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CHAPTER VIII.

                                         "—Times
Whose echo rings through Scotland to this hour."—W
ORDSWORTH.


PRIOR to the Reformation there were no fewer than six chapels in the parish of Cromarty.  The site of one of these, though it still retains the name of the Old Kirk, is now a sand-bank, the haunt of the crab and the sea-urchin, which is covered every larger tide by about ten feet of water; the plough has passed over the foundations of two of the others; of two more the only vestiges area heap of loose stones, and a low grassy mound; and a few broken fragments of wall form the sole remains of the sixth and most entire.  The very names of the first three have shared the fate of the buildings themselves; two of the others were dedicated to St. Duthac and St. Bennet; and two fine springs, on which time himself has been unable to effect any change, come bubbling out in the vicinity of the ruins, and bear the names of their respective saints.  It is not yet twenty years since a thorn-bush, which formed a little canopy over the spring of St. Bennet, used to be covered anew every season with little pieces of rag, left on it as offerings to the saint, by sick people who came to drink of the water; and near the chapel itself, which was perched like an eyry on a steep solitary ridge that overlooks the Moray Firth, there was a stone trough, famous, about eighty years before, for virtues derived also from the saint, like those of the well.  For if a child was carried away by the fairies, and some mischievous unthriving imp left in its place, the parents had only to lay the changeling in this trough, and, by some invisible process, their child would be immediately restored to them.  It was termed the fairies' cradle; and was destroyed shortly before the rebellion of 1745, by Mr. Gordon, the minister of the parish, and two of his elders.  The last, and least dilapidated of the chapels, was dedicated to St. Regulus; and there is a tradition, that at the Reformation a valuable historical record, which had belonged to it—the work probably of some literary monk or hermit—was carried away to France by the priest.  I remember a very old woman who used to relate, that when a little girl, she chanced, when playing one day among the ruins with a boy a few years older than herself, to discover a small square recess in the wall, in which there was a book; but that she had only time to remark that the volume was a very tattered one, and apparently very old, and that there were beautiful red letters in it, when the boy, laying claim to it, forced it from her.  What became of it afterwards she did not know, and, unconscious of the interest which might have attached to it, never thought of making any inquiry.

    There does not survive a single tradition of the circumstances which, in this part of the country, accompanied the great event that consigned the six chapels to solitude and decay.  One may amuse one's-self, however, in conceiving of the more interesting of these, and, with history and a little knowledge of human nature for one's guide, run no great risk of conceiving amiss.  The port of Cromarty was one of considerable trade for the age and country, and the people of the town were Lowland Scots.  A more inquisitive race live nowhere.  First there would come to them wild vague reports, by means of the seamen and merchants, of the strange doctrines which had begun to disturb the Continent and the sister kingdom.  Shreds of heretic sermons would be whispered over their ale; and stories brought from abroad, of the impositions of the priests, would be eked out, in some instances with little corroborative anecdotes, the fruit of an experience acquired at home.  For there were Liberals even then, though under another name;—a certain proportion of the people of Scotland being born such in every age of its independence.  Then would come the story of the burning of good Patrick Hamilton, pensionary of the neighbouring abbey of Fearn; and everybody would be exceedingly anxious to learn the particular nature of his crime.  Statements of new doctrines, and objections urged against some of the old, would in consequence be eagerly listened to, and as eagerly repeated.  Then there would come among them two or three serious, grave people, natives of the place, who would have acquired, when pursuing their occupations in the south, as merchants or mechanics, a knowledge, not merely speculative, of the new religion.  A traveller of a different cast would describe with much glee to groups of the younger inhabitants, the rare shows he had seen acted on the Castle-hill of Cupar; and producing a black-letter copy of "The Thrie Estaites" of Davy Lindsay, he would set all his auditors a-laughing at the expense of the Church.  One of the graver individuals, though less openly, and to a more staid audience, would also produce a book, done into plain English, out of a very old tongue, by one Tyndale, and still more severe on the poor priests than even "The Thrie Estaites."  They would learn from this book that what they were beginning to deem a rational, but at the same time new religion, was in reality the old one; and that Popery, with all its boasted antiquity, was by far the more modern of the two.  In the meantime, the priests of the chapels would be the angriest men in the parish;—denouncing against all and sundry the fire and fagots of this world, and the fire without fagots of the next; but one of them, a good honest man, neither the son of a churchman himself, nor yet burdened with a family of his own, would set himself, before excommunicating any one, to study the old, newly-translated book, that he might be better able to cope with the maligners of his Church.  Before half completing his studies, however, his discourses would begin to assume a very questionable aspect.  Little would they contain regarding the Pope, and little concerning the saints; and more and more would he press upon his hearers the doctrines taught by the Apostles.  Anon, however, he would assume a bolder style of language; and sometimes conclude, after saying a great deal about the spiritual Babylon, and the Man of sin, by praying for godly John Knox, and all the other ministers of the Evangel.  In short, the honest priest would prove the rankest heretic in the whole parish.  And thus would matters go on from bad to worse.  A few grey heads would be shaken at the general defection, but these would be gradually dropping away; and the young themselves would be growing old without changing their newly-acquired opinions.  They would not all be good Christians—for every one should know it is quite a possible thing to be a Protestant, sound enough for all the purposes of party, without being a Christian at all;—but they would almost all be reformers; and when the state should at length set itself to annihilate root and branch of the old establishment, and to build up a new one on the broad basis of the kingdom, not a parish in the whole of it would enter more cordially into the scheme than the parish of Cromarty.

    But however readily the people might have closed with the doctrines of the Reformation, they continued to retain a good deal of the spirit of the old religion.  Having made choice of a piece of land on the edge of the ridge which rises behind the houses as a proper site for their church, they began to collect the materials.  It so chanced, however, that the first few stones gathered for the purpose, being thrown down too near the edge of the declivity, rolled to the bottom; the circumstance was deemed supernaturally admonitory; and the church, after due deliberation, was built at the base instead of the top of the ridge, on exactly the spot where the stones had rested.  The first Protestant minister of the parish was a Mr. Robert Williamson.  His name occurs oftener than once in Calderwood's Church History; and his initials, with those of his wife, are still to be seen on a flat triangular stone in the eastern part of the town, which bears date 1593.  It is stated by Calderwood, that "Jesuits having libertie to passe thorough the countrey in 1583, during the time of the Earle of Huntlie's lieutenantrie, great coldness of religion entered in Ross," and by an act of council passed five years after, this Robert Williamson, and "John Urquhart, tutor of Cromartie," were among the number empowered to urge matters to an extremity against them.

    There awaited Scotland a series of no light evils in the short-sighted policy which attempted to force upon her a religion which she abhorred.  The surplice and the service-book were introduced into her churches; and the people, who would scarcely have bestirred themselves had merely their civil rights been invaded, began to dread that they could not, without being unhappy in more than the present world, conform to the religion of the state.  And so they set themselves seriously to inquire whether the power of kings be not restricted to the present world only.  They learned, in consequence, that not merely is such the case, but that it has yet other limitations; and the more they sought to determine these, the more questionable did its grounds become.  The spirit manifested on this occasion by the people of this part of the country, is happily exemplified by Spalding's narrative of a riot which took place at the neighbouring Chanonry of Ross, in the spring of 1638.  The service-book had been quietly established by the bishop two years before; but the more thoroughly the people grew acquainted with it, the more unpopular it became.  At length, on the second Sunday of March, just as the first bell had rung for sermon, but before the ringing of the second, a numerous party of schoolboys broke into the cathedral, and stripped it in a twinkling of all the service books.  Out they rushed in triumph, and, procuring a lighted coal and some brushwood, they marched off in a body to the low sandy promontory beneath the town, to make a bonfire of the whole set.  But a sudden shower extinguishing the coal, instead of burning they tore the books into shreds, and flung the fragments into the sea.  The bishop went on with his sermon; but it was more than usually brief; and such were the feelings exhibited at its close by the people, that, taking hastily to his horse, he quitted the kingdom.  "A very busy man was he esteemed," says the annalist, "in the bringing in of the service-book, and therefore durst he not, for fear of his life, return again to Scotland."  In short, the country was fully awakened; and before the close of the following month, the National Covenant was subscribed in the shires of Ross, Cromarty, and Nairn.

    Some of the minor events which took place in the sheriffdom of Cromarty, on the triumph of Presbyterianism, have been detailed, as recorded by Sir Thomas, in the foregoing chapter.  Even on his own testimony, most men of the present day will not feel disposed to censure very severely the churchmen of his district.  It must be confessed, however, that the principles of liberty, either civil or ecclesiastical, were but little understood in Scotland in the middle of the seventeenth century; the parties which divided it deeming themselves too exclusively in the right to learn from the persecutions to which they were in turn subjected, that the good old rule of doing as we would be done by, should influence the conduct of politicians as certainly as that of private men.  And there is a simple fact which ought to convince us, however zealous for the honour of our church, that the Presbyterian synod of Ross, which Sir Thomas has termed "a promiscuous knot of unjust men," was by no means a very exemplary body.  Five-sixths of its members conformed at the Restoration, and became curates; and as they were notoriously intolerant as Episcopalians, it is not at all probable that they should have been strongly characterized by liberality during the previous period, when they had found it their interest to be Presbyterians

    The restoration of Charles, and the appointment of Middleton as his commissioner for Scotland, were followed by the fatal act which overturned Presbyterianism, and set up Episcopacy in its place.  It is stated by Wodrow, that Middleton, previous to the bringing in of this act, had been strengthened in the resolution which led to it, by Mackenzie of Tarbat, and Urquhart of Cromarty; and that the latter, who had lately "counterfeited the Protestor," ended miserably some time after.  In what manner he ended, however, is not stated by the historian, but tradition is more explicit.  On the death of Sir Thomas, he was succeeded by his brother Alexander, who survived him only a year, and dying without male issue, the estate passed to Sir John Urquhart of Craigfintrie, the head of a branch of the family which had sprung from the main stock about a century before.  This Sir John was the friend and counsellor of Middleton.  About eleven years after the passing of the act, he fell into a deep melancholy, and destroyed himself with his own sword in one of the apartments of the old castle.  The sword, it is said, was flung into a neighbouring draw-well by one of the domestics, and the stain left by his blood on the walls and floor of the apartment, was distinctly visible at the time the building was pulled down.

    So well was the deprecated act received by the time-serving Synod of Ross, that they urged it into effect against one of their own body, more than a year before the ejection of the other nonconforming clergymen.  In a meeting of the Synod which took place in 1661, the person chosen as moderator was one Murdoch Mackenzie;—a man so strong in his attachments that he had previously sworn to the National Covenant no fewer than fourteen times, and he had now fallen desperately in love with the Bishopric of Moray.  One of his brethren, however, an unmanageable, dangerous person, for he was uncompromisingly honest, and possessed of very considerable talent, stood directly in the way of his preferment.  This member, the celebrated Mr. Hogg of Kiltearn, had not sworn to the Covenant half so often as his superior, the Moderator, but then so wrong-headed was he as to regard his few oaths as binding; and he could not bring himself to like Prelacy any the better for its being espoused by the king.  And so his expulsion was evidently a matter of necessity.  The Moderator had nothing to urge against his practice,—for no one could excel him in the art of living well; but his opinions lay more within his reach; and no sooner had the Synod met, than, singling him out, he demanded what his thoughts were of the Protestors—the party of Presbyterians who, about ten years before, had not taken part with the king against the Republicans.  Mr. Hogg declined to answer; and on being removed, that the Synod might deliberate, the Moderator rose and addressed them.  Their brother of Kiltearn, he said, was certainly a great man—a very great man—but as certainly were the Protestors opposed to the king; and if any member of Synod took part with them, whatever his character, it was evidently the duty of the other members to have him expelled.  Mr. Hogg was then called in, and having refused, as was anticipated, judicially to disown the Protestors, sentence of deposition was passed against him.  But the consciences of the men who thus dealt with him, betrayed in a very remarkable manner their real estimate of his conduct.  It is stated by Wodrow, on the authority of an eye-witness, that sentence was passed with a peculiar air of veneration, as if they were ordaining him to some higher office; and that the Moderator was so deprived of his self-possession as to remind him, in a consolatory speech, that "our Lord Jesus Christ had suffered great wrong from the Scribes and Pharisees."

    Mackenzie received the reward of his zeal shortly after in an appointment to the Bishopric of Moray; and one Paterson, a man of similar character, was ordained Bishop of Ross.  On the order of council, issued in the autumn of 1662, for all ministers of parishes to attend the diocesan meetings, and take the newly-framed oaths, while in some of the southern districts of the kingdom only a few ministers attended, in the diocese of Ross there were but four absent, exclusive of Mr. Hogg.  These four were, Mr. Hugh Anderson of Cromarty, Mr. John Mackilligen of Alness, Mr. Andrew Ross of Tain, and a Mr. Thomas Ross, whose parish is not named in the list.  And they were all in consequence ejected from their charges.  Mr. Anderson, a nephew of Sir Thomas's opponent, Mr. Gilbert, who was now dead, retired to Moray, accompanied by his bedral, who had resolved on sharing the fortunes of his pastor; and they returned together a few years after to a small estate, the property of Mr. Anderson, situated in the western extremity of the parish.  Mr. Mackilligen remained at Alness, despite of the council and the bishops, who had enacted that no nonconforming minister should take up his abode within twenty miles of his former church.  Mr. Ross of Tain resided within the bounds of the same Presbytery; and Mr. Fraser of Brea, a young gentleman of Cromartyshire, who was ordained to the ministry about ten years after the expulsion of the others, had his seat in the parish of Resolis.  In short, as remarked by Wodrow, there was more genuine Presbyterianism to be found on the shores of the Bay of Cromarty, notwithstanding the general defection, than in any other part of the kingdom north of the Tay.

    And the current of popular feeling seems to have set in strongly in its favour about the year 1666.  Towards the close of this year, Paterson the bishop, in a letter to his son, describes the temper of the country about him as very cloudy; and complains of a change in the sentiments of many who had previously professed an attachment to Prelacy.  Mr. Mackilligen, a faithful and active preacher of the forbidden doctrines, seems to have given him so much trouble, that he even threatened to excommunicate him, but the minister regarding his threat in the proper light, replied to it by comparing him to Balaam the wicked prophet, who went forth to curse Israel, and to Shimei the son of Gera, who cursed David.  The joke spread, for as such was it regarded, and Paterson, who had only the sanctity of his office to oppose to the personal sanctity of his opponent, deemed it prudent to urge the threat no further: he had the mortification of being laughed at for having urged it so far.  There is a little hollow among the hills, about three miles from the house of Fowlis, and not much farther from Alness, in the gorge of which the eye commands a wide prospect of the lower lands, and the whole Firth of Cromarty.  It lies, too, on the extreme edge of the cultivated part of the country, for beyond there stretches only a brown uninhabited desert; and in this hollow the neighbouring Presbyterians used to meet for the purpose of religious worship.  On some occasions they were even bold enough to assemble in the villages.  In the summer of 1675, Mr. Mackilligen, assisted by his brethren of Tain and Cromarty, and the Laird of Brea, celebrated the Communion at Obsdale, in the house of the Lady Dowager of Fowlis.  There was an immense concourse of people; and "so plentiful was the effusion of the Spirit," says the historian whom I have so often had occasion to quote, "that the oldest Christians present never witnessed the like."  Indisputably, even from natural causes, the time must have been one of much excitement; and who that believes the Bible, will dare affirm that God cannot comfort his people by extraordinary manifestations, when deprived of the common comforts of earth for their adherence to him?  One poor man, who had gone to Obsdale merely out of curiosity, was so affected by what he heard, that when some of his neighbours blamed him for his temerity, and told him that the bishop would punish him for it by taking away his horse and cow, he assured them that in such a cause he was content to lose not merely all his worldly goods, but his head also.  A party had been despatched, at the instance of the bishop, to take Mackilligen prisoner; but, misinformed regarding the place where the meetings was held, they proceeded to his house at Alness, and spent so much time in pillaging his garden, that before they reached Obsdale he had got out of their way.  But he fell into the hands of his enemy, the bishop, in the following year, and during his long imprisonment on the Bass Rock—for to such punishment was he subjected—he contracted a disease of which he died.  Mr. Ross of Tain, and Mr. Fraser of Brea, were apprehended shortly after, and disposed of in the same manner.

    Nor was it only a few clergymen that suffered in this part of the country for their adherence to the church.  Among the names of the individuals who, in the shires of Ross and Cromarty, were subjected to the iniquitous fine imposed by Middleton on the more rigid Presbyterians, I find the name of Sir Robert Munro of Fowlis, the head of a family which ranks among the most ancient and honourable in the kingdom.  Sir John Munro, son of Sir Robert, succeeded to the barony in 1668.  His virtues, and the persecutions to which he was subjected, are recorded by the pen of Doddridge:—"The eminent piety of this excellent person exposed him," says this writer, "to great sufferings in the cause of religion in those unhappy and infamous days, when the best friends to their country were treated as the worst friends to the government.  His person was doomed to long imprisonment for no pretended cause but what was found against him in the matters of his God; and his estate, which was before considerable, was harassed by severe fines and confiscations, which reduced it to a diminution much more honourable, indeed, than any augmentation could have been, but from which it has not recovered to this day."

    But, perhaps, a brief narrative of the sufferings of a single individual may make a stronger impressions on the reader than any general detail of those of the party.  Mr. James Fraser of Brea was born in the western part of the shire of Cromarty, in the year 1639.  On the death of his father, whom he lost while in his infancy, he succeeded to the little property of about £100 per annum, of which the name, according to the fashion of Scotland, is attached to his own.  His childhood was passed much like the childhood of most other people; but with this difference, that those little attempts at crime which serve to identify the moral nature of children with that of men, and which, in our riper years, are commonly either forgotten altogether, or regarded with an interest which owes nought of its intensity to remorse, were considered by him as the acts of a creature accountable to the Great Judge for even its earliest derelictions from virtue.  But this trait belongs properly to his subsequent character.  In his seventeenth year, after a youth spent unhappily, in a series of conflicts with himself, for he was imbued with a love of forbidden pleasures, and possessed of a conscience exquisitely tender, a change came over him, and be became one of the excellent few who live less for the present world than for the future.  As he was not wedded by the prejudices of education to any set of religious opinions, he had, with only the Scriptures for his guide, to frame a creed for himself; and having come in contact, in Edinburgh, with some Quakers, he was well-nigh induced to join with them.  But on more serious consideration, he deemed some of their tenets not quite in unison with those of the Bible.  He attended, for some time after the Restoration, the preaching of the curates; but, profiting little by their doctrines, he deliberated whether he did right in hearing them, and concluded in the negative, in the very year in which all such conclusions were declared treason by act of Parliament.  In short, by dint of reasoning and reading, he landed full in Presbyterianism, at a time when there was nothing to be gained by it, and a great deal to be lost.  And not merely did he embrace it for himself, but deeming it the cause of God, he came forward in this season of wrong and suffering, when the bad opposed it, and the timid shrunk from it, to preach it to the people.  He believed himself called to the ministerial office in a peculiar manner, by the Great Being who had fitted him for it; and the simple fact that he did not, in Scotland at least, gain a single sixpence by all his preaching until after the Revolution, ought surely to convince the most sceptical that he did not mistake on this occasion the suggestions of interest for those of duty.  He began to preach the forbidden doctrines in the year 1672; and he was married shortly after to a lady to whom he had been long attached.

    The sufferings to which he had been subjected prior to his marriage affected only himself.  He had been fined and exposed to ridicule; and he had had to submit to loss and imposition, out of a despair of finding redress from corrupt judges, whose decisions would have been prompted rather by the feelings with which they regarded his principles than by any consideration of the merits of his cause.  No sooner, however, had he married, and become a preacher, than he was visited by evils greater in themselves, and which he felt all the more deeply from the circumstance that their effects were no longer confined to himself.  He was summoned before councils for preaching without authority, and in the fields, and denounced and outlawed for not daring to appear.  But he persevered, notwithstanding, wandering under hiding from place to place, and preaching twice or thrice every week to all such as had courage enough to hear him.  He was among the number intercommuned by public writ; all the people of Scotland, even his own friends and relatives, being charged, under the severest penalties, not to speak to him, or receive him into their houses, or minister even the slightest comfort to his person.  And yet still did he persevere on the strength of the argument urged by St. Peter before the Jewish Sanhedrin.  The lady he married was a person every way worthy of such a husband.  "In her," I use his own simple and expressive language, "did I behold as in a glass the Lord's love to me; and so effectually did she sweeten the sorrows of my pilgrimage, I have often been too nearly led to exclaim, It is good for me to be here!"  But she was lent him only for a short season.  Four years after his marriage, when under hiding, word was brought him that she lay sick of a fever; and hurrying home in "great horror and darkness of mind," he reached her bedside only to find that she had departed, and that he was left alone.

    His sorrow at the bereavement oppressed, but it could not overwhelm him; for, with an energy rendered more intense by a sense of desolateness, and a feeling that the world had become as nothing to him, he applied afresh to what he deemed his bounden duty, the preaching of the Word.  He was diligent in ministering to the comfort of many who were less afflicted than himself; and enveloped in the very flames of persecution, he confirmed, by his exhortations, such as were shrinking from their approach.  So well was his character understood by the prelates, that he was one of three expressly named in an act of council as peculiarly obnoxious, and a large sum of money was offered to any who would apprehend him.  Great rewards, too, were promised on the same account by the Archbishop of St. Andrews, out of his private purse; and after a series of hairbreadth escapes, he at length fell into his hands through the treachery of a servant.  The questions put to him on his trial, with his replies to them, are given at full length by Wodrow.  Without in the least compromising his principles, he yet availed himself of every legal argument which the circumstances of his case admitted; and such was the ingenuity of his defence, that he was repeatedly complimented on the score of ability by the noblemen on the bench.  He was charged, however, with a breach of good manners; for, while he addressed his other judges with due respect, he replied to the accusations of the archbishop as if they had been urged against him by merely a private individual.  In answer to the charge, he confessed that he was but a rude man, and hinted, with some humour, that he had surely been brought before their lordships for some other purpose than simply to make proof of his breeding.  And, after all, there was little courtesy lost between himself and the archbishop.  He had been apprehended near midnight, and before sunrise next morning, the servant of the latter was seen standing at the prison gate, instructing the jailer that the prisoner should be confined apart, and none suffered to have access to him.  When the court met, the archbishop strove to entrap him, with an eagerness which only served to defeat its object, into an avowal of the sentiments with which he regarded the king and his ministers; and failing to elicit these, for the preacher was shrewd and sagacious, he represented him to the other members of council as a person singularly odious and criminal, and an enemy to every principle of civil government.  He was a schismatic too, he affirmed—a render asunder of the Church of Christ!  To the charge that he was a preacher of sedition, Mr. Fraser replied with apostolic fervour, that in "none of his discourses had he urged aught disloyal or traitorous; but that as the Spirit enabled him, had he preached repentance towards God, and faith towards Jesus Christ, and no other thing but what was contained in the Prophets and the New Testament.  And so far," he added, "was he from being terrified or ashamed to own himself a minister of Christ, that although of no despicable extraction, yet did he glory most to serve God in the gospel of His Son, and deem it the greatest honour to which he had ever attained."  After trial he was remanded to prison, and awakened next morning by the jailer, for he had slept soundly, that he might prepare for a journey to the Bass.  He was escorted by the way by a party of twelve horsemen and thirty foot, and delivered up on landing in the island to the custody of the governor.

    Here a new series of sufferings awaited him, not perhaps so harassing in themselves as those to which he had recently been subjected—for punishment in such cases is often less severe than the train of persecution which leads to it; but he felt them all the more deeply, because he could no longer, from his situation, exert that energy of mind which had enabled him to divest, on former occasions, an evil of more than half its strength, by meeting it, as it were, more than half-way.  He had now to wait in passive expectation until the evil came.  There were a number of other prisoners confined to the Bass for their attachment to Presbyterianism; and the governor, a little-minded, capricious man, who loved to display the extent of his authority, by showing how many he could render unhappy, would sometimes deny them all intercourse with each other, by closely confining them to their separate cells.  At times, too, when permitted to associate together, some of the profaner officers would break in upon them, and annoy them with the fashionable wit and blasphemy of the period.  A dissolute woman was appointed to wait upon them, and scandalous stories circulated at their expense; all the letters brought them from the land were broken open and made sport of by the garrison; they were neither allowed to eat nor to worship together; and though their provisions and water were generally of the worst kind, they had sometimes to purchase them—even the latter—at an exorbitant price.  But there were times at which the preacher could escape from all his petty vexations.  In the higher part of the island there are solitary walks, which skirt the edge of the precipices, and command an extensive view of the neighbouring headlands and the ocean.  On these, when his jailers were in their more tolerant moods, would he be permitted to saunter for whole hours; indulging, as the waves were breaking more than a hundred yards beneath him, and the sea-fowl screaming over him, in a not unpleasing melancholy—musing much on the future, with all its doubtful probabilities, or "looking back on the days of old, when he joyed with the wife of his youth."  And there was a considerable part of his time profitably spent in the study of Greek and Hebrew.  He besides read divinity, and wrote a treatise on faith, with several other miscellanies: and at length, after an imprisonment of two years and a half, during which period his old enemy the archbishop had suffered the punishment which there was no law to inflict upon him, he was set at liberty; and he quitted his prison with not less zeal, and with more learning than he had brought into it.

    He still deemed preaching as much his duty as before, and the state regarded it as decidedly a crime; and so he had to resume his wandering, unsettled life of peril and hardship; "labouring to be of some use to every family he visited."  Falling sick of an ague, contracted through this mode of living, he was cited before the council, at the instance of some of his old friends the bishops; who, reckoning on his inability to appear on the day named, took this way of having him outlawed a second time.  But they had miscalculated; for no sooner had he received the citation, than dragging himself from his bed, he set out on his journey to Edinburgh.  Legal oppression he respected as little as he had done six years before; but he was now differently circumstanced—one of his friends, on his liberation from the Bass, having bound himself as his surety; and sooner would he have died by the way than have subjected him to any loss.  When the day arrived, he presented himself at the bar of the council; and defended himself with such ability and spirit, that his lay judges were on the eve of acquitting him.  Not so the bishops; and the matter, after some debate, being wholly referred to their judgment, he was sentenced to be imprisoned at Blackness until he had paid a fine of five thousand merks, and given security that he should not again preach in Scotland.  To Blackness he was accordingly sent; and there he remained in close confinement, and subjected, as he had been at the Bass, to the caprice of a tyrannical governor, for about seven weeks; when he was set at liberty on condition that he should immediately quit the kingdom.  He passed therefore into England; and he soon found—for the Christian is a genuine cosmopolite—"that a good Englishman was more truly his countryman than a wicked Scot."  He was much esteemed by English people of his own persuasion; and though he had at first resolved to forbear preaching out of the dread of being reckoned a "barbarian," for he could not divest himself of his Scotticism, he yielded to the solicitations of his newly-acquired friends; and soon attained among them, as he had done at home, the character of being a powerful and useful preacher.  But bonds and imprisonment awaited him even there.  On the execution of Russell and Sydney, he was arrested on the suspicion of being one of their confederates; and on refusing to take what was termed the Oxford Oath, he was committed to Newgate, where he was kept for six months.  But from his previous experience of the prisons of Scotland, he seems, with Goldsmith's sailor, to have deemed Newgate a much better sort of place than it is usually esteemed;—his apartment was large and lightsome, and the jailers were all very kind.  Resuming, on his release, his old mode of living, he continued to preach and study by turns, until the Revolution; when, returning to Scotland, he was invited by the people of Culross to preside over them as their pastor;—a fit pastor for a parish which, during the reign of Prelacy, had suffered and resisted more than almost any other in the kingdom.  In this place he continued until his death; grateful for all the mercies bestowed upon him, and few men could reckon them better; but peculiarly grateful that, in a season of hot persecution, he had been enabled to take part with God.

    Nor were strong-minded men, like Fraser of Brea, the only persons who espoused this cause in the day of trouble, and dared to suffer for it.  There is a quiet passive fortitude in the better kind of women, which lies concealed, as it ought, under a cover of real gentleness and seeming timidity, until called forth by some occasion which renders it a duty to resist; and this excellent spirit was exhibited during this period by at least one lady of Cromarty.  She was a Mrs. Gordon, the wife of the parish minister;—a lady who, at an extreme old age, retained much of the beauty of youth—a smooth unwrinkled forehead, shaded by a profusion of black glossy hair without the slightest tinge of grey: and it was said of her, so exquisite was her complexion, that, when drinking a glass of wine, her neck and throat would assume the ruddy hue of the liquid—an imaginary circumstance, deemed characteristic at one time, by the common people of Scotland, of the higher order of beauties, and which is happily introduced by Allan Cunningham into one of the most pleasing of his ballads:—


"Fu' white white was her bonny neck,
 Twist wi the satin twine;
 But ruddie ruddier grew her hawse,
 While she sipped the bluid-red wine"


    Mrs. Gordon could scarcely have attained to her eighteenth year at the Revolution; and yet she had been exposed to suffering on the score of religion, in the previous troubles.  There was a story among the people, that her ears had been cut off; it was even observed, that her tresses were always so arranged as to conceal the supposed mutilation; and some of the wilder spirits of the place used to call her Luggie, in allusion to the story; but she was too highly respected for the name to take.  When a very old woman, she was one day combing her hair in the presence of a little girl, who was employed in dressing up the apartment in which she sat, and who threw at her from time to time a very inquisitive glance.  "Come here, Maggie," said the lady, who guessed the cause of her solicitude; "you are a curious little girl, and have heard that I have lost my ears —have you not?  Here they are, however," she continued, shading back her hair as she spoke, and displaying two very pretty ones; "wicked men once threatened to cut them off, and a knife was sharpened for the purpose, but God permitted them not."


 
CHAPTER IX.


"The scart bears weel wi' the winter's cauld,
     The aik wig' the gurly win';
 But the bonny wee burds, and the sweet wee flowers,
    Were made for the calm an' the sun."—O
LD BALLAD.


THE southern Sutor terminates, where it overhangs the junction of the Cromarty and Moray Firths, in a noble precipice, which, planting its iron feet in the sea, rears its ample forehead a hundred yards over it.  On the top there is a moss-covered, partially wooded knoll, which, commanding from its abrupt height and semi-insular situation a wide and diversified prospect, has been known from time immemorial to the town's-people as "the Lookout."  It is an exquisite little spot, sweet in itself, and sublime in what it commands;—a fine range of forest scenery stretches along the background, while in front the eye may wander over the hills of seven different counties, and so vast an extent of sea, that, on the soberest calculation, we cannot estimate it under a thousand square miles.  Nor need there be any lack of pleasing association to heighten the effect of a landscape which, among its other scenes of the wild and the wonderful, includes the bleak moor of Culloden, and the "heath near Forres."  It is, however, to the immense tract of sea which it overlooks that the little knoll owes its deepest interest, and when, after a storm from the west has scattered the shipping bound for port, and day after day has gone by without witnessing their expected return—there are wistful eyes that turn from it to the wide waste below, and anxious hearts that beat quicker and higher, as sail after sail starts up, spark-like, on the dim horizon, and grows into size and distinctness as it nears the shore.  Nor is the rock beneath devoid of an interest exclusively its own.

    It is one of those magnificent objects which fill the mind with emotions of the sublime and awful; and the effect is most imposing when we view it from below.  The strata, strangely broken and contorted, rise almost vertically from the beach.  Immense masses of a primary trap crop out along their bases, or wander over the face of the precipice in broad irregular veins, which contrast their deep olive-green with the ferruginous brown of the mass.  A whitened projection, which overhangs the sea, has been for untold ages the haunt of the cormorant and the sea-mew; the eagle builds higher up, and higher still there is a broad inaccessible ledge in a deep angle of the rock, on which a thicket of hip and sloe-thorn bushes and a few wild apple-trees have taken root, and which, from the latter circumstance, bears among the town's-boys the name of the apple-yardie.  The young imagination delights to dwell amid the bosky recesses of this little spot, where human foot has never yet trodden, and where the crabs and the wild berries ripen and decay unplucked and untasted.  There was a time, however, when the interest which attached to it owed almost all its intensity to the horrible.  The eastern turret of the old castle of Cromarty has, with all its other turrets, long since disappeared; but the deep foliage of the ledge mantles as thickly as ever, and the precipice of the Look-out rears its dark front as proudly over the beach.  They were frightfully connected—the shelf and the turret—in the associations of the town's-people for more than a hundred years; the one was known as the Chaplain's Turret—the other as the Chaplain's Lair; but the demolition of the castle has dissolved the union, and there are now scarcely a dozen in the country who know that it ever existed.

    I have said that the proprietor of the lands of Cromarty, in the early part of the reign of Charles II., was a Sir John Urquhart of Craigfintrie, celebrated by Wodrow, though the celebrity be of no enviable character, as the person whose advice, strengthened by that of Sir George Mackenzie of Tarbat, led Commissioner Middleton to introduce the unhappy Act which overturned Presbyterianism in Scotland.  He was a shrewd, strong-minded man, thoroughly acquainted with all the worse and some of the better springs of human action—cool, and cautious, and skilful, in steering himself through the difficulties of so unsettled a period by the shifts and evasions of a well-balanced expediency.  The current of the age had set in towards religion, and Sir John was by much too prudent to oppose the current.  There were few men who excelled him in that most difficult art of computation, the art of estimating the strength of parties; perhaps he was all the more successful in his calculations from his never suffering himself to be disturbed in them by an over-active zeal; and believing, with Tamerlane and Sir Thomas, that the Deity usually declares for the stronger party, Sir John was always religious enough to be of the stronger party too.

    About twelve years before his death, which took place in 1673, there resided in his family a young licentiate of the Scottish Church, a nephew of his own, who officiated as chaplain.  Dallas Urquhart was naturally a soft-tempered, amiable man, of considerable attainments, and of no inferior powers of mind, but his character lacked the severer virtues; and it was his fate to live in an age in which a good-natured facility of disposition was of all qualities the worst fitted to supply their place.  He was deemed a person of more than ordinary promise in an age when the qualifications of the Presbyterian minister were fixed at least as high as in any after period;—there was a charm, too, in his pliant and docile disposition, which peculiarly recommended him to his older friends and advisers; for even the wise are apt to overvalue whatever flatters themselves, and to decide regarding that modest facility which so often proves in after life the curse of its possessor, according to an estimate very different from that by which they rate the wilful, because partially developed strength which thwarts and opposes them.  Dallas therefore had many friends; but the person to whom he was chiefly attached was the young minister of Cromarty—the "good Master Hugh Anderson," whose tombstone, a dark-coloured slab, roughened with uncouth sculpture, and a neat Latin inscription, may still be seen in the eastern gable of the parish church, and to whom I have already referred as one of the few faithful in this part of the country in a time of fiery trial.  The two friends had passed through college together, associates in study and recreation, and, what is better still, for they were both devout young men, companions in all those acts of religious fellowship which renders Christianity so true a nurse of the nobler affections.  And yet no two persons could be less similar in the original structure of their minds.  Dallas was gentle-tempered and imaginative, and imbued, through a nature decidedly intellectual, with a love of study for its own sake.  His friend, on the contrary, was of a bold energetic temperament, and a plain, practical understanding, which he had cultivated rather from a sense of duty than under the influence of any direct pleasure derived in the process.  But it is probable that had they resembled one another more closely, they would have loved one another less.  Friendship, if I may venture the metaphor, is a sort of ball-and-socket connexion.  It seems to be a first principle in its economy that its agreements should be founded in dissimilarity—the stronger with the weaker—the softer with the more rugged.  And perhaps, in looking round to convince ourselves of the fact, we have but to note how the sexes—formed for each other by God himself—have been created, not after a similar, but after a diverse pattern—and that their natures piece together, not because they were made to resemble, but to correspond with each other.

    The friends were often together; the huge old castle, grey with the lichens of a thousand years, towered on its wooded eminence immediately over the town and the little antique manse, with its narrow serrated gables, and with the triangular tablets of its upper windows, rising high in the roof, occupied, nest-like, an umbrageous recess so directly below, that the chaplain in his turret was scarcely a hundred yards distant from the minister in his study.  There hardly passed a day in which Dallas did not spend an hour or two in the manse; at times speculating on some abstruse scholastic question with his friend the clergyman, whom he generally found somewhat less than his match on such occasions; at times still more pleasingly engaged in conversing, though on somewhat humbler terms, with his friend's only sister.  Mary Anderson was a sylph-looking young creature, rather below the middle size, and slightly though finely formed.  Her complexion, which was pale and singularly transparent, indicated no great strength of constitution; but there was an easy grace in all her motions, that no one could associate with the weakness of positive indisposition, and an expression in her bright speaking eyes and beautiful forehead, that impressed all who knew her rather with the idea of an active and powerful spirit than of a delicate or feeble frame.  There was an unpretending quietness in her manners, and a simple good sense in all she said and did on ordinary occasions, that seemed to be as much the result of correct feeling as of a discriminating intellect; but there were depths in the character beyond the reach of the ordinary observer—powers of abstract thought which only a superior mind could fully appreciate, and a vigorous but well-regulated imagination that could bedeck the perfections of the moral world with all that is exquisite among the forms and colours of the natural.  No one ever seemed less influenced by the tender feelings than Mary Anderson; she loved her brother's friend—loved to study, to read, to converse with him, but in no respect did her regard for him seem to differ from her regard for her brother himself.  She was his friend—a tender and attached one, it is true—but his friend only.  But the young chaplain, whose nature it was to cleave to everything nobler and more powerful than himself, was of a different temper, and he had formed a deep though silent attachment to the highly-gifted maiden of the manse.

    Troublesome times came on; the politic and strong-minded proprietor was no longer known as the friend of the Presbyterian Church, and the comparatively weak and facile chaplain wavered in all the agonies of irresolution, under the fascinating influences of the massier and wilier character.  All the persuasive powers of Sir John were concentrated on the conversion of his nephew.  Acts of kindness, expressions of endearment and good-will, and a well-counterfeited zeal for the interests of true religion formed with him merely a sort of groundwork for arguments of real cogency so far as they went, and facts which, though of partial selection, could not be well disputed.  He had passed, he said, over the ground which Dallas now occupied, and was thus enabled to anticipate some of his opinions on the subject; he, too, had once regarded Christianity and the Presbyterian form of it as identical, and associated the excellencies of the one with the peculiarities of the other.  He now saw clearly, however; and his nephew, he was assured, would soon see it too, that they were things as essentially different as soul and body, and that the Presbyterian form—the Presbyterian body, he might say—was by no means the best which the true religion could inhabit!  He pointed out what he deemed the peculiar defects of Presbyterianism; and summed up with consummate skill the various indications of the subdued mid unresisting mood which at this period formed that of the entire country.

    "Men of all classes," he said, "have been wearied in the long struggle of twenty years, from which they have but just escaped, and stand in need of rest.  They see, too, that they have been contending, not for themselves, but for others striving to render kings less powerful, that Churchmen might become more so.  They see that they have thus injured the character of a body of men, valuable in their own sphere, but dangerous when invested with the power of the magistrate; and that they have so weakened the hands of Government, that to escape from anarchy they have to fling themselves into the arms of comparative despotism.  But there are better times coming; and the wiser sort of men are beginning to perceive that religion must work more effectually under the peaceable protection of a paternal Government, than when united to a form which cannot exist without provoking political heats and animosities.  Not a few of our best men are more than prepared for the movement.  You already know something of Leighton; I need not say what sort of a man he is;—and young Burnet and Scougall are persons of resembling character.  But there are many such among the belied and persecuted Episcopalians; and does it not augur well, that since the one Church must fall, we should have materials of such value for building up the other?  I cannot anticipate much opposition to the change.  A few good men of narrow capacity, such as your friend Anderson, will not acquiesce in it till they are made to distinguish between form and spirit, which may take some time; and leaders in the Church, who have become influential at the expense of their country's welfare, must necessarily be hostile to it for another cause; for no man willingly parts with power.  But certain I am it can meet with no effectual opposition."

    Dallas had little to urge in reply.  Sir John had ever been kind to him, nor was his disposition a cold or ungrateful one; and, naturally facile and diffident besides, he had been invariably in the habit of yielding up his own judgment, in matters of a practical tendency, to the more mature and powerful judgment of his uncle.  He could feel, however, that on this occasion there was something criminal in his acquiescence; but his weakness overcame him.  He passed sleepless nights, and days of restless inquietude; at times half resolved to seek out Sir John and say that, having cast in his lot with the sinking Church, he could not quit her in the day of trouble—at times groaning under a despairing sense of his thorough inability to oppose him—yielding to what seemed to be the force of destiny, and summing up the various arguments so often pressed upon him, less with the view of ascertaining their real value, than of employing them in his own defence.  Meanwhile whole weeks elapsed ere he could muster up resolution enough to visit his friend the clergyman; and the report had gone far and wide that he had declared with his uncle for the court religion.  He at length stole down one evening to the manse with a sinking heart, and limbs that trembled under him.

    Mary was absent on a visit; her brother he found sitting moodily in his study.  The minister had but just returned from a Presbytery, at which he had to contend single-handed against the arguments of Sir John, and the votes of all the others; and, under the influence of the angry feelings awakened in a conflict so hopeless and unequal, and irritated by the gibes and taunts of his renegade brethren, he at once denounced Dallas as a time-server and an apostate.  The temper of the chaplain gave way, and he retorted with a degree of spirit which might have given a different colour to his after life, had it been exerted during his earlier interviews with Sir John.  The anger of the friends, heightened by mutual reproaches, triumphed over the affection of years; and, after a scene of bitter contention, they parted with the determination of never meeting again.  Dallas felt not the ground, as, with throbbing pulses and a flushed brow, he hastily scaled the ascent which led to the castle; and when, turning round from beside the wall to look at the manse, he thought of Mary, and thought, too, that he could now no longer visit her as before, his heart swelled almost to bursting.  "But I am like a straw on the current," he said, "and must drift wherever the force of events carries me.  Coward that I am!  Why do I live in a world for which I am so wretchedly unfitted?"

    He had now passed the Rubicon.  His first impressions he had resisted; and the feebler suggestions which afterwards arose in his mind, only led him to entrench himself the more strongly in the arguments of Sir John.  Besides, he had declared himself a friend to Episcopacy, and thus barred up his retreat by that shrinking dread of being deemed wavering and inconsistent, which has so often merely the effect of rendering such as lie openest to the imputation firm in the wrong place.  There was a secret bitterness in his spirit, that vented itself in caustic remarks on all whom he had once admired and respected—all save Mary and her brother, and of them he never spoke.  His former habits of application were broken up; yet, though no longer engrossed by the studies which it had once seemed the bent of his nature to pursue, he remained as indifferent as ever to the various pursuits of interest and ambition which engaged his uncle.  After passing a day of restless inactivity among his books, he walked out a little before sunset in the direction of the old chapel of St. Regulus, and, ere he took note of where his wanderings led him, found himself among the graves.

    It was a lovely evening of October.  The ancient elms and wild cherry-trees which surrounded the burying-ground still retained their foliage entire, and the elms were hung in gold, and the wild cherry-trees in crimson, and the pale yellow tint of the straggling and irregular fields on the hill-side contrasted strongly with the deepening russet of the surrounding moor.  The tombs and the ruins were bathed in the yellow light of the setting sun; but to the melancholy and aimless wanderer the quiet and gorgeous beauty of the scene was associated with the coming night and the coming winter, with the sadness of inevitable decay and the gloom of the insatiable grave.  He passed moodily onward, and, on turning an angle of the chapel, found Mary Anderson seated among the ruins, on the tombstone of her mother, whom she had lost when a child.  There was a slight flush on her countenance as she rose to meet him, but she held out her hand as usual, though the young man thought, but it might not be so, that the grasp was less kindly.

    "You have been a great stranger of late, Dallas," she said; "how have we been so unhappy as to offend you?"

    The young chaplain looked as if he could have sunk into the ground, and was silent.

    "Can it be true," resumed the maiden, "that you have left us in our distress, and gone over to the prelates?"

    Dallas stammered out an apology, and reminded her that Christianity, not Presbyterianism, formed the basis of their friendship.  "The Church," he said, "had too long paid an overweening regard to mere forms; it was now full time to look to essentials.  What mattered it whether men went to heaven under the jurisdiction of a Presbyterian or of an Episcopalian Church?"  He passed rapidly over the arguments of Sir John.

    "You are deceived, my dear friend," said Mary.  "Look at these cottages that glitter to the setting sun on the hillside.  Eighty years ago their inmates were the slaves of gross superstition—creatures who feared and worshipped they knew not what; and, with no discipline of purity connected with their uncertain beliefs, they could, like mere machines, be set in motion, either for good or ill, at the will of their capricious masters.  These cottages, Dallas, are now inhabited by thinking men; there are Bibles in even the humblest of them—in even yonder hovel where the old widow lives—and these Bibles are read and understood.  We may hear even now the notes of the evening psalm!  Wist ye how the change was wrought? or what it was that converted mere animal men into rational creatures?  Was it not that very Church which you have, alas! so rashly forsaken, and now denounce as intolerant?  A strange intolerance, surely, that delivers men from the influence of their grosser nature, and delights to arm its vassals with a power before which all tyranny must eventually be overthrown.  Be not deceived, Dallas!  Men sometimes suffer themselves to be misled by theories of a perfect but impossible freedom—impossible, because unsuited to the low natures and darkened minds of those on whom they would bestow it—and then submit in despair to the quiet of a paralysing despotism, because they cannot realize what they have so fondly imagined.  Know ye not that none but the wise and the good can be truly free—that the vile and the ignorant are necessarily slaves under whatever form of government they may chance to live?  See you not that the deprecated sway of the Scottish Church has been in truth but a paternal tutelage—that her children were feeble in mind, and rude and untoward, when she first laid the hand of her discipline upon them—and that she has now well-nigh trained them up to be men?  And think you that these, our poor countrymen, already occupy that place which He who died for them has willed they should attain to? or that the many, no longer a brute herd, but moral and thoughtful, and with the Bible in their hands, are to remain the willing, unresisting slaves of the increase in few?  No, Dallas! when men increase in goodness and knowledge, there must be also an onward progress towards civil liberty; and the political bias which you denounce as unfavourable to religion, is merely the onward groping of this principle.  A strange intolerance, surely, that has already broken the fetters of the bondsman; they still clank about him, but being what he now is—intelligent and conscientious—they must inevitably drop off, let his master fret as he may, and leave him a freeman."

    There was a pause, during which Dallas doggedly fixed his eyes on the ground.  "I have viewed the subject," he at length said, "with different eyes.  And of this I am sure, there are in the Episcopal Church truly excellent men who cannot exist without doing good."

    "But look round you," said Mary, "and say whether the great bulk of those who are now watching as on tiptoe to swell its ranks, are of the class you describe?  Can you shut your eyes to the fact, that there is a winnowing process going on in the one Church, and that the chaff and dust are falling into the other?  But, Dallas," she said, laying hand on her breast, I can no longer dispute with you; and t'would be unavailing if I could, for it is not argument but strength that you want—strength to resist the influence of a more powerful but less honest mind than your own.  There is assuredly a time of trouble coming; but I feel, Dallas, that your escape from it cannot be more certain than mine."

    Dallas, who had hitherto avoided her glance, now regarded her with an expression of solicitude and alarm.  She was thin—much thinner than usual—and her cheeks were crimsoned by a flush of deadly beauty.  The anger which she had excited—for she had convinced him of his error, despite of his determination not to be convinced, and he was necessarily angry—vanished in a moment.  He grasped her hand, and bursting into tears, "O Mary!" he exclaimed, "I am a weak, worthless thing—pity me—pray for me; but no, it were vain, it were vain; I am lost, and for ever!"

    The maiden was deeply affected, and strove to console him.  "Retrace your steps," she said, "in the might of Him whose strength is perfected in weakness, and all shall yet be well.  My poor brother has mourned for your defection as he would have done for your death; but he loves you still, and deeply regrets that an unfortunate quarrel should have estranged you from him.  Come and see him as usual; he has a keen temper, but need I tell you that he has an affectionate heart?  And I did not think, Dallas, that you could have so soon forgotten myself, but come, that I may have my revenge."

    The friends parted, and at this time neither of them thought they had parted for ever.  But so it was.  Facile and wavering as nature had formed the young chaplain, he yet indulged in a pride that, conscious of weakness, would fain solace itself with at least an outside show of strength and consistency; and he could not forget that he had now chosen his side.  Weeks and months passed, and the day arrived on which, at the instance of the Bishop of Ross, the nonconforming minister of Cromarty was to be ejected from his parish.

    It was early in December.  There had been a severe and still increasing snow-storm for the two previous days; the earth was deeply covered; and a strong biting gale from the north-east was now drifting the snow half-way up the side-walls of the manse.  The distant hills rose like so many shrouded spectres over the dark and melancholy sea—their heads enveloped in broken wreaths of livid cloud; nature lay dead; and the very firmament, blackened with tempest, seemed a huge burial vault.  The wind shrieked and wailed like an unhappy spirit among the turrets and chimneys of the old castle.  Dallas undid the covering of the shot-hole that looked down on the manse, and then hastily shutting it, flung himself on his bed, where he lay with his face folded in the bedclothes.  Ere he had risen, the shades of evening, deepened by a furious snow-shower, had set in.  He again unbolted the shot-hole and looked out.  The flakes flew so thickly that they obscured every nearer object, and wholly concealed the more remote: even the manse had disappeared; but there was a faint gleam of light flickering in that direction through the shower; and as the air cleared, the chaplain could see that it proceeded from two lighted candles placed in one of the windows.  Dreading he knew not what, he descended the turret stair, and on entering the hall found one of the domestics, an elderly woman, preparing to quit it.  This," he said, addressing her, "is surely no night for going abroad, Martha?"  "Ah, no!" replied the woman, "but I am going to the manse; there is distress there.  Mary Anderson died this morning, and it will be a thin lyke-wake."  "Mary Anderson! thin lyke-wake said Dallas, repeating her words as if unconscious of their meaning: "I'll go with you."  And, as if moved by some impulse merely mechanical, he followed the woman.

    The dead chamber was profusely lighted, according to the custom of the country, and the bed, with every other piece of furniture which it contained, was hung with white.  The bereaved brother had shut himself up in his room, where he might be heard at times as if struggling with inexpressible anguish in the agony of prayer; and only two elderly women, one of them the nurse of Mary, watched beside the corpse.  With an unsteady step and pallid countenance, on the lineaments of which a quiescent but settled despair was frightfully impressed, Dallas entered the apartment and stood fronting the bed.  The nurse greeted him in a few brief words, expressive of their mutual loss; but he saw her not—heard her not.  He saw only the long white shroud with its fearfully significant outline—heard only the beatings of his own heart.  The eyes of the good old woman filled with tears as she gazed on him, and, slowly rising, she uncovered the face of the dead.  He bent forward; there was the open and beautiful forehead, and there the exquisite features, thin and wasted 'tis true, but lovely as ever.  A faint smile still lingered on the lip; it was a smile that called upon thoughts and feelings the most solemn and holy, and whispered of the joys of immortality from amid the calm and awful sublimity of death.  "Ah, my bairn!" said the woman, "weel and lang did she loe you, and meikle did she grieve for you and pray for you, when ye went o'er to the prelates.  But her griefs are a' ended now.  Ken ye, Dallas, that for years an' years she loed ye wig' mair than a sister's luve, an' that if she didna just meet wi' your hopes, it was only because she kept o'er weel she was to die young?"  Dallas struck his open palm against his forehead; a convulsive emotion shook his frame; and, bursting into tears, he flung himself out of the room.

    The funeral passed over; and the brother of Mary quitted the parish a homeless and solitary man, with a grieving heart but an unbroken spirit.  He had to mourn both for the dead and the estranged; and found that the low insults and cruel suspicions of the persecutor dogged him wherever he went.  But his state was one of comfort compared with that of his hapless friend.  Grief, terror, and remorse, lorded it over the unfortunate chaplain by turns, and what was at first but mere inquietude had become anguish.  He was sitting a few weeks after the interment in the eastern turret, his eyes fixed vacantly on the fire, which was dying on the hearth at his feet, when Sir John abruptly entered, and drew in his seat beside him.

    "Your fire, nephew," he said, as he trimmed it, "very much resembles yourself.  There is no lack of the right material, but it wants just a little stirring, and is useless for want of it.  It is no time, Dallas, to be loitering away life when a bright prospect of honourable ambition and extensive usefulness is opening full before you.  Wot you not that our neighbour the bishop, now a worn-out old man, has been confined to his room for the last week?  And should my cousin of Tarbat and myself agree in recommending a successor, as we unquestionably shall, where think you lies the influence powerful enough to thwart us?  But a diocese so important, nephew, can be the prize of no indolent dreamer."

    "Uncle," said Dallas, in a tone of deep melancholy, "do you believe that those who have been once awakened to the truth may yet fall away and perish?"

    "Why perplex yourself with such questions?" replied his uncle.  "We are creatures intended for both this world and the next; each demands that certain duties be performed; and of all men, woe to him of a musing and speculative turn, who, though not devoid of a sense of duty, fails in the requirements of the present state.  His thoughts become fiends to torment him.  But up, nephew, and act, and you will find that all will be well."

    "Act!  How?—to what purpose?—how read you the text—'It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, if they fall away, to renew them to repentance?'  I have fallen-fallen for ever."

    "Dallas," said Sir John, "what wild thought has now possessed you?—You are but one of many thousands;—I know not a more hopeful clergyman of your standing connected with the Church."

    "Wretched, wretched Church, if it be so!  But what are her ministers?  Trees twice dead, plucked up by the roots—wandering stars, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.  Yes, I am as hopeful as most of her ministers.  Mary Anderson told me what was coming; and, hypocrite that I am! I believed her, and yet denied that I did.  I saw her last night;—she was beautiful as ever—but ah! there was no love, no pity in her eye—and the wide, wide gulf was between us."

    "Dearest nephew, why talk so wildly?" exclaimed Sir John.

    "Uncle, you have ever been kind to me," replied Dallas; but you have ruined—no, wretched creature! 'twas I, myself, who have ruined my soul; and there is neither love nor gratitude in the place to which I am going.  O leave me to myself! my thoughts become more fearful when I embody them in words;—leave me to myself! and, uncle, while there is yet space, seek after that repentance which is denied to me.  Avoid the unpardonable sin."

    The strong mind of Sir John was prostrated before the fearfully excited feelings of his nephew, as a massy barrier of iron may be beaten down by a cannon-ball; and he descended the turret stair rebuked and humbled by an energy more potent than his own—as if, for the time, he and the young man had exchanged characters.  Next morning Dallas was nowhere to be found.

    He was seen about sunrise, by a farmer of the parish, passing hurriedly along the ridge of the hill.  The man, a staid Presbyterian, with whom he had once loved to converse, had saluted him as he passed, and then paused for half a second in the expectation that, as usual, he would address him in turn; but he seemed wholly unconscious of his presence.  His face, he said, was of a deadly paleness, and his pace, though hurried, seemed strangely unequal, as if he were exhausted by indisposition or fatigue.  The day wore on; and towards evening, Sir John, who could no longer conceal the anxiety which he felt, ordered out all his domestics in quest of him.  But the night soon fell dark and rainy, and the party was on the eve of relinquishing the search, when, in passing along the edge of the Look-out, one of the servants observed something white lying on the little grassy bank which surmounts the precipice.  It was an open Bible—the gift, as the title-page intimated, of Mary Anderson to Dallas Urquhart.  Sir John struck his clenched fist against his forehead.

    "Gracious heaven!" he exclaimed, "he has destroyed himself!—to the foot of the rock—to the foot of the rock;—and haste! for the tide is fast rising.  But stay—let me forward—I will lead the way myself."

    And, passing through his terrified attendants, he began to descend by a path nearly invisible in the darkness, and which, winding along the narrow shelves of the precipice, seemed barely accessible even by day to the light foot of the schoolboy.  There was only one of the many who now thronged the rock edge who had courage enough to follow him—a tall spare man, wrapped up in a dark-coloured cloak.  As the path became narrower and more broken, and overhung still more and more fearfully the dizzy descent, the stranger, who passed lightly and steadily along, repeatedly extended his arm to the assistance of the knight, who, through agitation and the stiffness incident to a period of life considerably advanced, stumbled frightfully as he hurried down.  They reached the shore in safety together.  All was dismally solitary.  They could see only the dark rock towering over them, and the line of white waves which were tumbling over the beach, and had now begun to lash the base of the precipice.

    "Alas! my poor lost friend!" ejaculated the stranger—"lost, alas! for ever, when I had hoped most for thy return.  Wretched, unfortunate creature! with little care of thine own for the things of this world, and yet ever led away by those who worshipped them as their only god—alas! alas! how haste thou perished!"

    "Spare me, Hugh Anderson!" said Sir John, "spare me! do not, I implore you, add to the anguish of this miserable night!"

    They walked together in silence to where the waves barred their further progress, and then returned to the top of the precipice.  The search was renewed in the morning, but as ineffectually as on the preceding night—there was no trace of the body.  Seasons passed away; Sir John, as has been already related, perished by his own act; Episcopacy fell; and Hugh Anderson, now a greyheaded elderly man, was reappointed, after the lapse of more than thirty years, to his old charge, the parish of Cromarty.

    He had quitted it amid the snow-wreaths of a severe and boisterous winter; he returned to it after a storm of wind and snow from the sea had heaped the beach with wrack and tangle, and torn their mantles of ivy from some of the higher precipices.  He revisited with anxious solicitude the well-remembered haunts endeared to him by so many fond, yet mournful recollections—Mary's favourite walks—the cliffs which he had so often scaled with Dallas—and the path which he had descended in the darkness with the hapless Sir John.  He paused at the foot of the precipice—the storm had swept fiercely over its iron forehead, and an immense bush of ivy, that had fallen from the ledge of the apple-yardie, lay withering at its base.  His eye caught something of unusual appearance amid the torn and broken foliage—it was a human skull, bleached white by the rains and the sunshine of many seasons, and a few disjointed and fractured bones lay scattered near it.  Painfully did he gather them up, and painfully scooping out with his pointed stick a hollow in the neighbouring bank, he shed, as he covered them up from the sight, the last tears that have fallen to the memory of the lost Dallas Urquhart.


 
CHAPTER X.

"A mighty good sort of man."—BONNEL THORNTON.


THE Episcopalian minister of Cromarty was a Mr. Bernard Mackenzie, a quiet, timid sort of man, with little force of character, but with what served his turn equally well, a good deal of cunning.  He came to the parish in the full expectation of being torn to pieces, and with an aspect so woebegone and miserable—for his very countenance told how unambitious he was of being a martyr—that the people pitied instead of insulting him; and, in the course of a few weeks, he had not an ill-wisher among them, however disaffected some of them were to his Church.  No one could be more conversant than the curate with the policy of submission, or could become all things to all men with happier effect.  The people, who, like the great bulk of the people everywhere, were better acquainted with the duties of ministers than with their own, were liberal in giving advices, and no person could be more submissive in listening to these than the curate.  Some of them, too, had found out the knack of being religious without being moral, and the curate was by much too polite to hint to them that the knack was a bad one.  And thus he went on, suiting himself to every event, and borrowing the tone of his character from those whom it was his duty rather to lead than to follow, until the great event of the Revolution, which he also surmounted by taking the oath of allegiance that recognised William as king both in fact and in law.  With all his policy, however, he could not help dying a few years after, when he was succeeded by the old ejected Minister, Hugh Anderson.

    The curate of the neighbouring parish of Nigg, a Mr. James Mackenzie, was in some respects a different sort of person.  He was nearly as quiet and submissive as his namesake of Cromarty, and he was not much more religious; for when, one Sunday morning, he chanced to meet the girls of a fishing village returning home laden with shellfish, he only told them that they should strive to divide the day so as to avail themselves both of the church and the ebb.  He was, however, a simple, benevolent sort of man, who had no harm in him, and never suspected it in others; and so little was he given to notice what was passing around him, as to be ignorant, it was said, of the exact number of his children, though it was known to every one else in the parish that they amounted to twenty.  They were all sent out to nurse, as was customary at the period; and when the usual term had expired, and they were returned to the manse, it proved a sad puzzle to the poor curate to recollect their names.  On one occasion, when the whole twenty had gathered round his table, there was a little red-cheeked girl among them, who having succeeded in climbing to his knee, delighted him so much with her prattle, that he told her, after half smothering her with kisses, that "gin she were a bairn o' his, he would gie her a tocher o' three hunder merk main nor ony o' the lave."  "Then haud ye, gudeman," said his wife; "for as sure as ye're sitting there, it's yer ain Jenny."  The descendants of the curate, as might be anticipated from the number of his children, are widely spread over the country, and exhibit almost every variety of fortune and cast of mind.  One of them, a poor pauper, died a few years ago in the last extreme of destitution and wretchedness; another, an eminent Scottish lawyer, now sits on the Bench as one of the Lords of Session.  One of his elder sons was grandfather to the celebrated Henry Mackenzie of Edinburgh, and the great-great-grandchild of the little prattling Jenny is the writer of these chapters.

    The bulk of the people of Nigg had just as little religion as their pastor.  Every Sunday forenoon they attended church, but the evening of the day was devoted to the common athletic games of the country.  A robust active young fellow, named Donald Roy, was deemed their best club-player; and, as the game was a popular one, his Sabbath evenings were usually spent at the club.  He was a farmer, and the owner of a small herd of black cattle.  On returning home one Sabbath evening, after vanquishing the most skilful of his competitors, he found the carcase of one of his best cattle lying across the threshold, where she had dropt down a few minutes before.  Next Sabbath he headed the club-players as usual, and on returning at the same hour, he found the dead body of a second cow lying in exactly the same place.  "Can it be possible," thought he, "that the Whigs are in the right after all?"  A challenge, however, had been given to the club-players of a neighbouring parish, and, as the game was to be played out on the following Sabbath, he could not bring himself to resolve the question.  When the day came, Donald played beyond all praise, and, elated by the victory which his exertions had at length secured to his parish, he was striding homeward through a green lane, when a fine cow, which he had purchased only a few days before came pressing through the fence, and flinging herself down before him, expired at his feet with a deep horrible bellow.  "This is God's judgment!" exclaimed Donald, "the Whigamores are in the right;—I have taken His day, and he takes my cattle."  He never after played at the club; and, such was the change effected on his character, that shortly after the Revolution he was ordained an elder of the church, and he became afterwards one of the most notable worthies of the North.  There are several stories still extant regarding him, which show that he must have latterly belonged to that extraordinary class of men (now extinct) who, living, as it were, on the extreme verge of the natural world, and seeing far into the world of spirits, had in their times of darkness to do battle with the worst inmates of the latter, and saw in their seasons of light the extreme bounds of the distant and the future.  This class comprised at one time some of the staunchest champions of the Covenant, and we find at its head the celebrated Donald Cargill and Alexander Peden.

    Some of the stories told of Donald Roy, which serve to identify him with this class, are worthy of being preserved.  On one occasion, it is said, that when walking after nightfall a solitary road, he was distressed by a series of blasphemous thoughts, which came pouring into his mind despite of all his exertions to exclude them.  Still, however, he struggled manfully, and was gradually working himself into a better frame, when looking downwards he saw what seemed to be a black dog trotting by his side.  "Ah!" he exclaimed, and so I have got company; I might have guessed so sooner."  The thing growled as he spoke, and bounding a few yards before him, emitted an intensely bright jet of flame, which came streaming along the road until it seemed to hiss and crackle beneath his feet.  On he went, however, without turning to the right hand or to the left, and the thing bounding away as before, stood and emitted a second jet.  "Na, na, it winna do," said the imperturbable Donald: "ye first tried to loose my haud o' my Master, and ye would now fain gie me a fleg; but I ken baith him and you ower weel for that."  The appearance, however, went on bounding and emitting flame by turns, until he had reached the outer limits of his farm, when it vanished.

    About seventy years after the Revolution, he was engaged in what is termed proofing the stacks of a corn-yard, on the hilly farm of Castle-Craig.  There were other two men with him employed in handing down and threshing the sheaves.  The day was exceedingly boisterous, and towards evening there came on a heavy snow-storm.  "Our elder," said one of the men to his companion, "will hae deep stepping home through the snaw thraves; he would better stay at the Craig—will you no ask him?"  "Man, look," said the other, "what is he about?—look—look!"  At a little distance, in a waste corner of the barn, sat the elder, his broad blue bonnet drawn over his brow, his eyes fixed on the wall; and ever and anon would he raise his hands and then clasp them together, as if witnessing some scene of intense and terrible interest.  At times, too, he would mutter to himself like a deranged person; and the men, who had dropped their flails and stood looking at him, could hear him exclaiming in a rapid but subdued tone of voice, "Let her drive—let her drive!—Dinna haud her side to the sea."  Then striking his palms together, he shouted out, "She's o'er—she's o'er!—O the puir widows o' Dunskaith!—but God's will be done."  "Elder," said one of the men, "are ye no weel?—ye wald better gang in till the house."  "No," said Donald, "let's awa to the burn o' Nigg;—there has been ill enough come o' this sad night already—let's awa to the burn, or there'll be more."  And rising from his seat with the alacrity of his club-playing days, though he was now turned of ninety, he strode out into the storm, followed by the two men.  "What's that?" asked one of the men, pointing, as he reached the burn, to a piece of red tartan which projected from the edge of an immense wreath, "Od! but it's our Jenny's brottie sticking out thro' the snaw:—An' oh! but here's Jenny hersel'."  The poor woman, who had been visiting a friend at the other end of the parish, had set out for Castle-Craig at the beginning of the storm, and exhausted with cold and fatigue, had sunk at the side of the stream a few minutes before.  She was carried to the nearest cottage, and soon recovered.  And the following morning afforded a sad explanation of the darker vision—the wreck of a Dunskaith boat, and the dead bodies of some of the crew being found on the beach below the Craig.

    A grand-daughter of the elder who was married to a respectable Cromarty tradesman, was seized in her thirtieth year by a dangerous fever, and her life despaired of.  At the very crisis of the disease her husband was called by urgent business to the parish of Tarbat.  On passing through Nigg he waited on Donald, and, informing him of her illness, expressed his fears that he would not again see her in life.  "Step in on your coming back," said the elder, "and dinna tine heart—for she's in gude hands."  The husband's journey was a hurried one, and in less than three hours after he had returned to the cottage of Donald, who came out to meet him.  "Come in, Robert," he said, "and cool yoursel'; ye hae travelled ower hard;—come in, and dinna be sae distressed, for there's nae cause.  Kettie will get o'er this, and live to see the youngest o' her bairns settled in the world, and doing for themselves."  And his prediction was accomplished to the very letter.  The husband, on his return, found that the fever had abated in a very remarkable manner a few hours before; and in less than a week after, his wife had perfectly recovered.  More than forty years from this time, when the writer was a little kilted urchin of five summers, he has stood by her knee listening to her stories of Donald Roy.  "And now," has she said, after narrating the one in which she herself was so specially concerned, "all my bairns are doing for themselves, as the good man prophesied; and I have lived to tell of him to you, my little curious boy, the bairn of my youngest bairn."  I have little of the pride of family in my disposition; and, indeed, cannot plume myself much on the score of descent, for, for the last two hundred years, my ancestors have been merely shrewd honest people, who loved their country too well to do it any discredit; but I am unable to resist the temptation of showing that I can claim kindred with the good old seer of Nigg, and the Addison of Scotland.

    There is a still more wonderful story told of Donald Roy than any of these.  On one of the days of preparation set apart by the Scottish Church previous to the dispensation of the sacrament, it is still customary in the north of Scotland for the elders to address the people on what may be termed the internal evidences of religion, tested by their own experience.  The day dedicated to this purpose is termed the day of the men; and so popular are its duties, that there are none of the other days which the clergyman might not more safely set aside.  When there is a lack of necessary talent among the elders of a parish, they are called dumb elders, and their places are supplied on the day of the men by the more gifted worthies of the parishes adjoining.  Such a lack occurred about a century ago in the eldership of Urray, a semi-Highland parish, near Dingwall;—and at the request of the minister to the Session of Nigg, that some of the Nigg elders, who at that time were the most famous in the country, should come and officiate in the room of his own, Donald Roy and three other men were despatched to Urray.  They reached the confines of the parish towards evening, and when passing the house of a gentleman, one of the heritors, they were greeted by the housekeeper, a woman of Nigg, who insisted on their turning aside and spending the evening with her.  Her mistress, she said, was a stanch Roman Catholic, but one of the best creatures that ever lived, and, if the thing was possible, a Christian;—her master was a kind, good-natured man, of no religion at all; she was a great favourite with both, and was very sure that any of her friends would be made heartily welcome to the best their hall afforded.  Donald's companions would have declined the invitation, as beneath the dignity of men of independence and elders of the Church; but he himself, though quite as much a Whig as any of them, joined with the woman in urging them to accept of it.  "I am sure," he said, "we have been sent here for some special end, and let us not suffer a silly pride to turn us back without our errand."

    There was one of the closets of the house converted by the lady into a kind of chapel or oratory.  A small altar was placed in the centre; and the walls were hollowed into twelve niches, occupied by little brass images of the apostles.  The lady was on the eve of retiring to this place to her evening devotions, when the housekeeper came to inform her of her guests, and to request that they should be permitted to worship together, after the manner of their Church, in one of the out-houses.  Leave was granted, and the lady retired to her room.  Instead, however, of kneeling before the altar as usual, she seated herself at a window.  And first there rose from the out-house a low mellow strain of music, swelling and sinking alternately, like the murmurs of the night wind echoing through the apartments of an old castle.  When it had ceased she could hear the fainter and more monotonous sounds of reading.  Anon there was a short pause, and then a scarcely audible whisper, which heightened, however, as the speaker proceeded.  Donald Roy was engaged in prayer.  There were two wax tapers burning on the altar, and as the prayer waxed louder the flames began to stream from the wicks, as if exposed to a strong current of air, and the saints to tremble in their niches.  The lady turned hastily from the window, and as she turned, one of the images toppling over, fell upon the floor; another and another succeeded, until the whole twelve were overthrown.  When the prayer had ceased, the elders were summoned to attend the lady.  "Let us take our Bibles with us," said Donald; "Dagon has fallen, and the ark o' the Bible is to be set up in his place."  And so it was;—they found the lady prepared to become a willing convert to its doctrines; and on the following morning the twelve images were flung into the Conan.  Rather more than twenty years ago a fisherman, when dragging for salmon in a pool of the river in the immediate neighbourhood of Urray, drew ashore a little brass figure, so richly gilt, that for some time it was supposed to be of gold; and the incident was deemed by the country people an indubitable proof of the truth of the story.

    Donald Roy, after he had been for full sixty years an elder of the Church, was compelled by one of those high-handed acts of ecclesiastical intrusion, which were unfortunately so common in Scotland about the middle of the last century, to quit it for ever; and all the people of the parish following him as their leader, they built for themselves a meeting-house, and joined the ranks of the Secession.  Such, however, was their attachment to the National Church, that for nearly ten years after the outrage had been perpetrated, they continued to worship in its communion, encouraged by the occasional ministrations of the most distinguished divine of the north of Scotland in that age, Mr. Fraser of Alness, the author of a volume on Sanctification, still regarded as a standard work by our Scottish theologians.  The presbytery, however, refusing to tolerate the irregularity, the people were at length lost to the Established Church; and the dissenting congregation which they formed still exists as one of the most numerous and respectable in that part of the kingdom.  We find it recorded by Dr. Hetherington in his admirable Church History, that "great opposition was made by the pious parishioners to the settlement of the obnoxious presentee, and equal reluctance manifested by the majority of the presbytery to perpetrate the outrage commanded by the superior courts.  But the fate of Gillespie was before their eyes; and, under a strong feeling of sorrow and regret, four of the presbytery repaired to the church at Nigg to discharge the painful duty.  The church was empty; not a single member of the congregation was to be seen.  While in a state of perplexity what to do in such a strange condition, one man appeared who had it in charge to tell them.  'That the blood of the people of Nigg would be required of them if they should settle a man to the walls of the kirk.'  Having delivered solemnly this appalling message, he departed, leaving the presbytery astonished and paralysed.  And proceeding no further at the time, they reported the case to the General Assembly of the following year; by whom, however, the intrusion of the obnoxious presentee was ultimately compelled."  I need scarce say, that the one man who on this occasion paralysed the presbytery and arrested the work of intrusion for the day, was the venerable patriarch of Nigg, at this time considerably turned of eighty.  He died in the month of January 1774, in the 109th year of his age and the 84th of his eldership, and his death and character were recorded in the newspapers of the time.

    In bearing Donald company into an age so recent, I have wandered far from the era of the curates, and must now return.  Their time-serving dogmas seem to have had no very heightening effect on the morals of the burghers of Cromarty.  Prior to the year 1670, the town was a royal burgh, and sent its commissioner to the Convention, and its representative to Parliament.  For the ten years previous, however, its provost and bailies had set themselves with the most perfect unanimity to convert its revenues into gin and brandy, the favourite liquors of the period; and then to contract heavy debts on its various properties, that they might carry on the process on a more extensive scale.  And in this year, when the whole was absorbed, they made over their lands to Sir John Urquhart, the proprietor, "in consideration," says the document in which the transaction is recorded, "of his having instantly advanced, paid, and delivered to them 5000 merks Scots, for outredding them of their necessary and most urgent affairs."  The burgh was disfranchised shortly after by an act of the Privy Council, in answer to a petition from Sir John and the burghers.  There is a tradition, that in the previous ten years of license, in which the leading men of Cromarty were so successful in imitating the leading men of the kingdom, the council met regularly once a day in the little vaulted cell beneath the cross, to discuss the affairs of the burgh; and so sorely would they be exhausted, it is said, by a press of business and the brandy, that it was generally found necessary to carry them home at night.  But it was all for the good of the place; and so perseveringly were they devoted to its welfare, that their last meeting was prolonged for three days together.

    Sir John did not long enjoy this accession to his property, destroying himself in a fit of melancholy, as has been already related, three years after.  He was succeeded by his son Jonathan, the last of the Urquharts of Cromarty; for, finding the revenues of his house much dilapidated by the misfortunes of Sir Thomas, and perceiving that all his father's exertions had failed to improve them, he brought the estate to sale, when it was purchased by Sir George Mackenzie of Tarbat.  This accomplished courtier and able man was the scion of a family that, in little more than a century, had buoyed itself up, by mere dint of talent, from a state of comparative obscurity into affluence and eminence.  The founder, Roderick Mackenzie, was second son of Colin of Kintail, a Highland chief of the sixteenth century, whose eldest son, Kenneth, carried on the line of Seaforth.  Roderick, who, says Douglas in his Scottish Peerage, was a man of singular prudence and courage, and highly instrumental in civilizing the northern parts of the kingdom, was knighted by James VI., and left two sons, John and Kenneth.  John, the elder, was created a baronet in the succeeding reign, and bequeathed at his death his lands to his son George of Tarbat, the purchaser of the lands of Cromarty.  Sir George was born in the castle of Loch-Slin, near Tain, in the year 1630, and devoted a long life to the study of human affairs, and the laws and antiquities of the kingdom.  He was one of those wary politicians who, according to Dryden, neither love nor hate, but are honest as far as honesty is expedient, and never glaringly vicious, because it is impolitic to be wicked over-much.  And never was there a man more thoroughly conversant with the intrigues of a court, or more skilful in availing himself of every chance combination of circumstances.  Despite of the various changes which took place in the government of the country, he rose gradually into eminence and power during the reigns of Charles and James, and reached, in the reign of Anne, when he was made secretary of state and Earl of Cromartie, the apex of his ambition.  He found leisure, in the course of a very busy life, to write two historical dissertations of great research—the one a vindication of Robert III. of Scotland from the charge of bastardy, the other an account of the Gowrie conspiracy.  He wrote, besides, a Synopsis Apocalyptica, and recorded several interesting facts regarding the formation of peat-moss, which we find quoted by Mr. Rennie of Kilsyth in his elaborate essay.  He is the writer, too, of a curious letter on the second sight, addressed to the Honourable Robert Boyle, which may be found in an appendix attached to the fifth volume of Pepys' Memoirs.  On his death, which took place in 1714, his eldest son John succeeded to his titles and the lands of Tarbat, and his second son Sir Kenneth to the estate of Cromarty.

    Some time ago, when on a journey in Easter Ross, I had to take shelter from a sudden shower in an old ruinous building, which had once been the dwelling-house of Lord Cromartie's chamberlain.  The roof was not yet gone, but the floors had fallen, and the windows were divested of the frames.  Miscellaneous heaps of rubbish were spread over the pavement; and in one of the corners there was a pile of tattered papers, partially glued to the floor and to each other by the rain, which pattered upon them through the crevices of the roof.  The first I examined was written in a cramp old hand, and bore date 1682.  At the bottom was the name of the writer, George Mackenzie.  The next, which was dated nineteen years later, was in the same hand, but still more cramp.  It was signed Tarbat.  The third was scarcely legible, but I could decipher the word Cromartie, appended to it as a signature.  Alas! I exclaimed, for the sagacious statesman.  He was, I perceive, becoming old as he was growing great; and I doubt much whether the honours of his age, when united to its infirmities, were half so productive of happiness as the hopes and high spirits of his youth.  And what now is the result of all his busy hours, if they were not completely satisfactory then?  Here area few sybilline-like leaves, the sole records, perhaps, of his common everyday affairs; his literary labours fill a few inches of the shelves of our older libraries; and a few unnoticed pages in the more prolix histories of our country tell all the rest.  Life would not be worth one's acceptance if it led to nothing better; and yet of all the mere men of the world who ever designed sagaciously, and laboured indefatigably, how very few have been so fortunate as the Earl of Cromartie!

    There was no very immediate effect produced by the Revolution in the parish of Cromarty, and indeed but little in the north of Scotland.  The Episcopalian clergymen in this quarter were quite as unwilling to relinquish their livings, as the Presbyterians had been twenty-eight years before; and setting themselves to reconcile, as they best could, their interest with what they deemed their duty, they professed their willingness to recognise William as their king in fact, though not in law.  To meet this sophism, William demanded, in what was termed the Assurance Oath, a recognition of his authority as not only actual but legitimate; and a hundred Episcopal ministers, who complied by taking the oath, were allowed to retain their livings without being restricted to the jurisdiction of courts of Presbytery.  So large a proportion of these fell to the share of the northern counties, that in that part of the kingdom which extends from the Firth of Beauly to John o' Groat's, and from sea to sea, there was only one presbytery, consisting, for several years after the Revolution, of only eight clergymen.

    The next political event of importance which agitated the kingdom was the Union.  And there was at least one of the people of Cromarty who regarded it with no very complacent feeling.  He was a Mr. William Morrison, the parish schoolmaster.  I have seen a manuscript of 230 pages, written by this person between the years 1710 and 1713, containing a full detail of his religious experience; and as a good deal of his religion consisted in finding fault, and a good deal more in the vagaries of a wild imagination, though the residue seems to have been sincere, he has introduced into his pages much foreign matter, of a kind interesting to the local antiquary.  He was one of that class who read the Bible in a way it can be made to prove anything; and he deemed it directly opposed not only to the Union and the Abjuration Oath of the succeeding reign, but to the very Act of Toleration, which secured to the poor curates the privilege of being, like himself, the open opponents of both.  "May we not truly account," says he, "for the deadness and carnality of the Church at this present time (1712), by the great hand many of its members had in carrying on the late Union, of sorrowful memory, whereby our country's power to act for herself, both as to religion and libertie, is hung under the belt of idolatrous England?  Woe unto thee, Scotland, for thou hast sold thy birth-right!  Woe unto thee for the too too much Erastian-like obedience of the most part of thy Church to the laws of the men of this generation—men who, having established a toleration for all sorts of wickedness, have set up Baal's altars beside the altars of the Lord!  Woe unto thee for that Shibboleth, the oath of abjuration, which the Lord hath permitted to try thy pulse to see how it did beat towards him!  Alreadie hath thy Church, through its unvaliant, faint, cowardly, and, I am bold to say, ungodly spirit, suffered woful encroachments to be made on Christ's truths in this kingdom, and yet all under a biassing pretence of witt and policy—leaving not only hoofs in Egypt, but also many of the best of the flock of God's revealed injunctions.  Art thou not discouraged and beaten back, O Church! from thy duty, by the sounding of the shaking leaf of a parliament of the worms of the earth, that creep, peep, and cry, appearing out of their holes and dens in this time in Scotland's dark night, when only such creatures come abroad in their native shapes and colours.  For if the sun did now as clearly shine on the land as at former times, they would not so appear.  It is in the night-time that evil spirits and wild beasts seize on folk, and cry in the streets to fleg and flichter them; and such as they find most feared and apprehensive they haunt most.  And so, Scotland! is thy Church affeared and flichtered with the scriekings and worryings of an evil Parliament."



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