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the younger inhabitants of the glen the discourse for him. Other than acquired at least some knowledge of this there were no means of procedure a strange language under the tuition for Mr. M'Cra; and accordingly, beof Mr. M‘Cra.
fore the terrors of winter set in, Fame and success like these could and the roads, which were then bad not be concealed even within the steep in the best seasons, had become alto
fastnesses that separated glen Donhuil gether impassable, he used to send off, - from the adjacent districts; and the for the edification of the regents and
schoolmaster of that country had as- students at the college, the whole of cribed to him as many of the attributes the discourses in one parcel, the deof natural and supernatural power, as livery of which was to bring him half
if he had been a second Friar Bacon. a year nearer to the sacerdotal office; : The reward thus came far more and the discourses thus sent, and
speedily, and to a far greater extent, which were bona fide his own producthan the laborer had anticipated; and tions, gained hiin as much credit, and that made him devote himself to his were perhaps as conclusive evidence pursuit with increasing assiduity; and of his progress in the sacred study, as also awakened in him some traces of if he had been resident at the univeran ambition which he had not felt at sity; while, probably, the simplicity first—that of aspiring to the pulpit of of his habits, and the little that there some Highland parish—the one in was to distract his mind, were better which be was born and had his chief moral qualifications than if he had, at renown, if possible. The easy way the most precarious period of life, in which divinily, at least in the lat- been exposed to those temptations in ter years of the course, can be studied society, against which it but too freat the King's College, tended to ac- quently happens that the study of dicelerate the consummation of his vinity is no certain or absolute prohopes. The process is, or was, by tection. what are called half-sessions ; that is With all these hopes and advanto say, the student journeys toward tages, however, there were still drawthe hall of the college once or twice backs : Mr. M‘Cra was completely in the course of the season, and there excluded from what was called sociedelivers a homily from some text of ty; had no means whatever of knowing scripture. The delivery of this ho- the world; and, therefore, was forced mily (and no question is to be asked to limit his information to that system as to whether it is the student's own of divinity which he could form out of or not) was held, and probably was, the two or three books he possessed, equal in value to one half-session's and from the conversation of those attendance on the prelections of the elders of the congregation who were professors; and thus many young men the depositaries alike of religious and were enabled to qualify themselves for of traditionary lore. In consequence orders, who would otherwise be ex- of this, he was a singular compound; cluded from the church. In extreme and if any man was ever in danger of cases, and among the rest in the case erring through excess of faith, Mr. under consideration, further indulgence M'Cra was that man. He believed was granted.
These balf-sessional all that had been told him by the discourses are delivered in the incle- Aberdonian professors; he believed ment part of the year, during which all that was found in the two or three travelling is difficult in any district of clerical books he possessed ; if any the north, and from the glen alluded other written matter, whether the to, to the eastern part of the country, History of Gulliver, or that of Jack generally impossible; so that the at- and the Giants, came by fragments in tendance is dispensed with, provided his way, he failed not implicitly to bethe student can find among his resi- lieve that; and from this universality of dent fellows a substitute who will read faith it was easy for him to believe,
in supplement, the whole of the tra- in man which in no state of his being dition, seer-craft, and diablerie of the can remain at rest; and, really, when glen. He never doubted that the we dispassionately compare the creduamulets, consisting of a scrap of pa- lity of the vulgar with that of eren per, sewed up in sheepskin, which the most learned of philosophers, we were then common among the High- are unable to say which, when they landers, were perfect preservatives step beyond the limits of experience, against evil eyes, evil spirits, and is the most absurd. The rustic finds bodily diseases ; and he never doubted within himself a power which, when that the fairies held their nocturnal he is stretched upon his couch in the gambols on a lovely little meadow silence of the night, can not only paint between the churchyard and the river, his meadows and his heaths in all which was marked by those annular their beauty, scent the wild flowers traces called fairy-rings, which were with all their perfumes, and awaken brown when the rest of the meadow the songs of the birds and the bleatwas green, and green when it was ings of the flocks ; but, when his exbrown; and which are known to be ternal senses are wrapped in sleep, the produced by a certain species of fun- same busy power can bring before gus, or mushroom, which cannot be him not only the objects with which reproduced on the same soil for a long he has been conversant, but new obseries of years, but which, by casting jects and new combinations of which its spawn always outwards, causes the he had not any previous knowledge. ring of which so much use has been Now, as the “ why is it thus ?" and made in the history of invisibles in the “ why should it be thus ?” arise these islands. If oaths had been in with the same force to him as they do fashion in those parts, he would at to the most active of his species, his any time have readily sworn that he belief in ghosts and supernatural had heard the wailing of the kelpie powers and agencies is eertainly not from the river, before storms and ca more absurd than some of the specusualties ; and that never a sheep had lations about which the inost subtle heen lost but through the neglect of logicians have wasted their time, and timely warning given by that guardian of which there are whole waggon of rustic property. The ghost, too, loads upon the shelves of every learnof the man who had been treacherous ed library. When the most learned to the M‘Kenzie, he would admit had of the schoolmen propounded that been seen in the churchyard; he avoid- « an infinite number of angels could ed the cairn of the robber after dusk; exist in the same indivisible point of and though Christian M'Cra was his space at the same instant ; that space own grand -aunt, and really the most might be empty and yet might have intelligent old woman in the glen, he angels in it;” or “ that God could es. would have felt uneasy for that day ist in possible but yet uncreated if she had crossed his path in the space, as well as in space existent ;" morning before he had, by eating and when, even in our own times, bread and salt,“ sained” by a proper some of the most eminent and elegant benediction, which laid on witchcraft of our philosophers, and nearly the and devil-craft an embargo which whole of our divines, make man a dv. none of the evil powers, ghostly or plicate of himself
, by giving him inbodily, were able to break.
tellectual and active powers by which These, and many similar points of to carry on the processes of thought credulity, wbich are general in the un- and action, with conscience or con. lettered states of society, and which sciousness sitting by the while, wigged no advancement in literature has been like a Recorder, to jot down the proable to eradicate, instead of being ceedings,—we have really marvellousevidences of folly, are proofs of the ly little ground for taunting those who internal labor of that immortal machine are shut out from the written book of
knowledge, with those vagaries of they can borrow all their imagery and credulity that lie beyond the bounda- illustrations from things that are faries of reason and experience. In the miliar to the people. If one of Mr. same spirit which leads us to condemn, M-Cra's Gaelic discourses, which in Mr. M‘Cra, the ghost, the kelpie, were productive of sighs and groans, the amulet, and the witch, we should and even stronger emotions, had been have had reason to condemn much of literally translated into English, it what was set before him by the moral would not have been a bit more intelphilosophy regent at King's College; ligible to an English reader: but yet only the advantage was that this sup- so well were they adapted to those to plemental superstition he did not un- whom they were addressed, that when, derstand. The people among whom on the demise of his predecessor, he he picked up his first opinions had im- got to the pinnacle of bis ambition, he ported many of their religious notions was accounted the star of the presfrom the army of Gustavus Adolphus. bytery. Such, indeed, were his piety These notions had got certainly not and renown, that the only daughter less austere in the keeping, and, and heiress of the former incumbent therefore, “ vain philosophy” was as surrendered at the first summons; and much a matter of objurgation with the Reverend successor was beneficed, them as was a hypothesis contrary to wired, and housed all in the same his own views to a theoretical philoso- year. No sooner was he thus settled pher. Even the Elements of Euclid,” than he began to project reforms in which Mr. M'Cra heard repeated pro the kirk establishment, which, in the forma, were looked upon as something end, led to a change in the economy which “ smacked of the black art ;” and manners of the whole glen. and we doubt not that, in mastering The kirk itself was, at the time of the Pons Asinorum, he verily believed his appointment, a singular structure ; that he could have raised the devil.— and stood, sadly rebuked by the ruins At all events he never tried.
of the old catholic chapel, that were Still, in consequence of what he hard by. The chapel had been of did with the A B C's and the Cate- stone, and from the part that remained chisms, the fame of the schoolmaster had been elegant for the situation. of Inverdonhuil penetrated into the The kirk, on the other band, had neighboring glens, and he was reported walls of turf, and a roof of heather. to be alike a miracle in science and Such of the people as were not more sanctity. He was the oracle of the than two miles distant came, stool in catechists, the pride of the whole hand, to the service; and they, from parish, with the exception, perhaps, the more remote part of the glen, of the minister, who did not brook an were accommodated upon the trunks eclipse.
of two or three unbewn trees, raised Time rolled on, however; the old a little above the mud floor upon minister became infirm ; and, as the stones. As the roof was seldom living did not admit of even the scan- water-tight, the floor was always a ty support of a Highlander in supple- few inches deep of mire in rainy weament to that of the invalid, Donald ther; but that, instead of being an was appointed assistant and successor. inconvenience to the Highlanders, was In this situation his fame extended an advantage. It saved them the apace. · It is a peculiarity in the Gae- trouble of wading into a brook, withlic language that they who know the out which lubrication, the brogues of least of the sciences and literature of untanned hide which they then wore the rest of the world, can be the most were as hard as iron.* eloquent in the use of it, because then Though the ministers of the Scot
* Time has worked great changes. The Commissioners for building Highland Churches are erocting them at an expense of 15001. each, for church and manse.
tish kirk have been denuded of many his error, or rather he felt it, in a of those powers and privileges, which threadbare coat, to the replacing of were in full enjoyment and exercise which the marcs were devoted, and in among the priesthood whom they suc- having some difficulty in taking up ceeded, they have retained, with much such a position in the pulpit as enabled pertinacity, judicial powers in certain him to avoid the autumnal rain. The infractions of the law. Various modes minister saw his error; and knowing of expiation for these infractions are that it was vain to wrestle with the established by custom in different prejudices of the people, he caused places; and in the parish of Inver- proclamation to be made, that the donhuil, the onus of keeping the kirk “0. P.'s” of Inverdonhuil were trithatched with heather lay upon them. umphant. The termination was more Not that they did the business by con- felicitous than that of the “0. P.” tract, but that the offender was amerc row in London ; and not twelve ed in so many burdens, together with months elapsed before the kirk, wbich a fine of a marc Scots, or thirteen was rather deserted in the struggle, pence one-third of a penny, in addition was thronged; and well thatched, while to each burden. The pecuniary there was a visible, and, in the eyes mulcts went nominally to the poor; of those by whom it was effected, a but as there was nobody in the parish gratifying improvement in the costume that ever thought of applying for, or of the minister. even accepting any part of them, they Having thus found that little was came ultimately to the minister, as to be done in the way of what the ilalso did the heather from the roof of luminati of the north are accustomed the kirk, when it had served its time to call « barren morality;" and deas thatch, and was dry enough for be- claim against as a matter which ought ing conveniently and profitably used to be kept apart from faith, the minis. as fuel.
The predecessor of Mr. ter took the opposite tack. He estaM-Cra was an easy and indulgent blished prayer-meetings, and doubled man, and fined each offender only in the number of annual assemblages one marc, and one burden of heather; for public examination. These matand so well did matters thrive under ters were highly gratifying to the peobis indulgent care, that the kirk, ple. The old showed off their knowthough not water-tight, as we have ledge, and wrangled about their points said, was in better condition than at of mystery, and their cases of conany time since its first erection, science; and the young sound a rast When Donald came into office he increase of those “ walks and converwished to play the Phineus in this sations,” which were to them the way; and accordingly, though against principal charms of such assemblings. the remonstrances of some of the el. The ininister of Inverdonhuil acquired ders, caused proclamation to be inade, prudence by experience, confining his that the penalties were to be doubled present objurgations to general sub-two marçs and two burdens of jects, such as “ the beast and the false heather, per sinner. Good actions prophet,” and humanely casting a veil are sometimes attributed to bad mo over any failings of a flock who were so tives, and, by thus getting bad names attentive to the ordinances of religion, fail in their effects. So it fared in and so respectful to its minister. Sabthe case before us; the godly said, bath-breaking, indeed, got no quarter; that the order came from vain-glory, for a girl, of not more than ten years old, as to the heather-and avarice, as was made to stand before the congretouching the money ; and the erring gation and be rebuked, for inadverabstained from their errors -not from tently humming a verse of one of the any new-born love of virtue—but that minister's own songs on the sabbaththey might starve the minister, and morning. Sleeping during the serdrench the congregation. Donald saw vice, which those who walk twenty
miles are apt to do during a two that might arise. Of this an instance hours' sermon, upon a warm day, was occurred soon after the projection of a grievous sin; and when it threaten- the Bible. The minister had his peoed to be very general, the elders and ple assembled in the kirk, for the beadle moved about, plying the drow- purpose of examination on the catesy with snuff. One mountaineer, who chism, which, in that part of the came from a very great distance, and country, consists not only in repeating on whose nasal organs the mundungus all the answers set down in the forhad lost its power, persevered in mulary, but in replying to such infesleeping one day, right in front of the rential ones as shall be put viva voce minister, and responded to the sermon by the minister, in order that the cawith a sound as loud as that of a bag- techumen may have a reason for the pipe. A storm rose on the visage of faith that is in him. Donald Chisthe preacher, who ever and anon darts holm, purveyor of whiskey for the ed his eye at the sleeper. The elders district, and for the minister among saw the storm, and shook and pinched the rest, to whom the supplies were Neil M-Cubbin, but all to no purpose. alleged to be partly in the way of buThe choler of the minister would not siness, and partly in that of expiation, be restrained; he raised himself, was, like most of his calling, not over grasped the Bible in his right hand, nice in his language. It came to Doswung it round his head like a man nald's turn to be catechised; the mihalf frantic, and exclaiming, “ If you nister called him, and put to him the will not hear the word of God, you question, “ What doth every sin deshall feel it,” hurled it from him with serve ?" In making an effort to get all his might. As has been the case a little nearer to a friend, who had with other bolts, physical and meta- kindly promised to assist him with his physical, discharged in ire, the Bible answers, Donald lost his balance, and did not take effect where intended, in recovering that, hit his sh a very but, glancing by the ear of the moun- sharp bang upon one of the knags of taineer, it came full in the face of an the tree. “God's curse !"* rociseold woman, who sat, drinking in the rated Donald in the agony of his word, at mouth, eyes, and ears, on the broken shin, and fumbled for his dirk, tree behind. Overpowered by the thinking some one had pushed him.
awakening dispensation,” Elspeth “Very well answered, indeed, Dowas driven backwards, and in her fall nald-correct to the sense, though upset not only the tree on which she strange in the manner,” said the mihad been sitting, but the one in front nister; “ but do not be so violent and that in the rear; and the lapse about it. His name be praised, we was propagated from tree to tree, and have no need to take the carnal weafrom stool to stool, till a full half of pon in defence of the cause now.” the congregation of Inverdonhuil were The increasing celebrity of the sprawling on the floor. This occur- minister, who found that popularity is rence not only restrained the anger of both more certain and more durable, the minister for the future, but made if mixed with a little covert glee and him cast about for the means of ob- humor, rendered two changes necessataining a place where the admonition ry-an additional accommodation for of one could not, even by accident, the regular attendance; and the celebe productive of confusion to the bration of “the occasion,” or annual whole. It also taught the reverend dispensation of the Eucharist, wholly gentleman to temper his zeal, and, if in the open air. The former was at all within the range of bis inven- obtained by the erection of a gallery tion, find out an excuse for any error in one end of the kirk.
* The answer in the Catechism is, “ God's wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come.'
52 ATHENEUM, vol. 1, 3d series.