Hugh Miller: Leading Articles (6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* ED.—Robert Baillie (1602?-62), Church of Scotland minister and author.  David Laing's edition of the Letters and Journals of Robert Baillie (1637-1662) was published in 3 vols. at Edinburgh during 1841-42.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And it would be a further fact consequent on the other two, that the aggregate character of the Government would represent the aggregate moral and ecclesiastical character of the people, were every distinct portion into which the people are parcelled to exert itself in proportion to its share of political influence.  But from the yet further fact, that the portions have not always exerted themselves in equal ratios, and from other causes, political and providential, the character of the Government has considerably fluctuated—now representing one portion more in proportion to its amount than its mere bulk warranted, anon another.  Thus, in the days of the Commonwealth, what are now the six million Presbyterians and Independents, etc., had a British Government wholly representative of themselves; while what are now the twelve million Episcopalians and the eight million Papists had none.

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

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

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

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

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

February 9, 1848.


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

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

    But by far the most pleasing feature of the war—of at least the part taken in it by Britain—is to be found in that humanity, the best evidence of a civilisation truly Christian, which has characterized it in all its stages.  Generous regard for the safety and respect for the feelings of a brave enemy, when conquered, have marked our countrymen for centuries.  But we owe it to the peculiar philanthropy of the time, that, in the midst of much official neglect, our own sick and wounded soldiers have been cared for after a fashion in which British soldiers were never cared for before.  The 'lady nurses,' with Miss Nightingale at their head, imparted its most distinctive character to the war.  We have now before us a deeply interesting volume, [23] the production of one of these devoted females, a native of the north country, or, as she was introduced by an old French officer to some Zouaves, her fellow-passengers to the East, whom she had wished to see, a true 'Montagnarde de Ecossaise.'  The name of the authoress is not given; but it will, we daresay, be recognised in the neighbourhood of the 'capital of the Highlands' as that of a delicately nurtured lady, the daughter of a late distinguished physician, well known to the north of the Grampians as an able and upright man, who, had he not so sedulously devoted himself to the profession which he adorned, might have excelled in almost any department of science.  And in strong sound sense and genial feeling, we find the daughter worthy of such a father.  Some of our more zealous Protestants professed at one time not a little alarm lest the lady nurses might be Papists in disguise; and certainly their 'regulation dresses,' all cut after one fashion, and of one sombre hue, did seem a little nun-like, and perhaps rather alarming.  But the following passage—which, from the amusing mixture which it exhibits of strong good sense and half-indignant womanly feeling, our readers will, we are sure, relish—may serve to show that some of the ladies who wore the questionable dress, liked it quite as ill as the most zealous member of the Reformation Society could have done, and were very excellent Protestants under its cover.  The authoress of the volume before us is a Presbyterian; and the occasion of the following remarks was the meeting of the British Consul at Marseilles, and the necessity that herself and her companions felt of getting head-dresses for themselves, that could be looked at ere entertaining him at dinner.  'Perhaps it may be thought,' says our authoress,

    'that all this solicitude about our caps was unsuitable in persons going out as what is called "Sisters of Mercy;" but I must once for all say that, as far as I was concerned, I neither professed to be a "Sister of Charity," a "Sister of Mercy," nor anything of the kind.  I was, as I told a poissarde of Boulogne, a British woman who had little to do at home, and wished to help our poor soldiers, if I could, abroad.  The reason given to me for the peculiarity and uniformity of our dress was, that the soldiers might know and respect their nurses.  It seems a sensible reason, and one which I could not object to, even disliking, as I did, all peculiarity of attire that seemed to advertise the nurses only as serving God, or serving Him pre-eminently, and thus conveying a tacit reproach to the rest of the world; for the obligation lies on all the same.  I did not feel then, nor do I now, that we were doing anything better or more praiseworthy than is done in a quiet, unostentatious way at home every day.  On the contrary, to many temperaments, my own among the number, it is far less difficult to engage in a new and exciting work like the one we were then entering on there, than to pursue the uneventful monotony of daily doing good at home.  As for the dress itself, I have nothing to say against it.  Although not perhaps of the material or texture I should have preferred, still the colour, grey, was one I generally wore from choice.  But I must confess, that when I found myself restricted to it, without what seemed a good reason, an intense desire for blue, green, red, and yellow, with all their combinations, took possession of me; though, now that I may wear what I please, I find my former favour for grey has returned in full force.  However, allowing that it was desirable we should have had some uniform costume, it certainly was unnecessary that ladies, nurses, and washerwomen should have been dressed alike, as we were.  That was part of the mistake I have already adverted to, and was productive of confusion and bad feeling.'

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

*             *             *             *             *             *             *

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

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

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

June 14, 1856.

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