« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
offence was loyalty to truth, the bleak Bass Rock was selected as a prison-house for those who were to be confined for lengthened periods:
‘A more forlorn prison-house than this of the Bass Rock it is impossible to conceive. With no fresh water—for the water to be found on the island was often corrupted, and the prisoners were obliged to mix it with oatmeal before it could be drunk—washed at times by the spray from the boiling ocean below, and exposed to the damps which arose from the water drizzling down from the penthouse surface above; in narrow and inconvenient rooms, some of them lighted by slits far above their heads,-liable, from the situation of the prisons, to have their movements watched, their sufferings insulted, and their conversation overheard; the rooms ordinarily so full of smoke as to compel them often to put their head and shoulders out of the window, in order to draw fresh air; exposed to the fierceness of every wind that blew; often in want of provisions, which in stormy weather could not be landed; far from friends and home, more than forty poor sufferers were incarcerated, some for a period of six years.”
At North Berwick is this epitaph recalling those days:–
“Here lies the body of Mr. John Blackader, minister of the gospel at Troqueer, in Galloway, who died on the Bass, after five years' imprisonment, anno Dom. 1685, and of his age sixty-three years.”
The poetry which follows we do not copy; it is long, modern, and inflated. Blackader's silent sufferings, so heroically borne, are his best epitaph, and he would shrink from being ranked in the lists with Enoch and John of Patmos. One more martyr memorial only shall we transcribe; it is a curiosity in its way. There is a savage waggery in it which is very striking. Men's blood was up in those days, and they chiselled in stone what they felt in their hearts. Only think of calling the Duke of York a ‘beast.” But if ever there was one in human shape, James, Duke of York, afterwards James II., was. Harkness must have been a clever fellow to have dodged the troops of Graham of Claverhouse so long; that Graham who, says Macaulay, ‘has left a name, which, wherever the Scottish race is settled on the face of the globe, is mentioned with a peculiar energy of hatred.’ The grave is at Lockerbie. 7 “Here lies the body of James Harkness, who died 7th December, 1723, aged 2. Below this stone his dust doth lie, Who endured 28 years' persecution by tyranny; Did him pursue with hue and cry, Through many a lonesome place. At last by Clavers he was ta'en, and sentenced for to die, But God, who for his soul took care, Him did from prison bring; Because no other cause they had But that he would not give up With Christ his glorious King,
* From ‘Footsteps of our Forefathers,’ by Rev. J. G. Miall; a book that ought to be in every one's hands; it contains a most valuable outline of Nonconformist history in its early struggles.
+ Walter Scott tries hard to whitewash this bloody wretch. History, however, is the Nemesis of tyrants. The pen of the chiefest of novelists fails to rescue the name of Graham of Claverhouse from its damming infamy. He was a man— woman—and child slayer from pure hatred to Covenanting blood.
And swear allegiance to that beast,
One of the chief instigators of the atrocities commemorated in these stone-cuttings, and in the history of Scotland, was a man worse, perhaps, than Lauderdale or Claverhouse — Sharp, Archbishop of St. Andrews, we mean. He pledged himself to support, in the court of Charles II., the government of the Church of Scotland as then settled by law, he at that time being a Presbyterian; but he was soon brought over to Episcopacy, and received the archiepiscopal see as the price of his conscience. This mitred Judas henceforth became the inspiration of all the devourers by fire and sword of that day. To him Lauderdale, Claverhouse, Dalzell, and their minions, looked for his benediction as they set out on a troop-hunting expedition for the weary Covenanters. No richer, daintier sight did the prelate ever see than a Covenanter in the boots—that most devilish mode of torture— or better still, at the stake. No guests so welcome at the primate's table as the rough and bloody troopers flushed with wine and success, as they told, with hellish glee, of houses burnt, women deflowered, and then murdered, and fathers shot, and all because the “obstinate Scotch” would not renounce the Solemn League and Covenant. He smelt out and lapped up blood like a tiger, and his appetite grew by what it fed upon. Goaded to desperation, Burley, Balfour, and Hamilton and others, resolved to waylay the archbishop and assassinate him. They accomplished their purpose too well and too savagely; the grey hairs of the old prelate went down to the grave swiftly by pistol and sabre. It was not a deed to be justified; but neither moralist nor divine need waste much breath about it. God does not give this world into the hands of tyrants, whether kings or archbishops. When they have filled up their cup, they must and will be swept away by the Eternal Righteousness that raises up his Ehuds and Cromwells and Burleys. It is no use standing aghast at the fact; there it is, and it stares you in the face, and does not ask you to palliate, explain, or justify, but just simply to receive it as one of the expositions of those inflexible laws of right and wrong, whose unswerving penalties keep this world from going crazy. It is well that tyrants should dread the assassin, though, perhaps, not well that men should be assassins. But this episode must cease, and this article close. Scotland has memorialized this infamous archbishop in an epitaph of hyperbolic falsehood. Though dead men tell no tales, yet dead men's friends do tell fibs. We give the epitaph entire for many reasons: the tomb is in the High Church of St. Andrews:—
“This stately monument shrouds the most precious dust of a most sacred prelate, of a most prudent senatour, and of a most holy martyr.
“For here lies what remains under the sun, of the most reverend father in God,
James Sharp, Lord Archbishop of St. Andrews, primate of all Scotland. ‘Whom the schools, as professor of philosophy and theology; the church, as a presbyter, doctour, and bishop; the kingdom of Scotland, as her chief minister, both of Church and State; the isle of Britain saw, acknowledged, and shall admire, as an encourager to the restauration of that most serene prince, King Charles II., and of monarchical government; the Christian world, as the reviver of the episcopal order in Scotland, as a pattern of godliness, messenger of peace, oracle of wisdom, and picture of gravity; and whom the enemies of God, to the king and to all good people saw, acknowledged, and shall admire, as a most sharp and active opposer of all ungodliness, treason, and schism.
“And whom being so good and great, nine conspiring parricides, driven by fanatical fury, near to his own metropolitan city, in the face of noonday sun, after he had fallen down upon his knees to pray for his murderers, did most cruelly slay and assassinate, being thrust through with a great many wounds from pistols, swords and daggers, in the sight of his dearest and eldest daughter and his domestick servants, who were all wounded, weeping and reclaiming. 3 May, 1679, and of his age 61.’
And now, Mr. Editor, with your permission this piece shall receive its Finis. By this time I fear you are weary of your company and your correspondent, but before I close you must hear this bit of Thomas Carlyle, out of the ‘French Revolution; it is a wise word. I often think of it in reference to political and ecclesiastical pioneers; the originators of new movements are crownless monarchs; their own generation kills them; the next builds them a mausoleum.
“Many men in the van do always, like Russian soldiers, march into the ditch, and fill it up with their dead bodies, that the rear may pass over dry-shod and gain the honour. How many earnest, rugged Cromwells, Knoxes, poor peasant Covenanters, wrestling, battling for very life in rough miry places, have to struggle and suffer and fall greatly censured and bemired before a beautiful revolution of '88 can step over in official pumps, silk stockings, and universal three times three.”
When you want some more epitaphs let me know ; meantime I remain, yours faithfully, §tia.
THE Book of Psalms, the inspired Prayer-book of the Church, is “illustrated’ and “illuminated’ all throughout with the most brilliant pictures and patterns of things in the heavens. Here at the beginning, like an initial letter for the whole, the page is half covered with the stem and branches of a Tree, whose unfading colours shine in verdure and sunlight eternal as the living stream upon whose bank it grows. It is the image of a good man who derives the forces of his spiritual being from the river of divine truth which flows through this world, and wanders broad and bright into the sunny realms of heaven. Let us sit, brother traveller, under the shadow of this visionary tree, and looking up through the branches to the blue sky above them, think of that which “the Holy Ghost thus signifieth.’
*The man of God! His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the river of waters, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Every day dawns upon three orders of men: those who have yet to learn both the science and the art of living; those who have learned the science, but not the art; and those who have learned both, and will yet learn them better. There are a great many who are wholly without either science or art in the direction of their lives. Their names are ‘the common people,’ ‘the mob,” “the multitude,” “the million; their souls are thrown up to the surface out of chaos; and are not yet reduced to order or the law of heaven. They take a new year, a new month, a new day—not as a fresh lease of life, for which they are accountable to God, the Judge of all—but simply as so much time, out of which they are to extract whatever pleasure may happen to offer, as they saunter through the world into the shades of death. They were born, they think, without their own consent; they have been brought up by others with a set of opinions and habits which they do not care to alter; they push, or are pushed, through life in a manner not much worse than their neighbours; they eat, drink, and sleep abundantly at regular intervals; they toil on the world's great treadmill, according to their sentence, or as much as may be necessary; they read their newspapers or their idle story-books; they speak of the weather, of their friends, or of the topics of the day; and so they pass onward without any theory, any science, any art, beyond that which is needful to obtain or to expend the goods of the world that now is. Half-alive, or rather “twice dead,” a vivid sensation, a heart burning within them from the opening of the vail which conceals the invisible, they never know. These are the uninspired lives of the world—the lives of the numberless toiling throngs in the streets and alleys of our great cities and of our country towns. Their life never seems to lead to anything. The buoyancy of youth is lost in the solid stolid selfishness and grossness of middle age, and all ends in whitehaired inanity, and a death-bed from which the angels fly. But are there not inspired lives which are equally devoid of true science? The quality of any life is determined by the origin of its inspiration, as from beneath, from around, or from above, and these derive their animating impulse from hell, or at best from the earth. These are the lives into which there enters some strong inspiration of thought, passion, or will, distinguishing them from the common herd of moiling humanity. You always know when you come into contact with such a personality. The man is not all flesh. He has spirit which makes the warmth of its presence felt; how mightily felt in the most conspicuous cases, when you call it genius. What a prodigious force of infernal inspiration in such a man as Lord Byron; what amazing vigour in the speech, by which he utters all that is within him. His soul is a harp of ten strings, from which he strikes sounds that are heard through the world. His are the ‘words that burn’— yea, and that cause conflagrations where they fall, and kindle other
souls, being “set on fire of hell;’—or the first Napoleon, another example of true Satanic inspiration in life, urged on by the stimulus of an ambition which destroys millions to pamper the pride of one, and floods a continent with blood to aggrandize his own crowned and anointed selfishness. Are there not, however, say you, many whose inspiration is earthly, leading them to distinction in mercantile, literary, political, and even in religious life, without deriving any considerable impulse either from heaven or hell? Yes, the spirit that breathes in these is that of society. The soul of mankind works within, and blows up the internäl furnace to a white heat of intense thought or activity. These leave interesting biographies behind them, but their names are not ‘written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.’ Lastly, there is that heavenly inspiration of life, of which the Bible offers the brightest examples, and which must be ours if we are to live for ever. Here life is founded on true science, on the knowledge of God, and all that is needed is progress in the art of applying principles to the details of action. This evergreen tree from the pencil of David sets forth the chief condition of growth and fruitfulness—close intercourse with the mind of God in his word. It is planted beside the rivers of living water; its roots and fibres descend into the banks of the broad stream of divine intelligence and love, which “maketh glad the city of God;’ hence its branches shoot up into the heavens, and the fruit of action is always found amidst the foliage of thought that overshadows them. That spiritual improvement at which I must aim, consists in purpose, plan, and power, and each of these I can derive only from a closer union with God, a fuller absorption of the current of his eternal thought by the roots of my understanding and affections. The purpose in life of the man of God is to do the will of God and to finish his work; entering into the reasons of the commandments, to conceive of life as a whole, having for its end to ‘do them; thus subordinating pleasure, labour, suffering, discipline to an aim above the world and beyond time, the aim of an eternal being to serve the Eternal God. “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do it heartily as to the Lord, and not to men.’ ‘Full purpose of heart to cleave to the Lord’ (‘I have stuck unto thy testimonies’)—this is what all success in service springs from. What different measures of this purpose do we see in our companions, and find at different times in ourselves. Shall I not say to my soul, Soul! what do you really purpose this year, this month, this week, as towards God? Do you truly intend to strive to grow wiser? Then you must resolutely prepare to relinquish some of your mistakes, or to add some ideas to those which you maintained before. Do you, without delusion, intend to advance in spirituality of life? Then you must definitely deprive the body of some of those indulgences which at present clog the spirit and becloud its vision. Do you design a more effective regularity in the church, a heartier tone in worship, a more soldierly self-denial, a truer concern