
struck us as not only interesting in itself, from the breadth and
rectitude of judgment which it discloses, but also from the very
direct bearing of the principle involved in it on some of the recent
interdicts of the Supreme Civil Court. It serves to throw a kind of
historic light, if we may so speak, on the judicial talent of our
country in the present age as exhibited by the majority of our judges
of the Court of Session--such a light as the ecclesiastical
historian of a century hence will be disposed to survey it in, when
coolly exercising his judgment on the present eventful struggle.
One of not the least prominent nor least remarkable features of the
Rebellion of 1745, says a shrewd chronicler of this curious portion of
our history, was an utter destitution of military talent among the
general officers of the British army. And the time is in all
probability not very distant, in which the extreme lack of judicial
genius betrayed by our courts of law in their present collision
with the courts ecclesiastical, shall be regarded, in like manner,
as one of the more striking characteristics of the _Rebellion_ of
the present day.

Sir Matthew Hale, as most of our readers must be aware, was a devoted
Royalist. He was rising in eminence as a barrister at the time the
Civil Wars broke out, and during that troublesome period he was
employed as counsel for almost all the more eminent men of the King's
party who were impeached by the Parliament. He was counsel for the
Earl of Strafford, for Archbishop Laud, for the Duke of Hamilton, for
the Earl of Holland, and for Lords Capel and Craven; and in every
instance he exhibited courage the most unshrinking and devoted, and
abilities of the highest order. When threatened in open court on one
occasion by the Attorney-General, he replied that the threat might be
spared: he was pleading in defence of those laws which the Government
had declared it would maintain and preserve, and no fear of personal
consequences should deter him in such circumstances from doing his
duty to his client. When Charles himself was brought to his trial, Sir
Matthew came voluntarily forward, and offered to plead for him also;
but as the King declined recognising the competency of his judges, the
offer was of course rejected. We all know how Malesherbes fared for
acting a similar part in France. The counsel of Louis XVI. closed his
honourable career on the scaffold not long after his unfortunate
master: his generous advocacy of the devoted monarch cost him his
life. But Cromwell, that 'least flagitious of all usurpers,' according
to even Clarendon's estimate, was no Robespierre; and were we called
on to illustrate by a single instance from the history of each the
very opposite characters of the Puritan Republicans of England and the
Atheistical Republican of France, we would just set off against one
another the fate of Malesherbes and the treatment of Sir Matthew.
Cromwell, unequalled in his ability of weighing the capabilities of
men, had been carefully scanning the course of the courageous and
honest barrister; and, convinced that so able a lawyer and so good and
brave a man could scarce fail of making an excellent judge, he
determined on raising him to the bench. At this stage, however, a
difficulty interposed, not in the liberal and enlightened policy of
the Protector, who had no objections whatever to a conscientious
Royalist magistrate, but in the scruples of Sir Matthew, who at first
doubted the propriety of taking office under what he deemed a usurped

The process of argument by which he overcame the difficulty, simple as
it may seem, is worthy of all heed. Its very simplicity may be
regarded as demonstrating the soundness of the understanding that
originated and then acted upon it as a firm first principle,
especially when we take into account the exquisitely nice character of
the conscience which it had to satisfy. It is absolutely necessary for
the wellbeing of society, argued Sir Matthew, that justice be
administered between man and man; and the necessity exists altogether
independently of the great political events which affect the sources
of power, by changing dynasties or revolutionizing governments. The
claim of the supreme ruler _de facto_ may be a bad one; he may owe his
power to some act of great political injustice--to an iniquitous
war--to an indefensible revolution--to a foul conspiracy; but the flaw
in his title cannot be regarded as weakening in the least the claim of
the people under him to the administration of justice among them as
the ordinance of God. The _right_ of the honest man to be protected by
the magistrate from the thief--the right of the peaceable man to be
protected by the magistrate from the assassin--is not a conditional
right, dependent on the title of the ruler: it is as clear and certain
during those periods so common in history, when the supreme power is
illegitimately vested, as during the happier periods of undisputed
legitimacy. And to be a minister of God for the administration of
justice, if the office be attainable without sin, is as certainly
right at all times as the just exercise of the magistrate's functions
is right at all times. If it be right that society be protected by the
magistrate, it is as unequivocally right in the magistrate to protect.
But it is wrong to recognise as legitimate the supreme ruler of a
country if his power be palpably usurped. English society, under
Cromwell, retains its right to have justice administered, wholly
unaffected by the flaw in Cromwell's title; but it would be wrong to
recognise his title, contrary to one's conviction, as void of any
flaw. In short, to use the simple language of Burnet, Sir Matthew,
'after mature deliberation, came to be of opinion, that as it was
absolutely necessary to have justice and property kept up at all
times, it was no sin to take a commission from usurpers, if there was
declaration made of acknowledging their authority.' Cromwell had
breadth enough to demand no such declaration from Sir Matthew, and so
the latter took his place on the bench. Nor is it necessary to say how
he adorned it. In agreement with his political views, he declined
taking any part in trials for offences against the State; but in cases
of ordinary felonies, no one could act with more vigour and decision.
During the trial of a Republican soldier, who had waylaid and murdered
a Royalist, the colonel of the soldier came into court to arrest
judgment, on the plea that his man had done only his duty, for that
the person whom he had killed had been disobeying the Protector's
orders at the time; and to threaten the judge with the vengeance of
the supreme authority, if he urged matters to an extremity against
him. Sir Matthew listened coolly to his threats and his reasonings,
and then, pronouncing sentence of death against the felon, agreeably
to the finding of the jury, he ordered him out to instant execution,
lest the course of justice should be interrupted by any interference
on the part of Government. On another occasion, in which he had to
preside in a trial in which the Protector was deeply concerned, he
found that the jury had been returned, not by the sheriff or his
lawful officer, but by order of the Protector himself. He immediately
dismissed them, and, refusing to go on with the trial, broke up the
court. Cromwell, says Burnet, was highly displeased with him on this
occasion, and on his return from the circuit in which it had
occurred, told him in great anger that 'he was not fit to be a judge.'
'Very true,' replied Sir Matthew, whose ideas of the requirements of
the office were of the most exalted character,--'Very true;' and so
the matter dropped.

'It is absolutely necessary,' argued Sir Matthew, 'to have justice
kept up at all times,' whatever flaws may exist in the title of the
men in whom the supreme authority may chance to be vested. Never yet
was there a simpler proposition; but there is sublimity in its
breadth. It involves the true doctrine of subjection to the
magistrate, as enforced by St. Paul. The New Testament furnishes us
with no disquisitions on political justice: it does not say whether
the title of Domitian to the supreme authority was a good title or no,
or whether he should have been succeeded by Caligula, and Caligula by
Claudius, or no; or whether or no the fact that Claudius was poisoned
by the mother of Nero, derived to Nero any right to Claudius's throne.
We hear nothing of these matters. The magistracy described by St. Paul
is the magistracy conceived of by Sir Matthew Hale 'as necessary to be
kept up at all times.' An application of this simple principle to some
of the more marked proceedings of our civil courts during the last two
years will be found an admirable means of testing their degree of
judicial wisdom. 'It is absolutely necessary to have justice kept up
at all times,' and this not less necessary surely within than beyond
the pale of the Church. It is necessary that a minister of the gospel
'be blameless'--no drunkard, no swindler, no thief, no grossly obscene
person; nor can any supposed flaw in the constitution of an
ecclesiastical court disannul the necessity. A man may sit in that
court in a judicial capacity whose competency to take his seat there
may not have been determined by some civil court that challenges for
itself an equivocal and disputed right to decide in the matter. There
may exist some supposed, or even some real, flaw in that supreme
ecclesiastical authority of the country, through the exertion of which
the Church is to be protected from the infection of vice and
irreligion; but this flaw, real or supposed, furnishes no adequate
cause why justice in the Church 'should not be kept up.' 'Justice,'
said Sir Matthew, 'must be kept up at all times,' whatever the
irregularities of title which may occur in the supreme authority. The
great society of the Church has a right to justice, whether it be
decided that the ministers of _quoad sacra_ parishes have what has
been termed a _legal_ right to sit in ecclesiastical courts or no. The
devout and honest church member has a right to be protected from the
blasphemous profanities of the wretched minister who is a thief or
wretched swindler; the chaste and sober have a right to be protected
from the ministrations of the drunken and the obscene wretch, whose
preaching is but mockery, and his dispensations of the sacrament
sacrilege. The Church has a right to purge itself of such ministers;
and these sacred rights no supposed, even no real, flaw in the
constitution of its courts ought to be permitted to affect. 'Justice
may be kept up at all times.' We have said that the principle of Sir
Matthew Hale serves to throw a kind of historic light on the judicial
talent of our country in the present age, as represented by the
majority of our Lords of Session. It enables us, in some sort, to
anticipate regarding it the decision of posterity. The list of cases
of protection afforded by the civil court will of itself form a
curious climax in the page of some future historian. Swindling will
come after drunkenness in the series, theft will follow after
swindling, and the miserable catalogue will be summed up by an offence
which we must not name. And it will be remarked that all these gross
crimes were fenced round and protected in professed ministers of the
gospel by the interference of the civil courts, just because a
majority of the judges were men so defective in judicial genius that
they lost sight of the very first principles of their profession, and
held that 'justice is _not_ to be kept up at all times.' But we leave
our readers to follow up the subject. Some of the principles to which
we have referred may serve to throw additional light on the remark of
Lord Ivory, when recalling the interdict in the Southend case. 'Even
were the objection against the competency of _quoad sacra_ ministers
to be ultimately sustained,' said his Lordship, 'I am disposed to hold
that the judicial acts and sentences of the General Assembly and its
Commission, _bona fide_ pronounced in the interim, should be given
effect to notwithstanding.'


We enjoyed the honour on Wednesday last of being present as a guest
at the annual soiree of the Scottish Young Men's Society, and derived
much pleasure from the general appearance of the meeting, and the
addresses of the members and their friends. The body of the great
Waterloo Room was crowded on the occasion with a respectable,
intellectual-looking audience, including from about a hundred and
fifty to two hundred members of the Society, all of them young men
banded together for mutual improvement, and most of them in that
important decade of life--by far the most important of the appointed
seven--which intervenes between the fifteenth and the five-and-twentieth
year. The platform was equally well filled, and the Sheriff of
Edinburgh occupied the chair. We felt a particular interest in the
objects of the Society, and a deep sympathy with its members; for, as
we listened to the various speakers, and our eyes glanced over the
intelligent countenances that thronged the area of the apartment, we
thought of past difficulties encountered in a cause similar to that
which formed the uniting bond of the Society, and of not a few wrecks
which we had witnessed of men who had set out in life from the humbler
levels, with the determination of pressing their way upwards. And
feeling somewhat after the manner that an old sailor would feel who saw
a crew of young ones setting out to thread their way through some
dangerous strait, the perils of which he had already encountered, or to
sail round some formidable cape, which, after many an unsuccessful
attempt, he had doubled, we fancied ourselves in the position of one
qualified to give them some little advice regarding the navigation of
the seas on which they were just entering. But, be the fact of
qualification as it may, we found ourselves, after leaving the room,
addressing them, in imagination, in a few plain words, regarding some
of the rocks, and shoals, and insidious currents, which we knew lay in
their course. Men whose words come slowly and painfully when among
their fellows, can be quite fluent enough when they speak inwards
without breaking silence, and have merely an imaginary assemblage for
their audience; and so our short address went off glibly, without
break or interruption, in the style of ordinary conversational
gossip. There are curious precedents on record for the printing of
unspoken speeches. Rejecting, however, all the higher ones, we shall be
quite content to take our precedent from the famous speech which the
'indigent philosopher' addresses, in one of Goldsmith's _Essays_, to Mr.
Bellowsmender and the Cateaton Club. The philosopher begins, it will
be remembered, by telling his imaginary audience, that though Nathan
Ben Funk, the rich Jew, might feel a natural interest in the state of
the stocks, it was nothing to them, who had no money; and concludes
by quoting the 'famous author called Lilly's Grammar.'

'Members of the Scottish Young Men's Society,' we said, 'it is rather
late in life for the individual who now addresses you to attempt
acquiring the art of the public speaker. Those who have been most in
the habit of noticing the effect of the several mechanical professions
on character and intellect, divide them into two classes--the
_sedentary_ and the _laborious_; and they remark, that while in the
_sedentary_, such as the printing, weaving, tailoring, and shoemaking
trades, there are usually a considerable proportion of fluent
speakers, in the _laborious_ trades, on the other hand, such as those
of the mason, ship-carpenter, ploughman, and blacksmith, one
generally meets with but taciturn, slow-speaking men. We need scarce
say in which of these schools we have been trained. You will at once
see--to borrow from one of the best and most ancient of writers--that
we are "not eloquent," but "a man of slow speech, and of a slow
tongue." And yet we think we may venture addressing ourselves, in a
few plain words, to an association of young men united for the purpose
of mutual improvement. We ought and we do sympathize with you in your
object; and we congratulate you on the facilities which your numbers,
and your library, and your residence in one of the most intellectual
cities in the world, cannot fail to afford you in its pursuit. We
ourselves have known what it is to prosecute in solitude, with but few
books, and encompassed by many difficulties, the search after
knowledge; and we have seen year after year pass by, and the obstacles
in our way remaining apparently as great as at first. And were we to
sum up the condensed result of our experience in two brief words of
advice, it would amount simply to this, "Never despair." We are told
of Commodore Anson--a man whose sense and courage ultimately triumphed
over a series of perhaps the most appalling disasters man ever
encountered, and who won for himself, by his magnanimity, sagacity,
and cool resolution, the applauses of even his enemies, so that
Rousseau and Voltaire eulogized him, the one in history, the other in
romance,--we are told, we say, of this Anson, that when raised to the
British peerage, he was permitted to select his own motto, and that he
chose an eminently characteristic one--"_Nil Desperandum_." By all
means let it be your motto also--not as a thing to be paraded on some
heraldic label, but to be engraved upon your hearts. We wish that,
amid the elegancies of this hall, we could bring up before you some of
the scenes of our past life. They would form a curious panorama, and
might serve to teach that in no circumstances, however apparently
desperate, should men lose hope. Never forget that it is not
necessary, in order to overcome gigantic difficulties, that one's
strength should be gigantic. Persevering exertion is much more than
strength. We owe to shovels and wheelbarrows, and human muscles of the
average size and vigour, the great railway which connects the capitals
of the two kingdoms. And the difficulties which encompass the young
man of humble circumstances and imperfect education, must be regarded
as coming under the same category as difficulties of the purely
physical kind. Interrupted or insulated efforts, however vigorous,
will be found to be but of little avail. It is to the element of
continuity that you must trust. There is a world of sense in Sir
Walter Scott's favourite proverb, "_Time_ and I, gentlemen, against
any two." But though it be unnecessary, in order to secure success,
that one's efforts in the contest with gigantic difficulties should be
themselves gigantic, it is essentially necessary that they should
employ one's whole strength. Half efforts never accomplish anything.
"No man ever did anything well," says Johnson, "to which he did not
apply the whole bent of his mind." And unless a man keep his head
cool, and his faculties undissipated, he need not expect that his
efforts can ever be other than half efforts, or other than of a
desultory, fitful, non-productive kind. We do not stand here in the
character of a modern Rechabite. But this we must say: Let no young
man ever beguile himself with the hope that he is to make a figure in
society, or rise in the world, unless, as the apostle expresses it, he
be "temperate in all things." Scotland has produced not a few
distinguished men who were unfortunately _not_ temperate; but it is
well known that of one of the greatest of them all--perhaps one of the
most vigorous-minded men our country ever produced--the intemperate
habits were not formed early. Robert Burns, up till his twenty-sixth
year, when he had mastered all his powers, and produced some of his
finest poems, was an eminently sober man. Climbing requires not only a
steady foot, but a strong head; and we question whether any one ever
climbed the perilous steep, where, according to Beattie, "Fame's proud
temple shines afar," who did not keep his head cool during the
process. So far as our own experience goes, we can truly state, that
though we have known not a few working men, possessed some of them of
strong intellects, and some of them of fine taste, and even of genius,
not one have we ever known who rose either to eminence or a competency
under early formed habits of intemperance. These indeed are the
difficulties that cannot be surmounted, and the only ones. Rather more
than thirty years ago, the drinking usages of the country were more
numerous than they are now. In the mechanical profession in which we
laboured they were many: when a foundation was laid, the workmen were
treated to drink; they were treated to drink when the walls were
levelled; they were treated to drink when the building was finished;
they were treated to drink when an apprentice joined the squad;
treated to drink when his apron was washed; treated to drink when his
"time was out;" and occasionally they learned to treat one another to
drink. At the first house upon which we were engaged as a slim
apprentice boy, the workmen had a royal founding-pint, and two whole
glasses of whisky came to our share. A full-grown man might not deem a
gill of usquebhae an over-dose, but it was too much for a boy
unaccustomed to strong drink; and when the party broke up, and we got
home to our few books--few, but good, and which we had learned at even
an earlier period to pore over with delight--we found, as we opened
the page of a favourite author, the letters dancing before our eyes,
and that we could no longer master his sense. The state was perhaps a
not very favourable one for forming a resolution in, but we believe
the effort served to sober us. We determined in that hour that never
more would we sacrifice our capacity of intellectual enjoyment to a
drinking usage; and during the fifteen years which we spent as an
operative mason, we held, through God's help, by the determination. We
are not sure whether, save for that determination, we would have had
the honour of a place on this platform to-night. But there are other
kinds of intoxication than that which it is the nature of strong drink
or of drugs to produce. Bacon speaks of a "natural drunkenness." And
the hallucinations of this natural drunkenness must be avoided if you
would prosper. Let us specify one of these. Never let yourselves be
beguiled by the idea that fate has misplaced you in life, and that
were you in some other sphere you would rise. It is true that some men
_are_ greatly misplaced; but to brood over the idea is not the best
way of getting the necessary exchange effected. It is not the way at
all. Often the best policy in the case is just to forget the
misplacement. We remember once deeming ourselves misplaced, when, in a
season of bad health and consequent despondency, we had to work among
labourers in a quarry. But the feeling soon passed, and we set
ourselves carefully to examine the quarry. Cowper describes a prisoner
of the Bastile beguiling his weary hours by counting the nail-studs on
the door of his cell, upwards, downwards, and across,--

    "Wearing out time in numbering to and fro,
     The studs that thick emboss his iron door;
     Then downward and then upwards, then aslant
     And then alternate; with a sickly hope
     By dint of change to give his tasteless task
     Some relish; till, the sum exactly found
     In all directions, he begins again."

It was idle work; for to reckon up the door-studs never so often
was not the way of opening up the door. But in carefully examining
and recording for our own use the appearances of the stony bars of
our prison, we were greatly more profitably employed. Nay, we had
stumbled on one of the best possible modes of escaping from our
prison. We were in reality getting hold of its bolts and its
stancheons, and converting them into tools in the work of breaking
out. We remember once passing a whole season in one of the dreariest
districts of the north-western Highlands,--a district included in
that unhappy tract of country, doomed, we fear, to poverty and
suffering, which we find marked in the rain-map of Europe with a
double shade of blackness. We had hard work, and often soaking rain,
during the day; and at night our damp fuel filled the turf hut in
which we sheltered with suffocating smoke, and afforded no light by
which to read. Nor--even ere the year got into its wane, and when
in the long evenings we _had_ light--had we any books to read by it,
or a single literary or scientific friend with whom to exchange an
idea. We remember at another time living in an agricultural district
in the low country, in a hovel that was open along the ridge of the
roof from gable to gable, so that as we lay a-bed we could tell
the hours of the night by the stars that were passing overhead across
the chasm. There were about half-a-dozen farm-servants, victims to the
bothie system, that ate and slept in the same place; and often, long
after midnight, a disreputable poacher used to come stealthily in, and
fling himself down on a lair of straw that he had prepared for
himself in a corner. Now, both the Highland hut and the Lowland
hovel, with their accompaniments of protracted and uncongenial
labour, might be regarded as dreary prisons; and yet we found them
to be in reality useful schools, very necessary to our education.
And now, when we hear about the state of the Highlands, and the
character of our poor Highlanders, and of the influence of the bothie
system and of the game-laws, we feel that we know considerably more
about such matters than if our experience had been of a more limited
or more pleasant kind. There are few such prisons in which a young
man of energy and a brave heart can be placed, in which he will not
gain more by taking kindly to his work, and looking well about him,
than by wasting himself in convulsive endeavours to escape. If he but
learn to think of his prison as a school, there is good hope of his
ultimately getting out of it. Were a butcher's boy to ask us--you
will not deem the illustration too low, for you will remember that
Henry Kirke White was once a butcher's boy--were he to ask us how
we thought he could best escape from his miserable employment, we
would at once say, You have rare opportunities of observation; you
may be a butcher's boy in body, but in mind you may become an adept
in one of the profoundest of the sciences, that of comparative
anatomy;--think of yourself as not in a prison, but in a school,
and there is no fear but you will rise. There is another delusion
of that "natural drunkenness" referred to, against which you must
also be warned. Never sacrifice your independence to a phantom. We
have seen young men utterly ruin themselves through the vain belief
that they were too good for their work. They were mostly lads of a
literary turn, who had got a knack of versifying, and who, in the
fond belief that they were poets and men of genius, and that poets
and men of genius should be above the soil and drudgery of mechanical
labour, gave up the profession by which they had lived, poorly
mayhap, but independently, and got none other to set in its place.
A mistake of this character is always a fatal one; and we trust
all of you will ever remember, that though a man may think himself
above his work, no man _is_, or no man ought to think himself, above
the high dignity of being independent. In truth, he is but a sorry,
weak fellow who measures himself by the conventional status of the
labour by which he lives. Our great poet formed a correcter estimate:

    "What though on hamely fare we dine,
       Wear hodden grey, and a' that?
     Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine,
       A man's a man for a' that."

There is another advice which we would fain give you, though it may be
regarded as of a somewhat equivocal kind: Rely upon yourselves. The
man who sets his hopes upon patronage, or the exertions of others in
his behalf, is never so respectable a man, and, save in very
occasional instances, rarely so _lucky_ a man, as he who bends his
exertions to compel fortune in his behalf, by making himself worthy of
her favours. Some of the greatest wrecks we have seen in life have
been those of waiters on patronage; and the greatest discontents which
we have seen in corporations, churches, and states, have arisen from
the exercise of patronage. Shakespeare tells us, in his exquisite
vein, of a virtue that is twice blessed,--blessed in those who give,
and blessed in those who receive. Patronage is twice cursed,--cursed
in the incompetency which it places where merit ought to be, and in
the incompetency which it creates among the class who make it their
trust. But the curse which you have mainly to avoid is that which so
often falls on those who waste their time and suffer their energies to
evaporate in weakly and obsequiously waiting upon it. We therefore
say, Rely upon yourselves. But there is One other on whom you must
rely; and implicit reliance on Him, instead of inducing weakness,
infinitely increases strength. Bacon has well said, that a dog is
brave and generous when he believes himself backed by his master, but
timid and crouching, especially in a strange place, when he is alone
and his master away. And a human master, says the philosopher, is as a
god to the dog. It certainly does inspire a man with strength to
believe that his great Master is behind him, invigorating him in his
struggles, and protecting him against every danger. We knew in early
life a few smart infidels--smart but shallow; but not one of them ever
found their way into notice; and though we have not yet lived out our
half century, they have in that space all disappeared. There are
various causes which conspire to write it down as fate, that the
humble infidel should be unsuccessful in life. In the first place,
infidelity is not a mark of good sense, but very much the reverse. We
have been much struck by a passage which occurs in the autobiography
of a great general of the early part of the last century. In relating
the disasters and defeats experienced in a certain campaign by two
subordinate general officers, chiefly through misconduct, and a lack
of the necessary shrewdness, he adds, "I ever suspected the judgment
of these men since I found that they professed themselves infidels."
The sagacious general had inferred that their profession of infidelity
augured a lack of sense; and that, when they got into command, the
same lack of sense which led them to glory in their shame would be
productive, as its necessary results, of misfortune and disaster.
There is a shrewd lesson here to the class who doubt and cavil simply
to show their parts. In the second place, infidelity, on the principle
of Bacon, is a weak, tottering thing, unbuttressed by that support
which gives to poor human nature half its strength and all its
dignity. But, above all, in the third and last place, the humble
infidel, unballasted by right principle, sets out on the perilous
voyage of life without chart or compass, and, drifting from off the
safe course, gets among rocks and breakers, and there perishes. But we
must not trespass on your time. With regard to the conduct of your
studies, we simply say, Strive to be catholic in your tastes. Some of
you will have a leaning to science; some to literature. To the one
class we would say, Your literature will be all the more solid if you
can get a vein of true science to run through it; and to the other,
Your science will be all the more fascinating if you temper and
garnish it with literature. In truth, almost all the greater subjects
of man's contemplation belong to both fields. Of subjects such as
astronomy and geology, for instance, the poetry is as sublime as the
science is profound. As a pretty general rule, you will perhaps find
literature most engaging in youth, and science as you grow in years.
But faculties for both have been given you by the great Taskmaster,
and it is your bounden duty that these be exercised aright. And so let
us urge you, in conclusion, in the words of Coleridge:

    "Therefore to go and join head, heart, and hand,
     Active and firm to fight the bloodless fight
     Of science, freedom, and the truth in Christ."


One of the many dangers to which the members of a disestablished
Church just escaped from State control and the turmoil of an exciting
struggle are liable, is the danger of getting just a little wild on
minute semi-metaphysical points, and of either quarrelling regarding
them with their neighbours, or of falling out among themselves. Great
controversies, involving broad principles, have in the history of the
Church not unfrequently broken into small controversies, involving
narrow principles; just as in the history of the world mighty empires
like that of Alexander the Great have broken up into petty provinces,
headed by mere satraps and captains, when the master-mind that formed
their uniting bond has been removed. Independently of that stability
which the legalized framework of a rightly-constituted Establishment
is almost sure to impart to its distinctive doctrines, the influence
of its temporalities has in one special direction a sobering and
wholesome effect. Men carefully weigh principles for the assertion of
which they may be called on to sacrifice or to suffer, and are usually
little in danger, in such circumstances, of becoming martyrs to a mere
crotchet. The first beginnings of notions that, if suffered to grow in
the mind, may at length tyrannize over it, and lead even the moral
sense captive, are often exceedingly minute.

They start up in the form of, mayhap, solitary ideas, chance-derived
from some unexpected association, or picked up in conversation or
reading; the attention gradually concentrates upon them; auxiliary
ideas, in consequence, spring up around them; they assume a logical
form--connect themselves, on the one hand, with certain revealed
injunctions of wide meaning--lay hold, on the other, on a previously
developed devotional spirit or well-trained conscientiousness; and, in
the end, if the minds in which they have arisen be influential ones,
they alter the aspects and names of religious bodies, and place in a
state of insulation and schism churches and congregations.

Their rise somewhat resembles that of the waves, as described by
Franklin in his paper on the effects of oil in inducing a calm, or in
preserving one. 'The first-raised waves,' he says, 'are mere wrinkles;
but being continually acted upon by the wind, they are, though the
gale does not increase in strength, continually increased in
magnitude, rising higher, and extending their bases so as to include
in each wave vast masses, and to act with great momentum. The wind,
however,' continues the philosopher, 'blowing over water covered with
oil, cannot _catch_ upon it so as to raise the first or elementary
wrinkles, but slides over it, and leaves it smooth as it finds it; and
being thus prevented from producing these first elements of waves, it
of course cannot produce the waves themselves.' In applying the
illustration just a little further, we would remark, that within a
wholesomely-constituted religious Establishment, the influence of the
temporalities acts in preventing the rise of new notions, like the
smoothing oil. If it does not wholly prevent the formation of the
first wrinkles of novel opinion, it at least prevents their
heightening into wavelets or seas. If the billows rise within so as to
disrupt the framework of the Establishment, and make wreck of its
temporalities, it may be fairly premised that they have risen not from
any impulsion of the light winds of uncertain doctrine, but, as in the
Canton de Vaud and the Church of Scotland, in obedience to the strong
ground-swell of sterling principle.

Now we deem it a mighty advantage, and one which should not be
wilfully neutralized by any after act of the body, that the
distinctive principles of the Free Church bear the stamp and pressure
of sacrifice. The temporalities resigned for their sake do not
adequately measure their value; but they at least demonstrate that,
in the estimate of those who resigned them, the principles did of
a certainty possess value up to the amount resigned. The Disruption
forms a guarantee for the stamina of our Church's peculiar tenets,
and impresses upon them, in relation to the conscience of the Church,
the stamp of reality and genuineness. And that influence of the
temporalities to which we refer, and under which the controversy
grew, had yet another wholesome influence. It prevented the wrinklings
of new, untried notions from gathering momentum, and rising into
waves. The great billows, influential in producing so much, were
the result of ancient, well-tested realities: they had rolled
downwards, fully formed, as a portion of the great ground-swell of
the Reformation. The Headship of the adorable Redeemer--the spiritual
independence of the Church--the rights of the Christian people: these
were not crotchets based on foundations of bad metaphysics; they
were vital, all-important principles, worthy of being maintained and
asserted at any cost. It is indeed wonderful how entirely, immediately
previous to the Disruption, the Church of Scotland assumed all the
lineaments of her former self, as she existed in the days of Knox and
his brethren. Once more, after the lapse of many years, she stood on
broad anti-patronage ground. Once more, after having been swaddled up
for an age in the narrow exclusiveness of the Act of 1799, that had
placed her in a state of non-communion with the whole Christian
world, she occupied, through its repeal, the truly liberal position
with regard to the other evangelistic churches of her early fathers.
Once more her discipline, awakened from its long slumber, had become
efficient, as in her best days, for every purpose of purity. She
had become, on the eve of her disestablishment, after many an
intervening metamorphosis, exactly, in character and lineament, the
Church which had been established by the State nearly three centuries
before. She went out as she had come in. There was a peculiar
sobriety, too, in all her actings. Her sufferings and sacrifices
were direct consequents of the invasion of her province by the civil

But she did not on that account cease to recognise the magistrate in
his own proper walk as the minister of God.

Her aggrieved members never once forgot that they were Scotchmen and
Britons as certainly as Presbyterians, and that they had a country as
certainly as a Church to which they owed service, and which it was
unequivocally their duty to defend.

They retreated from the Establishment, and gave up all its advantages
when the post had become so untenable that these could be no longer
retained with honour--or we should perhaps rather say, retained
compatibly with right principle; but they did not in wholesale
desperation give up other posts which could still be conscientiously

The educational establishment of the country, for instance, was not
abandoned, though the ecclesiastical one was.

The Principal of the United College of Saint Salvador and Saint
Leonard's signed the Deed of Demission in his capacity as an elder of
the Church, but in his capacity of Principal he returned to his
College, and in that post fought what was virtually the battle of his
country, and fought it so bravely and well that he is Principal of the
College still. And the parish schoolmasters who adhered to the Free
Church fought an exactly similar battle, though unfortunately with a
less happy issue; but that issue gives at least prominence to the fact
that they did not resign their charges, but were thrust from them.
The other functionaries of the Assembly, uninfluenced by any wild
Cameronian notion, held by their various secular offices, civil and
military. Soldiers retained their commissions--magistrates their seats
on the bench--members of Parliament their representative status. Nor
did a single member of the Protesting Church possessed of the
franchise resign, in consequence of the Disruption, a single political
right or privilege. The entire transaction bore, we repeat, the stamp
of perfect sobriety. It was in all its details the act of men in their
right minds.

Now the principles held by the Church at the Disruption, and none
other, whether Voluntary or Cameronian, are the principles of the Free
Church. A powerful majority in a Presbyterian body, or in a country
possessed of a representative government, are vested in at least the
_power_ of making whatever laws they will to make, for not only
themselves, but for the minority also. But _power_ is not _right_; and
we would at once question the _right_ of even a preponderating
majority in a Church such as ours to introduce new principles into her
framework, and to impose them on the minority. We question, on this
principle, the _right_ of that act of discipline which was exercised
in the present century by a preponderating majority of the Antiburgher
body in Scotland, when they deposed and excommunicated the late Dr.
M'Crie for the ecclesiastical offence of holding in every particular
by the original tenets of the fathers of the Secession.

The overt act in the case manifested their _power_, but the various
attempts made to manifest their _right_ we regard as mere abortions.
They had no _right_ to do what they did. The questions on which the
majority differed from their fathers ought in justice, instead of
being made a subject of legislation, to be left an open question. And
we hold, on a similar principle, that whatever questions of conduct
or polity may arise in the Free Church, which, though new to it, yet
come to be adopted by a majority, should be left open questions also.
Of course, of novelties in doctrine we do not speak,--we trust that
within the Free Church none such will ever arise; we refer rather to
those semi-metaphysical points of casuistry, and nice questions of
conduct, in which the differences that perplex non-established
Churches are most liable to originate,--matters in which one man sees
after one way, and another man after another,--and which, until heaped
up into importance, wave-like, as if by the wind, pertain not to the
province of solid demonstrable truth, but to the province of loose
fluctuating opinion. And be it remarked, that non-established Churches
are very apt to be disturbed by such questions.

They are in circumstances in which the ripple passes into the wavelet,
and the wavelet into the billow. On this head, as on all others, there
is great value in the teachings of history; and the Free Church might
be worse employed than in occasionally conning the lesson. Each fifty
years of the last century and half has been marked by its own special
questions of the kind among the non-established Churches of Scotland.

The question of the last fifty years has been that Voluntary one which
virtually led to the striking off the roll of the Antiburgher
Secession Church, those protesting ministers who formed the nucleus of
the Original Secession, and to the excommunication and deposition of
Dr. M'Crie. The question of the preceding fifty years was that
connected with the burghal oath, which had the effect of splitting
into two antagonist sections the religious body of which the Burgher
Secession formed but one of the fragments,--a body fast rising at the
time into a position of importance, which the split prevented it from
ever fully realizing. The question of the fifty years with which the
period began was that which fixed the Cameronian body, not merely in
a condition of unsocial seclusion in its relation with all other
churches, but even detached it from its allegiance to the State, and
placed it in circumstances of positive rebellion. Perhaps the history
of this latter body, as embodied in its older testimony, and the
controversial writings of its Fairlys and Thorburns, is that from the
study of which the Free Church might derive most profit at the present
time. We live in so late an age of the world, that we have little
chance of finding much which is positively new in the writings or
speeches of our casuists. When we detect, in consequence, some of our
ministers or office-bearers sporting principles that do not
distinctively belong to the Church of the Disruption, we may be pretty
sure, if we but search well, of discovering these principles existing
as the distinctive tenets of some other Church; and the present
tendency of a most small but most respectable minority in our body is
decidedly Cameronian.

The passages of Scripture on which the Cameronians chiefly dwelt in
their testimony and controversial writings, were those discussed by
the Free Presbytery of Edinburgh on Wednesday last. As condemnatory of
what is designated the great national sin of the Union, for instance,
the testimony adduces, among other texts, Isa. viii. 12, 'Say ye not,
A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A
confederacy;' Hos. vii. 8, 9, 'Ephraim hath mixed himself among the
people; Ephraim is a cake not turned. Strangers have devoured his
strength, and he knoweth it not; yea, grey hairs are here and there
upon him, and he knoweth it not;' and above all, 2 Cor. vi. 14, 15,
'Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what
fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion
hath light with darkness, and what concord hath Christ with Belial, or
what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?' And let the reader
mark how logically these Scriptures are applied. 'All associations
and confederacies with the enemies of true religion and godliness,'
says the Testimony, 'are thus expressly condemned in Scripture, and
represented as dangerous to the true Israel of God. And if simple
confederacies with malignants and enemies to the cause of Christ are
condemned, much more is an incorporation with them, which is an
embodying of two into one, and therefore a straiter conjunction. And,
taking the definition of malignants given by the declarations of both
kingdoms, joined in arms _anno_ 1643, to be just, which says, "Such as
would not take the Covenant were to be declared to be public enemies
to religion and their country, and that they are to be censured and
punished as professed adversaries and malignants," it cannot be
refused but that the prelatic party in England now joined with are
such. Further, by this incorporating union this nation is obliged to
support the _idolatrous_ Church of England.' And thus the argument
runs on irrefragable in its logic, if we but grant the premises. But
to what, we ask, did it lead, assisted, of course, by other arguments
of a similar character, in the body with whom it originated? To their
withdrawal, from the times of the Revolution till now, from every
national movement in the cause of Christ and His gospel; nay, most
consistently, we must add--for we have ever failed to see the sense or
logic of acting a public and political part in our own or our
neighbour's behalf, and declining on principle to act it in behalf of
Christianity or its institutions--not only have they withdrawn
themselves from all political exertion in behalf of religion, but in
behalf of their country also. A Cameronian holding firm by his
principles of non-incorporation with _idolaters_, cannot be a
magistrate nor a member of Parliament; he cannot vote in an election,
nor serve in the army.

It is one of the grand evils of questions of casuistry of this kind,
that men, instead of looking at things and estimating them as they
really exist, are contented to play games at logic--chopping with but
the imperfect signs of things--mere verbal counters, twisted from
their original meanings by the influence of delusive metaphors and
false associations.

Let us just see, in reference not to mere words, but to things, what
can be truly meant by the terms 'apostate or apostatizing Government,'
as applied to the Government of Great Britain. The words can have of
course no just application, in a personal bearing, to present members
of Government, as distinguished from the members of previous
Governments, seeing that the functionaries now in office are just as
much, or rather as little religious, as any other functionaries in
office since the times of the Revolution or before. In a _personal_
sense, England's last religious government was that of Cromwell. The
term apostate, or apostatizing, can have only an _official_ meaning.
What, then, in its official meaning, does it in reality express? The
government of the United Kingdom is representative; and it is one of
the great blessings which we enjoy as citizens that it is so,--one of
those blessings for which we may now, as when we were younger, express
ourselves thankful in the words of honest Isaac Watts, 'that we were
born on British ground.' At any rate, this fact of representation _is_
a _fact_--a _thing_, not a mere _word_. There is another fact in the
case equally solid and certain. This representation of the empire is
based on a population of about twenty-six millions of people; twelve
millions of whom are Episcopalian, eight millions Roman Catholic,
three millions Presbyterian, and three millions more divided among the
various other Protestant sects of the country. And this also is a
_fact_--a _thing_, not a mere _word_.

In the good providence of God we were born the citizens of an empire
thus representative in its government, and thus ecclesiastically
constituted in its population.

And it would be a further fact consequent on the other two, that the
aggregate character of the Government would represent the aggregate
moral and ecclesiastical character of the people, were every distinct
portion into which the people are parcelled to exert itself in
proportion to its share of political influence. But from the yet
further fact, that the portions have _not_ always exerted themselves
in equal ratios, and from other causes, political and providential,
the character of the Government has considerably fluctuated--now
representing one portion more in proportion to its amount than its
mere bulk warranted, anon another. Thus, in the days of the
Commonwealth, what are now the six million Presbyterians and
Independents, etc., had a British Government wholly representative of
themselves; while what are now the twelve million Episcopalians and
the eight million Papists had none.

England at the time produced one of those men, of a type surpassingly
great, that the world fails to see once in centuries; and, like
Brennus of old, he flung his sword into the lighter scale, and it
straightway outweighed the other. There then ensued a period of
twenty-eight years, in which Government represented only the
Episcopalians and Papists: and then a period of a hundred and forty
years more, in which it represented only the Episcopalians and
Presbyterians. And now--for Popery, growing strong in the interval,
had been using all appliances in its own behalf, and had not been met
in the proper spiritual field--it represents Episcopacy, Roman
Catholicism, and a minute, uninfluential portion of the Presbyterian
and other evangelistic bodies. But how, it may be asked, has this
result taken place?

How is it only a moiety of these bodies that is represented? Mainly, we
unhesitatingly reply, through the influence exerted by certain
crotchets entertained by the bodies themselves on their political
standing. When Government at the Revolution, instead of being as formerly
representative of Episcopacy and Popery, became representative of
Episcopacy and Presbytery, Cameronianism broke off, on the plea that the
governing power ought to be representative of Presbytery only, and
that it was apostate because it was not; and the political influence
of the body has been ever since lost to the Protestant cause.
Voluntaryism, on the other hand, neutralized _its_ influence, by
holding that, though quite at freedom to exert itself in the political
walk in attaining secular objects, religious objects are in that walk
unattainable, or at least not to be attained; and so _it_ also has been
virtually lost to the Protestant cause. And now a cloud like a man's hand
arises in our own Church, to threaten a further secession from the ranks
of the remaining class, who strive to stamp upon the Government, through
the operation of the representative principle, at least a modicum of
the evangelistic character. And all this is taking place in an age in
which the battle for the integrity of the Sabbath as a national
institute, and other similar battles, shall soon have to be decided on
political ground. If 'apostate' or 'apostatizing' be at all proper words
in reference to the _things_ which we have here described, what, we ask,
save the want either of weight or of exertion on the part of the
_represented_ bodies who complain of it, can be properly regarded as the
_cause_ of that apostasy? A representative Government, if the
represented be Episcopalian, will itself be officially Episcopalian; if
the represented be Papist, it will itself be officially Papist; if the
represented be Presbyterian, it will itself be officially Presbyterian;
if composed of all three together, the Government will bear an aggregate
average character; but if, on some crotchet, the Presbyterians withdraw
from the political field, while the others exert themselves in that
field to the utmost, it will be Popish and Episcopalian exclusively. But
for a result so undesirable--a result which, if Presbytery had been
formerly in the ascendant, might of course be called official
apostasy--it would be the Presbyterian constituency that would be to
blame, not the Government.

It will be seen that this view of the real state of _things_ was that
of Knox and Chalmers, and that they acted in due accordance with it.
We are told by the younger M'Crie, in his admirable _Sketches of
Scottish Church History_, 'that Knox and his brethren, perceiving that
the whole ecclesiastical property of the kingdom bade fair to be soon
swallowed up by the rapacity of the nobles, insisted that a
considerable portion of it should be reserved for the support of the
poor, the founding of universities and schools, and the maintenance of
an efficient ministry throughout the country. At last,' continues the
historian, 'after great difficulty, the Privy Council came to the
determination that the ecclesiastical revenues should be divided into
three parts,--that two of them should be given to the ejected prelates
during their lives, which afterwards reverted to the nobility, and
that the third part should be divided between the Court and the
Protestant ministry.'

'Well,' exclaimed Knox on hearing of this arrangement, 'if the end of
this order be happy, my judgment fails me. I see two parts freely
given to the devil, and the third must be divided between God and the
devil.' Strong words these. Here is a Government, according to Knox's
own statement of the case, giving five-sixths to the devil, and but a
remaining sixth to God. But does Knox on that account refuse God's
moiety? Does he set himself to reason metaphysically regarding _his_
degree of responsibility for either what the devil got, or what the
Government gave the devil. Not he. He received God's part, and in
applying it wisely and honestly to God's service, wished it more; but
as for the rest, like a man of broad strong sense as he assuredly was,
he left the devil and the Privy Council to divide the responsibility
between them. And the large-minded Chalmers entertained exactly the
same views,--views which, if not in thorough harmony with the idle
fictions which dialecticians employ when they treat of Governments, at
least entirely accord with the real condition of things. The official
character of a representative Legislature must, as we have shown,
resemble that of the constituency which it represents. In order to
alter it permanently for the better, it is essentially necessary, as a
first step in the process, that the worse parts of the constituencies
on which it rests be so altered.

Now, for altering constituencies for the better, schools and churches
were the machinery of Knox and of Chalmers; and if the funds for the
support of either came honestly to them, unclogged with conditions
unworthy of the object, they at once received them as given on God's
behalf, however idolatrously the givers--whether individuals or
Governments--might be employing money drawn from the same purse in
other directions. 'Ought I,' said Chalmers in reference to the
Educational question, 'ought I not to use, on teetotal principles, the
water of the public pump, because another man mixes it with his
toddy?' It was not because Popery was established in the colonies, or
seemed in danger of being established in Ireland, that the Free Church
resigned its hold of the temporalities of the Scottish Establishment.
Such endowment, instead of forming an argument for resignation, would
form, on the contrary, an argument for keeping faster hold, in behalf
of Protestantism, of the fortalice of the Establishment; just as if an
invading army had possessed itself of the Castle of Dumbarton, with
the strongholds of Fort-Augustus and Fort-William, the argument would
be all the stronger for the national forces defending with renewed
determination the Castles of Stirling and of Edinburgh, and the
magnificent defences of Fort-George.

_February 9, 1848._


The war now happily concluded was characterized by some very
remarkable features. It was on the part of Britain the war of a highly
civilised country, in a pre-eminently mechanical, and, with all its
faults, singularly humane age,--in an age, too, remarkable for the
diffusion of its literature; and hence certain conspicuous traits
which belonged to none of the other wars in which our country had been
previously engaged. Never before did such completely equipped fleets
and armies quit our shores. The navies with which we covered the Black
Sea and the Baltic were not at all what they would have been had the
war lasted for one other campaign, but they mightily exceeded anything
of the kind that Britain or the world had ever seen before. The fleets
of Copenhagen, Trafalgar, and the Nile would have cut but a sorry
figure beside them, and there was more of the _materiel_ of war
concentrated on that one siege of Sebastopol than on any half-dozen
other sieges recorded in British history. In all that mechanical art
could accomplish, the late war with Russia was by far the most
considerable in which our country was ever engaged. It was, in respect
of _materiel_, a war of the world's pre-eminently mechanical people in
the world's pre-eminently mechanical age. With this strong leading
feature, however, there mingled another, equally marked, in which the
element was weakness, not strength. The men who beat all the world in
heading pins are unable often to do anything else; for usually, in
proportion as mechanical skill becomes intense, does it also become
narrow; and the history of the two campaigns before Sebastopol brought
out very strikingly a certain helplessness on the part of the British
army, part of which at least must be attributed to this cause. It is
surely a remarkable fact, that in an army never more than seven miles
removed from the base line of its operations, the distress suffered
was so great, that nearly _five_ times the number of men sank under it
that perished in battle. There was no want among them of pinheading
and pinheaded martinets. The errors of officers such as Lucan and
Cardigan are understood to be all on the side of severity; but in
heading their pin, they wholly exhaust their art; and under their
surveillance and direction a great army became a small one, with the
sea covered by a British fleet only a few miles away. So far as the
statistics of the British portion of this greatest of sieges have yet
been ascertained, rather more than _three_ thousand men perished in
battle by the shot or steel of the enemy, or afterwards of their
wounds, and rather more than _fifteen_ thousand men of privation and
disease. As for the poor soldiers themselves, they could do but little
in even more favourable circumstances under the pinheading martinets;
and yet at least such of them as were drawn from the more thoroughly
artificial districts of the country must, we suspect, have fared all
the worse in consequence of that subdivision of labour which has so
mightily improved the mechanical standing of Britain in the aggregate,
and so restricted and lowered the general ability in individuals. We
cannot help thinking that an army of backwoodsmen of the present day,
or of Scotch Highlanders marked by the prevailing traits of the last
century, would have fared better and suffered less.

Another remarkable feature of the war arose out of the singularly
ready and wonderfully diffused literature of the day. Like those
self-registering machines that keep a strict account of their own
workings, it seemed to be engaged, as it went on, in writing, stage
after stage, its own history. The acting never got a single day ahead
of the writing, and never a single week ahead of the publishing; and,
in consequence, the whole civilised world became the interested
witnesses of what was going on. The war became a great game at chess,
with a critical public looking over the shoulders of the players. It
was a peculiar feature, too, that the public _should_ have been so
critical. As the literature of a people becomes old, it weakens in the
power of originating, and strengthens in the power of criticising.
Reviews and critiques become the master efforts of a learned and
ingenious people, whose literature has passed its full blow; and the
criticism extends always, in countries in which the press is free from
the productions of men who write in their closets, to the actings of
men who conduct the political business of the country, or who direct
its fleets and armies. And with regard to them also it may be safely
affirmed, that the critical ability overshoots and excels the
originating ability. There seems to have been no remarkably good
generalship manifested by Britain in the Crimea: all the leading
generalship appears, on the contrary, to have been very mediocre
generalship indeed. The common men and subordinate officers did their
duty nobly; and there have been such splendid examples of skilful
generalship in fourth and fifth-rate commands--commands such as that
of Sir Colin Campbell and Sir George Brown--that it has been not
unfrequently asked, whether we had in reality the 'right men in the
right places,' and whether there might not, after all, have been
generalship enough in the Crimea had it been but rightly arranged. But
the leading generalship was certainly _not_ brilliant. The criticism
upon it, on the other hand, has been singularly so. The ages of
Marlborough and Wellington did not produce a tithe of the brilliant
military criticism which has appeared in England in newspapers,
magazines, and reviews during the last two years. And yet it is
possible that, had the very cleverest of these critics been appointed
to the chief command, he would have got on as ill as any of his
predecessors. In truth, the power of originating and the power of
criticising are essentially different powers in the worlds both of
thought and of action. Talent accumulates the materials of criticism
from the experience of the past; and thus, as the world gets older,
the critical ability grows, and becomes at length formidably
complete;--whereas the power of originating, or, what is the same
thing, of acting wisely, and on the spur of the moment, in new and
untried circumstances, is an incommunicable faculty, which genius, and
genius only, can possess. And genius is as rare now as it ever was.
Any man of talent can be converted, by dint of study and painstaking,
into a good military critic; but a Wellington or a Napoleon had as
certainly to be born what they were, as a Dante or a Milton.

But by far the most pleasing feature of the war--of at least the part
taken in it by Britain--is to be found in that humanity, the best
evidence of a civilisation truly Christian, which has characterized it
in all its stages. Generous regard for the safety and respect for the
feelings of a brave enemy, when conquered, have marked our countrymen
for centuries. But we owe it to the peculiar philanthropy of the time,
that, in the midst of much official neglect, our own sick and wounded
soldiers have been cared for after a fashion in which British soldiers
were never cared for before. The 'lady nurses,' with Miss Nightingale
at their head, imparted its most distinctive character to the war. We
have now before us a deeply interesting volume,{1} the production of
one of these devoted females, a native of the north country, or, as
she was introduced by an old French officer to some Zouaves, her
fellow-passengers to the East, whom she had wished to see, a true
'_Montagnarde de Ecossaise_.' The name of the authoress is not given;
but it will, we daresay, be recognised in the neighbourhood of the
'capital of the Highlands' as that of a delicately nurtured lady, the
daughter of a late distinguished physician, well known to the north of
the Grampians as an able and upright man, who, had he not so
sedulously devoted himself to the profession which he adorned, might
have excelled in almost any department of science. And in strong sound
sense and genial feeling, we find the daughter worthy of such a
father. Some of our more zealous Protestants professed at one time not
a little alarm lest the lady nurses might be Papists in disguise; and
certainly their 'regulation dresses,' all cut after one fashion, and
of one sombre hue, did seem a little nun-like, and perhaps rather
alarming. But the following passage--which, from the amusing mixture
which it exhibits of strong good sense and half-indignant womanly
feeling, our readers will, we are sure, relish--may serve to show that
some of the ladies who wore the questionable dress, liked it quite as
ill as the most zealous member of the Reformation Society could have
done, and were very excellent Protestants under its cover. The
authoress of the volume before us is a Presbyterian; and the occasion
of the following remarks was the meeting of the British Consul at
Marseilles, and the necessity that herself and her companions felt of
getting head-dresses for themselves, that could be looked at ere
entertaining him at dinner. 'Perhaps it may be thought,' says our
authoress, 'that all this solicitude about our caps was unsuitable in
persons going out as what is called "Sisters of Mercy;" but I must
once for all say that, as far as I was concerned, I neither professed
to be a "Sister of Charity," a "Sister of Mercy," nor anything of the
kind. I was, as I told a _poissarde_ of Boulogne, a British woman who
had little to do at home, and wished to help our poor soldiers, if I
could, abroad. The reason given to me for the peculiarity and
uniformity of our dress was, that the soldiers might know and respect
their nurses. It seems a sensible reason, and one which I could not
object to, even disliking, as I did, all peculiarity of attire that
seemed to advertise the nurses only as serving God, or serving Him
pre-eminently, and thus conveying a tacit reproach to the rest of the
world; for the obligation lies on all the same. I did not feel then,
nor do I now, that we were doing anything better or more praiseworthy
than is done in a quiet, unostentatious way at home every day. On the
contrary, to many temperaments, my own among the number, it is far
less difficult to engage in a new and exciting work like the one we
were then entering on there, than to pursue the uneventful monotony of
daily doing good at home. As for the dress itself, I have nothing to
say against it. Although not perhaps of the material or texture I
should have preferred, still the colour, grey, was one I generally
wore from choice. But I must confess, that when I found myself
restricted to it, without what seemed a good reason, an intense desire
for blue, green, red, and yellow, with all their combinations, took
possession of me; though, now that I may wear what I please, I find my
former favour for grey has returned in full force. However, allowing
that it was desirable we should have had some uniform costume, it
certainly was unnecessary that ladies, nurses, and washerwomen should
have been dressed alike, as we were. That was part of the mistake I
have already adverted to, and was productive of confusion and bad

Despite of the uniform dresses, however, the sick and wounded soldiers
soon learned to distinguish between the paid nurses and the ladies who
had left their comfortable British homes to lavish upon them their
gratuitous, priceless labours.

                  *       *       *       *       *

There is no assumption in this volume. Its authoress writes as if she
had done only her duty, and as if the task had not been an exceedingly
hard or difficult one; but the simple facts related show how very much
was accomplished and endured. Every chapter justifies the judgment
pronounced by the tall Irish sergeant. This lady nurse is a 'real fine
woman,'--a noble specimen of the class whose disinterested and
self-sacrificing exertions gave to the late war its most distinctive
and brilliant feature. The bravery of British men had been long
established; the superadded trait is the heroism of British women. In
what circumstances of peril and suffering that heroism was exerted,
the following extract, with which we conclude, may serve to show. It
is the funeral of one of the lady nurses, who sank under an attack of
malignant fever, that the following striking passage records:--

'The Protestant burial-ground is a dismal-looking, neglected spot. It
was chosen from an idea that Drusilla's friends at home might prefer
it to the open hill where the soldiers lay; but if there had been time
for consideration and inspection, it would have been otherwise
arranged: for the appearance of the place struck a chill to our
hearts--it looked so dark and dreary, with the grass more than a foot
high, and the weeds towering above it; and from its being close to the
bay, and the porous nature of the soil, the grave which had been dug
on the forenoon was almost filled by water; and on the words,
"Forasmuch as it hath pleased Almighty God," we heard the coffin
splash into the half-full grave. There was a general regret afterwards
that this burial-ground had been chosen, but poor Drusilla will not
sleep the less soundly; and we all agreed, on leaving her grave, that
whoever of us was next called to die, should be buried on the hill, in
the spot allotted to the poor soldiers, open and unprotected as it
was. Death seemed very near to us then; we had already lost two
orderlies, and many of the nurses were lying at the gates of death.
Miss A---- had made an almost miraculous escape, and was not yet out
of danger from relapse. The first gap had been made in our immediate
party, and who of us could tell whether she herself was not to be the

'The evening was fast closing as we returned, some in caiques, and
others walking solemnly and sadly; for, besides the feelings naturally
attending such a scene, we all regretted poor Drusilla, who, although
she had not been long among us, was so obliging and anxious to be of
use. She was a good-looking young woman, and immediately on her
arrival had become the object of attraction to one of the clerks,
whose attentions, however, she most steadily declined. He still
persisted in showing the most extraordinary attachment to her, and
during her illness was in such a state of excitement and distress as
to be utterly incapacitated for attending to his duties properly. He
used to sit on the stairs leading to her room, in the hopes of seeing
some one who could tell him how she was, and went perpetually to the
passage outside her room, entreating of the Misses Le M----, who
generally sat up with her, to let him in to see her. This they refused
till the night of her death, when she was quite insensible, and past
all hope of recovery; so that his visit could do her no harm. He
stayed a few minutes, and looked his last on her; for in the morning
at seven o'clock she died. I shall never forget his face when he came
to my store-room, in accordance with his duty, to correct some
inaccuracy in the diet-roll. He seemed utterly bewildered with sorrow;
and Miss S----, who had also occasion to speak to him, said she never
saw grief so strongly marked in a human face. He insisted on following
her remains to the grave as chief mourner, and wearied himself with
carrying the coffin. No one interfered with him; for all seemed to
think he had acquired the right, by his unmistakeable affection, to
perform these sad offices; and the lady superintendent, moved by his
sorrow, allowed him to retain a ring of some small value which the
deceased had been accustomed to wear.'

_June 14, 1856._


 {1} _Ismeer, or Smyrna and its British Hospital in 1855._ By a
     Lady. London: James Madder, 8, Leadenhall Street.


It is not uninteresting to mark the rise and progress of certain branches
of poetry and the _belles lettres_ in their connection with sects and
Churches. They form tests by which at least the taste and literary
standing of these bodies can be determined; and the degree of success
with which they are cultivated within the same Church, in different
ages, throws at times very striking lights on its condition and
history. One wholly unacquainted with the recorded annals of the Church
of Scotland might safely infer, from its literature alone, that it fared
much more hardly in the seventeenth century, during which the literature
of England rose to its highest pitch of grandeur, than in the previous
sixteenth, in which its Knoxes, Buchanans, and Andrew Melvilles
flourished; and further, that its eighteenth century was, on the whole, a
quiet and tranquil time, in which even mediocrity had leisure afforded it
to develope itself in its full proportions. Literature is not the
proper business of Churches; but it is a means, though not an end. And
it will be found that all the better Churches have been as literary as
they could; and that, if at any time the literature has been defective,
it has been rather their circumstances that were unpropitious, than
themselves that were in fault. Their enemies have delighted to
represent the case differently. Our readers must remember the famous
instance in _Old Mortality_, so happily exposed by the elder M'Crie, in
which Sir Walter, when he makes his Sergeant Bothwell a writer of verses,
introduces Burley as peculiarly a verse-hater, and 'puts into his mouth
that condemnation of elegant pursuits which he imputes to the whole
party;' 'overlooking or suppressing the fact,' says the Doctor, 'that
there was at that very time in the camp of the Covenanters a man who,
besides his other accomplishments, was a poet superior to any on the
opposite side.' It is equally a fact, however, and shows how thoroughly
the mind of even a highly intellectual people may be prostrated by a
long course of tyranny and persecution, that Scotland had properly no
literature after the extinction of its old classical school in the
person of Drummond of Hawthornden, until the rise of Thomson. The age in
England of Milton and of Cowley, of Otway, of Waller, of Butler, of
Dryden, and of Denham, was in Scotland an age without a poet vigorous
enough to survive in his writings his own generation. For even the
greater part of the popular version of its Psalms, our Church was
indebted to the English lawyer Rous. Here and there we may find in it the
remains of an earlier and more classical time: its version of the
hundredth Psalm, for instance, with its quaintly-turned but stately
octo-syllabic stanzas, was written nearly a hundred years earlier than
most of the others, by William Keith, a Scottish contemporary of Beza
and Buchanan, and one of the translators of the Geneva Bible. But we
find little else that is Scotch in it; the Church to which, in the
previous age, the author of the most elegant version of the Psalms ever
given to the world had belonged, had now--notwithstanding the
exertions of its Zachary Boyds--to import its poetry. In the following
century, the Church shared in the general literature of the time. She
missed, and but barely missed, having one of its greatest poets to
herself--the poet Thomson--who at least carried on his studies so far
with a view to her ministry, as to commence delivering his probationary
discourses. We fear, however, he would have made but an indolent
minister; and that, though his occasional sermons, judging from the
hymn which concludes the _Seasons_, might have been singularly fine
ones, they would have been marvellously few, and very often repeated. The
greatest poet that did actually arise within the Church during the
century was Thomson's contemporary, Robert Blair,--a man who was not an
idle minister, and who, unlike his cousin Hugh, belonged to the
evangelical side. The author of the _Grave_ was one of the bosom friends
of Colonel Gardiner, and a valued correspondent of Doddridge and Watts.
Curiously enough, though the great merit of his piece has been
acknowledged by critics such as Southey, it has been regarded as an
imitation of the _Night Thoughts_ of Young. 'Blair's _Grave_,' says
Southey in his _Life of Cowper_, 'is the only poem I can call to mind
which has been composed in imitation of the _Night Thoughts_;' and though
Campbell himself steered clear of the error, we find it introduced in a
note, as supplementary to the information regarding Blair given in his
_Essay on English Poetry_ by his editor, Mr. Cunningham. It is
demonstrable, however, that the Scotchman could not have been the
imitator. As shown by a letter in the Doddridge collection, which bears
date more than a twelvemonth previous to that of the publication of even
the first book of the _Night Thoughts_, Blair, after stating that his
poem, then in the hands of Isaac Watts, had been offered without success
to two London publishers, states further, that the greater part of it
had been written previous to the year 1731, ere he had yet entered the
ministry; whereas the first book of Young's poem was not published until
the year 1744. Poetry such as that of Blair is never the result of
imitation: its verbal happinesses are at least as great as those of
the _Night Thoughts_ themselves, and its power and earnestness
considerably greater. 'The eighteenth century,' says Thomas Campbell,
'has produced few specimens of blank verse of so powerful and simple a
character as that of the _Grave_. It is a popular poem, not merely
because it is religious, but because its language and imagery are free,
natural, and picturesque. The latest editor of the poets has, with
singularly bad taste, noted some of the author's most nervous and
expressive phrases as vulgarisms, among which he reckons that of
friendship, the "solder of society." Blair may be a homely, and even a
gloomy poet, in the eye of fastidious criticism; but there is a
masculine and pronounced character even in his gloom and homeliness, that
keeps it most distinctly apart from either dulness or vulgarity. His
style pleases us like the powerful expression of a countenance without
regular beauty.' Such is the judgment on Blair--destined, in all
appearance, to be a final one--of a writer who was at once the most
catholic of critics and the most polished of poets. There succeeded to
the author of the _Grave_, a group of poets of the Church, of whom the
Church has not been greatly in the habit of boasting. Of Home, by a
curious chance the successor of Blair in his parish, little need be
said. He produced one good play and five enormously bad ones; and his
connection with the Church was very much an accident, and soon dissolved.
Blacklock, too, was as much a curiosity as a poet; and, save for his
blindness, would scarce have been very celebrated in even his own day.
Nor was Ogilvie, though more favourably regarded by Johnson than most
of his Scottish contemporaries, other than a mediocre poet. He is the
author, however, of a very respectable paraphrase--the sixty-second--of
all his works the one that promises to live longest; and we find the
productions of several other poets of the Church similarly preserved,
whose other writings have died. And yet the group of Scottish _literati_
that produced our paraphrases, if looking simply to literary
accomplishment--we do not demand genius--must be regarded as a very
remarkable one, when we consider that the greater number of the
individuals which composed it were all at one time the ministers of a
single Church, and that one of the smallest. We know of no Church,
either in Britain or elsewhere, that could now command such a
committee as that which sat, at the bidding of the General Assembly,
considerably more than sixty years ago, to prepare the 'Translations and
Paraphrases.' Of the sixty-eight pieces of which the collection is
composed, thirty are the work of Scottish ministers; and the groundwork
of most of the others, furnished in large part by the previously
existing writings of Watts and Doddridge, has been greatly improved,
in at least the composition, by the emendations of Morrison and Logan.
With all its faults, we know of no other collection equal to it as a
whole. The meretricious stanzas of Brady and Tate are inanity itself in
comparison. True, the later Blair, though always sensible, was ofttimes
quite heavy enough in the pieces given to him to render--more so than
in his prose; though, even when first introduced to that, Cowper could
exclaim, not a little to the chagrin of those who regarded it as
perfection of writing: 'Oh, the sterility of that man's fancy! if,
indeed, he has any such faculty belonging to him. Dr. Blair has such a
brain as Shakespeare somewhere describes, "dry as the remainder biscuit
after a voyage.'" But the fancy that Blair wanted, poor Logan had; and
the man who too severely criticises his flowing and elegant paraphrases
would do well to beware of the memories of his children. A poet whose
pieces cannot be forgotten may laugh at the critics. Altogether, our
'Translations and Paraphrases' are highly creditable to the literary
taste and ability of the Church during the latter half of the last
century; and it serves to show how very much matters changed in this
respect in about forty years, that while in the earlier period the men
fitted for such work were all to be found within the pale of the
Church's ministry, at a later time, when the late Principal Baird set
himself, with the sanction of the General Assembly, to devise means for
adding to the collection, and for revising our metrical version of the
Psalms, he had to look for assistance almost exclusively to poets
outside the precincts of even its membership.

And yet, even at this later time, the Church had its true poets--poets
who, though, according to Wordsworth, they 'wanted the accomplishment
of verse,' were of larger calibre and greater depth than their
predecessors. Chalmers had already produced his _Astronomical
Discourses_, and poor Edward Irving had begun to electrify his London
audiences with the richly antique imagination and fiery fervour of his
singularly vigorous orations. Stewart of Cromarty, too, though but
comparatively little known, was rising, in his quiet parish church,
into flights of genuine though unmeasured poetry, of an altitude to
which minor poets, in their nicely rounded stanzas, never attain. Nor
is the race yet extinct. Jeffrey used to remark, that he found more
true feeling in the prose of Jeremy Taylor than in the works of all
the second-class British poets put together; and those who would now
wish to acquaint themselves with the higher and more spirit-rousing
poetry of our Church, would have to seek it within earshot of the
pulpits of Bruce, of Guthrie, and of James Hamilton. Still, however,
it ever affords us pleasure to find it in the more conventional form
of classic and harmonious verse. A Church that possesses her poets
gives at least earnest in the fact that she is not falling beneath the
literature of her age; and much on this account, but more, we think,
from their great intrinsic merit, have we been gratified by the
perusal of a volume of poems which has just issued from the press
under the name of one of our younger Free Church ministers, the Rev.
James D. Burns. We are greatly mistaken if Mr. Burns be not a genuine
poet, skilled, as becomes a scholar and a student of classic lore, in
giving to his verse the true artistic form, but not the less born to
inherit the 'vision and the faculty' which cannot be acquired. Most
men of great talent have their poetic age: it is very much
restricted, however, to the first five years of full bodily
development, also particularly then a sterner and more prosaic mood
follows. But recollections of the time survive; and it is mainly
through the medium of these recollections that in the colder periods
the feelings and visions of the poets continue to be appreciated and
felt. It was said of Thomson the poet by Samuel Johnson, that he could
not look at two candles burning other than poetically. The phrase was
employed in conversation by _old_ Johnson; but it must have been the
experience of _young_ Johnson, derived from a time long gone by, that
suggested it. It is characteristic of the poetic age, that objects
which in later life become commonplace in the mind, are then
surrounded as if by a halo of poetic feeling. The candles were, no
doubt, an extreme illustration; but there is scarce any object in
nature, and there are very few in art, especially if etherealized by
the adjuncts of antiquity or association, that are not capable of
being thus, as it were, embathed in sentiment. With the true poet, the
ability of investing every object with a poetic atmosphere remains
undiminished throughout life; and we find it strikingly manifested in
the volume before us. In almost every line in some of the pieces we
find a distinct bit of picture steeped in poetic feeling. The
following piece, peculiarly appropriate to the present time, we adduce
as an illustration of our meaning:--


    'Strait of Ill Hope! thy frozen lips at last
       Unclose, to teach our seamen how to sift
       A passage where blue icebergs clash and drift,
     And the shore loosely rattles in the blast.
     We hold the secret thou hast clench'd so fast
       For ages,--our best blood has earned the gift.--
       Blood spilt, or hoarded up in patient thrift,
     Through sunless months in ceaseless peril passed.
     But what of daring Franklin? who may know
       The pangs that wrung that heart so proud and brave,
     In secret wrestling with its deadly woe,
       And no kind voice to reach him o'er the wave?
     Now he sleeps fast beneath his shroud of snow,
       And the cold pole-star only knows his grave.

    'Alone, on some sharp cliff, I see him strain,
       O'er the white waste, his keen, sagacious eye,
       Or scan the signs of the snow-muffled sky,
     In hope of quick deliverance--but in vain;
     Then, faring to his icy tent again,
       To cheer his mates with a familiar smile,
       And talk of home and kinsfolk to beguile
     Slow hours which freeze the blood and numb the brain.
     Long let our hero's memory be enshrined
       In all true British hearts! He calmly stood
      In danger's foremost rank, nor looked behind.
       He did his work, not with the fever'd blood
       Of battle, but with hard-tried fortitude;
     In peril dauntless, and in death resigned.

    'Despond not, Britain! Should this sacred hold
       Of freedom, still inviolate, be assailed,
       The high, unblenching spirit which prevailed
     In ancient days, is neither dead nor cold.
     Men are still in thee of heroic mould--
       Men whom thy grand old sea-kings would have hailed
       As worthy peers, invulnerably mailed,
     Because by Duty's sternest law controlled.
     Thou yet wilt rise and send abroad thy voice
       Among the nations battling for the right,
       In the unrusted armour of thy youth;
     And the oppressed shall hear it and rejoice:
       For on thy side is the resistless might
       Of Freedom, Justice, and Eternal Truth!'

This is surely genuine poetry both in form and matter; as just in its
thinking as it is vivid in its imagery and classic in its language.
The vein of strong sense which runs through all the poetry of Mr.
Burns, and imparts to it solidity and coherency, is, we think, not
less admirable than the poetry itself, and is, we are sure, quite as
little common. Let the reader mark how freely the thoughts arise in
the following very exquisite little piece, written in Madeira, and
suggested by the distant view of the neighbouring island of Porto
Santo, one of the first colonized by the Portuguese adventurers of the
fifteenth century. Columbus married a daughter of Bartolomeo
Perestrillo, the first governor of the island, and after his marriage
lived in it for some time with his father-in-law. And on this
foundation Mr. Burns founds his poem:--


    'Glance northward through the haze, and mark
     That shadowy island floating dark
       Amidst the seas serene:
     It seems some fair enchanted isle,
     Like that which saw Miranda's smile
       When Ariel sang unseen.

    'Oh happy, after all their fears,
     Were those old Lusian mariners
       Who hailed that land the first,
     Upon whose seared and aching eyes,
     With an enrapturing surprise,
       Its bloom of verdure burst.

    'Their anchor in a creek, shell-paven,
     They dropped,--and hence "The Holy Haven"
       They named the welcome land:
     The breezes strained their masts no more,
     And all around the sunny shore
       Was summer, laughing bland.

    'They wandered on through green arcade
     Where fruits were hanging in the shades,
       And blossoms clustering fair;
     Strange gorgeous insects shimmered
     And from the brakes sweet minstrelsy
       Entranced the woodland air.

    'Years passed, and to the island came
     A mariner of unknown name,
       And grave Castilian speech:
     The spirit of a great emprise
     Aroused him, and with flashing eyes
       He paced the pebbled beach.

    'What time the sun was sinking slow,
     And twilight spread a rosy glow
       Around its single star,
     His eye the western sea's expanse
     Would search, creating by its glance
       Some cloudy land afar.

    'He saw it when translucent even
     Shed mystic light o'er earth and heaven,
       Dim shadowed on the deep;
     His fancy tinged each passing cloud
     With the fine phantom, and he bowed
       Before it in his sleep.

    'He hears grey-bearded sailors tell
     How the discoveries befell
       That glorify their time;
     "And forth I go, my friends," he cries,
     "To a severer enterprise
       Than tasked your glorious prime.

    '"Time was when these green isles that stud
     The expanse of this familiar flood,
       Lived but in fancy fond.
     Earth's limits--think you here they are?
     Here has the Almighty fixed His bar,
       Forbidding glance beyond?

    '"Each shell is murmuring on the shore,
     And wild sea-voices evermore
       Are sounding in my ear:
     I long to meet the eastern gale,
     And with a free and stretching sail
       Through virgin seas to steer.

    '"Two galleys trim, some comrades stanch,
     And I with hopeful heart would launch
       Upon this shoreless sea.
     Till I have searched it through and through.
     And seen some far land looming blue,
       My heart will not play free."

    'Forth fared he through the deep to rove:
     For months with angry winds he strove,
       And passions fiercer still;
     Until he found the long-sought land,
     And leaped upon the savage strand
       With an exulting thrill.

    'The tide of life now eddies strong
     Through that broad wilderness, where long
       The eagle fearless flew;
     Where forests waved, fair cities rise,
     And science, art, and enterprise
       Their restless aim pursue.

    'There dwells a people, at whose birth
     The shout of Freedom shook the earth,
       Whose frame through all the lands
     Has travelled, and before whose eyes,
     Bright with their glorious destinies,
       A proud career expands.

    'I see their life by passion wrought
     To intense endeavour, and my thought
       Stoops backwards in its reach
     To him who, in that early time,
     Resolved his enterprise sublime
       On Porto Santo's beach.

    'Methinks that solitary soul
     Held in its ark this radiant roll
       Of human hopes upfurled,--
     That there in germ this vigorous life
     Was sheathed, which now in earnest strife
       Is working through the world.

    'Still on our way, with careworn face,
     Abstracted eye, and sauntering pace,
       May pass one such as he,
     Whose mind heaves with a secret force,
     That shall be felt along the course
       Of far Futurity.

    'Call him not fanatic or fool,
     Thou Stoic of the modern school;
       Columbus-like, his aim
     Points forward with a true presage,
     And nations of a later age
       May rise to bless his name.'

There runs throughout Mr. Burns's volume a rich vein of scriptural
imagery and allusion, and much oriental description--rather quiet,
however, than gorgeous--that bears in its unexaggerated sobriety the
impress of truth. From a weakness of chest and general delicate
health, Mr. Burns has had to spend not a few of his winters abroad,
under climatal influences of a more genial character than those of his
own country; and hence the truthfulness of his descriptions of scenes
which few of our native poets ever see, and a corresponding amount of
variety in his verse. But we have exhausted our space, and have given
only very meagre samples of this delightful volume, and a very
inadequate judgment on its merits. But we refer our readers to the
volume itself, as one well fitted to grow upon their regards; and
meanwhile conclude with the following exquisite landscape,--no bad
specimen of that ability of word-painting which is ever so certain a
mark of the true poet:--

    'Below me spread a wide and lonely beach,
       The ripple washing higher on the sands:
       A river that has come from far-off lands
     Is coiled behind in many a shining reach;
       But now it widens, and its banks are bare--
     It settles as it nears the moaning sea;
     An inward eddy checks the current free,
       And breathes a briny dampness through the air:
     Beyond, the waves' low vapours through the skies
       Were trailing, like a battle's broken rear;
     But smitten by pursuing winds, they rise,
       And the blue slopes of a far coast appear,
     With shadowy peaks on which the sunlight lies,
       Uplifted in aërial distance clear.

_November 8, 1854._


After the labour of years, the seventh edition of the _Encyclopædia
Britannica_ has been at length completed. It is in every respect a
great work--great even as a commercial speculation. We have been
assured the money expended on this edition alone would be more than
sufficient to build three such monuments as that now in the course of
erection in Edinburgh to the memory of Sir Walter Scott. And
containing, as it does, all the more valuable matter of former
editions--all that the advancing tide of knowledge has not obliterated
or covered up, and which at one time must have represented in the
commercial point of view a large amount of capital--it must be obvious
that, great as the cost of the present edition has been, it bears
merely some such relation to the accumulated cost of the whole, as
that borne by the expense of partial renovations and repairs in a vast
edifice to the sum originally expended on the entire erection.

It is a great work, too, regarded as a trophy of the united science
and literature of Britain. Like a lofty obelisk, raised to mark the
spot where some important expedition terminated, it stands as it were
to indicate the line at which the march of human knowledge has now
arrived. We see it rising on the extreme verge of the boundary which
separates the clear and the palpable from the indistinct and the
obscure. The explored province of past research, with all its many
party-coloured fields, stretches out from it in long perspective on
the one hand,--luminous, well-defined, rejoicing in the light. The
_terra incognita_ of future discovery lies enveloped in cloud on the
other--an untried region of fogs and darkness.

The history of this publication for the last seventy years--for so
slow has been its growth, that rather more than seventy years have now
elapsed since its first appearance in the world of letters--would
serve curiously to illustrate the literary and scientific history of
Scotland during that period. The naturalist, by observing the rings of
annual growth in a tree newly cut down, can not only tell what its
exact bulk had been at certain determinate dates in the past--from its
first existence as a tiny sapling of a single twelvemonth, till the
axe had fallen on the huge circumference of perchance its hundredth
ring--but he can also form from them a shrewd guess of the various
characters of the seasons that have passed over it. Is the ring of
wide development?--it speaks of genial warmth and kindly showers. Is
it narrow and contracted?--it tells of scorching droughts or of biting
cold. Now the succeeding editions of this great work narrate a
somewhat similar story, in a somewhat similar manner. They speak of
the growth of science and the arts during the various succeeding
periods in which they appeared. The great increase, too, at certain
times, in particular departments of knowledge, is curiously connected
with peculiar circumstances in the history of our country. In the
present edition, for instance, almost all the geography is new. The
age has been peculiarly an age of exploration--a locomotive age:
commerce, curiosity, the spirit of adventure, the desire of escaping
from the tedium of inactive life,--these, and other motives besides,
have scattered travellers by hundreds, during the period of our long
European peace, over almost every country of the world. And hence so
mighty an increase of knowledge in this department, that what the last
age knew of the subject has been altogether overgrown. Vast
additions, too, have been made to the province of mechanical
contrivance: the constructive faculties of the country, stimulated
apparently by the demands of commerce and the influence of competition
both at home and abroad, have performed in well-nigh a single
generation the work of centuries.

Even the _Encyclopædia_ itself, regarded in a literary point of view,
is strikingly illustrative of a change which has taken place chiefly
within the present century in the republic of letters.

We enjoyed a very ample opportunity of acquainting ourselves with it
in its infancy. More years have passed away than we at present feel
quite inclined to specify, since our attention was attracted at a very
early age to an _Encyclopædia_, the first we had ever seen, that
formed one work of a dozen or so stored on the upper shelf of a press
to which we were permitted access. It consisted of three quarto
volumes sprinkled over with what seventy years ago must have been
deemed very respectable copperplates, and remarkable, chiefly in the
arrangement of its contents, for the inequality of the portions, if we
may so speak, into which the knowledge it contained was broken up. As
might be anticipated from its comparatively small size, most of the
articles were exceedingly meagre. There were pages after pages in
which some eight or ten lines, sometimes a single line, comprised all
that the writers had deemed it necessary to communicate on the
subjects on which they touched. And yet, set full in the middle of
these brief sentences--these mere skeletons of information--there were
complete and elaborate treatises,--whales among the minnows. Some of
these extended over ten, twenty, thirty, fifty pages of the work. We
remember there was an old-fashioned but not ill-written treatise on
_Chemistry_ among the number, quite bulky enough of itself to fill a
small volume. There was a sensibly written treatise on _Law_, too; a
treatise on _Anatomy_ not quite unworthy of the Edinburgh school; a
treatise on _Botany_, of which at this distance of time we remember
little else than that it rejected the sexual system of Linnæus, then
newly promulgated; a treatise on _Architecture_, sufficiently
incorrect, as we afterwards found, in some of its minor details, but
which we still remember with the kindly feeling of the pupil for his
first master; a treatise on _Fortification_, that at least taught us
how to make model forts in sand; treatises on _Arithmetic_,
_Astronomy_, _Bookkeeping_, _Grammar_, _Language_, _Theology_,
_Metaphysics_, and a great many other treatises besides. The least
interesting portion of the work was the portion devoted to Natural
History: it named and numbered species and varieties, instead of
describing instincts and habits, and afforded little else to the
reader than lists of hard words, and lines of uninteresting numerals.
But our appetite for books was keen and but ill supplied at the time,
and so we read all of the work that would read,--some of it oftener
than once. The character of the whole reminded us somewhat of that
style of building common in some of the older ruins of the north
country, in which we find layers of huge stones surrounded by strips
and patches of a minute pinned work composed of splinters and

This Dictionary of the three quarto volumes was the first edition of
the _Encyclopædia Britannica_,--the identical work in its first
beginnings, of which the seventh edition has been so recently
completed. It was published in 1771--in the days of Goldsmith, and
Burke, and Johnson, and David Hume--several years ere Adam Smith had
given his _Wealth of Nations_ or Robertson his _History of America_ to
the public, and ere the names of Burns or Cowper had any place in

The world has grown greatly in knowledge since that period, and the
_Encyclopædia Britannica_ has done much more than kept pace with it
in its merits of acquirement. The three volumes have swelled into
twenty-one; and each of the twenty-one contains at least one-third
more of matter than each of the three. The growth and proportions of a
work of genius seem to be very little dependent on the period of its
production. Shakespeare may be regarded as the founder of the English
drama. He wrote at a time when art was rude, and science comparatively
low. All agree, at least, that the subjects of Queen Victoria know a
very great deal which was not known by the subjects of Queen
Elizabeth. There was no gas burned in front of the Globe Theatre, nor
was the distant roar of a _locomotive_ ever heard within its dingy
recesses; nor did ever adventurous aeronaut look down from his dizzy
elevation of miles on its tub-like proportions, or its gay flag of
motley. And yet we question whether even Mr. Wakley himself, with all
his advantages, would venture to do more than assert his equality with
the Swan of Avon. Homer, too, wrote in a very remote period,--so very
remote and so very uncertain, that the critics have begun seriously to
doubt whether the huge figure of the blind old man, as it looms
through the grey obscure of ages, be in reality the figure of one
poet, or of a whole school of poets rolled up into a bundle. But
though men fight much more scientifically now than they did at Troy,
and know much more about the taking and defending of walled towns, no
poet of the present day greatly excels Homer,--no, not the Scotch
schoolmaster even who wrote Wolfe's Ode, or the gentleman who sends us
abstruse verses which we unluckily cannot understand, and then scolds
us in perspicuous prose for not giving them a place in our columns.

Works of genius bear no reference in their bulk and proportions, if we
may so speak, to the period at which they are produced; but it is far
otherwise with works of science and general information: they grow
with the world's growth; the tomes from which the father derived his
acquaintance with facts and principles, prove all inadequate to
satisfy the curiosity of the son: almost every season adds its ring to
the 'tree of knowledge;' and the measuring line which girthed and
registered its bulk in one age, fails to embrace it in the succeeding
one. And hence one element at least in the superiority of this edition
of the _Encyclopædia Britannica_ to every other edition, and every
other Encyclopædia.

It appears at the period of the world's greatest experience. But there
are other very important elements, characteristic, as we have said, of
a peculiarity in the literature of the age, which have tended also to
this result. We have remarked that the first edition appeared in the
days of Hume, Robertson, and Adam Smith. None of these men wrote for
it, however.

In France the first intellects of the country were engaged on their
National Encyclopædia, and mighty was the mischief which they
accomplished through its means; but works of this character in
Britain were left to authors of a lower standing. Smollett once
conducted a critical review; Gilbert Stuart an Edinburgh magazine;
Dr. Johnson drew up parliamentary debates for two years together;
Edmund Burke toiled at the pages of an Annual Register; and
Goldsmith, early in his career, wrote letters for the newspapers.
But, like the apothecary in Shakespeare, it was their 'poverty, not
their will, that consented;' and when their fortunes brightened,
these walks of obscure laboriousness were left to what were deemed
their legitimate denizens--mere mediocritists and compilers. A
similar feeling seems to have obtained regarding works of an
encyclopædiacal character. The authors of the first edition of the
_Encyclopædia Britannica_ were merely respectable compilers,--we know
not that any of their names would now sound familiar to the reader,
with perhaps the exception of that of Smellie, an Edinburgh writer of
the last century, whose philosophical essays one sometimes meets
with on our bookstalls.

But among the other great changes produced by the French Revolution,
there was a striking and very important change effected in our
periodical literature. The old foundations of society seemed breaking
up, and the true nature of that basis of opinion on which they had so
long rested came to be everywhere practically understood.

Minds of the larger order found it necessary to address themselves
direct to the people; and the newspaper, the review, the magazine, the
pamphlet, furnished them with ready vehicles of conveyance.
Archimedes, during the siege of Syracuse, had to quit the sober quiet
of his study, and to mix with the armed defenders of his native city,
amid the wild confusion of sallies and assaults, the rocking of
beleaguered towers, the creaking of engines, and the hurtling of
missiles. It was thus with some of the greatest minds of the country
during the distraction and alarm of the French Revolution. Coleridge
conducted a newspaper; Sir James Mackintosh wrote for one; Canning
contributed to the _Anti-Jacobin_; Robert Hall of Leicester became a
reviewer; Southey, Jeffrey, Brougham, Scott, Giffard, all men in the
first rank, appeared in the character of contributors to the

The aspect of this department of literature suddenly changed, and the
influence of that change survives to this day. Even now, some of our
first literary names are known chiefly in their connection with
magazines and reviews. Men such as Macaulay and Sidney Smith have
scarce any place as authors dissociated from the _Edinburgh_; and
Lockhart and Wilson are most felt in the world of letters in their
connection with _Blackwood_ and the _Quarterly_. And this change
affected more than the periodicals. Its influence extended to works of
the encyclopædiacal character. The two great Encyclopædias of
Edinburgh--that which bears the name of the city, and that whose name
we have placed at the head of this article--came to reckon among their
contributors the first men of the kingdom, both in science and
literature: they benefited as greatly by the change we describe as the
periodicals themselves. The Revolution, in its reflex influence, seems
to have drawn a line in the British encyclopædiacal field between the
labours of mere compilers and the achievements of original authorship;
and the peculiarity of plan in the _Encyclopædia Britannica_, to which
we have already referred--that peculiarity which gives an art or
science entire as a treatise, instead of breaking it down into as many
separate articles as it possesses technical terms--enabled this work
to avail itself to the fullest extent of the improvement. No author,
however great his powers, can be profound in the compass of a few

Goldsmith could assert that in an essay of a page or two it is even a
merit to be superficial; and few there are who possess, with
Goldsmith, the pure literary ability of being superficial with good

But it is not enough to say of this work that it is enriched by
contributions from not a few of the ablest writers which the
present century has produced. It should be added, further, that it
contains some of the masterpieces of these men. No one ever excelled
Sir James Mackintosh in philosophical criticism. It was peculiarly his
_forte_. He was rather a great judge of metaphysical power than a
metaphysician. And yet it is this admirable critic who decides
that the exquisitely classical dissertation of Dugald Stewart,
written for this _Encyclopædia_, is the most magnificent of that
philosopher's works; and remarks, in accounting for the fact, that the
'memorable instances of Cicero and Milton, and still more those of
Dryden and Burke, seem to show that there is some natural tendency
in the fire of genius to burn more brightly, or to blaze more
fiercely, in the evening than in the morning of human life.' We are
mistaken if Sir James's own contribution to this work does not take
decidedly a first place among his productions. The present age has not
produced a piece of more exquisitely polished English, or of more
tasteful or more nicely discriminating criticism.

There is an occult beauty and elegance in some of his thoughts and
expressions, on which it is no small luxury to repose,--lines of
reflection, too, along which one must feel as well as think one's

What can be finer, for instance, than his remarks on the poetry of Dr.
Thomas Brown, or what more thoroughly removed from commonplace? He
tells us how the philosophic poet 'observed man and his wider world
with the eye of a metaphysician;' that 'the dark results of such
contemplations, when he reviewed them, often filled his soul with
feelings which, being both grand and melancholy, were truly poetical;'
that 'unfortunately, however, few readers can be touched with
fellow-feeling;' for that 'he sings to few, and must be _content with
sometimes moving a string in the soul of the lonely visionary, who, in
the daydreams of youth, has felt as well as meditated on the mysteries
of nature_.' The dissertation of Playfair is also pitched on the
highest key to which that elegant writer ever attained. If we except
the unjust and offensive estimate of the powers of Franklin, a similar
judgment may be passed on the preliminary dissertation of Sir John
Leslie. Jeffrey's famous theory of beauty is, of all the philosophic
pieces of that accomplished writer, by far the most widely known; and
Sir Walter Scott's essay on the drama is at least equal to any of the
serious prose compositions of its great author. There is something
peculiarly fascinating in the natural history of this edition,--a
department wholly rewritten, and furnished chiefly by the singularly
pleasing pen of Mr. James Wilson. It is not yet twenty years since
Constable's supplement to the last edition appeared; and yet in this
province, so mightily has the tide risen, that well-nigh all the old
lines of classification have been obliterated or covered up. Vast
additions have been also made. At no former time was there half the
amount of actual observation in this field which exists in it now; and
it is well that there should be so skilful a workman as Mr. Wilson to
avail himself of the accumulating materials. His treatises show how
very just is the estimate of his powers given to the public in
_Peter's Letters_ considerably more than twenty years ago, at a time
when he was comparatively little known. But we cannot enumerate a
tithe of the masterpieces of the British Encyclopædia.

Judging from the list of contributors' names attached to the index, we
must hold that Moderatism in the field of literature and science
is very much at a discount. But there is no lack of data of very
various kinds to force upon us _this_ conclusion. Among our sound
non-intrusionists we find the names of Lord Jeffrey, Sir David
Brewster, Professor John Fleming, Professor David Welsh, Professor
Anderson, Dr. Irvine, the Rev. Mr. Hetherington, the Rev. Mr. Omond,
Mr. Alexander Dunlop, and Mr. Cowan; whereas of all the opposite
party who record their votes in our church courts, we have succeeded
in finding the name of but a single individual, Dr. John Lee.

Why has Dr. Bryce thus left the field to the fanatics? had he nothing
to insert on missions? Or could not Mr. Robertson of Ellon have been
great on the article Beza?

Was there no exertion demanded of them to save the credit of the Earl
of Aberdeen's learned clergy? One of the main defects of omission in
the work (of course we merely mention the circumstance) is the
omission of the name of one very great non-intrusionist. Ethical and
metaphysical philosophy are represented by Dugald Stewart and Sir
James Mackintosh; mathematical and physical science by Sir David
Brewster, Sir John Leslie, Playfair, and Robinson; political economy
by Ricardo, M'Culloch, and Malthus; natural history by James Wilson
and Dr. Fleming; Hazlitt and Haydon discourse on painting and the fine
arts; Jeffrey on the beautiful; Sir Walter Scott on chivalry, the
drama, and romance; the classical pen of Dr. Irvine has illustrated
what may be termed the biographical history of Scotland; physiology
finds a meet expounder in Dr. Roget; geology in Mr. Phillips; medical
jurisprudence in Dr. Traill. But in whom does theology find an
illustrator? Does our country boast in the present age of no very
eminent name in this noble department of knowledge--no name known all
over Scotland, Britain, Europe, Christendom--a name whom we may
associate with that of Dugald Stewart in ethical, or that of Sir David
Brewster in physical science? In utter ignorance of the facts, we can,
as we have said, but merely refer to the omission as one which will be
assuredly marked in the future, when the din and dust of our existing
controversies shall be laid, and when all now engaged in them who are
tall enough to catch the eye of posterity, will be seen in their
genuine colours and their true proportions. The article Theology in
the _Encyclopædia Britannica_ is written, not by Dr. Chalmers, but
new-modelled from an old article by the minister of an Independent
congregation in Edinburgh, Mr. Lindsay Alexander--we doubt not an able
and good man, but not supereminently the _one_ theologian of

We mark, besides, a few faults, of _commission_ in the work,
apparently of a sub-editorial character, but which, unlike the defect
just pointed out, the editor of some future edition will find little
difficulty in amending. Works the production of a single mind, bear
generally an individual character; works the productions of many
minds, are marked rather by the character of the age to which they
belong. We find occasional evidence in the _Encyclopædia_ that it
belongs to the age of Catholic Emancipation,--an age in which the
_true_ in science was deemed a very great matter by men to whom the
_true_ in religion seemed a much less one. One at least of the minds
employed on the minor articles of the work had palpably a papistical

A blaze of eulogium, which contrasts ludicrously enough with the
well-toned sobriety of what we may term its staple style, is made to
surround, like the halo in old paintings, some of the men who were
happy enough to be distinguished assertors of the Romish Church. We
would instance, as a specimen, the biographical sketches of Bossuet
and the Jesuit Bourdaloue, written by the late Dr. James Browne.
These, however, are but comparatively minute flaws in a work so truly
great, and of such immense multiplicity. They are some of the
imperfections of a work to which imperfection is inevitable, and
which, after all such deductions have been made, must be recognised as
by much the least faulty and most complete of its class which the
world has yet seen.

_April 30, 1842._


  [_Private._]                    ----, ISLE OF SKYE.

.... I know not when this may reach you. We are much shut out from
the world at this dead season of the year, especially in those wilder
solitudes of the island that extend their long slopes of moor to the
west. The vast Atlantic spreads out before us, blackened by tempest, a
solitary waste, unenlivened by a single sail, and fenced off from the
land by an impassable line of breakers. Even from the elevation where
I now write--for my little cottage stands high on the hill-side--I can
hear the measured boom of the waves, swelling like the roar of distant
artillery, above the melancholy moanings of the wind among the nearer
crags, and the hoarser dash of the stream in the hollow below. We are
in a state of siege: the isle is beleaguered on its rugged line of
western coast, and all communication within that quarter cut off;
while in the opposite direction the broken and precarious footways
that wind across the hills to our more accessible eastern shores, are
still drifted over in the deeper hollows of the snow of the last great
storm. It was only yester-evening that my cousin Eachen, with whom I
share your newspaper, succeeded in bringing me the number published
early in the present month, in which you furnish your readers with a
report of the great railway meeting at Glasgow.

My cousin and I live on opposite sides of the island. We met at our
tryst among the hills, not half an hour, before sunset; and as each
had far to walk back, and as a storm seemed brewing--for the wind had
suddenly lowered, and the thick mists came creeping down the
hill-sides, all dank and chill, and laden with frost-rime, that
settled crisp and white on our hair--we deemed it scarce prudent to
indulge in our usual long conversation together.

'You will find,' said Eachen, as he handed me the paper, 'that things
are looking no better. The old Tories are going on in the old way,
bitterer against the gospel than ever. They will not leave us in all
Skye a minister that has ever been the means of converting a soul; and
what looks as ill, our great Scotch railway, that broke the Sabbath
last year, in the vain hope of making money by it, is to break it this
year at a dead loss. And this for no other purpose that people can
see, than just that an Edinburgh writer may advertise his business by
making smart speeches about it. Depend on't, Allister, the country's

'The old way of advertising,' said I, 'before it became necessary that
an elder should have at least some show of religion about him, was to
get into the General Assembly, and make speeches there. If the crisis
comes, we shall see the practice in full blow again. We shall see our
anti-Sabbatarian gentlemen transmuted into voluble Moderate elders,
talking hard for clients without subjecting themselves to the
advertisement duty,--and the railway mayhap keeping its Sabbaths.'

'Keeping its Sabbaths,' replied Eachen; 'ay, but the shareholders,
perhaps, have little choice in the matter. I wish you heard our
catechist on that. Depend on't, Allister, the country's _fey_.'

'Keeping its Sabbaths? Yes,' said I, catching at his meaning, 'if we
are to be visited by a permanent commercial depression--and there are
many things less likely at the present time--the railway _may_ keep
its Sabbaths, and keep them as the land of Judea did of old. It would
be all too easy, in a period of general distress, to touch that line
of necessarily high expenditure below which it would be ruin for the
returns of the undertaking to fall. Let but the invariably great
outlay continue to exceed the income for any considerable time, and
the railway _must_ keep its Sabbaths.'

'Just the catechist's idea,' rejoined my cousin. 'He spoke on the
subject at our last meeting. "Eachen," he said, "Eachen, the thing
lies so much in the ordinary course of providence, that our blinded
Sabbath-breakers, were it to happen, would recognise only disaster in
it, not judgment. I see at times, with a distinctness that my father
would have called the second sight, that long weary line of rail, with
its Sabbath travellers of pleasure and business speeding over it, and
a crowd of wretched witnesses raised, all unwittingly and unwillingly
on their own parts, to testify against it, and of coming judgment, at
both its ends. I see that the walks of the one great city into which
it opens are blackened by shoals of unemployed artisans; and that the
lanes and alleys of the other number by thousands and tens of
thousands their pale and hunger-bitten operatives, that cry for work
and food. They testify all too surely that judgment needs no miracle
here. Let but the evil continue to grow--nay, let but one of our
Scottish capitals, our great mart of commerce and trade sink into the
circumstances of its manufacturing neighbour Paisley--and the railway
_must_ keep its Sabbaths. But alas! there would be no triumph for
party in the case. Great, ere the evil could befall, would the
sufferings of the country be, and they would be sufferings that would
extend to all." What think you, Allister, of the catechist's note?'

'Almost worth throwing into English,' I said. 'But the fog still
thickens, and it will be dark night ere we reach home.' And so we

Dark night it was, and the storm had burst out. But it was pleasant,
when I had reached my little cottage, to pile high the fire on the
hearth, and to hear the blast roaring outside, and shaking the
window-boards, as if some rude hand were striving to unfasten them. I
lighted my little heap of moss fir on the projecting stone that serves
the poor Highlander for at once lamp and candlestick, and bent me over
your fourth page, to scan the Sabbath returns of a Scottish railroad.
But my rugged journey and the beating of the storm had induced a
degree of lassitude; the wind outside, too, had forced back the smoke,
until it had filled with a drowsy, umbery atmosphere, the whole of my
dingy little apartment: Mr. M'Neill seemed considerably less smart
than usual, and more than ordinarily offensive, and in the middle of
his speech I fell fast asleep. The scene changed, and I found myself
still engaged in my late journey, coming down over the hill, just as
the sun was setting red and lightless through the haze behind the dark
Atlantic. The dreary prospect on which I had looked so shortly before
was restored in all its features: there was the blank, leaden-coloured
sea, that seemed to mix all around with the blank, leaden-coloured
sky; the moors spread out around me, brown and barren, and studded
with rock and stone; the fogs, as they crept downwards, were lowering
the overtopping screen of hills behind to one dead level. Through the
landscape, otherwise so dingy and sombre, there ran one long line of
somewhat brighter hue: it was a long line of breakers tumbling against
the coast far as the eye could reach, and that seemed interposed as a
sort of selvage between the blank, leaden sea, and the deep,
melancholy russet of the land. Through one of those changes so common
in dreams, the continuous line of surf seemed, as I looked, to alter
its character. It winded no longer round headland and bay, but
stretched out through the centre of the landscape, straight as an
extended cord, and the bright white saddened down to the fainter hue
of decaying vegetation. The entire landscape underwent a change. Under
the gloomy sky of a stormy evening, I could mark on the one hand the
dark blue of the Pentlands, and on the other the lower slopes of
Corstorphine. Arthur's Seat rose dim in the distance behind; and in
front, the pastoral valley of Wester Lothian stretched away mile
beyond mile, with its long rectilinear mound running through the
midst,--from where I stood beside one of the massier viaducts that
rose an hundred feet overhead, till where the huge bulk seemed
diminished to a slender thread on the far edge of the horizon.

It seemed as if years had passed--many years. I had an indistinct
recollection of scenes of terror and of suffering, of the shouts of
maddened multitudes engaged in frightful warfare, of the cries of
famishing women and children, of streets and lanes flooded with blood,
of raging flames enwrapping whole villages in terrible ruin, of the
flashing of arms and the roaring of artillery; but all was dimness and
confusion. The recollection was that of a dream remembered in a dream.
The solemn text was in my mind, 'Voices, and thunders, and lightnings,
and a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth,
so mighty an earthquake and so great;' and I now felt as if the
convulsion was over, and that its ruins lay scattered around me. The
railway, I said, is keeping its Sabbaths. All around was solitary, as
in the wastes of Skye. The long rectilinear mound seemed shaggy with
gorse and thorn, that rose against the sides, and intertwisted their
prickly branches atop. The sloe-thorn, and the furze, and the bramble
choked up the rails. The fox rustled in the brake; and where his track
had opened up a way through the fern, I could see the red and corroded
bars stretching idly across. There was a viaduct beside me: the flawed
and shattered masonry had exchanged its raw hues for a crust of
lichens; one of the taller piers, undermined by the stream, had drawn
two of the arches along with it, and lay adown the water-course a
shapeless mass of ruin, o'ermasted by flags and rushes. A huge ivy,
that had taken root under a neighbouring pier, threw up its long
pendulous shoots over the summit. I ascended to the top. Half-buried
in furze and sloe-thorn, there rested on the rails what had once been
a train of carriages; the engine ahead lay scattered in fragments, the
effect of some disastrous explosion, and damp, and mould, and
rottenness had done their work on the vehicles behind. Some had
already fallen to pieces, so that their places could be no longer
traced in the thicket that had grown up around them; others stood
comparatively entire, but their bleached and shrivelled panels rattled
to the wind, and the mushroom and the fungus sprouted from between
their joints. The scene bore all too palpably the marks of violence
and bloodshed. There was an open space in front, where the shattered
fragments of the engine lay scattered; and here the rails had been
torn up by violence, and there stretched across, breast-high, a rudely
piled rampart of stone. A human skeleton lay atop, whitened by the
winds; there was a broken pike beside it; and, stuck fast in the naked
skull, which had rolled to the bottom of the rampart, the rusty
fragment of a sword. The space behind resembled the floor of a
charnel-house--bindwood and ground-ivy lay matted over heaps of bones;
and on the top of the hugest heap of all, a skull seemed as if
grinning at the sky from amid the tattered fragments of a cap of
liberty. Bones lay thick around the shattered vehicles; a trail of
skeletons dotted the descending bank, and stretched far into a
neighbouring field; and from amid the green rankness that shot up
around them, I could see soiled and tattered patches of the British
scarlet. A little farther on there was another wide gap in the rails.
I marked beside the ruins of a neighbouring hovel a huge pile of rusty
bars, and there lay inside the fragment of an uncouth cannon marred in
the casting.

I wandered on in unhappiness, oppressed by that feeling of terror and
disconsolateness so peculiar to one's more frightful dreams. The
country seemed everywhere a desert. The fields were roughened with
tufts of furze and broom; hedgerows had shot up into lines of stunted
trees, with wide gaps interposed; cottage and manor-house had alike
sunk into ruins; here the windows still retained their shattered
frames, and the roof-tree lay rotting amid the dank vegetation of the
floor; yonder the blackness of fire had left its mark, and there
remained but reddened and mouldering stone. Wild animals and doleful
creatures had everywhere increased. The toad puffed out his freckled
sides on hearths whose fires had been long extinguished, the fox
rustled among its bushes, the masterless dog howled from the thicket,
the hawk screamed shrill and sharp as it fluttered overhead. I passed
what had been once the policies of a titled proprietor. The trees lay
rotting and blackened among the damp grass--all except one huge giant
of the forest, that, girdled by the axe half a man's height from the
ground, and scorched by fire, stretched out its long dead arms towards
the sky. In the midst of this wilderness of desolation lay broken
masses, widely scattered, of what had been once the mansion-house. A
shapeless hollow, half filled with stagnant water, occupied its
immediate site; and the earth was all around torn up, as if battered
with cannon. The building had too obviously owed its destruction to
the irresistible force of gunpowder.

There was a parish church on the neighbouring eminence, and it, too,
was roofless and a ruin. Alas! I exclaimed, as I drew aside the rank
stalks of nightshade and hemlock that hedged up the breach in the wall
through which I passed into the interior--alas! have the churches of
Scotland also perished? The inscription of a mutilated tombstone that
lay outside caught my eye, and I paused for a moment's space in the
gap to peruse it. It was an old memorial of the times of the Covenant,
and the legend was more than half defaced. I succeeded in deciphering
merely a few half sentences--'killing-time,' 'faithful martyr,'
'bloody Prelates;' and beneath there was a fragmentary portion of the
solemn text, 'How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and
avenge our blood?' I stepped into the interior: the scattered remains
of an altar rested against the eastern gable. There was a crackling as
of broken glass under my feet, and stooping down I picked up a
richly-stained fragment: it bore a portion of that much-revered sign,
the pelican giving her young to eat of her own flesh and blood--the
sign which Puseyism and Popery equally agree in regarding as
adequately expressive of their doctrine of the real presence, and
which our Scottish Episcopalians have so recently adopted as the
characteristic vignette of their service-book. The toad and the newt
had crept over it, and it had borrowed a new tint of brilliancy from
the slime of the snail. Destruction had run riot along the walls of
this parish church. There were carvings chipped and mutilated, as if
in sport, less apparently with the intention of defacing, than
rendering them contemptible and grotesque. A huge cross of stone had
been reared over the altar, and both the top and one of the arms had
been struck away, and from the surviving arm there dangled a noose.
The cross had been transformed into a gibbet. Nor were there darker
indications wanting. In a recess set apart as a cabinet for relics,
there were human bones all too fresh to belong to a remote antiquity;
and in a niche under the gibbet lay the tattered remains of a surplice
dabbled in blood. I stood amid the ruins, and felt a sense of fear and
horror creeping over me: the air darkened under the scowl of the
coming tempest and the closing night, and the wind shrieked more
mournfully amid the shattered and dismantled walls.

There came another change over my dream. I found myself wandering in
darkness, I knew not whither, among bushes and broken ground; there
was the roar of a large stream in my ear, and the savage howl of the
storm. I retain a confused, imperfect recollection of a light
streaming upon broken water--of a hard struggle in a deep ford--and of
at length sharing in the repose and safety of a cottage, solitary and
humble almost as my own. The vision again strengthened, and I found
myself seated beside a fire, and engaged with a few grave and serious
men in singing the evening psalm, with which they closed for the time
their services of social devotion.

'The period of trial wears fast away,' said one of the number, when
all was over--a grey-haired, patriarchal-looking old man--'The period
of trial is well-nigh over, the storms of our long winter are past,
and we have survived them all. Patience! a little more patience, and
we shall see the glorious spring-time of the world begin! The vial is
at length exhausted.'

'How very simple,' said one of the others, as if giving expression
rather to the reflection that the remark suggested, than speaking in
reply,--'how exceedingly simple now it seems to trace to their causes
the decline and fall of Britain! The ignorance and the irreligion of
the land have fully avenged themselves, and have been consumed in turn
in fires of their own kindling. How could even mere men of the world
have missed seeing the great moral evil that lay at the root of'--

'Ay,' said a well-known voice that half mingled with my dreaming
fancies, half recalled me to consciousness; 'nothing can be plainer,
Donald. That lawyer-man is evidently not making his smart speeches or
writing his clever circulars with an eye to the pecuniary interests of
the railroad. No person can know better than he knows that the company
are running their Sabbath trains at a sacrifice of some four or five
thousand a year. Were there not a hundred thousand that took the
pledge? and can it be held by any one that knows Scotland, that they
aren't worth over-head a shilling a year to the railway? No, no;
depend on't, the man is guiltless of any design of making the
shareholders rich by breaking the Sabbath. He is merely supporting a
desperate case in the eye of the country, and getting into all the
newspapers, that people may see how clever a fellow he is. He is
availing himself of the principle that makes men in our great towns go
about with placards set up on poles, and with bills printed large
stuck round their hats.'

Two of my nearer neighbours, who had travelled a long mile through the
storm to see whether I had got my newspaper, had taken their seats
beside me when I was engaged with my dream; and after reading your
railway report, they were now busied in discussing the various
speeches and their authors. My dream is, I am aware, quite unsuited
for your columns, and yet I send it to you. There are none of its
pictured calamities that lie beyond the range of possibility--nay,
there are perhaps few of them that at this stage may not actually be
feared; but if so, it is at least equally sure that there can be none
of them that at this stage might not be averted.


Among the some six or eight and twenty volumes of pamphlets which have
been already produced by our Church controversy, and which bid fair to
compose but a part of the whole, there is one pamphlet, in the form of
a Sermon, which bears date January 1840, and two other pamphlets, in
the form of Dialogues, which bear date April 1843. The Sermon and the
Dialogues discuss exactly the same topics. They are written in exactly
the same style. They exhibit, in the same set phrases, the same large
amount of somewhat obtrusive sanctimoniousness. They are equally
strong in the same confidence of representing, on their respective
subjects, the true mind of Deity. They solicit the same circle of
readers; they seem to have employed the same fount of types; they have
emanated from the same publishers. They are liker, in short, than the
twin brothers in Shakespeare's _Comedy of Errors_; and the only
material dissimilarity which we have been yet able to discover is,
that whereas the Sermon is a thorough-going and uncompromising defence
of our Evangelical majority in the Church, the Dialogues form an
equally thorough-going and uncompromising attack upon them. This,
however, compared with the numerous points of verisimilitude, the
reader will, we are sure, deem but a trifle, especially when he has
learned further that they represent the same mind, and have employed
the same pen--that the Sermon was published by the Rev. Alexander
Clark of Inverness in 1840, and the Dialogues by the Rev. Alexander
Clark of Inverness in 1843.

We spent an hour at the close of twilight a few evenings ago, in running
over the Sermon and the Dialogues, and in comparing them, as we went
along, paragraph by paragraph, and sentence by sentence. We had
before us also one of Mr. Clark's earlier publications, his _Rights of
Members of the Church of Scotland_, and a complete collection of his
anti-patronage speeches for a series of years, as recorded in _The
Church Patronage Reporter_, with his speech 'anent lay patronage' in
the General Assembly, when in 1833 he led the debate on the popular
side. The publications, in all, extended over a period of fourteen
years. They exhibited Mr. Clark, and what Mr. Clark had held, in 1829,
in 1831, in 1832, in 1836, in 1840, and in 1843. We found that we could
dip down upon him, as we went along, like a sailor taking soundings in
the reaches of some inland frith or some navigable river, and ascertain
by year and day the exact state of his opinions, and whether they were
rising or falling at the time. And our task, if a melancholy, was
certainly no uninteresting one. We succeeded in bringing to the surface,
from out of the oblivion that had closed over them, many a curious,
glittering, useless little thing, somewhat resembling the decayed
shells and phosphoric jellies that attach themselves to the bottom of
the deep-sea lead. Here we found the tale of a peroration, set as if
on joints, that clattered husky and dry like the rattles of a snake;
there an argument sprouting into green declamation, like a damaged ear
of corn in a wet harvest; yonder a piece of delightful egotism, set full
in sentiment like a miniature of Mr. Clark in a tinsel frame. What
seemed most remarkable, however, in at least his earlier productions,
was their ceaseless glitter of surface, if we may so speak. We found
them literally sprinkled over with little bits of broken figures, as
if the reverend gentleman had pounded his metaphors and comparisons
in a mortar, and then dusted them over his style. It is thus, thought
we, that our manufacturers of fancy wax deal by their mica. In his
_Rights of Members_, for instance, we found in one page that 'the gross
errors of Romanism had risen _in successive tides_, until the _light of
truth suffered a fearful eclipse_ during a long period of darkness;'
and we had scarce sufficiently admired the sublime height of tides that
occasion eclipses, when we were further informed, in the page
immediately following, that the god of this world was mustering his
_multifarious hosts for the battle_, hoping, _amidst the waves_ of
popular commotion, 'to _blot out the name_ of God from the British
Constitution.' Assuredly, thought we, we have the elements of no
commonplace engagement here. 'Multifarious hosts,' fairly mustered,
and 'battling' amid 'waves' in 'commotion' to 'blot out a name,'
would be a sight worth looking at, even though, like the old shepherd
in the _Winter's Tale_, their zeal should lack footing amid the
waters. But though detained in the course of our search by the
happinesses of the reverend gentleman, we felt that it was not with
the genius of Mr. Clark that we had specially to do, but with his

For eleven of the fourteen years over which our materials extended, we
found the Rev. Mr. Clark one of the most consistent of men. From his
appearance on the platform at Aberdeen in 1829, when he besought his
audience not to deem it obtrusive in a stranger that he ventured to
address them, and then elicited their loud applauses by soliciting
their prayers for 'one minister labouring in northern parts,' who
'aspired to no higher distinction on earth than that he should spend and
be spent in the service of his dear Lord and Master,' down to 1840,
when he published his sermon on the 'Present Position of the Church,
and the Duty of its Members,' and urged, with the solemnity of an
oath, that 'the Church of Scotland was engaged in asserting
principles which the allegiance it owes to Christ would never permit
it to desert,' Mr. Clark stood forward on every occasion the
uncompromising champion of spiritual independence, and of the rights
of the Christian people. He took his place far in the van. He was no
mere half-and-half non-intrusionist,--no complaisant eulogist of the
Veto,--no timid doubter that the Church in behalf of her people
might possibly stretch her powers too far, and thus separate her
temporalities from her cures. Nothing could be more absurd, he
asserted, than to imagine such a thing. On parade day, when she stood
resting on her arms in the sunshine, Mr. Clark was fugleman to his
party,--not merely a front man in the front rank, but a man far in
advance of the front rank. Nay, even after the collision had taken
place, Mr. Clark could urge on his brethren that all that was
necessary to secure them the victory was just to go a little further
ahead, and deprive their refractory licentiates of their licences.
We found that for eleven of the fourteen years, as we have said, Mr.
Clark was uniformly consistent. But in the twelfth year the conflict
became actually dangerous, and Mr. Clark all at once dropped his
consistency. The great suddenness--the extreme abruptness--of the
change, gave to it the effect of a trick of legerdemain. The conjurer
puts a pigeon into an earthen pipkin, gives the vessel a shake, and then
turns it up, and lo! out leaps the little incarcerated animal, no
longer a pigeon, but a rat. It was thus with the Rev. Mr. Clark.
Adversity, like Vice in the fable, took upon herself the character of a
juggler, and stepping full into the middle of the Church question,
began to play at cup and ball. Nothing, certainly, could be more
wonderful than the transformations she effected; and the special
transformation effected on the Rev. Mr. Clark surpassed in the
marvellous all the others. She threw the reverend gentleman into a
box, gave him a smart shake, and then flung him out again, and lo! to
the astonishment of all men, what went in Mr. Clark, came out Mr.
Bisset of Bourtie. In order, apparently, that so great a marvel
should not be lost to the world, Mr. Clark has been at no little
trouble in showing himself, both before he went in and since he came
out. His pamphlet of 1840 and his pamphlets of 1843 represent him in
the two states: we see him going about in them, all over the
country, to the extent of their circulation, like the mendicant
piper in his go-cart,--making open proclamation everywhere, 'I am the
man wot changed;' and the only uncomfortable feeling one has in
contemplating them as curiosities, arises solely from the air of heavy
sanctity that pervades equally all their diametrically opposed
doctrines, contradictory assertions, and contending views, as if Deity
could declare equally for truth and error, just as truth and error
chanced to be held by Mr. Clark. Of so solemn a cast are the reverend
gentleman's belligerent pamphlets, that they serve to remind one of
antagonist witnesses swearing point blank in one another's faces at
the Old Bailey.

Such were some of the thoughts which arose in our mind when spending
an hour all alone with the Rev. Mr Clark's pamphlets. We bethought us
of an Eastern story about a very wicked prince who ruined the fair
fame of his brother, by assuming his body just as he might his
greatcoat, and then doing a world of mischief under the cover of his
name and appearance. What, thought we, if this, after all, be but a
trick of a similar character? Dr. Bryce has been long in Eastern
parts, and knows doubtless a great deal about the occult sciences. We
would not be much surprised should it turn out, that having injected
himself into the framework of the Rev. Mr. Clark, he is now making the
poor man appear grossly inconsistent, and both an Erastian and an
Intrusionist, simply by acting through the insensate carcase. The
veritable Mr. Clark may be lying in deep slumber all this while in the
ghost cave of Munlochy, like one of the seven sleepers of Ephesus, or
standing entranced, under the influences of fairy-land, in some bosky
recess of the haunted Tomnahurich. We must just glance over these
Dialogues again, and see whether we cannot detect Dr. Bryce in them.

And glance over them we did. There could be no denying that the Doctor
was there, and this in a much more extreme shape than he ever yet wore
in his own proper person. Dr. Bryce asserts, for instance, in his
speeches and pamphlets, that the liberty for which the Church has been
contending is a liberty incompatible with her place and standing as an
Establishment--and there he stops; but we found him asserting in Mr.
Clark's Dialogues, that it is a liberty at once so dangerous and
illegal, that Voluntaries must not be permitted to enjoy it either. We
saw various other points equally striking as we went along. Our
attention, however, was gradually drawn to another matter. The
_dramatis personæ_ to which the reader is introduced are a minister
and two of his parishioners, the one a Moderate, the other a
Convocationist. It is intended, of course, that the clerical gentleman
should carry the argument all his own way; and we could not help
admiring how, with an eye to this result, the writer had succeeded in
making the parishioners so amazingly superficial in their information,
and so ingeniously obtuse in their intellects. They had both been
called into existence with the intention of being baffled and beaten,
and made, with a wise adaptation of means to the desired end,
consummate blockheads for the express purpose. 'A man is a much nobler
animal than a lion,' said the woodman in the fable to the shaggy king
of the forest; 'and if you but come to yonder temple with me, I will
show you, in proof of the fact, the statue of a man lording it over
the statue of a prostrate lion.' 'Aha!' said the shaggy king of the
forest in reply, 'but was the sculptor a lion? Let us lions become
sculptors, and then we will show you lions lording it over prostrate
men.' In Mr. Clark's argumentative Dialogues, Mr. Clark is the
sculptor. It is really refreshing, however, in these days of cold
ingratitude, to see how the creatures called into existence by his pen
draw round him, and sing _Io Pæans_ in his praise. A brace of Master
Slenders attend the great Justice Shallow, who has been literally the
making of them; and when at his bidding they engage with him in mimic
warfare, they but pelt him with roses, or sprinkle him over with _eau
de Cologne_. 'Ah,' thought we, 'had we but the true Mr. Clark here to
take a part in this fray--the Mr. Clark who published the great
non-intrusion sermon, and wrote the _Rights of Members_, and spoke all
the long anti-patronage speeches, and led the debate in the Assembly
anent the rights of the people, and declared it clear as day that the
Church had power to enact the Veto,--had we but him here, he would be
the man to fight this battle. It would be no such child's play to
grapple with him. Unaccustomed as we are to lay wagers, we would stake
a hundred pounds to a groat on the true Mr. Clark!'

The twilight had fallen, the flames rose blue and languid in the
grate, the deep shadows flickered heavily on the walls and ceiling;
there was a drowsy influence in the hour, and a still drowsier
influence in the Dialogues, and we think--for what followed could have
been only a dream--we think we must have fallen asleep. At all events,
the scene changed without any exertion on our part, and we found
ourselves in a quiet retired spot in the vicinity of Inverness. The
'hill of the ship,' that monarch of Fairy Tomhans, rose immediately in
front, gaily feathered over with larch and forest trees; and,
terminating a long vista in the background, we saw Mr. Clark's West
Kirk, surmounted by a vast weathercock of gilded tin. Ever and anon
the bauble turned its huge side to the sun, and the reflected light
went dancing far and wide athwart the landscape. Immediately beneath
the weathercock there flared an immense tablet, surmounted by a leaden
Fame, and bordered by a row of gongs and trumpets, which bore, in
three-feet letters, that, 'in order to secure so valuable an addition
to the church accommodation of the parish, the Rev. Mr. Clark had not
hesitated, on his own personal risk, to guarantee the payment of three
thousand pounds.' Our eyes were at first so dazzled by the blaze of
the lackering--for the characters shone to the sun as if on fire--that
we could see nothing else. As we gazed more attentively, however, we
could perceive that every stone and slate of the building bore, like
the tablet, the name of Mr. Clark. The endless repetition presented
the appearance of a churchyard inscription viewed through a
multiplying glass; but what most astonished us was that the Gothic
heads, carved by pairs beside the labelled windows, opened wide their
stony lips from time to time, and shouted aloud, in a voice somewhat
resembling that of the domestic duck when she breaks out into sudden
clamour in a hot, dry day, 'Clark, Clark, Clark!' We stood not a
little appalled at these wonders, marvelling what was to come next,
when lo! one of the thickets of the Tomhan beside us opened its
interlaced and twisted branches, and out stepped the likeness of Mr.
Clark, attired like a conjurer, and armed with a rod. His portly bulk
was enwrapped in a voluminous scarf of changing-coloured silk, that,
when it caught the light in one direction, exhibited the deep scarlet
of a cardinal's mantle, and presented, when it caught it in another,
the sober tinge of our Presbyterian blue. Like the cloak of Asmodeus,
it was covered over with figures. In one corner we could see the
General Assembly done in miniature, and Mr. Clark rising among the
members like Gulliver in Lilliput, to move against the deposition of
the seven ministers of Strathbogie. In another the same reverend
gentleman, drawn on the same large scale, was just getting on his
legs at a political dinner, to denounce his old friends and allies
the Evangelicals, as wild destructives, 'engaged in urging on the fall
of the Establishment, in the desperation of human pride.' Here we
could see him baptizing the child of a person who, as he had fallen
out of church-going habits, could get it baptized nowhere else; there
examined in his presbytery for the offence with closed doors; yonder
writing letters to the newspapers on the subject, to say that, if he
_had_ baptized the man's child, it was all because the man was, like
himself, a good hater of forced settlements. There were a great many
other vignettes besides; and the last in the series was the scene
enacted at the late Inverness Presbytery, when Mr. Clark rose to
congratulate his old associates, in all the stern severity of
consistent virtue, on the facile and '_squeezable_' character of their
representative for the Assembly.

The conjurer came out into an open space, drew a circle around him,
and then began to build up on the sward two little human figures
about three feet high, as boys build up figures of snow at the
commencement of a thaw. Harlequin performs a somewhat similar feat in
one of the pantomimes. He first sets up two carrots on end, to
serve for legs; balances on them the head of a large cabbage, to serve
for a body; sticks on two other carrots, to serve for arms; places a
round turnip between them, to serve for a head; gives the crazy
erection a blow with his lath sword, and straightway off it stalks, a
vegetable man. Mr. Clark had, in like manner, no sooner built up his
figures, than, with a peculiarly bland air, and in tones of the
softest liquidity, he whispered into the ear of the one, Be you a
Convocationist, and into that of the other, Be you a Moderate; and
then with his charmed rod he tapped them across the shoulders, and set
them a-walking. The creatures straightway jerked up their little
heads to the angle of his face, bowed like a brace of automaton
dancing-masters, and after pacing round his knees for a few
seconds, began Dialogue the first, in just the set terms in which we
had been reading it beside our own fire not half an hour before. It
seemed, for a few seconds, as if the conjurer and his creations had
joined together in a trio, to celebrate the conjurer's own praises.
'Excellent clergyman!' said the Convocationist. 'Incomparable man!'
exclaimed the Moderate. 'No minister like our minister!' said the two
in a breath. 'Ah, gentlemen,' said the conjurer, looking modestly
down, 'even my very enemies never venture to deny that.' 'You,
sir,' said the Convocationist, 'bring on no occasion the Church
question to the pulpit; you know better--you have more sense: we have
quite as much of the Church question as is good for us through the
week.' 'For you, sir,' chimed in the Moderate, 'I have long
cherished the most thorough respect; but as for your old party, I
dislike them more than ever.' 'I am not mercenary, gentlemen,' said
the conjurer, laying his hand on his breast; 'I am not timid, I am not
idle; I am a generous, diligent, dauntless, attached pastor; I
give alms of all I possess--in especial to the public charities; I
make long prayers,--my very best friends often urge on me that my
vast labours, weekly and daily, are undermining my strength; I
fast often,--I have guaranteed the payment of three thousand pounds
for the West Kirk, and three-fourths of my stipend have gone this
year to the liquidation of self-imposed liabilities. True, I will
be _eventually repaid_,--that is, if my people don't leave me; _but I
have no other security beyond my confidence in the goodness of the
cause, and the continued liberality of my countrymen_.' And in this
style would the reverend gentleman have continued down to the
bottom of the fifth page in his first Dialogue, had it not been for
a singularly portentous and terrible interruption.

The haunted Tomnahurich rose, as we have said, immediately behind us,
leafy and green; and not one of its multitude of boughs trembled in
the sunshine. Suddenly, however, the hill-side began to move. There
was a low deep noise like distant thunder; and straightway the
_débris_ of a landslip came rolling downwards, half obliterating in
its course the circle of the conjurer. Turf, and clay, and stone lay
in a mingled ruin at our feet; and wriggling in the midst, like a huge
blue-bottle in an old cobweb, there was a reverend gentleman dressed
in black. He gathered himself up, sprung deftly to his feet, and stood
fronting the conjurer. Wonderful to relate, the man in black proved to
be the veritable Mr. Clark of three years ago--Mr. Clark of 1840--Mr.
Clark who published the great non-intrusion discourse, who wrote the
_Rights of Members_, who spoke the long anti-patronage speeches, who
led the debate in the Assembly anent the rights of the people, and who
declared it clear as day that the Church had power to enact the Veto.
The conjurer started backwards like a man who receives a mortal wound:
the two little figures uttered a thin scrannel shriek apiece, and then
slunk out of existence. 'Avoid ye,' exclaimed the conjurer, 'Avoid ye!
_Conjuro te, conjuro te!_' He then went on to mutter, as if by way of
exorcism, in low and very rapid tones, 'I have no anxiety to refute
the charge of inconsistency, which some have endeavoured to fasten on
me, from detached portions of what I have written or spoken, during
several years, on what may be termed Church politics. In matters not
essential to salvation, increased light or advanced experience may
properly produce change of sentiment in the most enlightened and
conscientious Christian. For a man to assert that he is subject to no
change, is to lay claim to one of the perfections----' _Dialogue 1st_,
p. 6.

'And so you won't go out,' said the true Mr. Clark, interrupting him.

'No, sir,' replied the conjurer. 'I have maturely considered the
proposed secession from the Established Church, and, without
pronouncing any judgment on the motives or doings of others who may
think or act differently, I deeply feel that in such a measure I
could not join without manifest sin against the light of my
conscience.'--_Dialogue 1st_, p. 4.

'Ah,' rejoined the true Mr. Clark, 'did I not say it would be so? I knew
there would be found a set of recreant priests, who, for a pitiful
morsel of the world's bread, would submit to be the instruments of
trampling on the blood-bought rights of the Scottish people, and call
themselves a Church, while departing from their allegiance to Him who is
the source of all true ecclesiastical authority; but never can these
constitute the Church of Scotland!'--_Sermon_, p. 40.

'I cannot reconcile it with the views I have long entertained of my
duty to the Church and to the country,' said the conjurer, 'to secede
from the National Establishment, simply because it wants what it
wanted when I became one of its ministers.'--_Dialogue 1st_, p. 12.

'Wanted when you became one of its ministers!' exclaimed the true
Mr. Clark. 'No, sir. The civil courts are now compelling obedience
in cases in which they have no jurisdiction, and have levelled
with the ground the independent jurisdiction of the Church,--a
Church bearing in its diadem a host of martyrs, and which never
hitherto submitted to the supremacy of any power, excepting that of
the Son of God.'--_Sermon_, pp. 59-63.

'I won't go out,' reiterated the conjurer.

'Well, you have told me what you have long deemed to be your duty,'
said the true Mr. Clark. 'I shall repeat to you, in turn, what I
three years ago recorded as mine. "It is the duty of the Church," I
said, "to maintain its position, confirmed as it is by solemn
statutes and by the faith of national treaties, until that shall be
overthrown by the deliberate decision of the State itself. Should
such a circumstance really occur, as that the Legislature should
insist that the Church holds its endowments on the express condition
of its rendering to civil authority the subjection which it can
consistently yield to Christ alone, there being then a plain
violation of the terms on which the Church entered into alliance
with the State, that alliance must be dissolved, as one which can
be no longer continued, but by rendering to men what is due to
God.'"--_Sermon_, p. 28.

'I deny entirely and _in toto_,' said the conjurer, 'that the present
controversy involves the doctrine of the Headship.'--_See 2d

'Admit,' said the true Mr. Clark, 'but the right of secular courts to
review, and thus to confirm or annul, the proceedings of the Scottish
Church in one of the most important spiritual functions, and the same
power may soon be, under various pretexts, used to control all the
inferior departments of its ecclesiastical procedure. Will any man say
that a society thus acknowledging the supremacy of a different power
from that of Christ is any longer to be regarded as a branch of the
Church whose unity chiefly exists in adherence to Him as its
Head?'--_Sermon_, p. 45.

'The claim,' said the conjurer, 'is essentially Papal.'--_Dialogue
2d_, p. 6.

'No,' replied the true Mr. Clark, 'not Papal, but Protestant: our
confessors and martyrs chose to suffer for it the loss of all their
worldly goods, and to incur the pains of death in its most appalling
forms.'--_Sermon_, p. 45.

'Papal notwithstanding,' reiterated the conjurer. 'But it is not to be
wondered at, that in the earliest stages of the Reformation, men newly
come out of the Church of Rome should have been led to assert for the
office-bearers of their Church the prerogatives which Romanism claimed
for her own.'--_Dialogue 2d_, p. 7.

'What!' exclaimed the true Mr. Clark, 'is not the present contest
clearly for the rights of the members of Christ,--rights manifestly
recognised in His word, and involving His Headship?'--_Sermon_, p. 37.
_See also_ p. 31.

'Not at all,' replied the conjurer. 'The question is one of faction,
and of faction only. Struggles for the victory of mere parties have
been as injurious to vital godliness in the Church as the same cause
has been to the true prosperity of the State.'--_Dialogue 1st_, p.

'Faction!' exclaimed the true Mr. Clark; 'the Church of Scotland is
now engaged in asserting principles which the allegiance it owes to
Christ will never permit it to desert. And let it be rung in the ears
of the people of Scotland, that the great reason why the asserting of
the Church's spiritual jurisdiction is so clamorously condemned in
certain quarters, is because it is employed to maintain the rights of
the people.'--_Sermon_, pp. 37-39.

'To be above the authority of the law, no Church in this country
can be,' said the conjurer. 'The Church courts would be able, were
their principles fully recognised, to tread under foot the rights
of the people as effectually as ever they resisted those of
patrons.'--_Dialogue 1st_, pp. 14 and 16.

'Nothing can be more absurd than such insinuations,' exclaimed the
true Mr. Clark. 'The Church disclaims every kind of civil authority,
and simply requires that there be no interference on the part of civil
rulers with its spiritual functions. How that which declines a
jurisdiction in civil matters, can in any sense of the word, or in any
conceivable circumstances, be injurious to civil liberty, it is
impossible to conceive.'--_Sermon_, p. 32.

'Alas,' said the conjurer, 'if the Church by recent events has been
exhibited in a lower position than Scotsmen ever saw it placed in
before, this has been occasioned by the unhappy attitude of defiance
of the civil tribunals in which it was unadvisedly placed, and which
no body, however venerable, can be permitted to occupy with impunity
in a well-governed country.'--_Dialogue 1st_, p. 12.

'Degradation!' indignantly exclaimed the true Mr. Clark; 'did the
Church, in consequence of the findings of the civil courts, proceed
to act in opposition to what it believes and has solemnly declared to
be founded on the Scripture, and agreeable thereto, it would exhibit
itself to the world a disgraced and degraded society, utterly fallen
from the faithfulness to religious duty which marked former periods of
its history.'--_Sermon_, p. 21.

'Clear it is,' said the conjurer, 'that the Church must not be
permitted to retain with impunity her attitude of defiance to the
civil tribunals. Were it otherwise, an ecclesiastical power might come
to be established in this kingdom, fully able to trample uncontrolled
on the most sacred rights of the nation.'--_Dialogue 1st_, p. 12.

'Nothing, I repeat,' said the true Mr. Clark, 'can be more absurd than
the insinuation. The liberties of the Church of Scotland have been
often assailed by the civil authorities of the land, but uniformly by
those who were equally hostile to the civil freedom of the country.
Its rights were, during one dreary period, so effectually overthrown,
that none stood up to assert them but the devoted band who, in the
wildest fastnesses of their country, were often compelled by the
violence of military rule to water with their blood the moors, where
they rendered homage to the King of Zion; while, in the sunshine of
courtly favour, ecclesiastics moved, who without fear bartered, for
their own sordid gain, the blood-bought liberties of the Church of
God, and showed themselves as willing to subvert the civil rights of
their countrymen as they had been to destroy their religious
privileges.'--_Sermon_, p. 30.

'To be above the law,' reiterated the conjurer, 'no Church in this
country can be.'--_Dialogue 1st_, p. 16.

'There may arise various occasions,' said the true Mr. Clark, 'on
which the injunctions of man may interfere with the injunctions of
God; and in every such case a Christian man must yield obedience to
the authority of the highest Lord.'--_Sermon_, p. 22.

'Sad case that of Strathbogie!' ejaculated the conjurer.

'Very sad,' replied the true Mr. Clark. 'What is your version of it?'

'Listen,' said the conjurer. 'What has been termed the Veto Law was
enacted less than ten years ago, and after lengthened legal
proceedings, was declared illegal by the House of Lords, the highest
judicial authority in this kingdom. For proceedings adopted in
conformity to this decision, seven ministers in the Presbytery of
Strathbogie were first suspended and then deposed from their
ministerial offices, without any other charges laid against them than
that they sought the protection of the civil courts in acting
according to their decision. For refusing to obey a law which the
House of Lords declared to be illegal, no minister can be lawfully
deposed from his office in this country, unless we are prepared to
adopt a principle which would ultimately subvert the entire authority
of the law. The civil courts, simply on the ground that these
ministers had been deposed for obeying the statutes of the realm,
reversed the sentence, as what was beyond the lawful powers of any
Church in this land, whether Voluntary or Established. And on the same
principle, they interfered to prevent any from treating them as
suspended or deposed.'--_Dialogue 1st_, p. 10.

'A most injurious representation of the case,' said the true Mr.
Clark. 'Seven ministers, forming the majority of the Presbytery of
Strathbogie, chose to intimate their resolution to take steps towards
the settlement of Mr. Edwards as minister of Marnoch, in defiance of
the opposition of almost all the parishioners, and in direct contempt
of the instructions given them by the superior church courts. The
civil courts in the meantime merely declared their opinion of the law,
but they issued no injunction whatever, so as to give the presbytery
the pretext of choosing between obeying the one or the other
jurisdiction; and they violated the express injunction of the supreme
church court, without being able to plead in justification that they
had been compelled by the civil authority to do so. They chose to act
ultroneously in violation of their duty to the Church. They had
solemnly promised to obey the superior church courts, and had never
come under any promise to obey in spiritual things any other
authority. In proposing to take the usual steps for conferring the
spiritual office of a pastor in the Church of Christ, in defiance of
the injunction laid upon them by the supreme court of the Church of
Scotland, they plainly violated their ordination engagements. And in
actually ordaining Mr. Edwards, the whole procedure was a solemn
mockery of holy things.'--_Sermon_, p. 26.

'After all,' said the conjurer, with a sigh, 'the agitated question is
but of inferior moment.'--_Dialogue 1st_, p. 3.

'Inferior moment!' exclaimed the true Mr. Clark; 'no religious
question of the same magnitude and importance has come before this
country since the ever-memorable Revolution in 1688. The divisions
of secular partisanship sink into utter insignificance when compared
with this. Let the principles once become triumphant for which the
Court of Session is now contending, and the Church of Scotland is
ruined.'--_Sermon_, pp. 7 and 59.

'Ruined!' shouted out the conjurer; 'it is you who are ruining the
Church, by urging on the disruption. For my own part, I promised, as
all ministers do at their ordination, never, directly or indirectly,
to endeavour her subversion, or to follow divisive courses, but to
maintain her unity and peace against error and schism, whatsoever
trouble or persecution might arise; and now, in agreement with my
solemn ordination engagements, have I determined to hold by her to the
last.'--_Dialogue 1st_, p. 9.

'What mean you by the _Church_?' asked the true Mr. Clark. 'The
Church and the establishment of it are surely very different things.
Men have talked of themselves as friends of the Church, because
they were the friends of its civil establishment, and loudly declaim
against the proceedings of the majority of its office-bearers now,
as fraught with danger to this object. But what do they mean by the
civil establishment of an Erastian Church! Is it possible that
they mean by it the receiving of certain pecuniary endowments as a
price for rendering a divided allegiance to the Son of God? If that
be their meaning, it is time they and the country at large should
know that the Church of Scotland was never established on such
principles.'--_Sermon_, p. 42.

'It is not true, however,' said the conjurer, 'that the majority of
the faithful ministers of Scotland have resolved to abandon the
Establishment, though this may be the case in some parts of the
country.'--_Dialogue 1st_, p. 16.

'Not true, sir!' said the true Mr. Clark; 'nothing can be more
true. All--all will leave it except a set of recreant priests, who
for a pitiful morsel of this world's bread will submit to be the
instruments of trampling on the blood-bought rights of the Scottish
people.'--_Sermon_, p. 42.

'What has pained me most in all this controversy,' remarked the
conjurer, 'has been the insidious manner in which certain persons have
endeavoured to sow disunion--in some cases too successfully--between
ministers and their hearers.'--_Dialogue 1st_, p. 3.

'Sir,' exclaimed the true Mr. Clark, 'Sir, every individual would do
well to remember, when summoned to such a contest as this, the curse
denounced against Meroz for remaining in neutrality when the battle
raged in Israel. This curse was denounced by the angel of the Lord,
and is written for the admonition of all ages, as a demonstration of
the feelings with which God regards the standing aloof, in a great
religious struggle, by whatever motives it may be sought to be
justified.'--_Sermon_, p. 59.

'The men who thus sow disunion,' said the conjurer, 'never
venture to deny that they, whose usefulness they endeavour to
destroy, are ministers of the gospel,--urging on the acceptance of
a slumbering world the message of celestial mercy, which must produce
results of weal or woe destined to be eternally remembered, when the
strifes of words which have agitated the Church on earth are all
forgotten.'--_Dialogue 1st_, p. 4.

'Hold, hold, sir,' said the true Mr. Clark. 'On the event of this
struggle depends not merely the temporal interests of our country, but
the welfare of many immortal spirits through the ceaseless ages of
future being.'--_Sermon_, p. 60.

'It is so distracting a subject this Church question,' said the
conjurer, 'that I make it a point of duty never to bring it to the
pulpit.'--_Dialogue 1st_, p. 3.

'In that you and I differ,' said the true Mr. Clark, 'just as we do in
other matters. I have written very long sermons on the subject, ay,
and published them too; and in particular beg leave to recommend to
your careful perusal my sermon on the _Present Position_, preached in
Inverness on the evening of the 19th January 1840.'

'I suppose you have heard it said, that I changed my views from the
fear of worldly loss,' said the conjurer.--_Dialogue 1st_, p. 4.

'Heard it said!' said the true Mr. Clark. 'You forget that I have been
bottled up on the hill-side yonder for the last three years.'

'Sir,' said the conjurer, with great solemnity, 'when the West Church
was built, in order to secure this valuable addition to the church
accommodation of the parish, I did not hesitate to undertake, on my
own personal risk, to guarantee the payment of three thousand
pounds. This obliged me to diminish, to no small extent, my personal
expenditure, as the only way in which the pecuniary burden could be
met, without diminishing my contributions to the public charities
of the town, and to the numerous cases of private distress brought
continually under my notice, in the various walks of ministerial
duty. And though the original debt is now reduced to half that amount
by the liberal benefactions received from various individuals, still
nearly three-fourths of my stipend this year has been expended on
this object, in terms of my voluntary obligation. The large sum
which I am now in advance, I believe, will be eventually repaid; but
for this I have no security beyond my confidence in the goodness of
the cause, and the continued liberality of my countrymen. All this
respecting the West Church is known to few, and would not have been
mentioned by me at this time, had it not been for the perseverance
with which some, inaccessible to higher motives themselves, have
endeavoured to persuade my hearers that mercenary considerations have
produced the position I have felt it my duty to take in the present
discussion.'--_Dialogue 1st_, p. 5.

For a few seconds the true Mr. Clark seemed as if struck dumb by
the intelligence. 'Ah! fast anchored!' he at length ejaculated.
'Fairly tethered to the Establishment by a stake of fifteen
hundred pounds. Demas, happy man, had a silver mine to draw him
aside--a positive silver mine. The West Church is merely a negative
one. Were it to get into the hands of the Moderates, it would become
waterlogged to a certainty, and not a single ounce of the precious
metal would ever be fished out of it; whereas you think there is
still some little chance of recovery when you remain to ply the
pump yourself. Most disinterested man!--let your statement of the
case be but fairly printed, and it will serve you not only as an
apology, but as an advertisement to boot.'

'Printed!' said the conjurer; 'I have already printed it in English,
and Mr. M'Donald the schoolmaster is translating it into Gaelic.'

But we have far exceeded our limits, and have yet given scarce a tithe
of the controversy. We found ourselves sitting all alone in front of
our own quiet fire long ere it was half completed; and we recommend
such of our readers as are desirous to see the rest of it in the
originals, to possess themselves of the Rev. Mr. Clark's _Sermon_, and
the Rev. Mr. Clark's _Dialogues_. They form, when bound up together,
one of the extremest, and at the same time one of the most tangible,
specimens of inconsistency and self-contradiction that controversy has
yet exhibited; and enable us to anticipate the character and standing
of the evangelic minority in the Erastian Church. 'If the salt has
lost its savour, wherewithal shall it be salted?'

_April 12, 1843._


There are two antagonist perils to which all evangelical Churches,
whether established or unendowed, are exposed in an age in which men's
minds are so stirred by the fluctuations of opinion, that though there
may not be much progress, there is at least much motion. They lie
open, on the one hand, to the danger of getting afloat on the tide of
innovation, and so drifting from the fixed position in which Churches,
as exponents of the mind of Christ, possess an authoritative voice,
into the giddy vortices of some revolving eddy of speculation, in
which they can at best assume but the character of mere advocates of
untried experiment; or, on the other hand, they are liable to fall
into the opposite mistake of obstinately resisting all change--however
excellent in itself, and however much a consequence of the onward
march of the species--and this not from any direct regard to those
divine laws, of which one jot or tittle cannot pass away, but simply
out of respect to certain peculiar views and opinions entertained by
their ancestors in ages considerably less wise than the times which
have succeeded them.

An evangelistic Church cannot fall into the one error without
losing its influential voice _as_ a Church. It may gain present
popularity by throwing itself upon what chances to be the onward
movement of the time; but it is a spendthrift popularity, that never
fails in the end to leave it exhausted and weak. The political
ague has always its cold as certainly as its hot fever fits: action
produces reaction; great exertion induces great fatigue; the
desired object, even when fully gained, is sure always, like all
mere sublunary objects of pursuit, to disappoint expectation; and
the Church that, forgetting where its real power lies, seeks,
Antæus-like, to gather strength in this way from the earth,
contracts in every instance but the soil and weakness inherent in
those earthy and unspiritual things to which it attaches itself. It,
too, comes to have its cold ague fits and its reaction--periods of
exhaustion, disappointment, and decline. And the opposite error of
clinging to the worn-out and the obsolete produces ultimately the
same effect, though it operates in a different way. A Church that,
in behalf of some antiquated type of thought or action, opposes
itself to what is in reality the onward current of the age, is sure
always to fare like stranded ice-floes, that, in a river flooded
by thaw, retain the exact temperature under which they were formed,
when the temperature all around them has altered. The ice-floes and
the obsolete Church may be alike successful for a time in keeping
up the ancient state of things within their own lessening limits,
but both are eventually absorbed and disappear. While the more
versatile ecclesiastical body, tossed by the cross currents and
eddies of novel and uncertain change, loses its true course and makes
shipwreck, the rigidly immoveable one, anchored over the worn-out
peculiarities of bygone days, is borne down by the irresistible rush
of the stream, and founders at its moorings.

The Free Church, as a body, is, we trust, not greatly in danger from
either extreme. They are the extremes, however, which in the present
day constitute her true Scylla and Charybdis; and it were perhaps well
that she should keep the fact steadily before her, by laying them down
as such on their chart. Not from the gross and earthy fires of
political movement in the present day, or from the cold grey ashes of
movement semi-political in some uninspired age of the past, must that
pillar of flame now ascend which is to marshal her on her pilgrimage
through the wilderness, at once reviving her by its heat and guiding
her by its effulgence. The light borrowed from the one would but
flicker idly before her, a wandering and delusive meteor; the other
would furnish her with but an unlighted torch, unsuited to cast across
her way a single beam of direction and guidance. Her light must be
derived from an antiquity more remote than that of the uninspired
ages, and her heat from a source more permanent than that of present
excitement, social or political: the one direct from the unerring
record of those times when God walked the earth in the flesh; the
other from that living spirit without whose influence energy the most
untiring can be influential in but the production of evil, and
earnestness the most intense may be profession, but cannot be revival.
Strength must be sought by her, not in the turmoil of evanescent
agitation, nor in the worn-out modes of an age the fashion of which
has perished, but in the perennial verities of the everlasting gospel.
While so far adapting herself to the times as to present an armed
front to every form of error, she must preach to her people as if the
prisoner of Patmos had but just completed the record of Revelation.

There is one special error regarding this the most important portion
of her proper work--the preaching of the word--to which it may be well
to advert. It has become much the fashion of the time--most
unthinkingly, surely--to speak of preaching as not the paramount, but
merely one of the subsidiary duties of a clergyman. 'He is not a man
of much pulpit preparation,' it has become customary to remark of some
minister, at least liked if not admired, 'but he is diligent in
visiting and in looking after his schools; and preaching is in reality
but a small part of a minister's duty.' Or, in the event of a vacancy,
the flock looking out for a pastor are apt enough to say, 'Our last
minister was an accomplished pulpit man, but what we at present want
is a man sedulous in visiting; for preaching is in reality but a small
part of a minister's duty.' Nay, ministers, especially ministers of
but a few twelvemonths' standing, have themselves in some cases caught
up the remark, as if it embodied a self-evident truth; and while they
dare tell, not without self-complacency, that their discourses--things
written at a short sitting, if written at all--cost them but little
trouble, they add further, as if by way of apology, that they are,
however, 'much occupied otherwise, and that preaching is in reality
but a small part of a minister's duty.' We have some times felt
inclined to assure these latter personages in reply, that they might a
little improve the matter just by making preaching no part of their
duty at all. But where, we ask, is it taught, either by God in His
word or by the Church in her standards, that preaching is merely one
of the minor duties of the minister, or indeed other than his first
and greatest duty? Not, certainly, in the New Testament, for there it
has invariably the paramount place assigned to it; as certainly not in
our standards, for in them the emphasis is '_especially_' laid on the
'preaching of the word' as God's most 'effectual means' of converting
sinners. If it be a truth that preaching is but comparatively a minor
part of a minister's duty, it is certainly neither a Scripture nor a
Shorter Catechism truth; and, lest it should be not only not a truth
at all, but even not an innocuous _untruth_, we think all who hold it
would do well to inquire how they have come by it.

We have our own suspicion regarding its origin. It is natural for
men to exaggerate the importance of whatever good they patronize, or
whatever improvement or enterprise they advocate or recommend. And
perhaps some degree of exaggeration is indispensable. In order to
create the impulse necessary to overcome the _vis inertiæ_ of
society, and induce in the particular case the required amount of
exertion, the stream of the moving power has--if we may so speak--to
be elevated to the level of hopes raised high above the point of
possible accomplishment. To employ the language of the mechanist, the
necessary _fall_ would be otherwise awanting, and the machine would
fail to move. If, for instance, all men had estimated the advantages
of free trade according to the sober computations of Chalmers, the
country would have no Anti-Corn-Law League, and no repeal of the
obnoxious statutes. And yet who can now doubt that the calculations
of Chalmers were in reality the true ones? In like manner, if it
had been truly seen that the 'baths for the working classes' could
have merely extended to the humbler inhabitants of our cities those
advantages of ablution which the working men of our sea-coasts
already possess, but of which--when turned of forty--not one out of a
hundred among them ever avails himself, we would scarce have
witnessed bath meetings, with Dukes in the chair; nor would the
baths themselves have been erected. But the natural exaggerative
feeling prevailed. Baths for the working classes were destined
somehow to renovate society, it was thought; and so, though
Chartism be now as little content as ever, baths for the working
classes our cities possess. And, doubtless, exaggeration of a
similar kind has tended to heighten the general estimate of the minor
duties of the clergyman; and were there no invidious comparisons
instituted between the lesser and the paramount duties,--between
what is secondary in its nature magnified into primary importance,
and what is primary in its nature diminished into a mere secondary,
and standing as if the one had been viewed by the lesser, and the
other through the greater lens of a telescope,--we would have no
quarrel whatever with the absolute exaggeration in the case, regarded
simply as a mere moving force. But we must quarrel with it when we
see it leading to practical error; and so, in direct opposition to
the common remark, that preaching is but a small part of the
minister's duty, we assert that it is not a small, but a very
large, and by far the most important part of it; and that it is not
our standards or the Scriptures that are in error on this special
head, but the numerous class who, taking up the antagonist view,
maintain as a self-evident proposition what has neither standing
in the New Testament, nor yet guarantee in the experience of the

No apology whatever ought to be sustained for imperfect pulpit
preparation; nay, practically at least, no apology whatever has or
will be sustained for it. It is no unusual thing to see a church
preached empty; there have been cases of single clergymen, great in
their way, who have emptied four in succession: for people neither
ought nor will misspend their Sabbaths in dozing under sermons to
which no effort of attention, however honestly made, enables them to
listen; and what happens to single congregations may well happen to a
whole ecclesiastical body, should its general style of preaching fall
below the existing average. And certainly we know nothing more likely
to produce such a result than the false and dangerous opinion, that
preaching is comparatively a small part of a minister's duty. It is
supereminently dangerous for one to form a mean estimate of one's
work, unless it be work of a nature very low and menial indeed. 'No
one,' said Johnson, 'ever did anything well to which he did not give
the whole bent of his mind.' It is this low estimate--this want of a
high standard in the mind--that leads some of our young men to boast
of the facility with which they compose their sermons,--a boast alike
derogatory to the literary taste and knowledge and to the Christian
character of him who makes it. Easy to compose a sermon!--easy to
compose what, when written, cannot be read; and what, when preached,
cannot be listened to. We believe it; for in cases of this kind the
ease is all on the part of the author. We believe further, we would
fain say to the boaster, that you and such as you could scuttle and
sink the Free Church with amazingly little trouble to yourselves. But
is it easy, think you, to mature such thoughts as Butler matured? And
yet these were embodied in sermons. Is it easy, think you, to convey
in language exquisite as that of Robert Hall, sentiments as refined
and imagery as classic as his? And yet Hall's noblest compositions
were sermons. Is it easy, think you, to produce a philosophic poem,
the most sublime and expansive of any age or country? And yet such is
the true character of the Astronomical Sermons of Chalmers. Or is that
spirituality which impresses and sinks into the heart of a people,
independently at times of thought of large calibre or the polish of a
fine literary taste, a thing easily incorporated into the tissue of a
lengthened sermon? Think you, did Maclaurin's well-known _Sermon on
the Cross_ cost him little trouble? or the not less noble sermon of
Sir Matthew Hale, on _Christ and Him crucified_? Look, we beseech you,
to your New Testaments, and see if there be ought slovenly in the
style, or loose and pointless in the thinking, of the model sermons
given you there. The discourse addressed by our Saviour from the mount
to the people was a sermon; as was also the magnificent address of
Paul to the Athenians, where he chose as his text the inscription on
one of their altars, 'To the unknown God.' There may be a practical
and most mischievous heterodoxy embodied in the preacher's idea of
sermons, as certainly as he may embody a heterodoxy theoretic and
doctrinal in the sermons themselves.

The ordinary course of establishing a Church in any country, as
specially shown by New Testament history and that of the Reformation,
is first and mainly through the preaching of the word. An earnest,
eloquent man--a Peter in Jerusalem--a Paul at Athens, on Mars Hill--a
John Knox in Edinburgh or St. Andrews--a George Whitfield in some open
field or market-place of Britain or America--or a Thomas Chalmers in
some metropolitan pulpit, Scotch or English--addresses himself to the

There is a strange power in the words, and they cannot but listen; and
then the words begin to tell. The heart is affected, the judgment
convinced, the will influenced and directed: ancient beliefs are, as
the case may be, modified, resuscitated, or destroyed; new or revived
convictions take the place of previous convictions, inadequate or
erroneous; and thus churches are planted, and the face of society
changed. We limit ourselves here to what--being strictly natural in
the process--would operate, if skilfully applied, as directly on the
side of error as of truth. It is the first essential of a book, that
it be interesting enough to be read; and of a preacher, whatever his
creed, that he be sufficiently engaging to be attentively listened to;
and without this preliminary merit, no other merit, however great, is
of any avail whatever. And when a Church possesses it in any great
degree, it is sure to spread and increase. Are there churches in the
Establishment which, though thinned by the Disruption, have now all
their seats let, and are crammed every Sabbath to the doors? If so, be
sure there is popular talent in the pulpit, and that the clergyman who
officiates there does not find it a very easy matter to compose his
sermons. Nay, dear as the distinctive principles of the Free Church
are to the people of Scotland, with superior pulpit talent in the
Establishment on the one hand, and in the ranks of the disendowed
body, on the other, a goodly supply of those youthful ministers who
boast that they either never write their sermons, or write them at a
short sitting, we would by no means guarantee to our Church a ten
years' vigorous existence. These may not be palatable truths, but we
trust they are wholesome ones; and we know that the time peculiarly
requires them. It is, however, not mainly with the Establishment that
the Free Church has to contend.

We ask the reader whether he has not marked, within the last few
years, the _début_ of another and more formidable antagonist, with
which all Christian Churches may be soon called on to grapple?

Our newly-instituted athenæums and philosophical associations form one
of the novel features of the time,--institutions in which at least the
second-class men of the age--Emersons, and Morells, and Combes--with
much that is interesting in science and fascinating in literature,
blend sentiments and opinions at direct variance with the great
doctrinal truths embodied in our standards. The press, not less
formidable now than ever, is an old antagonist; but, with all its
appliances and powers, it lacked the charm of the living voice. That
peculiar charm, however, the new combatant possesses. The pulpit, met
by its own weapons and in its own field, will have to a certainty to
measure its strength against it; and the standard of pulpit
accomplishment and of theological education, instead of being lowered,
must in consequence be greatly elevated. The Church of this country,
which in the earlier periods of her history, when Knox was her leader,
and Buchanan the moderator of her General Assembly, stood far in
advance of the age in popular eloquence, solid learning, and elegant
accomplishment, and which, in the person of Chalmers in our own days,
was vested in the more advanced views and the more profound policy of
a full century hence, must not be suffered to lag behind the age now.
Her troops must not be permitted to fall into confusion, and to use as
arms the rude, unsightly bludgeons of an untaught and undisciplined
mob, when the enemy, glittering in harness, and furnished with weapons
keen of temper and sharp of edge, is bearing down upon them in compact

We know what it is to have sat for many years under ministers who,
possessed of great popular talent and high powers of original thought,
gave much time and labour to pulpit preparation. We know how great a
privilege it is to have to look forward to the ministrations of the
Sabbath,--not as wearinesses, which, simply as a matter of duty, were
to be endured; but as exquisite feasts, spiritual and intellectual,
which were to be greatly relished and enjoyed. And when hearing it
sometimes regretted, with reference to at least one remarkable man,
that he did not visit his flock quite so often as was desirable--many
of the complainants' sole idea of a ministerial visit, meanwhile,
being simply that it was a long exordium of agreeable gossip, with a
short tail-piece of prayer stuck to its hinder end--we have strongly
felt how immensely better it was that the assembled congregation
should enjoy each year fifty-two Sabbaths of their minister at his
best, than that the tone of his pulpit services should be lowered, in
order that each individual among them might enjoy a yearly half-hour
of him apart. And yet such, very nearly, was the true statement of the
case. We fully recognise the importance, in its own subordinate place,
of ministerial visitation, especially when conducted--a circumstance,
however, which sometimes lowers its popularity--as it ought to be. But
it must not be assigned that prominent place denied to it by our
standards, and which the word of God utterly fails to sanction.

It is, though an important, still a minor duty; and the Free Church
must not be sacrificed to the ungrounded idea that it occupies a level
as high, or even nearly as high, as 'the preaching of the word.' To
that peculiar scheme of visitation advocated by Chalmers as a first
process in his work of excavation, we of course do not refer. In those
special cases to which he so vigorously directed himself, visitation
was an inevitable preliminary, without which the appliances of the
pulpit could not be brought to bear. Philip had to open the Scriptures
_tête-à-tête_ to the Ethiopian eunuch, for the Ethiopian eunuch never
came to church.

But even were his scheme identical with that to which we particularly
refer, we would say to the young preacher who sheltered under his
authority, 'Well, prepare for the pulpit as Dr. Chalmers did, even
when he had the West Port congregation for his audience, and we shall
be quite content to let you visit as much as you may.' The composition
of a sermon was never easy work to him. He devoted to it much time,
and the full bent of his powerful mind; and even when letting himself
down to the humblest of the people, the philosopher of largest
capacity might profitably take his place among the hearers, and listen
with an interest never for one moment suffered to flag.

_May 3, 1848._


It is now more than forty years since it was remarked by Jeffrey, in
his _Review_, that metaphysical science was decidedly on the
decline in Scotland. Dugald Stewart, though in a delicate state of
health at the time, was in the full vigour of his faculties, and had
still eighteen years of life before him; Thomas Brown had just been
appointed his assistant and successor in the Moral Philosophy Chair
of the University of Edinburgh; and the _élite_ of the Scottish
capital were flocking in crowds to his class-room, captivated by the
eloquence and ingenuity of his singularly vigorous and original
lectures. Even fifteen years subsequent, Dr. Welsh could state, in
the Life of his friend, that the reception of his work on the
_Philosophy of the Human Mind_ had been 'favourable to a degree of
which, in metaphysical writings, there was no parallel.' It has been
recorded as a very remarkable circumstance, that the _Essay_ of
Locke--produced at a period when the mind of Europe first awoke to
general activity in the metaphysical province--passed through seven
editions in the comparatively brief space of fourteen years. The
_Lectures_ of Dr. Brown passed through exactly seven editions in
_twelve_ years, and this at a time when, according to Jeffrey, that
science of mind of which they treated was in a state of gradual
decay. The critic was, however, in the right. The genius of Brown
had imparted to his brilliant posthumous work an interest which
could scarce be regarded as attaching to the subject of it; and in a
few years after--from about the year 1835 till after the disruption
of the Scottish Church--metaphysical science had sunk, not in
Scotland only, but all over Britain, to its lowest ebb. A few
retired scholars continued to prosecute their researches in the
province of mind; but scarce any interest attached to their writings,
and not a bookseller could be found hardy enough to publish at his
own risk a metaphysical work. We are old enough to remember a time,
contemporaneous with the latter days of Brown, when young students, in
their course of preparation for the learned professions, especially
for the Church, used to be ever recurring in conversation to the
staple metaphysical questions,--occasionally, no doubt, much in
the style of Jack Lizard in the _Guardian_, who comforted his
mother, when the worthy lady was so unlucky as to scald her hand
with the boiling tea-kettle, by assuring her there was no such thing
as heat, but which at least served to show that this branch of
liberal education fully occupied the mind of the individuals
ostensibly engaged in mastering it; and we remember a subsequent
time, when students--some of them very clever ones--seemed never to
have thought on these questions at all, and remained silent in
conversation when they chanced to be mooted by the men of an
earlier generation. During, however, the last ten years, mainly
through the revival of a taste for metaphysical inquiry in France
and Germany, which has reacted on this country, abstract questions on
the nature and functions of mind are again acquiring their modicum
of space and importance in Scotland. Our country no longer takes
the place it once did among the nations in this department, and never
again may; but it at least begins to remember it once was, and to
serve itself heir to the works of the older masters of mind; and
we regard it as an evidence of the reaction to which we refer, that a
greatly more complete edition of the writings of Dugald Stewart
than has yet appeared is at the present time in the course of
issuing from the press of one of our most respected Scotch
publishers--the inheritor of a name paramount in the annals of the
trade--Mr. Thomas Constable.

The writings of Dugald Stewart have been unfortunate in more than that
state of exhaustion and syncope into which metaphysical science
continued to sink during the lapse of more than half a generation
after the death of their author, and the commencement of which had
been remarked by Jeffrey more than half a generation before. From some
peculiar views--founded, we believe, on an overweening estimate of
their pecuniary value--the son and heir of the philosopher tabooed
their publication; and it is only now that, in consequence of his
death, and of the juster views entertained on the subject by a sister,
also recently deceased, that they are permitted to reappear. The
time, however, from that awakened interest in metaphysical speculation
which we have remarked, seems highly favourable for such an
undertaking; and we cannot doubt that the work will find what it
deserves--a sure and steady, if not very rapid sale. Stewart may be
regarded as not merely one of the more distinguished members of the
Scottish school of metaphysics, but as peculiarly its historian and
exponent. The mind of Reid was cast in a more original mould, but he
wanted both the elegance and the eloquence of Stewart, nor were his
powers of illustration equally great. His language, too, was not only
less refined and flowing, but also less scientifically correct, than
that of his distinguished exponent and successor. We would cite, for
instance, the happy substitution by the latter of the terms 'laws of
human thought and belief,' for the unfortunate phrases 'common sense'
and 'instinct,' which raised so extensive a prejudice against the
vigorous protest against scepticism made in other respects so
effectively by Reid; and he passes oftener from the abstractions of
his science into the regions of life and character in which all must
feel interested, however slight their acquaintance with the subtleties
of metaphysical speculation. The extraordinary excellence of Professor
Stewart's style has been recognised by the highest authorities.
Robertson was perhaps the best English writer of his day. The courtly
Walpole, on ascertaining that he spoke Scotch, told him he was
heartily glad of it; for 'it would be too mortifying,' he added, 'for
Englishmen to find that he not only wrote, but also spoke, their
language better than themselves.' And yet the Edinburgh Reviewers
recognised Stewart as the writer of a more exquisite style than even
Robertson. And Sir James Mackintosh, no mean judge, characterizes
him as the most perfect, in an artistic point of view, of the
philosophical writers of Britain. 'Probably no writer ever exceeded
him,' says Sir James, 'in that species of eloquence which springs
from sensibility to literary merit and moral excellence; which
neither obscures science by prodigal ornament, nor disturbs the
serenity of patient attention; but, though it rather calms and soothes
the feelings, yet exalts the genius, and insensibly inspires a
reasonable enthusiasm for whatever is good and fair.' Now, it is
surely not unimportant that the writings of such a man, simply in
their character as literary models, should be submitted to an age like
the present, especially to its Scotchmen. It is stated by Hume, in one
of his letters to Robertson, that meeting in Paris with the lady who
first gave to the French a translation of Charles V., he asked her
what she thought of the style of the work, and that she instantly
replied, with great _naïveté_, 'Oh, it is such a style as only a
Scotchman could have written.' Scotland did certainly stand high in
the age of Hume and Mackenzie, of Robertson and of Adam Smith, for not
only the vigour of its thinking, but also for the purity and excellence
of its style. We fear, however, it can no longer arrogate to itself
praise on this special score. There have been books produced among
us during the last twenty years, which have failed in making their way
into England, mainly in consequence of the slipshod style in which
they were written. A busy age, much agitated by controversy, is no doubt
unfavourable to the production of compositions of classic beauty. 'The
rounded period,' says an ingenious French writer, 'opens up the long
folds of its floating robe in a time of stability, authority, and
confidence. But when literature has become a means of action, instead of
continuing to be used for its own sake, we no longer amuse ourselves
with the turning of periods. The period is contemporary with the
peruke--the period is the peruke of style. The close of the eighteenth
century shortened the one as much as the other. The peruke reaching
the middle of the loins could not be suitable to men in haste to
accomplish a work of destruction. When was J. J. Rousseau himself given
to the turning of periods? Assuredly it was not in his pamphlets!'
Now the style of Stewart was first formed, we need scarce remark,
during that period of profound repose which preceded the French
Revolution; and his after-life, spent in quiet and thoughtful
retirement, with the classics of our own and other countries, ancient
and modern, for his companions, and with composition as his sole
employment--though the world around him was fiercely engaged with
politics or with war--had nothing in it to deteriorate it. He never
heard the steam-press groaning, as the night wore late, for his
unfinished lucubrations; nay, we question if he ever wrote a careless
or hurried sentence. His naturally faultless taste had full space to
satisfy itself with whatever he deemed it necessary to perform; and
hence works of finished beauty, which, as pieces of art, the younger
_literati_ of Scotland would do well to study and imitate. There may
be differences of opinion regarding the standing of Stewart as a
metaphysician, but there are no differences of opinion regarding his
excellence as a writer.

With regard to metaphysics themselves, we are disposed to acquiesce
in the judgment of Jeffrey, without, however, acquiescing in much
which he has founded upon it. To _observe_ as a mental philosopher,
and to _experiment_ as a natural one, are very different things;
and never will mere observation in the one field lead to results
so splendid or so practical as experiment on the properties of matter,
to which man owes his extraordinary control over the elements. To
the knowledge acquired by his observations on the nature or
operations of mind, he owes no new power over that which he surveys:
in at least its direct consequences, his science is barren. It would
be difficult, however, to overestimate its _indirect_ consequences.
It seems impossible that the metaphysical province should long
exist blank and unoccupied in any highly civilised country,
especially in a country of active and acquiring intellects, such as
Scotland. If the philosophy of Locke or of Reid fail to occupy the
field, we find it occupied instead by that of Comte or of Combe. Owens
and Martineaus take the place of Browns and of Stewarts; and bad
metaphysics, of the most dangerous tendency, are taught, in the lack
of metaphysics wholesome and good. All the more dangerous parties
of the present day have their foundations of principle on a basis
of bad metaphysics. The same remark applies to well-nigh all the
religious heresies; and the less metaphysical an age is, all the
more superficial usually are the heresies which spring up in it. We
question whether Morrisonianism could have originated in what was
emphatically the metaphysical age of Scotland, in the latter days
of Reid, or the earlier days of Stewart. What became in our times a
heresy in the theological field, would have spent itself, as the mere
crotchet of a few unripened intellects, in the metaphysical one.
It would have found vent in some debating club or speculative society,
and the Churches would have rested in peace. There are other
indirect benefits derived from metaphysical study. It forms the
best possible gymnastics of mind. All the great metaphysicians, if
not merely acute, but also broad-minded men, have been great also in
the practical departments of thought. The author of the _Essay on the
Human Understanding_ was the author also of the _Treatise on
Government_ and the _Letters on Toleration_. Hume, in those _Essays on
Trade and Politics_, which are free from the stain of infidelity,
was one of the most solid of thinkers; and he who produced the _Theory
of Moral Sentiments_ continues to give law at the present time, in his
_Wealth of Nations_, to the commerce of the civilised world. From a
subtile but comparatively narrow class of intellects, though
distinguished in the metaphysical province, mankind has received
much less. Berkeley was one of these, and may be regarded as their
type and representative. Save his metaphysics,--demonstrative of
the non-existence of matter, or demonstrative rather that fire is
not conscious of heat, nor ice of cold, nor yet our enlightened
surface of colour,--he bequeathed little else to the world than
his tar-water; and his tar-water, no longer recognised as a
universal medicine, has had its day, and is forgotten. Without
professing to know aught of German metaphysicians--for in the times
when we used to read Hume and Reid they were but little known in
this country--we can by no means rate them so high as the men whose
writings they are supplanting. What, we have been accustomed to ask,
are their trophies in the practical? Have any of them given to the
world even tar-water? Where are their Lockes, Humes, and Adam Smiths?
The man who, according to Johnson, can walk vigorously towards the
east, can walk vigorously toward the west also. How is it that these
German metaphysicians exhibit their vigour exclusively in walking one
way? Where are their works of a practical character, powerful enough
to give law to the species? Where their treatises like those of Locke
on _Toleration_ or on _Government_, or their essays like that of
Hume or of Adam Smith on the _Balance of Power_ or the _Wealth of
Nations_? Are they doing other, to use a very old illustration, than
merely milking rams, leaving their admirers and followers to hold
the pail?

Dugald Stewart, though mayhap less an original in the domain of
abstract thought than some of his predecessors, belongs emphatically
to the practical school. With him philosophy is simply common sense on
that large scale which renders it one of the least common things in
the world. And never, perhaps, was there a more thoroughly honest
seeker after truth. Burns somewhat whimsically describes him, in a
recently recovered letter given to the world by Robert Chambers, as
'that plain, honest, worthy man, the Professor. I think,' adds the
poet, 'his character, divided into ten parts, stands thus: Four parts
Socrates, four parts Nathaniel, and two parts Shakespeare's Brutus.'
The estimate of Sir James Mackintosh is equally high; nor will it
weigh less with many of our readers that the elder M'Crie used to give
expression to a judgment quite as favourable. 'He was fascinated,'
says the son and biographer of the latter, 'with the _beau ideal_ of
academical eloquence which adorned the Moral Chair in the person of
Dugald Stewart. Long after he had sat under this admired leader, he
would describe with rapture his early emotions while looking on the
handsomely erect and elastic figure of the Professor--in every
attitude a model for the statuary--listening to expositions, whether
of facts or principles, always clear as the transparent stream; and
charmed by the tones of a voice which modulated into spoken music
every expression of intelligence and feeling. An esteemed friend of
his happening to say to him some years ago, "I have been hearing Dr.
Brown lecture with all the eloquence of Dugald Stewart," "No, sir," he
exclaimed with an air of almost Johnsonian decision, "you have not,
and no man ever will.'" The first volume of the collected works of
Stewart, now given to the world in a form at once worthy of their
author and of the name of Constable, contains the far-famed
_Dissertations_, and is edited by Sir William Hamilton. It contains a
considerable amount of original matter, now published from the
author's manuscripts for the first time. It would be idle to attempt
criticising a work so well established; but the brief remark of one of
the first of metaphysical critics--Sir James Mackintosh--on what he
well terms 'the magnificent Dissertations,' may be found not
unacceptable. 'These Dissertations,' says Sir James, 'are perhaps most
profusely ornamented of any of their author's compositions,--a
peculiarity which must in part have arisen from a principle of taste,
which regarded decoration as more suitable to the history of
philosophy than to philosophy itself. But the memorable instances of
Cicero, of Milton, and still more those of Dryden and Burke, seem to
show that there is some natural tendency in the fire of genius to burn
more brightly, or to blaze more fiercely, in the evening than in the
morning of human life. Probably the materials which long experience
supplies to the imagination, the boldness with which a more
established reputation arms the mind, and the silence of the low but
formidable rivals of the higher principles, may concur in providing
this unexpected and little observed effect.'

_August 26, 1854._


It is a grand, though doubtless natural, mistake to hold that the
members of the Town Councils of our Scottish cities and burghs really
represent in opinion and feeling their nominal constituencies the
electors, through whose suffrages they have been placed in office. In
very many cases they do not represent them at all: they form an
entirely dissimilar class,--a class as thoroughly different from the
solid mass of the community, on which they float like froth and spume
on the surface of the great deep, as that other class from which,
because there are unhappily scarce any other men in the field, we have
to select our legislators. The subject is one of importance. In the
Sabbath controversy now carrying on, it has been invariably taken for
granted by the anti-Sabbatarian press of the country, that our Town
Councils _do_ represent the general constituency; and there has been
much founded on the assumption. We shall by and by be finding the same
assumption employed against us in the Popery endowment question; and
it would be well, therefore, carefully to examine the grounds on which
it rests, and to ascertain whether there may not exist some practical
mode of testing its unsolidity.

It is not difficult to see how that upper class to which our
legislators of both Houses of Parliament mainly belong, should differ
greatly from the larger and more solid portion of the middle classes
in almost all questions of a religious character and bearing. Bacon,
in his _Essay on Kings_, has quaintly, but, we are afraid, all too
justly remarked, that 'of all kind of men, God is the least beholding
unto them [kings]; for He doth most for them, and they do ordinarily
least for Him.' But the character applies to more than kings. It
affects the whole upper layers of the great pyramid of society, from
its gilded pinnacle down to the higher confines of its solid middle
portion; and to these upper layers of the erection our legislators,
hereditary and elective, with, of course, a very few exceptions in the
Lower House, all belong. They are drafted from the classes with which,
if we perhaps except the lowest and most degraded of all, religious
questions weigh least. There is, of course, no class wholly divorced
from good; and those exceptions to which Cowper could refer two
generations ago obtain still:

    'We boast some rich ones whom the gospel sways,
     And one who wears a coronet, and prays:
     Like gleanings of an olive tree, they show
     Here and there one upon the topmost bough.'

But in at least the mass, religion has not been influential among the
governing classes in Britain since the days of the Commonwealth. It
has formed one of the great forces on which they have calculated--a
formidable power among the people, that they have striven, according
to the nature of the emergency, to quiet or awaken, bias or
control,--now for the ends of party, when an antagonist faction had to
be overborne and put down,--now for the general benefit of the
country, when a foreign enemy had to be repelled or an intestine
discord to be suppressed; but it has been peculiarly a force outside
the governing classes--external, not internal, to them,--a power which
it has been their special work to regulate and direct, not a power
which has regulated and directed them. The last British Government
which--God, according to Bacon, having done much for it--laboured
earnestly to do much for God, was that very remarkable one which
centred in the person of the Lord Protector.

Hence naturally much that is unsatisfactory to the comparatively
religious middle classes of the country, in the conduct, with regard
to religious questions, of the classes on whom devolves the work of
legislation. There is no real community of feeling and belief in these
matters between the two. To the extent to which religion is involved
in the legislative enactments of the time, the middle class is in
reality not represented, and the upper class does not represent. It
may not seem equally obvious, however, how there should be a lack of
representation, not only among our members of Parliament, but also
among our members of Council. They at least surely belong, it may be
said, to the middle classes, by whom and from among whom they are
chosen for their office. Certainly in some cases they do; in many
others, however, they form a class scarce less peculiar than those
upper classes out of which the legislators of the country come to be
drawn, simply because there is no other class in the field out of
which they can be selected.

The Reform and Municipality Bills wrought a mighty change in the Town
Councils of the kingdom. The old close burgh system, with all its
abuses, ceased for ever, save in its remains--monumental debts,
and everlasting leases of town lands, granted on easy terms to
officials and their friends; and droll recollections, like those
embalmed by Galt in our literature, of solid municipal feasting, and
not so solid municipal services,--of exclusive cliqueships,
misemployed patronages, modest self-elections,--in short, of a
general practice of jobbing, more palpable than pleasant, and that
tended rather to individual advantage than corporate honour. The old
men retired, and a set of new men were elevated by newly-created
constituencies into their vacated places, to be disinterested on
dilapidated means, and noisy on short commons. The days of long and
heavy feasts had come to a close, and the days of long and heavy
speeches succeeded. No two events which this world of ours ever
saw, led to so vast an amount of bad speaking as the one Reform
Bill that swept away the rotten burghs, and the other Reform Bill
that opened the close ones. By and by, however, it came to be seen
that the old, privileged, self-elected class were succeeded in many
instances by a class that, though elected by their neighbours, were
yet not quite like their neighbours. Their neighbours were men
who, with their own personal business to attend to, had neither
the time nor the ambition to be moving motions or speaking speeches
in the eye of the public, and who could not take the trouble to
secure elections by canvassing voters. The men who had the time, and
took the trouble, were generally a class ill-hafted in society, who
had high notions of reforming everything save themselves, and of
keeping right all kinds of businesses except their own. The old
state of things was, notwithstanding its many faults, a state under
which our Scotch burghers rose into consideration by arts of
comparative solidity. A tradesman or shopkeeper looked well to his
business,--became an important man in the market-place and a good
man in the bank,--increased in weight in the same proportion that
his coffers did so, and grew influential and oracular on the
strength of his pounds sterling per annum. With altered times,
however, there arose a new order of men,--

    'The wits of Charles found easier ways to fame.'

It was no longer necessary to spend the greater part of a lifetime in
acquiring money and character: a glib tongue, a few high professions
of public principle, and a few weeks' canvassing, were found to serve
the turn more than equally well.

There commenced straightway a new dynasty of dignities and honours.
Councillors got into print in the capacity of speechmakers, who, save
for the revolution effected, would never have got into print in any
other capacity than, mayhap, that of bankrupts in the Gazette.
Eloquent men walked to church in scarlet, greatly distinguished as
provosts and bailies, who but for the happy change would have crept
unseen all their lives long among the crowd. Members of Parliament
went arm-in-arm, when they visited their constituencies, with folk
altogether unused to such consideration; and when a burgher's son
sought to be promoted to the excise, or a seaman to the coast-guard
service, it was through the new men that influence had to be exerted.
And of course the new men had to approve themselves worthy of their
honours, by making large sacrifices for the public weal. They had in
many cases not much to do: the magistracy of the bygone school, whom
they succeeded, had obligingly relieved posterity of the trouble of
having a too preponderous amount of municipal property to manage and
look after; but if they had not much to do, they had at least a great
deal to say; and as they were ambitious of saying it, their own
individual concerns were not unfrequently neglected, in order that
their constituencies might be edified and informed. In cases not a
few, the natural consequences ensued. We have in our eye one special
burgh in the north, in which every name in the Town Council, from that
of the provost down to that of the humblest councillor, had, in the
course of some two or three years, appeared also in the _Gazette_; and
the previous provost of the place had got desperately involved with
the branch banks of the district, and had ultimately run the country,
to avoid a prosecution for forgery.

Let it not be held that we are including the entire tribe of modern
town functionaries in one sweeping condemnatory description. We
ourselves, in our time (we refer to the fact with a high but surely
natural pride), held office as a town councillor, under the modern
_régime_, for the space of three whole years in a parliamentary burgh
that contained no fewer than forty voters. All may learn from history
how it was that Bailie Weezle earned his municipal honours during the
ancient state of things in the famous burgh of Gudetown. 'Bailie
Weezle,' says Galt, 'was a man not overladen with worldly wisdom, and
had been chosen into the Council principally on account of being
easily managed. Being an idle person living on his money, and of a
soft and quiet nature, he was, for the reason aforesaid, taken by one
consent among us, where he always voted on the provost's side; for in
controverted questions every one is beholden to take a part, and the
bailie thought it was his duty to side with the chief magistrate.' Our
own special qualifications for office were, we must be permitted in
justice to ourselves to state, different from Bailie Weezle's by a

It was generally held, that if there was nothing to do we would _do_
nothing, and if nothing to say we would _say_ nothing; and so
thoroughly did we fulfil every expectation that had been previously
formed of us, that for three years together we said and did nothing in
our official capacity with great _éclat_, and regularly absented
ourselves from every meeting of Council except the first, to the
entire satisfaction of our constituency. It will not be held,
therefore, in the face of so important a fact, that we include in our
description all the town magistracies under the existing state of
things, and most certainly not all modern town councillors.

Nothing, however, can be more certain, we repeat, than that they
differ from their constituencies as a class, and that they are chosen
to represent them in municipal affairs, just as another and higher
class is chosen to represent them in the Legislature--merely because
there is no other class in the field. The solid middle-class men of
business have, as has been said, something else to employ them, and
cannot spare their services. They cannot accept of mere notoriety,
with mayhap a modicum of patronate influence attached, as an adequate
price for the time and labour which their own affairs demand. It is a
peculiar class in the municipal as in the literary field, that 'weigh
solid pudding against empty praise,' and come to regard the empty
praise as solid enough to outweigh the pudding. Not but that it is a
fine thing to be in a Town Council, and to see one's fortnightly
speeches flourishing in the public prints. Where else could some of
our Edinburgh worthies bring themselves so prominently before the eyes
of the country?

Where else, for instance, could Councillor ---- impart such universal
interest to the fact that he taught in a Sabbath school, and rode out
of town every evening to attend to its duties by a Sunday train,--thus
forming an invariable item, it would seem, in the average of the
ninety-two Sabbath journeyers that travelled by the Edinburgh and
Glasgow Railway, and failed to remunerate the proprietors? Or where
else could Councillor ---- refer with such prodigious effect to Dr.
Chalmers's bloody-minded scheme of '_executing_ the heathen?' Or where
else could Councillor ---- succeed in eliciting so general a belief
that he was one of the poor endangered heathens over which the
threatened _execution_ hung, through his famous oath 'By Jupiter?'

By the way, is this latter gentleman acquainted with Smollett's story
of the eccentric Mr. H., and chivalrously bent, on the same principle,
in acknowledging a deity in distress? 'Mr. H., some years ago, being
in the Campidoglio at Rome,' says Smollett, 'made up to the bust of
Jupiter, and bowing very low, exclaimed, in the Italian language, "I
hope, sir, if ever you get your head above water again, you will
remember that I paid my respects to you in your adversity." This
sally,' continues the historian, 'was reported to the Cardinal
Camerlengo, and by him laid before the Pope Benedict XIV., who could
not help laughing at the extravagance of the address, and said to the
Cardinal, "Those English heretics think they have a right to go to the
devil in their own way.'"

Now, standing, as we do, either on the threshold of serious national
controversies of a religious bearing, or already entered upon them, it
would be well to mark and test the facts which it is our present
object specially to point out. It would be well to take measures for
rendering it an as palpable as it is a solid truth, that the municipal
_tail_ of the country's representation no more really represents it in
several very important respects than its parliamentary _head_. It
represents it most inadequately on the Sabbath question now; it will
represent it quite as inadequately in the Popish endowment question by
and by; and if in reality we do not wish to see the battle going
against us on both issues, there must be effective means employed to
demonstrate the fact. In matters of a religious bearing, the
ill-hafted notoriety-men of our Town Councils much more nearly
resemble the upper indifferent classes, from which our legislators are
drafted, than they do the solid bulk of the community.

They are decidedly in the movement party, and form a portion, not of
the ballast, but of the superfluous sail, of the State. Nor should it
be difficult to render the fact evident to all. In one of our northern
burghs--Dingwall--a majority of the Town Council lately memorialized
the Directors of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway in exactly the same
vein as the majority of our Edinburgh Town Council. So extreme a step
seemed rather extraordinary for Ross-shire; and a gentleman of the
burgh, one of the voters, convinced that the officials were far indeed
from representing their constituency, shrewdly set himself to
demonstrate the real state of the case. First he possessed himself of
an accredited list of the voters; and then, with a memorial addressed
to the Directors, strongly condemnatory of the conduct of the Council,
he called upon every voter in the burgh who had not taken the opposite
side in the character of a councillor, with the exception of two,
whose views he had previously ascertained to be unfavourable. And
what, thinks our reader, was the result? Seven councillors had voted
on the anti-Sabbatarian side; and the provost, for himself and the
Council, had afterwards signed the memorial. And of the voters
outside, four were found to make common cause with them. Two more did
not make common cause with them, but were not prepared to condemn
them, and so did not sign. There were thus fourteen in all who were
either not opposed to the running of Sabbath trains, or who were at
least not disposed openly to denounce the parties who had memorialized
the Directors, in the name of the burgh, to the effect that Sabbath
trains should be run. Of the other electors, ten were non-resident,
five more were out of town at the time, three had fallen out of
possession since the roll had been made up, and one was dead. And all
the others, amounting to sixty-nine in number, at once signed the
document condemnatory of the Council, and were happy to have an
opportunity of doing so. The available votes of the burgh were opposed
to those of their pseudo-representatives in the proportion of nearly
six to one.

In the parliamentary burgh of Cromarty an almost similar experiment
was made. There, however, though the movement party had composed the
majority of the Council only a few years since, they had been cast out
of office, partly through a strong reaction which had taken place
against them, partly in consequence of a quarrel among themselves. And
so the existing Town Council took the initiative in memorializing the
Directors in favour of the recent resolution not to run Sunday trains.
Of all the voters of the burgh, only five stood aloof; all the others
made common cause with the Town Council in attaching their names to
their document.

But it is a significant fact, that in the knot of five the ex-councillors
of the movement party were included; and that had _they_ been in the
Council still, a majority would to a certainty have voted in the wake of
the Edinburgh Town Council. There is much instruction in facts such as
these; and they may be turned to great practical account.

Why should not the sentiments of every voter in Scotland be taken on
this same Sabbath question now? or what is there to prevent us from
taking the sentiments of every voter in Scotland on the Popish
endowment question by and by?

It is a tedious and expensive matter to get up petitions, to which all
and sundry affix their names; but the franchise-holders of Scotland
are comparatively a not very numerous class; and about the same amount
of labour that goes to a monthly collection for the Sustentation Fund,
would be quite sufficient to place before Government and the country
the full expression of _their_ feelings and opinions on the two
leading questions of the day. But enough for the present--'a word to
the wise.'

_January 20, 1847._




There appeared at Paris, about five years ago, a singularly ingenious
work on political economy, from the pen of the late M. de Sismondi, a
writer of European reputation. The greater part of the first volume is
taken up with discussions on territorial wealth, and the condition of
the cultivators of the soil; and in this portion of the work there is
a prominent place assigned to a subject which perhaps few Scotch
readers would expect to see introduced through the medium of a foreign
tongue to the people of a great continental State. We find this
philosophic writer, whose works are known far beyond the limits of his
language, devoting an entire essay to the case of the late Duchess of
Sutherland and her tenants, and forming a judgment on it very unlike
the decision of political economists in our own country, who have not
hesitated to characterize her great and singularly harsh experiment,
whose worst effects we are but beginning to see, as at once
justifiable in itself and happy in its results. It is curious to
observe how deeds done as if in darkness and a corner, are beginning,
after the lapse of nearly thirty years, to be proclaimed on the
house-tops. The experiment of the late Duchess was not intended to be
made in the eye of Europe. Its details would ill bear the exposure.
When Cobbett simply referred to it only ten years ago, the noble
proprietrix was startled, as if a rather delicate family secret was on
the eve of being divulged; and yet nothing seems more evident now than
that civilised man all over the world is to be made aware of how the
experiment was accomplished, and what it is ultimately to produce. It
must be obvious, further, that the infatuation of the present
proprietor, in virtually setting aside the Toleration Act on his
property, must have the effect of spreading the knowledge of it all
the more widely, and of rendering its results much more disastrous
than they could have possibly been of themselves.

In a time of quiet and good order, when law, whether in the right or
the wrong, is all-potent in enforcing its findings, the argument which
the philosophic Frenchman employs in behalf of the ejected tenantry of
Sutherland, is an argument at which proprietors may afford to smile.
In a time of revolution, however, when lands change their owners, and
old families give place to new ones, it might be found somewhat
formidable,--sufficiently so, at least, to lead a wise proprietor in
an unsettled age rather to conciliate than oppress and irritate the
class who would be able in such circumstances to urge it with most
effect. It is not easy doing justice in a few sentences to the facts
and reasonings of an elaborate essay; but the line of the argument
runs somewhat thus.

Under the old Celtic tenures--the only tenures, be it remembered,
through which the lords of Sutherland derive their rights to their
lands--the _Klaan_, or children of the soil, were the proprietors of
the soil: 'the whole of Sutherland,' says Sismondi, belonged to 'the
men of Sutherland.' Their chief was their monarch, and a very absolute
monarch he was. 'He gave the different _tacks_ of land to his
officers, or took them away from them, according as they showed
themselves more or less useful in war. But though he could thus, in a
military sense, reward or punish the clan, he could not diminish in
the least the property of the clan itself;'--he was a chief, not a
proprietor, and had 'no more right to expel from their homes the
inhabitants of his county, than a king to expel from his country the
inhabitants of his kingdom.' 'Now, the Gaelic tenant,' continues the
Frenchman, 'has never been conquered; nor did he forfeit, on any after
occasion, the rights which he originally possessed;'--in point of
right, he is still a co-proprietor with his captain. To a Scotchman
acquainted with the law of property as it has existed among us, in
even the Highlands, for the last century, and everywhere else for at
least two centuries more, the view may seem extreme; not so, however,
to a native of the Continent, in many parts of which prescription and
custom are found ranged, not on the side of the chief, but on that of
the vassal. 'Switzerland,' says Sismondi, 'which in so many respects
resembles Scotland--in its lakes--its mountains--its climate--and the
character, manners, and habits of its children--was likewise at the
same period parcelled out among a small number of lords. If the Counts
of Kyburgh, of Lentzburg, of Hapsburg, and of Gruyeres, had been
protected by the English laws, they would find themselves at the
present day precisely in the condition in which the Earls of
Sutherland were twenty years ago. Some of them would perhaps have had
the same taste for _improvements_, and several republics would have
been expelled from the Alps, to make room for flocks of sheep.' 'But
while the law has given to the Swiss peasant a guarantee of
perpetuity, it is to the Scottish laird that it has extended this
guarantee in the British empire, leaving the peasant in a precarious
situation.' 'The clan--recognised at first by the captain, whom they
followed in war and obeyed for their common advantage, as his friends
and relations, then as his soldiers, then as his vassals, then as his
farmers--he has come finally to regard as hired labourers, whom he may
perchance allow to remain on the soil of their common country for his
own advantage, but whom he has the power to expel so soon as he no
longer finds it for his interest to keep them.'

Arguments like those of Sismondi, however much their force may be felt
on the Continent, could be formidable at home, as we have said, in
only a time of revolution, when the very foundations of society would
be unfixed, and opinion set loose, to pull down or reconstruct at
pleasure. But it is surely not uninteresting to mark how, in the
course of events, that very law of England which, in the view of the
Frenchman, has done the Highland peasant so much less, and the
Highland chief so much more than justice, is bidding fair, in the case
of Sutherland at least, to carry its rude equalizing remedy along with
it. Between the years 1811 and 1820, fifteen thousand inhabitants of
this northern district were ejected from their snug inland farms, by
means for which we would in vain seek a precedent, except, perchance,
in the history of the Irish massacre. But though the interior of the
county was thus _improved_ into a desert, in which there are many
thousands of sheep, but few human habitations, let it not be supposed
by the reader that its general population, was in any degree lessened.
So far was this from being the case, that the census of 1821 showed an
increase over the census of 1811 of more than two hundred; and the
present population of Sutherland exceeds, by a thousand, its
population before the change. The county has not been depopulated--its
population has been merely arranged after a new fashion. The late
Duchess found it spread equally over the interior and the sea-coast,
and in very comfortable circumstances;--she left it compressed into a
wretched selvage of poverty and suffering, that fringes the county on
its eastern and western shores. And the law which enabled her to make
such an arrangement, maugre the ancient rights of the poor Highlander,
is now on the eve of stepping in, in its own clumsy way, to make her
family pay the penalty. The evil of a poor-law can be no longer
averted from Scotland. However much we may dislike compulsory
assessment for the support of our poor, it can be no longer avoided.
Our aristocracy have been working hard for it during the whole of the
present century, and a little longer; the disruption of the Scottish
Church, as the last in a series of events, all of which have tended
towards it, has rendered it inevitable. Let the evidence of the
present commissioners on the subject be what it may, it cannot be of a
kind suited to show that if England should have a poor-law, Scotland
should have none. The southern kingdom must and will give us a
poor-law; and then shall the selvage of deep poverty which fringes the
sea-coasts of Sutherland avenge on the titled proprietor of the county
both his mother's error and his own. If our British laws, unlike
those of Switzerland, failed miserably in _her_ day in protecting the
vassal, they will more than fail, in those of her successor, in
protecting the lord. Our political economists shall have an
opportunity of reducing their arguments regarding the improvements in
Sutherland into a few arithmetical terms, which the merest tyro will
be able to grapple with.

We find a similar case thus strongly stated by Cobbett in his
_Northern Tour_, and in connection with a well-known name:--'Sir James
Graham has his estate lying off this road to the left. He has not been
_clearing_ his estate--the poor-law would not let him do that; but he
has been clearing off the small farms, and making them into large
ones, which he had a right to do, because it is he himself that is
finally to endure the consequences of that: he has a right to do that;
and those who are made indigent in consequence of his so doing, have a
right to demand a maintenance out of the land, according to the Act of
the 43d of Elizabeth, which gave the people a COMPENSATION for the
loss of the tithes and church lands which had been taken away by the
aristocracy in the reigns of the Tudors. If Sir James Graham choose to
mould his fine and large estate into immense farms, and to break up
numerous happy families in the middle rank of life, and to expose them
all to the necessity of coming and demanding sustenance from his
estate; if he choose to be surrounded by masses of persons in this
state, he shall not call them _paupers_, for that insolent term is not
to be found in the compensation-laws of Elizabeth; if he choose to be
surrounded by swarms of beings of this description, with feelings in
their bosoms towards him such as I need not describe,--if he choose
this, his RIGHT certainly extends thus far; but I tell him that he has
no right to say to any man born in his parishes, "You shall not be
here, and you shall not have a maintenance off these lands.'"

There is but poor comfort, however, to know, when one sees a country
ruined, that the perpetrators of the mischief have not ruined it to
their own advantage. We purpose showing how signal in the case of
Sutherland this ruin has been, and how very extreme the infatuation
which continues to possess its hereditary lord. We are old enough to
remember the county in its original state, when it was at once the
happiest and one of the most exemplary districts in Scotland, and
passed, at two several periods, a considerable time among its hills;
we are not unacquainted with it now, nor with its melancholy and
dejected people, that wear out life in their comfortless cottages on
the sea-shore. The problem solved in this remote district of the
kingdom is not at all unworthy the attention which it seems but
beginning to draw, but which is already not restricted to one kingdom,
or even one continent.


 {1} 'I will go and inquire upon the spot whether the natives of
     the county of SUTHERLAND were driven from the land of their birth
     by the Countess of that name, and by her husband the Marquis of
     Stafford.... I wish to possess authentic information relative to
     that "CLEARING" affair; for though it took place twenty years
     ago, it may be just as necessary to inquire into it now. It may
     be quite proper to inquire into the means that were used to
     effect the CLEARING.'--COBBETT.

     'It is painful to dwell on this subject' [the present state of
     Sutherland]; 'but as information communicated by men of honour,
     judgment, and perfect veracity, descriptive of what they daily
     witness, affords the best means of forming a correct judgment,
     and as these gentlemen, from their situations in life, have no
     immediate interest in the determination of the question, beyond
     what is dictated by humanity and a love of truth, their authority
     may be considered as undoubted.'--GENERAL STEWART of Garth.

     'It is by a cruel abuse of legal forms--it is by an unjust
     usurpation--that the _tacksman_ and the tenant of Sutherland are
     considered as having no right to the land which they have
     occupied for so many ages.... A count or earl has no more
     right to expel from their homes the inhabitants of his county,
     than a king to expel from his country the inhabitants of his


We heard sermon in the open air with a poor Highland congregation in
Sutherlandshire only a few weeks ago; and the scene was one which we
shall not soon forget. The place of meeting was a green hill-side,
near the opening of a deep, long withdrawing strath, with a river
running through the midst. We stood on the slope where the last of a
line of bold eminences, that form the southern side of the valley,
sinks towards the sea. A tall precipitous mountain, reverend and
hoary, and well fitted to tranquillize the mind, from the sober
solemnity that rests on its massy features, rose fronting us on the
north; a quiet burial-ground lay at its feet; while, on the opposite
side, between us and the sea, there frowned an ancient stronghold of
time-eaten stone--an impressive memorial of an age of violence and
bloodshed. The last proprietor, says tradition, had to quit this
dwelling by night, with all his family, in consequence of some
unfortunate broil, and take refuge in a small coasting vessel; a
terrible storm arose--the vessel foundered at sea--and the hapless
proprietor and his children were nevermore heard of. And hence, it is
said, the extinction of the race.

The story speaks of an unsettled time; nor is it difficult to trace,
in the long deep valley on the opposite hand, the memorials of a story
not less sad, though much more modern. On both sides the river the eye
rests on a multitude of scattered patches of green, that seem inlaid
in the brown heath. We trace on these islands of sward the marks of
furrows, and mark here and there, through the loneliness, the remains
of a group of cottages, well-nigh levelled with the soil, and, haply
like those ruins which eastern conquerors leave in their track, still
scathed with fire. All is solitude within the valley, except where,
at wide intervals, the shieling of a shepherd may be seen; but at its
opening, where the hills range to the coast, the cottages for miles
together lie clustered as in a hamlet. From the north of Helmsdale to
the south of Port Gower, the lower slopes of the hills are covered by
a labyrinth of stone fences, minute patches of corn, and endless
cottages. It would seem as if for twenty miles the long withdrawing
valley had been swept of its inhabitants, and the accumulated
sweepings left at its mouth, just as we see the sweepings of a room
sometimes left at the door. And such generally is the present state of
Sutherland. The interior is a solitude occupied by a few sheep-farmers
and their hinds; while a more numerous population than fell to the
share of the entire county, ere the inhabitants were expelled from
their inland holdings, and left to squat upon the coast, occupy the
selvage of discontent and poverty that fringes its shores. The
congregation with which we worshipped on this occasion was drawn
mainly from these cottages, and the neighbouring village of Helmsdale.
It consisted of from six to eight hundred Highlanders, all devoted
adherents of the Free Church. We have rarely seen a more deeply
serious assemblage; never certainly one that bore an air of such deep
dejection. The people were wonderfully clean and decent; for it is ill
with Highlanders when they neglect their personal appearance,
especially on a Sabbath; but it was all too evident that the heavy
hand of poverty rested upon them, and that its evils were now deepened
by oppression. It might be a mere trick of association; but when their
plaintive Gaelic singing, so melancholy in its tones at all times,
arose from the bare hill-side, it sounded in our ears like a deep wail
of complaint and sorrow. Poor people! 'We were ruined and reduced to
beggary before,' they say, 'and now the gospel is taken from us.'

Nine-tenths of the poor people of Sutherland are adherents of the
Free Church--all of them in whose families the worship of God has been
set up--all who entertain a serious belief in the reality of
religion--all who are not the creatures of the proprietor, and have
not stifled their convictions for a piece of bread--are devotedly
attached to the disestablished ministers, and will endure none other.
The residuary clergy they do not recognise as clergy at all. The
Established churches have become as useless in the district, as if,
like its Druidical circles, they represented some idolatrous belief,
long exploded--the people will not enter them; and they respectfully
petition his Grace to be permitted to build other churches for
themselves. And fain would his Grace indulge them, he says. In
accordance with the suggestions of an innate desire, willingly would
he permit them to build their own churches and support their own
ministers. But then, has he not loyally engaged to support the
Establishment? To permit a religious and inoffensive people to build
their own places of worship, and support their own clergy, would be
sanctioning a sort of persecution against the Establishment; and as
his Grace dislikes religious persecution, and has determined always to
oppose whatever tends to it, he has resolved to make use of his
influence, as the most extensive of Scottish proprietors, in forcing
them back to their parish churches. If they persist in worshipping God
agreeably to the dictates of their conscience, it must be on the
unsheltered hill-side--in winter, amid the frosts and snows of a
severe northern climate--in the milder seasons, exposed to the
scorching sun and the drenching shower. They must not be permitted the
shelter of a roof, for that would be persecuting the Establishment;
and so to the Establishment must the people be forced back, literally
by stress of weather. His Grace owes a debt to the national
institution, and it seems to irk his conscience until some equivalent
be made. He is not himself a member--he exercises the same sort of
liberty which his people would so fain exercise; and to make amends
for daring to belong to another Church himself (that of England), he
has determined, if he can help it, that the people shall belong to no
other. He has resolved, it would seem, to compound for his own liberty
by depriving them of theirs.

How they are to stand out the winter on this exposed eastern coast, He
alone knows who never shuts His ear to the cry of the oppressed. One
thing is certain, they will never return to the Establishment. On this
Sabbath the congregation in the parish church did not, as we
afterwards learned, exceed a score; and the _quoad sacra_ chapel of
the district was locked up. Long before the Disruption the people had
well-nigh ceased attending the ministrations of the parish incumbent.
The Sutherland Highlanders are still a devout people; they like a bald
mediocre essay none the better for its being called a sermon, and read
on Sabbath. The noble Duke, their landlord, has said not a little in
his letters to them about the extreme slightness of the difference
which obtains between the Free and the Established Churches: it is a
difference so exceedingly slight, that his Grace fails to see it; and
he hopes that by and by, when winter shall have thickened the
atmosphere with its frost rime and its snows, his poor tenantry may
prove as unable to see it as himself. With them, however, the
difference is not mainly a doctrinal one. They believe with the old
Earls of Sutherland, who did much to foster the belief in this
northern county, that there is such a thing as personal piety,--that
of two clergymen holding nominally the same doctrines, and bound
ostensibly by the same standards, one may be a regenerate man,
earnestly bent on the conversion of others, and ready to lay down his
worldly possessions, and even life itself, for the cause of the
gospel; while the other may be an unregenerate man, so little desirous
of the conversion of others, that he would but decry and detest them
did he find them converted already, and so careless of the gospel,
that did not his living depend on professing to preach it, he would
neither be an advocate for it himself, nor yet come within earshot of
where it was advocated by others. The Highlanders of Sutherland hold
in deep seriousness a belief of this character. They believe, further,
that the ministers of their own mountain district belong to these two
classes--that the Disruption of the Scottish Church has thrown the
classes apart--that the residuaries are not men of personal
piety--they have seen no conversions attending their ministry--nor
have they lacked reason to deem them unconverted themselves. Unlike
his Grace the Duke, the people have been intelligent enough to see two
sets of principles ranged in decided antagonism in the Church
question; but still more clearly have they seen two sets of men. They
have identified the cause of the gospel with that of the-Free Church
in their district; and neither the Duke of Sutherland nor the
Establishment which he is 'engaged in endeavouring to maintain,' will
be able to reverse the opinion.

We have said that his Grace's ancestors, the old earls, did much to
foster this spirit. The history of Sutherland, as a county, differs
from all our other Highland districts. Its two great families were
those of Reay and Sutherland, both of which, from an early period of
the Reformation, were not only Protestant, but also thoroughly
evangelical. It was the venerable Earl of Sutherland who first
subscribed the National Covenant in the Greyfriars. It was a scion of
the Reay family--a man of great personal piety--who led the troops of
William against Dundee at Killiecrankie. Their influence was
all-powerful in Sutherland, and directed to the best ends; and we find
it stated by Captain Henderson, in his general view of the agriculture
of the country, as a well-established and surely not uninteresting
fact, that 'the crimes of rapine, murder, and plunder, though not
unusual in the county during the feuds and conflicts of the clans,
were put an end to about the year 1640'--a full century before our
other Highland districts had become even partially civilised. 'Pious
earls and barons of former times,' says a native of the county, in a
small work published in Edinburgh about sixteen years ago, 'encouraged
and patronized pious ministers, and a high tone of religious feeling
came thus to be diffused throughout the country.' Its piety was
strongly of the Presbyterian type; and in no district of the south
were the questions which received such prominence in our late
ecclesiastical controversy better understood by both the people and
the patrons, than in Sutherland a full century ago. We have before us
an interesting document, the invitation of the elders, parishioners,
and heritors of Lairg, to the Rev. Thomas M'Kay, 1748, to be their
minister, in which, 'hoping that' he would find their 'call, carried
on with great sincerity, unanimity, and order, to be a clear call from
the Lord,' they faithfully promise to 'yield him, in their several
stations and relations, all dutiful respect and encouragement.'
William Earl of Sutherland was patron of the parish, but we find him
on this occasion exercising no patronate powers: at the head of
parishioners and elders he merely adhibits his name. He merely
_invites_ with the others. The state of morals in the county was
remarkably exemplified at a later period by the regiment of Sutherland
Highlanders, embodied originally in 1793, under the name of the
Sutherlandshire Fencibles, and subsequently in 1800 as the 93d
Regiment. Most other troops are drawn from among the unsettled and
reckless part of the population; not so the Sutherland Highlanders. On
the breaking out of the revolutionary war, the mother of the present
Duke summoned them from their hills, and five hundred fighting men
marched down to Dunrobin Castle, to make a tender of their swords to
their country, at the command of their chieftainess. The regiment,
therefore, must be regarded as a fair specimen of the character of the
district; and from the description of General Stewart of Garth, and
one or two sources besides, we may learn what that character was.

'In the words of a general officer by whom they were once reviewed,'
says General Stewart, 'they exhibited a perfect pattern of military
discipline and moral rectitude.'

'When stationed at the Cape of Good Hope, anxious to enjoy the
advantages of religious instruction agreeably to the tenets of their
national Church, and there being no religious service in the garrison
except the customary one of reading prayers to the soldiers on parade,
the Sutherland men formed themselves into a congregation, appointed
elders of their own number, engaged and paid a stipend (collected
among themselves) to a clergyman of the Church of Scotland (who had
gone out with an intention of teaching and preaching to the Caffres),
and had divine service performed agreeably to the ritual of the
Established Church.... In addition to these expenses, the soldiers
regularly remitted money to their relatives in Sutherland. When they
disembarked at Plymouth in August 1814, the inhabitants were both
surprised and gratified. On such occasions it had been no uncommon
thing for soldiers to spend in taverns and gin-shops the money they
had saved. In the present case the soldiers of Sutherland were seen in
book-sellers' shops, supplying themselves with Bibles and such books
and tracts as they required. Yet, as at the Cape, where their
religious habits were so free of all fanatical gloom that they
occasionally indulged in social meetings and dancing, so here, while
expending their money on books, they did not neglect their personal
appearance; and the haberdashers' shops had also their share of trade,
from the purchase of additional feathers to their bonnets, and such
extra decorations as the correctness of military regulations allow to
be introduced into the uniform. Nor, while thus mindful of
themselves--improving their mind and their personal appearance--did
such of them as had relations in Sutherland forget their destitute
condition, _occasioned by the loss of their lands_, and the operation
of the _improved state of the country_. During the short period that
the regiment was quartered at Plymouth, upwards of £500 were lodged in
one banking house to be remitted to Sutherland, exclusive of many sums
sent through the Post Office and by officers. Some of the sums
exceeded £20 from an individual soldier.'

'In the case of such men,' continues the General, 'disgraceful
punishment was as unnecessary as it would have been pernicious.
Indeed, so remote was the idea of such a measure in regard to them,
that when punishments were to be inflicted on others, and the troops
in camp, garrison, or quarters assembled to witness the execution, the
presence of the Sutherland Highlanders--either of the fencibles or of
the line--was dispensed with; the effect of terror, as a check to
crime, being in their case uncalled for, "_as examples of that nature
were not necessary for such honourable soldiers_." Such were these men
in garrison. How thoroughly they were guided by honour and loyalty in
the field, was shown at New Orleans. Although many of their countrymen
who had emigrated to America were ready and anxious to receive them,
there was not an instance of desertion; nor did one of those who were
left behind, wounded or prisoners, forget their allegiance and remain
in that country, at the same time that desertions from the British
army were but too frequent.'

This is testimony which even men of the world will scarce suspect. We
can supplement it by that of the missionary whom the Sutherlandshire
soldiers made choice of at Cape Town as their minister. We quote from
a letter by the Rev. Mr. Thom, which appeared in the _Christian
Herald_ of October 1814:--

'When the 93d Sutherland Highlanders left Cape Town last month,'
writes the reverend gentleman, 'there were among them 156 members of
the church (including three elders and three deacons), all of whom, so
far as man can know the heart from the life, were pious persons. The
regiment was certainly a pattern for morality and good behaviour to
every other corps. They read their Bibles; they observed the Sabbath;
they saved their money in order to do good; 7000 rix-dollars (£1400
currency) the non-commissioned officers and privates gave for books,
societies, and the support of the gospel--a sum perhaps unparalleled
in any other corps in the world, given in the short space of seventeen
or eighteen months. Their example had a general good effect on both
the colonists and heathen. How they may act as to religion in other
parts is known to God; but if ever apostolic days were revived in
modern times on earth, I certainly believe some of these to have been
granted to us in Africa.'

One other extract of a similar kind: we quote from a letter to the
Committee of the Edinburgh Gaelic School Society, Fourth Annual

'The regiment (93d) arrived in England, when they immediately received
orders to proceed to North America; but before they re-embarked, the
sum collected for your Society was made up, and has been remitted to
your treasurer, amounting to seventy-eight pounds sterling.'

We dwell with pleasure on this picture; and shall present the reader,
in our next chapter, with a picture of similar character, taken from
observation, of the homes in which these soldiers were reared. The
reverse is all too stern, but we must exhibit _it_ also, and show how
the influence which the old Earls of Sutherland employed so well, has
been exerted by their descendants to the ruin of their country. But we
must first give one other extract from General Stewart. It indicates
the track in which the ruin came.

'Men like these,' he says, referring to the Sutherland Highlanders,
'do credit to the peasantry of the country. If this conclusion is well
founded, the removal of so many of the people from their ancient
seats, where they acquired those habits and principles, must be
considered a public loss of no common magnitude. It must appear
strange, and somewhat inconsistent, when the same persons who are loud
in their professions of an eager desire to promote and preserve the
religious and moral virtues of the people, should so frequently take
the lead in approving of measures which, by removing them from where
they imbibed principles which have attracted the notice of Europe, and
placed them in situations where poverty, and the too frequent
attendants, vice and crime, will lay the foundation of a character
which will be a disgrace, as that already obtained has been an honour,
to this country. In the new stations where so many Highlanders are now
placed, and crowded in such numbers as to preserve the numerical
population, while whole districts are left without inhabitants, how
can they resume their ancient character and principles, which,
according to the reports of those employed by the proprietors, have
been so deplorably broken down and deteriorated--a deterioration which
was entirely unknown till the recent change in the condition of the
people, and the introduction of that system of placing families on
patches of potato ground, as in Ireland--a system pregnant with
degradation, poverty, and disaffection, and exhibiting daily a
prominent and deplorable example, which might have forewarned Highland
proprietors, and prevented them from reducing their people to a
similar state? It is only when parents and heads of families in the
Highlands are moral, happy, and contented, that they can instil sound
principles into their children, who, in their intercourse with the
world, may once more become what the men of Sutherland have already
been, "an honourable example, worthy the imitation of all.'"


We have exhibited the Sutherland Highlanders to the reader as
they exhibited themselves to their country, when, as Christian
soldiers,--men, like the old chivalrous knight, 'without fear
or reproach,'--they fought its battles and reflected honour on
its name. Interest must attach to the manner in which men of so
high a moral tone were reared; and a sketch drawn from personal
observation of the interior of Sutherland eight-and-twenty years
ago, may be found to throw very direct light on the subject.
To know what the district once was, and what it is now, is to
know with peculiar emphasis the meaning of the sacred text, 'One
sinner destroyeth much good.'

The eye of a Triptolemus Yellowlee would have found exceedingly little
to gratify it in the parish of Lairg thirty years ago. The parish had
its bare hills, its wide, dark moors, its old doddered woods of birch
and hazel, its extensive lake, its headlong river, and its roaring
cataract. Nature had imparted to it much of a wild and savage beauty;
but art had done nothing for it. To reverse the well-known antithesis
in which Goldsmith sums up his description of Italy,--the only growth
that had _not_ dwindled in it was man. The cottage in which we resided
with an aged relative and his two stalwart sons, might be regarded as
an average specimen of the human dwellings of the district. It was a
low long building of turf, consisting of four apartments on the ground
floor,--the one stuck on to the end of the other, and threaded
together by a passage that connected the whole. From the nearest hill
the cottage reminded one of a huge black snail crawling up the slope.
The largest of the four apartments was occupied by the master's six
milk cows; the next in size was the ha', or sitting-room,--a rude but
not uncomfortable apartment, with the fire on a large flat stone in
the middle of the floor. The apartment adjoining was decently
partitioned into sleeping places; while the fourth and last in the
range--more neatly fitted up than any of the others, with furniture
the workmanship of a bred carpenter, a small bookcase containing from
forty to fifty volumes, and a box-bed of deal--was known as the
stranger's room. There was a straggling group of buildings outside, in
the same humble style,--a stable, a barn, a hay-barn, a sheep-pen with
a shed attached, and a milk-house; and stretching around the whole lay
the farm,--a straggling patch of corn land of from twelve to fifteen
acres in extent, that, from its extremely irregular outline, and the
eccentric forms of the parti-coloured divisions into which it was
parcelled, reminded one of a coloured map. Encircling all was a wide
sea of heath studded with huge stones--the pasturage land of the
farmer for his sheep and cattle--which swept away on every hand to
other islands of corn and other groups of cottages, identical in
appearance with the corn land and the cottages described.

We remember that, coming from a seaport town, where, to give to
property the average security, the usual means had to be resorted to,
we were first struck by finding that the door of our relative's
cottage, in this inland parish, was furnished with neither lock nor
bar. Like that of the hermit in the ballad, it opened with a latch;
but, unlike that of the hermit, it was not because there were no
stores under the humble roof to demand the care of the master. It was
because that, at this comparatively recent period, the crime of theft
was unknown in the district. The philosophic Biot, when occupied in
measuring the time of the seconds pendulum, resided for several months
in one of the smaller Shetland islands; and, fresh from the troubles
of France,--his imagination bearing about, if we may so speak, the
stains of the guillotine,--the state of trustful security in which he
found the simple inhabitants filled him with astonishment. 'Here,' he
exclaimed, 'during the twenty-five years in which Europe has been
devouring herself, the door of the house I inhabit has remained open
day and night.' The whole interior of Sutherland was, at the time of
which we write, in a similar condition. It did not surprise us that
the old man, a person of deep piety, regularly assembled his household
night and morning for the purpose of family worship, and led in their
devotions: we had seen many such instances in the low country. But it
did somewhat surprise us to find the practice universal in the parish.
In every family had the worship of God been set up. One could not pass
an inhabited cottage in the evening, from which the voice of psalms
was not to be heard. On Sabbath morning, the whole population might be
seen wending their way, attired in their best, along the blind
half-green paths in the heath, to the parish church. The minister was
greatly beloved, and all attended his ministrations. We still remember
the intense joy which his visits used to impart to the household of
our relative. This worthy clergyman still lives, though the
infirmities of a stage of life very advanced have gathered round him;
and at the late disruption, choosing his side, and little heeding,
when duty called, that his strength had been wasted in the labour of
forty years, and that he could now do little more than testify and
suffer in behalf of his principles, he resigned his hold of the
temporalities as minister of Dornoch, and cast in his lot with his
brethren of the Free Church. And his venerable successor in Lairg, a
man equally beloved and exemplary, and now on the verge of his
eightieth year, has acted a similar part. Had such sacrifices been
made in such circumstances for other than the cause of Christ--had
they been made under some such romantic delusion as misled of old the
followers of the Stuarts--the world would have appreciated them
highly; but there is an element in evangelism which repels admiration,
unless it be an admiration grounded in faith and love; and the appeal
in such cases must lie, therefore, not to the justice of the world,
but to the judgment-seat of God. We may remind the reader, in passing,
that it was the venerable minister of Lairg who, on quitting his manse
on the Disruption, was received by his widowed daughter into a cottage
held of the Duke of Sutherland, and that for this grave crime--the
crime of sheltering her aged father--the daughter was threatened with
ejection by one of the Duke's creatures. Is it not somewhat necessary
that the breath of public opinion should be let in on this remote
country? But we digress.

A peculiar stillness seemed to rest over this Highland parish on the
Sabbath. The family devotions of the morning, the journey to and from
church, and the public services there, occupied fully two-thirds of
the day. But there remained the evening, and of it the earlier part
was spent in what are known in the north country as fellowship
meetings. One of these was held regularly in the 'ha'' of our
relative. From fifteen to twenty people, inclusive of the family, met
for the purposes of social prayer and religious conversation, and the
time passed profitably away, till the closing night summoned the
members of the meeting to their respective homes and their family
duties. We marked an interesting peculiarity in the devotions of our
relative. He was, as we have said, an old man, and had worshipped in
his family long ere Dr. Stewart's Gaelic translation of the Scriptures
had been introduced into the county; and as he was supplied in those
days with only the English Bible, while his domestics understood only
Gaelic, he had to acquire the art, not uncommon in Sutherland at the
time, of translating the English chapter for them, as he read, into
their native tongue; and this he had learned to do with such ready
fluency, that no one could have guessed it to be other than a Gaelic
work from which he was reading. It might have been supposed, however,
that the introduction of Dr. Stewart's edition would have rendered
this mode of translation obsolete; but in this and many other families
such was not the case. The old man's Gaelic was _Sutherlandshire
Gaelic_. His family understood it better, in consequence, than any
other; and so he continued to translate from his English Bible, _ad
aperturam libri_, many years after the Gaelic edition had been spread
over the county. The fact that such a practice should have been common
in Sutherland, says something surely for the intelligence of the
family patriarchs of the district. That thousands of the people who
knew the Scriptures through no other medium, should have been
intimately acquainted with the saving doctrines and witnesses of their
power (and there can be no question that such was the case), is proof
enough, at least, that it was a practice carried on with a due
perception of the scope and meaning of the sacred volume. One is too
apt to associate intelligence with the external improvements of a
country--with well-enclosed fields and whitewashed cottages; but the
association is altogether a false one. As shown by the testimony of
General Stewart of Garth, the Sutherland regiment was not only the
most eminently moral, but, as their tastes and habits demonstrated,
one of the most decidedly intellectual under the British Crown. Our
relative's cottage had, as we have said, its bookcase, and both his
sons were very intelligent men; but intelligence derived directly from
books was not general in the county; a very considerable portion of
the people understood no other language than Gaelic, and many of them
could not even read; for at this period about one-tenth of the
families of Sutherland were distant five or more miles from the
nearest school. Their characteristic intelligence was of a kind
otherwise derived: it was an intelligence drawn from these domestic
readings of the Scriptures and from the pulpit; and is referred mainly
to that profound science which even a Newton could recognise as more
important and wonderful than any of the others, but which many of the
shallower intellects of our own times deem no science at all. It was
an intelligence out of which their morality sprung; it was an
intelligence founded in earnest belief.

But what, asks the reader, was the economic condition--the condition
with regard to circumstances and means of living--of these Sutherland
Highlanders? How did they fare? The question has been variously
answered: much must depend on the class selected from among them as
specimens of the whole,--much, too, taking for granted the honesty of
the party who replies, on his own condition in life, and his
acquaintance with the circumstances of the poorer people of Scotland
generally. The county had its less genial localities, in which, for a
month or two in the summer season, when the stock of grain from the
previous year was fast running out, and the crops on the ground not
yet ripened for use, the people experienced a considerable degree of
scarcity,--such scarcity as a mechanic in the south feels when he has
been a fortnight out of employment. But the Highlander had resources
in these seasons which the mechanic has not. He had his cattle and his
wild pot-herbs, such as the mugwort and the nettle. It has been
adduced by the advocates of the change which has ruined Sutherland, as
a proof of the extreme hardship of the Highlander's condition, that at
such times he could have eaten as food a broth made of nettles, mixed
up with a little oatmeal, or have had recourse to the expedient of
bleeding his cattle, and making the blood into a sort of pudding. And
it is quite true that the Sutherlandshire Highlander was in the habit,
at such times, of having recourse to such food. It is not less true,
however, that the statement is just as little conclusive regarding his
condition, as if it were alleged there must always be famine in France
when the people eat the hind legs of frogs, or in Italy when they make
dishes of snails. We never saw scarcity in the house of our relative,
but we have seen the nettle broth in it very frequently, and the
blood-pudding oftener than once; for both dishes were especial
favourites with the Highlanders. With regard to the general comfort of
the people in their old condition, there are better tests than can be
drawn from the kind of food they occasionally ate. The country hears
often of dearth in Sutherland now: every year in which the crop falls
a little below average in other districts, is a year of famine there;
but the country never heard of dearth in Sutherland then. There were
very few among the holders of its small inland farms who had not saved
a little money. Their circumstances were such, that their moral nature
found full room to develope itself, and in a way the world has rarely
witnessed. Never were there a happier or more contented people, or a
people more strongly attached to the soil; and not one of them now
lives in the altered circumstances on which they were so rudely
precipitated by the landlord, who does not look back on this period of
comfort and enjoyment with sad and hopeless regret. We have never
heard the system which has depopulated this portion of the country
defended, without recurring to our two several visits to the turf
cottage in Lairg, or without feeling that the defence embodied an
essential falsehood, which time will not fail to render evident to the
apprehensions of all.

We would but fatigue our readers were we to run over half our
recollections of the interior of Sutherland. They are not all of a
serious cast. We have sat in the long autumn evenings in the cheerful
circle round the turf-fire of the ha', and have heard many a tradition
of old clan feuds pleasingly told, and many a song of the poet of the
county, Old Rob Donn, gaily sung. In our immediate neighbourhood, by
the side of a small stream--small, but not without its supply of brown
trout, speckled with crimson--there was a spot of green meadow land,
on which the young men of the neighbourhood used not unfrequently to
meet and try their vigour in throwing the stone. The stone itself had
its history. It was a ball of gneiss, round as a bullet, that had once
surmounted the gable of a small Popish chapel, of which there now
remained only a shapeless heap of stones, that scarce overtopped the
long grass amid which it lay. A few undressed flags indicated an
ancient burying-ground; and over the ruined heap, and the rude
tombstones that told no story, an ancient time-hallowed tree, coeval
with the perished building, stretched out its giant arms. Even the
sterner occupations of the farm had in their very variety a strong
smack of enjoyment. We found one of the old man's sons engaged, during
our one visit, in building an outhouse, after the primitive fashion of
the Highlands, and during our other visit, in constructing a plough.
The two main _cupples_ of the building he made of huge trees, dug out
of a neighbouring morass; they resembled somewhat the beams of a large
sloop reversed. The stones he carried from the outfield heath on a
sledge; the interstices in the walls he caulked with moss; the roof he
covered with sods. The entire erection was his workmanship, from
foundation to ridge. And such, in brief, was the history of all those
cottages in the interior of Sutherland, which the poor Highlanders so
naturally deemed their own, but from which, when set on fire and burnt
to the ground by the creatures of the proprietor, they were glad to
escape with their lives. The plough, with the exception of the iron
work, was altogether our relative's workmanship too. And such was the
history of the rude implements of rural or domestic labour which were
consumed in the burning dwellings. But we anticipate.

There is little of gaiety or enjoyment among the Highlanders of
Sutherland now. We spent a considerable time for two several years
among their thickly-clustered cottages on the eastern coast, and saw
how they live, and how it happens that when years of comparative
scarcity come on they starve. Most of them saved, when in the
interior, as we have said, a little money; but the process has been
reversed here: in every instance in which they brought their savings
to the coast-side has the fund been dissipated. Each cottage has from
half an acre to an acre and half of corn land attached to it--just
such patches as the Irish starve upon. In some places, by dint of sore
labour, the soil has been considerably improved; and all that seems
necessary to render it worth the care of a family, would be just to
increase its area some ten or twelve times. In other cases, however,
increase would be no advantage. We find it composed of a loose debris
of granitic water-rolled pebbles and ferruginous sand, that seemed
destined to perpetual barrenness. The rents, in every instance, seem
moderate; the money of the tenant flows towards the landlord in a
stream of not half the volume of that in which the money of the
landlord must flow towards the tenant when the poor-laws shall be
extended to Scotland. But no rent, in such circumstances, can be
really moderate. A clergyman, when asked to say how many of his
parishioners, in one of these coast districts, realized _less_ than
sixpence a-day, replied, that it would be a much easier matter for him
to point out how many of them realized _more_ than sixpence, as this
more fortunate class were exceedingly few. And surely no rent can be
moderate that is paid by a man who realizes less than sixpence a-day.
It is the peculiar evil produced by the change in Sutherland, that it
has consigned the population of the country to a condition in which no
rent _can_ be moderate--to a condition in which they but barely avoid
famine, when matters are at the best with them, and fall into it in
every instance in which the herring fishing, their main and most
precarious stay, partially fails, or their crops are just a little
more than usually scanty. They are in such a state, that their very
means of living are sources, not of comfort, but of distress to them.
When the fishing and their crops are comparatively abundant, they live
on the bleak edge of want; while failure in either plunges them into a
state of intense suffering. And well are these Highlanders aware of
the true character of the revolution to which they have been
subjected. Our Poor-Law Commissioners may find, in this land of
growing pauperism, thousands as poor as the people of Sutherland; but
they will find no class of the population who can so directly contrast
their present destitution with a state of comparative plenty and
enjoyment, or who, in consequence of possessing this sad ability, are
so deeply imbued with a too well-grounded and natural discontent.

But we have not yet said how this ruinous revolution was effected in
Sutherland,--how the aggravations of the _mode_, if we may so speak,
still fester in the recollections of the people,--or how thoroughly
that policy of the lord of the soil, through which he now seems
determined to complete the work of ruin which his predecessor began,
harmonizes with its worst details. We must first relate, however, a
disastrous change which took place, in the providence of God, in the
noble family of Sutherland, and which, though it dates fully eighty
years back, may be regarded as pregnant with the disasters which
afterwards befell the country.


Such of our readers as are acquainted with the memoir of Lady
Glenorchy, must remember a deeply melancholy incident which occurred
in the history of this excellent woman, in connection with the noble
family of Sutherland. Her only sister had been married to William,
seventeenth Earl of Sutherland,--'the last of the good Earls;' 'a
nobleman,' says the Rev. Dr. Jones, in his Memoir, 'who to the finest
person united all the dignity and amenity of manners and character
which give lustre to greatness.' But his sun was destined soon to go
down. Five years after his marriage, which proved one of the happiest,
and was blessed with two children, the elder of the two, the young
Lady Catherine, a singularly engaging child, was taken from him by
death, in his old hereditary castle of Dunrobin. The event deeply
affected both parents, and preyed on their health and spirits. It had
taken place amid the gloom of a severe northern winter, and in the
solitude of the Highlands; and, acquiescing in the advice of friends,
the Earl and his lady quitted the family seat, where there was so much
to remind them of their bereavement, and sought relief in the more
cheerful atmosphere of Bath. But they were not to find it there.
Shortly after their arrival, the Earl was seized by a malignant fever,
with which, upheld by a powerful constitution, he struggled for
fifty-four days, and then expired. 'For the first twenty-one days and
nights of these,' says Dr. Jones, 'Lady Sutherland never left his
bedside; and then at last, overcome with fatigue, anxiety, and grief,
she sank an unavailing victim to an amiable but excessive attachment,
seventeen days before the death of her lord.' The period, though not
very remote, was one in which the intelligence of events travelled
slowly; and in this instance the distraction of the family must have
served to retard it beyond the ordinary time. Her Ladyship's mother,
when hastening from Edinburgh to her assistance, alighted one day from
her carriage at an inn, and, on seeing two hearses standing by the
wayside, inquired of an attendant whose remains they contained? The
remains, was the reply, of Lord and Lady Sutherland, on their way for
interment to the Royal Chapel of Holyrood House. And such was the
first intimation which the lady received of the death of her daughter
and son-in-law.

The event was pregnant with disaster to Sutherland, though many years
elapsed ere the ruin which it involved fell on that hapless county.
The sole survivor and heir of the family was a female infant of but a
year old. Her maternal grandmother, an ambitious, intriguing woman of
the world, had the chief share in her general training and education;
and she was brought up in the south of Scotland, of which her
grandmother was a native, far removed from the influence of those
genial sympathies with the people of her clan, for which the old lords
of Sutherland had been so remarkable, and, what was a sorer evil
still, from the influence of the vitalities of that religion which,
for five generations together, her fathers had illustrated and
adorned. The special mode in which the disaster told first, was
through the patronages of the county, the larger part of which are
vested in the family of Sutherland. Some of the old Earls had been
content, as we have seen, to place themselves on the level of the
Christian men of their parishes, and thus to unite with them in
calling to their churches the Christian ministers of their choice.
They knew,--what regenerate natures can alone know with the proper
emphasis,--that in Christ Jesus the vassal ranks with his lord, and
they conscientiously acted on the conviction. But matters were now
regulated differently. The presentation supplanted the call, and
ministers came to be placed in the parishes of Sutherland without the
consent and contrary to the will of the people. Churches, well filled
hitherto, were deserted by their congregations, just because a
respectable woman of the world, making free use of what she deemed her
own, had planted them with men of the world who were only tolerably
respectable; and in houses and barns the devout men of the district
learned to hold numerously-attended Sabbath meetings for reading the
Scriptures, and mutual exhortation and prayer, as a sort of substitute
for the public services, in which they found they could no longer join
with profit. The spirit awakened by the old Earls had survived
themselves, and ran directly counter to the policy of their
descendant. Strongly attached to the Establishment, the people, though
they thus forsook their old places of worship, still remained members
of the national Church, and travelled far in the summer season to
attend the better ministers of their own and the neighbouring
counties. We have been assured, too, from men whose judgment we
respect, that, under all their disadvantages, religion continued
peculiarly to flourish among them;--a deep-toned evangelism prevailed;
so that perhaps the visible Church throughout the world at the time
could furnish no more striking contrast than that which obtained
between the cold, bald, commonplace services of the pulpit in some of
these parishes, and the fervid prayers and exhortations which give
life and interest to these humble meetings of the people. What a pity
it is that differences such as these the Duke of Sutherland cannot

The marriage of the young countess into a noble English family was
fraught with further disaster to the county. There are many Englishmen
quite intelligent enough to perceive the difference between a smoky
cottage of turf and a whitewashed cottage of stone, whose judgment on
their respective inhabitants would be of but little value.
Sutherland, as a country of _men_, stood higher at this period than
perhaps any other district in the British empire; but, as our
descriptions in the preceding chapter must have shown,--and we
indulged in them mainly with a view to this part of our subject,--it
by no means stood high as a country of farms and cottages. The
marriage of the Countess brought a new set of eyes upon it,--eyes
accustomed to quite a different face of things. It seemed a wild, rude
country, where all was wrong, and all had to be set right,--a sort of
Russia on a small scale, that had just got another Peter the Great to
civilise it,--or a sort of barbarous Egypt, with an energetic Ali
Pasha at its head. Even the vast wealth and great liberality of the
Stafford family militated against this hapless county: it enabled them
to treat it as the mere subject of an interesting experiment, in which
gain to themselves was really no object,--nearly as little so as if
they had resolved on dissecting a dog alive for the benefit of
science. It was a still further disadvantage, that they had to carry
on their experiment by the hands, and to watch its first effects with
the eyes, of others. The agonies of the dog might have had their
softening influence on a dissector who held the knife himself; but
there could be no such influence exerted over him, did he merely issue
orders to his footman that the dissection should be completed,
remaining himself, meanwhile, out of sight and out of hearing. The
plan of improvement sketched out by his English family was a plan
exceedingly easy of conception. Here is a vast tract of land,
furnished with two distinct sources of wealth. Its shores may be made
the seats of extensive fisheries, and the whole of its interior
parcelled out into productive sheep-farms. All is waste in its present
state: it has no fisheries, and two-thirds of its internal produce is
consumed by the inhabitants. It had contributed, for the use of the
community and the landlord, its large herds of black cattle; but the
English family saw, and, we believe, saw truly, that for every one
pound of beef which it produced, it could be made to produce two
pounds of mutton, and perhaps a pound of fish in addition. And it was
resolved, therefore, that the inhabitants of the central districts,
who, _as they were mere Celts_, could not be transformed, it was held,
into store-farmers, should be marched down to the sea-side, there to
convert themselves into fishermen, on the shortest possible notice,
and that a few farmers of capital, of the industrious Lowland race,
should be invited to occupy the new subdivisions of the interior.

And, pray, what objections can be urged against so liberal and
large-minded a scheme? The poor inhabitants of the interior had _very_
serious objections to urge against it. Their humble dwellings were of
their own rearing; it was they themselves who had broken in their
little fields from the waste; from time immemorial, far beyond the
reach of history, had they possessed their mountain holdings,--they
had defended them so well of old that the soil was still virgin
ground, in which the invader had found only a grave; and their young
men were now in foreign lands, fighting, at the command of their
chieftainess, the battles of their country, not in the character of
hired soldiers, but of men who regarded these very holdings as their
stake in the quarrel. To them, then, the scheme seemed fraught with
the most flagrant, the most monstrous injustice. Were it to be
suggested by some Chartist convention in a time of revolution, that
Sutherland might be still further improved--that it was really a piece
of great waste to suffer the revenues of so extensive a district to be
squandered by one individual--that it would be better to appropriate
them to the use of the community in general--that the community in
general might be still further benefited by the removal of the one
said individual from Dunrobin to a road-side, where he might be
profitably employed in breaking stones--and that this new arrangement
could not be entered on too soon--the noble Duke would not be a whit
more astonished, or rendered a whit more indignant, by the scheme,
than were the Highlanders of Sutherland by the scheme of his

The reader must keep in view, therefore, that if atrocities
unexampled in Britain for at least a century were perpetrated in the
_clearing_ of Sutherland, there was a species of at least passive
resistance on the part of the people (for active resistance there
was none), which in some degree provoked them. Had the Highlanders,
on receiving orders, marched down to the sea-coast, and become
fishermen, with the readiness with which a regiment deploys on review
day, the atrocities would, we doubt not, have been much fewer. But
though the orders were very distinct, the Highlanders were very
unwilling to obey; and the severities formed merely a part of the
means through which the necessary obedience was ultimately secured.
We shall instance a single case, as illustrative of the process. In
the month of March 1814, a large proportion of the Highlanders of
Farr and Kildonan, two parishes in Sutherland, were summoned to quit
their farms in the following May. In a few days after, the surrounding
heaths on which they pastured their cattle, and from which at that
season the sole supply of herbage is derived (for in those northern
districts the grass springs late, and the cattle-feeder in the spring
months depends chiefly on the heather), were set on fire and burnt up.
There was that sort of policy in the stroke which men deem allowable
in a state of war. The starving cattle went roaming over the burnt
pastures, and found nothing to eat. Many of them perished, and the
greater part of what remained, though in miserable condition, the
Highlanders had to sell perforce. Most of the able-bodied men were
engaged in this latter business at a distance from home, when the
dreaded term-day came on. The pasturage had been destroyed before
the legal term, and while, in even the eye of the law, it was still
the property of the poor Highlanders; but ere disturbing them in their
dwellings, term-day was suffered to pass. The work of demolition then
began. A numerous party of men, with a factor at their head, entered
the district, and commenced pulling down the houses over the heads
of the inhabitants. In an extensive tract of country not a human
dwelling was left standing, and then, the more effectually to
prevent their temporary re-erection, the destroyers set fire to
the wreck. In one day were the people deprived of home and shelter,
and left exposed to the elements. Many deaths are said to have ensued
from alarm, fatigue, and cold. Pregnant women were taken with
premature labour in the open air. There were old men who took to the
woods and rocks in a state of partial insanity. An aged bedridden
man, named Macbeath, had his house unroofed over his head, and was
left exposed to wind and rain till death put a period to his
sufferings. Another man lying ill of a fever met with no tenderer
treatment, but in his case the die turned up life. A bedridden woman,
nearly a hundred years of age, had her house fired over her head,
and ere she could be extricated from the burning wreck, the sheets in
which she was carried were on fire. She survived but for five days
after. In a critique on the work of Sismondi, which appeared a few
months since in the _Westminster Review_, the writer tells us, 'it
has even been said that an old man, having refused to quit his
cabin, perished in the flames.' But such was not the case. The
constituted authorities interfered; a precognition was taken by the
Sheriff-substitute of the county, and the case tried before the
Justiciary Court at Inverness; but the trial terminated in the
acquittal of the pannels. There was no punishable crime proven to
attach to the agents of the proprietor.

Their acquittal was followed by scenes of a similar character with
the scene described, and of even greater atrocity. But we must borrow
the description of one of these from the historian of the _clearing_
of Sutherland,--Donald M'Leod, a native of the county, and himself a
sufferer in the experimental process to which it was subjected:--

'The work of devastation was begun by setting fire to the houses of
the small tenants in extensive districts--Farr, Rogart, Golspie,
and the whole parish of Kildonan. I was an eye-witness of the
scene. The calamity came on the people quite unexpectedly. Strong
parties for each district, furnished with faggots and other
combustibles, rushed on the dwellings of the devoted people, and
immediately commenced setting fire to them, proceeding in their
work with the greatest rapidity, till about three hundred houses
were in flames. Little or no time was given for the removal of persons
or property--the consternation and confusion were extreme--the
people striving to remove the sick and helpless before the fire
should reach them--next struggling to save the most valuable of
their effects--the cries of the women and children--the roaring of
the affrighted cattle, hunted by the dogs of the shepherds amid the
smoke and the fire--altogether composed a scene that completely
baffles description. A dense cloud of smoke enveloped the whole
country by day, and even extended far on the sea. At night, an awfully
grand but terrific scene presented itself--all the houses in an
extensive district in flames at once. I myself ascended a height
about eleven o'clock in the evening, and counted two hundred and fifty
blazing houses, many of the owners of which were my relations, and
all of whom I personally knew, but whose present condition I could not
tell. The conflagration lasted six days, till the whole of the
dwellings were reduced to ashes or smoking ruins. During one of these
days, a boat lost her way in the dense smoke as she approached the
shore, but at night she was enabled to reach a landing-place by
the light of the flames.'

But, to employ the language of Southey,

    'Things such as these, we know, must be
     At every famous victory.'

And in this instance the victory of the lord of the soil over the
children of the soil was signal and complete. In little more than nine
years a population of fifteen thousand individuals were removed from
the interior of Sutherland to its sea-coasts, or had emigrated to
America. The inland districts were converted into deserts, through
which the traveller may take a long day's journey, amid ruins that
still bear the scathe of fire, and grassy patches betraying, when the
evening sun casts aslant its long deep shadows, the half-effaced lines
of the plough. The writer of the singularly striking passage we have
just quoted, revisited his native place (Kildonan) in the year 1828,
and attended divine service in the parish church. A numerous and
devout congregation had once worshipped there: the congregation now
consisted of eight shepherds and their _dogs_. In a neighbouring
district--the barony of Strathnaver, a portion of the parish of
Farr--the church, no longer found necessary, was razed to the ground.
The timber was carried away to be used in the erection of an inn, and
the minister's house converted into the dwelling of a fox-hunter. 'A
woman well known in the parish,' says M'Leod, 'happening to traverse
the Strath the year after the burning, was asked, on her return, What
news? "Oh," said she, "_sgeul bronach, sgeul bronach!_ sad news, sad
news! I have seen the timber of our kirk covering the inn at
Altnaharran; I have seen the kirkyard, where our friends are
mouldering, filled with tarry sheep, and Mr. Sage's study-room a
kennel for Robert Gun's dogs.'"


Let us follow, for a little, the poor Highlanders of Sutherland to the
sea-coast. It would be easy dwelling on the terrors of their
expulsion, and multiplying facts of horror; but had there been no
permanent deterioration effected in their condition, these, all
harrowing and repulsive as they were, would have mattered less.
Sutherland would have soon recovered the burning up of a few hundred
hamlets, or the loss of a few bedridden old people, who would have
died as certainly under cover, though perhaps a few months later, as
when exposed to the elements in the open air. Nay, had it lost a
thousand of its best men in the way in which it lost so many at the
storming of New Orleans, the blank ere now would have been completely
filled up. The calamities of fire or of decimation even, however
distressing in themselves, never yet ruined a country: no calamity
ruins a country that leaves the surviving inhabitants to develope, in
their old circumstances, their old character and resources.

In one of the eastern eclogues of Collins, where two shepherds are
described as flying for their lives before the troops of a ruthless
invader, we see with how much of the terrible the imagination of a poet
could invest the evils of war, when aggravated by pitiless barbarity.
Fertile as that imagination was, however, there might be found new
circumstances to heighten the horrors of the scene--circumstances
beyond the reach of invention--in the retreat of the Sutherland
Highlanders from the smoking ruins of their cottages to their
allotments on the coast. We have heard of one man, named M'Kay, whose
family, at the time of the greater conflagration referred to by
M'Leod, were all lying ill of fever, who had to carry two of his sick
children on his back a distance of twenty-five miles. We have heard of
the famished people blackening the shores, like the crew of some vessel
wrecked on an inhospitable coast, that they might sustain life by
the shell-fish and sea-weed laid bare by the ebb. Many of their
allotments, especially on the western coast, were barren in the
extreme--unsheltered by bush or tree, and exposed to the sweeping
sea-winds, and, in time of tempest, to the blighting spray; and it was
found a matter of the extremest difficulty to keep the few cattle
which they had retained, from wandering, especially in the night-time,
into the better sheltered and more fertile interior. The poor
animals were intelligent enough to read a practical comment on the
nature of the change effected; and, from the harshness of the
shepherds to whom the care of the interior had been entrusted, they
served materially to add to the distress of their unhappy masters.
They were getting continually impounded; and vexatious fines, in the
form of trespass-money, came thus to be wrung from the already
impoverished Highlanders. Many who had no money to give were obliged
to relieve them by depositing some of their few portable articles of
value, such as bed or body clothes, or, more distressing still,
watches and rings and pins--the only relics, in not a few instances, of
brave men whose bones were mouldering under the fatal rampart at New
Orleans, or in the arid sands of Egypt--on that spot of proud
recollection, where the invincibles of Napoleon went down before the
Highland bayonet. Their first efforts as fishermen were what might
be expected from a rural people unaccustomed to the sea. The shores of
Sutherland, for immense tracts together, are iron-bound, and much
exposed--open on the eastern coast to the waves of the German Ocean,
and on the north and west to the long roll of the Atlantic. There could
not be more perilous seas for the unpractised boatman to take his first
lessons on; but though the casualties were numerous, and the loss of
life great, many of the younger Highlanders became expert fishermen.
The experiment was harsh in the extreme, but so far, at least, it
succeeded. It lies open, however, to other objections than those which
have been urged against it on the score of its inhumanity.

The reader must be acquainted with Goldsmith's remarks on the herring
fishery of his days. 'A few years ago,' he says, 'the herring fishing
employed all Grub Street; it was the topic in every coffee-house, and
the burden of every ballad. We were to drag up oceans of gold from the
bottom of the sea; we were to supply all Europe with herrings upon our
own terms. At present, however, we hear no more of all this; we have
fished up very little gold that I can learn; nor do we furnish the
world with herrings, as was expected.' We have, in this brief passage,
a history of all the more sanguine expectations which have been
founded on herring fisheries. There is no branch of industry so
calculated to awaken the hopes of the speculator, or so suited to
disappoint them. So entirely is this the case, that were we desirous
to reduce an industrious people to the lowest stage of wretchedness
compatible with industry, we would remove them to some barren
district, and there throw them on the resources of this fishery
exclusively. The employments of the herring fisher have all the
uncertainty of the ventures of the gambler. He has first to lay down,
if we may so speak, a considerable stake, for his drift of nets and
his boat involve a very considerable outlay of capital; and if
successful, and if in general the fishery be _not_ successful, the
_take_ of a single week may more than remunerate him. A single cast of
his nets may bring him in thirty guineas and more. The die turns up in
his favour, and he sweeps the board. And hence those golden dreams of
the speculator so happily described by Goldsmith. But year after year
may pass, and the run of luck be against the fisherman. A fishing
generally good at all the stations gluts the market, necessarily
limited in its demands to an average supply, and, from the bulk and
weight of the commodity, not easily extended to distant parts: and the
herring merchant first, and the fisherman next, find that they have
been labouring hard to little purpose. Again, a fishing under average,
from the eccentric character of the fish, is found almost always to
benefit a few, and to ruin a great many. The average deficiency is
never equally spread over the fishermen; one sweeps the board--another
loses all. Nor are the cases few in which the accustomed shoal wholly
deserts a tract of coast for years together; and thus the lottery,
precarious at all times, becomes a lottery in which there are only
blanks to be drawn. The wealthy speculator might perhaps watch such
changes, and by supplementing the deficiency of one year by the
abundance of another, give to the whole a character of average; but
alas for the poor labouring man placed in such circumstances! The
yearly disbursements of our Scottish Fishery Board, in the way of
assistance to poverty-struck fishermen, unable even to repair their
boats, testify all too tangibly that they cannot regulate their long
runs of ill luck by their temporary successes! And if such be the case
among our hereditary fishermen of the north, who derive more than half
their sustenance from the white fishery, how much more must it affect
those fishermen of Sutherland, who, having no market for their white
fish in the depopulated interior, and no merchants settled among them
to find markets farther away, have to depend exclusively on their
herring fishing! The experiment which precipitated the population of
the country on its barer skirts, as some diseases precipitate the
humours on the extremities, would have been emphatically a disastrous
one, so far at least as the people were concerned, even did it involve
no large amount of human suffering, and no deterioration of

One of the first writers, of unquestioned respectability, who acquainted
the public with the true character of the revolution which had been
effected in Sutherland, was the late General Stewart of Garth. He
was, we believe, the first man--and the fact says something for his
shrewdness--who saw a coming poor-law looming through the _clearing_ of
Sutherland. His statements are exceedingly valuable; his inferences
almost always just. The General--a man of probity and nice honour--had
such an ability of estimating the value of moral excellence in a
people, as the originators of the revolution had of estimating the
antagonist merits of double pounds of mutton and single pounds of
beef. He had seen printed representations on the subject--tissues of
hollow falsehood, that have since been repeated in newspapers and
reviews; and though unacquainted with the facts at the time, he saw
sufficient reason to question their general correctness, from the
circumstance that he found in them the character of the people, with
which no man could be better acquainted, vilified and traduced. The
General saw one leviathan falsehood running through the whole, and,
on the strength of the old adage, naturally suspected the company in
which he found it. And so, making minute and faithful inquiry, he
published the results at which he arrived. He refers to the mode of
ejectment by the torch. He next goes on to show how some of the ejected
tenants were allowed small allotments of moor on the coast side, of from
half an acre to two acres in extent, which it was their task to break
into corn land; and how that, because many patches of green appear
in this way, where all was russet before, the change has been much
eulogized as improvement. We find him remarking further, with
considerable point and shrewdness, that 'many persons are, however,
inclined to doubt the advantages of improvements which call for such
frequent apologies,' and that, 'if the advantage to the people were so
evident, or if more lenient measures had been pursued, vindication
could not have been necessary.' The General knew how to pass from
the green spots themselves to the condition of those who tilled them.
The following passage must strike all acquainted with the Highlanders
of Sutherland as a true representation of the circumstances to which
they have been reduced:

'Ancient respectable tenants who have passed the greater part of life
in the enjoyment of abundance, and in the exercise of hospitality and
charity, possessing stock of ten, twenty, and thirty breeding cows,
with the usual proportion of other stock, are now pining on one or two
acres of bad land, with one or two starved cows; and for this
accommodation a calculation is made, that they must support their
families, and pay the rent of their lots, not from the produce, but
from the sea, thus drawing a rent which the land cannot afford. When
the herring fishing succeeds, they generally satisfy the landlord,
whatever privations they may suffer; but when the fishing fails, they
fall into arrears. The herring fishing, always precarious, has for a
succession of years been very defective, and this class of people are
reduced to extreme misery. At first, some of them possessed capital,
from converting their farm-stock into cash, but this has been long
exhausted; and it is truly distressing to view their general poverty,
aggravated by their having once enjoyed abundance and independence.'

Some of the removals to which we have referred took place during that
group of scarce seasons in which the year 1816 was so prominent; but
the scarcity which these induced served merely to render the other
sufferings of the people more intense, and was lost sight of in the
general extent of the calamity. Another group of hard seasons came
on,--one of those groups which seem of such certain and yet of such
irregular occurrence in our climate, that though they have attracted
notice from the days of Bacon downwards, they have hitherto resisted
all attempts to include them in some definite cycle. The summer and
harvest of 1835 were the last of a series of fine summers and abundant
harvests; and for six years after there was less than the usual heat,
and more than the usual rain. Science, in connection with agriculture,
has done much for us in the low country, and so our humbler population
were saved from the horrors of a dearth of food; but on the green
patches which girdle the shores of Sutherland, and which have been
esteemed such wonderful improvements, science had done and could do
nothing. The people had been sinking lower and lower during the
previous twenty years, and what would have been great hardship before
had become famine now. One feels at times that it may be an advantage
to have lived among the humbler people. We have been enabled, in
consequence, to detect many such gross misstatements as those with
which the apologists of the disastrous revolution effected in
Sutherland have attempted to gloss over the ruin of that country. In
other parts of the Highlands, especially in the Hebrides, the failure
of the kelp trade did much to impoverish the inhabitants; but in the
Highlands of Sutherland the famine was the effect of _improvement_

The writer of these chapters saw how a late, untoward year operates on
the bleak shores of the north-western Highlands, when spending a
season there a good many years ago. He found what only a few
twelvemonths previous had been a piece of dark moor, laid out into
minute patches of corn, and bearing a dense population. The herring
fishing had failed for the two seasons before, and the poor cottars
were, in consequence, in arrears with their rent; but the crops had
been tolerable; and though their stores of meal and potatoes were all
exhausted at the time of our coming among them (the month of June),
and though no part of the growing crop was yet fit for use, the white
fishing was abundant, and a training of hardship had enabled them to
subsist on fish exclusively. Their corn shot in the genial sunshine,
and gave fair promise, and their potatoes had become far enough
advanced to supplement their all too meagre meals, when, after a
terrible thunder-storm, the fine weather broke up, and for thirteen
weeks together there scarce passed a day without its baffling winds
and its heavy chilling showers. The oats withered without ripening;
the hardy bear might be seen rustling on all the more exposed slopes,
light as the common rye-grass of our hay-fields, the stalks, in vast
proportion, shorn of the ears. It was only in a very few of the more
sheltered places that it yielded a scanty return of a dark-coloured
and shrivelled grain. And to impart a still deeper shade to the
prospects of the poor Highlanders, the herring fishery failed as
signally as in the previous years. There awaited them all too
obviously a whole half year of inevitable famine, unless Lowland
charity interfered in their behalf. And the recurrence of this state
of things no amount of providence or exertion on their own part, when
placed in such circumstances, can obviate or prevent. It was a
conviction of this character, based on experience, which led the
writer of these remarks to state, when giving evidence before the
present Poor-Law Commissioners for Scotland, that though opposed to
the principle of legal assessment generally, he could yet see no other
mode of reaching the destitution of the Highlands. Our humane Scottish
law compels the man who sends another man to prison to support him
there, just because it is held impossible that within the walls of a
prison a man can support himself. Should the principle alter, if,
instead of sending him to a prison, he banishes him to a bleak,
inhospitable coast, where, unless he receives occasional support from
others, he must inevitably perish?

The sufferings of the people of Sutherland during the first of these
years of destitution (1836), we find strikingly described by M'Leod:

'In this year,' says the author, 'the crops all over Britain were
deficient, having bad weather for growing and ripening, and still
worse for gathering in. But in the Highlands they were an entire
failure; and on the untoward spots, occupied by the Sutherland small
tenants, there was literally nothing fit for human subsistence. And to
add to the calamity, the weather had prevented them from securing the
peats, their only fuel; so that, to their previous state of
exhaustion, cold and hunger were to be superadded. The sufferings
endured by the poor Highlanders in the succeeding winter truly beggar
description. Even the herring fishing had failed, and consequently
their credit in Caithness, which depended on its success, was at an
end. Any little provision they might be able to procure was of the
most inferior and unwholesome description. It was no uncommon thing to
see people searching among the snow for the frosted potatoes to eat in
order to preserve life. As the harvest had been disastrous, so the
winter was uncommonly boisterous and severe, and consequently little
could be obtained from the sea to mitigate the calamity. The distress
rose to such a height as to cause a sensation all over the island; and
there arose a general cry for Government interference, to save the
people from death by famine.'

Public meetings were held, private subscriptions entered into, large
funds collected, the British people responded to the cry of their
suffering fellow-subjects, and relief was extended to every portion of
the Highlands except one. Alas for poor Sutherland! There, it was
said, the charity of the country was not required, as the noble and
wealthy proprietors had themselves resolved to interfere; and as this
statement was circulated extensively through the public prints, and
sedulously repeated at all public meetings, the mind of the community
was set quite at rest on the matter. And interfere the proprietors at
length did. Late in the spring of 1837, after sufferings the most
incredible had been endured, and disease and death had been among the
wretched people, they received a scanty supply of meal and seed-corn,
for which, though vaunted at the time as a piece of munificent
charity, the greater part of them had afterwards to pay.

In the next chapter we shall endeavour bringing these facts to bear on
the cause of the Free Church in Sutherland. We close for the present
by adding just one curious fact more. We have already shown how the
bleak moors of Sutherland have been mightily improved by the
revolution which ruined its people. They bear many green patches which
were brown before. Now it so happened that rather more than ten years
ago, the idea struck the original improvers, that as green was an
improvement on brown, so far as the moors were concerned, white would
be an equally decided improvement on black, so far as the houses were
concerned. An order was accordingly issued, in the name of the Duke
and Duchess of Sutherland, that all the small tenants on both sides
the public road, where it stretches on the northern coast from the
confines of Reay to the Kyle of Tongue, a distance of about thirty
miles, should straightway build themselves new houses of stone and
mortar, according to a prescribed plan and specification. Pharaoh's
famous order could not have bred greater consternation. But the only
alternative given was summed up in the magic word _removal_; and the
poor Highlanders, dejected, tamed, broken in spirit as in means, well
knew from experience what the magic word meant. And so, as their
prototypes set themselves to gather stubble for their bricks, the poor
Highlanders began to build. We again quote from M'Leod:

'Previous to this, in the year 1829, I and my family had been forced
away, like others, being particularly obnoxious to those in authority
for sometimes showing an inclination to oppose their tyranny, and
therefore we had to be made examples of to frighten the rest; but in
1833 I made a tour of the district, when the building was going on,
and shall endeavour to describe a small part of what met my eye on
that occasion. In one locality (and this was a specimen of the rest) I
saw fourteen different squads of masons at work, with the natives
attending them. Old grey-headed men, worn down by previous hardship
and present want, were to be seen carrying stones, and wheeling them
and other materials on barrows, or conveying them on their backs to
the buildings, and with their tottering limbs and trembling hands
straining to raise them on the walls. The young men also, after
toiling all night at sea endeavouring for subsistence, were obliged to
yield their exhausted frames to the labours of the day. Even female
labour could not be dispensed with; the strong as well as the weak,
the delicate and sickly, and (shame to their oppressors) even the
pregnant, barefooted and scantily clothed, were obliged to join in
those rugged, unfeminine labours. In one instance I saw the husband
quarrying stones, and the wife and children dragging them along in an
old cart to the building. Such were the building scenes of that
period. The poor people had often to give the last morsel of food they
possessed to feed the masons, and subsist on shell-fish themselves.
This went on for several years, in the course of which many hundreds
of these houses were erected on unhospitable spots unfit for a human

We add another extract from the same writer:

'It might be thought,' adds M'Leod, 'that the design of forcing the
people to build such houses was to provide for their comfort and
accommodation, but there seems to have been quite a different
object,--which, I believe, was the true motive,--and that was to hide
the misery that prevailed. There had been a great sensation created in
the public mind by the cruelties exercised in these districts; and it
was thought that a number of neat white houses, ranged on each side of
the road, would take the eye of strangers and visitors, and give a
practical contradiction to the rumours afloat. Hence the poor
creatures were forced to resort to such means, and to endure such
hardships and privations as I have described, to carry the scheme into
effect. And after they had spent their remaining all, and more than
their all, on the erection of these houses, and involved themselves in
debt, for which they have been harassed and pursued ever since, what
are these erections but whitened tombs! many of them now ten years in
existence, and still without proper doors or windows, destitute of
furniture and of comfort,--the unhappy lairs of a heart-broken,
squalid, fast-degenerating race.'


We have exhibited to our readers, in the _clearing_ of Sutherland, a
process of ruin so thoroughly disastrous, that it might be deemed
scarce possible to render it more complete. And yet, with all its
apparent completeness, it admitted of a supplementary process. To
employ one of the striking figures of Scripture, it was possible to
grind into powder what had been previously broken into fragments,--to
degrade the poor inhabitants to a still lower level than that on which
they had been so cruelly precipitated,--though persons of a not very
original cast of mind might have found it difficult to say how; and
the Duke of Sutherland has been ingenious enough to fall on exactly
the one proper expedient for supplementing their ruin. All in mere
circumstance and situation that could lower and deteriorate, had been
present as ingredients in the first process; but there still remained
for the people, however reduced to poverty or broken in spirit, all in
religion that consoles and ennobles. Sabbath-days came round with
their humanizing influences; and, under the teachings of the gospel,
the poor and oppressed looked longingly forward to a future scene of
being, in which there is no poverty and no oppression. They still
possessed, amid their misery, something positively good, of which it
was possible to deprive them; and hence the ability derived to the
present lord of Sutherland, of deepening and rendering more signal the
ruin accomplished by his predecessor.

Napoleon, when on the eve of re-establishing Popery in France,
showed his conviction of the importance of national religions, by
remarking that, did there exist no ready-made religion to serve
his turn, he would be under the necessity of making one on purpose.
And his remark, though perhaps thrown into this form merely to give
it point, and render it striking, has been instanced as a proof that
he could not have considered the matter very profoundly. It has been
said, and said truly, that religions of stamina enough to be even
politically useful cannot be _made_: that it is comparatively easy
to gain great battles, and frame important laws; but that to create
belief lay beyond the power of even a Napoleon. France, instead of
crediting his manufactured religion, would have laughed at both him
and it. The Duke of Sutherland has, however, taken upon himself a
harder task than the one to which Napoleon could refer, probably in
joke. His aim seems to be, not the comparatively simple one of
making a new religion where no religion existed before, but of
making men already firm in their religious convictions believe that
to be a religion which they believe to be no such thing. His
undertaking involves a _discharging_ as certainly as an _injecting_
process,--the erasure of an existing belief, as certainly as the
infusion of an antagonistic belief that has no existence. We have
shown how evangelism took root and grew in Sutherland, as the only
form of Christianity which its people could recognise; how the
antagonist principle of Moderatism they failed to recognise as
Christianity at all; and how, when the latter was obtruded into
their pulpits, they withdrew from the churches in which their
fathers had worshipped, for they could regard them as churches no
longer, and held their prayer and fellowship meetings in their own
homes, or travelled far to attend the ministrations of clergymen
in whose mission they _could_ believe. We have shown that this state
of feeling and belief still pervades the county. It led to an actual
disruption between its evangelized people and its moderate clergy,
long ere the disruption of last May took place: that important event
has had but the effect of marshalling them into one compact body
under a new name. They are adherents of the Free Church now, just
because they have been adherents to its principles for the last two
centuries. And to shake them loose from this adherence is the object
of his Grace; to reverse the belief of ages; to render them
indifferent to that which they feel and believe to be religion; and to
make them regard as religion that which they know to be none. His
task is harder by a great deal than that to which Napoleon barely
ventured to advert; and how very coarse and repulsive his purposed
means of accomplishing it!

These harmonize but too well with the mode in which the interior of
Sutherland was cleared, and the improved cottages of its sea-coasts
erected. The plan has its two items. No sites are to be granted in the
district for Free churches, and no dwelling-houses for Free Church
ministers. The climate is severe; the winters prolonged and stormy;
the roads which connect the chief seats of population with the
neighbouring counties dreary and long. May not ministers and people be
eventually worn out in this way? Such is the portion of the plan which
his Grace and his Grace's creatures can afford to present to the
light. But there are supplementary items of a somewhat darker kind.
The poor cottars are, in the great majority of cases, tenants at will;
and there has been much pains taken to inform them, that to the crime
of entertaining and sheltering a protesting minister, the penalty of
ejection from their holdings must inevitably attach. The laws of
Charles have again returned in this unhappy district; and free and
tolerating Scotland has got, in the nineteenth century, as in the
seventeenth, its intercommuned ministers. We shall not say that the
intimation has emanated from the Duke. It is the misfortune of such
men that there creep around them creatures whose business it is to
anticipate their wishes; but who, at times, doubtless, instead of
anticipating, misinterpret them; and who, even when not very much
mistaken, impart to whatever they do the impress of their own low and
menial natures, and thus exaggerate in the act the intention of their
masters. We do not say, therefore, that the intimation has emanated
from the Duke; but this we say, that an exemplary Sutherlandshire
minister of the Protesting Church, who resigned his worldly all for
the sake of his principles, had lately to travel, that he might preach
to his attached people, a long journey of forty-five miles outwards,
and as much in return, and all this without taking shelter under the
cover of a roof, or without partaking of any other refreshment than
that furnished by the slender store of provisions which he had carried
with him from his new home. Willingly would the poor Highlanders have
received him at any risk; but knowing from experience what a
Sutherlandshire removal means, he preferred enduring any amount of
hardship, rather than that the hospitality of his people should be
made the occasion of their ruin. We have already adverted to the case
of a lady of Sutherland threatened with ejection from her home because
she had extended the shelter of her roof to one of the protesting
clergy--an aged and venerable man, who had quitted the neighbouring
manse, his home for many years, because he could no longer enjoy it in
consistency with his principles; and we have shown that that aged and
venerable man was the lady's own father. What amount of oppression of
a smaller and more petty character may not be expected in the
circumstances, when cases such as these are found to stand but a very
little over the ordinary level?

The meannesses to which ducal hostility can stoop in this hapless
district impress with a feeling of surprise. In the parish of Dornoch,
for instance, where his Grace is fortunately not the sole landowner,
there has been a site procured on the most generous terms from Sir
George Gun Munro of Poyntzfield; and this gentleman--believing
himself possessed of a hereditary right to a quarry, which, though on
the Duke's ground, had been long resorted to by the proprietors of the
district generally--instructed the builder to take from it the stones
which he needed. Here, however, his Grace interfered. Never had the
quarry been prohibited before; but on this occasion a stringent
interdict arrested its use. If his Grace could not prevent a hated
Free Church from arising in the district, he could at least add to the
_expense_ of its erection. We have even heard that the portion of the
building previously erected had to be pulled down, and the stones

How are we to account for a hostility so determined, and that can
stoop so low? In two different ways, we are of opinion, and in both
have the people of Scotland a direct interest. Did his Grace entertain
a very intense regard for Established Presbytery, it is probable that
he himself would be a Presbyterian of the Establishment. But such is
not the case. The Church into which he would so fain force the people
has been long since deserted by himself. The secret of the course
which he pursues can have no connection therefore with religious
motive or belief. It can be no proselytizing spirit that misleads his
Grace. Let us remark, in the first place,--rather, however, in the way
of embodying a fact than imputing a motive,--that with his present
views, and in his present circumstances, it may not seem particularly
his Grace's interest to make the county of Sutherland a happy or
desirable home to the people of Sutherland. It may not seem his
Grace's interest that the population of the district should increase.
The _clearing_ of the sea-coast may seem as little prejudicial to his
Grace's welfare now, as the _clearing_ of the interior seemed adverse
to the interests of his predecessor thirty years ago; nay, it is quite
possible that his Grace may be led to regard the _clearing_ of the
coast as the better and more important _clearing_ of the two. Let it
not be forgotten that a poor-law hangs over Scotland; that the shores
of Sutherland are covered with what seems one vast straggling village,
inhabited by an impoverished and ruined people; and that the coming
assessment may yet fall so weighty, that the extra profits derived to
his Grace from his large sheep-farms, may go but a small way in
supporting his extra paupers. It is not in the least improbable that
he may live to find the revolution effected by his predecessor taking
to itself the form, not of a crime--for that would be nothing--but of
a disastrous and very terrible blunder.

There is another remark which may prove not unworthy the consideration
of the reader. Ever since the completion of the fatal experiment
which ruined Sutherland, the noble family through which it was
originated and carried on have betrayed the utmost jealousy of
having its real results made public. Volumes of special pleading
have been written on the subject; pamphlets have been published;
laboured articles have been inserted in widely-spread reviews;
statistical accounts have been watched over with the most careful
surveillance. If the misrepresentations of the press could have
altered the matter of fact, famine would not have been gnawing the
vitals of Sutherland in every year just a little less abundant than
its fellows, nor would the dejected and oppressed people be
feeding their discontent, amid present misery, with the recollections
of a happier past. If a singularly well-conditioned and wholesome
district of country has been converted into one wide ulcer of
wretchedness and wo, it must be confessed that the sore has been
carefully bandaged up from the public eye; that if there has been
little done for its cure, there has at least been much done for its
concealment. Now, be it remembered that the Free Church threatens to
insert a _tent_ into this wound, and so keep it open. It has been
said that the Gaelic language removes a district more effectually
from the influence of English opinion than an ocean of three
thousand miles, and that the British public know better what is
doing in New York than what is doing in Lewis and Skye. And hence one
cause, at least, of the thick obscurity that has so long enveloped the
miseries which the poor Highlander has had to endure, and the
oppressions to which he has been subjected. The Free Church
threatens to _translate_ her wrongs into English, and to give them
currency in the general mart of opinion. She might possibly enough
be no silent spectator of conflagrations such as those which
characterized the first general improvement of Sutherland, nor yet
of such Egyptian schemes of house-building as that which formed part
of the improvements of a later plan. She might be somewhat apt to
betray the real state of the district, and thus render laborious
misrepresentation of little avail. She might effect a diversion in
the cause of the people, and shake the foundations of the hitherto
despotic power which has so long weighed them down. She might do
for Sutherland what Cobbett promised to do for it, but what Cobbett
had not character enough to accomplish, and what he did not live
even to attempt. A combination of circumstances have conspired to
vest in a Scottish proprietor, in this northern district, a more
despotic power than even the most absolute monarchs of the Continent
possess; and it is, perhaps, no great wonder that that proprietor
should be jealous of the introduction of an element which threatens,
it may seem, materially to lessen it. And so he struggles hard to
exclude the Free Church, and, though no member of the Establishment
himself, declaims warmly in its behalf. Certain it is, that from the
Establishment, as now constituted, he can have nothing to fear, and
the people nothing to hope.

After what manner may his Grace the Duke of Sutherland be most
effectually met in this matter, so that the cause of toleration and
freedom of conscience may be maintained in the extensive district
which God, in His providence, has consigned to his stewardship? We
shall in our next chapter attempt giving the question an answer.
Meanwhile, we trust the people of Sutherland will continue, as
hitherto, to stand firm. The strong repugnance which they feel against
being driven into churches which all their better ministers have left,
is not ill founded. No Church of God ever employs such means of
conversion as those employed by his Grace: they are means which have
been often resorted to for the purpose of making men worse, never yet
for the purpose of making them better. We know that, with their
long-formed church-going habits, the people must feel their now silent
Sabbaths pass heavily; but they would perhaps do well to remember,
amid the tedium and the gloom, that there were good men who not only
anticipated such a time of trial for this country, but who also made
provision for it. Thomas Scott, when engaged in writing his
Commentary, used to solace himself with the belief that it might be of
use at a period when the public worship of God would be no longer
tolerated in the land. To the great bulk of the people of Sutherland
that time seems to have already come. They know, however, the value of
the old divines, and have not a few of their more practical treatises
translated into their own expressive tongue: Alleine's _Alarm_,
Boston's _Fourfold State_, Doddridge's _Rise and Progress_, Baxter's
_Call_, Guthrie's _Saving Interest_. Let these, and such as these, be
their preachers, when they can procure no other. The more they learn
to relish them, the less will they relish the bald and miserable
services of the Residuary Church. Let them hold their fellowship and
prayer meetings; let them keep up the worship of God in their
families; the cause of religious freedom in the district is involved
in the stand which they make. Above all, let them possess their souls
in patience. We are not unacquainted with the Celtic character, as
developed in the Highlands of Scotland. Highlanders, up to a certain
point, are the most docile, patient, enduring of men; but that point
once passed, endurance ceases, and the all too gentle lamb starts up
an angry lion. The spirit is stirred that maddens at the sight of the
naked weapon, and that, in its headlong rush upon the enemy,
discipline can neither check nor control. Let our oppressed
Highlanders of Sutherland beware. They have suffered much; but, so far
as man is the agent, their battles can be fought on only the arena of
public opinion, and on that ground which the political field may be
soon found to furnish. Any explosion of violence on their part would
be ruin to both the Free Church and themselves.


How is the battle of religious freedom to be best fought in behalf of
the oppressed people of Sutherland? We shall attempt throwing out a
few simple suggestions on the subject, which, if in the right track,
the reader may find it easy to follow up and mature.

First, then, let us remember that in this country, in which
opinion is all-potent, and which for at least a century and a half
has been the envy of continental states for the degree of religious
freedom which it enjoys, the policy of the Duke of Sutherland
cannot be known without being condemned. The current which he opposes
has been scooping out its channel for ages. Every great mind
produced by Britain, from the times of Milton and Locke down to
the times of Mackintosh and of Chalmers, has been giving it impetus
in but one direction; and it is scarce likely that it will reverse
its course now, at the bidding of a few intolerant and narrow-minded
aristocrats. British opinion has but to be fairly appealed to, in
order to declare strongly in favour of the oppressed Highlanders of
Sutherland. What we would first remark, then, is, that the policy of
his Grace the Duke cannot be too widely exposed. The press and the
platform must be employed. The frank and generous English must be
told, that that law of religious toleration which did so much at a
comparatively early period to elevate the character of their country
in the eye of the world, and which, in these latter times, men have
been accustomed to regard as somewhat less, after all, than an
adequate embodiment of the rights of conscience, has been virtually
repealed in a populous and very extensive district of the British
empire, through a capricious exercise of power on the part of a
single man. Why, it has been asked, in a matter which lies between
God and conscience, and between God and the conscience only,
should a third party be permitted to interfere so far as even to say,
'I tolerate you? I tolerate your Independency--your Episcopacy--your
Presbyterianism: you are a Baptist, but I tolerate you?' There is an
insult implied, it has been said, in the way in which the liberty
purports to be granted. It bestows as a boon what already exists as
a right. We want no despot to tell us that he gives us leave to
breathe the free air of heaven, or that he permits us to worship God
agreeably to the dictates of our conscience. Such are the views with
which a majority of the British people regard, in these latter times,
the right to tolerate; and regarding a _right_ NOT to tolerate, they
must be more decided still. The Free Church, then, must lay her
complaint before them. She must tell them, that such is the
oppression to which her people are subjected, that she would be
but too happy to see even the beggarly elements of the question
recognised in their behalf; that she would be but too happy to
hear the despot of a province pronounce the deprecated 'I tolerate
you,' seeing that his virtual enunciation at present is, 'I do NOT
tolerate you,' and seeing that he is powerful enough, through a
misapplication of his rights and influence as the most extensive of
British proprietors, to give terrible effect to the unjust and
illiberal determination. The Free Church, on this question, must
raise her appeal everywhere to public opinion, and we entertain no
doubt that she will everywhere find it her friend.

But how is its power to be directed? How bring it to bear upon the
Duke of Sutherland? It is an all-potent lever, but it must be
furnished with a fulcrum on which to rest, and a direction in which to
bear. Let us remark, first, that no signal privilege or right was
ever yet achieved for Britain, that was not preceded by some signal
wrong. From the times of Magna Charta down to the times of the
Revolution, we find every triumph of liberty heralded in by some gross
outrage upon it. The history of the British Constitution is a history
of great natural rights established piecemeal under the immediate
promptings of an indignation elicited by unbearable wrongs. It was not
until the barrier that protected the privileges of the citizen from
the will of the despot gave way at some weak point, that the parties
exposed to the inundation were roused up to re-erect it on a better
principle and a surer foundation. Now, the Duke of Sutherland (with
some of his brother proprietors) has just succeeded in showing us a
signal flaw in our scheme of religious toleration, and this at an
exceedingly critical time. He has been perpetrating a great and
palpable wrong, which, if rightly represented, must have the effect of
leading men, in exactly the old mode, to arouse themselves in behalf
of the corresponding right. If a single proprietor can virtually do
what the sovereign of Great Britain would forfeit the crown for barely
attempting to do--if a single nobleman can do what the House of Lords
in its aggregate capacity would peril its very existence for but
proposing to do--then does there exist in the British Constitution a
palpable flaw, which cannot be too soon remedied. There must be a weak
place in the barrier, if the waters be rushing out; and it cannot be
too soon rebuilt on a surer plan. Here, then, evidently, is the point
on which the generated opinion ought to be brought to bear. It has as
its proper arena the political field. It is a defect in the British
Constitution, strongly exemplified by the case of Sutherland, that the
rights of property may be so stretched as to overbear the rights of
conscience--that though toleration be the law of the land generally,
it may be so set aside by the country's proprietary, as not to be the
law in any particular part of it; and to reverse this state of
things--to make provision in the Constitution that the rights of the
proprietor be not so overstretched, and that a virtual repeal of the
toleration laws in any part of the country be not possible--are
palpably the objects to which the public mind should be directed.

We have said that the Duke of Sutherland has succeeded in showing us
this flaw in the Constitution at a peculiarly critical time. A
gentleman resident in England, for whose judgment we entertain the
highest respect, told us only a few days since, that the rising,
all-absorbing party of that kingdom, so far at least as the
Established Church and the aristocracy are concerned, still
continues to be the Puseyite party. If Puseyism does not bid fair
to possess a majority of the people of the country, it bids fair at
least to possess a majority of its acres. And we need scarce remind
the reader how peculiarly this may be the case with Scotland, whose
acres, in such large proportions, are under the control of an
incipient Puseyism already. In both countries, therefore, is it of
peculiar importance, in a time like the present, that the law of
toleration should be placed beyond the control of a hostile or
illiberal proprietary--so placed beyond their control, that they
may be as unable virtually to suspend its operation in any part of
the country, as they already are to suspend its operation in the
whole of the country. We are recommending, be it remembered, no wild
scheme of Chartist aggression on the rights of property--we would
but injure our cause by doing so: our strength in this question must
altogether depend on the soundness of the appeal which we can carry
to the natural justice of the community. We merely recommend that
that be done in behalf of the already recognised law of toleration,
which Parliament has no hesitation in doing in behalf of some railway
or canal, or water or dock company, when, for what is deemed a public
good, it sets aside the absolute control of the proprietor over at
least a portion of his property, and consigns it at a fair price to
the corporation engaged in the undertaking. The principle of the
scheme is already recognised by the Constitution, and its legislative
embodiment would be at once easy and safe. Property would be rendered
not less, but more secure, if, in every instance in which a
regularly-organized congregation of any denomination of Christians
to which the law of toleration itself extended, made application for
ground on which to erect a place of worship, the application would
be backed and made effectual, in virtue of an enacted law, by the
authority of the Constitution. There is no Scotch or English
Dissenter--no true friend of religious liberty in Britain or
Ireland--who would not make common cause with the Free Church in
urging a measure of this character on Parliament, when fairly
convinced, by cases such as that of Sutherland, how imperatively
such a measure is required.

Unavoidably, however, from the nature of things, the relief which
ultimately may be thus secured cannot be other than distant relief.
Much information must first be spread, and the press and the platform
extensively employed. Can there be nothing done for Sutherland through
an already existing political agency? We are of opinion there can.
Sutherland itself is even more thoroughly a _close_ county now, than
it was ere the Reform Bill had swamped the paper votes, and swept away
the close burghs. His Grace the Duke has but to nominate his member,
and his member is straightway returned. But all the political power
which, directly or indirectly, his Grace possesses, is not equally
secure. Sutherland is a close county; but the Northern Burghs are not
rotten burghs; on the contrary, they possess an independent and
intelligent constituency; and in scarce any part of Scotland is the
Free Church equally strong. And his Grace derives no inconsiderable
portion of his political influence from them. The member for
Sutherland is virtually his Grace's nominee, but the member for the
Northern Burghs is not his Grace's nominee at all; and yet certain it
is that the gentleman by whom these burghs are at present represented
in Parliament is his Grace's agent and adviser in all that pertains to
the management of Sutherland, and has been so for many years. His
Grace's member for Sutherland sits in Parliament in virtue of being
his Grace's nominee; but the sort of prime minister through which his
Grace governs his princely domains, sits in Parliament, not in virtue
of being his Grace's nominee, but in virtue of his being himself a man
of liberal opinions, and an enemy to all intolerance. He represents
them in the Whig interest, and in his character as a Whig. His Grace
would very soon have one member less in Parliament, did that member
make common cause with his Grace in suppressing the Free Church in
Sutherland. Now, the bruit shrewdly goeth, that that member does make
common cause with his Grace. The bruit shrewdly goeth, that in this,
as in most other matters, his Grace acts upon that member's advice.
True, the report may be altogether idle--it may be utterly without
foundation; instead of being true, it may be exactly the reverse of
being true; but most unquestionable it is, that, whether true or
otherwise, it exists, and that that member's constituency have a very
direct interest in it. He represents them miserably ill, and must be a
very different sort of Whig from them, if he hold that proprietors do
right in virtually setting aside the Toleration Act. The report does
one of two things,--it either does him great injustice, or it shows
that he has sat too long in Parliament for the Northern Burghs. It is
in the power, then, of the highly respectable and intelligent Whig
constituency of this district to make such a diversion in favour of
the oppressed people of Sutherland, as can scarce fail to tell upon
the country, and this in thorough consistency with the best and
highest principles of their party. Let them put themselves in instant
communication with their member, and, stating the character of the
report which so generally exists to his prejudice, request a
categorical answer regarding it,--let them request an avowal of his
opinion of the Duke's policy, equally articulate with that opinion
which the Hon. Mr. Fox Maule submitted to the public a few weeks ago
in the columns of the _Witness_,--and then, as the ascertained
circumstances of the case may direct, let them act, and that publicly,
in strict accordance with their principles. Of one thing they may be
assured,--the example will tell.

In order to raise the necessary amount of opinion for carrying the
ulterior object--the enactment of a law--there are various most
justifiable expedients to which the friends of toleration in the
country should find it not difficult to resort. Petitions addressed to
the Lower House in its legislative capacity, and to the members of the
Upper House as a body of men who have, perhaps, of all others the most
direct stake in the matter--we need scarce say how--ought, of course,
to take a very obvious place on the list. Much, too, might be done by
deputations from the General Assembly of the Free Church, instructed
from time to time to ascertain, and then publicly to report on, the
state of Sutherland. Each meeting of the Assembly might be addressed
on the subject by some of its ablest men, in which case their
statements and speeches would go forth, through the medium of the
press, to the country at large. The co-operation and assistance of all
bodies of evangelical Dissenters, both at home and abroad, should be
sedulously sought after, and correct information on the subject
circulated among them extensively. There has been much sympathy
elicited for the Church, during her long struggle, among good men
everywhere. Her cause has been tried, and judgment given in her
favour, in France, Holland, and America, and in not a few of the
colonies. In the case of Sismondi 'On the _Clearing_ of Sutherland,'
we see the opinion of a continental philosopher re-echoed back upon
our own country, not without its marked effect; and it might be well
to try whether the effect of foreign opinion might not be at least
equally influential 'On the Suppression of the Toleration Laws in
Sutherland.' There is one great country with which we hold our
literature in common, and which we can address, and by which we can be
in turn addressed, in our native tongue. Unluckily, what ought to have
existed as a bond of union and amity has been made to subserve a very
different purpose; and we cannot conceal from ourselves the fact, that
our own country has been mainly to blame. The manners, habits, and
tastes of the Americans have been exhibited, by not a few of our
popular writers, in the broadest style of caricature; they have been
described as a nation of unprincipled speculators, devoid not only of
right feeling, but even of common honesty, and remarkable for but
their scoundrelism and conceit. Even were such descriptions just,
which they are not, most assuredly would they be unwise. It is the
American people, rather than the American government, who make peace
and war; and the first American war with England will be one of the
most formidable in which this country has yet been engaged. The
bowie-knife is no trifling weapon; and the English writer laughs at a
very considerable expense, if his satires have the effect of whetting
it. At present, however, the war between the two countries is but a
war of libel and pasquinade, and the advantage hitherto has been on
the side of the aggressor. America has not been happy in her
retaliation. We would fain direct her to aim where her darts, instead
of provoking national hostility, or exciting a bitter spirit among the
entire people of a country, would but subserve the general cause of
liberty and human improvement. It is but idle to satirize our manners
and customs; we think them good. There is nothing to be gained by
casting ridicule on our peculiar modes of thinking; they are the
modes to which we have been accustomed, and we prefer them to any
others. But there are matters of a different kind, regarding which the
country bears a conscience, and is not quite at its ease; and there we
are vulnerable. We speak often, we would fain say, of slavery in your
country, literati of America, and justly deem it a great evil. It
might do us good were you to remind us, in turn, that there are
extensive districts in our own, in which virtually there exists no
toleration law for the religion of the people, though that religion be
Protestantism in its purest form. Cast your eyes upon the county of



Transcriber's Notes:

    Typographical problems have been changed and are listed below.
    Author's archaic and variable spelling is preserved.
    Author's punctuation style is preserved.
    Passages in italics indicated by _underscores_.

Transcriber Changes:


    schools of the place: the committee, through their chairman{** Was
    'chair man' over line},

    Saxe-Cobourg-Gotha{** Was 'Saxe-Cobourg Gotha'} grants to his
    subjects a representative

    old Babylonish beast, horrid with the blood{** Was 'bood'} of

     They dropped,--and hence "The Holy Haven"{** Added closing

    entranced, under the influences{** Was 'inflences'} of fairy-land,
    in some

    God agreeably{** Was 'agreebly'} to the dictates of our
    conscience. Such are

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