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In accordance with the instructions of his new guide made use of his enforced leisure by studying Hebrew he went to Leith, and was there re-baptised and con- more carefully than before, and became ere long a firmed, and shortly afterwards went to Scalloway, in proficient in that ancient tongue. During his impriShetland, as tutor to the son of a Mr, Sinclair. The sonment his flock kept well together, and cared tenclergy of the persecuted Church were not done with derly for his wife and children. conferring of benefits on the bright Aberdeenshire For some years there were difficulties in plenty. youth, with open mind and joyous heart. From one By and bye these were smoothed away, and he was he learned his Presbyterian darkness, in the house of able to minister to his own people as he pleased. As another he found the light of love. There was then political danger vanished practical toleration was estabut one minister of his new persuasion in Shetland, a blished, which was met by Skinner with more than Mr. Hunter, to whose eldest daughter, Grissel, the tutor, equal charity. Converts who have the luck to be now tutor no more, owing to Mr. Sinclair's death, was made martyrs of, are not usually remarkable for modemarried on the 12th November, 1741. It was a bold ration, but the pastor of Linshart had a warmth of step for a young man with no home, no position, no nature which was ready to consume all dross of partimoney, and no friends to speak of. Like some rash zanship. He was sturdy, eager, and earnest, nowise and imprudent acts it was a means to good fortune lukewarm as a Churchman, but as befitted his shrewd and brought him promotion at the hands of a bishop, sense, solid acquirements, and loving heart, he was who saw in it an indication of courage, and a willing- much more than the priest of any ecclesiastical organiness to undergo privation. He spent the winter in sation. Two characteristic replies of his show us both Shetland, in his father-in-law's house, and the summer his devotion to his Church and his notion of Christian found him at Meldrum, in Aberdeenshire, reading for brotherliness. “I was eence a Chapel man mysel',"' deacon's orders, lodging in a single room, with the not said some conceited body to him. “Na, ye only thocht very burdensome possessions "of a firlot of meal, and it;" was Skinner's reply. He lived on a most friendly a barrowful of peats, which he had wheeled home footing with his Presbyterian neighbour, the minister himself.”
of the parish; and in his old age, when consulted as to Immediately after his ordination he was settled at what part of the Churchyard he would prefer to be Longside, and from 1742-1806 he was there, as faithful buried in, gave the characteristic answer- -“Lay me minister, genial friend; earnest student, and cheerful down beside Mr. Brown, he and I got on very well poet. His Grissel came to him from Shetland after together during life.” the birth of their eldest boy, and for fifty-seven years His home circle was a singularly happy one, in spite in love and peace they lived together who had with of
limited means, not added to at all by an unsucsuch absolute faith entered into the marriage cove- cessful attempt at farming. He and his had no vain nant. They lived in what was little more than a ambitions, and they were blessed with good health and cottage, at Linshart, in Longside, and were ready happy temperaments. The father had ever a blithe to do the duties of their new station with zeal and word for the children, and not only trained them caregoodwill. Public troubles were soon to cast their dark fully but made merry with them kindly. He composed shadow on the brightness of their life. The ill-starred songs for his daughters, and made fun with his sons, attempt, in 1745, to restore the Stuarts to their and by and bye with his grandsons too. Whatever ancestral throne brought evil days for the Episcopal may be the fate of the major part of his poems, they Church in Scotland. Her clergy were, almost to a will always bear witness to the piety, contentment, and man, Jacobite. Mr. Skinner was all but a solitary genuine happiness of the parsonage at Linshart. exception, and his studied moderation did not exempt Like his Master, he enjoyed the social aspect of life, him from the persecution which was carried on against was a welcome guest who added to the entertainment, his struggling sect. He had bitter and powerful and did not take from it by sour ascetic ways, yet bore neighbours, who did not suffer the penalties of the law with him the thought of his sacred calling and the against episcopal ministrations to remain a dead letter. seriousness of life. He believed that God had made He was rash enough to lash them with his poet's pen, "everthing beautiful in his time," and "that every creaand to express for them the contem.pt which they so ture of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be richly deserved. In consequence, his church was
received with thanksgiving, for it is sanctified by the burned and his house was plundered in circumstances word of God and prayer.” of peculiar atrocity. He was willing to submit to the He was an accomplished theologian, and a keen Government on their own terms, which were reasonable controversialist, who could plant weighty blows and to him who had the good sense to be a Hanoverian, deliver pointed retorts. He excelled in all that related but this brought the censure of his superiors, and this to his holy calling, although nobody, save a conscienupright, faithful pastor, had to repent and be absolved tious biographer, now cares a jot about his subtle interin due form by his bishop. As the law did not permit pretations of Hebrew words, or his mode of reading any of his order to minister to a body of more than Scotch Church history. These things which made so four persons, he soon offended, and information was much of his honest earnest life are "of the things which laid against him. The upshot was that in 1750 he perish with the using." He was a poet even in his studies. was cast into prison in Aberdeen, and kept there for As he sat late into the night or morning over a volume six months. From the good folks of Aberdeen he of the Fathers, or a polemical treatise, he was glad to received much kindness, and his hard lot was cheered know that the brightness of his study lamp was a by the society of his son John, a mere boy, who would beacon to the belated hind, trudging the Longgate not be kept away from his brave loving father. He bogs. He was wont to say that his taper never burned
in vain, “ did it fail to cheer himself and his family activity, and telling him how sure of an audience ho it never failed to cheer some roaming youth or solitary will be, and how heeded.) traveller.”
“Admiration will produce regard, and regard will loave an His poems were the by-play of his life, called forth impression, especially when example goes along. by special occasion, dashed off at a sitting, or dictated
Now binna sayin' I'm ill bred, to a member of his family, or a friend.
Else, by my troth, I'll nae be glad ; did himself justice on that head, and his poems, for
For cadgers, ye ha'e heard it said,
An' sic like fry, the most part, are wanting in form and sweetness,
Maun aye be harlin' in their trade, which is all the more tantalising because the gift was
An' sae maun I. there.
Wishing you from my poet-pen, all success, and in my other “Tullochgorum was composed at the request of a
character, all happiness and heavenly direction, I remain with esteem your sincere friend.
JOHN SKINNER." lady, who was annoyed by political controversy at her dinner-table, and the “ Ewie wi' the Crookit · Horn," In such wise, and with so much mutual good feeling was a poetical sermon on a text of three lines, suggested and regard, was the poet-priest brought into brief and by Beattie, the famous Aberdeen Professor. This last happy relation with the greatest man of his time. So is the most perfectly finished of all his lyric efforts, did he try to help him, and may we not now sayand reveals that sympathy with humble nature which “God bless him ?”—for it was wiser help, had it been is so marked a feature of modern poetry.
taken, than Burns ever got either from Old or New Two chief episodes mark the later period of his life,
Light. the expressed desire of his brethren that he should For many years more did the Linshart candle burn, become Bishop of Aberdeen, and his correspondence
and the divine canvass diligently theological subjects with Burns. His worth, force, and modesty of
and master theologic lore. The greatest sorrow of his character had made an impression upon his clerical
life came when, in 1799, his Grissel died. Those who fellow-workers, among whom had now been for a good
wish to see an exquisite portrait of him as he appeared many years that son John, who insisted on sharing his
in his extreme old age, must turn to the fourteenth imprisonment. His scholarship and power of writing chapter of the “Crookit Meg," where Shirley brings marked him out as one likely to be honoured in the
him on the stage for a brief moment, instinct with life, higher office, and to bring honour to it. He declined, and memorable as only the witchery of that most delisuggesting his son, and adding that if John was elected cate and forcible of our Scotch literary artists could “he would be bishop, all the same.” This was done,
make him. Here is his description, but no quotation and he was thus enabled to do more for the Church for can make impression at all equal to the little scene which he had suffered so much, and which he had
from which it is taken :served so well. It was through the Bishop that Burns A sweet and venerable old man was John Skinner, genial and Skinner began to correspond. Burns had been and easy tempered, as a singer of songs should be, yet with a rambling through the North of Scotland, collecting
quiet tenacity of character and conviction that could have
nerved him to die, had it been required of him, for what he what songs he could, and had paid the visit to Gordon
deemed the truth of God. The evil persecuting days, when he Castle, which he has commemorated in two of his had been dragged from his bed to jail, for venturing to minister poems. In luckless ignorance he had passed within a to the scattered remnant, had passed away, like a bad dream, few miles of Tullochgorum's manse. By chance, at an and now, loved and honoured by gentle and simple, he saw his
children's children at his knee, and peace in Israel." Aberdeen printer's, of the name of Chalmers, the ploughman poet and the episcopal dignitary met on After a sixty-four years ministry, he retired from the stair, and were introduced. Burns insisted upon Linshart to have a home with his son, the Bishop, in the national mode of celebrating their meeting by Aberdeen. His stay was brief, for his home was drinking a glass at an inn. To an inn accordingly elsewhere. He died upon the 16th June, 1807, and they went, prelate, ploughman, and printer—as odd a was buried, at his own express wish, in the Churchyard conjunction as might be conceived. But, the plough- of Longside, by the side of his wife. man was Burns—and the prelate, a genuine son of When we try to weigh the man, and estimate the Tullochgorum. Bishop Skinner wrote to his father value that his life's story has for us, we have to about the incident, and told him with what heartiness acknowledge that the man stands immeasurably above and enthusiasm Burns had spoken of the old minister's any of the results of his life, either transient or perpoems, and how he wished his help in the collection manent. We have before us a character pious and he was making of Scotch songs and tunes. The son mirthful, earnest but restful. We see strength and enclosed Burns's address in Edinburgh in the poet's gentleness, intensity and moderation, much learning own handwriting. The warm-hearted old pastor was co-existing with homeliness, and great human touched and wrote a long poetical epistle to his brother sympathy. He is a priest who stands by his order, bard. Burns's genius never received more generous, but never sinks the man—who has learned the and withal more balanced recognition in his lifetime. brotherhood that is in Christ, and who is withal a He felt the honest warmth and worth of it, and was fervid, open-hearted Scotsman. gratified accordingly. A pleasant interchange of letters He entered upon the ministry of his own Church in followed, the venerable parson combining exquisitely the most entire unworldliness, and in the same spirit the character of brother-poet and sage spiritual coun- he taught, studied, and fought, by word and pen, till sellor. How strange do these words of his sound to he had won her battle. uis now! (He has been encouraging Bums to poetic As we read his songs and poems, which alone hava
In a Country Manse.
interest for us among his writings, we feel the breath of a rich, loving, manly nature, and we see how strenuously he has disciplined himself for the sake of the work of his life.
In his poetical epistle to Burns, above referred to, he shows how his piety regulated his poetic and all other studies.
"An hour or sae, by hook or crook,
For that's my hobby,
An' crack wi' Robbie." Intellectually and socially he rejoiced with trembling, believing, as Mr. Skelton makes him say, that "joy, wi' jist a touch o' regret, is ever the sweetest.” We do not know if he has found a place in any list of Scottish worthies, certain it is that few more loving, loveable, noteworthy men are to be found in the annals of the Scottish Church.
TO A SLEEPING CHILD.
Thy hair in the dark blown grass is fair,
Pale as the rare sea-pink that dwells
MHERE can be no more pleasant break in the life of
a city minister than that which comes in the engagement to assist a friend in the country at his Communion-especially when this has been sweetened by having thus associated with the minister and his people during many years. The short run out on the Saturday along our beautiful firth-the sight of the greenfields and the blue waters—the peep at the not distant Highland hills--the kindly greeting on arrival—the pleasant intercourse of the Saturday evening—the calm beauty of the Sabbath morningthe deep sense of the serious engagements of the day --the more than usual earnestness of the prayer in the manse—the large assembly of reverent and interested worshippers in the sanctuary—the sacred remembrance of Him who has hallowed life, and given to the world a new hope—the song of thanksgiving and the jubilant sermon of the evening—the rehearsal of mutual experiences in the comfortable study after servicethe sweet sleep in the peaceful chamber that followsthe cheery light of daybreak on Monday, and the glimpse of the fields where men have begun their holy toil—the walk afterwards around the village with the minister—the friendly confab with the Session-clerk and the Elders—the quiet dinner in the manse, and the return homeward with the well-filled hamper of fruit or fowl-all these tend not only to exhilarate but to exalt life, and help him to go back to his trying work in the city with courageous and refreshed heart. No wonder that John Campbell, Lord Chancellor of England, said, when remembering the experiences within his father's remote manse in Fifeshire—“No more dignified scene have I witnessed, nor can I conceive, than that of a Scottish Communion.” The writer would venture to add, after varied experiences in different lands, that there is no kind of life that in his view approaches so near to the ideal Christian life, in its sweetness as well as its usefulness—in its loving home life, and healthy interest in others—as that of the ordinary manse life in Scotland with its gentle ministries and courtesies. This never appears to so much advantage as during the time of the Communion. There is then shed over the manse and its inmates, and all their kindly relationships a sacred halo. For ten successive years he has assisted his friend, whose Communion occurred at the right time for a break-in the month of October. As the pleasant intercourse can never, alas ! recur with him in the earthly Communion, he would fain recall a few reminiscences of the last occasion ere they fade away.
The parish of Largs is well known as nestling along the loveliest portion of our western seaboard—the Parish Church one of the largest, if not the most beautiful, in the district. The minister had been in the
Like haze-bid stars in the hour of dew,
Child, if I touch thee, wilt thou be
parish since 1842. During the stirring Disruption-time he was called to more than one Edinburgh Church, but preferred to remain. One attraction was the residence and friendship of the nobleman to whom he had been tutor in earlier years. All through life it was his privilege to come into close relationship with many of the most exalted and interesting of our land. He had the rare art of gaining easy access to those who were most worth knowing, and of remembering that which was most worth remembering. His first patron in Leith had been the father of the present Premier. His relative and friend was the late Master of the Mint. He could count as his parishioners the first man of his day in science (Sir William Thomson), and the first men of their day in commerce (Graham of Skel. morlie Castle, Burns of Wemyss Castle, and Young of Kelly). To the healthful breezes and beautiful scenery of the place there resorted many of those most distinguished in science, in art, in literature, and in travel. Of all whom he had thus met he had preserved the most interesting reminiscences. Although well up in years he was not a doctor of divinity. Indeed, he had grown beyond the point at which the title would have been an honour. Few men by their knowledge and scholarly graces have brought more honour to their university. He was rich in the knowledge not only of books, but of men and of the world, and withal, to the very last, accounted one of the very best, if not the best preacher, in the west country. Intercourse with him was always delightful, and always profitable. It might be said of him, as it was said of another, “to know him was no small part of a liberal education."
The following are details of the conversation on the last occasion. In the room where we sat there was a beautiful portrait of Theresa, late Countess of Eglinton, -he stated that it had been a gift from herself, and added “she was one of the most charming of women. What a wonderful life she had! She and her sister were brought up in Dublin. The mother was left a widow in early life, and with considerable difficulty managed to support and educate them. Then they were induced by some friends to start for India. The commander of the vessel was Captain Richard Howe Cockerell, son of Sir John Cockerell. To him she was married shortly after landing. He died soon after, and she returned home a widow. She went on a short visit to her father-in-law. The late Earl of Eglinton came also on a visit while she was there. She was the first to leave. But when the Earl was leaving, some time after, he said, to the surprise of his host-Pray, Sir John, have you any commands for Mrs. Cockerell ?' Greater still was his surprise when it was announced that she had become the Countess of Eglinton and Winton. She was the Queen of Beauty at the great tournament, in 1839. But she was more than a queen in her home. The Earl adored her. All loved her. He became Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and she went back to Dublin to represent Majesty, where she had been a fatherless girl. There was never Lord Lieutenant more popular, and it was largely owing to the grace of his noble wife. In death she manifested her self-sacrifice. The Earl had promised to take the chair, in Edinburgh, at the meeting of the Scottish Rights Association. She did not feel well in the afternoon before he left.
He expressed the desire to remain with her. No:' she said, keep your promise, and do your duty. I will wait until your return.' Alas! the pure spirit passed away before they met! At the close of the meeting he received the news of her death.” And, added my friend, “very few knew how wisely she wielded the influence of her high position."
There was another portrait near this, that of his cousin, Thomas Graham, the Master of the Mint, whose statue is in George Square. I spoke of the recent account of him and of his works, published by Young of Kelly, his old pupil and assistant, and Dr. Smith. “Ay: Tom was a queer, silent, determined laddie. His father sent him to college to be a minister. He did not want to be a minister, and made off to Edinburgh. There, instead of studying theology, he took up with chemistry. My uncle, his father, came in to
He was greatly put about by the sight of Tom's retorts, and bottles, and blowers. He was a firm man too—we all have a little bit of dourness in the family—and there was a great scene between the two. He came across to me and was scolding at Tom. 'He's daft, an' he'll starve wi' his chemical things.' 'No, no, uncle;' I said, 'nane o' our kin' have e'er been daft, or starved either. Let Tom alane-he's the least likely to make a mistake o' the lot.' He very soon came to be proud of Tom, who became a professor at twentythree, and had for his pupils James Young and Dr. Livingstone. I saw Livingstone's tomb last summer in Westminster, and it seems but yesterday since I saw him and Young making their experiments under Tom Graham in the Andersonian. Graham is gone, and Livingstone is gone, and Young is gone--I only am left. What pleasant times we used to have together, when his father, who was a well-to-do merchant in Glasgow, used to ask the professor and his pupils to come up to Cloverbank."*
From this he went on to add : “Ay, the battle is not to the strong, nor the race to the swift. I was always delicate. There were at school with me in Dunblane, James M'Gowan (lately minister of Laurencekirk), Tom Nicholson (of Nicholson, Macwilliam, & M'Gowan, writers, Glasgow), and your father-in-law, (James Dawson, of Larchfield, Manchester), and they are all gone, or ab agendo, while I am in active work. I have written my sermon this week, and made my ordinary visits to the sick. Perhaps my weakness made me take better care. Surely for some good purpose I have been spared, but I miss them sorely, Graham of Skelmorlie sent me grouse for your dinner to-morrow, remarking it was the fortieth year he had done it. Í replied that it was such a good custom and so long established that it would be a pity to give it up."
Talking of many who had been his visitors, for his hospitalities were of the most generous nature, I asked who had been the most interesting? “On the whole, perhaps, the most extraordinary was Joseph Wolfe. I liked best Principal Macfarlane, Campbell of Kilwinning, and Wright, but they were like myself, plain decent bodies. Wolfe was a queer mixture. He was born in Germany, in 1795, the son of a Jewish rabbi. Having in youth manifested tendencies towards Christianity, he was turned adrift by his parents, and wanderod about teaching Hebrew for bread. At the age of 17 he was received into the Church of Rome, having already made the acquaintance of Gæthe. He then went to study at Vienna, where Professor Jahn became his friend. His next journey was to Rome, in 1816. He had as his companions on part of the way, the celebrated Madame de Krudener and Madame de Stael. In Rome he met Niebuhr, and through his influence was presented to the Pope. This led to him being received into the College of the Propaganda. But Wolfe was too independent, and scarcely a year had passed when he was expelled from the college and from Rome. Undaunted he came to Britain, joined the Church of England, and studied in Cambridge. His friends there were Dr. Lee and Dr. Simeon. He was a wonderful man for the study of languages, and for travel. Under the auspices of the Missionary Society, he made a journey by way of Malta, Alexandria, Mount Sinai, and Jerusalem, to Bagdad, returning in 1826. He then made another journey through Persia, Bokhara, India and Egypt. His zeal, as well as his learning, was so marked, and his descriptions of these lands so wonderful that he became a lion in society, and was united in marriage to lady Georgina Walpole, daughter of the Earl of Orford. Whispers had come to the country that sad cruelties had been exercised towards our envoys at Bokhara. No tidings had been heard of them since Wolfe's former visit. He was now requested by the Government to undertake another journey to Bokhara. This he managed although often in peril. He made his way through the heart of Asia, sometimes dressed as a dervish, looking into their temples and courts, and finally ascertained that our envoys, Stoddart and Donnelly, had been allowed to rot miserably in the dungeon at Bokhara. This made him a famous man, and he became Vicar of Isle Brewers; but the dervish habit never entirely left him. He scarcely ever dressed properly-wore a long flowing overcoat that concealed a multitude of deficiencies. When here he smoked in every room of the house. Yet he was a good man, and had great faith in the restoration of Israel. He lectured in the Church, and wound up a most eloquent address by the climax"Oh! Jerushalem, Jerushalem! Thou shalt yet be shaved!' This was too much for the audience, who were not familiar with his broken English. Before visiting he had been told by a mutual friend to put on a clean shirt every day, as I was somewhat particular about dress. This he did for some days, but then stopped with the complaint-'that now his coat would not go
* A mansion of considerable size, in the Townhead of Glasgow, now part of the Blochairn Iron and Steel Works. Graham was born there,
He had wonderful knowledge, and wonderful faith. With all his queer ways, and they were many, he was the most interesting visitor I have had. You should look his book. The Travels and Adventures of the Rev. Joseph Wolfe, D.D. (1861.)'”
“On the Communion Sabbath he preached on the text, Heb. ii. 10, 'For it became Him . . . in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through suffering.' He was in his best form. The sermon was not only good for one so advanced in years—it was one of the most impressive addresses to which I ever listened. There was the fencing of the tables in the old fashioned way, and the
fatherly counsel to the communicants. Somewhat exhausted, he retired to rest in the afternoon, while I preached the evening sermon—“Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever."
Next morning there was the renewal of the 'affectionate intercourse. One incident I remember well. There was a parishioner with whom relationships had been strained—nay, intercourse had almost ceasedthrough one of those little misunderstandings that occur in the lives of the best men. With that parishioner, an old friend of his own, I was on most friendly terms. Affliction had come to his household. Before going out, he said—“Are you going to call on your old friend ?” “Oh, yes, surely.'
"Well, then, I want to call with you. I don't like this estrangement, and want to get over it.” “Come along, then : there is no man who will be more glad to see you." On this occasion he would not let me away on the Monday afternoon. Was the shadow of the future already upon his mind ? He constrained me, and I remained. A few weeks after he preached upon the text—(2 Tim. iv. 7.)—“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” He gave out afterwards the Hymn
“ The hour of my departure 's come:
I hear the voice that calls me home!
And let Thy servant die in peace.' Alas! it was literally realised. On Tuesday he was seized with a chill, which renewed a former complaint -internal inflammation. On Thursday he wrote to me for supply, and I sent a young minister, whom I was to introduce to his congregation, at Newcastle, on the following Sunday. He returned on Monday with the tidings that my friend was seriously ill. A week from that time I was hurrying up along the Northumbrian coast, from the settlement of the one beginning his ministry, to the funeral of the other who had closed his ministry. Never was there a truer heart to his Church, to his country, and to his friends, than that which was in John Kinross. Communion Sabbaths will still be observed in country churches and manses, and I may have a part in them—but never one with him. The memory of those spent with him will cast a delightful fragrance over what remains of this mortal pilgrimage.